As Israel’s relationship with the Gulf state has seemingly taken the world by surprise, what can the world expect to see when it comes to other countries in the region? Why is it that Christians are having a difficult time coming to a consensus regarding this new era? And most importantly, what biblical implications are being laid before our very eyes?
Immediately following Israel’s announcement of its diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a shockwave of responses ensued. Members of the Arab world, such as Egypt, Bahrain, and Oman voiced their support, and even a Sudanese official. The usual hostile parties of Iran, Turkey, and the Palestinians condemned the UAE for forming such a pact with the Jewish State. But perhaps most notably, and sadly, evangelical Christians are thoroughly divided on the issue.
But why the confusion?
On a global scale, it appears that we’re witnessing a new precedent being set in the Middle East when it comes to changes in Arab-Israeli relations. And this precedent didn’t emerge overnight. Over the years, former adamant enemies of the Jewish State have come to terms with the fact that they can only benefit from a healthy relationship with Israel. Perhaps the two that first come to mind are Egypt and Jordan, both of which now benefit greatly from their diplomatic/economic relationship with Israel.
The question is, benefit in comparison to what? And this is where we turn our attention to the Arab world. The Arab world has failed time and time again to control its people. Accountability has been essentially nonexistent. The internal strife between the Shiites and Sunnis has constructed such hostility, resulting in countries like the UAE realizing that the Jews are not the problem; contrary to the lies that have been forced on the Arab world ever since the day Israel was reborn as a nation – May 14, 1948.
One needs to look no further than the recent explosion in Beirut to understand the severe mistrust the Arab world is dealing with. Virtually no one believes Israel is responsible – they blame Hezbollah. Furthermore, the president of Lebanon voiced his openness to the idea of peace with Israel after Lebanon gets things sorted out internally first. Could it be that Saudi Arabia is on the verge of normalizing diplomatic ties with Israel? Bahrain? Oman? Maybe even Lebanon in the future? Beyond Egypt, Jordan, and now the UAE, Saudi Arabia also has diplomatic ties with Israel. However, it’s more of a discrete relationship, but positive nonetheless. Several Arab nations are tired of being bullied into submission by the larger, hostile countries like Iran and Turkey, and this is a factor as to why they’re warming up to Israel. Given this new relationship between the two countries, one has to wonder which Arab nation will be next.
Is it such a bad thing for Israel to have a peaceful relationship with Arab nations? Within the realm of Christianity, there is significant controversy when it comes to the perspective of this new deal. Many view this as a positive thing. Then there are those who believe that somehow, Israel is going to lose some of its land as a result. Take note that Israel’s relationship with the UAE is not only the first “official” relationship they’ve formed with a Gulf state, but it’s the first time an Arab nation has agreed to terms with Israel without requiring them to give up any land. Not to mention the economic, medical, and technological benefits that will come from such a partnership.
If anyone conceded anything in this, it was the Arabs. They’re taking great risk which is seen in the backlash from Iran, Turkey, and the Palestinians, who’ve all condemned this new diplomatic relationship and further exposed their true colors in so doing.
Israel’s ‘treaty’ with the UAE is one with many to follow. It’s likely not long before other Gulf states follow suit. And in the process, this is further going to isolate Iran and Turkey, both of which partake in the future invasion (Ezekiel 38:3-6).
Regardless of what perspective you might have on the new deal, one thing is evident to us all – the prophetic stage is being set for the Ezekiel 38 scenario. Speaking in the future tense through the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord declared to the leader of this future invasion of Israel:
You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’— to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land. Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, ‘Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?’”’
The UAE, sharing a border with southeastern Saudi Arabia, is within the confines of the ancient, biblical, post-flood settling of the tribes of Sheba & Dedan (Genesis 10:7). Sheba & Dedan (and other regions of the world) are described by the prophet Ezekiel as those who will protest the coming invasion of Israel. In other words, Israel’s new relationship with not only the UAE but several other countries in the region is another piece to the prophetic puzzle. From hostility to friendship, the UAE is now in a place where protesting the coming invasion of Israel is more of a reality than ever before, and the same can be said of Saudi Arabia. A treaty like this further confirms the setting that will be present at the time of the invasion as described by Ezekiel:
“Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “On that day when My people Israel dwell safely, will you not know it?
Though a notorious region for conflict, Israel will be dwelling safely when this invasion takes place. Not only have they been safe and prosperous for some time; it’s only improving.
So, what implications are there for all Christians today, regardless of whether you approve or disapprove of this new era in the Middle East? If we see these prophetic truths playing out before our very eyes, we know that our redemption is near! Not only is Israel back in the land, but they’re also flourishing in the land just as the Lord promised they would prior to the future invasion:
I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will multiply upon you man and beast, and they shall increase and bear young; I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. Yes, I will cause men to walk on you, My people Israel; they shall take possession of you, and you shall be their inheritance; no more shall you bereave them of children.”
From the top of the Mount of Olives, Jesus told His disciples:
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”
We may not know the day or the hour, but we’re certainly responsible to understand the times and the seasons…
…and the fig tree is blooming.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!