Psalm 83 War
Some interesting questions are often raised concerning the war described in Psalm 83. Some of the questions being asked are: “Has it already happened?” or “Is it yet to happen?” If it has already happened, “When did it happen historically?” If it is yet to happen. “Is it the same war as the battle of Gog and Magog as described in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39?” If these are two distinctly different wars, “In what order do they occur?” And finally, “When does each one occur in relation to the tribulation period?” These are some of the questions that have scholars scouring Scriptures in search of answers. Let’s deal with the Psalm 83 war first. There are several views concerning the interpretation of Psalm 83.
Some believe this prophecy has already been fulfilled. Of those who do, most think it was fulfilled during the six-day war of 1967 when a confederacy of nations surrounding Israel went to war against her. The countries of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, along with displaced Palestinians, were a part of this confederacy. Though being outnumbered, total population wise, by more than twenty-eight to one, Israel had these nations begging for mercy in just six days of fighting. Despite the overwhelming odds, God’s providential workings gave Israel a decisive victory over this Arab confederacy.
Others believe that this prophecy is yet to be fulfilled. Of these, some thing that the Psalm 83 war is the same as the war of Gog and Magog, while others believe that these are two distinctly separate wars. Those who have this viewpoint in common find themselves disagreeing about the order in which they happen and when they occur concerning the tribulation period. Now let us examine Psalm 83 to see if we can discover some answers to questions cited above.
The Context of Psalm 83
The context of this Psalm is a prophetic prayer asking God not to be silent and still any longer but get involved because of what is happening to Israel at the time to which this prophecy was pointing.
1A Song. A Psalm of Asaph. Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, And do not be still, O God! 2For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. 3They have taken crafty counsel against Your people and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. 4They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That came the name of Israel may be remembered no more。“ 5For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You. 6The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; 7Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; 8Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah
Note they remind God that His enemies, who hate Him, are the problem. They are stirring up trouble and raising their head against Him by taking counsel to come against His people, Israel. They proceed to inform God what the enemy’s crafty counsel and the ultimate goal was. They intended to cut Israel off from being a nation and cause her name to be remembered no more. They also tell God that the countries surrounding them have formed a confederacy against Israel, that their counsel and goal might become a reality.
At this point in the Psalm, one cannot tell the time period to which this prophecy is referring. Throughout Israel’s history, the nations have conspired against her. This, no doubt, is because the devil has always hated and spitefully come against those who God loves. Let us continue to examine this Psalm to see if there are any clues to determine whether or not this has or has not happened.
Has Psalm 83 Been Fulfilled?
In verse 6, the nations and people groups making up this confederacy are identified.
6tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; 7Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; 8Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah
The nations represented by these people are as follows: Edom, Moab, and Ammon dwelt in various regions of what is now known as Jordan. The Ishmaelites lived in Saudi Arabia and part of southern Jordan. The Hagrites refers to people in Egypt. The inhabitants of Tyre and Gebal dwelt in Lebanon. Philistia refers to the Gaza Strip. Assyria refers to a part of the nation of Syria and possibly norther Iraq. Amalek refers to the Arabs that live south of Israel, which would include the Sinai Peninsula and parts of Saudi Arabia. The children of Lot have already been mentioned as dwelling in Jordan, since Abraham’s brother, Haran, was the father of Lor whose two sons were Moab and Ammon.
At this time, I would like to draw your attention to the people groups of this confederacy that settled in some of these nations. Verse six speaks of the “tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites.” People living in tents instead of houses and cities carry the connotation of being wandering nomads separated from civilized society. Both of these groups were displaced refugees. Let me explain. Though both of the fathers of Ishmael and Edom (Esau) were a part of the genealogy of Christ, these sons were not. They were castaways, of refugees, from the commonwealth of Christ. They each settled in regions of the nations of this confederacy. The Ishmaelites primarily settled in Saudi Arabia. The Edomites settled in the mountains surrounding Mt. Seir in southern Jordan.
Remember the story of Jacob and Esau? Esau and Jacob were twins. When their father, Isaac, was about to die, Jacob by deceit stole the birthright of his first-born brother, Esau. He had to flee for his life, and there has been bad blood between the two ever since. Genesis records some interesting facts about Esau. It says that after eating the red soup of Jacob, his name was called Edom, which means “red.” Genesis 36:1, when recording the genealogy of Esau, says that Esau is Edom. Even as the generations of Jacob were renamed Israel, so Esau’s generations have been renamed Edom, who are the current day Palestinians. To this very day, there is animus between the lineage of Esau, the Palestinians, and the lineage of Jacob, the Israelites. From this, we can see that the confederacy spoken of in this passage consists of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian refugees. Though these refugees are scattered throughout many of these nations, their largest concentration is found in Jordan.
