Middle East Meltdown 011 – Ezekiel 38Ezekiel 38:7-9 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 3, 2022 • Middle East Meltdown
Middle East Meltdown 011 – Ezekiel 38
By Dr Andy Woods – 04/03/2022
Let’s go ahead and open with a word of prayer, if we could. Father, we’re grateful for today and grateful for the first day of the month. I do ask that you’ll be with us during Sunday school hour and also communion service and the main service that follows and also the fellowship meal, that we might leave here changed people, because of the ministry of your people, the ministry of your Spirit, the ministry of your word and Father, we’re just going to take a couple of moments of silence, individually, so that we could do business with you and be prepared today to receive from your word. I do pray today specifically, Father, that man’s agenda would be lowered and your agenda here at Sugar Land Bible Church should be accomplished. 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
Alright! Well, if you could take your Bibles and open them to the book of Ezekiel chapter 38, and verse 7 (Ezek 38:7). We are continuing our verse by verse study through Ezekiel, 36 through 37, in a series entitled the Middle East Meltdown and I’m thinking we’d better hurry up and finish this before the whole thing actually melts down.
- 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)
This is a series that actually we’ve tried not to be newsy about. It is just the news fit with the series, but we actually started this back in early January, first Sunday of January. So we’ve completed Ezekiel, 36, which is a prophecy of the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel in the last days and we’ve completed Ezekiel, 37, which is an illustration of the content in Ezekiel, 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)
The vision of the valley of the dry bones in the vision of the two sticks, both in their different ways trying to illustrate what Ezekiel, 36 is speaking of and then the question becomes well, what is the means that God is going to use to restore Israel to Himself? I mean, we know that He’s going to do it in the last days, that’s the what question, but we often ask the how question, how will God do it? And that answers given really in chapter 38 and 39.
- Invasion planned (Ezek 38:1-13)
- Invasion executed (Ezek 38:14-16)
- Invasion defeated (Ezek 38:17‒39:20)
- Invasion’s results (Ezek 39:21-29)
It’s here we learn of a northern invasion that will come against Israel in the last days and will put the nation in a position where she has no one to trust in other than God. She’s going to be overwhelmed by this coalition that will come against her and so we can take chapters 38 and 39 and divide it up into four parts. Verses 1 through 13 (Ezek 38:1-13), which we might finish today, which I can’t guarantee of course, is the invasion planned and when you get into verses 1 through 13, you start to learn that there are two people planning the invasion or two entities.
- Invasion Planned (Ezekiel 38:1-13)
- God’s intention (Ezek 38:1-9)
- Gog’s intention (Ezek 38:10-13)
The first one is God, who is actually, verses 1 through 9 (Ezek 38:1-9) taking this end time coalition of nations that hate Israel, like hooks in the jaws and drawing them into the Middle East and so that’s described in verses 1 through 9 and then what you have in verses 10 to 13 (Ezek 38:10-13) are what the nations are thinking when they perform this invasion. So they think they’re doing their own will, but they’re actually doing God’s will. 5:51
So we’re still on verses 1 through 9 where we’re dealing with God’s intention and we went through many, many people groups that will be involved in this invasion and I won’t rename all of those for you, but you can go back into our archives and figure out why we think all of these names refer to specific nations that are basically in your newspapers all the time and with that being said, we come to verse 7 of Ezekiel 38 (Ezek 38:7), having finished verse 6 last time, picking it up at verse 7. It says: Be prepared, and prepare yourself, you and all your companies that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them… So here’s where God basically tells these invaders, I’m summoning you in the last days to invade Israel. You don’t know it’s me summoning you, but I’m the one doing the work and so be prepared for the battle. So it’s interesting there’s a verse that comes to my mind every time I read verse 7, it’s in the book of Proverbs chapter 21, verse 31 (Prov 21:31), it says: The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to… Who?… belongs to the LORD… So all of these nations have been preparing for this invasion and they think they’re doing their own will, when in reality they’re doing God’s will and they’re arming themselves, preparing for battles, there’s horses involved as we’ve talked about, but the ultimate outcome of it is going to rest completely and totally and squarely on God’s shoulders and God is actually doing all of these things to glorify himself. That’s the great truth that comes out of the end of these chapters and of course, that’s God’s right to orchestrate history that way, because history is doxological, meaning God works in history to glorify Himself, even your salvation itself is there ultimately to glorify the Lord. That’s why when a sinner repents, Luke, 15 says, the angels themselves rejoice, because they’re glorifying God at a salvation and so this battle is going to result in a nation’s salvation. Not just protection from the coalition but spiritual salvation and who could have orchestrated this other than God? So God says, prepare yourself for battle. But the result ultimately belongs to Me and from there we go to verse 8 and there’s a lot of packed information there in verse 8. 9:02
So what does verse 8 (Ezek 38:8) say? It says: After many days you… That’s this coalition… will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them… Now, you’ll notice this expression here “latter years”. This invasion is going to happen in something called the latter years and there’s an awful lot of people that the first thing they want to know about this is where does it fit into Bible prophecy? Is this going to happen next week? Is this going to happen before the rapture? Is this going to happen after the rapture? Is this going to happen at the beginning of the tribulation period? Is this going to happen at the end of the tribulation period? Some people think that this battle won’t happen until the end of the millennial kingdom, etc…etc…etc.. And so that’s probably of all of the subjects here, it’s the most debated subject, the when question. So as we work through these chapters, I’m going to give you my understanding of when. I’m not going to give it to you all at once, but I just want you to pay attention to the clues.
