sermon: The King of the South
Can It Be Radical Islam?
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 25-Feb-06; Sermon #761; 82 minutes
Religious and cultural differences, especially the raging Western-Islamic conflict, will become the fault lines of dangerous conflicts and clashes of civilizations. The King of the South (Daniel 11:40) might be a confederation of Arab nations continually at war with the people of Israel. Psalm 83 identifies such a confederation that continually harasses Israel—events that appear in today's headlines. The Bible's characterization of Ishmael, Esau, Amalek, Moab, and Ammon fit the national traits of present-day, anti-Western Arab peoples. Numerous prophecies (including Nahum, Zephaniah, and Amos) predict the eventual demise of their evil efforts. Throughout history, the Kings of the North and the South, always reckoned from the viewpoint of Jerusalem, have changed identities, but the principal players of the conflict exist today in the bitter conflict between militant Islam fundamentalism and the West.
I would like to begin today by reading an extensive quotation from Samuel P.Huntington's original article, "The Clash of Civilizations," which appeared in Foreign Affairs the summer of 1993. He later expanded it into a book by the same title. Please bear with me as this is a long quote and will take several minutes to read through. So just sit back and listen—and give attention to his train of thought.
THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS
Samuel P. Huntington
Foreign Affairs. Summer 1993, v72, n3, p22(28) from the Academic Index
COPYRIGHT Council on Foreign Relations Inc. 1993
World politics is entering a new phase, and intellectuals have not hesitated to proliferate visions of what it will be—the end of history, the return of traditional rivalries between nation-states, and the decline of the nation-state from the conflicting pulls of tribalism and globalism, among others. Each of these visions catches aspects of the emerging reality. Yet they all miss a crucial, indeed, a central aspect of what global politics is likely to be in the coming years. It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation-states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future...
...Conflict along the fault line between Western and Islamic civilizations has been going on for 1,300 years. After the founding of Islam, the Arab and Moorish surge west and north only ended at Tours in 732. From the eleventh to the thirteenth century the Crusaders attempted, with temporary success, to bring Christianity and Christian rule to the Holy Land. From the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, the Ottoman Turks reversed the balance, extended their sway over the Middle East and the Balkans, captured Constantinople, and twice laid siege to Vienna. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as Ottoman power declined, Britain, France, and Italy established Western control over most of North Africa and the Middle East.
After World War II the West, in turn, began to retreat; the colonial empires disappeared; first Arab nationalism and then Islamic fundamentalism manifested themselves; the West became heavily dependent on the Persian Gulf countries for its energy; the oil-rich Muslim countries became money-rich and, when they wished to, weapons-rich...This [Cold War era] warfare between Arabs and the West culminated in 1990, when the United States sent a massive army to the Persian Gulf to defend some Arab countries against aggression by another [We call it the Persian Gulf War. And, of course, he wrote this between the first Persian Gulf War and the second.]...
...This centuries-old military interaction between the West and Islam is unlikely to decline. It could become more virulent...The principal beneficiaries of these openings have been Islamist movements. In the Arab world, in short, Western democracy [catch this] strengthens anti-Western political forces. This may be a passing phenomenon, but it surely complicates relations between Islamic countries and the West.
Those relations are also complicated by demography. The spectacular population growth in Arab countries, particularly in North Africa, has led to increased migration to Western Europe. The movement within Western Europe toward minimizing internal boundaries has sharpened political sensitivities with respect to this development. In Italy, France and Germany, racism is increasingly open, and political reactions and violence against Arab and Turkish migrants have become more intense and more widespread since 1990. [If I can interject here, the reverse is also happening. Violence has been increasing against native Europeans by the immigrant populations.] On both sides the interaction between Islam and the West is seen as a clash of civilizations.
The West's "next confrontation," observes M. J. Akbar, an Indian Muslim author, "is definitely going to come from the Muslim world. It is in the sweep of the Islamic nations from the Maghreb to Pakistan that the struggle for a new world order will begin."
Bernard Lewis comes to a similar conclusion: We are facing a mood and a movement far transcending the level of issues and policies and the governments that pursue them. This is no less than a clash of civilizations—the perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present, and the worldwide expansion of both...
...The west is now at an extraordinary peak of power in relation to other civilizations. Its superpower opponent has disappeared from the map [U.S.S.R.]. Military conflict among Western states is unthinkable, and Western military power is unrivaled. Apart from Japan, the West faces no economic challenge. [If I can interject here, Japan, over the past ten years or so since this has been written, has been in severe recession, if not depression.] It dominates international political and security institutions and, with Japan, international economic institutions.
Global political and security issues are effectively settled by a directorate of the United States, Britain and France, world economic issues by a directorate of the United States, Germany and Japan, all of which maintain extraordinarily close relations with each other to the exclusion of lesser and largely non-Western countries...The West in effect is using international institutions, military power and economic resources to run the world in ways that will maintain Western predominance, protect Western interests, and promote Western political and economic values.
