The Timing of Asaph's War, Ezekiel's War, and the Rapture of the Church

By Daniel Knezacek

Reading through Thomas Ice's series of articles, written as a refutation of Bill Sallus' book “Isralestine”, (Consistent Biblical Futurism parts 1-12) has led me to consider whether I need to write a response.

Dr. Ice is a learned man, and far more conversant in biblical interpretation than I, but I fear he has let his system trump a logical evaluation of many bible passages. I have a great respect for Dr. Ice and consulted several of his articles while writing The Spirit of Prophecy. He has indeed shown some of Bill Salus' minor errors in his article. I want to state at the outset that I consider both of these men brothers in the Lord, and do not want to harm, or insult either. Surely, as members of the body of Christ, we can disagree in a civil manner?

Dr. Ice states that “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.” ( Consistent Biblical Futurism part 10)

As I see it, Dr. Ice has painted himself into a corner with this statement. What if statements by Jesus Himself, or clear fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies contradict such a statement? What if the math does not add up?

The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.” (Zech. 12:7)

Here in a clear End-Times passage we have the statement that the Lord will save Judah first. I have to ask, wasn't this Old Testament, End Times prophecy fulfilled when Israel became a nation in 1948? Aren't the majority of the people who have returned from the tribes of southern kingdom of Judah: Judah, Benjamin and Levi? While the next verse is very definitely related to the second half of the Tribulation period it appears that this verse has already been fulfilled, or at least partially fulfilled, and continues to be fulfilled even as we speak.

The restoration of the Hebrew language is another series of Old Testament End Times prophecies, that has seen fulfillment during the Church Age:

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech (Hebrew) in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The LORD bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness. (Jeremiah 31:23)

For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent. (Zephaniah 3:9)

Hebrew, or Ivrit, is today one of the official languages of Israel, the first language of many of its people, and people all over the world are learning it.  For anyone to make an all encompassing, blanket statement, that the Old Testament End Times prophecies can not be fulfilled during the Church age seems a bit presumptuous to me, and a bit dangerous!  Dr. Ice should know better.

Signs of Imminent Rapture

Jesus stated that the rapture will be preceded by “wars and rumors of wars”, and He definitely stated that there would be signs prior to the rapture itself. What did He mean by “wars and rumors of wars”? The world has seen very little peace from that day until this. Did He mean that it would be business as usual? Very clearly, from the context, it actually does... for some people! The unbelieving will see the signs and not recognize what is going on. Jesus, however, stated that this is not to be the case with believers.

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 25:13)

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:36)

And Paul...

But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” (I Thessalonians 5:4)

Going back a few verses, in the same context of the End Times Jesus said:

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

This last statement from Luke 21 should be the watchword for all prophecy scholars. The Church will indeed be here to see something begin! It makes no sense to say “watch” when there is nothing to watch for! We will see something that He said would happen, will actually happen! Again, going back to the verses just prior, we see that He had just been talking about signs of the End Times. He had begun by stating that the Temple would fall, specifically that not one stone would be upon another, and then he described other specific prophecies of the End Times.

Not One Stone Upon Another

Beginning with the destruction of the Temple, didn't that happen in 70 AD? Again, if Jesus was speaking in generalities then it is true that not one stone is upon another of the Temple. On the other hand, if Jesus was speaking in absolute terms, there is still one wall of the Temple still standing: the Western or Wailing wall. Even if speaking in generalities, the Temple was taken down during the Church age, and the rapture could not have occurred before that event.

I think, however, that the last Temple wall will come down in the not-too-distant-future, and it will come down before the rapture. This is the first sign Jesus spoke of before he said “ And when these things begin to come to pass...” Do you think Jesus will give Satan the opportunity to accuse Him of lying? Do you think that in the end Satan will be able to say “Look Lord, you lied! You said that the entire Temple complex would not have one stone upon another, and in the end you forgot one whole wall”? Don't you think that Jesus' statement that “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away”, (Matthew 24:35) was directly related to the destruction of the Temple? When Jesus spoke of this event as being a sign of the end of the age, was he confused because it actually occurred at the beginning of the age?

I personally believe there is a treasure hidden behind that wall, perhaps the Ark of the Covenant, and when it is exposed the Arabs will lose any claim they may have to the Temple mount. If the Ark is hidden in a secret chamber behind that wall, the Muslims will not have any grounds to claim it is of recent manufacture, or a fake! I also think it will be the Arabs themselves who cause the destruction of that wall, perhaps with a stray SCUD missile. 

