This is the third installment in our current teaching that is a part of our series on “Israel’s Prophetic Future.” We titled this section under consideration presently, “Isaiah, Asaph, and The Ezekiel War Scenario.” We are basing this of course on the prophecies found in Isaiah 17:1 (concerning the destruction of Damascus), Psalm 83 (that shows a group of enemy nations surrounding Israel all conspiring for her destruction, and the Psalmist Asaph crying out to the Lord for deliverance), and of course the war scenario that we see laid out in Ezekiel 38, 39.
These events are all yet future, and all directly have to do with Israel’s prophetic future. The timing of the events, the manner in which they will all occur, and when they will occur in relationship to the catching away of the Church are debated among competent, sincere brethren. I want to make it clear that I in no way claim to have the final word on any of these matters, or any portion of the Word of God for that matter. I simply hope to by the help of the Holy Spirit present what I see in the scriptures after having studied the prophetic Word now for a good number of years. It is up to the individual reader to be like the Bereans of old, who, searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. [Acts 17:11b]
We left off last time discussing of course the first three verses of Ezekiel 38. By way of review we read, And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: [Ezekiel 38:1 – 3] If you will recall last time we pointed out that, “Gog” is a designation of the title of a leader of a nation. It refers to the, “Man at the top”, if you will. This, “Gog” will head up the coalition of nations that the Prophet Ezekiel sees in this vision from the Lord. “Gog” is the “chief” (Heb. Rosh) of the land of Magog. As we pointed out last time, this portion of scripture can be a bit difficult from a translation standpoint because the Hebrew, Rosh, meaning “head”, can either be translated as an adjective or a proper noun.
Most translators have opted to translate it as an adjective, rendering it “chief.” However, I submit to you that a more accurate translation would be to render it as a proper noun, pointing to a specific place, Russia. This makes “Gog” the, “Russian prince”, or the “Russian leader”, or you could say, the “Russian President.” I personally believe that there can be no doubt that the, “land of Magog” refers to Russia, or the land that makes up the old Soviet Union and the surrounding area. We know by studying Genesis 10 that following the flood, Noah’s descendants dispersed to various parts of Asia. Among them was Magog, a son of Japeth [See Gen. 10:1, 2]. History indicates that Magog settled in what is now called the Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian Seas.
The Greeks called Magog’s descendants “Scythians.” While some of the Scythians moved farther north into Europe, others remained in Asia and emigrated as far as the Urals, becoming the ancestors of the Tartars, Cossacks, Mongols, and others. Therefore identifying Magog with this area of Southwest Russia seems feasible.
We saw last time who will join this “Russian madman” in his attack on Israel. He will be joined by Gomer (Germany), Torgamah (Turkey), Persia (Iran), Ethiopia or Cush (Sudan), and Libya. These are all countries with large Muslim populations, or nations that are predominantly Muslim or have Islamic leadership. They also have their hatred for Israel in common. Look at verse 4. The Word of the Lord says,
And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: [Ezek. 38:4] It has been assumed by some commentators that when the Lord says, “I will turn thee back”, that this coalition of nations led by the Russian leader is being led out of the land of Israel. The true meaning of this phrase, I submit to you, can be found in the accompanying phrase, “and put hooks into thy jaws.” What does this mean? This phrase comes from the equestrian world, and speaks of putting a special bridle into the mouth of a rebellious horse to make that horse obey. Ezekiel makes it clear that Gog and his associates will be judged in the land of Israel, and they will not come out alive.
In Ezekiel 39:11 we read, And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel. [Ezek. 39:11a] As we read this then it becomes obvious that the invading armies will not be led out of Israel, but that there will in fact be a slaughter in the land of Israel, the likes of which has perhaps never been seen in the history of the world. So when the Lord puts “hooks in the jaws” of Gog, he is going to take him as one would a rebellious and stubborn horse, and force him to do his will. He is going to bring these nations forth, these enemies of His people Israel, to their judgment. Yes, God is going to judge nations. The Bible is very clear about this. He has judged nations and people in the past, and will do so in the future. We are presently living in the dispensation of grace, or the Church Age. We see so much evil in the world today, and this has caused many to question the judgment of God, and even the goodness of God.
We must understand this about our God. He is merciful, He is long-suffering. The Bible says, “God is love.” In His love He sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to redeem fallen man. He let His wrath fall on His Son on the Cross, so that humanity could be saved if they only would receive by faith the free gift of eternal life. God is not willing that any perish and spend eternity separated from Him in Hell. This is why He waits. This is why His judgment is presently withheld. However, there will come a day when His mercy and long-suffering will come to an end, and judgment will come. During the Tribulation hour the wrath of God will be poured out without measure on a sinful, Christ-rejecting world. In this battle of “Gog and Magog”, the judgment of God will fall on these enemies of Israel.
We have seen the coalition of nations that will join Gog in invading Israel, the question may be asked, exactly why will this invasion be launched? There are four reasons I believe the scriptures reveal for this attack: 1) To cash in on the wealth of Israel [Ezek. 38:11, 12], 2) To control the Middle East; 3) To crush Israel (The Islamic nations mentioned, again, all hate Israel); and 4) To challenge the authority of Antichrist (Dan. 11:41 – 44). Israel will be under her peace treaty with Antichrist, so an attack against Israel is a direct challenge to Antichrist’s power. After God has destroyed the armies of Ezekiel 38, Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel and invade her himself (Dan. 11:41 – 44).