That, at least, is the way in which non-Westerners see the new world, and there is a significant element of truth in their view. Differences in power and struggles for military, economic, and institutional power are thus one source of conflict between the West and other civilizations. Differences in culture, that is basic values and beliefs, are a second source of conflict.
V. S. Naipaul has argued that Western civilization is the "universal civilization" that "fits all men." At a superficial level much of Western culture has indeed permeated the rest of the world. At a more basic level, however, Western concepts differ fundamentally from those prevalent in other civilizations. Western ideas of [listen to these] individualism, liberalism, constitutionalism, human rights, equality, liberty, the rule of law, democracy, free markets, and the separation of church and state often have little resonance in Islamic, Confucian, Japanese, Hindu, Buddhist or Orthodox cultures [this is the entire rest of the world!].
Western efforts to propagate such ideas produce, instead, a reaction against "human rights imperialism" and a reaffirmation of indigenous values, as can be seen in the support for religious fundamentalism by the younger generation in non-Western cultures. The very notion that there could be a "universal civilization" is a Western idea, directly at odds with the particularism of most Asian societies and their emphasis on what distinguishes one people from another. Indeed, the author of a review of 100 comparative studies of values in different societies concluded that "the values that are most important in the West are least important worldwide. [Emphasis ours throughout]
Now there is more, obviously, that I could have taken from this article, but I think we get the point. I find Huntington's paper and his thesis to be quite insightful, especially since it was written back in 1993. He did not have the hindsight that we now have about what has happened in the world these past thirteen years. If it is not "dead-on," then his vision of the world is far more realistic than were the many other geopolitical theories in circulation at the end of the Cold War. Subsequent events have shown that this world's major line of conflict falls between the West (driven particularly by the United States—and also Europe to a somewhat lesser degree) and Islam: the West and Islam. And Islam has been driven, you might say, by the Jihadists (the Wahabists—like Bin Laden and other fundamentalist Muslims).
What we are witnessing, then, is this "clash of civilizations." And, as Huntington pointed out, there have been incessant wars for thirteen hundred years. But he could have gone back even further than that. He stopped at the point Islam came on the scene—in the 600's AD (7th century). Conflict between these particular peoples has been going on for far longer. We can add the six hundred years back to the time of Christ—and then go back yet another fifteen hundred (or more) years! We are talking close to 3200-3500 years of strife between these peoples! And it is, today, reaching a crisis point!
I will read a scripture in Daniel 11 which will encapsulate my purpose for today:
Daniel 11:40 At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.
This verse indicates that at the "time of the end" (it is specific in its time reference) there is going to be a fierce conflagration between an entity called "the king of the South," who is the aggressor, and an entity called the "king of the North," who is, it seems from the way it is described here, a longsuffering giant! Perhaps we would even call it a "sleeping giant." This king of the North gets pushed at, poked, prodded, teased, and terrorized. And then in one swift movement arises, shakes off the drowsiness, and swats the king of the South down so that it cannot rise again!
My question today is, "Could the king of the South be militant Islam?"
Now, there are varying opinions bandied about among the churches of God about just who is this king of the South. Some have relied upon what Mr. Armstrong taught. And some others have come up with their own scenarios about who it might be. Some have said that it definitely could not be Islam; some have said that it definitely is Ethiopia. (This is difficult for me to believe because Ethiopia is nothing.)
I want to look at this subject from a broad viewpoint. I will not take the time to go through the entire prophecy of Daniel 11 (even though we are looking at Daniel 11:40). We are going to review the background of this conflict because it is important that we understand how the entire Old Testament describes the people and nations which will, more than likely, make up this end-time entity. I will say straight out that I am assuming that the king of the South is referring to the Arab-Islamic peoples.
We will begin laying the foundation from Psalm 83. This is an important place to start because it is here that we are provided with a concise listing of the enemies of Israel. We will read the first eight verses and then the last six. This Psalm speaks of a confederacy against God's people. I find it interesting that the name, "Israel," is mentioned only one time, but it is obvious that the people who are under duress are God's people. The entire Psalm has an "end-time" feeling (particularly in verse 3 where the "sheltered ones" are mentioned and, also, in the last three verses where the conversion process is described). The only event that will fully break this confederacy is when God intervenes and strongly rebukes them. This places the timing of this right before the Millennium.
Psalm 83:1-4 Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, "Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more."
This could be taken in several different ways. It may refer to all of Israel (all twelve tribes) and that the main goal, then, is to wipe out all of the sons of Jacob and all of their descendants. It could also be understood from an end time perspective to be the state of Israel, or just the Jews. It specifically says that the thinking is "come and let us cut them off from being a nation." This is the specifically stated goal of the Palestinians and some other Arab nations toward the modern state of Israel (made up predominantly of the descendants of Judah along with some Levites, Benjaminites, and perhaps some Simeonites). They want to wipe them off the map! And it may even refer to the Church as "the Israel of God"—a nation that is to be born. There are, as we can see, a variety of ways we can take this other than simply applying it to the ancient nations of Israel or Judah.
