It All Revolves Around Israel – Part 2

Norbert Lieth

Ezekiel 38—48 on the present and future of Israel.

After decades of relative peace and prosperity, things can take a sudden turn. 

THE PHASE OF ASSAULT FROM THE FAR NORTH (EZEK 38—39)
I’m not suggesting that Russia’s attack on Ukraine signaled the arrival of these events. But we’re experiencing firsthand how quickly it could happen. The past events of the pandemic, when paired with the war in Ukraine, should cause us to sit up and take notice. Let’s remember the prophetic Word of the Bible:

1. Peace can vanish suddenly. New circumstances can come upon us overnight, and the world can go haywire. After decades of relative peace and prosperity, things can take a sudden turn. I by no means wish to invoke Revelation’s sealed judgments, but there’s no denying that they’ll someday be a reality, as prophesied in Revelation 6:3-4: “And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.”

2. Prosperity can quickly give way to emergency. For example, the war in Ukraine could pose a danger to global nutrition. Russia and Ukraine’s wheat exports form a quarter of the world’s supply, and prices are already exploding in some countries. “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine” (Rev 6:5-6). In Germany, a public figure has already expressed the following sentiment: “We can endure reduced happiness and zest for life for a few years. We can freeze for our freedom.” And Werner Baumann, [former] CEO of Bayer, said, “We’re already in the middle of a grain supply crisis.” Additionally, farmers warned in the spring that if it didn’t rain soon, a catastrophe could be possible, since grain couldn’t grow under those conditions.

3. Nuclear war and its terrible consequences can quickly become a reality. Everyone is talking about rearmament again. Nuclear ordnance is being rolled out. Experts have said that it’s dangerous to back the Russian president into a corner. It recalls Revelation 6:7-8: “And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” Some say that the seven-month-long process for burying the dead, described in Ezekiel 39:12-16, is equivalent to the procedure after a nuclear war. 

4. Fear and helplessness are increasing globally. The Lord announced, “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:26).

5. The Bible’s truths can be fulfilled quickly. “Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken” (Ezek 39:8).

If we look at the description of the attack by Gog from Magog on Israel in Ezekiel 38—39, the following points stand out:

1. The enemy’s origin: Scripture is speaking of an area that is extremely far north of Israel (Ezek 38:6, 15; 39:2). Many scholars relate it to present-day Russia. Dr. Roger Liebi writes, “Gog (which appears 10 times) is the name of the leader of this powerful end-time invasion described here. ‘Meshech’ and ‘Tubal’ denote Moscow and Tobolsk. These are settlements of the primitive peoples of today’s Russians which were located between the Black and Caspian Seas 2,000 years ago.”

2. The enemy’s goal: Interestingly, Gog is rerouted and ultimately led to the land of the Jewish people, who are back in their homeland: “And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth […] 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” (Ezek 38:4, 8; cf. vv. 11-12). The enemy is turned around through God’s intervention. This means that Gog may not have initially intended to invade Israel, but the Lord is pursuing a higher goal: 

• “that the heathen may know me” (v. 16).

• “I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes” (v. 16b).

• “my fury shall come up in my face” (v. 18b).

• “I will call for a sword against him” (v. 21a).

Israel is restored from centuries of destruction and persecution. It is gathered from many peoples. It lives in relative safety. The population is secure within its own framework, in its own state, with its own security measures. And, there is great concern for peace and security in the Middle East, which is very dangerous according to 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3.

3. The time of the attack: Scripture repeatedly refers to “after many days,” “in the latter years,” or “in the latter days” (Ezek 38:8, 16). This is undoubtedly referring to the end times, connected to Jesus’ return (and not to be confused with the end of the world). But I can’t say precisely when the attack will happen. There are at least three perspectives: before the Tribulation, at the end of the Tribulation, and at the beginning (or the end) of the messianic kingdom (cf. Rev 20:8). 

4. The enemy’s allies: Various countries will join with Gog (Ezek 38:5-6). The Scofield Bible calls them “mercenaries.” In fact, Russia currently maintains good relations with the five countries listed. And, in 
the war of aggression against Ukraine, volunteers from Africa and elsewhere in the world, who wanted to unite on the side of Russia, enlisted for this fight. There was talk of a highly feared mercenary force from Chechnya, or tens of thousands of volunteer fighters from Syria.

5. The enemy’s motive: The motive is desire. Things will rise up in Gog’s heart, and he will “think an evil thought” (Ezek 38:10b). He wants to plunder and carry away spoils (v. 13). Wasn’t the attack on Ukraine an evil plan? Consider the large gas deposits in Israel. Gas is becoming increasingly valuable, a point of contention and a highly politicized commodity. In the future, could Israel supply gas to Europe instead of Russia?

6. The Western world will be affected: “And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezek 39:6). Regarding the Hebrew word for isles, ’ijim, Dr. Liebi writes, “You could therefore say that the geographical term ’ijim is essentially the Old Testament word for Europe.” In light of current events, we’re aware of how quickly this prophecy could be fulfilled.

7. Biblical prophecy fulfilled: “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?” (Ezek 38:17). Here we are talking about the future after it has passed. It’s prophesied that some will then remember.

8. After judgment on Gog and his allies, Israel’s destiny will change: God is fully known, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the people, and the temple is built for the messianic kingdom (Ezek 39:25-29; 40:1ff.).

The book of Ezekiel ends with the phrase: “And the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there” (Ezek 48:35b).

WHY MUST IT ALL TO COME DOWN TO THIS?
God is speaking to this world!

1. Mankind is to be led to the knowledge of God. People are to recognize His holy actions, “that the heathen may know me” (Ezek 38:16). “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” (v. 23). “And they shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezek 39:6b). “And the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel” (v. 7b). “And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them” (v. 21). “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward” (v. 22). “And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity” (v. 23a). “And [I] am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations” (v. 27b).

2. The evil behind the scenes should be exposed. By making room for wickedness, God is revealing behind-the-scenes evil and the invisible power of wickedness. Individuals, and humanity as a whole, cannot progress without God. Quite the contrary; the world is ruining itself. God reveals the spiritual backdrop, and finally intervenes in events. He fulfills His Word, and works righteousness and peace. The Bible calls this apocalypse “Revelation.”

3. God will show Himself to be the One behind everything—but always with the purpose of salvation. “Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Ps 46:8-10). God holds the power. We shouldn’t accuse Him but fear Him. Wars arise from man’s evil heart, but God directs them for His cause. And God’s motive is for people to believe in Him. It is Jesus Christ who bears the name above all names. One day every knee will bow before Him (Phil 2:9-11).

News from Israel - 09/2023

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