The Enemies of Israel — Their Ultimate End
Biblical Research Monthly, October - December 1968 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
I. God's Attitude Toward Anti-Semites
1. God to curse those who curse Israel
Those who curse Israel shall be cursed (Genesis 12:3). No weapon that is formed against Israel shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). These Scriptures are of vital importance on this subject. Genesis 12:1-3 constitutes the cornerstone, the monument, of all prophecy. No one can mistreat the Jew and get away with it, as we say.
Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
These verses constitute the second call of God to Abram. When Abram was in Ur of Chaldea, God-called him to leave everything; to separate from his parents; leave his brothers, friends, and all his possessions; and to go to the land that God would show him. Abram obeyed partially. He went from Ur and stopped at Haran, near Carchemish, in upper Mesopotamia (Acts 7:2-5). But God would not allow him to go any farther because he had taken his father with him. So he had to remain there in upper Mesopotamia until his father died. Then God gave him his second call, the one recorded in Genesis 12:1-3. It is a marvelous, wonderful statement. It is a sevenfold promise, or covenant, into which God entered with Abram.
“I will make of thee a great nation” - not numerically, thus far - but “I will make of thee a great nation.” I do not believe that there is a nation on the face of the globe that is great like the nation of Israel. She is God's choicest vine. God went down into Egypt, got the choicest vine upon the face of the globe - the Jewish people - brought it into the Promised Land and planted it there; and there He gave it the most advantageous opportunities (Psalm 80:8ff). Yet it bore wild grapes instead of luscious, sweet, good grapes, as Isaiah, chapter 5, reveals. But Israel — this vine — is a great nation.
“I will bless thee, and make thy name great”. He certainly has blessed the Jewish people though He has had to punish them severely from time to time, and is doing so at the present time. He will yet punish them as He has never punished any other nation. He punishes them double for their sins. A Gentile does something, and God punishes him, giving him one stroke. The Jew does the same thing, and God gives him two strokes punishing him double for all his sins (Isaiah 40:2, Jeremiah 16:18).
“I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse.” I know that statement to be true. I have been blessed all of my life — but, when I began to give my entire attention to Israel and to God's call, I received blessings untold, such as I had never experienced before. I see truths that I have never heard fall from any man's lips or seen written in man's book or paper. I say that I have seen these truths and God has certainly verified to me this promise to bless. “Him that curseth thee will I curse.” One who has anti-Semitism in his heart and curses Israel, God will, in His own time, curse.
2. No weapon formed against Israel to prosper
On this same point, one should turn to Isaiah 54:11-17, especially verse 15, but it should be read in its context.
O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will set thy stones in fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.”
As one sees from the entire text, this passage is a prediction with reference to Jerusalem. Now God says:
Thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will set thy stones in fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.” I believe He means exactly what He says. I believe the reason that He will create and use great sapphires for the millennial Jerusalem is that God's throne will be there.” (Jeremiah 3:16-18)
God says, “I will lay thy foundation with sapphires. And I will make thy pinnacles of rubies, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy border of precious stones.” Every statement is to be taken at its face value.
“And all thy children shall be taught of Jehovah ...” That statement means exactly what it says. They will all know God, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.
”... and great shall be the peace of thy children.” The Jews have never had any peace to amount to anything — anything that could be called peace — but they will have peace at the time here foreseen.
“In righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from oppression” - that is, when this prophecy is fulfilled - “for thou shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near thee.”
“Behold, they may gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall because of thee.” This is the crux of the passage. It is not God's holy directive will that they should do anything of that sort. God permits many things in the lives of people, as He does in the case of nations.
“Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the fire of coals, and bringeth forth a weapon for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness which is of me, saith Jehovah.” This prophecy means exactly what it says and needs no further comment.
“I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse.” No weapon, no plan, no scheme that is devised against Israel can prosper. God will see that it will not.
3. Illustrations of God's curse upon Israel's enemies
Has God ever cursed those who have schemed against Israel? Egypt persecuted the Jews when they were there. They were not persecuted all of the 215 years that they were there, but for a great portion of it. The Pharaoh who hated the Jews wanted to exterminate them, did everything that he could against them, and made their lot miserable; but God brought them out, and He sent judgments upon Egypt far beyond any expectation.
