The Spiritual Motives Behind the Ukraine War | thebereancall.org

Congdon, Rob

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Transcript:

Rob Congdon: Hello! I’m Rob Congdon, director of Congdon Ministries International. It’s such a joy to be with you at this TBC 2022 Berean Bible Conference! I truly wish I could be in Bend, Oregon, and enjoy your fellowship face to face. But at least in this video, it allows us to study God’s Word together in these difficult days. 

Now, when I was a small lad, my mom would often tell me about my great grandfather, who fought in the Crimean War from 1853 to 1856. She told me that he had received medals for his fighting with the 92nd Gordon Highlanders of the British Army. All this meant nothing to me, for it’s just ancient history. But in 2014, Crimea returned to the news as Russia invaded the island just off the coast of the Ukraine. By that time, I’d come to realize how much prophecy is a part of world history. 

Once we understand that all historical events involve spiritual aspects and reflect God’s plan for History, we then realize that today’s current events could well be setting the stage for the fulfillment of prophecy. 

Today, I would like to turn a spotlight, if you will, upon the spiritual aspect of the current Russian-Ukrainian War in light of God’s latter-day prophecy concerning this identical area of the world. That is, I want to understand the spiritual aspect of this conflict in the Ukraine since both Russia and the Ukraine are participants in Ezekiel’s latter-day prophecy of the War of Gog Magog against Israel

Now, I’ve read many media reports about the conflict in the Ukraine. Seemingly, they divide into two prime groups: secular political analysis and Christian prophecy teaching. As expected, the secular majority focuses only on political motives. Similarly, most Christian analysis that I’ve seen focused merely upon Ezekiel’s prophecy but do not see the linkage of the political to the spiritual motives demonstrated by this current war in the Ukraine. 

Now, please note: I do not believe this war is the prophesied battle of Gog Magog. But it might be setting the stage for that future battle.

Instead, now, I want us to study the spiritual driving forces behind this present war. Yes, there are spiritual driving forces behind this present war. We’ll study it as a means to better understand the motives behind that future Gog Magog war of Ezekiel 38 and 39.

Therefore, at this TBC 2022 Berean Bible Conference, I want to study how the political is directly connected to the spiritual driving forces in today’s conflict, and in doing so, gain a better understanding of the future latter-day battle, Gog Magog, of Ezekiel 38 and 39.

Now, as we have a limited amount of time for this session, I’ll not be able to lay the foundation of Ezekiel’s teaching on the war and also have time to study the spiritual driving forces behind it in this present war. Therefore, I’ll begin by offering a brief summary of that foundation in Ezekiel and then move directly to an in-depth study of the spiritual driving forces that will bring Gog to attack Israel in the Latter Day.

I believe that in doing so, we may find that today’s spiritual battle in the Ukraine could be a preview of the spiritual forces of the future battle of Gog Magog in Ezekiel 38 and 39. 

So, here, if you will, I’m going to offer you my conclusions, or presuppositions, of the prophetical aspect of the battle of Gog Magog. Now, I presented my explanation for these presuppositions or conclusions in my five-hour video series entitled Ezekiel 38 and 39, The Battle of Gog Magog available at my website. That’s at www.CongdonMinistries.org.

And I also have explained it through my book, Russia and Ukraine: Setting the Stage for Ezekiel’s Prophecy.

Now, based upon my study, I have concluded that Ezekiel 38 and 39 teaches:

1) That Gog of the land of Magog, the leader of Meshech and Tubal, is a Russian, demonically driven, who will gather allies to attack Israel in the latter days. 

2) Most scholars and historians trace the descendants of the land of Magog to the ancient Scythians. 

3) The War of God Magog will occur between the catching up of the church, the Rapture, and the start of the Seven-year War. Yes, I believe this Gog Magog War will be between the Rapture and the start of the Tribulation. 

4) The restored Roman Empire of Daniel 7 will enter the center stage in world history as a consequence of this battle. Now, I believe the European Union could be the embryo of that future government. 

