This chapter has to begin with an apology for
being repetitious, for it was in 1964 that the substance of its thesis first
appeared in print ("The Last Days"), to be accorded a warm welcome by many, and
to be studiously ignored by most. Those readers who fall into the first of these
two categories may feel like taking this chapter as read - though even they will
find here a further reinforcement of that earlier survey of prophecy. After
twenty-five years of steady and even exciting development in Near East politics,
even those who were originally sceptical may perhaps be more ready to consider
that the last word in interpretation of Bible prophecy was not said in the
First, it needs to be emphasized that there are
copious O.T. prophecies about the Arabs which in earlier days went almost
completely ignored, Edom especially was arraigned time and again for its
implacable hostility to Israel (the old Esau-Jacob quarrel); indeed the
conclusion is difficult to escape that, so far as Last Day reference goes, Edom
is the comprehensive, though not exclusive, Bible name for Israel's Arab
In earlier days nothing could be made of the
prophecies against Edom, for in the nineteenth century Arab states impressed
nobody at all. In fact, Arab states as such did not exist. They were, then,
various wandering tribes, lacking cohesion and at best on the very fringe of
culture and civilization. How could such peoples be expected to play an
important and even dominant role in modern history? So vague guesses were made
that Edom was somehow an end-time Britain; but even those who wanted to accord
Britain a leading role in the scenario were dubious, and the idea was not
insisted on. A good thing, too!
Here, then, it is proposed to survey briefly the
Bible evidence pointing to a rise of Arab power in the Last Days, an
unquenchable hatred of the new state of Israel, and - before very long - the
utter destruction of Zionism. It is a tragic frightening prospect; but this is
what the prophets say.
An obvious starting point is Ezekiel 35, 36, two
chapters written explicitly against Edom. And, whatever reference they may have
to the prophet's own day, it is difficult to deny their relevance to the days
ahead of us.
Here is "a perpetual hatred... thou hast shed the
blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their
calamity, in the time that their iniquity has an end" (35: 5; 21: 25). Can it be
said that Israel's iniquity has yet come to an end, when all the vices of east
and west have found a welcome in Tel Aviv, and whilst powerful efforts are made
in Jerusalem to smother the name of Jesus?
The prophecy goes on to picture this Arab enemy
gloating over success against Israel. At last, "these two countries (Jewish and
Arab territory) shall be mine, and we will possess it, whereas the Lord was
there (God's Land!)" (v.10).
Therefore there must be a mighty divine
retribution against this gloating invader "Thus saith the Lord God, when the
whole Land rejoiceth (Messiah's Kingdom! what else can it be?), I will make thee
desolate. As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel
(Palestine now completely an Arab possession), because it was desolate, so will
I do unto thee: thou shalt be desolate. . . even all Idumea (Edom)... And they
shall know that I am the Lord" (vv.14, 15). Certainly these words have had no
fulfilment in past history.
Chapter 36 fills out an already vivid scene. The
reader should ponder it carefully. There is a picture of Arab delight at
possession of Jerusalem, Islam's third holy city (vv.2, 3), and indeed a
complete possession of the whole Land (vv.4-7). Therefore God's judgment is
inevitable, and so also is an almost incredible restoration of both Land and
People, this time to a degree of prosperity such as it has never known;
tribulation and misery shall be known there no more. . . no more. . . no more
Nor is this all. Israel is to be gathered from
Gentile lands (does this imply a further scattering of those now in the Land?),
this time not in unbelief or dedication to the gods of materialism, but to be
re-born out of their age-long intransigence (v.25-28). There is a good deal more
in this exciting Scripture. Then why, why has it suffered such blameworthy
neglect among those who reckon themselves to be the people of the
The main elements of these two chapters are worth
The sequence in Ezekiel 37, 38, 39 proposed
earlier (chapter 6) is now reinforced, for it is easy to see that Ezekiel 35, 36
fall into place readily as a necessary preliminary to what these later chapters
- Israel overrun by Arab enemies.
gloating over a long-deferred conquest.
- The last bitter
tribulation of the Jews,
- Leading to
- Divine intervention on their behalf (this
must be Messiah's coming; what else can it be?).
- Judgment poured out on the Arab enemy.
- The Kingdom of God
Here again, for economy of space, there can be
only an outline of essential details. But the pattern of the prophecy proves to
be the same. In the climax of these 21 verses it is unmistakably clear that this
foretells Israel's experience in the Last Days:
"Saviours shall come up on mount Zion, and shall
judge the mount of Esau (the Arabs), and the kingdom shall be
the Lord's" (v. 21).
That last phrase is quoted in Revelation 11: 15
(cp. 12: 10), in what is, beyond any question, a prophecy of Messiah's coming.
That plural: "saviours" is perhaps a little puzzling. It could refer to the
angels of Christ's glory (as in Mt. 24: 30, 31 etc.), or it could be a Hebrew
intensive plural (common in the O.T.) for 'a mighty Saviour'.
"For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame
shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever" (v.10).
"For the day of the Lord is near upon all the
nations: as thou has done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return
upon thine own head" (v.15).
