Jesus Plus Nothing Bible Studies - Ezekiel, Israel and the End Times
Ezekiel Chapter 35 - The everlasting hatred
by I Gordon
"If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel." Benjamin Netanyahu
Ezekiel 35 presents a very interesting prophecy of judgement against Mount Seir and 'all of Edom'. What is immediately interesting is 'why?' Why have a prophecy against Edom here? Hmmm... Let me explain. We saw in the Ezekiel overview study that chapters 25-32 contained the messages of judgement against the nations. One of these passages, in Ezek 25:12-14, contained a specific prophecy against the nation of Edom. So, having prophesied against Edom, why would God contain another prophecy of judgement against Edom in this part of the book that is devoted to the events surrounding Israel's end time restoration? Good question! Is Edom going to play an important role in the last days? And if so, what relationship does that have to the events we see happening in the Middle East today? And what is this perpetual or everlasting hatred that Edom has towards Israel? Well, you're asking some good questions today. Let's have a look at who Edom is and why they play an important role in this time of history.
The background, context and meaning of Mount Seir and the Edomites
Ezekiel 35:1-4 The word of the LORD came to me: (2) Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir; prophesy against it (3) and say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, Mount Seir, and I will stretch out my hand against you and make you a desolate waste. (4) I will turn your towns into ruins and you will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
Mount Seir is a mountain range located south east of the dead sea1 in the modern day region of southern Jordan. Because it was historically the region of Israel's enemy, the Edomites, the name of Mount Seir is often personified and synonymous with the Edomites themselves. So who then were the Edomites? They were descendants from Esau, Jacob's brother (Gen 36:8). Genesis 25:30 states that Edom was another name for Esau.
Easton's Bible dictionary gives us a good summary of Edom and the Edomites stating "At the time of the Exodus they churlishly refused permission to the Israelites to pass through their land (Num 20:14-21), and ever afterwards maintained an attitude of hostility toward them. They were conquered by David (2Sa 8:14; compare 1Ki_9:26), and afterwards by Amaziah (2Ch 25:11, 2Ch 25:12). But they regained again their independence, and in later years, during the decline of the Jewish kingdom (2Ki 16:6; R.V. marg., 'Edomites'), made war against Israel. They took part with the Chaldeans when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, and afterwards they invaded and held possession of the south of Palestine as far as Hebron. At length, however, Edom fell under the growing Chaldean power (Jer 27:3, Jer 27:6)."
The region of Edom was also known by the name given it by the Greeks - Idumea. Bible teacher Chuck Missler picks up the later part of this history from just before the time of Jesus: "In 47 B.C. Julius Caesar promoted the Idumean Antipater as procurator over Judea, Samaria and Galilee. In 37 B.C., the Romans named Herod, son of Antipater, as King over Israel. (His mother was Nabatean). Thus, the Herods of the New Testament were Edomites: One of them killed the Jewish babies in his attempt to destroy Christ; another Herod murdered John the Baptist; another one killed James the brother of John. These 'almost Jews' were - to the Roman mind - more comfortable than the true Jews. The Idumeans had five centuries of prior history in Israel by the time of the arrival of the Messiah Jesus."
So here is the executive summary of all the above... The conflict that began at the time of Jacob and Esau continued to play out throughout the ages with their descendants Israel and Edom. The Herods, who ruled at the time of Jesus, were Edomites and thus the conflict continued. So what happened to the Edomites? Well, on the one hand history would record that the Edomites 'disappeared' as a people group shortly after the first century AD. And yet, on the other hand, they are shown to play an important role in the last days persecution of Israel. So who are the Edomites today?
Bill Salus writes the following on the Edomites today: 'The Edomites were spawned in Edom, which is today Southern Jordan. Although a remnant of Edomites still reside in Southern Jordan, most Edomites migrated in several waves centuries ago into Israel proper and made Hebron their central city. Hebron still exists today in the West Bank and is predominately inhabited by the Palestinians. Around the time of 'Alexander the Great', (born 356 BC), the Edomites became known in the Greek language as the Idumeans. Presently Edomite descent can be traced into the Palestinian ethnicity as follows: (Edomites-Idumeans-Palestinians). Although the Palestinians are made up of a mish mash of ethnicities, many of them are Esau's Edomite descendants.' 2
A closer look at the ancient hatred
Ezekiel 35:5-9 'Because you harbored an ancient hostility and delivered the Israelites over to the sword at the time of their calamity, the time their punishment reached its climax, (6) therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will give you over to bloodshed and it will pursue you. Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you. (7) I will make Mount Seir a desolate waste and cut off from it all who come and go. (8) I will fill your mountains with the slain; those killed by the sword will fall on your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines. (9) I will make you desolate forever; your towns will not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
The passage above gives a reason for God's coming judgement, speaking of 'an ancient hostility' that existed within the Edomites. As indicated above, this hatred goes right back to the initial conflicts between Sarah and Hagar, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Israel and Amalek / Edom. Look at what the Bible prophesied concerning the characters of Ishmael and Esau (and their line):
The birth and character of Ishmael
Genesis 16:11-12 The angel of the LORD also said to her: "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. (12) He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers."