Psalm 83:5-8 For they have consulted together with one consent [they are united]; they form a confederacy against You [Notice who is involved. We will spend some time on these]: the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; they have helped the children of Lot. Selah
It is very interesting that the word, "selah," is used here. This is just a listing of nations, but the psalmist thought that this was so insightful and so interesting that he wants us to think about it, too. Who are these people? We will drop down to verse 13 because the intervening verses are a prayer asking God to deal with them.
Psalm 83:13-18 O my God, make them like the whirling dust [Do you remember the prophecy in Daniel 11:40 about coming like a whirlwind?], like the chaff before the wind! As the fire burns the woods, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire, so pursue them with Your tempest [whirlwind/tempest], and frighten them with Your storm [a whirlwind is a storm]. Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Lord. Let them be confounded and dismayed forever; yes, let them be put to shame and perish, that they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.
We find strong connections between Psalm 83 and Daniel 11:40. These are end time references and we find, too, that the coming whirlwind and tempest described in both places are the vehicles by which these nations are taken down.
As we examine the list of nations in verses 5 through 8 we see that Edom is first mentioned. They are the descendants of Esau. And, also, Ishmael is named. Joining them on the list are Ammon, Moab, Philistia, and Tyre. Assyria, it is said, will help them. There are other names, too, such as the Hagarites, Amalek, and Gebal. Amalek and Gebal are members of Esau, but they became separately known because they had to be distinguished one from another. They did not stay together with the rest of the Edomites. The Hagarites are Ishmaelites and this is, in effect, another name for them. Their mother was Hagar, an Egyptian.
If we go through the Bible history (from about Genesis 16 on) we will see that all of these nations are branded as perpetual enemies of Israel and Judah. They appear time and time again. The only nation missing from this list of enemies is Babylon because, in the end time, there is no physical nation of Babylon (at least not in the geographic area of ancient Israel).
I should also mention something about Assyria. While we were in North Hollywood we came across a man who claimed to be Assyrian and he looked like an Arab. The ancient Assyrians became intermingled with and, subsequently, came to look like the peoples around them: the Canaanites, the Lebanese, the Syrians, and the Turks—all peoples surrounding the ancient Assyrian nation. It is certainly possible that there is a group of Assyrian people now inhabiting the Middle East whose ancestors did not make the trek into Europe, as we have long suspected most of them to have done. It is possible that the Assyrians referred to here are not those of Europe as we have traditionally thought of them, but are in fact a remnant of the ancient Assyrian nation which had remained in the Middle East and had become "Islamicized," for lack of a better term. But this could also mean that they are helped by the Assyrians who are in Europe, too—those who did make the trek. It is hard to say.
What we find, then, with all of these different people (Edom, Ishmael, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, Tyre, and Assyria) is that they are all among the major players in the Middle East today. These are the people from whom the Jihadists and the fundamentalists hail and they make up what is known as the "Arab world:" Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, the nations of the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, etc.), Jordan (who would be mostly Ammon and Moab, as well as Edom), the Arab nations of North Africa (Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia), and the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
Here we have a group of people, a confederacy, whose main enemy is Israel. And it is Israel, these days, who is heading up the West. Who has initiated the conflict in these last several years? Have they not, for the most part, been Islamist/fundamentalist Arabs? They have come out of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, some Jordanians, Egypt, North Africans (Libyans), Iraqis—you see where I am going with this.
Where have most of the attacks taken place? Although many of them have occurred in the Middle East, these attacks have been against Western interests. Consider the bombing in Beirut against a U.S. military installation where hundreds of Marines were killed. Our ships and embassies have been attacked. Our people have been attacked. And it has not just been against the U.S. It has been Britain, Israel (obviously), Australia, France, the Netherlands and, of late, Denmark (because of the cartoons), Norway and Sweden, Finland, and other predominantly Israelite nations, which have also been targeted.
We are seeing (as we put Psalm 83 together with what we know about these nations' ancestry and what is now happening in our current events) these prophecies coming to pass before our very eyes!
Let us recap just a bit. The nations heading up the list (and, therefore, the main antagonists) are Ishmael and Edom. Let us examine the genesis of these feuds. There is a good reason why this book is entitled Genesis. It records the beginnings of things. This section of scripture concerns the circumstances and prophecies surrounding the birth of Ishmael. Hagar fled from Sarai in this instance:
Genesis 16:8-12 And He [God] said, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?" She said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai." The Angel of the Lord said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand." Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, "I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude." And the Angel of the Lord said to her: "Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael [meaning God hears], because the Lord has heard your affliction [this is where it gets interesting]. He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren."
