Peace With the Arabs—Can It Happen?

Despite all the celebration, Bible prophecy makes it clear that this is not the time for lasting peace in the Middle East.
From the October 2020 Watch Jerusalem Print Edition

The historic peace deals between Israel and Gulf states reveal a profound change taking place in the Middle East. It appears that, 72 years after it became a sovereign nation, Israel is finally being accepted by its Arab neighbors.

On August 13, United States President Donald Trump shocked the world when he announced the full normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Termed the Abraham Accords, this groundbreaking agreement means the U.A.E. will now treat the Jewish state the same way it treats other nations.

Less than a month later, on September 15, Bahrain announced it too was willing to normalize ties with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu jubilantly announced the deal, stating, “It took us 26 years to go from the second peace agreement with an Arab state [with Jordan in 1994] to reach a third peace agreement [with the U.A.E.]. And it took us not 26 years, but 29 days to go from a third peace agreement with an Arab country to a fourth one. And there will be more.”

Already, swift changes have occurred. There are now direct phone calls between Israel and these Gulf nations. Israeli websites can now be accessed from the U.A.E. and Bahrain. Trade deals are being negotiated. A security partnership, which has developed quietly in recent years to counter the threat of Iran, is now public.

On August 31, the first commercial flight from Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv landed in the U.A.E. Remarkably, Saudi Arabia allowed the El Al jet to fly through its airspace. Tal Becker, one of the pilots, stated over the intercom, “[F]or the very first time, an Israeli-registered aircraft will overfly Saudi Arabia, and, after a nonstop flight from Israel, land in the United Arab Emirates. The duration of the flight with the shortened route over Saudi Arabia will be approximately three hours and 20 minutes, instead of what would have been more than seven hours up to now.”

Many hope Saudi Arabia’s willingness to open its airspace to Israel indicates that it too will sign a peace accord with the Jewish state. Given President Trump’s track record, that is certainly possible.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani and U.A.E. Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the signing ceremony for the agreements on “normalization of relations” at the White House on September 15.

Many believe and hope the warming ties will open a new age of tolerance and acceptance between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East and across the world. “We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history,” Mr. Trump stated when the Bahrain deal was announced on September 15. “After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.”

Mr. Netanyahu was just as hopeful. “This day is a pivot of history,” he said. “It heralds a new dawn of peace … [L]ong after the pandemic is gone, the peace we make today will endure.” He also stated that these deals could “end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all” (emphasis mine throughout).

After the Bahrain announcement, the New York Times wrote, “Israel’s back-to-back agreements to normalize ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, … and the much-buzzed-about possibility that other Arab nations could follow suit—are causing some Israelis to ask whether a deeper shift may, after years in the making, finally be underway in the Middle East. Could their country at last be gaining acceptance in the region as a legitimate member of the neighborhood?”

What does God think about this major development? It’s His view that is the most important.

Psalm 83 and other prophecies show that these efforts will ultimately prove futile. Why? Because humans cannot produce the long-term peace we all desire.

The Bible certainly encourages peace between all nations and people. In many ways, God would be pleased by the efforts of Arab and Israeli leaders to secure peace. This took a lot of hard work and courage, and these can be commended. And the Bible certainly prophesies of a time when Jews and Arabs, the sons of Abraham, will be at peace.

Yet despite all the celebration and hope, Bible prophecy makes clear that these deals will not result in lasting peace. Actually, these deals highlight a shocking prophecy of conflict between Israel and these Arab states.

A Mysterious Prophecy

Most think that Psalms is only a book of charming poetry. That is not the case. Some of the psalms are prophecy, and some prophesy specifically for our time today.

Psalm 83 is an end-time prophecy involving an alliance of moderate Arab states and a united Europe led by Germany. These nations are already coming together, and are destined to become a major influence in the Middle East.

Today, these same nations are starting to pursue a closer relationship with Israel!

But notice what motivates this Psalm 83 alliance. Verses 3-4 read, “For, lo, Thine enemies are in an uproar; And they that hate Thee have lifted up the head. They hold crafty converse [or counsel] against Thy people, And take counsel against Thy treasured ones.” Who are “Thy people” and “Thy treasured ones”?

Verse 5 says, “They have said: ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; That the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.’”

“Thy people” in verse 4 refers to Israel. Generally, this term applies to 12 peoples, the nations or peoples descended from the 12 sons of Jacob. Specifically, the term “Israel” in Bible prophecy refers to America and Britain, and often includes the Jewish state. To prove this truth for yourself, request a free copy of our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong.

This conspiracy is also against God’s “treasured ones.” This is God’s very elect, who are always in the midst of the storm explaining what it all means. This little group explains the significance of deadly world events. The world could understand all of these terrible end-time events, if only they would find this very elect and heed their Bible-based warning!

Read verse 5 again: These people want to cut Israel off from being a nation. Even worse: They want to destroy the name of Israel entirely!

Everyone knows that the leaders of Iran vow to wipe Israel off the map. It appears the enemies of Israel described in Psalm 83 have a hatred every bit as deep: They want to obliterate the biblical name of Israel forever!

Who Is in This Alliance?

Psalm 83:6-9 reveal the specific nations within this deadly alliance. “For they have consulted together with one consent; Against Thee do they make a covenant; The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab, and the Hagrites; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also is joined with them; They have been an arm to the children of Lot. Selah.”

Here are the modern names of these nations, as taught at Ambassador College under Herbert W. Armstrong: Edom—Turkey; Ishmaelites—Saudi Arabia; Moab—Jordan; Hagrites—anciently dwelt in the land known as Syria today; Gebal—Lebanon; Ammon—also Jordan. The Gulf states, including the u.a.e., should be included in the category of Ishmael, or Saudi Arabia. We cannot be extremely precise in this understanding, but it gives a good general idea of where these nations are today.

