The Jews have been gathered from the nations, brought back to the land. The threat from her near neighbors is over. Israel has defeated Esau and Edom and Philistia and Syria et.al, and possessed the land given by the promise of God. The Palestinian problem is solved. It is a time of peace. But Satan is not yet through with Israel.
PART II – GOG & MAGOG COMETH
The unpacking of the prophecies of Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38 begs the question of timing. Just so we’re clear about what we’re talking about let me offer a tentative order of events. Now to arrive at this we must look at Isaiah 17, Amos 9, Jeremiah 24 and Ezekiel chapters 36-43, as well as other passages.
- The Jews begin to return to the land
- The prophesied war with Syria and the Palestinians etc.
- Peace and a sense of security that follows that war
- The Gog / Magog invasion
- The Covenant of Daniel 9:27 is confirmed – signaling the commencement of the Tribulation.
So let’s look at the scripture of the Great Magog War. “Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out…. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you…. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely. You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you. ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan: You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’— to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land. Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, ‘Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?’”’ (Ezek. 38:1-4, 5-6, 8-13)
These are the opening words of the 38th chapter of Ezekiel. They tell us much of a war to come, and leave us much in the way of mysteries to solve. The prophet is speaking here of an invasion by a coalition of nations that surround Israel, determined on her destruction. Let’s begin to break it down.
First it identifies the nations that will invade Israel in the last days. Ezekiel uses the ancient names, but with diligence, most can be traced with a reasonable degree of certainty to their modern equivalents. It’s important to do this in order to see the specificity of the Biblical prophecy. I rely on eminent Bible scholars Chuck Missler, Hal Lindsey and others to do the identification for us. Most scholars believe that Gog refers to the leader of the political / military alliance of invaders. 1 Chronicles 5:4, lists a Gog as one of the descendents of Reuben and Joel, and so related to Jacob. Perhaps there will be a connection there that we cannot yet see.[i] The identity of Magog offers two candidates. The ancient Greek writer, Hesisod identified Magog as referring to the Scythians.[ii] The Jewish historian Josephus concurred in that appraisal.[iii] From there it is easy to trace the location of these Scythians. Archaeology has located that people in the areas east and north of the Black Sea, the Crimea and along the Don River. Chuck Missler further tells us that “…even the name “Caucasus” appears to have been derived from Gog-hasan, or “Gog’s Fort”.[iv] Therefore: Magog = Scythians = Russians. The first major player in the invasion is Russia….Well maybe its Turkey. The former Muslim and Palestinian terrorist-turned-prophecy writer, – Walid Shoebat, – makes an equally strong case that Magog refers to the modern day Turks. Relying on the Roman historian Herodotus as well as ancient Assyrian sources, Shoebat and others identify the Scythians or Lydians with their ancient homeland in Anatolia in Asia Minor in Turkey.[v] [vi]
That controversy postponed, we now look to the allies! Meshech and Tubal were descendants of Japheth. Meshech becomes Muschki, referring to an area in modern Turkey. Tubal takes in parts of Turkey , Russia and Iran. Persia, of course, is Iran. Ethiopia (Cush) points to the Sudan, Put is equivalent to Libya. The descendants of Gomer, formerly from Turkey,[vii] eventually settled in the Rhine and Danube valleys. To this day, Armenians identify themselves as of “The House of Togarmah.[viii] This would mean Turkey, again. What is the common denominator? It is that with one possible exception, the invading coalition is one of all Islamic nations. (And that itself may be an argument for the notion that Magog is Turkey…but I digress.) These nations would of course be most upset at Israel’s vanquishing of their Islamic brothers in the previous war. And of course, Russia, though not Islamic itself, is most tied into these nations. Iran (Persia) is its most important ally / client-state in the Middle East. Many of the others are former Republics of the former Soviet Union, with strong surviving ties to Moscow. And Russia has historically been very jealous of any foreign inroads into that region; – both for energy and strategic reasons. That is some of the background behind the Russian conflict with the US / Israeli supported Republic of Georgia that broke out in the summer of 2008.
