By Nathan Jones
Will Russia surprise attack Israel?
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista of Calvary Chapel Aventura located in the Miami, Florida area and I will continue our ongoing study of the Gog-Magog War found in Ezekiel 38-39.
Ezekiel 38:7-9 — The Horde
Nathan Jones: The main player in the Gog & Magog War is a leader named Gog from the country called Rosh. Rosh is an ancient term for the Scythians. The Scythians were the forerunners of what is today Russia. The name every sounds kind of similar: Rosh and Russia.
So, this Gog who is supposed to be the leader of Russia, he puts together a coalition of nations which includes the 'Stan nations, Turkey, Iran, Sudan, Libya, and others. He puts all these nations together and he comes to go to war against Israel. This is the dramatic way chapter 38 begins.
Vic Batista: People who are familiar with the situation in Russia, and people who are familiar with these modern countries' names, have already been seeing this alliance lining up right before our eyes, correct?
Nathan Jones: Exactly. These nations literally go all the way from Russia all the way down to the Sudan. That's a massive amount of territory! Ezekiel covers nations that historically have had no political alliance whatsoever. But, when this Gog & Magog War comes about as Ezekiel is going to tell us, this alliance of nations that has never existed before will form.
It's very interesting today as we watch the news and follow current events how Russia can't go west into the European Union and it can't drive east into China and Japan. Russia is forced to keep its eyes and armies heading south. Russia has been making all sorts of alliances with Iran, Turkey, and Syria. We see that Russia has its eyes on the Middle Eastern oil. So, it is interesting to see these nations that have never had any allegiance before now starting to have allegiances between themselves.
Vic Batista: There's a lot of wealth in the Middle East with oil and natural gas, which may be the reason Russia has an interest there.
Nathan Jones: Yes, Russia produces a tremendous amount of natural gas. Europe is pretty much tied to Russia because of its need for a natural gas supply. The gas all flows out of Russia by pipeline through the Ukraine. So, if anyone has to guess, Russia will more than likely take the Ukraine without really Europe doing much about it because they are dependent on Russia for their natural gas.
Power has never been enough for Russia. It seems like the need for an empire is built in their DNA. They want to conquer the world. Russia has been driven by it and they have tried a number of times to achieve it.
As we read about this future war, Russia will look down upon the natural wealth of the Middle East and they will covet it. We learn about their desire particularly in the next verse. Israel will have something that Russia wants. God says that Russia will have "hooks" put in their mouth so that they're dragged down south. The reason is that they want something from Israel.
Verse 7-9 reads, "Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them. After many days you will be visited. In the latter years," in other words the end times, "you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword." The Jewish people were brought back from the world and into their land again. "...And gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely. You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you."
Here's the scene now. We've got Russia leading a coalition of nations, which interestingly happen to all be tied together by Islamic roots, and now they want to destroy a people who have been regathered back into the land that was desolate. After 70 AD, when the Romans attacked Israel, it took Rome three years of sieging Jerusalem before they finally destroyed the city. The Romans decimated the land in the process. They cleaned out all the trees and they left Israel a total wasteland.
Israel remained a wasteland until the late 1800's when the Jews started going back to resettle the Holy Land. The Jews took that destroyed and desolate land and they started turning it into a garden again. I've been to Israel three times and you can't believe what a garden that place is now compared to what it was just 100 years ago.
Vic Batista: I haven't made it myself there yet, but I've seen the pictures and the wonderful materials that Lamb & Lion Ministries has published and they show an absolutely amazing transformation of the land.
Nathan Jones: It is amazing. The Jews have taken a desert wasteland and turned it into a tropical paradise. There are flowers and fruit everywhere you go across Israel. They have taken that desolate land and brought it back to life again, just as Ezekiel prophesied.
Dwelling in Safety
Nathan Jones: Ezekiel also prophesied that the Jewish people would be regathered back into their homeland again to live in safety. We are seeing the Jewish people coming back into Israel again and dwelling relatively safely, which is a prerequisite for the Gog & Magog invasion. Israel has to feel they are dwelling safely enough.
Whether the Israelis are dwelling safely behind their military, which they have one of the most powerful militaries in the world, or they are dwelling safely because they won a victory over their hostile neighbors, we don't know for sure. Some assume this safety is earned due to a Psalm 83 War, which is a war some believe has Israel conquering their neighbors and finally having peace from them. We are not sure of that component. But, Ezekiel tells us that Israel has to be in a state of peace and safety before this invasion comes.
Vic Batista: That point about Israel dwelling in safety is where we find some individuals have different views. Some time this war during the middle of the Tribulation or sometime thereafter, but we know that Israel has to be in a place of peace.
Nathan Jones: It's interesting when we read about these nations, and I'm going to call them the Outer Ring, because there is an Inner Ring of nations missing from Ezekiel's war scenario. This Inner Ring are nations that directly border Israel like Egypt, Gaza, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. All these nations are directly boarding Israel, but for some reason they are not listed in this major prophecy.
Many Bible prophecy scholars now believe that Psalm 83 solves that predicament. Israel at some point will according to this Psalm have to subjugate the countries that surround them so that they can stop being attacked from every single direction. Afterwards then, this Outer Ring of Islamic nations comes down and attacks Israel.
I believe a Psalm 83 War occurring before the Gog & Magog War makes sense. We are very close to actually seeing Israel finally having to do something about their hostile neighbors. If this scenario is true, then Israel will at some point go into Gaza and Lebanon and put down some more attacks by these and the other bordering nations. I think the hostility of these nations will get so bad as Psalm 83 says that Israel will finally have to subjugate those nations. Then they will finally obtain a temporary time of peace. But, that is when Russia will decide to go down into the Middle East and claim their natural gas reserves. Israel has found a number of natural gas reserves in the Sea, so Russia will come down to steal the wealth of Israel as well.
Vic Batista: It is like dealing with a bully. After a while you have to say, "Enough is enough!" All these nations which border Israel have always been bullying Israel since she became a nation once more. It's always the case when it comes to being the little kid dealing with the big bully in class. Finally that little kid says they're going to fight back. That is what will happen with Israel.
Nathan Jones: Israel is a tiny country. It's only the size of New Jersey. Can you imagine the entire might of North America attacking New Jersey? That is what it is like to be in Israel. It is a tiny little country against the might of the Arab world constantly threatening to wipe it off the map. That's what life is like for the Israeli.
The Time for Salvation
Vic Batista: I hope that this study of the Gog & Magog War will give people a better understanding of Ezekiel 38-39. I want to encourage people to be good students of the Word of God. We know the Lord is coming soon. He can come at any moment and all of what we are talking about can start coming true. We already can start seeing the stage being set right before our very eyes.
So, I encourage people to keep your eyes on Jesus. Have that saving relationship with Him. If Jesus were to come today, would you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you would be going to Heaven with Him?
Nathan Jones: Pastor Vic, you so wonderfully stated it so well. You are wanting to give us hope about the future. We are seeing prophecies being fulfilled in our day, and that means Jesus Christ is coming back soon. People need to understand that in order to get their hearts and minds right and ready for Him.
Vic Batista: The most important thing in life is that you know Jesus Christ personally. That's why Nathan and I are here doing these studies. We're not just learning Bible prophecy, but about evangelism so the lost will be saved.
In the fourth segment of our study of the Gog & Magog War of Ezekiel 38-39, Vic and I will continue to study chapter 38.