I believe the battle foretold in Ezekiel 38-39 will radically change the global political and religious landscape in the near future. The current Russian-Iranian-Turkish “alliance” present in Syria seems compatible with the list of nations that will invade Israel by surprise – not to annihilate them, but for the spoils of war.
Many end-timzers tout this as the sign that the tribulation is soon to start and therefore the (pre-trib) rapture even sooner. Many speculate the details of the tribulation through eyes this side of that war. Some expect the rapture to be the instigator for this war and the reason that America does not come to save the day.
The human tendency to believe the end is neigh has been around forever – hence the building of the tower of Babel and seeing Nero Caesar as the Antichrist. However, God has his own timing and purpose, which are difficult to fathom – even humanly incomprehensible.
Around World War 2, end-timzers presented Hilter as the Antichrist. Clearly, he was bent of global domination, beginning with the restoration of a third Holy Roman Empire. He persecuted the Jews and those Christians who spoke out against him. No one could buy or sell without the Mark of the Beast i.e. the Deutsche Mark being the German currency. As through the ages, these projections onto current events fell into just another chapter in history. We should take care to learn from this to not be dogmatic about any potential theory as we can only speculate. But also take these failed fulfillments as a reminder of things foretold by God’s Word that will happen.
It is not for us to know ahead of time precisely what will happen. If Satan knew his killing Jesus would bring our redemption he would have acted otherwise. But we should study future prophesy so that when it happens, we are not caught by surprise and led astray. We must study even more, historically-fulfilled prophesy to understand how prophesy works and to evangelize these proofs of the integrity and coherence of God’s Word. Although the Bible is many books by many authors, they are all linked by threads of prophecy and fulfillment. To disregard one part of this history both past and future is to break the chain of consistency and the overall narrative of God’s redemptive plan for humanity.
Primarily we study future prophecy to be encouraged and to know that we must always be prepared for Jesus’ coming. We therefore must keep purifying ourselves and remaining dedicated to Jesus and his work.
End-times prophesy has brought immense hope to past generations as they endured suffering. This is no better presented than in the words of the negro spirituals such as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, although these also embodied underground political connotations. Many have experienced the rapture of Jesus coming to take them on their death-beds such as my granddad, or St Stephen in Acts 7.
End-times prophesy has also brought about much contention and division by those being dogmatic about uncertainties. Whether Jesus comes for us at the glorious sound of a golden trumpet or the desperately rude honking of a truck’s horn, we must always be ready for him – as were our forefathers in the faith. Whether we endure the great tribulation, or the general persecution of the saints through the ages, or around the world today, or maybe we just endure the troubles of living in a fallen world, Jesus is our savior and the Holy Spirit is our comforter even before we reside with our Heavenly Father in eternity.
A crude understanding of Ezekiel 38 is that an alliance similar to that present in Syria will suddenly invade Israel. The Israeli Defence Force will have no chance to mobilize against the suddenness of the overwhelming offense. Britain with its offshoots and Arabia will protest this onslaught seemingly for the spoils of war; but will helplessly resign Israel to its hopeless demise lest they suffer the same fate. The invasion will be obliterated by apocalyptic acts of God, leaving a WMD mess to clean up and enough fuel to sustain Israel for 7 years. As a result, the whole world will know that God is the Lord and Israel will know their God.
The preconditions described in this scripture are already overwhelming evidence of biblical integrity. The remaining details imply a radical change to global politics and religion, which invalidates much current end-times speculation. While the preconditions already fulfilled should be enough to prove the truth of the Bible, I believe the outpouring of God’s wrath on the attackers will annihilate atheism, Islam and all other ideologies that contradict the Bible. What will remain is a polarization between accepting Jesus as Lord or allying against the almighty, all-knowing, all-present, infinite God who created the entirety of space-time. The rebellious will find unity under Satan’s governance and the original pagan religion. This was practiced before the flood and revived to build the tower of Babel 4,000 years ago under the tyrannical emperor Nimrod.
This commentary should be read alongside the original scripture.
Ezekiel 38:1-6: Ezekiel names nations or peoples from his time. These relate to the great-grandsons of Noah described in Genesis 10. Ancient historians track these people into their contemporaries such as Flavius Josephus 37-100 AD. A Google image search of “Genesis 10 map” and “Gog Magog map” reveal various interpretations. Military equipment is described through ancient vocabulary, which need not be taken literally. i.e. how could Ezekiel describe guns tanks, planes, rockets and nukes that would be conveyed to modernity?
V2. The chief leader is Gog, of Russia. Gog, being the title of a Russian leader, could be considered more like Czar. I feel for my dear Russian friends who may be offended by this. I appreciate this feels like a hang-over from cold-war propaganda; but disagree with that defense. Is it plausible? Yes, I can imagine Putin allying with his pals in Syria for another land-grab like the recent events in Crimea – for economic gain.
