By Joel C. Rosenberg
Does the Bible really predict the rise of a dictator in Russia? Does it really foretell the emergence of a Russian-Iranian alliance against Israel in the End of Days? And if so, is the military, political and economic alliance being formed in recent years by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad evidence that such prophecies are actually coming true in our lifetime? Glenn and I have been discussing these questions all week. But let me lay them out in more detail here for those interested in going a bit deeper.
One of the most fascinating sets of End Times prophecies in the Bible are found in the Book of Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. Remarkably, the Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel, writing more than 2,500 years ago, was able to look down the corridors of time and see nations not yet born, and alliances not yet formed. In doing so, he actually did foretell the rise of a Russian military alliance with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries to annihilate Israel during the earth's "last days." This is known by many Bible scholars as the "War of Gog and Magog."
In a moment, I will walk you through the prophecies step-by-step. But first, let me note that the predictions found in Ezekiel chapters 36 & 37 have already come true. These are the famous chapters that foretell:
Such prophecies began to be fulfilled in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, accelerated in 1948 and 1967, and continue to come to pass to this day. This, of course, raises an intriguing question: If Ezekiel 36 and 37 have largely come true in our lifetime, isn't it possible that Ezekiel 38 and 39 will soon come true as well?
That said, let's examine Ezekiel 38 and 39 more carefully. In Ezekiel 38:1-6, the Hebrew prophet gives a list of obscure names that will form a united coalition. In my non-fiction book, Epicenter: Why The Current Rumblings In The Middle East Will Change Your Future, I carefully walk readers through these prophecies and document the historical detective work necessary to determine what modern nations are referred to by the ancient text. But here's an executive summary of the major points.
It should be noted that conspicuously absent from the list is Egypt and Iraq (typically referred to in Scripture as Babylon or Mesapotamia). This is noteworthy since Ezekiel was writing the prophecy in the City of Babylon, in the heart of Iraq. We would have to expect, then, that neither Egypt nor Iraq will participate. Egypt, of course, signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Iraq is now so engrossed in its own internal struggles that it would be unlikely to join a coalition to destroy Israel in the next few years. We are, therefore, living in the first window in human history in which neither of these historic enemies of the Jewish people are likely to be involved in the next major Middle East war.
Ezekiel 38-39 explains that the Russian dictator known as "Gog" will develop an "evil plan" to attack and destroy Israel and seize her wealth. He will begin to build an enormous military coalition, comprised of the countries described above. He will make extensive preparations to strike. When the time is right, Ezekiel says Russia will then deploy this coalition against Israel in a show of overwhelming force, coming against the Jewish State "like a storm."
The Bible makes it clear that when this "War of Gog and Magog" begins, no country will come to Israel's defense. Not the United Nations. Not the European Union. Not even the United States. Israel will feel utterly alone, and her enemies will be convinced that they are on the verge of an historic victory in which the Jews will be wiped off the map once and for all. But Ezekiel then says some supernatural will occur. The God of Israel - the God of the Bible - will bring judgment upon the enemies of Israel, beginning with Gog, the dictator of Russia. The Lord will trigger a massive earthquake in which "all the men who are on the face of the earth will shake at My presence." Gog's forces will turn against one another, and then they will be subject to pestilence, torrential rains, hailstones, and even fire from heaven. Israel will then capture her enemies weapons and burn them for seven years and it will take sevenfull months to bury all the bodies of Israel's slain enemies, so great will be the devastation.
When will all this happen? We don't know for certain. But Ezekiel gives us several important clues. First, Israel will be a country again and Jews will be regathered to the Holy Land. Second, Israelis will be "living securely" before the "War of Gog and Magog," though the Scriptures do not go so far as to say that they will have comprehensive peace treaties with their neighbors. Third, Israel will have a measure of economic prosperity, according to the text. And fourth, Ezekiel 38:16 says explicitly that all these events "will come about in the last days" (that is, before the Battle of Armageddon).
In closing, let me be clear. Yes, Israel has been reborn as a country for the first time in 2,000 years. Yes, a dictator is rising to power in Russia that seems "Gog-esque." Yes, Russia and Iran are building an alliance today for the first time in 2,500 years. Yes, Russia and Libya are now building a new alliance. Yes, Iran is threatening to wipe Israel "off the map." Is all this conclusive proof that the "War of Gog and Magog" will happen soon, much less in our lifetime? No, I don't think we can make that assessment. Not yet, at least. Much more will have to happen to be sure. But can we rule out the possibility that this prophetic war could happen in the not-too-distant future? No, I don't think we can.
As for me, I don't want it to happen at all. But no man can stop what Bible prophecy says will come to pass. The most we can do is to be ready when it happens, and find ways to care for those in the Middle East and Russia who will be victims of this terrible war.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the New York Times best-selling author of political thrillers like Dead Heat, his latest novel. He is also the founder of The Joshua Fund, which provides humanitarian relief to Israel and her neighbors. For more information on this topic, you may wish to read Joel's non-fiction book, Epicenter: Why Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future.