6 Timing Clues
- Restoration section (33-48)
- Latter times (Ezek 38:8a)
- Last days (Ezek 38:16)
- After Israel’s regathering in unbelief but before her final restoration (Ezek 38:8b; 39:22, 29)
- During God’s wrath (Ezek. 38:18-19)
- While Israel is living securely and peacefully (38:8c, 11)
There’s about six clues here as you work through these chapters that tell you when this is going to happen and we just hit our first clue there “the latter times”. So this puts this into something that has never transpired yet. There’s a group of people called the preterists and preterist means passed and they think this happened in the days of Esther, if you can believe that. They connected with Esther chapter 9 and of course, there’s no few problems, no small number of problems with that view. Not the least of which that the battle set in Esther, 9 was not an invasion of Israel, because God’s people in the book of Esther were outside of the borders of Israel and this is very clear that it’s an invasion against the nation of Israel, even talks about the mountains of Israel. So we reject out of hand the preterist interpretation, because that expression “latter times”, verse 8 (Ezek 38:8), puts this in events surrounding the second coming of Christ, more clues to follow. It also says there about these invaders: ..you will come into the land… And it says: …against the people who were brought out from the nations… And this of course is speaking of the divine discipline that the nation of Israel went through beginning forty years after the time of Christ. The nation of Israel is under what is called the Mosaic Law or the Mosaic Covenant.
Six Parts of a Suzerain-Vassal Treaty in Deuteronomy
- Preamble (Deut 1:1-5)
- Prologue (Deut 1:6–4:40)
- Covenant obligations (Deut 5–26)
- Storage and reading instructions (Deut 27:2-3; 31:9, 24, 26)
- Witnesses (Deut 32:1)
- Blessings and curses (Deut 28)
It is a covenant that God only made with Israel; He made this covenant with them at Mount Sinai and in that covenant there are the cycles of blessings and cursings. Deuteronomy, 28, verses 1 through 14 (Deut 28:1-14) are blessings for obedience, Deuteronomy, 28, verse 15 through the end of the chapter, verse 68 (Deut 28:15-68) are curses for disobedience. Some call these “the cycles of divine discipline” and when you study those curses, they sort of start to roll like a snowball. They get larger and larger and larger the more Israel stays in disobedience and finally they reach a zenith, they reach a climax, they reach a height in which God says in Deuteronomy, 28: I will actually kick you out of your own land and this will happen to you by a foreign power. So in that chapter Deuteronomy, 28, verses 49 and 50 (Deut 28:49-50), it says: The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down; a nation whose language you will not understand… So that’s a foreign power obviously…. A nation with a defiant attitude, who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young… And this is what all of the Old Testament prophets, as they’re interjected at different times in Israel’s history, are warning against and as the great theologian Yogi Bear would say, it’s deja vu all over again, because this cycle of discipline that I’m describing here happened many times in Israel’s history.
