The True Cause of Trouble in the Middle East! | Tomorrow’s World

The True Cause of Trouble in the Middle East!

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Only God’s word can explain the true root of the conflicts that continually surround the modern nation of Israel. And understanding the identity of the ancient peoples around the Holy Land is the key.

It seems that no one—no politician, no diplomat, no scholar—really understands the root of the problems in the Middle East! Why is there such persistent violence? Why is there so much hatred between Palestinians and Jews?

It is only with the light of God’s word that we can understand! You don’t find a true and full explanation of what’s going on in the Middle East anywhere else. We can only understand it from the pages of the Bible.

A Mysterious Reference to Amalek in the Bible

Perhaps accidentally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a hint of the truth behind the conflict in a November 2023 letter he wrote to his nation’s defense forces after the atrocities of October 7. “The current fight against the murderers of Hamas,” he wrote, “is another chapter in the generations-long story of our national resilience. ‘Remember what Amalek did to you.’”

By quoting from Deuteronomy 25:17—“Remember what Amalek did to you”—Netanyahu stirred a firestorm of controversy. Some saw it as a call to genocide, while others claimed he was seeking to bolster support from religious conservatives to retain enough votes to stay in power. (See Mr. Peter Nathan’s article in the November-December 2023 issue, “Jerusalem: The Way Forward.”)

Few, however—perhaps not even the Prime Minister himself—truly understand the profound connection between that quote and the real cause of the current troubles in the Middle East!

Many tend to see all conflict in the Middle East as a conflict between Isaac and Ishmael, who were Abraham’s firstborn sons by Sarah and Hagar. But for all the animosity between the descendants of these brothers, the Bible does not emphasize it greatly. Yes, as Psalm 83 reveals, Ishmaelites are conspirators against Israel in the end-time, as Tomorrow’s World has mentioned many times in its pages. But the current conflict is not primarily between these two brothers!

We must look deeper into God’s word for the truth, my friends. We can begin with Netanyahu’s statement by asking, Who is Amalek?

Who Is Amalek?

We begin our understanding by reading of Amalek in Exodus 17. Israel had just crossed the Red Sea, and then “Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim” (v. 8). This attack sticks out in the biblical record as singularly offensive to God. So angered was the Eternal by the actions of the Amalekites that He makes plain in no uncertain terms that “the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (v. 16).

In fact, most translations of Exodus 17:16 fail to reveal the depth of God’s offense. Renowned Bible scholar Adam Clarke, noting this, gives another possible translation for this verse: “Because the hand of Amalek is against the throne of God, therefore will I have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

God says that Amalek’s hand was raised against His own throne!

Why was this attack so serious in God’s eyes? Many peoples other than the Amalekites attacked Israel, even during the conquest of the Holy Land. Why did God take Amalek’s actions so seriously?

Let’s read more details in Deuteronomy 25: “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God” (vv. 17–18).

Keep this in mind: This is describing a terrorist attack. What are the three characteristics of terrorist attacks? They attack from behind, they attack defenseless civilian populations, and they do not face the army.

That’s exactly what we saw on October 7. Hamas attacked from behind, they did not face the army, and they attacked a defenseless civilian population. They attacked the weak and the helpless, only to turn and hide behind their own women and children in Gaza tunnels. That is how Hamas operates!

In its terrorist attack against ancient Israel, the Amalekites offended God greatly—which parallels the terrorism of Hamas!

So, we can see why Netanyahu’s letter would call to mind the terrorism of Amalek. But the real connection between Amalek and today’s troubles goes much deeper!

Esau’s Descendants and the Despised Birthright

In Genesis 36, we read that Amalek was the grandson of the ancient patriarch Esau, born to Esau’s firstborn son Eliphaz (vv. 9–12). Why is this important?

Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, who would eventually father the twelve tribes of Israel—including the Jews of Judah—and inherit the land promised to Abraham and Isaac. Even within their mother’s womb, Esau and Jacob were fighting each other (Genesis 25:21–23)! God indicated even before their birth that these twins would be the progenitors of two peoples who would struggle against each other throughout the centuries, as we shall see.

