By Nathan Jones
How did God deal with Israel for her rebellion, and will do so again?
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista of Miami's Calvary Chapel Aventura and I will continue our ongoing study of the Gog-Magog War found in Ezekiel 38-39.
Proof God's in Charge
Vic Batista: Going back to Ezekiel 39:21-24, is there anything else in this passage that you want to bring to our attention, Nathan? The passage again goes:
"I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward. The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them."
Nathan Jones: It's interesting that not only does God stand up as the Defender of Israel, but in doing so all the nations of the world sees God's judgment. There's no way that they can explain the destruction of Gog's armies. When you are talking about destruction by fire, giant hail, earthquakes and then all the nations that comprise these armies like Turkey turning on Iran's army and Russia turning on the Sudan's army — it will just be mass chaos! You don't usually have all these terrible events happening at one time. There's nobody who can explain these events away. God wins this war in such a way as to make sure that the world knows that God is real and that God is in charge.
When we look into the Tribulation, which is that seven-year time period that will come on the earth following the Gog and Magog War, we know that God will make it so that people will know that there is a God. They will have to choose Him, or not. They will have the choice to choose God, or Satan through the Antichrist. The world will get to the mid-point in the Tribulation when Satan requires people to take a mark of loyalty for him, called the Mark of the Beast. By the middle of the Tribulation, the world absolutely knows 100% that there is a God and they have to choose Him, or not. God makes it so difficult for humanity that they have to choose Him, or not. This I believe may be the beginning of that process, because the whole world will enter the Tribulation knowing that there is a God.
Vic Batista: Wow, that's amazing! That's why we see such an amazing parallel concerning much of what is happening today to how Israel behaved in the Old Testament. God is trying to make Himself known through media, television, evangelists and whatnot, but we find today there is still a rejection of God. With all the evidence of God around, people are still rejecting Him.
Nathan Jones: Yes, most people choose not to see the evidence because they want to live their lives the way they want to live them. Unfortunately, when we live our lives apart from the Source of life, we are like walking zombies. We are dead spiritually, and we make stupid mistakes and we hurt ourselves. Again and again our sin and our rebellion against God destroys us.
God doesn't want that for us. In fact, He loves us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son so that He could be the replacement for our punishment. The wrath of God was moved from us and onto His Son, Jesus Christ. If we put our faith and our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior, God's wrath moves onto His Son so that it's no longer on us anymore.
But, as John 3:36 says, for those who still reject His Son, God's wrath remains on them. They are still under that sentence of guilty and they will continue on to Hell one day. Hell's a terrible punishment, but it's a punishment that we deserve. We want God out of our lives, and He obliges.
Vic Batista: This is a serious matter that we are talking about. God does love you. He does have a plan for you. Nothing happens by coincidence, but by divine appointment. That you're reading this isn't a coincidence. It's not, right, Nathan?
Nathan Jones: Not at all! The Lord has a plan for each and every one of us. He created us because He loves us and He wants to have fellowship with us. You and I were created to have fellowship with God forever. That is our purpose and the reason for living. While we live on this earth, our lives are meant to be dedicated to doing good works and to share the Gospel of Jesus with others. That is our purpose. People will ask, "What is my purpose in life?" Your purpose is to have fellowship with God forever.
If you are living in rebellion against God, then you are not living up to your purpose. Your life is empty and meaningless because you are not living out your purpose, which is to have fellowship with Jesus Christ. God gave us His own Son to make that fellowship possible. What a sacrifice! Christ's death shows just how much He loves each and every one of us.
Vic Batista: When it comes to the study of Bible prophecy and the end times, we read there are going to be horrible events that will transpiring during this time and will be ongoing into the future. But, in the midst of these events, God is saying how much He loves you. There's still a chance for you to come to know Jesus, while there's still time. Those who do not accept the Lord now by rejecting Him and His salvation, while we do know that millions will be saved during the Tribulation, will then accept at the cost of their lives.
Nathan Jones: One of the other events that comes sometime around the time of this war is the Rapture of the Church. We can read about that event in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15 and in John 4. Jesus promises to return, to catch-up, to snatch-up, His Church. The word Rapture comes from the Latin rapio, meaning to take believers in Christ up to Heaven to be with Him forever before the wrath of God comes upon this earth.
When it comes to the timing of the Gog and Magog War, it could happen just before or at the very beginning of the Tribulation. That seems to be the best timing based on prophetic events. Likely the Rapture will happen beforehand, so we are talking about those who are left behind and who are still in rebellion against God will be living through these horrible, horrible times that are coming up ahead, including the Gog and Magog War.
A Remnant to Salvation
Vic Batista: Nathan, you highlighted a lot of wonderful things in Ezekiel 39, for God wants the nation of Israel to know how much He loves them. They've turned their backs on God and so judgment is going to come.
What else do we see unraveling here in the following verses in Ezekiel 39?
Nathan Jones: For the last 2,000 years or so, the Jewish people have been totally at odds against God. There remains a remnant of course. There are Orthodox Jews who follow the Torah. Of course there are Messianic Jews, which is a growing remnant of Jews who have accepted Yeshua, meaning Jesus, as the Messiah. But, overall, I can't give you exact figures, but I've read it's about 85% of Jewish people are Secular Humanists. They believe there is a God and they follow their traditions, but they are as liberal as can be. They have no desire to really know the Lord God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
When the Gog and Magog War happens, then the Jews of the world, and even some of the Gentiles, will see this miraculous defeat of such an amazing army lead by Russia against tiny Israel. Then they will know that there is a God. They will give up their Secular Humanism and they will turn to God. Imagine all the Jews of the world turning to God as their Father. But, they still won't accept Jesus as their Savior.
Throughout the seven years of the Tribulation, God will be using that carnage to bring a remnant to salvation. We read in various prophetic verses that only a third of the Jews will survive the Tribulation and accept Jesus as Savior, and that happens when Christ returns at the end of those seven years.
Vic Batista: Amazing! I do have to say that I agree somewhat with those numbers. I live in the Aventura area of Miami which is very Jewish. Those statistics you gave regarding their relationship with God, from my experience I agree with those.
Nathan Jones: I used to live in Philadelphia where every third person is Jewish. I had many Jewish friends, but they were very Secular Humanists. They kind of followed Jewish traditions. They celebrated Hanukkah, but that was about it. There was no love of God there.
After this Gog and Magog battle, and this is absolutely amazing, the heart of the Jew will turn back to God. That miracle I think is greater than God's defeat of the Gog and Magog army.
Vic Batista: It's just amazing when people open up the Bible and they study it. Be dedicated to reading the Word of God, and not only that, but stud Bible prophecy. It's sad that so many Christian pastors and leaders put Bible prophecy on the back burners like it's not that important. But, Bible prophecy is so crucial that people need to understand it.
Nathan Jones: Bible prophecy is indeed relevant for today, for it's what's happening out there right now.
Vic Batista: It's more relevant than the iPhone 6 even?
Nathan Jones: Yes, and Bible prophecy is more long lasting, too, because we are talking eternal repercussions. The iPhone will come and go, but the Word of the Lord will last forever.
Vic Batista: Yes, absolutely! There are so many avenues today which provide the freedom to be able to proclaim the soon return and the Good News of Jesus Christ. Yes, we can use iWatches or iPhones or iPads to study Bible prophecy, but the idea is that we want people to recognize prophecy is not about a technology. No, it's about a relationship with Jesus Christ.
In the twenty-first segment of our study of the Gog & Magog War of Ezekiel 38-39, Vic and I will begin covering the final points in this study.