Middle East Conflict in Bible Prophecy
Future Invasions of Israel
Bible prophecy describes how the increasing political bias of western nations, and the increasing aggression of Arab-Muslim nations finally leads to a major war against Israel. In fact, since prophecy here is not precise, some see not just one major Middle East conflict, but possibly two. Both occur just before the close of this age and the Second Coming of Christ. The first war is essentially an Arab-Islamic invasion – possibly led by Russia and Iran – and the second is an “all-nation” invasion.
But on one thing prophecy is clear: Any future Middle East war against Israel will be defeated by the God of Israel. The nation of Israel will survive into the Millennial Age.
Let’s identify some key end-time prophecies:
Prophecies of Middle East conflict
- Key prophecies are Psalm 83, Isaiah 17, Jeremiah 49, Ezekiel 38 and 39, Zechariah 12 and 14, Joel 3, Malachi 4, Matthew 24, and Revelation 16 and 19
- Psalm 83 speaks of an alliance of invading nations (mainly an Arab-Islamic alliance), and Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 speak of the destruction of one particular city, Damascus
- Zechariah 12 and 14, Joel 3 and Revelation 16 and 19 appear to describe a final “all-nation” invasion of Israel – the so-called “Battle of Armageddon”
- The prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 are relatively difficult to interpret and have led to much debate. They may refer to a single pre-millennial invasion, or to two separate invasions, one pre-millennial and the other post-millennial (as in Revelation 20)
- If Ezekiel 38 and 39 refer to the same invasion, the so-called “Gog-Magog” war, they probably refer to an essentially Arab-Islamic invasion prior to Armageddon. This invasion is probably led by Russia and Iran, and ends in their defeat
- The weapons referred to in the above prophecies are those familiar to historic Israel. They may be actual end-time weapons, but are more likely to be symbolic of well-equipped armies using weapons of today. Malachi 4 and Zechariah 14 appear to describe how the invaders in the final conflict(s) will perish, and may be references to nuclear war and the use of neutron bombs respectively
- The final Middle East conflict of this age (commonly referred to as “Armageddon”) involves all nations attacking Jerusalem. It will be defeated by Christ as He returns to earth. Matthew 24 could describe the suffering of Israel at this time
Arab-Islamic hatred of Israel
This will soon lead to a major Middle East conflict
The political bias of most western nations against Israel sharpens into aggression when we turn to the Middle East. Much of the conflict between Israel and the Arab-Islamic nations is over Israel’s very existence:
We must constantly repeat that the root of the conflict is the very existence of the State of Israel, the refusal to recognise the State of Israel in any borders whatsoever.Benjamin Netanyahu, 2012
For example, consider the following aggressive statements:
Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it [Hamas Charter, 1988]
Israel has continued too long … the battle has come … we shall destroy Israel [President of Egypt, 1967]
Israel has no roots in the Middle East and would be ‘eliminated’ [President of Iran, 2012]
Israel is a cancerous tumour that should be cut and will be cut [Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 2012]
You [Zionist regime] will not see 25 years from today! [Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, Sept. 2015]
Iran has acquired what it takes to blow up the Zionist regime [Chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, 2021]
The revised Hamas Charter is essentially unchanged from 1988. So to date, no Hamas representative has ever renounced the Hamas Charter (it is a religious document and so cannot be changed, link) and their objective remains to replace the Jewish state with an Islamic caliphate, link. But those who say such things should note that they are simply fulfilling Bible prophecy:
They have said, ‘Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more’Psalm 83:4
And they should also note what the God of Israel promises His chosen nation:
No weapon formed against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17)
Aggression over ‘Land Occupation’
Today the Arab-Islamic hatred of Israel surfaces (or rather, masquerades) as a conflict over so-called ‘occupied land’, ‘illegal settlements’, and the religious significance of Jerusalem.
But legally the land is NOT ‘occupied’
For a detailed legal defence of Israel’s land rights see Israel’s Legal Borders. From a biblical point of view, the land of Israel was given by God to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants, see The Purpose of Israel. You cannot ‘occupy’ what is historically given to you!
In fact, the future biblical boundaries of Israel range from ‘the River of Egypt’ (probably not the Nile) in the south, to the Jordan valley in the east, to Hamath in the north (see The Millennial Reign of Christ). Clearly, the boundaries include both the Gaza strip and the West Bank of the Jordan. They also include significant parts of present-day Syria i.e. up to Hamath, and probably all of Lebanon.
