Middle East Meltdown 009 – Ezekiel 38Ezekiel 38:2b-5 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 6, 2022 • Middle East Meltdown
Middle East Meltdown 009 – Ezekiel 38
By Dr Andy Woods – 03/06/2022
Father we are grateful for today and grateful for a new month. Grateful for an opportunity to learn of you today, to worship you. Grateful to fellowship with your people, grateful later on to partake of the Lord’s table and I do ask Lord for the illuminating ministry of the Spirit. I do ask that the Spirit would get His message across to your people today, whatever He wants to share with us, by way of encouragement, correction, whatever it need be and so, I just pray that He would have unfiltered, unfettered access to these worship services. I also pray for the children’s ministry and everything that’s meeting in this building today and I do ask that you would get your way and we’re going to pause just for a moment and enter into a few moments of silence where we can do private business with you and prepare our hearts to receive from you. Lord, we’re grateful for the promise of 1st John, 1, 9 (1 John 1:9) which doesn’t save us but it certainly is needed to restore broken fellowship, if necessary and so, I thank you for that promise and we just ask Father, that, as Your word is taught, Your ways will be known today at Sugar Land Bible Church. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said, Amen. 2:25
Well, good morning everybody! Happy March! We’re marching through March already and let’s take our Bibles, if we could, this morning and open them to the book of Ezekiel chapter 38, and verse 2 (Ezekiel 38:2) and we’re continuing our study on the Middle East Meltdown. This is not something we started last week because of the Russian invasion, interestingly enough. I don’t have that much influence in politics believe it or not. But it’s actually a study we started at the beginning of the New Year sort of working our way verse by verse through Ezekiel, 36 through 39 and look at this, we just happen to be in Ezekiel, 38, verse 2 (Ezekiel 38:2), how about that? Talk about timing.
- Israel to prosper again (Ezek 36:1-15)
- Israel’s sins inhibiting prosperity (Ezek 36:16-21)
- Israel to be restored: physically & spiritually (Ezek 36:22-38)
So we’ve gone through Ezekiel, 36, which is that wonderful passage predicting the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel in the last days and then we’ve gone through, completed last time, chapter 37,
- Ezekiel recommissioned (33)
- False shepherds removed (34)
- Edom destroyed (35)
- Israel’s restoration: physical & spiritual (36)
- Israel’s restoration illustrated (37)
- Means of restoration: Northern invasion (38)
- Results of the Northern invasion: conversion (39)
- Millennial Temple (40‒46)
- Tribal land allotment (47‒48)
which are basically two illustrations of the content Ezekiel saw in chapter 36
- Vision: Valley of the Dry Bones (Ezek 37:1-14)
- Vision (Ezek 37:1-10)
- Interpretation (Ezek 37:11-14)
- Sign: Two Sticks (Ezek 37:15-28)
- Sign (Ezek 37:15-17)
- Interpretation (Ezek 37:18-28)
and those two illustrations are the valley of the dry bones, first part of the chapter and then the second part of the chapter is the vision of the two sticks coming together and as I mentioned earlier, both of those are basically metaphors that God gave Ezekiel, two thousand six hundred years ago concerning His plan to restore the nation of Israel in the last days. So, that much has been covered and then the question becomes okay, what is the instrument or what is the tool that God is going to use to bring His elect nation back to life, not just physically but spiritually and that question is answered in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, which are probably two of the most important prophetic chapters you could ever study and it’s describing there this tremendous invasion that will come against Israel from the north and that will ultimately lead to Israel’s conversion. So, you can take chapters 38 and 39 and put the whole thing together as an outline, because I think these chapters are meant to be read together.
- Invasion planned (38:1-13)
- Invasion executed (38:14-16)
- Invasion defeated (38:17‒39:20)
- Invasion’s results (39:21-29)
Verses 1 through 13 (Ezek 38:1-13), the invasion is planned. Verses 14 through 16 (Ezek 38:14-16), the invasion is executed. But then when you get to verse 17 through chapter 39, verse 20 (Ezek 38:17- 39:20) you find that the invaders are defeated. So there’s a happy ending to this and then you get to chapter 39, verses 21 through 29 (Ezek 39:21-29) and you have the results of the invasion which is a converted believing Israel. 6:05
So we started just last time. We barely got into the invasion planned and there’s two planners here.
- Invasion Planned (Ezekiel 38:1-13)
- God’s intention (Ezek 38:1-9)
- Gog’s intention (Ezek 38:10-13)
The first planner is God, because God is the one actually drawing these invaders into the Middle East. But the second planner is Gog, the leader of the coalition, because he thinks it’s his plan and when we get to verse 13 (Ezek 38:13), which I don’t think we’ll get to today, you’ll see that he thinks it’s his plan, that’s what’s going on in his mind, verse 13. But he forgets verses 1 through 9 (Ezek 38:1-9), where it was actually God’s plan all along. So God is so big that He can use the decisions of His creatures, that are in rebellion against Him, to execute His own will and that’s what’s happening in these chapters. So we barely started to work our way through God’s intention and I think we left off right there in the middle of verse 2 (Ezek 38:2), it says: Son of man, set your face toward Gog… That’s the ruler of this coalition… of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him… So as we go through these verses, particularly verses 1 through 7, you’re going to see all these names, Rosh, Magog, Persia, Cush, Put, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer and Togarmah and most Christians read these names and they just kind of throw up their hands, because I don’t read this in the Houston Chronicle, for example. I mean, I don’t see this in mainline newspapers and the way to unpack it is to remember what we taught in Genesis, 10 and you’ll see virtually all of these names mentioned in Genesis, 10, which is a description of the table of nations where the nations settled following the Noahic flood and following the Tower of Babel incident and you can use scholarly sources, like Josephus and Herodotus, to track where these people groups went and then it’s just a matter of taking a look at the modern nations containing those people groups and you can understand every single player here in this tremendous northern invasion and once you do that analysis, you’ll look at your headlines and you won’t believe how up to speed the Bible is with today, despite the fact that this was given to Ezekiel two thousand six hundred years ago. So it’s really a passage that’s happening in terms of stage setting in real time before our very eyes. In fact, of all of the prophetic areas of scripture that I think are most pertinent to today, I would have to pick this. This would be it. 9:33
So here’s the names of all of these different players and we’ve just only had a chance to go through a couple of them.
