In the first part of this fascinating look into the resurgence of Israel’s military in Bible prophecy, we looked at how God miraculously defended Israel during Israel’s War of Independence. Now we will explore God’s tremendous victories during the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War.
The Six Day War (June 1967)
Following years of tit-for-tat skirmishes, in the early 1960s Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser sought to align the Arab world under his leadership. His declared goal was to eradicate the Jewish state of Israel.
In 1965 Nasser asserted, “We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand; we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood.” A few months later, Nasser declared that he had two aims. “The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel.”
In May 1967, Nasser massed Egyptian troops on Israel’s southern border. He then ordered UN troops positioned in the buffer zone between Israel and Egypt to leave. When the UN readily complied, Nasser announced:
“As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.”
The Syrian Defense Minister, Hafez Assad, affirmed Syria’s enthusiasm “to enter into a battle of annihilation.”
On May 22, Egypt blockaded the Straits of Tiran to all Israel shipping — an overt act of war under international law. King Hussein of Jordan then signed a defense pact with Egypt on May 30, and President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq joined the bellicose rhetoric by declaring, “Our goal is clear — to wipe Israel off the map.”
A combined Arab army of 465,000 troops, 2,800 tanks, and 800 aircraft was poised to annihilate Israel.
The Israeli leaders decided it would be suicidal to wait for the attack, and so, on June 6th, the entire Israeli Air Force (except a mere 12 planes assigned to defend Israel’s air space) launched a devastating attack on the Egyptian air force. By the end of the morning, they had virtually destroyed the Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian air forces. Unchallenged air superiority led to another miraculous Israeli victory after just six days of fighting.
Even as the Arab armies were being decimated, Jordan’s King Hussein felt compelled to join the fighting. In response, Israel drove the Jordanian army across the Jordan River and recaptured the Old City of Jerusalem and the sacred Temple Mount.
Israeli paratroopers rushed to the Western Wall — where no Jew had been allowed access for 18 years. Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the chief rabbi of the IDF (and later the chief rabbi of Israel) rushed to the wall, blew the shofar, and announced: “We have taken the City of God. We are entering the Messianic era for the Jewish people.” He understood from prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures that when the Jews are back in the land and back in their capital city, the Messiah will come.
The Yom Kippur War (October 1973)
Excessive Israeli confidence in their invincibility led to a dire situation just six years later. On October 6 (Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism), Egypt and Syria launched an all-out surprise attack against Israel.
Crossing the Suez Canal, the Egyptians quickly overran the Israeli outposts and drove deep into the Sinai. Simultaneously, Syria attacked the Golan Heights. Anwar Sadat, the President of Egypt, had fulfilled his promise to avenge the Arab humiliation suffered in 1967.
Just a few hours before the attack began, IDF Chief of Staff David Elazar recommended a preemptive air strike and immediate mobilization of the reserves. But Prime Minister Golda Meir overruled a first strike. She had been warned by Henry Kissinger that the United States would not support Israel if it struck first again.
Once again, as in all its previous wars, Israel faced overwhelming odds. On the Golan Heights, 180 Israeli tanks faced an onslaught of 1,400 Syrian tanks. Along the Suez Canal, fewer than 500 Israeli defenders with only 3 tanks were attacked by 600,000 Egyptian soldiers, backed by 2,000 tanks and 550 aircraft. Nine non-combatant Arab states provided aid and financial support to the Egyptian-Syrian war effort, while the Soviet Union provided military equipment and intelligence.
At great cost, Israel prevailed once again. Buoyed by massive military aid from America and brilliant military commanders, Israel turned back the initial Arab advances and recaptured the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. For example, under General Ariel Sharon, Israel won the greatest tank battle in history.
By October 15, the Egyptian tank force had been destroyed, and Sharon had crossed the Suez Canal. He quickly surrounded the Egyptian Third Army, immobilized it, and started marching toward Cairo.
Meanwhile, in the north, the Israeli forces had cleared the Golan Heights, recaptured Mount Hermon, and began driving toward Damascus.
By October 15th, Israeli forces were 25 miles from Damascus and 63 miles from Cairo when the Soviets demanded the UN to call for a cease-fire. Once again, Israel had prevailed when there seemed to be no hope.
Other Major Conflicts
Since 1967, Israel has contended with Palestinian and Islamic terrorism. Palestinian terrorists demonstrated their hatred at the 1972 Olympics in Berlin when 11 Israelis were brutally murdered. Palestinian hijacking, kidnapping, and bombing have continued to this day.
In 1976, while America was preparing to celebrate its Bicentennial, four terrorists hijacked an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris and diverted it to Benghazi, Libya, and then Entebbe, Uganda. Israel attempted to free 106 hostages and crew through negotiation, but eventually was forced to resort to a daring rescue mission. Under the command of Lt. Col. Jonathan (Yoni) Netanyahu (brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), a commando force flew to Uganda on a C-130 Hercules aircraft. They landed at Entebbe airport, surprised the Ugandan guards, and quickly established control. During the raid, all seven hijackers were killed. Sadly, four hostages were killed — three from crossfire and one at the order of an enraged Idi Amin (an elderly woman had been taken to a local hospital prior to the raid).
Five Israeli commandos were wounded, and tragically Yoni Netanyahu was killed. But Israel had demonstrated its resolve and military prowess once again.
That resolve has been tested repeatedly. Intifadas (“uprising” in Arabic) incited by Yassar Arafat have been followed by attacks from Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Large and small skirmishes have pitted Israel against a nebulous and unscrupulous foe. But time and time again, although bloodied and grief-stricken, Israel has prevailed.
These and other Israeli conflicts of the past 75 years prove, beyond a doubt, that God has His hand on Israel, protecting the Jewish people from assault after assault, and enabling them to achieve miraculous victories — all in fulfillment of Bible prophecies about Israel in the end times.
Nor can there be any doubt that God’s supernatural protection will continue.
Right now, Israel is embroiled in yet another fight for its existence against radicalized Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. It could well prove to be the worst of all the wars Israel has experienced, especially if it blossoms into a regional conflagration. But Scripture tells us that Israel will overcome all these challenges to its existence — because God promised that once He replanted them on their land, “they will not again be uprooted from their land” (Amos 9:15).
If this war turns out to be a fulfillment of the prophesied war of Psalm 83, then Israel will once again be overwhelmingly victorious, defeating all the Arab nations with whom it shares a common border. This will pave the way for the subsequent war of Gog and Magog, described in Ezekiel 38 and 39, when Russia, accompanied by certain Muslim nations, will come down against Israel and suffer supernatural destruction at the hands of the Lord.
Israel has some very difficult days ahead, but God has made some wonderful promises to them that they can rely on. In Psalm 121:4 He says, “Behold, He who keeps Israel will not slumber and will not sleep.” In Isaiah He promised Israel, “No weapon that is formed against you will succeed” (54:17).
America needs to pay attention to these promises of God. Only by standing with and blessing Israel can we hope to be blessed.
In the end, we know that all the nations of the world will come against Israel. But God will preserve them — so that a great remnant can come to salvation. Let’s pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and the eternal salvation of the Jewish people!