Sunday, December 27, 2009

Are Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83 Imminent?

27 December 2009: Readers should be aware of Eschatology Today's four-part series entitled "The Prophetic Road to Revelation (hereafter TPRR for short)." I have added a new direct-link feature in the upper right-hand column to make access to the 5-part series that much easier.

In preparation of going forward into the year 2010 AD it became very apparent that while I've referenced the prophecy of Isaiah 17 on many items and comments within this blog, the overall significance of the prophecy has not been given the full exegesis in the TPRR series that it should have been given. In fact, I barely mentioned Isaiah 17 in TPRR Part III, but merely posted a link to the online NIV translation. I am now going to rectify that oversight.

The Hal Lindsey "War Imminent" video from May 2009 embedded above provides very a similar if not the same context as the TPRR series provides, yet Hal makes mention of a specific item that has become the focus of my own recent research into Isaiah 17. Hal speaks to the numbers of casualties in both Israel and Syria in the event of an all-out WMD war between them. I believe this is precisely one of the key prophetic insights of Isaiah 17.

First, elemental to the necessary rectification, I believe Isaiah 17 should be consided as an integral part of the Psalm 83 prophecy, if not the lead element in the cause, conduct and course of the warfare described by the prophet Asaph in the Psalm. The first three verses give us this overarching context and link three key combatant nations of Syria, Jordan and Israel into this prophetic event.

The burden against Damascus. “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken; they will be for flocks which lie down, and no one will make them afraid. The fortress also will cease from Ephraim, the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria (Aram); they will be as the glory of the children of Israel,” says the LORD of hosts.

Everyone is aware of the primary destruction of the city of Damascus which has been the traditional focus of this prophecy. However, it is clearly seen that the cities of Aroer are directly involved in the warfare; they are abandoned by their populations, forsaken, and in which animals exist alone without human care. The (map link) "cities of Aroer" named here by Isaiah are specifically identified in Joshua 13:24-28. This is the part of Israel which has been given to the tribe of Gad. This land lies in what is today northwestern Jordan

"Moses also had given an inheritance to the tribe of Gad, to the children of Gad according to their families. Their territory was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the Ammonites as far as Aroer, which is before Rabbah, and from Heshbon to Ramath Mizpah and Betonim, and from Mahanaim to the border of Debir, and in the valley Beth Haram, Beth Nimrah, Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, with the Jordan as its border, as far as the edge of the Sea of Chinnereth, on the other side of the Jordan eastward. This is the inheritance of the children of Gad according to their families, the cities and their villages."

Keep Joshua 13 handy as it reflects very nicely the full territorial extent of the land which will become Israel proper once Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83 have been completely fulfilled in the near-term future. Pay close attention to verses 1 through 7, and notice all of Lebanon is included in the full scope of the land Israel will possess.

The next sentence we read in Isaiah 17 begins with the statement "The fortress also will cease from Ephraim." Locate Ephraim on this map. Save this map as a .jpg image to your hard drive and compare it with this map and this map. The first thing that one should notice is that Ephraim comprises the heart of the territories of the West Bank, now under the control of the terrorist Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, and is desired to be controlled by his rivals in HAMAS, with Israeli outposts and settlements existing throughout the territory. Seeing these maps should bring a keen new insight as to the specific meaning regarding the "fortress ceasing from Ephraim." This land is destined by God-given ordinance to belong only to Israel, and should there be, as is the current agenda of the West at this point, the establishment of a Palestinian state on this land, it will be a very short-lived state at that.

The next three verses of Isaiah 17 (4 through 6) reveal the initial damage done to Israel as this war commences:
In that day it shall come to pass that the glory of Jacob (Israel) will wane, and the fatness of his flesh grow lean. It shall be as when the harvester gathers the grain, and reaps the heads with his arm; it shall be as he who gathers heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim. Yet gleaning grapes will be left in it, Like the shaking of an olive tree, Two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough, Four or five in its most fruitful branches,” says the LORD God of Israel.
Although Israel will be overwhelmingly victorious in this war, she will suffer significant casualties. The Valley of Raphaim is specifically mentioned. This is a valley which lies west of Jerusalem, in the hills of Judea and progressing southwestward toward the coastal plain adjacent to the Valley of Elah, the site of the Israelite encampment when David slew Goliath. This region is the primary approach for Israel into the city of Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and Ashdod to the west.

These wartime events will bring about a common theme found in much of the Bible’s “end of the age” prophecies. The common theme, beginning in verses 7 and 8, is that through these events Israel, which is represented by the gleaning grapes and olives of the uppermost bough and outmost fruitful branches, will at that time again look upon the "Qadowsh Yisra’el," the Holy One of Israel. This the same theme as found in the “end of the age” message from Paul in Romans 11; these are at a minimum some of the men of Israel who will become the 144,000 global evangelists of Daniel’s 70th Week. They will have absolutely no regard for and completely forsake all the things of this world and will then clearly see the Deliverer of Zion and serve God only. Israel will have its blindness removed and the root which supports all of us as the grafted in branch are themselves grafted back in to the olive tree.

