Answering Islam Conference
What Does Bible Prophecy Say About Islam? – Part 1
11-7-15 Ezekiel 38-39
The title of this session is What Does Bible Prophecy Say About Islam, and I don’t know about you but I know he told me I wasn’t supposed to be depressed but I got a little bit… I got a little bit depressed listening to him talk that last time around. And so one of the things I wanted to bring in is the prophetic angle because I believe that these things that we’re seeing, the rise of Islam around the world is not something that took God off guard. I would argue this, that God, in fact, predicted this very thing that we’re seeing in the pages of His Word. And so that’s why we’ve entitled this session What Does Bible Prophecy Say About Islam. And it helps us sort of understand that God actually is in control of everything. Do we all understand that? God hasn’t lost control of things.
So let’s take our Bibles, if we could, and open them to the book of Ezekiel, chapter 38. I hope you guys brought your Bibles with you; if you didn’t bring your Bible please raise your hand so we can subject you to public humiliation. [Laughter] We won’t do that… This after all is Sugar Land Bible Church, “Bible” is our middle name.
Ezekiel 38, and as you’re turning there let me open us up in a word of prayer. Father, we’re thankful for people like Shahram who can tell us the truth and we’re also thankful for Your Word that reminds us that everything is within Your sovereign control. So help us to keep things in balance as we look in this hour at Your prophetic Scriptures and 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.
So we’re living in a very unique period of time where there is a coalition of nations that is hostile towards the nation of Israel, and Shahram mentioned many of those nations in the prior hour, but it’s almost as if no matter what Presidential administration comes or goes, and I wish the present one would go faster, but no matter what Presidential administration comes or goes it seems like this issue is always there. There’s always this hostile coalition of nations forming and picking up steam, if you will, against the nation of Israel.
And one of the things that I find so interesting about this is I believe Ezekiel saw this very thing that we are seeing today. Who is Ezekiel? Ezekiel is one of our two exilic prophets, we call him an exilic prophet because he was one of our two prophets that prophesied in the exile, the 70 year captivity. Nebuchadnezzar came three times against Judah in three deportations; Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Daniel is taken in the first wave as a teenager and Ezekiel is taken in the second wave, about 596-597 or so.
Where was Ezekiel taken? He was taken 350 miles to the east of Jerusalem, to a place called Babylon and he describes, I think as early as chapter 1, verse 3, the Kebar River, and that’s where Ezekiel was much of the time and this is where the Lord gave him tremendous prophecies that, as I’ll be showing you, probably seemed very bizarre to Ezekiel. But we read what Ezekiel has to say and it’s amazing how the world has finally caught up, in a certain sense, with the very things that Ezekiel predicted.
You know, when you go watch a basketball game, for example, it’s basketball season already, and you see the teams come out and they do layup drills, and the bleachers fill up with fans and someone begins to sell popcorn and the referees come out, and you say to yourself wow, a basketball game is ready to start. Well, in the same way that’s a lot how Bible prophecy works. God is moving the chess pieces around and as the chess board is being set up a certain way we know that everything is being orchestrated to a climactic conclusion.
Now when Jesus came the first time, in His first coming, we know that the world was set up for the first coming of Christ. We know there was something called Pax Romana, Roman peace. There was worldwide universal Roman roads so conditions were ripe or prime for the spread of the gospel once Jesus accomplished His mission and the church age started. We know that in the inter-testament time period, thanks to the influence of Alexander the Great, the Greek language had come on the scene. The Greek language is one of the deepest, richest dialects that the human race has ever known. We only have one word for love in English but I think there’s three or four words for love in Greek. And so the right language was in place to record the revelation of Jesus Christ through the New Testament.
And so the world was set up for the first coming. In fact, the book of Galatians, chapter 4 and verse 4 says, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son.” So Jesus was not dropped into history at any old time, He was dropped into history at the exact right time. The chess board was set up. And that largely is what we’re seeing today. And this is what the prophet Ezekiel saw and this is the chapter that I’ve chosen, therefore, to talk about the role of Islam in Bible prophecy because I think Islam plays a very strategic role in the end times drama.
So this is kind of a complicated prophecy that’s given here in Ezekiel 38 and 39 so to help us sort of digest it we’re going to do two things and I won’t be able to finish all of this in this session. I’m going to be teaching the Sunday School hour tomorrow morning at Sugar Land Bible Church that’s going to meet in this room from 9:45-10:45 where I’ll kind of wrap up what we started. But I think we can get a good start on it in this session.
We’re going to look at, number 1, five journalistic questions, I’m not even sure we’ll get through all five in this session but the presentation sort of wraps up with seven points of application. So you might be listening to a lot of this and saying so what, how does it affect me? How does what I’m learning on Saturday or Sunday affect me on Monday, and that’s what those seven points of application are about.
So here are the five journalistic questions we are going to try to answer. Number 1, the who question. These are the questions all good journalists ask. Number 1, the who question, who is involved in this great battle of Ezekiel 38 and 39? Number 2, the when question, when is this going to take place? Number 3, the why question, what is the motive of the attackers that will come against Israel in the end times? Number 4, the what question, what are going to be the after effects of this war? And then finally number 5, the how question, how is the world being set up for the fulfillment of these events just like the chess board is set up before a chess game can begin?
So let’s start off here and take a look at the “who question.” Notice if you will, Ezekiel 38 and notice if you will verses 1-7. “And the word of the LORD came to me saying,  “Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him  and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.  I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords;  Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet;  Gomer with all its troops; Beth-Togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all its troops—many peoples with you.” It says in verse 7, “Be prepared, and prepare yourself, you and all your companies that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them.”
