By Matt Leasher
When one examines the geographical scope of Bible prophecy, one can’t help but easily observe the divine prominence of the nation of Israel—and rightfully so, as God has undoubtedly chosen Israel to be the centerpiece for fulfilling His purpose for all of history. Upon further examination of Old Testament Scriptures, we also see a repeated mention of the nations that surround Israel that are her adversaries. The prophetic books of Scripture, particularly those of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, all tell of the fate of Israel’s enemy nations—some of which seem to have already come to pass, while others are still at hand. The fate of these enemy nations of Israel is God’s wrath. In fact, to be quite precise, Ezekiel 32 mentions several nations that are consigned to the Pit…and we all know what the Pit is! What I find especially significant about the nations listed in Ezekiel 32 that are consigned to the Pit is that they are all the same Muslim nations that are persistently threatening Israel today. They are: Egypt (v. 18); Assryia, which is today’s Syria (v. 22); Elam, which is today’s Iran (vs. 24); Meshach and Tubal, which are today’s Turkey (vs. 26); Edom, which is today’s Jordan (vs. 29); and the Sidonians, today’s Lebanon (vs. 30). This is by no means a coincidence. In fact, the word “coincidence” doesn’t even belong in Bible prophecy and isn’t found anywhere in the Bible. Let’s further examine these prophetic nations that surround Israel and what the Bible has to say about them and how they relate to today’s headlines.
For starters, it is only in this day and age that we can even do an examination such as this, for if it were a mere one hundred years ago, a map of the Middle East wouldn’t show the boundaries of the nations there today. Nor was Israel back in existence at that time. But in the twentieth century, all of that changed. We know that we are in the last days because Israel is back in the land, as of 1948, when she became a nation again and the prophecies concerning the Lord returning to Israel can now be fulfilled. But what tends to get overlooked are the enemy nations around Israel that have returned to their same approximate biblical borders, but with different names. Almost all of them have done this in the twentieth century, as if that century was a “stage setting” era for the end-time events that are soon to take place.
There is the old saying that history repeats itself. Looking back upon history, we see many examples of that. The most current one is the uncanny similarity between today’s Iranian regime and the 1930s Nazi regime. Both were led by a maniac bent on eradicating the existence of the Jewish people while threatening the rest of the West by parading extravagant media displays of all of their latest weaponries. The only difference is that Iran is on the brink of obtaining weapons of mass destruction. One can only imagine what would have happened if Hitler had possessed such weapons. You would think that the world would have learned its lesson, and that people would not have been sitting around twiddling their thumbs all those years watching Hitler build a military arsenal of evil. But as King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” It is with that notion that we can come to understand that Israel’s enemy nations have re-emerged into history, just as Israel has. With this in mind, let’s look at the nations listed in the prophetic books of the Bible as being Israel’s direct enemies and who they are now. I will list them by their biblical references and where they are now. Take special note of the dates that they re-emerged into their current territories.
Egypt – An enemy of Israel since the days of Moses when the nation enslaved the Israelites, it has been an adversary of Israel ever since. Although the great empires and dynasties of Egypt are long gone, today it is a prominent Muslim nation with ties to many of Israel’s other enemies. Egypt became independent from the United Kingdom in 1922 and then a Republic in 1953. God’s anger and wrath against Egypt is declared in Psalm 78:43–51, Isaiah 19, Jeremiah 46, and Ezekiel 29, 30, and 31.
lebanon – Once an ally to Israel during the days of King Solomon, it quickly became an enemy after Solomon died. Lebanon remained in opposition to Israel throughout the years of the kings of Israel and Judah. God’s anger and wrath towards Lebanon is declared in Isaiah 23 (Phoenicia being Lebanon), Ezekiel 26, 27, and 28 (specifically Tyre and Sidon, which are capital cities still present in Lebanon today). Lebanon declared its independence from France in 1941, and was recognized in 1943. Today, Lebanon is a major Muslim nation that firmly opposes Israel and is home of the Hezbollah terrorist organization.
