The future of Israel according to Bible prophecy

There are prophecies in the Old Testament (the Jewish Tanakh) that contain details which have not yet come to pass, making it clear that they are yet to be fulfilled.  Many of these prophecies specifically mention the ‘end times’, or ‘latter days’.  Although many hundreds of years old, the prophecies accurately predict scenarios that we see coming to pass today.

Psalm 83 is a prophetic psalm written about 2,000 years ago, describing nations in the Middle East coming against Israel. This must certainly signify an event yet to come, as never before in history have the list of nations within this Psalm all joined together to attack Israel. Verse 4 could have come straight from the mouth of the rulers of the Middle East nations of today:

“They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.” — Psalm 83 v 4

The Psalm continues, listing all of the nations that join together with the aim of destroying Israel:

“For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.” — Psalm 83 v 5-8

The term ‘tabernacles’ means dwelling places. Those who attack Israel here shall be in the lands possessed by these nations at the time the psalm was written. Maps from this time show that the nations listed here cover the area of the Middle East surrounding Israel, and relate to the following modern-day countries:

Amalek – The north-eastern area of Egypt, just below the Gaza Strip
Ishmaelites and Hagarenes – Northern Saudi Arabia
Philistines – The Gaza Strip
Gebal and Tyre – Lebanon
Moab and Ammon (both also referred to as the children of lot), and Edom – Jordan
Assur – Iraq (the capital of ancient Assyria)

Note: Moab is central Jordan, Ammon is northern Jordan, and Edom is southern Jordan.

Many other prophetic books from the Bible refer to this situation and the outcome of it, accurately predicting the nations and areas that are now hostile towards Israel. When the prophecies are pieced together one can see the exact order in which these events are to occur, and how Israel is to defeat these nations that attack it.

This article makes reference to some of the Bible prophecies concerning Israel in the latter days, but not all. There are so many, all in agreement with each other, and they are very specific in their descriptions. Whether or not one believes the prophecies is irrelevant: it is whether or not they come to pass that matters.

The purpose of this article is not to glorify the destruction of the Middle East nations, or to encourage it. No Christian should desire the destruction and death revealed in the prophecies, but should pray for those who do not know God. The purpose of this article is to determine the future of Israel according to prophecies in the Bible. The following selected prophecies are listed in order of occurrence:

Ezekiel 36

The prophecies of Ezekiel were written around 593 to 571 BC. Part of this prophecy has been fulfilled, and the latter part is still being fulfilled today. It mentions how God scatters the Jews throughout the countries of the world, leaving the land of Israel desolate because of their sins against him. The scattering of the Jews, known as the Jewish Diaspora, started in 79 AD following the Jewish Wars and sack of Jerusalem by Roman Emperor Tiberius:

“And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.” — v 19

Also mentioned is how God will again bring the Jews back to Israel, and that Israel shall be built up as a prosperous country. Since 1948 Jews have been returning to Israel from all over the world:

“For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.” — v 24

Ezekiel 37

“And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:” — v 21-22

Israel had always been one nation up until the death of King Solomon in 979 BC. After this the kingdom was split up into the two nations of Israel and Judah, and remained that way until the Diaspora – when Israel ceased to exist.

In 1948 the nation of Israel was re-established as a single nation, for the first time since 979 BC, fulfilling the prophecy. Even today Jews are still flocking back to Israel.

Ezekiel 35

“As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the LORD.” — v 15

Both Seir and Idumea are the lands of the Edomites, which today are known as Jordan.

“I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities shall not return: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” — v 9

This prophecy must be for a time yet to come as it describes Jordan as being utterly destroyed and perpetually without cities, something which has not yet occurred in history.

Obadiah

Written around 580 BC, this prophecy is yet to be fulfilled: it describes how Edom, which is modern Jordan, is despised by the countries around it, and that the surrounding countries deceive its army and fight against it:

“The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle. Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.” — v 1-2

“All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; that they eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.” — v 7

“For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.” — v 15-17

The “day of the LORD” indicates that this is predicted to occur in the latter days. The fact that the heathen (non-Jewish people surrounding Israel) have taken mount Zion, known today as the Temple Mount, as their possession fits in with this prophecy. The phrase “as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee” seems to indicate that as these nations wanted to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, they themselves shall be completely wiped out, “as though they had not been.”

The prophecy ends with Israel possessing the lands occupied by the nations surrounding it – which is yet to be fulfilled.

