Russia on Edge

By Tim LaHaye

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, 0 Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal ... (Ezekiel 38:3).

More than 2,500 years ago, God gave the prophet Ezekiel an astonishing prophecy to give to the world, one that would be fulfilled in "the latter days." Many Bible scholars feel that prophecy, found in Ezekiel 38 and 39, is being fulfilled in our lifetime. The prophecy involved a then-unknown nation that would become powerful in "the latter days" or end times. Incredibly, that prophecy, regarding the nation of Russia and her many allies in the Arab nations of the world, began to be fulfilled during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, shortly after Israel began gathering back into the Holy Land.

Prior to Ezekiel 36 and 37, which predicted the regathering of the nation Israel into her homeland, Ezekiel had issued many prophecies against the longstanding enemies of Israel-the Assyrians, Egyptians, Chaldeans, Babylonians and lesser city states that include Tyre and Sidon. Then suddenly, in chapters 38 and 39, the prophet threw a historical hand grenade into the prophetic mix by singling out the totally unknown nation of Russia, referred to as "Magog," a nation mentioned only twice in all the Bible up to that point in Old Testament history.

Even after that prophecy, Russia remained obscure for two millennia! The Babylonians and Assyrians passed off the scene of history and were replaced by the Medo Persians, Greeks and Romans, just as another great Hebrew prophet of that era, Daniel, had predicted. Now all of those nations are extinct, and Russia, until recently, was a superpower. The thrilling part is that Russia's rise to power occurred in the last 70 years.

If that doesn't sound incredible to you, it should. You can be sure that skeptics would ridicule the Bible if Russia were not on the world scene today as the global community runs wildly toward its planned one-world government and, ultimately, to Armageddon itself. But what I find so significant is that this prophecy came immediately after the prediction of Israel's regathering (Ezekiel 36-37), as though the two prophecies were related. And they are! For both Israel's rebirth as a nation and Russia's ascension as a major player on the world scene were outgrowths of World War 1. The first World War, as I explain in my book, Are We Living in the End Times? was a fulfillment of our Lord's own prophecy of the first sign (or "birth pain") of His "coming and of the end of the age" (see Matthew 24:18). It was more than coincidental that of the 15,000 wars in human history, the one unique enough to be a "sign of the end" (World War 1) plus the "super sign of the end" (as some call Israel being regathered into the land) plus Russia's rise to being a dominant player on the world scene all had their beginnings in the years spanning 1914 to 1917. Add the fulfillment of other signs that originated during that same timeframe, and we realize that was a most significant time in human history. It was the beginning of the "birth pains" that would increase like a woman in travail until the tribulation itself begins-just seven years prior to the glorious appearing of Christ to this earth.

Note that Russia didn't burst on the world scene at the same time Israel became a nation. However, it is very significant that Russia has broken all records in mankind's long history of its inhumane treatment of its fellow man. For it was in communist Russia that Satan seemed to inculcate all the evils of the ages in his grand scheme to control the world. Using the power of government, its agencies, money and other influence, Russia spread the most deadly atheistic ideology the world has ever known. Dr. Bigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor for President Jimmy Carter, called this communist-dominated century the most barbaric in all human history. In his book Out of Control, he wrote, "During the twentieth century, no less than 167,000,000 lives-and quite probably in excess of 175,000,000-were deliberately extinguished through politically motivated carnage .... This is more than the total killed in all previous wars, civil conflicts, and religious persecutions throughout human history."'

If you examine his list, you would find that the inhumane ideology called communism, primarily fostered from Russia, was the foremost cause for these deaths. For decades, the hard-core, world conquest communists conducted world congresses on communism in their country for delegates from China, India, North Korea, Asia and every other nation in the world, including the United States. These congresses were little more than indoctrination programs that showed delegates how to return home to overturn existing governments and impose that atheistic form of socialism, or communism, on their homelands. This ideology, which has been a fire in the minds of godless people for more than 200 years, finally found its resting place in the former Soviet Union and now resides big time in Russia and many other countries to which it has been transported. There is no more satanically inspired evil in today's world. Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan was right when, in 1983, he shocked the world by calling Russia "an evil empire."

Do not be deceived by the fall of the Soviet Union. Communism is not dead. It is still on its relentless path of satanically inspired world domination, just as the Bible prophesied it would in the end time. In fact, if Russia is going to do what the prophets predicted, which we will discuss in this chapter, it better get to it soon or the nation will be discarded for other satanically inspired centers like Beijing, China. (But I predict Russia will fulfill this prophecy sometime in the next decade.)

