I wanted to share a little info compiled by author Joel Rosenberg concerning a few chapters from the book of Ezekiel. This has caused me to wonder since Iraq is in such a mess; if that's why it is not listed as a country which attacks Israel. Revelation 18 goes on to say: 2With a mighty voice he shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit,a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. 3For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."
If Iraq becomes a land of such rich excesses, could it be 1 of the only major oil producers left? (This is food for thought on my part.)
In a moment, I will walk you through the prophecies step-by-step. But first, let me note that the predictions found in Ezekiel chapters 36 & 37 have already come true. These are the famous chapters that foretell:
· The rebirth of the State of Israel in the end times (both chapters)
· The return of the Jews to the Holy Land after centuries in exile (Ezekiel 36:10-11, 36:24, 36:37-38, 37:12, 37:21)
· The rebuilding of the ancient ruins in Israel (Ezekiel 36:36)
· The re-blossoming of desolate, desert lands to produce abundant food, fruit and foliage (Ezekiel 36:8-9 and 36:30-35)
· The creation of an "exceedingly great army" (Ezekiel 37:11)
Such prophecies began to be fulfilled in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, accelerated in 1948 and 1967, and continue to come to pass to this day. This, of course, raises an intriguing question: If Ezekiel 36 and 37 have largely come true in our lifetime, isn't it possible that Ezekiel 38 and 39 will soon come true as well?
That said, let's examine Ezekiel 38 and 39 more carefully. In Ezekiel 38:1-6, the Hebrew prophet gives a list of obscure names that will form a united coalition. In my non-fiction book, Epicenter: Why The Current Rumblings In The Middle East Will Change Your Future, I carefully walk readers through these prophecies and document the historical detective work necessary to determine what modern nations are referred to by the ancient text. But here's an executive summary of the major points.
· "Gog" is described as being "of the land of Magog" and as the "prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal." Most Bible scholars believe Gog is not a name but a title, like Pharoah or Czar. He is a dictator who will hatch an "evil plan" (Ezekiel 38:10).
"Magog" - Leading Bible scholars say this is Russia and republics of the former Soviet Union. The first century Roman historian Josephus said the "Magogites" were the peoples whom the Greeks called "Scythians." Scythians were a fierce, blood-thirsty civilization that settled north of the Baltic Sea in what is now Russia and the European republics of the former USSR.
· "Rosh, Meshech and Tubal" - Many, though not all, Bible scholars believe "Rosh" refers directly to Russia. Meshech is believed by many scholars to be Moscow (though some believe it refers to an ancient people group in Turkey). Some Bible scholars believe Tubal refers to the city/region of Tobolsk in Russia along the Tobol River. Others say it refers to a section of modern-day Turkey. (Interestingly, in 1964, massive reserves of oil and gas were discovered in the Tobolsk region of Siberia and people now refer to the region as the "energy center of Russia.")
· "Persia" - This was the official name of Iran until 1935.
· "Cush" - Based in significant part on the writings of the Roman historian Flavius Josephus, Bible scholars today believe "Cush" refers to Sudan and Ethiopia.
· "Put" - Bible scholars are confident that this refers to the modern day country of Libya, though it may also refer to parts of Algeria and Tunisia, based on the writings of Josephus, among others.
· "Gomer" - This is modern day Turkey, though some scholars also believe it could refer to Germany and Austria.
· "Beth-togarmah" - This refers to Armenia and the Turkic-speaking peoples of Central Asia, including the Islamic former republics of the Soviet Union.
·"Many peoples with you" who will attack along "the mountains of Israel" - Other countries will be involved in the coalition as well, notably countries that border the mountains of Israel. This includes Lebanon, Syria and possibly Jordan.
It should be noted that conspicuously absent from the list is Egypt and Iraq (typically referred to in Scripture as Babylon or Mesapotamia). This is noteworthy since Ezekiel was writing the prophecy in the City of Babylon, in the heart of Iraq. We would have to expect, then, that neither Egypt nor Iraq will participate. Egypt, of course, signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Iraq is now so engrossed in its own internal struggles that it would be unlikely to join a coalition to destroy Israel in the next few years. We are, therefore, living in the first window in human history in which neither of these historic enemies of the Jewish people are likely to be involved in the next major Middle East war.
Ezekiel 38-39 explains that the Russian dictator known as "Gog" will develop an "evil plan" to attack and destroy Israel and seize her wealth. He will begin to build an enormous military coalition, comprised of the countries described above. He will make extensive preparations to strike. When the time is right, Ezekiel says Russia will then deploy this coalition against Israel in a show of overwhelming force, coming against the Jewish State "like a storm."
The Bible makes it clear that when this "War of Gog and Magog" begins, no country will come to Israel's defense. Not the United Nations. Not the European Union. Not even the United States. Israel will feel utterly alone, and her enemies will be convinced that they are on the verge of an historic victory in which the Jews will be wiped off the map once and for all. But Ezekiel then says some supernatural will occur. The God of Israel - the God of the Bible - will bring judgment upon the enemies of Israel, beginning with Gog, the dictator of Russia. The Lord will trigger a massive earthquake in which "all the men who are on the face of the earth will shake at My presence." Gog's forces will turn against one another, and then they will be subject to pestilence, torrential rains, hailstones, and even fire from heaven. Israel will then capture her enemies weapons and burn them for seven years and it will take seven full months to bury all the bodies of Israel's slain enemies, so great will be the devastation.
When will all this happen? We don't know for certain. But Ezekiel gives us several important clues. First, Israel will be a country again and Jews will be regathered to the Holy Land. Second, Israelis will be "living securely" before the "War of Gog and Magog," though the Scriptures do not go so far as to say that they will have comprehensive peace treaties with their neighbors. Third, Israel will have a measure of economic prosperity, according to the text. And fourth, Ezekiel 38:16 says explicitly that all these events "will come about in the last days" (that is, before the Battle of Armageddon).
In closing, let me be clear. Yes, Israel has been reborn as a country for the first time in 2,000 years. Yes, a dictator is rising to power in Russia that seems "Gog-esque." Yes, Russia and Iran are building an alliance today for the first time in 2,500 years. Yes, Russia and Libya are now building a new alliance. Yes, Iran is threatening to wipe Israel "off the map." Is all this conclusive proof that the "War of Gog and Magog" will happen soon, much less in our lifetime? No, I don't think we can make that assessment. Not yet, at least. Much more will have to happen to be sure. But can we rule out the possibility that this prophetic war could happen in the not-too-distant future? No, I don't think we can.
As for me, I don't want it to happen at all. But no man can stop what Bible prophecy says will come to pass. The most we can do is to be ready when it happens, and find ways to care for those in the Middle East and Russia who will be victims of this terrible war.
Joel C. Rosenberg