What’s Next? :: By Randy Nettles

What’s next on God’s prophetic timeline? With Russia on the move in Ukraine, many see The Gog-Magog war of Ezekiel 38-39 as the next piece of the biblical puzzle to be revealed. Others see the Rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) to be the next prophecy to be fulfilled. Still others, who don’t believe in the pre-Tribulation Rapture, believe the appearing of the anti-Christ is imminent (Daniel 9:27 & Revelation 13). While all these prophecies are in sight, I believe the next major biblical event to be fulfilled is the prophecy found in Isaiah 17, the destruction of Damascus, Syria. “Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken; they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid” (Isaiah 17:1-2).

Isaiah 17 is titled “A Proclamation against Syria and Israel” in the Bible. Both Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel were defeated by Assyria in the 8th century BC. However, Damascus was never destroyed to the extent that it was no longer a city and became a “ruinous heap.” In fact, Damascus makes the claim of being the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Therefore, Isaiah 17:1-2 awaits a future fulfillment.

It’s interesting to note that the Hebrew gematria for Damascus Syria equals 999. The number 9 represents judgment or finality and appears to be especially harsh for the Jews. Here are a few examples:

“In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes” (2 Kings 17:6). “In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged it” (Jeremiah 39:1). “In the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land” (Jeremiah 52:6). “About the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

There have been eight tragic events for the Jewish people that have occurred throughout history on the 9th day of Av (5th month on the Jewish calendar), known as Tisha B’Av. It has become known as a day of fast or mourning. See: https://www.raptureready.com/2019/07/14/dog-days-of-summer-randy-nettles/. Most scholars believe Israel will be the cause of Damascus’ demise in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack by Bashar Al-Assad, tyrant of Syria; or Putin could do it and blame it on Assad or Hezbollah. It would be ironic (but not for God) if the chemical attack against Israel and the destruction of Damascus, Syria, (by the military might of the modern nation of Israel) happened on the 9th day of Av. That would make the 9th tragic event that occurred on the 9th day of Av in the history of Israel.

The theory is that Saddam Hussein, tyrant of Baghdad Iraq, did, in fact, have huge stockpiles of chemical weapons all along, but they were never found because he secretly smuggled them into Syria days before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. If Syria were to use weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical weapons, against the Jewish people, Israel would respond with their own W.O.M.D, such as a tactical or neutron bomb. A weapon of this magnitude could certainly cause Damascus to cease being a city, thus fulfilling Isaiah 17:1.

There have been increasing military activities in and around Damascus as of late. Hezbollah and Iranian forces are turning an old military base south of Damascus into a drone training and operations center to protect from Israeli airstrikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Could these drones be used for offensive weapons to deliver their payload of chemical weapons against the Jewish people?

If Israel were to destroy Damascus, it would certainly infuriate Russia and Iran and greatly obstruct their military and strategic goals. It is also possible Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before they can produce a nuclear bomb that would be used against the Jews.

“With JCPOA restrictions in place, the United States estimated in 2015 that it would take Iran 12 months to produce enough nuclear fuel for a bomb should it decide to abandon the deal and seek a workable weapon. Today that estimate has shrunk to about one month as Tehran has installed more centrifuges in its nuclear centers, enriched uranium of a far higher quality than allowed under the original nuclear pact, and restrained international inspectors’ access to Iranian nuclear facilities.” {2}

These military actions by Israel against Syria and Iran could be the fuse that ignites the Gog-Magog war. It will be the excuse that Russia and its coalition will use to invade Israel “to take plunder and to take booty” (oil and gas reserves, minerals, etc.) as Ezekiel describes in Ezekiel 38:12-13.

According to Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, in his book The Footsteps of the Messiah, the nations that comprise this coalition are:

  1. Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal – Russia and includes parts of Iran and Turkey
    Persia – Iran
    Cush – Ethiopia
    Put – Somali
    Gomer – Germany
    Togarmah – Armenia/Turkey
    Many peoples with you

*Note: Not a single Arab nation participates in this invasion for some reason. While some of the nations listed are Moslem, they are not Arab.