I doubt that a SCUD missile, with a conventional warhead would actually have the power to destroy the entire wall.  The most likely scenario is that an Arab missile will knock down a few stones from the Wailing wall, and will expose a treasure hidden behind it.  I don't know if the treasure would be the Ark of the Covenant, or some of the original Temple implements, but when something is exposed, it will cause Israel to tear down the entire wall to see what else is hidden behind it!  The best guess as to the location of the Ark of the Covenant, is that it is hidden behind that wall.  In this way Jesus' words will be fulfilled to the letter!  Is this a sign we will see during the Church age? I think so!

Jesus was not speaking in generalities, He was prophesying something specific. He was not given to speaking in generalities!

He had also spoken of people saying “I am Christ” as a sign of the times. Today we are seeing record numbers stating that they are “Christ” and one with God! Of course they are not! They are speaking of an experience they have had, which is actually a trick of the devil! This is a sign that is indeed occurring today.

What else was He speaking of? Wars and commotions, or wars and rumours of wars. From that day until today there has been less than a century of peace on the earth. Seems to me that it is actually less than a decade! Was Jesus speaking in generalities? It would not take too much intelligence to assume a continuation of what had already been going on since the flood... a history of continuous warfare! No, I think Jesus meant something specific. I think He meant for us to look for specific wars that had been prophesied in the Old Testament.

Gog and Magog

There may be more, but there is certainly one big war prophesied in the Old Testament, the Gog and Magog war of Ezekiel 38 and 39. Many prophecy scholars, including Dr. Ice, believe that this war will be one of the Antichrist's wars. This interpretation does not fit the facts presented in the passage. In 39:9 we have a statement that the weapons of that war will be burned, by Israel, for seven years. The problem with this occurring during the Tribulation is that it would mean that Israel would have to continue burning the weapons of the Gog and Magog war even after Jesus returns, into the millennial reign of Christ! Will they need fuel to keep warm after Christ returns, and restores the earth to Garden of Eden conditions? The other problem is that at the mid point of the Tribulation Israel will flee to the wilderness. They won't have time to gather fuel when they flee. They won't even have time to go home to grab clothing!

Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.” Matt 24:18

Since this situation occurs when the Antichrist sets up his image in the middle of the seven year Tribulation, then the Gog and Magog war must occur at least seven years prior to this point, ie. Some three and one half years before the confirming of the covenant. If the rapture occurs before this point then the time from the rapture until the coming of the Lord would be at least ten and a half years. If the rapture occurs before the Gog and Magog conflict then this would push forward the date of the rapture even further. Could the rapture occur 14 or 15 years before the return of Christ? What do we call the intervening years from the rapture to the beginning of the Tribulation? I'm not saying it is impossible, but it is getting less and less likely, the more we study. The math just doesn't add up!

Gog is not the Antichrist. This can be proven by looking at the details given of Gog vs.the Antichrist in their respective passages.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamon–gog.” (Ezekiel 39:11)

Gog will be buried in Israel, in the area east of Galilee. This is contrasted with the end of the Beast, or the Antichrist, for he will not die physically but shall be thrown alive into the Lake of Fire. Some have tried to say that Gog will die physically and only his spirit will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, but this is not warranted by the text. I think this is actually a rapture similar to that which will be experienced by the Church itself. The major difference will be the destination of these two men, and not the nature of their bodies. When it says “cast alive into a lake of fire” it means with an indestructible body. On the other hand, Gog will be a spirit in Hell, awaiting judgment at the end of the millennial reign of Christ. At that time he too will receive an indestructible body, and will join the Antichrist and False prophet in the Lake of Fire.

And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” (Revelation 19:20)

The man known as the Antichrist, is not visible in the account of the Gog and Magog war. This does not mean he is not present on earth at that time, but only that he is not a major player in this event. I think that he will likely be a minor official at the time. If he is a bit of a bible scholar, as I think he will be, he may make a public show of praying for the well being of Israel when their enemies attack! Thus, when the enemy armies are destroyed by direct action from God, he may actually claim that it was his prayers that God listened to! The truth is that God planned this destruction from way back. Anyone who studies the bible will be able to predict the outcome!

