Are We Really on the Brink of Religious War?

Professor Dan Caspi, Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Communication Studies wrote an article entitled “On Brink of Religious War?”. In that article he decried the rising religious sentiment that is sweeping Israel and referred to a popular movement he called “Messiah Now”. This is a new term to me, but taking it literally, it seems there is a growing movement in Israel that expects Messiah at this time. I find that very interesting in view of the fact that Israel is fixing to get whacked with nukes, but will emerge victorious. Notice what Isaiah says in chapter 17:

6 ¶Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in [Jacob], as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the LORD God of Israel.
7 At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.

Jeremiah says a similar thing about Israel’s reconciliation to God and adds a comment regarding the Messiah (David their king), “But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them” (Jer 30:9).

“David their king” is the Messiah, the one that has already come, and they rejected Him, but Isaiah and Jeremiah both foresee a time when the present condition of rejection of the Messiah will end. The New Testament continued the theme of the reconciliation of Israel to the Messiah in Romans 11. Paul prophesied, “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom 11:25), and the fulness of the Gentiles has now happened. Christianity among the Gentiles has peaked, and they are falling away in large numbers (cp. II Thes 2:3). More and more the Devil rules among the nations, and God’s people there become less and less, so it is time for Israel to accept their Messiah.

Paul goes on to say that “after that” (“houto”– so, G3779) time when the fulness of the Gentiles has come in that, “all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom 11:26). In some way, after the fulness of the Gentiles has come in, that a Deliverer shall come out of Zion. This same idea of deliverance proceeding from Zion is also found in the accounts of the Day of Jacob’s trouble. In some way it becomes evident during that day that Jesus is the Messiah. That Israel was delivered by the Messiah becomes so evident during that time that the shreds of Israel that remain after this ordeal become absolutely convinced that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. Let’s investigate the ties between Paul’s prediction that a Deliverer that was yet future after the church was established shall come out of Zion at a time after the fulness of the Gentiles is gathered.

There is a prophecy in Isa 10 that the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) calls “Isaiah’s ideal account of the Assyrian’s march against Jerusalem” (ISBE, “Nob”). What the ISBE means by “ideal account” is that no such invasion has ever taken place (cp. the Assyrian invasion of II Ki 19:32-36). However, if you couple the fact that no such invasion has ever occurred with the fact that Isaiah says he is talking about a time when God has finished all his work “against” Mt. Zion and Jerusalem (Isa 10:12), then the plot becomes very interesting in relation to our own time. The “Messiah Now” tide that is sweeping modern Israel indicates that God is almost done with all His work against Mt. Zion and Jerusalem in restoring their hearts to Him. Even the ancient book of Enoch says there will only be 12 last shepherds of Israel (En 90:19), and Binyamin Netanyahu is the 12th, so it is time.

Isaiah 10:28-32 mentions a series of small towns and geographical locations northeast of Jerusalem that Assyria will invade. Well, Assyria is modern day Iran and Syria, and Isaiah says that the Assyrians will invade in a precise sequence of locations, but they will be stopped at Nob, just outside of Jerusalem. A very interesting thing about this Assyrian invasion is that Isaiah says the Assyrians having arrived at Nob will shake their fist at Jerusalem, apparently in frustration at having gotten so close and yet failing once again to take Jerusalem. Their failure appears to be the result of a supernatural intervention, for when the Assyrians (Iranians) arrive at Nob Isaiah says,

“33 the LORD of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.
34 And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.” (Isa 10:33-34)

The “tree” motif apparently refers to the army of the Assyrians, because earlier in the chapter Isaiah defined the “trees” to have “both soul and body” (Isa 10:18). The Septuagint uses “glorious ones” instead of “boughs”, “high ones of stature” instead of “lofty”, and “lofty ones” instead of “the thickets of the forest” further indicating that the 70 translators of the Septuagint believed that the forest reference was to the armies of the Assyrians.

