By Joseph Candel
Although it was written some 2,500 years ago, the message in Ezekiel 38 has proven to be an astonishingly accurate glimpse into our present world situation. In addition to that, the prophecy catapults us into the near future. We can imagine that it was no small task, in the culture of ancient times, to describe modern events, places, or technology using only the names and limited terminology available back then. But because this was such a crucial message for future generations, God did not let that be any kind of obstacle.
In this startling prophecy about the future, some place names and terms sound as though they should belong in the past. In these cases, it behooves us to allow some leeway, remembering how difficult it would have been to describe modern realities using the limited vocabulary of ancient times. As we keep this in mind, the prophecy will unfold itself in a straightforward manner; it will be easy to catch the thrust of what the Lord was saying and get the most out of this intriguing message from so long ago. It is truly faith-building to behold the grand foresight of God who knew way back then how history was going to unfold 2,500 years later. It comforts us too, for we can have faith that world events, however chaotic and unsettling they may be now, are still under His control.
Chapter 38 of the book of Ezekiel describes a war in which the antichrist invades and conquers Israel and sets up his anti-God government proclaiming himself to be God while his propaganda manager, the false prophet organizes the image of the Antichrist to be set up and the image to be worshipped. Let’s look at this chapter verse by verse:
Verse 1-2: “And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him.”
The prophet Ezekiel was receiving the word of the Lord about the endtime. “Now what are you talking about here, Gog & Magog? Never heard of such places! They’re not on the maps,” – you might ask. Well, they used to be! In fact, they were places which existed before there were any maps! And the land of Magog is the ancient name of guess what country today?–Russia!
In this verse the Antichrist is called “Gog” of the land of Magog. He is also the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and the place called Tubal, where he is said to come from. “Ros” or “Rus” is the name of the people who settled around the Volga River and from which the word “Russia” is derived. It should read like this: “Set your face against Russia and against Gog (the leader of Russia), the chief prince of Meshech, (the ancient name of Moscow) and Tobolsk, (one of the chief cities of eastern Russia).” This Gog will be the coming antichrist leader.
Verse 3: “And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:”
The Lord Tells Gog the Antichrist right at the beginning, ”I am against you.” Nevertheless as a razor that is hired, so will the Lord bring about judgments in the world & in this case the coming invasion of Israel using the Antichrist and his military forces.
Verse 4: “And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:”
It sounds pretty ancient and antiquated and antique to be fighting an army with horses and swords and shields and armour! That doesn’t sound like anything modern. Well, what could the prophet say? What kind of words could he use for our modern armies and soldiers? The prophet has to use words and terminology he knows. He never heard of a tank, he never heard of a plane, he never heard of a gun. He has to say they are chariots, or horses with horsemen. The main idea the Lord was trying to get across was that Gog the Antichrist would have a great army – “a great company”.
There is an alternative theory about this. It is possible that at some point a powerful EMP would be used, disabling any and all forms of weapons that depend on electricity or electronics. If such a scenario were ever to occur, much of modern weaponry would be disabled, and maybe soldiers would have to revert to using swords and shields.
Verse 5: “Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:”
This verse talks about the allies of the antichrist. One of them is Persia, which is modern day Iran, then Ethiopia, which is part of ancient Abyssinia, “and Libya with them.”
Verse 6: “Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.”
Who else is going to be allied with Russia? Gomer is the ancient name of Germany. The verse refers to Germany and all the Germanic peoples, “all his bands.” Germanic people and the Germanic languages include the people of Scandinavia, Holland and the countries bordering Germany. “Togarmah” is the powerful nation of Turkey but Togarmah is also regarded as the forefather of all the Turkic peoples. That would include the independent nations of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
We also read about some of these same countries in Daniel 11:40-43. In fact Daniel Chapter 11:40-43 IS ALMOST IDENTICAL TO EZEKIEL’S PROPHECY OF THIS MASSIVE INVASION OF ISRAEL LED BY THE ANTICHRIST. Many Bible Scholars believe that the two chapters describe the same event from different angles but at this point in time it’s only speculation.
