GOD AND THE NATIONS
The Bible message primarily concerns the nation of Israel. The hope of a true Christian is therein described as “the hope of Israel” (Acts 28.20). Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, made this very clear when he said, “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4.22). This hope of salvation will be realised by living for ever in the kingdom of God (2 Peter 1.11 & Daniel 7.27). This kingdom of God is to be established in the earth with Jerusalem as its capital city (Jeremiah 3.17). That is why the apostles asked Jesus, after his resurrection, if he was then going to “restore again the kingdom (of God) to Israel” (Acts 1.1⁄6).
A cursory glance at the above passages of scripture will confirm that the nation of Israel figures prominently in the purpose of God. Closer investigation will reveal that the Bible has much to say about other nations, especially those who impinge on the life of Israel, as for example, Egypt, Babylon, Assyria etc. Looking at nations in modern times, we find that Bible prophecy is concerned with such nations as Persia (Iran), Ethiopia and Libya (Ezekiel 38.5). From this chapter in Ezekiel we learn that these nations are involved in a confederacy which invades the land of Israel (verse 8). These invaders are defeated and destroyed by God, resulting in Israel being “saved with an everlasting salvation” (Isaiah 45.17) so that, following the establishment of the kingdom of God, “God will be known in the eyes of many nations” (Ezekiel 38.23).
THE INVADING LEADER IDENTIFIED
The leader of this invasion is named as Gog, who is described as “the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal” (verse 2 RV). Unlike other names in this chapter at which we have looked, these ancient names have been superseded by more modern ones. Experts confidently assert that “Ros (or Rosh) is the most ancient form under which history makes mention of the name Russia”, and Russian historians themselves confirm this by stating that “the Russians derive their name from Ros”.
Ezekiel 38 adds its own confirmation to this interpretation by pin-pointing the geographical location of this prince of Rosh. This is described as “the north parts” or, as the Revised Version gives it, “the uttermost parts of the north” (verse 15). A glance at a world map will reveal that, in relation to the land of Israel, the territory of Russia lies in “the uttermost parts of the north”. It is particularly noticeable that Moscow (Meshech) is almost due north of Jerusalem. There can be no doubt that the Gog of this chapter represents the person in control of the affairs of Russia and is the leader of the forces that will invade Israel.
WHEN WILL THE INVASION HAPPEN?
It is abundantly clear that this event has not yet happened. The evidence of history testifies that this invasion is yet in the future. The prophecy itself confirms this, whilst at the same time giving clear indications of the period in which it will happen.
The invasion of the land of Israel takes place after its inhabitants have been “brought forth out of the nations” to “dwell safely” (verse 8). They will inhabit “the desolate places” of the “mountains of Israel” (verses 12 & 8). They will be so successful in organising their economy that the invader will seek to overrun the land in order to appropriate the results of Israel’s prosperity. “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?” (verses 10⁄13).
Today we see a situation comparable to this. We see the Jews returning to their land in great numbers following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Along with this influx of Jews from around the world, the Israeli economy has mushroomed to such an extent that it is considered to be “an economic and technological powerhouse” At the same time, the economy of Russia has plummeted, bringing its people to the verge of revolt. The Russian President and his government seem powerless to stem the tide of poverty and the resulting anger that is creeping over the masses of the Russian people. The scene seems set for envious Russian eyes to be cast in the direction of prosperous Israel. Never in the history of either country have their respective situations corresponded with the scenario that now exists! Add to this the way in which, in relatively recent years, the countries of Persia, Ethiopia and Libya (verse 5) have turned their backs on the West and allied themselves with Russia, and the jigsaw is ready to receive its last piece.
THE TIME IS RIPE
The scene has been set in Bible prophecy. When the invasion of Israel by Russia takes place, it will be the signal for divine intervention in world affairs. “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” (verse 18). At this juncture the armies of the invading nations will be overthrown by Jesus Christ returned to the earth, and the way cleared for the establishment of the kingdom of God in the land of Israel.