1973 Yom Kippur War — The Real Reason :: By Don McGee

On Saturday, 6 October 1973 at 2:00PM local time the Yom Kippur War began. Egypt launched a surprise attack against Israeli positions in the Sinai while northeast of the Sea of Galilee Syria began its assault against Israel in the Golan Heights. That time zone is 8 hours ahead of the U.S. Central Time Zone so it was on that Saturday morning that the news broke that there was yet another Mid-East war with Israel once again fighting for her survival. But this was about more than just guns and bullets; it was essentially spiritual warfare.

King Hussein of Jordan had learned a stinging lesson back in 1967 and decided he would essentially stay out of this fight, though Arab unity required him to send at least token assistance to the effort. In fact, just a couple weeks earlier he reportedly met with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and informed her that Egypt and Syria were poised for an attack.

The belligerent’s reason for the war was the Arab defeat in the previous three wars they had fought with Israel, but primarily it was an effort by Egypt to win back the honor which it resoundingly lost in the 1967 Six Day War But, in the end they failed miserably and were once again humiliated on the battlefield, though Egypt tried to make it a victory by emphasizing that they had Israel on the ropes at the start. They embarrassingly ignore the fact that at the end the Israelis had crossed the Suez Canal, had completely cutoff and surrounded the Egyptian Third Army whose annihilation was imminent and were poised to take Cairo, while in the north the IDF had beaten back Syria and was within easy artillery range of Damascus.

In the Arab mind it was the perfect day for the attack to begin. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Added to this was the fact that Muslims were celebrating their holy month of Ramadan, and absolutely nothing could have been sweeter to them than beginning the annihilation of Israel on Yom Kippur and combining it with Ramadan. And for the first couple of days it looked like Egypt and Syria were going to do just that.

Even most secular Jews observe Yom Kippur by fasting, being off from work, etc. And that inclusiveness means that even the Israel Defense Forces were at something less than their usual hyper-vigilant state of readiness. IDF active duty troops were taking things easy that day, and reserve forces were at their civilian jobs. To the Arabs, Israel was a ripe fig ready for the picking, and they planned to savor every moment of it.  At left are IDF troops captured by Syria at the start of hostilities.

Israel’s prime minister at that time was Golda Meir. She was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1898 and came to the U.S. as a child where she was educated and later became a teacher. She married and she and her husband went to Israel in 1921 where they lived on a kibbutz. Though she had a superficial cultural connection with Judaism and the Old Testament, politically she was a socialist and religiously she was an atheist.

In early October of 1973 Meir had been informed that an Egyptian/Syrian attack seemed imminent. One of her top advisors, General Moshe Dayan–himself an atheist–did not believe the reports. Others of her key advisors counseled her to not order a preemptive strike as Israel did in the 1967 Six Day War for fear that such a move would not make it easy for Israel’s ally, the U.S., to support the war. That was a correct assumption, for then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, also a Jew, stated later that if Israel had made a first-strike against the belligerents the Jewish State would not have gotten so much as a nail.

In the first week of October some in the military were advising that extra troops should be sent to the border with Egypt, but that did not happen. It wasn’t until 5:00AM on October 6th that Chief of Staff General David Elazar recommended a full and immediate mobilization of forces along with a preemptive strike. He was overruled. A few hours later Prime Minister Meir authorized a partial activation of reserve troops, but she still refused to allow a preemptive strike. Thus when the assault began Israel was caught unprepared.

In the years and months preceding the war Egypt regularly issued threats, massed troops on the border and made various kinds of aggressive gestures toward Israel. But nothing of any consequence ever happened in any of those things. You see, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was simply making Israel’s leadership believe that he was all about brinkmanship, but that he was not really wanting to go to war. He was essentially crying wolf, and it worked.

As a result of U.S. assistance finally going to Israel in their war effort the Arabs hit the U.S. with an oil embargo which caused spiking gas prices and long lines at gas stations. Many of the gas pumps in those days were the old hand-reset analog type and were limited in what could be set as the price-per-gallon because anything over about $.60/gallon was thought to be highly improbable. When the price got to $1.24/gallon many pumps were re-set to read $.62/gallon with a piece of white tape placed over the price/gallon that read, “price per half gallon”. It didn’t take long for the usual anti-Israel sentiment of those days to morph into outright hatred for Jews in general and the State of Israel in particular.

