Conflict between the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen and the United Arab Emirates escalated to war on the Arabian peninsula yesterday. If you’re not familiar with that area of the Middle East, take a look at this map:
Israel is the tiny maroon-colored country at the top of the map. South of Saudi Arabia is Yemen, the hotbed of Houthi activity. They are being supplied by Iran, to Saudi Arabia’s east. The orange-colored country just north of Oman is the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Yesterday, Iranian terrorist proxy, the Houthis, used suicide drones and missiles to successfully attack infrastructure in the UAE. Saudi Arabia, an ally of the UAE, joined forces to strike back, reportedly killing several high-ranking Houthi military leaders.
It is worth noting, like much of the activity in the Middle East, this conflict is very tribal. Iran and its proxies in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, etc are Shiite; while Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and others are Sunni. If left to their own conflicts, Shiites and Sunnis would utterly destroy one another.
So, what are we to make of this latest round of military conflict?
First, be reminded that the UAE was one of the nations to make peace with Israel via the Abraham Accords. Saudi Arabia, though they have not signed on to the Accords, have certainly been favorable toward Israel. For example, after many years of closed airspace, Saudi Arabia now allows Israeli military and commercial air traffic to fly over the Arabian peninsula.
As peace partners with Israel, we can be fairly certain Israel is aiding the UAE with intelligence, and are likely advising them on tactics and strategy. But consider the price the UAE is paying for signing a peace deal with Israel. The lack of strong leadership in America and Israel have left diplomatic and military weakness to the Accords, and thus, have left the Accord partners more vulnerable than expected.
Is there Biblical significance to what we see happening on the Arabian peninsula? I think so. Saudi Arabia is specifically named, by their ancient name of Sheba and Dedan, in Ezekiel 38:13, and is definitely a nation that will not attack Israel during the Northern Invasion. But, they won’t come to their defense either.
Some scholars believe Sheba and Dedan extend beyond Saudi Arabia to include the entire Arabian peninsula. Perhaps it is too early to say for sure whether or not that is the case. As it stands right now Yemen is firmly in the Iranian camp, so does not seem like a nation that will be content to dwell on the sidelines while Israel is attacked. If they remain under Iranian control, it is difficult to see Yemen other than an aggressor.
We often focus on Russia, Iran and Turkey to emphasize the immanency of the Northern Invasion described in Ezekiel 38-39. However, those chapters tell us so much more about the status of other people groups (including Israel) during that time. In this case, we see the Arabian peninsula as a chess board with the pieces moving toward fulfillment of prophecy. Who will checkmate? It remains to be seen!
I love living in these days. Not because its pleasant, and not because I like the petty politics going on worldwide. But because every movement toward fulfillment of prophecy puts us that much closer to the return of our Lord, who promises to redeem us from the wrath that is to come! (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
Jesus is coming to redeem those who call Him Lord and Savior. For those who do not, that wrath is coming quickly and will spare none. It is time to choose what your destination will be: eternal death in hell, meant only for Satan and his demons; or eternal life in heaven with the only One who paid the penalty for sin so that we can live now and forevermore in His grace and goodness.
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.~Deuteronomy 30:19