The Coming Destruction of Russia

No rational person takes pleasure in the destruction of an entire nation, not even when that destruction is an act of judgment by a righteous, sovereign God. Russia is unquestionably the nation identified in the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39. But it is not sufficient just to say that Bible scholars for several hundred years have interpreted those chapters as referring to Russia. We must be more explicit than that, for ascertaining the proper identity of "Gog" and "Magog" is essential to the interpretation of this passage. Therefore I suggest three reasons that confirm the identity of the nation predicted to invade Israel in the last days.

Russia's Philosophy

God said through the prophet Ezekiel, "Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; behold, I am against thee, 0 Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal" (Ezekiel 38:2,3 KJV). We have already seen in the Bible that God is against "Magog" (the country) and "Gog" (the chief prince of the country). Why would a loving God who has always been for mankind be against this nation? Because the nation is against Him. Magog exhibits her antagonism toward God by opposing humanity, the especial object of God's love; defying God's Word; and, above all, antagonizing God's people, the nation of Israel. Philosophically and religiously, the nation of Russia qualifies in every way. It is antiGod, anti-human, anti-Bible, and anti-Israel. But there is another reason for recognizing Magog as Russia.

Russia's Geographical Location

A second significant reason to identify Russia as Magog is its geographical location. The Bible usually describes geography in relation to Israel. For example, "south" means south of Israel; "north" signifies north of Israel. The only likely exception would come in this instance because Ezekiel was in Babylon when he spoke the prophecy. A case could be made that the prophet may have meant "north of Babylon" when he said, "You will come from your place in the far north" (Ezekiel 38:15) (for that is where the prophet was when God gave him this prophecy), or, "I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel" (Ezekiel 39:2).

Etymological Evidence

Etymology, the study of linguistic changes and the history of words, is a third way to support the identity of the nation in Ezekiel's prophecy. Magog is an ancient name for the nation now known as Russia. Gog, as we've noted, merely means "the chief prince of Magog," or more literally, the chief prince of "Meshech and Tubal."

Genesis 10 helps to establish the identity of these people. Magog was the second son of Japheth who, according to Josephus, the great Jewish historian, settled north of the Black Sea. Tubal and Meshech were the fifth and sixth sons of Japheth, and their descendants settled south of the Black Sea. It is believed that these people intermarried and became known as Magog, the dominant tribe. The name Moscow derives from the tribal name Meshech; and Tobolsk, the name of the principal state, comes from Tubal. The noun Gog is from the original tribal name Magog, which gradually became Rash, then Russ, and today is known as Russia.

Bible scholars anticipated Russia becoming a dominant power in the end time even when it was literally a nonentity as a nation. Early in this century Russia was still a second-rate influence in the affairs of nations; in 1905 tiny Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War.

Why Will Russia Attack Israel?

I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses, and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia [Cush], and Libya [Put] with them; all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer, and all his band; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands; and many people with thee. Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm; thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.

Thus saith the Lord GOD; it shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: and thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, to take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land. Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil? Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; in that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it? (Ezekiel 38:4-12 KJV).

During the past 80 years, Russian diplomats and foreign policy strategists have proven that they are much smarter than their Western counterparts. It seems like every time diplomats engage them in conference, the people lose land, friends, people or rights. What would make a former superpower like Russia at the end time abandon the path of diplomacy and attack the nation of Israel? There are three possible reasons.

1. Russia's Longstanding Hatred

History clearly shows that the Jews cannot be intimidated by the Russians or anyone else. We can be certain that the Russians are not pleased with Israel's four military victories since 1949. It is highly possible that the Russians will finally decide they cannot defeat the Israelis through their Arab allies without personally engaging them on the field of combat. This decision could be the one that summons them to march against Israel.

2. Plunder, Spoil, and Wealth

In Ezekiel 38:12,13 we read, "I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land." Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, "Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?"

These verses seem to suggest two important possibilities. One is that the economic conditions of Israel are destined to improve and those of the Soviet Union will deteriorate. We have already seen that, as a result of the peace treaties made between the Jews and the Arabs, Israel will experience a time of phenomenal material blessing, making her an object of greed on the part of the Russian rulers and their Arab allies. In fact, today Israel's gross national product exceeds $100 billion annually. This is ten times that of the nation's five closest Arab neighbors.

The future is not so bright for Russia. One way in which God has manifested His displeasure with Russia as a nation during the past eight decades lies in her total economic failure under communism. The Crimea was known under the czars as "the breadbasket of the world." The wheat harvested there was bountiful and more than sufficient for the needs of the Russian people, and large quantities were exported to other nations of Europe.

