Every time a war breaks out in the Middle East, my phone starts ringing off the hook and I start getting email message like you wouldn't believe asking me one question, "Is it the War of Armageddon?" That's always the question, over and over. Is this the War of Armageddon?
This question is prompted by the fact that most people are familiar with only one end time war, the one that has been popularized in movies and novels as the Battle of Armageddon. Book after book after book on the end times has the word Armageddon in the title of it. So, that is what most people know about the end times, meaning that there is going to be a Battle of Armageddon.
The term Armageddon comes from Revelation 16:16 which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon. This passage in Revelation says in the end times that the nations of the world will gather at Har-Magedon. In Hebrew that literally means "the Mount of Megiddo."
The Valley of Armageddon is known in Israel as the Jezreel Valley and it lies in front of Megiddo. It runs diagonally across Israel from Haifa on the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.
I have been to Israel some 45 times, and to this day, I just never cease to be amazed when I go to the top of Mount Carmel and look out over the majestic Valley of Armageddon. It is a breathtaking view. Napoleon called it the greatest battlefield he had ever seen. And, one day, right before the return of Jesus, it will be the gathering place for armies from all over the world, and the greatest slaughter in the history of warfare will take place there. When it is all over, we are told in the book of Revelation that the blood will be as deep as a horse's bridle.
But, as I said, the Armageddon battle will be only one of many that the Bible prophesies will occur in the end times. The total number of wars that can be found in end time Bible prophecy is nine. That's right — nine!
The first end time war will be one that you have probably never heard of — the War of Extermination against Israel that is describe in Psalm 83. The last of the wars is the one that will conclude the Millennial reign of Jesus, and it will usher in the Eternal Age where war will exist no more.
Why Gog and Magog is Not the First War
Most prophetic scholars have long believed that the next great end time war will be the War of Gog and Magog that is described in Ezekiel 38 and 39.
The idea that this will be the next war of Bible prophecy is the stated position for example of Joel Rosenberg in his popular book The Epicenter. This war will start when Russia invades Israel with certain specified allies, all of whom are Muslim nations today.
But, I seriously doubt personally that the conflict described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 will be the next war of the end times. I feel that way for two reasons.
First, there is a precondition for the war in Ezekiel 38 and 39 that simply does not exist today. And, there is no prospect for it to exist in the near future. Three times in Ezekiel 38:8, 11, and 14 it says this war will occur when the people of Israel are living securely in unwalled villages. It's this requirement that has motivated most modern day prophecy scholars such as men like John Walvoord for example to place the Gog and Magog War after the beginning of the Tribulation, because the Tribulation begins with the Antichrist signing a treaty that appears to bring peace to Israel. Since that is the only way they can imagine peace would come to Israel they say, "Okay, then the Gog and Magog War has to begin after the Tribulation starts." I can certainly understand that argument. I don't agree with that argument, but I understand it.
I would certainly agree that Israel is not living securely today in unwalled villages. Either internally or externally does Israel have security. Internally, there is the constant threat of missile attacks from Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and terrorist attacks from Palestinians. Externally, there is the constant threat of war. Israel was born in war and Israel has remained in a state of war ever since it was established.
Sometimes we just don't realize how many wars there's been in Israel. Israel began with the War of Independence in 1948-49. Then came the Suez War of 1956. Then the Six Day War occurred in 1967. Then came the War of Attrition from 1967-1970. Next came the war that Israel almost lost, which is the Yom Kippur War of 1973. In 1982 was the Lebanese War. In 1987-1993 was the First Arab Intifada. In 1991 the first Gulf War. In 2000-2004 the Second Arab Intifada happened. In 2006 was the Hezbollah War. In 2008-2009 was the war with Hamas. These wars go on and on and on. The Bible says that the nation of Israel would be established in one day and the next day the birth pains will begin, and they did, and they continue to this day.
I would argue that Israel is not only insecure, but that it is the most insecure nation in the world when it comes to external security, though not internal security, I'll go to Israel and walk around the streets of Tel Aviv in Jerusalem at night and never feel any problem at all. I wouldn't do that in Dallas, Texas. But, Israel is the most insecure nation in the world externally.
Israel is the only nation I know of where every village that is built there is built out of reinforced concrete. That means all the houses, all the buildings, and everything, because they build for war. It is the only nation I know of where every apartment building, every house, and every community of single family houses has to have a bomb shelter within walking distance. It is a nation so insecure that it has built a wall that meanders almost 400 miles to protect its citizens from terrorists, and it has been very effective.
In fact, I would argue that Israel is currently more insecure than in any time in its history for two reasons. First, because the missile attacks that could be launched any moment by Syria and other nations, the next war in Israel is going to be unlike any other war that Israel has ever fought. When it breaks out, thousands of missiles are going to literally rain down on Tel Aviv. The second reason it is more insecure than ever before is because of its abandonment by the Obama Administration.
The second reason that I doubt that the War of Ezekiel 38 and 39 will be the next end time war of Bible prophecy is because the nations mentioned as allies of Russia do not include a single Arab state. Not one that has a common border with Israel is listed in those chapters. I don't know if you've ever thought about that or not, but that means not a single one has a common border with Israel.
Instead, the nations of Ezekiel 38 and 39 identify Persia which is Iran and possibly also Iraq, Cush which is the Sudan, Put which is Libya and possibly Algeria and Tunisia also, and then Gomer and Bethtogarmah which of course is modern-day Turkey. None of these Russian allies, not a single one, has a common border with Israel. Specifically, there is no mention whatsoever of Egypt, of Jordan, of Syria, of Lebanon, or Gaza.
This produces an important question. Why is it that none of the nations located next to Israel are mentioned as allies of Russia in the Ezekiel 38 and 39 War? I personally believe that the best explanation of this mystery is the one supplied by Bill Salus in his book Isralestine. He proposes that the next prophetic end time war will mostly likely be that described in Psalm 83, which is a war between Israel and its immediate neighbors. He believes this war will produce the conditions that are necessary for the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39, and I agree with that conclusion.
With that point clarified let's now take an overview of the end time prophetic wars and what I think is their logical order.
#1 - The War of Extermination (Psalm 83)
The first of the nine end time wars we've talked about, and that is the War of Israeli Extermination as described in Psalm 83. Psalm 83 states that the immediate neighbors of Israel will launch a war for the purpose of wiping out Israel as a nation. The nations described as being a part of this nefarious effort are those with a common border with Israel. These include Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Gaza. All of these with a common border.
The second half of Psalm 83 is a prayer for Israel's victory. The outcome of the war is not specifically stated in Psalm 83, but we know from other Scriptures that Israel will be victorious. For example, Zechariah 12:6 says, "That in the end times Israel will be like a firepot among pieces of wood, and a flaming torch among sheaths so that that they will consume on the right hand and on the left all the surrounding peoples." They are going to be like David against Goliath.
Author Bill Salus believes this war of annihilation will boomerang on the Arab nations and will result in their overwhelming defeat and producing great territorial expansion, enhanced national resources for Israel, and peace for Israel. Incidentally, it is during this war that Israel will most likely destroy Damascus in fulfillment of the prophecies in Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 19, which says that in the end times Damascus will be destroyed and it will never be built again.
In the second part of this series on the nine wars of the end times, we'll look at the second in the progression — the First War of Gog and Magog from Ezekiel 38-39.