by Pastor Kevin E. Johnson
We know from Bible prophecy that WWIII is inevitable, it will occur at some point in the future. I personally view what is commonly referred to both in religious as well as secular circles as, “Armageddon” (although the word only appears one time in the word of God, Revelation 16:16, and there refers to the valley in which the battle will be staged, not the actual battle itself), as being WWIII. That particular war won’t really be a war in the strictest sense of the term, but will rather be a gathering of the nations of the world to fight against and destroy Israel initially, but will turn into a battle to fight against the Return of Jesus to rescue Israel. These nations who gather will be supernaturally destroyed by Christ. [Rev. 19:11 – 19]
There are at least two (some would say one) wars or attacks that are in my opinion far more imminent for Israel and the Jewish people. We have been looking at them in this current series. At some point in the future, most likely in connection with one of these wars, Damascus, Syria will be destroyed never to be a city again. [See Isa. 17:1]
Then we see the coalition of nations referred to in Psalm 83, who are plotting against Israel to destroy her. These are ancient enemies of Israel who we see rising again in these last of the Last Days. These nations all surround Israel and they have their hatred for Israel and their desire to wipe her out in common.
Lastly of course we have the coalition of Islamic nations led by the head of Russia, referred to in Ezekiel’s prophecy as, “Gog” come on the scene coming to take a “spoil”. This is why we have titled this current series, “Israel’s Prophetic Future – Isaiah, Asaph, and The Ezekiel War Scenario.” The players are all on the field. We are literally seeing biblical prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes. We are not given a precise time-line as to when all of these events will occur, so there are differences of interpretation and opinion among sincere brethren on these passages.
For example, when exactly will Russia and its allies come down to attack Israel? As we stated last time there are differences among expositors as to the timing of this invasion. I personally see it occurring toward the mid-point of the Tribulation period. However, since we see in Ezekiel 39 that Israel spends seven years cleaning up the aftermath of the invasion, and the subsequent judgment of God on “Gog” and his allies, it is thought by many that “Gog” will make his move either before the onset of the Tribulation, or very shortly thereafter. This is a very plausible scenario.
Regardless of the timing, scripture seems to me to be clear that they will come down, and when they do they will have a definite agenda in doing so. The prophecy of Ezekiel also seems clear that no nation will come to the defense of Israel. We see I suppose what could be interpreted as a word of protest coming from certain nations. The prophet writes, Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?[Ezek. 38:13]
Sheba and Dedan were both sons of Abraham, born to him following the death of Sarah to his second wife (or as she is listed due to Jewish marriage customs, his concubine), Keturah. Their descendants today make up many of the Arab tribes neighboring Israel. They are very rich, unlike their nomadic ancient relatives. Their question to Gog and his forces may be more a question of their motives in attacking the Jews, more so than a protest. They very possibly will begin to fear that their wealth too will be taken. The “Merchants of Tarshish” can be viewed I believe as representative of the West. Some scholars see this group as possibly including Great Britain and the United States. That is a possibility. The thing I find amazing is that none of these people come to Israel’s defense. The anti-Israel climate that we see growing exponentially today plays right into the end-time drama revealed millienia ago by the Prophet Ezekiel.
The Russian prince will think he has Israel right where he wants her, and no one is going to lift a hand to stop him. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The LORD will have them (Gog and his allies) exactly where He wants them. Gog and his allies are going to be recipients of the wrath and judgment of God. We continue reading in Ezekiel 38, And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes. [Ezek. 38:16] The Lord will have an agenda of His own in all of this. He is going to demonstrate to Gog and his allies, and really all of the Nations of the world, His sovereign power. He is going to be glorified in their midst. When this invasion comes upon His people Israel, the Lord’s fury will come up in His face.
Ezekiel writes, For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.[Ezek. 38:19, 20] this passage has lead some commentators to equate the Ezekiel 38, 39 war with “Armageddon.” The two, I submit, are not the same.
In connection with the gathering of the nations at Har-maggedon, John the Revelator wrote, And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.[Rev. 16:18] This will occur at the very end of the Great Tribulation. With the world reeling and on the brink of total destruction due to the righteous judgment of God, the only thing that will save the world, and specifically His people Israel, will be the Return of the King of kings and Lord of lords; the Lord Jesus Christ. It is very likely, based on the language the Holy Spirit used here, that this massive earthquake will shake the entirety of the earth. It is as if every fault line on the earth will erupt at the same time, with not only great seismic activity, but with eruptions of volcanoes and accompanying tsunamis as well.
In the case of the Ezekiel38, 39 war, the Bible specifically says the, “great shaking” will be in the “land of Israel”. Regardless, one thing of which there can be no debate, and that is that the LORD Himself will fight for His people Israel. We see also in verse 21 that the LORD will employ a battle strategy He has used before, that is turning the enemies of Israel against themselves. [See 2 Chr. 20:22, 23]
With the repeated attempts to annihilate His people Israel, the Lord’s patience will finally be exhausted, and He will move in judgment against Gog and his armies. He will use the classic weapons of divine retribution: Earthquakes, plagues, bloodshed, rain, hailstones, and burning sulfur; these are His signature signs. Neither Israel, nor the enemy coalition, nor those watching from afar will fail to interpret them correctly. This will unmistakably be the judgment of God.
This brings us to the end of Ezekiel chapter 38. I want to take one more session next time to examine chapter 39. We will see why some of thought that this battle will go nuclear. We will also see further evidence, I believe, why this war will not be the final battle of the age of man.
Plan to join us then.