III. SHAPE OF THE FUTURE (1)

7 World Empires

(First published 28 November, 2011. Updated in August, 2014; June, 2015; November, 2015; August, 2016; September, 2017)

[Scripture references are from the New King James Version, unless noted otherwise]

CONTENTS

1 – CONTENTS/INTRODUCTION

2 - THE FINAL EMPIRE: ITS PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY

A. Dual Nature of the Empire
B. Economic Superpower: the New Beast
C. Who Are the Two Superpowers of the End?
D. Is Modern Europe the “Beast from the Earth”
E. Eighth Head
F. Who Are the “Ten Horns”? 

3 - THE FINAL EMPIRE: ITS SPIRITUAL GEOGRAPHY

A. Physical and Spiritual Geography in Daniel 2
B. Modern Day Cultures of Darkness
C. How “Iron” Continues in Today’s World: Domain of the Antichrist
D. “Clay” Power in Ancient Times
E. Rise of “Clay” Power in the Modern Age
F. “Clay” in the 20th Century 

 4 - WHERE ARE WE HEADED?

A. Merger – Two Separate Beasts Become One “Iron and Clay” Dominion
B. “The Kingdom Shall Be Divided”
C. Role of Technology in the Antichrist and False Prophet’s New World Order
D. What the Future Holds
         On the Political-Economic Level
         On the Religious Level

5 – SUMMARY

1 – INTRODUCTION

It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -”Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear,
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approach’d the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” -quoth he- “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” -quoth he,-
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said- “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” -quoth he,- “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

MORAL,
So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean;
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

– based on the famous Indian legend, poetic version by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

**

When it comes to interpreting what the Bible says about the future, it is easy to fall prey to what happened to the “blind men of Indostan”. For we are already “blind” to some extent, simply because the predicted events haven’t happened yet. Or at best we see only a dim outline, and we grope around, guess, and try to come up with reasonable explanations. What really helps in this kind of business is to see the whole “elephant” – that is, get the general, overall picture. Then the specifics, and their relationship to each other and to the whole, will fall into place more easily. What we want to avoid is the tendency to grab ahold of one aspect and insist on visualizing the “elephant” on the basis of that one feature only.

Since many predictions in the Bible concern the near future of mankind’s history, that certainly makes them a subject worthy of our attention. That doesn’t mean to say that the conclusions brought forth here in this particular study are all correct. But hopefully, if nothing else, some small advancement in our understanding of what the Sacred Book is trying to tell us about our future and present day historical conditions may come out of it.

For prophecies that are in the process of being fulfilled, usually they’re difficult to understand. With already fulfilled prophecies, we have the benefit of hindsight. But for prophecies about our modern day, it can be a tricky business trying to figure out how they’re supposed to apply to historical reality. And here is where it pays to steer clear of the kind of “theologic wars” that the blind men encountered in their discussion about the elephant that they couldn’t see in full but could only see in part.

Along this line, it helps to keep in mind that some prophecies aren’t even supposed to be understood until after the fact. They are only intended to inspire our faith in God’s power and foresight. “And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” (John 14:29) In other cases, they satisfy our curiosity and give us hope for the future. And lastly, they can serve the purpose of preparing us for what’s coming. We may see ahead rather dimly, but at least the future isn’t a total mystery. We can see something, usually because the prophecy has already been fulfilled partially, and we have a bit of historical hindsight to go on. And this helps us to see the “elephant”. It may be just a shadowy glimpse, but hopefully, that will be enough to safely expand and clarify our conceptions of what the ancient Scriptures have been trying to tell us all along about the present and near future.

***

Note: The following study presupposes that the reader has some basic knowledge of certain portions of Scripture, especially the chapters of Daniel 2 and Revelation 13. If you are not familiar with them, then it may be advisable to go over those two chapters (below) before going any further.

