Note from Terry James: Note: Some years ago my late friend Dr. Tim LaHaye wrote a chapter for one of my books. The subject involved the Gog-Magog War of Ezekiel chapters 38-39. The chapter particularly dealt with the nation Russia. Dr. LaHaye’s in-depth work in this chapter remains one of the very best and thorough I’ve read. I recommend you read it for your study regarding the fate of end times Russia and all attendant to that nation.
The chapter: “Will God destroy Russia?”
The unbelievable upheaval in the Soviet Union that has already toppled that government has caused many to ask, “Will God still destroy Russia on the mountains of Israel the way the prophet Ezekiel described in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39?”
Since that prophecy has never been fulfilled, you can be sure that as long as there is a God in Heaven who always keeps His word, it will come to pass someday. The fact that the Arab “hordes,” even after the war in the Persian Gulf of 1991, are still allies of Russia indicates it may be sooner than most people think.
If, as biblical prophecy predicts, Russia is going to lead an attack on Israel and be destroyed by God in the process, that nation had better get with it, or they will no longer be a world power. At the rate they are collapsing internally, Russia will be a fifth-rate nation by the twenty-first century.
To help you put all these events in perspective, read Ezekiel 38 and 39 before proceeding with this chapter.
Why Single Out Russia?
Next to His Son, human beings are dearest to the heart of God. He seems to love them even more than He does the angels, for He sent His only begotten Son to die for human beings. Only mankind can sin against God yet be forgiven and granted eternal life through belief in His Son.
In two chapters of the book of Ezekiel, however, God establishes that He is against the nation of Russia. That is most unusual because history shows that God is for mankind. There must be some compelling reason why God, who loves us so much that He gave His Son for us, would turn so aggressively against an entire nation.
The key, I believe, is the satanic presence that indwelt many of the Russian leaders for so many years. In several Old Testament prophecies, God’s proclamation of judgment went far beyond the immediate kingdom to the spirit of Satan that controlled the rulers.
The power of government to oppress billions of people was never lost on Satan. Early in human history, he learned to give special attention to world leaders—as he will to the Antichrist world dictator during the Tribulation period. For if Satan controls the dictator, king, or leader of a country, he can ultimately tyrannize that country.
In Daniel’s day, the supreme example was Nebuchadnezzar. Satan exercised dominion over both king and country; thus, God opposed both the nation of Babylon because of its unrighteous ways and the spirit of Satan, which indwelt the king.
So it has been with Russia since 1917. God not only abhors the philosophy of the former Soviet system but the source of power behind it, Satan himself.
Consider these prophecies from a loving God who declares He is against Russia, her leader, her capital city, and one of her major provinces.
“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 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 38:1–3).
“Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, 0 Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel: And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand” (Ezekiel 39:1–3).
God not only opposes Russia but vividly describes her coming destruction, vowing, “I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals” (Ezekiel 39:4, NIV). This is similar to our Lord’s prediction concerning the armies of the Antichrist. (See Matthew 24:28 and Revelation 19:17–21.) Such graphic prophecies are reserved not just for Stalin-like dictators who brutalize their subjects but the satanic spirit that indwells them. This judgment is really aimed at the satanic power within “Gog,” the chief ruler of the Russians.
God Against Gog
Ever since the Bolshevik Revolution, Satan has ostensibly made his anti-human headquarters the city of Moscow and his personal dwelling such leaders as Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, and, for six and one-half years, Gorbachev, who was more subtle than all of them. Under satanic influence, they incited communism’s anti-human governmental systems to enslave upward of 1.5 billion people and thus incurred the wrath of God for three reasons:
- They propagated an atheistic religion.
The most heinous sin in God’s eyes is to deceive people by teaching a religion other than the gospel of Christ.
Our Lord revealed the attitude of God in every deed. He always had time for repentant sinners and showered mercy upon them. He reserved His severest strictures not for adulterers, tax collectors, or other sinners but for the religious leaders of His day. Why? They had deceived people about God.
The doctrine of atheism is such an integral part of communism that wherever the philosophy has gone—either in a totalitarian takeover of a country or in the infiltration of the universities of the free world—its teachers have always taught materialism and atheism, the fundamental doctrines of Karl Marx and his disciples. They have appealed to the masses with their philosophy of economic socialism because it attracts votes.
An irony of history is that the precepts of communism have never worked successfully. Never has communism raised the standard of living in any country.
In addition, every country that has voted communists into power in a free election has always voted them out of power at the first opportunity. Witness the dissolution of the USSR.