I have studied this subject afresh and have seen new light, light regarding the terrific judgments that fell upon Egypt. At the University of Leiden, Holland, is a manuscript obtained in 1828 which gives a firsthand account from the Egyptian standpoint. It has heretofore been misunderstood and misinterpreted as a record of something else, but facts now show that it is a firsthand account of the devastation that wrecked Egypt from end to the other. There were plagues, just as one sees records of plagues in the Book of Exodus and in the early chapters of the Old Testament. God struck Egypt as He had never done before; and, according to this historian, who was an eyewitness, the whole country was devastated from one end to the other. There were earthquakes and other calamities. The seas were churned into a raging fury. All of the things occurred at the time of the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage.
The Assyrians, the crudest nation of antiquity, devastated the land of Israel — first the northern section and then the southern, Jerusalem being left like a little booth in a cucumber patch after the season of fruitage has passed. In fact, Jerusalem was all that was left. Hezekiah was shut up in it; and, according to Sennacherib, the Assyrians captured all of the 46 fortified cities of Israel. Everything else was devastated. But this monster of cruelty went down in ignominy and shame and was blotted out. Assyria vanished from the face of the globe, and all we know about it is what we read on the monuments of that country that have been unearthed and, also, what we see in some histories. “I will curse them that curse thee.”
Then there were also the Babylonians. “Is not this great Babylon which I have built?” Nebuchadnezzar boasted. All there is of Babylon now is the ruins that have been unearthed by the archaeologists. Why were the Babylonians cast down? All because they mistreated the Jew.
II. A Prophetic View of the Present Day
1. Arabic coalition against Israel
Psalm 83 contains a prophecy that I believe is being unfolded before our eyes. It has not yet come to pass, but is in the process of being fulfilled. The first two verses refer to the time of the Tribulation. All scholars of whom I have any knowledge, both of the rationalistic type and of the conservative group, say that there is nothing in all the history of Israel that can be said to be the fulfillment of this prediction. It simply has not been fulfilled. Since it has not, and since God spoke it, we may be certain that it will be fulfilled exactly as foretold. Notice verse 1: “O God keep not thou silence: Hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.” Why? The reason is found in verse 2: “For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult; And they that hate thee have lifted up the head.”
Israel will utter that prayer, and God will answer it literally. I am inclined to believe that these first two verses refer to a partial fulfillment of such a passage as Psalm 2:1-3, the forthcoming international atheistic, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, politico-religious convention that will try to count God and His Christ out of His universe.
But the part of the prophecy in Psalm 83 which is now being fulfilled is found in verses 3-8: “They take crafty counsel against thy people. And consult together against thy hidden ones.” Certain ones are going to take crafty counsel against the Jewish people and against God's hidden ones, those of the Jewish people of Palestine that have honest hearts and that will accept the truth when it is presented to them. These hidden ones are like the people mentioned in Acts 18:9,10: “And the Lord said unto Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to harm thee: for I have much people in this city.”
Verse 4 of Psalm 83 reveals the purpose of the enemies: “They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; That the name of Israel may be no more is remembrance. “In other words, the complete annihilation of Israel, even to the blotting out of the name from remembrance, is the purpose here proposed. Such plots have been made before, and they have been carried out in part. Pharaoh attempted to destroy Israel. So did Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus Epiphanes, and Titus, Various other tyrants and nations have made similar attempts. Of these, Nazi Germany, under the leadership of the madman Hitler, was most guilty of this heinous crime. But Israel will never be annihilated. During the Tribulation, two out of every three Jews will be destroyed, but a faithful remnant will remain. Through them God will fulfill the promise to Abraham, that in Him all the families of the earth will be blessed.
