This week we look at what and where are the "mountains of Israel", an expression we often read of in the book of Ezekiel. Why is this area singled out in prophecy, separate from the rest of the land of Israel?
In Scripture we often read of the “mountains of Israel”, especially in relation to Prophecy. In Eze 34 we read of a prophecy of the return of Israel to these mountains;
“And I will bring them [Israel] out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.”
In Eze 37:
And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:
And we then read of the destruction of Gog in this area in Eze 39
Thou [Gog] shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.
These passages were what influenced John Thomas to write in Eureka
“there will have been a considerable gathering of Israelites upon the mountains of Israel before the invasion of the country by Gog, and his capture of Jerusalem.”.
So the question that we have is what area is this, the mountains of Israel?
Well we first read of them in Joshua 11:21 when Joshua is taking the land of Canaan for Israel.
And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities.
And so what we see here is that this area, the mountains of Israel, was inhabited by the children of Anak, the Anakim, and specifically, Hebron, Debir and Anab.
When we look at a relief map of Israel we can clearly see Hebron on the top of a mountain range that runs through the land of Israel. Debir and Anab are also in this mountainous area and so we can see that the area that we read of as the mountains of Israel is quite logically the large range of mountains that runs through the land.
The point to consider then is why does scripture single this area out specifically in prophecy? We read that Israel would be fed upon the mountains of Israel, Gog would fall upon the mountains of Israel, and again and again we see this area mentioned specifically.
In 1948, after the State of Israel was declared Israel was invaded on multiple borders. The only country that made much progress against the new state was Jordan, which took control of the majority of this area, meaning Israel did not at this time have control of the mountains of Israel. Jordan annexed the area and referred to it as the West Bank – the area west of the Jordan river.
The Jews that settled in this area the Jordanians expelled, meaning that this prophecy of Israel being fed upon the mountains of Israel was still unfulfilled despite there being the State of Israel being established. This remained the case until in 1967 Israel took this area which it has held ever since.
Since this time Jews have started to settle again in the mountains, in the West Bank. However, because of the difference in history of the area to the rest of Israel, Israeli ownership of the area has become a controversial issue. A simple planning application for a new house in this area has been known to reach the UN Security council.
And so with this in mind, when we again consider the prophecies regarding the mountains of Israel, and see that it is this area that Gog specifically comes against, the fact that the mountains of Israel, the West Bank is the most emotive area of the land is no surprise. We read in Zechariah 12 that Jerusalem (part of the mountains of Israel) would be a cup of trembling unto all people round about, and also a burdensome stone, that all people would be gathered against. And so it is today that we see Jerusalem, and the rest of the West Bank exactly this, a major political issue that although all nations look to solve it, they are unable to. We are told that all nations will gather against it, which links to what we read about Gog coming against the mountains of Israel in Eze 38.
So, do we see today a “considerable gathering of Israelites upon the mountains of Israel”?
Well what we do see is a ever growing number of Israelis on these mountains, only a few days ago a report by Peace Now – an anti-Israel and anti-settler group – released a report saying that since Obama left office Israeli settlements in these areas have boomed. The report said that Trump’s friendly attitude to Israeli settlement growth has led to a huge increase to already rapid settlement growth. Trump’s ambassador to Israel recently told the New York Times that he believed Israel had the "right" to annex some of the West Bank, upsetting many who oppose Israeli settlements in the area.
And so yes we do see at least the start of this gathering on the mountains of Israel, preparing for the time when this northern army invades the land, coming against the mountains of Israel.
And we know that it will be after that time that Jerusalem will exalted to the top of the mountains, when all nations will flow unto it to worship in the temple.
This has been Paul Barnes joining you for this week's Bible in the News.