At verse 9 through 11 we once again see the overwhelming demise of Israel’s enemies, consistent with the theme of Psalm 83, these enemies have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide; their “strong cities” shall offer no refuge and there will be widespread waste and desolation. Such is the fate of the descendants of Ishmael who turned their back on the true God who is the only source of salvation and embraced Islam and its false god instead. The harvest they shall reap from this devotion to a false religion and a false god will yield them nothing but a heap of grief and incurable sorrows.

Finally, the prophecy of Isaiah 17 culminates with verses 12 through 14 which clearly illustrate the global nature of this war and its effects on many nations, meaning the whole world. Again, the parallel to the warfare and results of Psalm 83 are unmistakable. These prophecies are a God-breathed foretelling of the same event. The cry of “Woe!” leaps out from the opening of verse 12 and goes out to the nations of the world who make a tumult like the rushing of flood waters as they rush in against Israel only to be rebuked by God which is expressed in language very similar to that given by Asaph in Psalm 83. They are driven back like chaff before a Divine wind which is likened to irresistible force of an off-the-scale tornado.

It is at this point I would direct the reader to the prophecy of Zechariah 9, verses 1-8, which paints a prophetic picture of how these coming events will unfold and the scope of the Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83 war; how it involves the rest of Syria, north to Hamath, all of Lebanon, and the terrorist stronghold of Gaza. This series of prophetic verses begin as does Isaiah 17 with a burden against Damascus and the land of Hadrach. The mention of Hadrach, the Hebrew Chadrak, meaning Lebanon, occurs only once in the Bible, right here in Zechariah 9:1. Again, the reference above to Judges 13 should be considered as intimate reference material to these coming conquests of Israel’s enemies.
So, what we see here in Zechariah 9 is that the burden (oracle) against Damascus is directly linked to a burden (oracle) against, all of Lebanon. Lebanon, as we all know, is the domain of the terrorist group Hezbollah, and a client state of both Syria and Iran. These verses also single out Tyre and Sidon, making the direct connection to Lebanon a cinch. Lebanon’s fate is spelled out in verse 4 as her sovereignty is lost, her commerce via sea power is destroyed and the land consumed by fire. In verse 5 the prophecy moves south to Gaza, the stronghold of the terrorist HAMAS, which are a virtual duplicate of Hezbollah, or as some hold the view that Gaza is “Hezbollah South.” Both Hezbollah and HAMAS are proxies of Iran and Syria.
Also, please note that HAMAS is not only in Gaza, but has the distinction of being the armed wing of the Islamic terrorist group known as the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimuun) or MB. The MB are present here in the United States under the disguise of front organizations such as CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), ISNA (Islamic Society of North America, and the now defunct HLF (Holy Land Foundation), among other closely related Islamic organizations.
In Zechariah 9:7 we see the Palestinians of Gaza, referred to as living in Ekron (southern Judah) and along the coast (Gaza), and their being “torn up by the roots” from these lands. The survivors of the onslaught will worship the God of Israel. This is consistent with the concluding verses found in Psalm 83:16-18:

“Fill their faces with shame, That they may seek Your name, O LORD. Let them be confounded and dismayed forever; Yes, let them be put to shame and perish, That they may know that You, whose name alone is the LORD, Are the Most High over all the earth. “

The final result is seen in Zechariah 8:9 where all of these lands, from Lebanon through to Gaza in the south, become the sovereign territory of Israel, never again to be the home of an oppressor of Israel. Additionally, there is no mistake in realizing that Israel will recognize these verses as a call to recognize Jesus the Messiah as we see in Zechariah 9:9. The overwhelming victories given to Israel, and harken back to what we saw above in Isaiah 17:7-8. This and the verses which follow speak to a conquering Messiah in the region and to the ends of the whole earth. This is a clear prophetic picture that we see in all “end times” prophecy – the coming Millennial Kingdom of Christ.

And, without going into much detail because it has been covered so well by other expositors, parallels of these same prophetic images are seen in Jeremiah 49.

As an end note to this article, I would remind the reader that while this war against the “inner ring" Arab Muslim states appears to be imminent, and I truly believe all of these prophecies are pointing to the same unprecedented scale of warfare in the Middle East, we are to be ever mindful of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ regarding wars and rumors of wars, that they must take place. And when they do they will come like a flood, meaning they will occur in a very rapid and powerful sequence of geo-political paradigm shifts which are brought about primarily through warfare, for it is warfare which is the central theme of all things connected to “end times” prophecy.

