Scripture warns of three major occasions of war which will occur in the last days before our Lord Jesus returns to rule as King of kings and Lord of lords.
In the first article of this series, we discussed God's judgment on nations in the Middle East that surround and perpetually threaten Israel. These nations seem to link together to attack God's covenant nation of Israel and will receive the recompense of the Lord's vengeance (Isa. 34:8).
These Arab nations (Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) have repeatedly battled Israel before, during its brief seven decades of existence. Egypt and Jordan have even signed peace treaties with Israel, yet all previous conflicts have been with conventional weapons.
This first of the three end-times events we reviewed seemed to feature nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Entire nations appear to disappear or cease to exist. Parts of these nations will burn so intensely (Ezek. 34:8-9) from these weapons of mass destruction that no one can pass through major sections of land (e.g. Isa. 34:9-10; Ezek. 29:9-12; Zeph. 2:8-9). When the conflicts are over, the approaches to Israel from the south and east are blocked, leaving only the north as an avenue for future land forces to attack Israel.
The Second War
Any correlation between the first war and the second war is unclear, except for the specific omission of the names of the bordering nations currently around Israel, which was reestablished in the ancient homeland after worldwide dispersion for nearly 2,000 years. Those nations are unnamed in this second war, probably because they were destroyed in the first end-time war.
The second war is described in Ezekiel 38-39, where the Hebrew seer prophesied about an alliance of 10 Gentile nations which will gather for war with Israel. The timing of this eschatological event is uncertain but not its future reality.
Gog of Magog
This invasion army is to be headed by a person named Gog, from the land of Magog (Ezek. 38:2). The word "Gog" may actually be more of a title than a person's name, much like "Caesar" or "Pharoah." Meanwhile, Magog is identified in Genesis 10:2, in the "table of nations" as being the second son of Noah's son Japheth.
Gog appears initially to be a commander of a coalition with three other lands: Rosh, Meshech and Tubal (v. 2-3). Many believe Rosh to be modern Russia and speculate about Meshech and Tubal being tribal groups within that northern region. Others see these three names as regions within modern Turkey.
The other listed proper names in verses five and six may be the names of ancient Middle Eastern nations (38:1-6), although the actual geographic locations may have changed, as people groups migrated. Ethiopia was the land south of Egypt, including modern Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. Libya, in Ezekiel's day, included all the land of North Africa to the west of Egypt. It encompassed the modern Islamic nations of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
Gomer and Togarmah are not as certain. Gomer has been suggested as possibly Germany or other geographic areas in eastern Europe with growing Islamic populations. Some scholars identify the name Togarmah (thought to identify the descendants of Noah's great-grandson Gomer, Gen. 10:3) with modern Turkey, which Ezekiel notes (v. 6) exist to the "far north" of Israel and is much closer than modern Russia. Persia's ancient name was changed to Iran in 1935, and its fundamentalist Islamic leaders have vilified and threatened the modern nation of Israel with annihilation now for more than 40 years.
This coalition of Islamic nations are summoned by God in the latter years to the restored and repopulated mountains of Israel, where people will be at rest and living securely in unwalled villages in their ancient homeland (38:8,11-12). The confederation army will be enormous and cover the land "like a cloud" while "riding on horses" with armored horsemen (38:15). It is not clear if this is euphemistic language or if these troops are actually limited to equestrian advancement in these mountainous areas.
In Ezekiel 39:9-10, we read of Israelis gathering and burning castoff weapons and armaments left by the advancing armies (for seven years). Again, is this euphemistic language or are these weapons of war actually consumable, as in ancient days? Did the weapons of mass destruction mentioned in the first war force the world back to this kind of simplified yet lethal warfare?
God Defends His Covenant People
Regardless of the actual armament, Israel is far outnumbered and ill-equipped for this enormous army of Islamic enemies and unable to defend itself. Instead, God defends His covenant people and His land with natural disasters and supernatural timing, destroying this vast army before the watching eyes of the world. He sends a massive earthquake that shakes the entire earth, pestilence, great hailstones, fire and brimstone (Ezek. 38:18-22).
Those who fall on the mountains of Israel will be consumed by birds of prey and beasts of the field in the Valley of Hamon-Gog, east of the Dead Sea (39:17). There, the dead are to be buried for seven months to cleanse the land of Israel. This is territory previously part of Jordan, prior to the mass destruction of the first war.
Interestingly, vultures have been declared on the endangered species lists throughout the Middle East. But a species of vultures thought extinct in Israel for 30 years has been seen in the Negev region of Israel in recent weeks.
The God of Israel Is the True God
In Ezekiel 39, we are told that this dramatic deliverance opens the eyes of Israel to their God. Although they do not recognize Jesus as their Messiah yet, they start turning to God and His Messiah.
As the times of the Gentiles are drawing to a close, this major battle opens the eyes of many people throughout the world for both Jews and Gentiles. This mighty God of Israel is the true God.
"So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel. And I will not let them pollute My holy name anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel" (Ezek. 39:7).
Gary Curtis served in full-time ministry for 50 years, the last 27 years of which he was part of the pastoral staff of The Church on The Way, the Van Nuys' California Foursquare church. Now retired, Gary continues to write a weekly blog at worshipontheway.wordpress.com and frequent articles for digital and print platforms.
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