Since the Russian Revolution, however, that nation's severe weather has worsened, producing some of t he harshest winters on record. Russia has become notorious for poor wheat crops-partly because of the weather and partly because of the lack of motivation among the Russian people under communism. Reports from Russia that scientists have desperately tried to manipulate the weather are probably fraudulent. If they are true, they give evidence that the scientific endeavors have not worked-and have even made the situation worse. Economic judgment from God is destined to continue, bringing the need to purchase increasing quantities of foreign grain.

3. God's Sovereign Will

The primary reason Russia will invade Israel is that God has decreed it. Ezekiel 38:3,4,8 declares: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ... I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army-your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords ... After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety.

Ezekiel 39:2 adds, "I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel." Ezekiel 38:10 states: "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme." The attack on Israel is conceived and mobilized by Almighty God. This implies that God will stir the Russians' greedy plan, fulfilling Ezekiel 38:4, "1 will put hooks in your jaws and bring you out."

In studying these two chapters of Ezekiel, I sense that God will pour out His wrath upon Russia not only to demonstrate His power, but also to heap judgment on those who have persecuted human beings, especially Israel.

The prophetic scenario is plain: Russia does not have Israel as her primary target. Russia's major objective has admittedly been world conquest. One way in which the communists have been consistent for the last 80 years is in their implacable movement toward that primary objective. God has proclaimed that He raises up whom He will and puts down whom He will (Ezekiel 21:26; Daniel 4:34,35). Even at the end time, when Russia reigns as a superpower, God will still be in control, for He is able to "put hooks in her jaw" and lead "her" to obey His will.

Russia's Allies in the Attack on Israel

From a careful study of ancient and modern national players in the Middle East region, we learn that a dominant leader called Gog, described as the "chief prince of Rosh," is going to arise and lead Russia into a vast northeastern confederation of nations including Iran, Ethiopia and other African nations, Germany, Armenia, possibly Turkey, conceivably some Oriental countries and whoever else can be included within the statement, "and many peoples with thee." This group of nations, headed by Russia, will advance against Israel in the last days.

The Russian Invasion of Israel

Some 2,500 years ago the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel described in considerable detail the circumstances under which communist Russia and her hordes of anti-Semitic nations would attempt to invade the little nation of Israel. (See Ezekiel 38:4,8,9,15,16.) There are two legitimate ways to interpret the kind of weapons used in this prophecy-literally and symbolically. Bible-believing scholars can be found on either side.

A literal interpretation of the passage suggests that modern methods of warfare will someday become obsolete, and man will return to primitive weapons. That is not as far- fetched as it may appear. For years, electronic scientists have reportedly been working on long-range heat-ray devices that would have the capacity to render metallic surfaces so hot they could not be touched. If such an invention were produced by the West, Russia could not invade Israel with tanks, bazookas and modern weaponry. It would have to resort to horses. Metal weapons would be replaced with wooden; these would not be wooden swords and spears as used in ancient days, but implements fashioned with enormous strength out of basic wood materials, seasoned with resin, or lignostone, or other chemically treated woods that already are used industrially and have an amazingly long burn life.

If, on the other hand, the passage is to be taken symbolically, the prophet Ezekiel is merely describing implements of war in terms meaningful to his contemporary audience. We must always remember that the Bible was written to specific people at a specific time and must therefore relate to them. If the prophet 2,500 years ago had referred to tanks, half - tracks, aircraft carriers and airplanes, no one would have understood what he meant.

Regardless of which approach we take in interpreting this passage of Scripture, we know that Russia will mount a massive military attack on Israel, and only God will be Israel's defense. God's supernatural intervention will save her.

"The Hordes" Who Join the Invasion

Russia almost never does anything alone. We have already seen that when it pursued a goal unilaterally, as in Afghanistan, it got bogged down in an endless war. That is usually not Russia's style. Instead, it prefers to supply the military technology and money to its satraps such as the Palestine Liberation Organization, Cuba, Syria and Egypt. Consequently, when Russia comes down to invade Israel, she will use the Middle East hatred of the Jews to her advantage and inveigle these nations to help in the fighting. This will probably be the most massive invasion army assembled in the history of the world-all in opposition to Israel, a nation of less than 5 million people. For the first time since World War 11, Israel will be betrayed by its friends.

Two Confederations of Nations

I am convinced that the invasion described by Ezekiel is not the battle of Armageddon, the warfare between Jesus Christ and the nations described in Revelation 16. First, at this time there will be two leagues of nations: the northeastern confederation that invades with Russia, and the western confederation that has befriended Israel in the past. Second, in Ezekiel's account, only a certain number from the armies of the world will march against the Jews. In the battle of Armageddon, armies will come from all the countries of the world against Christ-not Israel. Yet, while this warfare will not be the real battle of Armageddon, to the participants it will seem like it.