"But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and
there shall be holiness, ... Jacob shall possess their possessions"
(v.17). That word "holiness" forbids reference of this prophecy to any Jew-Arab
conflict hitherto (such as 1967). What is described here is the salvation
Thus, the sequence of events described is
virtually that already summarised in Ezekiel 35, 36: Israel in a state of panic
and flight; salvation in Jerusalem; the overthrow of the Arab enemy; the
extension of the Kingdom to include all that was promised to Abraham; and the
Kingdom is now and for ever "the Lord's".
Certainly a prophecy of the Last Days, it builds
up to a lovely picture of the Kingdom established (vv.16-18), and then rounds
off with this remarkable contrast:
"Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a
desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because
they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall dwell for ever, and
Jerusalem from generation to generation. . . for the Lord dwelleth in
The inclusion of Egypt in this decisive judgment
is especially noteworthy. When the famous Camp David agreement, encouraged
(imposed?) by America, came into being, those familiar with such prophecies as
Joel 3 and Isaiah 19: 16-22 and Deuteronomy 28: 68 knew immediately that such a
treaty could not last. Egypt acquired territory the size of England and with it
a well developed oilfield, and has given nothing in return except encouragement
to the P.L.O. and Arab insurgents in the Gaza strip. Soon Egypt will move to
The judgment on Edom is described in very purple
language in Isaiah 34, where note the special mention of Edom (Idumea), verses
5, 6. The phrase "all nations" (v.2) is not to be read as all nations in the
world, but rather with the not uncommon usage: all nations round Israel (e.g. 2
Chr. 32: 23; 1 Chr.14: 17; 18: 11; Ps.118: 10; Is.14: 26; 34: 2,6; Obad. 15);
i.e. the other Arabs besides those located in ancient Edom.
This prophecy describes "the day of the Lord's
vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion"
(v.8), that is, the quarrel about Jerusalem.
The prophet marshals all the resources of this
vivid poetic vocabulary to describe the utter desolation of this rancorous Arab
enemy. The language strongly suggests the horror of destruction which only
atomic bombs can produce; and it is known that when Israel had its back to the
wall in the Day of Atonement War in 1973, desperate preparations were then being
made to use nuclear weapons against Arab capitals in a last defiant attempt to
hit back (Is. 34: 9,10; Zech.14: 12; 2 Pet. 3: 10). Perhaps this prophecy may
yet find such a grim fulfilment. On the other hand, the language of Is. 34:7,
reminiscent of the cherubim of glory, may point to dramatic angelic
Much more definite is the vivid and alluring
picture which follows in chapter 35 of the loveliness and peace of the Kingdom
of God. Just as Ezekiel, Obadiah, and Joel set tribulation and blessedness side
by side, so also here.
Is another outstanding Scripture on this theme.
It begins with an impassioned plea that God will come to the aid of His
desperate people (vv.1, 2). A combined attack by overwhelming force has as its
purpose one unanimous intention: "Come, and let us cut them off from being a
nation, That the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance" (v.4). And
since the name Jehovah is God's memorial Name, His permanent reminder to all who
will give heed, that His Promises to the Fathers are immutable, this attack is
against Israel's God as well as against His People - "against Thee"
The confederation of these enemies is listed
(vv.6, 8) Arab nations, ten of them!
The Arab character of these enemies is emphasized
by the allusions to similar crises in Israel's ancient history (vv. 9-12), all
of them provoked by the inroads of near-by Arab peoples in the time of Deborah,
Barak, and Gideon.
But when, since the Psalm was written, was the
nation of one mind in appealing to Jehovah for rescue? And in recent years the
utter self-reliance of the Israelis in time of threat has been remarkable. Even
in 1973 when the Day of Atonement should have driven the entire nation to its
knees in an appeal for heavenly help, reports carried no hint that here was a
people who knew that they had God on their side. Then it was a desperate appeal
to America for a massive air-lift of the sinews of war, which turned dismay into
But here, at least, the people of God are driven
to recognise that only Jehovah can help them. Does not this suggest the change
of heart that the prophets so often called for, and for which, until now, they
appeal in vain?
A Repetitious Ten
If Psalm 83 were the only prophetic instance of
ten enemies of Israel being listed it might be overlooked as of no special
significance. But Nebuchadnezzar's image leads the readers to look for ten
powers to be destroyed in the Last Day by the Stone of God. And the ten horns of
Daniel's fourth beast (Dan. 7: 7) appear again in Revelation as "ten kings who
give their power and strength to the Beast; these make war with the Lamb, and
the Lamb shall overcome them" (Rev. 17: 12-14). Isaiah also catalogues ten
prophecies about nations hostile to Israel (Is. 14-23). Also, the re-reading of
Ezekiel 38 suggested in chapter 7, in which Sheba, Dedan and Tarshish appear as
eager allies of the invader completes yet another catalogue of ten - not
precisely the same ten, however, for reasons which will appear later. In
"Exposition of Daniel", p.13, Dr. Thomas insists that these horns and ten toes
need not be identified until the End of the present Age.
This chapter has gone on long enough. If there
were no more evidence available on this theme, what has been listed here would
be adequate to make an impressive case. But there must be at least half-a-dozen
Again, the point to be underlined: A century ago
all these Last Day prophecies went ignored. In the circumstances those who
ignored them had some excuse for so doing. Is it either un-pertinent or
impertinent to ask whether such excuse exists today?