By: Bill Cloud (Shoreshim Ministries)

Bill Cloud’s Website:   http://www.billcloud.org


“Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against your people, and consulted together against your sheltered ones. They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’ ” Psalm 83:1-4 (NKJV)

Besides causing many prophecy watchers to go on high alert, the outbreak of hostilities in northern Israel this past summer provoked many rabbis to consider the prophetic implications of the conflict. When it looked as if the fighting might expand throughout the region bringing other hostile nations into the conflagration, rabbinical leaders called for the faithful to pray - specifically Psalm 83. The noteworthiness of this proclamation to pray is not so much that this particular psalm requests Divine intervention on behalf of Israel, but the fact that it actually lists the ancient nations who are presently conspiring to destroy her.

Before we discuss these nations, however, first note that the primary object of their ire is not Israel but God Himself. He is the one they despise and raise up against. Consequently, these nations are described as being “your enemies.” Of course being flesh and blood, they are powerless against God and so they direct their wrath against those He loves and through whom He works – Israel. The Scripture notes that they secretly counsel with one another in how they might destroy the chosen nation. Their ultimate goal is to completely annihilate the people of Israel, so much so, that the very name “Israel” will be forgotten.

Scripture tells us that God is Spirit (Jn. 4:24). Yet, in His sovereignty, God has chosen to fulfill His agenda for Creation by working through flesh and blood and specifically through His people (His Body) called Israel. He said, Israel is My Son, My firstborn” (Ex. 4:22). As we know, the firstborn is entitled to the birthright and blessing of the Father. History has proven that this fact has not gone unnoticed by the Adversary when it comes to Israel.

Now, considering that God works through people isn’t it logical to conclude that the Adversary also works through flesh and blood – his body if you will? And if he works through people, then isn’t it he who ultimately wants to destroy the people that God calls His son? I think this is obvious. So then, Psalm 83 hints at this: the real motivation behind those who seek to destroy Israel is the Adversary’s desire to strike against and, in his mind, defeat God by annihilating God’s people Israel. It is important to note he will not be content to simply “cut them off from being a nation,” but further desires that the “name of Israel be remembered no more.” Why is that important to him? To understand that we must understand what the name Israel means and, more to the point, what it portends for the Adversary.

Jacob’s Born Again Experience

In Genesis 25, Scripture tells us that Isaac’s barren wife Rebecca became pregnant after the LORD intervened. Scripture further reveals that this pregnancy was somewhat troubling to Rebecca because of the struggle going on within her womb. This provokes her to inquire of the LORD who tells her that twins are to be born of her. Furthermore, the LORD reveals to her that the older one – the one that custom anoints as being the one entitled to the birthright and blessing – is going to serve the younger one. Trouble looms ahead!

When the twins are born, the first one comes out red and so hairy he looks as if he is wearing a garment – a somewhat frightening thought if you consider this was Isaac’s firstborn son. Due to his startling appearance, they decide to call him Esau (pronounced Esav) or “hairy” (Gen. 25:25). It needs to be pointed out here that the name Esau, as written in Hebrew, is related to the Hebrew word for “grass” and specifically the unfruitful grass – the weed, the tare. Following Esau is his younger brother who has his hand latched onto Esau’s heel “so his name was called Jacob” (Gen. 25:26).

The Hebrew name that has been rendered as the English “Jacob” is Ya’akov. Throughout history, both Jewish and Christian commentators have translated this name as meaning “supplanter” or “deceiver.” If we presume this definition to be accurate, then the struggle that had been confined to the womb continued to the very point of birth with Jacob still determined to supplant his brother’s birthright. The “evidence” for this is the fact that his hand laid hold of his brother’s heel. While it is true that the root word (akav) that forms the basis of the name Ya’akov means “to supplant,” it is also true that this same root means “heel.” Furthermore, when the letter yud, which is said to represent “a hand,” is attached to the word akav – a “heel” – it forms the name Ya’akov or Jacob. Considering the context, it seems obvious to me that Jacob, instead of meaning “supplanter,” means “hand on heel.”

Still, the question remains: “Why was his hand on his brother’s heel?” If you consider they had been struggling over the birthright, then who is born first becomes critically important. If you also consider that the LORD had chosen Jacob and not Esau (Mal. 1:2-3) then in time Jacob would become a threat to Esau’s perceived primacy. So then, I submit to the reader that Jacob’s hand is on his brother’s heel to prevent the heel of his soon-to-be adversary from crushing his head. If Esau’s heel comes down on the top of Jacob’s head – remember, they had been struggling – then it becomes likely that Jacob would be killed. If Jacob is killed, then there is no Israel! Now who would want to get rid of Israel?