Since its inception, communism has consistently fostered a rejection of God, supplanting Him with a belief in “man’s potential, not God’s.” ‘It is safe to say that no other philosophy of life has created more skeptics, agnostics, and unbelievers, and it would never have had the worldwide impact it has had without the power of the former Soviet Union behind it.
Communism has been effective in polluting the minds of young people in the Western world because it is so close to secular humanism. This philosophy of life, to one degree or another, is held by most of those who occupy chairs of philosophy, law, or education in the major universities and other educational institutions of the West. As I have explained in my four books on secular humanism, not all secular humanists are communists, but all communists are secular humanists. Therefore, it would be easy for communists to infiltrate educational institutions in any country, even in the free world.
Posing as secular humanists, these Marxist professors teach their anti-God, anti-morality, anti-free enterprise, and anti-Christianity philosophy. Many communists have used this subterfuge to earn their living at taxpayers’ expense in our educational institutions, spending their entire lifetimes polluting the faith of as many of the thirteen million college students in America as they can. Despite recent events, they continue to pursue the same ends throughout the rest of the Western world.
I debated one secular humanist who has been a philosophy professor in a major educational institution on the West Coast for forty years. He proudly testified that he had changed the faith of many of his students who came from “fundamentalist Christian homes.” I do not know whether the man is a communist, but it really doesn’t matter. The shocking effects on his students are the same whether he is or isn’t.
The great tragedy in all of this is that young people do not become unbelievers because of lack of evidence. God has supplied overwhelming testimony in the Bible regarding His existence, His supernaturalness, and the supernaturalness of Jesus Christ. I have had the joy of leading many people to Christ after they have thoroughly investigated the logical reasons for accepting the bodily resurrection of Jesus as historical fact.
Why, then, in the face of persuasive evidence, do so many young people become unbelievers in our secular institutions? It is simply that the evidence is not taught in those institutions. Consequently, young people become atheists or agnostics after examining only one side of the issue—the infidels’ side.
Most college professors believe that their anti-God position is the only one entitled to exposure in the halls of academia. When one contemplates the infiltrated universities of the Western world and the many other places communists and humanist sympathizers have penetrated with their educational missionary work, it is probably safe to say Russia has damned as many souls intellectually as she has destroyed physically. No wonder God says, “I am against you, O Gog.”
- Russia has violated more biblical principles than any other nation.
The former Soviet Union continually taught people to act as she did. It is one thing to blatantly teach atheism; it is another to infuse a lifestyle that is diametrically opposed to the purposes of God.
The Bible makes it clear that happiness is the result of obeying God’s principles (Luke 11:28). We are seeing this vividly illustrated in the social and family scene in the United States today. The Christian families who practice biblical principles enjoy harmony and love in an openly anti-Christian culture.
By contrast, those who follow the philosophy of secular humanism and communism—man as the center of all things, and self-indulgence, self-actualization, and self-realization as his primary purpose—seriously compound their difficulties.
It is one of the long-standing tactics of communists to pollute the morals of a nation they have targeted for takeover. They successfully assaulted the morals of Great Britain before and during World War II, then came to Canada and America to duplicate the process during the past three decades.
For example, who has advocated “free love,” “permissive sex,” “abortion on demand,” “homosexual rights,” “the free distribution of pornography,” and “the removal of laws against non-prescriptive drugs and marijuana?” It has not been parents, church leaders, construction workers, or family-oriented people.
These radical social activities have been consistently advocated from the halls of our prestigious universities and colleges, where secular humanist and communist teachings are welcomed with open arms.
If Jesus were on earth today, He would say of the communists what He said of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:15–16 (NIV): “You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Woe to you, blind guides…!”
God is against Russia because of its soul-damning philosophy of atheism.
- Russia has persecuted the Jews.
Everyone knows that Karl Marx was a Jew, and most people realize that both Lenin and Stalin were partially Jewish. But many do not realize that the majority of the leading fifty men who seized control of Russia in the Bolshevik Revolution were also Jews.
Since then, however, there has been a systematic purge of Jewish leadership within the Communist Party in Russia, primarily instigated by Stalin. He authorized the extermination of many Jewish leaders in the party as well as ordinary Jewish citizens.
We cannot identify with certainty the reasons for this deep-rooted antagonism between communist leaders and the Jews. It could be nationalism—that is, Russian communists do not trust non-Russians. Consequently, they might have used the Jews to foment revolution early in the century, then have them systematically removed from positions of power. But quite possibly, the communists felt intimidated by the intellectual gifts of their Jewish comrades.