We have already identified some of the nations of the Northeastern Confederation that will join Russia. The western confederation of nations also appears in Ezekiel's prophecy. "Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, 'Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?"' (Ezekiel 38:13).

Who are these nations that greet force with diplomacy? Little doubt the western confederation comprises the democracies of the West, principally the United States, Great Britain and Canada. "Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish" were the seafaring Phoenicians, many of whom migrated to Europe, particularly the British Isles and Spain. These countries, the colonizers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, provide the only vigorous anticommunist spirit in the world today.

The King James version renders "Tarshish and her villages" in verse 13 as "Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof." For this reason, many Bible scholars identify America, Canada, Australia and other western democracies as the "cubs" of Great Britain and Spain, the colonizers of the West. Certainly that is historically valid. Therefore, this probably does identify the nations of the prophecy.

It stands to reason that Russia does not take the entire world in its war against Israel. At a time when two confederations of nations exist-basically communist versus anticommunist-Israel is allied with the anticommunists, as it is today. Unfortunately for Israel, instead of meeting communist force with force, the western democracies will meet the invasion with diplomacy. This historically represents the weak response of the democracies in both the world wars and in almost every conflict since.

Instead of sending help at the moment when Israel needs support, its allies will send a diplomatic note (perhaps through the United Nations) that essentially inquires of Russia and her hordes, "What are you going to do in little Israel-loot and carry away silver and gold and seize many riches?" This may be the most breathtaking, dramatic moment in the history of modern Israel. Until that time, that tiny nation could depend at least on the United States.

God Delivers Israel

The scenario that develops at this point in our prophetic story is exciting. Confronted by overwhelming forces from Russia and forsaken by her friends, Israel will turn to God, and He will do for modern Israel what He did for ancient Israel. As the God over all forces, He will deliver Israel from the hands of her oppressor. As certain as it is that Russia and her Middle East hordes will come down against Israel, so it is that God will destroy the invading forces and deliver Israel supernaturally. And the prophet doesn't leave us in doubt as to the methods God will use in this destruction. It is noteworthy that this is not the first time they will have been used by the Almighty, for all of them have precedence in the Old Testament.

A Mighty Earthquake

In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground (Ezekiel 38:19,20).

Evidently, the Russians and their hordes are allowed to begin an airborne invasion while the infantry launches a ground assault. But at a strategic moment, God generates a powerful and destructive earthquake that causes people to tremble at His presence. This catastrophe will manifest the power of a supernatural God. Earthquakes were, of course, used by God in ancient days; Amos 1: 1 and Zechariah 14:5 recount the terrible earthquake that rocked the land of Palestine in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah. It was no doubt a special intervention of God that caused that earthquake.

Jesus predicted that earthquakes would be one of the signs of His return and the end of the age (Matthew 24:7,8). The record shows that we have experienced an alarming increase in earthquakes during the past several decades. (Read chapter 3: "Famines, Earthquakes, Pestilences" for more information.) We should also remember that the book of Revelation predicts that during the first quarter of the tribulation, a mighty earthquake will create havoc throughout the entire world (6:12-17). Another earthquake in the middle of the tribulation will rock the city of Jerusalem (Revelation 11: 13), and still another at the end of the tribulation could well be the mightiest earthquake ever to shake the earth (Revelation 16:17-21). Consequently, it is not unreasonable that God might use His power to create earthquakes in defense of Israel when Russia's armies come against her.

The Sword of the Lord

I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man's sword will be against his brother (Ezekiel 38:21). Nothing shakes man from his independence and false sense of security like an earthquake, particularly one having the magnitude that God will provide for Israel's deliverance. And because Israel is no match for the invading hordes of military personnel about to devour it, the Lord will confuse its enemies, and they will do battle with each other. If they are using tanks, they will train them on each other. If they are using airplanes, they will dogfight against their own planes. Or if, as discussed earlier, they have reverted to more primitive weapons of warfare, Israel's enemies will skirmish among themselves rather than against their originally intended foe.

One precedent for such an incredible event appears in Judges 7:8-22, where the story is told of a large army becoming so con fused that the soldiers attacked each other and fled in fright from a mere 300 Israelites.

Plague and Bloodshed

I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed. (Ezekiel 38:22). History shows that plagues have often accompanied the wanton killing of human beings in battle. Human carnage, blood and the remains of a battlefield breed disease. But in the case of Russia's invasion of Israel, the plague seems to be something uniquely manipulated by God to further destroy the effectiveness of the enemy. The next judgment to befall the invaders is a plaguelike pestilence that causes much bloodshed. Pestilence associated with the aftermath of war is similar to that foretold by our Lord in Matthew 24. Those who survive the earthquake and the hand-to-hand combat will certainly perish in the plague.


