EZEKIEL 38-39: Ancient Prophet Glimpses Modern World! (Chapter 2)

Chapter 1: Who Are Gog and Magog? (38:1-2)
Chapter 2: Preparation for Invasion (38:3-6)
Chapter 3: Israel’s Role in Bringing about Her Own Downfall (38:7)
Chapter 4: Prophecy Pinpoints Our Present Historical Situation (38:8-12)
Chapter 5: Role of America and Britain (38:13)
Chapter 6: How God is Honored in this Mess (38:14-16)
Chapter 7: God Fights Against Gog – Armageddon! (38:17-39:8)
Chapter 8: Clean-Up Campaign (39:9-20)
Chapter 9: Israel’s Purging Results in Final Blessing (39:21-29)

Chapter 2: Preparation for Invasion (38:3-6)

Verse 3  And say, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.

“I am against you.” Perhaps because it was given to a Jewish prophet, this prophetic message starts off with the “good news” first about Gog’s defeat. As the prophecy goes on, however, the “bad news” comes to light: the Israeli nation will have brought all this trouble on herself because of her own misdeeds and unfaithfulness to God.

The following portion of the prophetic message, which comes near the end, is actually the first step in the progression of events and, strictly speaking, should have come here at the beginning. But God has to give His messages through human channels, and in this case, probably His Jewish prophet Ezekiel would have found it too difficult to receive right off the bat a message about Israel’s part in the process of bringing about her own downfall and destruction:

        “The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them…” “I will… have mercy on the whole house of Israel… after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid.” (39:23-26)

In the light of current events, it is not difficult to understand why God will eventually have to withdraw His protection from the Israeli people who are now dwelling “safely in their own land”. Their mistreatment of the conquered communities within their borders and provocations against their neighbors outside in the greater Mideast region are two of the bigger reasons why Israel’s enemies will be allowed to invade and conquer for a time. (More on this subject coming.)

Verse 4  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.

Gog the Antichrist is compared to some kind of wild, out-of-control beast. But he is not beyond God’s control and cannot cause any more harm than what God allows him to.

Regarding the description of the “great company”, if this is supposed to be referring to modern warfare, then it sounds rather antiquated. Nowadays, armies don’t ride on “horses”, nor do they use “swords” and “shields”. Perhaps we could compare this to the passage in verses 2 and 3 about Magog, Meshech, and Tubal. There are no groups of people nowadays who use these names. However, we understand that these were ancient terms for peoples who once inhabited the territory now known as Russia, whose inhabitants were descended from these ancient peoples. So it’s not difficult to accept these words as the only way for Ezekiel in ancient times to refer to this modern nation.

And likewise, even though modern weapons are far superior to ancient ones, nevertheless, they still belong in the category of killing instruments. Machine guns, bazookas, cannons, war tanks, and all the assortment of modern weapons, these are the modern day “descendants” of the “horses and horsemen, bucklers, shields, swords” of yesteryear.

          The phrase “splendidly clothed” does suggest that the army was suited up in a different and superior fashion. Other Bible versions translate it as “all sorts of armour”. Certainly, it can be said of a modern army that it is “splendidly clothed” with “all sorts of armour” – especially when we compare modern weapons and vehicles with their clumsy counterparts from ancient times: armoured war horses, siege towers, catapults.

It is worth noting too that in modern armies the old terms are still in use: tank divisions are still called the cavalry; engines are still rated according to their horsepower; helmets are still helmets. Of course, there are many other terms we use nowadays – like machine gun, bazooka, grenade, etc. But the Lord had to confine Himself in this case to wordings that were grounded in the reality that existed in ancient times. Otherwise, the message might have appeared too bizarre, puzzling, and incomprehensible to Ezekiel and the many succeeding generations who would read this prophetic message in later centuries.

Anyway, this usage of outdated expressions to symbolize modern weapons is no more unusual than the use of ancient tribal names to represent modern nations. The main idea the Lord was trying to get across was that Gog would have a great army – “a great company” – and that it would be well equipped in some superior way (“splendidly clothed”).