5) In Ezekiel 38, the meaning of “unwalled villages,” as we see in verse 11, “and will dwell safely,” in verse 8, indicates the state of the mind of the nation of Israel and its people. That is, the people are confident in their ability to withstand any danger or enemy. As such, they don’t need any help, and certainly they don’t need the help of God to defend them.

Now, you may or may not agree with these conclusions. But hearing them will help you to understand why I see that in Ezekiel 38 verse 12 we find the definition of the spiritual driving forces in this future war and how the Ukrainian War shows that even today, the fulfillment of this prophecy is feasible in our lifetime. 

Having heard my understanding of Ezekiel’s prophecy of the war of Gog Magog, let’s look at the prophecy in Ezekiel:38:1-12: “And the Word of the Lord came unto me, saying, ‘Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meschech and Tubal, and prophesy against them, and say, “Thus sayeth the Lord God, Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meschech and Tubal, and I will turn thee back and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armor; even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords—Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah  on the north quarters, and all his bands, and many people with thee. Be thou prepared and prepare for thyself, if thou and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. After many days, thou shalt be visited. In the latter years, thou shalt come into the land that I brought back from the sword and is gathered out of many people against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste, but is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely, all of them. Thou shalt ascend and come up like a storm. Thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou and all thy bands, and many people with thee. Thus saith the Lord God, it shall also come to pass that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought, and thou shalt say, ‘I will go up to the land of unwalled villages. I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, to take a spoil and to take a prey, to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.”’”

Quick review— Verse 2: We have the leader of this military force—Gog of the land of Magog, the ruler of Meschech and Tubal. In verses four and five, we see that God will draw Gog like a hooked fish to gather allies to attack the nation of Israel.           

As I’ve shown in my previous video series, the land of Meschech and Tubal is the land of ancient Scythia that consisted today of many modern countries, and specifically southern Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Eastern Balkans, Kurdistan, Kashkar, Afghanistan, Eastern Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and portions of Romania and Bulgaria, Caucus countries, where Tubal once was located.

Thus, it may be possible that Magog was Gog’s original kingdom that ultimately expanded to include Meschech and Tubal, so as to be making him called their “Chief Prince.”

Then verse 5 indicates that countries joining this Russian Federation will be Persia. Now, that’s modern Iran. Ethiopia—now that’s actually modern Sudan. Lybia and Gomer, which is probably modern Turkey. Twenty-five hundred years ago, the prophet Ezekiel indicated that this coalition will gather against Israel during the latter days (verse 8). And thus we come to verse 12 that gives us the human driving force behind the attack upon Israel. That verse tells us that they have come to attack Israel to take a spoil, and to take a prey. “To turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods and that dwell in the midst of the land.”

You see, there are two motivations behind this coming war. When I look at this verse, I find myself wondering why God had Ezekiel use two different words, “spoil” and prey,” as the motive for the war. Did they mean the same thing? Why repeat the same idea twice if the words mean the same thing? Could the use of two words in reality indicate two significant and different motives for the war? 

Well, I did much research. One commentator’s answer stressed that the repetitive use of these two different words is to indicate the intensive aspect of the size of the spoil. Now, typically, biblical Hebrew expresses intensity by repeating the same word two, three times. Isaiah did just that in Isaiah:6:3, where the seraphim praised God, saying “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts,” where “holy” is repeated three times. If that’s the intent of Ezekiel’s verse 12, the Hebrew phrase in our English translation would have been “to take a spoil spoil.” Or perhaps “to take a prey prey” by repeating the single word twice. They don’t.

A second suggestion modifies the first by saying it means “to take a great spoil; to take great prey.” Again, if this is correct, we would expect the Hebrew word “great” would be added to each single word in the text. Isaiah again does that in Isaiah:33:23, where we have, “Then is the prey of a great spoil divided.”

But Ezekiel’s verse doesn’t follow typical Hebrew use of intensity. There must be another reason God chose two different Hebrew words. Seeking a good answer to my questions, I surveyed several commentators’ writings. And you can guess what happened! They don’t even mention it! Those that did, well, they were very superficial. I was unable to find any significant discussion of the phrase.