We look here at Ezekiel 18:1-7 and we see these very strange names. When you read The Houston Chronicle or sometimes called The Houston Comical, depending on your viewpoint, you’re not going to run into names like this in your average newspaper. There’s about nine names given, Magog, Rosh, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Put, Cush, Gomer and Togarmah. Now I believe that all of these names can be identified today as specific countries. In fact, many of the names that Shahram was talking about earlier, I believe represent these various nations. And what you will discover in your Bible when you go back Genesis 10, you don’t have to turn there but in Genesis 10:2-8 there is what is called the table of nations. That is a record, if you will, of where Noah’s descendants settled. Noah had three sons, Ham, Shem and Japheth, and what we discover is a lot of these names descend from Japheth’s line, in fact I would say most of them descend from that line and there’s a couple of them that descend from Ham’s line.
[Genesis 10:2-8, “The sons of Japheth were Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal and Meshech and Tiras.  The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz and Riphath and Togarmah.  The sons of Javan were Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim.  From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.  The sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan.  The sons of Cush were Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.  Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth.”]
And what we can do is track geographically where those people groups ultimately settled. And Ezekiel, when he uses these names, is using names from his own day that he would understand and recognize but when we track where these people groups ultimately settled and we identify the modern nation containing those people groups, or nations containing those people groups, I believe that we can actually document very carefully who these various players are in this end time battle.
Now those that oppose the interpretation that I’m about to give you like to accuse us of newspaper exegesis. And it’s interesting what they say is that we read the newspapers, we see what’s hot, what sells, and then we read that back into the Scripture. And the fact of the matter is we are not doing newspaper exegesis here; we’re doing careful scholarship. And let me… Shahram shared his sources, let me kind of share some of the sources that I’m going to use.
The first one is Josephus; Josephus was a first century Jewish historian. Josephus, in his book, Antiquities, and if you want the exact sections it’s Book I, chapter VI, sections I and II. I know you probably haven’t done a lot of your devotional reading in Josephus, but if you were to look at those sections you would recognize a lot of these names because Josephus is documenting for us where these various people groups settled.
Another source I’m going to uses is BDB, otherwise known as Brown, Driver and Briggs, a standard Hebrew lexicon. And then another source that I will make reference to is Herodotus, Herodotus was a historian, he wrote around 450 B.C. Now keep in mind that Ezekiel prophesied about 593-571 B.C. Herodotus is writing within a little after 100 years after Ezekiel’s time period. So looking at those three sources the modern nations containing these names, that probably to Ezekiel seemed so strange, I believe are the very nations that are aligning themselves, as we speak, against the nation of Israel. So here we go.
The first name mentioned is Magog and Josephus, in his Antiquities, identifies Magog as the Scythians. Now any Encyclopedia Britannica will tell you that the Scythians migrated from central Asia to southern Russia, around the 8th century B.C. And so I believe when Ezekiel mentions Magog he is mentioning the various nations of central Asia; those would be all the “stans,” most of which are difficult to pronounce, like Kazakhstan, and others, Afghanistan. I would put the Ukraine into that group. The second mane mentioned is Rosh, and people like to make fun of us, they say well you think Rosh is Russia just because you’re doing newspaper exegesis and Rosh sounds like Russia.
Here is a gentleman by the name of Gesenius, now who is Gesenius? Gesenius was no slouch in the area of language; he was the father of what we call modern lexicography. What is that? It is the science and art of compiling Hebrew lexicons and dictionaries. This is the expertise of Gesenius and so when I’m quoting Gesenius here I’m not quoting, you know, Jack Van Impe, or somebody like that.
Gesenius writes this of Ros, this was based on his study of 10th century Byzantine writers. He says: It’s a “pronoun of a northern nation mentioned with Tubal and Meshach,” notice what he says, I’ve got the relative part underlined, “undoubtedly” he says, “the Russians, who are mentioned by the Byzantine writers of the tenth century, under the name of Ros, dwelling to the north of Tarsus … as dwelling on the river Rha (Wolga).” So if Gesenius is correct then Ros is none other than Russia. Ros settled ultimately in what we call modern day Russia.
Now it’s very important to understand this because people criticize us based on newspaper exegesis and they say you’re doing newspaper exegesis but notice that Gesenius reached his conclusion in 1842. That was long before the communist revolution; that was long before the rise of Russia as a nuclear superpower.
And then we come to a couple of other names here, we come to Meshach and Tubal, now if you’re a devotee of the Scofield Reference Bible, which is a very good study Bible although I disagree with what it says here, a lot of people have this view that “my hope is built on nothing less but Scofield’s notes and Moody Press,” and I think the Scofield Reference Bible is very good but it’s not inspired text. Right?
The Scofield Reference Bible essentially says that Meshach and Tubal is Moscow, which is in Russia, and Tobolsk which is in Siberia. Now I have a very difficult time with that interpretation based on Ezekiel 27:13. [Ezekiel 27:13, “Javan, Tubal, and Meshech were thy merchants; they traded the persons of men and vessels of bronze in thy market.”] Ezekiel 27:13 is mentioning Tyre, modern day Lebanon, and it talks about Tyre being in a trading relationship with Tubal and Meshach, and it’s very difficult for me to believe that that nation could have been in a trading relationship with another nation as far removed north as Russia. So I don’t think the Scofield Reference Bible has it correct here.
However, Herodotus, if you want the exact sections it’s Book III, sections 93-94, book VII, section 78, this is Herodotus’ in his work called Histories, identifies Meshach and Tubal as mountains to the southeast of the Black Sea. Now you take a look at the Black Sea, which is just above Turkey, and mountains to the southeast of the Black Sea would be none other than the modern nation of Turkey.