V5. “Iran, Sudan and Libya are with them.” I’m not convinced of the latter two players being significantly present in Syria at present, but Iran shudders in delightful anticipation of such an opportunity.
V6. “Gomer and Togarmah” equate with Turkey. Some interpret Gomer’s bands including Germany/France. However, I would be more convinced if Ashkenaz were listed who fathered these peoples e.g. Ashkenazi Jews
V8. “After many days” – this prophecy is in Ezekiel’s distant future. “you shall come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many peoples, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste. But it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely – all of them.” This is a huge prophetic fulfilment. 150 years ago, Palestine was a wasteland – pretty much stagnating since the Jews were evicted by the Romans. During World War One, The land was annexed from the Ottoman empire. It came under British control and was promised to Israel in the 1917 Balfour declaration. Jews were already starting to settle in that area, but it took the holocaust of World War Two to support the large-scale immigration of Jews from all over the world. Today they dwell in an island of safety in a very unsafe neighborhood.
V9. “The attackers will be so numerous that they will be like a storm cloud covering the land.” This suggests an invasion force of at least tens of thousands. These troops need to already be present in Syria, but perhaps not with the intent of invading Israel. This suggests a multinational UN-like peacekeeping force.
V11. “They will attack a land of unwalled villages.” Until the widespread use of gunpowder larger settlements had walls for protection.
V12. “To take a spoil” Under the Golan heights is lots of oil, that “rightfully belongs of Syria” so that they can “rightfully” pay Russia for their recent support. “desolate places that are now inhabited” include booming cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ashdod and Ashkelon.
V13. “Sheba and Dedan” (Arabia) “and the merchants of Tarshish with their colonies”. Tarshish is the ancient source of tin i.e. England. Isaiah 60:9 confirms this “the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far” as it was British ships which brought the first waves of Jews back to their land. This makes me speculate that Brexit will separate England from Europe who might be complicit in this attack.
V14. “tell Gog, the Lord God says: In that day when my people of Israel dwell safely, won’t you know it?” i.e. doesn’t this just nag at Russia’s current economic vacuum? After all they’ve spent in Syria propping up Assad and ruining his country. Where can Putin get a return on his expensive investment? Ooh look! Israel has all that wealth – just sitting around there in that territory that “belongs” to their friend Syria.
V15. “and you shall come from your place out of the north” Syria is to the north of Israel. “All of them riding on horses” Modern armies don’t travel on foot.
V16. “and I will bring you against my land, that the ungodly might know me, when I will be made holy through you, o Gog, before their eyes”. So, this is God’s purpose in this – to prove himself to the world. God is pulling the strings of the puppet Gog. God has ordained all things since the beginning and the Devil’s wrath leads to him to perfectly fulfill God’s will. You’d think Satan would have learned when Calvary turned sour on him. “before their eyes” may prophesy modern technologies. I’m morbidly anticipating watching this unfold over the internet. Then I can say to my peers:
“Thus saith the Lord: I told you so”
V17. “The Lord God says: aren’t you the one that I spoke of in ancient times by my servants, the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years ago that I would bring you against them?”
V18. “When this happens, God gets furious.”
V19. So furious the ground will shake from a great earthquake in Israel
V20. “All land and sea animals will shake at God’s presence, mountains will be thrown down and walls will fall.” Maybe this includes the walls to the territories occupied by Palestinians.
V21. “And the enemy alliance will turn their weapons against each other.” Well this alliance is not exactly fraternal, but rather the enemies of their enemy, who suddenly remember they aren’t really friends. They are politically orthodox Christians and Islamists, some who seek Israel’s wealth and others their destruction – not exactly mutually compatible goals.
V22. “And I will pour out plagues and blood upon him and his alliance, and torrential rain, huge hailstones, fire and burning sulfur.” Now that’s sounding a bit volcanic or whatever happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. Actually, burning sulfur is a liquid, which will stick like napalm. It may have been a component in ancient “Greek Fire” and ISIS used its gas for chemical warfare. As a teen, I burned sulfur to produce SO3, which I bubbled through H2O to form H2SO4. My family often remind me of the day I “acid-washed” the entire garage after my experiment exploded and ruining all metal surfaces. So. God’s going to flood them out with killer hail, Greek fire and sulfuric acid.
V23. “And so, I will make myself famous and holy and will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they will know that I am their Lord”
Watching all of this unfold in real-time over the internet, it will be impossible to hold on to atheism or any other god. All that remains is to accept or reject the obvious reality – that the God who just did this also created space-time, wiped out Noah’s generation, divided the languages at Babel, destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, plagued Egypt and wiped out their army in the Red Sea etc. etc. etc. Allah did not wipe out Israel as the Imams prophesied, but rather the Muslim forces.
Ezekiel 39:1 “God is against Gog”
V3. “And will smash their weapons”
V4. “And they shall die and be scavenged by birds and wild animals.”
