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)
These questions will be directed at the leaders of Magog (modern Russia) by the uninvolved nations as they witness the surprise attack on Israel, prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39. Almost everyone agrees this attack is still in our future, and many have wondered what type of plunder would prompt Russia to undertake such an effort.
Since its reappearance on the world scene in 1948, Israel has not been known for its wealth. In fact, just the opposite has been true. Golda Meir, who was Israel’s Prime minister from 1969 to 1974 is said to have complained that Moses led the children of Israel through the desert for forty years until he found the only place in the Middle East where there wasn’t any oil.
That Was Then
But the Lord is not constrained by a lack of knowledge of the future the way man is. 2,500 years ago He knew Israel would someday have sufficient wealth to make the tiny nation an inviting target, and it’s beginning to look like that day has come.
If you follow any energy related news sources, you know about the recent discovery of large natural gas deposits off Israel’s shores. The size of these reserves keeps being revised upward, but according to US Geological Survey estimates there could be as many as 100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas beneath the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean. Much of it is in Israeli territory. This could not only supply all of Israel’s projected needs for the next 150 years or so, but could also make Israel a major exporter of natural gas to Europe.
Some experts are convinced that Russia, the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, will try to prevent Israel from entering the market in Europe. Having recently failed in their bid to acquire a financial interest in the gas field itself, it’s believed that Russia will work to strengthen its monopoly in Europe by building another pipeline to augment the one that currently runs direct to Germany. The new pipeline, called South Stream, is already under construction and will terminate in Austria. Russia looks unfavorably on competition of any sort and will likely do whatever is necessary to protect its market. The fear is that this could include taking by force of arms a resource they’ve been unable to acquire legitimately.
On their own, Israel’s gas discoveries could be enough to justify Russia getting involved with the Muslim coalition that Ezekiel said will attack Israel. But there’s more. Through a process known as hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking), previously inaccessible deposits of shale oil and gas can now be tapped.
Here’s how it works. A vertical shaft is drilled to a point below the deepest aquifer containing fresh water. Steel casing is inserted into the shaft and concrete is poured around the casing. This prevents the fresh water sources from being disturbed or contaminated. Then the drilling continues down into the shale formation. A combination of explosives and high pressure water is used to fracture the shale to open cracks through which the gas or oil can flow to the main well and from there to the surface. Horizontal wells can also be drilled off the main vertical shaft to further increase the release of gas and oil from the shale. According to EPA studies, over 1 existing million wells have been subjected to the fracking process in the US since 1947 without a single case of fresh water contamination.
The US has used this technology to effectively become independent of imported natural gas in the last 5 years while substantially reducing the price American consumers pay for it. If not for the current political climate, experts believe we could duplicate this effort with oil within 7 years, given our proven reserves of shale oil. Imagine what unlimited supplies of cheap domestic oil could do for our economy, not to mention our national security. But with the consumption of fossil fuels no longer being politically correct, only time will tell whether these reserves will be accessed.
Who Else Could Do This?
But there are other countries that will benefit from this technology, and one of them has estimated reserves of 250 billion barrels of shale oil. That makes them a very close second to Saudia Arabia in terms of oil reserves in the Middle East. That’s right, it’s Israel.
If they can master the technology, and Israel is very good at such things, they could soon stand beside OPEC as a major Middle Eastern oil producing country. The OPEC nations would still be rich, because their oil will be less expensive to produce, but as a major competitor, Israel could break both their monopoly and their political hold over much of the world. Observers say the Middle Eastern nations most seriously impacted by this would be Iran and Turkey, two of Israel’s major antagonists in the coming Battle of Ezekiel 38.
It would take Israel a few years to accomplish this, but wars are fought over what nations are afraid will happen as often as over what has happened. Every one of Israel’s enemies will want to steal this potential wealth before it can be used against them.