The first one mentioned, and we did this last time, was Magog and Josephus who was a Jewish historian, he wrote just a little after the time of Christ in his Antiquities identifies Magog as the Scythians and we basically know that the Scythians migrated from Central Asia to southern Russia, about the 8th to the 7th century.
Josephus – Josephus, Antiquities, 1.6.1.
“Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians.”
So I am sort of confident that Magog is a reference to the groups there in Central Asia.
You know, all of the Stans, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and we can throw into the mix Afghanistan and when you remember what happened recently with the United States in Afghanistan, how we pulled out and happened to leave them, you know, what was it? Eighty billion dollars or something like that in weapons, maybe the number is higher than that, you start to understand that O my goodness! We just armed one of the nations that’s going to come against Israel in the last days. The second one we went into was Rosh and there’s a lot of people and I mentioned this in detail last week and so I won’t go through all the arguments again and I mentioned it on Pastors Point of View last Friday, a couple of days ago, went through the same arguments but there’s a lot of people out there that think Rosh has zero to do with Russia, because Rosh is a common noun, they think and not a proper noun identifying a specific place of geography. So here’s one prophecy guy, I’m not trying to pick on him, I’m just trying to show you the mentality that’s out there, he tweeted recently that no, Russia is not Magog.
Now, that much I agree with, it’s not Magog. In Hebrew, Rosh means head. So you might recognize the Hebrew holiday Rosh Hashana, which means something beginning, something new and so a lot of people think Rosh is used the exact same way here. It’s not talking about a specific people group or specific geographical group, it just means head, chief, top, summit. So you’ll notice that in Derek Gilbert’s Ezekiel, 38 and 39 map, he’s got all of these nations mentioned but there’s no Russia and the reason there’s no Russian mentioned here in his map is because he thinks Rosh is just a common noun and not a proper noun or a proper name. I’m sorry to disappoint King James only people, you know, I generally like the King James Bible but it wasn’t the English version that Paul used, contrary to what everybody tells you. It’s a very, very good translation but it’s not perfect and you’ll notice that the King James Bible doesn’t have the word Rosh in the translation of verse 2, because the King James Bible is treating Rosh as a common noun, not as a proper name, proper noun. The New American Standard Bible which also is very good but not perfect either in other areas, you’ll notice the name Rosh is mentioned. So who’s right here? The KJV, and I have to say that very slowly because when I say it fast sometimes I say KGB and that would really be newspaper exegesis if I did that. So who’s right here? The New American Standard or the KJV, we think in this case, the New American Standard Bible has it right. We went through all the different arguments last time and we think that Wilhelm Gesenius, a scholar’s scholar, the father of lexicography who wrote a standard academic book all the way back printed in 1847.
Wilhelm Gesenius – Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1847; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), 752.
“pr. n. of a northern nation, mentioned with Tubal and Meshech; undoubtedly the Russians, who are mentioned by the Byzantine writers of the tenth century, under the name the Ros, dwelling to the north of Taurus . . .as dwelling on the river Rha (Wolga).
So he wasn’t doing newspaper exegesis in 1847 because Russia was not doing the stuff that it’s doing today. So he wasn’t reading the headlines back into the Bible, but Gesenius simply says that Rosh is a proper noun, so the NASB is right here and the KJV has it wrong. I took you to some articles from different scholars like Clyde Billington, writing in the Michigan theological journal, who tracks the proper name Rosh through a ton of extra biblical sources and his conclusion is that the Rosh people of the area north of the Black Sea form the people known today as the Russians.
Clyde Billington – Clyde E. Billington Jr., “The Rosh People in History and Prophecy (Part Two)” Michigan Theological Journal 3 (1992): 59, 61.
“Historical, ethnological, and archaeological evidence all favor the conclusion that the Rosh people of Ezekiel 38–39 were the ancestors of the Rus/Ros people of Europe and Asia. . . . Those Rosh people who lived to the north of the Black Sea in ancient and medieval times were called the Rus/Ros/Rox/Aorsi from very early times. . . . The Rosh people of the area north of the Black Sea formed the people known today as the Russians.”