Daniel 11:40-41: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south (Israel & U.S.A.?) push at him: and the king of the north (Antichrist) shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land (Israel), and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.”
“Edom, Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon,” refer to modern day Jordan.
Daniel 11:42: “He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.”
“He”, referring to Gog, the antichrist leader of Russia “shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.”
Daniel 11:43: “But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.”
“The Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.” This is exactly what we just read in Ezekiel 38:5. The Ethiopians and the Libyans are going to be with him, along with the Iranians and the Turks. Notice the economic power that the Antichrist is going to have: “he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver.”
Verse 7: “Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.”
Russia is going to be a guard unto the nations that align with her. They are going to be a great company or alliance, Russia and all the nations that are on her side.
Verse 8: “After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.”
He is talking to Gog, the Antichrist leader of Magog, which is Russia saying that he is going to “come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel.” And the Jews certainly have been brought back from throughout the World and gathered out of many people, many nations all over the world and into the mountains of Israel.
“Which have always been waste, but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.” Israel was just a wasteland, just a desert until the Jews began to come back and improve it and irrigate it and water it and cultivate it, and they have caused the desert to blossom like a rose! (Isaiah Chapter 35) THE FIRST GREAT MAJOR RETURN OF THE JEWS TO ISRAEL was to begin after the Balfour Declaration, after World War 1.
“And now all of them dwell safely” – Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, and with America’s support, Israel is dwelling safely enough, considering how much she is surrounded by enemies.
Verse 9-10: “Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee. Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:”
He is saying, Gog, I know what you’re going to do. I can read your mind. You’re thinking, ‘I am going to go down into that little country that is causing me so much trouble here in my new worldwide government. I am just going to go down there and invade them and I am going to take it over by force. And so he does.
Verse 11: “And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,”
God is talking directly to the Antichrist. A very strange thing is happening here, because up until about a hundred years ago, all villages and towns and cities had walls and gates. Even after the invention of gunpowder and cannons, walls were still an effective protection against enemy forces, such protections, fortifications, forts, various bastions of that kind were still used as protection against enemies.
Today walls cannot provide protection at all. They are no help whatsoever because planes can fly right over and drop bombs within the walls and powerful weapons can shoot right over and even through them. The rockets can be fired over the walls, so there’s no use even building walls around towns and villages anymore.
This is the first time in man’s history that cities, towns and villages are without walls for protection. The verse describes how the Jews have come back to Israel, rebuilt the land and rebuilt villages and towns and cities without walls. It is talking about this day and age. We are living in the age in which this prophecy is going to be fulfilled! Now is the time that Ezekiel is talking about, because this is the first time in World history, just within the past 100 years or so that towns have been built without walls. So he has to be talking about the present day and the immediate future.
Verse 12: “To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.”
“The deserted, uninhabited places that are now inhabited… a people gathered from the nations.” The points brought out in verse 8 are mentioned again highlighting once more when and where the events predicted in Ezekiel’s message will take place and describes a remarkable event: the rebirth of Israel in our modern age.
Is anybody going to oppose this invasion? Is Russia going get any resistance in going down there to take Israel over because of all the trouble she keeps causing? Would you like to know who the enemies of Russia are going to be? Who is going to object and fight against Russia’s invasion? We can find out from the next verse.
Verse 13: “Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?”
Sheba and Dedan are Arabia, Saudi Arabia or the Princes of Arabia, the various oil states. So apparently very conservative Saudi Arabia who is getting military help from the United States, as well as Egypt, are going to side against Russia.
“The merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof.” Tarshish has for a long time been interpreted by most Bible students as being the British and the British Isles. Interestingly the animal symbol for Britain is a lion. What does Great Britain have scattered throughout the World? All kinds of former colonies, all kinds of former possessions known today as the British Commonwealth that used to be known as the British Empire. Even the United States is one of her young lions, Canada and Australia are also her young lions.
All the various former British colonies, the commonwealth, former parts and partners of the British Empire are the young lions of Tarshish, the young lions of Britain, and they are the ones who are going to oppose this Russian invasion. Britain, the U.S., Canada and the British Commonwealth, former British Empire, all of them are going to be against this Russian invasion of Israel.