Most simply say the motive for God-Magog’s army was to get plunder taken in war. And they leave it there. Thus, I decided to take a closer look into how these two words are used by God, for remember: God chose His words very carefully. And He intends to convey meaning in those choices. In my research, I found the word “spoil” occurs 109 places in the Old Testament. “Prey” is used less often—69 times. Interestingly, the combination of “spoil” and “prey” occurred only 22 times, five of which are in Ezekiel. He used them the most!

Now, after studying the use of this combination phrase of “spoil” and “prey,” I conclude that the Hebrew word “spoil” means the same as it does in English. That is: “the physical wealth gained by the victors in a battle or war.” It’s an all-inclusive word for the physical material rewards of victory. 

The second Hebrew word that Ezekiel used, “prey,” appears to fall under the umbrella of “spoil” but in a more limited (catch this) spiritual application. Specifically, Ezekiel uses it in this way.

Thus, I conclude that God’s choice of two words to indicate two different motives for God’s army to come against Israel

In order to understand this spiritual motivation of Gog and his armies as prefigured by today’s war in the Ukraine, we need to understand what the difference is between the word “spoil” and “prey” truly are, in their full meaning. In other words, what is God telling us by choosing two different words for the gain received in this war?

Again, the word “spoil” is used in the Bible. It speaks of physical material wealth or gain. That’s goods, loots, or plunder that the victor’s army takes from a defeated foe. Thus, Gog’s army will attack Israel for the physical material wealth, the “spoil” part, that a defeated Israel could offer to Gog and his armies. But as I suggested just a moment ago, the word “prey” has an added theological or spiritual meaning. This can be seen by considering another passage that Ezekiel wrote in his prophecies, using the concept of “prey.” He does this in Ezekiel chapter 35 and 36. The context of these two chapters together is the future restoration of Israel in the latter days and God’s judgment upon Israel’s foes. Very befitting, actually, studying the battle of Gog and Magog. 

Now, in chapter 36, God is now going to tell them what He is going to do. In verse 2, he tells them how the foe of Israel taunts Israel and, importantly, taunts her God. Verse 2 says, “Because the enemy hath said unto you, ‘Ahah! Even the ancient places are ours and our possession,’ therefore prophesy and say [and now the Lord’s going to speak]: “Thus sayeth the Lord God, ‘Because they have made you [that’s Israel] desolate and swallowed you up on every side that you might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and you are taken up in the lips of the talkers and are in infamy of the people, therefore, says God, ye mountains of Israel: Hear the Word of the Lord God. Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains, to the hills, to the rivers, to the valleys, to the desolate oasis, and to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey [now, there’s our word ‘prey’] and a derision to the residue of the heathen that are around about.’”

Key to understanding this prophecy is that enemies had mocked and derided Israel and her God. That’s what the “Aha!” was all about. That’s evidenced further by their having conquered Israel’s mountains, hills, rivers, valleys, and cities that had all become a prey to this enemy.

Now, we need to go back to chapter 35 to see the enemy’s actual words and his motive for this attack on Israel that God will then judge. In chapter 35, God explains His judgment upon all of Israel’s enemies. Now, this is throughout history, so chapter 35 and 36 is kind of a look back through all of history and God’s ultimate victory for Israel.

In these two chapters, He speaks of Mount Seir. Now, you need to understand, that’s the nation of Edom. Edom was used by God as the representative of all the nations of history that have preyed upon Israel. So, we read, in chapter 35:1: “Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Mount Seir [that’s Edom] and prophesy against it.”

Now, in verse 5, God knows that Edom’s motive was an inward heart motive—not merely a greed for physical wealth or gain. He says, “Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred and hath shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword, in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end….” Then verse 11, God repeats this heart attitude and God’s purpose of judgment: “Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord God, I will even do according to thine anger and according to thine envy, which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them, and I will make myself known among them when I’ve judged thee. And thou shalt know that I am the Lord, that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, ‘They are laid desolate; they are given us to consume.’ Thus with your mouth, ye have boasted against Me [that’s against God] and have multiplied your words against Me—I have heard them.” 