Gesenius says the exact same thing. He says of Rosh: It’s a proper name of the northern nation, mentioned with Tubal and Meshech… He says.. undoubtedly the Russians… So the vantage point that I teach from here concerning Rosh is Rosh is just as much a people and a place as is every other player mentioned on this list. It’s just as much a people and a place as is Meshech and Tubal and all of the other names that we’re going to discuss today. 15:49
So that is just sort of a recap from last week. There’s a major clue and we’ll see this today in our study, hopefully as time permits, but it talks about this invasion coming from the remote north. It says it three times and the question is: Remote north from what? And when you study Bible prophecy you have to think the way God thinks. To God, the nation of Israel is the centerpiece of all divine activity. The nation of Israel represents the only place on planet earth where the God of the universe covenanted to a particular people, the nation of Israel, a track of real estate and we saw that in our Genesis studies. You see that in Genesis, 15, so in Bible prophecy when it says, the remote north and talks about an invader from the south or an invader from the east, etcetera… It’s always relative to Israel, because Israel, Ezekiel, 5, verse 5 (Ezek 5:5) is the center of the nations and even in our same chapter, if you look at verse 12 (Ezek 38:12), it talks about the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem and it says, those who live at the center of the world and the word for center in both of these verses is the Hebrew word for navel or belly button, which is the center of the body. So just as the belly button is the center of the body, as far as God is concerned, the nation of Israel is the center of all divine activity in the end times and that’s why we believe that we’re living in the last days, because of the rebirth of the nation of Israel, 1948. If you don’t have that piece of the jigsaw puzzle in place you have absolutely nothing, because the center of all divine activity in terms of prophecy is the nation of Israel, because of God’s covenant to the nation of Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant going back to Genesis, 15. So then when it keeps talking about the uttermost north, the remote north, it’s just a matter of starting there in the land of Israel and going due north and you run into, of course, Russia.
So that would be a second clue that Rosh is Russia. So Rosh is a proper name. Rosh can be traced to the people groups of Russia as Gesenius and others have said and then if that weren’t enough evidence, we have this further clue about this invader coming from the remote north and just geographically starting with Israel, which is the centerpiece of all divine activity, Rosh is Russia because it clearly is due north or to the remote north of Israel. So that becomes the significance of the recent events concerning the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.
The Ukraine is between Russia, according to this map anyway, and Israel. So when Putin makes a move like this, I say to myself, well this is very sad and this is very tragic, I hope we can get our friends and family and missionaries out of harm’s way, I say that with one part of my brain, but the other part of my brain says, I’m really not surprised. See, the whole world community is shocked that this has happened. I am not surprised cause I’m a student of Ezekiel as you are and Ezekiel predicted an aggressive Russia in the last days, ultimately with an agenda to move from the north to the south into the land of Israel and I find it very interesting that on the eve of this invasion, I cover this on Pastors’ Point of View, if you want to get the documentation but one of the folks there close to Putin, I think the UN ambassador, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, you know, basically said, you know what? We don’t recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and we don’t recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the city of Jerusalem even though Donald Trump, as you know, we have to be in the last days with a name like Trump, right? The last Trump. But Donald Trump, that’s not very good exegesis either. But Donald Trump of course, recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and moved our capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem or indicating that Jerusalem is the capital of undivided Israel going back to the time of David, basically three thousand years. So when the ambassador of Russia on the eve of this Ukrainian invasion says, Ah! We don’t recognize those things, you start to see that they have much greater ambitions than simply invading the Ukraine and other countries. I mean, the ultimate agenda is to move into the Middle East which is exactly what Ezekiel says. So is the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, is that fulfillment of Bible prophecy? No it’s not, the fulfillment of Bible prophecy will be the move all the way into the land of Israel which eventually will happen. It looks to me like it’s going to happen sooner rather than later. The Russian invasion of the Ukraine is stage setting for this final prophecy. So we do not believe the prophecies are happening today in terms of fulfillment in real time. But we do believe that the stage is being set for the orchestration of these events and so that’s where I put this Russian invasion of the Ukraine. It sure makes the Ezekiel scenario very, very credible and you have former president Obama during one of the presidential debates with Mitt Romney, and you can watch this on YouTube, saying that the Cold War is over and I find this very interesting because I came of age as an undergraduate student in a political science department. They all basically taught us that the Cold War is over, we’ve got to have the peace dividend, we’ve got to, you know, meltdown our arms and what not and use it on social programs and I’ve always said to myself, the Cold War’s not over. This is sort of like a one step backward, two steps forward with Glasnost and Perestroika and I remember being looked at just as almost a lunatic when I would express my views in class and almost being laughed at and the reason I knew the Cold War wasn’t over is not because I was the smartest guy in the room, it’s because I knew what the prophet Ezekiel said about this and so suddenly, the Russian bear wakes up and rolls over neighboring Georgia in 2008 and then they become aggressive with the Crimea in 2014 and now just within the last week or two they make this bold move into the Ukraine that nobody thought could ever happen cause the Cold War is over, right? Well, it’s not over because Bible prophecy says it’s not over and I was listening to one reporter, he was saying, Yeah, they are going to go as far as Poland and I said, Poland? Are you kidding me? They are not going as far as Poland, they’re going all the way into the Middle East. Now, I don’t have a date and time when this is going to happen but eventually it’s going to happen and they’re moving, as far as I can tell, in the correct direction coming from the remote parts of the north. 24:36
So that’s a little bit about Rosh or Russia, you keep reading there in verse 2 (Ezek 38:2): Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog… That would be Central Asia… the prince of Rosh… and notice these other names… Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him… So who is Meshech?
Josephus – Josephus, Antiquities, 1.6.1.
“..and the Mosocheni were founded by Mosoch; now they are Cappadocians.”
Well, Josephus in his Antiquities uses a word that many believe he’s speaking of Meshech because he’s explaining where Noah’s descendants settled after the flood and you’ll notice that Josephus identifies Meshech with the capital Cappadocians and say Cappadocia, Cappadocia, Cappadocia, I’ve read that in the Bible before, Oh! There it is, 1st Peter, 1,1 (1 Pet 1:1). Peter gives us his audience: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen… That’s where Cappadocia is, that’s who Peter was writing to and of course the modern nation containing Cappadocia is Turkey.
