This post is partly in response to a post made by respected author and brother in Christ, Walid Shoebat. I came across his post as a subscriber to MidnightWatcher’s Blogpost. I posted replies there, but couldn’t seem to stop thinking about the question raised by Brother Shoebat: Where is America in Bible Prophecy? Brother Shoebat’s question was in the context of Revelation 13:7 which prophesies of a “world” dominion by the beast from the sea (interpreted to be Allah and Islam), and whether or not America will come under this “world” dominion. This post addresses a related but different question. Will the United Stand stand with the antichrist or with Israel in the end-times?
The relationship between America and Israel is quite relevant to our modern times. Rarely a day goes by that the news is not filled with news of Israel or her neighbors. Also, with America in the throes of the election of a new president, the answer to this specific question can even give us a hint as to who the next president might be — Obama or Romney? Publicly, both Obama and Romney have the similar positions on Israel — that is, they fully support Israel (although Romney’s position grants Israel greater sovereignty in decisions regarding its borders). Nevertheless, in the “back-halls” of Obama’s White House, I really wonder what is said outside the public eye. Recently, Obama and French president Nicolas Sarkozy were caught in an unmuted mic conversation about Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “the French leader told Barack Obama: ‘Netanyahu, I can’t stand him. He’s a liar.’ To make matters worse, the U.S. President replied: ‘You are sick of him, but I have to deal with him every day.’ (Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-tells-medvedev-solution-on-missile-defense-is-unlikely-before-elections/2012/03/26/gIQASoblbS_story.html). If we are truly on the doorstep of the tribulation, the re-election of Obama will likely usher in a change in America’s support for Israel. I say that simply because it seems to be the trend-line that Obama is on; and if he has been on that line during his first term, imagine what will happen once he is elected for his second term. Another open mic problem occurred for Obama when he and Russian prime minister Medvedev were discussing the anti-ballistic missile defense shield positioned in Europe. Obama stated, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/03/president-obama-asks-medvedev-for-space-on-missile-defense-after-my-election-i-have-more-flexibility/). Hummm — more flexibility after the election? To do what? I’ll let you fill-in your own blanks there. Regardless, if America changes her position on Israel, I dare say that students of end-times prophecy will literally fill the band-width of Internet chat rooms and prophecy blogs. I imagine the “signs of the times” will no longer be debatable, but visible and unfolding right before our very eyes (Dan 12:9).
Perhaps the best place to begin is the specific Scripture that leads me to conclude that the antichrist will actually wage war against Israel (I will use the term “antichrist” to refer to “satan” and/or the” spirit of antichrist,” interchangeably. I do so because the spirit of antichrist (1 John 2:18) acts as satan in Scripture (Revelation 13:4), and he does so with satan’s “power, throne and authority” (Revelation 13:2). Here is the Scripture I will use that prophesies of satan’s war against Israel:
Revelation 12:17 (NASB) 17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
The “woman” (Revelation 12:1) is symbolic for Israel (see similar characteristics in Joseph’s dream, Genesis 37:9). The “dragon” is symbolic for satan (Revelation 12:9). The “rest of her children” are Christians (Revelation 12:17). I will also refer to them as the “offspring” of the woman. Revelation 12 establishes the reason for the woman’s persecution by the dragon: because she gave birth to the divine child, Jesus (Revelation 12:2, 4-5, 13). To me, Revelation 12 is like a movie describing a continuing conflict waged by the dragon against the woman and her offspring. The conflict is not a one-time event, but a never-ending conflict whose final battle is not described within the parameters of Revelation 12 but by other prophecies (Daniel 2, 7, 12, Revelation 16-20). Revelation 12:17 describes the wrath of the dragon that manifests itself in a war that is at all times spiritual, but at other times also physical. The war against the Jews is satan’s attempt to destroy Israel, the “firstfruits of His increase” (Jeremiah 2:3 KJV), and specifically, the remnant God will ultimately redeem at the second coming of Christ (Romans 11:26 as defined by Romans 9:27-29; Ezekiel 37:24-28; 39:28; Revelation 14:4). In this destruction, the heart of God is wounded much like the heart of a mother when pain is inflicted upon her children. In Acts 9, for example, one of the earliest persecutors of the Church is a Jewish leader named, Saul. While on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, Saul is blinded by a light from heaven. He then hears these words:
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? “And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said,“I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4-5).