Continue on to 2A: Dual Nature of the Empire

***

Daniel 2 and Revelation 13 (NKJV)

Daniel 2

1 Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him.
2 Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.
3 And the king said to them, “I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.”
4 Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.”
5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap.
6 However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.”
7 They answered again and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will give its interpretation.”
8 The king answered and said, “I know for certain that you would gain time, because you see that my decision is firm:
9 if you do not make known the dream to me, there is only one decree for you! For you have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the time has changed. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.”
10 The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean.
11 It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”
12 For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave a command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
13 So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.
14 Then with counsel and wisdom Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon;
15 he answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel.
16 So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation.
17 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions,
18 that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
19 Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
20 Daniel answered and said:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. For wisdom and might are His.
21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.
22 He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.
23 “I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, For You have made known to us the king’s demand.”

24 Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.”
25 Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king, and said thus to him, “I have found a man of the captives of Judah, who will make known to the king the interpretation.”
26 The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?”
27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king.
28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these:
29 As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be.
30 But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.
31 “You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome.
32 This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze,
33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.
34 You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.
35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
36 “This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king.
37 You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory;
38 and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all–you are this head of gold.
39 But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.
40 And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.
41 Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay.
42 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.
43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.
44 And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
45 Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold–the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”
46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him.
47 The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.”
48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon.
49 Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.

Revelation 13

1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.
2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.
3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.
4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”
5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months.
6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.
7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.
8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear.
10 He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon.
12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.
14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.
15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,
17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

***

Continue on to 2A: Dual Nature of the Empire

II. EZEKIEL 38-39: ANCIENT PROPHET GLIMPSES MODERN WORLD! (Chapter 1)

Early Migration 1

(First published 20 Aug, 2011. Revised June, 2014; October, 2015; April, 2016; August, 2016; September, 2017. Scriptures quoted are from the New King James Version of the Bible, unless noted otherwise.)

Chapter 1: Who Are Gog and Magog? (38:1-2)
Chapter 2: Preparation for Invasion of Israel and the Mid East (38:3-6)
Chapter 3: Israel’s Role in Bringing about Her Own Downfall (38:7)
Chapter 4: Prophecy Pinpoints 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 1: Introduction – Who are Gog and Magog? (38: 1-2)

Although it was written some 2,500 years ago, the message in Ezekiel 38-39 give us an astonishingly accurate glimpse into our present world situation; it also catapults us into the future. We can imagine that it was no small task, in the culture of ancient times, to describe modern events, places, or technology using only the names and limited terminology available back then. But because this was such a crucial message for future generations, God did not let that be any kind of obstacle.

In this startling prophecy about the future, some place names and terms sound as though they should belong in the past. In these cases, we can allow some leeway, remembering how difficult it would have been to describe modern realities using the limited vocabulary of ancient times. As we keep this in mind, the prophecy will unfold itself in a straightforward manner; it will be easy to catch the thrust of what the Lord was saying and get the most out of this intriguing message from so long ago.

It is truly faith-building to behold the grand foresight of God who knew way back then how history was going to unfold 2,500 years later. It comforts us too, for we can have faith that world events, however chaotic and unsettling they may be now, are still under His control.

[Unless noted otherwise, Scriptures quoted are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.]

EZEKIEL 38

EZEKIEL 38

EZEKIEL 38

Verse 1  And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ezekiel wasn’t writing his own words; it was the “word of the LORD”.

Verse 2  Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him,

This verse contains some mysterious, but crucial, details that will require some explanation. First of all, we should ask, who does this name “Gog” refer to? To get a full understanding, let us try to answer this question from three different angles – the linguistic, the historical, and the geographical.

From the linguistic angle:

Back in Ezekiel’s time, the name of “Magog” (a son of Japheth and grandson of Noah) was understood as a sort of collective name for the tribes in southern Russia who dwelt mostly north of the Caucasus Mountain range. The Greek poet Hesiod, who lived around 700 B.C. (close to Ezekiel’s time), referred to to this area by the name of Magog. Seems this was a common term, generally used by civilized regions in the ancient world, to designate this northern area wherein dwelt these wild, unknown, barbaric tribes. Thus, “Gog”, since it derives from the word Magog, would point towards being the name of a person from this area north of the civilizations of the Mid East.