- Division of the kingdom in 931 B.C. (1 Kgs. 12)
- Assyrian judgment in 722 B.C. (2 Kgs. 17)
- Babylonian captivity in 586 B.C. (2 Kgs. 25)
- Rome Diaspora in A.D. 70 (Luke 19:41-44)
Solomon’s disobedience caused the kingdom to be divided between the north and the south and God dealt with the northern kingdom through the Assyrians in 722 BC. He dealt with the remaining southern kingdom through the Babylonians, both examples where those kingdoms were pushed out of their land in 586 BC and then during the post-exilic time period, during the Persian era the nation of Israel came back into their land, following the seventy year captivity. It was to that group, about four centuries later, that Jesus their king showed up whom they rejected and so it’s deja vu all over again, God brought the cycles of discipline again this time through Rome in the events of AD 70. But it’s all predicted right there in Deuteronomy, 28 through these cycles of discipline and when Rome came against Israel in AD 70, that’s the beginning of what we call the diaspora, where the nation of Israel for about two thousand years went into worldwide global dispersion. It was different than what happened at Babylon, where they were confined to one geographical area. This time they went into the whole world and that’s what Ezekiel, 38, verse 8 (Ezek 38:8) is talking about when it says, this invasion will occur after I have brought you out from the nations. So this is talking about after AD 70, after the subsequent dispersion or diaspora and you have to see in this some divine sarcasm, because what upset God more than anything else about His special nation, the nation of Israel, is that they really didn’t want to be distinct and unique. They wanted to be just like everybody else. Right down to the selection of their first king, that you could read about in 1st Samuel chapter 8. They wanted a king cause everyone else had a king. We want to be like everybody else. Everybody else is idolatrous, we want to be idolatrous. Everyone else believes in polytheism, we want to believe in polytheism and they in the process forgot why they exist. They existed to be separate, they existed to be unique, they existed to be distinct and God then has a sense of humor, in this diaspora post AD 70, Oh! You want to be like everybody else? Then go join them and so they were kicked out of their land into worldwide dispersion for two thousand years where they suffered incredibly. But God’s sarcasm is, if you’re so impressed with the rest of the nations and I’ll just kick you out of your own nation and you can join them for two thousand years and at the end of that learning curve, I’ll bring you back into your own land. 17:47
So that’s what it means here when it says, this nation will be invaded by a conglomeration of nations, who have come back into their land after they have been brought out from amongst the many nations. It’s talking about the end of the diaspora or worldwide dispersion. It’s very interesting here when it describes Israel coming back into their land after the diaspora. It says: After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword… The sword, and I don’t think it’s a shock to learn that one of the great symbols of Islam is the sword.
In fact, this is the people groups that the nation of Israel, that green area and beyond went into for two thousand years and then, beginning around the seven hundreds roughly, seventh century AD, you have Islam coming to power and subjugating that part of the world and so, when they come back from the diaspora, Ezekiel portrays them as coming back into their land from the nations characterized by the sword and I just think it’s very interesting that Islam is known for its symbol of the sword.
Quran Surah (or chapter) 24:55
“Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession [Caliphate] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their religion which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security, [for] they worship Me, not associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that – then those are the defiantly disobedient.”
Here’s a citation from the Quran and it talks here about how the goal of Islam is worldwide, what they call Caliphate. A lot of people misunderstand Islam and they think it’s just a religion and I’m here to tell you that very little of Islam deals with religion when you read their founding documents. It’s all about politics, it’s about subjugation, it’s about control, it’s about exerting political will over people and what the people that are not Muslims, how they’re going to have to obey, etc.. etc.. etc.. And so I just find it very interesting that Ezekiel said, once this diaspora occurs, it will occur after you have been restored from the sword and I think most of the nations that have persecuted the Jews during the diaspora are characterized by the sword, characterized by Islam. That may be why Ezekiel two thousand six hundred years ago talks about the restoration from the sword. Of course today, there’s that little tiny dot, that’s Israel. We had to draw an arrow there just to show people where it was and that green area is Islamic countries and the world community thinks that if Israel just gave up a little bit more territory, there’d be peace in the region. Let’s see, our own secretary of defense is not Blinken his name? He just came out March 28, it’s on YouTube you can watch it and he says, we’ve returned to the two state solution. What’s the two state solution? it means Israel needs to give up more territory. In this case, they’re talking about what they call the West Bank, better understood as Judea and Samaria. Israel has to be put under pressure to relinquish that to the surrounding countries and that’s the only way to have peace in the region and just to show you how poorly that will work, is think of the Gaza Strip, which I don’t have a picture of here, but it’s in the southwestern part of the country, a little tiny strip, Israel gave that back in 2005. That little strip had only one election, they elected Hamas and it’s that little strip from which terrorist attack after terrorist attack, after terrorist attack, rocket attack after rocket attack, after rocket attack, has been launched against Israel from their own country, their own territory within the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip was promised as peace, once Israel gives up the Gaza Strip there’s going to be peace. Well, the opposite has happened. So what exactly do you think is going to happen once they give up the so-called West Bank, a larger piece of territory? So what you have to understand about Islam and this is where western diplomats are clueless, because they don’t understand the nature of Islam. They look at this as if it’s kind of like the art of the deal. Like it’s a real estate deal. Like someone building a hotel or a casino. Hey! We did our part, so you’re going to have to do your part as well and abide by the contract, not understanding that in Islam there’s something called Taqiyya where you are actually allowed to lie to advance your cause or your purposes. So this is not a real estate deal, this is not a hotel, this is something completely foreign and completely different and the idea here is once Islam senses weakness, they take that as a sign from God that they’re supposed to become more emboldened, more aggressive. So when you turn around to the Muslims and you say, well, wait a minute you’re not keeping your promises, you signed the contract, you signed the deal, they don’t understand the Islamic mind. To yield land, and by the way, Islam thinks all of that is theirs anyway, because that’s where Muhammad allegedly ascended back to Allah on the steed named… and you know the name of the steed, right? Barak. I don’t know if I want to comment too much on that. So they think it’s theirs anyway and when Israel acquiesces any ground at all, that just inflames their eschatological triumphalism. So that’s the tragedy of going over there with a western mindset and thinking you’re doing a real estate deal. You’re not doing a real estate deal, you’re dealing with people that have a completely, totally, different eschatological mindset than the West has. 24:58
So Ezekiel predicts that when this invasion occurs, she will be brought back into her own land having been restored from the sword, probably, I would think speaking of Israel’s return from many, many Islamic countries, by divine providence and divine grace. You go to verse 8, still in verse 8 (Ezek 38:8), it says: …whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations… So Israel at the time of this battle will have been re-gathered from many nations and this is why you cannot put this in the book of Esther the way preterists do, because it’s very clear here that the re-gathering will have taken place from many nations. Well, in the book of Esther, what was beginning to happen is the return from captivity and the return from the Babylonian captivity wasn’t from many nations, it was from one nation Babylon, then taken over by the Persians.