You’ll notice that Herodotus in his histories, and keep in mind when Herodotus wrote, He wrote about 450 BC so he is within almost a century of Ezekiel’s prophecies.
Herodotus – Histories, 3:93-94 (450 B.C.)
“The twelfth, the Bactrians as far as the land of the Aegli; these paid three hundred and sixty. The thirteenth, the Pactyic country and Armenia and the lands adjoining as far as the Euxine sea; these paid four hundred…The Moschi, Tibareni, Macrones, Mossynoeci, and Mares, the nineteenth province, were ordered to pay three hundred. The Indians made up the twentieth province. These are more in number than any nation of which we know, and they paid a greater tribute than any other province, namely three hundred and sixty talents of gold dust.”
He identifies a particular sea, that we think there is the Black Sea and he uses a couple of names there that many think is speaking of Meshech and Tubal and he talks about these groups living southeast of the Black Sea and if you go southeast of the Black Sea, you run into what nation?
You run into Turkey and it’s very interesting as we go through this, you’ll see Ezekiel uses four names that relate to Turkey. Now, Turkey, let’s talk Turkey, shall we do that for a minute? I was going to name this: Let’s talk Turkey, but I thought that might be a little bit of an overkill, but nevertheless, it’s kind of interesting when you look at the trajectory of Turkey, because Turkey at one time was a place where Israelis took their vacations. It was a place that recognized the modern state of Israel and now Turkey like Iran, which we’ll talk about in a moment, has been Islamicized and because they’ve now gone to Islamic ideology, they’ve turned against Israel and they’ve turned against the west and so Bible prophecy students for a long time said, you know, keep your eye on Turkey. Turkey’s going to shift and low and behold, that’s what’s happened in modern times. Frank Gaffney formerly of the Reagan administration said, and he’s the president of the center for security policy, he comes on a lot on the different cable shows:
Frank Gaffney – War Footing (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2006), 164. Cited in Rhodes, 177.
According to Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy, Turkey is transitioning from “a secular democracy with a Muslim society into a state governed by a radical Islamic ideology hostile to Western values and freedoms.”
According to Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy, Turkey is transitioning from “a secular democracy with a Muslim society into a state governed by a radical Islamic ideology hostile to Western values and freedoms… That’s a daily quote, he said that back in 2006 and when you watch modern day Turkey and Erdogan and all of these things happening there, again you can see how what he spoke of in 2006 is accelerating. One of the things to understand about Islamic ideology is they actually believe that Allah, ascended back to Muhammad on a steed named Barack, I can’t make this stuff up, steed’s name is Barack and he did that from Jerusalem. Now, they have absolutely no reference to this in the Quran but modern day Islam believes this and so any type of Jewish Hebrew presence on that land in that city is a disrespecter of Allah and so as Islam virtually took over Turkey, virtually took over Iran, you can see why those nations shifted and now the political ideology is in place for this northern invasion spearheaded by Russia. 29:51
So Islam and all of these nations with the possible exception of Rosh and I say possible exception because there is a growing population of Islamic folks in Russia as well, but all of these nations with the possible exception of Rosh, the tie that binds, the common denominator is Islam and most westerners look at Islam as if it’s another religion. In fact when you go through the Quran and you look at the founding documents of Islam, a very small percentage of what is discussed has to do with religion. It’s all about politics. It’s a world conquest ideology with a particular animosity, for religious reasons, to the nation of Israel. So the Islamization of that part of the world, even in things like the Arab Spring, you recall when more moderate Muslim theocracies were toppled in place of more radical theocracies. All of that, I put into the category of stage setting. So the right political conquest ideology is in place for this northern invasion and so that’s why Turkey becomes very, very interesting and then you go down the verse 3 (Ezek 38:3) as we’re trying to go through this verse by verse and Ezekiel is told by God and say: Thus says the Lord GOD, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal… So God is against this attack. You go back to, I guess it was the prior verse, actually verse 2 (Ezek 38:): …Prophesy against…. When God says prophesy against, He’s giving His own posture against this northern invasion. God says to Ezekiel, I want you to prophesy against this because I am against this and you see that repeated there in verse 3. So who is Gog? G-O-G. That’s the leader. Who is Rosh? Rosh is Russia. Who are Meshech and Tubal? Meshech and Tubal for reasons I’ve tried to explain, we believe are modern day Turkey and then you go to verse 4 (Ezek 38:4) and you start to see that it’s actually God that’s behind all this. They think they’re invading for their own reasons, but it’s actually God that’s put this appetite into their hearts for this invasion to showcase His glory, which God has a right to do, because His purposes in human history are doxological. He works in history to glorify Himself and boy! Is He going to glorify Himself at the end of these chapters. It says, verse 4 (Ezek 38:4): I will turn you about and I will put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out… So why are they invading? God is yanking at them saying it’s time. Now, do these enemies of Israel know they’re doing God’s will? No they don’t have the foggiest idea, they think they’re doing their own will. 33:43
So the divine perspective is given in verse 4 (Ezek 38:4), the human perspective is given in verse 12 (Ezek 38:12). They think they’re coming against Israel because of what it says in verse 12, but the truth of the matter is they’re coming against Israel because God is dragging them out. It’s a beautiful picture if you’re into this debate between sovereignty and free will. Pastor, do you believe in sovereignty or free will? My answer is yes! There’s clearly both of them here. God is pulling them and at the same time they think that they’re executing their own will. So what’s their ambition? It’s given in verse 12, to capture spoil, to seize plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places which are now inhabited and against the people who are gathered from the nations who have acquired cattle and goods and who live at the center of the world… So they think they’re coming against Israel because of wealth or money and when we get to verse 12, not today, I’ll show you some modern finds in the nation of Israel which have made Israel phenomenally wealthy, exactly like Ezekiel said would happen. So they think they’re coming to get the wealth and it’s kind of interesting to listen to the commentators try to explain the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. They talk about crops, they talk about things that Putin can get his hands on, financially. You know, they talk about that warm water seaport which they find necessary and a lot of the discussion comes down to money. It comes down to economics and when I listen to all these talking heads on TV, who really as far as I can tell, most of them know absolutely nothing about Ezekiel, 38 and they’re all talking about an invasion because of economics. I’m saying well, that’s what God said would happen, this is just a small step in a direction that will land them ultimately in the Middle East to seize Israel’s wealth.