Verse 14: “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?”
In this verse God is talking to Ezekiel, His prophet, “You tell the Antichrist that the day when My people of Israel dwell safely, shalt thou not know it?” He knows it all right! And he also knows how vulnerable Israel is, despite all the help she receives from the U.S.
Verse 15: “And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:”
“Thou shalt come forth from thy place out of the north parts.” What direction is Russia from Israel? Due North! No time in history has Russia invaded Israel, but now in the Time of the End, Russia has become a great nation, & Israel became a nation a second time on May 14th, 1948. She ceased being an independent nation when Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem & destroyed the Temple around 586 BC. We can now see how this amazing prophecy is falling into place.
As we brought out earlier the word “horses” hear could mean the way the prophet refers to vehicles that transport the soldiers. In modern times armies have little need to make long-distance marches; there are many types of vehicles (the “horses” of today) that can transport troops quickly and easily from one place to another.
Verse 16: “And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.”
In case there was any doubt, the prophecy again pinpoints for us the setting: the location is “the far north” (in verse 15) and the time is “the latter days”. And there are “many peoples” (in verse 15): as we learned earlier, many nations will ally with the Russian forces of Gog. Even Russia herself consists of quite a few nations. Assuming the nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States get drawn more into her sphere of influence, then Russia can expect the forces of these nations to join her in this conflict, along with the other main allies already mentioned.
What does it mean that the Lord is going to be sanctified in the Antichrist? Why is God bringing Russia up against Israel? To let the World know that God is righteous and that the heathen would know Him. He is a good God, a fair God, He is a just God, and therefore the World knows that Israel needs it! The Lord is using the antichrist to judge Israel for her sins & waywardness.
Many people ask when this invasion will take place on the world scene. Most Bible scholars suggest that it will come to pass when the antichrist breaks the 7 year covenant. When he confirms the covenant, Israel will be allowed to rebuild their temple on Mount Moriah & resume their animal sacrifices. Jerusalem will probably be shared by the Jews, Muslims, & Christians under the World Government.
In the middle of the 7 year covenant, after the first 3-1/2 years, the antichrist will break the covenant and take away the daily sacrifice, & the world government will place the Abomination of Desolation, also called Image of the Beast, somewhere on the Temple Mount. (Daniel 9:27, 11:31, Matthew 24:15,21; Revelation 13:5-7, 11-18)
The antichrist, the leader of Russia, will not only invade Israel but will also make Jerusalem his capital and set up his headquarters there to rule the whole World for three-and-a-half years. He will also sit in the Temple of God saying he’s God. (Daniel 11:45; 2Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:2)
Although the Lord uses the Antichrist to judge Israel, later in this chapter we will see that the Lord will defeat Gog and the Russian military forces at the Battle of Armageddon.
Some Bible scholars suggest that this war can happen anytime now especially since many of these nations are lining up behind Russia while others believe this invasion will happen sometime during the latter part of the Great Tribulation. We will have to wait to see when this scenario plays out. Daniel Chapter 11:21-45, explains that the Antichrist will fight 5 or 6 wars, & this chapter sounds like it is certainly one of them.
Verse 17: “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?”
We have read that some of the other prophets predicted the coming of the Antichrist. Daniel talks about him time and time again all through the Book of Daniel. God is saying: I am not only telling Ezekiel, I have told many of My prophets about you, Gog.” He is talking to Gog. He says, “I have prophesied about you for centuries,” in fact, for thousands of years now, “that I would bring you against them.” He is going to judge Israel through Gog and Magog!
Verse 18: “And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face.”
This passage is dealing primarily with Gog and Magog, the antichrist and Russia, and their war with Israel. Unlike other prophesies in the Bible it does not tell us how long they stayed there after the invasion and what they did while they were there. In many ways it is a message to Gog and Magog telling them that God brought them down there as a judgement upon Israel for their sins followed by a warning that God is going to judge the Antichrist and Russia as well.
