By Dr. Fruchtenbaum
The hatred and animosities of Ishmael and Esau toward the Jews was instilled in their descendants. There has been a continuous, perpetual hatred of the descendants of Esau and Ishmael against the Jews characterized especially by the Ishmaelites, descendants of Ishmael and the Edomites, descendants of Esau. An example which shows how early the descendants had this animosity is found in Numbers 20:14-21:
And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel, Thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us: how our fathers went down into Egypt, and we dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians dealt ill with us, and our fathers: and when we cried unto Jehovah, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border. Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy land: we will not pass through field or through vineyard, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go along the king’s highway; we will not turn aside to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy border. And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass through me, lest I come out with the sword against thee. And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go up by the highway; and if we drink of thy water, I and my cattle, then will I give the price thereof: let me only, without doing anything else, pass through on my feet. And he said, Thou shalt not pass through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand. Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.
In the book of Judges we often read of Ishmaelites, Edomites, and other descendants of Ishmael and Esau inflicting damage upon Israel. In Psalm 83:1-8, the psalmist describes the situation in the Middle East in this time, as well as prophetically. He describes a united conspiracy and confederacy whose aim is to destroy the nation of Israel. It is no accident that various modern Arab leaders (Egypt’s Nassar, for example, just before the Six Day War) have virtually paraphrased these verses. In verses 6-8 the psalmist lists these various nations that come together against Israel. While these are all various ancient names, today they comprise the modern Arab states. For instance, in verse 6, Edom was in southern Jordan; Ishmael was the father of the Ishmaelites, one segment of the Arab world; Moab was in central Jordan; the Hagarenes were from Egypt. In verse 7, Gebal was up in Lebanon; Ammon was northern Jordan; Amalek was in the Sinai Peninsula; Philistia was in the Gaza Strip; Tyre was up in Lebanon. In verse 8, Assyria comprises all of what is today Iraq and quite a bit of Syria. Only since 1948 have all these nations combined forces against Israel. Such a total Arab alignment never occurred in ancient times. After the Six Day War of 1967, one Arab leader after another has clearly stated that the only way of gaining peace in the Middle East is by the total annihilation of Israel as a nation.
There are other passages in the Bible which describe this perpetual hatred of the Arab nations against Israel, such as Ezekiel 35:1-5 and Obadiah 10-14.
THE FUTURE OF THE CONFLICT
Ultimately, there will be peace between Israel and the Arab states, but it will take one of three forms: (1) by means of occupation; (2) by means of destruction; or (3) by means of conversion. It is necessary to deal with the various Arab states individually to get a clearer picture.
Peace between Israel and Lebanon will come by means of occupation. In Ezekiel 47:13 – 48:29 we are given the boundaries of the nation of Israel in the Messianic Kingdom. The tracing of the northern boundary shows that Israel will encompass all of modern-day Lebanon.
B. Jordan (Edom, Moab, and Ammon)
It is Edom (southern Jordan) in particular that the prophets were concerned about. Several passages reveal that peace will come between Israel and southern Jordan by means of total destruction. Some of those passages are Ezekiel 35:6-9, Jeremiah 49:7-13 and 19-20, and Obadiah 5-9 and 17-21. The fact that Israel will help bring about the final destruction of Edom (and, thus, the total annihilation of all descendants of Esau) is portrayed in Ezekiel 25:12-14. Moab (modern central Jordan) will also suffer destruction, but it will not be total. A remnant of Moab will return according to Jeremiah 48:47. As for Ammon (present-day northern Jordan), it will become a possession of Israel but its destruction will not be total. That is depicted in Jeremiah 49:1-6.
Peace will come between Israel and Egypt initially by means of destruction and later by means of conversion, as comprehensively covered in Isaiah 19:1-22. Verses 1-10 reveal that because of her sins, Egypt will be characterized by civil war, desolation, and famine. The prophet states in verses 11-15 that Egypt will suffer because she has been led astray by her leaders. Under the dictatorship of Farouk, Nassar, and Sadat the nation went to war against Israel four times, resulting in heavy human and economic losses. Understandably, Egypt has developed a fear of Israel as prophesied in verses 16-17. This has come to pass only since 1948 and especially since the Six Day War . Prophetically, today is still the period described in Isaiah 19:16-17. Eventually, there will be total and lasting peace between Israel and Egypt, which in turn will give way to Egypt’s conversion in Isaiah 19:18-22.
D. Northern Iraq and Eastern Syria (Assyria)
Iraq and portions of modern Syria are two other implacable Arab enemies of modern Israel. However, peace will come between Israel and these two Arab countries by means of conversion according to Isaiah 19:23-25. Verse 23 describes an economic unit that will encompass Egypt, Israel and Assyria. Assyria will become a blessing in the earth and will receive a blessing from God. The three former enemies will now have a spiritual unity as well as an economic and political one. God declares: Egypt my people, … Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.
E. Saudi Arabia (Keder and Hazor)
Peace will come between Israel and Saudi Arabia by means of destruction according to Jeremiah 49:28-33. The passage describes the total devastation of Saudi Arabia by war until the inhabitants are scattered and dispersed all over the world. As for the land itself, Jeremiah 49:33 states: And Hazor shall be a dwelling-place of jackals, a desolation for ever: no man shall dwell there, neither shall any son of man sojourn therein. Saudi Arabia’s desolation will last for all of the one thousand years of the Messianic Kingdom.
F. Persia or Iran (Elam)
Iran is a Persian state rather than Arab, but it shares the same religion with the Moslem Arabs, Islam. Peace will come between Israel and Iran by means of destruction according to Jeremiah 49:34-39. However, the destruction of Iran will be partial, and the dispersion will be temporary. Eventually the inhabitants will return and resettle Iran. The future of Iran is similar to that of Egypt, but the length of time they will be in dispersion is not revealed. There will be a Nation of Elam—Persia or Iran, in the Kingdom.
G. Southern Iraq (Babylon)
Southern Iraq is destined to be a desolate spot throughout the Messianic Kingdom (Isaiah 13:20-22; Jeremiah 50:39-40). Not only is this area to be a desolate waste throughout the Kingdom, Revelation 19:3 says that it will also be a place of continual burning and smoke through the Millennium. The animal inhabitants mentioned in Isaiah 13:20-22 and Jeremiah 51:39-40 cannot live in a place of continual burning. Therefore, they cannot be literal animals as we know them. What they actually are is explained by Revelation 18:1-2: After these things I saw another angel coming down out of heaven, having great authority; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried with a mighty voice, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, and is become a habitation of demons, and a hold of every unclean spirit, and a hold of every unclean and hateful bird. This picture of continual burning and smoke will be a place of confinement for many demons during the Kingdom Period. It is clear from Revelation 9 and other passages that demons have animal-like features, and this is what the animals of the Isaiah and Jeremiah passages actually represent.
Copyright © 2005, Ariel Ministries. This is an excerpt from Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s Messianic Bible Study #mbs-008, dealing with a most relevant topic nowadays and directly related to Israel’s future: the future of today’s Arab countries according to the Word of God is a subject that most believers do not know much about. If you want to understand the conflict between the Arab nations and the Jewish people you will certainly enjoy this study.