And then focusing, just for a minute, on Meshach, Meshach in BDB, page 604 if you want the reference, this is what BDB says, “Meshach in Persian times,” now keep in mind the Persian era was just after Ezekiel’s era. The Babylonian era lasted about 605-539, that’s when Ezekiel had his prophesies, and the Persian era came right after that, beginning around 539 down to about 331 or so. So the Persian era is very close to the time of Ezekiel. BDB essentially says that “Meshach in Persian times was southeast of the Black Sea, which is modern day Turkey.”
Josephus also says in his Antiquities, that Meshach is Cappadocia. Cappadocia, I’ve read that somewhere before… I know where it is, it’s in 1 Peter 1:1, it’s a group of people groups that the Apostle Peter writes to. 1 Peter 1:1, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia who are chosen of God.” So there is Cappadocia; Cappadocia also would be what we would call modern day Turkey. And then focusing just for a minute on Tubal, Tubal according to BDB is also identified as Cappadocia, modern day Turkey. So Meshach and Tubal, I’m fairly confident represents the nation that we today call modern day Turkey.
And then we come to a fifth nation which came up in the prior session and this is the nation of Persia. I think Persia is probably the easiest nation to identify on Ezekiel’s list because Persia has a paper trail. Persia was that empire that overthrew the Babylonians and this happened in 539 B.C. and you can read all about it in Daniel 5. That’s the great handwriting on the wall chapter. Persia, therefore would be that second empire in the times of the Gentiles; Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar both saw this statute, the head was made of gold, the chest and arms were made of silver, the belly and thighs were made of bronze, the legs were made or iron, the feet were made of iron and clay. So the chest and arms of silver would represent that second empire during this terrible time for the nation of Israel when she was trampled down by various Gentile powers.
Now one of the things that’s very interesting is as you get into the Persian period is Persia ended up being one of the good guys. Why is that? Because it was the Persians that through various decrees allowed the nation of Israel to return from the 70 year captivity, go back into their land to rebuild the temple and going all the way down into the days of Nehemiah to rebuild the walls around the city of Jerusalem. In fact, there was a very prominent Persian mentioned in the Bible who allowed this to happen. His name was Cyrus, this is a picture there of the Cyrus Cylinder, containing Cyrus’s various boasts as he conquered Babylon.
One of the things that’s very interesting is Cyrus is named by name 150 years before he showed up. And you’ll find that reference in Isaiah’s writings, Isaiah’s prophecies rather, Isaiah 44:28, the very end of the chapter, right onto chapter 45 and verse 1, you’ll find two references to Cyrus. [Isaiah 45:28, “It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’ [45:1] Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, whom I have taken by the right hand, to subdue the nations before him and to loose the loins of kings; to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut;”]
And of course liberals are so upset about this because if this is true the Bible predicts the end from the beginning that they make this ridiculous case that Isaiah really didn’t write that; that was Deutero Isaiah, or Trito Isaiah. But I’m somewhat old fashioned, I think Isaiah wrote it and he saw the future. But Cyrus’ name, Cyrus was a Persian. And so the three returns happened under Persian rule.
So just as there were three deportations, the Jews were taken in three deportations into the seventy year captivity, they were also allowed to return through three basic returns. And this is all happening under Persian rule. And that’s why I think Ezekiel probably thought it was so odd that Persia actually would turn against God’s people, when it looked like things in Ezekiel’s time, perhaps a little later, were actually looking up for Persia.
Now Persia continued on as a modern day nation and up until 1935 Persia officially changed its name to Iran. And then Iran became the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 and as Shahram mentioned that was in the days of Jimmy Carter and the long gas lines and the deposing of the Shah and replacing him with the Ayatollah. One of the things that’s very interesting to me when we get into our doctrine of angels, angelology or demons, what you’ll discover when you read Daniel 10:13 and Daniel 10:20 is there’s a fallen angel over Persia, influencing the government of Persia. [Daniel 10:13, “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.” Daniel 10:20, “Then he said, ‘Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come.”]
Why is it that Persia or Iran is one of the biggest trouble spots on the globe. I would suggest it’s exactly what Shahram was describing in the prior session, it’s a demonic energy. So Persia, I believe, is Iran. And then we come to, I think we’re at number 6, the sixth nation in Ezekiel’s list and that’s the nation of Cush. According to Josephus, in his Antiquities, Cush is none other than Ethiopia. In fact, I’m reading out of the New American Standard Bible and you may have noticed that when I read through these verses that the New American Standard Bible, although it’s the Hebrew word “Cush” the New American Standard Bible is so confident that Cush is Ethiopia that it actually puts into the English text the word “Ethiopia.” So they’re confident, I’m confident that Cush is none other than Ethiopia.
Now if you have the Ryrie Study Bible, which is the study Bible of choice of all Spirit-led Christians [laughter], he has a very interesting note there when he’s talking about Cush and he says: “It’s the ancient country of Ethiopia but that encompassed far more territory than the modern country of Ethiopia since the ancient country included an area that we today call the northern Sudan.” The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia says this: “The designation Ethiopia is misleading for it did not refer to the modern state of Ethiopia. Cush bordered Egypt on the south, or the modern day Sudan.” And so I believe that when Ezekiel saw Cush he is describing what we would today call the Sudan, or at least encompassing that part of the world.
