Bill Sallus, in an article entitled Ezekiel 35, the Arab-Israeli War Before Ezekiel 38 states that he believes the war described in Ezekiel 35 will occur before the war of Ezekiel 38. In short, he makes the claim that this war appears to be the same as the Psalm 83 war.
Unfortunately, because he is using newer bible versions, the reading of Ezekiel 35:5 has changed significantly. The AV rendering is as follows:
5 Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end:
The relevant phrase is “in the time that their iniquity had an end“, which is very different from the ASV he had quoted which says “in the time of the iniquity of the end;” This slight change can subtract years from the interpretation of the text. Note that Bill also quoted the NKJV which reads the same as the AV in this verse.
The AV and NKJV rendering actually times this war during the latter half of the Tribulation period and not in the early part, nor before it. Israel’s iniquity has not yet come to an end, and will not, until they receive Jesus as their Savior, during the latter half of the Tribulation period, when they flee the Antichrist. Note that “in the time of their calamity” is also a reference to the latter half of the Tribulation period, “the time of Jacob’s trouble“.
I think it is dangerous to be searching through new versions of the bible, trying to find renderings that fit more along the lines of our preconceived ideas. It is better to stick with a literal version, like the AV, and allow the Word of God to mold our understanding. I can’t say the AV is perfect, but I can say it is without significant error, which is something I can’t say about any modern version.
How do I know that the older version is correct? Verse 14 tells us:
14 Thus saith the Lord GOD; When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate.
The whole earth will not rejoice until the millennial reign of Christ. Thus confirming the timing at the later part of the Tribulation, and Armageddon itself. The desolation of Edom takes place at the return of Christ, and goes on throughout the millennial reign.
Furthermore, the bible predicts that Edom, and all of the descendants of Moab and Ammon, will participate in Armageddon, so its demise must be during and not before that event. Jeremiah 25:15-33 is a passage that describes the nations of the earth coming against Israel, and Edom is in the middle of them.
15 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. 16 And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them. 17 Then took I the cup at the LORD’S hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me: 18 To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day; 19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people; 20 And all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod, 21 Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon, 22 And all the kings of Tyrus, and all the kings of Zidon, and the kings of the isles which are beyond the sea, 23 Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that are in the utmost corners, 24 And all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mingled people that dwell in the desert, 25 And all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes, 26 And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them. 27 Therefore thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Drink ye, and be drunken, and spue, and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you. 28 And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ye shall certainly drink. 29 For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of hosts. 30 Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. 31 A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD. 32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. 33 And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground. Jeremiah 25:15-33
The world has never seen a war in which all the nations of the earth participate. Notice also that at this battle God is bringing Judgment against Jerusalem as well as “ all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth“. This must be Armageddon, for the final battle at the end of the Millennium will not include Edom, for these passages and many others describe the fact that Edom will no longer exist at that time. See Obadiah 1:18.
Zechariah 13:8 tells us that 2/3 of Israel will die during Armageddon. This is a judgment of the Lord. The 1/3 that is left will turn en-mass to Jesus, and be delivered, but don’t ever let anyone tell you that the Tribulation will be a safe time for Israel. It is God’s judgment against her, and the whole world, and it is precisely this judgment that will result in the largest harvest of souls the world has ever seen. It is not referred to as “The Time of Jacobs Trouble”, for nothing!
Good times, and prosperity, do not bring us to God, but bad times and judgment do! For this reason we know that the prosperity “gospel” being taught by people like T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, & etc, cannot come from the God of the bible.
At the final battle, at the end of the millennium, God does not bring the nations against Jerusalem, it is Satan by himself. (Isaiah 54:14-15) The final battle is not God’s judgment against Jerusalem, therefore this battle, of Jeremiah 25, can only be Armageddon, and Edom is in the thick of it. Therefore we know that Edom’s demise is the result of this battle, and not prior to it.
I would therefore time Ezekiel 35 during the latter half of the Tribulation, during Armageddon. Ezekiel 38-39 will occur at the end of the Church-age, shortly before the beginning of the Tribulation itself. An in-context reading of Scripture must conclude that the Ezekiel 35 war actually comes after 38 in chronological order.
I do agree with Mr. Sallus, that the Psalm 83 war will occur before the Gog/Magog war, but I believe that they both will occur during the waning years of the Church Age, and not during the Tribulation.
The Psalm 83 war is imminent, I believe, and the evidence is that both it, and the Gog/Magog conflict, are Church Age events that will actually set-up the world for the Tribulation, and Armageddon.
This subject is covered in much more depth in The Spirit of Prophecy, along with many more End Times related subjects.