Now the second part of verse 4 is a big stumbling block for literal interpretation. There is no prophet that tests your interpreter of the Bible as a literal interpreter other than Ezekiel. If you want to know where someone is at in terms of hermeneutics, the science and art of Bible interpretation or you want to know where they’re at concerning the end times, just let them interpret Ezekiel for you and you’ll learn real fast, because Ezekiel says things like, my servant David will reign over them. Well, as we saw last week, David means David. Ezekiel will talk about things like a great millennial temple that will actually have animal sacrifices that will function in the millennial kingdom and so Pastor, what does that mean? Well here’s what it means: There’s going to be a great temple having animal sacrifices in the millennial kingdom and here’s another place for your decision to be a literal interpreter or not is severely tested, because as you look at the second part of verse 4, it mentions warfare that looks ancient and if you look down at verse 4, it says: …your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords… So you see buckler, shield, swords, horses, horsemen and you say, well, that can’t be literal because this is describing a modern day invasion and people fight with guns and tanks and nuclear weapons and all of that kind of thing. So there are basically two ways to handle this and a lot of my friends who are very good on prophecy go a different direction than I go. They say, well, Ezekiel, he really didn’t understand what a tank was or a nuclear weapon. So he just used an analogy from his own day to describe something he didn’t understand and that okay, that’s a possibility, but the more I’ve looked at this the more I think it’s actual horses and horsemen. I’m not the only one who believes this. Paul Lee Tan, who wrote one of the best books on Bible prophecy you could ever read, the title of it is “The Interpretation of Prophecy”. He says of these verses:
Paul Lee Tan – The Interpretation of Prophecy, 223-24
“Interestingly, these prophesied military instruments though centuries old have not been made obsolete. The horse, for instance, is still used in warfare on certain kinds of terrain.”
Interestingly, these prophesied military instruments though centuries old have not been made obsolete. The horse, for instance, is still in warfare on certain kinds of terrain… Here is Charles Lee Feinberg, another great interpreter of Bible prophecy in his Ezekiel commentary going back to 1969:
Charles L. Feinberg – The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord, Paperback ed. (Chicago: Moody, 1969; reprint, Chicago: Moody, 1984), 221.
“Some have found great difficulty in the references to armor, buckler, shield, sword and helmet, but even in our day of advanced weapons of warfare it is interesting to learn that in some parts of the world conflict is going on with primitive weapons. (And how else could an ancient writer have described warfare? He knew nothing of planes and guns.).”
Some have found great difficulty in the references to armor, buckler, shield, sword and helmet, but even in our day advanced weapons of warfare it is interesting to learn that in some parts of the world conflict is now going on with primitive weapons… Then he puts in parenthesis, he kind of gives himself an out here: How else could an ancient writer have described warfare? He knew nothing of planes and guns… So he’s giving the two options, either you take this at face value or you say Ezekiel was trying to describe something that he didn’t have the vocabulary to describe so he uses vocabulary from his own day. The more I’m thinking about this, the more I think Ezekiel is speaking literally. 40:27
One of the reasons I think this is because of the mountains. As you go through Ezekiel, 36, we did this in verse 1, verse 4, verse 6 and verse 8. It keeps saying mountains, mountains, mountains, mountains, mountains. Over in chapter 39, verse 2 (Ezek 39:2) it says: I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you against the mountains of Israel… Verse 4 (Ezek 39:4): You will fall on the mountains of Israel… Now, I’m no expert on warfare but it just seems to me in those mountainous terrains, it’s much easier to navigate those on horseback than with modern day tanks and things of that nature.
Mountains of Israel? – Mark Hitchcock, The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy: What You Need to Know in These Uncertain Times (Harvest House: Eugene, OR, 2010), 211.
“According to Ezekiel 39:2, 4, Israel must possess the ‘mountains of Israel’ when this invasion occurs…The famous Six Day war in Israel in 1967 helped set the stage for this to be fulfilled. Before the Six Day War, all the mountains of Israel, with the exception of a small strip of west Jerusalem, were in the hands of the Jordanian Arabs. Only since 1967 have the mountains of Israel been in Israel, thus setting the stage for the fulfillment of this prophecy.”
I’ve given you before this quote from Mark Hitchcock and a similar quote from Arnold Fruchtenbaum indicating that those mountainous terrains came into the land of Israel post June 5th, 1967, the Six Day War and then Donald Trump, basically recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, which is sort of a buffer zone between Israel and Syria and in that mountainous terrain or in that buffer zone are mountains and so the emphasis on mountains over and over again may give an explanation why the warfare here is meant to be understood at face value and literal.