Not content just to silence Jewish opposition in Russia, the communists were unwilling to permit the large Jewish population of the nation to emigrate to Israel until forced to do so by the refusal of our government to grant them “Most Favored Nation” trading status. Even when they have begrudgingly permitted them to emigrate, it has been accomplished by difficulty and disagreement.
God made it very clear in His Word that He would bless the nations that are good to the Jews and curse those that persecute them. In all history, there has never been a case where a nation that has mistreated the Jews has conquered a nation that was benevolent to them. As we will see later, America’s policy of defending Israel is probably our greatest line of national defense. By contrast, Russia’s policy of persecution will prove to be her death knell.
The Coming Destruction of Russia
It appears now that the days of the Soviet empire are over. But be sure of this, Russia will come out of all the present turmoil in charge. Why is that?
She already has control of the thirty thousand missiles and the military capability of the country. New and more ruthless men could emerge and consolidate the empire and still maintain good relations with the Arab allies.
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. However, we must recognize that 2,500 years ago, the Hebrew prophets, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, made such a prediction, and world conditions seem to indicate that the coming destruction cannot be far off. Russia is unquestionably the nation identified in the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39.
It is not sufficient just to say that Bible scholars for several hundred years have interpreted Ezekiel 38 and 39 as referring to Russia. We must be more explicit than that, for 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 that nation, which is also predicted to invade Israel in the last days.
- Russia’s Philosophy
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.
As the preceding section showed, Magog exhibits her antagonism toward God by opposing humanity, the special object of God’s love, defying God’s Word, and above all, antagonizing His people, the nation of Israel. Philosophically and religiously, the nation of Russia qualifies in every way. It is anti-God, anti-human, anti-Bible, and anti-Israel. But there is another reason for recognizing Magog as Russia.
- Russia’s Geographical Location
Another significant reason for identifying Russia as Magog is her 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, in that Ezekiel was in Babylon when he spoke the prophecy. A case could be made that he may have meant “north of Babylon” when he said, “You will come from your place in the far north” (38:15, NIV), or, “I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel” (39:2, NIV).
The following map shows that it doesn’t matter whether one starts in Israel or Babylon; north in either case leads to the broad expanse of the former Soviet Union. Unquestionably, the invading forces that will march against the nation Israel, recalled from the nations of the world and established in her own land, come from none other than Russia.
- The Study of Etymology
Etymology is the study of linguistic changes and the history of words. We will investigate the etymology of the names of nations. As we will see, “Magog” is an ancient name for the nation now known as Russia. “Gog” merely means “the chief prince of Magog,” or more literally, “the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal” (38:2–3; 39:1).
Genesis 10 helps 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, from “Tubal.” The noun “Gog” is from the original tribal name “Magog,” which gradually became “Rosh,” then “Russ,” and today is known as “Russia.”
In The Late Great Planet Earth, Hal Lindsey offers a helpful discussion on the identity of these nations.
Dead Men Do Tell Tales!
It is necessary on the next few pages to establish some documentation from ancient history. Some people find this subject a little dull, to say the least.
If this is your case, you may wish to skim over the high points. For others, it will prove to be rewarding to check carefully the grounds upon which the historical case is built.
Herodotus, the fifth-century BC Greek philosopher, is quoted as mentioning Meshech and Tubal. He identified them with a people named the Samaritans and Muschovites, who lived at that time in the ancient province of Pontus in northern Asia Minor.
Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century, says the people of his day, known as the Moschevi and Thobelites, were founded by Meshech and Tubal, respectively. He said, “Magog is called the Scythians by the Greeks.” He continued by saying that these people lived in the northern regions above the Caucasus Mountains.
Pliny, a noted Roman writer of early Christian times, said, “Hierapolis, taken by the Scythians, was afterward called Magog.” In this, he shows that the dreaded barbaric people called the Scythians were identified with their ancient tribal name. Any good history book of ancient times traces the Scythians to be a principal part of the people who make up modem Russia.
Wilhelm Gesenius, a great Hebrew scholar of the early nineteenth century, discusses these words in his unsurpassed Hebrew Lexicon. “Meshech,” he says, “was founder of the Moschi, a barbarous people who dwelt in the Moschian mountains.”
