End-Times War in the Mideast: Part 2 - By Steve Ashburn -
In Part 1 of this series, we saw how Lebanon was destroyed as a nation because of their participation in the Psalm 83 Arab invasion of Israel. This event took place at the beginning of the end times and involved a blitzkrieg assault on the Holy Land by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, West Bank, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan-followed by an equally swift and deadly retaliation by Israel.
This iconic war is described prominently in several books in the Old Testament (Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Psalms, Amos, Obadiah, Malachi, and Zephaniah). It is notable because it marks the beginning of the forty-year period known as the end times-and of Israel's complete restoration to their ancient land of Canaan. We continue now in our studies of this historic event with end-times prophecies in Ezekiel and Isaiah, which provide additional details of this conflict concerning Lebanon.
Tyre is an ancient city in modern-day Lebanon, located twenty-five miles south of Sidon. It was the capital city of the Phoenician empire. With its sister city Sidon, it formed a great commercial empire stretching throughout the Mediterranean, which was prominent from about 1550 to 300 BC. Among other things, it was famous for the production of a purple dye extracted from a rare shellfish, and garments so colored by it were worn exclusively by royalty.
Ezekiel 27 lists many other items which Tyre traded:
The commercial activities of Tyre and the Phoenicians indeed were worldwide in their day.
Its great wealth and ultimate destruction are described in Ezekiel 26-28. It was first destroyed after a long siege by Nebuchadnezzar from 585-572 BC. The city was subsequently rebuilt by survivors on an offshore island, where it continued in prosperity for another 250 years. This city was finally overthrown by Alexander the Great in 332 BC, after he built a causeway to reach it.
Although the destruction of ancient Tyre is well-documented in history and in the Bible, Isaiah 23 also contains prophecies about Tyre relating to the end times.
"As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre. Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle. Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn" (Isaiah 23:5-7).
One immediately becomes suspicious about the timetable for this prophecy when reading verse 5, because "the report concerning Egypt" occurs at the same time as "the report of Tyre." Egypt was not destroyed at the same time as Tyre when Nebuchadnezzar (572 BC) and Alexander the Great (332 BC) made their respective conquests; therefore, this passage must refer to a separate judgment, when both Egypt and Tyre are judged at the same time. In verses 4 and 12, Isaiah actually refers to "Zidon" (Sidon) as the target of this judgment; therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that this particular judgment refers to Lebanon in general.
The Hebrew word translated "burden" in Isaiah 23:1 (massa) is only used in Scripture when the vision relates to extremely severe judgment: "The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste." A similar wording is found in Nahum 1:1, which refers to the complete and utter destruction of Nineveh: "The burden of Nineveh." The ships of Tarshish (Western nations) are told to "howl" because of the greatly deleterious effect that the destruction of Tyre has on their commerce. In context, this must refer not only to Lebanon but to the Middle East in general because of the end-times conflagration which will embroil all the nations surrounding Israel.
Tyre is referred to as "ye inhabitants of the isle" in verses 2-3. In verse 2 she is identified as "whom the merchants of Zidon... have replenished." In verse 3 she is further identified as "seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a mart of nations," meaning she traded in wheat ("seed of Sihor") from Egypt ("harvest of the river") and generally speaking was a marketplace for the nations ("mart of nations"). The identification as "ye inhabitants of the isle" probably refers to Tyre post-572 B.C. when the city was relocated to an island a mile offshore from the old city, i.e., modern Lebanon. The inhabitants are advised to flee to Europe ("Tarshish"); they will evacuate Lebanon like a river ("Pass through thy land as a river," verse 6), and then are addressed as Europeans ("O daughter of Tarshish") in verse 10.
Tyre also escapes to Cyprus ("pass over to Chittim; there also shalt thou have no rest") where it is apparent that their cities (Lebanon) have been destroyed and there is no going back ("so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them"). At the conclusion of the war, Israel will be in possession of the Lebanese coast up to Zarephath, which is halfway between Tyre and Sidon: "And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath" (Obadiah 1:20).
Tyre also is referred to as "your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days" (v. 7). Isaiah probably would not refer to Tyre as a city of great antiquity because, in his day, it was a very modern city. This description refers to end-times Tyre (Lebanon), where the description as a city of great antiquity is much more appropriate. Isaiah then gives the reason for the destruction of Tyre-and by extension the end-times war that it refers to: "The Lord of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth" (Isaiah 23:9).
Ezekiel 28 speaks of the same battle: when God "shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered," then he "shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen... and they shall know that I am the Lord their God" (Ezekiel 28:25-26). In fact, the phrase, "they shall know that I am the Lord" is mentioned four times in Ezekiel 28:22-26. Once again, the Lord demonstrates that he alone is sovereign over the earth-and in particular, that Israel is his covenant nation, whom he has regathered back into their land, and that he is preserving and protecting them from their enemies.
Mercantile nations like Tyre (and, by implication, Western nations) tend to have relativistic policies based on money and will favor whatever nation is their immediate financial interest (e.g., Arab nations) rather than supporting Israel. Perhaps that is why God says he will "bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth." The ancient covenant that God made with Abraham, "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee" (Genesis 12:3), is still in effect; Lebanon and other nations involved in this war-including "Tarshish"-unfortunately, learn this the hard way.
In addition, an intriguing prophecy about the Antichrist ("the Assyrian") is found here: "Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin" (Isaiah 23:13). This passage indicates that the Antichrist will be instrumental in rebuilding Iraq after it has been destroyed (Isaiah 13; Jeremiah 50-51), building skyscrapers ("towers') and elegant buildings ("palaces") as the center of world commerce and government, until it is finally destroyed by God ("and he brought it to ruin") at the end of the tribulation (Revelation 18). This places this particular judgment of Tyre (Lebanon) in the end times.
Isaiah 23:14 concludes this end-times passage by using the same phrase as in verse 1: "Howl, ye ships of Tarshish." These two phrases sandwich this passage in Isaiah, referring to the battle which begins the end times; Isaiah 23 then skips to the millennium.
How long will Lebanon be dispersed among the nations? Verse 15 reads: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot." Apparently, Tyre and its sister cities will be desolate ("forgotten") for the rest of the forty-year end-times period-and for thirty years beyond that, stretching into the millennial reign of Christ. Why the additional thirty years? Verses 17-18 give us a clue.
"And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing" (Isaiah 23:17-18).
Apparently, faithful refugees from Lebanon who survive the tribulation will be reestablished in their homeland during the millennium and will manufacture food and clothing for other nations ("for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing"). It will take some time for the faithful remnant of Tyre to repopulate and establish agricultural and manufacturing industries-thirty years, in fact. Isaiah indicates her activity at that time will be honorable: "And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord."
We'll cover more about this Mideast war in Part 3 of this series, including the "dissolving" of Palestine (Gaza Strip) by a "fiery flying serpent"-alluding to the use of enhanced-radiation warheads. So stand by for Part 3!
I provide more details of this and many other end-times prophecies in my recently published book, END TIMES DAWNING: Get Ready! (available from www.endtimesrecord.com). Please read it! Also, if you would, please leave a book review on Amazon!
Yours in Christ,