The Destruction of Lebanon

There are several scattered verses that point to the destruction of Lebanon ­ the most famous, that of Habakkuk:

"The cup from God's right hand comes round to you, and disgrace will overshadow your glory. For the violence done to Lebanon is going to overwhelm you, so will the slaughter of terrified beasts, for you have shed men's blood and ravished the country, the city and all who live in it." (Hab.2:16-17).

This prophecy, seemingly written of the Chaldeans (the people of the East), seems a well suited answer to the disaster we now see unfolding in the war between these two countries. That is because it closely duplicates in terms of fire and destruction Ariel Sharon's war agaist Lebanon in 1982. Sharon, one of the original army leaders foundiing the state of Israel in 1947 rose to command the nations military forces at a critical time in Israel's glorious history. At least a history that had been glorious up to that moment.

In response to minor border incidents near Galilee in 1982 by an aggressive, but fledgling Shiite Muslim organization called Hezbollah, Sharon was sent to Lebanon's border to quell what seemed to be a minor problem.

Promising only a small border incursion, Sharon, instead launched a swift, overwhelmingly violent war against Lebanon. With lightening speed he led the Israeli army, the air force and navy right into Beirut, a city he ordered destroyed, buildiing by building and skyscraper by skyscraper. The ruin was complete. A city that days before had been heralded as the Switzerland of the Middle East, a banking and cultural center of the world, was reduced to third-world rubble almost overnight.

Then, in a fateful decision, Sharon allowed Lebanese Christians in Beirut to round up hundreds of unarmed Palestinian refugees (men, women and children). They then shot them all dead. The massacre briefly shocked the world and Ariel Sharon was relieved of command because of his suspected involvement. The case went to trial, but a sympathetic court in Israel found him not guilty.

Sharon subsequently went on to architect in earnest the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian Sinai in Israeli-occupied Arab lands (an incindiary issue today, and the subject of Jeremiah's perilous warnings (Jer. 42-44).

The controlling power behind Israel's government from 1982 to this year, Sharon lost his Prime Ministership in January.when he was incapacitated by a stroke. A leading figure in Israel's hard-line stance against Palestine and the Arab world, Sharon has spent most of his life directing and favoring those who have agreed with his stern policies.

Although the total destruction of Beirut, the jewel city of the Middle East, and the massacre of those militant Israeli's considered "wild beasts" brought world revulsion for a short time, it didn't last. As time passed, the anger faded and the event passed into what seemed to be no more than a transient footnote in the march of history. It was clear in Habakkuk's prophecy, however, that something enormous had occurred, an event so large for Israel that it would bring the seeds of disaster (the cup of God's right hand) down onto the nation.

True to the prophecy, Israel has known no peace since. That war has been followed by the most brutal period in Israel's history, 23 years of war, violence, and suicide bombings that have tried the nation to its limit. The only serious attempt to quell the fighting and establish a true peace ended in assassination. Not by the forces of the East, but by a hard-line Israeli militant murdering his own Prime Minister, Ishtak Rabin. Ariel Sharon's illegal settlements had spawned an assassin.and peace died. It has not returned.

Not only did Sharon's invasion bring a militant form of Zionism to power in Israel, it destroyed the delicate balance of political power in Lebanon; a catastrophe which ended up with Syrian Muslims coming in to rule the country in place of its former government. With them came a far more lethal Hezbollah. Their combined presence changed the whole balance of power of the Middle East, probably irrevocably.  That seems to be the essence of Habukkuk's vision.

And now that all this is repeated again so brutally 24 years later, Habukkuk's vision is renewed. ("...the violence done to Lebanon is going to overwhelm you."), showing that the prophecy has only run half its course.

"Cast your eyes over the nations, look, and be amazed, astounded. For I am doing something in your own days that you would not believe if you were told of it. For now I am stirring up the Chaldaeans (the Parthians), that fierce and fiery people who march miles across country to seize the homes of others...they come for plunder, all of them. their faces scorching like the east wind; they scoop up prisoners like sand. They are a people that scoff at kings, and laugh at princes. They make light of all fortresses: they heap up earth and take them. Then the wind changes and (they are) gone. Sinful, he who makes his own strength his god." (Hab. 1:5-11).