Let’s compare this confederacy with that which fought against Israel in the six-day war in June of 1967. The five belligerents were Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. Notice that the confederacy of Psalm 83 and the confederacy of the six-say war are different, even though some of the nations are participants in both. Iraq was a part of the six-day war but is not listed in the confederacy of the Psalm 83 war. Participants of the Psalm 83 war who were not a part of the six-day war include Saudi Arabia and the Gaza Strip. As a matter of fact, Saudi Arabia did not even offer support to the coalition of the six-day war. Therefore we conclude that the six-day war was not a prophetic fulfillment of Psalm 83. Because there is no historical evidence that such a confederacy has ever gone to war with Israel, we can also conclude that this war is yet to happen.
Is Psalm 83, Gog and Magog?
Now the question becomes, “Is the Psalm 83 war and the battle of Gog and Magog referring to the same war?” To answer this question, let us compare the confederacies listed in both. The confederacy of Gog and Magog can be found in Ezekiel chapter 38. We will look at this passage of Scripture in more detail in the next chapter. For now, let me list the nations that appear in the first six verses of Ezekiel 38. Russia, parts of the former USSR, and Iran (Persia) are the major players. Other nations that comprise this coalition include Cush (Sudan and Ethiopia), Put (Libya, Algeria, and Tunisia), Turkey and surrounding regions, and possibly Germany (Gomer). There two confederacies are not even close to being the same. This leads me to believe that these are two distinctly different wars. So now, we will set our focus on the Psalm 83 war.
The Psalm 83 War
Not one of the nations in this confederacy is listed as being a part of the coalition of Gog and Magog. When you consider the longstanding hate and vitriol of the people in the nations that geographically surround Israel, it confounds all logical thinking as to why they wouldn’t gladly participate in this Russian/Iranian-led war. It begs the question, “Why would none of these nations gladly jump at the opportunity to see the destruction of Israel become a reality?” Could it be they had a change of heart toward Israel? I seriously doubt that. I personally believe the only two reasonable explanations could be as follows:
- Iran and/or Russia already absorbed them before the Psalm 83 war.
- The Arab confederacy described in Psalm 83 has already attempted such an assault on Israel and were soundly and entirely defeated. They were completely annexed, occupied, and governed by Israel.
My personal conviction is that it is the latter of the above options. This certainly would explain the absence of these nations in the Russian/Iranian coalition. If either or both of these scenarios are true, then the Psalm 83 war happens before the battle of Gog and Magog. Are there any Scriptures that would lend credence to such a notion?
I believe the prophet, Ezekiel, prophesied such a notion. The battle of Gog and Magog is recorded in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. Many of the preceding chapters predict judgment of God upon the nations represented in Psalm 83 for their mistreatment of Israel. It also speaks of the judgment on Israel for departing from their God. Much of the context of these chapters deals with the conquests of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the punishments inflicted on these nations as a result of being defeated by his armies. I am persuaded these judgments were a typological fulfillment of that which will ultimately come again near the end of the age. According to Ezekiel, when Israel was conquered and led away captive, the surrounding nations clapped their hands and rejoiced over Israel’s demise. They even supported and assisted Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion and triumph. Because of their celebration, God used Babylon to judge them also. Nothing has changed. Even today, these same neighboring nations perpetrate many evil acts against Israel and then celebrate her demise. What motivated God to judge them in the days of Nebuchadnezzar will cause Him to do so once again in the future. We will cover this in more detail later in this chapter.
Consequently, to limit these judgments to the time of Israel’s Babylonian captivity only, I feel would be a theological miscue. Remember, Israel was led away captive again in 70 AD, and her demise was followed with the same response by their hateful surrounding neighbors. Often prophecy has a typological and ultimate fulfillment, and I believe this is the case in Ezekiel’s prophecy. Though Nebuchadnezzar’s name and exploits are mentioned frequently in the chapters leading up to Gog and Magog in chapter 38, the prophet jumps ahead from that time to the days in which we are currently living.
24″And there shall no longer be a pricking brier or a painful thorn for the house of Israel from among all who are around them, who despise them. Then they shall know that i am the Lord GOD.” 25’Thus says the Lord GOD: “When I have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and am hallowed in them in the sight of the Gentiles, then they will dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob. 26And they will dwell safely there, build houses, and plant vineyards; yes, they will dwell securely, when I execute judgments on all those around them who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God.”‘”
The phrase, “When I have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered.” speaks of Israel’s repatriation to her land in 1948. This not only identifies a period long after Nebuchadnezzar’s day but also supports the notion of Babylonian captivity being typological of the ultimate fulfillment at the end of this age. Notice in verses 24-25 that something happens that removes the continual harassment by Israel’s surrounding neighbors. I don’t, for one minute, believe the bullying stops because of a change in her neighbors’ attitudes and dispositions. Why then? The simple answer is the Psalm 83 war. God said this would happen after Israel is regathered, after God is sanctified in Israel in the sight of her neighbors, and after God brings His judgments on her neighbors. I believe this passage is referring to the Psalm 83 war when God’s favor for Israel will be clearly seen by her enemies in their defeat. Now let us look at this war and how it might possibly unfold very soon.
