The nations before the return of Christ
In the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 two sets of nations are depicted as forming on the world stage just before the return of Christ.
One set is an aggressor who invades Israel and is described in verses 1-9. It’s headed up by a leader called Gog, who, amongst other features is called the “prince of Rosh” (v2) or The Rus - an ancient name for the Russians. This Gog, leads a confederacy of nations against the people of Israel before they are defeated. The other set of nations seems to challenge the invader but is unwilling or unable to do much about it. This set is in verse 13:
“Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, 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?”
Shebah and Dedan
To unlock the meaning of the prophecy the diligent student must do some research into these ancient names in order to identify their modern equivalents.
Looking at the Biblical evidence one can easily identify Sheba and Dedan as being Arab peoples residing south of Israel (see 1 Kings 9:26 and 1 Kings 10:1 and Jeremiah 25:23-24). When looking at more secular history we find we can even more closely identify them as the Southern Gulf Arab peoples.
The identity of Tarshish has been discussed at length in the Bible in the News and has been shown to be Great Britain. There are many clues that help us to make this identification. Perhaps the most notable identifying feature is that Tarshish was a place from which metals such as silver, iron, tin and lead came from around the time of Soloman (Ezekiel 27:12). The only location known to have been mining these rare metals in vast quantities in these ancient times is Great Britain. The idea that tin from Britain was transported and traded in the Middle East around the time of Soloman was confirmed in 2019 when a peer reviewed paper was published with evidence that tin from 27 ingots found at 5 ancient eastern Mediterranean shipwreck sites all came from Cornwall.
The young Lions of Tarshish
So then before the return of Christ we expect the merchants of Britain (Tarshish) to be trading in the area of the Gulf states (Shebah and Dedan). But there is another hint that Britain will not be alone in her enterprize for the prophecy, rather enigmatically states that Tarshish is trading there “with all the young lions thereof”.
The context here is of nations. Tarshish here is being described as a Mother Lion - but with her are her Young Lions. These are not Lion cubs - baby lions reliant on their mother. These are Young Lions who can fend for themselves.
We read of this concept, albeit in another context, in Ezekiel 19:2-3.
“What is thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions. And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey”
So a lioness nourishes whelps who grow to become young lions who catch their own prey.
Tarshish, the political power of Great Britain then is a mother lion. In the latter days she will have independent political offspring who will stand independently of her and have the ability to fend for themselves.
What is being described is a colonial power - where colonies have matured to become powers now in their own right.
Who are the Young Lions?
Which nations could qualify to be Britain's young lions? Which nations were once governed by the British but are now independent nations in their own right?
Perhaps the biggest one of these would be America. The American Revolutionary War was fought between 1775 and 1783 in which American Patriot forces under George Washington's command defeated the British, establishing and securing the independence of the United States.
Another Young Lion nation would no doubt be Australia. Previously governed by Britain, in 1901, six colonies united to form the Commonwealth of Australia. Full independence came in 1931 when full legal status was given for the independence of Australia. This was adopted in 1942.
These two nations are now independent but still very much connected to their mother. We can expect these, and other nations like Canada and New Zealand to continue to form trade ties with Britain - especially post Brexit as the prophets of the Bible have described them as being active trading partners in the Gulf in the latter days.
The news this week - Tarshish rallying her young Lions
When we look up from our Bibles and consider the news stories this week we are therefore not surprised to see a significant deal being done between Britain, America and Australia. The deal is known as the AUKUS deal.
The BBC reported on this on the 14th March. It ran a head line entitled “Aukus deal: Summit was projection of power and collaborative intent”. The report stated “The imagery and words working in unison: old democracies coming together to counter a new and growing adversary - China. The submarines deal will create thousands of jobs in Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, in Derby and elsewhere.”
Another report by the Guardian explained that “In a tripartite deal with the US and the UK, Australia has unveiled a plan to acquire a fleet of up to eight nuclear-powered submarines… Nuclear-powered submarines have a distinct advantage over the diesel-electric boats of Australia’s fleet because they don’t need to surface to “snort” to recharge their batteries. Nuclear subs can leave port and stay underwater for weeks, avoiding detection.”.
We can see then Tarshish rallying her Young Lions as we would expect from the prophecies of the Bible.
The response of the Rus
Perhaps what was also interesting was the reaction of Russia. Routers ran a report on the 14th of March entitled “Kremlin says AUKUS submarine deal raises proliferation questions” The report went on to say “Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "There are a lot of questions here related to the problem of non-proliferation. Here we need special transparency, and we need to answer the questions that arise…” Russian President Vladimir Putin has been critical of AUKUS since its inception in 2021, accusing it of fuelling regional tensions by trying to counter China.”
Russia is clearly not in favour of this deal. Russia's anti-US stance was seen in full this week when a US drone was downed. According to CNN “The White House slammed Moscow’s actions as “unsafe, unprofessional and reckless” while Russia’s defense ministry denied its aircraft came into contact with the drone. But dramatic footage that was declassified on Thursday seemingly shows the Russian jet emitting a plume of fuel over the drone, causing its camera systems to cut off. Russian and US aircraft have operated over the Black Sea during Moscow’s war in Ukraine, but this is the first incident of its kind since the conflict began – and it threatens to heighten tensions between the two countries further.”
We can clearly see then the US and Russia on different sides of growing tensions.
Tarshish doing deals in Shebah and Dedan
In other news this week we also want to highlight growing trade alliances between Britain and the Gulf States. In June 2022 the British launched an ambitious free trade negotiation between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council which is slowly gathering steam.
On March 13th, The National News ran a headline “UK hails 'trade wins' with Saudi Arabia and UAE as GCC talks enter third round”. It reports “The UK has landed a series of “trade wins” before the third round of negotiations with the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), including a £6 million ($7.25 million) boost for honey producers and a female-focused mission in the UAE. As negotiators sat down for talks in Saudi capital Riyadh, Britain’s Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch welcomed the early progress in trade relations with Gulf nations as hopes of a £1.6 billion pact increase…The GCC — which comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the UAE — is seeking to capitalise on the UK’s post-Brexit eagerness to strike lucrative trade deals with global partners. Ms Badenoch painted a positive outlook for negotiations with the GCC, nine months after meetings began. She said such a treaty would support British manufacturers and improve the prospects of the green energy industry. “I’m very pleased that we’re heading into our third round of negotiations with the GCC,” the government minister and former Conservative Party leadership contender said. “A free trade deal with the Gulf will strengthen supply chains and grow our food and drink, manufacturing and renewable energy sectors. “Trade deals like this one open up new opportunities for UK businesses, such as removing even more market access barriers harming UK competitiveness globally, like the one we successfully scrapped preventing UK honey getting into Saudi Arabia.”
We not only see evidence of the Lioness and Young Lions rallying around each other we also see that trade with Shebah and Dedan is set to increase. This is exactly as we would expect from what the Bible has propheciesd will happen in the time just before Jesus returns.
Heralding the return of Christ
These events then herald his return to this earth. To sit on the throne of his father David (Luke 1:32) and to rule the restored Kingdom of Israel as is his right (Ezekiel 21:27). That Kingdom, God’s kingdom, “shall be established for ever” (2 Sam 7:16). This coming kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all the kingdoms of men, and it shall stand for ever (Daniel 2:44). So the question for us all, as we see the signs of it becoming a reality - is, are we ready? Have we got ourselves right before our God. Have we repented, been baptised and been seeking to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil 2:12).
This has been Matt Davies joining you. Join us again next week as we watch the signs and as we patiently wait for the return of Zion’s king.