Now, if we take this example of how Ezekiel used “prey,” just a few chapters before Ezekiel 38-39, we can actually define the phrase “to take prey.” We’ll define it as “to take an action by an enemy to satisfy their inward emotional motive through an outward physical battle.” Hence, the motive is emotionally or spiritually driven and not materialistically driven.

You see, in the ancient world, people believed that if they won a battle, that meant their God was superior to their defeated foe’s god. People saw that the spoil that they got as a reward that resulted from them going to take prey the spiritual battle. “Spoil” is a tangible proof, you see, of an unseen spiritual power and victory that was bestowed by the victor’s god and their god’s curse upon the defeated foe and the defeated foe’s god.

Based upon God’s choice of words in Ezekiel:38:12, we see that Gog’s army will attack Israel for material spoil and a spiritual prey gain. Let us first consider Gog’s and his armies spoil motive of physical gain for attacking Israel. We can use the current Ukrainian war to offer a preview of that future prophetical motive. For this to be a useful preview, we would expect to find some connection, even indirectly, between Israel and the present war in the Ukraine. If that is true, then this war could be part of God’s stage setting for the Tribulation. If it is setting the stage, then the Rapture of the church may be very near!

So, in order to understand Israel’s connection, we need to look at Russia’s current motives to conquer the Ukraine. That motive means that he used the Ukraine to maintain Russia’s leadership role in the world’s energy market. Do you ever hear much about oil, energy? Russia’s President Putin needs the Ukraine to achieve his desire—his desire to restore Russia to its 19th century greatness as a world empire. Key to his success in reestablishing it as a world empire lies in Russia’s financial position as the major source of energy to Europe and the rest of the world. 

I don’t know about you, but few of us would guess that Russia is the world’s leader in oil production. It’s actually followed by Saudi Arabia and then followed after that by the United States. Russia is also the world’s second largest producer of natural gas, earning a record 321 billion US dollars in 2021. Russia is not only financing its war on the Ukraine, but also generating 36 percent of its annual national income. 

Now, in 2020, 29 percent of the European union’s crude oil imports and 43 percent (almost half) of its natural gas—guess what? It came from Russia!

For some of the countries in the EU, they actually have to import 90 percent of their fuels for energy. So, a large part of that is coming from Russia. 

Now, the connecting link between the customer, the EU, and its supplier, Russia, is the nation of Ukraine. Ukraine has eight pipelines as well as ships from Crimea, taking the energy from Russia through the Ukraine to Europe. These pipelines transport a significant portion of the European Union’s energy needs. And Russia needs the income from these pipelines. 

As the war has progressed, Russia has started cutting natural gas supplies to 

Bulgaria, to Poland, and Finland, citing their refusal to pay in Russian rubles, a demand that Putin made in response to western sanctions that have isolated Russia. Now, in May of this year, they also shut off natural gas to the Netherlands, Finland, and Germany. This last action was in response to the European Union’s plan to cut Russian energy imports by 90 percent by this year’s end. In other words, by the end of 2022, they don’t want to be buying anything from Russia.

Now anticipating such energy blackmail by Russia, back in January 2020, the European Union joined with Greece, Cypress, and Israel. Here we bring in Israel to create a pipeline that would bypass Russian and Ukrainian pipelines, bringing natural gas to Europe that didn’t come from Russia. 

The East/Med pipeline would make Israel an energy competitor to Russia and could seriously affect Russia’s Ukrainian interests. 

Now, the US government has opposed this pipeline over environmental concerns and Turkey and Russia have also expressed strong opposition to the project. But the project appears to be gaining support to begin construction very soon. 

In June of this year, the European Commission president, Ursula Vanderliden, called it “a special moment” when a three-party memorandum of understanding was agreed between the European Union, Israel, and Egypt to enable the export of Israeli natural gas to European nations for the very time.

So now, Israel’s going to be exporting—on a more immediate basis by sea—natural gas to the European Union. Vital to Russian success, to become the world’s empire lies in controlling the Ukraine. Not only does Russia need the Ukraine’s pipelines, but it turns out they need Ukrainians’ oil and natural gas fields as well. 

