With more than 50 percent of Lebanese today living in poverty, Israel’s neighbor to the north is going through a crisis many are describing as worse than the civil war that killed over 125,000 people. But this crisis, in a country that from Biblical times until recently, is unfolding in a manner that precisely conforms to Biblical prophecy.
Lebanon: From riches to rags
Once considered a world center for trade, nicknamed the Paris on the Mediterranean, Lebanon is currently suffering its worse economic crisis in 30 years, even worse than it experienced during its 15-year civil war that ended in 1990. The Lebanese lira has plummeted to record lows, losing 90% of its value in two years. The banks have lent up to70% of their assets and many are facing insolvency and bankruptcy. The fourth most indebted country in the world, Lebanon defaulted on its international debt last March for the first time in its history.
But this economic crisis is hitting the average person the hardest. Lebanon imports about 80 % of the goods it consumes so the abysmal exchange rate means that basic goods cost five times what they did two years ago. Inflation last year stood at 84% and is expected to reach 77% this year. Food inflation reached over 400%. With 40% unemployment, many Lebanese find themselves today unable to afford basic necessities.
This is a country that just half a century ago was dubbed Paris on the Mediterranean. With offshore oil and natural gas deposits, Lebanon should be wealthy. Its vibrant pharmaceutical industry is suffering. There are 12 gold-processing plants in Lebanon and some of the goldsmith’s shops have been operating for 120 years and while the average citizen is struggling to buy bread, the merchants in Beirut are buying up gold, silver, and precious gems smuggled in from neighboring war-torn Syria.
Zechariah: Gold like mud in the streets; Consumed by fire
This contradictory dichotomy of potential wealth coupled with pressing poverty was predicted by the Prophet Zechariah.
Tyre has built herself a fortress; She has amassed silver like dust, And gold like the mud in the streets. But my Lord will impoverish her; He will defeat her forces at sea, And she herself shall be consumed by fire. Zechariah 9:3-4
The prophesied fire manifested in August 2020 when explosive material, stored at the Beirut port by Hamas, destroyed half of the city, causing at least 215 deaths, 7,500 injuries, and $15 billion in property damage, and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless.
Lebanon and the Temple
The solution to Lebanon’s woes may be in its historic, current, and prophetic connection to Jerusalem. In fact, Lebanon was essential to the construction of Solomon’s Temple. When David’s son, Solomon, began to build the first Jewish Temple In Jerusalem, he immediately turned to the government of Lebanon to play an essential role in its construction.
Shlomo sent this message to King Huram of Tyre, “In view of what you did for my father David in sending him cedars to build a palace for his residence— see, I intend to build a House for the name of Hashem my God; I will dedicate it to Him for making incense offering of sweet spices in His honor, for the regular rows of bread, and for the morning and evening burnt offerings on Shabbatot, new moons, and festivals, as is Yisrael‘s eternal duty. II Chronicles 2:2-3
The cedars, the national symbol of Lebanon to this day, were also used as a major element in the construction of the Second Temple.
They paid the hewers and craftsmen with money, and the Sidonians and Tyrians with food, drink, and oil to bring cedarwood from Lebanon by sea to Yaffo, in accord with the authorization granted them by King Cyrus of Persia. Ezra 3:7
Mutually beneficial trade between Lebanon and Israel could only benefit the country. The major obstacle is, of course, Hezbollah’s influence in the government bolstered by its hundreds of thousands of rockets ready to fire at Israel. The benefits of trade would include allowing Lebanon to start exploiting its offshore gas and oil reserves.
This connection to Jerusalem is related to by prophecy, linking Lebanon to a powerful form of repentance necessary to bring the Messianic era and the Third Temple. This is hinted at in Deuteronomy.
The Yalkut Shimoni, a compilation of rabbinic commentary on the Bible believed to have been composed in the 13th century, noted that in this verse, ‘mountain’ refers to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem since King David referred to it as such in Psalms.
Who may ascend the mountain of Hashem? Who may stand in His holy place? Psalms 24:3
The Yalkut Shimon then notes that the Temple is referred to as Lebanon by the prophets.
The reason for referring to the Temple as ‘Lebanon’ is that it “whitens the sins of Israel like snow” as described by Isaiah.
“Come, let us reach an understanding, —says Hashem. Be your sins like crimson, They can turn snow-white; Be they red as dyed wool, They can become like fleece.”Isaiah 1:18