Psalm 83 prophesies that all these moderate Arab nations will align with Assyria, and that this terrible alliance will seek to destroy Israel!

Remember this: God inspired the names in Psalm 83 to be preserved in the Bible so we could know who they are and how this prophecy would unfold today! We are commanded to live by every word of God (Deuteronomy 8:3). If we do not understand who these nations are, we cannot understand the 83rd Psalm. God expects us to understand!

Finally, it is important to note that Assyria is the ancient name of Germany. We prove the identity of these nations in our booklets The King of the South and Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.

There has never been such an alliance to attack or totally destroy Israel in history. Concerning this psalm, the Anchor Bible reads, “History transmits no record of the national crisis when the nations enumerated in this psalm formed a league to wipe out Israel ….” Lange’s Commentary points out, “The 10 nations who are here enumerated as being combined against Israel, are never mentioned elsewhere as enemies allied at the same time and for the purpose of annihilating Israel.” Other commentaries make the same point.

The Psalm 83 alliance and the King of the South
Watch Jerusalem

This must be an end-time prophecy!

During World War ii, most Muslims allied with Germany. They knew what Adolf Hitler was doing to the Jews, and we know the way many Muslims feel toward the Jews today. Since America and Britain support the Jews, it is not difficult to envision the Muslims in the Middle East and Germans allying against these two nations.

We need to watch Germany, and especially its relations with the moderate Arab nations identified in the Psalm 83 alliance. We should expect Germany and Europe’s relations with these countries to improve.

This prophetic psalm reveals a deadly danger in Israel’s apparent reconciliation with the U.A.E. and Bahrain, and potentially other Arab countries. Bible prophecy says these nations will turn on Israel!

Alliance Prepared Now

This Psalm 83 alliance of moderate Arab states is forming before our eyes. Soon, Germany will take a more prominent and active role, especially as the Bible forecasts that Iran is going to start to direct its hatred toward Europe.

Notice that Iran is missing from the Psalm 83 list. So too are Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia. This is because these nations will be united in another alliance, led by Iran, referred to as “the king of the south” in the prophecy in Daniel 11:40-45. (This remarkable prophecy is explained in my free booklet The King of the South.) This too is an end-time prophecy that shows how Iran will start to violently push at “the king of the north.”

Verse 40 shows how this other “king” will respond: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him; and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow, as he passes through.”

This “king of the north” is a German-led European power. Iran will be conquered by this European empire, and its allies will be utterly wiped out!

The full formation of the Psalm 83 alliance happens in the aftermath of this great battle.

With Iran destroyed, Israel will look upon Germany and the moderate Arab states as an ally, not a threat. And therein is the danger.

Recall Psalm 83:4: “They hold crafty converse against Thy people, And take counsel against Thy treasured ones.” As other translations reveal, this alliance conspires against Israel. What better way to deceive Israel than to be part of an alliance against Iran, Israel’s main adversary?

According to prophecy, this shockingly violent blitzkrieg attack on Iran and its allies will only serve as a precursor to a far more shocking and violent double cross against the modern descendants of the ancient Israelites. Israel will not expect to be confronted by the alliance of moderate Arab states and Germany, but this is exactly what will occur.

Back to Daniel 11:41: “He shall enter also into the beauteous land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall be delivered out of his hand, Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.” The powerful German-led army will then “enter” the glorious land, or the land of Israel. The word enter in no way indicates the use of force. The Germans will be invited in to keep the peace. When this happens, the crafty counsel, the deceitful nature, of the Psalm 83 alliance will become obvious. Germany’s true intentions will be made known.

Can anyone miss the cruel irony of this situation? A Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who lives in Israel said, “If there is anything that frightens Israelis more than Syrian troops on the Golan, it is German troops on the Golan.”

Israel must not be too confident in its military power or exceptional diplomacy. While improved relations with the moderate Arab nations is in many ways a great achievement, and it might provide some temporary protection from Iran, Psalm 83 and other prophecies show that these efforts will ultimately prove futile. Why? Because humans cannot produce the long-term peace we all desire!

As the Prophet Jeremiah warned, the human heart is deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9; King James Version). It simply cannot be trusted. “Thus saith the Lord: Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, And maketh flesh his arm, And whose heart departeth from the Lord” (verse 5). Sadly, this is what Israel is doing with this dalliance with the Arab states: It is putting far too much trust in the human heart!

The solution to this problem is obvious: This nation must once again learn to trust God. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord, Than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord, Than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9).

The Bible is chock-full of warnings like this. The Jewish people have many wonderful examples of great leaders trusting in God, and God rescuing them from their tribulations. Study the examples of David, Hezekiah and Josiah, or the lives of Daniel, Jeremiah and all the other prophets. God is quick to defend and protect those who turn to Him in repentance and humility. These examples are some of the most inspiring history you can ever read!

Recall the Exodus and the moment when the Israelites were trapped between the Red Sea, Egypt’s army and the mountains. Terrified and agitated, the people were on the brink of anarchy. Then Moses told them, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you to-day; for whereas ye have seen the Egyptians to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord will fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:13-14).

What an inspiring example of God’s power to deliver! If only more people would believe this example and live this way. If only we would “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” The Jews’ own history shows that God will protect those who turn to Him. He will fight for them, defend them and protect them.

As impressive as Israel’s ongoing reconciliation with the Arabs is, the only way to permanent peace, both collectively and individually, is to trust in God! We must remember: If you do your part, then “The Lord will fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”