By Nathan Jones
Will the Church be here to witness any of the prophetic Middle East wars firsthand?
On the April 16th edition of the radio program Prophecy Update, I was interviewed by Bill Salus, author of the popular Psalm 83-themed book Isralestine and evangelist on the end times website Prophecy Depot. Bill and I spent much of the interview discussing how social media has made a huge shift in how we do online evangelism. We also touched on the subject of the coming wars in the Middle East.
Bill Salus: Ezekiel 38 and 39 foretells of a Russian-Iranian-Turkey-Libyan coalition, actually nine populations groups listed by Ezekiel, that are going to come together to invade Israel one day. Joel Rosenberg and Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel are very concerned that this war could happen very soon, and rightfully so, because we looking at Iran marching ahead to get a nuclear weapon. Also, Russia and Iran have never been closer as far as their nations have been in their relationships with one another. Turkey is also upset with Israel and severed all political ties. There's a lot for students of Bible prophecy to watch there.
Another war we are watching out for is an Arab and Israel war, probably foretold in Psalm 83. The destruction of Syria's capital of Damascus described in Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 say Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a ruinous heap.
Nathan, do you believe that the world could wake up one morning and we could see the Psalm 83 and/or the Gog-Magog Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 start to happen soon, and if so, how sequentially?
Nathan Jones: I believe from following geopolitical events that the players involved in both of these Middle Eastern wars that Bible prophecy predicts are coming right along. The players are falling into their prophetically foretold places.
For instance, in just the last two years we've seen Turkey which has been almost totally secular politically in their views switch to becoming more of a fundamentalist Islamic regime. They've gotten rid of their ties to Israel and instead made ties with Israel's sworn enemies Iran and Syria. The Bible in Ezekiel 38-39 says that Turkey will become one of the nations that comprise the Gog-Magog coalition that will attempt to attack Israel.
We are also seeing Russia pulling the puppet strings behind Iran and stopping all of our embargoes that we as Western nations have been trying to impose on Iran in an attempt to stop them from developing a nuclear weapon. Both Russia and China keep on thwarting our efforts on achieving that end goal. The reason for the interference is that Russia has a vested interest in the Middle East. They have been sending warships down to Syria, basically challenging us to stay out of Syria and to let them handle their own internal problems. Russia sells arms to Syria and so has a vested interest in Assad remaining in power.
We've witnessed in this age Russia and Iran and Turkey all becoming united, along with those 'Stans nations that are just filled with Al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations. So, the Gog-Magog coalition politically and religiously under Islam has already formed.
I a long time I've wondered when reading Ezekiel 38-39's coalition of nations, what's the deal with Egypt and Libya which now seem to be at peace with Israel? The answer came when the Arab Spring ended that peace, and now Egypt is totally in the grasp of Sharia parties running for election. Egypt has become a very tumultuous place politically right now. A lot of talk coming out of the Egyptian government is that they are going to get rid of their Oslo Accords peace treaty with Israel. We can be sure Egypt will follow in Lybia's footsteps, for when Kaddafi fell the more Sharia-loving Muslim Brotherhood took over power in Libya.
So, the final two nations that God predicted through Ezekiel are starting to join with the Russian-Iranian-Turkish coalition that has already formed.
Nathan Jones: Interestingly, when we read Ezekiel 38 and 39, there is a noted absence of the adjoining nations to Israel. They just aren't listed in the Gog-Magog coalition. We then have to assume that there must be another prophecy that happens before Ezekiel 38-39.
Bill, I think you've brought that absence up very well and shed the limelight on Psalm 83 as a potential solution. With the absence of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, and Egypt, we could assume that Israel at some point will have to subdue these hostile Arab neighbors. Terrorists like Hamas run Gaza. Terrorists like Hezbollah run Lebanon. Assad may be falling in Syria and the terrorist-backed rebels may take over, but both are openly hostile to Israel. Israel is going to have to deal with these violently hostile bordering nations because they are always a trigger-pull away from engaging them in all-out war.
So, I'd have to put a Psalm 83 war before an Ezekiel 38-39 invasion takes place.
Nathan Jones: Before the Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39 wars, or possibly as a component of one of them, Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 tell us that Damascus will be destroyed in one day by Israel. We're talking about the utter annihilation of an entire city in just one night.
Damascus is the oldest city in the world with 1.67 million people living there. It's so old in fact it hails all the way back to Noah's son Shem's time. It's that old! One day, though, the Bible says Damascus for all its long age will cease to be a city and become a heap of ruins.
Why would Israel have to destroy Damascus? I think we are seeing the reason come clearer as a whole lot of the arms trade resulting in disastrous weapons pointed at Israel is channeled through Damascus. If Israel feels that its back is against the wall, it would attack Damascus to end that threat. A matter of fact, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reiterated that point back in August of 2008. He said that Israel would not hold back its full strength in the face of renewed attacks if Northern Israel was massively attacked. Israel would use their ultimate weapon against them to keep the remaining hostilities at bay. Israel knows that every city in their country could be attacked now that their enemies' missiles can reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The enemies of Israel now have rockets with ranges capable of hitting Israel's major cities.
Nathan Jones: People ask if the Church will be here to witness Damascus being destroyed, or the Gog-Magog coalition attacking Israel. I don't think the Church will be here for Ezekiel 38-39 as there's a fundamental shift in focus from the Church to Israel. The result of the Gog-Magog Battle is that God will be made known to the world and right now He's known through the Church. To me, that war seems to take place after the Rapture of the Church. It's a post-Rapture event.
Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17, well, we might very well be here to watch Israel subdue its Arab neighbors and stare in shock at Damascus falling to a nuclear weapon.
Bill Salus: I concur with you on everything you said in respect to even the thought of the Church not being here to experience Ezekiel 38-39 coming into fulfillment. First of all, every one of those prophetic events you just talked about like Isaiah 17, Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39, they will adversely affect the world at large. At a time when economies are on the verge of collapsing, the very last thing we need is to see is these types of game-changing events happen in the Middle East, at least from a secular perspective.
Of course, as Christians we realize knowing these prophetic wars are coming that in the urgency of this final hour we need to get the message out that God is in control. He foretold these events and they point to the fact of Jesus' return must be coming soon.
As a supporter of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture, I see these end times wars timing as pre-Tribulational Isaiah 17, a pre-Tribulation Psalm 83, and a pre-Tribulation Ezekiel 38. The Tribulation of course will be that seven year period called "Daniel's Seventieth Week" where the judgments of God are executed. The wrath of God will be poured out on sinful humanity because they have rejected Christ and His salvation.
Very specific events that we are watching in the news right now undeniably show that the nations of the Middle East are near or at their end times positions of readiness. Though alarming, that should encourage people to realize that we could very well be on at the very end of the timeline in respects to the awful prophetic events that must occur.
So, you don't think the Church will be here for Ezekiel 38-39. I believe the only way the Church wouldn't be here for that event would be if we were raptured out prior.