At the end of the day, the biblical injunction to Israel is to live in her ‘promised land’ and embrace the foreigner in the land. This is the ultimate solution to the Palestinian problem.
Clearly, the trauma caused by so-called ‘illegal settlements’ has to be acknowledged (see The Palestinian problem), but the settlement problem must also be seen in context. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was raging long before the building of settlements:
From 1948 to 1967 (when the West Bank was part of Jordan and Gaza was part of Egypt) the Arab world sought Israel’s annihilation when not a single settlement stood anywhere in the West Bank or Gaza. The primary obstacle to peace is the Arab world’s refusal to acknowledge the Jewish people’s ancient connection to the Land of Israel – and the Palestinian’s insistence on the so-called right of return (where Palestinians return to the Jewish state).Ron Prosor, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Security Council
The Gog-Magog War
Future Middle East conflict: an Arab-Islamic invasion
It seems very plausible that Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 refer to an invasion of Israel prior to the so-called ‘Battle of Armageddon’, and that this involves mainly those Arab-Islamic nations surrounding Israel.
This view is supported by the fact that some nations denounce the invasion (Ezekiel 38:13) and by the fact that God is ‘hallowed’ in the sight of many other nations through the defeat of the invader (Ezekiel 38:16, 39:27). In other words, not all nations seem to be involved. Moreover, key Arab-Islamic nations seem to be identified, and so this viewpoint suggests the defeat and humiliation of militant Islam in the sight of many nations. Let’s examine this in more detail.
Is Russia Involved?
The invasion is sometimes referred to as the Gog-Magog war since it is led by:
Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal … you will come from your place out of the far north …Ezekiel 38:2,15, emphasis added
Here, ‘Gog’ could be a specific people, or the leader of an alliance of nations, link. But where is the land of Magog?
According to Genesis 10, Magog was the 2nd son of Japheth, the son of Noah, and his descendants are often referred to by their Greek name, the Scythians. Put another way, historians like Hesiod, Josephus, Philo and Herodotus identified Magog with the Scythians, link. So where did the Scythians settle? Most Bible scholars agree that the Scythians lived in the northern regions above the Caucasus mountains, settling north of the Black Sea, see Fig.3, link.
So today there is general agreement that Magog refers to the ancient tribal groups that once occupied the area that now comprises Russia and modern Central Asia. Whilst Moscow itself is not directly due north of Israel, the military arm of the Russian Federation is indeed to the ‘far north’ of Israel (Russia’s South Strategic Command headquarters are in Rostov-on-Don – a port on the Black Sea, link).
Gomer and the house of Togarmah are also mentioned (Ezekiel 38:6). Gomer was an Aryan group who conquered Armenia (essentially present-day Turkey) from their Ukrainian homeland, and Togarmah was the south-eastern part of Turkey near the Syrian border. As for Meshech and Tubal (Ezekiel 38:2), biblical maps locate them in Asia Minor or Turkey – again, all north of Israel. Turkey suggests Islamic forces, and this view is supported by the other nations involved (Ezekiel 38:5), namely Persia aka Iran (now 99% Muslim), Ethiopia (Heb: Cush) and Libya (Heb: Put).
All this is pretty specific on location and seems to involve principally Arab-Islamic nations in the Middle East, plus Russia (see Fig.4).
Hooks in Jaws
In 2022 Russia looked west and invaded her neighbour, Ukraine. But God says to Gog:
I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army . . .Ezekiel 38:4
At some future date it appears that Russia will look south – to Israel. Why? To “take plunder” (Ezekiel 38:13). In today’s world this could well be Israel’s recently discovered massive gas and oil reserves.
Is Syria Involved?
If Israel is to be invaded from the north, then, if only from a geographic viewpoint, it would seem Syria must be involved (see Fig.2). Moreover, this mainly Arabic country is 88% Islamic and is already Israel’s enemy. Israel has warned Syria that it now considers Hezbollah to be the military arm of Syria, and that – if Hezbollah attacks Israel – Israel will “return Syria to the Stone Age”, link. And that includes destroying Damascus, the capital. Damascus is claimed to be the world’s oldest, continuously inhabited city. Whilst it has suffered attack (2 Kings 16:9) it has never been totally destroyed – until now. Prophecy states that one day soon it will be totally destroyed:
Damascus will cease from being a city … it will be a ruinous heapIsaiah 17:1
Further detail about the defeat of Damascus is found in Jeremiah 49:23-27. The destruction comes through the intervention of the God of Israel (v27).
