This whole chapter is incredibly exciting for Bible students, it’s so clearly being fulfilled in our days! We must live therefore in the last days before the return of Jesus Christ! If we break up the points from Ezekiel 38:8 we can see what has been fulfilled and what still has not happened.
We’ve yet to see Gog (Russia) come down onto the mountains of Israel. But the other elements of the verse could well be part of their motive. Israel have been brought back to the land, the state of Israel was established in 1948. In 1967 the surrounding Arab countries tried to wipe it off the map – the Egyptian’s famously said they would ‘push Israel into the sea’. The Arab nations failed badly and Israel ended up with more land. Military strategists still cannot quite explain how, with the odds stacked so heavily against them, the Israelis successfully routed the Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians and their allies in six days. Israel now had control of Jerusalem. Jesus prophesied that the time of the Gentiles rule over Jerusalem would come to an end (Luke 21:24).
In a rapid amount of time, Israel has expanded its territory to include the West Bank area (the mountains of Israel). What’s more they have worked hard to make the land useful in fulfilment of another prophecy: “I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the nations that are about you, they shall bear their shame. But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come. For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown: And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel” Ezekiel 36:7-10.
Once again, it’s incredible to see the truth of these verses in our times!
The Arab nations were left in shame after the events in 1967, commentators point out the shame of that time still affects them! In the meantime, we notice that Israel came back to a waste land (Ezekiel 38:8) which they have made fruitful (Ezekiel 36:8-10)! They have continued to multiply as a people on the mountains of Israel – the West Bank – so much so that it’s a major international scandal, but despite pressure of the United Nations it keeps happening. Surely this is evidence of the hand of God at work?
It is really interesting (thrilling even!) to now see Israel making peace with some of the Arab nations, very recently with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – it is likely Saudi Arabia will follow. The Jerusalem Post ran this headline on October 15th: “Nearly 80% of Saudis in favor of normalization with Israel – poll”. The Middle East Monitor ran this headline on October 17th: “Saudi Arabia believes in eventual normalisation with Israel”. These peace accords will most certainly bring about a ‘confidence’ in Israel. This could well be what enables them to “dwell safely”.
We know, that it is when Israel is in that state of ‘dwelling safely’ that Gog (Russia) will come down from the North and attack. God, through Ezekiel, puts these words into Gog’s mouth “I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls and having neither bars nor gates 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.” Ezekiel 38:11-12
The spoil of verse 11 has potential to be the natural gas and oil Israel is now working to export. The Times of Israel ran an article on 21st October with this headline, “Israeli firms signs deal to pipe UAE oil to Europe”. Currently, Russia supplies 30% of Europe’s oil and 40% of its natural gas. It aggressively uses pipeline politics to get its way. Putin knows that the European Union hesitates to defend Ukraine because it can't afford to lose Russia's energy supply. It’s certainly not hard to imagine Russia deciding to take drastic action against Israel!
We know from Ezekiel 38:5, that Russia/Gog’s primary ally is Persia (modern day Iran). All the world can see that Russia and Iran are increasingly coming closer together, this is partly being driven by America’s economic sanctions of Iran. It’s so interesting to note that there are nations who stand up to Gog, “Sheba and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish” (Ezekiel 38:13). Sheba and Dedan are the ancient names of the territories of nations such as the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Because of the events that are happening in our times, we can understand the truth of Ezekiel 38:13!
Russia's Bases North of Israel
Looking at the above tables which show which parts of the prophecies have been fulfilled and which parts we are still waiting for, there is very little that hasn’t happened yet. We could argue that Israel still doesn’t dwell securely enough, so look out for developments there. With certainty we can say, Gog (Russia) hasn’t come down into Israel, but go back 10 years and who would have thought they’d be camped out in Syria – the country directly north of Israel? Daniel chapter 11:40 speaks of ‘the king of the North’ (Gog) coming down with ships. Now Russia has a major port in Tartus, Syria. That is not normal, it is the Russian navy’s only overseas base. It is at the South of Syria, as close to Israel as possible!
Truly the stage is set! We must live therefore in the ‘latter days’, the days leading up to the return of Jesus Christ! That has major implications for us: how will we respond? We don’t need to get involved in the politics (interesting as they are), Jesus said, “my kingdom is not of this world….” We need to get onside with the Lord Jesus Christ.
This has been John Owen joining you with the Bible in the News.