In addition, in the Hebrew language “Gog” carried the meaning of “high” or “supreme”, so it was also a title, similar to how the titles Pharaoh or Caesar referred to the kings of Egypt and Rome. In this case, however, the title was not one of respect, but more one of contempt. In the Jewish culture the name “Gog” was applied to their worst enemies. For example, “Agag”, a title used for the Amalekite kings who had fought against the children of Israel on their way to the Promised Land, was referred to as “Gog”. In the Book of Esther “Haman the Agagite”, an Amalekite official in the Persian court, almost succeeded in persuading the emperor to exterminate the entire Jewish population. Other opponents were “Og” king of Bashan, who also fought Israel during their Exodus to the Promised Land.

These various avowed enemies of the Jews were sometimes referred to by the cognomen, or nickname, of “Gog”. In fact, some versions of the Old Testament, such as the Septuagint, actually have translated these names in this way. Although this was not, strictly speaking, the correct translation, it does show what the term “Gog” meant to the Jewish people. And since it was a commonly used catch-phrase for the Jews’ enemies, “Gog” proved to be a useful handle, or label, that the Lord could use in Ezekiel’s prophecy about this last and final enemy of the Jewish people in the End Time – and not them only, but of Christians and God-fearing people around the world.

From the historical angle:

Just before Ezekiel’s time, there actually was a northern king from Russia with a name similar to Gog. This was Gaagi, head of the northern tribe of Sakas, or Scythians from Magog, who used to roam in the regions around the Black and Caspian Seas in southern Russia. In the declining years of the Assyrian empire’s glory, the Scythians, led by Gaagi, were swarming across the Caucasus into the northern districts of the empire. Eventually, in the opinion of some historians, the sons of Gaagi confederated with the Babylonians to raze Ninevah to the ground. These unsophisticated barbarian hordes were known for their rugged brutality and were greatly feared amongst the Mid East nations in those days. They had even begun a siege of one of the cities in north Israel until the Egyptians intervened.

      “From time to time they [Scythians, or the people from Magog] made irruptions into the south of Asia; and in a great expedition undertaken by the whole nation against the remains of the Cimmerians, they even conquered the Medes about seventy years before Cyrus, kept the whole of Asia Minor [Turkey] in subjection to them for eight and twenty years, and extended their excursions to the borders of Egypt, whose king Psammetichus was obliged to buy them off.” (From Ancient History, by Arnold Hermann Ludwig Heeren – 1833, pg 258)

Since these incursions from the north were happening in or just before the days of Ezekiel, they were fresh in the minds of the people of that time. In fact, Ezekiel was about 10 years old when Ninevah was sacked by the sons of Gaagi and the Babylonians in 606/7 B.C., and it wasn’t until 596 B.C. that the Scythians, or Magogians, were finally driven out of the Mideast. These northern tribes – Meshech, Tubal, Rosh – who for centuries had remained in distant lands far north, were at this time in history having some contact with the civilizations of the Mid East. Thus, in the prophecy the Lord could use this contemporary history as a sort of springboard to catapult Ezekiel far away from local, current events and off into the distant future into a time when a king from the same northern territories would once again invade the Mid East. Or like a telescope pointing in the right direction, the prophecy was able to adjust the focus away from the present (of Ezekiel’s time) and get a view of events to come in the far distant future.

Not long after Ezekiel’s time, another Scythian tribe achieved some prominence. The Massagetae, who lived east of the Caspian Sea, defeated the powerful armies of the Medo-Persian empire and even killed emperor Cyrus the Great in 530 B.C. Their name may have originated from Magog, and they are thought to be the origin of the Alans and Hun tribes, who are usually identified with the Scythians. 

These examples, by way of association at least, show how fearsome these northern, warlike tribes, known generally as the people of Magog, could be, and they make a fitting preview to the equally fearsome armies of the Antichrist who will sweep down from the north in the days of the End. “Who is able to make war with him?” (Revelation 13:3)

From the geographic angle:

Gog was an ancient name for the people and the land north of the Caucasus Mountains. Up till the 2nd century B.C., “Gogarene” was the name the Greeks used to refer to a kingdom in this area (in present-day Armenia and Georgia). In fact, it is thought by many scholars that the name Caucasus came from the word “Gog-chasan” (meaning “fortress of Gog”), which changed over time to “Gogasus”, and finally to “Caucasus”. It is also thought that the nation of modern Georgia derived its name from the ancient and well known designation of Gogarene; and today the Turkish name for Georgia is Gurgistan. Many of the mountains peaks in the Caucasian mountains and land areas there retained the place name “Gog” in medieval European and Armenian maps.

