“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? … I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say on the Lord.” (Psalm 27: 1, 13-14)
Reports of impending war and rumors of war in Israel are presently circling the globe. Many also receive regular updates from on-the-ground Israelis, including Messianic believers and ministries. Meanwhile, some Christian leaders are predicting that Israel’s next war will fulfill certain end times prophecies, while others contradict them. How are we to respond rightly to what the Spirit is saying and doing?
In prayerfully culling through this morass of Mideast material with Bible in hand, I’ve come to the sober conclusion that war is inevitable. This post shares general direction for prayer and brief excerpts on Israel’s future wars, taken from my forthcoming book. I pray you’ll gain a better understanding of the times we are in, and by Holy Spirit’s power, stand firm in His peace, love and joy, shining brightly to others even though darkness is covering the earth.
I no longer feel led to pray against the occurrence of a major military operation in the near future. My heart, like yours, is heavy over the prospect of impending bloodshed and destruction. Therefore, let us not passively watch matters unfold and do nothing! God is in control, yet looks to our intercession to mediate His will on earth as it is in heaven. I encourage you to enlist–if you haven’t already—into Israel’s spiritual defense forces. Your prayers are needed and make a difference. Please pray into these two broad areas of focus:
(1) Israel’s protection. Israel will not be annihilated in this war, which can be seen as a major birth pain leading to Yeshua’s return. Nevertheless, this next campaign is likely to involve unconventional weapons of mass destruction and serious harm. We are dependent on God as never before. Pray this war will occur only in His sovereign timing. Pray a wall of protection all about Israel in every dimension. Pray over all her borders, including all sea borders. Pray for genuine repentance in the land before hostilities escalate. Cover the Israeli Body of Messiah and ask God to empower us to minister boldly in this hour. Pray not just for the peace of Jerusalem, but specifically for Tel Aviv, the enemy’s more immediate target. Include prayer for Israel’s key decision makers, for military preparedness, and for responders to civilian emergencies. Pray life over the Jewish nation in Yeshua’s name!
(2) Israel’s salvation. God will use the next war to glorify Himself as Israel is, in a sense, being slowly brought to her knees. Pray that she will fall to her knees in loving surrender to, and worship of, the Holy One. Pray that His justice will prevail upon all involved for His Name’s sake, with many Muslims coming to faith as well as Jews. More than anything, this is His heart’s desire.
Distinguishing Last Days Battles
The prophetic Scriptures describe different cataclysmic battles involving Israel in the end times. With the possible exception of Psalm 83, they seem to all take place during the Great Tribulation. The common view is that these battles constitute separate military operations, though some may take place simultaneously or within a very short time of each other. An alternative view is that the different biblical prophets all describe the same protracted apocalyptic war, but from different perspectives. Therefore, this next war could represent a lesser, but not ultimate, fulfillment of one of the end times apocalyptic battles. The following offers a macro-view of Israel’s future wars:
(1) Psalm 83 describes a besetting Arab alignment against the Jewish state. There is good reason to believe, as some say, this psalm is hyperbolic and not a literal prophecy. A battle based on the specific alignment of nations mentioned here has never historically taken place. United against Israel are: Edom and the Ishmaelites (southern Jordan and Saudi Arabia); Moab (central Jordan) and the Hagrites (Syria and Arabia); Gebal (southern Jordan); Ammon (central Jordan) and Amalek (Sinai desert); Philistia (Gaza Strip area); Tyre (southern Lebanon) and Assyria (Syria/ Iraq). Verse 4 sounds their bellicose battle cry: “Come . . . let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.” God’s overriding purpose in this war is to exalt Himself to the nations: “May they ever be ashamed and dismayed. . . . Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord-that you alone are the Most High over all the earth” (Psalm 83:17-18).
(2) Ezekiel 38-39 describes a future battle of cataclysmic proportions.”Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal,” spearheads a military coalition directed at Israel’s destruction. God is the one who initiates this attack. He will “put hooks in [their] jaws” and reel them in toward the “land of unwalled villages,” a “peaceful and unsuspecting people.” Again, God’s purpose in this war is to draw both Israel and the nations to Himself (38:2, 4, 11, 16). The passage indicates that a significant—but not lasting—period of peace and prosperity lies ahead for Israel. This temporary peace likely occurs due to the false treaty brokered by the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation. In any case, this fearsome federation from the “far north” of Israel is composed of ex-Soviet and Islamic republics. The “great horde” consists of Gog of Magog, Rosh, Meshech and Tubal (Russian regions), Persia (Iran), Togarmah and Meshech/Tubal (Turkish regions) Cush (Sudan-Ethiopia-North Africa), and Put (Libya), with tacit support from Sheba (Yemen), Dedan (Saudi Arabia) and Tarshish (identity unknown) (38:5, 15). At this writing, all these nations are aligning for the first time since Israel became a modern state. Yahweh plans to pulverize this coalition that invades Israel just as she is enjoying relative quiet and rest. He decimates her enemies with a monstrous earthquake, plague, lightning, fire and bloodshed, and torrents of rain, hailstones, and burning sulfur. Displaying His dazzling glory, He stuns the world in His defense of the Jewish state:
“And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 38:23)
“I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. … I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on [them].” (Ezekiel 39:21-22, 29)
(3) Zechariah 12-14 describes a scenario in which God pours out His wrath on an alignment of nations invading Jerusalem. The prophet foresees a series of events leading up to the Second Coming and glorious Millennial Age. While it is commonly believed the battles described in chapter 12 and 14 are identical, some say they are separate and distinct assaults on the holy city.
“I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. … On that day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. … On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 12:2-3, 9)
“I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it. . . . The Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem … it will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the Lord. … This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.” (Zech. 14:2-4, 6-7, 12)
In recent years the nations have forbodingly gathered against Jerusalem as never before. While the assault has been limited thus far to realms of diplomacy and “lawfare,” it is designed to pave the way for realities on the ground to rapidly change in the future. Nevertheless, the holy city will prove an “immovable rock,” ultimately injuring those trying to move, confiscate or divide it. In the international military campaign against Jerusalem, God will magnificently grace the Jewish people. Spectacular revival follows on the heels of divine deliverance:
“I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. . . . On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.” (Zechariah 12:10-13:1)
“On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem … The Lord will be king over all the earth.” (Zechariah 14:8)
(4) Revelation 16:14-16 refers explicitly to the battle of Armageddon: “…Demonic spirits…go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty….to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” (Revelation 16:14-16)
The devastating and consummate battle of Armageddon takes place at the end of the Great Tribulation (see also Joel 3:2, 14). The Greek word Armageddon likely stems from two Hebrew words: Har (“mountain”) and Meged (“full harvest”). It refers to an ancient site bordering a huge valley known as the plain of Megiddo. Interestingly, the soil there today is quite rich, yielding bountiful harvests. During the battle of Armageddon, Yeshua returns to harvest the earth. This ushers in the end times judgment, His resplendent victory over the Antichrist, and the Millennial Age.
(5) Joel 3:2, 14 speaks of the Valley of Jehoshaphat, or Valley of Decision, which is located in Jerusalem: “I will enter into judgment against them [the nations] concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” This could be a literal valley or symbolic name or both. In any case, Joel 3 serves to put nations on notice now that their contention for Israel means future contention with God.
“I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord.” (Psalm 27: 13-14a)