But anyway, not everybody would agree with me on that but those are your two options. You can either say well, Ezekiel is just trying to describe warfare to the best of his ability or the horses are actual horses that are going to be used in this end time battle. I lean more towards the latter position, but I don’t think I would start a new church over this necessarily. You know, we are the First Church of the Horses in Ezekiel Being Real Horses Church. Probably a bit overkill there and you move into verse 5 (Ezek 38:5) and now you have the prophecies of Persia and others. It says: Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet… Now Persia of course is very interesting because when the times of the Gentiles started in the times of Daniel, Daniel saw four world kingdoms that would trample down Israel.
The first was Babylon or the head of gold, who trampled down Israel from about 605 to 539 and the next one Daniel saw and it’s mentioned in the text in Daniel, 8 and Daniel, 10 and Daniel, 5 is Persia which is the chest and arms of silver. So Babylon, head of gold, Persia chest and arms of silver and so a lot of your Bible takes place with the Persians in control. That’s the Persia that’s mentioned here in verse 5.
Here is a copy of the Cyrus cylinder, which is Cyrus’ boasts as he was conquering Babylon the head of gold and it was under Cyrus and later subsequent Persian kings that the nation of Israel was allowed to return from the seventy year Babylonian captivity.
So the Persians, biblically speaking, were the good guys. As you go through the books of Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah, as you read prophets like Zechariah, Haggai, the backdrop of all of that biblical material is the Persian empire. As the nation of Israel was coming back from the seventy year captivity they came back in three waves which you can see on this chart here and here is Ezekiel seeing Persia turn against the nation of Israel in the last days and I have a sneaking suspicion that this prophecy completely and totally confused him, because Persia is our help.
Persia is our ally and Persia became a modern day nation. I think Persia is the easiest nation to identify on Ezekiel’s list, because in 1935, that country Persia, changed its name to what? To Iran. Now, prior to 1979, just like Turkey, Ezekiel’s prophecy probably seemed absurd, because Persia or Iran was among the first to recognize the modern state of Israel. In fact, Persia or Iran was an ally of the west with the Shah. But all of us said, something’s got to give here. I mean, Persia’s got to change, because Ezekiel is seeing Persia joining this coalition with Rosh and Turkey invading the land of Israel and the big change happened in 1979, where the Shah was deposed and replaced by the Ayatollah and Iran then became known as the Islamic Republic of Iran. That was in the days, you remember, of the long gas lines. Gee, history is almost repeating itself, isn’t it? The long gas lines and that was when Jimmy Carter was president, I know that’s a bad memory for some of you. 47:00
I think well, maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I already let it out so I’d better say it. I think Biden really appreciates Jimmy Carter or the other way around, I guess. Carter appreciates Biden, there we go. So I won’t continue with that one, because now Jimmy Carter says he’s no longer the worst president in American history. But with that shift came an Islamization of a country and if you don’t think politics matters, just look at this graphic here.
As you look at the top of the screen, you see what Iran was like prior to 1979 and everybody you know, talks about how bad the Shah was and he was a human rights violator, but the evil taking place in Iran today is nowhere near anything that the Shah brought in. In the upper part of the screen you see what Iran was like pre 1979, before the country became Islamasized. So you see people in ordinary western style dress, you see women with dresses on where they can show their legs, you see women walking around without, you know, all of these burkas and things like that on, you see women allowed to get education, to drive an automobile without her husband’s permission. I mean, you see a country that looks pretty normal and at the bottom of the screen is basically a representation of Iran post 1979 to the present. This is what happens when a country becomes Islamasized. You see the burkas, you see the rights of women disappearing, you see things like it takes three women’s testimony to countervail a man’s testimony in a court of law, you see the abuse of women, you see a woman walking several feet behind her husband in a burka in the middle eastern heat and that is now very sadly post 1979 Iran of today. So Ezekiel himself saw two thousand six hundred years ago the character of Persia changing. In biblical times Ezekiel’s prophecy made no sense and up to 1979, Ezekiel’s prophecy made no sense, but boy! Does it make sense right now! So given enough time history will catch up with what the Bible says will happen. It’s just a matter of waiting on God and when I speak against these nations, I want to be very clear here, when I speak against Turkey, when I speak against Russia, when I speak against Iran, I’m not speaking against the people of Iran, you see the difference? I’m not speaking against the people of Russia. I’m not speaking against the people of Turkey. What I’m speaking against is the character of the regimes that enslave these people and God I think is doing a tremendous work through the underground church in all of these places. There are many, many people in this part of the world that are being reached in an unprecedented way right now as we speak. So God is not anti the people, what he’s anti is the enslaving ideology, which has jurisdiction over the people. 51:00
So you can tell a lot about a nation by what it teaches its kids. Show me what you’re teaching the kids in the schools and I’ll show you the character of any nation. So here is a quote from Yoram Ettinger, as he’s testifying before our own Congress, trying to convince our own members of our legislature of the true character of Iran today and he is simply quoting from their own school books, what they’re teaching the Iranian children, he says in his newsletter:
Yoram Ettinger – “Iran’s School Textbooks‒Can Congress Afford to Ignore It?,” online: http://theettingerreport.com/Iran-and-MidEast/Iran-s-School-Textbooks-%E2%80%93-can-Congress-afford-to-i.aspx, May 29, 2015, accessed 30 May 2015.