As for “Magog”, there are various places in Russia that bore names derived from their ancient forbear. Lake Maeotis, now the Sea of Azov, a section of the Black Sea; a people living on the River Tanais (present-day River Don) called “Magini” or “Magotis”. The highest mountain (probably Mt. Elbrus) in the Caucasus range used to be known as Mugogh. Mugodzhary: a name in modern times of a group of mountains at the southern extent of the Ural Mountain range.

***

After looking at the question of who this mysterious “Gog” figure might be from these different angles, the answer about his identity seems to come into focus quite easily: “Gog” was a title or label for a fearsome king of some future time (the Antichrist) who, from his stronghold in Russia, would invade the Mideast, persecute, even slaughter many of the Jewish people in Israel, and, as we know from other Scriptures, persecute Christians and God-fearing people from all over the world.

Continuing with this 2nd verse, “Gog, of the land of Magog” is said to be the “prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal”. So who are these peoples spoken of here?

In the very beginning Magog, Meshech, and Tubal were sons of Japheth who migrated north into the area that is now occupied by modern Russia. “Meshech” became the name for the Meshcherian/Moschi tribe, from whom the city of Moscow got its name and became the main city of European Russia; Tubal’s name was given to the city of Tobolsk and the Tobol River in Siberia. Tobolsk at one time was the major city of Siberia.

So there we have two of the principal cities in Russia, representing her two main west and east sections, whose names derive from these two names “Meshech and Tubal” mentioned in Ezekiel’s prophecy. That, of course, points clearly enough to the land of Russia as the base from which will arise this mysterious “Gog” figure of the End Time.

The descendants of Tubal also settled in Georgia, just south of Russia, and gave their name to its capital city Tbilisi. Magog’s descendants lived in the same general areas as those of Meshech and Tubal, that is, north of the Caucasus and eastwards through central Asia.

Now what about “Rosh”? In Hebrew this word also means “chief”, which is why some translations say chief prince of Meshech and Tubal” instead of “prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal”. It would be a lengthy exercise to explain here the technical reasons, but the original grammatical sense of the ancient Hebrew favors the translation “Rosh”.

“Rosh”, the Hebrew word for Russia, was the name of a Scythian tribe that used to roam around in the steppes area between the Black and Caspian Seas and as far north as Moscow. Surely, it is not just coincidence then for this name to appear in this passage about the northern kingdoms since it pinpoints so well the actual name of the future modern nation in which the descendants of Meshech and Tubal used to headquarter themselves.

Incidentally, the word “Rosh” appears not only in some recent Bible translations, but interestingly enough, in a very ancient Greek translation, the Septuagint, made in the 200’s B.C. This suggests that the ancient translators thought “Rosh” was the better translation, either because they were aware of the existence of a people by that name or, because of their familiarity with ancient Hebrew, they felt that was the better word to use.

There is an interesting tale about this somewhat obscure tribe, the Rosh, that took place in the 9th century A.D., related by Jon Ruthven in his excellent study on Ezekiel 38-39 called The Prophecy that is Shaping History (2003), pg 91-92:

     Apparently a delegation from the unknown north appeared at the Byzantine royal court [center of the east Roman empire] on what proved to be a reconnaissance or spying mission.

     The Byzantine bureaucrats may well have been anxious—an anxiety that grew as they examined the visitors. Stang summarizes the encounter.

     “Being confronted with the appearance of some unknown far-northerners in 839 CE, the Byzantines first carefully interviewed them, noting their name or names; of these there were probably several, and perhaps several variants of the same names too—as these newcomers hailed from a multi-ethnic town in a nondefined region.

