Magog and Israel
Check. According to Webster’s Dictionary there are multiple definitions of this oft used English word: “To slow or bring to a stop. To block the progress. To restrain or diminish the action or force of, as in hold the enemy in check. To investigate conditions, as in check out. To correspond point for point. To mark with a check as examined, verified, or satisfactory” (√).
US President Obama has authorized air strikes against the Islamic State (IS). Check. Despite his growing isolationist foreign policy, even President Obama could not ignore the beheading of two American citizens and the ominous international threat of this barbaric terrorist cell whose goal is blatantly obvious: destruction of Israel, killing innocent people, and ultimately establishing their version of an Islamic Caliphate—first in Iraq and Syria, then the entire globe.
Western allies Great Britain and France agreement to participate in this latest war on terrorism with bombing raids against ISIS (another acronym for the Islamic State) alongside of the United States. Check. They are two of the three most powerful European Union nations. Whether out of shame if they didn’t participate or out of obligation as members of NATO, they dare not remain neutral.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates lending various means of support in the fight against ISIS. Check. Even Muslim Arab countries recognize the danger posed by this ultra-radical terrorist army that has seized control of much of Iraq. They couldn’t care less about the Christian casualties, but they don’t like Sunni ISIS killing fellow Shi’ite Muslims in Iraq and Syria.
Iran and Turkey joining the war against ISIS! Check? Yes, a strange bed-fellow type of check. But with vastly different motives. These two large nations that sponsor and export terrorism themselves, primarily through Hezbollah in Lebanon (Iran) and Hamas in Gaza (Turkey), do not appreciate an up-start gang of mercenaries from countries all over the world—headed by a fundamentalist Sunni faction in Iraq—declaring themselves to be THE Islamic Caliphate. Why? Because the leaders of both Iran and Turkey have declared their respective nations as the headquarters for the Global Caliphate which the Mahdi, the 12th Imam of Islam, will establish. And the ultimate irony: though Muslim, neither Turkey nor Iran are Arab nations.
Russia agreeing in principle that ISIS poses a threat to the Middle East with tacit approval of US and EU airstrikes against this terrorist organization. Check! Really, a check? Yes, but not the kind you can take to the bank knowing it will be cashed. It’s a check that could bounce. It’s not the box checked at the end of a signed hard-copy document that agrees with all of the stipulations and conditions. Rather, it’s the kind of check found in a small box on a computer screen that can be unchecked with the click of a mouse. Now I agree, now I don’t.
Meaning that the only reason that Russia has (reluctantly) endorsed certain tactics against ISIS is because Syria’s still viable government under Assad and even the moderate rebel freedom fighters who initiated the war against Assad are both fighting against radical Muslims—mostly terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and ISIS—for supremacy in Syria. And Iran supports both Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon. And, of course, Russia is a staunch ally of Iran.
The reason that Russia’s check (mark) can be deleted at the click of a key or a phone call is because of a very recent low-key, behind-the-scenes warning by the Putin-led government that was not so secretly directed against the United States. The Threat: If the US or its Allies target the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in addition to raids against ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Syria, Russia will retaliate. Whether this retaliation would be directly from the Russian military or by means of assisting the Syrian air force remains to be seen.
Already, Russia has been humiliated and infuriated by economic sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western nations for Russia’s interference with Ukraine. Not since the Cold War with the then Soviet Union—and before that the Cuban Missile Crisis—have diplomatic relations between the US and Russia been so tenuous. It is a political bubble that could burst with a belligerent word, a diplomatic balloon that could explode from an errant missile at any time. An all-out military confrontation between Russia and the United States would be tantamount to World War III. Conflict between two super-powers (some argue that Russia is no longer a super-power, but it’s still strong enough to do serious damage even to the US) would by treaties and alliances guarantee the participation of dozens of other nations … which is what world wars are made of.
But that will not happen!
