Johan Malan, University of the North, South Africa
Abstract: According to the Bible, the enemies of Israel will gain the support of Russia in their endeavour to annihilate Israel. Staggering events will follow in the wake of this war.
Great prophetic significance is attached to the prophesied Russian-Arab invasion of Israel. It will most probably be the event that will lead to the tribulation period of seven years since it will afford Antichrist the opportunity to reveal himself as a bogus ‘Prince of Peace’. He will avert a threatening world war and, in a remarkable way, take control of world events through peace treaties and the establishment of global governance structures.
While the end-time plan of God unfolds, the kingdom of darkness is preparing for an immense confrontation in a bid to establish itself as a dominating power in the Middle-East. Yet, at the same time, a world-wide message of peace, harmony and global reconciliation is being proclaimed as the basis for a unified new world order under the leadership of the Antichrist. The land of Israel and, specifically, the city of Jerusalem, are prime targets in the march of antichristian forces to gain world domination. They know that the king of Jerusalem will also be king of the world (Is. 2:2-4; Jer. 3:17) and are now giving serious attention to this region.
One of the countries directly linked to the end‑time hostilities towards Israel, is Russia. According to the Bible there are also many other countries that share the vision of the destruction of Israel. The following are identified by the prophet Ezekiel:
Three facts have helped to establish without doubt that the Gog the prophet refers to, is indeed modern‑day Russia.
Genesis 10 tells us that Magog was a grandchild of Noah. According to Josephus, the Greeks called the descendants of Magog the Scythians. They lived north of the Caucasian Mountains in what is known as Russia today. They were the most important ancestors of the Russians. Colossians 3:11 refers to them.
Rosh or Rush was one of the Scythian tribes descending from Magog, and they lived near the Volga River. Meshech and Tubal were younger brothers of Magog, and also settled in the area we know as Russia today. Meshech was the father of the Moschi, who lived on the Moschi Mountains, and Tubal of the Tibereni, who lived on the shores of the Black Sea.
Moscow, the Russian capital, is due (yet far) north of Jerusalem. The Assyrians, ruled by "the king of the North," lived just north of Israel. Russia is described as the country far to the north of David's city, and is thereby identified as a separate power.
In former times, Bible scholars have been reluctant to accept the possibility of a Russian world power associated with a number of satellite nations. Consequently, prophecies to this effect have seldom been interpreted in a literal way. Ezekiel clearly stated that the Russian invasion of Israel would occur at the end-time (Ezek. 38:8, 16). The alignment of nations mentioned in his prophecy, have indeed only started to emerge since the middle of the 20th century. Russia became a super power and an inciter of smaller nations after World War II. In 1948, the State of Israel came into being after nearly 1 900 years of dispersion. As the Jews were rebuilding their country, the Russians were becoming stronger and stronger. At the same time their hostility grew towards Israel.
Ezekiel refers to five allies that Russia will have when the Russian army attacks Israel:
· Persia – this country's name was changed to Iran in 1935. Iran was a friend of the Western world while still under the leadership of the Shah. However, the Islamic revolution of 1979 changed all that. The Ayatollah Khomeini was violently opposed to Israel, and so are his successors. Iran has been converted into a fundamentalist Muslim state that is extremely hostile towards Judaism and Christianity. At present they are arming themselves mainly with Russian weapons.
· Ethiopia – Haile Selassi was a friend of Israel. However, his government was overthrown in 1974. In 1975 the monarchy was replaced by a communist dictatorship. Since then Ethiopia has also been openly opposed to Israel. The subsequent take-over of government by an Islamic group, further increases Ethiopia's possible involvement with an anti-Israeli alliance.
· Libya – until 1951 this was a poor Italian colony that could not have any significant influence on the revolutionary, anti‑Jewish powers of the Middle East. Then the rich oil fields were discovered in 1959, and a decade later the militant Colonel Gadaffi established a socialist republic. The Libyan government has publicly stated its intention to destroy Israel. Furthermore, Gadaffi is a good friend and sponsor of various anti-Israeli and anti-Western terrorist groups.
· Gomer refers to Germany. This prophecy clearly indicates that Germany will co-operate with the Russian and Arab forces to solve the Middle East crisis 'once and for all'. That will endear them to the Arab nations, who are fanatically opposed to Israel. Could economic considerations, in particular free access to the oil production of the Middle East, be the motivation for an action of this nature by Germany?.
· Togarmah is Turkey. Although Turkey currently belongs to the anti‑Russian NATO alliance, 98% of the population are Muslim. That means that there are indeed strong anti‑Jewish sentiments in Turkey. This country will most likely become involved in a Muslim inspired regional war against Israel. Should the government be overthrown by radicals at any stage, the official policy regarding Israel could change drastically overnight.