“Iranian school textbooks, such as The Qur’an and Life (Grade 12, p. 125) prepare Iranian children for the Ayatollahs’ sublime goal: the apocalyptic, horrifying, millenarian, military battle against the USA and other “arrogant oppressors of the world,” which are ostensibly led by “idolatrous devils.” While the “savior” – the infallible, immortal, divinely ordained and eventual global leader, the Mahdi – has not surfaced yet, Iranian children are taught that the battle is already raging throughout the world, awaiting their sacrifice. School . . .
. . .textbooks of Western democracies are the most authentic reflection of peoples’ values and worldview. School textbooks of tyrannies are the most authentic reflection of the nature and mission of the regimes. Iranian school textbooks reflect the strategy and tactics of the Ayatollahs, much more authentically than speeches, interviews, diplomatic statements and conversations conducted by President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif.”
Iranian school textbooks, such as The Qur’an and Life (Grade 12, p. 125) prepare Iranian children for the Ayatollahs’ sublime goal: the apocalyptic, horrifying, millenarian, military battle against the USA and other “arrogant oppressors of the world,” which are ostensibly led by “idolatrous devils.”… See he has quotes there? This is what the children are reading in these so-called textbooks… While the “savior” – the infallible, immortal, divinely ordained and eventual global leader, the Mahdi – has not surfaced yet, Iranian children are taught that the battle is already raging throughout the world, awaiting their sacrifice. School Iranian school books such as the Koran and life. Grade 12 page 125 prepare Irani in children for the ayatollahs sublime goal the apocalyptic horrifying millenarian military battle against the USA and other arrogant oppressors of the world which ours which are ostensibly led by idolatrous devils see he’s got quotes there this is what the children are reading in these so called textbooks. While the savior the infallible in more to look them more told divinely ordained and eventual global leader the Mahdi has not surfaced yet Iranian children are taught that the battle is already raging throughout the world awaiting their sacrifice. School textbooks of Western democracies are the most… Ettinger says… authentic reflection of peoples’ values and worldview. School textbooks of tyrannies are the most authentic reflection of the nature and mission of the regimes. Iranian school textbooks reflect the strategy and tactics of the Ayatollahs, much more authentically than speeches, interviews, diplomatic statements and conversations conducted by President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif… See, he is saying don’t pay attention to what these talking heads in leadership positions are saying. Pay attention to what they’re teaching their own kids and once you see what they’re teaching their own kids, you’ll see the true character of the Iranian Regime. 53:26
We continue with this list and verse 5 (Ezek 38:5) mentions Persia and the next thing mentioned there or the next country mentioned is Ethiopia. Josephus tells us and by the way, the Hebrew doesn’t say Ethiopia, it says Cush. Josephus tells us who the people of Cush are and where they settled. He writes:
Josephus – Josephus, Antiquities, 1.6.2.
“For of the four sons of Ham, time has not at all hurt the name of Cush; for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Cushites.”
For of the four sons of Ham, time has not at all hurt the name of Cush; for the Ethiopians… See this is why the New American Standard Bible translates this as Ethiopia, they are following what Josephus said… Over whom he reigned, are even at this date both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called the Cushites… so Cush equals Ethiopia according to Josephus’ Antiquities, as he is describing where Noah’s descendants, Cush, settled. They settled in Ethiopia and then when you consult the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia it says this:
Cush = Sudan – Philip C. Johnson, “Cush,” in Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Howard F. Vos, Charles F. Pfeiffer, John Rea (Chicago: Moody, 1975), p. 1.411.
“The designation, Ethiopia, is misleading for it did not refer to the modern state of Ethiopia…Cush… bordered Egypt on the South,…or modern Sudan.”
The designation, Ethiopia, is misleading for it did not refer to the modern state of Ethiopia. Cush, bordered Egypt on the South or modern Sudan… So biblically Cush went much further than modern day Ethiopia. It went down into an area called the Sudan. So what’s going on in the Sudan? Renald Showers in his wonderful book, that I recommend to you, called “The Coming Apocalypse: A study of replacement theology versus God’s faithfulness in the end times” says and this was back in 2009:
Renald Showers – Renald Showers, The Coming Apocalypse: A Study of Replacement Theology Vs. God’s Faithfulness in the End Times (Bellmawr, NJ: Friends of Israel, 2009), p. 92.
“Sudan is dominated by a brutal Arab Islamic fundamentalist government that murderers, rapes, and enslaves Christians and animists and is slaughtering the black Muslims in Darfur in an attempt to establish a pure Islamic state.”
Sudan is dominated by a brutal Arab Islamic fundamentalist government that murderers, rapes, and enslaves Christians and animists and is slaughtering the black Muslims in Darfur in an attempt to establish a pure Islamic state… So when you see this word Ethiopia, which is a translation from the word Cush, I think what we’re supposed to think is the Sudan which is a part of the world where one of the very worst genocides, as this quote reflects, in modern times is happening; and then we come to Put, verse 5 (Ezek 38:5): Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet… Now we come to this entity called Put and the big question here is where are we going to put Put? Josephus in his antiquities comes to our rescue again and he identifies Put, that you’ll see in Genesis, 10. He identifies Put with Libya. So we believe that Put is Libya. Now, there have been two major things that have happened in my lifetime concerning Libya. One of them is Muammar Gaddafi, remember him? I got this just from a Wikipedia article, it says:
Gaddafi – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986_Berlin_discotheque_bombing>; Internet; accessed 27 May 2015.