There is another theory about this: apparently, there is a new type of weapon known as “EMP” (electromagnetic pulse) in the experimental stage that may come into use in the future. This weapon can disable other weapons that depend on electricity or electronics by shooting out some kind of high-intensity electronic beam. If such a scenario were ever to occur, much modern weaponry would be disabled, and maybe soldiers would have to revert to using swords and shields.

This is possible; however, there are still plenty of modern weapons that operate mechanically, i.e. a machine gun, and they would still be preferable to using a sword. Anyway, it’s a possibility, and who knows what the future may hold?

Verse 5-6  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.

Here Magog’s allies are listed, those who will join forces with Russia in this invasion. The order of this list follows a circular pattern around Israel, starting with Persia (now Iran) in the east, then going south to Ethiopia, west to Libya, and north to Gomer and Togarmah. So it looks like poor Israel is going to be totally surrounded by enemies.

But why such a gathering of nations against one small country, one may wonder? The answer, of course, is that Israel will – in fact already is – tied into an alliance with the U.S. So these nations will have to confront not only Israel, but also the daunting military might of the American superpower.

Regarding Libya and Ethiopia, these nations were also mentioned in Daniel 11:43. (Daniel 11 is the companion chapter to Ezekiel 38-39; it describes, from a different angle, the invasion of Israel and the Mideast in the End Time.) “Ethiopia” in ancient times was the land south of Egypt. Today that territory is the nation of North Sudan. So these three nations – Iran (“Persia”), Libya, and North Sudan (“Ethiopia”) – who, politically, have been staunch opponents of Israel will join Gog in the invasion.

In recent news Qadhafi’s Libya has suffered defeat at the hands of the U.S., Britain, and France. Truth be told, leaders of these countries were not all that concerned about Qadhafi’s autocratic regime trampling on the rights of Libyans; what really mattered to them was the fact that they could not control Qadhafi and could not get Libya’s oil served to them on a silver platter. Qadhafi laid down his own terms and prices, which greatly annoyed these western powers. As a result, when the “Arab Spring” swept through Libya, they hypocritically hijacked the movement, using it as their excuse to further their own agenda.

As a result Libya may now join the anti-Russian camp for a time. But as the prophecy here indicates, we shouldn’t be surprised to see the politics in this region change rapidly, as often happens in this world. In fact, as the murder there (September, 2012) of the American ambassador shows, Libya could easily veer back into its former anti-Israel stance. Right now, conditions there are so chaotic that (were it not for this ancient prophecy) it would be difficult to see how things are going to pan out in that nation.

One after-effect of the British-French-American intrusion is some burning resentment, not just in Libya but in much of the Mideast, Africa, and even Russia and Germany, nations who, because of their refusal to participate in the war, fear that they will miss out on lucrative oil contracts. Inevitably, this will cause a backlash. If Russia decides to actually do something to re-balance the Mideast equation, it would lead to the scaling back of the power of America and Israel in the Mideast.

And this is really what the prophecy in Ezekiel 38-39 is telling us will happen… eventually. In fact, we may be getting a hint of that already. Russia’s intervention in September, 2015, in the Syrian civil war has succeeded surprisingly well. Although both America and Russia are supposed to be united fighting their common enemy, ISIS, the fact that Russia is using this as an opportunity to defend her ally Syria (against American-backed forces) presents quite a challenge to America’s presence in the region.

Ancient to Modern Map1a - Copy copy

“Gomer and all its troops.” Scholars generally agree that “Gomer”, the son of Japheth the son of Noah,settled in what is now Ukraine, just north of the Black Sea. It is hard to know right now how exactly “Gomer” fits into the picture. However, since the modern name Crimea is derived from “Gomer”, this could very well identify it as the province of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March, 2014. Because of its location, this region has strategic military value and could easily play an important role in Gog’s future wars against Israel.