And then we come to this nation called Put, we have to ask ourselves where are we going to put Put in our end times scheme here. And BDB, page 806, specifically calls Put Libya. Josephus, in his Antiquities, calls Put Libya as well. So I’m confident that Put is none other than an area or a country that we today call Libya. And then Ezekiel mentions an eighth name, this eighth name is Gomer. Josephus, in his Antiquities, again gives a very specific reference, he says “Gomer or the Gomerites represent an area that we call Galatia.” Galatia? You say Galatia? Galatia, I’ve heard of that somewhere before, isn’t that like a New Testament book called the Galatians and of course you would be right on that. The Galatians is the first epistle that the Apostle Paul wrote. And where was that group that Paul addressed? Most people believe it’s in an area called southern Galatia which also fits with modern day Turkey. It’s interesting how Turkey keeps showing up here in Ezekiel’s various prophecies.
And then a ninth name that’s mentioned is Togarmah, Josephus, in his Antiquities, calls Togarmah Phrygia. Now that may ring a bell because in Acts 16:6 this is what it says, describing Paul’s second missionary journey: “They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.” So Paul and his team were moving from Galatia, they were not allowed to go into Asia right away on the second missionary journey, and they passed through this area called Phrygia. Where then is Phrygia? It’s also in this area that we today call modern day Turkey.
So what I’ve done and the reason I’ve gone through this sort of slow is I wanted to take you through a deliberate process and show you that we are not making these names up at all. You can consult scholarly sources and you can actually document who these specific names are that the prophet Ezekiel mentions. So just kind of putting it all together: Put would be Libya, Cush would be the Sudan, Persia would be Iran, Magog would be the various nations of central Asia, Rosh would be Russia and then Meshach, Tubal, Gomer and Togarmah would represent Turkey. So here’s what the whole thing looks like: Magog—central Asia; Rosh—Russia; Meshach—Turkey; Tubal—Turkey, Persia—Iran, Put—Libya, Cush—the Sudan, Gomer—Turkey and then Togarmah—is Turkey as well.
Take a look at Ezekiel 38:6, it’s very interesting because this is an important point Ezekiel makes. He says, “Gomer with all its troops; Beth-togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all its troops—“ and notice what it says at the end of verse 6, “many peoples with you.” So I don’t think Ezekiel is giving us an exhaustive list; he’s simply saying here are the major players, because people want to know about different other nations in that area and Ezekiel’s list does not eliminate them as possibilities. Ezekiel, though, as he receives this prophecy is just focused on what we would call the major players in this event. So hopefully that helps us a little bit with the who question.
And now we come into a very difficult question, and this is the when question. This is not an easy question to answer because there are at least seven views on this. Now I’ve done teachings on this before where I carefully go through each view and explain why I disagree with it and tell you the one I agree with, and since I don’t want to kill you all with boredom this afternoon I won’t be going through that in the same amount of depth. However, I did do a presentation on this at West Houston Bible Church, Dr. Robert Dean is here, he’s the pastor of West Houston Bible Church, they host the Chafer Pastor’s Conference, Chafer Seminary Pastor’s Conference every year and I did a two-parter there the last time around, which you can find on their website, Dean Bible Ministries should have that presentation. So I’m not going to give you all the specifics, you can go there if you want more information. [www.deanbibleministries.org/]
But I just want to focus on what I would consider to be the correct view; that’s the nice thing about being behind the pulpit, you can just give your own view, right? So that’s kind of what I’m doing here. Before I get to that though I want to just say one thing; I do not believe that there is ongoing today revelation. In other words, there are not new books of the Bible being written today. The inspired books of the Bible, the canon of Scripture is closed. However, I do believe very strongly in something called progressive illumination, not necessarily progressive revelation but progressive illumination.
And I believe this, that as we get closer and closer to the time period when these events will be fulfilled, I think our ability to understand these prophecies get sharper and sharper and sharper, clearer and clearer and clearer. I think we understand these things a lot better than prior generations have understood them, and I also believe that the generation that follows us, should the Lord tarry, will understand these things a lot better as well. And of course, the people in these events itself will understand them better than all of us, right?
Daniel says this in Daniel 12:4, “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” Now when you study going “back and forth” people will say that’s the internet and that’s air travel, but just cross reference it with Amos 8:12. [Amos 8:12, “People will stagger from sea to sea and from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.”
Going to and fro is reading the Scripture. And so it’s a prediction that people would give themselves, in the last days, to these prophetic Scriptures and the knowledge contained therein would not be new but it would be clearer to the readers. And I think this is one of the reasons why we have so many views on a complicated prophetic passage like this. But let me give you five clues which I think nicely document, if you will, where we can put these events. Now there’s your basic tribulation chart, we have the age of the church, which will end with the rapture and then what follows will be the seven year tribulation period, the second coming, the kingdom age that follows, then the great white throne judgment and then the eternal state. And we look at a prophecy like this and we say where does it fit on the prophetic jigsaw puzzle, the prophetic blueprint. And I think there’s five clues that really help us.
Number 1, these prophecies occur in what we call Ezekiel’s restoration section of the book. The book of Ezekiel has essentially three parts to it. Chapters 1-24 is part 1, coming judgment upon Judah. Chapters 25-32 is part 2, that would be Ezekiel’s prophecy of judgment on the surrounding nations. And then chapters 33-48 is the restoration section. One of the things that’s neat about the book of Ezekiel is it’s symmetrical; the things that happen at the beginning of the book are repeated at the end of the book.
