Until a few years ago, Psalm 83 received very little attention from the Christian community. But with this Psalm speaking of various Middle Eastern peoples banding together to destroy Israel, coupled with the growing realization that the Antichrist just might be Muslim, Psalm 83 has been growing in importance more recently it seems. It has been said that the fulfillment of Psalm 83 was via the past Arab-Israeli wars, but I disagree. Some say it is still to be fulfilled. I agree with this, but only under precise circumstances.
The Four Signposts, as written about in my book Hidden In Plain Sight, show us four sets of events in the Middle East leading up to the emergence of the Muslim Antichrist. So how might Psalm 83 relate to the Four Signposts? To be honest, I hadn’t given it much attention. But in recent months I have been reviewing various passages in the Bible like Matthew 24, to see if they may provide a window to events related to the Signposts. The Signposts, derived from Daniel 7 and 8, are concerned more with the nations and peoples around Israel – not Israel itself. But after some careful study, I believe Psalm 83 may be providing us a window into what may occur to Israel during the time of the Second and/or Third Signpost. I wrote in my book and in this blog that Israel would mostly be left untouched during the Signposts. I may have been wrong because Psalm 83 opens up the possibility that Israel could see another major war prior to the Tribulation.
In this article, just as I did in Hidden In Plain Sight, we will look at the relevant passage (in this case, Psalm 83) verse by verse and compare what we see to real world events and history, in detail. In this case, it is the history of Israel of the last 65 years – the time that modern Israel has existed as a nation.
Psalm 83 begins by calling our attention to God’s enemies and that they are up to something,
“O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still. See how your enemies are astir, how your foes rear their heads.” (Psalm 83:1-2, NIV)
These enemies are the peoples surrounding Israel, and are called out by name in verses 6-8. Verse 3 tells us what they are doing, “With cunning (be subtle, be shrewd, be crafty) they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish.” To have cunning means to be shrewd, crafty, and subtle. Subtle and crafty are the key ideas here.
Verse 4 is where it starts to get really interesting: “’Come,’ they say, ’let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.’” There were four Arab-Israeli wars – in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973. In all of them the Arab leaders talked about destroying Israel but none of them talked about the name of Israel not being remembered. I can think of only one nation that has talked that way, and that is modern Iran. In October 2005 Iranian president Ahmadinejad quoted a statement by Ayatollah Khomeini when he said “Imam [Khomeini] said: ’This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.’ This sentence is very wise. The issue of Palestine is not an issue on which we can compromise.”[Ref. 1]
I believe we have a match here. The enemies of Israel say in Psalm 83:4 about Israel “…that the name of Israel be remembered no more.” Ahmadinejad echoes Khomeini in saying about the nation occupying Jerusalem (i.e., Israel) that it “must be eliminated from the pages of history.” What is the effect of removing a name from the history books, but that a name is forgotten?
If you don’t remember Ahmadinejad saying this, do you remember the time he supposedly said Israel “must be wiped off the map”? Yes, that was the time. It turns out it was badly translated. As reported in The American Interest, the Tehran correspondent for the New York Times reported the incorrect mistranslation as truth, and the MEMRI (in Ref. 1) immediately corrected the translation. [Ref. 2] The writer of the article in The American Interest puts down the nit-picking of words, but I believe the clarification is needed. It is the difference between matching what the Bible says in Psalm 83 and not matching. In another article providing confirmation of the misunderstanding, an Israeli government official also says that Ahmadinejad never said that Israel must be wiped off the map, but that Israel is to be forgotten. [Ref. 3]
So in summary on this point, whenever you hear someone saying that Ahmadinejad talked of Israel being wiped off the map, they are really talking of Ahmadinejad saying that the name of Israel should be remembered no more, per Psalm 83. So I believe that Iran is involved in Psalm 83 as making the crucial statement.
Moving on, verse 5 says “With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you.” In 1948 the Arab powers were poorly coordinated. They plotted together only to do something to Israel, but it was not focused. In 1956 there was no coordination because only Egypt was involved. And in 1967 the Arab powers did not have a chance to execute any coordinated plans because Israel attacked first. In 1973 the Arabs were better coordinated but did not attack with one mind, as Psalm 83:5 says. All the Arab powers were vying against each other as well for supremacy on who truly represented the Arabs. Recently, though there has been an alignment of thought, a focusing if you will, of attacks against Israel, and it has been done by Iran via the IRGC, in the background – subtly and craftily. This is another data point showing Iran’s involvement. All these people will be of one mind, due to the work of the IRGC.
