War with Russia: Part 1 :: By Steve Ashburn

In our previous series on end-times prophecies in Daniel, we saw how the US-British alliance was described in Daniel 7 as “like a lion and had eagle’s wings,” and how “the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it,” representing loss of the military power of the Anglo-American alliance after the rapture and conquest of the United States. Three other beasts then sequentially took power in the Mediterranean area surrounding Israel: a bear, representing Russia, who was defeated in the Ezekiel 38-39 war; a leopard, representing a transitional UN-type of government; and finally, a fourth beast, “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly,” representing the kingdom of the Antichrist.

We now continue our studies with a detailed look at Ezekiel 38-39. This Scripture passage contains the account of the great end-times attack of Russia and her allies upon Israel. Ezekiel begins by describing Russia in terms of its earliest ancestors.

“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, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal” (Ezekiel 38:2–3).

Magog, Meshech, and Tubal were sons of Japheth, who settled in what is now Russia. Their names are preserved in Georgia (“Magog”), Moscow (“Meshech”), and Tobolsk (“Tubal”). In fact, “Gog” simply may be translated “the Georgian,” indicating that the leader of Russia at the time of this prophecy may be from the former Soviet state of Georgia, just as Stalin was. By this time, Georgia may even be part of a restored Soviet Union, which appears to be part of the current Russian President Putin’s goals. The proper name (or nickname) of this future Russian leader may even be “Gog'” (or Georgi?) just as “Putin” is today! Christians living before the rapture almost certainly will know this Russian leader by name.

Other allies in this invasion are described in verses 5-6: “Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.” Iran (“Persia”), Sudan (“Ethiopia”), Libya, Turkey (“Gomer”), and Armenia (“Togarmah”) also participate in the invasion, all of them heavily armed: “And 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” (Ezekiel 38:4).

Note carefully that this list does not include the nations immediately surrounding Israel (Egypt, Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq) because these nations were destroyed at the beginning of the end times. The Russian invasion described in Ezekiel 38 happens some thirty years later, and a few years after the rapture. It occurs at a time when Israel is at peace, prosperous, and dwelling securely within its borders. The timeline here is “the latter years”—another term for the end times; it is also when Israel has been “gathered out of many people,” “is brought forth out of the nations,” and is dwelling safely (“they shall dwell safely all of them”), as described in Ezekiel 38:8.

The regathering of Israel as a nation began in the late nineteenth century when Jews began to migrate back to Palestine; it accelerated after World War I and the signing of the Balfour Declaration, which designated Palestine as the homeland of the Jews. After the Holocaust, many countries sympathized with the Jews, and in May of 1948, Israel officially became a nation. After the attempted invasion of Israel at the beginning of the end times, and subsequent nuclear destruction of the nations surrounding her, there will be a period of peace simply due to the lack of any adjacent enemies. This peace will be enforced by the United States for nearly thirty years, but after the rapture and subsequent conquest of the US, she will no longer be able to protect Israel.

Russia apparently will have to be “coerced” into invading Israel; our Scripture passage says that God will “turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth,” down to the land of Canaan. This implies that Russia is busy doing something else and that this invasion of Israel sort of interrupts them. Now, what could they possibly be doing that is so important that they have to be “dragged” down to Israel with “hooks?”

We saw in our series on Daniel how the second beast of Daniel (the bear) was seen as busy devouring its kill—symbolized by “three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it,” representing the US, Canada, and Mexico—and how this inferred a multiyear period of consolidation of gains of North America. It is probably from this area that God will “turn thee back” to meet his judgment upon the mountains of Israel.

Emboldened by their recent victory over North America, and encouraged by their Moslem allies, they perhaps see Israel as an “easy kill,” being “the land of unwalled villages” whose security previously was guaranteed by the US. This “evil thought” seems facile to them, but they reckon without the counsel of Almighty God: “he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye” (Zechariah 2:8).

The judgments recorded in Ezekiel 38–39 are entirely miraculous and represent the direct intervention of God into human affairs; therefore, this Russian invasion occurs in “the day of the Lord.” This time period begins with the rapture, extends through the tribulation and millennium, and concludes with the great white throne judgment more than one thousand years later. In the two thousand years preceding this period, God witnessed to the world through his church; but now that the church has been caught up to him, he begins to exert his sovereign rule over the nations in a series of increasingly more severe and direct judgments, culminating with the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the tribulation.

“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 are 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” (Ezekiel 38:8–12).

Russia notices that Israel is “at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,” and has accumulated riches (“gotten cattle and goods”); and he decides to “take a spoil.” Again, Russia corresponds to the second beast of Daniel 7, and enters the scene after the Anglo-American alliance loses its power following the rapture (Daniel 7:4). Since the US is no longer a world power (or a power at all, probably), it is unable to enforce security in the Middle East as it did at the beginning of the end times. Israel probably was forced to surrender their nuclear weapons then, and now is unable to defend herself against Russia and its hordes.

The oil-producing nations of the Arabian Peninsula (“Sheba, and Dedan”) and Western European nations (“the merchants of Tarshish”), along with their former colonies (“all the young lions thereof “) lodge a mild protest: “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?” (Ezekiel 38:13). Of course, their questions are rhetorical—what does it look like Russia is doing?—and this verse stands as one of the best examples of sarcasm in the Bible.

The term “the latter years” is used just this once in Scripture. In context, it refers to Israel after having been “gathered out of many people,” meaning after the migration of the Jews back to their homeland. This time further is defined as when the land is “brought back from the sword,” meaning Israel with its original boundaries that God promised to Abraham being returned to them after the war which began the end times. This includes almost all the land of present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the Sinai. Prior to this time, Israel is identified as having “been always waste,” referring to the drought with which God cursed the land from the beginning of the Diaspora in 70 AD until the Jews began to return. Many people tried to settle the land during these two thousand years, but were largely unsuccessful because of the drought.

Finally, this time is described as when Israel “shall dwell safely,” meaning the period of peace following the war which began the end times, when the nations which surrounded Israel were destroyed, and Israel, therefore, was left without any adjacent enemies. Joel 2:3 describes Israel during this period as being like “the garden of Eden,” even up until the sixth trumpet judgment of the tribulation (Revelation 9:13).

Furthermore, during this time, God will bless Israel greatly “and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil” (Joel 2:23–24). Ezekiel 36:35 says, “This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden”; Isaiah 51:3 reads, “and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord.”

Until the twentieth century, Israel was largely a dustbowl; Mark Twain toured the region in 1867 and reported, “This is the most desolate and Godforsaken dustbowl I’ve ever seen, where even the grasshoppers starve to death.” Ezekiel 36, describing the Diaspora, similarly records that the land “lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by” (Ezekiel 36:35) and was a “derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about” (Ezekiel 36:4). However, with the return of the Jews to their land, it began to rain, and Israel again received the fall (“former”) and spring (“latter”) rains. Thereafter, Israel began to blossom, until today it is the leading exporter of fruits, vegetables, and flowers in the Middle East.

This trend will continue into the end times until Israel truly will be like the garden of Eden, overflowing with agricultural produce and livestock. It is these great riches—including “silver and gold”—which Russia will see and try to take for herself.

We’ll cover more about Russia in Part 2 of this series, including the tactical details of their invasion of Israel; the direct and miraculous judgment of God on them and their allies; and the important timing of this event in relation to the tribulation and 40-year end-times period. So stand by for Part 2!

I provide more details of this and many other end-times prophecies in my recently published book, END TIMES DAWNING: Get Ready! (available from www.endtimesrecord.com). Please read it! Also, if you would, please leave a book review on Amazon!

Yours in Christ,

Steve Ashburn