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In part 1, we studied the nations of Israel and Judah and their historical role in prophecy. The Israelites were exiled to Assyria and never returned, because God had hedged up her way with thorns, creating a prophetic “wall” so that she could not find her way back (Hosea 2:6).
Judah, on the other hand, was taken to Babylon for just 70 years and then returned so that Jesus could be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The people of Judah came to be known as “Jews,” which is short for Judahites.
Israel was headed by the tribes of Joseph, to whom the birthright had been given (1 Chron. 5:1, 2); Judah had been given the dominion mandate (Gen. 49:10), providing Israel with kings and culminating with His Majesty, King Jesus.
Those who fail to make the distinction between Israel and Judah cannot help but misapply prophecy. Such people think that the Jews are the Israelites, when, in fact, the prophets never make that mistake.
A deeper study also reveals the distinction between men’s definitions and God’s definitions of the terms. Men define Israel and Judah according to fleshly genealogy, which certainly has its place. But God defines a Jew as one whose heart has been circumcised (Rom. 2:29). He also defines an Israelite essentially as an overcomer, as in the case of Jacob himself and later with Nathanael (John 1:47).
One of the most serious mistakes that people make is in misunderstanding of who Edom is. This mistake is the source of much prophetic misapplication.
I recall back in 1979, when Egyptian president Anwar Sadat made a peace treaty with Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, how a prominent Bible teacher claimed on the radio that this was Jacob and Esau embracing one another (as per Gen. 33:4). He was implying that Sadat was Esau and Begin was Jacob. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Egypt is not Edom.
This Bible teacher encouraged people to call him to discuss the Scriptures, so I did so. I told him that he had been telling us that the Egyptians were of Egypt and that the Arabs were from Ishmael—but now he was telling us that Egypt was Edom??
He backed down immediately, knowing his error. So I asked him, “If Sadat is not from Edom, then where is Edom today?” His response was, “Well, do you know?”
This opened the door for a discussion that lasted the full hour of his program. He learned a lot, because up to that point, he had probably never contemplated how Edom fits into prophecy today.
Yet there are many prophecies about Edom, giving us a lengthy history of the dispute over the birthright between Jacob and Esau. (“Esau is Edom,” Gen. 36:8). This dispute was to be resolved only in the latter days in the time of Christ’s second coming as “Joseph” with His robe dipped in blood (Gen. 37:31; Rev. 19:13).
This means Edom still exists today, even though there is no nation on earth identified by that name. To understand the prophecies of Edom, one must study the Scriptures and history itself.
In the second century B.C., Judah threw off the yoke of the Greek (Syrian) king, Antiochus Epiphanes. Jerusalem then became independent for a century (163-63 B.C.). During that time, Judah and Edom fought wars, and finally, in 126 B.C. Judah conquered Edom.
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, edited by Dr. Cecil Roth and Dr. Geoffrey Wigoder, 1970 edition, tells us under the heading of Edom, page 587,
“The Edomites were conquered by John Hyrcanus who forcibly converted them to Judaism, and from then on they constituted a part of the Jewish people, Herod, being one of their descendants. During Titus’ siege of Jerusalem, they marched in to reinforce the extreme elements, killing all they suspected of peace tendencies.”
The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1903 edition, under Edom, adds,
“From this time the Idumeans [Greek for Edom] ceased to be a separate people, though the name ‘Idumea’ still existed in the time of Jerome.”
Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, wrote:
“Hyrcanus… subdued all the Idumeans and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would be circumcised and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision and the rest of the Jews’ ways of living; at which time therefore, this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews.”
No reputable historian disputes the fact that Edom was then incorporated into the Jewish nation and became Jews. Yet this historical fact is almost unknown in Christian circles. One cannot truly understand prophecy without knowing this inconvenient history and its unwelcome implications.
It means that Jewry, as we know it today, has two sets of prophecies to fulfill. There are no other candidates to fulfill the prophecies of Edom—not even Anwar Sadat!
The Edomite Jews were among the most “extreme elements” of Jewry during the Roman wars (70-73 A.D.). In fact, the last stronghold to be taken by the Romans was Masada. It was a Jewish-Edomite stronghold that the Romans took on the morning of Passover in 73 A.D. This was precisely 40 years after Jesus was crucified in 33 A.D.
Needless to say, Edom’s forcible conversion did not change the carnal hearts of the Edomites themselves. They were still just as bloodthirsty as Ezekiel described them in Ezekiel 35:6. This also accounts for a certain element in modern Zionism in their hatred of Palestinians.
