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by Steve Ashburn


In Part 3 of this series we saw how Gaza was destroyed as a nation because of their participation in the Psalm 83 Arab invasion of Israel, and how the description in Isaiah 14 of Palestine being “dissolved” conveyed the sense of being “melted”—most likely by nuclear weapons. Afterwards, Israel possessed the complete land that God promised to Abraham—the Mediterranean coast from Zarephath (north of Tyre) southward to the “river of Egypt” (Genesis 15:18, easternmost delta branch of the old Nile terminating at ancient Pelusium, near present-day Suez Canal); this includes all of Gaza: “And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau [Jordan]; and they of the plain the Philistines [Gaza]” (Obadiah 1:19).  

We now continue in our studies of this key event in Bible prophecy, and of God’s “final solution” to the Palestinian problem. 

Zephaniah 2 richly describes this time period. Israel, at this time, will have been regathered from her worldwide dispersion, which further defines the setting as modern:  

Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord's anger come upon you. Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.  

For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up. Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the Lord is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant. And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the Lord their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity. (Zephaniah 2:1–7) 

At this time, Palestine will be destroyed (“the word of the Lord is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant”) and the land given to Israel (“And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah”). The cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron were part of the ancient Philistine pentapolis (the fifth city being Gath, about ten miles south of Ekron). These cities define the ancient Philistine people, today known as Palestinians. Present-day Ashkelon and Ashdod are modern Israeli cities; and Gaza is preserved as Gaza city, the largest city in the Gaza Strip. Ekron and Gath are archeological sites. Therefore these cities refer to the Philistine people, who were ancient enemies of Israel and whose descendants are the modern-day Palestinians.  

It is these people Zephaniah predicts will be destroyed, whether they are within present-day Israel or in the Gaza Strip. Woe is pronounced upon the Palestinians, who are described as “the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites.” The Hebrew word translated “Cherethites” means “running assassins” and indeed this describes Hamas—the official government of the Gaza Strip, as well as a terrorist organization—because of their murderous attacks, general hatred, and frequent rocket launches on Israel; the “inhabitants of the sea coast” refers to the Palestinian people in general who are, in fact, defined as a nation of “running assassins.”  

Ezekiel 30:5 mentions the nations which will attack Israel as including “the men of the land that is in league” meaning enemies living within Israel itself, which would include Palestinian Arabs who carry out these terrorist actions. Our text passage says these people will be uprooted from their land so “that there shall be no inhabitant.”  

Afterward, the entire coastal area shall be “for the remnant of the house of Judah” where they shall lie down in peace, and graze herds of livestock. Our Scripture passage closes with a reminder of the modern timeline, when “the Lord their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity” referring to modern Israel, and especially after the end times war when their ancient land will be restored to them. 

Zephaniah 2:8–9 goes on to describe an attack by Israel upon Jordan (ancient Moab and Ammon): “I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border. Therefore as I live, saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them.”  

The timeline here is in the end-times period before the day of the Lord, and the invasion will be executed by “the residue of my people.” God refers to “the remnant of my people” as possessing Jordan after that; this remnant refers to the modern state of Israel since 1948. This Scripture text implies Jordan will be part of the Arab coalition that invades Israel at the beginning of the end times, and that it will be like Sodom and Gomorrah after Israel is finished with them. This attack could involve the use of nuclear weapons, but since Jordan becomes a refuge for Israel during the last half of the tribulation, it seems unlikely the entire country will be destroyed as Egypt will be. 

The parallel passage in Jeremiah 49:1–6 seems to describe this same end-times attack by Israel. Verse 2 reads: “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the Lord.”  

Although this prophecy was fulfilled precursively when Nebuchadnezzar overthrew the kingdom of Ammon in the sixth century BC, Israel shall “be heir” to their ancient land east of the Jordan River which was given to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and which presently lies within the nation of Jordan. However, during the millennium, Ammon will be restored as a nation: “And afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 49:6). The nation of Moab also will be restored at this time: “Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 48:47). The ancient kingdoms of Ammon, Moab, and Edom comprise modern-day Jordan, and thus it is this nation that Israel will attack and conquer in self-defense at the beginning of the end-times period. 

An interesting question is: What happens to the surviving Arabs after this war? Joel 3 sheds some light on this question. This passage describes the people of Tyre, Sidon, and Palestine as robbing Israel and selling their people into slavery; this probably happened during the Assyrian invasion in the eighth century BC and the Babylonian invasions of 597 and 587 BC. Our text passage indicates that some of them were sold to the Greeks for the purpose of removing them far from their land; verse 7 then indicates that God will regather Israel from the places where they were sold as slaves and punish those nations who sold them in the first place. 

This brings us to the war which begins the end times: Verse 8 says that Israel will possess those people who sold them as slaves and “they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off,” meaning in context that they will be deported to nations far away from Israel. The Sabeans occupied the Arabian Peninsula and present-day Sudan and Ethiopia, but our Scripture passage also includes distant nations (“people far off”). Perhaps this means that various nations of the world will agree to accept the surviving Arabs as immigrants to their countries, likely in part to try to avoid the possibility of another nuclear war in the Middle East. 

Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompence me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head; Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things: The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border. Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head: And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the Lord hath spoken it. (Joel 3:4–8) 

After this war, the coalition of Arab nations around Israel will have been destroyed, and Israel will remain at peace. Clearly, the major reason for this peace is the absence of any adjacent enemies, but probably also, it will be enforced by the US and her coalition of nations in exchange for Israel surrendering all remaining nuclear weapons. Thus begins the end times. This time of peace (perhaps complacency is a better word) will continue until the Ezekiel 38–39 invasion of Israel some three decades later.  

Although Palestinians, generally speaking, are inveterate enemies of Israel, there are, in fact, today about 200,000 Palestinian Christians in Israel; in fact, they comprise about four percent of the population living within the borders of the former British Mandate. These are descendants of some of the earliest Christian groups. The Bible suggests that those people (including Christians) who refuse to attack Israel and who fear the Lord will be protected during this awful end-times battle. For example, Zephaniah 2:3 contains a wonderful promise to those who seek the Lord: “Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.”  

In addition, Proverbs 22:3 says, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” May God, therefore, increase the number of our Christian brethren among the Palestinians, that they may escape the awful times to come.

We’ll cover more about this iconic Mideast war in Part 5 of this series, with emphasis on the ancient land of Syria, their complete destruction, and the deportation of survivors to other countries with the aid of a UN-type agency. So stand by for Part 5! 

I provide more details of this and many other end-times prophecies in my recently published book END TIMES DAWNING: Get Ready! (available from Please read it! Also if you would, please like my Facebook page at:

Yours in Christ, 

Steve Ashburn


[This article was published on October 16, 2020]


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