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The Battle Against ISIS and Sheba and Dedan
Israel to become prosperous and at peace.
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October 5, 2014 - Audio, 11.35 MIN
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The U.S. and Gulf states have been carrying out airstrikes against ISIS in Syria since the last week of September. CBC News in Canada reported: "U.S. officials said Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates participated in the strikes against Islamic State targets, as Obama significantly ramped up U.S. military involvement in Syria, a country that has been mired in a brutal three-year civil war."

Obama has now had to go to war in the MIddle East to
defend American interests, in a partnership with Saudi Arabia
and the Gulf States.

It is fascinating to the watcher of Bible Prophecy to see this grouping of Arab nations; Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates fighting side by side in the Middle East with the United States. Biblically this would be Sheba, Dedan, Moab and one of the Tarshish trading nations.

In the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 there are two groupings of nations laid out; a northern group and a southern group. The northern group is based in the uttermost parts of the north (verse 6, 15 - ASV); we have identified these on Bible in the News many times, as a Russian led latter-day superpower, comprising most of Europe. There is also a grouping of Middle-Eastern nations with them. They are in verse 5 of Ezekiel 38; Persia or Iran, Ethiopia or Cush and Libya. The other grouping of nations is an alliance of merchant powers called the "merchants of Tarshish", with them are two Middle Eastern nations: Sheba and Dedan. The merchants of Tarshish can be identified as Britain, India and the Western powers. A special issue of the Bible Magazine(Volume 20, Issue 3) deals with this subject. When the northern confederacy of nations invades the Middle-East as outlined in Ezekiel 38, they are questioned by the Tarshish merchant powers - see verse 13: 
"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?"

While God is "against Gog" and destroys him utterly, the prophecy does not use the same terms about the merchant powers. It would therefore follow that they are objecting to the invasion. In fact another prophecy in Psalm 72 presents these nations as being some of the first to submit to the rule of Christ when he establishes the kingdom of Israel in the earth:

"He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him."

It would seem fairly clear then that the merchant powers of Tarshish together with Sheba are in objection to the invasion from the north, but for whatever reason, they are unable or unwilling to do anything concrete to put a stop to the invasion.

What of Sheba and Dedan? Which latter-day nations do they refer to? Making things a little more complicated is the fact that there is more than one "Sheba and Dedan" in the Bible. There are in fact three possible Shebas in the Hebrew Scriptures who may have given their names to the nation, however there are only two who are coupled with "Dedan". One is in Genesis 10:7, where "Sheba and Dedan" are the descendants of Cush. The other Sheba and Dedan is in Genesis 25:1-4, they are descendants of Abraham the patriarch and his wife Keturah. This Sheba and Dedan are cousins to the Midianite children. It is quite evident that the Sheba and Dedan of Ezekiel 38 originate from Keturah as they are in opposition to Ethopia or Cush who is with the northern invader. It would not make sense for Sheba and Dedan to be the children of Cush, when the nation named after him is part of the northern confederacy. No, the Sheba and Dedan nations must be the descendants of Keturah. The lexicographer Gesenius identifies Sheba with the Sabaeans, a nation and region of Arabia. He supposes there were two Arabian tribes, Sheba and Dedan, one in southern Arabia and one based in northern Arabia. Smith in his Bible Dictionary identifies Sheba with the great south Arabian kingdom and the peoples which composed it. Werner Keller in "The Bible as History" identifies Sheba with the ancient kingdom of Sheba based in southern Arabia, which was a merchant power who did business with the Kingdom of Israel under Solomon - the queen of Sheba came to visit. him. It is quite certain then that Sheba and Dedan in Ezekiel 38 are the tribes and kingdoms of the the Arabian desert, which is modern day Saudi Arabia, Yemen and we could include the other nations of the Arabian peninsula as well.

As students of Bible prophecy we are then watching for a divided Middle East. At the time of the return of Christ to the earth we expect there to be a grouping of Middle Eastern nations allied with Russia: Iran, Ethiopia and Libya. And a group with the merchant powers: Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

Other nations are now joining in the collation which is trying to stop the expansion of ISIS or the Islamic State that has swept across the Middle East, carving out a virtual state in Iraq and Syria. British RAF planes have now flown their first combat missions over Iraq and Denmark, France, Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands are also involved.

While other nations have joined, the core of the coalition continues to be the United States and the southern Arab nations. This was identified this week in a Stratfor analysis entitled, "Divisions Could Weaken U.S.-Led Coalition in Iraq and Syria"

"Over the past week, the U.S.-led coalition carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Iraq and Syria has expanded to include several new members. This has enhanced its overall combat power and spread the burden more equitably. The British parliament voted Sept. 26 to join the group and has already commencedairstrikes over Iraq. Denmark and Belgium also decided to participate in direct combat operations. These new partners join two European peers, France and the Netherlands, as well as Australia. Notably, these six countries have chosen to restrict their combat roles to Iraq. This contrasts with the role of the United States' five Arab partners -- Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- which have been carrying out airstrikes with the United States in Syria since operations expanded there Sept. 23."

Drawing the southern Arab states together are common objectives in Syria which are divergent from the European nations. The Arab states are happy to not only target ISIS, but are also against the Assad regime and Hezbollah. Both the Syrian Assad regime and Hezbollah are Shiite, while the southern Arab countries in the coalition are Sunni Muslim. Notably, Iran is also Shiite. This is very interesting when we recall that Israel's enemies in the north are also the Assad regime and Hezbollah. Israel's other largest worry in the Middle East is Iran and ISIS. These threats to Israel align exactly with the threats to the southern Arab countries in the American coalition against ISIS.

In the 1981 Milestones booket, Graham Pearce was watching events and looking for peace and prosperity to come to Israel as required by the prophecy of Ezekiel 38. He commented on the possibility of Israel reconciling with the Gulf States.

"Can we see developing some degree of reconciliation of Israel with the true Arabs of the south, the people occupying the Arabian peninsula - Saudi Arabia, and the smaller states, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and also Jordan, such as has happened with Egypt? This certainly is not impossible, when one realizes that Egypt was Isarel' greatest and most powerful enemy in the past years, declaring perpetual hostility to the Jews; yet they have established peace and economic co-operation."

Although the prospects of Israel having a prosperous partnership with the Saudi's seem very slim on the surface, they are united by common enemies; Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and ISIS. There have been reports in the past of the Saudi's quietly offering the use of their airspace for Israel striking Iran. Israel's close cooperation with the U.S. and sharing of military intelligence and now the Saudi's fighting along side the U.S. in the Middle East, are in a way forcing Israel and the southern Arab states into a strategic partnership. Israel is now involved in oil and gas and so are the Saudis. In 1981 Graham Pearce wrote about the prospect of Israel finding oil.

"From Ezekiel chapter 38 we know that Israel is to become prosperous to provide the 'great spoil'. That seems far away at the moment... In Israel's national income, about one third is spent on defence, one third on repaying interest on loans, and only one third is left for normal national use.

"If oil could be found in Israel, this would soon transform the scene, and allow prosperity to develop."

Today oil has been found offshore by Israel. Israel is becoming a prosperous nation. Today the Middle East is divided along the lines as laid out so many years ago by the prophet Ezekiel.  It is fascinating as we see see the Middle East being reshaped and the pieces falling into place as outlined in the word of God.

Return next week God willing to and watch the signs of the times with us. Thank-you for listening, this has been David Billington with you.

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