Additionally, the island of Crimea offers great potential in off-shore energy production as well. In the Eastern part of the Ukraine (that’s where the fighting is very heavy), there are natural gas fields, and in the north, where there us also fighting, are rich oil fields as well. 

You see, the sides in this war of energy are lining up—including Israel! And Russia needs to eliminate the competition, either by buying it out, or conquering them. Clearly, Russia’s motive for control of the Ukraine is the spoil of its energy transport and supply. In the prophetic future, though, Russia’s motive to attack Israel could well be to take its energy “spoil.” But recalling that Ezekiel combines the physical “spoil” with the spiritual “prey” we again find examples of this in the present Ukrainian war. 

Ezekiel portrays Gog and his ally’s motives to attack Israel is based upon taking physical or material spoil as well as their motive to gain spiritual prey in order to prove his god, Satan, is more powerful than the God of the Bible. 

Here, too, we can look at the Ukrainian war to see a preview, having similar motivations that will happen in the prophetic future. For this we need to understand Putin’s view of the Russian Orthodox church and its relationship to the Ukraine and KievKiev—in particular. Kiev is always trying to be conquered by Russia. For Russians, and President Vladimir Putin particularly, the desire to return to the glorious days of the Tsar and the Russian empire is foremost in their minds. 

Several years ago, a Russian Orthodox priest, Father Tikhon, who was rumored to be Putin’s spiritual advisor, produced a major Russian documentary film reflecting both his—and, by implication—Putin’s vision of Russia. This film suggests that the end of the Eastern Roman Empire and the USSR was a result of corrupt domestic oligarchs, who had rejected the Russian Orthodox Church and its faith. And they also believed it was due to the influence of Western Europe. 

Both the timing of the film and Putin’s rise to power suggest this film story is Putin’s spiritual driving force. It portrays the reestablishment of the Tsardom of Russia as the Third Roman Empire, based upon a sixteenth-century letter sent to a Roman prince. In that letter, it proclaimed that two Roman Empires have fallen, and, I quote: “The messianic destiny of Russia is eternal.” That destiny, that messianic [notice the spiritual aspect] is to be the third Rome.

You see, the concept is this: The first Rome was the entire Roman Empire. With the division and decline of the Western Roman Empire, the second Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire that survived the ancient Roman Empire. The third will be the re-established Tsardom of Russia. In order to achieve this goal, Putin, who believes it is a goal, would require the combined efforts of the inherited leadership of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church.

For, and I quote, “The Byzantine notion of their identity and what distinguishes them from the barbarians was the Orthodox faith.” You see, Putin sees himself as the successor to the line of leaders that began with Peter the Great. Like his hero, such as Peter the Great, who was the founder of Saint Petersburg, which was where Putin was born and raised, Putin’s other hero, Ivan Rosney, was the first Czar of all Russia. Putin is seeking to raise Russia to the greatness he believes it deserves. 

Ivan Grozny is history’s Ivan the Terrible. Now, actually, that title, used in history, is a mistranslation. It should really be Ivan the Menacing, or Ivan the Threatening. Ivan is famous for his expansion of Russia by gathering all lands together. Putin is closely following in his hero’s footsteps as he seeks to continue Ivan’s legacy, inspired by the City of St. Petersburg, his birthplace, and its founder. Putin has restored the Russian Orthodox Church to the greatness it had under the Tzars. He has strengthened Russia politically and militarily and is now expanding Russia’s reach in power to the lands once called Magog, including the Ukraine.

As Putin warned in his autobiography, and I quote: “We will fight to keep our geographical and spiritual position, and if they push us away, then we will be forced to find allies and reenforce ourselves. What else can we do?” (end quote by Putin).

Did you catch that? The spiritual—and gathering allies to help them succeed! Based upon this statement in his autobiography, “Putin could well be establishing the pattern for the rise of Gog and Magog. Or perhaps we should call Gog ‘Gog, the Threatening.’” 