And so Hagar gives birth to a son and names him Ishmael. These scriptures give us God's perspective of the prophesied nature of this man and his entire progeny. God calls him, in the Hebrew, a "wild ass man." That is what He calls him, "a wild ass!" The picture is one of an independent, headstrong, and untamable man. He is constantly at war with EVERYONE! And everyone is at war with him because people just cannot get along with him! He is wild, hostile, easily provoked, gets into a feud instantly and carries the grudge to the death. It is also stated here (which I found most interesting the further I pursued this) that "he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren." The Ishmaelites are prophesied to remain a distinct and independent people among their own.
Genesis 25 records Abraham taking Keturah as wife after the death of Sarah. He then has several sons by her. These are, in fact, Ishmael's brethren and those to whom Genesis 16 refers. These sons of Abraham, along with Ishmael, are the Arab peoples. Ishmael will remain distinct among them and, in effect, all of the Arab peoples will remain distinct from each other and will not be subjugated. They are too wild and independent. Israel has never been able to control them. The great world empires have not been able to control them. They have remained in the desert and independent. This is simply the prophesied nature of the people.
We can see this even today. We see America and all of its military might occupying the area and attempting to enforce its will and, up to this point, meeting with what can only be described as failure! Success cannot be achieved because they are a "wild ass" people! This is a trait passed on through the millennia as part of their nature. They will not be tamed!
Now, in Genesis 21, we see where Sarah had sent Hagar away (the time before we saw that she had fled).
Genesis 21:20-21 So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
There are two reasons why I came here. I wanted to show that Ishmael had two important connections with Egypt—his mother and his wife. He was not only half Egyptian himself, but his children were three-fourths Egyptian. There are strong ties between the Ishmaelites and the native Egyptians. I wanted to mention this because it will become important. (It will not be significantly important, but it does add to our understanding.)
The second reason I came to this verse is that, of all the things God could have pointed out about Ishmael, it is said of him he "became an archer." This is interesting, is it not? He did not become a great swordsman; he did not become a great horseman; he did not become a merchant. He became an archer. The symbol of an archer, in the Bible, is one of a deceiver; of one who strikes from cover; one who loves to ambush; one who does not care to grapple head-on with somebody. He wants to attack from a distance.
Revelation 6:2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
The first seal of the book of Revelation deals with false christs. These are those who do not fight fairly; one who would rather deceive and shoot from long range rather than meet face-to-face. This is further clarified in Genesis 49:
Genesis 49:22-23 Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall. The archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him.
Could this possibly be a prophecy of the future (and now present) Arab peoples taking pot shots at Israel—at Joseph in particular? Just a thought, but I considered it to be of enough interest that I wanted to bring it to your attention. If we were to go on in the chapter we would see that God would give strength to Joseph in order for him to prevail. It is interesting that Ishmael, along with all of the other things that are said about him (particularly that he is a wild man), is described as an archer—one who shoots from cover; one who shoots from ambush; one who shoots from a distance. This seems to describe what we have come to know as the "terrorist mind."
Moving up to Genesis 27 we find the biblical descriptions and prophecies concerning Esau. This is where he loses the blessing to Jacob by his (Jacob's) tricking Isaac. Previously, Esau had already been tricked out of the birthright (Genesis 24) and so this is the second time Jacob had gotten from Esau what was rightfully his as the firstborn. As we read toward the end of the chapter we find Esau going to Isaac and pleading, "Please bless me, too!"
Genesis 27:34-38 When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, "Bless me—me also, O my father!" But he said, "Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing." And Esau said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!" And he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" Then Isaac answered and said to Esau, "Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him. What shall I do now for you, my son?" ["Look," he says, "it has all been given away. There is nothing left to give you!"] And Esau said to his father, "Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me—me also, O my father!" And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.
In the New King James Version it sounds as though verses 39 and 40 are a blessing from Isaac. They are not! It is a prophecy. It is not a blessing! He just said that he did not have anything left to give him. The blessing was an "all or nothing" portion of an inheritance. Verse 39 has been poorly translated:
Genesis 27:39-40 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: "Behold, your dwelling shall be [far from or away from]the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. [This means that Esau will live in a barren, dry area. The consequence of this is prophesied in verse 40.] By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother [Jacob]; and it shall come to pass, when you become restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck."
There will be continual strife between Jacob and Esau. Jacob would, more often than not, be in charge—until Esau would rebel in frustration and anger. There would be a constant, brotherly quarrel. They would frequently come to blows. This gives us an idea of the mindset of the Edomites. Everything that should have been theirs was now Jacob's and they would fight until the end of days to get it back!
But God says it was not to be. Every once in a while Esau might get the upper hand, but Jacob would have the birthright and the blessing and they would be the ones who would ultimately prevail.