In the same way that Saul was persecuting Jesus when he persecuted Christians, so satan persecutes Jesus when he inflicts Jews and/or Christians. This persecution is satan’s means to afflict the heart of God. satan cannot wage his battle directly against God. He has tried and has failed (Revelation 12:7-9), and has been cast out of heaven to earth where he now wages his war against the woman and her offspring (Revelation 12:13; see also, Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:16-17).
But through whom does satan wage this war against Israel? satan wages it through “kings” and their “kingdoms,” almost like satan’s hand acting through the glove of humanity. The specific kings/kingdoms through which this war is waged in the end-times are defined by Ezekiel 38/39. Ezekiel 38/39 is a primary passage that specifically applies “… to the latter years…” (Ezek 38:8, 16). Ezekiel 38/39 describes a “Gog,” the commander of an alliance of nations that includes nations from the “land of Magog” (non-Muslim) as well as nations from the Middle East, Asia Minor, and Africa (all Muslim). Based on an initial reading of Ezekiel 38/39, America is not on the list of nations attacking Israel in the end-times. Here are the nations that are:
Nations from the land of “Magog” — Meshech, Tubal, and Rosh (38:2) (interpreted to be Russia and her neighboring allies; other views substitute Turkey and her neighbors in place of Russia (see Joel Richardson)
Persia (38:5) (modern-day Iran)
Ethiopia (38:5) (modern-day Ethiopia, Africa)
Put (38:5) (modern-day Libya)
Gomer (38:6) (modern-day Turkey)
Beth-togarmah (38:6) (modern-day Armenia)
“Many peoples with you” (38:6; 38:9, 15)
The identity of the nations in the above list are the subject of much discussion in prophecy circles (even Bible translators can’t agree on how to translate the opening two verses of Ezekiel 38 (compare the NIV and NAS translations)). However, one thing is certain: unless the interpreter includes America in the phrase, “many peoples with you,” (vv 38:6, 38:15, 19), America is not on the list of specific nations to attack Israel.
For America to be included in the phrase “many peoples with you,” seems highly unlikely for the following reasons:
The list includes a superpower nation, Rosh/Russia. America is a superpower nation. Why include one superpower nation in the list and not include the other, unless it is intended that the other superpower not be included on the list? The list includes other specific nations, e.g., Iran (Persia) and Turkey (Gomer), that are not superpower nations. Why include these nations and omit America if the intent is to include specific nations that will attack Israel in the end-times? That is, America, whether superpower or not, is not listed because it will not be a part of the attacking group in the end-times.
- Another view limits the phrase “many peoples with you” solely to the peoples north of “Beth-togarmah,” a nation of Asia Minor (which I have interpreted to be modern-day Armenia), because of the specific wording of the text: “…; Beth-togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all its troops—many peoples with you.” Regardless of the identity of Beth-togarmah, America is not to its north! To read more on this view click here or see http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-(Part10)Ezekiel38&39.pdf.
- Ezekiel 38:9 and 15 use the same phrase “many peoples with you,” but these references add the conjunction “and.” The result is to limit the meaning to those nations already named in Gog’s alliance and included in the list of 38:2-6. To read more on this view click here or see http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-(Part10)Ezekiel38&39.pdf. In my view, this allows the phrase to be broadened to those groups/peoples living within the list of nations specified in 38:2-6, but considered separate from those nations. For example, al-Qaeda, HAMAS, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood are all groups separate from the nations that they reside in. Yet, they would be included in “many peoples with you” under this interpretation. Of course, America would not be included within this interpretation either.
Another view is to include America in “many peoples” based on passages such as Zacharia 12:2-3 which states, “It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” (Emphasis added) This view asks: How can America not be included in Ezekiel 38:6 (as a nation attacking Israel) if Zacharia 12:3 is to be properly interpreted? I propose the answer is in the meaning of “gathering against” Israel. To find that answer, however, we need look at another verse in Ezekiel 38/39.