Other prophecies, as we shall see, show a power called "Egypt" drawn into this disaster as well.

The majority of verses in scripture concerning Lebanon show it to be a place of majesty and beauty in the biblical world, filled with the tallest and loftiest cedars.

If we look at this designation in symbolic terms they point to a nation of supreme majesty and beauty whose leaders are the giants of the earth. In our time we could easily see the United States in such terms. Our national anthem bears witness to our country's majesty, as does the magnificent history of our unexcelled founders, presidents, architects and world leaders. Giants all of them.

The same comparison to Lebanon can be seen with respect to the entire western world. For over 2000 years the west has unfolded a world of great culture, beauty and majesty, parading a litany of world leaders, the greatest in human history across its stage. Before it recently recanted faith in Jesus Christ, faith had propelled it to the peaks of human endeavor and success.

These comparisons gain importance when we look at the prophecies of Ezekiel, especially his chapters 31 and 32, in which a nation called "Egypt" is likened to Lebanon.

However, when we look at Ezekiel's description of this Egypt (Ez. 31:3-10), we see a nation that bears no resemblance whatsoever to any Egypt the world has known for the last 4000 years. Either the prophecy has nothing to do with current history, or the word "Egypt" is a metaphore for another nation.

"Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to all his subjects:
'To what shall I compare you in your greatness?
Surely, to a cedar of Lebanon
with noble branches, thick-set needles and lofty trunk.
Its top pierces the clouds.
The waters have made it grow, the deep has made it tall,
pouring its rivers round the place where it is planted,
sending its streams to all the other trees.
This is why its trunk grew taller than all the other trees;
its branches increased in number, its boughs stretched wide,
because the plentiful waters reached it.
All the birds of heaven used to nest in its branches;
under its boughs all wild animals used to drop their young;
in its shade every kind fo people sat.
It was beautiful in its size, in the span of its boughs;
its roots went deep into plentiful waters.
No cedar equalled it in the garden of God,
no cypress had branches such as these;
no plane tree could match its boughs,
no tree in the garden of God could rival its beauty,
I had made it lovely with branching green.
It was the envy of every tree in Eden, in the garden of God." (Ez. 31:2-9)

Not only do the words above not relate to any Egypt in modern history, reading further through Ezekiel's verses we find the following written there:

"When I extinguish you I will cover the skies, and darken the stars. I will cover the sun with clouds and the moon will not give its light. I will dim every luminary in heaven for you, and cover your country in darkness." (Ez.32:7-8). 

This verse is a reference to the end of the world.  Ezekiel is telling us that this Egypt's comeuppance is to come in conjunction with the end of the world.  That lets out a nation of the past. This prophecy is about now.  Ezekiel's "Egypt" is on history's stage today, and it is not the Egypt of the Nile.

Some Christian leaders do not see an end of the world in global history, but those who study scripture's prophecy are overwhelmed with verses confirming, not only an end to the world as Jesus taught, but one that is closing in on the world today with unnerving swiftness.

Pinpointing the true identity of Ezekiel's "Egypt" brings us first to the two candidates listed above, but since no nation will survive the return of Christ, every nation on earth is a candidate. That widens the probability and suggests the passage may relate to the destruction of the harlot Babylon. Since Ezekiel addresses the harlot herself later on in detail, it is clear the designation "Egypt" here signifies a national power or group of nations within that Babylon. (such as all the nations of the western world that have evicted Jesus Christ from their ruling table)

There can be little doubt that God has tied the fate of this "Egypt" to that of Lebanon.

