Today’s Text: Ezekiel 38:1-6
DISCERNING THE TIMES
Part of my early morning routine includes wading through the previous day’s snail-mail and email that accumulates overnight. I read everything—especially from sources that I won’t necessarily agree with—for a holistic overview. Some mail merits a speed-read and quick trip to the shredder or digital trash. While others, that mesh with my Judeo-Christian worldview, deserve careful attention.
Recently, information including a map depicting the countries of the Middle East with superimposed missiles pointed at the tiny State of Israel was sent to me. The map accurately depicts the current reality that has the potential to culminate in a large-scale invasion of Israel.
Reaching for my Bible, the 21st century parties involved portrayed on that map are not only described with astonishing detail, but predicted to unwittingly engage in an unanticipated outcome.
EZEKIEL 38:1-6 (Read the full chapter here: EZEKIEL 38)
“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say,
‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you.'”
The first six verses of Ezekiel 38 describe the assemblage of a vast army that will storm across Israel’s borders “like a cloud” in the last days (v. 9). The time frame for this invasion is simply designated as the “latter days” (v. 8, 16). Since nothing in history correlates with the event described in Ezekiel, we can logically deduce it is still a future event.
Considering another Old Testament prophecy described by the prophet Daniel, it seems plausible that this event will occur near the beginning of the 70th week of years—the seven years immediately preceding Messiah’s coming to establish His Messianic Kingdom on the earth (Dan. 9:24-27).
IDENTIFYING THE PLAYERS
Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, will be the leader of this future military campaign according to Ezekiel (Ez. 38:1). No personage in history answers to the name Gog (likely a title rather than an individual) and no geographic area has historically been called Magog; however, Rosh, Meshech and Tubal correspond to areas in Asia Minor inhabited by the ancient Scythians. As such, the region is associated with the southern part of modern day Russia including Crimea and Ukraine.
Did you take note that Russia “annexed” Crimea in 2014 and is currently amassing troops on the border of Ukraine? While the Western world nonchalantly watches, many outspoken leaders—including people of faith—believe these maneuvers are a precursor to a military invasion of Ukraine.
Persia is modern-day Iran with leaders regularly boasting their intentions to wipe Israel off the map. Over the past two decades, Russia has supplied expertise in the development of Iran’s ballistic missile program and recently finalized a deal to supply Iran with S-300 surface-to-air missiles. There is a growing relationship between Russia and Iran as they compete with the Western world for strategic dominance in the Middle East. Did you note the significance?
Ethiopia, a reference to the ancient land of Cush that includes modern-day Sudan and northern modern day Ethiopia, is predominantly Islamic with a mindset displayed in ongoing hostility toward Israel. Sudanese leaders have repeatedly voiced an unwillingness to normalize relations with Israel, the so-called, “Zionist enemy that will remain the enemy.” (1)
Libya continues to exist as a nation located to the north of Sudan. Once home to a thriving Jewish population, God’s Chosen People (with the exception of one elderly lady; now deceased) have not lived there for almost 50 years. Beginning in 1945, the Jewish community came under intense persecution. When Libya gained independence and was admitted to the Arab League in 1951, the majority of the Jewish population fled. The remaining Jewish inhabitants left when Muammar Gaddafi seized power in 1969, confiscated all Jewish property and cancelled all debts owed to the Jewish population.
Gomer and Togarmah essentially correspond to eastern and western Turkey, respectively. Did you note the recent coup attempt in Turkey? Regardless of the truth behind the perpetrators, President Erdogan of Turkey used the upheaval to purge his government of disloyal officials and military personnel and, “as an excuse to accelerate the Islamization of his country and to lead Turkey deeper into the darkness engulfing the Muslim world.” (2)
When Ezekiel wrote his prophecy, the idea that such an alliance of disparate people groups would form and descend upon the nation of Israel may have seemed far-fetched. The nations the prophet identified represented the outer fringe of his contemporary world. At that time, there appeared to be nothing that could draw these nations together in such an alliance.
Today, it’s a different world. Even a casual glimpse of the reality in our world identifies a commonality of purpose. Please understand, I am not being cynical or facetious when I ask—did you take note that the 21st century is a unique time in history?
While the Russian leader described in the text may or may not be interested in plundering Israel’s wealth and newly discovered energy resources, the hordes riding with him are committed to one goal—the absolute destruction of Israel. Descending on Israel, “like a storm, covering the land like a cloud,” their goal will be to overpower by sheer numbers (v. 9).
Although the fighting force depicted in Scripture will expect to take Israel unaware, God declares He waits for them (vv. 14-15). With face flushed in fury and speaking in the fire of His wrath, He will confront the invading throng (vv. 18-19).
God will use the mountains as weapons by sending a devastating earthquake to bring the rocks and cliffs down upon the invading army. He will also confuse Israel’s enemies causing them to turn their weapons on one another. Adding to the pain of confusion, flooding rain accompanied by great hailstones along with fire and brimstone will pummel the attackers (vv. 19-22).
God’s intervention will result in an extraordinary and spectacular victory over the enemies of Israel. In an unanticipated showdown, the enemies of Israel will be a graphic example the whole world will be forced to note.
Stating His purpose, God says, “Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord” (v. 23).
For the past decade, I have taught that the elements of this prophesied alliance are notably positioned. The invasion predicted in Ezekiel 38 could occur at any time.
In 2015, one significant piece of the puzzle fell into place. Russia began open military operations in Syria across Israel’s northern border; and, over the past 12 months, that participation has continued to escalate with Iran’s cooperation.
Without fail, I routinely encounter people who tell me they, “see no evidence that there is a God” or that, “If there is a God, He is impotent to intervene in the affairs of men.”
If examination of the many intricacies of creation does not generate profound faith in the Almighty, may I suggest you view world events through the lens of the prophetic passages of the Bible.
The bottom line is that the current events of our day-to-day reality signal close proximity to the climax of history. Are you spiritually awake enough to discern the signs of the times?
Determine to read and study the Bible every day. Your willingness to grasp the depths of God’s Word will yield an invaluable perspective on the unprecedented events taking place all around us.
The words of the apostle Paul remind us how important it is to be alert at this critical point in history: “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Rm. 13:11).
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)
1) Detail: Ezekiel 38, The Holy Bible. © Charles E. McCracken Archive. Photo courtesy, MKM Portfolios.
2) Bible opened to Ezekiel 38:1-6. © Charles E. McCracken Archive – Photo courtesy, MKM Portfolios.
Categories: Discerning the Times