“And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.” — v 19-20

Here we see that the Jews are to take possession of the following areas:

Philistines – Gaza Strip
Ephraim and Samaria – The West Bank
Gilead – The area to the right of the Jordan river
Zarephath – Lebanon

Joel 3

Tyre and Zidon were the areas now known as Lebanon. Joel’s prophecy, written around 760 BC, is focused on the latter days. It claims that Lebanon and the coasts of Palestine, which is the area of the Philistines now known as the Gaza Strip, shall attack Israel, and Israel shall attack back rapidly:

“Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head;” — v 4

The people from these countries shall be ousted from these places and find themselves banished to the Yemen area, which is now the land once belonging to the Sabeans, the people of Sheba:

“And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.” — v 8

As in Ezikiel 35, this prophecy claims that Edom, the area of which today is known as Jordan, shall be destroyed, adding that Egypt also shall be destroyed:

“Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.” — v 19

Zephaniah 2

The book of Zephaniah was written around 641-610 BC. Some people compare the things written in this chapter with things that have already occurred in history; however, the whole book of Zephaniah is centred around the end times – specifically the ‘day of the Lord’ – so it is unlikely that this chapter is any different.

“This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts. The LORD will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen.” — v 10-11

Coinciding perfectly with Psalm 83, this chapter describes the outcome of the attack in Psalm 83, where Israel is victorious. The destruction of Israel’s enemies is due to their reproach against Israel.

“For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up. Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.” — v 4-5

The people of the sea coast area comprising the Gaza Strip up to Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron which is slightly beyond, shall be destroyed from the land. This prophecy specifically mentions the Cherethites: these are the people who inhabited the lower region of the land belonging to the Philistines, the land that is now the Gaza Strip.

“And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity.” — v 6-7

The inhabitants of these areas shall be destroyed, but the land shall not be completely destroyed.

“I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border. Therefore as I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them.” — v 8-9

The area of Jordan shall be completely desolate, and Israel shall possess it.

“Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword. And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness.” — v 12

The Ethiopian armies will be destroyed, and Assyria, which today encompasses Syria and Iraq, will be destroyed. Nineveh, which is in Iraq, will be completely desolate like a wilderness. The fact that Ethiopia is mentioned makes sense, as today we see how the Middle East has had a strong influence on Ethiopia. This prophecy was written around 580BC.

Isaiah 17

“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” — v 1

There are records of the city of Damascus ranging back into the time of Abraham, and Damascus is considered the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. Here we are told that it will no longer be a city.

In 732 BC, Israel’s king Ahaz paid tribute to the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III, asking him to save Israel from the Syrians who were attacking them (2 Kings 16). This lead Assyria to utterly destroy the Syrian capital, Damascus, leaving it completely in ruins.

Many people consider this the fulfilment of the prophecy, but the prophecy itself was written after Tiglath-Pileser III attacked Damascus, and, as Isaiah mentions the death of Ahaz earlier in Isaiah 14 v 28, it is assumed the prophecy was written after the death of Ahaz. His death occurred in 715 BC, 17 years after the destruction of Damascus, so obviously the prophecy is for a later time.

Currently Damascus, the capital of Syria, provides the main supply of weapons to Israel’s enemies. It is interesting that this city has an entire chapter mentioning its utter destruction considering its high animosity towards Israel at the present time.

“The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid. The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts. And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.” — v 2-3

Aroer, which is in Jordan, will be deserted. And not only will Syria have its power taken away, becoming a heap of ruins, but Israel shall be severely weakened and its strongholds destroyed.

“In that day shall his strong cities be as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel: and there shall be desolation. Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips:” — v 9 – 10

Israel’s loss will be because it no longer considers God, but the result is that Israel will be drawn back to God:

“At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.” — v 7

“Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.” — v 12 – 14

The result of the war, even though it leaves Israel severely hurt, will be that Israel’s enemies shall be destroyed overnight. Again, the reference to Tiglath Pileser IIIs destruction of Damascus does not reflect the prophecy here, as there was no account of multiple nations attacking Israel together during that time.

Isaiah 11

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” — v 11-12

A sign for the nations is that Israel shall be gathered from around the world. Pathros and Cush are parts of Egypt; Elam became Persia in 549 BC, and is now known as Iran; Shinar is Iraq; Hamath is Syria. The fact that God is to recover the remnant of his people a second time indicates that the events of the prophecy are to occur after the first gathering of the Jews, which was in 1948.