What Will Happen In This War?
Some scholars contend that God alone executes the judgments on Israel’s neighbors, and He does this during the “Day of the Lord” at His second coming. This means Israel has to contend with her enemies and wait to dwell securely and safely in her borders until the beginning of the millennial kingdom. I don’t believe that at all. First of all, the “Day of the Lord” is not a single day and event, but rather a three and a half-year period beginning after the announcement of this day of wrath in the sixth seal and ending after the seventh seal and the second coming of Christ with His saints. We will cover this event and timing in more detail later in this book. Now as to the contention that God will bring judgments on Israel’s neighbors without human involvement, let us look at a couple of passages of Scripture that deal with the judgments of Israel’s neighbors. The first one is found in Ezekiel 25.
13…therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “I will also stretch out My hand against Edom, cut off man and beast from ut, and make it desolate from Teman; Dedan shall fall by the sword. 14I will lay My vengeance on Edom by then and of My people Israel, that they may do in Edom according to My anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance,” says the Lord GOD.
Notice in verse 14 that God said He would bring His vengeance on Edom by the hand of His people Israel. Yes, God is delivering the judgment, but to assume this means He will not use mankind to bring it to pass is a mistaken assumption. It is evident in verse 14 Israel represented God’s anger and fury so that His enemies might know the vengeance of God. There are many examples of this in the Bible. For instance, God judged Israel, but he used Assyria as His rod to do so. This being said, God at times does bring judgment without human involvement, as was the case with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The second passage is found in Numbers 24, which speaks about Jesus judging Moab and Edom, who both dwelt in the nation we now call Jordan.
17″I see Hum, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all of the sons of tumult 18″And Edom shall be a possession; Seir also, his enemies, shall be a possession, While Israel does valiantly.
Notice that it says God will judge Moab and Edom but not by Himself. It will be while Israel does valiantly. Also, notice that not only does Israel defeat these enemies in this war but also takes possession of their lands. This is on the way to expanding her borders to match that which God prophesied to Abraham and his descendants as their inheritance.
18On the same day, the LORD made a convenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants, I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates- 18the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”
For a visual, there are many maps on the Internet showing the borders of the land mass God promised Abraham’s descendants (see map in Appendix A). For now, I will attempt to describe it with words. Imagine the western boundary being the Nile river in Egypt. Follow the Nile to the southern border of Egypt. Then draw a line from there across the Red Sea passing through the middle of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to where the Euphrates River empties into the Persian Gulf (at the border of Iraq and Kuwait). From there follow the Euphrates River northwest to Turkey and West to the Mediterranean Sea. When you are done, realize that you have just partitioned off a land mass that includes Egypt to the Nile River, the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Jordan, the Northwest half of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria and, of course, modern-day Israel. I personally believe that the war described in Psalm 83 will reset the very borders God promised in making His covenant with Abraham. If not then, when in the remainder of this age could this possibly happen? Imagine the stir that would create in the watching world and the United Nations security council. History records that the UN struggled with the land mass seized by Israel in the six-day war and forced her to give much of it back. In that war, Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank, and east Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. That pales in comparison to what God promised Abraham. There is considerable discrepancy between the conquered land mass Israel will acquire that belongs to the confederacy of Psalm 83. This should prove the six-day war is not the war of Psalm 83. As impossible as this all may seem, it is essential to remember that when God makes a covenantal promise, it will come to pass. As illogical and preposterous as it may seem, those who are God’s must dare to believe this will happen and begin praying in faith for its fulfillment.
In summarizing the Psalm 83 war, Israel is going to, by the providence of God, rid herself of all her contentious and abusive neighbors in the same way Israel did throughout her wilderness journeys and biblical history as a nation. Psalm 83 lists examples of kings that troubles Israel in the past and how God judged them by the hand of His chosen people. The prophetic prayer in this Psalm asks God to do the same with the nations of this confederacy as He did in their past.
What will happen in the war is somewhat straightforward if you believe God has heard and will answer the prayer of Psalm 83. How all this will transpire is another matter of considerable speculation. I sincerely believe there are plenty of Scriptures related to this Psalm that give valuable insights as to “what will happen” as well as presenting logical possibilities as to “how it will happen.” Allow me the grace to begin to speculate as to how this war might unfold by using the Scriptures. I in no way want to appear dogmatic but merely offer a possible scenario based on my understanding of biblical passages that address this subject matter.
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