Understanding the ever-changing alignment of nations is becoming increasingly difficult these days due to ‘wars and rumors of war’. Allegiances and loyalties seem to change by the hour, reducing contracts of men to rubble underfoot as is many a Damascus road. However, we can take comfort even in despair, because the Lord has declared the “end from the beginning” in his Word, the Holy Bible.
While ties between countries seem tenuous and nearly impossible to follow, the Lord has revealed the precise nations who will join forces against Israel (and even against his own Messianic kingdom) in the last days. Ezekiel 38 describes some of these nations, and spotlights a chief antagonist, “Gog, of the land of Magog”; it is arguably one of the greatest flagship Scriptures for navigating our way through the end times. Could these nations be coalescing now? Are current headlines in the Middle East beginning to uncover the fault lines predicted by Ezekiel?
No doubt Syria is a very ominous sign of things to come, the land has been devastated and her people have been ravished and savagely brutalized; many call it genocide. Yet irony of ironies, the US State Department claimed the achievement of: “Bringing Peace and Security to Syria” in 2015. The world touts blame for the Syrian crisis lies at the feet of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. But is that true? It is called a “civil war”, yet ISIS boasts American military training and financial support. All the while the world is fed US policies of aggression against ISIS in Syria. How can we navigate these inconsistencies?
I myself believed the horror stories perpetrated by Assad in 2012 after reading a book by Samar Yazbek, A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution. The horror that came off those pages was palpable. I couldn’t stop talking or thinking about it for weeks. But was it true? I have a friend connected with the Syrian Christian community, and from him I began to understand that the Christians in Syria have always been at peace, and they have been very content living under Assad. Surely the geopolitics are complicated, but over the years I have come to view Yazbek’s book as propaganda for the elite agenda, and the revived Islamic Caliphate. To learn more, see my blog on ‘Islamic Antichrist: A King’s Statue‘. We have seen what ISIS does to its victims, and that is in living color the abominable deeds penned by Samar Yazbek; so who in Syria really perpetrates the horrors she dutifully chronicled? Who was she working for?
All of this political intrigue; how can we know the truth? Jesus warned his followers to observe the fruit of men, “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.” (Luke 6:43-44)
Thankfully the Bible sets the record straight – we can learn what is coming from reading its prophetic words. In Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation as well as other Biblical texts, we learn the nations which will coalesce to form an end-time world confederacy. We learn that this powerful empire will crush opposition, and its satanically-possessed leader will eventually be worshiped as God. So where are we at this point?
Damascus is one of the few cities in the world that preserved its name since it was coined in the 15th century BC. It is one of the oldest continually-inhabited cities in the world (since 2000 BC). Yet, it now appears — over 4,000 years later — that the prophet Isaiah’s prophecy for Damascus is coming — and in large part — has already come to pass in our day:
The burden against Damascus. “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap.” (Isaiah 17:1)
With cursory knowledge, one can easily place the blame for the Syrian plight at the feet of President Assad, or even Russia. But the Lord knows every dark shadow, fork-tongued “diplomacy” and evil intrigue; and he knows who really bears responsibility for Damascus becoming ‘a ruinous heap’. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)
What will happen next — will the so-called “civil war” end with Syria? Understanding the identity of Ezekiel’s ‘Gog, of the land of Magog’ is of utmost importance if we are to gain context for this, and many other end-time prophetic events:
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, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you. (Ezekiel 38: 1-6)
What is the role of Russia during these end times? If someone would have asked me that question six months ago, I would have said, “she will lead the Ezekiel 38 end-time confederacy of nations against Israel, and her ruler will be the notorious: ‘Gog’ of Magog”. And then, everything changed.
Joel Richardson’s Mideast Beast is a must-read for those who “watch and pray” as our Lord instructed. We are keeping our eye on Russia, yet all the while Magog (literally: “land of Gog”) bears its historical roots in a very different land. Magog is a land in which the rumbles of a revived Islamic Caliphate can be heard by its faithful — beckoning like the call to prayer. Its prophesied resurrection in Daniel 2 can be observed today, and felt throughout the region. To learn more, see my blogs on ‘A King’s Statue‘ and ‘Four Signposts (Part 2-C)‘.
Many a commentary identifies ‘Gog’ as the leader of Russia. If mistaken, how could so many commentaries miss the mark on Ezekiel 38? What is the source of our misunderstanding?
Ever since the release of C. I. Scofield’s Reference Bible, numerous popular prophecy teachers today identify Magog with Russia or the former Soviet Central Asian nations (Kazakstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan). The primary support for this position is found in a comment made by Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian from the first century.¹
Richardson then goes on to identify the point of contention in Josephus’ work which has led to a Russian interpretation for Ezekiel 38:
In discussing the various descendants of Japheth, Noah’s son, Josephus wrote, “Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians.”²
To this, Richardson offers two important considerations. Regarding the Greek reference to “Scythian”:
historians today acknowledge that “Scythian” was a catch-all term loosely used to refer to a vast group of tribal peoples, often related by similar cultures, but not genetically. The second problem with Josephus’s comments is that they were made in the first century. Ezekiel lived close to seven hundred years earlier than Josephus. In Josephus’s identifications of the various descendants of Noah, he repeatedly spoke of those “who are now called by the Greeks” thus and such. In other words, his comments tell us nothing about how Ezekiel would have understood the term Magog….
After planting the self-named city of Magog, also called Heirapolis in Syria, near the border of Turkey, some Magog peoples migrated to central and western Turkey and planted the kingdom of Lydia, which occupied the whole western half of Turkey, and thrived during Ezekiel’s day.³
Other writers have pointed to Philo or Herodotus attempting to support their Russian interpretation of Magog. However, Richardson points out that neither Philo nor Herodotus ever once mentioned Magog in their collective works — only “Scythians” — but we know that assumption is shaky ground for reasons before-stated. To truly identify Gog and Magog, we must explore ancient geography.
To continue go to: GOG: A Case of Mistaken Identity (Part 2)