This scholar went on to say the Greek name “Moschi,” derived from the Hebrew name “Meshech,” is the source of the name for the city of Moscow. In discussing Tubal, he said, “Tubal is the son of Rapheth, founder of the Tibereni, a people dwelling on the Black Sea to the west of the Moschi.”
Gesenius concludes by saying that these people undoubtedly make up the modem Russian people.
Rosh Is Russia
There is one more name to consider in this line of evidence. It is the Hebrew word “Rosh” translated “chief” in Ezekiel 38:2–3 of the King James and Revised Standard Versions. The word literally means in Hebrew the “top” or “head” of something. According to most scholars, this word is used in the sense of a proper name, not as a descriptive noun qualifying the word “prince.”
The German scholar, Dr. Keil, says, after a careful grammatical analysis, that it should be translated as a proper name, i.e., “Rosh.” He says, “The Byzantine and Arabic writers frequently mention a people called Ros and Rus, dwelling in the country of Taurus, and reckoned among the Scythian tribes.”
Dr. Gesenius, in his Hebrew Lexicon, says, “Rosh was a designation for the tribes then north of the Taurus Mountains, dwelling in the neighborhood of the Volga.” He concluded that in this name and tribe, we have the first historical trace of the Russ or Russian nation.
In 1857, Rev. F. E. Pitts delivered two sermons on prophecy before a joint session of the houses of the United States Congress. His was one of the most respected prophetic voices of his day. Sixty years before the communist conquest of Russia, he had the boldness to warn the United States government of the coming day when Russia would be a dominant world power. Obviously, he had insight, unpopular in his day, derived from Ezekiel 38 and 39.
Pitts had access to prophetic literature that is no longer available—literature showing that more than a hundred years ago, it was popular to identify “Rosh” as Russia.
The Sons of Japheth
The very name of the ancient patriarchs of the Russian dominions determine their location and nationality. “Gog” signifies a prince, or head, of many countries.
Magog, Gomer, Meshech, and Tubal are four of the seven sons of Japheth. (See Genesis 10 and 1 Chronicles 1.) These patriarchs, according to Calmet, Brown, Bochart, and others, settled within the bounds of what is now the Russian dominions.
“Magog,” says Josephus, “founded the Magogue, whom the Greeks call Sythee.” The Scyth form almost one-fourth of the Russian population. They extended from Hungary, Transylvania, and Wallachia on the west to the River Dan on the east. The Russian territory of this people embraces a large portion both of Europe and Asia.
Meshech, the sixth son of Japheth, settled in the northeastern portion of Asia Minor. His posterity extended from the shores of the Euxine [Black] Sea along to the south of the Caucasus. He was the father of the Rossi and Moschi, who dispersed their colonies over a vast portion of Russian territory. And their names are preserved in the names of Russians and Muscovites to this day. The Septuagint version of the Old Testament renders the term “Meshech” by the words “Mosch” and “Rosch,” while “Moscovy” is a common name for Russia, and the city of Moscow is one of her principal cities.
Tubal, or Tobal, the fifth son of Japheth, settled beyond the Caspian and Black Seas in the eastern possessions of Russia, embracing a very large portion of these dominions. The name of this patriarch is still preserved in the river Tobal, which waters an immense tract of Russian territory; and the city of Tobalski in Russia is still a monument to this son of Japheth.
All these facts make it certain that, as Magog, Meshech, and Tubal compose the present possessions of Russia, the sovereignty of that empire is the chief prince addressed in the prophetic message.
Destined for Greatness
We must look to Russia, then, as the colossal giant of reconstructed monarchy, embodying the show of autocracy in the last grand organization—embracing all the principles foreshadowed in the metallic symbol of the vision “whose brightness was excellent, and the form thereof terrible.” In fact, the emperor of all the Russians still bears the royal cognomen of the golden-headed monarchs of ancient Babylon.
Who is the present emperor of Russia? Alexander the Czar. And who are found among the monarchs of Assyria? Nobonazar, Nebuchadnezzar, and Belshazzar. These were not accidental terminations of their respective names but were doubtless terms of Assyrian royalty. So also the Roman Caesars, which scarcely vary from the true pronunciation of the czars. We behold in Russia the original trunk of autocracy.
In the time of Catharine, she arose in august magnitude and entered the European state system about the time of the rise of our great country. We see rising, on the one hand and on the other, the two great powers that represent, respectively, their opposing principles of government that will come in collision in the last dreadful fray.
