Gaza in Bible Prophecy
Does Gaza have a significant role to play at the "time of the end"?
Thursday, January 01, 2009
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Israel has been bombarded by thousands of Qassam missiles from Gaza, the first being fired in 2001. However, since the Israeli communities of Gaza were destroyed and the Jews forcibly removed in 2005, the missile fire has become much worse. Even though the media have called these missiles "homemade", "cheap", "inaccurate", "rudimentary", ineffective" and "thrown together"; they are deadly, destroy homes, kill people and make life a living hell for those living in towns such as Sderot which are near Gaza. It is not true to call them "homemade", they have been in development since 2001 by the terror group Hamas and many improvements have been made. The Israeli army has in fact targeted "production factories", this is where they are manufactured. They are inaccurate, this does not matter to Hamas, however, the purpose of these missiles is to fire them indiscriminately at Israeli civilian areas. Their goal is to terrorize the Israelis, and to this end they have been successful. The Israeli Center for Victims of Terror and War found that 28 percent of adults and 30 percent of children in Sderot have post-traumatic stress disorder. The media has featured little coverage of these missile attacks and has minimized their effects. Hamas is now also firing more advanced missiles, made in China and Iran and smuggled in over the border with Egypt. It is for this reason that Israel has gone to war against Gaza.
At this time many may be wondering what kind of role, if any, Gaza may play in Bible prophecy. Gaza or the Philistines is featured in "the word of the Yahweh which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles", starting in Jeremiah in 46. Gaza is mentioned in chapter 47. However, this is not a latter day prophecy.
The Philistines are listed in Psalm 83 as one of the groups that say: "Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance." The Psalm is very clear that this campaign ends in the destruction and desolation of these nations. They are to become as "dung for the earth", "as stubble before the wind", they are to be filled with shame and the Psalmist says: "Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish". From this Psalm we definitely cannot expect the Gazians to have any great victories over Israel, rather we can expect them to be put to shame. Psalm 83 is a Psalm of Asaph and makes special reference to the "children of Lot". This is strongly connected with 2 Chronicles 20 where the children of Lot - Moab and Ammon - along with Mount Seir attack Judah. The victory is lead by Jahaziel a son of Asaph who with the singers goes before the army and takes up a refrain from a Psalm of Asaph in verse 21 and the battle is fought by Yahweh. The battle in 2 Chronicles 20 is typical of the time of the end.
Another prophecy that speaks about the area of Gaza is Joel chapter 3. In Joel 3:4, the prophet speaks of "all the coasts of Palestine". Joel 3 is definitely a latter day prophecy that we have referred to often on Bible in the News. The prophecy begins with the words: "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land." This is the introduction to the prophecy. Verses 3 through 8 then provide a summary of what the nations have done in scattering the Jewish people among the nations. Then starting in verse 9 the prophecy details what will happen at the time of Armageddon when the nations will be judged and threshed. Armageddon means "a heap of sheaves in a valley of threshing" and this idea is found in verse 13 and 14 of Joel 3. In the AV margin against the first word "decision" in verse 14, it has "threshing". The coasts of Palestine are mentioned in verse 4, in the historical part of the chapter. The question then is verse 4 recent history to the time of the end or is it more ancient history? Is this something we should be looking for the Arabs of Gaza to carry out or has it already happened? Verse 5 suggests that this is referring to ancient history. The prophet says: "Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things." This could refer to the Babylonian captivity when the pleasant things of Yahweh were removed from the temple. Nebuchadnezzar carried the pleasant things of Yahweh from the temple to his temples in Babylon. This is mentioned in Daniel 1:2:
"And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god."
One may also think of the famous image carved on the arch of Titus, of the golden candlestick which had been plundered from the temple by the Roman armies. It is difficult to see that in this summary of the past in Joel 3 verses 3 to 8, that there could be a future fulfillment of Yahweh's silver and gold and goodly pleasant things being taken from Jerusalem. This is practically impossible without the building again of the temple and sanctification of the furniture. As we know this will not occur until the temple of Ezekiel's prophecy is built. We should not look then for the Arabs of Gaza to sell the Jews to the Grecians. This is a summary of the past.
If the Arabs of Gaza are still around they could side with Gog when he invades the land; or they could be overthrown by Gog - the king of the north - when he stretches forth his hand against the land of Egypt (Daniel 11:42). If they do side with Gog they would be included in the "all nations" of Joel 3 verse 2. They will be judged along with Gog and destroyed in the battle of Armageddon.
In contrast to invasions of the land in the past by Babylon and Rome, when Gog invades the land it is for his destruction and not the destruction of Israel. The destruction of Gog will be so great that Yahweh will be known in the eyes of many nations (Ezekiel 38:23). For the Jews it will be a trial of faith, however they will not all go into captivity and be scattered among the nations again. "Half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city." (Zechariah 14:2) They will bear their shame, for the trespasses they trespass against Yahweh while they dwell safely in the land - see Ezekiel 39:26. Ezekiel 39:9 mentions those that dwell in the cities of Israel going forth to destroy the weapons of Gog. It is evident that they have not been taken into captivity but are still in the land.
Armageddon will be a time of utter destruction for the nations. It is the time of trouble for the nations, such as never has been. The time of Jacob's trouble is almost over, having lasted 2300 prophetical day years (Daniel 8:14). The days of vengeance are past. When Gog invades the land Michael will stand up to deliver the people of Israel. This blow from the rainbowed angel will shatter Gog and commence this great time of trouble for the nations - Daniel 12:1:
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."
Before this great invasion of the land takes place there must be a time of peace and safety as prophesied by Ezekiel in chapter 38. It could be that events taking place in Gaza today, will help neutralize the threat of Hamas and bring us a step closer to the fulfillment of that prophecy and the coming of the King of Israel! This has been David Billington with you for the January 1st, 2009 edition of the Bible in the News. Come back next week God willing.
Printed: Thursday, January 01, 2009
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