“Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him and say; ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. 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. 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 38:3-6)
From time to time Scripture gives us brief glimpses of the supernatural powers behind Earthly thrones. Isaiah 14:3, Ezekiel 28:12, Daniel 10:13, 20 and Daniel 12:1 are examples of this. When these supernatural powers are referred to as the king of a particular country, as is the case in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 it tells us God has Satan in view. When the power behind the throne is called a prince, it’s one of Satan’s underlings.
Some years ago, I came to the conclusion that Gog is one of these supernatural powers, perhaps Satan’s counterpart to the Archangel Michael, who is also called a chief prince (Daniel 10:13) and who is responsible for the defense of Israel (Daniel 12:1). A review of Genesis 10 shows that Gog’s name does not appear in the human genealogies there, nor can he be found among their descendants by any other means, but he appears to be well known to God.
On the other hand, Magog does appear in Genesis 10 as the 2nd son of Japeth and brother of Meshech and Tubal. Most scholars believe Magog represents modern day Russia, while Meshech and Tubal likely settled nearby in eastern Turkey, and there’s universal agreement that Persia is now known as Iran. In the past we’ve pinned down the modern equivalents of the other nations involved in the Ezekiel 38 scenario, so for the purpose of this article I want to focus on the growing relationship between two of the key national participants, Magog (Russia) and Persia (Iran).
Some scholars observe that when the Lord lists groups of nations, He often does so in priority order, with the most important ones first. If so, then placing Persia first in the order of nations that will be joining Magog and his brothers in the coming attack against Israel is a sign of Persia’s importance to the group’s objectives.
The Sleeping Bear Has Awakened
As Russia has moved to re-assert itself as a player on the world stage, one of the first steps has involved the Middle East. This began with the agreement to help Iran build nuclear reactors, supposedly for peaceful purposes. After numerous delays caused primarily by Western objections, the Bushier reactor has finally come on line. It’s the first of what was originally announced as an agreement to build 10 such power plants. Through out all this Russia has been steadfastly opposed to any military efforts aimed at destroying Iran’s nuclear program.
Then there was Russia’s decision to relocate portions of its Black Sea naval fleet to the Eastern Mediterranean, revamping its Soviet era support base in Tartus on the coast of Syria to accommodate its presence there.
Most recently has been Russia’s support of the Syrian government in it’s efforts to put down the internal strife that has engulfed that country. On two separate occasions, the Russian delegate to the UN has used his Security Council veto to defeat motions that were perceived to be against Syrian government interests. Since Iran also supports the Syrian government, the three countries have been drawn into a tighter partnership to withstand world wide pressure for a “regime change” in Syria and an end to the violence there.
As I write this, Debkafile has reported that Kofi Annan, the former UN head and now its mediator on the Syrian crisis has offered a plan that would put Russia and Iran at the head of a “contact group” empowered to put an end to the problem through a negotiated settlement with Syrian Pres. Assad. The settlement would include an assurance of safety for him, his family and his entourage in return for stepping aside. (There are unconfirmed reports that Assad has already transferred $6 million of his personal fortune to Moscow, probable site of his exile, if it comes to that.) According to Debkafile this plan was approved in advance by the Obama Administration in the hope that it would cause Iran to show a little more flexibility in the upcoming negotiations on its nuclear program, although Iran had given no indication that it would do so.
The rationale behind this plan is that having supported Syria through out, only Russia and Iran have the influence necessary to convince Assad to step down. Any other attempt would require military force, something everyone’s desperate to avoid. So far Iran has refused to be influenced by this unprecedented offer. In fact, after Hillary Clinton warned Iran to come to the next negotiating session prepared to offer something concrete, Iran threatened to cancel the next round altogether.
A Fine Mess You Got Us Into This Time
Students of prophecy can see that this is an important departure from the past. It marks the first time the US has ever considered allowing a government hostile to its objectives to take the lead in an issue involving Middle East security. The US has always maintained its leadership position in order to protect Israel’s interests. If this plan goes through, Russia and Iran would have a powerful, even controlling voice in determining Syria’s future, since the “contact group” would in effect become the interim head of Syria’s new government. No thinking person would ever expect Russia and Iran to replace the Assad regime with one more tolerant toward Israel.
In fact the opposite would be much more likely, and as a practical matter Russia and Iran would also have direct control of the Syrian military, in which both are already heavily involved. Israel’s northern border would quickly become even less secure than it is now. Debkafile has also reported that Turkey has abandoned its support of the Syrian rebels and is lining up behind Moscow in the hope of being part of the “contact group.” That would put the third major Ezekiel 38 player on the field.
Conventional wisdom has always held that the Magog invasion cannot take place until there’s absolute certainty that the US would neither intervene nor retaliate. Speculations on how that might come about have included some sort of terrorist blackmail, such as the threat of a nuclear attack, or the crippling effect the rapture of the Church would have on the US.
But even though the US is now noticeably weaker than in the past without either of these things happening, I’ve never heard anyone suggest that we might voluntarily step aside and allow Israel’s enemies to gain such an advantage. Whether Kofi Annan’s proposal ultimately gets accepted or not the door has now been opened to this possibility as well. I wonder how Israel feels about that.
We should all watch to see how this plays out in the UN because even though Iran has rejected the offer, the deal is probably far from dead. People with experience in these matters know that the first step in any negotiation is to reject the other party’s offer. They also know that the one who appears most willing to hold firm will usually wind up with the better end of the deal. So far it seems to me that Iran is the one holding firm. The US talks about leaving all the options on the table, but we act like we’ll do just about anything to avoid a military solution. To approve an offer like this in advance of any concessions from the other side, and without even a clue that concessions could result conveys that idea pretty clearly.
Like so many before it, this plan could all blow away like fallen leaves before the autumn winds, but if it comes to fruition a more decisive step toward the Magog invasion could hardly be imagined. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.