... I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him (Ezekiel 38:22). The portion of the invading force left after the earthquake, the fighting and the plague will be destroyed by hailstones and burning sulfur. For those who interpret Ezekiel 38:22 literally, there are Old Testament precedents both in the destruction God rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah and in some of the battles of Israel. For example, Joshua 10:11 states that when Joshua's armies fought against the Amorites, "The Lord hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites."

This final stage in God's judgment on the invaders could create not only a muddy terrain that would bog down any military advance, but also flooding conditions that would imperil human life.

Burning Sulfur

The use of burning sulfur as a means of judgment recalls the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, with both earthquake and fire and brimstone (burning sulfur). The troops who survive the other four judgments will die as a result of the falling sulfur. No wonder God says in Ezekiel 39:4: "On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you."

These five judgments of God will result in the annihilation of the armies of Gog and their allies. This will undoubtedly be the greatest holocaust fulfilled in a single day in the history of the world.... But there is more.

God Destroys the Spies "in the Isles"

"Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops-the many nations with you" (Ezekiel 38:5,6). As a special demonstration to the world of God's omnipotence, Ezekiel gives the unusual prophecy that God will not only destroy the entire army of Magog, but He will also consume with fire those who "live in safety in the coastlands." Bible scholars understand the word coastlands to mean "the nations"; some older translations render it "in the isles."

Who would qualify as those who live in nations not involved in the conflict? They could be individuals who live in safety or security on islands, or this could refer to uninvolved coastland nations. The verse probably refers to the many communist/socialist spies and sympathizers who live in the western democracies who regularly take advantage of their freedom by pursuing subversion for the cause of world socialism. Such spies or communist infiltrators occupy many key positions throughout America-in the burcaucracy, universities and colleges and the media-and subvert the minds of our citizens. One national magazine has said there are more Marxist professors in American colleges and universities than any other country in the world.

These people who have spent much of their adult life betraying the country that gives them freedom and safety will suddenly be consumed by fire. The United States will not have to reactivate tile House Committee on Un-American Activities to administer justice. Rather, the God who knows "the thoughts and intents of the heart" will judge these traitors by fire. We can only imagine the number of vacancies that will occur in one day in the federal and state governments and in the 3,000 universities and colleges of America. In all likelihood, this same judgment will create similar vacancies in Canada, Australia and the British Isles. At the United Nations, divine fire judgment will suddenly fall and reveal the identity of those who really are communist/socialist spies or sympathizers. Such an event will create electrifying headlines.

The World in Chaos--Time for the Antichrist

Can you imagine the chaos into which the world's nations will be plunged the day after God destroys not only the invading armies of Russia, but also the communist spies in the western world? On the one hand, the skeptical attitude of the secular humanists toward the existence of God will suddenly be confronted with irrefutable evidence of a supernatural God. There will be absolutely no other explanation for these events. In addition, many trusted leaders in key positions of influence will have been destroyed by fire because they were traitors to their country.

Probably the greatest result of this chaos will be the transition of surviving western democratic leaders into positions as dominant world leaders. The threat of worldwide communism will have been destroyed in a single day, leaving Israel and the western confederation of nations in a world-dominating position.

We cannot be certain what will occur politically immediately after this awesome event. But I believe that the rising tide of interest in world government under the guise of "the new world order" will suddenly find little opposition. With communism removed as a world threat, the socialistic, humanist politicians of the world may naturally assume that a one-world government-within either the United Nations or its replacement-should provide the solution to this planet's ills. All this will prepare the way for the Antichrist to consolidate the nations in preparation for the day when he signs a covenant with Israel and ushers in the great tribulation period spoken of so frequently by our Lord and the Hebrew prophets.

Of this we can be certain: All the world will momentarily stand in awe of the supernatural God in heaven who, after 1,900 years of silence, has spoken in terms that even the most unbelieving can understand. Hopefully, millions of honest souls will seek the Savior during this time, resulting in what could be the greatest soul harvest of all time.

When Will Russia Be Destroyed?

Whenever we discuss the future events of Bible prophecy, someone immediately asks, "When will this take place?" Admittedly, Bible teachers do not concur as to the "when" of the destruction of Russia. But for at least four reasons, this event cannot be fused with the battle of Armageddon.

1. Annageddon is not directed against Israel, but constitutes an attack on the part of the world's nations against Christ (see Revelation 16:12-21; 19:11-21). The deception of the Antichrist and his insane hatred of Jesus Christ at the end of the tribulation period will culminate with his bringing together-even from the Orient over the dried-up River Euphrateshordes of people against Jesus Christ, the coming King-but not Israel. That the Antichrist will utterly fail is clearly predicted in Revelation 19. However, this Scripture passage should not be confused with Ezekiel 38 and 39, which to even a casual reader plainly states that Israel is the object of Gog and Magog's hatred. These two attacks are unique and distinct, and I believe they will occur at least ten or more years apart.