The birth of Jacob and Esau:
Genesis 25:22-23The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.(23) The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."
The character of Esau and his descendants
Genesis 27:38-41 Esau said to his father, "Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!" Then Esau wept aloud. His father Isaac answered him, "Your dwelling will be away from the earth's richness, away from the dew of heaven above.(40) You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.
We see right here the beginning of the hostility. Ishmael was spoken of as one whose hand will be against everyone else, and everyone's hand will be against him. He will live in hostility towards his brothers (Isaac and the Jewish descendants). In like manner, Esau and his descendants will live by the sword and will grow tired of playing second-fiddle to his younger brother Jacob (Israel). The enmity has now lasted 4000 years!
So Ezekiel speak of this 'ancient hostility'. Other versions translate this as 'everlasting enmity', 'perpetual hatred' or 'unrelenting hostility'. The Hebrew word translated 'hostility' here is 'Eybah' and is only used in 4 places in the Bible. It is used of the enmity placed between the woman and the serpent (Gen 3:15), the deliberate actions of a murderer (Num 35:21) and of the hatred exhibited in two nations towards Israel:
The Philistines: '...the Philistines have acted in revenge and have taken vengeance with scorn of soul to destroy with everlasting enmity...' (Ezek 25:15)
The Edomites: '...Because you harbored an ancient hostility and delivered the Israelites over to the sword...' (Ezek 35:5)
While we can't know for sure who the Arab countries descend from exactly (due to intermarriage between various people groups in that region over thousands of years) it is still very interesting to see that the 'perpetual or ancient hatred' against Israel is only spoken of concerning two nations: the Philistines and Edomites. And where were they based? One of the main cities of the Philistines was Gaza and, as we have seen above, the last known main city of the Edomites was in Hebron, in what today is called the West Bank. Gaza and the West Bank? Are they prominent today? You bet they are! Today Gaza is run by the terrorist organization, Hamas, from which they fire rockets into Israel. And the West Bank is the home of the 'Palestinians'. It goes without saying that both are massive hot spots of Jewish hatred. So the ancient or everlasting hostility continues.
'Divine' backing for the ancient hatred today?
How is this everlasting hatred manifest today? It is mostly through Islamic ideology. While the hatred well precedes the founding of Islam, Islamic ideology strengthens the hostility for it gives it a so-called 'divine backing' through the commands and edicts of the Koran and associated hadiths (written accounts of the words and actions of Mohammed). For example, Islam's prophet Muhammad said the following:
"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews , when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him." (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).Sahih Muslim, 41:6985
Therefore, to the obedient Muslim, it is seen as a 'God-given destiny' to destroy Israel and the Jews. In fact the fulfillment of all things depends upon it according to Muhammad. This continues the everlasting hatred. Consider the following quote. In a speech delivered by Egyptian Salafi Islamic scholar Muhammad Hussein Yacoub which aired on Al-Rahma TV on January 17, 2009, he stated (as translated by MEMRI):
"We must believe that our fighting with the Jews is eternal, and it will not end until the final battle...You must believe that we will fight, defeat, and annihilate them, until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth...As for you Jews - the curse of Allah upon you. The curse of Allah upon you, whose ancestors were apes and pigs. You Jews have sown hatred in our hearts, and we have bequeathed it to our children and grandchildren. You will not survive as long as a single one of us remains...Oh Jews, may the curse of Allah be upon you. Oh Jews... Oh Allah, bring Your wrath, punishment, and torment down upon them. Allah, we pray that you transform them again, and make the Muslims rejoice again in seeing them as apes and pigs. You pigs of the earth! You pigs of the earth! You kill the Muslims with that cold pig [blood] of yours."3
And, just as he said here, this is what they teach their children and their children. It is the everlasting hatred perpetuated from one generation to another!
Why the two state solution is a deception and a myth.
Ezekiel 35:10-11 'Because you have said, These two nations and countries will be ours and we will take possession of them," even though I the LORD was there, (11) therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will treat you in accordance with the anger and jealousy you showed in your hatred of them and I will make myself known among them when I judge you.