Weapons and Gog’s Destruction
As discussed, a straight reading of prophecy suggests that Israel’s invaders use primitive weapons that can be burnt for fuel (Ezekiel 39:9-10 suggests they are combustible). However, Malachi 4 and Zechariah 14 may refer to the actual weapons used, which seem to be modern, and so the combustible element could be unused fuel.
The invaders do not appear to reach Jerusalem; rather, they fall on the mountains of Israel and in the open field (Ezekiel 39:4-5). They appear to be defeated by God’s intervention, rather than by the armies of Israel (Ezekiel 39:3). This is in the form of extreme weather – extreme rain and hail – and also by fire and brimstone, probably similar to that which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Ezekiel 38:22).
Perhaps the most significant result of this invasion is that the supernatural intervention by the God of Israel forces the nations (including Israel) to recognise Him (Ezekiel 38:16, 39:21-29).
Timing of the Gog-Magog War
The Gog-Magog invasion occurs when Israel is at peace and feels secure:
… a land of unwalled villages … a peaceful people dwelling securely …Ezekiel 38:11
This may simply refer to the fact that through the recent Aliyah (high immigration to Israel), Israel will be overflowing with people at the time of the invasion. Bear in mind that, in just 100 years, the Jewish population of Israel has risen an amazing 7,700 percent. This high immigration is in line with prophecy:
Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in itZechariah 2:4, emphasis added
If this is the reason for Israel’s ‘peace’, we can make the following observations (assuming Ezekiel 38 and 39 refer to the same event):
- Gog is probably defeated at least seven years before the start of Daniel’s Week 70 and the signing of the (false) peace treaty under the World Dictator. This allows for the seven years during which Israel makes fires with Gog’s weapons, rather than use wood from her forests (Ezekiel 38:9,10). It seems unlikely that this seven year burning period will extend into Week 70 and Antichrist’s rule
- On these assumptions, the rapture of the true church could be before or after the Gog-Magog war (but before the seven-year tribulation period)
On the other hand, Ezekiel 38:11 may refer to a false peace and false security. This may be the seven-year peace treaty signed between the World Dictator and Israel at the start of Daniel’s 70th week (Daniel 9:27). If this is the source of Israel’s ‘peace’ then Gog’s invasion may start during the first half of Week 70. On this assumption, the true church may never see the Gog-Magog war since she will have been removed (raptured) before Week 70.
A Post-Millennial Invasion?
If Ezekiel 38 refers to a different war to Ezekiel 39, then Ezekiel 38 may refer to the post-Millennial Gog-Magog invasion of Israel in Revelation 20:7-10. Certainly, Israel will be at peace and live securely throughout the Millennium with no need for military forces (Ezekiel 38:8,11), and it will be necessary for God alone to destroy the invader (Ezekiel 38:22, Revelation 20:9). Also, today’s weapons will be a thing of the past in the Millennium and primitive weapons (Ezekiel 38:4-5) may return. See also The Last Years of this Age and The Millennial Age.
The Battle of Armageddon
The final Middle East conflict: the ‘all-nation’ invasion of Israel
Jerusalem is the vortex of the last Middle East War
I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand upon the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:2-4)
The timing of this invasion appears to be after the Gog-Magog invasion. It appears to be at the very end of this age as the nations wage war against the returning Christ. In other words, it is a mysterious man-God war! God says:
Proclaim this among the nations: prepare for war … assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around’ (Joel 3:9,11)
I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle … (Zechariah 14:2)
I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone … though all nations of the earth are gathered against it (Zechariah 12:3)
Who is the Leader of this Invasion?
When it comes to leadership, there are many biblical references to a particular individual (rather than to a world government). He is the ‘little horn’ of Daniel 7:20, the ‘abominator’ of Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15, the ‘king’ of Daniel 11:36, the ‘king of the north’ of Daniel 11:40, the ‘man of sin’ of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, the ‘lawless one’ of 2 Thessalonians 2:8, the political and military ‘beast’ of Revelation 13:1-8, the ‘conqueror’ of Revelation 6:2, and the ‘beast’ of Revelation 19:19.