Really? “How do you know that Russia and the US will not go to war with each other?” you might reply. Is it some hunch or some off-the-wall speculation? No. It’s based on careful examination of Ezekiel Chapters 38 & 39 and credible correlation between current conditions in today’s world with the Gog/Magog battle.
To varying degrees, I have covered this great end-times battle in at least three previous Eye of Prophecy articles. However, because of the recent disputes between Russia and the United States, and to further demonstrate that the God/Magog campaign will take place in the early part of the Tribulation after the Rapture, this article will provide more details to include, for the first time, a parallel with two of the seven seal judgments of Revelation.
Three Reasons Why There Will Not be a War between the US and Russia before (or after) the Rapture
(1) Russia knows that it could never win a conventional war with the United States, let alone the US and its European, Canadian, and Australian Allies. And Russia isn’t any more suicidal than the US when it comes to nuclear warfare. Moreover this third world war would, indeed, be a war to end all wars; it would shatter international economies and infrastructures, even if fought as a conventional war. It would demolish entire cities. It would be the kind of apocalyptic devastation found only in the Great Tribulation.
(2) Armageddon, the Tribulation, and World War III are virtually synonymous. With modern weaponry, you can’t have one without the others. But Revelation is clear: It will not pit Russia against the US and its Western Allies. If there was such a war and even if Russia defeated the Western nations, she would pay a heavy price to the point of being unable to militarily or economically fulfill the Gog/Magog prophecy that says: “You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud” (Ezekiel 38:9). Here, Ezekiel is describing the Russian alliance to include Iran that will sweep over the Middle East and Israel. Instead, World War III will feature the ten-nation confederation led by Antichrist (Nero) against all the nations that oppose him, primarily the Oriental countries of the east. Culminating in the Battle(s) of Armageddon in which the Antichrist and even his enemies will unite against the King of kings, Jesus Christ. This will take place during the latter part of the Great Tribulation.
(3) Russia’s last-days war will not be with the US or the EU; rather it will be against Israel. Which leads us back to the Gog/Magog attack on Israel.
Why the Russian Coalition Assault on Israel Will Take Place after the Rapture
Let’s scrutinize the Ezekiel prophecy and see exactly what will happen and when; but also examine two events described in Revelation during the Tribulation that dovetail with Ezekiel. Among other things, we’ll see that “the distant future” (Ezekiel 38:8) of the God/Magog prophecy is unfolding now; that the Gog alliance is developing right before our eyes, providing more evidence that the Rapture is just around the corner.
The Russian Alliance: Nearly all Bible scholars recognize that the land of Magog is Russia and Gog is the Russian leader who will spearhead the operation against Israel. Moreover, several other nations, the most prominent of which is Iran, will be part of this coalition. (Ezekiel 38:5-6). Only in the past few years did Russia and Iran form an alliance which is a 21st century fulfillment of this prophecy.
Israel is the Target: Speaking to Gog, Ezekiel says, “…you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel” (Ezekiel 38:8). Two conditions describe Israel when this attack takes place. One of them has been fulfilled: Although not all Jews world-wide, millions of them have returned to the Promised Land. Yet, Ezekiel’s prophecy doesn’t state nor imply nor require that all Jews have returned to Israel. Not until the end of the Tribulation and into the Millennium will that happen. The most important feature of this verse and the entire Gog/Magog prophecy is that it refers to (the nation of) Israel. The very fact that Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948 and later captured and established Jerusalem as its capital again (1967) means that this prophecy applies to today’s Israel.
However, the second conditional status before Gog attacks Israel is not quite yet in place: Israel “…enjoying peace after recovering from war…”
When Is Israel Attacked? God through Ezekiel continues his prophecy against Gog: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: …You will say, ‘Israel is an unprotected land filled with unwalled villages! I will march against her and destroy these people who live in such confidence! I will capture vast amounts of plunder…’” (Ezekiel 38: 10-12). Then the Lord tells Ezekiel precisely when the Gog/Magog hordes will be unleashed. “Therefore, son of man, prophesy against Gog. Give him this message from the Sovereign Lord: When my people are living in peace in their land, then you will arouse yourself. You will come from your homeland in the distant north with your vast cavalry and your mighty army, and you will attack my people Israel…” (Ezekiel 38: 14-16).