They were never dispersed in the many nations in the time of the exile. So this has nothing to do with the return from the captivity, it has nothing to do with the book of Esther. This is talking about something in the distant future that Ezekiel saw, because he says, when this invasion happens Israel will have been spread out all over the world and will have been recycled from all over the world back into her own land. You cannot put this in some historical contexts the way preterists do. It’s clearly talking about a futuristic end times invasion… Whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel… And we’ve dealt with the mountains of Israel before in this series, I have to confess I’ve been studying this since the late 1980’s and for whatever reason this expression “mountains” has just skipped right over my head, I didn’t understand it. I was reading it but not understanding what it was saying. In chapter 39, verse 2 (Ezek 39:2) it says the same thing: and 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… Then in verse 4 of Ezekiel 39 (Ezek 39:4), it says: You will fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you… Now, here’s one of the things that we pointed out is, prior to 1967 in what’s called the Six Day War where Israel won a war of self-defense called the Six Day War and got back within her territory, the parts of Israel that the world community wants Israel to give up, Judea and Samaria, flippantly called the West Bank, prior to 1967, you really didn’t have a lot of mountains in Israel. You had some, but post 1967, wow! Look at them now. 28:27
So Mark Hitchcock writes:
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.”
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 was delighted to see Arnold Fruchtenbaum say the exact same thing. Arnold Fruchtenbaum says:
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum – THE MODERN STATE OF ISRAEL IN BIBLE PROPHECY
Paper presented to the PTSG on 12-7-21, pps. 18-19
But where in the Land of Israel will the invading armies be destroyed? The exact location is revealed in Ezekiel 39:2-4: ‘and I will turn you about, and will lead you on, and will cause you to come up from the uttermost parts of the north; and I will bring you upon the mountains of Israel. You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel.’ The phrase ‘the mountains of Israel’ refers to the central mountain range that makes up the backbone of the country. In the Hebrew Scriptures, these mountains were known as the Hill Country of Ephraim and the Hill Country of Judah. Some of the famous biblical cities that lie within these mountains include Dothan, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Bethel, Ai, Ramah, Bethlehem, Hebron, Debir, and most importantly, Jerusalem, which seems to be the target of the invading army. However, from 1948 until the Six-Day War in 1967, these mountains were not in Israel, but in Jordan. They are now referred to politically as the West Bank. In 1948, Jordanian forces took over these mountains and annexed them as part of Jordan… So what you’re seeing here is a prophecy that’s time sensitive. It couldn’t have happened post 1948 war of independence and pre 1967, because Ezekiel keeps saying over and over again mountains, mountains, mountains, mountains, mountains and it’s only post 1967 that you have mountains. He goes on and he says: They are now referred to politically as the West Bank. In 1948, Jordanian forces took over these mountains and annexed them as part of Jordan. All Israel had was a small corridor leading west to Jerusalem. The border between Israel and Jordan ran down the foot of these mountains, then cut into the mountains, dividing Jerusalem in two, and then went out again and continued along the foot of these mountains. Israel had maybe five percent or less of the mountains, while the rest belonged to Jordan. Only since 1967 have the mountains of Israel been in Israel. Besides the Temple compound falling into Jewish hands, another by-product of the Six-Day War was that these mountains also fell under Israeli sovereignty. Therefore, not only could this prophecy not have been fulfilled before 1948… Why couldn’t have been fulfilled between 1948? Because there was no nation of Israel to invade…. Not only could this prophecy not have been fulfilled before 1948 but it could also not have been fulfilled before 1967.” “The mountains of Israel (the West Bank) are yet to have a very important and relevant role in Bible prophecy. As for the present State of Israel, they became part of Israel in 1967. This is yet another way the modern Jewish State fits within Bible prophecy.”
Now, the buffer area separating the nation of Israel from Syria, which is on Israel’s immediate northern border, and by the way, as you probably know, the current leader of Syria, I think his name is Assad, is that right? Assad is a puppet of Putin. So when you think Syria, think Russia, because of Russia’s presence in Syria and what protects little Israel?