Notice the reference to the spiritual position. This is a direct reference to the role of the Ukraine and why Putin has to conquer the Ukraine. You see, Putin sees Kiev, the Capital in the Ukraine, as the (and I quote) “Mother of All Russian Cities.” Notice, he didn’t say Ukrainian cities. He said, “The mother of all Russian cities.” You see, it was this city, Kiev, that founded the Russian Orthodox Church in 988 by Vladimir of the Rush People. Today a modern Vladimir, Vladimir Putin, is on a spiritual quest to restore the Ukraine and Kiev to 

Russia. 

Many don’t realize it, but Putin was born of an Orthodox mother and an atheist father. He was baptized in secret by his Russian Orthodox mother, and he has now cast himself as the “True defender of Christians throughout the world” in many of his statements. But in 2019, in the Ukrainian branch of the Russian Orthodox Church, an important event occurred in 2019. That Russian branch, called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, declared its independence from Russia and the Russian church. 

The then-president of the Ukraine, Poroshenko, said this separation from the Russian Orthodox Church was “a great victory for the devout Ukrainian nation over the Moscow demons” (catch the contrast? “Devout Ukrainian Nation,” vs. “Moscow Demons”) a “victory of good over evil, light over darkness.”

Clearly, these words are focusing upon the religious world of both nations. Notice how this reflects the spiritual conflict in the Ukraine. Putin has to destroy the Ukrainian Orthodox church and bring and recreate the Russian Orthodox Church in the Ukraine.

I believe that this modern-day motivation—this spiritual motivation—to conquer the Ukraine is a prime example of the concept of to “take a prey.” Where it is to show your God (in Putin’s case, the Russian Orthodox Church), is blessing you by giving you the physical land of Ukraine and its wealth and cursing the defeated foe (that’s the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its “little-g” god).

Thus, Putin must conquer the Ukraine. He has to prove the Russian Orthodox Church is greater than the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and that Putin’s “god” will destroy this rival church. In order to accomplish his goals for Russia, Putin knows he needs the support of the Russian Orthodox Church behind his leadership. 

You see, once the leadership of Communist Russia was removed, and Putin came into power, he began to reestablish the Russian Orthodox Church to that position of power—its height of power under the Tsars. 

In 2019, the Russian Orthodox Church boasted that they were building three churches a day, and the growth was enormous. Now, I want you to understand carefully—hear me carefully—I do not see real evidence that Putin is a Christian. But he is outwardly religious. Thus, it is probable that his motives in Ukraine are two-fold: political and religious. Hence it’s a war he must win at all costs, or he will cease to be the leader of Russia and cease to be able to reestablish the Russian Empire.

Thus, for a future Gog, a Russian may well be driven for similar reasons. His foil could be energy, and his prey could be to show the superiority of his Russian church over the spiritually weak Western world and over Judaism. Ezekiel tells us in chapter 38:4 that God is the one bringing these future events into fruition. Don’t ever miss this! It is God that will bring it into fruition. And God says, “And I will turn thee back and put hooks into thy jaw, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses, and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armor, even a great company—bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords.”

I certainly don’t know if Putin is Gog. I don’t think he is, but he does demonstrate the thinking that will bring Gog like a fish upon a hook to attack Israel. Putin certainly demonstrates that such motivation in a person’s mind is feasible in our day.

As we read of Gog’s allies, we notice immediately that today’s citizens of these countries also serve as a picture of one nation seeking to take prey of Israel. For example, Persia (modern-day Iran) is very active in world affairs today. Recently, the ties between Russia and Iran have become more and more evident with each new agreement they’ve signed. 

Now, a few years ago, in a televised interview, then-president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, commented on Iran’s international relations, asserting that there will be a new dynamic in Iran-Russia relations. The common factors linking Russia and Iran are geographical and energy-related. This becomes apparent upon observing their similar strategies, energy resources, and regional goals. Prior to the international oil embargo of 2012 against Iranian oil production, Iran was the second-largest exporter in OPEC (that’s the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). It’s very easy to see how they might form an alliance against Israel as she becomes a serious economic energy competitor on the world market. 

In addition, though, strong Islamic interest in the caucus countries within the Russian Federation coincides with the Islamic Iranian leaders’ ideological desire to destroy Israel. That desire includes a high priority development of nuclear missiles aimed at Israel that could attack Israel’s cities almost in weeks. 