We will now look at the alliances which Esau formed. Genesis 36 is an interesting chapter. Moses took the time to include an entire chapter in the book of Genesis on the Edomites alone. He was specific about who was born to whom; who ruled this and that and all of their intermingling. And then he writes in verse 1, "...Esau, who is Edom;" verse 8, "...Esau is Edom;" verse 19, "...Esau, who is Edom;" and in verse 43, "...Esau the father of the Edomites." It is as if God is trying to tell us, "Look, these are the Edomites. They have their source in Esau. You are going to be able to recognize them by the clues recorded for you. They are here to stay; deal with them! Know who they are and be prepared for what they are going to do!" And they have never stopped trying to get back what their father lost to Jacob!
Genesis 36:1-3 Now this is the genealogy of Esau, who is Edom. Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite; Aholibamah the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; and Basemath, Ishmael's daughter, sister of Nebajoth.
We find that Esau is bound by marriage to both the Canaanites and the Ishmaelites. The Hittites and Hivites were Canaanite tribes. The Hittites were, by far, the stronger and the bigger. They had a huge empire that stretched from Asia Minor to Palestine. This was the major empire of Abraham's time. The Hittites were the U.S. of the day. They had the power, the resources, the military, etc. They were a strong people. The Hivites were a smaller people based in the land of Canaan. We see how close these ties were: Egypt, Ishmael, and now we have the Canaanites. They are all a related people by marriage and blood!
There is a second connection we find in verses 11 and 12.
Genesis 36:11-12 And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. Now Timna was the concubine of Eliphaz, Esau's son, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These were the sons of Adah, Esau's wife.
We now throw the Amalekites, a grandson of Esau, into the alliance. Verse 16 says that Amalek became a chief among the Edomites. Although he was the son of a concubine, we see that he, nonetheless, became head of a significant tribe which then set themselves among the enemies of Israel.
I want us to notice, too, the name of Teman, the firstborn son of Eliphaz. He is the father of those referred to in Psalm 83 as "Gebal." This is actually a geographic region in which Teman and his tribe settled. Gebal, then, is part of Esau. Evidently Amalek and Gebal (or Teman) were closely allied throughout much of their history. If we go through some of the prophecies concerning Esau they will talk about Teman quite a bit. If we come across this we will know that it may be referring to this particular branch of the family.
How is Amalek a part of this confederacy? We find that God has a special enmity for Amalek. He seems to have been the worst of the bunch. We see the wild nature of Ishmael and Esau, but Amalek was, perhaps, the worst of the three.
Exodus 17:8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
We must understand that, in this instance, Israel had just come out of Egypt. Immediately Amalek came and attacked the stragglers at the rear of their ranks. So Moses commanded Joshua to select men to fight and in verse 13 we find:
Exodus 17:13-16 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. [Listen to God's instructions concerning these events.] Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner [a very militaristic Name]; for he said, "Because the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have WAR with Amalek from generation to generation."
Not only will Edom and Ishmael have constant war with Israel, but Amalek, as well. Moses adds further commentary in Deuteronomy 25:
Deuteronomy 25:17-19 Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. [Does this not remind us of an archer's tactics? Notice what God says:] Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.
There is a famous episode in the history of Israel when Saul was instructed to carry out this command. But he did some things that he should not have done (II Samuel 15). Or I should say that he did not do some things that he should have done—kill Agag. Samuel then had to come and chop him to pieces himself. Saul did not destroy them as he should have. Some of them escaped. In the book of Esther we find a man named Haman plotting against all the Jews. He tried to have them wiped out by order of the Persian king. Haman was an Agagite; Agag was an Amalekite.
This is the sort of trickery, terrorism, and underhandedness that Amalek seems to have had as a perpetual or hereditary character trait. This is the way they like to treat Israel. We see this pop up in different places. If there is going to be a confederacy against Israel, Amalek will be a part of it!
We are not yet finished with Esau. The book of Obadiah is all about Esau.
Obadiah 1-3 The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom (We have heard a report from the Lord, and a messenger has been sent among the nations, saying, "Arise, and let us rise up against her [Israel] for battle"): "Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to the ground?'
Edom lived in an area east of the Jordan in the rocky areas south of the Dead Sea—a dry, barren, rocky place. Here, in this end-time prophecy of Obadiah, we find them still living in this dry, barren, rocky place.
Obadiah 6-7 "Oh, how Esau shall be searched out! How his hidden treasures shall be sought after! All the men in your confederacy shall force you to the border; the men at peace with you shall deceive you and prevail against you. Those who eat your bread shall lay a trap for you. No one is aware of it.
We see that Esau, even among his friends, is not to be trusted. They will do what needs to be done to keep him down. They know his character. Any confederacy Esau has with others will be short-lived, especially knowing the character of those with whom he is confederate. They, too, are difficult to get along with.
