The Death of Arafat





In Zechariah 9:1-4 God foretells through His prophet of the future destruction of Syria and Lebanon at the close of the age as He addresses the two countries by their historical names of Damascus and Tyre.
In verses 5-7 God then addresses the people who will be occupying the area of the Gaza Strip at that time. The people now known as the Palestinians occupy this former land of the Philistines.
The focus of this study has to do with God's prophesied judgment upon these people and their king. With the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on Nov. 11, ‘04 this review of Zechariah's words takes on a special urgency as the day of their fulfillment appears at hand.
In verse 5 the prophet tells us of 4 things. First, that the ancient areas which are now identified with the Gaza Strip will look with fear upon the aforementioned defeat of Syria and Lebanon. Secondly, that the people of the Gaza Strip will be sorrowful as they see an expectation of theirs dried up by God. Thirdly, that the king over them would perish out of Gaza; and then last, that the portion of the Gaza Strip which contained the ancient boundaries of Ashkelon will become uninhabited.
In verse 6 we are told two things. First, that the ancient area of Ashdod will contain a people of mixed (or literally illegitimate) heritage. Then secondly, that God would cut off the pride of these Philistines.
In verse 7 God then clarifies what, or we should say who, this Philistine pride was put in, by personalizing it with the description of an abominable blood thirsty man.
Quoting Zech. 9:1-7 we read, "The burden of the word of the LORD Against the land of Hadrach, And Damascus its resting place (For the eyes of men And all the tribes of Israel Are on the LORD);
Also against Hamath, which borders on it, And against Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.
For Tyre built herself a tower, Heaped up silver like the dust, And gold like the mire of the streets.
Behold, the LORD will cast her out; He will destroy her power in the sea, And she will be devoured by fire.
Ashkelon shall see it and fear; Gaza also shall be very sorrowful; And Ekron, for He dried up her expectation. The king shall perish from Gaza, And Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.
A mixed race shall settle in Ashdod, And I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.
I will take away the blood from his mouth, And the abominations from between his teeth. But he who remains, even he shall be for our God, And shall be like a leader in Judah, And Ekron like a Jebusite."
I have long held Yasser Arafat as my primary candidate for the blood thirsty king ruling over the Palestinian Philistines at the anticipated time of the fulfillment of this prophecy. I expected that he would have to return to Gaza in order for him to accurately fulfill the role of the abominable king, but as was recently pointed out to me, the prophetic words of Zechariah that he would perish from Gaza, could also mean that he in fact would not return to Gaza.
This is something which we must look at with serious consideration in light of all else Yasser Arafat fulfilled in harmony with Scripture.
As I quote from the Nov. 13, ‘04 Los Angeles Times article titled, "Grieving Palestinians bury Yasser Arafat" keep in mind that this king of the Palestinians was, as prophesied, a historical man of blood and treachery. Also as prophesied, he was the pride of the Palestinians in whom they staked their expectation of acquiring a Palestinian State. Additionally, just as prophesied, he died like a dried up withering plant under the hand of God. Then as was pointed out for consideration, he never returned to Gaza, even though his first established headquarters was in Gaza, his private clan resides there, and his family cemetery is also located in Gaza.
Quoting from the Los Angeles Times we read, "In a final journey as turbulent as his life, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was buried hurriedly on the grounds of his battered headquarters here Friday after tens of thousands of Palestinian mourners surged through the thin ranks of police, overran the compound and mobbed the helicopter that carried his casket.
Amid a scene that at times resembled a rock concert out of control, it took pallbearers more than an hour to fight their way through a sea of mourners to reach the burial site that was completed shortly before the arrival of Arafat's body.
The sense of disorder was heightened by a steady crackling of automatic-weapons fire. Extended bursts came from security forces who sprayed bullets into the air to drive back the mob and from masked militants who ambled along the edges of the scene, firing as an expression of grief. The gunfire drew occasional cheers from the crowd.
Sirens wailed, and medics could be seen carrying away several injured people on stretchers.
The scene of pandemonium was not what Palestinian officials had in mind when they planned the burial, aware of the worlds gaze as they have sought to project the image of a mature leadership and an orderly political transition.
Even before the arrival of two Egyptian military helicopters carrying Arafat's body and Palestinian officials, the half-demolished compound and surrounding streets pulsed with emotion as Palestinians, mostly young men, arrived on foot to bid farewell to the man they consider the father of their national movement.
"We are all Arafat," declared one of the mourners, 19-year-old Ahmed Jadallah, who had set out from the West Bank town of Tulkarm shortly after dawn and passed through eight Israeli check points to reach Ramallah, about 30 miles away.
The chaotic tableau stood in sharp contrast to an earlier farewell ceremony staged in Cairo, Egypt, a stopover on Arafat's journey home from Paris, where he died early Thursday at a military hospital of an ailment that has still not been disclosed.
Sealed from ordinary onlookers, the Cairo gathering was for the most part a model of careful decorum.
De-facto Saudi ruler Crown Prince Abdullah, a sometime adversary of the Palestinian leader, marched in the front row of his funeral procession. Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose father briefly jailed Arafat, turned up unexpectedly for the commemoration."
