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Oreb, Zeeb, and tumbleweed

In the end, God will get the last word

Oreb, Zeeb, and tumbleweed

The decapitated heads of Oreb and Zeeb are brought to Gideon. (Ken Welsh/Newscom)

Remember good old Oreb and Zeeb? I try my best, every so often, to reintroduce them to WORLD’s readers. Otherwise, you might confuse them with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran or Kim Jong Un of North Korea.

Most likely, though, you didn’t have a clue whom I had in mind when I mentioned Oreb and Zeeb. I had to look them up myself in my Bible dictionary after seeing them mentioned in Psalm 83.

Oreb and Zeeb were the pompous princes of Midian who terrified the Israelites during the time of Gideon. In a sense, they were forerunners of all in high office who deliberately offend the programs of justice and righteousness ordained by Jehovah, the God of heaven and earth. Or maybe they were symbols of the mighty giants of politics, journalism, and education in 2017—men like Matt Lauer, Joe Barton, Al Franken, and Charlie Rose, who in recent days have tumbled ignominiously from their lofty perches of influence.

One by one, arrogant people try to take God’s place. One by one, they stub their toes and fall.

Oreb and Zeeb, you see, were sufficiently threatening to God’s people to merit mention as symbols of the enemy. But in the end, the psalmist reports, they were no more than tumbleweed.

Here’s the point. WORLD is not primarily a theological journal, so we never expect to devote appreciable space to issues like eschatology. If you don’t know by this time whether you’re a premillennialist or a postmillennialist, you won’t find much explicit help in the columns of WORLD. I still tend to identify with the late David Jones, a college roommate of mine who later became a seminary dean, who told me late one night that he had listened all day to “the pre-mils, the a-mils, and the post-mils—and I’m still mostly just an ig-mil.”

Ignorance of the precise details of the end times, however, is one thing. Ignorance of the broad scope of God’s eternal program is another. So let us assert again and again here in these pages what His main program is: Jehovah is going to triumph.

But a big question for many years, of course, has been this: Just when is that triumph going to occur? When is Jesus coming again? How much of His victory does He intend to secure before His second coming, and how much will He display only after His return?

Wherever you come down on those questions, be careful about one thing. Be sure that what you decide is determined primarily by the evidence you find in the Bible—not by the headlines you read in the paper, on TV, on the internet, or even in a magazine like WORLD. We don’t settle eschatological questions on the basis of the news, but on the Bible.

Here’s what the Bible says: Everybody who raises himself against God gets put down. Not just sometime in the future, but relatively soon.

Certainly there’s been a long succession of such people—so long it tends to make us think evil is prevailing. But viewed from a different perspective, the very succession of evildoers should be an encouragement to us. One by one, arrogant people try to take God’s place. One by one, they stub their toes and fall. After thousands and thousands of tries, not a single one has come close to winning.

Oreb and Zeeb are good examples. To the Israelites, they were the Ayatollah Khameneis or the Kim Jong Uns of their day. At the time, God’s people seemed so overwhelmed and impotent in the face of Midianite power and influence.

But who knows or is running scared of Oreb and Zeeb these days? They merit a place in Scripture only so they can be compared to tumbleweed. That’s always what happens to those who oppose God or say He doesn’t matter much. Who, or what pagan influence, frightens you most right now? Worry not. The same thing will happen to those people that happened to Oreb and Zeeb.

And it will happen not just at some distant time in the future, after Christ’s return—although it will certainly happen then with finality. The defeat of such people and influences is going on right now. You’ve probably noticed a few such collapses just in the last few days! The names and the movements that maybe struck terror in your heart when you were a child are already, for the most part, has-beens.

That’s one place where the teaching of Scripture and the news media tend to agree.


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  • RC
    Posted: Tue, 12/19/2017 01:33 pm

    Yes, there are good arguments made by good people for many conflicting views of eschatology. Having investigated many of them myself, I have been confused at which way to go.  A friend of mine is a pan-millennialist and I am totally on board with him.  Which basically means to quit worrying about it and trust God.  It will all “pan” out I the end.  So Matthew 24:36 says we cannot know when and verse 42 says to keep watch. Sounds like good guidance to me.  

  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Tue, 12/19/2017 01:58 pm

    We do not know how much time is left on the game-clock, but the scoreboard says, "God:  1,000,000,000,000--Satan:  0."  Thank you for reminding us of this in this season of good cheer, Mr. Belz.