Obadiah 15 "For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head.
Obadiah 21 Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's.
I reference these two verses to get the time frame. We can go back and look at this prophecy, but I wanted to show that there is confirmation of Esau being part of a confederacy against Israel at the end time. These people hate the house of Joseph. In verse 18 it says that "the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame." It sounds as though the house of Joseph will be used to punish these people and we may be seeing part of this now. And it says that the house of Esau, because of the actions of the house of Joseph, shall be stubble! They shall be kindling and be devoured and no survivors will remain of the house of Esau! This is dire!
There are other prophecies about Esau in Ezekiel 25 and 35; Isaiah 21; Jeremiah 49; and Amos 1. There are many prophecies in the Old Testament directed at Esau and I wanted us to see just how many different authors were inspired to record them. And since the Bible is an end-time book, it is obvious, once we see all these prophecies, that God approaches the subject all around and from different perspectives. We are given a whole and complete picture concerning these people and what they will be doing in the end times—and what their punishment will be for what they will have done.
We will now return to Genesis and take a look at Moab and Ammon:
Genesis 19:36-38 Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. [Ammon and Moab were the result of an incestuous act] The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab [meaning from father]; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi [meaning son of my people]; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day.
The two daughters of Lot, each impregnated by their own father and each giving birth to a son, chose names to draw attention to that fact. This is kind of weird! What were they thinking? This just goes to show the character of these people. It is very interesting.
We must live by every word of God and this was obviously recorded here for a reason—perhaps to get us thinking about the mindset of these people. We are to consider their thoughts and how they might possibly act upon them. We could say, in effect, that these are people who have no shame and are willing to do anything for their survival. This is the basic story at the end of Sodom and Gomorrah. They thought that they were the last three people on earth and so they did what they felt necessary for their survival—and then they called attention to what they chose to do! This is indicative of a strange mind!
These people have also been on-and-off hostile to Israel from this point. God was kind to them when Israel came through the eastern bank of the Jordan River Valley. He told them not to mess with Edom, not to mess with Moab, and not to mess with Ammon. Israel was told to go around these people because they were relatives and He did not want any strife. They would, however, regularly stab Israel or Judah in the back for whatever they needed at the time. As a matter of fact, Edom, Moab, and Ammon tried to benefit from Judah's fall and they are severely reprimanded by God in other places.
There are long prophecies concerning the children of Lot in Isaiah 15 and 16; Jeremiah 48 and 49; much of Ezekiel 25; Amos 1 and 2; and Zephaniah 2. There is no doubt that they will be part of an end-time conspiracy against Israel, as well. We will look at just a couple of verses in Zephaniah 2 for an example.
Zephaniah 2:8-11 "I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the insults of the people of Ammon, with which they have reproached My people, and made arrogant threats against their borders. Therefore, as I live," says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, "surely Moab shall be like Sodom [Is this not interesting? They came out of Sodom.], and the people of Ammon like Gomorrah [It is as if God is going back to Genesis 19 and likening Moab to Sodom and Ammon to Gomorrah—and He is going to wipe them out! Even though their mothers tried to survive the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, it is prophesied that they will not!]—overrun with weeds and salt pits, and a perpetual desolation. The residue of My people shall plunder them, and the remnant of My people shall possess them." This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached and made arrogant threats against the people of the Lord of hosts. The Lord will be awesome to them, for He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth; people shall worship Him, each one from his place, indeed all the shores of the nations.
They are going to have to learn a hard lesson!
I do not have a great deal of time left to take us thoroughly through the prophecies of Philistia, Tyre, and Assyria (I really did not plan to do so), but I do want us to know that they are, too, perpetual enemies of Israel and Judah.
There are prophecies about Philistia in Isaiah 14; Jeremiah 47; Ezekiel 25; Amos 1; Zephaniah 2; and Zechariah 9. I will turn to one scripture in Zephaniah 2, since we are already here.
Zephaniah 2:4-5 For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon desolate; they shall drive out Ashdod at noonday, and Ekron shall be uprooted. [These are major cities of the Philistines.] Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethites! [This is their original name.] The word of the Lord is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines: "I will destroy you; so there shall be no inhabitant."
We will find prophecies against Tyre in Isaiah 23; Ezekiel 26 through 28 (three chapters there!); Amos 1; Zechariah 9:3 (which I would like to read):
Zechariah 9:3-4 For Tyre built herself a tower, heaped up silver like the dust, and gold like the mire of the streets. [A very wealthy people are these.] Behold, the Lord will cast her out; He will destroy her power in the sea, and she will be devoured by fire.
Not a very pretty picture for them, either!
