I have been to Israel 45 times, and every time my spiritual life has been enriched. I recently took a video cameraman with me and had him shoot on the fly as I led a pilgrimage group through the land. We began in Tel Aviv, and went from there to Tiberias in the north, and then back to Jerusalem.
I'll continue to share some of the sermons I presented from that trip with you. As I do so, I think you'll come to understand why a person once wrote, "A pilgrimage to the Holy Land converts the Bible from black and white into Technicolor."
My fifth message was presented at the ancient fortress of Megiddo that overlooks the Valley of Armageddon. There we will survey the nine prophetic wars of the end times.
The Only War They Know
Most people have heard of only one war of the end times, what is normally referred to as the Battle of Armageddon. But, the Bible speaks of nine end time wars. I want to talk to you about the final battles of the end times.
Every time a war breaks out over in Israel, without exception Lamb & Lion Ministries gets calls and email messages all asking, "Is this the Battle of Armageddon?" The reason for that is because most people are only familiar with one battle of the end times, and that's the Battle of Armageddon. So, every time a war breaks out, people want to know, "Is this the Battle of Armageddon?"
Most people know the name Armageddon, even people in the secular world. We've had movies named Armageddon. Secular writers talk about how we are in the time of Armageddon, and on and on it goes.
What I want to point out to you is that I believe that Bible prophecy mentions nine wars in the end times, and only one of them is the Battle of Armageddon. As you're going to find out, the Battle of Armageddon is really no battle at all.
Let's take a look for a moment at what those wars are that are prophesied to happen in the end times.
The First War of Gog & Magog — Ezekiel 38 and 39
The end time war that most people talk about is found in Ezekiel 38 and 39 — the War of Gog and Magog. There's a man who has written a lot recently about this. His name is Joel Rosenberg. He's a very fine writer and a great fiction writer. He is also a student of Bible prophecy and truly loves the subject. I've been with him on several podiums which we've shared at conferences. I've got to know him well, and he's really a great guy.
Joel Rosenberg is the one who has really popularized the idea that the next major prophetic war will be Ezekiel 38 and 39. But, I think he's wrong about that, because Ezekiel 38 and 39 says that it will occur at a time when Israel is living in peace and without walls. In truth, Israel is not living in peace today. It's certainly is not living without walls. It has a wall that runs the entire length of the country. By the time it does all it zigzags, the wall runs 400 miles long. In some places it's more of a scientific wall, in the sense a technological wall, because if you cross it sets off all kinds of alarms. In other places it's a big tall wall. The wall's been necessary to stop terrorists from coming into Israel. It's been extremely effective in stopping them. And so, Israel is not living in peace right now.
Another thing that is interesting about the Ezekiel 38 and 39 War is it says that it's going to be an invasion led by Russia with certain specified allies. All the allies are specified, and all of them are Muslim states today. The thing that is most interesting is not one single nation that's mentioned in Ezekiel 38 and 39 has a common border with Israel. So, it begs the question, "Why is it that none of the states that have a common border with Israel are mentioned?"
The War of Extermination — Psalm 83
The person who has come up with an answer for that question in recent years is a man named Bill Salus, who is a good, personal friend of mine. Bill wrote a book called Isralestine. In his book he states that the first war of the end times in Bible prophecy is the War of Psalm 83.
If you read that Psalm, and it's a short psalm, it talks about the fact that all the Arab states in the end times will get together and say, "Now is the time for us to annihilate the State of Israel." So, we call it the Psalm 83 War of Annihilation.
An interesting fact about Psalm 83 is that it names the nations that are going to come against Israel, and every nation it names is one that has a common boundary with Israel today. Those names are Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. They are the ones that come against Israel to annihilate it, as Psalm 83 foretells. I think the Psalm 83 War is going to be the next great war in the Middle East.
Something interesting about Psalm 83 is that it doesn't tell who wins the war, but we know who wins it, because Zechariah 12 says in the end times one of the miracles that God is going to perform is that Israel will have one of the greatest military forces in the world. As you know, Israel is one of the smallest countries in the world, but it is always ranked in the top four in terms of military power. Many rank it number one in the effective use of its power.
I think that probably the first war of the end times in prophecy is going to be the Psalm 83 War. That's when the nations that have a common boundary with Israel will come against and try to destroy Israel. I also think that is most likely when Damascus will be destroyed, because two times in the Old Testament we are told that Damascus will cease to exist in the end times.
The Syrians have highly sophisticated missiles. They could put a missile right down the smokestack of any building in Tel Aviv if they wanted to, and they are only shooting them 125 miles, not thousands of miles. Syria also has all kinds of chemical weapons. If they were to attack Tel Aviv with chemical weapons, probably the only way the Israelis would be able to defend themselves is to use one of their tactical nuclear weapons to blow up the city of Damascus. So, it could very well be that that very first war of the end times is the one in which Damascus will cease to exist.
The Psalm 83 War is a war between Israel and all the inner circle of Muslim States that have a common boundary with Israel. I think that's going to be the first war.
That makes the second war of the end times the one described in Ezekiel 38 and 39, when Russia comes down with certain specified Muslim allies. Those countries form an outer ring. None of them have a single common border with Israel.
I think what will happen is in the first war Israel will conquer all the states around it and will finally have peace. At that point the Muslim world will turn to its natural ally, Russia. The Russians will come smiling from ear to ear because they've always wanted to dominate the Middle East. What they really want is not so much the annihilation of Israel as much as they want access to all the Arab oil fields.
The Arabs will invite the Russians in, and surely they'll come. But, the great horde of invaders will all be destroyed supernaturally upon the hills of Israel. They won't be destroyed by the Israeli Defense Forces like in the first war of Psalm 83. This time God will personally provide the victory, and He'll do it in such a way that even the people of Israel will realize that God did it.
The result of God's victory is that many of the Jewish people will begin to believe. I also think that includes many of our tour guides who have heads full of Scripture, but hearts that are cold to the Gospel, they will suddenly see God intervene and deliver the nation of Israel. Boom! They're eyes will be opened.
To summarize, the first prophetic end times war is going to be the Psalm 83 War and the next one will be the Ezekiel 38 and 39 War, but we don't know when these are going to occur. There's lots of debate among prophecy scholars as to when they will occur. Some think it's going to occur in the middle of the Tribulation, while some at the beginning of the Tribulation. Some think it will start before the Tribulation.
I tend to think these two wars are going to start before the Tribulation, because Ezekiel talks about the fact that when the Gog-Magog War is over, the Israelis are going to spend seven years cleaning up the battle field. We know that in the middle of the Tribulation the Antichrist is going to run the Jews out of the country. They are not going to be there to clean up the battle field after that. That's why I think most likely the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39 will start 3.5 years before the Tribulation begins. Israel therefore will finish cleaning up the battlefields in the middle of the Tribulation.
In the second part of this sermon from the Holy Land presented at the ancient fortress of Megiddo that overlooks the Valley of Armageddon, we'll survey the third and fourth of the nine prophetic wars of the end times.