The interesting part for us is that when we come down to verse 40 the prophecy jumps ahead to the time of the end and still we find the kings of the north and south there. Are the Ptolemies and the Seleucids around today? Of course not but from God’s view there are peoples or nations that fill this role in the latter days. When we come to another prophecy that deals with the time of the end, the time when Almighty God openly intervenes on world affairs and again we find northern and southern powers. That prophecy is Ezekiel chapter 38. We often discuss it here on Bible in the News and extensively in the Bible Magazine especially in relation to the northern confederacy that includes Europe and Russia and which comes down on Israel. This week because of some of the news I thought we would focus on the southern power.
In verse 13 of Ezekiel’s prophecy we read the following:
“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?”
When we read that verse as with the northern confederacy given to us at the beginning of the chapter we have to trace some of the names to find out who it is here that is speaking against Gog the leader of the northern confederacy. So lets have a quick look.
First off the New English Bible is helpful when it translates the merchants of Tarshish as the “traders of Tarshish.” We will look at that more as we go.
Sheba and Dedan are grandchildren of Abraham and Nephews to Midian which are found in Genesis 25:2,3. When we come to the time of Solomon we run into the Queen of Sheba in 2 Chronicles 9:1 and she comes to Solomon with camels, spices and gold.
The historian Strabo links Sheba with the Sabaeans who come from south Arabia.
When we look at Dedan who scripture puts together with Sheba, it is of no surprise that they are seen as nomadic tribes of Arabia. Isaiah 21:13 - “The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim.”
This is all fairly straightforward and when put in context of the nations today it would then be expected to be the southern Arab nations. Namely Saudi Arabia and the southern Gulf states. It is also of interest that Persia (today Iran) is found mentioned in the list of nations aligned with the northern power. And here is the news of the week: Saudi Arabia vs Iran, and scripturally we would not expect to find it any other way. If you have not been keeping up with the news Saudi Arabia has been stirring the pot by executing 47 prisoners, which is not a big deal in that part of the world except when you execute a well known Shite cleric which they did. Sparks have flown and enraged Shia Iranians who have ransacked and set fire to Saudi Arabia’s Tehran embassy, which led to the severing of diplomatic relations. In fact it went further, flights between Saudi and Iran have been suspended, trade was stopped and travel banned. Today is being reported that Iran’s embassy in Yemen has been bombed and everyone is assuming it is the Saudi’s. So things are certainly not settling down!
As we would expect from the prophecies Saudi Arabia had a little support from its surrounding allies, Sudan and Bahrain also severed diplomatic ties, while Kuwait pulled its ambassador. On Saturday, Jan 9th the following was reported in the Wall Street Journal:
“The foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council—a six-country bloc comprising Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman—met amid concerns that the spat between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran may lead to serious repercussions for other conflicts in the region. The GCC countries in a joint statement urged Iran to “respect the principle of good neighborliness in words and actions” and “stop activities that cause instability in the region.””
Somehow before the northern confederacy of nations comes down on Israel, a time of peace is in place in the land of Israel and specifically the so called “West Bank.” You can see that in Ezekiel 38:11. How this will come about we are not told but it certainly will be the case. Could it be that there is a much larger war in the Middle East to bring this about? Only time will tell!
As for the southern powers that are mentioned in Ezekiel 38 it says that Tarshish is with them. It has been discussed on this program before and extensively in the Bible Magazine but lets have a quick look at it as it also relates to the current Saudi-Iran quarrel.
Tarshish actually comes up a number of times in the Bible and when a list of identifying features is put together there is not question.
From Ezekiel 38:13 that we already referred to we can see that Tarshish is a trading power and that she has an empire. The New English Bible reads “The traders of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof”
From the story of Jonah we know that Tarshish was far away. If you remember Jonah tries to run from God and gets on a boat destined for Tarshish. This can also be seen from Isaiah 23:6,7.
Isaiah 23 tells us that Tarshish was a sea trader.
From Ezekiel 27:12 and Jeremiah 10:9 we find that in Tarshish silver, iron, tin and lead were mined. This is starts to get rather specific and it just so happens that ancient mines for all these metals can be found in Great Britain. Further to this Britain has historically been a major maritime military and trading power. And she has an empire.
If this is not enough we are told in Isaiah 60:9 that in the latter days Tarshish would assist the Jews in returning to their land. This is amazing when we look at the history because this is exactly what England did through the capturing of the holy land and the Balfour declaration. If it were not for the actions of Britain the Jews would not be back in the land. But Almighty God rules among the nations and knew that it would be the case.
What is also amazing is the role that Britain played in taking the Bible around the world, but we will leave that for another time. But we will say that it was prophecies to happen in Jeremiah 31:10, “Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.” This message had to be declared in the isles afar off and Britain took the English Bible to her empire and so it happened. Amazingly when the people read the Bible they saw the promise of the Jewish return and began to look and pray for it and ultimately with God’s help made it happen.
I will also point out that we are not making this up after the fact. A Bible student named John Thomas saw Britain as Tarshish and wrote of their role in return of the Jews in 1849 in Elpis Israel. He penned the following:
“I know not whether the men, who at present contrive the foreign policy of Britain, entertain the idea of assuming the sovereignty of the Holy Land, and of promoting its colonization by the Jews; their present intentions, however, are of no importance one way or the other, because they will be compelled, by events soon to happen, to do what, under existing circumstances, heaven and earth combined could not move them to attempt.”
So if Britain and her empire are Tarshish and the young lions it is no surprise, in fact we would expect it to be the case that we find them as allies and supporting Saudi Arabia today. This is the case and in fact many are furious because of all the high profile executions. Here in Canada there is an arms deal with $15bn but the government has simply said “what’s done is done and the contract is not something that we'll revisit.” It is the same story in Britain, its now in the news about the Saudi police being trained by the British and again billions of dollars of arms sales. The point is that whether folks like it or not God prophecies thousands of years ago that it would be so. It is actually completely incredible!
Well as far as the King of the South is concerned the ships of Tarshish have broken by an east wind in Psalm 48:7, a Psalm looking forward to the future when Jerusalem is again the joy of the earth and the city of the great King. Britain did help the Jews in the beginning but tragically turned her back on them in their greatest hour of need as they escaped Nazi Germany and it seems she does not escape the future judgements of God.
Well interestingly when we look at Ezekiel 39:1 it is the Lord God who is against Gog. In Daniel 12 it is Michael who stands up and saves Israel and takes on the role of the king of the south. Michael means “Who like El,” El is the name of God. Who is like El? The Lord Jesus Christ was like his father, so much so that he could say in John 14:9 “He that hath seen me hath seen the father” and we too are told in Philippians to have the mind of Christ, Paul writes “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” So Michael is those like God, simply put Christ and those that are raised in Daniel 12:2 and found to be wise with a Godly wisdom. This is a group that becomes the king of the south and we find them in Habakuk 3:3 coming from Teman and Paran, locations to the south of Jerusalem. And if we look at verse 12 and 13 of that chapter we have the judgement of the nations and God going “forth for the salvation of thy people. Even for the salvation with thine anointed…” This is the same time that we read of in Ezekiel 38 and 39 when the nations are smashed on the mountains of Israel.
So the king of the south, different powers have fulfilled the role but ultimately in the end it is Christ and those judged worthy who will become the power from the south that comes to save God’s heritage Israel, in the words of Joel chapter 3.
The nations are aligning today just as the prophecies have said they would and the question is are we prepared ourselves for the coming of Christ?
Thanks for joining us, come back next week to bibleinthenews.com because you can be sure, the Bible will be in the News again!