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Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.

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Mar 3, 2015

Important stuff here to track, if you have time to listen. If you click on this link, you can listen to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing speech to the US congress –…

“Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”

And will they have to stand alone? In human terms this may well be the outcome of whatever political and military maneuvering is to follow this event. It likely won’t be pretty, despite the good intentions of so many in this nation. But when that time comes – when in human terms Israel does appear to be standing alone, and in response, their enemy and ours, the enemy of our souls, lashes out against the nation of Israel thinking that his opportunity has finally come to be rid of God’s people once and for all – we will then all have the opportunity to see with our own eyes that… No, Israel is not standing alone. The Lord of heaven and earth; the One who created all that we see; the One who formed us and gave us life – He has their back!

Isaiah 18:1-2
Woe to the land of whirring wings
along the rivers of Cush,
which sends envoys by sea
in papyrus boats over the water.

This “land of whirring wings along the rivers of Cush” seems to represent an enemy who will rise up to come against Israel, as in Ezekiel 38-39 and Zechariah 12, probably to try to annihilate them. Note that Cush is one of the enemies mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39, along with Gog, Persia, Put, and Gomer – a group of many nations who will choose to stand against God’s people; many of them right there in the Middle East. The present-day identities of two of the major players are Russia and Iran. In Zechariah 12 the enemies are described in more general terms, as “all the surrounding peoples”, and “all the nations of the earth”.

Isaiah 18:2
Go, swift messengers,

to a people tall and smooth-skinned,
to a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech,
whose land is divided by rivers.

“Go swift messengers” is a directive to Israel, the one being threatened. The “people tall and smooth-skinned,” a people who for a time have held a prominent military position in the world, who speak a language totally unknown to the prophet Isaiah, and whose land is divided by rivers, represents the nation to which Israel is to send her swift messengers, seeking urgent assistance. The “smooth skin” probably refers to a clean-shaven look, of men without beards, meaning that these people are not Israelis, and they are not Arabs or Muslims. They’re from some other place – not the Middle East. And will Israel get the assistance they seek? Not exactly in the way they are envisioning.

Isaiah 18:3
All you people of the world,
you who live on the earth,
when a banner is raised on the mountains, you will see it,
and when a trumpet sounds, you will hear it.

When a banner is raised on the mountains of Israel and a trumpet sounds, this means war. Despite the best efforts and good intentions of these smooth-skinned, clean shaven people, Israel will find herself under attack, with the whole world watching. But what will be the outcome?

Isaiah 18:4-6
This is what the LORD says to me:
“I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place,
like shimmering heat in the sunshine,
like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone
and the flower becomes a ripening grape,
he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives,
and cut down and take away the spreading branches.
They will all be left to the mountain birds of prey
and to the wild animals;
the birds will feed on them all summer,
the wild animals all winter.

The Father has been just watching too, at first not lifting a finger against the enemy, luring them on, letting them think that victory will certainly be theirs. But before their efforts are able to bear fruit, as they stand there on the mountains of Israel, the Lord of heaven and earth in one swift move will strike them down, leaving them on the mountains as food for the birds of prey and wild animals.

Zechariah describes their failed attempt as follows –

  • “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling” (12:2)
  • “I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” (12:3)
  • “On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness” (12:4)
  • “On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.” (12:6)
  • “On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.” (12:9)

Ezekiel describes their failed attempt as follows –

  • “You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.” (38:9)
  • “You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land.” (38:16)
  • “In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel.” (38:19)
  • “Every man’s sword will be against his brother.” (38:21)
  • “I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him.” (38:22)
  • “I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand.” (39:3)
  • “On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals.” (39:4)
  • “I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the LORD.” (39:6)

It’s important to note a distinction between this event and another one described in Zechariah 14. In Zechariah 14 we see an attack in which the enemy successfully does much damage and actually captures Jerusalem, followed by the Messiah’s actual physical return to defeat Israel’s enemies, take back Jerusalem, and establish His Millennial Kingdom. This is clearly the battle which takes place at the end of the seven-year tribulation – and by comparison we can see that Zechariah 12 and Ezekiel 38-39 are clearly something else – a previous event in which they’re miraculously delivered from their enemies, and in which as a result, many of them come to truly acknowledge the God of Israel for the first time and turn over their hearts to Him.

So Israel is delivered. And what will be the response of the smooth-skinned people to all of these things?

Isaiah 18:7
At that time gifts will be brought to the LORD Almighty
from a people tall and smooth-skinned,
from a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech,
whose land is divided by rivers—
the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the LORD Almighty.

It’s clear then that these too are people whose hearts belong to the Lord of heaven and earth. They will rejoice in His victory on behalf of Israel, recognizing His authorship of all that has just happened, and in gratitude will bring their gifts to Jerusalem, to the mountain of the Lord.

And two very important additional details that Zechariah and Ezekiel reveal to us are that this day – the day on which the Father Himself comes to the aid of His people and rescues them from imminent annihilation; a day which the Father has had marked on his calendar since the dawn of time, is also the day on which through His rescue of His people 1) He will make Himself known to all the nations and 2) the hearts of His own people will finally be turned to Him.

Ezekiel describes this as follows:

  • O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. (38:16)
  • I will execute judgment… And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.’ (38:22-23)
  • “I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the LORD.” (39:6)
  • “ ‘I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel. (39:7)
  • the day I am glorified will be a memorable day for them, declares the Sovereign LORD. (39:13)
  • I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. (39:21)
  • From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God. (39:22)
  • They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. (39:26)
  • I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. (39:27)
  • Then they will know that I am the LORD their God (39:28)
  • I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (39:29)

And Zechariah describes this as follows:

  • Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the LORD Almighty is their God. (12:5)
  • “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (12:10)
  • On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.” (13:1)

From this we can see that the events of Zechariah 12 and Ezekiel 38-39 must be one and the same, since both are described as the time at which a very significant one-time thing is to happen – the nation of Israel coming to truly acknowledge God and turn over their hearts to Him. Is Isaiah 18 also a description of exactly the same event? For now I’m assuming so. The connection isn’t quite so clear, since Isaiah 18 doesn’t talk about the event as being a turning point in Israel’s relationship with God. But Isaiah 18 and Ezekiel 38-39 do share the feature of describing God’s full deliverance, and also of Israel’s slain enemies being eaten by birds and wild animals in the mountains.

When will these things happen? Based on the political and military maneuvering we’re currently seeing in the world, and the strong undercurrents of anti-Jewish sentiment, I’d say probably soon. And based on the end result promised by Scripture, that through this the Lord of heaven and earth will make Himself known to all the nations, and particularly that the nation of Israel will finally come to truly know Him as the Holy One of Israel, I have to say – bring it on.

Holy Father, thank you for your masterful orchestration of all these complex details; for your carefully laid plans that you set in place at the dawn of time even before we first sinned against you, knowing full well all that would happen, and how it would all unfold. Lord, for your honor and glory may all these things that you’ve set in place soon be brought to completion – that Your Name may truly be known in all the earth, and that the hearts of the people of Israel may truly belong to you.


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