The third time that I went to Palestine, in 1949, I had not been out of the airplane more than thirty minutes before I heard the report of what the Arabs were saying. They were vociferously asserting that if the United Nations would let them alone, they would mop up with the Jews and would not leave a single Jew in Palestine. They would either slaughter them or drive them into the Mediterranean Sea. I heard that report upon my arrival; and, during the days that I was there, I heard it time and time again. The Arabs were saying then and are saying today the very same thing: “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.”
In verse 5, the psalmist reveals that the enemies of Israel will make a military alliance and conclude a treaty against God and against His Chosen People: “For they have consulted together with one consent; Against thee do they make a covenant.”
Verses 6-8 list the names of the members of the coalition. Who are they? They are the Arabic nations that are today harassing Israel. In ancient times the term Arab applied to the Bedouin tribes in the northern part of the Arabian peninsula and east of Palestine. Today, the term applies not only to these Semites of Arabia, but also to their descendants, many of whom have mixed with native races in North, East, and Central Africa, as well as in Madagascar, India, the Malay Archipelago, parts of Syria and Persia.
In verse 6, “the tents of Edom,” The Edomites, in Transjordan, south of the Dead Sea, were originally the descendants of Esau, who was also called Edom, or reds because he sold his birthright for red pottage (Genesis 25:30). The Ishmaelites, nomadic tribes of northern Arabia, as name implies, are the descendants of Ismael the son of Abraham and Hagar. The Moabites, on the east coast of the Dead Sea, in Transjordan, are the descendants of Lot (Genesis, chapter 19). The Hagarenes, east of Gilead, in Transjordan, are a nomadic tribe mentioned in I Chronicles 5:10.
In is verse 7, Gebal probably refers to a site on the Mediterranean Sea (Byblos), forty-two miles north of Sidon. The Ammonites,in the centra lpart of Transjordan, like the Moabites, are descendants of Lot (Genesis, chapter 19). The origin of the Amalekites is obscure. They were an ancient nomadic tribe of the Sinai peninsula and were the first to come into contact with the Israelites (Exodus, chapter 17). The Philistines, in the Gaza strip, were of Greek origin. The inhabitants of Tyre were Phoenicians. Today, Phoenicia is called Lebanon. Assyria, in verse 8, is present-day Iraq.
Today, the descendants of the people named in verses 6-8 are all classed as Arabs. If one were to trace in the Bible the history of these people, he would find that most of them were at times hostile to Israel, even as their descendants are today.
The first eight verses of Psalm 83 are a prediction. The remainder of it is a prayer that the Jewish people will pray for God to intervene in their behalf. When they do, He will solve their problem.
In verses 9-12, God is implored to deal with Israel's enemies as He has done on former occasions: “Do thou unto them as unto Midian, as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the river Kishon; “Who perished at En-dor, Who became as dung for the earth. “Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb; Yea, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna: Who said. Let us take to ourselves in possession the habitations of God.”
The psalmist does not ask that Israel be permitted to wreak vengeance, for he realizes that vengeance belongs to God (Deuteronomy 32:35-43). When he uttered his prophetic prayer, he not only showed his awareness that vengeance belongs to God, but also pointed out the besetting sin of the enemies of Israel. The enemies say: “Let us take to ourselves in possession the habitations of God.” Is this not exactly what the enemies of Israel are saying today?
“But to whom does the Holy Land belong? In Leviticus 25:23, we find this declaration; “And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity; for the land is mine: for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.” In Isaiah 8:8, God claims the land for His Son, referring to it as “thy land, O Immanuel.” In Deuteronomy 11:12, one learns that God cares for this land in a peculiar manner, for His eyes “are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.”
The land belongs to God in a special way, and He has entrusted it to Israel, because He intends to use His Chosen People in a special way. “... and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Yet the above named enemies of Israel did seize the land divide it. [Editor Note: Since the six-day war of 1967 all on the west side of Jordan has been united under Israel, except the temple area.]
The remainder of the prayer in Psalm 83 contains two petitions. The first is in verses 13-16:
O my God, make them like the whirling dust; As stubble before the wind. As the fire that burneth the forest, And as the flame that setteth the mountains on fire, So pursue them with thy tempest, And terrify them with thy storm — Fill their faces with confusion, That they may seek thy name, O Jehovah.”