In Ezekiel 38:10, God reveals that Gog’s will plan an evil plan against Israel. God then quotes Gog to say, “… I [Gog] will go up against the land of unwalled villages [Israel] … to capture spoil and to seize plunder, to turn [my] hand against the waste places which are now inhabited … against the people who are gathered from the nations who have acquired cattle and goods, who live at the center of the world [Jerusalem]” (Ezekiel 38:11-12). Surprisingly, three nations/groups respond to Gog that have not appeared earlier in the text; i.e., they were not included in the list of attacking nations in vv 38:2-6. They respond to Gog by making a statement in the form of a question. They state: “… ‘Have you come to capture spoil? Have you assembled your company to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to capture great spoil?’ ” (vv 38:13). The nations are: “Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all its villages” (38:13).
Sheba and Dedan can be identified as Yemen and Oman, respectively, nations located in the southern-most tip of Saudi Arabia (H. W. F. Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old, p 800). Tarshish is described by Ezekiel 27:12 in this way: “Tarshish was your customer because of the abundance of all kinds of wealth; with silver, iron, tin and lead they paid for your wares.” Tarshish is also known for its great ships as can be seen in 1 Kings 10:21-22, “All King Solomon’s drinking vessels of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None was of silver; … For the king had at sea the ships of Tarshish with the ships of Hiram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks.” Thus, in both of these passages, Tarshish is a nation of great wealth; and, in the latter passage, Tarshish is also a nation having great resources, sufficient in fact, to sail the length of the Mediterranean Sea from its most western edge (Tarshish, Spain) to its most eastern edge, the coast of Israel on a recurring schedule.
If we were looking for a metaphor to identify a future, prosperous nation in the end-times, a nation not even in existence at the time the prophecy was written, what might that metaphor look like? I propose that the phrase “the merchants of Tarshish …” would fit rather nicely to identify America. In fact, some interpreters of Bible prophecy have offered this view (see http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-IsAmericaInBibleProph.pdf. Dr. Thomas Ice puts it this way: “It is argued that “the merchants of Tarshish, with all its villages,” refers to the colonies of Western Europe and the nations that have subsequently arisen from them. This would include North America and the United States.” Another interpreter, Dr. W.S. McBurnie adds the following (read more or see http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-IsAmericaInBibleProph.pdf):
The “Merchants of Tarshish” were definitely colonizers. This is the plain and logical meaning of the phrase Ezekiel used. After all, what else could he say if the mysterious vision was for a future time? He must perforce have used the terms and names of his own day. He probably did not understand the full implication of what he wrote. But he surely would say that, long after his time, a new confederacy of power would arise from the Western Atlantic nations, whose armies, riches and power might also provide the means of a future role in the reservation of Israel.”
The point is that America is in v 38:13, not v 38:6. If America is included in v 38:13 rather than v 38:6, how does it impact our earlier conclusion that America does not join in an attack against Israel? It changes it drastically! “Sheba, Dedan, and Tarshish with all its villages” do not join the conflict opposing Gog and his forces. Look at the text: they do not join the conflict nor do they offer any military support to stop the attack. They do not strategize how to stop Gog and his forces, nor do they interact with Israel in any way to assist in forestalling an attack. All that Sheba, Dedan, and Tarshish do is talk about what Gog might do. In fact, they repeat the statement Gog just made and ask him a question with that same statement. They state, “So, you say you are going to “capture spoil? … assemble your army to seize plunder? …” Their response to Gog is almost without sense because it repeats almost verbatim what Gog has just stated; the interpreter can only scratch his head, and ask, “Did they really say that?”
How do we interpret Ezekiel 38:13? America is in Ezekiel 38/39, but not because they join forces with Gog and his alliance. America is standing on the sidelines talking about it with “Sheba, Dedan, and … its many villages.” It is as if America will talk about it until it is too late. America, the superpower, “gathers against” (Zachariah 12:2-3) Israel by not doing anything to stop Gog, the superpower — all the while declaring publicly she supports Israel.
Based on Ezekiel 38:13, I have difficulty understanding how interpreters can conclude that America will stand by Israel’s side in the end-times! One very respected scholar, the late David Allen Lewis, puts it this way:
So the young lions of Tarshish would definitely refer to the North American colonies as well as the European colonies, and hence bring the U. S. into this prophecy as one of the nations that will strongly protest the Russian invasion of Israel in the last days. (Emphasis mine). (Quote from http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-IsAmericaInBibleProph.pdf, and noted there as, David Allen Lewis, Prophecy 2000 (Green Forest, AR.: New Leaf Press, 1990), p. 103).
