Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ezekiel's Vision: Is this ancient and obscure prophecy about war on Israel about to be fulfilled?

There is a prophecy tucked away deep inside the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. It has confused many for centuries namely because it shows a picture of restored Israel being attacked by countries from the lands of Gog and Magog, including Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and  Gomer and Togarmah. What??? It also includes other countries whose identity is easier for us to see; Persia, Cush (Egypt), Phut (Libya).

Courtesy of Unsplash.com Sergey Pesterev
Just five years ago I would have said, this is nowhere close to being realized. Today, there is one thing that really prevents this from happening that is more about the State of Israel’s nature. Here’s why I think there is a POSSIBILITY (which I am hoping is very, very small) that this Apocalyptic War of sorts is brewing just on the Horizon.

Firstly, just a few years ago Syria was beginning its now 6-year long civil war. But don’t let that term ‘civil war’ make you think this was a war of Syrian against Syrian. The reality is that today Syria has soldiers from dozens of nations and fighters from across the world. These forces include the Syrian Army, Russian Army, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Turkish Army, US Forces, Hizbollah (Lebanese Shi’ite), French troops, British soldiers, Kurdish fighters, Israeli special ops, Iraqi Shi’ite militias, Afghan militias, Pakistani militias, ISIS, Nusra (the latter two with fighters from Libya, Egypt, Chechnya and even Uzbekistan among many other nations). The Sinai peninsula just adjacent to Israel is now facing an unprecedented period of instability with Daesh and Nusra groups (again with fighters from many of the above nations) performing acts of terrorism against civilians and attacks on Egyptian forces.

I won’t go into trying to identify Ezekiel 38’s motley crew of ancient nations such as Gog and Magog, beyond saying that “Rosh” and “Meshech” have been suggested to mean “Russia” and “Moscow” respectively,  but the arguments and evidence for this statement are not so strong. But nowadays you don’t really need to go that much depth to see that around Israel there are a dozen ethnicities who do not even belong there and were not there just a few years ago.

There is one very important caveat to all this and it is very often overlooked. Many people think that Ezekiel 37 is the prophecy that speaks of Israel’s return. But they completely fail to notice that this return of Israel to the land is really a return of two groups – Joseph and Judah (being ruled by the Messiah by the way). And the prophecy speaks about their uniting into one (look for the rods of Joseph and Judah in that passage). Today’s Jews are the descendants, not only of the Tribe of Judah but also citizens of the Ancient Kingdom of Judah that existed after Solomon’s son Rehoboam took power. As soon as Rehoboam took the throne, the Kingdom of Israel was split into two – Judah in the south (with only a few tribes, led by David’s descendants as king) and the Northern Kingdom, often called “Israel” which was populated by Joseph’s sons’ tribes – Ephraim and Manasseh (arguably one of the largest tribes of Israel) and the rest of the 12 tribes of Israel not included in Judah.

Are you getting this? Today’s Jews who have returned to Israel are only from “Judah” and the remaining “Joseph” or Israelites from the ancient Northern Kingdom with the rest of the tribes of Israel have not! And imagine that at Ezekiel’s time so great was this divide that his prophecy made total sense. Today, the divide is so big we can’t even see the other side – Joseph - we don’t actually know who they are, but I have a deep suspicion that they’re right there in the land! (To be fair, the Samaritans of Jesus’ times were the descendants of this the Northern Kingdom. There are only 300 today in Israel who still identify themselves as Samaritans but this is a drastically far cry from Ezekiel’s 37 prophecy showing two very large divisions of the Ancient Israel’s 12 Tribes becoming one kingdom again.)

I believe that Israel’s most ferocious enemy – the Lebanese Shi’ites of Hezbollah, who hail from the southern regions of Lebanon and northern Galilee– are actually the descendants of Joseph and other tribes, but Ephraim and Manasseh in particular, the two half tribes of Joseph who occupied the Golan Heights and the Northern regions of Ancient Israel.

What leads me to believe this is that studies show that the Lebanese Muslims, in particular, are very distinct from their Syrian and Palestinian neighbors but closely resemble both the Sephardic and Ashkenaz Jewish peoples. They are not part of these Jewish communities, but they actually are more closely related to them than to the Palestinians, Bedouins, Syrians, Egyptians, Arabians or Syrians surrounding them. (Interestingly, the same studies show that the Christians and Druze of the Levant are 100% descendants of Jews or Judah).

Apart from that, the Shi’ites have a mysterious lineage that seems to disappear into history and obscurity. Most Shi’ites say some words with a Hebrew pronunciation and this is in total contrast to other Lebanese groups. One such word is “Ani” which means “I” in Hebrew and in the Lebanese Shi’ite accent. The other Lebanese simply say the standard Levantine Arabic word, “Ana”. Moreover, the Shi’ites have a preponderance of distinct family names that are Hebrew in origin hearkening to the names of Moses, Job, and Asaph to name a few.

Finally, like the Lebanese Christians, they revere a prophet of the Israelites – Mar Elias, who is none other than the Bible’s Elijah who operated extensively in the Northern Israel kingdom and surrounding regions confronting those who worshipped the various Baals of the land. Why would Elijah be revered by Lebanese Christians and Shi’ites if their co-religionists elsewhere share no such affinity? Firstly, Catholics and other mainstream Christian denominations do not really pay much attention to him. And for Lebanese Shi’ites to respect this prophet is even more perplexing. The answer is that both communities remember what he did in restoring and bringing back the people to the worship of the One True God, Yahweh!

I suspect most in Israel or Lebanon would really have an aversion to what I just said. Shi’ites are descendants of Israel?!

Time will tell if I am right. In the meantime, I pray for peace among all the brothers of the Middle East – Jews – Muslims –Christians – Druze – Israelis – Lebanese – Syrians – Jordanians – Palestinians (Egyptians and with the other nations too, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Arabia).  No matter how close or far they are in their family trees, in the hot spot of the Levant, the land of Israel and around it, they are entirely all Semites and are far closer than we’ve been led to believe.

“Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called Sons of God.” Jesus of Nazareth

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