The Ezekiel 38 and Psalm 83 Prophecies/Part 2
|By: John G Weldon, PhD; ©2011|
|Below I will provide my interpretation on the modern identity or probable/possible identity of the ancient geographical locations listed in Ezekiel 38.|
The Ezekiel 38/Psalm 83 Prophecies: Russia, Iran and Muslim Nations in Biblical Prophecy
The Identity of the Players in Ezekiel 38
After the initial 2010 international Gaza flotilla incident, the Rabbinical Council of Judea and Samaria actually issued a statement asserting that the aftermath seemed to place Israel at “the beginning of the Gog and Magog process where the world is against us, but which ends with the third and final redemption.”
In mid-2011, Dr. Pat Robertson pointed out that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has warned that Iran is now able to launch an attack on Europe with “scores or hundreds of missiles.” He says that to the best of his knowledge, the most likely identification for the Ezekiel 38 coalition, which I generally agree with, is as follows: Persia is obviously Iran, Put is Libya, Cush is Sudan, Gomer is Turkey, Rosh is Russia and Meshech and Tubal are both in the Russian Federation. Dr. Robertson asks whether or not Ezekiel 38 is beginning to approach the world scene. “I think it’s shaping up before our eyes: Russia allies with Iran, Iran is allying with the enemies of Israel – Libya and Sudan in the Muslim camp, the Muslim people in the region of the Caucaus – and now Turkey. It’s all getting ready to happen.”
Below I will provide my interpretation on the modern identity or probable/possible identity of the ancient geographical locations listed in Ezekiel 38. (Incidentally, an excellent book on the proper, literal interpretation of biblical prophecy was written some time ago by Paul Lee Tan, The Interpretation of Prophecy and I highly recommend it.)
Some of these names are easy to identify, and some less so. Because of war, political and other factors, national boundaries are fluid historically; sometimes they overlapped, and therefore precision of identification is not always possible. In addition, prophecy is sometimes easy to interpret (as in Micah 5:2), sometimes hard (as in many passages in the book of Revelation), and sometimes impossible — it should be remembered that God declares some prophecies are sealed until “the time of the end” (as in Daniel 12:9), or will simply remain hidden (as in Revelation 10:4). (For example, in the current case, the war of Ezekiel 38 may occur before or after the rapture (perhaps early in the tribulation) and some argue that Psalm 83 fits the historical context of the past while other argue it is future. Some see Daniel 11 fulfilled in the past (http://net.bible.org/#!bible/Daniel+11:30) while others see parts of the chapter as future. Some believe Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38 are chronologically connected events, others see them as unconnected.)
Regardless, prophecy is generally easy to interpret post-fulfillment.
The major point that seems rather indisputable is the fact of a future Russian-Islamic confederation of nations that attack Israel. Again this interpretation is based on the key modern events such as the historically unparalleled reestablishment of the nation of Israel and its recapturing of Old Jerusalem which seem to begin a prophetic time clock and place us near the last days of Israel.
It is hardly outside the realm of possibility that Russia would assist her primarily non-Arab Islamic friends (per the prophecy), in an invasion of Israel to once and for all solve the Mideast crisis for the world, i.e. the “problem” of Israel. (Note that the Arab Muslim states, which seem absent from Ezekiel 38, are clearly involved in what I suspect is the future war of Psalm 83, discussed later.) Or, it is also possible that if additional huge oil and gas wealth were discovered in Israel (as has been already), circumstances could arise where Russia and her confederation would either be enticed or forced to attack Israel for the treasure. There are other possible scenarios.
Irrespective of the differences between the wars of Ezekiel 38 and Psalm 83 (neither of which is equivalent to Armageddon; in my opinion, all three have distinct features) , OilInIsrael.net observed that if the Arabs (and potentially other Muslims) don’t believe Israel has any right to the land of Palestine to begin with, it certainly doesn’t have the right to its gas, oil, and other wealth: “It’s easy to predict an Arab response to a massively successful hydrocarbon industry in Israel. If the Jewish State is viewed as a usurper now, the natural response would be that if the land (and the sea) doesn’t belong to Israel, then neither does its natural resources. It’s an issue today; when economic quantities of oil and gas come into play it becomes the issue.”
In the Ezekiel 38 prophecy, at least nine nations and their leader are listed; all nine nations are also found in the Table of Nations in Genesis 10:2-7. It’s also relevant to remember that, prior to the 20th century, Russia was not a great nation, there was no Islamic empire, such as exists today (and fits so well with the prophecy), and indeed, Israel had no existence at all. Yet today Russia exists, as does an Islamic empire and the nation of Israel is reborn. Ezekiel prophesied all this 2,600 years ago.
