Continued from #1

Israel Invaded by a Northern Military Coalition

Now we turn to the invasion itself, prophesied in Ezekiel 38—39. The goal of the northern assault force will be to utterly obliterate the Jews. These are the nations that will be included in the invasion:

Rosh - which likely refers to modern Russia, to the uttermost north of Israel.

Magog - which probably includes the former southern Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and possibly even northern parts of modern Afghanistan.

Meshech and Tubal - which refer to the area south of the Black and Caspian Seas—modern Turkey.

Persia - which became Iran in 1935 and the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.

Ethiopia - or modem-day Sudan.

Put - or modern-day Libya. The term may also include Algeria and Tunisia.

Gomer - which apparendy refers to part of modern-day Turkey.

Beth-togarrnah - which also apparendy refers to modern-day Turkey, though it may also include Azerbaijan and Armenia.

This unique alignment of nations has never occurred in the past but is occurring today which lends credence to the idea that we are living in the end times.












An alliance between many of these nations may not necessarily have made good sense in Ezekiel's day because they are not even located near each other and because Islam did not yet exist. However, such an alliance makes great sense today because the nations that make up the coalition are predorninandy Muslim. That in itself is more than enough reason for them to unify in attacking Israel—especially considering current Islamic hatred for Israel.


When Does the Invasion Occur?

In the previous chapter, I pointed out that Israel must be living in a state of security when this invasion occurs (Ezekiel 38:8,11). I suggested that such a state now exists and that the invasion will likely take place sometime after the rapture but prior to the beginning of the tribulation period—perhaps even three and a half years prior to the beginning of the tribulation period (see Ezekiel 39:9-10).

(WRONG  AGAIN!  Keith Hunt)

Some scholars claim that Ezekiel 38—39 may refer to an invasion that has already taken place. Here are six reasons why I believe this view is wrong.

Israel has never been invaded on the scale of what is described in Ezekiel 38—39. Nor has an invasion into Israel involved the specific nations mentioned in the passage. This prophecy has not been fulfilled yet, so its fulfillment must yet be future.

Ezekiel was clear that the things of which he spoke would be fulfilled "in the latter years" (Ezekiel 38:8) and "in the latter days" (verse 16). Such phrases point to the end times.

The unique alignment of nations as described in Ezekiel 38—39 has never occurred in the past but is apparendy occurring today.

Ezekiel affirmed that the invasion would occur after Israel was regathered from all around the earth-—-"gathered from many peoples" (Ezekiel 38:8,12)—to a land that had been a wasteland. Certainly there were occasions in Israel's history where the Jews were held in bondage. For example, they were held in bondage in Egypt. They went into captivity in Assyria, as well as in Babylon. But in each of these cases, their deliverance involved being set free from a single nation, not many nations around the world. The only regathering of Jews from "many peoples" around the world in Israel s history is that which is occurring in modern days (especially since 1948, when Israel achieved statehood).


Since chapters 36-37 are apparendy being literally fulfilled (a regathering from "many peoples"), we can reasonably and consistendy assume that chapters 38-39 will likewise be literally fulfilled. This is in keeping with the well-established precedent of biblical prophecies throughout the Old Testament being literally fulfilled.


In view of such factors, it is both reasonable and consistent with the rest of biblical prophecy to hold that this passage refers to a yet-future invasion into Israel that will take place when Israel is in a state of security, likely after the rapture but before the tribulation period.


Israel Stands Alone

Israel will stand alone when attacked by the massive northern military coalition. Some nations'—"Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish" (apparendy Saudi Arabia and some Western nations)—will diplomatically ask the invaders, "Have you come to seize spoil? Have you assembled your hosts to carry off plunder?" (Ezekiel 38:13). But their words are not followed by action. Israel stands utterly alone.


This means that the odds of Israels survival, from a human perspective, will be nil. Israel will be vasdy and overwhelmingly outnumbered. If this were merely a human battle, the outcome would be easy to predict. Israel will appear weak and alone in the face of this Goliath intruder, but God is strong! Ezekiel 38—39 reveals that the invading force will be annihilated by God before any damage falls upon Israel.