For prophecies against Assyria we may look in Isaiah 10, 14, and 30. We find a lot about Assyria in here because they were Israel's main enemy at the time. There is also a short prophecy in Micah 5. The entire book of Nahum is about Assyria, although they are mentioned by name only once. Otherwise they are called "Nineveh," which was their capital city. Then there is a brief mention of them in Zechariah 10. And, finally, Zephaniah 2:13-15 contains a brief prophesy, which we will read for an example.
Zephaniah 2:13-15 And He [God] will stretch out His hand against the north, destroy Assyria, and make Nineveh a desolation, as dry as the wilderness. The herds shall lie down in her midst, every beast of the nation. Both the pelican and the bittern shall lodge on the capitals of her pillars; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be at the threshold; for He will lay bare the cedar work. This is the rejoicing city that dwelt securely, that said in her heart, "I am it, and there is none besides me." How has she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down! Everyone who passes by her shall hiss and shake his fist.
Eventually they get what is coming to them according to God. This is primarily referring to the first destruction of ancient Assyria, but it is typical, too, of end-time Assyria. Zephaniah 2 is definitely an "end-time" chapter (actually, the entire book is all about the day of the Lord).
It is clear that all of these nations will be factors in world affairs during the end time. And their main enemies will be their traditional enemies—Israel and Judah.
But can they collectively be the "king of the South?" This has been our question. I felt it necessary to go through this background information in order to understand that it is not only in Psalm 83 that these people are mentioned as enemies of Israel and Judah. We see the history of this "clash of civilizations" throughout the Old Testament!
I want to take a seeming digression just for a moment and read through part of Solomon's prayer of dedication for the temple. We will focus specifically on the words he says just before the actual "formal prayer," as we would think of it:
II Chronicles 6:4-6 And he [Solomon] said: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has fulfilled with His hands what He spoke with His mouth to my father David, saying, 'Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there; and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.'
This passage succinctly explains the Bible's geographic perspective—it is predominantly from Jerusalem. Everything takes place as it comes in contact with Jerusalem and, too, with its kings, its rulers (David and others) and also with the people over which they ruled—Israel and Judah. The center is Jerusalem and it spreads out from there to encompass, not only Jerusalem's ruling people, but also its citizenry. So everything is referenced from the perspective of Jerusalem. This is not just geographically oriented, but religiously and politically oriented, as well.
When we are talking in Daniel 11 about the king of the North, it is from the perspective of Jerusalem—it is north of Jerusalem. When we talk about the king of the South, its center is south of Jerusalem. Now it does not have to be directly south, but could simply be generally or relatively south. I wanted to add this so we may know from what geographic perspective the prophecy is referenced. Prophecy centers on Jerusalem. And the things that happen with the king of the North happen northward and the things that happen with the king of the South will be southward.
There are times when the king of the South comes up and he may conduct military, political, or economic operations north of Jerusalem. He may attack the king of the North and then hold this position for a time. But his power center will still be reckoned in the south.
The king of the north, then, rises up after a time and retakes some of that land. He then goes south and takes the king of the South's center of operations for a time. It goes back and forth like a rubber band or yo-yo.
What we need to understand in the prophecy is that the perspective is from Jerusalem. The relative power centers, then, are north (for the king of the North) or south (for the king of the South) of Jerusalem.
Some people have also gotten stuck on the word, "king." The thinking is that this must refer to an hereditary monarch. This is not necessarily so. The idea of "king" simply means ruler and could be a leader of any type: president, prime minister, king, dictator, or even a charismatic leader who takes power. The people are considered to be doing his will. It may talk of the king of the North doing something, but he may not do it alone. He may do it with thousands of people as part of his armies. Or a member of his court may be ordered to plot out some sort of international intrigue.
In Daniel 11 we have a connection between a tax collector and the king of the North. Women are also shown to play a part between the king of the North and the king of the South. Marriages take place (and murders), dynastic relationships come and go. The king of the South could even be a woman (or the king of the North). Ptolemaic Egypt had Cleopatras. They were "kings" of the South by virtue of their dynastic succession. So do not get stuck on the idea that a king has to be a crowned monarch. This could refer to anyone who is given a position of leadership among these various peoples.
We will now go to Daniel 11, but not through the entire chapter. I do, however, want to clearly show that the people referenced in this prophesy change throughout. From the very beginning we see the king of the North taking control of the area in and around the Middle East. The king of the South then responds. Then the king of the North does something else. But if you match this up with history, you will find that, almost verse by verse (or after two or three verses) the person—the king of the North—changes. It will not be the same Seleucid ruler (Antiochus "whoever"). The reference may then change to his son or grandson—all called "the king of the North."
The same thing happens with the king of the South. It may start with one person and then, within a verse or two, it is changed over to the next person in line. There may be a time span of twenty or thirty or fifty years between the two. Throughout most of the prophecy the king of the North is Syria under the Seleucids—a dynastic line which began with one of Alexander's generals. The Ptolemies are the king of the South and also of a dynastic line stemming from an Alexandrian general. These are two Greek states fighting each other, but they hold Syria and Egypt.