A mountainous area called the Golan Heights, which the world community said doesn’t belong to Israel, that’s international territory, they say. Well, then president Donald Trump comes along and not only did he, as you know, move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of undivided Israel going back to the time of David, that was why that was such a big deal, but he also recognized that the Golan Heights belong to Israel. So those are two major things Trump did for the nation of Israel and guess what’s in the Golan Heights? Mountains. So if there weren’t enough mountains added post 1967, Trump comes along and says, have some more mountains! Here’s another picture of it on this map.
It’s a mountainous buffer zone and when it keeps talking here about horses, that’s in my estimation why there’s horses, because horses travel well through those mountainous regions in an attack, tanks and things like that don’t, but we’ll talk about that issue down the road. 34:55
So what was my point? My point is simply this: God is doing all kinds of things in history right down to the fine details to set the stage for this end time invasion. Right down to this expression and I don’t know how many times I’ve read these chapters, but never fully dawned on me the expression “mountains”. I mean, it says it over and over and over again. God is moving heaven and earth as we speak so that the very specifics of His word can be fulfilled. We continue on in verse 8 and it says: After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel… Now look at this little clause here… which had been a continual waste… So God says, when the Jews are out of the land, it will be a continual waste. When the Jews are in the land and we’ll see this a few verses down the road here, it will begin to prosper. So God has designed the nation of Israel to only be prosperous when his own people are in it. You’ll see this prophecy as early as Leviticus, 26, verse 43 (Lev 26:43). Leviticus, 26, is the parallel passage to Deuteronomy, 28, giving the cycles of discipline, blessings and cursings for the nation and you say, well, why is it mentioned twice? Well, it’s mentioned twice because Leviticus is aimed at the first generation that came out of Egyptian bondage that failed on Israel’s southern border called Kadesh Barnea when they saw giants in the land and God says, I’m finished with that generation, I’ll work with your kids and forty years later after they had traveled through the Transjordan and we’re ready to enter the land of Israel on the plains of Moab, then God spoke a second time to that second generation in the book of Deuteronomy. In fact, that’s what the name Deuteronomy means, right? Deutero second. Nomos law. It’s the same stuff but it’s given for the benefit of the second generation. It’s just sort of re-packaged for them, which by the way is a pretty good outline for ministry, not to get too far off into this, because most people think you’re supposed to go out in ministry and reinvent everything. What you’ll see in the book of Deuteronomy is not a reinvention, it’s repackaged for their own unique context, that second generation, but everything you read in the book of Deuteronomy has already been written in the book of Leviticus. So our pattern of ministry here at Sugar Land Bible Church is not just to re-do everything, maybe re package a little bit for the current generation. But we’re teaching the exact same stuff, Bible churches, you know, have taught in prior generations and in Leviticus, 26, verse 43 (Lev 26:43), it says: For the land will be abandoned by them, and will make up for its sabbaths while it is made desolate without them… One of the things that got them into trouble is they didn’t respect, among other things, the fact that God said, the land needs a rest or give the land a rest every seventh year and they said, well, we’re not going to do that, we’re just going to do things our own way and God says fine, okay! Then I’ll kick you out of the land and then its rest will be made up and then when the land is finished having its rest, I’ll bring you back into the land. Oh! By the way, while you’re out of the land, it won’t prosper at all. But it will prosper once you go back into the land. 39:30
So Mark Twain and we’ve used this quote many times, in his book innocents abroad published 1867 from a trip that he took to the Holy Land two years earlier. This is 1867, this was before 1948, he describes that part of the world, what we call the land of Israel, as
Mark Twain – The Innocents Abroad, Complete, 1st ed. (A Public Domain Book, 1869), 267, 285, 302. These quotes can be found in chapters 47, 49, 52.