In light of the evidence that is available, we are not surprised that students of prophecy foresaw Russia’s role as a world power years ago—long before her country showed any signs of greatness. Bishop Lowth of England wrote in 1710, “Rosh, taken as a proper name, in Ezekiel, signifies the inhabitants of Scythia, from whom the modern Russians derive their name.” It should be remembered that most of these quotations were written many years before the Bolshevik Revolution and the rise of Russia to power. Bible scholars anticipated Russia becoming a dominant power in the end time while she was literally a nonentity as a nation. Early in this century, she was still a second-rate influence in the affairs of nations; in 1905, little Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War.
Why Will Russia Attack Israel?
During the past sixty years, Russian diplomats and foreign-policy strategists have proved they are much smarter than their Western counterparts. Every time our diplomats engage them in conference, we lose land, friends, people, or rights.
What would make a superpower like Russia, at the end time, abandon the path of diplomacy and attack the little nation of Israel? There are four possible reasons.
- Russia’s Long-standing Hatred of the Jews
It is clear from history 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.
- Plunder, Spoil, and Wealth
In Ezekiel 38:12–13 (NIV). 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 former 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 those who will again inevitably be the Russian dictators.
As we see from daily news accounts, the future is not so bright for Russia. One way God has manifested His displeasure with Russia as a nation during the past six 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; large quantities were exported to other nations of Europe.
Since the Russian Revolution, however, the severe weather of the Soviet Union has worsened, producing some of the 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 workers 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 or have even made the situation worse.
Economic judgment from God is destined to continue, bringing the need to purchase increasing quantities of foreign grain. Again, daily news accounts tell of their plight. It appears critical.
- God’s Sovereign Will
The primary reason Russia will invade Israel is that God has decreed it. Ezekiel 38:3–4, 8 (NIV) 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 (NIV) 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.
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme” (Ezekiel 38:10, NIV).
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 (NIV):
“I 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.
When will this happen? The prophetic scenario is plain: at a time when Russia does not have Israel as her primary target. Russia’s major objective has admittedly been world conquest. One way in which the communists were consistent for the last seventy-four years was in their implacable movement toward that primary objective.
God has proclaimed that He raises up whom He will and puts down whom He will. (See Ezekiel 21:26 and Daniel 4:24–25.) 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.
- A Matter of Safety
We have said that Israel is the third most powerful nation in the world, particularly if we limit that assessment to nations within a thousand miles of her homeland. Apart from world conquest, what was the chief objective of the former Soviet Union? To conquer the United States of America. Who is to say that quest was lost in the recent changes—or if it was, that it won’t be returned in a short time?
At present, no one really knows whether the United States’ military forces are more powerful than Russia’s or whether our government leaders will have the moral courage and national will to oppose Russia when these climactic events occur. Many knowledgeable people believe the mood in this country is so anti-war as to be anti-self-defense. Our nation may prefer to capitulate even to communist domination rather than to fight.
My point, however, is that no one—not even the Russians—really knows whether they would be victorious in a first-strike attack against the United States, particularly after the incredibly accurate, pinpoint bombing and the use of smart weapons during the attack on Saddam Hussein, who was using Soviet-built equipment. Therefore, before attacking the United States, they would surely attempt to nullify military assistance from any other source on earth.
The government of Israel is pragmatic enough to know that if Russia attacks the United States, Israel herself would be the next target. Therefore, the Commonwealth of Independent States’ military leadership, headed by Russia, may theorize that an invasion of Israel must precede a frontal assault on the leader of the Western world. Consequently, an invasion of Israel may be just one more step in the fulfillment of their objective of world conquest.
Russia’s Allies in the Attack on Israel
The only war that Russia has ever fought alone, they lost—against Afghanistan. We can be certain that the Russians will not invade Israel alone. The prophet Ezekiel stipulates that they will bring “many nations with you…hordes gathered about you” (Ezekiel 38:6–7, NIV). But, he also notes that Russia will be in command (38:7).
- Persia, or Iran
Russia’s confederates, as disclosed in Ezekiel 38:5–6, are among her current friends. Those not in her orbit of friends at present are being cultivated either secretly or openly. Hal Lindsey offers interesting suggestions as to the identity of Russia’s allies:
All authorities agree on who Persia is today. It is modern Iran. This is significant because it is being wooed to join the United Arab Republic in its hostility against Israel. The Russians are, at this moment, seeking to gain footholds in Iran by various overtures of aid.