God Is Israel's Protector

God is all-powerful (Jeremiah 32:17). He has the power to do all that He desires and wills. Some 56 times Scripture declares that God is almighty (see Revelation 19:6, for example). God is abundant in strength (Psalm 147:5 nasb) and has incomparably great power (2 Chronicles 20:6; Ephesians 1:19-21). No one can hold back His hand (Daniel 4:35), reverse His actions (Isaiah 43:13), or thwart Him (Isaiah 14:27 NIV). Nothing is impossible with Him (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37), and nothing is too difficult for Him (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17,27). The Almighty reigns (Revelation 19:6). Scripture reveals that this all-powerful God will utterly thwart the invasion of the northern military coalition.


Scripture also reveals that God is always watchful—"Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:4)-—-and He will be Israel's defender. The invaders may think their success is all but guaranteed, but God sees all, and Israel's attackers stand no chance of success.

Recall that God had earlier promised His people that "no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed" (Isaiah 54:17). We often witness God fulfilling this promise in the Old Testament, playing the definitive role in battling against Israel's enemies (see, for example, Exodus 15:3 and Psalm 24:8). God is even sometimes described in military terms-—-the "Lord of hosts" (2 Samuel 6:2,18).


Ezekiel 38:18-19 mentions God's wrath and anger toward the northern military invaders. These words express the intensity of God's vengeance against those who attack His people.

Gods multifaceted defeat of the northern military coalition, described for us in Ezekiel 3 8:17—39:8, will include a fourfold judgment.

An earthquake (Ezekiel 38:19-20). The devastating earthquake described by Ezekiel, in which "the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground," will cause many troops to die. Transportation will be utterly disrupted, and apparently the armies of the multinational forces will be thrown into utter chaos.


Infighting (Ezekiel38:21). God sovereignly induces the armies of the various nations in the invading force to turn on each other and kill each other. This may be at least partially due to the confusion and chaos that results following the massive earthquake. John E Walvoord offered this explanation: "In the pandemonium, communication between the invading armies will break down and they will begin attacking each other. Every man's sword will be against his brother (Ezek. 38:21). Fear and panic will sweep through the forces so each army will shoot indiscriminately at the others."5 The armies of the various nations will also speak different languages-—including Russian, Farsi, Arabic, and Turkic—-making communication difficult and adding to the confusion. The Russians and Muslim nations may also turn on each other. Perhaps in the midst of the chaos, they will suspect they are being double-crossed and will respond by opening fire on each other. In any event, there will be countless casualties.


3. Disease (Ezekiel38:22). The earthquake and infighting will leave countless dead bodies in their wake. Transportation will be disrupted, hindering or preventing the transfer of wounded people, medicine, food and water, and other supplies. Meanwhile, birds and other predatory animals will feast on the unburied flesh. All this is a recipe for the outbreak of pandemic disease, which according to Ezekiel, will take many more lives.


4. Torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and burning sulfur (Ezekiel
38:22). The fourth and final phase of Gods execution of enemy
forces will involve torrential rain (with heavy flooding), hailstones, fire, and burning sulfur pouring down on the invading troops. The powerful earthquake may trigger volcanoes in the region, thrusting into the atmosphere a hail of molten rock and burning sulfur (volcanic ash) that would fall on the invading troops, utterly destroying them.


What a turn of events all this will be. The invading troops will come with the intention of killing, but they themselves will be killed. They will believe their power is overwhelming, but they will be overwhelmed by the greater power of God. They will come to take over a new land (Israel) but instead will be buried in the land.

As if all this weren't enough, God also promises, "I will send fire on Magog and on those who dwell securely in the coaslands" (Ezekiel 39:6). The term Magog seems to refer to the southern part of the former Soviet Union-—-perhaps including the former southern Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and possibly even northern parts of modern Afghanistan. We are told in this prophetic verse that God will rain fire down upon this area of the world and on Magogs allies "who dwell securely in the coastlands." These sobering words have led Joel Rosenberg to make this comment:

This suggests that targets throughout Russia and the former Soviet Union, as well as Russia's allies, will be super-naturally struck on this day of judgment and partially or completely consumed. These could be limited to nuclear missile silos, military bases, radar installations, defense ministries, intelligence headquarters, and other government buildings of various kinds. But such targets could very well also include religious centers, such as mosques, madrassas, Islamic schools and universities, and other facilities that preach hatred against Jews and Christians and call for the destruction of Israel. Either way, we will have to expect extensive collateral damage, and many civilians will be at severe risk.6


This judgment will serve to nullify any possible reprisal or future attempts at invasion. No further attack against Israel by these evil forces will be possible!