"You were like a Gilead to me, like a peak of Lebanon. All the same, I will reduce you to a desert...I have dedicated men to destroy you, each man with his axe; they will cut down your finest cedars and throw them on the fire." (Jer. 22:6-7)

While Israel is the center of Habukkuk's prediction (its fate also tied to the violence done to Lebanon) the inclusion of "Egypt" in Ezekiel's prophecy shows that both will be involved together in the reactive violence about to descend on the world in the form of the ram of the East.  Lebanon is to prove a boomerang.

The destruction of Lebanon is a grave forewarning of all that is to come. Given haukkuk's prophecy, it is a political earthquake with biblical overtones ­ a clear sign of what most people fear, that the war there has more than ordinary meaning, portending a far greater tribulation close ahead. We can see that possibility reflected in Ezekiel's descriptions:

"Very well then, the Lord God says this: Since it (Egypt) has raised itself to the full height, has lifted its top to the clouds, and has grown arrogant in its height, I have handed it over to the prince of the nations (the ram from the East), to do with as its wickedness deserves; I have destroyed it. Foreigners, the most barbarous of the nations, have cut it down and felled it." (Ez. 31:10-12).

"The Lord God says this: On the day it went down to Sheol, I closed the deep over it in a sign of mourning. I stopped its rivers, the plentiful waters dried up; I made Lebanon dark for its sake, and all the trees of the fields wilted for its sake. With the noise when it fell I made the nations quake, as I hurled it down to Sheol, with those who go down to the pit." (Ez. 31:15-16).

"In the regions underground all the trees of Eden took comfort, all the noble and lovely trees of Lebanon nourished by the waters. And with it went down to Sheol, to the victims of the sword, all those nations who used to live in its shade." (Ez. 31:16).

Much of this relates, according to Ezekiel, to the fall of Egypt's Pharaoh:

"Son of man, raise the dirge for Pharaoh king of Egypt. Say to him, 'Young lion of nations, you have been wiped out." (Ez. 32:2).

That statement by Ezekiel in reference to the leader of the Egypt that is like Lebanon, advances the prophecy into the biblical book of another great Seer in Israel: the prophet Jeremiah. He, too, chronicles the death of the Pharaoh of Egypt (Jer. 44:29-30). But Jeremiah characterizes his fate as one of the most dynamic prophecies of the age ­ the proof of all that has been prophesied in scripture with respect to Persia's invasion of Israel, the catastrophe of the settlers and the collapse of the western world:

"Now I am knocking down what I have built, tearing up what I have planted: I am going to strike the whole earth. And here you are asking for special treatment! Do not ask. For I am now going to bring down disaster on all mankind -- it is the Lord who speaks." (Jer. 45:4-5).

That verse, in turn, leads one verse later to Persia's sudden invasion of Iraq across the Euphrates river, routing the forces of "Egypt'" standing guard there; and then without hesitation, pouring down in vengeance through the Holy Land, a vast army advancing across the settlers, right into Jerusalem itself.

"Terror from every side!­it is the Lord who speaks. The fastest cannot escape, nor the bravest save himself: there in the north, there by the river Euphrates, they have collapsed, have fallen..."

'I will rise,' he said 'and drown the earth; sweep towns and their inhabitants away!...Now this is the day of the Lord God, a day of vengeance for his revenge on his enemies...yes the Lord Almighty has a sacrifice to make in the north country, by the river Euphrates." (Jer. 46:5-10).

If all this is as closely related as it seems, we are seeing a very powerful prophecy unfolding before our eyes in the war now raging between Israel and Lebanon ­ a major tick on the clock that is chronicling the sad journey of our rebellious and unrepentant world toward Armageddon.

Why is the East not being punished for their wickedness as well? According to scripture their punishment will certainly come. Because we have come to the end of the age, Babylon must be punished in accordance with the prophecies. God has put His hooks into this Parthian army and is dragging it toward the battlefield of Armageddon to be His servants in dealing out the final punishments to Babylon's wicked ­ this punishment is the tribulation so widely predicted. Remember what Jeremiah said: "Thus the laboring of the peoples comes to nothing; the toiling of the nations ends in fire." (Jer.51:58).

All of this is making the earth ready for the return of Jesus Christ.

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