Herbert Armstrong felt that the ancient fulfillment of this prophecy (the roles of Syria and Egypt) ended in verse 32 where it says that "those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flatteries." He felt that verses 32-35 were referring to the New Testament Church because, by the time you come to the end of verse 35, it is talking about "the time of the end" and "the appointed time." Verse 36, then, was understood to occur much later.
That being said, there seems to be a long gap between verses 32 and 36. Verse 32 ends with what Antiochus Epiphanes did in Judea in about 167 BC with verse 36, then, picking up at the end time. He saw verses 36-39 as a compressed history of the Roman Empire fulfilling the role of the king of the North. Rome swallowed up Syria in 65 BC, making it a province, and taking the title of "king of the North." That was a long time ago. Mr. Armstrong said that these verses described the basic character of Rome throughout its history. And he said that the actual detail of what would go on in the end time really does not start until verse 40. I think he was right there, but I also think that these verses (verses 36-39) are probably also typical of the person we call "the beast" or "the anti-christ" of the end time. What we have described here as characteristics of the Roman Empire could also be stamped on this one we call "the beast." He will have similar character traits and attitudes to what the Roman emperors had.
Suddenly, though, in verse 40, the king of the South reappears. He has not really shown up for many verses, but now, suddenly, he reappears in the flow of the story—and it is the time of the end! Mr. Armstrong thought that this was Ethiopia who attacked Eritrea in 1895. Eritrea was ruled by Italy at the time. They did a great job defeating them and the Italians were stung. Forty years later (1935) Mussolini retaliated and defeated the Ethiopians, driving them out of Eritrea. My own thought is that this was probably just a precursor. I do not think it was the end-time event that is mentioned in scripture. I do not feel that Mussolini fulfilled verses 41-45. I think verses 40-45 are yet to be fulfilled—or they are just beginning to be fulfilled.
Let us look at the geography described in these verses. The "glorious land" is referenced in verse 41 and that is obviously Palestine (or Canaan or Israel; however you may want to refer to it). This king of the North conquers "many countries" in the process. The implication is that these are nearby or roundabout countries, perhaps Syria, Jordan, or Lebanon which are all around "the glorious land." Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia are specifically named in subsequent verses as being under his power. It also says that Edom, Moab, and Ammon are not conquered, but they are clearly in the area. These three nations escape. But it is evident here, from what we have just gone through, that several of the nations mentioned in Psalm 83 are involved.
If Ptolemaic Egypt is not considered to be the king of the South after verse 32, then who is he in verse 40? Egypt was officially made a Roman province in 30 BC after the time of Julius Caesar and, therefore, could even qualify as king of the North. It and Syria remained under Roman (or Byzantine) rule until c. 636 AD when..."guess who" conquered Egypt—and Syria? It was the Arab hordes out of Arabia bringing Islam from Mohammed's successor. The situation has remained the same ever since. Throughout the entire time period covered in verses 36-40 the region remained under the control of one people, one religion—Islam! I think this makes a good case that Islam took over the title of "king of the South." Their center, Arabia (Mecca), is south and somewhat east of Jerusalem and could very easily be the geographical king of the South.
The Roman Empire, the standard-bearer of western civilization, is no longer an actual entity, but its heirs remain north of Jerusalem. It is remarkable that we call them the West (and not "the north"), but it is what we call Western Civilization!
The heartland of the Arabic-Islamic peoples, primarily advocates of Islamic civilization, remains mostly to the south of Jerusalem in Arabia—and they still control Egypt. Just as in the early parts of the prophecy in Daniel 11 there has been a bit of give and take down through the years—little changes of borders, obviously changes in leaders—but the major entities have remained fairly constant since that point.
So my conclusion is that (together with Psalm 83) Daniel 11:40 gives a likely picture of an Islamic king of the South pushing at an end-time king of the North. We may be seeing that happen even now in the forms of Islamic terrorism, immigration into the king of the North's territory, and cultural conflicts erupting wherever the two civilizations converge.
Think of two children on a playground with one incessantly bugging, pinching, and teasing the other. How long will it be before the long-suffering child who is being bugged and pinched and teased has had enough and simply "blows up" and punches the other little kid in the nose?
Let us look at Ezekiel 25 in conclusion. Although it is in reference to Philistia, I think it is safe to include all the other confederate end-time nations making up "the king of the South."
Ezekiel 25:15-17 'Thus says the Lord God: "Because the Philistines [read king of the South] dealt vengefully and took vengeance with a spiteful heart, to destroy because of the old hatred," therefore thus says the Lord God: "I will stretch out My hand against the Philistines [king of the South], and I will cut [them] off and destroy the remnant of the seacoast. I will execute great vengeance on them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I lay My vengeance upon them."'
With the way things are going this may be just a short walk down the road!