For example, in Ezekiel 1-3 the prophet’s mouth is closed; in chapter 33 his mouth is opened. At the beginning of the book, chapters 1-24 he is teaching about judgment that’s about to come on Judah, primarily through the hand of Nebuchadnezzar who would be used of Babylon as God’s disciplinary tool to discipline the chosen nation. But in the latter section of the book, chapters 33-48 Ezekiel is no longer speaking of judgment, he’s speaking of restoration. In the first part of the book the Shekinah glory of God, just before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple originally built by Solomon, the Shekinah glory of God departs from that temple. But isn’t it interesting, at the end of the book there’s a millennial temple picture and the Shekinah glory of God returns to that temple.
So chapters 1-24 are counterbalanced with chapters 33-48 and the fulcrum that balances the two sides is Ezekiel’s prophecy to the various nations in chapters 25-32. So what I want you to see is chapters 38 and 39 are part of the restoration section. In other words, Ezekiel is obviously talking about things that have never happened. In that section he talks about a giant temple; there’s never been a temple quite like this. That’s the millennial temple. He talks about the division of the land in the millennial kingdom, it’s never been divided exactly like this, as it’s described in chapter 47.
He even talks about water coming from the temple and going into the Dead Sea. Now why is the Dead Sea called the Dead Sea? Because everything in the sea is dead because of its high salt content. And when the kingdom starts this river is going to flow into the Dead Sea and bring the whole thing to life. As a matter of fact, the last time I was in Israel I just wanted to make sure we weren’t in the kingdom age so I went into the Dead Sea because the content of salt is so dense or strong you literally are buoyed up, you can’t sink. And for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what they needed lifeguards for. I mean, when I retire and want an easy job I’m going to apply for lifeguard along the Dead Sea because you can’t drown. I guess if you want to drown you can, but…
But you see, these are all futuristic things, so chapters 38 and 39 fits within that section where Ezekiel is talking about something yet future. I bring that to your attention because many people today are trying to convince us that this battle already took place. It’s a doctrine called preterism. One of the things that Shahram did not tell you that came out sort of in my private conversations with him is his biggest critics, besides Muslims, are Preterists because he takes a pro futurist, pro-Israel stance and he’s beaten down constantly by people that are trying to tell him that all these prophecies already took place sometime in the past.
The argument that Preterists like to use is Ezekiel 38:4, it talks there about ancient weaponry, it talks about buckler and shield and swords. [Ezekiel 38:4, “I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords;”] And people say well how come it doesn’t say tanks and bombs and things like that? Well, one of the things that’s very interesting is people fight with that type of warfare even today.
Here’s something that I found, an article in a magazine, the title of it is Downgrading Armageddon, and this is what this author says: “Tanks have their own problems of overheating in desert conditions. It’s stating the obvious to say that ancient weapons know no such problems. In fact some are at a distinct advantage, especially in the mountains. This was the case if Afghanistan, the role of the mule and the horse in Afghan fighting was recognized by the CIA in the 1980’s when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan. The CIA also supplied the mujahidin” I think is how you pronounce that, “with thousands of mules imported from Tennessee. Afghan stallions are the most highly prized beasts but for the poor soldiers the slower moving donkey is hardier, more able to cross rivers and can transport up to two artillery shells per animal across lines to supply soldiers cut off without ammunition. The cite of the rugged Afghan horsemen leading Calvary charges across the bleak central Asia area is legendary. Similar testimonies abound in other areas, including Pakistan. The mules are critical, a critical link for operations in the mountainous northern region and in Cashmere where they also serve at the glacial battle fronts. A mule can carry up to 160 pounds and walk 18 miles without resting.” The author says this: “This strikes me as being another possible explanation for weapons downgrade for some battles in the last days.”
You see, if there’s a mistake you make in the study of prophecy the mistake is this: you don’t take the text literally. I can’t tell you how many people have egg on their face because they didn’t take the prophecies regarding the restoration of Israel literally, and lo and behold, Israel is restored today as a nation vindicating a literal interpretation of these prophecies. This is not a past tense war in chapters 38 and 39; this is a futuristic war. Another clue is in chapter 38:8, it says this battle will take place in the latter time. [Ezekiel 38:8, “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….]
Another clue is chapter 38:16, it says this war will take place “in the last days.” [Ezekiel 38:16, “and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It shall come about in the last days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations my know Me….”] Now you have to keep your “last days” straight. There is a “last days” for the church which I believe we’re in now, and there is a “last days” for the nation of Israel; “last days” therefore has to be defined by the context it’s found in. The three basic rules of real estate are location, location, location. The three basic rules of Bible study are context, context, context.
And don’t run off to 2 Timothy 3:1 to define last days, that concerns the church. [2 Timothy 3:1, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.”] Study how the prophets themselves used this expression, the “last days.” It’s used in Isaiah 2:2; Jeremiah 23:20, Jeremiah 30:24, Hosea 3:5, Micah 4:1. [Isaiah 2:2, “Now it will come about that in the last days, the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it.” Jeremiah 23:20, “The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; in the last days you will clearly understand it.” Jeremiah 30:24, “The fierce anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has performed and until He has accomplished the intent of His heart; in the latter days you will understand this.” Hosea 3:5, “Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.” Micah 4:1, “And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it.”]
And as you study these prophecies out what you’ll discover is “last days” pertains to God’s dealings with the nation of Israel. It is Israel’s final time of distress and ultimate conversion, and the establishment of God’s kingdom. I was going to say wow, we haven’t even done anything controversial yet, they’re already out to get us there. Now here’s another clue. I believe that this battle is going to take place after Israel’s regathering in unbelief but before her final restoration. Notice, if you will, Ezekiel 38 and notice if you will verse 8, it says, “After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that has been restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waster, but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them.” It talks about a time where Israel has been brought back into her land yet it’s just prior to Israel’s conversion.