The next section of the passage deals with the timing of this war, – so we may not mistake it for any that has gone on before. To repeat Ezekiel 38:8, “In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely.” This is “the latter years.” This prophecy written 2,600 years ago predicts both the return of the Jews, (who had not at that time been fully turned out of the Holy Land), and the fact that the invasion will happen at a time when they feel like they are living in safety. That time has not come yet. But it is reasonable to conclude that that would be the Israeli mindset once they had defeated Syria, the Palestinians, etc. As evidence for this possible order of events, it is important to note the nations that were not mentioned by Ezekiel: Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and names like Philistia, Edom and Esau, – which are ancient monikers for the Palestinians. This sense of security by Israel would only be heightened if the 7-year treaty outlined in Daniel, confirming their peace and safety, and guaranteed by the Antichrist, was in effect at the time.
Then beginning in verse 11, it tells how the coalition will come against “…a land of unwalled villages…a peaceful people…without walls and having neither bars nor gates.” This is an Israel fully at peace and expecting that they have achieved a permanent peace. The walls today are the security barriers that separate Jew and Palestinian, protecting the Israeli state from impending terror. After a war that ends the menace of terror and definitively destroys the terrorist threat, – such walls would no longer be necessary. At that point, there is no Palestinian terror. There is no Hezbollah across the border, – poised with its thousands of rockets, to strike at the first opportunity. Gone is the Syrian threat. Gone specifically, it would seem, is the security fence. There are only “unwalled villages”. Israel’s victory over Syria and the Palestinians would certainly explain it. Remember the words of Obadiah 1:18. “The house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau shall be stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, And no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,” For the LORD has spoken.” It seems that the prophet is saying very clearly, that there will not remain a Palestinian people to contend with Israel for the land.
Then comes this interesting passage beginning in Ezekiel 38:12, which gives the reasons for the attack and the reaction of the world to it. First, it says that the coalition has come specifically “…to take plunder.” Easy enough! If you recall, we talked about how Isaiah 17 which describes Israel’s destruction of its enemies, fuels a rage that leads them to attack. It tells us though that “…God will rebuke them and they will flee far away…This is the portion of those that plunder us, and the lot of those who rob us.” (Isaiah 17:13-14) Biblical scholars agree this passage is referring to the same war as Ezekiel 38. Interestingly, there’s that word plunder again. And then there are those potentially pregnant words of Ezekiel 38:13. “Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, ‘Have you come to take plunder?’” Sheba and Dedan are in Saudi Arabia. But to whom does the phrase “the merchants of Tarshish” refer? The early meaning of Tarshish referred to Phoenicia and its trading posts in Spain. Later it came to mean, in the words of prophecy scholar Thomas Ice, “…the modern mercantile nations of Western Europe like Spain, Holland and Britain”.[ix] The reference to “young lions” intrigues many who’ve looked at this verse. The lion is of course the symbol of Great Britain and the British Empire. The “young lion” then could refer to Britain’s former colonies, ie. Canada, Australia and the United States. Dr. Ice concludes that the entire phrase may indeed refer to all of what we today call the West. [Winged lions were also the symbol of ancient Babylon. To many scholars, the West has come to represent the Babylonian World System, centered on the ‘Self’, – not God.] But why such an anemic response? Perhaps the US has been debilitated by the rapture. Perhaps America has been absorbed into the Revived Roman Empire and taken on their ethic. Perhaps the United States has been badly damaged by terror attacks and war. Perhaps some combination. In any case, if the US is referred to at all in prophecy, this passage seems the best bet to apply. However it is to happen, the invasion takes place, and there is little response from the rest of the world. But God is not through. And He has the final say!
[i] Paul Robertson, Damascus Will No Longer Be a City, Truth Search, 2004
[ii] Hal Lindsey & Chuck Missler, The Magog Factor – Special Report, pg 6
[iii] Jennifer Rast, The Coming War of God and Magog, an Islamic Invasion?, Contender Ministries
[iv] Chuck Missler, TheMagog Identity
[v] Walid Shoebat, Islam And The Final Beast
[vi] Mark Hitchcock, The Coming Islamic Invasin of Israel, 2002, pg 31
[vii] Jennifer Rast, The Coming War of God and Magog, an Islamic Invasion?, Contender Ministries
[viii] Hal Lindsey & Chuck Missler, The Magog Factor – Special Report, pg 26
[ix] Thomas Ice, Is America In Bible Prophecy?