Secret information coming out of Iran indicates the government is shaky and could easily be toppled, replacing it with a ruler favorable to Russia and the eventual leaders. It would not be surprising to see Russia invade Iran if it seemed necessary to achieve her ends, particularly now that Iran is weakened militarily and economically through her long war with Iraq.
In order to mount the large-scale invasion predicted by Ezekiel, Russia would need Iran as an ally. It would be much more difficult to move a large land army across the Caucasus Mountains that border Turkey than the Elburz Mountains that border Iran. Iran’s general terrain is also much easier to cross than Turkey’s. Transportation, however, will be needed through both countries.
- Ethiopia or Cush (Black African Nations)
“Ethiopia” is a translation of the Hebrew word “Cush.” Cush was the first son of Ham, one of the sons of Noah. Moses mentions “the land of Cush” as originally being adjacent to an area near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (Genesis 2:13).
After examining many authorities on the subject, the writer discovered once again why Dr. Gesenius is recognized as one of the great scholars of history.
Gesenius summarized all of the evidence as follows: (1) The Cushites were black men. (2) They migrated first to the Arabian Peninsula and then across the Red Sea to the area south of Egypt. (3) All the black people of Africa are descended from Cush.
Cush is translated “Ethiopia” twenty-one times in the King James Version, which is somewhat misleading. It is certain that the ancient Ethiopians (modern Abyssinia) are made up of Cushites, but they do not represent all of them, according to history.
The sobering conclusion is this: Many of the African nations will be united and allied with the Russians in the invasion of Israel. This is in accord with Daniel’s graphic description of this invasion (Daniel 11:36–45).
The Russian force is called “the King of the North,” and the sphere of power that the Africans (Cush) will be a part of is called “the King of the South.”
One of the most active areas for the communist “gospel” is in Africa. As we see further developments in this area in the future, we realize that many African nations will become converted to communism.
- Libya or Put (Arabic African Nations)
“Libya” is the translation of the original Hebrew word “Put.” We have the same problem pinpointing these people as with Cush. Put was the third son of Ham (Genesis 10:6). The descendants of Put migrated to the land west of Egypt and became the source of the North African Arab nations, such as Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. The first settlement of Put was called Libya by the ancient historians Josephus and Pliny. The Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, called the Septuagint, translates Put as Libya in about 165 B.C.
The conclusion is that Russia’s ally, Put, certainly included more than what is now called Libya. Once again, there are current events to show the beginning of this alliance. The territory of Northern Africa is becoming solidly pro-Soviet. Algeria appears to be already communist and allied with Russia.
As we watch this area in the next few years, we will see indications that it is destined to join the southern sphere of power that will attack Israel along with the “King of the North.”
- Gomer and All Its Hordes (Iron Curtain Countries)
Gomer was the eldest son of Japheth and the father of Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. These people make up an extremely important part of the future Russian invasion force.
Dr. Young, citing the best of the most recent archaeological finds, says of Gomer and his hordes, “They settled on the north of the Black Sea, and then spread themselves southward and westward to the extremities of Europe.”
Gesenius speaks of part of Gomez’s “hordes” as being Ashkenaz, “the proper name of a region and a nation in northern Asia, sprung from the Cimmerians who are the ancient people of Gomer. The modem Jews understand it to be Germany and call that country by this Hebrew name.”
Josephus called the sons of Ashkenaz “the Rheginians,” and a map of the ancient Roman Empire places them in the area of modem Poland, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany to the banks of the Danube River. The modern Jewish Talmud confirms the same geographical picture.
The conclusion is that Gomer and its hordes are a part of the vast area of modern Eastern Europe that was totally behind the Iron Curtain. This includes East Germany and the Slovak countries.
- Togarmah and All Its Hordes (Southern Russia and the Cossacks)
In Ezekiel 38:6 (AMP), “the house of Togarmah…and all his hordes” are specifically pointed out as being from “the uttermost parts of the north and all his hordes.” Dr. Bauman traces evidence of some of the sons of Togarmah to the Turkoman tribes in central Asia. This would explain the statement, “of the north quarters, and all his bands.”
The conclusion is that Togarmah is part of modern South-Russia and is probably the origin of the Cossacks and other people of the Eastern part of Russia.
It is interesting to note that the Cossacks have always loved horses and have been recognized as producing the finest army of cavalry in the world. Today, they are reported to have several divisions of cavalry.
It is believed by some military men that cavalry will actually be used in the invasion of the Middle East, just as Ezekiel and other prophets literally predicted.