Here, it’s crucial to understand the relevant conditions that entice Russia, Iran, and other nations to march against Israel. One is the fact that Israelis are “living in peace.” Second, because of this peace Israel has much more confidence than ever before; to the extent that she lets down her guard and protection. Israel will be surprised and unprepared.
Neither of these conditions currently exist in Israel. For sixty-six years since their rebirth as a nation, the Jews have constantly been at war with Arab nations and more recently with Muslim terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and now the Islamic State. Peace has been as elusive as a morning mist, despite the Oslo Peace initiatives in the early 1990’s and despite much rhetoric over a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian dilemma. Israel continues to build her military and is ever-ready to defend against attacks from Arab armies as well as Muslim terrorist cells. With the greatest threat of all looming constantly like a dark cloud over the land … a nuclear armed Iran. In fact, the recent battles with Hamas and the advances of ISIS have created a huge diversion of the world’s attention on Iran. Even the US has seemingly put their efforts to keep Iran from developing a nuclear warhead on a back burner. After all, what do you do with an enemy who is suddenly your ally against ISIS? Only Israel fully realizes that Iran is still the greatest threat, not Hamas and not ISIS.
When will these prophetic conditions of (false) peace and (fleeting) security exist in Israel? The answer is found in the book of Daniel … a passage that most scholars and many Christians are familiar with. “The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings…” (Daniel 9:27).
Most students of prophecy know that this ruler is the Antichrist; that this treaty will be with Israel and will take place soon after the Rapture. Furthermore, the ruler will break the treaty after 3 ½ years and put an end to the Jewish sacrifices that have been resumed with the rebuilding of the Temple soon after the treaty is ratified. Short of a massive attack by Arab nations against Israel, there is no other way that the Third Temple could be erected without this treaty. There is no other way for Israel and her Muslim neighbors to be at peace except for this (peace) treaty. Without such a treaty, there is no other condition of security available in Israel unless she is assured by the Antichrist and his ten-nation confederation that they will guarantee Israel’s safety.
Why the United States Cannot Challenge Russia and Will Not Come to Israel’s Defense during the Gog/Magog Assault
International Response When Russia Attacks Israel: “But Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish will ask, ‘Do you really think the armies you have gathered can rob them of silver and gold? Do you think you can drive away their livestock and seize their goods and carry off plunder?’” (Ezekiel 38:13). Often in Scripture when certain countries are identified—especially in a prophetic setting—these nations existing at the time of the prophecy are prototypes of many other nations that will interact with Israel during the last days. In this case Sheba and Dedan represent Arab nations in today’s world. Tarshish denotes leading Western nations including, I believe, the United States; and, by strong implication or connotation, the EU (Tarshish was ancient and modern Spain). Moreover, Antichrist’s ten kings/kingdoms coalition will be major nations of Europe to include countries like Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Holland, Great Britain, and probably even the United States—one of the three kings/kingdoms that Antichrist will force to join his ten kingdom confederation.
What is the Context & Meaning of this International Response to Gog’s Campaign against Israel? Because the beast of Revelation (Nero) will not yet have increased and consolidated his power base, the most he can or will do is to voice disapproval of Russia’s assault by doing nothing more than challenging Russia via political rhetoric. This challenge is in the form of questioning whether Russia is really capable of winning this war against Israel, either because Israel herself is a mighty military to be reckoned with or because the US and the EU just might come to Israel’s aid, or both.
Most importantly, why doesn’t the United States actively come to Israel’s defense as soon as America realizes what’s happening? For example, if Russia were to attack Israel today or in the very near future (prior to the Rapture), I firmly believe that America would take on Russia. For one, we currently have the military superiority to defeat even a nation as powerful as Russia. Two, despite President Obama’s specific dislike of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his general animosity toward Israel, the American people primarily through Congress would overwhelmingly support Israel, economically and militarily, should Israel be attacked.