In this same passage we have a statement that this will be the time when God brings back the Israelites from the ends of the earth:

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name;” (Ezekiel 39:25)

Here we have evidence that the Gog and Magog war is connected with the final return of the tribes of Israel. We have seen that first the southern kingdom of Judah, the Jews, will be restored, but now we see that the rest of Israel will return after this war. In my book, The Spirit of Prophecy, I gave evidence of large numbers of Israelites who are not currently living in Israel. Many of these people are actually following other religions at this time. One example of this is the Pathan tribes of Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are some fifteen million people in these tribes! The Pathan tribes converted to Islam somewhere around the 900 AD mark. Rather than this being a problem, there are several references in the Old Testament that state that God would give Israel over to the worship of false gods, the most striking of which is:

Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour.” (Jeremiah 16:13)

God says, however, that these people will return to the land of Israel one day. There is even more biblical evidence of this. They wouldn't return today, because of their false god, but the day is coming when their faith in that god will be shaken, and they will return to the God of their fathers. This is the day Ezekiel 39:25 is referring to. When they see the armies of Islam defeated by the God of Israel, they will repent of their false religion, and return to the land of their fathers.

I believe the rapture of the Church is connected with this final return of the tribes of Israel.

Isaiah speaks of this return as well and he uses some interesting language, related to a New Testament passage. Compare this to Ezekiel 39:25:

12 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel. 13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem. (Isaiah 27:12-13)

The Church age ends when the final seven years of Daniel's vision begin (Daniel 9:24-27). At this time God will revert to dealing with Israel as His representatives to the world. This correlates to Paul's statement about the rapture of the Church in I Corinthians 15:52.

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

It appears then, that the trumpet that brings back the people of Israel to the land is the same trumpet that signals the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and calls the Church home! This gives us evidence that the Church will be here until shortly after the Gog and Magog war. Some will tell us that the Gog and Magog war is a part of the Tribulation period, and it will certainly be a very bad time, but it actually precedes the Tribulation by a short time. We are not objects of wrath!

Interestingly this war would not be possible until some of Israel has already returned, and yet this verse tells us that the remnant will return after this event! This is exactly what we see in our newspapers today, Israel has begun returning, but there are millions still at large.

There is only one small problem with this scenario: The Arab nations are currently more ready to attack Israel than the Gog and Magog nations! If Iran, Turkey, Libya, and Russia attacked Israel today they would certainly be joined by the Arab nations.

While the Ezekiel passage states “and many nations with thee” it appears the Arabs are conspicuous by their absence. It seems a strange “coincidence” that the exact nations which are missing in the Ezekiel account are the very same nations that are mentioned in the Psalm 83 war. I personally believe the Arabs are actually mentioned in the Ezekiel account, but not as combatants! They are present in that account as "Sheba, Dedan and Tarshish" in Ezekiel 38:13, and they register a diplomatic protest to the invading armies:

Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?

Notice the word “come”. This indicates that these nations are between the invading armies and Israel. These people are not Europe, or North America, but the Arab nations defeated in the previous war, who have made their peace with Israel, and have also become prosperous by honoring the peace treaty. Now they have huge armies marching across their land and they can't stop them. I think it is likely that the Antichrist himself is actually from one of these nations. He will gain Israel's trust by appearing to be on their side!

Asaph's War

Read through Psalm 83. The nations listed are named by their old tribal names. I will give a brief description here: Assur is Assyria, or northern Iraq. Moab, Ammon, and Edom, are the modern nation of Jordan. Gebal and Tyre are represented by Lebanon. Amalek is a tribe descended from Esau, who live in the Sinai peninsula, a part of Egypt today. The Hagarites were two tribes of Ishmaelites who separated from the rest of their clan and went north to the area east of Gilead, which is in Syria today. The Ishmaelites are the tribes of the Arabian peninsula, mainly represented by the Saudis, though they may also include Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Finally the Philistines are the Arabs of the Gaza strip, commonly known as Palestinians.

The Psalm does not actually give the results of this invasion, but it is apparent that they will lose the war to Israel. I think that this war will likely see such an all-out attack on Israel that they will feel compelled to use nuclear weapons. I personally believe that it will result in the destruction of Damascus as prophesied in Isaiah 17:1. This would necessitate the relocation of the capital to some place like Tartus.  I think it is likely that Lebanon may suffer a similar fate, and also Cairo (Zech. 11:1, Isaiah 19:18). There are places in scripture where both Lebanon and Gaza are given to Israel. This is also likely the same war that will see the destruction of the Wailing wall and the Dome of the Rock. At the same time these nations will retain some autonomy, for they are mentioned in Jeremiah 25 as being involved in Armageddon, several years later.

The Psalm 83 war, which I have dubbed “Asaph's War”, perfectly sets the scenario for the Ezekiel war. I suspect that this war will likely end with some sort of peace treaty which will be brokered by a European leader. It is likely that this treaty will allow Israel to rebuild the Temple unmolested by her neighbors. It may also normalize relations and perhaps even allow the Muslims to keep the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple mount. This may be why the Angel in Revelation 11:2 tells John not to measure the outer court. The Dome of the Rock is on the location of the Holy of Holies, and is not negotiable, but the Al Aqsa mosque may be, at least temporarily, left in place.