While Russia’s (I believe) primary motivation for attacking Israel is spoil—the oil— Iran’s is largely ideological: to destroy or to take a prey of Israel. This is reflected in Brigadier General Hussein Salami, Sr. Commander of Iran’s revolutionary guards. He recently stated, and I quote: “Today we can destroy every spot which is under the Zionist Regime’s control [that’s Israel] with any volume of fire power that we want, right from here in Iran!”

Like Iran, Turkey and the other allies of Gog are Islamic nations sharing Iran’s desire to demonstrate Allah’s superiority over the God of Israel by plundering Israel and destroying the Jewish people. 

Now, we’ve got to separate and clearly understand: This isn’t a family feud that exists between the Arabs and the Jews in other parts of the Middle East that go way back to Abraham and his sons. This is an Islamic vs. Judaism war! Note carefully: This Islamic army of Gog bears no historic family relationship to the Israelites back through Abraham. They aren’t connected. Interestingly, in recent times, several Middle East Islamic nations that are not part of Gog’s allies—they will not be part of it—they’ve actually joined with Israel in peace pacts out of fear of Iran’s leadership in the Middle East. So, the Middle East is being divided, if you will—at least for now. 

There appears a division of Middle Eastern Islamic nations between those who are befriending Israel and those who are its enemies. Interestingly, those befriending Israel are not as strong Islamic countries as its enemies are. 

The defeat of Gog and its allies demonstrates to the world—will demonstrate to the world—that this was an act of God! Not just one army that happened to be stronger than another. This is why God brings a great earthquake as part of the battle of Gog Magog that could only be done by Him, the Creator! It will be so enormous! Nobody could say, “Well, by chance we had an earthquake the same day as the battle!” No, no, no, no! For we read in Ezekiel:38:19-20: “For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath have I spoken. Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel so that the fishes of the sea, the fowls of the heaven, the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth and all the men that are upon the face of the earth shall shake at My presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down; the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.” Tremendous, unprecedented earthquake! 

Today, there’s an Islamic Mosque on the former site of Israel’s temple in Jerusalem. To many Muslims, this temple site symbolizes the superior strength of Islam and its god. But having just read this—and we know—according to God’s Word, that God has allowed the mosque to be there during the Time of the Gentiles. But when God decides it’s time to remove the mosque and to allow Jewish worship there, which will occur at the start of the Tribulation, the true God will destroy the Mosque! Perhaps this great earthquake of Ezekiel 38 will be God’s leveling the Mosque in Jerusalem, enabling Israel to go up on the Mount and offer sacrifices as Daniel:9:27 indicates will happen right after the Battle of Gog/Magog. 

For we read, “And he [the Antichrist] shall confirm the covenant with many (that’s the leadership of Israel) for one week [a prophetic year], and in the midst of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and the ablations to cease for the overspreading of abominations. He shall make it desolate even until the consummation, and that determined, shall be poured upon the desolate.”

You see, for them to have sacrifices in the mid-point of the Tribulation ended, they had to have had them at the start of the Tribulation, and they had to have the altar in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. 

Now, you say, “Well, how can that be?”

Well, think about this: God did something similar when He toppled and destroyed the false God, Dagon, in David’s day in 1 Samuel 5. So, it’s entirely possible! God could do it with this enormous unprecedented earthquake to demonstrate that God is in control. And Jerusalem is where Israel is to offer its sacrifices. 

Now, recognizing the prey aspect of Gog’s attack, in order to prove the superiority of Allah over the God of Israel, the Muslim world will be forced to concede that Israel’s God is the only true God! After the military destruction of Gog and all his allies, recorded in Ezekiel 39, it will be seen by the world as a miraculous act of the God of the Bible! Popular opinion and fear easily could bring support to Israel’s desire to rebuild the Temple on the Temple site. 

Thus, some of the nations will attack Israel for economic gain while others will attack it for ideological and theological victory, for we read in verse 13, “Aren’t thou come to take a spoil? Hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?”