Gomer’s descendants (especially Ashkenaz his son) migrated to Scandinavia and Germany, and from there into different parts of Europe. (The name Ashkenaz is the origin for words like Scandinavia or Saxon.) Some ancient Scandinavian tribes like the Goths, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and the land of Gaul (now France) and Galicia in northwest Spain and eastern Germany are all thought to have derived their names from their even more ancient patriarch Gomer.)

Anyway, all that to say, it could mean that some European nations, or the European Union, will also join in this war effort. (And certainly Crimea, now that this militarily strategic region has been annexed into the Russian Federation.) (For more information about the ancient movements and location of Gomer and his descendants, see Appendix 1.)

A question that may come to mind: Isn’t Gomer also the origin for the name “Germany”? The names do look similar, but some new information about the pre-Roman history of Europe can shed some rather interesting light on this question about the origin of the name Germany:

     [Although many of the early Gomerite tribes did settle in what is now Germany, the name itself was actually derived from certain] Semitic peoples [who] also migrated to central Europe (southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland) [at a later date]. These people were the descendants of Asshur, son of Shem, where Germans originated. Asshur is well known as the father of the Assyrians…

     The Assyrians occupied a Mesopotamian city on the lower Tigris River called “Kir” and placed captive slaves there (also referred to in 2 Kings 16:9, Is 22:5-6, Amos 1:5, 9:7). The city was populated by the Assyrians for many years, and the inhabitants became known as “Kir-man”. The Assyrians (Kerman) were driven from their land shortly after their fall about 610 B.C. [when the Babylonians invaded]. They migrated into central Europe where they were called “German” or “Germanni”, a general name used by the Romans to represent all Assyrian tribes…

– from “Table of Nations” by Tim Osterholm

Perhaps because of having come from a more advanced civilization, these newcomers rose to prominence, and this might have been the cause for their name “Kerman” becoming the name for Germans and Germany (pronounced originally with a hard ‘g’). Interestingly, Germans also refer to themselves as the “Deutschen”, which is derived from the Saxon word for an “Assyrian”; and their nation is called “Deutschland”.

“The house of Togarmah from the far north.” In their ancient records, the Armenian people revere Togarmah, the son of Gomer, as their ancient ancestor. Strictly speaking, “Togarmah” would cover present-day Armenia and eastern Turkey only. But Togarmah is regarded also as the forefather of all the Turkic peoples. (That would include the independent nations of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan.) In relation to Israel, and to the other nations mentioned (Persia, Libya, Ethiopia which lie to the east and south), Turkey and Armenia are located in the “far north”.

So it may be that the powerful nation of Turkey is the modern “Togarmah” that the prophecy is referring to. Strangely enough over the last few years, Turkey’s political orientation has drifted steadily towards Russia. (Except in the very recent Syrian conflict, Turkey has more or less sided against Russia, so it remains to be seen whether this is only a temporary shift in her foreign policy orientation, or a permanent one.)

At any rate tiny Armenia, the original “Togarmah”, since she is tied to the Russian federation through her membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States and is a staunch ally of Russia already (as a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization with Russia and other C.I.S. states), she will almost certainly be part of the invasion force.

As for Turkey, despite her membership in NATO, there is reason to believe these days that she too may team up with the Antichrist from Russia, a nation which, historically (since the days of the Ottoman empire), has been a longtime enemy of Turkey. In very recent times Turkey’s orientation has shifted towards Russia for a few reasons:

1) The EU has been reluctant to admit Turkey into its membership, probably out of fear that Muslim extremists might find it too easy to enter Europe from Islamic Turkey. This is forcing Turkey to look elsewhere for trade deals and alliances.

2) In the meantime, Turkey’s trade ties with Russia have mushroomed in recent years. Russia’s economy, built on the Soviet model of heavy industry, could not supply the consumer goods that her population demanded after the fall of communism. Rather than trading too much with her rival China or importing expensive goods from the U.S., Russia has turned to nearby Turkey who has been more than willing to fill the void for consumer goods in that country; that also has lessened Turkey’s interest in the EU as a trading partner.