How do I know that? Because the conversion is the aftermath of this war that we’re studying. The conversion is described in the next chapter, chapter 39:22 which says, “And the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God from that day onward.” Look, if you will, at the very last verse of chapter 39, at the very end of the verse God says, “for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel’ declares the Lord GOD.” So Israel is gathered in unbelief, this war happens, the after effect is the conversion of Israel, she is brought to, at least the remnant is, to Yeshua, who we know as Jesus in the church age today. In other words, she’s brought back to her God. And there are two end time regatherings for the nation of Israel. This is where many people are confused. There is a regathering in unbelief and then there will be a regathering in faith. The present regathering, I believe, is the first regathering that Ezekiel saw in chapter 38. The second regathering is the regathering in faith that Ezekiel saw in chapter 39.
In the first regathering she comes back to part of her land; in the second regathering she comes back to all of her land. In the first regathering she returns in unbelief; in the second regathering she returns in faith. In the first regathering she is restored to the land only. But in the second regathering she is restored to the land and the Lord. The first regathering sets the stage for the tribulation period, or a time of discipline. The second regathering sets the stage for the millennial kingdom.
Ezekiel saw this war taking place, I believe, between those two regatherings. The first regathering began in 1948, May 14, 1948. We are living in the general time period when that first regathering has started. And one of these days this war will take place and Israel, in unbelief, will be brought to saving faith in her own Messiah. So I believe this war must take place sometime after 1948.
The final and fifth clue is that this war will take place while Israel is living securely and is at rest. Notice, if you will, chapter 38 and verse 8, once again notice what 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, and they are living securely…. Notice that Israel is living in a state of security or confidence. Some of your versions may translate that as unwalled villages.
Notice also chapter 38 and verse 11, it gives us another clue concerning this time of peace that Israel will be experiencing. Chapter 38 and verse 11 says this: “and you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates.” The question is, when is Israel’s history is she going to be living in security? Is that happening now? I don’t think so because as you look at that green area there those are Muslim countries. If you look at that little tiny area with the red circle around it, that’s the nation of Israel. Now what do the politicians tell us. Well, Israel just needs to give up a little bit more and we’ll all be happy. A basic geography lessons refutes that, doesn’t it? Israel today is desperate for a friend; she’s desperate for somebody to reach out to her and help her. And so obviously she’s not living in this time of peace and security that’s spoken of.
What’s interesting here is in chapter 38 and verse 11 there’s not one word describing peace but two. The first word is communicating security and unwalled villages; the second word, I think you pronounce that shah cot. BDB defines it as “at rest, tranquility, no disturbances.” The question is, when in Israel’s history will she be living in that state, and there’s really only two times it could happen. One time will be in the kingdom age when Jesus will be ruling and reigning from Jerusalem on David’s throne. But you see, this prophecy in Ezekiel 38 and 39 cannot be describing the kingdom age because in the kingdom age there’s no more war. This is describing a war. In the kingdom age the book of Isaiah, chapter 2, verse 4 says, that they will beat “their swords into plowshares. [Isaiah 2:4, “And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not life up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.”]
Sadly this verse has been connected in its buildings to the United Nations. Now actually more wars have transpired since the advent of the United Nations. The United Nations, by claiming this verse is claiming a Messianic priority. The United Nations will not bring those verses into existence; it will be Jesus Christ running the world system, known as the millennial kingdom from David’s throne, that will bring in Israel’s peace. So these verses here, chapters 38 and 39, cannot be describing the millennial kingdom because there’s no more war in the millennial kingdom. So the only other time in history where this really makes sense is spoken of in Daniel 9:27. Daniel 9:27 says this, “And he” that’s the antichrist, “will make a firm covenant with the many” the “many” is Israel, cross reference that with Daniel 11:33 and you’ll see it, “he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week….” [Daniel 11:33, “Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by the sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days.”]
There is coming someone in history, known as the antichrist, and he is the one that will guarantee Israel’s security. Now it will be a false peace because 1 Thessalonians 5:3 says, “While they are saying, ‘Peace” and homeland security…. Oh, I’m sorry, “While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly….”
See, Israel, in her state of unbelief actually enters into a covenant with the antichrist himself, thinking that he is their Messiah. And in fact, he is able to work in history in such a mighty way, because Satan himself is empowering him, that the antichrist resolves all kinds of problems for the nation of Israel, including their current land controversies and problems with the Muslims. And they will think that this man is their Messiah but then very shortly thereafter he will betray them, midway through the tribulation period, by desecrating their very temples, something that Antiochus did all the way back in the intertestamental time period, an event etched on the souls of Jews. And when antichrist betrays them they will realize that their Messiah is not the antichrist, in fact, it’s Jesus Christ who came 2,000 or more years ago.
Here’s some good theology… ready! God knocks us down so we look up! And if we’re honest with ourselves that’s how God dealt with all of us. He took away props and security and things that we trusted in and we say to the Lord, Lord, I’ve got no one else to trust but You and once you’re at that place you’re at a great place, God says that’s what I’ve been waiting for all along. And what we have to understand is that is what is coming for the nation of Israel. They won’t have a friend in the world and they’ll cry out to God, who will answer so magnificently and beautifully with the return of Jesus Christ to rescue them and begin the millennial kingdom through them.
So the only other time of peace and security that could be spoken of is this agreement between the antichrist and the nation of Israel. It’s very interesting that when you study this, Ezekiel 38, things move from peace to war. That sounds a lot, doesn’t it, like the first two seal judgments in the book of Revelation. The first seal is opened and the antichrist comes forward and brings in a false peace but then the second seal is opened and warfare breaks out in Revelation 6:3-4. [Revelation 6:3, “When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, ‘Come.’  And another, a red horse went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another, and a great sword was given to him.”]