Years later, when Jacob has obtained both the birthright and blessing from Isaac, it is Esau who first makes the claim that Ya’akov means “supplanter” (Gen. 27:36). It should be noted that Esau was profane (Heb. 12:16) and despised the birthright (Gen.25:34) and thus, any accusation he rails against Jacob should be considered suspect. At about the same time Esau determines, once again it seems, to kill Jacob (Gen. 27:41) forcing Jacob to flee Canaan and live with his uncle in Syria for close to two decades. In the meantime, Esau goes to Ishmael and takes a third wife from among his uncle’s daughters. Her name is given as Mahalath (Gen. 28:9). We will deal with this marital arrangement in more detail later.

When Jacob finally returns to Canaan to encounter his brother it is with a still growing family and much wealth. On the eve of their meeting, however, Jacob is alone, that is, until a man with the face of God shows up. During the encounter, Jacob and the Man wrestle with one another until the breaking of the day. As a result, Jacob’s hip is pulled out of joint. Scripture tells us the Man demands that Jacob let him go, but Jacob refuses until the Man consents to bless Jacob. Instead of recording that the Man “blessed him,” the Scripture tells us that the man asked Jacob a question: “What is your name?” Jacob replies (in a manner of speaking), “hand on the heel.” The implications of his answer are thus: “As Ya’akov, I am the one who was born under the heel of my adversary. Consequently, I am the one who is destined to always walk under the threat of my enemy, always having to protect my head from his heel.”

The Scripture says that the Man answered him, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed” (Gen 32:28). The implication of this statement is that, “As Israel, you are no longer destined to have your head beneath the heel of your enemy. Because you have encountered God, you are going to walk differently and, as a consequence, prevail over your enemy. Instead of being trapped beneath their heel, your heel is going to be on their head!” Thus, we learn that as the day was breaking Jacob encountered God (Gen. 32:30) and was given a new walk - he never walked the same way again – a new name and, consequently, a new destiny. In short, he was born again as Israel.

Likewise, we learn from this account that all those who come to the God of Israel are born again and as Israel no less, for they are born again as His children (Jn. 1:12). Furthermore we learn that, as Israel, we are to walk differently that we once had. Scripture teaches us that, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD” (Ps. 37:23). In Psalm 119 the writer declares, “Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me” (Ps. 119:133). The point is, Israel is to walk differently than the nations and that peculiar walk has been determined by the LORD Himself. As we walk in obedience, we are empowered by the Messiah to “trample” on serpents (Ps. 91:13 & Lk. 10:19). That is to mean, as we keep His commandments and instructions, we are authorized to take our heel and put it on the head of the serpent should he slither out onto our path. We can do this because the Messiah has already destroyed the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8). Scripture declares that, “They overcame him (the serpent) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev 12:11).

This next point must be made clear. Israel is the only God-ordained body authorized to overcome the serpent in this way. That is why it is so important for believers to recognize they are part of the family God has called Israel! Furthermore, it becomes ever-so-clear why the Adversary wants to “cut them off from being a nation,” that the very name of Israel be remembered no more. You see, Israel is the only nation destined to trample on his head. Why do you think he so desperately wants to annihilate them? You see, those who trust in the Messiah and who walk according to His commandments are the greatest threat to Satan’s agenda. Thus Scripture records that, “the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Y’shua the Messiah (Rev 12:17).   

Israel’s Ancient Adversary: Edom

“So Esau dwelt in Mount Seir. Esau is Edom.” (Gen 36:8)

In his ages-old effort to destroy Israel, the serpent has always used flesh and blood to strike at his nemesis in an attempt to put them under his heel. This is how it was in the beginning and this is exactly what he will continue to do at the end of days. Consider that the last kingdom of man – the kingdom of the Anti-Messiah – is described by the prophet Daniel as being two feet comprised of iron mingled with clay (Dan. 2:41-44). Though it is never mentioned, it is nevertheless interesting to note that besides ten toes, those feet – that last kingdom – has a heel. No doubt, this is one last attempt to crush the head of Israel. But let us now recall the one Satan first used in this campaign - Esau.

 From the beginning it was Esau who was poised to strike at Israel’s head. When we carefully study the Scripture, we see that Esau’s descendants continued in this effort. In Persia it was a descendant of Esau – Haman the Amalekite – who vowed to exterminate God’s people. When the Messiah – the King of Israel and Head of the Body - was born in Bethlehem, it was Herod the Great who tried to execute him. Many people mistakenly believe that Herod was Jewish; however, the truth is he was an Idumean or Edomite. Interestingly, tradition says that Herod had all those innocent children decapitated. It seems that the serpent is fixated with heads.

So then, if it was Esau who attempted to strike at Israel in the beginning and his descendants who tried throughout history, isn’t it logical to conclude that the house of Esau will be one of Israel’s primary antagonists at the end of days? Psalm 83 seems to validate this view. In fact, the main confederates united against Israel are the “tents of Edom” (Esau) and the Ishmaelites. Remember that Esau went to his uncle’s house and took one of his daughters as a wife, in effect, forming an alliance with the house of Ishmael. Consider what these two had in common. They both had lost what they thought rightfully belonged to them – the birthright. Ishmael lost it to Isaac and, of course, Esau lost it to Jacob. In the end they saw Israel as being the one who stood in the way of what they believed to be their rightful inheritance.