“A desolate country whose soil is rich enough… In other words, it should be prospering the land but it’s not… A desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over wholly to weeds. A silent mournful expanse. A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. We never saw a human being on the whole route. There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country”. In other words, I went to the holy land and there’s nothing over here but a barren expanse. Well, that’s what God said would happen. God says, you’re going to be kicked out of your land and every year you’re out of the land, it won’t prosper. But it will begin to prosper once I recycle My own people, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, back to the land. That’s why it’s almost laughable to hear leadership of Islam saying: Oh! This land has always been ours. Really? We sure didn’t want it pre-1948 cause it wasn’t prosperous. But now that is prosperous again, all of a sudden you want it and by the way, can you show me the word Jerusalem in the Quran? I mean, it’s mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, probably around six hundred times the whole Bible eight hundred times the word Jerusalem. Can you show me one reference to Jerusalem in the Quran? And they can’t because the word isn’t there. What they try to say is oh! There’s this reference to the furthest mosque, that’s Jerusalem. So they try to make that obscure reference to Jerusalem, but the word isn’t there and even if it was there, there would be only one reference and why doesn’t it show up in the Quran? Because the Muslims pre-1948 could care less about the nation of Israel, because it didn’t have any prosperity. But once the Jews go back into the land, as God said would happen, and the land begins to prosper again, all of a sudden the Muslims say, oh! That’s always been our land. It’s like dealing with a couple of kids on Christmas day, really, in your household. Kid A gets a present and they really like it. Until they see another present that their brother or sister got and then kid A gets jealous of kid B and you got a civil war going on in your own household, on Christmas day and it relates to the fact, well, they have something that I don’t have and that’s how you have to look at the Islamic claim to the land, they did not want the land because who would want it? It’s just a swamp. But once the Jews went back into the land and made it prosperous again, which by the way is what got said would happen, all of a sudden, Oh! That land has always been ours. We’ll just re-write the Quran to make it sound like it’s always been ours. But you look at the Quran and it never supports Islamic claims to the land. 43:32
So that’s what is being spoken of here when it talks about the land will be a continual waste and then you keep looking at verse 8 (Ezek 38:8) and it talks about another clue in terms of when this invasion will happen, it says: After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations… Now, watch this… and they are living securely, all of them… So earlier, I made reference to some timing passages, right? Cause everybody wants to know when this is going to happen and you have to put at least six clues together.
6 Timing Clues
- Restoration section (33-48)
- Latter times (Ezek 38:8a)
- Last days (Ezek 38:16)
- After Israel’s regathering in unbelief but before her final restoration (Ezek 38:8b; 39:22, 29)
- During God’s wrath (Ezek. 38:18-19)
- While Israel is living securely and peacefully (38:8c, 11)
The first clue is that it is going to happen in the latter times, chapter 38, verse 8 (Ezek 38:8), the second clue and I’ve got it organized here down to number 6, but it’s really clue number two, as we’re working through this verse by verse, the invasion will occur while Israel is living securely and peacefully. So then the question becomes, when has the nation of Israel ever lived securely and peacefully? And there’s only two times. The first time will be in the millennial kingdom. Where there won’t be war anymore and so a lot of people, very strangely, put this battle at the end of the millennial kingdom. But there’s a big problem with that because this is describing a war. In the millennial kingdom there’s no what? There’s no war. So living peacefully and securely, can’t describe the millennial kingdom. Well, what other time period does it describe? It describes only one other time period and that’s the time period when the antichrist arises and enters into a peace treaty with Israel, guaranteeing her security and that will be the event that will start the seven year tribulation period and that event can’t even happen as long as the restrainer, ie, the church is here, holding back the antichrist. So first there must be a removal of the restrainer, 2nd Thessalonians, 2, verses 6 and 7 (2 Thess 2:6-7). In prior studies we’ve gone to a lot of effort to explain that that is the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. Then, the man of lawlessness comes on the scene and then he makes this treaty, this deal of the century, I always say, with unbelieving Israel and guarantees her security. In other words, he gives Israel what she wants: political peace without Jesus, because they liked the idea of Jesus in the first coming as long as he was talking politics. But once he started talking about transferred righteousness is necessary to enter the kingdom, being born again is necessary to enter the kingdom, they were uninterested in Jesus. The antichrist is going to come along and say, I’m going to give you what Jesus wasn’t demanding. I will give you political peace and you don’t have to worry about being born again, you don’t have to worry about transferred righteousness, you don’t have to worry about the sermon on the mount, which teaches that the kingdom is not just political but spiritual in nature. Forget all that. I will give you what you’re looking for and the moment the antichrist does that is the moment God’s hand, which has been on the pause button of a prophecy called the seventy weeks prophecy, God’s hand has been on the pause button for over two thousand years, because there seven years left on that prophecy, is the moment God’s finger moves to the start button, not start over but restart button, if there’s such a thing and the final seven years of that prophecy start to tick and it won’t happen until the antichrist enters into this peace treaty with Israel and you can’t even have an antichrist coming until the church is removed via the rapture and this is all very important because everybody’s saying Putin is the antichrist and what just happened with the Ukraine is a fulfillment of prophecy and at best what is happening is stage setting, we believe in that. But it’s not the fulfillment of these eschatological events. So the Antichrist comes forward and he gives Israel what she wants, political peace. He probably, I would think at this point, even allows Israel to rebuild her temple, which she wants to do right now but can’t because of the Islamic presence of the Dome of the Rock. So he brokers something that no human politician has ever been able to broker and they love it and they’re under the sway of the Antichrist for three and a half years and all hell maybe breaking out all over the world, which it will be in the tribulation but little Israel is secure. She’s under the protective covenant of the