Gog could be a title of the ruler of the coalition, such as Kaiser or czar, and not his name. Some have even suggested Gog is the name of a demonic prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; like the demon prince of the kingdom of Persia that withstood the angel (for 21 days) sent to Daniel before Michael the prince of the kingdom of Israel helped him (Daniel 10:13,20). “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Regarding where this invasion originates from, God tells Ezekiel to prophesy and say to Gog, “Then you will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you” (Ezekiel 38:15). However, the American Bible Revised Edition Version says, “leaving your base in the recesses of Zaphon, you and many nations with you.”

Also, in chapter 39, the word/name Zaphon is also substituted for the far north. “I will turn you around, even though I urged you on and brought you up from the recesses of Zaphon and let you attack the mountains of Israel. 10 times the word Zaphon is used in the Old Testament by the American Bible Revised Edition Version. Zaphon is basically a mountain on the Syrian-Turkish border near what used to be the port city of Ugarit. It is now called Mount Aqraa or Jabal al-Aqraa, and Mount Casius to the Greeks. The Canaanites in the region believed it was where the storm god Baal-Hadad lived. Zaphon became a metonym and then the word for the direction ‘north’ in the Hebrew language.

The port city of Ugarit was originally located near what is now Latakia, Syria. Latakia has recently been the target of two Israeli air raids in the month of December 2021. Recently, Russia has been deploying large troops to this important port city on the Mediterranean Sea. It would certainly enrage Russia if Israel was to kill Russian troops by means of an airstrike in Latakia, Syria.

“Currently, Damascus and Homs are being protected by Hezbollah and other Shiite militias. Holding this territory is essential for the regime, Hezbollah, and their Iranian backers. Meanwhile, Latakia represents less of a strategic interest for Iran, as contrasted with Russia, which wants to maintain a presence along the coast more than in Damascus or the Golan Heights. As for the influx of Russian troops, they are needed to protect the city, given the present weakness of Syrian forces. Russia is also fortifying its position along the southern Turkish border, with the ultimate goal of preventing Sunni Syrian forces from gaining access to the sea.” {1}

Latakia, Syria, could be the location from where Russia will amass its coalition and “hook up” with Iranian, Turkish, and other military forces. Gog will then lead them to their ill-fated journey towards Israel to start the Gog-Magog war. This invasion to take ‘booty’ will not work out exactly the way Gog envisions, as it will go horribly awry. On that day of destiny, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will fight for the children of Israel when no other nation will. Of course, when God fights for you, no one else is needed.

“And it will come to pass at the same time, when Gog comes against the land of Israel, says the Lord God, that My fury will show in My face. For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken: Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.

“I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all My mountains, says the Lord God. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. 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” (Ezekiel 38:18-23).

For seven months the house of Israel will be burying the invaders, in order to cleanse the land. Indeed all the people of the land will be burying, and they will gain renown for it on the day that the Lord God is glorified.

I believe the Gog/Magog war of Ezekiel 38-39 takes place shortly after the Rapture of the Church, but before the seven-year Tribulation (aka Daniel’s 70th Week). However, if true, then it will occur at least three and a half years before the start of the Tribulation and seven years before the “in the midst’ moment of the abomination of desolation as described in Matthew 24:15-22. This is because, according to Ezekiel, the Jews would burn the weapons of the armies of the nations that attacked them for a period of seven years (Ezekiel 39:9-10).

Simultaneous to and juxtaposed with this same period of time is the warning Jesus gives in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:15-17). Here, He warned that when they (that generation) see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, they should flee to the mountains. He said that the Jews living in Israel should not waste time getting items out of their house, not even their clothes, but to flee for their lives. Now, if this is the case, then the Jews that are fleeing will not be bothering to burn weapons or continue doing any type of cleanup operations in a post-Magog War world. The weapons should have already been burned up by this time.

I suppose it’s possible some of these weapons might be smuggled out of Israel before the abomination of desolation occurs and the Jews are hunted down by the anti-Christ. At this mid-point of the seven-year Tribulation, the remnant Jews will flee to the ancient rock fortress of Petra located in Bozrah, a region in southwest Jordan, where they will be supernaturally protected by God for 1,260 days. If some of these weapons were taken to Petra ahead of the A.O.D., they would probably be used as fuel instead of weapons of defense.