“On April 5, 1986 three people were killed and around 230 injured when La Belle discothèque was bombed in West Berlin. The entertainment venue was commonly frequented by United States soldiers, and two of the dead and 79 of the injured were American servicemen… Libya was accused of sponsoring the bombing by the US government, and US President Ronald Reagan ordered retaliatory strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi in Libya ten days later. The strikes reportedly killed at least 15 people, including Colonel Gaddafi’s adopted daughter. A 2001 trial in the US found that the bombing had been ‘planned by the Libyan secret service and the Libyan Embassy.”
On April 5th, 1986, three people were killed and around 230 injured in the La Belle disco and when the La Belle discothèque was bombed in western Berlin and you remember what then president Ronald Reagan did, how he came back with force and dealt with Gaddafi and Gaddafi went underground and didn’t resurface until much later and so that’s the difference in foreign policy between a strong president and a weak president. A strong president, remember the Iranian hostage crisis? The very day that Jimmy Carter left office and Ronald Reagan was inaugurated you remember what happened? The Iranians released the hostages and this is why I believe, I’m justified from the Bible in advocating a peace through strength foreign policy and it relates to the idea of depravity. These people like Gaddafi, like the Ayatollah, they are rotten to the core and someone that is rotten to the core through total depravity and then their sin nature is given over to what it wants to do through a hateful ideology, which is a very dangerous combination, because war and murder already exists in the hearts of people. Mark, 7 says that and then you tell them that they have permission to exercise their warlike tendencies where now you have depravity falling into the soil of a hateful ideology and that’s the beginning of terrorism and these people are so dead and gone in their trespasses and sins and they’re so given over to evil that they really only understand one thing. They’re not open to reason. They’re not open to dialogue, they’re not open to logic, they understand the threat of force and they understand retaliation just like a bully in a schoolyard understands that language. You bloody my nose? I’m coming back and I’m going to bloody your nose. You know, giving them time out, taking away dessert, Unfriending them on Facebook. Someone that is this deranged doesn’t understand that and you can clearly see a difference in foreign policy as you just compare Jimmy Carter with Ronald Reagan and the same thing happened with Gaddafi. I remember when Reagan retaliated and there was a big protest on my campus, how terrible Reagan was but what’s interesting is when Reagan retaliated, you didn’t hear from Gaddafi for several decades… On April 5, 1986 three people were killed and around 230 injured when La Belle discothèque was bombed in West Berlin. The entertainment venue was commonly frequented by United States soldiers… That’s why it was targeted for terrorism by Gadaffi… and two of the dead and 79 of the injured were American servicemen. Libya was accused of sponsoring the bombing by the US government, and US President Ronald Reagan ordered retaliatory strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi in Libya ten days later. The strikes reportedly killed at least 15 people, including Colonel Gaddafi’s adopted daughter. A 2001 trial in the US found that the bombing had been ‘planned by the Libyan secret service and the Libyan Embassy… So I just bring this up because Libya is one of the places here that’s mentioned by Ezekiel that you can read about in modern times and the second major thing in my lifetime that happened with Libya is Benghazi. September 11, 2012. I just want to read an excerpt if I could from my own book, that’s pretty narcissistic, isn’t it? But this wonderful author here says: Libya began to show up on the radar screen, screens of most Americans on September 11th, 2012 but Benghazi Libya is where on the anniversary of the toppling of our twin towers, our embassy was attacked. An attack of this nature on an American embassy has not transpired since the hostage crisis in Iran in 1979. The Obama administration in order to deflect criticism for failing to adequately prepare for the obvious and growing threat of danger against our embassy in Benghazi just a few weeks before a national election.. Does any of this ring a bell?… went in front of the American people and repeatedly lied… I like this guy. He just says what he means… They blamed the Benghazi incident on a spontaneous uprising caused by an amateur video critical of Islam, rather than their own unwillingness to prepare appropriately and respond to intelligence reports pointing of a growing danger in the area. However, such an explanation strains credulity to the breaking point. Why did Benghazi happen on September 11th? Why were their sophisticated armor and warfare used in this attack? Consequently how can such an uprising be considered spontaneous and unplanned by Islamic jihadists… There’s a movie out, someone help me with the name. What’s it called? 13 hours. I watch that on a plane ride from here to Australia. I mean, it seemed like it lasted 13 hours, this movie. But it documents and shows you everything that happened and it shows you the warnings that were there and how the American government ignored the warnings and then at that time blame this Islamic uprising on some amateur video but the reason I’m bringing up Gaddafi and the reason I’m bringing up Benghazi is that is things that are happening right there with Put or Libya. One other fast thing and I’ll have to come back to this but related to the horses. The role… and I’m reading from an article, no this is not my article. This is an article called “Downgrading from Armageddon” in the prophetic witness magazine, a few years back. It says: Concerning the horses, it says the role of the mule and horse in Afghanistan fighting was recognized by the CIA in the 1980’s when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan. The CIA also provided thousands of mules and imported them from Tennessee… Did you know that? So you read this and you say, well, horses and horsemen that’s not really that farfetched, because our own CIA recognized the need for horses in that part of the world going back to 1980. 1:05
So all of that said we’re going to stop right there in the middle of verse 5, because at least you know who Persia is, Iran. You know who Ethiopia is, that’s the Sudan and you know who Put is, that’s Libya where recent events have happened in Libya in our own lifetime and you can see all of this as the hand of God setting the stage for this end time invasion, Amen? Alright, let’s pray. Father we’re grateful for Sunday school… and make us good students of these things in these last days. I pray for your hand of blessing on the communion service and the main service that follows. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said, Amen. Happy…