Is Psalm 83 a prophecy about an end time war between Israel and its neighbors, or is it something else?
In the previous segment, Dr. Tommy Ice, who is the Director of the Pre-Trib Research Center, listed his objections against Psalm 83 being about a future war. In this segment, Bill Salus of Prophecy Depot Ministries, who wrote the Psalm 83-themed book Isralestine, will respond to Dr. Ice and state his reasons for why he believes Psalm 83 is indeed prophetic.
Bill Salus' Defense of a Psalm 83 War
First of all, I highly recommend Tommy Ice who is an excellent teacher when it comes to talking about the Pre-Trib Rapture. Often I will refer people to the Pre-Trib Rapture website. I think that he has done a lot of outstanding work on it.
I do also agree with him that Psalm 83 is a prayer of lament, also called an imprecatory prayer. Asaph is calling upon the Lord to intervene and he is beseeching God to deal with His adversaries.
But, where I think Thomas Ice falls short is seeing the prophetic aspects within Psalm 83. He thinks it's just a prayer of lament and not a real prophecy.
Let's start with 2 Chronicles 29:30. Hezekiah says he commends the Levites to sing the praises of King David and Asaph who is the author of the psalm and he calls him — a seer. The Hebrew word is clearly talking about a beholder of visions, or in other words, a prophet. Asaph wrote 12 psalms, and Psalm 83 is one of the most prophetic of his psalms. Asaph was a prophet.
King Hezekiah would have been very interested in and would have known that Asaph was a prophet, because among the confederacy that Asaph talks about in Psalm 83 is a member called Assyria. At the time that Asaph wrote, Assyria wasn't even in the picture. They weren't even really one of Israel's enemies until many decades later. But, they were an enemy of Hezekiah. Assyria had come into the fray with Israel during Shalmaneser II around 850 BC, and Hezekiah was around 701 BC. Assyria was already interacting with Israel problematically as they destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC. So Hezekiah around 701 BC had to deal with King Sennacherib of Assyria. Hezekiah would have been very concerned about what is going on with Assyria and he would have known that Asaph had spoken about Assyria in a prophecy.
Another thing when we talk about this prophecy, among the confederacy of nations aligned against Israel that Asaph talks about in Psalm 83, he talks about a place called Gebal, along with Assyria. Now with Gebal, you don't even hear about them until Ezekiel 27. Ezekiel wrote long after Asaph. Asaph wrote about 1,000 years BC. Ezekiel wrote about 500-600 years BC, so he wrote well after Asaph had died. Therefore, Psalm 83 has to be a prophecy because Asaph was not just saying, "God help us with these enemies around us." Asaph listed the very specific group of ten groups, though of course Israel has many more than ten enemies in today's point in time. But, he listed a specific ten, and two of them weren't even in the fray at 1,000 BC. Asaph was talking about a future scenario.
Asaph also talks about these enemy peoples as in a habitation condition. He's talking about a confederacy. He calls the very first member the "tents of Edom." He's listing some population, some people group, in a habitation condition. Now, biblically speaking, that would even be military encampments or refugee conditions. The Edomites the descendants of Esau have ethnical representation in the Palestinians today. I do believe what Asaph was trying to tell us which became a reality in 1948 would be a Palestinian refugee crisis and they would play a part in this overall confederacy. I think the Palestinians find their face in prophecy today.
When Asaph mentions Assyria, we find they actually help the children of Lot. So, you have a confederation member who is assisting another confederation member. The children of Lot would represent Jordan for the most part today. At no time in Jordan's history did Assyria ever help Jordan until they were involved in wars with Israel in 1948 and 1967. Jordan was not one of the stronger members in that war. So, I think that as well is a prophecy, from that perspective. Asaph was a prophet.
One of the things that Dr. Ice talked about which is a little bit disturbing to me is that he says when my friends speak about Psalm 83 or I hear radio interviews about Psalm 83 at best it should be said that a Psalm 83 War is just utter speculation. First of all, that ignores an enormous amount of research I've done throughout the years. And second, I wasn't the first one to write on Psalm 83. This is not my brain storm, idea, or hypothesis. Mutually respected people such as Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum first wrote about it in his book The Footsteps of the Messiah. David Dolan wrote about Psalm 83 in his book Israel in Crisis before I even wrote about it.
When Dr. Ice talks about my friends who are supposedly speculating, well let's unpack that a little bit. We are talking about Hal Lindsey who advocates the similar Psalm 83 hypothesis. Dr. David Reagan, Chuck Missler, Gary Stearman, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum as I said, and a lot of notable and very respected names support a Psalm 83 War. So, from my perspective, I don't think those guys took my word for it concerning the interpretation of Psalm 83 without them cracking open the books and figuring out for themselves whether it was a true prophecy or not. I think just broad-brushing that a Psalm 83 War is just speculation is a little bit tenuous.
In the first part of the interview with Dr. Ice, he could only cover a modicum of what he has written in a dissertation around 2011 called "Consistent Biblical Futurism." In that he devoted sections 10, 11, 12 and 13 to Psalm 83. I certainly invite you to Google it and read up if you really want to hear all of his general arguments against a Psalm 83 War. At the same time I would invite you get my book Psalm 83: The Missing Prophecy Revealed where I address every objection that he's made, and every objection everyone else has made about why Psalm 83 is perhaps not a prophecy for our time.