Now we come to verse 6 through 8. I have created a list of all the peoples who are part of the alliance mentioned previously in verse 5. The list, which you can follow in your Bible in verses 6-8 in order by name mentioned in those verses, shows what the Bible calls them, and I show in parentheses the modern equivalent:
1) Edom (the southern third of Jordan);
2) Ishmaelites (the Arab tribes of Saudi Arabia; i.e. Muslims in general);
3) Moab (the central third of Jordan);
4) Hagrites (part of Ishmaelites as Hagar is the mother of Ishmael);
5) Gebal (the city of Byblos, Lebanon, now run by Hezbollah);
6) Ammon (the northern third of Jordan);
7) Amalek (unknown, but generally the name of people opposing Israel throughout history, most likely the West Bank today);
8) Philistia (Gaza, today run by Hamas)
9) Tyre (Tyre, Lebanon, headquarters of Hezbollah);
10) Assyria [lending strength to descendents of Lot] (peoples of Syria and northern Iraq, helping Ammon and Moab, i.e. Jordan)
So do these names and nations match past Arab-Israeli wars? All of these entities were at war with Israel in 1948. However, Egypt was also at war and is excluded from the list. Also, those in Lebanon only joined in on the last two days of the war. So a comparison to 1948 is imperfect. In 1956, only Egypt was involved. In 1967 and 1973, Lebanon was not involved at all.
Today though, there is a unifying presence involving most of these groups. It is Iran’s IRGC. The IRGC works in Syria, and with Hezbollah and Hamas. The only holdout is Jordan. However, there has been evidence that IRGC cells are working there and in the West Bank as well.
Next we have verses 9-12,
“Do to them as you did to Midian, as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon, who perished at Endor and became like refuse on the ground. Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, who said, ’Let us take possession of the pasturelands of God.’” (NIV)
So what did happen to Midian and those men? Read the story of Gideon in Judges. The Lord caused the Midianite army to panic and kill each other in the presence of Gideon and his men (Judges 7:22-23), and then they were pursued and utterly destroyed (Judges 8:10-12, 21). Their leaders like Sisera had a stake driven through his head (Judges 4:16-21) and Jabin was killed (Judges 4:23-24) and became refuse, i.e. fertilizer. Midianite army leaders Oreb and Zeeb were killed (Judges 7:25), as were kings Zebah and Zalmunna (Judges 8:21). In summary, the armies of Midian and all of their leaders were completely and utterly wiped out. Though the Arabs took heavy losses in the earlier Arab-Israeli wars, they were never wiped out and their leaders were never killed in battle. Psalm 83 is calling for something different here in the end times, a war where Israel’s enemies are utterly wiped out.
The last part of Psalm 83 is verses 13 to 18,
“Make them like tumbleweed, O my God, like chaff before the wind. As fire consumes the forest or a flame sets the mountains ablaze, so pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm. Cover their faces with shame so that men will seek your name, O Lord. May they ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace. Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord—that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.”
Whatever happens to the enemies of Israel in this war, their destruction will be a sign to all who watch that God is in control and that he is the Most High.
So what can we conclude? I believe the fulfillment of Psalm 83 can be had only under the specific circumstances called for in Psalm 83 itself (much like only Christ’s death could fulfill Psalm 22). Only Iranian leaders have said that the name of Israel should be forgotten (as in verse 4). Iran’s IRGC is the unifying factor acting as a driver, planner and trainer behind all of these peoples’ military forces (vs. 3, 6-8).
We should expect in this future war to see this army made up of these peoples be utterly destroyed. The past Arab-Israeli wars are not a fulfillment. I believe we must look toward a future war involving these people, united in their training to cause the name of Israel to be forgotten. But when would this future war occur? The answer is that it has to occur while Iran exists in its current form, i.e. during the Second Signpost only. During the Third Signpost, Daniel 8 says that the current nation of Iran and its current regime will no longer exist. During the Third and Fourth Signposts, the Islamic political entities will be fighting each other. And during the Tribulation, where the Ezekiel 38 War occurs, the list of nations is different.
What follows is pure speculation. While Iran itself during the Second Signpost is conquering much of the Middle East using its IRGC and Basij paramilitary, the IRGC’s Quds Force will be behind the scenes ordering and guiding all of the forces of the peoples named, in a unified, coordinated attack on Israel. And they will be, as it says in Psalm 83, utterly destroyed. Whether by Israeli firepower or by God’s divine hand, this will happen. I believe it will actually be the latter because verse 15 calls for action by God – “pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm.”
One thing we can watch for to confirm that we are headed to this scenario is we should see increased activity in Jordan by the IRGC, prior to the Second Signpost. All the other peoples are already run by organizations with ties to the IRGC.
In addition, when this war occurs and Israel is utterly victorious, it may feel safe enough to proceed with building the Temple years prior to the Tribulation. But that is another subject for another post.
[Ref. 1] Iranian President at Tehran Conference; Report #1013; Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI); Washington D.C.; Oct. 28, 2005; retrieved from http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/1510.htm
[Ref. 2] Ahmari, Sohrab, and Kirchick, James; We Are All Persian Grammarians Now; The American Interest; Washington D.C.; May 30, 2012; retrieved from http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=1261
[Ref. 3] Mackey, Robert; Israeli Minister Agrees Ahmadinejad Never Said Israel ‘Must Be Wiped Off the Map’; The New York Times; April 17, 2012; retrieved from http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/17/israeli-minister-agrees-ahmadinejad-never-said-israel-must-be-wiped-off-the-map/