Maranatha, Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why Can't The Syrians and Their Arab Brothers Take a Strong Hint?

17 December 2009: A headline which circulated exactly one week ago hyped the fact that Syria would strike Israel if Iran was attacked. Oh really? This is news? This surprises some folks? It shouldn't have because it's fairly old news.

This was news four years and nine months ago, on 16 Februrary 2005 to be precise, when Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari and Iranian Vice-President Mohammed Reza Aref announced the establishment of their mutual defense pact to the world. The government of the State of Israel has known about and placed this as a consideration in their planning to put a halt to Iranian nuclear weapons ambitions since that time.

One might even even surmise that Israel demonstrated the folly of this mutual defense pact to the Syrian generals when a 12-man IDF special forces unit infiltrated the joint Syrian-Iranian-North Korean plutonium reactor site at Al-Kibar, Syria during August 2007. These Israeli special operators took soil samples and photographs right under the noses of their enemies. They were never detected. That direct, on-site collected intelligence was then analyzed back in Israel and in early September the Israeli Air Force flew in to raze the facility to the ground, all the while electronically supressing the cream of Syria's Russian-made air defense systems to the point of utter uselessness. The Israeli commando's then made battle damage assessment reports back to their headquarters and were exflitrated out of Syria in the same manner in which they had come in - by helicopter. In a matter of minutes Israel turned the nuclear plant at Al Kibar into a "ruinous heap." The lessons for the Syrian General Command should have been thunderous as they were shocking. Probably scared the pants off the Iranian Ayatollah and his sock puppet as well. The fools have been begging the Russians for more advanced air defense systems ever since.

Perhaps the Israeli jets should have also dropped psychological operations leaflets quoting Isaiah 17 in Arabic on the Syrians as well. It would have constituted sage advice and a humanitarian act at the same time - despite the fact that the text is only a little over 3,000 years old. For when Israel strikes Iranian nuclear weapons sites the Syrian threat of a "commensurate response" upon Israel will result in the annihilation of Damascus. It's probably not a bad idea for the Israeli's to drop similar leaflets on the Lebanese, Hezbollah, the Jordanians, the Saudis, the PA in the West Bank, HAMAS in Gaza and the Egyptians. Those leaflets should have an Arabic language translation of Psalm 83 written by the Divinely inspired psalmist and prophet Asaph. Either way, the sons of Ishmael will shortly be in for a world of unprecedented hurt should they heed their own poorly conceived conspiratorial advice and crafty plans about wiping Israel off the map.

Friday, December 4, 2009

When Will The Third Temple Be Built?

04 December 2009: The Third Temple is coming to Jerusalem. However I have my doubts whether its construction will have anything to do with the reports being circulated regarding a long deceased rabbi by the name of Vilna Gaon or the alleged imminent destruction of the newly reconstrcuted Hurva (Ruins) Synagogue in Jerusalem.

We all know that the Third Temple will be where the Jews reinstate the daily worship and daily sacrifice which the Antichrist will put a stop to. It will be within the Temple, in that part known as the Holy Place, where an image that will be made to speak will be stood up.

These things have occured in the past as a template for the future, during the reign of the prototype antichrist, Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes. This event is the Abomination of Desolation.

Our Lord and Savior told us so:
Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place...
Matthew 24:15a

The precise location inside the Temple that Jesus is referencing from Daniel can be seen in the image below. (From Chuck Missler's KHouse website)

I also believe that God's Word tells us when the Third Temple will be built during these last days. This is yet another specific template of a future prophetic event found in the Old Testament.The timing reference is related to the timing and conditions that were required for the building of Solomon's Temple on the Lord's specific instructions:

1 Kings 5:1-5, verses 3 and 4 especially.

1 Now Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, because he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father, for Hiram had always loved David.
2 Then Solomon sent to Hiram, saying:
3 You know how my father David could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God because of the wars which were fought against him on every side, until the LORD put his foes under the soles of his feet.
4 But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor evil occurrence.
5 And behold, I propose to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spoke to my father David, saying, “Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, he shall build the house for My name.”
After the enemies are defeated and wars on Israel's every side are won, then we'll see the condition set for the rebuilding of this prophetically important structure. After Isaiah 17, Psalm 83 are fulfilled I do expect the Temple to be constructed very quickly thereafter.

It will be through the reinstatement of Hebrew Temple worship in the Temple in Jerusalem that God will pour out His Spirit on all Israel in fulfillment of Romans 11 and a host of other Bible prophecies. And the scales will be removed from their eyes and they will look upon Him whom they pierced.

And the Bride is in Heaven with Messiah.