Ezekiel says that these enemies of Israel will also receive help from other countries. It could mean that even more Muslim nations may regard the attack as the ideal opportunity to set out on a holy war against Israel. In terms of this prophecy, there is a strong possibility that revived Communist forces in Russia and Neo-Nazism in Germany will come up in support of the Muslim cause to annihilate Israel. All three of these ideologies have already cost the Israelis dearly in lives during this century.
Through the prophet, God gives Russia a direct order: Be a leader to your allies. We all know that that is exactly what Russia has been since the Marxist revolution of 1917. Ever since 1917, Russia has propagated a world-wide attitude of hostility against Judaism and Christianity. Russia has also been supplying its allies with military equipment and expertise for decades, resulting in various bloody revolutions. In the five Arab wars against Israel, Russian weapons were used. The PLO and other Palestinian liberation movements also rely on Russia for weapons and support.
In Ezekiel 38:11 we read that Russia and her allies will attack a demobilised and peaceful Israel at a moment when they will least expect it. That means that Russia will not deploy forces beforehand. Nor will she issue warnings to Israel to withdraw from occupied territory. No, this will happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Peace in Israel may be brought about by a Middle East peace treaty, resulting in a complete cessation of hostilities. Russia may even be one of the signatories of the accord.
That the Lord will have to use 'hooks' in the 'jaws' of the Russians to get them to attack, may indicate a certain reluctance on the part of the political leaders. There could be a military coup, however, in association with a revival of communism as a result of the economic collapse in Russia. Whatever the case may be, their future involvement in this war is certain.
When Russia and her allies attack Israel, we see God intervening:
In Ezekiel 39:4 and 17 the Lord says that the dead soldiers of the Russo-Arab alliance will be eaten by birds of prey. The scene has already been set, as millions of these birds fly over Israel every year. The migrating birds pose a problem to the Israeli air force, and intensive research has been done in an attempt to solve the problem and minimise the danger. The air force has lost more aircraft through collisions with birds than in clashes with their enemies in all the wars of the past decades. The results of the research have been released in a documentary film called Flying with the birds.
The research has shown that 15 million migrating birds cross the Israeli sky every year. They represent 280 species, of which the majority are birds of prey. At a certain time up to 45 000 eagles fly over Israel every day. These birds come from Central and Eastern Europe, and they all cross Israel towards the end of the summer. Their preference for this route is related to the so-called chimney effect of rising hot air in desert and semi-desert regions. Under these conditions the birds can reach their flying height with less effort, soar for longer periods, and therefore use less energy along the way. A bigger effort would be needed to fly across the Mediterranean Sea. Many birds also land in Israel to look for something to eat there. One of these years they are going to be given a treat they have never experienced before!
Russia and her Muslim allies will discover the reality of Genesis 12:3 when they are defeated on the hills of Israel: "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
Nations of the world, please be warned! To fight Israel, also implies to wage war against the God of Israel! That is a futile exercise that can only lead to self-destruction. Rather share in the blessings of Israel, as they were promised to all nations: "...and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen 12:3).
In spite of the fact that Israel will survive the Russo-Arab invasion through the intervention of God, they will make a very serious error of judgement by accepting the wrong person as the promised ‘Messiah’. The miracle-working, bogus ‘Prince of Peace’ will pretend to have been sent by God to save mankind from self-destruction in a third world war. He will claim descent from the tribe of Judah and the house of David, thereby making himself eligible for the position of Israel’s Messiah-King.
The Lord Jesus warned Israel about this fateful decision (Jn. 5:43). Since the nation still rejects the true Messiah, Jesus, they keep on looking out for the appearing of their Messiah. That is the reason why the counterfeit Messiah will easily mislead them into accepting him. They will formally conclude a covenant with him, as will all other nations (Dan. 9:27; Rev. 13:7).
When the false Messiah declares himself to be God in the middle of the tribulation period of seven years, the people of Israel will realise that they were deceived. They will then break their covenant with him and flee to the wilderness at the onset of the ensuing great tribulation (Mt. 24:15-22). After another 3˝ years they will return to Jerusalem in expectation of the coming of the true Messiah. By then, another war of annihilation [the battle of Armageddon] will be waged against Israel. During the height of this war, the Messiah will come to destroy the enemies of Israel and save the remnant of His people (Zech. 14:2-13; Rev. 19:19-21).
As soon as the Lord has defeated the enemies of Israel and gathered all His people in their country, they will also be quickened spiritually. That will be the dawn of a new day for Israel, and they will be a holy people unto God:
The Messiah will restore the throne of David and Jerusalem will be the undisputed capital of the world: