By Christine Darg, Jerusalem Channel
“In the latter years, you will come into the land of those who have been brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel. . . .” Ezekiel 38: 8
I’ve been watching news headlines for years concerning the amazingly detailed End-Time prophecies recorded in Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39. Yet the topic is hardly ever mentioned in church pulpits – it only gets talked about in prophetic circles.
We believers are supposed to understand the times and be on the alert as watchmen on the walls!
As news developments are becoming more urgent in the Mideast, the pressing question is– how imminent is the prophesied Ezekiel War? Will it happen before Israeli elections in April, as at least one of my Israeli friends believes? Will this great war of divine intervention somehow coincide with Purim, the annual Israeli holiday that remembers Jewish victory and salvation from the Perians (i.e. Iran) in the days of Queen Esther and Mordechai?
There’s an unhealthy trend in evangelical circles today that basically wants to ignore the biblical reality of the Second Coming. And the irony is the boycott of the subject comes at a time when the Lord is soon to return according to all of the biblical signs Jesus gave us!
If you check out the topics of one Christian conference after another, I daresay you’ll find that very few mention the Second Coming of Jesus….. or the subject of Israel as a fulfilment of Bible prophecy. When it comes to eschatology– the study of the end times– many believers have mistakenly swallowed the lie that End-time prophecy is just too confusing or complicated to tackle.
However, Ezekiel 38 and 39 are very straightforward and easy to understand, namely that the restored nation of Israel in the last days will be suddenly invaded by a coalition of nations led by an enemy from the north BUT God will miraculously intervene to save Israel and defeat the coalition of nations. God promises a worldwide revival as a result.
Meanwhile, pastors and preachers are failing their congregations if they don’t prepare them for the Last Days, and if they don’t teach what the Bible says concerning doctrines related to the return of the Lord and the culmination of human history. The truth of the Second Coming literally fills the pages of the New Testament. Yet it never ceases to amaze me how some people get their backs up over this subject, especially the doctrine of the rapture, or the translation to heaven of the church, before the Great Tribulation.
Jesus prepared his followers by saying that in the world we should expect tribulation, but there’s a future period called by the Bible the Great Tribulation. The time period called the Great Tribulation will be in a league entirely all its own. In Luke 21: 36 Jesus gave instructions that we should “stay awake at all times, praying that we may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
The doctrine of the imminency of the Lord’s Second Coming would be eliminated if the Rapture happens sometime after the beginning of the 7 years specified in the Bible as the Great Tribulation. Daniel, the prophet, identified the Tribulation as a seven-year period, and the second half of the Great Tribulation will be the worst part.
How would a person know if they’re living in the time of the Great Tribulation? The key is found in the Olivet Discourse by Jesus. He said it will be “When you see the abomination of desolation standing where it shouldn’t be,” desecrating the rebuilt temple of God, and verse 19 adds, “Those days will be a time of tribulation such has not occurred since the beginning of creation until now, and never will.”
Furthermore, the Gospels tell us that “if the Lord had not cut short those days, nobody would be saved.”
The Great Tribulation will be the worse time in history – events will be more deadly and more disastrous exponentially- and it’s all foretold by John in the Book of Revelation, from chapters 6 to 19. In his Olivet Discourse, Jesus said that “After that tribulation” – when the Great Tribulation is finished, “the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from heaven and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken” – “Then” – in the midst of the darkness with no sun, no moon, and no stars – “they will see the awesome sight of the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”
And then He’ll send His angels to the far corners of the earth to collect all the elect together to enter into His Davidic kingdom. So the Bible tells us that when the Antichrist sets himself up to be worshipped in the rebuilt third temple of God, a horrendous time will be triggered that will set off the countdown of judgments that will end with the majestic return of King Messiah to take control of this world for a thousand-year kingdom.
So don’t think for one moment that this world is going to drag on and on indefinitely in its present state, with all of its rebellion against God, and with all of its religious deception and cruel dictators. Jesus gave us signs of his return when he will judge and rule this world, so we’ll be prepared. The first disciples of Jesus wanted to know the sign of his coming. In the Lord’s Olivet Discourse recorded in all three of the synoptic Gospels, Jesus warned that before his return, the world will be characterized by all manner of deception. He said the world will experience birth pains of massive disasters; wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, plagues, natural disasters. And he said human history will be characterized by relentless persecution — both Jews and Christians have suffered unspeakable things.
Jesus described the intermittent period between his Ascension and his return, as a time of Gospel preaching, the times of the Gentiles. History has proven the accuracy of his predictions and warnings. But soon, Halleluyah, the Lord will be King over the whole earth. Revelation 20 says his rule will last a thousand years, and at the end of the thousand years, the whole universe will implode and be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells forever. All of this is our hope. I’m looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
One of the aspects of the lengthy ministry of Billy Graham that I found so effective and encouraging was that he consistently taught about the Second Coming of Jesus. Billy Graham faithfully made reference to the many Bible verses about the Second Coming. He consistently warned people that Jesus is coming and to be prepared to meet God.
Most eschatologists teach that before the Rapture and the Great Tribulation, an invasion of Israel detailed in Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39 must first take place. Listen to how Ezekiel chapter 38 begins: “Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.”
Verse 8 goes on to say, “After many days you will be visited. In the latter years, you will come into the land of those who have been brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they [speaking of the Jewish people] were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely.”
So, my friends, this chapter is speaking of the last days that precede the Great Tribulation period and that precede the Day of the Lord. The indication is that the nation of regathered Israel will be living in an imperfect peace situation because of the animosity of Israel’s neighbors as described so accurately in Psalm 83. In that psalm, Israel’s enemies are confederate saying, “Come let us wipe them out as a nation that the name of Israel will be remembered no more.” Israel hasn’t enjoyed genuine peace since its rebirth in 1948, but only tenuous peace after the many wars and ceasefires. But in Ezekiel 38, a thought comes into the mind of Israel’s enemies to the north to devise an evil plan, saying, “I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely” –to do what?—“to take plunder and to take a spoil.” The motive is economic. So who is this enemy to the north described with Biblical names — Gog, Magog, Rosh, Meshech and Tubal? Well there’s agreement among most prophecy scholars that Gog is a title of a strong leader, a prince of Rosh, meaning Russia; Magog was the name of a grandson of Noah who settled in territory that’s Russia today. The first century Jewish historian Josephus identified the offspring of Magog as the Scythians —who were brutal, horse-riding nomads that resided in the area of modern-day southern Russia and Eastern Ukraine.
Some scholars say Meshech and Tubal were once a part of territory that’s now Russia as well. God says in Ezekiel 38: 4, “I will put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army,” and verse 5 is very important because it says the alliance that will come against Israel includes Persia, which is modern-day Iran, Israel’s mortal enemy.
Iran constantly threatens and boasts that it’s going to wipe Israel from the map. Iran is self-confident and has admitted to supplying both missiles and missile technology to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah operatives in Jordan. Besides Iran,Ezekiel prophesies that “many other nations” will be part of the invasion, including Cush, (modern day-Sudan); Put, (modern-day Libya); Gomer and Beth Togarmah, believed to be ancient names for Turkey. Have you noticed how Russia and Turkey are aligned now with Iran?
You may wonder–where are the world’s super powers, America and Britain? Some scholars believe they can be found in verse 13 of Ezekiel 38. That verse says “Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to Gog, ‘Have you come to take a spoil, .. to take great plunder?” Sheba and Dedan mentioned in this verse are in Saudi Arabia but who are the merchants of Tarshish? The scriptures indicate Tarshish was a faraway island that the runaway prophet Jonah was trying to reach. So in the Hebrew Bible, Tarshish was far across the sea from the Land of Israel. The merchants were the sailors who back British tin and metals from afar. Some scholars believe Tarshish is Britain because of verse 13’s mention of lions; the lion is the symbol for Britain – and the young lions of Tarshish would represent America and the British colonies.
So the nations are lining up just as Ezekiel 38 predicted: Russia already has a foothold and major military presence in Syria; and Sheba and Dedan, representing Saudi Arabia, are now in alliance with the USA and Israel– against Iran. In verse 13, the United States, if it is a young lion of Tarshish, asks a question—what is Russia daring to do? Have you come to plunder? To loot?
In light of all this biblical background, I want to share a recent “Breaking Israel News” headline which asked the question based upon Ezekiel 38–Is, “Russia: A Friend of Israel or Prophetic Enemy from the North?” Recently Russia released what seemed to be conflicting statements in the wake of Israeli airstrikes against Iranian military sites in Syria. Russia decried the Israeli airstrikes but at the same expressed its “deep concern” about Israel’s security. So it’s essential to understand Russia’s intentions for the region. Russia’s role takes on apocalyptic implications when considering verses in Ezekiel 38 that identify the War of Gog and Magog as a multi-national coalition led by a nation from the far north. If you look at a map, Moscow is directly far north from Israel. …..
Let’s read Ezekiel 38: 14-15: Thus says the LORD: Surely, on that day, when My people Israel are living securely, you will take note, and you will come from your home in the farthest north, you and many peoples with you—, a vast horde, a mighty army.” The Breaking Israel News article pointed out that Russia has an economic motive for attacking Israel — it’s called the East-Med gas pipeline. On December 20th, 2018, the Prime Ministers of Israel, Cyprus, and Greece met in the Israeli city of Beersheba and all three parties signed a high-level agreement concerning one of the longest and deepest underwater gas pipelines in the world that will deliver natural gas to the European Union. The EU is keen to support the project and to diversify its natural gas imports away from the heavily sanctioned Russian Federation. The article went on to claim that Russia is economically bankrupt held together by the sale of vodka and resources like natural gas to Europe. But Israel’s natural gas discovery in December 2010 makes the Jewish state a net exporter of energy, and this threatens Russian dominance in supplying energy. Then in October 2015, Israel discovered oil in the Golan Heights. Israel’s oil find is in one of the most contested pieces of real estate in the world. Two days before the announcement, Russian President Putin ordered troops and heavy artillery into Syria.
Isaiah 45: 3 promises, “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Ezekiel 38 uses a metaphor– hooks in your jaws– to describe that Russia and its allies will be lured by God himself into the fray. And then Russia and its allies will be miraculously defeated by God himself! Verse 8 tells us that the war will take place in the latter days when Israel has been regathered and is living in relative peace. But verse 11 of Ezekiel 38 gives us the detail that the purpose of the war will be to seize Israel’s resources.
In light of the upcoming Ezekiel War, we also continue to watch Isaiah 17 very closely, which opens with “The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” Although Damascus, Syria’s capital, was conquered many times, the city was never totally destroyed. But Syria is suicidal as the state sponsor of the terror group Hezbollah and allows the presence of the Iranian-backed terrorists as well as Russia’s military presence. Verse 14 of Isaiah 17 is a bombshell in light of the coming Ezekiel War and the invaders’ plan to plunder Israel. It says, “In the evening, sudden terror! Before the morning, they are gone! This is the portion of those who loot us, the lot of those who plunder us.”
Again, I want to mention the possible role of Britain and the United States because Ezekiel 38: 13 mentions the verbal protests by Israel’s allies, the Tarshish nations, the lion and her lion cubs—which could be Britain, USA, Canada and Australia — but apparently the Tarshish nations only engage in diplomatic rhethoric. They apparently don’t intervene; instead, DIVINE intervention wins the day, and the God of Israel will receive all the glory! The God of Israel not only intervenes, he crushes the invaders, bringing shock and awe to the world!