V6. “And I will send a fire on Magog and those who dwell carelessly in the isles/coastlands.” Woah! Now I don’t feel so safe anymore. Will there be a nuclear exchange? I believe at Ezekiel’s time, they still remembered those who traded far away across the Atlantic with the distant isles/coastlands where people had migrated by ships built by Noah’s grandsons after Babel. A conservative interpretation would refer to Genesis 10:5’s “isles of the gentiles” as descendants of Javan (Greece) who populated the Mediterranean and England. “And they shall know that I am the Lord.” So, we’re not completely obliterated – except our atheism and liberalism.
V9-10 “They will use the forfeited weapons for fuel – enough to last seven years without gathering any other fuel.” This suggests an event before the seven-year world peace treaty / tribulation of Daniel 9 / Revelation. Given Israel will be in refuge for the second half of this (Revelation 12:6) Some speculate this event happening 3.5 years before the Antichrist’s appearance. I don’t think we can assume these 7 years to coincide. Perhaps God will gift the world 40 years of grace to accept him after proving himself before he pours out judgement – just as he destroyed the Temple 40 years after Jesus and scattered the Jews who refused to believe. This event will bolster Christian’s faith in the supernatural and bring them to maturity in all signs and wonders. Then the harvest will be ripe for Jesus to gather before pouring out his destruction of the ungodly who have also matured beyond redemption.
V11. “I will give Gog a burial place in Israel to the East of the Sea.” Does this mean that Israel will already, or through this battle, include land east of the Dead Sea, which is presently Jordan? But then, east of the Sea of Galilee is already Israeli territory – near where this battle will take place, but down-wind from Israel.
V12. “For seven months, Israel will be burying them to cleanse the land”
V13. “Everyone will be burying them as they recount God’s most awesome protection.”
V14. “And they will employ professionals to bury the remainder – after seven months.” Chuck Missler notes the coincidence with protocol for the cleansing of WMD, e.g. nuclear, contamination.
V15. “Travellers will mark any remains they spot for the professionals.” I expect there’ll be an app for that.
V17-18. “God will gather birds and wild animals for a feast of the mighty armies and livestock – all of them fattened animals from Bashan.” Bashan is north-east of Galilee near the Syrian Border.
V20. “And they will be filled with horses and chariots.” Hmm, analogizing horses with tanks does not provide great cuisine, but then neither do chariots. But the horses that draw them and the soldiers on board would be quite delicious – particularly after being roasted by God.
V21. “And I will be glorified among the nations who will understand my judgement against them.”
V22. “So, the people of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward.”
V23. “and the nations will know that the Jews were banished for their unfaithfulness and for this reason were oppressed and slaughtered for these ages.”
V25. “but now God’s mercy will be completely restored towards Israel” and he will thereby destroy the theology that God had replaced Israel with the Christian empire, which contradicts his faithfulness to all of his people.
V26. “After all this, all of the Jews will be gathered again from all the nations and made holy. They will know that I am the Lord their God who will never hide his face from them again for I have poured out my spirit on the Jews.”
These last verses may skip ahead to Jesus’ millennial reign after the tribulation. Or have I got it completely wrong – that this battle is toward the end of the tribulation. But then this fits with the theory that after God raptures out the church, he will pour his Spirit out on the Jews. Although the Jews will be persecuted through the tribulation, God’s spirit will not depart from them, but rather sustain them through this time as they gradually turn toward him.
Ezekiel 40 begins a new vision given at a later date of the millennial temple with a courtyard the size of Christchurch’s central business district – around 1.8km square.
Whenever this happens, the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 will radically alter global politics and religion. The potential of a nuclear war would reset the dominance of America, Russia, China and even northern Europe. The clear intervention of the true God of the Bible will be undeniable.
This opens a more literal interpretation of the Antichrist’s revived Roman empire (Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2) being a Mediterranean empire – with five toes or kingdoms in the west and five in the east. E.g. Spain, France, Italy, Morocco, Algeria and Greece, Turkey, Libya, Egypt and Sudan. These including presently adjacent countries.
Instead of the false religion being Catholic or Islam or a unification of all, Daniel 11:37 “He will show no regard to the God of this fathers” could imply he will establish a “new” religion, although actually one so ancient that it seems new. He could restore the pre-flood paganism that sought to resurface with the first empire under Nimrod that was dispersed at Babel and was destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah, and with the Canaanites the Jews were supposed to purge from the land. Hence when Christ returns the world will be as at the time of Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah, repeating the same explicitly rebellious paganism of sexual orgies, engineering human-animal hybrids, burning babies alive, tyrannical judiciary and gang-raping strangers. All of this is explicitly practiced in purposeful defiance against God who has revealed himself in such undeniable power.
These are my present, very fluid, thoughts on this prophesy. I pray this opens up new perspectives on end-times teaching and speculation.
As we see the bad getting badder,
look to the good getting gooder
I know there are many other perspectives on this. I am not interested in debating these, but welcome comments presenting alternative views for readers to consider.