Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ezekiel 38

Ever since I finished reading “The Islamic Antichrist” by Joel Richardson, I’ve been planning to do my own analysis of the countries mentioned in Ezekiel 38 to corroborate the author’s interpretation that Turkey is the main protagonist and not Russia. I used Wikipedia for my research since it is a good repository for generally accepted historical scholarship.

Ezekiel 38:2 mentions “Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal...”
Magog was the son of Japheth; grandson of Noah. But no particular nation or territory is associated with him beyond his descendants being to the north of Israel. Some Biblical scholars believe that Gyges, king of Lydia (687 BC-652 BC), is meant. In Assyrian letters, Gyges appears as Gu-gu so Magog might be his territory in Anatolia which is in modern day Turkey.

Rosh is the seventh of the ten sons of Benjamin so this would be inconclusive if it represents a nation. But this term is probably better used as a modifier for “prince” thus Gog is the “chief prince” of Magog as Rosh Hashanah is literally the "head of the year."

Meshech is named as a son of Japheth who has been associated with Phrygia which was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia (Turkey).

Tubal is a son of Japheth and is associated with Tabal, a Luwian speaking Neo-Hittite kingdom of South Central Anatolia (Turkey).

Ezekiel 38:5 names “Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya” which are obvious. Persia is now called Iran but most Iranians still refer to themselves as Persians. Ancient Ethiopia also included Sudan and Somalia which are certainly in the same rabidly anti-Israel Islamic state category as Iran and Libya.

Ezekiel 38:6 mentions, “Gomer and all its troops” and “the house of Togarmah from the far north.”

Gomer was the eldest son of Japheth and is usually identified with the migratory Cimmerians from Assyrian inscriptions. The Cimmerians were ancient equestrian nomads of Indo-European origin and Assyriological archeology establishes them to have been near Urartu south of the Caucasus. Urartu was an Iron Age kingdom centered in the Armenian Highland adjacent to modern Turkey. It is interesting to note that Turkey has recently signed a treaty with Armenia. This is pretty incredible given the historical animosity between these two countries due to Turkey’s atrocities against Armenia in WWI.

Togarmah was the third son of Gomer, and grandson of Japheth. He is regarded as either the ancestor of the peoples of the South Caucasus (the Georgians and the Armenians) or the Turkic peoples. The reference to “the far north” was the description that previously convinced me to go along with those implicating Russia in Ezekiel 38. But in the day these words were written, Turkey would have also qualified as being to “the far north” of Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 38:13 says, “Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, ‘Have you come to take plunder?’” Sheba was a kingdom mentioned in the Old Testament but the actual location is disputed with most evidence tending toward Yemen in southern Arabia. Dedan’s descendants probably settled among the sons of Cush, on the north-west coast of the present Persian Gulf; thus modern day Saudi Arabia.

Tarshish could be a number of places. Solomon traded with Tarshish and received ivory, apes, and peacocks (2 Chronicles 9:21, 1 Kings 10:22) which are all native to the jungles in India. India's state bird for example is the peacock. Jonah 1:3 indicates that Jonah also attempted to sail to Tarshish but was swallowed by a large fish and taken to Ninevah by way of the Tigris River. Today Ninevah is known as Mosul, found in the nation of Iraq, geographically between Israel and India. Additionally, the Bible uses the term ships of Tarshish to denote large ships intended for large voyages whatever their destination. Others think the name may denote Spain, Italy or the European coasts west of Greece.

So my findings reinforce the conclusions of Joel Richardson that the nations threatening Israel in Ezekiel 38 are in a coalition led by Turkey and not Russia. Indeed, terms referring to Turkey are mentioned multiple times. It is also interesting to note that this coalition of nations are all Islamic and they effectively surround Israel with Turkey to the north, Iran to the East, Ethiopia to the South, and Libya to the West.

The nations feebly protesting the Turkish coalition are some combination of Western nations and the Persian Gulf nations that supply them with oil. Recent developments with Turkey becoming more aligned with their Islamic neighbors indicate that Ezekiel 38 coming to fruition may not be far off.

The only other reference to Gog and Magog in the Bible is Revelation 20:8 which reveals Gog to be a term for the Satan-inspired (or possessed) world leader that precedes God pouring out His wrath. So harmonizing this with Ezekiel 38 means that Ezekiel’s Gog must refer to the Antichrist.

I once thought that Ezekiel 38 could precede the Rapture which meant that the reference to "unwalled villages" in Ezekiel 38:11 was only symbolic since they are no barrier to modern armor. But since I'm now convinced that Gog is just another term for the Antichrist then this event must occur during the Tribulation, probably just before the midpoint when the Antichrist declares himself to be god in the Jerusalem Temple. Ezekiel 38 happens when Israel has their guard down in the midst of the coming false peace that enables them to build a temple due to a 7-year peace treaty brokered by the Antichrist. This peace treaty may also require Israel to remove the security fences that they have put up... a Mideast version of "tear down this wall."

I know it sounds pretty improbable that Israel will be able to build a temple in Jerusalem but this is what Daniel 9:27 tells us. I think the most likely scenario for this to transpire is that Syria and Hezbollah will attack Israel in response to action taken to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat. This forces Israel to act decisively probably nuking Damascus as Isaiah 17:1 indicates. The Antichrist comes on the scene in the wake of this conflict to unite the Islamic world and bring the false peace to Israel.

Since we know that the Rapture occurs before the Antichrist reveals himself by brokering the false peace to make the Jerusalem temple possible, seeing the Ezekiel 38 coalition being formed helps us see how close we really are to seeing Jesus face-to-face. Maranatha!

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