As the firstborn of the two (Genesis 25:25), Esau originally held the birthright—including the right to possess the Holy Land that God had promised to Abraham and Isaac. That land would have been Esau’s and would have been passed down to his descendants—including Amalek.

So, how did Jacob and the people of Israel come to inherit the land instead of Esau and his descendants?

One day as he returned home from hunting, Esau found his brother Jacob preparing a red stew of lentils. Weary and hungry, Esau asked for a share of the stew, which Jacob agreed to give him—but only if Esau swore to give him the birthright (Genesis 25:29–33). And, rashly, Esau did: “So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright” (vv. 33–34).

When Esau gave up his birthright, he relinquished the right to inherit the Holy Land, which would now pass to Jacob’s descendants instead. In letting go of that birthright—despising it, the Bible says—Esau revealed a serious character flaw. He let his primal, base instincts prevail in his decision-making (Hebrews 12:16).

And the effects of his decision were forever, as Psalm 105 declares: “He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth. He remembers His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance’” (vv. 7–11).

So, the birthright, including the Holy Land, was given to the sons of Jacob, forever. God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel,” which means “Overcomer with God” (Genesis 32:28), while Esau’s name came to be called “Edom,” which means “red” in Hebrew, because he traded away his birthright for a bowl of red stew (Genesis 25:30; 36:8).

Esau went on to marry women from among the Hittites, Canaanites, and Ishmaelites, and to establish a people who would be known as Edomites, dwelling initially in the region that came to be called Edom or Idumea, south of the Promised Land.

The Edomites’ “Perpetual Hatred”

And while Esau and Jacob reconciled later in their lives (Genesis 33), the Bible reports a perpetual hatred and resentment that persisted between their descendants (Ezekiel 35:1–5), as the Edomites constantly craved the inherited land their ancestor gave away for a bowl of lentils.

When Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Judah and destroyed the Temple, the Edomites to the south stood with the Babylonians. Psalm 137:7 reports that the Edomites cheered the destruction of Jerusalem, saying “Raze it, raze it, to its very foundation!” And Obadiah records God’s condemnation of Edom “[f]or violence against your brother Jacob” (v. 10), noting that the Edomites joined the Babylonians in Jerusalem’s destruction, even killing the fugitives who had escaped (vv. 11–14).

The prophet Ezekiel writes of the Edomites’ envious craving for the land: “‘Because you have said, “These two nations [the land that had been occupied by northern and southern tribes of Israel] and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess them,” although the Lord was there, therefore, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I will do according to your anger and according to the envy which you showed in your hatred against them; and I will make Myself known among them when I judge you’” (Ezekiel 35:10–11).

God’s word is clear: Even after millennia, Esau’s descendants still long to “possess” the land and say to themselves that it “shall be mine,” leading them to act in “envy,” “anger,” and “hatred.”

And God inspired Amos to record, “For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he pursued his brother [Jacob, Israel] with the sword, and cast off all pity; his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever” (Amos 1:11). Again, we see that the anger of Esau’s descendants over the lost inheritance is a perpetual anger, and that Edom “kept his wrath forever.”

That wrathful attitude against Israel—and that centuries-long craving for the lost inheritance that characterizes the Edomites—can be seen in the terroristic attack of the Amalekites. And in their violent desire to take possession for themselves of the promised land that their ancestor sold for a bowl of soup, they are, in reality, fighting against what God has determined. And, as Exodus 17 said, in doing so they raise their hand against the throne of Almighty God, Himself!

So, who is Amalek? Amalek is a particularly violent branch of the Edomites, descendants of Esau, that continues to claim the lost inheritance as its own and against whom God has declared war “from generation to generation”!

Who Are the Palestinians?

Now, let us return to the modern day, my friends, and ask, Who are the Palestinians?

Surely, we can see similarities between today’s Palestinians and the Edomites of the Bible, at least in attitude. The cries of “From the river to the sea!” mirror the sentiment of Esau and Edom, jealous to possess a land given by God not to them but to the descendants of Israel. And the heinous and cowardly terroristic attack of October 7 clearly mirrors the ancient terrorism of Amalek. If we use the principle Jesus taught and seek to “know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20), the identity of the Palestinians in the Bible should be clear!

Is it possible that today’s Palestinians are, in fact, of the descendants of Esau? Are they modern Edomites?

Don’t be confused by the words “Palestinian” or “Palestine.” Early in the second century AD, with the crushing of the Second Jewish Revolt, Rome sought to erase the name of Israel from the land (cf. Psalm 83:4). The land was renamed “Palestine” after the ancient Philistines, who had occupied the small area on the southern Mediterranean coast. That name does not reflect the identity of the land of Israel, nor of the people there today!

The Roman historian Dio Cassius, writing in the early part of the third century AD, wrote in his account of the Second Jewish Revolt that the Romans razed 985 of the Jews’ cities to the ground and that “nearly the whole of Judaea was made desolate” (Roman History, 69.14, translated by E. Cary). For the almost 19 centuries that followed, the Jews were not a majority in their own land. So, what happened during this time?

As was the case when Babylon devastated Judah, the Edomites to the south saw opportunity! Little by little, pressed by the Arab Nabatean tribes to the east, the Edomites—now called Idumeans—entered the emptied land of Israel, reflecting God’s word against them in Ezekiel 35:12: “I have heard all your blasphemies which you have spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, ‘They are desolate; they are given to us to consume.’

While many Edomites now make up the nation known as Turkey, the evidence is clear that many persist in the Holy Land as the Palestinian peoples, continuing to contend that the land God gave to Israel is their own.

The ancient Amalekites offended God to such a degree that He declared that “the Lord will wage war against Amalek from generation to generation.” Hamas’ detestable actions demonstrate that these attitudes persist in their modern descendants—as does God’s perpetual warfare against them!

Today’s conflict in Gaza is only the latest round of a conflict—between brothers Jacob and Esau—that has persisted for centuries and that will persist to the very end of this age. Indeed, Netanyahu’s mention of Amalek in the context of these recent troubles carried far more meaning than he likely understood.

What About Iran?

And the connections go further! Consider the role of Iran, the main supplier of weapons to Hamas and to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The effort to make the name of Israel disappear from the earth is funded in large part by Iran. What does the Bible reveal about that nation’s role?

The peoples of the Middle East today are a blending of many ancient families. Sometimes the lines are clear and nationalized, and other times they are not. Intermarriages, migration—both forced and voluntary—and other circumstances have moved and mingled peoples in ways that make them hard to identify without the Bible’s help. But, again, characteristics described in God’s word reveal themselves in the fruits of the people and their leaders!

The people of modern Iran are roughly 50 to 60 percent Persian in origin, with the rest consisting of peoples from other areas, including those with Ishmaelite and Edomite origins. Such origins are vital to understanding the role of this nation in Middle East relations and how that role has changed—and may yet change.

In the modern day, we have seen the attitude of the leaders of Iran toward Israel and the Jews swing wildly.

Before 1979, Iran had been ruled for decades by Shah Reza Pahlavi—a friend of the Jews, who even included Jews in the cabinet of his administration. But in the year 1979, with the fall of the Shah during the Islamic Revolution in Iran, his leadership was replaced by a Muslim theocracy with greater non-Persian influence. This change in leadership brought with it a radically different attitude, and it is this new leadership that constantly funds terrorism against the Jews in Israel, seeking to wipe the nation from the map.

All of this is mirrored by the biblical record of this nation, as well!

Anciently, it was the Medo-Persian emperor Cyrus whom God foretold would give freedom to the Jewish captives in Babylon and order the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (Isaiah 44:27–28; 45:1–4). Read the beautiful words of support for the Jews, Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of the Temple coming from ancient Medo-Persian rulers such as Cyrus and Artaxerxes, as recorded in Ezra 1:1–4 and Ezra 7:12–26. They stand in shocking contrast to the vile and shameful words of hate, death, and destruction for the Jewish nation coming from the present-day rulers of Iran! The Persian people have no quarrel with Israel, but Iran—and its leadership, in particular—is a mixture of people of different origins and attitudes. And leaders make all the difference.