“The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.” — v 13-14

This prophecy also claims that Edom, Moab and Ammon — representing what we know today as Jordan — shall be taken by Israel.

“And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod. And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.” — v 15-16

Here we see that the rivers around Egypt and Assyria — which then covered the areas of Syria and Iraq — shall be dried up so that men can travel through over the dry land there. The prophecy was written around 730 BC.

Zechariah 10

This prophecy was written around 520 BC, and must occur after the inhabitants of Jordan and Lebanon are destroyed by Israel, as Jews are to gather in these areas in great numbers.

God will call the Jews from far countries and out of Egypt and Assyria, and that they shall come again to Israel. It actually states that they shall come to Lebanon and Gilead, which is modern Jordan, in such great numbers that there will not be enough room:

“I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased. And I will sow them among the people: and they shall remember me in far countries; and they shall live with their children, and turn again. I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and place shall not be found for them. And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away.” — v 8-11

Here the prophecy also adds that the sea feeding the rivers of Assyria and Egypt shall dry up.

Jeremiah 49

The prophecies of Jeremiah were written around 626 to 586 BC.  This particular prophecy mentions Elam, known today as Iran:

“The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might. And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come. For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the LORD; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them: And I will set my throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the LORD. But it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith the LORD.” — v 34 – 39

Here it is clearly stated that Iran’s military might will be taken away, depicted by the breaking of the bow.  Moreover, we are told that the inhabitants of Iran will be scattered around the world to all nations, something that has not yet occurred in history.  Moreover, we are told that God’s throne will be set there, and that in the latter days the people who were scattered will return.  This certainly seems to signify a future event.

Ezekiel 38

This prophecy depicts an attack upon Israel by Magog, which is known today as Russia. Concerning Magog we read:

“And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.” — v 4-6

The reference of hooks in Magog’s jaws signifies that Russia will be unable to resist, and will be drawn to Israel. Ethiopia and Libya shall be alongside Russia; Persia which is now known as Iran, and Gomer and Togarmah, which cover the region known today as Turkey, shall also be with Russia in this attack. Even today we can see the ties between Russia, Iran, Libya and Turkey. Libya and Ethiopia have been close allies for years. Turkey was Israel’s ally, even participating in joint military exercises with the nation; however, since late 2008 we have seen Turkey moving away from the West and toward Russian and Muslim influences, having strong trade and energy relations with Iran.

“And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.” — v 11-12

Here we see that the fulfilment of the prophecy is to occur after Israel has been gathered from the nations, which would be some time after 1948. The nations surrounding Israel, such as Jordan and Lebanon, are not listed as attacking Israel therefore they must have been defeated by this time. This is backed up by the mention of Israel living in peace and safety, and without walls — something which has still not occurred since the Jews first returned to Israel, due to the aggression from the surrounding nations.

“Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?” — v 13

Sheba and Dedan are in Saudi Arabia, and although it is unclear exactly where Tarshish is, it is assumed to mean Spain, or at least a European or Western area. Whatever the hooks in the jaws of Magog are, it becomes obvious to these countries that the reason for the gathering of the Russian/Islamic forces is to take away the wealth of Israel. There is no indication that this incident is related to oil or gas supplies. The way that Russia sprang its surprise attack on Georgia in 2008 seems to be the same way that it will attack Israel in later years, where nobody will be prepared for it.

It has been reported that Russia’s oil and natural gas supplies are nearing an end, and it has recently made deals with Libya – which is rich in oil and gas. The fact that Turkey is becoming closer to Russia, and that Russia supplies Turkey with gas may be significant. The spoil of Israel could very well be oil and/or natural gas supplies.

“For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man’s sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.” — v 19-22

The destruction of Russia and its allies is depicted as being supernatural, and also we see that “every man’s sword shall be against his brother”, revealing the volatile relationship between the nations attacking Israel.

Ezekiel 39

The prophecy of Magog continues:

“Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel: And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand.” — v 1-3

This prophecy depicts the demise of the Russian forces, how all but one sixth of them shall be destroyed. They shall get as far as the mountains of Israel and shall be defeated there.

“Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it , saith the Lord GOD. “ — v 4-5

Again, it is mentioned that they shall all die upon the mountains of Israel, and upon the open field.

“So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward. And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword.” — v 22-23

The outcome of this battle where God destroys those attacking Israel is not only that the Jews will come back to God, but that all those around them will know that God only allowed the Jews to be defeated in times past because of their sins against God.