The last clause of this petition shows that Asaph is not uttering a prayer of vengeance. He wants the enemies overthrown for the most commendable reason possible — that they may be brought to a saving knowledge of God.
The second petition, verses 17 and 18, is prompted by the same motive. “Let them be put to shame and dismayed for ever; Yea, let them be confounded and perish “That they may know that thou alone, whose name is Jehovah, Art the most High over all the earth.”
In the preceding installments we Have seen God's attitude toward anti-Semites. His promise is to assuage the effect of those weapons arrayed against her. Illustrations from history have been noted. We now turn to passages of Scripture related to latter day assaults by Israel's enemies. Though allowed to go through the furnace of affliction, her ultimate salvation comes when Christ Jesus “rend the heavens — stand upon the Mt, of Olives — lift the curse from the earth — take the world situation in hand — solve the Jewish problem.”
2. Israel in the grip of the Nations
A passage of similar import as Psalm 83 is found in Ezekiel 36:1-8. Let us first observe verse 8: “But ye, 0 mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people Israel ...” Why? “For they are at hand to come.” That statement gives the perspective from which one must view the passage. In this oracle, Ezekiel says to the mountains and valleys of Israel: “You are going to bud, produce, and bring forth your full increase.” The reason is that God's People “are at hand to come.” They are on the verge of coming in to be settled there permanently. This prophecy, therefore, relates to what is going on at the present moment and to what will yet develop in the near future.
Now let us take note of the entire passage: “And thou, son of man, prophecy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel hear the word of Jehovah.” This message is from God; you are to listen, ye mountains of Israel. “Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha! And, The ancient high places are ours in possession ...” The enemies are gloating over their having the high places of the land of Israel in possession. So God commands Ezekiel: “... therefore prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because, even because, they have made you desolate, swallowed you up on every side ...” One should pause here to see what has occurred. Back in 1927, Transjordan, about half of the land that God gave to the Jew, was cut off and it became the possession of the Arabs. In 1948, when the British gave up the mandate and withdrew from Palestine, the Arabs of Transjordan captured practically all of the mountainous part of Israel.
“ ... Because, even because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the nations,” — Here probably is a reference to the United Nations. They are having a finger in the pie, but God pity the world when they meddle in Jewish politics. “... and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and the evil report of the people ...” The enemies are generally talking about the Jews and the Jewish problem, poking fun at them, and ridiculing them.
“... Therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord Jehovah: Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to the mountains and to the hills, to the watercourses and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes and to the cities that are forsaken, which are become a prey and derision to the residue of the nations that are round about ...” In verse 3, “the residue of the nations” refers to all the rest of the nations, but in verse 4 the term is, limited to the nations round-about Israel, the Arabic nations adjoining Palestine.
“... Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the nations ...” Here, I am inclined to believe the expression “the residue of the nations” refers to the United Nations. God points them out, especially Edom — “and against all Edom, that have appointed my land unto themselves for a possession with the joy of all their heart, with despite of soul, to cast it out for a prey.” The Edomites were cousins of the Israelites, yet were their inveterate enemies. They have done everything they can against the Jews.
“Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains and to the hills, to the watercourses and to the valleys. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my wrath, because ye have borne the shame of the nations: thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I have sworn, saying, Surely the nations that are round about you, they shall bear their shame.” God will requite Israel.
“But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people Israel; for they are at hand to come.” They are “at hand to come” now.
Thus Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 36:1-8 deal with the Jewish situation today — the situation of Palestine surrounded by enemies. But the worst is yet to come.
III. Prophetic View of the Situation in Israel in the Near Future
1. Israel Scattered among the Nations
The situation that will prevail in Israel in the near future is also revealed in the Scriptures. Let us notice Joel 3:1-8. “For, behold, in those days, and in that time,” the time referred to in the final paragraph of chapter 2, the Tribulation Period, “I will gather all nations” — the United Nations again — “and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat” — in the valley of judgment, the valley of the Great Tribulation, — and I will execute judgment upon them there.” A mother or father may have several children; but Johnny, let us say, does something wrong. Does Mary get the whipping? According to the principles of right and justice, the parent punishes the guilty one. The same principle applies here. God is speaking here about the nations of the end time when He is gathering Israel back into the homeland. He says that he will enter into Judgment with them “for my people, and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations: and they have parted my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink.”