As we have noted in previous installments, these nations will come against Israel in, “the latter years.” This is a prophetic term dealing with the time period from the re-birth of Israel through the Kingdom Age. This time really began in May of 1948. Please keep in mind the term, “Last Days” takes in the time from the Lord’s first advent or first Coming up until and including the Kingdom Age. So the entire Church Age really makes up the “Last Days.” We have been living in the “Last Days” for almost 2,000 years now. However, we have been living in the “Latter years” for some 64 years now, if we reckon this time as I have proposed. It was necessary for Israel to be re-born in order for much prophecy to be fulfilled. This is why the re-birth of Israel is to be viewed as a prophetic milestone.
I find interesting the fact that Ezekiel mentions, horses and horsemen in verse 4. I can remember reading after some prophecy teachers from years ago that mentioned the mountainous terrain surrounding Israel, and suggesting that navigating this area on horseback would make more sense than attempting to drive tanks and other vehicles across the mountains. I even read where someone had information on a mass breeding of horses in the former Soviet Union. Among horse breeders it is said that there are no horses in the world quiet like Russian horses. It is said they behave and move differently than any other horses.
Also, there is information that the Russian government has for many, many years been purchasing horses from all over the world. As far back in history as 1934 it was reported that Russia owned some 70% of the horseflesh in the world. There are those who have stated that they have not been buying these horses for agricultural purposes, but rather military. Looking in retrospect to the German/Russian-Polish campaign in September of 1939 when German Panzer and Russian tanks bogged down on the mud flats of Poland, while the Polish Cavalry trotted over the mud to victory. They charged the tanks, freeing trapped Polish forces, forcing a German unit off a hill and broke through when Russians surrounded a town. In all, they fought 16 battles. One can easily see the superiority of horses over Army tanks in light of Ezekiel 38:22. (Of course, this was the beginning of World War II and the rest, as they say, is History.)
Some have argued that when Ezekiel mentions, “horses and horsemen” he is simply describing modern implements of warfare in ancient terms. For instance, “horsepower” rather than actual horses. In all fairness, that may be the case. But I think there is some evidence within the scripture and examples from history that would suggest that Ezekiel could have been referring to literal horses and riders in his prophecy. For example, Ezekiel reiterates that these bands coming against Israel will be, all of them riding upon horses. [Vs. 15b] We know that during the first few months of the Afghanistan campaign, U.S. Army Special Forces thundered across the plains on horseback. In fact, U.S. Army Special Forces today use horses and mules in Afghanistan, and have a field manual on the subject, FM 31-27, Pack Animals In Support of Army Special Ops. Forces, 15 FEB 2000.
As events in Afghanistan have recently shown, there is a place in modern warfare for animal transport, for goods and personnel.Even earlier, when we were providing the then new Stinger MANPADS to the Afghanis in their struggle with the Russians, we also provided Missouri Mules, complete with packsaddles. The experiment was a success and the mules got the stingers to places where they were needed. Horses, mules, and donkeys have played a much larger role in Guerrilla warfare than has been appreciated in the literature on the subject. More than one “A” team in Vietnam used Montagnard ponies for transport. The Rhodesians reactivated the Selous Scouts in their war, before being done in by politics and the Portuguese had uniform success with their anti-guerrilla light dragoons. The concept is not to play cavalry and charge, it is to use four hooves to outrun two feet.
There is another interesting thing concerning this possibility in vs. 22. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Please note the two instances of “rain” in this passage. In the first place, “rain” is the Hebrew, matar, which is just the basic word for, “rain.” The second reference to rain is, geshem, which speaks of “rain showers.” The second word “rain” describes that the general rain will turn into a violent rain, drowning everything. Rivers, streams, ponds, & lakes will be overflowing. God knows what He is going to do with the weather; so that armored tanks would be bogged down due to the mud caused by the rain. One must remember, in looking at the terrain surrounding Jerusalem, there are deep valleys, steep hills & high mountains to cross to reach Jerusalem.Tanks & armored vehicles would be out of the question. They could also be picked up on radar. While I am not unequivocally declaring that Russia and her allies will attack Israel on horseback, it certainly is a feasible way for them to attack. Is it possible that God designed it this way and foretold it in his word, the Bible, 2700 years ago in Ezekiel 38:4? I submit to you it is.
At the risk of belaboring the point, please notice verse 9. The Prophet writes, Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.Please notice the word, ascend in this verse. It is the Hebrew, alah, and it has a wide variety of possible translations, both figurative and literal; such as, bring up, get up, ascend up, come up, lift yourself up, mount up, rise up, shoot forth and, spring up. This again could refer to an attack via horseback, even though it has typically been taught in prophecy circles to refer to an airborne invasion.
I believe it is a good idea to think and not be so locked into “safe” interpretations of these events all of the time. It keeps us from digging out nuggets of truth buried beneath the surface.
“Gog” and his Islamic allies won’t make it out of Israel alive. The Lord God Jehovah Himself will intervene and judge them in Israel. We will take a look at this divine intervention next time.