(Incidentally, the Valley of Dry Bones prophecy in Ezekiel 37 does appear to represent a return of the Jews to the land, after the conditions of the dispersal and 2000 years of living in a desperate situation; at least this is suggested in Ezekiel 37:11-12: “Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.”)
Historically, the Holocaust sealed the desperation of the Jewish people and was the impetus for returning to Israel to officially form the Jewish state that occurred just three years after the end of World War II. The “vast” or “exceedingly great army” spoken of in Ezekiel 37:10 may suggest the current Israeli army or a future more powerful one.
Regardless, here are the apparent players in Ezekiel 38:
- Gog (an unidentified leader of the invasion, of the land of Magog, “the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.”)
- Magog (Russia and/or Central Asian Muslim nations: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan; Russians of Scythian origin just north of the Black Sea and Caucus Mountains) (See: Ahmed Rashid, Jihad: the Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia, which discusses these five Central Asian countries (until 1991, part of the Soviet Union), and illustrates why radical Islam will remain a major problem in central Asia and how China, Russia and the US are involved in a power rivalry in the region; Rashid is a Central Asian chief correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, and earned worldwide acclaim for his book, Taliban.)
- Rosh (NASB, etc.) — (Russia; possibly Central Eastern Russia including what is now Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan less likely Mushki of central and western Asia Minor)
- Meshech and Tubal (cities on the southern coast of the Black Sea, referring to modern Turkey, just south of Russia, a nation which recently supported Israel but is now increasingly Islamist, cooperating with Russia (Russia has become its central supplier of gas), and is increasingly hostile to Israel. (The respective identifications of these locations as Russia’s capital, Moscow, and as Tobolsk, the historic capital of Siberia, and by far the wealthiest federal subject or territory of Russia, may also be possible, according to some.) As noted above, Dr. Robertson believes that Meshech and Tubal are located somewhere in the Russian Federation, which would be north of Turkey.
- Persia (Iran and, perhaps ironically, its ancient territory included both Shiite Iraq and also Afghanistan.)
- Put (Libya (a few authorities include with her, Algeria, Morocco and Tunis); Somaliland or Somalia, which borders Ethiopia.) As Dr. Mark Hitchcock observes “Libya would certainly jump at the chance to join forces with the Sudan, Iran, Turkey, and the former Muslim republics of the Soviet Union to crush the Jewish state.”
- Gomer (Eastern Europe or portions thereof, North Central Asia minor (Turkey), possibly the Ukraine; the identification as Germany is probably incorrect.) Again, Turkey is turning increasingly Islamist and definitely part of the Ezekiel 38 coalition.
- Togarmah (Southeastern Europe, or Turkey or the South East portion of Turkey near the Syrian border; also possibly Ukraine: separated by the Black Sea, both Turkey and Ukraine have a long chronology of geographic, cultural and historic contact.)
- Cush (The Islamic Republic of Sudan, one of the most militant Islamic nations on earth; and possibly Ethiopia.)
— The many nations with you — additional nations not cited who are allied with the Russian confederation.
- Gil Ronen, “Rabbis: Flotilla Clash Similar to Gog and Magog Prophecy,” March 6, 2010 Arutz Sheva, Israel National News;http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/137869#.Ti2oDYLJZaU.
- Pat Robertson, “The Prophecy of Ezekiel 38;” http://www.cbn.com/noindex/PCC/Ezekiel-Brochure.pdf.
- Dr. Lewis Moncrief “Ezekiel 38 and 39, Preparing for the Gog/Magog War,” August 11, 2009; http://ezekiel38and39.blogspot.com provides 7 differences between the Ezekiel 38 and Armageddon wars (although I disagree with his discussion on America.).
- Administrator, “Arab Murmuring over Israeli Gas Already Begun,” March 18, 2010, Oil in Israel; http://www.oilinisrael.net/oil-in-israel-news/oil-in-israel-christian-world-news/murmuring-begun.
- As for reasons it is specifically an army rather than a general great host or multitude see Bill Salus, “Is Ezekiel’s Army about the Face-Off with the Arabs,?” May 22, 2011, Bible Prophecy Blog; http://www.bibleprophecyblog.com/2011/05/is-ezekiels-army-about-to-face-off-with.html.
- In After The Empire: Bible Prophecy in Light of the Fall of the Soviet Union (1994, 85-86), cited in part nine of Dr. Thomas Ice’s “Ezekiel 38 & 39” series at http://www.pre-trib.org/articles.