antichrist. That’s what starts the seven year tribulation period; there’s a parallel passage in Revelation 6:1-2, describing the coming antichrist. It says with the first seal judgment: Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come” and I looked, and behold, a white horse… Gee, isn’t Jesus, Revelation, 19 coming back on a white horse? Well, here’s a guy trying to imitate Jesus… I looked and behold a white horse and he who sat on it a bow and a crown was given to him and he went out to conquer… And we know that that rider on the white horse brings in temporal peace, because when the next seal is opened peace taken from the earth. You can’t have peace taken from the earth unless it’s first established upon the earth… When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth… How do you take peace from the earth unless the rider on the white horse, ie, the antichrist, establishes peace on the earth?.. and that men would slay one another; and a great sword… Wow! The sword keeps coming up here… It was given to him… So the antichrist basically is what everybody wants. That’s what they’re all talking about at the Oscars when they’re not beating each other up on stage. What they’re all looking for is somebody to come on the scene and give them the political environment that they want, without the prerequisites of Jesus Christ, which demand that you’ve got to be born spiritually and you’ve got to receive the transferred righteousness of God before His kingdom can come. 51:50
So the antichrist gives the world what they want, the antichrist gives Israel what she wants and she is functioning at that point in a moment of peace. She is dwelling securely. I believe that this covenant is also spoken of in the book of Isaiah chapter 28, verse 15 and verse 18 (Isa 28:15-18) which says: Because you have said, We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we have made a pact… Verse 18 says: Your covenant with death will be canceled, And your pact with Sheol will not stand… So they have reached out to the antichrist, the nation of Israel has at this point, thinking he is their Messiah and they’ve just made a deal with the devil, because they’ve made a deal with a man that Satan is empowering. A man that Satan, ultimately, I think about midway through the tribulation period, is actually going to enter and possess. That’s the guy they made a deal with and he’s about to double cross you halfway through when he desecrates your temple. But at this point, they’re all happy because we’ve got peace, the Middle East problem is fixed. The ability for us to rebuild our temple is fixed and so as we continue to look at these timing clues, this occurs while Israel is living securely and peacefully and as they’re living securely and peacefully there, post rapture, post beginning of the seven year tribulation period early on, God says, okay, it’s time for the invasion and as that invasion happens, war breaks out. So the peace that they thought they had, serves to be or proves to be temporary. 54:14
So what you’ll see in Ezekiel, 38, is a transition from peace to war. Peace to war and that becomes timing clue number two. When in the Bible is there a transition from peace to war? This can’t be talking about the millennium cause there’s no war in the millennium, at least not until the end when Satan is released from his abyss, but that war is describe so differently than Ezekiel, 38, 39, you can’t make this into the millennial war. The only other time it fits is when Israel is enjoying relative peace and the only time she will be enjoying relative peace is after the tribulation period starts, because what starts the tribulation period will be the antichrist’s treaty with her, which will guarantee her security, which will end up being a deal with the devil because she just made a pact with hell itself. So peace to war, peace to war, that’s exactly what Revelation, 6, verses 1 through 4 (Rev 6:1-4) is talking about. Peace, the rider on the white horse, Revelation 6:1-2, and then war, second seal. So people are very interested, where do you place this war? That’s where I place it. I place the initial beginnings of this war, commensurate with the opening of the second seal judgment, because that’s the only other place in the Bible that I know of, where we’ve got peace with Israel and then a movement into war. Now, chapter 39 as we’ll keep going through this, I’ll show you it’s talking about something different. It’s talking about the results of chapter 38 and chapter 39 is going to sound an awful lot like the end of the tribulation. So that’s why the view that I espouse, is very, very different than what you’re going to hear from most prophecy teachers, who put these two chapters simultaneously or concurrently. I don’t think they’re simultaneous. I think there’s a description of a process here. That is no big surprise, cause chapter 37 is a process. The valley of the dry bones, first the bones come together, then breath comes into the body, that’s a process. There’s a process going on in chapter 36, first the nation comes into their land, then they’re sprinkled by the Holy Spirit, that’s a process. So if there’s a process in chapter 36 and another process described in chapter 37, why can’t I see a process in chapter 38 and 39? Chapter 38 is the beginning of the process, chapter 39 is the end of the process. So these two chapters sort of bracket the tribulation period. Chapter 38 occurring towards the beginning, chapter 39, you know, occurring towards the end. Now, this isn’t something I made up, this view that I’m espousing, I learned from my professor the late Harold Hohner and when I heard him articulate it in the classroom, I said, now isn’t that interesting? Cause I’ve never heard that view before. I’ve been studying prophecy all these years and I’ve never, never heard that, because everybody is saying, these two chapters occur simultaneously. They don’t occur simultaneously, according to this view I’m espousing, they bracket the tribulation, chapter 38 towards the beginning, chapter 39 towards the end and that becomes another timing text or another timing clue. 58:24
Now, look at that we finished verse 8, now we get to do verse 9 (Ezek 38:9): You will go up, you will come like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land… You see the word like there? We take the Bible at face value until it gives us a clue that it’s dealing with metaphorical language and when you see the word like there, it’s obviously a metaphor because it’s analogizing this war, that’s coming against Israel disrupting her false peace to a storm and it will be like a cloud covering the entire land. That’s how overwhelming this will seem to the Jewish people in unbelief, who have been thinking their Messiah is the antichrist. This is how God is waking them up. He’s showing them that what they’ve believed in is false and because it’s false, they need a relationship with the true God and then, also verse 9, it says: …you and all your troops, and many peoples with you… We went into this a little bit last time and this will be the last point that I’ll make here. We went into this a little bit last time but people are troubled by the fact that all of the nations we’ve described are in the outer ring. You know, Turkey, outer ring, Russia outer ring, central Asia, outer ring, Libya outer ring and people say, well, what about the inner ring?