Here is the one main reason for God's judgement upon the Edomites - they want the land of Israel! The Edomites want both north and south ('the two countries') of Israel - they want it all! Does this sound familiar? Currently the United Nations it trying to force a 'two state solution' upon Israel and the Palestinians. What they don't seem to take into account is that the Palestinians, or the Muslims in general, don't want a two state solution. They want a one state solution only - the state of Palestine. Observant Muslims believe that the entire land of Israel, is Muslim land, dedicated to Allah with no possible way of giving one inch of it to the Jews.4 Consider the following quote from the Palestinian Authority Mufti in 2015 as he addressed a conference of Muslim leaders from over 46 countries:
"The land of Palestine is waqf (i.e., inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law). It must not be relinquished nor must any part of it be sold... It is the duty of the leaders of the [Islamic] nation and its peoples to liberate Palestine and Jerusalem." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 23, 2015]" 5
This is all stated very clearly in the charter for The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) which states:
'The land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf [Holy Possession] consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. No one can renounce it or any part, or abandon it or any part of it.' (Article 11)
'Palestine is an Islamic land... Since this is the case, the Liberation of Palestine is an individual duty for every Moslem wherever he may be.' (Article 13)
'The day the enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In the face of the Jews' usurpation, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.' (Article 15)
This everlasting desire to destroy the Jews and take possession of the entire land of Israel, which is only increasing in our day, was clearly seen and foretold in the Bible. Psalm 83 also speaks of a confederacy of nations that come against Israel (including the Ishmaelites and the Edomites) and again, look at what their desire is:
Psalms 83:1-12 'O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still. (2) See how your enemies are astir, how your foes rear their heads. (3) With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish. (4) Come, they say, "let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more." (5) With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you-- (6) the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the Hagrites, (7) Gebal, Ammon and Amalek, Philistia, with the people of Tyre. (8) Even Assyria has joined them to lend strength to the descendants of Lot. Selah ...(11) Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, (12) who said, "Let us take possession of the pasturelands of God."
The same twofold desire is expressed in this Psalm as what we see in Ezekiel 35 and in the world today - That is the desire to totally destroy Israel and take their land. This becomes all the more important for the nations of the world who are trying to force a so-called two state solution upon Israel for it becomes a central issue that God raises when He finally judges the nations of the earth:
Joel 3:1-2 In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, (2) I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.
The God of Israel is listening!
Ezekiel 35:12-15 Then you will know that I the LORD have heard all the contemptible things you have said against the mountains of Israel. You said, "They have been laid waste and have been given over to us to devour." (13) You boasted against me and spoke against me without restraint, and I heard it. (14) This is what the Sovereign LORD says: While the whole earth rejoices, I will make you desolate. (15) Because you rejoiced when the inheritance of the house of Israel became desolate, that is how I will treat you. You will be desolate, O Mount Seir, you and all of Edom. Then they will know that I am the LORD.' "
Ezekiel chapter 35 ends with the clear thought that the God of Israel is listening. He listens to what is being said among the enemies of Israel. He listens to what is said in the United Nations. And He is NOT impressed! A lot of the nations, the United States included6, think that they can do secret deals behind closed doors as they try to force Israel to give up more land and return them to the undefendable borders of the pre-1967 six-day war. But God is watching and He is listening. It is interesting that the Lord hears all the 'contemptible things spoken against the mountains of Israel'. The 'mountains of Israel' is the ancient regions of Judea and Samaria. Today it is known as the West Bank and is claimed by the Palestinians and called 'Occupied territory' by the United Nations and most of the world.
And notice also that the above passage says 'You boasted against me and spoke against me without restraint, and I heard it.' Not only is God listening to contemptible things spoken against Israel, but also to the contemptible things spoken against Him! Make no bones about it... what we see taking place is a spiritual battle. The enemies of Israel not only despise the Jews - they despise the God of the Jews. Every cry of 'Allahu Akbar' is not saying 'Allah is great' but that 'Allah is greater'. It is promoting Allah as greater than Yahweh, the God of Israel. There is no doubt whatsoever that the God of Israel and the god of Islam are on a collision course.
So where's the hope for those under judgement?
As we conclude it should be stated that this chapter in Ezekiel, and this study, are pretty full on. It is one of judgement for Israel's enemies and you may be thinking 'well, what about God's love for the Palestinians and His love for the Arabs and His love for the Muslim nations?' If you are thinking that, then that is a very good question. It is wrong to assume that all Muslims and all Arabs hate Israel. That is not true. There are moderate Muslims who truly desire peace. There are Arab nations such as Jordan that have peace agreements in place with Israel. So though the 'ancient hatred' exists and is growing in many areas, we should not underestimate God's love and desire to reveal Himself to these people. As I have gone through this chapter in Ezekiel I have specifically not mentioned something that comes through time and time again in this chapter (and in this section of Ezekiel). Verses 4,9 and 15 all state the same thing - that after the judgement of God 'then you will know that I am the Lord'. Even today God is doing some wonderful things amongst the Muslim and Arab nations. It is tremendous to see that God is making His name known to so many who were formerly closed to the Gospel. The same goes for the Jews. The number of Jews who are reaching out to learn more about Jesus and finding their Messiah in these days is unprecedented.7
But God is also going to show Himself through the coming judgement. Like I said above, there is a conflict coming between Yahweh and Allah. People will see who the true God is and who is false. God uses even His judgement for good to those willing to see and repent. What we shall see as we move forward with this Ezekiel series (especially when we get to the great war prophesied in Ezekiel 38 & 39) is that God uses His judgement to specifically make His name known amongst the nations. He cares very much about the Arabs. He cares very much for those currently blinded by Islam. And so while many within those groups have perpetuated the 'ancient hatred' against Israel and will be judged, so also there are many others who are simply blinded, born into a false religion, who want and need to know who the true God is. Thankfully God is able to discern the heart and will give every opportunity for those willing to walk in His ways once they see the truth.