2. No one-world government is functioning during the events in Ezekiel 38 and 39. The destruction of Russia, as revealed by God to His prophet, will come at a time when, as we have already seen, Israel is the central focus of two confederations of nations. These two confederations, the northeastern confederation of Russia and her hordes versus the western democracies that do not come to the aid of Israel, cannot coexist in the one-world government predicted by our Lord and His prophets for the seven-year tribulation.

3. Gog comes from the North, the Antichrist from Europe. Gog the prince and Magog the country are predicted to come from the "north parts" (Ezekiel 38:15). According to Daniel 7:8,24,26, the Antichrist comes out of Rome, a mixed blood of Romans, Greeks and possibly Jews,'

4. It takes seven years to burn the implements of war (Ezekiel 39:8-10). Armageddon occurs at the end of the tribulation period just before the millennium. This in turn, according to 2 Peter 3, begins with a renovation of the earth by fire. It is certain that the Jews will not spend the first seven winters of the millennium burning the implements of war left over from the tribulation.

Considering these four reasons, we can conclude only that Ezekiel 38 and 39 are not to be confused with Armageddon. Instead, they occur ten or more years earlier, prior to the tribulation period.

When Does Israel Burn War Implements?

In Ezekiel 39:8-10, we find that after Russia has been supernaturally destroyed, "those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up.... For seven years they will use them for fuel." Obviously, the Israelis are not going to pile all the war implements together and make an enormous bonfire. They will use the weapons for firewood for seven seasons instead of gathering wood from the forests.

Two facts stand out in bold relief. First, Israel will enjoy seven years of peace after Russia is destroyed; second, for seven winters the Israelis will be reminded of God's supernatural intervention on their behalf as they burn the implements of war. It is vitally important that we locate these seven years chronologically, because they are the key to the period in which Russia will be destroyed.

God has not left us without information regarding His plans for the future. The Next Major Prophetic Events chart (page 166) reflects the major events accepted by almost all scholars who hold a pretribulationist view of prophecy. The chart specifies that the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel during the latter three-and-one-half years of the tribulation. According to Revelation 12, this event will unleash the harshest anti-Semitic persecution the world has ever known-a fiery furnace arranged for the Jews by the Antichrist. Russia will have to be destroyed at least three-and-one-half years before the tribulation begins, for the Jews to have seven years in which to burn the implements of war.

On the Seven Years of Burning chart (page 167) this detail has been added with the thought in mind that there is no reason necessitating the Jews' burning the weapons during the first three-and-one-half years of the tribulation. The entire seven-year period of burning could occur before the tribulation begins, but there is no way to be certain of this. We can only speculate as to whether the seven-year period occurs entirely before the tribulation; we know it cannot extend beyond the tribulation.

What About the Rapture?

Most premillennial. scholars place the rapture of the church before the tribulation. The biggest misconception of some pretribulationists is that the second coming of Christ for His church (the rapture) and the beginning of the tribulation period are simultaneous. They may be, but no passage of Scripture requires it. We must remember that the tribulation is not started by the rapture of the church, but by the signing of the covenant between the Antichrist and Israel.

Admittedly, I Thessalonians 4:17,18 and 2 Thessalonians 2- which describe the rapture, the tribulation and the revelation of the man of sin or the Antichrist-parallel the signing of the covenant. But it is important not to tie them together. The rapture could take place several years prior to the tribulation period. The closer we get to the actual occurrence of these events, however, the more we are inclined to believe they could happen in close succession. If they do occur in close proximity or simultaneously, the church will still be on earth when Russia invades Israel and is destroyed by God.

Remember Any chronology of the rapture and the invasion of Israel is speculative and should be given wide flexibility.

When Will God Destroy Russia?

Having considered the possibilities for the seven years when the implements of war are burned, we can speculate on the possible time of the invasion of Israel and the subsequent destruction of Russia. Although we know they will take place a minimum of three-and-one-half years before the tribulation, no one can predict when the tribulation will occur; the exact time of our Lord's return is known only to God.

I believe that the next major event on the prophetic calendar will be the peace treaty between Israel and the Arab world. This cessation of hostilities may likewise signal a short time of peace throughout the whole world. For example, in speaking of the end time and the coming of Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:2,3 says that the day of the Lord will come "while people are saying, 'Peace and safety."' Further, "Destruction will come on them ... and they will not escape." This indeed suggests that before the holocaust known as the tribulation period, a time of peace and safety will encompass this earth, interrupted only by Russia's invasion of Israel.

