An article for Prophecy Watcher Magazine by Ken Johnson, 5-19-2021
As I am writing this, the nation of Israel has just had its seventy-third birthday. As many of you know, recently Hamas, who is the governmental / terrorist group in Gaza, started a war with Israel by launching thousands of rockets. As of this morning, there have been over 3700 rockets fired at Israeli cities. I believe that this event could be a part of the Biblical end time prophecies. Let’s begin by looking at how the prophecies said this would start.
The prophet Obadiah wrote about the end of Edom from verse 1 to verse 14. The rest of the book is about the end times. Some scholars think this first part is referring to just the ancient Edomite empire started by Esau, Jacob’s brother. Although this does fit, the Dead Sea Scrolls teach that the major and minor prophets teach about the events that happen leading up to, and including, the millennial reign of the Messiah. Several of us who study the biblical prophecies think this first section (verses 1-14) may also refer to Mystery Babylon. But for now, let’s focus on how the nation of Israel and the Gaza strip were supposed to form. The prophecy says,
“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.” Obadiah 1:15-16 KJV
Verses 15-16 say that the following events will begin before the start of the seven-year tribulation. It is when the Day of the Lord is near, not upon you. This is the time period ranging from the return of the nation of Israel, which was in AD 1948, to the beginning of the seven-year tribulation. During all of this time the Gentile nations (Muslim nations) have performed their rituals on the Temple Mount. This practice will stop and be like it never happened.
“But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.” Obadiah 1:17-18 KJV
Verses 17-18 say that there will be a time when Israel returns to their land. The remnant of the house of Esau would be still living in the land; today we refer to them as Palestinians. Israel will be like a fire is to kindling, which means highly successful. This is exactly what happened. In AD 1948, Israel was reborn as a nation. Within hours many Muslim nations attacked. The attacking nations told the Muslim inhabitants that they should flee until they had wiped out all the Jews, then they could return to life as normal. However, by the war’s end the Jews had won and gained even more of their ancient territory back. Those who fled were displaced. Obadiah correctly reveals the result of the 1948 war.
“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.” Obadiah 1:19 KJV
Look very carefully at verse 19. The state of Israel was created in the middle of the land and those who fled from there went to three places: the “mount of Esau” which is southern Jordan, the “fields of Samaria” which became known as the West Bank, and the “plain of the Philistines” which became known as the Gaza Strip. What has not happened yet is the tribe of Benjamin returns to the land of Israel and possesses ancient Gilead. The land of Gilead is currently part of north western Jordan. There are several prophecies on what will happen to the Golan Heights, Gilead, and Jordan, but for now let’s continue with Gaza. Through world pressure, Israel was talked into granting Gaza its autonomy. That proved to be a major mistake. A terrorist organization rose up in Gaza calling itself “Hamas.”
The word “Hamas” means “violence” in Hebrew. Most of the time the word “Hamas” should just be translated “violence.” But there are a few Old Testament passages that speak of this “violence” being a group of people who are anti-Israel. For instance, this group seems to be headquartered in the ancient area of the Philistines. Today we call this area the Gaza Strip. Remember Samson delivered the Children of Israel from the Philistines in Judges 15. Back then the capital was Gath, today it is Gaza City.
“Cross to Calneh and see; and from there go to the great Hamath; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are they better than these kingdoms, or their border than your border? You who put the evil day far away, and cause the seat of violence [Hamas] to come near” Amos 6:2-3 LITV
Hamas arises when the Day of trouble is near. So, this is not during the seven-year tribulation but before it. They are wiped out and not even other Muslim nations object. This is probably because Hamas holds allegiance to the extremely radical Muslim nation of Iran. Most Muslim nations are afraid of what Iran might do to them. When God arises to judge Hamas, it will be a complete judgment, none of them shall remain.
“The morning is come unto thee, O thou that dwellest in the land: the time is come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains. Now will I shortly pour out My fury upon thee, and accomplish Mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations. And Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the LORD that smiteth. Behold the day, behold, it is come: the morning is gone forth; the rod hath blossomed, pride hath budded. Violence [Hamas] is risen up into a rod of wickedness: none of them shall remain, nor of their multitude, nor of any of theirs: neither shall there be wailing for them.” Ezekiel 7:7-11 KJV
Retaking of Gaza
That brings us to the current Gaza War. We must carefully analyze Obadiah 20 piece by piece. The prophet says,
“And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites…” Obadiah 1:20a KJV
The ancient land of the Canaanites was on the west coast of Israel and extended southward all the way to the Sinai Peninsula. In the beginning Hamas fired rockets without advanced guidance systems, so most of the time they did not hit their intended targets. It was dangerous for Israel to allow this to go on, but intense political pressure prevented them from permanently stopping the attacks. Hamas is backed by an extremely radical Iran. This means that even though Muslim nations want to see Israel destroyed, because of what their religion teaches, they are content to say nothing at this time if it means Israel might end their Iranian threat. And they do. That prophecy is recorded in Jeremiah 49:34-39. Jeremiah predicts that Elam, the coast of Iran, will be destroyed by fire and the entire coast contaminated so that the people living there have to flee to other countries (sounds like the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant located on the cost). After this event Iran becomes a godly nation.
Presently, with the political pressure off, and Hamas obtaining missiles with more advanced guidance systems, this prophecy might be in the process of being fulfilled. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted as saying that Israel will return to the ancient laws. Any nation that attacks them will be driven out of that area and that land will be annexed. Enemy land will become part of the sovereign nation of Israel. Now if an Israeli politician decides to give the land back to the anti-Israel Palestinians five years from now, then this whole process will start all over again and this will have been just a dress rehearsal. But since “Hamas” is mentioned by name in Scripture, I think this just might be the complete fulfillment of Obadiah’s prophecy.
The Next War – Hezbollah in Lebanon
What happens afterward? Obadiah continues.
“And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath…” Obadiah 1:20a-b KJV
Not only does Israel permanently take the Gaza Strip, but they take control of the coast all the way up to the ancient city of Zarephath. That is where the prophet Elijah healed the widow’s son. What was Zarephath is close to the modern town of Sarafand, Lebanon. Zarephath is located about eight and a half miles south of Sidon and fourteen miles north of Tyre. Think about this for a moment. During the Millennial Reign, the northern border of Israel will be in Syria, far north of Zarephath and the current northern border of Israel is south of Zarephath. This means that this battle is truly before the Day of the Lord and in our very near future. Also notice when this takes place the Lebanese city of Sidon will still be in Lebanon, but the ancient city of Tyre will be Israeli land.
The Negev Colonized
Verse 20 ends by saying,
“and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.” Obadiah 1:20c KJV
This means that the Jews that were dispersed from Jerusalem to Spain (Sepharad) will return and colonize the Negev. Those who fled to Spain became known as Sephardic Jews. In AD 1492, the Sephardic Jews were given an ultimatum. Their three choices were to convert to Roman Catholicism, leave Spain, or die. Many left and some of these are now ready to return to Israel. When God grants Israel victory over their enemies and the land of Israel expands, these Jews will return and colonize the Negev just as Obadiah predicts! You can study these predictions and many others in my book Ancient Prophecies Revealed.
We will see the permanent retaking of Gaza and southern Lebanon by Israel. We are even told where the new borders will be. We will also see the Iranian threat neutralized and Iran becoming a godly country. We need to spread the word of the Biblical prophecies, the love of God, and the message of the Gospel now! When these prophecies come to pass, and skeptics remember that we told them about it in advance, many of them will come to the Lord. This also means that we should look up, for our redemption is drawing near.