Let’s look at Ezekiel 38: 18, “When Gog attacks the land of Israel, the Sovereign Lord says, “My hot anger will be aroused, My fury will come up in my face. In My zeal and in My blazing wrath, I declare that on that day there will surely be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. …..and all the men who are on the face of the earth will shake at My presence; …With pestilence and blood I’ll enter into judgment with Gog; I will rain on him and his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones, fire and brimstone. I will magnify Myself, I will sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the LORD.”’ So, you see, this supernatural war is going to be one of God’s GREAT, great interventions in human history!! The God of Israel is going to magnify himself in the sight of the nations, and Ezekiel 39: 7 declares that he will make his name known in the midst of his people Israel. Furthermore, God says in Ezekiel 39: 21, “I will set My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed and My hand which I have laid on them. And the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God from that day onward.”
You see, all of this prophecy couldn’t be fulfilled until Israel was restored. Recently I was told adamantly by a Palestinian that the Jewish people are no longer God’s chosen people, and to try to back up her argument, she quoted a prominent religious leader in the Mideast who disparaged the Jewish people, saying they’re no longer the chosen people. I answered, “With respect, the Word of God is more reliable than the opinion of a religious leader. God is a covenant-keeping God, and he has promised to keep covenant with Israel because of his unfailing character despite their own failings.”
Ezekiel 39 goes on to say, “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name.” And God adds in Ezekiel 39: 28, “Israel will know that the Lord their God sent them into captivity among the nations but also that I brought them back to their land leaving none behind any longer.” You see, God is going to intervene and do all of this for his own glory and because he is a covenant-keeping God.. . .The Ezekiel War will sanctify the name of the real one and only true God in the eyes of the nations. What a great breakthrough that’s going to be for preaching the Gospel!
Ezekiel says, “Those who dwell in the cities of Israel will burn the weapons of the invaders for seven years.” Some eschatologists wonder if the Ezekiel War will involve a nuclear exchange? Well, we also have this interesting detail in Ezekiel 39 telling us that for seven months the house of Israel will be involved in burying the bodies of the defeated coalition, in order to cleanse the land. Ezekiel 39 alludes to certain cleansing procedures mentioned in verses 11 to 16 possibly due to nuclear contamination. The bottom line out of all of this is that the Jewish people and the nations will recognize God’s hand in victory, and a great revival will ensue.
This gives me great hope despite the current darkness and lawlessness in the nations especially in the west. God prophesies in Ezekiel 39: 22, “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, from that day forward,the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God.” Then, verse 28 and 29, “They will know that I am the LORD their God, when I regather them to their own land, after exiling them among the nations, not leaving any of them behind.” And—listen to the glorious conclusion of Ezekiel 39—God says, “I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ declares the Lord GOD.” Friends, this prophecy calls for a selah moment and this promise of Holy Spirit outpouring corresponds with the glorious prophecy of Zechariah 12:10 where God promises to outpour the spirit of grace and supplications upon the house of David and Jerusalem. Zechariah prophesies, “They will look on ME, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for HIM as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” Furthermore, the Ezekiel War chapters are followed by chapters about the restoration of the Temple of God and the return of the glory of the Lord during the Millennium. So watch the Mideast and heed the words of Jesus in his Olivet Discourse, “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know the summer is near. Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. … Therefore, be on the alert– What I say to you, I say to all, watch for the Lord’s appearing!”
Amen and Amen. I pray to God that he’s working in the hearts of anyone who has not yet received Jesus as Savior and Lord. If that’s you, I urge and encourage you to receive him today– now! And in the meantime, let’s take fresh courage in light of the amazing divine intervention that’s coming in the Mideast. While we can, let’s be strong and take action, sharing the Gospel, and doing the exploits the Lord calls each one of us to do. And let’s stay in touch on social media or at our website at exploits.tv where you can sign up to receive our free color magazine Exploits. Don’t forget– our Jerusalem Channel App is available free to download from your app store. Until next time, earnestly contending for the faith and praying always for the peace of Jerusalem, I’m Christine Darg, Maranatha and shalom!
This article is a transcript of a TV program by Christine Darg at this link.