So, too, was this true anciently! The goodwill between the ancient Medo-Persians and the Jews of their kingdom, under the Persian King Ahasuerus, was corrupted by leadership with ill will toward the Jews when the king appointed a man named Haman as prime minister of his empire (Esther 3:1). This Haman launched a deceptive effort to wipe out every Jew in the empire (vv. 6–11).

Yet Haman was not a Persian. Like modern Iran, the Medo-Persian empire contained many peoples and leaders from many families. So, who was Haman? The book of Esther says he was a descendant of King Agag (Esther 3:1), who was the king of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:8). The ancient historian Flavius Josephus confirms in his own account that Haman was an Amalekite (Antiquities of the Jews, 11.6.5)!

My friends, history repeats itself. Countries change hands, leaders of peoples change, groups are scattered and transplanted from one place to another—but the biblical characteristics shine through!

Today’s geopolitical experts may think it ridiculous, but only God’s word explains these matters with clarity and simplicity! It is the greatest geopolitical manual in existence.

Israel’s Prophesied Fate

As Tomorrow’s World Editor in Chief Gerald Weston explains in his article beginning on page 5 of this issue, Bible prophecy long ago foretold the current situation in the Middle East! And the prophecies of God’s word are clear: Even in Jerusalem there will remain a Jewish people until the end-times. That presence is required for the fulfillment of prophecies concerning the beginning and end of sacrifices to come in Jerusalem.

Those prophecies must be fulfilled, and no one can change the Almighty’s designs. God has already decided that the ancient sacrifices will be resumed, and we know they will be stopped 1,290 days before the Messiah’s return (Daniel 12:11). From God’s word we can be sure that no modern-day Edomite or Amalekite will succeed in destroying the nation of Israel. Any such attempt will ultimately fail—not because of the righteousness of the Jewish people, but because those nations will be fighting against God’s established plan.

Yet we must tell the full truth: The modern Jewish nation of Israel is repeating history itself and is also provoking God’s wrath by repeating its ancient forefathers’ descent into sin and rebellion against the laws of God. Consider that modern Israel holds parades to exalt licentious lifestyles that God explicitly condemns in the Torah, which all Jews know—promoting those lifestyles in the very streets of Jerusalem, the city that will soon become the seat of the Messiah’s government. In such rebellion, they are, in their own way, doing as the Amalekites—raising their hand against the throne of God and challenging His design.

Sacrifices will begin for a short time and then be stopped. Then Jerusalem will be captured by the seventh restoration of the Roman Empire, and the times of the Gentiles will commence. This will be a time of unprecedented suffering for Israel, for the United States, and for the British-descended nations, followed by the Day of the Lord and God’s wrath upon all nations of the world.

Peace in the Middle East—And for the Entire World

Yet, after those years of anguish and woe, the Messiah will come back with very good news—both for Israel and for the rest of the world.

The world will not perish in a global nuclear catastrophe. There is hope! These dilemmas that human beings cannot solve will be solved by Jesus Christ, who very soon will return on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory to usher in a thousand years of peace. So, despite the continuing bloodshed in that land that has known so much suffering, we can see past this conflict to the hope of tomorrow’s world and the peace it will bring. As the prophet Isaiah wrote, all the implements of war—guns, rifles, grenades, tanks, drones—will be melted down to become implements of agriculture, and nations will no longer train for war (Isaiah 2:3–4).

That is the hope—for the desperate and confused nations of the Middle East and, indeed, for the whole world—that we seek to present to you in these pages every issue. Our world is now entering a very dark time, but the dawn is already near. Good days are coming as God prepares to establish the Kingdom of the Messiah on the face of the earth, which will bring peace at last to all the peoples of our world.


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