I do want to quote one thing that Dr. Ice says right in the beginning of his dissertation, he says, "Consistent futurists believe that future Old Testament prophecy will start to be fulfilled after the Rapture of the Church, except the prophecy of the Rapture itself." What he's saying there is that Bible prophecy apart from the Rapture will be fulfilled after the Rapture. And, as you read his teachings on futurism, more specifically he is putting coming prophecy all into the catch-all closet for during the coming 7-year Tribulation period. In essence, he's pretty much declaring all prophecy apart from the Rapture will find final fulfillment in Daniel's 70th Week, otherwise known as the Tribulation period.
Dr. Ice goes on to say, "Bill Salus has set forth the speculation that Psalm 83 prophesies a separate end time war that will take place at the end of the current Church Age before the Rapture. Salus teaches that before Tribulation, before the Battle of Magog which will take place before the Tribulation and even before the Rapture toward the end of the current Church Age, Israel will be invaded by the nations surrounding it." First of all, I want to clarify when I read that I emailed Dr. Ice and I said, "Please point out where I said that, or were you gleamed that thought, because I certainly don't know where that is coming from. I never wrote that." He never responded to me.
And so, I want to go on the record right now that in all my works I've made it perfectly clear that I do not believe that Psalm 83 has to precede the Rapture. Now, it might. The Rapture could happen before, it could happen during, or it could happen after Psalm 83, but I believe in the doctrine of imminence as does Dr. Ice does. I believe we should be looking for the return of Jesus Christ at any given moment. But, I also see from watching the geopolitical situation in the Middle East that Psalm 83 is also very imminent and it could happen, and we need to be prepared for it.
Now I want to talk a little bit about the Psalm. Asaph is petitioning God about a concern — a genocidal attempt on the Jewish people. He's saying these nations surrounding Israel are going to form a confederacy and they are going to form a plan. These are a contemporary confederacy of Arab states. These Arab states share common borders with Israel. They are going to form a contemporary confederacy. They are going to make a plan to destroy the nation of Israel so that the name of Israel will be remembered no more.
If Psalm 83 is a prophecy for our time, that means they don't want peace with the Jews today. The Arab and the Palestinians do not want peace with the Jews. They don't want a two state solution. They want one more state where they can fly the flag of Palestine over it. And, I think this threat against Israel is a very real concern. It certainly is with Israel, and it should be a concern for you as supporters of Israel.
Dr. Ice has made the comment about how if this is a prophecy, how come it's not contained in the writings of the major and minor prophets? Well I point out in my book, Psalm 83: The Missing Prophecy Revealed, that the prophets did talk about it. I point out about 150 verses that I think apply to the prophets addressing these very population groups from Psalm 83: Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, Gebal, Assyria, Ishmaelites and Hagarenes. I put maps in the book, of course, of who they are. They're the Arab states sharing common borders with Israel. I call them an inner-circle, and inside of that inner-circle you've got terrorist populations which have evolved, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, of course you've got the Palestinians. I will let you read through my book and you will see that I believe Asaph has spoken along with the other prophets very much about these nations coming against Israel.
I think the problem that Dr. Ice runs into is because he believes that in consistent futurism that the judgment of all the nations will occur during the Tribulation period. I think he gravitates towards that view, and I certainly respect his view on that. He sees the judgment of the nations happening during the campaign of Armageddon as the Lord is returning. When Jesus returns He will deal with the Antichrist single-handedly, and He's fighting off the armies of all the nations.
What I point out is that the Israeli Defense Forces today are instrumental, for they are a tool of the Lord, to fight off the Psalm 83 Arabs. In my book I show scriptures such as Ezekiel 25:14 dealing with Edom, "I will execute vengeance by the hand of my people Israel,". Note, not by the Messiah, but "by the hand of my people Israel on Edom, and they'll show them my fury and vengeance."
Obadiah 1:18 is also a very important prophecy. "The House of Jacob will be a fire, the house of Joseph a flame, but the house of Esau shall be stubble." Esau is the father of the Edomites. The Edomites are the "tents of Edom" in this prophecy.
Asaph also petitions the Lord in Psalm 83:9-11 to deal with this Arab confederacy in the manner of historical Jewish military precedent. At the time of Gideon, when he defeated the Midianites, the Lord empowered Gideon to defeat the Midianites. Some 300 men kill 120,000 Midianites. Asaph asks God to deal with them like Barak the general did at the time of the Canaanites when the Israelites won because they were empowered by God. Asaph is petitioning the Lord to deal with them by empowering the Israeli Defense Forces through the manner of historical precedent, and that's what has been done this very day.
As I conclude, I'll say again I certainly respect Tommy Ice. I just don't agree with him for falling short on calling Psalm 83 a prophecy. I invite you to certainly read all the things he said, but pick up my book and read it too, because I think Psalm 83 is on the nearby horizon and that also means that Jesus could come at any given moment. Thank you.
In the third and last segment of our study of a potential Psalm 83 War, Dr. Reagan will clarify some points.