     “Yet one name caught the Greek fancy. It was recorded with the precision accorded by the Greek alphabet and language…. through the pen of a Greek scribe, as [Rosh]. It was with trepidation that the name was recorded, being a close call, too close for comfort, to the biblical… name of [Rosh].

     “Launched by the Byzantines, the ‘Second Rome’ in European and Mediterranean history, this ‘Third Rome’ known to all as ‘Russia’ received its name some day or days in 839 CE.” (from Stang, Naming of Russia, pgs. 298-299)

     After the initial peaceful visit of the Rus’ to Constantinople in 839 CE, the Byzantines had been fearful of an invasion by the “Prince of Rōs” because they fully believed that the Rus’ might soon fulfill Ezekiel’s prophecy…

     … the Byzantines consistently identified the specific name, [Rosh], with savage northern invaders who over the centuries threatened the great world center of Constantinople.

This story has significance because it shows that this Bible passage about the “Rosh” had always been understood as referring to a certain northern group of people by that name. They were an obscure tribe up until the time of their encounter with the Byzantines. At this time in the 800’s A.D., they were finally establishing themselves as a kingdom, the “land of the Rus”, centered around the city of Kiev.

To the ancient Mideast people these tribes of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal were the most northern groups of people they knew of. Some direct acquaintance with them did occur when branches of these wandering tribes moved south into the northern Tigris-Euphrates region. This is why Bible maps often show Meshech and Tubal located much further south from their primary locations in the north. In the sparsely populated world of those days, nomadic living was common; people could shift around en masse more easily, and these northern, largely cattle-raising tribes had become accustomed to this kind of migratory mode of life.

        At the time of Ezekiel, at least a small percentage of each of his “northern nations” was located in eastern Anatolia (roughly, modern eastern Turkey). Within a few centuries, they seem to have migrated (or, more likely, returned) northward from their locations they occupied during Ezekiel’s ministry. (from The Prophecy that is Shaping History by Jon Ruthven, pg. 55)

        In each case, it seems that some southern branches of Ezekiel’s northern nations seem to have migrated northward from eastern Anatolia (Turkey) where they are usually located in Bible dictionaries and atlases. For these works, this southern location may be only partially accurate within the biblical time frame, but they fail to indicate either that the main body of these nations dwelt north of the Black Sea at the time the prophecy was written, or, as importantly, scholarship has failed to show the locations of these nations over history leading to the time of the fulfillment for Ezekiel’s Gog prophecy. (From The Prophecy that is Shaping History by Jon Ruthven, pg. 79)

(For further explanation about the movement of tribes after the Flood, see the post: “Early Migration before the Rise of Civilization”)

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[The following maps are from Jon Mark Ruthven’s remarkable, new research on Ezekiel 38-39, The Prophecy that is Shaping History – New Research on Ezekiel’s Vision of the End, published 2003.]

The Skythians (name derived from Ashkenaz, the son of Gomer) were also known as the tribes of Magog and seemed to be quite a mixture of the various descendants of Japheth who migrated northward in the years after the Flood. Because of their nomadic lifestyle, there is evidence of their migration along a belt of grassland that extended from areas north of the Black and Caspian Seas eastward into Siberia and also of their incursions into the Mideast.

This map shows various place names and tribal names north of the Mideast that were known by early historians – evidence that the tribes of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal inhabited these areas that are now part of Russia.

To conclude, it seems obvious that this ancient prophecy is referring directly to the land of Russia. Further ahead, Ezekiel was told that this northern power will invade the Mid East during the “latter days”, the End Time. We might wonder then how could Russia become powerful enough to carry out such a grand campaign of warfare now that she has become so weakened since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s? Perhaps this situation could be compared to what happened in the last century when Germany lay in shambles after World War I, demoralized and humiliated; such conditions made it easy for a demagogue (Hitler) to rally the people and restore Germany to its former greatness.

So it would not be surprising to see history repeat itself in this way in the land of Russia. Russians haven’t forgotten the old glory days of the Soviet Union, and a strong leader (the Antichrist or his predecessor?) could easily capitalize on that as he re-builds the nation into a great superpower.

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Continue to Chapter 2: Preparation for Invasion of Israel and the Mid East (38:3-6)

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