Either Yasser Arafat has fulfilled the prophecy of the abominable Philistine king, which would mean in my opinion that the time for Syria and Lebanon's destruction is very near at hand, or else another bloodthirsty man awaits to take his final place as the king of the Palestinians. The currently positioned aspirants do not appear to at present have the personal traits described by Zechariah, but other notoriously vicious anti-Israeli would-be-rulers are making themselves known.
There are those who see Arafat's death as an opportunity to bring peace to the region by dividing up the land of Israel and establishing a Palestinian State. Scripture reveals to us that this partitioning will indeed someday take place, but in dramatic contrast to peace we are told in Joel 3:1-2 that among the reasons God lists for His gathering all the nations to the Valley of Jehoshaphat at Armageddon for judgment is this dividing up of His land of Israel.
Quoting we read, "For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land."
Quoting from a nov. 13, ‘04 Associated Press article which headlined, "Bush and Blair renew push for Palestinian state" we read, "As Yasser Arafat was buried, President Bush raised hopes Friday for peace in the Middle East and the creation of an independent Palestinian state within four years. He suggested decades of distrust and frustration could be altered by the change of Palestinian leadership.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, standing alongside Bush at a White House news conference, joined in pledging to mobilize global support for Palestinian elections and creating the conditions for a democratic state. "What we are saying is, we are going to work flat out to deliver this," Blair said.
"I'd like to see it done in four years," Bush said, referring to the length of his second term. "I think it is possible. I think it is possible." Bush originally set a goal of 2005 for a Palestinian state.
The leader of the Palestinians over four decades, Arafat was regarded by the United States as the primary obstacle to peace with Israel. Bush refused to meet with him. Arafat's death opens what many leaders believe is a crucial opportunity to break through anger and suspicion in the Middle East and lay the groundwork for Israel and a Palestinian state to live side-by-side without bloodshed.
Hopes for any breakthrough, however, are tempered by a history of failure after moments of promise.
Bush said the outcome will be decided by Palestinians. He passed up an opportunity to pressure Israel to revive negotiations or freeze the growth of settlements."
So what are the prospects of peace on the horizon? Not so good actually. First and foremost is that among the numerous groups vying for power in the void left by Arafat, are entities committed entirely to the destruction of Israel. Peace is out of the question to them and to even allow Israel to continue to exist at all is an affront to their Islamic beliefs grounded in their holy book the Koran.
Despite unverified reports that Arafat died from cirrhosis of the liver and a Rocky Mountain News mention on Nov. 12, ‘04 that Arafat may have died of AIDS, a rumor with explosive potential to induce violence against Israel has had repeated exposure in the world press, that is that Yasser Arafat had been poisoned.
Also troubling is that Arafat was buried within a vault of Jerusalem stone in Ramallah, the reason given is that the Palestinian people will not rest until his remains can be re-buried in Jerusalem, something which Israel says it will never allow.
As we look ahead to the fast approaching new year it causes one to wonder what prophetic fulfillments might be brought forth in 2005. I have held to and still maintain that the major Middle East war described in Psalm 83 will take place before the Anti-Christ from out of the prophesied Roman European Union confirms Daniel's seven year covenant with Israel and its neighbors (Dan 9:27).
Of this war we are told in Zephaniah 2:4-7 that the people of this area now known as the Gaza Strip will face overwhelming devastation. We are then also told that this seacoast region once known as Canaan will be restored to the house of Judah.
We quote, "For Gaza shall be forsaken, And Ashkelon desolate: They shall drive out Ashdod at noonday, And Ekron shall be uprooted.
Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, The nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines: "I will destroy you; So there shall be no inhabitant."
The seacoast shall be pastures, With shelters for shepherds and folds for flocks.
The coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; They shall feed their flocks there; In the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening. For the LORD their God will intervene for them, And return their captives."
As we shall see, verses 1-3 of Zephaniah Ch. 2 is of profound interest for the close of this age. In this passage God addresses these people who have gathered together in the Gaza Strip and refers to them as an undesirable nation. He then pleads with them to seek the Lord before the day of His anger comes upon them. He then offers a unique hope for them by suggesting it is possible that they may be hidden in the day of God's wrath.
To seek and find the Lord in this present dispensation would mean that a person would be trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and would therefore be a member of the Church. The same Church which is promised in I Thessalonians 1:10, 4:15-18 & Revelation 3:10 to be delivered from God's approaching wrath and hidden away with the Lord when the hour of trial comes upon the whole world.
Quoting verses 1-3 of Zephaniah Ch. 2 we read, "Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation,
Before the decree is issued, Before the day passes like chaff, Before the LORD'S fierce anger comes upon you, Before the day of the LORD's anger comes upon you!
Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the LORD'S anger."
Sometime between now and the moment the Anti-Christ confirms a 7 year covenant with Israel, every person whether living or dead who put their faith in Jesus Christ to forgive them of their sins will forever be removed from earth's sorrows as they join their Savior in the heavens.
Quoting I Thessalonians 1:10, 4:15-18 & Revelation 3:10 in conclusion we read, "And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come...For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore comfort one another with these words..."Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."

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