During the Korean War, the Red Chinese proved that in rugged, mountainous terrain, horses are still the fastest means of moving a large attacking force into battle zones. Isn’t it a coincidence that such terrain stands between Russia and Israel?
- Many People Are with You
Ezekiel indicates that he hasn’t given a complete list of allies. Enough is given, however, to make this writer amazed by the number of people and nations that will be involved.
Ezekiel, prophetically addressing the Russian ruler, commands him to “be prepared; yes, prepare yourself, you and all your companies that are assembled about you, and you be a guard and commander for them” (Ezekiel 38:7, AMP).
In other words, the Russian ruler is to equip his confederates with arms and assume command. If you have doubts about all that has been said in this chapter, isn’t it a bit unnerving to note that almost all of the countries predicted as part of this great army are already armed with weapons created and manufactured in Russia or her satellite nations?
What’s Your Name, Gog?
We have seen that Russia will arm and equip a vast confederacy. This powerful group of allies will lead an attack on restored Israel. Russia and her confederates, however, will be destroyed completely by an act that Israel will acknowledge as being from their God. This act will bring many in Israel to believe in their true Messiah (Ezekiel 38:16).
Additional insight is found in the address delivered by the Rev. F. E. Pitts before the US Congress more than 135 years ago.
“Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee” (Ezekiel 38:6).
“Gomer,” another son of Japheth, settled farther down westward in Europe; and has left his name entailed in Hungary, in a city and country both known to this day as the city and country of Gomer. “Togarmah,” the son of Gomer, according to Cicero and Strabo, not only peopled a large portion of Western Europe but sent settlements into Turcomania and Scythia in Russia.
Russia, then, according to the Scriptures, is the headship or leading power around which the multitudinous armies of allied monarchy shall be gathered together.
“Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet” (Ezekiel 38:5).
Persia here represents the swarming hosts from the Asiatic possessions; Ethiopia, Libya, and the armies of Africa.
“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” (Ezekiel 38:9).
The invasion is here announced by an armament such as the world never saw. For the millions that are to assemble under Gog or Russia embrace nearly all of Europe, as well as a large portion of Asia and Africa. This army is drafted from three continents to invade a fourth. It rises dismal as a cloud, and dreadful as a storm.
From all this, 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 Orientals, and whoever else can be included with 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 God-rejecting Russia and her hordes of anti-Semitic nations would attempt to invade the little nation of Israel:
“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. You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.
You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes” (Ezekiel 38:4, 8–9,15-16, NIV)
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 may someday become obsolete, and man will return to primitive weapons. That is not as far-fetched as it may appear at first. For years, electronic scientists have reportedly been working on heat-ray devices that would have the capacity from many miles distant 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. They would have to resort to horses.
Metal weapons would be replaced with wooden ones; 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 be meaningful to them. If the prophet 2,500 years ago had spoken of 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, 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 Russia in This Invasion
Russia almost never does anything alone. We have already seen that when they pursue a goal unilaterally, as in Afghanistan, they get bogged down in an endless war. That is usually not Russia’s style. Instead, she prefers to supply the military technology and money to her satraps, such as the Palestine Liberation Organization, Cuba, Syria, or Egypt. Consequently, when Russia comes down to invade Israel, she will use Middle East hatred of the Jews to her advantage and inveigle these nations to help her 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 fewer than four million people. For the first time since World War II, Israel’s friends will betray her.
Two Confederations of Nations
I am convinced, for two reasons, that the invasion described by Ezekiel is not the Battle of Armageddon—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.
The Northeastern Confederation
We have already identified some of the nations that will join Russia. Actually, five countries will constitute the northeastern confederation:
- Russia, the instigator and leader;
- Persia (Iran), if the former Soviets can somehow repair the breach between Iraq and Iran, Iraq may also be included;
- Ethiopia (Cush), which could involve Libya and representatives from many other African nations;
- Gomer (Germany) “and its hordes”—now that Germany has been unified, this is even more plausible;
- Togarmah “and its hordes”—Armenia, which may well involve Turkey and other nations or peoples remaining from the Turkish Empire. Some diplomatic efforts are needed here, but remember, those allies have a common religion.
The Western Confederation
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; NIV).
Who are these nations that greet force with diplomacy? There is 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 anti-communist spirit in the world today.
The American Standard Version renders “Tarshish and her villages” in verse 13 as “Tarshish and her young lions [or strong lions].” 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. If the invasion were to take place in the decade of the nineties, the Western democracies would qualify.