This is a procedure God has so often followed. He had used the heathen, the Godless, the anti-Christ, the wicked of the World to judge and punish His Own people and then turned right around to judge their enemies as well. God is just and everybody that deserves punishment gets punished and judged!
Verse 19: “For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;”
God says there is going to be a great shaking when He finally decides to pour out His judgment after the antichrist has taken over Israel. The Antichrist has been there for three-and-a-half years, it has been his headquarters. He has been running the World from Jerusalem, but at a certain point after causing so much trouble and misery in the world God will finally put a stop to it.
God starts judging the Antichrist and his worldwide kingdom, his anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-religious kingdom of which he has made himself god. God is going to send great earthquakes to Israel, because it has become his capital. It is his head city.
Verse 20-22: “So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places.
And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man’s sword shall be against his brother.
And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.”
This is a good place to recap the situation! The Antichrist & his military forces invade Israel possibly during the middle of the last 7 year covenant. This ushers in the 3-1/2 years, 42 months, or 1260 days of Great Tribulation. The Antichrist is ruling from his headquarters in Jerusalem. Immediately after this last three and a half years of the Great Tribulation, Jesus Christ will return “in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:29-31) to rescue and resurrect all of those who received Him! His people will then rise from the earth in powerful, immortal resurrection bodies and join Jesus in Heaven for a great victory celebration, the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 19:7-9).
Meanwhile, the wicked forces of the Antichrist will suffer hell on earth as God pours out His judgments on those who cruelly persecuted His people and brought such destruction to others (Revelation 16:1-11).
The armies of the Antichrist will gather in the Valley of Jezreel, around the height of Megiddo, Armageddon, to war against the armies of the nations that oppose him. This is the gathering of the Battle of Armageddon during the Wrath of God under the 6th vial. (Revelation 16:12-16). The course of the battle will run from Megiddo to the very gates of Jerusalem (Joel 3:10-14; Zechariah 14:1-5).
Sometime during this time the Lord and all His resurrected saints from all the ages will come flying down on powerful heavenly white horses to destroy the Antichrist forces and rescue the opposing armies (Revelation 19:11-21; Zechariah 14:1-5; Ezekiel 39:17-22). So horrible will be the carnage that it will take seven months to bury the dead in Israel alone, and seven years to remove all the wreckage of the battle (Ezekiel 39:9-16).
The Antichrist (Gog) and the False Prophet will be taken from the Battle of Armageddon and tossed directly into the lake of fire–Hell (Revelation 19:20; Daniel 7:11). Satan, who possessed the Antichrist, will be imprisoned in the “bottomless pit” for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-3).
We also learn that God’s fury on Gog, takes the form of a “great earthquake”. “All men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places” It is most likely the same event that is described in Revelation 16:17-21: “there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth… and the cities of the nations fell”. (Revelation 16:18-21). Such a grand cataclysm will surely bring to an end the murderous rampage of the Antichrist Gog and his armies. In fact, it will bring an end to the whole present social order as we know it. As the Seventh Angel, who poured out the last vial says,” It is done.”
Verse 23: “Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.”
So how is the world going to know this? Well, for one thing they’ll know that probably only God could have done such a thing in such magnitude, in such a magnificent manner, to have the whole Earth shake and the skies rain down fire and brimstone and hailstones and red-hot rocks upon the forces of the Antichrist! God is going to manifest His justice, His righteousness to the World. The World by this time will know that the Antichrist has gone too far, and will feel that if there is a God in Heaven the Antichrist should be punished. So God is going to punish him just like with the Israelis who have gone too far, bringing God’s punishments upon themselves through the Antichrist and the Russians. The whole World will know that these events are the true, just, righteous, fair judgments of God.
The Good news is The Lord and His resurrected saints, His saved people of all ages, will then work together with those on earth who survived the Battle of Armageddon to rebuild a new and better world, setting up the kingdom of God on earth (Daniel 7:18,27; Revelation 2:26; 20:4,6). Only then, under the supreme rule and reign of Christ, will all wars finally cease and the world at last be governed fairly and well with true justice, liberty, peace, plenty, and happiness for all. Jesus “shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). Complete disarmament at last!