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Milepost 8: Israel's Birth Pangs - Israel's Birth Pangs: Page 2

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Milepost 8: Israel's Birth Pangs - Israel's Birth Pangs: Page 2

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Here both the Philistines and their ancient allies, the Cherethims, fall under God’s vengeful wrath for their hatred driven actions against Israel. While these prophecies may have been fulfilled millennia ago, it is curious that this area is such a huge trouble spot today. As with all the prophecies in this section, it is difficult to determine whether they have current end-time applications. Current events in Israel certainly point in that direction, but careful, disciplined application of prophetic rules of interpretation is necessary to keep from stretching prophecy to match the desired outcome. For now, it is sufficient to note the similarities between these verses and current conditions and leave the question of whether these are birth pang prophecies unanswered. Syria is another country covered by potential birth pang prophecies:

And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion,and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither. Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron: But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad. I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD. (Amos 1:2-5)

Again for four major infractions against Israel, Damascus is destroyed and Syria suffers God judgments. In fact, similar pronouncements against the ancient nations of Tyrus, Edom, Ammon, and Moab can be found throughout Amos’ prophecies and each may or may not apply to last days events. Ezekiel pronounced similar prophecies against Israel’s ancient enemy Idumea (Edom):

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen, and against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey.  Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury, because ye have borne the shame of the heathen: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame.  But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come. (Ezekiel 36:5-8)

Notice that these prophecies occur when the mountains of Israel sprout their branches, implying the time following Israel’s rebirth. Though omits Ezekiel details of God’s wrath, it appears that both Idumea and the heathen suffer greatly in the last days. Egypt is another ancient country apparently appearing in birth pang prophecies. Isaiah 19:1-2 shows the the burden of Egypt:

The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.

Here Egypt suffers great internal conflicts, perhaps even civil war. Next, a fierce king rules over them:

And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts. And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up. And they shall turn the rivers far away; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither. The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more. The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish. (Isaiah 19:4-8)

Some suggest King Gamal Abdel-Nasser this drying up of the Nile prophecy when he dammed up the Nile River. As with most dams, the dam stopped the normal flow of the river and adversely affected fish and plants living in and depending on the normal flow of the river. Egypt’s also figures prominently in the following last days prophecy from Isaiah:

In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it. And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it. In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction. In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. (Isaiah 19:16-20)

At this time, Israel terrifies Egypt. Today, this fear is pervasive and even affects Egypt’s visitors as those arriving overland from Israel must already have a valid visa before trying to enter the country. At any other entry port (except Rafah and Taba, both on the eastern (Israeli) side of the Sinai Peninsula), a visitor can obtain a 30-day tourist visa as they enter the country. Many stories exist of problems encountered by Middle East tourists not sensitive to the Egyptian’s fear and sensibilities. Considering the damages Israel’s military has inflicted on them, the fear is understandable. Interestingly, Isaiah claims five Egyptian cities will speak Israel’s language, Hebrew, and Egypt’s border will have a pillar and altar in the land to the Lord. Some believe the Camp David accords fulfilled these prophecies where Egypt received the Israeli controlled land of the Sinai Peninsula in a phased multi-year handover. During this time, Israel dismantled seventeen Jewish settlements of various sizes and relocated their inhabitants to Israel. For a short time, these settlements may have fulfilled Isaiah’s Hebrew, prophecy. Also, in tribute to the peace accords and Anwar Saddat, the Egyptians constructed a monument on the Israeli border and this monument might be Isaiah’s border pillar.

In addition to these prophecies, the ancient accounts of Israel’s interactions with her neighbors yield clues to the birth pang obstacles she faces. In particular, Joshua experienced it when Gibeon’s neighbors attacked and destroyed them for enacting a peace treaty with Joshua and Israel:

Now it came to pass, when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them; That they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty. Wherefore Adonizedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying, Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel. Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it. (Joshua 10:1-5)

Today, history repeats itself as dissidents and nations hating Israel use these same tactics to intimidate anyone wanting to work with the Jews. There have been reports of Arabs killing Arabs who sold land to Jews to terrify others who may want to profit by trading with the Jews (or just want to live with them in peace).