3) For decades Turkey’s government had a pro-secular orientation, but a new government, elected only in recent times, has shifted to a more pro-Islamic orientation and is less inclined to want to link up with Europe and its secular, materialistic culture.

4) Over the last few years Israel’s foreign policy has greatly offended Turkey: In 2007 Israel conducted air attacks on suspected Syrian nuclear plants; these strikes were flown from Turkish territory, but Israel never bothered to inform the Turks. The next provocation came on December, 2008: Israeli troops marched into the Gaza Strip just as Turkey was trying to mediate indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria; this time Israel not only failed to inform the Turkish government, but also lied about it, saying that no offensive was planned; this breach of trust infuriated the Turkish government, which later denounced the Gaza war as “barbaric”. Finally, on 31 May, 2010, Israeli commandos boarded ships of a Turkish-sponsored flotilla trying to cross Israel’s blockade and bring much-needed supplies to the war-ravaged Palestinians in the Gaza strip. The commandos killed 10 people, 9 of them Turkish.

Note: In recent news, Israel, under pressure from President Obama, apologized for its role in killing the Turkish members of the ill-fated flotilla of May 2010. As a result the tense relations between Turkey and Israel have begun to ease up a little. Whether this is a temporary truce, or a more permanent change, is difficult to know at the moment. But certainly, as events in the Middle East continue to unfold, it will become clear.

And in other recent news, Turkey and Russia parted company for a brief time because of their different agendas in the Syrian conflict and because of Turkey shooting down a Russian plane (in November, 2015). But surprisingly, the two have renewed their relationship (in August, 2016), largely because of Turkish suspicions that America was behind a coup attempt against the Turkish government.

At the moment Turkey’s relationship with Russia and NATO seems to be see-sawing back and forth. But in the end (if it is correct to understand “Togarmah” as representing the modern nation of Turkey), it should not surprise us to see a major about-face in Turkey’s Mid East alliances, firmly towards the camp of the upcoming Russian superpower.

How startling to witness these events that seem to confirm the truth of Ezekiel’s prediction from ancient times. A short time ago there was little evidence that Turkey would join in an alliance with Russia and these other nations mentioned in verses 5-6. But now we can more easily predict that is the direction towards which Turkey may be heading.

One further consideration about this prophecy: it states “the house of Togarmah … and all its troops”. It is possible the prophecy has a wider scope, referring to all the Turkic peoples who stem from the “house of Togarmah”. In which case this would mean that the independent Turkic nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan in central Asia might become part of this invasion force. This is not as unlikely as it might sound: four of these nations belong to the Commonwealth of Independent States and are still somewhat dependent on Russia, and three of them are members of a military alliance with Russia known as the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Also, they are all Muslim and may feel obliged to contribute “troops” towards the invasion of Israel, a nation whose policies have done much to irritate the Muslim world in these modern times.

At any rate Turkey (and Armenia) would still remain as the main focus of the prophecy because, in relation to Israel, it lies in the “far north” – along with Gomer (Crimea); the other nations of Turkic-origin peoples lie to the east. But it may be that, because of Turkey’s influence, these other nations will be encouraged to join in the war effort. The phrase “many peoples with you” appears a couple times (in verses 6 and 9), which suggests the invasion force could include other nations besides those mentioned in the prophecy.

So that is quite an assortment of nations that will form this alliance against Israel, and against America. Remarkably, at no time in history have the conditions been anywhere near ready for the fulfillment of this prophecy until the modern day. There is no time in the past when Russia ever invaded and conquered Israel, much less with this strange assortment of countries. But now the political conditions have so transformed to the point where Israel is now surrounded by these nations, most of whom we know are antagonistic towards her and have developed more ties with Russia than with the West.

Russia is a rising superpower in the process nowadays of building up her military capabilities – largely in response to NATO’s belligerent stance and intrusion into territories which Russia considers her backyard. So it is conceivable that she could in the future acquire the weapons and resources needed to launch the kind of invasion into the Mid East that Ezekiel’s prophecy has foretold would happen in the Last Days.