In short, he is the end time World Dictator, who many believe will arise from a Revived Roman Empire in Europe. It is probably this despicable, Satanically driven individual who makes a 7-year peace treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27).
What of America?
The term ‘all nations’ appears to be precisely that (rather than Middle East nations local to Israel) if it is to be consistent with Zechariah 14:9; the Lord cannot be King over part of the earth! Now if all world leaders attack Israel, this implies a change of policy in America, or even the absence of America on the world scene! Bear in mind that the nations will be under the World Government which will be vehemently anti-Christian and anti-Jewish.
What of China?
As suggested, the political and secular leader of the coming World Government is also a military leader. Satan gives him total military supremacy over mankind (Revelation 13:1-4). He readily wages war on the earth, and a quarter of the world’s population dies as a result of war at the time of the 4th seal (Revelation 6:8).
Later, at the sounding of the 6th trumpet, he may engage in another major war, this time a Middle East war. Recall that at the pouring out of the 6th bowl of wrath, the Euphrates dries up and provides a path for ‘the kings of the east‘ (Revelation 16:12). Then at the 6th trumpet, demonic activity draws a massive army (200 million strong) and the resulting war kills a further third of mankind (Revelation 9:13-21). In total perhaps half of mankind die as a result of these end time wars.
Some speculate that this battle involves China (as in ‘kings from the east’), link. As of 2012, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was the largest army in the world (2.3m) with increasing hi-tech weaponry. Between 2007-2016 Chinese military spending increased by 118 percent compared with a decrease of 5 percent for the USA, BBC World News.
The Location: Armageddon
It is this last gathering of forces that terminates the Middle East conflicts of this age. As the 6th bowl of Revelation is poured out, demonic spirits entice the leaders of the nations to gather for battle (Revelation 16:12-16).
The armies gather at a place called Armageddon (Heb: ‘har megiddo’ or ‘Mountain of Megiddo’, Revelation 16:16). This is located in northern Israel in the valley or plain of Jezreel, near Mount Carmel. It is an ideal location for amassing large armies. As discussed, it may be the location of the last war between human armies.
But we certainly know that it is the gathering place for the world’s armies as they prepare for the final war against Jerusalem and in particular for war against Christ and His armies (Revelation 19.19, Zechariah 12:2-9).
This unique man-God war is the final Middle East war of this age – ‘the great day of God Almighty’ (Revelation 16:14). It is described in detail in Revelation 19:11-21 and Zechariah 14. In summary:
- half of the city of Jerusalem is captured
- God Himself fights against the world’s armies
- the Israeli’s (the ‘tribe of Judah’) also fight
- the attacking armies suffer a ‘flesh-rotting’ plague and are defeated
- If Ezekiel 39 refers to this war, it will take Israel seven months to bury the defeated armies
- the end time World Dictator – the ‘beast’ is captured and removed from the earthly scene
Prophecy also suggests the type of weaponry used in this coming aggression against Jerusalem. The ‘all-nation’ war could use neutron bombs (since these vaporise flesh at close range) and also nuclear devices (since Malachi 4 refers to a time of fierce heat when attackers will be burnt to ashes). This last battle of the age sees the end of the godless World Government and ushers in the Millennial reign of Christ. This is the time when Christ reigns from Jerusalem as King over all the earth (Zechariah 14:9).
The Implications for YOU
End time prophecies are being fulfilled before our eyes; the emergence of a World Government, the emergence of Israel, the emergence of electronic ID, and the ubiquitous climate change. You are being swept into a humanistic, godless and potentially brutal World Government or New World Order.
Sooner or later this system will require you to receive the mark of Revelation (the ultimate electronic ID) in order to buy or sell. And because of its hatred towards the God of the Bible, Christians and Jews, this world system will conspire against Israel. National armies will be mobilised for war against Israel. You may even be asked to have some part in this invasion.
The current turmoil in the Middle East and the anger against Israel are signs that an invasion will take place in the foreseeable future. Within just 100 years Israel has gone from insignificance to the vortex of the world.
The significant point is that when the final invasion starts Jesus will return to earth. In fact, there is strong biblical support for the view that Christians (believers in Christ) will be taken from the earth prior to the emergence of the World Dictator and the coming middle east wars. Christians refer to this as the Rapture.
World Government or Jesus Christ
See Steps You Must Take