But that is not the case after the Rapture! Why? Because the United States will be decimated by sheer loss of people … born again Christians. No one knows the number, but the numbers will be substantial, enough to deplete our military and our leaders to the point where Americans simply won’t have the capacity to defend themselves, let alone other nations like Israel. One recent statistic showed that one of every three people in the US claims to be a Christian of some sort. Although a large number of these are undoubtedly Christian in name only, there will be enough people in this country taken at the Rapture to make a significant impact on the entire nation; more so than any other nation on the earth.
On the other hand, the mostly godless nation of Russia will easily recognize the overnight catastrophic weakening of America, as well as the yet fragile, still-growing, and by and large ineffective coalition of the Antichrist and his followers. What better time for Russia and Iran to launch a massive attack against Israel than a few months after the Rapture? Thus, Ezekiel makes it clear that the opposition to this attack is with rhetoric only. Equally evident is that Russia and Iran ignore these verbal challenges and continue to march against the Holy Land.
Which is why the Lord, himself, will rescue Israel with a mighty display of omnipotent retribution. Moreover, I believe this divine reckoning is part of the seal judgments of Revelation! Let’s examine the correlation.
Matching Ezekiel with Revelation: God’s Crushing Defeat of Gog, but also Punishment of Those Nations Complicit in the Attack
In several prior Eye of Prophecy articles, I have emphasized the fact that God’s discipline of Israel (the Jews) ended in 1967. See the Seven Times Seven articles. Once Israel was reborn as a nation and captured the Holy City of the Holy Land, God no longer abandoned his special possession. Conversely, he once again protects Israel, which is not to say that Israel is exempt from hostility and aggression by her enemies. Evil people and nations still exist and Messiah’s final triumph over Israel’s enemies is still a (near) future event.
Which is why God, through Ezekiel, announces in no uncertain terms exactly what God’s response will be to this multi-national attempt to destroy Israel: “…When Gog invades the land of Israel, my fury will boil over! In my jealousy and blazing anger, I promise a mighty shaking in the land of Israel on that day … all the people on earth—will quake in terror at my presence. Mountains will be thrown down; cliffs will crumble; walls will fall to the earth … I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38: 18-23, italics for emphasis).
My purpose for emphasizing the italicized words is to point out that all people on earth will recoil in terror; further, that mountains, cliffs, and walls will crumble not just in Israel, but the world over. Though God’s power displayed against the hordes of Gog will indeed be impressive, people living far from the heat of the battle in Israel would have no reason to quake in terror unless they themselves were directly exposed to mountains, cliffs, and walls falling around and on them. Moreover, they will quake in terror at God’s very presence … meaning his presence in causing catastrophic natural disasters all over the earth. Does that sound a lot like what happens in Revelation? If you answer yes, you are correct, as we shall soon see.
I say this with a great deal of certainty, based on what comes next in Ezekiel Chapter 39. Let’s read it: “You and your army and your allies will all die on the mountains … You will fall in the open fields…” (Ezekiel 39:4). Previously in Chapter 38, Ezekiel declared that God will, “…punish you and your armies with disease and bloodshed: I will send torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and burning sulfur!” (Verse 22). Obviously, this is referring to the mountains and fields of Israel, as that is where Gog (Russia) and its armies have arrived to annihilate Israel. But what comes next is often overlooked by scholars, including me at one time.
Immediately after telling Gog that his armies and allies will perish within Israel itself, the Lord declares: “And I will rain down fire on Magog and on all your allies who live safely on the coasts. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 39:6). This is an extraordinary disclosure, one that plainly and emphatically refers not to just the destruction of Gog’s armies in Israel, but also the very motherland of Russia and citizens of other nations who were otherwise living and watching safely on the coasts.