The generation that saw Israel become a nation will not pass away until the Lord has come, according to Matthew 24. So signs of peace and safety in Israel should appear soon in order that the false period of prosperity that precedes Russia's invasion can begin to take shape. It is impossible to say when such an eventuality will come. What can be predicted, however, is that Russia will be destroyed before the Antichrist arrives on the scene and signs his covenant with Israel. There is no simple and dogmatic answer to the question of whether Russia's destruction comes before Christ's return. The Bible does not offer conclusive evidence, and my suggested answer should be regarded as somewhat speculative.

The rapture may occur in any of four possible time sequences: before Russia is destroyed, immediately afterward, long afterward, or simultaneously with the signing of the covenant between the Antichrist and Israel.

I personally believe Christ's return will occur after Russia is destroyed, as I explain more fully later. I am convinced that the destruction of Russia will appear as a supernatural event that will cause all the world to know that God has acted. During the aftermath of this catastrophe, millions of people will seek the Lord. In fact, the greatest soul harvest in the history of mankind may result from that moment of divine retribution. If so, there will be a need for harvesters. Because this event takes place before Israel's conversion and the sealing of the 144,000 during the first half of the tribulation, who will be better equipped to do the harvesting than the church of Jesus Christ and its worldwide host of missionaries?

The Results of God's Destruction of Russia

I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them [Gog, the chief prince of Russia, and the spirit of the evil one that indwells him, along with Russia and her allies] (Ezekiel 39:21).

For 1,900 years the God of the universe has been silent-at least in ways our sophisticated world can understand. The apostle Peter warned: "First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this "coming" he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation"' (2 Peter 3:3,4).

The secular humanist intellectuals of our day are among the greatest scoffers the world has ever known. Unless they see a worldwide flood, a Moses who rolls back the Red Sea, the ten plagues of Egypt, the daily manna sent down from heaven to feed three million Jews, the closed mouth of Daniel's lions or the fiery furnace that cannot destroy the three Hebrew children they will not believe in a supernatural God.

It is easier for these skeptics to look up at the stars and announce "accident," survey the marvels of nature and proclaim "spontaneous life," analyze the amazing human body and conclude "evolution" than to profess God. The Bible calls such people fools: "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good" (Psalm 14:1).

We have already noted two of God's purposes for destroying the invading armies of Russia and their allies:

1. To judge Magog (Russia) and Gog (the chief prince of Russia and the spirit that drives all evil leaders).
2. To save the nation of Israel politically and spiritually.

Now we should examine the most important reason of all: "And the nations will know that I am the LORD'' (NASB). Eight times in Ezekiel 38-39 God announces that this is His true purpose in destroying the invading forces of Russia (see 38:16,20; 38:23; 39:6; 39:7; 39:21; 39:221 39:27,28). God, in remaining generally silent for the past 1,900 years, has chosen to make the skeptics believe in Him by faith rather than by physical demonstration. The destruction of Russia will be a striking exception.

The Most Memorable Day in Modern History

This world has known many memorable days: the creation of the earth, the flood in the days of Noah, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since then, nothing in the physical world shows the irrefutable hand of God in terms that the most sophisticated unbeliever can understand. When our Lord walked on the earth, He performed such mighty miracles that even His greatest enemies had to acknowledge that He was endowed with supernatural power. People who saw Him walk on water, calm the troubled storms, multiply a boy's lunch to feed thousands of people, heal all manner of diseases, cast out demons, and even raise the dead were forced to admit, "No one could perform the miraculous signs You are doing if God were not with You."

Infallible Miracles vs. Ordinary Miracles

God has for nearly 20 centuries chosen in His sovereignty to require that man believe in Him through His printed and spoken word and through the power of the Holy Spirit. During this period of time, the Lord has performed millions of ordinary miracles (for example, miraculous healings and other life-saving interventions). But to my knowledge, at no time has He provided an infallible proof miracle---one that would force even the greatest skeptic to acknowledge the supernatural existence of God. However, one day God will perform an infallible proof miracle: the destruction of Russia's invading armies on the mountains of Israel.

The Coming Harvest

Through the tremendous communication technologies that continue to develop, every country of the world will receive the electrifying news that God has destroyed Russia's invading hordes.

The aftermath of such an event can only fulfill the purpose of God when the millions of souls who have been deceived by secular humanist philosophy suddenly realize that a supernatural God reigns over the universe. I have no question that literally multiplied millions will be driven to their knees to call upon the name of the Lord. Those who have heard the gospel prior to that time may spontaneously look to the Lord for salvation. Others will need the printed page-the Word of God, church services, television and radio programming and personal witnessing.