Therefore, in my timing of it I believe that this war will take place beginning with the second seal judgment. And so that sort of puts me into the camp that this war takes place in the first half of the tribulation period. But I’ve got a problem; what’s the problem? Well, if you go over to Ezekiel 39:4 it says this: “you will fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you as food to every kind of predatory bird and beast of the field.” The same thing is described over in Ezekiel 39:17-19.
[Ezekiel 39:17-19, As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Speak to every kind of bird and to every beast of the field, ‘Assemble and come, gather from every side to My sacrifice which I am going to sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood.  You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as though they were rams, lambs, goats and bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan.  So you will eat fat until you are glutted, and drink blood until you are drunk, from My sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.”]
Now the birds feasting on the corpses, when we study that out in Scripture what we learn is that takes place at the end of the tribulation period. You’ll see a reference to it in Revelation 19:17-18, connected with Christ’s return at the end of the seven year tribulation period; you’ll see the same thing in Matthew 24:27-28. [Revelation 19:17-18, “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, ‘Come, assemble for the great supper of God,  so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh or horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.” Matthew 24:27-28, “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.  Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”]
Beyond that, the aftermath of this war will result in the conversion of the nation of Israel. Ezekiel 39:22 says, “…Israel will know that I am the LORD their God from that day onward.” We’ve already seen chapter 39, verse 29, where it says, “…for I have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ declares the Lord.” You see, the point of the tribulation is to save Israel, to regenerate Israel. And chapter 39 is describing things which happen at the end of the tribulation period. So that puts me into a different camp. By the way, Charles Feinberg, in his excellent commentary on the book of Ezekiel, says this about the final verses in Ezekiel 39. “Verses 25-29 teach that the complete return of Israel will occur after the defeat of Gog and his confederates. Ezekiel summarized his prophecies of hope and restoration when he stated that God will have mercy upon the whole house of Israel He had in mind that all previous restorations were partial. Now a universal and final restoration will take place. It was God who allowed them to go into captivity; it is He who will see to it that they are gathered. It is He who will ensure that not one is left out of the land. In conclusion, to summarize the benefits promised Ezekiel spoke of the outpouring of the Spirit upon the house of Israel.” You see, Ezekiel 39 is talking about the end of the matter. The beasts that are dead everywhere when Christ returns, and the birds feasting on the carnage, and the conversion of Israel which is what the point of the tribulation is, God is seeking to knock them down so that they look up.
So what’s the right answer? The right answer, I think, is what is called the two-phase view. I’d never even heard of this before until my professor, Harold Hoehner introduced me to it. Chapter 38 takes place with the second seal judgment. Chapter 39 is describing the end of the tribulation period. The mistake that interpreters make is they conflate both chapters and they act as if both chapters happen at the same time. I don’t think that’s what it is talking about. Ezekiel is very good at describing a process. He talks about the valley of the dry bones, where the bones come back together, in chapter 37, and form a body. Then he talks about the breath entering that body so that it becomes a living being.
What is Ezekiel 36 and 37 talking about? It’s talking about a process. You see, first Israel is brought back to the land in unbelief, then she enters into this covenant with the antichrist. She is betrayed, the Gog/Magog war and other eschatological events happen leading to Israel’s conversion which is the end of the matter. Ezekiel sort of puts it all together as a process. Chapter 38 is the beginning of a process; chapter 39 is the end of a process. This is the best that I can do with the “when” question.
One more issue and the with this we will conclude—the why question. These nine nations that Ezekiel saw, why exactly are they coming back, or coming against, if you will, the nation of Israel. And there are two reasons given in the biblical text. The first is anti-Semitism. Take a look, if you will, at Ezekiel 38 and notice if you will verse 10. “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘It will come about on that day, that thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil plan.” One of these days these nations that are conspiring against the nation of Israel, suddenly a thought comes into their mind; this is our chance, they say to themselves, to eradicate Israel forever. Consequently, verse 16 says, “…I will bring you,” that’s this coalition of nations, “I will bring you against My land….”
Do you know the devil is capable of putting thoughts into our minds that did not originate with us? David had a thought one day, to number the troops of Israel, it probably seemed very practical. And yet 1 Chronicles 21:1 tells us that it was none other than Satan that put that thought into David’s head. [1 Chronicles 21:1, “Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.”] Peter made a statement one day, he actually took Christ aside and began to rebuke Him…come here, Son of God, I need to talk to you. Rebuke. And Jesus says to him, “Get behind me Satan.” Jesus had been describing that He had to go to the cross and die for the sins of the world and Peter said You are not going to do that, that’s not what Messiah is supposed to do, this would not be a good career move for You at this time. And yet it was none… and it probably seemed so practical and pragmatic, Peter’s statement, and yet it was the devil that put that idea into Peter’s mind.
You see, one of these days this coalition is gathered and a thought enters their mind that now’s our chance to take Israel out. It is the devil that puts thoughts into people’s minds and what you need to understand about the devil is he hates Israel. Why does he hate Israel? He hates Israel because he actually reads the Bible and believes it, and takes it literally. Genesis 12:3, God dealing with the patriarch, Abram, says, “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” The program of God is very simple, I will take Abraham and his descendants and bless them, and the blessing will not be just for them, the blessing will be for the whole world. In other words, I will use them as a spill-over effect, if you will, to the rest of the world.