Since God punishes only the guilty, and since He is here talking about the nations of the end time, one can be sure that the United Nations will literally kick the Jews out of Palestine — and everything looks in that direction now. They will scatter the Jews among the nations, part their land, and sell a Jewish boy for a harlot and a Jewish girl for a drink of wine.
In Micah 4:11-13, one learns that these enemy nations will gather against Israel unaware that God has brought them there.
And how many nations are assembled against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye see our desire upon Zion. But they know not the thoughts of Jehovah, neither understand the thoughts of Jehovah, neither understand they his counsel; for he hath gathered them as the sheaves to the threshing-floor.”
Similarly In Zephaniah 3:8 one reads:
Therefore wait ye for me, saith Jehovah, the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jeaiousy.”
2. Israel Persecuted in the Land
Having seen the situation of Israel as set forth in Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 36:1-8, let us look at Zechariah 12:1-3, upon which this theme is based: “The burden of the word of Jehovah concerning Israel. Thus saith Jehovah, who stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, that formeth the spirit of man within him: Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of reeling unto all the peoples round about,” — notice that expression “the peoples 'round about,” those Arabic nations that are 'round about — “and upon Judah also shall it be in the siege against Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all the peoples: all that burden themselves with it shall be sore wounded; and all the nations of the earth shall be gathered together against it.”
In verse 2 the word “peoples” is modified by the term “round about,” referring to the Arabic nations around Israel; but in verse 3 God has, as it were, lifted His eyes and is looking over the whole world at “all the peoples,” “all the nations of the earth.” He will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone that will wound the hands of all the nations.
David Baron, one of the greatest commentators on the Old Testament, said, “Here is a picture of a big rock. Men are putting their hands underneath it to lift it up; and lo and behold, they cannot lift it up, but it falls on them and crushes their hands.” That is the picture which God presents here. All nations, including the United States, my home land, which I love, will, I fear, burden themselves with Jerusalem and with Jewish politics; and they will suffer the judgments of God because of meddling in Jewish affairs. He will make Jerusalem as a rock which will crush their hands.
IV. Final Stroke of Judgment against Israel's Enemies
For the final act of this drama, let us turn to Isaiah17:12-14. "Ah, the uproar of many peoples, that roar like the roaring of the seas; and the rushing of nations, that rush like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters...” All nations are against Jerusalem like a storm, as related passages of the Scriptures reveal they will do during the Tribulation. The prophet Isaiah sees this wave of anti-Semitism coming against the Jews. But notice now, — “... but he shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like the whirling dust before the storm. At eventide, behold terror; and before the morning they are not. This is the portion of them that despoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.” Something has occurred. All the nations are rushing like demons against Israel. The picture could not be darker at evening, but overnight everything changes. “At eventide, behold, terror; and before the morning they are not.” The Jews will have at that time been given the facts with reference to the Lord Jesus Christ and His being the Jewish Messiah. They will consider these facts and see the mistake that their ancestors made more than 1900 years ago; repudiate the national sin; confess it before God and plead for Divine mercy and Messiah's return. They will be in prayer, fasting and repenting, for two full days, according to Hosea. On the third day they will be revived — the Spirit of God will come. Then Christ will rend the heavens and He will stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives. He will lift the curse from the earth, take the world situation in hand, and solve the Jewish problem.
The United Nations is putting pressure upon the Jews. The problems are very serious. America had better watch out. England had better watch out. They are tampering with explosives: “I will curse them that curse thee.” Those who burden themselves by making it their business to meddle in Jewish politics, will have God's judgment upon them. Jerusalem will become a burdensome stone that will crush their hands.
Let us pray God to overrule and direct the affairs of nations and to keep the saints fit to work in His cause proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ until He comes.