Syria – A remnant of the biblical Assyria, it was a major enemy of Israel throughout the entire Old Testament. The capital city of Damascus is the oldest inhabited city in the world. Isaiah 17:1 declares a prophecy of the destruction of Damascus that is still yet to be fulfilled! “The burden against Damascus. Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap.” If a nuclear exchange were to occur between Israel and Iran, Damascus is just between those two nations. God’s anger and wrath against Syria is declared in Isaiah 10:5–19, Isaiah 14:24–27, Jeremiah 49:23–27, and Zephaniah 2:13–15; the whole book of Nahum prophecies judgment on Nineveh, the ancient capital city of Assyria. Modern Syria became independent from France in1946. Syria is currently in coalition with Lebanon and Iran, plotting against Israel under radical president Bashar al-Assad.
Ammon, Moab, Edom – All of these make up today’s nation of Jordan. All three were descendants of Israel. The Ammonites and Moabites were related to Israel through Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Ammon and Moab were the two sons born out of the incestuous relation of Lot and his two daughters (Genesis 19:29–38). Edom is another name for Jacob’s twin brother, Esau. Throughout the Old Testament, the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites are constantly at war with Israel, and often would ally with other empires such as Babylon against Israel. God’s anger and wrath towards Ammon, Moab, and Edom is declared in Isaiah 15, Isaiah 21, Jeremiah 48 and 49, Ezekiel 25 and 35 (Mount Seir being Edom). The book of Obadiah is about the judgment and destruction of Edom. The prophecy declares that Edom would be forever desolate. Even though the area where Edom once existed is currently controlled by Jordan, it still remains a barren, desolate land. The boundaries that these three nations used to inhabit are together the same boundaries that today’s nation of Jordan resides. Jordan became an independent nation in 1946 and is the base of the Palestine Authority. It has been in opposition and conflict with Israel for decades, particularly the West Bank section of Israel.
Philistia – Approximately in the same area as today’s Gaza Strip, Philistia which has been a thorn in Israel’s side since it was organized in 1993. Ancient Philistia was an enemy of Israel since the days of Joshua and especially in the days of King David. Goliath the giant was a Philistine. The name “Palestine” was derived from the word “Philistine.” God’s anger and wrath towards Philistia is declared in Isaiah 14:28–32, Jeremiah 47, and Ezekiel 25:15–17. The Gaza Strip acquired its current boundaries after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and was organized in 1993 out of the Oslo accords. Israel gave it over to full control of the Palestinians in 2005. Today, the Gaza Strip is the home of the terrorist organization of Hamas, and a constant exchange of rocket missiles goes on between them and Israel to this day.
Elam – This is the ancient name of the area that became Persia, which became Iran in 1935. Elam was the oldest son of Shem, the son of Noah after whom the ancient country was named. The Elamites later became the Medes, and then came the Median-Persian Empire, infamous for conquering the Babylon Empire. The Persians were both friend and foe to Israel. King Cyrus was the Persian king who allowed the Jewish captives to return to Israel and rebuild their temple and city after they conquered Babylon, but later King Xerxes decreed to wipe out the Jewish people by the request of his adviser Haman as reported in the book of Esther. (But of course we know that Esther saved the day). Persia remained Persia for centuries, even after the Persian Empire fell to the Grecian Empire. In 1935 it became Iran, and then the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. God’s anger and wrath against Elam is declared in Isaiah 11:11, Jeremiah 25:25, and Jeremiah 49:34–39, which is an apocalyptic oracle against Elam! Today, Iran is undoubtedly the most ominous threat to Israel. Its maniacal leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has openly declared his intention to eliminate Israel as a nation, echoing verse 4 from Psalm 83 (whether he knows it or not). Iran’s ever-increasing military strength and alliances are beyond any other threat that Israel faces today. Ezekiel 38 and 39 foretell Persia (Iran) as being one of the coalition of nations that attempts to invade Israel in the last days, provoking divine interaction from the Lord Himself.