And the fact of the matter is every single blessing we as Gentile Christians enjoy today has come to us through the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There was a past blessing of the Scripture, Romans 3:2 talks about to the Jews was given the oracles of God. [Romans 3:2, “…First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.”] Every writer of this book (the only one they even debate any more is Luke); every writer of this book was Jewish. The Messiah was Jewish. Jesus was not a Southern Baptist. He was not a Presbyterian. He was not an Episcopalian. He was not a Methodist. He was a devout Jewish human individual. And then guess what? Israel is the gift that keeps on giving. God has not finished blessing the world through Israel, He is going to bless the world once again through Israel, through the kingdom, which will be headquartered in the city of Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:2-3, Zechariah 14:16-18, many passages describe it.
[Isaiah 2:2, “Now it will come about that in the last days, the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it.  And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths,’ for the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Zechariah 14:16-18, “Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hoses, there will be no rain on them.”]
The coming kingdom age will not be headquartered in Washington D.C. Thank God for that. It will be headquartered in the city of Jerusalem. And the devil has always hated Israel because of this and so he drops this idea into the minds of these nations to attack Israel and wipe her out. There’s a second reason, though, for this great invasion, a second answer to the why question and that has to do with wealth, or money. Notice, if you will, Ezekiel 38:12, it says, “to capture spoil,” you might even just take the s-p out of there, to capture oil (that’s a little loosey-goosey, I know), “to seize blunder, to turn you 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, who live at the center of the world.”
As they always like to say, the journalists like to say follow the money. If you want to understand why this invasion is going to happen look at the wealth of the nation of Israel. By the way, none of that wealth existed or was brought to the surface before the Jews went back into that land. Mark Twain writes this when he visited that area before it came into Israeli hands: “… 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 shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
This is what it was like in the 1800’s when he visited that area and wrote about it in his book called Innocence Abroad. But look at it today, a thriving economic environment whose gross domestic product actually outstrips, and in some cases doubles that, of its surrounding neighbors. In fact, The Jerusalem Post says this: “Despite a population of only slightly more than 7 million people… Israel is now home to more than 7,200 millionaires…Of the 500 wealthiest people in the world, six are now Israeli, and all told, Israel’s rich had assets in 2007 of more than $35 billion dollars… Israel’s GDP is almost double that of any other Middle Eastern country” neighbors.
This article says this: “The value of the minerals of the Dead Sea is estimated at five trillion dollars. This estimate appears to be optimistic but it is supported in part by the report of the Crown Agents of the British Colonies entitled ‘Production of Minerals From the Waters of the Dead Sea’. . . . This official report estimates the minerals, except oil, in 1925 as follows:” and it gives all of these figures [Magnesium Chloride, 22,000 tons, value 600 billion dollars; Potassium Chloride, 20,000 tons, value 75 billion dollars; other minerals] valued at 1,200 billion dollars; or a total of about three trillion dollars, exclusive of oil.”
Isn’t it astounding how Ezekiel saw all of these things way back in the 6th century. One article says this: “In the summer of 2010, “…huge deposits of natural gas were found along Israel’s northern coastline…Israel is actually sitting on top of a vast amount of oil.” And the article goes on and describe it. [“According to Harold Vinegar, the former chief scientist of Royal Dutch Shell, the Shefla Basin holds the world’s second-largest shale deposits outside the United States, from which around 250 billion barrels of oil–about the same as Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves…Estimates of global deposits range from 2.8 trillion to 3.3 trillion barrels of recoverable oil…The technology curb has now reached the point where shale is becoming an exploitable resource…the Shefla shale is in a hospitable location. It also contains oil of the light, sweet variety that is easy to refine into gasoline or other common end products. Most of all, the Jews have proven themselves to be very talented at exploiting resources. If they can’t make shale oil work, I doubt any nation can.”]
Another article says, “After more than a year of round-the-clock drilling, large amounts of oil have been found on the Golan Heights. Estimates are that the amount of oil discovered will make Israel self-sufficient for many, many years to come.” “Israel consumes 27,000 barrels of oil per day. Although the existence of the oil in the ground is a fact, the critical phase now is to check how easily it can be extracted and whether it involves high production costs.” These articles go on and on describing the wealth of the nation of Israel.
I can’t help but think of Deuteronomy 33:24, Moses is saying his final words to the tribes and he says, “Of Asher he said, ‘More blessed than sons is Asher; may he be favored by his brothers, and may he dip his foot in oil.” Now there’s a big debate as to what oil was he talking about, literal oil? Whatever it is, it’s wealth, it’s riches coming to the nation of Israel in the last days. That’s what Moses foresaw, that’s what Ezekiel foresaw and that is the motivation of these attackers. From the natural level they are going after money; from the spiritual level Satan has put an idea into their minds to eradicate the nation of Israel because Satan works in history preemptively. A preemptive attack is I will take you out first, before you can take me out.
Satan knows that the kingdom of God is on the horizon. He knows that the kingdom will be a time where he will be incarcerated for a thousand years and he is working through this attack to do everything within his power to blot out the nation of Israel from remembrance so that the prophesied kingdom through the Jewish people can never come. And that’s my explanation of the “why” question.
Well, what’s going to happen? How is the world being set up? You’ll have to come to Sunday School at Sugar Land Bible Church at 9:45, those of you that can make it; if you can’t make it we’ve got live streaming where we will continue this fascinating study.
Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for the teachings that we’re learning about Islam but we’re also grateful for Your prophetic word which alerts us to the fact that things are not out of control from Your point of view; things are very much under control. You foresaw these things long ago. Help us to walk out of this conference with that balance, being aware of Islam but still being aware that You are in control and still on the throne. 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.
If you can come back at 4:30 we’ll have Shahram’s final talk before dinner, so we’ll see you at 4:30.