As I was reading and studying Isa 10, I was struck by the repeated references to “the Lord of Hosts” acting out of Jerusalem to defend Israel. Three times in Isa 10 “the Lord of Hosts” acts to defend Israel (Isa 10:16, 26, 33). As we read earlier in Rom 11:26 where Paul quotes the Septuagint from Isa 59:20, a deliverer is supposed to come forth out of Zion, but who is it? The gospels identify Jesus as the Holy One (Mk 1:24, Acts 2:27), but Isa 47:4 further links “Redeemer”, “Holy One” and “Lord of Hosts” in these words:

“As for our redeemer, the LORD of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel” (Isa 47:4).

Jesus is the Redeemer (Rev 5:9), Deliverer (Heb 2:14-15), Holy One (Mk 1:24), and Lord of Hosts (Isa 47:4), and since the Deliverer is to come out of Zion and turn away ungodliness from Jacob, then it is Jesus who is supposed to come out of Zion, and He is the Lord of Hosts that is to deliver Israel. You can also tie “Hoy One” back in with the prophecy in Isa 17:7 that foresees Israel finally having respect to the Holy One of Israel and gather from Isaiah’s remarks that he agrees with Jeremiah and foresees Israel ultimately accepting their Messiah.

Isaiah says the Lord of Hosts will afflict the Assyrians by sending dishonour upon the Assyrians’ honour (Isa 10:16 [Septuagint] if the Iranians attack with nukes they will prove themselves liars and genocidal) and kindle a fire under his glory (Isa 10:16–the Israelis retaliate with the fire of nukes and the Deliverer comes in a lightning storm [Jer 30:23-24, Isa 17:12-13, Ps 83:12-15]). The Deliverer will lash the Assyrians as He did the Midianites at the Rock of Oreb down by the Jordan. The Septuagint says that the wrath of the Lord of Hosts shall also be by the way of the sea that leads to Egypt (Isa 11:26), and that would mean that His wrath will come against the Gaza strip. Finally, the Lord of Hosts acts against Lebanon (Isa 11:33-34) to crush it and bring it low. There will be so few left of their army when the Lord gets done with it that a child could write the number of the ones that were left (Isa 10:19).

So, you have an invasion of the Assyrians (Iranians) coming from the northeast (the direction of Syria) that is turned back just as it gets to Jerusalem. Then you have the Lord of Hosts (the Lord of the army of Israel) acting against Jordan (at the rock of Oreb, the direction of Jordan), against Gaza (the way to Egypt), and against Lebanon. It is extremely interesting that in this destruction by the Lord of Hosts the various objects of His wrath pretty much sum up the present day major enemies of Israel.

The activity of the Lord Of Hosts in the destruction of the enemies of Israel will in some way be identified with Jesus and show Him in fact to be the Messiah. The “Messiah Now” movement that is growing in Israel will prepare the hearts of the people for accepting the Lord’s miraculous deliverance of Israel as He on the Day of Jacob’s trouble yet once again shows Himself to be their Redeemer.

Malachi also promises that God will send Elijah “before the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal 4:5), the day of Jesus return (I Th 5:2, II Pet 3:10), so Elijah must return before the end of the world. John the Baptist was merely a type of this prophecy. The real Elijah must still return and fulfill the type (II Ki 2:11) . Since Elijah is to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children (i.e. causes a national repentance that results in behavior that makes the ancient fathers proud of their children), perhaps his mission will start as early as the Day of Jacob’s trouble. A prophet would no doubt be needed to build the third temple (Ezk 41:4) just like Israel had with building of the first (II Chr 29:25) and second temples (Ezra 6:14). Whatever the ultimate cause, the result of the events of the war causes Israel to serve the Lord their God and David their king (Jer 30:9), that is, they finally accept Jesus as their Messiah.

About James Johnson

Bible student for 60 years. Preacher of the gospel for over 40 years. Author of commentary on Revelation, All Power to the Lamb. Married with children. Worked in aerospace and computer engineering for over 40 years.
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