Let's continue to take an in-depth look at how prophecies concerning Israel were fulfilled in the 20th Century and continue to be fulfilled to this day, particularly as they relate to the resurgence of the Israeli military.
The prophet Ezekiel referred to the revival of Israel in the last days as producing "an exceedingly great army" (Ezekiel 37:10). Zechariah was more specific. He prophesied that God would make "the clans of Judah like a firepot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among sheaves," enabling them to "consume on the right hand and on the left" all their enemies (Zechariah 12:6). He proceeded to state that in the end times, the nation will be so strong that the "feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them" (Zechariah 12:8).
The Six Day War (June 1967)
In the early 1960s, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the President of Egypt, decided to try to establish his nation as the leader of the Arab world. Part of that strategy was the demonization of Israel in his public speeches. He also encouraged terrorist attacks against Israel.
In 1965 Nasser asserted, "We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand; we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood."9 A few months later, Nasser declared that he had two aims. "The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel."10
On May 15, 1967, Nasser started moving Egyptian troops into the Sinai desert, massing them near the Israeli border. He then ordered the UN troops in the buffer zone between Israel and Egypt to leave. When the UN readily complied, he announced:11
As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.
The Syrian Defense Minister, Hafez Assad, replied enthusiastically: "The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united... [and] I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation."12
On May 22, Egypt blockaded the Straits of Tiran to all Israel shipping — an action considered to be an act of war under international law. At that point, Nasser began to challenge Israel daily to fight. On May 28, he declared, "We will not accept any... coexistence with Israel."13
King Hussein of Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt on May 30, and Nasser announced:14
The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel... while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation... the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations.
President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq joined in the war of words, declaring, "Our goal is clear — to wipe Israel off the map."15 The Arab rhetoric was matched by the mobilization of forces. Approximately 465,000 troops, together with 2,800 tanks and 800 aircraft were assembled for the attack on Israel.16
The Israeli leaders decided it would be suicidal to wait for the attack, and so, on June 5, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol gave the order to launch a preemptive attack on Egypt. The entire Israeli Air Force, with the exception of 12 planes assigned to defend Israel's air space, took off in the early morning, and in less than two hours they destroyed over 300 Egyptian aircraft sitting on the ground. A few hours later, they destroyed all the Jordanian air force and half of Syria's on the ground.17
These overwhelmingly successful surprise attacks guaranteed an Israeli victory before the ground war could get started.
After just six days of fighting, the Israeli forces on the ground had captured the Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Most important, they were able to conquer the Old City of Jerusalem and regain control of the sacred Temple Mount.
After breaking into the Old City, the Israeli troops rushed to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount to pray. No Jew had been allowed access to that area for 18 years, ever since the Jordanians had taken the city in the War of Independence. Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the chief rabbi of the Israel army (and later the chief rabbi of Israel) rushed to the wall. He had a torah scroll under one arm and a shofar in the other hand. He blew the shofar and announced: "We have taken the City of God. We are entering the Messianic era for the Jewish people."18 He said that because he knew from prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures that when the Jews are back in the land and back in their capital city, the Messiah will come.
Once again, the tiny nation of Israel had prevailed against unbeatable odds, just as prophesied in the ancient Hebrew scriptures. The victory had been achieved with lightning swiftness, in only six days, proving to be one of the most miraculous wars in history.
In the fourth segment of this series on the resurgence of the Israeli military as a sign of the end times, we will look at the evidence of the fulfillment of this prophecy through Israel's Yom Kippur War.
9) Samuel Katz, Battleground — Fact and Fantasy in Palestine (NY: Bantam Books, 1985), pages 10-11, 185.
10) Netanel Lorch, One Long War (Jerusalem: Keter, 1976), page 110.
11) Isi Leibler, The Case for Israel (Australia: The Globe Press, 1972) page 18.
12) Liebler, page 60.
13) Ibid., page 18.
14) Ibid., page 60.
15) Ibid., page 18.
16) Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars (NY: Random House, 1982), page 149.
17) Jewish Virtual Library, "The Six-Day War: Background & Overview," www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/67_War.html, pages 3-4.
18) Dan Fisher, The Los Angeles Times, "The Six Day War 20 Years After," May 31, 1987, page 1.