In Grant R. Jeffrey’s book, Appointment with Destiny – Armageddon, he notes that many Russian weapons are manufactured using a material known as Lignostone. Prepared from compressed wood-product, this material was developed in Holland to be used as fuel. The Russians discovered that this uniquid substance was as hard as steel, and light and pliable, almost invisible to radar. These unique characteristics encouraged the Russian military to utilize this material in many military vehicles and weapons. Lignostone burns at very high temperatures and can be readily used as an alternative fuel.

Many scholars believe the Gog/Magog war will start on Kislev 24 of the Jewish calendar. Haggai describes this war in a very similar way that Ezekiel does with the Gog/Magog war, with a massive earthquake and with the various peoples/nations fighting amongst themselves. Haggai even gives the date… the 24th day of the 9th month. Compare Haggai 2:18-22 with Ezekiel 38:18-22 (they even have the same numbered verses – 18-22).

“Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid – consider it: Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you. And again the word of the Lord came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month (9th), saying, Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: I will shake heaven and earth. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride in them; the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother” (Haggai 2:18-22).

This invasion by Russia and the coalition of various nations, and the end result, is described not only in Ezekiel and Haggai but in the end verses of Isaiah 17 as well. Three Old Testament prophets/witnesses have prophesied about this war. Surely it will come to pass. The reason it is located at the end of the 17th chapter of Isaiah is because it takes place after the destruction of Damascus, Syria, in the first part of the chapter. It is the excuse Russia and company will use to come against Israel and take plunder and booty.

“Woe to the multitude of many people
Who make a noise like the roar of the seas,
And to the rushing of nations
That make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!

The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters;
But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away,
And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind,
Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.

Then behold, at eventide, trouble!
And before the morning, he is no more.
This is the portion of those who plunder us,
And the lot of those who rob us” (Isaiah17:12-14).

I am not dogmatic about the order of end-time prophecies, but I think the Isaiah 17 prophecy could be fulfilled shortly before the Rapture of the Church. Of course, the Rapture is an imminent event that could occur anytime and doesn’t need anything to occur before it happens. I also believe the bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities will happen at about the same time as the destruction of Damascus. Israel has vowed never to allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon by whatever means is necessary. At this stage, the ‘means’ mean military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Gog/Magog war will occur soon after these earth-shattering events.

After the Rapture (and maybe even before), the United States of America will no longer be a dominant world power. Russia will exert its military might (as it is doing now) even more in reclaiming lost territory that was part of the old Soviet Union, until God puts hooks in the jaws of Gog and turns him (and his host) around towards Israel (Ezekiel 38:4).

After the Gog/Magog war, Israel will once again enter into a covenant relationship with God, although they will still not accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah (for the most part). “I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward” (Ezekiel 39:21-22). The Jews will earnestly seek to build a third temple in Jerusalem at this point.

The defeat of Russia, Iran, Turkey, Germany, and the other nations of Ezekiel 38-39 will leave a power vacuum amongst the nations of the world. The 10 kings/kingdoms/regions will immediately fill this power vacuum and fill the void, becoming the dominant world power. Even China will become a part of this one-world order. The anti-Christ will emerge soon after this and will eventually kill three of the ten rulers. The remaining seven kings will then give him their authority, and he will become the king of the world. His evil reign will be short-lived, however, as it will only last for 3.5 years before the true King of the world, Jesus Christ, returns and “fires him.”

“Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered to fight against the one riding the horse and against his army. The beast was caught and with it the false prophet who had performed in its sight the signs by which he led astray those who had accepted the mark of the beast and those who had worshiped its image. The two were throw alive into the fiery pool burning with sulfur. The rest were killed by the sword that came out of the mouth of the one riding the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh” (Revelation 19:19-21).

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

Amen; even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Randy Nettles


{1} www.washingtoninstitute.org – Latakia is Assad’s Achilles Heel by Fabrice Balanche
{2} foreignpolicy.com – How Close is Iran to Getting a Nuclear Weapon? by Colum Lynch