By Ephraim and Rimona Frank
If we are going to understand the present Israeli – Arab conflict, we have to examine its roots. The drama of our day, which many consider to be the “last days”, is the Genesis conflict between Jacob and his brother Esau. We, along with many others, are viewing the 10 nations of Psalm 83 as the protagonists that constitute the Islamic “uma” (the “nation Islam”), and the “Israel” mentioned there, as the present Jewish nation-state. However, there is one more representative of Israel who although not recognized, has a very important role to play in this configuration. This entity is mentioned by most prophets but for some strange reason, it remains hidden in the shadow of prophetic history.
The prophet Obadiah is not the only one who resurrects the above-mentioned ‘mystery man’. The sole chapter of the ‘book’ of Obadiah is all about Edom/Esau, describing the very nature of his latter-day conduct and how he has dealt (or will deal) with his brother’s time of corrective judgment, called “Jacob’s trouble” – tsarah – distress, calamity. “Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s distress, but he will be saved from it” (Jeremiah 30:7). There are many previous examples of Jacob being saved out of his troubles throughout history as his Elohim extended compassion and forgiveness to Jacob/Israel after severe judgments (tribulation or distress). No doubt we are facing this reality today. Amazingly, Esau seems to appear each time in the context of Jacob’s troubles. But in the case of Obadiah, it says that YHVH would judge Esau and his land by fire. Where does this fire originate? None other than from “… the house of Jacob [that] will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau will be as stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them so that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau, for YHVH has spoken” (Obadiah 1:18).
It seems that the Almighty One, who has hidden this mighty mystery person, will resurrect him as a corporate entity (house) when the right time comes. But when will that be? Obadiah states that when YHVH causes the House of Jacob to “possess their possessions” (ver.17), He will set that house on fire as mentioned above. But lo and behold a flame, out of that fire, also appears… it originates from none other than the House of Joseph! Many today in Christendom, Judaism, and Messianism do not recognize this house, but maintain that he is included in the House of Judah. This mistake snuffs out the flame that is so needed, especially in this latter-day war with Esau and the other nations that have joined with him to wipe out Israel as a nation (see Psalm 83).
Why is it that many believe that the present-day enemies of Israel are those ancient foes of Jacob, but fail to recognize Joseph (in his gentile garments) as still a viable Israelite entity? The spirit of anti-Semitism not only tries to snuff out the fire of Jacob (the Jews) but also the flame of Joseph. Removing the House of Joseph or the stick of Joseph’s prophetic history, as though it does not exist in the Word of Elohim, results in severe consequences, especially in the body of Messiah, which is supposed to be the united House of Israel. Not recognizing Joseph and the role that he plays causes the body to limp along on one leg, or worse… during the time to fight the end-time battle with Esau and the kingdoms of this Greek world, the bow of Judah would thus remain arrow-less, contrary to the prophetic prediction: “For I will bend Judah as My bow, I will fill the bow with Ephraim. And I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece; and I will make you like a warrior’s sword. Then YHVH will appear over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning, and Adonai YHVH will blow the trumpet, and will march in the storm winds of the south” (Zechariah 9:13-14 emphasis added).
What is interesting about the above-mentioned “Jacob’s Troubles”, is the context in which it is set. “For, behold, days are coming,’ declares YHVH, ‘when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah.’ YHVH says, ‘I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it'” (Jeremiah 30:3 emphases added). Is there a link between the Two Houses of Israel (Judah and Joseph/Israel) returning to their possession and the troubles that they will face when this union between the Land and these two families takes place? “Now these are the words which YHVH spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah, for thus says YHVH, ‘I have heard a sound of terror, of dread, and there is no peace. Ask now, and see, If a male can give birth. Why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, there is none like it, and it is the time of Jacob’s distress/trouble, but he will be saved from it” (Jeremiah 30:4-7 emphasis added).
Contrary to the common belief that Jacob’s trouble or distress applies to the Jewish nation only, the above scripture makes it quite clear that the union of Israel’s Two Houses is followed by a tribulation period. Zechariah 9:6-11 elaborates even more on this time- period. “I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them. They shall be as though I had not cast them aside; For I am YHVH their Elohim, and I will hear them. Those of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as if with wine. Yes, their children shall see it and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in YHVH. I will whistle for them and gather them, for I will redeem them; and they shall increase as they once increased. I will sow them among the peoples, and they shall remember Me in far countries; They shall live, together with their children, and they shall return…” But in spite of the joy that this restoration will generate, notice what comes next: “He shall pass through the sea of trouble, and strike the waves of the sea: All the depths of the River shall dry up” (emphasis added. This passage echoes the exodus from Egypt).
This season is followed, of course, by the two being engaged in military campaigns, such as we saw above, where they are described as fire, as a bow, an arrow, and a sword. Isaiah 11:11-16 delineates more aspects of their military feats and their results. Jeremiah 51:19-24 expounds further on Israel’s might, as a powerful hammer in YHVH’s hand. Thus, not only does YHVH take the two sticks (of Ezekiel 37) and makes them One in His hand, but He will also use that Oneness as His instrument of war.
Ancient Israel was beset by certain enemies who were determined (unsuccessfully) to annihilate her. It is the same Israel now who is facing the identical foes as she did then. The spiritual parallels (of the kingdoms of the Prince of Persia and the Prince of Greece) are manifesting themselves through the same people groups that were already identified eons ago in the Word of YHVH.