If you think about it, they share this sentiment with, if not inherit it from, the one who inspires them against Israel - Satan. After all, it was he who desired to exalt his throne and be like the Most High only to get tossed out of heaven (Is. 14:12-14). Since then he has been trying to reclaim what in his mind belongs to him. It seems logical to me that, in his war with Israel, the Adversary would use people who are motivated by the same hostile jealousy. Thus Ishmael and Esau, following in the steps of their master, seek to regain an inheritance they consider to have been stolen. As we know, all of God’s enemies will ultimately fail in their attempt to destroy God’s treasured ones, but that doesn’t mean they intend to cease trying. Leading the charge will be the two confederates Esau and Ishmael.

Another thing these two share is Mahalath. You should recall this was Ishmael’s daughter and Esau’s third wife. As I have already noted, this basically created a marital alliance of sorts between the two peoples. In my opinion, there is even more information to be gleaned from this union and the hint at this is supplied by the name Mahalath. This name means “sickness or disease” and comes from the root word chalah. I should also point out that dlg chalah is related to the Hebrew words chalal “profane” and alah or “curse.” In other words, Esau joins himself to Ishmael – the father of the Arabs - and takes from him a “disease,” profane in nature, which results in a curse (pronounced alah). Hmmm. I can’t imagine what this alludes to (wink).  

Hidden in the Psalm

As I stated at the beginning, Psalm 83 is important to us because it lists those ancient nations who are currently trying to destroy Israel. In other words, the people trying to destroy Israel in our time are the descendants of the same people who were trying to do it thousands of years ago; chief among them are the offspring of Esau and Ishmael. Yet, there is another and I feel more important reason for us to understand the implications of Psalm 83. The Psalm tells us that, “They have taken crafty counsel against your people, and consulted together against your sheltered ones.” In other translations, “sheltered ones” is rendered as “treasured ones” or “precious ones.” The Hebrew phrase used here is tzefunekha and is literally translated as “your hidden ones” (see KJV). What do things sheltered and those considered to be treasure have in common? Treasure is typically hidden or concealed and thus protected. “Hidden” is, in fact, what the root word tzafan means. What I find most intriguing about this root word is, not only does it produce the phrase “hidden ones” in Psalm 83, but it is the very same root from which we get the name Zaphnat Paneach. This was, you should recall, the name conferred upon Joseph by the king of Egypt. It was a name that concealed his true identity. Zaphnat Paneach was the one God hid in Egypt – the most powerful nation at that time - so that all Israel might be saved.

Up until now, you might have been asking yourself what all of this with Esau, Ishmael and Israel has to do with you. I hope it is becoming clear. You see, for the most part, our Jewish brethren are not hidden – most everybody knows who they are and especially when it comes to those who live in the land of Israel and who defend the land of Israel. In contrast consider that, though most believers have not recognized this fact, the truth remains that when we were born again, we were born again as Israel. Yet, to see ourselves as Israel has been hidden from us and most everybody else. Nevertheless, that we are part of Israel is how the Father sees it and, most assuredly, that is the way the Adversary sees it. That means, of course, that you are his sworn enemy and he wants to crush your head. Might he use Esau and Ishmael in this endeavor? 

I submit to you that the enemies of Israel and particularly those listed in Psalm 83 have come to understand that it is almost impossible to destroy Israel without first neutralizing “big Satan” – the US.  But is it really the US that Satan wishes to destroy or is it a particular group of people within the US? True, these unique people have been hidden throughout the entire world but, like Joseph, many of them have congregated in what is currently the most influential and powerful nation on earth and for this purpose: so that all Israel might be saved. In addition to this, I believe it to be possible that we have been “hidden” all this time because, if Esau and Ishmael had known who we really are, they would have tried to destroy us before now (see Gen. 32:6-8). 

Still, the Psalm recognizes that, in the end, the unholy confederation formed by Edom, Ishmael and the other nations listed in Psalm 83 will come against Israel in an attempt to destroy her and that includes the “hidden ones.” Considering that the sons of Ishmael and Esau have vowed to destroy Israel and the U.S. and are actively following through on this threat tells me that the Adversary now understands that there is a lot more to Israel than what he first thought - the “hidden ones” are being revealed. But take heart; Esau and Ishmael will not succeed in destroying Israel. To the contrary, Israel is destined to place her heel on the head of her enemy because the Messiah Y’shua has already overcome. The ultimate victory will come, not by bullets and bombs, but by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony! So, to all you hidden ones I say: “You are no longer Jacob, but Israel. You shall overcome.” Amen.

End of Article (Recommended Companion  Article:  The Revealing of the Sons of God)

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