Some people believe that the Psalm 83 prophetic war was fulfilled during the 1948 Arab-Israeli “War of Independence.” This view was recently shared on the September 19, 2015, Understanding the Times radio show hosted by Jan Markell. Jan’s guests on the program were Pastor Jack Hibbs and Amir Tsarfati. You can listen to this show by clicking HERE. (The discussion occurs around the 32 minute mark within the show).
Upon hearing the show one of its listeners contacted me and asked for my thoughts on this subject. Below are my comments to this listener.
The Problems with Psalm 83:1-8 having been fulfilled in 1948
Some have posited the possibility that Ps. 83:1-8 was fulfilled during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to prove that Psalm 83:9-18 was accomplished at that time. This view that Psalm 83:1-8 was fulfilled in 1948 is currently held, I believe somewhat loosely, by Bible prophecy expert Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum of Ariel Ministries. He informed me in a friendly face to face conversation in Dallas, Texas, on December, 2014 that this was what he believed. He did not always believe this and I explain why at the end of this article.
As much as I greatly respect my friend Dr. Fruchtenbaum, I disagree with his current interpretation because the main instigator, which is listed in the first primary position in Psalm 83:6 , is the “tents of Edom” (Palestinian Refugees). They didn’t technically even become refugees until the aftermath of the 1948 war. The logical question is; since the tents of Edom didn’t exist until after the war of 1948, how could this war be the fulfillment of the prophecy? I explain the connection between the ancient tents of Edom and today’s Palestinian refugees in my Psalm 83, The Missing Prophecy Revealed book.
Therefore, only Psalm 83:1-5 could have potentially found fulfillment in 1948, but probably not Psalm 83:6-8, which identifies the tents of Edom along with their Arab cohorts. Since neither Psalm 83:6-8 or Psalm 83:9-18 appears to have found fulfillment in the war of 1948, then the possibility that the prophecy was fulfilled at that time diminishes dramatically.
Also, an important side note is that more countries were involved in 1948 than just the Psalm 83 countries. Volunteers were sent to fight from Yemen, Morocco, Sudan and Pakistan. The fact that more nations than the Psalm 83 countries were involved in the war of 1948 also reduces the possibility that the 1948 war was the fulfillment of the prophecy. The details of the prophecy have to align perfectly and these additional countries are not included in Psalm 83.
Psalm 83 and the Plight of the Palestinian Refugees
It is important to note that the Palestinian refugees (tents of Edom) are listed first among the ten Arab populations, which essentially highlights their refugee plight. The Palestinian plight remains a thorny issue in the Middle East. The Arab populations of Psalm 83, which are identified in the map, refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist as the Jewish state for the primary reason that they still banner the plight of the tents of Edom. If Israel becomes the official Jewish state, the Palestinian refugees will not be able to return into Israel proper. These refugees believe that they rightfully belong in downtown Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and all of the major cities in Israel. This is why they want a Palestinian state and the right to return into Israel proper.
Psalm 83:6 identifies the tents of Edom existing in a habitation condition as refugees, which I believe is a primary clue as to the timing of the prophecy. The prophecy specifies that there has to be Israelis (Ps. 83:3), Israeli Defense Forces (Ps. 83:9-11), Palestinian refugees (Ps. 83:6), a nation of Israel (Ps. 83:4), an Arab confederacy (Ps. 83:6-8), and an Arab hatred of the Jews that drives them to want to eradicate the Jewish state and confiscate the Promised Land (Ps. 83:4, 12). This entire criterion still exists.
The Problems with Psalm 83:9-18 having been fulfilled in 1948
Psalm 83:9-11 contains the petition of Asaph to empower the IDF like was done in Judges Chapters 4-8 with Gideon against the Midianites and Deborah and her general Barak against the Canaanites. The Midianites and Canaanites were soundly defeated, and as Judges 8:28 says, the Midianite oppression of the Israelites was over forever. This was also the case with the Canaanites upon their defeat. I have yet to find any biblical or historical evidence that either the Midianites or the Canaanites ever oppressed the Israelis subsequent to these defeats.
Thus Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted their heads no more. And the country was quiet for forty years in the days of Gideon. (Judges 8:28, NKJV).
The Arabs of Psalm 83 today still don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist and still oppress Israel. Ps. 83:9-18 are descriptive verses that call for the total end of the Psalm 83 confederate aggression. Since these Psalm 83 beligerents still oppress Israel, it is safe to presume that these relevant verses remain unfulfilled.
The Fate of the Peace Treaties between Israel with Egypt and Jordan
Some argue that the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan suggest that Psalm 83 has already been fulfilled, because these two Psalm 83 participants no longer want to destroy Israel. These agreements are paper thin and I don’t expect them to endure much longer. Remember, even Egypt and Jordan refuse to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. Egypt and Jordan fought alongside each other in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973. Moreover, Jordan has threatened in the past to break its treaty with Israel when it comes to concerns about sovereign control over the Temple Mount. Jordan maintains this control presently through the Waqf. Because of this controversial matter, Jordan withdrew its ambassador to Israel between November, 2014, and February, 2015. This political move was enacted because at the time Israel was considering taking control of the Temple Mount away from the Waqf. When push comes to shove in the fulfillment of Psalm 83, their true pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel colors will surface.
The Problems with Ezekiel 38:7-13 having been fulfilled in 1948
If Psalm 83 was fulfilled in 1948, then presumably Israel could presently be dwelling in the conditions described in Ezekiel 38:7-13. These verses foretell that Israel will be dwelling securely in the midst of the Promised Land without walls, bars or gates and that the nation will be extremely prosperous, because Israel’s plunder and booty is what the Magog invaders are after. This is absolutely not the case today! Israel is the most fenced in and fortified nation in the world. There is no way that Israel is presently dwelling securely, and in my estimation, this is because Psalm 83 remains unfulfilled.
These are just a few of the reasons I still believe Psalm 83 remains unfulfilled, imminent and precedes Ezekiel 38.
Notes on Dr. Fruchtenbaum
Dr. Fruchtenbaum was one of the first to write about Psalm 83 as a future prophecy. He initially believed that it would find its entire fulfillment in the Tribulation period. This is the position he published in his Footsteps of the Messiah book. (i)
Several years ago, I provided him with several reasons as to why the Tribulation period timing did not make sense. At that time we shared a very interesting conversation that I blogged about. I invite you to read that blog and its blog comments HERE.
(i) Footsteps of Messiah Chapter 20, section C, pages 498-499