It would seem to most casual observers that after the Israeli victory in the 1967 Six Day War that the Arab nations surrounding Israel would come to a point of reconciliation regarding Israel’s existence – the “live and let live” idea. But, Satan saw to it that such reconciliation did not happen. So the conflict raged on, sometimes running hotter than at other times. But at no time was the Arab’s seething hatred toward the Jewish State very far below the surface, and every opportunity to bring disrepute upon and to cause political damage to Israel was exploited to its fullest. This was not a difficult thing to foster since most nations in the U.N. were at best cold toward Israel, and in many instances openly hostile.

Yes, the United States was an Israeli ally in 1973, and to some degree is still an ally even today. But, there were powerful voices inside the vast government bureaucracy back then, as there are today, who would rather see the Jewish State just go away. They believe the world would be much more stable, that the west would benefit from a Israel-free world and that these things would surely usher in an unprecedented measure of world peace. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. The U.S. and western civilization will be hated by the Muslim world without regard to the existence of Israel, and should the west ever become Islamic that same Muslim world will continue its slaughter of each other as it has done for centuries.

For years after the Yom Kippur War the U.S. based much of its combined-arms strategy and tactics on the lessons learned therein, having in mind a possible conventional fight with the Soviet Warsaw Pact in Europe. That much most everyone knows. But in reality this war was about much more than mere tank, artillery and infantry battles. Everything about that war was rooted in religion, from the pre-war rhetoric to its purpose and even to its timing.

Satan cares nothing about global labels, buzz-words and talking points regarding refugees, land, absurd Islamic claims or anything else associated with what has happened in the Middle East in the last 100 years. The only thing he cares about is keeping Jesus the Messiah from fulfilling His promises to the Jewish people about their Jewish State thus preventing His return to this earth in order to rule over it. His number one priority in reaching that goal is the annihilation of the Jewish State. And it almost happened in 1973.

Though we certainly cannot be dogmatic about such things, it is possible that the 1973 war will go down as the last major Middle East war prior to the fulfillment of the Psalm 83 war. If this is correct even the most skeptical observer should see clearly that the final conflict of the ages–which is to be fought in Israel–is not going to be for political reasons but for spiritual reasons. If this one fact were believed by those in Washington the entire policy for dealing with Israel and her sworn enemies would be vastly different. And the bottom line for the U.S. would be that we would come in line for God’s blessing instead of His curse. This, however, is not even understood by the overwhelming majority of Christians much less career politicians, no matter their political party. Thus the world’s march toward Armageddon will continue unabated.

Global political thinking categorizes motives for conflict in terms of land, natural resources, vengeance and other kinds of primitive, base logic. And that is no doubt true in most cases of war. But when war involves Israel all that goes out the window. You see, God never promised Ireland to the Irish or America to the Americans, but He has made an unconditional promise to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac that the land of Israel will forever belong to the Jews. And that includes much more area than what the Twelve Tribes conquered under Joshua; it includes the land from Egypt to the Euphrates River in modern Iraq (Genesis 15). And it is that promise that Satan must defeat if he is to have this earth.

Every war Israel has ever fought has been deeply rooted in the spiritual realm, and that applies to the Yom Kippur War. At the two-day mark no one in their right mind would have given two-cents for Israel. It appeared obvious that they would be overrun, and in less than a week Israel would be wiped out after having a modern existence of just 25 years. But God had other plans. Regarding how He sees the puny efforts of those who wish to foil His plan, “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.” (Psalm 2:4)

All this is true, but equally true is the fact that a time is soon to come when the vaunted IDF will be powerless to prevent the destruction of the Jewish State and the annihilation of the Jewish people. This will happen as the seven-year tribulation draws to a close and the Jews are at their end. By this time 66% of them will have died and the surviving remnant will be set for destruction. When they are without hope of any kind Jesus will return from heaven, and He will destroy all who came against Jerusalem with a word from His mouth. The remnant of Jews will at that time finally accept as their Messiah the One they asked to be crucified 2000 years ago. At the same time He will rescue that remnant and establish His millennial reign on this earth.

Israel’s wars have all been fought for physical survival, but they have all been spiritual at their core and that is exactly why she was victorious in the face of impossible odds in 1973. If Israel had been a Gentile nation it would have all been over in a few short days. But Israel is not a Gentile nation. It is under the protective hand of God though the overwhelming majority of her citizens refuse to accept this fact. But their acceptance of it has absolutely nothing to do with God’s unconditional promise to Abraham and his descendants. One day soon they will see this truth, but it is going to take unthinkable horrors to bring them to that point. DLM