Jacob and Esau were twins who seemed to fight even before they were born. Their mother inquired of the Lord about this, and the explanation is found in Gen. 25:23,
23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples will be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger.”
They started out in the same womb, and they ended up as twins in the same nation! Esau was born first, so he was the older son. The first-born son had certain rights that could not be overlooked when passing down the birthright. We read of this in Deut. 21:15-17.
On the other hand, the next law is about “a stubborn and rebellious son” (Deut. 21:18), who was to be executed if he persisted without repentance. Hence, if a first-born son proved himself to be unworthy of the birthright, he could be disinherited and even executed.
So also Reuben, Jacob’s oldest son, was disinherited for defiling his father’s bed (1 Chron. 5:1, 2).
As Isaac grew old, he became blind. As such, he became the prophetic model for Isaiah’s blind servant prophecy (Isaiah 42:19). When he thought he might die soon, he called Esau and told him to bring him venison. He then intended to give Esau the birthright.
Jacob and his mother panicked, apparently recalling the prophecy that “the older shall serve the younger.” They thought that God was incapable of fulfilling His word without their help. So Jacob pretended to be Esau and lied to his blind father to obtain the birthright by deception.
Jacob’s name literally means “heel-catcher,” picturing one who overtakes someone in a competition. Hence, the name means “deceiver, usurper.” When Jacob deceived his father, he lived up to his name.
By contrast, many years later, Jesus said of Nathanael, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (John 1:47). Nathanael was not a Jacobite but an Israelite. In God’s eyes, no one is “indeed” an Israelite until he has become an overcomer “in whom is no deceit.”
When Esau arrived with venison, he discovered that his father had already given the birthright to his brother Jacob. He asked if there was anything left for him, and Isaac told him in Gen. 27:40 KJV,
40 And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.
Esau was to put on Jacob’s “yoke” and serve him. But the time would come when this would be reversed. In other words, Jacob’s deception meant that he would have to give back the birthright to Esau in order to allow him time to prove himself to be a stubborn and rebellious son.
This was not of much comfort to Esau, who would not live long enough to see justice done. So he hated Jacob—and not without some cause. So Jacob had to go into exile and work for his uncle Laban in Syria, foreshadowing the day when Jacob’s descendants of the House of Israel would be exiled to Assyria as well.
Meanwhile, Edom settled in the land of Mount Seir. Later, they conquered their hosts and took their inheritance. From then on, Mount Seir was the land of Edom.
Israel’s exile to Assyria, followed by Judah’s exile to Babylon, stirred the Edomite desire to appropriate the land of Canaan for themselves. Ezekiel 35:5, 6 says,
5 “Because you have had everlasting enmity and have delivered the sons of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, at the time of the punishment of the end, 6 therefore as I live,” declares the Lord God, “I will give you over to bloodshed [dam], and bloodshed will pursue you…”
Recall that Isaac prophesied “by thy sword shalt thou live.” In Ezekiel, God accuses Edom of being bloodthirsty, a violation of the spiritual law in Lev. 17:10,
10 And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.
Edom literally means “red,” which alludes to blood (dam).
Esau’s bloody motives are revealed in Ezekiel 35:10, 11,
10 “Because you have said, ‘These two nations and these two lands [Israel and Judah] will be mine, and we will possess them,’ although the Lord was there, 11 therefore as I live,” declares the Lord God, “I will deal with you according to your anger and according to your envy which you showed because of your hatred against them; so I will make Myself known among them when I judge you.”
This is Edom’s Zionism, their desire to possess the lands of Israel and Judah. They did not think that Judah would return from Babylon.
Again, we read in Ezekiel 36:5,
5 therefore thus says the Lord God, “Surely in the fire of My jealousy I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, who appropriated My land for themselves…”
At the time, Edomites were to submit to the yoke of Jacob and not attempt to take the law into their own hands. They should have waited until the divinely-appointed time to break his yoke from off their necks.
We read in Mal. 1:2-4,
2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord, “yet I have loved Jacob,” 3 but I have hated Esau…”
Here God states that Esau is a hated son, which meant that the law of the hated son applied to Esau himself. He could not be disinherited without lawful cause.
4 Though Edom says, “We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins;” thus says the Lord of hosts, “They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the Lord is indignant forever.”
Edom’s Zionistic ambitions are very clear here, and God recognizes their need for justice. Hence, Edom will indeed “return” to the land that they have coveted. This is what happened in 1948. Edom came through Jewry with whom they had been united in 126 B.C.