We need to remember that Gog is the ruler who will lead multi-national armies against Israel. But Magog is the land itself from where Gog originates. (See Ezekiel 38:2). Thus, during this awesome display of divine intervention, God will simultaneously “rain down fire on Magog.” Russia itself will be devastated. But not just Russia. Who else? Her allies? Yes, but not the nations and armies who are directly participating in the attack against Israel. Rather, the text states, “your allies who live safely on the coasts.”
Do you see what’s going on here? These same nations who stood idly by while Russia (Gog) arrogantly marches against Israel, nations whose leaders could or would do nothing more than challenge Russia with mere words (did Russia really think they would succeed), will also suffer the wrath of God. There are several examples in the Old Testament where God punishes not just nations that were overtly hostile against Israel, but also those who condoned these attacks and who were complicit by refusing to help Israel, i.e. silent allies.
Matching Ezekiel’s Gog/Magog Destruction with Seal Judgments in Revelation
“I watched as the Lamb broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood … The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places. Then everyone—the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person—all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they cried to the mountains and the rocks. ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?’” (Revelation 6: 12-17).
In order, this is the sixth seal, but the first of twenty-one judgments (seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls) in which the entire earth fully realizes that the increasing apocalyptic events on earth are now directly from God and Messiah Jesus. Which is exactly what God is telling us when Ezekiel writes: “I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
That and the other correlations already discussed have convinced me that God’s mighty judgment of Gog, Magog, AND many other peoples/nations who directly or indirectly conspired against Israel is an integral part of the sixth and or seventh seal judgments. When Christ breaks the seventh seal, here’s what will happen: “Then the angel filled the incense burner with fire from the altar and threw it down upon the earth; and thunder crashed, lighting flashed, and there was a terrible earthquake” (Revelation 8:5, italics for emphasis).
Once again, this descriptive language closely matches what Ezekiel says, with the extremely strong connection that the 6th and/or 7th seal judgments are the world-wide catastrophes taking place at the same time that the Lord crushes the Gog invasion of Israel. “Fire will rain down on Magog and on all your allies who live safely on the coasts. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 39:6, italics for emphasis).
The quaking and shaking in Israel caused by God will not devastate Israel; but that same quaking (two massive earthquakes back to back in the 6th and 7th seal calamities) will move mountains and islands the world over. Israel will be partly damaged, but not overwhelmed, as Israel is not subject to God’s wrath. To the contrary, Israel will be protected—with the exception when Christ sets foot on the Mount of Olives, and a regional earthquake strikes Jerusalem after the two witnesses of Revelation 11 are raised from the dead and taken to heaven. In other words, why would God destroy the land of Israel all the while protecting it and the Jews from annihilation at the hands of Russia and Iran?
The apocalyptic imagery used in Ezekiel regarding the means of God’s divine vengeance against Russia, Iran, and the other nations that actively participate in the assault against Israel, and those countries that passively, apathetically, and indifferently look on, is remarkably similar to what we find in Revelation.
Things to Ponder
I trust that you’ve gleaned more insight on the Gog/Magog invasion against Israel. When it will occur, who will be involved actively and passively, what God will do in response, and how it correlates with two of God’s astounding judgments on the entire earth, all of which takes place during the Great Tribulation. The additional fact that the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments are chronologically successive coupled with the decimation of the United States by the Rapture and the still growing empire of Antichrist; tell us that the Gog/Magog war will occur within the first year or two of the Tribulation. But certainly before the Antichrist increases his authority.
For me, it brings the “distant future” Gog attack against Israel right down to the present time. Contemporary alliances of certain nations, the dizzying pace of world events unfolding one after another further demonstrates just how close we are to the breathtaking transformation of both the living and dead in Christ (Rapture). Followed by the greatest calamity the world has ever or will ever experience; ending with the majestic triumphant return of the Prince of Peace and King of all kings to put a stop to the carnage.
Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!