This peace treaty will allow Israel to rebuild the Temple and will allow them to pursue peaceful economic activity, including the exploitation of their oil and other natural resources. It will take some time to rebuild the Temple. It is not going to be built like a Tim Horton's, or McDonald's restaurant, which seem to pop up overnight. The Temple mount will have to be cleared of the debris of the war. It will have to be rebuilt and then the Temple carefully rebuilt on top of it. The time of peace spoken of at the beginning of the Gog and Magog war would appear to be the same peace resulting from the Psalm 83 war, which will allow Israel the opportunity to begin, if not complete, this construction.

It makes the most sense that this peace treaty is the same one that the Antichrist eventually “confirms” in Daniel 9:27. The use of the term “confirm” is rather interesting, since it actually tells us that the Antichrist is not the originator of this treaty. He simply confirms an agreement that was already in existence. I think he will likely be the person appointed as governor of the nations who lose in the Gog and Magog war, and he will impose on them the same treaty which ended the Psalm 83 war. This will occur around the time that the remnants of Israel are returning to the land, and the rapture of the Church, shortly after the Gog and Magog war.

I think it is likely that the person who does originate this treaty, at the end of the Psalm 83 war, will be identified by many as the Antichrist. I don't believe he actually is the Antichrist, but will be a decoy, or patsy, that the Antichrist himself can destroy to deflect suspicion from himself! When he actually confirms the treaty, brokered by the patsy, then it will identify him as the Antichrist! This event will not happen when the Church is on the earth, but will be a post-rapture event, and the beginning of the Tribulation, though the church may be here for the reign of this decoy.

Hermeneutics and the Holy Spirit

Sometimes our systems of Hermeneutics need to be tweaked, in the light of the Word of God. Sometimes the things we consider “hard and fast rules” actually hinder our understanding. Those who say that no Old Testament prophecies can be fulfilled before the rapture of the Church, are actually pitting one part of Scripture against another. Generally the literal hermeneutic is the most correct way to study scripture, but sometimes this system appears fleshly to me.

The bible itself says “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Corinthians 2:14) To tell the unbeliever “you can understand everything in the bible by following a certain method of bible interpretation” actually goes against the testimony of the Lord Himself! We are told repeatedly in Scripture, that God hides things from unbelievers. The Literal Hermeneutic only works if you are in direct consultation with the Holy Spirit! In that case it is not following a Hermeneutic, but listening to the Holy Spirit Himself!

Who would know, from reading the text only, that Isaiah 61 has more than one prophecy contained within a single sentence, and that the fulfillment of these prophecies is separated by some two thousand years? The truth is that it is impossible to make this connection without help from the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus was kind enough to show us, but otherwise who would ever have understood it? This prophecy is not unique in this regard, but rather more typical of biblical prophecy than our scholars would have us believe:

Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

Verse 2 is actually split in the middle of a sentence, with the first part relating to the Lord's first coming, and the second part relating to His second coming, some two thousand years later! Here's what Jesus said about it:

Luke 4:17 “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. ”

Jesus stopped reading in the middle of a sentence, because only the first part was fulfilled that day. The rest of the passage refers to His second coming. As I said before, I'll say again; The only way one can understand the passage from Isaiah 61 is by listening to what the Holy Spirit says about it. The Literal Hermeneutic will not actually help you to understand this, and many other passages, for exactly the same reason. Yes, it actually does mean what it says in literal, plain language, but the split of two thousand years is not apparent in the passage itself.

God has actually designed His Word so that you can't understand it without help from the divine author Himself! The role of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin, and point to our need for a Savior, as well as open our eyes to the truths contained in Scripture. Since God desires that all would be saved, it follows that the Holy Spirit actually communicates our need of a savior to each of us at least once in our lives. If we reject that communication, we will find that He stops saying anything else to us for the rest of our lives, and we will go to our graves thinking we can save ourselves! Such a person should not think he can understand anything else the bible says to him, even if he uses the Literal Hermeneutic!

I think it is prudent to study the Word of God, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth to you, in Jesus' name, listen, and watch to see what He is going to do!

Watch...and Listen!

© Daniel Knezacek

Any article on this site may be reproduced in whole or in part, provided it is for not-for-profit, educational, or ministerial purposes, and proper attribution is made.

Daniel Knezacek is the author of “The Spirit of Prophecy”, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iUniverse

Dr. Thomas Ice's articles can be found Here

Bill Salus' articles and book can be found Here

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