It now appears that they were given 76 years in which to prove themselves to be stubborn and rebellious sons who are unworthy of the birthright. Neither have they fit God’s definition of Israel, although they have appropriated that name for themselves as well.
The law of hostility in Lev. 26:40-42 forbids a tribe of Israel to return from exile without first repenting of his hostility to God. Judah could not return lawfully, but Edom could do so on account of Isaac’s prophecy.
Genesis 27:1 tells us,
1 Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, “My son.” And he said to him, “Here I am.”
Isaac’s blindness was prophetic, as we read in Isaiah 42:18, 19,
18 Hear, you deaf! And look, you blind, that you may see. 19 Who is blind but My servant, or so deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is so blind as he that is at peace with Me, or so blind as the servant of the Lord?
Again, we read in Isaiah 43:10,
10 “You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.”
It is an oddity that a witness in a court of law would be blind and deaf. Witnesses are called to testify of that which they have seen or heard. Yet God caused this to happen in order to show His sovereignty.
Abraham set forth the example of faith; Isaac set forth obedience; Jacob set forth the manner in which one comes into agreement with God, overcomes inner deceit, and achieves the testimony that God rules (that is, the meaning of “Israel”).
In this sequence, Isaac is the blind servant, our example of obedience when he allowed himself to be offered as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. Isaac was 37 years old at the time and had the ability to resist his father. Yet he submitted to his father’s will and became “a living and holy sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1), as a witness of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Yet it is this very blindness that allowed Jacob to deceive his father in this matter of the birthright. The judgment always fits the crime. It is “eye for eye” (Exodus 21:24). Therefore, just as Jacob took advantage of his father’s blindness to obtain the birthright unlawfully, so also has Esau taken advantage of the church’s blindness in order to take back the birthright.
Just as Jacob pretended to be Esau, so also has Esau pretended to be Jacob. This is the judgment of God and the reason for the blindness that “Isaac” (i.e., believers) has been experiencing.
If God’s servants and witnesses today had known the identity of Esau-Edom, they would not have agreed to give the birthright back to Esau. God blinded them so that His purposes would be fulfilled.
So we see to this day that the majority of genuine believers remain blind. They continue to support Esau’s claim to the birthright, because God intended for this to happen. Esau’s claim had to be real, and Jacob had to give up the birthright fully and wholeheartedly in order to give Esau the justice due to him.
When Isaiah prophesied about the nuclear destruction of Jerusalem in Isaiah 29:1-8, he immediately followed up by telling us in verses 9-12,
9 Be delayed and wait. Blind yourselves and be blind. They become drunk but not with wine, they stagger, but not with strong drink. 10 For the Lord has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep. He has shut your eyes, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, the seers. 11 The entire vision [in verses 1-8] will be to you like the words of a sealed book, which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying, “Please read this,” he will say, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” 12 Then the book will be given to the one who is illiterate, saying, “Please read this.” And he will say, “I cannot read.”
We see, then, how the destruction of Jerusalem has been sealed from the prophets and seers. Though Isaiah presents this clearly, the prophets and seers cannot see it. This is due to God’s own action. In the end, we cannot blame them. We can only pray that our own eyes will be opened, so that we can be “chosen” as overcomers. Rom. 11:7 says,
7 What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened [“blinded,” KJV].
It appears that to be “chosen” is to be one whom God has selected to be exempt from blindness. Obviously, no one knows everything, for “we know in part” (1 Cor. 13:9). Paul does not tell us specifically what areas of blindness this entails. We only know that Isaiah 29:9-12 applies it to the revelation of Jerusalem’s destruction.
If prophets and seers are blinded to this revelation, it appears that they are not “chosen,” even though they may be true believers. In other words, prophets and seers, even with their spiritual gifts, are not necessarily overcomers.
Those who are NOT blinded to this particular prophecy should be aware of this, so that they do not judge the seers and prophets for their blindness. Everyone will be held to account according to the level of their own authority, but in the end, God holds Himself accountable for His actions.
We are now reaching the end of Esau’s time. The day draws near when divine judgment will fall upon Edom for his bloodthirsty and carnal nature. I believe the Zionists were given 76 years from 1948-2024. I have written about this elsewhere, showing how the year 2024 is 70 Jubilees since Israel’s Jordan crossing under Joshua.
The UN’s Palestinian Resolution was passed on Nov. 29, 1947. That was 76 years ago this month. Be watchful.