There are no accidents with the living God. He began creation with a plan in mind. After a period of humiliation because of his pride, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, declared that God does all things according to His will in the armies of heaven (the angels) and among the inhabitants of the earth (humans). No one can prevent Him from accomplishing His will, and no one truly understands everything associated with His will (Dan. 4:34-35). This is especially true when attempting to line up what’s happening with Israel today. It appears that God has totally forsaken His chosen nation. Not so! Prophecy is all about God ultimately moving a remnant of the Jews toward repentance and faith in Him (Rom. 11). 
 
At issue in the Middle East and around the world is what is God doing now with Israel. Paul’s mysterious words to the Romans must continue to softly whisper truth in our hearts. God replays the story of Elijah’s conflict with the Canaanite god, Baal. Elijah and many Jews had experienced defeat at the hands of the leaders of prophets and prophetesses of Baal. Elijah cried out to God. “Lord, they killed your prophets and broke down your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” What is God’s response? Elijah, get up! “I have reserved for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Paul continued, “Even so, at this present time, there is a remnant, according to God’s election of grace” (Rom. 11:1-5). That, in my view, is the key to understanding prophecy! 
 
Speaking of Israel, Paul said, “I say then, have they [Jews] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them [the Jews] to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:11).
 
Fast forward to Romans 11:25. “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion.” Paul then gives insight into the mystery.  “That blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”
 
These words of Paul are simply fascinating and give us the future for Israel. “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion. And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]. For this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins. Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Rom. 11:26-28). It is because of Israel’s failure that God factored many Gentiles into the equation. 
 
God is using spiritual antagonists to move the Jews back to Him. According to the dictionary an antagonist is one who actively opposes or is hostile toward someone or something, an adversary. God’s antagonist came from both without and within Israel’s family line. Those without were the Canaanites who began at Babylon and were scattered throughout the world.  When Abram entered the promised land of Canaan, the Canaanites were already there (Gen. 12:6). God had placed these antagonists there for His purpose. He moved His people into Canaan, one of the darkest places on the planet, next door to some of the most corrupt people on earth. It was God’s plan for Israel (those who would be born from Abraham and Sarah) to learn from these antagonists to trust totally in Him. They were also to make a positive impact on the Canaanites for God’s glory. God knew that the Jews would be enticed into serious sin by the sensual lives of the Canaanites. 
 
God is never in the dark about anything. The Canaanites were heathen Baal worshippers, the earth god of fire and fertility. But God wanted the Jews to become spiritual lights, enticing the Canaanites to become Yahweh worshippers. A truth that must guide the spiritual GPS of every believer is that it remains God’s plan to use these antagonists to become a part of a serious tribulation period to ultimately save a remnant of the Jews in the end. The entire chapter of Romans eleven speaks to this. So, the Canaanites were Jewish antagonists from without. 
 
What about the Jewish antagonists from within. By the word “within,” I mean spiritual adversaries that would come from their own kin. The first one happened when God promised Abram that he would become the father of a great nation (Gen. 12:2). It is quite simple. In order to become a father of a great nation, Abram and Sarah had to have at least one son. But Abram was old and Sarah, his wife, was barren. This caused no end of stress for them. The pressure steadily rose. What were they to do? Sarah had obtained an Egyptian handmaid named Hagar. Because of Abram’s age and her bareness, Sarah devised a plan. She asked Abram to take Hagar for his wife and have a child by her. But God had promised Abram that he and Sarah would have a son conceived from seed from his own body through Sarah. Abram wrongly listened to his wife. He went into Hagar, and she became pregnant. She had a son that they named Ishmael. Ishmael has become the father of thousands upon thousands of Ishmaelites, very serious adversaries to the Jews throughout their history, even until today. This was the first adversary born from within the Jewish family. These Ishmaelite Arabs located mainly in Saudi Arabia border Israel today. And they still apply pressure on Israel.  
 
Next came Lot, Abram’s nephew, who had gone into the promised land with Uncle Abraham. The families of Abraham and Lot and their livestock became so large that they could no longer live together. God told them to separate. Abraham allowed Lot to choose first. Lot chose with his eyes. He saw that beautiful, lush valley of the green fields. And of course, he chose this land. This land became filled with Baal worshippers, sodomites. They became Lot’s neighbors and friends. The sins of the Baal worshippers became so bad that God determined to destroy this beautiful valley. 
 
But God allowed Lot and his two daughters to escape Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction and flee to the mountains to Zoar. There they hid in a cave. From them came the next adversaries from within the family. Lot’s two daughters feared that they would have no children. So, they sinned by getting their father drunk and becoming pregnant by him. The sons were named Moab and Ammon.  Moab and Ammon have taken up much of the modern state of Jordan and are adversaries to the Jews until this very day.   
 
The third adversary coming from within the family line is quite possibly the worst: the Edomites.  Jacob and Esau were twins born to Isaac and Rebecca. But the sons could not be more different. Jacob had a spiritual bent, but Esau loved the land and hunting game. God warns us about loving this world more than we love Him (1 Jn. 2:15). We know the story! Esau had come in from hunting one day and was hungry. Jacob was cooking a bowl of venison stew. It smelled delicious. Esau asked him for some. Jacob made Esau a deal. He said he would trade him his bowl of soup for his birthright.  
 
This was a tremendous indicator of where Esau’s heart was. Esau responded, “Look, I am about to die from hunger. What good is this birthright to me when I am famished?” (Gen. 25:32). When it came time for Isaac to pass down his spiritual blessing to his boys, Esau was in line being the oldest by a few seconds. Isaac had become old, and his eyesight was failing him. Rebecca and Jacob pulled one of the oldest scams on record. They fooled Isaac into giving the spiritual family blessing to the wrong one – to Jacob (Genesis 27). When it came time to pass the blessing, Isaac realized he had been deceived. He had blessed the wrong son, and it could not be changed. Isaac knew that God was in this even though it was deception. Esau and his future family, the Edomites, became some of the most aggressive antagonist to Jacob and Israel in their history.   
 
It is the goal of the Arab states to cut off the Jews from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more. 
 
“Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken  crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’ For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You: The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them;
They have helped the children of Lot” (Psalm 83:1-8). 
 
Here God names the Arab states [the instigator’s] that surround Israel today. Edom is located in southern Jordan. The Ishmaelites located in Saudi Arabia are direct descendants of Ishmael. Moab (illegitimate son of Lot) is located in central Jordan. The Hagrites refers to Egypt. Gebal is Lebanon. Ammon (illegitimate son of Lot) is located in northern Jordan. Amalek is located in the Sinai Peninsula. Philistia is on the Gaza Strip. Tyre is in Lebanon. Assyria includes Iraq and parts of Syria. 
 
This is the group of antagonists that God will use to continue to squeeze His people until the time of the tribulation that will lead to the second coming of Jesus Christ.