I mean, what about those nations that are directly adjacent to Israel? What about Tyre, Assyria, Ammon, Moab, Edom, Amalek, Philistia, etc… And this is what gives people what they believe is the grounds for saying, well, there’s going to be two wars. War A is in Psalm, 83, the inner ring. War B is in Ezekiel, 38 and 39, the outer ring, two wars. So people today are speaking about the Psalm, 83 war, very popular. I know the guy that came up with this, very nice guy. I mean, he emails me all the time. He usually wants to talk about other subjects but every once in a while he’ll work in Psalm, 83, and I try to be very nice about it, but I just say, you know, there’s really no war in Psalm 83. Now, we can’t have that because I’ve got a book called the Psalm, 83 war. Psalm, 83, what it’s describing is an imprecatory prayer by Assaf against Israel’s perennial enemies. You’ll see no war in Psalm, 83. You’ll see no language like burning of weapons, seven years, seven months, in that day. It’s just Assaf saying, Lord I wish you would just knock the daylights out of your enemies and let me describe some. Psalm, 83, is not designed to describe a prophetic war and I think as Christians give themselves to the Psalm, 83, mindset, they’re being distracted from the area of scripture that God wants us to pay attention to, which is Ezekiel, 38 and 39. So when is this inner ring attack going to happen? Well, it’s bound up there in the expression “many people’s or troops with you”. In other words, the nations that God is describing in Ezekiel, 38 are not exhaustive. It would include other nations, including those within the inner ring. So the inner ring and the outer ring invade all at the same time. Commensurate with or beginning with seal judgment number two. After a brief season of peace, seal judgment number one. So there’s no need here to develop multiple wars from passages that aren’t even describing a war but rather are being used in the genre of an imprecatory prayer. Ezekiel, 38 and 39 is not an imprecatory prayer, it’s a prophecy. Psalm, 83, is not a prophecy, it’s an imprecatory prayer and it says it there in verse 6 (Ezek 38:6): Many peoples with you… It says it there in verse 9 (Ezek 38:9), which we just read: many peoples with you… You’ll see it there in verse 15 (Ezek 38:15): Many peoples with you… You’ll see it again there in verse 22 (Ezek 38:22) with all its troops, many peoples with him… And you’ll go over to chapter 39, verse 4 (Ezek 39:4) and it says it again: You will fall on the mountains of Israel and all your troops and the peoples who are with you… 1:04
So Ezekiel is not saying these are the only people that are going to be involved in this invasion. He’s just saying here’s the outer ring and presumably it would include the inner ring. So Ezekiel is not being exclusive and so I have no need in my eschatological framework to develop an alternative war from a passage that’s not even talking about a war and by the way, if you want to make Psalm, 83, a war, its own war, then you’re going to have to make Psalm, 2, a war also, because there it’s the nations conspiring and they’re overthrown by God. So if Psalm, 83, is its own war and we’re going to turn Psalms into wars, then I need a Psalm, 2, war and a lot of the progenitors of this think this is pre-rapture. So we’re going to have a Psalm, 2 war, a Psalm, 83 war and Ezekiel, 38 and 39 war. Now, I’m really getting confused. Then we’re going to have a rapture. Then we’re going to have an antichrist, then we’re going to have a peace treaty and they’re taking something that is so simple and overly complicating it and they get a market for it, because people always want to hear something new. Isn’t that what is said of people in Acts, 17? They’re always hanging out and listening for the new thing in constant conversations and, I think, in these last days we need to be people who are not always looking for the latest thing or the new thing but the biblical thing which is not a Psalm, 83, war but an Ezekiel, 38 and 39 war, connected with the outer brackets of the tribulation period.
I understand there’s a lot of questions. Unfortunately, I’m five minutes over. So I don’t have to answer any of them, but keep your questions and we’re going to be going through all of them in detail as we get through the content. Let’s pray, Father, we’re grateful for your word, your truth, the prophecies you’ve given to us. Help us to rightly divide your word in these last days. 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.