To me, this is even more difficult to understand considering the remainder of Ezekiel 38 which prophesies exactly how Gog’s destruction will occur:
Ezekiel 38:18-23 (NASB) “It will come about on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel,” declares the Lord GOD, “that My fury will mount up in My anger. “In My zeal and in My blazing wrath I declare that on that day there will surely be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. … “I will call for a sword against him on all My mountains,” declares the Lord GOD. “Every man’s sword will be against his brother. “With pestilence and with blood I will enter into judgment with him; and I will rain on him and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones, fire and brimstone. “I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the LORD.”‘ (Emphasis supplied).
Do you see America in the above judgment? I don’t — I just see God! Not even Obama’s and his swagger is sufficient to move the earth!
One more point: Isn’t it interesting that “Tarshish with all its villages” are identified as “merchants” (38:13); and their almost verbatim reply to Gog’s for attacking Israel only mentions the financial motivations for Gog’s attack? The reply of “Sheba, Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish” omits the portion of Gog’s statement dealing with “people,” but includes the portion dealing with commerce or goods. Here is the omitted section of v 38:12 (outlined in red) not included in v 38:13:
to capture spoil and to seize plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places which are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who live at the center of the world.’
I may be stretching it a little, but it seems to me that the reply in v 38:13 serves to minimize Gog’s statement in v 38:12 because it removes the cost of lives and only focuses on the cost of goods and services, silver and gold. I can’t help but see the half-truth of politics that fills our airways so frequently. I propose that what we are seeing in Ezekiel 38:13 is an ancient depiction of modern-day diplomacy, a little “double-speak” if you will! Anybody heard anything like that lately?
Here is a quote from an article published on May 21, 2009 by Con Coughlin of The Telegraph.Co.UK who quotes Obama on Iran (read more or see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/concoughlin/5363486/Barack-Obama-is-giving-Iran-the-time-it-needs-to-build-a-nuclear-bomb.html):
Barack Obama is giving Iran the time it needs to build a nuclear bomb. (Con Coughlin). The President’s approach ignores the urgent threat of the regime’s weapons programme, says Con Coughlin. Has President Obama inadvertently given Iran the green light to develop an atom bomb? I only ask because it appears to be the logical conclusion to be drawn from his announcement this week that he is giving Iran until the end of the year to decide whether or not to co-operate with the West over its controversial nuclear programme. … Under pressure from a visiting Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to explain the latest White House position on Iran, a relaxed Mr Obama remarked: “We should have a fairly good sense by the end of the year  as to whether [the Iranians] are moving in the right direction.” (Emphasis supplied).
Well, that was three years ago and many economic sanctions later, and Obama is still waiting to see if “the Iranians are moving in the right direction. ” Here is one of Obama’s latest statements (3/2/2012); be sure to notice the last paragraph where Obama is putting a different “spin” on why we should or should not use a military option against Iran:
Obama To Iran And Israel: ‘I Don’t Bluff.’ I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff,” he said in the interview. “I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But (both) governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”
Obama also warned that a premature strike might inadvertently help Iran: “At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally (Syria) is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?” (Emphasis supplied) Read more or see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/obama-iran-israel-bluff_n_1316093.html
I can see why Iran and the world thinks Obama, America’s Commander-in-Chief is bluffing! In the meantime, Iran is working on nukes — and, Russia is its off-book superpower ally; and, the end-time conflict prophesied by Ezekiel 38/39 is fast approaching, one day at a time. If America is anywhere in end-times prophecy the most likely place is Ezekiel 38:13. America stands and does nothing, along with “all its villages.” Oh, by the way, if you’re wondering who the text is referring to in “villages,” I can offer an option for you: the United Nations. The United Nations presently has 193 member states, many of whom qualify as “America’s colonies.”
Who will be elected, Obama or Romney? Obama of course; that is, if my interpretation of Ezekiel 38:13 is correct. If America is on the sidelines talking about Gog-Iran with its allies, then Romney is not at the helm, Obama is.
What a difficult time to be a student of Bible prophecy! I hope I am wrong.