I find that many unsaved souls are becoming intrigued by Bible prophecy today and are more open to accepting the claims of Christ. As a result of reading the Left Behind series of prophetic novels about the end times (Tim LaHaye/Jerry Jenkins), many readers are receiving Christ and many others are rededicating their lives to winning others to Him. The reasons are threefold, I believe: 1) the realism with which the events are depicted; 2) the dawn of the new millenium; and 3) the obvious signs of the Lord's soon return. As one writer says, "These are indeed the times of the signs!" If we are seeing such incredible results already, can you imagine the number that would respond to the Savior as a result of Russia and its hordes being destroyed in an obvious display of supernatural power on the mountains of Israel?

The Opposite of Revival

We must not be confused about these future events. They are not harbingers of a worldwide revival. In fact, nothing in the prophetic Scriptures indicates that the world will get better and better at the end time. Instead, it teaches quite the opposite-that "perilous times shall come" (2 Timothy 3:1 KJV).

In the same way that the skeptical Pharisees of Jesus' day observed His supernatural demonstrations of power and rejected Him, so millions of people will spurn the truth after God's striking intervention in that day. We may hope and pray that more than a billion souls will call upon the name of the Lord, but what about the other three to four billion people on the earth? Very likely, the majority will heed the lying devices of Satan and begin to explain away those supernatural events. In the final analysis, it is not enough just to believe in the supernatural power of God; one must repent of his sins and surrender his will to God. And that humble gesture clashes with man's innate sense of pride.

No human being can long entertain the conflict of mind between what he truly believes and what he does. For example, many people reject the Lord today, not for lack of evidence, but for love of sin. As Peter has warned, "Scoffers will come ... following their own evil desires." And rather than give up self-love to follow their beliefs, many will change their beliefs to justify their lusts.

During the crucial days after this memorable moment in world history, there will be two realms of action: the political and the spiritual. Politically, as we have already seen, the world will amalgamate into a universal kingdom and prepare for the reign of the Antichrist. How long that will take no one knows; it is doubtful whether it will extend to more than a decade.

In that same era, many people will come to grips with the spiritual significance of the events and welcome salvation, but the majority will not. The current status of people who will witness the events of that day determines in large part what they will do. If they have already heard the gospel countless times and have not responded to it, they likely will not respond this time either. Abraham said to the rich man in Luke 16:31: "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." Probably the billion or so people who I pray will respond to Christ will be those who are being deceived now about the existence of God or who have never heard the truth.

If [we] confess with [our] mouths, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in [our] hearts that God raised him from the dead, [we will be] saved. For it is with [the] heart that [we] believe and are justified, and it is with [the] mouth that [we] confess and are saved (Romans 10:9,10).

It May Be Later Than We Realize

As we approach the dawn of a new millennium, the nation of Russia is falling on hard times. In spite of the massive bailouts and handouts from their many liberal socialist friends in our government and on Wall Street, that nation's tightly controlled communisttype of economy is plunging the nation into dire poverty. Many Russians still do not have adequate jobs, housing and food, which is always a formula for a revolution or a takeover by a dictator. Popular hard-core communists, including General Alexander Lebed, are waiting for the opportunity to become leaders of Russia if Yeltsin should stumble, die or resign. These leaders would undoubtedly lead the country in a more militant and aggressive manner. General Lebed is very popular with the 55 million Muslims of the country and could easily wield the force to go down and attack Israel.

Regardless of who the Russian leader is, no economist sees any way the Russian economy can improve without the grant of more freedom, which communists are usually unwilling to give. Consequently, Russia has lost its superpower status due to economic troubles, and will, if continuing in its present direction, soon become a third-world country without the resources to fulfill the prophecies of Ezekiel. How long can the soft-core communist leadership or even a hard-core replacement continue? Only God knows- perhaps ten years or so; but, unless there are massive changes in the country soon, it will be too late. By then Russia will be so bankrupt it will not be able to fulfill its prophetic destiny, which means one thing loud and clear: Very soon Russia can be expected to seize the moment and look greedily on the little nation of Israel. The Russians would fan anti-Semitic fervor among their Arab allies and fulfill the attack of Ezekiel 38 and 39, as predicted 2,500 years ago.

Late in 1997, one of the most reliable Middle East sources of information, The Intelligence Digest, actually predicted that Russia and its Arab friends would attack Israel within 18 to 36 months. Conditions have arisen that have lengthened that time frame temporarily, but the fact that people are even thinking about it publicly is most significant. One thing you can count on is that Russia and its allies will soon go down to attack Israel. The Bible predicts itand the time could be very close at hand. And so could the rapture of the church, either before or after it takes place. Make sure you are ready in either case!