The other nations listed in Ezekiel 38 and 39 are many of Israel’s current Muslim enemies as well. There is Put, which is today’s Libya, a Muslim-dominant nation led by longtime radical leader and Israel-hater Muammar al-Gaddafi. Then there are Cush, which is today’s Ethiopia, and/or Sudan. Sudan is a Muslim country, but Ethiopia is still a country of mixed religions. There are Meshech, Tubal and Lydia, areas located in today’s Turkey—the newest nation to become a Muslim-dominant enemy to Israel. Turkey was a longtime ally of Israel and a secular nation until just recently, when Abdullah Gul became the first Islamic president since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923. Turkey has recently turned its back on Israel. Turkey also has a very large and powerful military. Then there are Rosh and Magog, areas determined to be in today’s Russia. Russia has recently become a vastly large Muslim populace, but is still an independent federal republic of its own; however, within the last seven or so years, it has become a very strong ally with Iran and has assisted Iran greatly in its nuclear program. So looking at these nations from the Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled, we can certainly see that the prophet Ezekiel clearly was seeing into the current day that we are living in. The names of the nations may have changed, but the circumstance is exactly as Ezekiel predicted it would be… in the last days!
In addition to the nations listed above, there are few short mentions from the Old Testament prophets of some other areas significant to today’s headlines. This includes Kedar and Hazor, whose judgment is declared in Jeremiah 49:28–33. They are areas in today’s Saudi Arabia. The prophecy says that Hazor will be a desolation forever, a dwelling place for jackals where no one will reside (vs. 33). Today’s Saudi Arabia is full of desert wilderness where no one dwells. There is also the mention of Teman several times. This is in the area of today’s nation of Yemen. Prophecies concerning Teman are found in Jeremiah 49:7, Ezekiel 25:13, Amos 1:12, and Obadiah 1:9. Yemen is yet another Muslim country that has recently been in the news headlines several times in regards to various terrorist plots.
Then there is Babylon. God used the Babylonian Empire to chastise His people in Judah by allowing them to conquer Jerusalem, destroy the first temple, and take His people captive for seventy years. But Babylon was then conquered by the Media-Persian Empire and went out of existence. God’s anger and wrath against Babylon are declared in Isaiah 13, Jeremiah 50 and 51, and Revelation 17 and 18. The capital city of Babylon itself is located in today’s Iraq, and Saddam Hussein began to reconstruct the ancient ruins of Babylon with intentions of making it a palace and headquarters for his own regime. Several prophecies in Zechariah and Revelation declare that Babylon will be the headquarters and religious fortress for the Antichrist in the last days. Currently, the future of Iraq seems to be in limbo as the government is still in a state of repair and the U.S. military is in the process of pulling out. If anywhere in the Middle East would be up for grabs for a world dictator to use as a headquarters in the near future, it would be Iraq…which is where Babylon is. On a side note, Babylon is also the location of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11), in an area known as the land of Shinar in those times. The construction of the tower of Babel was the last time the entire world tried to come together as one entity in opposition to God. That same geographical area just may very well be the center of a coming New World Order that we see rapidly forming before our very eyes today.
So looking back at all of the nations listed above and their scenarios, what does all of this mean? It means that Bible prophecy is as relevant today as it was when it was written. It means that the geographical aspect of Bible prophecy is one of the most visible and tangible evidences to the truth and accuracy of the prophetic Scriptures. You can literally hold the world news section of your newspaper and your Bible side by side and see the stunning accuracy. It means that we should take all of the yet-unfulfilled prophecies literally, since history shows us that the fulfilled prophecies have come true just as they were written. It means that the Lord has warned us of things to come so that we may know when His return is near, and it means that the nations that go against Israel (God’s land) are going to be subjected to His divine wrath (see Genesis 12:2–3). We can be sure of this because we have His Word on it! Bible prophecy is not meant to scare us, but to prepare us.
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19–21).