Appendix 1

From Table of Nations by Tim Osterholm (http://www.soundchristian.com/man/)

(1) Gomer “complete” (sons were Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah) – also Gamir, Gommer, Gomeri, Gomeria, Gomery, Goth, Guth, Gutar, Götar, Gadelas, Galic, Gallic, Galicia, Galica, Galatia, Gaulacia, Gael, Galatae, Galatoi, Gaul, Galls, Goar, Georgian, Celt, Celtae, Celticae, Kelt, Keltoi, Gimmer, Gimmerai, Gimirra, Gimirrai, Gimirraya, Kimmer, Kimmeroi, Kimirraa, Kumri, Umbri, Cimmer, Cimmeria, Cimbri, Cimbris, Crimea, Chomari, Cymric, Cymry, Cymru, Cymbry, Cumber (Cimmerians, Caledonians, Armenians, Phrygians, Turks, Picts, Milesians, Umbrians, Helvetians, Celts1, Galatians, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Goths, Vandals, Scandinavians, Jutes, Teutons, Franks, Burgundians, Alemanni, Germans2, Belgians, Dutch, Luxembourgers, Liechensteiners, Austrians, Swiss, Angles, Saxons, Britons, English, Cornish, Irish, Welsh, Scots, French, and other related groups);

1The whole Celtic race has been regarded as descended from Gomer, though history suggests modern Celts are descended from both Gomer and Magog.  Archaeologists and ethnologists agree that the first Indo-European group to spread across Europe were Celts.  The Irish Celts claim to be to the descendants of Magog, while the Welsh Celts claim to be to the descendants of Gomer.  Irish chronicles, genealogies, plus an extensive number of manuscripts which have survived from ancient times, reveal their roots.  The Irish were descendants of Scythians, also known as Magogians, which is strongly supported by etymological evidence.  Archaeological evidence shows that both the Celts (from Gomer) and Scythians (from Magog) freely shared and mingled cultures at their earliest stages.  Russian and eastern European excavations plainly reveal the blending of these two groups.  Their geographical locations (what is now eastern Europe, southern Russia and Asia Minor) were referred to by the Greeks under the name of Celto-Scythae, which was populated by the Celts to the south and west, and the Scythians to the north.  The ancient Greeks first called the northern peoples by the general name of Scythae; but when they became acquainted with the nations in the west, they began to call them by the different names of Celts, including the Celto-Scythae.  Celts and Scythians were considered essentially the same peoples, based on geography, though many independent tribes of Celts and Scythians existed.  The Latins called them “Galli,” and the Romans referred to them as “Gauls,” and considered them fiercely independent barbarians.  Later names used by Greeks were the Galatai or Galatae, Getae, Celtae and Keltoi.  In the third century before Christ (about 280 B.C.), the Gauls invaded Rome and were ultimately repelled into Greece, where they migrated into the north-central part of Asia Minor (Anatolia).  They conquered the indigenous peoples of that region and established their own independent kingdom.  The land became known as Galatia (Gaulatia).  The Apostle Paul wrote his famous epistle to their descendants, the Galatians.  Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote that the Galatians of his day (93 A.D.) were previously called Gomerites.

Early Celtic tribes (from Gomer) settled much of the European theater, including present-day Spain, France, England and Germany, prior to contact with Scythians.  For many centuries France was called Gaul, after the Celtic descendants of Gomer, whom ceded the territory to Romans and Germanic/Teutonic Franks (whence France) in the 4th century A.D.  Northwest Spain is called Galicia to this day.  Some of the Gomerites migrated further to what is now called Wales.  The Welsh claim their ancestors “first landed on the Isle of Britain from France, about three hundred years after the flood.”  The Celtic language survives intact today mainly in the two variants of Welsh and Irish/Scottish Gaelic.  The Welsh call their language Gomeraeg (after Gomer).  The Celts of today are descendants of Gomer, and of the blended tribes of Magog and Gomer.

[RETURN]

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Continue to Chapter 3: Israel’s Role in Bringing about Her Own Downfall (38:7)

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