Remember, the spoils only reflect the success of taking the spiritual prey victory. Just as in chapter 36 of Ezekiel, with God’s dealings with Edom, Israel’s enemies so too will say, in God’s words, “I will bring thee against my land that the heathen may know Me when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.” For Gog’s defeat will be to demonstrate that He (the Lord) is the one and only true God who is worthy of worship. Thus, in defeat, these “heathen armies,” as God describes them (perhaps the Islamic people) will recognize that the true God has defeated their false god Allah in the land of God’s chosen people. 

As the Tribulation begins, right after the battle of God/Magog, Islam will no longer have military might and will not be a threat to Israel. With the defeat of Islam, the Gentiles of the world will follow the Antichrist’s lead and turn ultimately, through the Tribulation, against the Jewish people and Israel. Not surprising! Gog and his coalition will become actually the “prey” and not the people of Israel

As God did in the Old Testament days, God will be acting for Israel and defeating her enemies. The focus here is upon IsraelSince the focus is on Israel and God’s purpose with Israel, this is another reason why I believe the church has been removed before the Battle of Gog/Magog. 

As we examine God’s prophecy of this battle and its aftermath, we cannot miss God’s statements of victory to Gog and his allies, and to see God’s motivation for the Battle of Gog Magog. In Ezekiel:38:23 we read, “Thus will I magnify myself and sanctify myself. I will be known in the eyes of [notice…] many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.”

Underlying this statement is the idea that up until Israel’s miraculous deliverance in the Battle of Gog Magog, the nations andLay the people of the world gave little or no thought to the God of Israel. They regard Him as being insignificant—or even nonexistent—unworthy of any national or personal recognition or consideration. 

Certainly, all true believers know that the God of the Bible is the true and living God. But unbelievers of the world make no allowance for His involvement in the affairs of nations or in their own daily lives. Through this miraculous defeat of Gog and his armies, the reputation, or name of God, will go from insignificance to greatness, for in Ezekiel:38:23 is the word “magnify.” “Magnify: To become great or increase in importance” is what it means. This stunning, awesome victory, will cause all peoples and nations to acknowledge that only God could have given the world’s most hated nation, Israel, deliverance and protection

At this point, no one will doubt God’s existence. Ezekiel 39 gives us another result of this battle. Verse 21, God says, “And I will set my glory among the heathen and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them.”

Also, in verse seven we read again, “The heathen shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One, in Israel.”

Now, this does not mean that they’ll trust in Him or turn to Him for salvation. But it does mean that they will set Him apart, which is in Ezekiel the word used of Him, where it says, “Sanctify Him,” to set Him apart. They will set Him apart as the most powerful being. This recognition will go well beyond the borders of Israel, for God declared, “I will be known in the eyes of many nations.”

But then, finally, in verses 28 and 29, we note that the Jewish people will also recognize Him as their Covenant God of Israel, for we read, “Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, but I have gathered them unto their own lands and have left none of them anymore there.” [Important, now] “Neither will I hide my face anymore from them, for I have poured out My Spirit onto the house of Israel,” saith the Lord.

We cannot miss the fact that all this is so the people of the world are given an opportunity to recognize the true God of the Bible, the God of salvation, before it is too late! For I believe that this battle is the means by which Israel makes an agreement with the Antichrist to allow national Israel to renew its covenant with her God by offering sacrifices and ablations on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

In doing this, the Seven-year Tribulation will begin—the seven years that will bring Israel to its knees and ask God’s forgiveness and ask Him to send His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, back to the earth, to begin the 1,000-year Millennium. 

Now, I hope this message has helped you to understand some of the background of Russia’s attack on the Ukraine today. We cannot know who “Gog” is, or exactly when it will happen. Remembering the “catching up of the church to be with the Lord” will happen before this prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39. And I just would note, politics are interesting, and prophecy is interesting, but I believe the true importance of studying this passage is to see what God is doing in history through the battle. As we see God’s plan, we see His greatness as the Almighty God, the Ruler of the Universe. May all this be to the praise of the The Great God, and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Now, I’ll see you either again, perhaps here, or in the air!