The Burial of Enemy Bodies

Normally, when many are slain in a major battle and the battle is over, the invaders bury their own dead. In the present case, however, all the invaders will be dead, so the task of burial must fall to the house of Israel.

Scripture reveals that the burial of these bodies will begin immediately after God destroys the northern military alliance. The number of slain invaders will be so vast, so innumerable, that nothing but a deep valley—the Valley of Hamongog—will suffice for their corpses (Ezekiel 39:11). And it will take a full seven months to accompHsh the task of burial in this valley. Keep in mind that the invaders come not from a single nation, but rather from a coalition of nations, including Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, and a number of other Muslim nations.


 Following the seven-month period, a secondary burial crew will traverse the land and search for any bones that were missed. This is all part of the concerted effort to cleanse the land perfectly from all uncleanness arising from the bones of the dead (see Numbers 19:11-22; Deuteronomy 21:1-9). Markers will be placed wherever bones are found, and grave diggers will take the bones to the burial site.


The Gathering and Burning of Enemy Weapons

Following God's destruction of the northern military coalition, the Israelites will gather and burn enemy weapons for a period of seven years. If seven years is required to burn them all, that means a formidable arsenal will be collected.


Those interested in the precise chronology of biblical prophecy will note a problem here. If the seven years of burning weapons is parallel to the seven-year tribulation period, how can Israel take flight from Jerusalem in the middle of the tribulation? In Matthew 24, Jesus urges the Jews living in Jerusalem to take flight when the antichrist sets up his headquarters there in the middle of the tribulation. So the problem is this: How will the Jews be able to continue the task of burning weapons if they have to take flight from Jerusalem in the middle of the tribulation?

The problem can be avoided by not making the seven years of burning weapons parallel to the seven-year tribulation period. If the Ezekiel invasion takes place at least three and a half years prior to the beginning of the tribulation period (as I suggested earlier), the burning of weapons will be completed by the midpoint of the tribulation period.


Keep in mind that the tribulation does not begin directly after the rapture. Nothing in Scripture negates the possibility of a number of years passing between the rapture and the tribulation. The signal for the beginning of the tribulation is not the rapture, but rather the antichrist signing a covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:26-27).


The Conversion of Multitudes

In Ezekiel 38-39, God gives a mighty testimony of His power and glory in the midst of His destruction of the northern military coalition against Israel.

"I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself

known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 38:23).

"My holy name I will make known in the midst of my peo-

ple Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel" (Ezekiel 39:7).

"I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations

shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. The house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day forward" (Ezekiel 39:21-22).


Clearly, Gods destruction of the northern invaders will be a powerful testimony that no one can ignore. Indeed, the whole world will witness God's destruction of the invaders and recognize His greatness, holiness, and glory (38:23; 39:13,21). Moreover, Israel will be utterly awed at Gods intervention on its behalf. God's stunning defeat of Gog and his military machine will force Israel to acknowledge His unfathomable power and justice (see Ezekiel 39:28-29).


A Shift in the Balance of Power

"When God destroys the massive northern military coalition, the balance of political and religious power in the world will shift. This will make things much easier for the antichrist.


More specifically, the destruction of the northern invaders will pave the way for the antichrist to rise to power. With both Russia and a number of oil-wealthy Muslim nations out of the way, far fewer nations will have the political clout to challenge his authority when he comes into power early in the tribulation period. Arnold Fruchtenbaum makes this note: "The eastern balance of power will collapse with the fall of Russian forces and her Muslim allies in Israel and the destruction of Russia itself. With the eastern power destroyed, this will open the way for a one world government."7


As we have seen, this will also enable the antichrist to sign a peace pact with Israel (Daniel 9:27), guaranteeing that Israel will be protected. Muslim forces will no longer be a threat. As well, this likely explains why Israel is able to build its temple early in the tribulation period. After all, if the Muslims were still in power in the early part of the tribulation period and in control of the temple mount in Jerusalem, Israel would not be able to build its temple there. But if all the Muslim armies are largely destroyed by God prior to the beginning of the tribulation, this major obstacle to Israels rebuilding of the temple is removed.



Keith Hunt