You can see how this could play right into the Lord’s hand. If Israel is allowed to exercise its full military might, no coalition of neighboring countries can currently stand against it. If the Battle of Psalm 83 becomes a reality, Israel will win and for the first time in 60 years will have secure and uncontested borders. A strong and secure Israel could begin working toward becoming a major player in the oil and gas industry. It wouldn’t take long for two things to happen, because they’re both consistent with human nature. First, Israel would become more confident and less vigilant, and second, Israel’s enemies would exploit their relaxed vigilance, seeking to win by conquest what they have not been able to acquire by legitimate means. Just when Israel has become a peaceful and unsuspecting people, they’ll attack (Ezek. 38:10-11)
For Russia the prize will be Israel’s oil and gas. For its Muslim partners it will be the long promised destruction of “the Zionist entity” as well. They will advance against Israel with such a mighty force it will be like a cloud that covers the land (Ezek. 38:16). For all intents and purposes Israel’s defeat will be a foregone conclusion.
But the God of Israel will have been waiting for just such a time as well. In fact He will have orchestrated it. With His signature weapons of earthquakes, torrential rain, hail and burning sulfur, and by turning his enemies against each other, He will decimate the enemy forces. Listen to Him describe it.
This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign LORD. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel (Ezek. 38:18-19).
I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign LORD. Every man’s sword (weapon) will be against his brother. I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him (Ezek. 38:21-23).
I will strike your bow (launcher) from your left hand and make your arrows (missiles) drop from your right hand. On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD (Ezek. 39:3-5).
What Israel’s enemies will have thought to be an easy victory will quickly turn into a devastating defeat.
Who Is Gog?
Through out Ezekiel 38-39 God exclusively addresses Gog as the leader of the enemy coalition. Long time readers will know that I believe Gog is a supernatural figure, perhaps Satan’s commander in chief. I say that because while all the other parties in the muslim coalition have their origins in the genealogies of Noah’s sons, no such claim can be made for Gog.
He appears three times in the Bible. The first one is in the first two verses of Amos 7, but you have to be reading Amos from the Septuigent translation to see it. There, Gog is identified as the king of a swarm of locusts. To further shroud him in mystery Proverbs 30:27 states that locusts have no king, and observers of locust swarms agree that no obvious leader directs them, as a queen would direct a hive of bees for example. The swarm of locusts led by Gog in Amos 7:1-2 was symbolic of a judgment that was scheduled to come upon the Northern Kingdom, but the Lord stayed His hand because of Amos’ intercession.
The next time Gog is mentioned is in Ezekiel 38:2, where he is called by name as the leader of the coalition of Muslim nations attacking Israel.
His final mention comes from the Book of Revelation where he will again lead the people from Magog against the Lord’s army at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:8). That’s a span of nearly 4,000 years. Far too long for any human leader.
The Bible clearly states that behind the human seats of government stand supernatural figures manipulating the thoughts and actions of the world’s leaders. We can see this in Daniel 11:13 where an angel sent to speak with Daniel was delayed 21 days by “the Prince of Persia”. The angel told Daniel he was not finished fighting against the Prince of Persia and soon be fighting against the Prince of Greece as well (Daniel 11:20). Only the archangel Michael was sufficiently powerful to free him, so we know he was not speaking of contending with human rulers.
These supernatural figures are in Satan’s employ, helping him in his effort to wrest the ownership of Planet Earth from its Creator. (In Isaiah 14:3 Satan himself is called the King of Babylon, and in Ezekiel 28:11 he’s called the King of Tyre.) Gog is at least the supernatural figure behind the throne of Russia, and perhaps is even Satan’s counterpart to Michael, who commands the Lord’s armies (Rev. 12:7). This could be a clue that the Battle of Ezekiel 38 won’t be undertaken for purely human reasons, although it will look that way to the human world. It will really be one more in a long string of attacks Satan has mounted against God’s people in his ongoing effort to destroy them. I believe this is the reason the Lord addressed only Gog in Ezekiel 38-39. He’s talking to and about the one who is really in charge.
From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God (Ezekiel 39:22).
But this time Satan’s effort will produce the opposite effect. Where in the past the Jewish people have credited their own superior ability for their victories, this time they’ll see that they couldn’t have survived without the Lord, and it will open their eyes to the fact that He’s still their God and is still fighting for them. This realization will lead to the reinstatement of their Old Covenant relationship with Him, and they’ll immediately set about rebuilding their Temple, a requirement for Old Covenant worship. The clock that has been stopped for 2,000 years will will start ticking again and Daniel’s missing 70th Week will begin.
Time will tell whether this view is correct. But one of the great advantages of living in our day is that it won’t be long until all our questions will be answered.