It stands to reason that Russia does not take the entire world with her against Israel. At a time when two confederations of nations exist—basically still communist versus anti-communist—Israel is allied with the anti-communists, as it is today.
Unfortunately for Israel, instead of meeting the gathering invasion horde with force, the Western democracies will confront it 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 the support of her allies, they 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, take away livestock and goods, and seize many riches?”
This may be the most breathtaking, dramatic moment in the history of modern Israel. Until this time, Israel could depend at least on the United States of America.
I well recall an incident that occurred as I jogged along a Mediterranean beach during one of my trips to Israel. A young English-speaking college student—an Israeli—began to jog with me, and we started a conversation. As we discussed Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, I asked if it ever occurred to him that Russia might someday invade Israel herself instead of sending the Arab nations.
Pointing through the evening fog that was settling on the waters of the Mediterranean Sea (where the US Seventh Fleet sailed in military splendor), he responded, “Oh, we’re not worried about that; we know America would come to our rescue!” He was right, for it was our Patriot Missiles that saved Israel from Saddam Hussein’s Scud Missiles in the Persian Gulf War.
According to Ezekiel’s prophecy, the day will come when Israel’s friends will not always come to her aid. When Russia’s invasion forces rattle their spears, the Western democracies, including America, will use the impotent instrument of diplomacy instead of the one power that all terrorists, murderers, dictators, and lawless individuals or nations understand: force.
In the history of the world, no nation except Switzerland has ever enjoyed peace through weakness, and her peace was only an accommodation by the militaristic nations of the world wars to maintain free access to the exchange of money. All other nations have found that peace comes exclusively through strength.
The use of diplomacy at this strategic time in prophetic history would indicate that the Western democracies will continue to dissipate their strength and military might while Russia builds her power base, probably through unfair trading policies that permit Russia to rape the technology of the West.
Nevertheless, when she finds herself confronted by her enemies and betrayed by her allies, the little nation of Israel, who has not set her heart toward God since returning to the Promised Land, will turn to Him in desperation—and in that moment will find Him a ready deliverer.
How 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 the oppressor. As certain as it is that Russia and her Middle East hordes will come down against Israel, it is certain that God will destroy the invading forces and deliver Israel supernaturally.
The prophet does not 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, NIV).
Evidently, God permits the Russians and their hordes to begin an airborne invasion while the infantry launches a ground assault. But at a strategic moment, He 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 at the end of the age (Matthew 24:7–8). The record shows that we have experienced an alarming increase in earthquakes during the past fifty years. One seismologist has stated that in each of the past five decades, the number and severity of earthquakes have surpassed those of the preceding decade. 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 (Revelation 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 unlike God to 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, NIV).
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 her, the Lord will confuse her 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 already indicated, 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 confused that the soldiers attacked each other and fled in fright from a mere three hundred Israelites.
- Plague and bloodshed
I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed… (Ezekiel 38:22, NIV)
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 plague-like 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, NIV).
The portion of the invading force that is left after the earthquake, the fighting, and the plague will be destroyed by hailstones and burning sulfur.
For those who interpret this verse 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 (NIV) 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—that is, burning sulfur.
The troops who survive the other four judgments will die as a result of the falling, burning sulfur. No wonder God says in Ezekiel 39:4 (NIV): “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 his 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”
You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 39:5–6, NIV).
As a special demonstration to the world of God’s omnipotence, Ezekiel gives an unusual prophecy. 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.” The word “coastlands” is understood by Bible scholars 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 spies and sympathizers who live in the Western democracies—who regularly take advantage of their freedom by pursuing subversion for the cause of Moscow and the Kremlin. Such spies or communist infiltrators occupy many key positions throughout America—in the bureaucracy, universities and colleges, and the media—and subvert the minds of our citizens.
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 the House Un-American Activities Committees 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 three thousand 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 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 that Western democratic leaders who survive will become the dominant leaders of the world. 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. Communism will have been removed as a world threat—in reality rather than merely in rhetoric, as with the supposed changes that have taken place in the former Soviet Union. The humanistic politicians of the world will naturally assume, therefore, 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 more than 1,900 years of silence, has spoken in terms that even the most unbelieving can understand. And the time of that coming destruction may not be too far off.
It is my prayer that during the rapid organization of the New World Order government, millions of people who have been hoodwinked by secular humanism, rationalism, skepticism, and the New Age religions will suddenly realize there is indeed a God in Heaven and call upon Him in simple faith.