Nuclear-Armed Iran--Is Israel the Target?
In an unrelenting campaign that has seen Psalm 83:4 race to the forefront of end-time Bible prophecy, President Ahmadinejad of Iran has openly and unashamedly called for the destruction of Israel.
First, it was in October 2005 when he made his infamous call that Israel should be “wiped off the map.” And he has since kept up his anti-Israel rhetoric—an obsession he’s unlikely to let go until he has seen his heart’s desire accomplished: A world without Israel or “Zionism” as he puts it.
Could President Ahmadinejad be the Haman of our time?
Considering Iran’s openly stated desire to see Israel destroyed, the country’s nuclear programme, which is but a step towards the possession of nuclear weapons, is in itself worrying. But that Iran has of late entered into ever closer military and technical cooperation with Russia brings to the fore a major prophecy of the last days in which a fearsome coalition of enemy nations will attack Israel in an obvious attempt “wipe her off the map of the world”.
Despite near international consensus that Iran stop her nuclear programme, Russia has been the only major power to openly stand by Iran and actively support her nuclear ambitions. Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant, for instance, is being built with Russian help; this in addition to sales of sophisticated weaponry to Iran including anti-aircraft systems meant to defend Tehran’s nuclear facilities.
Is Ezekiel 38 & 39, which foretells a “latter day” invasion of Israel by a massive coalition marching against her from the north, west and south, in the works? If so, how does Russia’s strategic relations with Iran come into play?
But first, let’s take a closer look at the prophecy in question:
“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 Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,
“And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech 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 armour, 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.
“… in the latter days thou shalt come into the land that is 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 like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.
“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 [wealth], that dwell in the midst of the land” (Ezek. 38:1-5, 8-9, 12).
Here, the nation under attack is undeniably restored Israel—re-gathered out of many nations and reborn in the crucible of war and violence (“brought back form the sword”) in 1948. But who are these invaders that swoop on the State of Israel “to take a spoil, to take a prey” and to make desolate again the land?
Right on cue! Iran, modern-day Persia, is identified as one of the coalition members that will come against Israel in “the latter days.” But wait! Before you begin to wonder where Russia is mentioned in the prophecy, it’s worth pointing out that God doesn’t leave us without clues as to who the leader of this marauding band of invaders is!
Winston Churchill, two-time British Prime Minister and world-famous statesman, once described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Churchill might have had his reasons for this rather penetrating observation about Russia. But to God, Russia is no riddle or mystery.
By a trio of historical names, He pinpoints Russia as the leader of the military coalition that will attack Israel in the “latter years.”
Back to Ezekiel 38:2-3 we come across these descriptive phrases in the KJV referring to the coalition leader: “the chief prince of Meshech, and Tubal.” Pretty close but could get closer still. In the Amplified Bible and the New American Standard Bible, the leader of the coalition is described as “the prince of Rosh, of Meshech, and Tubal.” Now we are there!
The word “Rosh” is the old name for “Russia.” The word “Meshech” is the root form for Russia’s capital, “Moscow”, while according to A Dictionary of the Bible, Jewish historian “Josephus identified the descendants of Tubal with the Iberians, that is, the inhabitants of a tract of country between the Caspian and Euxine Seas” located in southern Russia/Georgia (1884 ed. p. 715).
And there’s yet a final clue—the coalition leader will come “out of the north parts” (Ezek. 38:15), and Russia is located north of Israel.
As to the outcome of the war itself, God dooms the Russian-led coalition to a most humiliating defeat and promises Israel a resounding victory but not of their own making. Yahweh will personally take charge. At the invasion of Israel, He says “my fury shall come up in my face… and there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel” (Ezek. 38:18-19).
Thus, it shall come to pass that instead of being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and superior weapons of the invaders, Israel will suddenly and miraculously find herself a spectator—‘enjoying’ an unbelievable spectacle as her enemies fight among themselves and fall on each other’s sword (Ezek. 38:21).
In the process, Iran’s nuclear weapons could prove to be “Haman’s gallows” of our time—prepared for the necks of the enemies but end up being the noose that gives the gallows builder a dishonourable dispatch (Esther chapters 3–7)! Indeed, the Ezekiel prophecy hints at such a scenario: God rains upon the coalition forces “an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone”—a catastrophe which could well be a reference to Iran’s nuclear weapons turned on itself and other members of the coalition in their infighting (verse 22).
Utterly defeated thus by the God of Israel, Russia and her allies will retreat heavily decimated (with many of their soldiers killed) as Yah visits their wickedness on their own heads (Ezek. 39:2-4). So great will be the slain of the enemies that God will invite the ravenous birds of the air to feast on their bodies (Ezek. 39: 4, 17-20).
For seven solid years, the abandoned weapons of the enemies will serve as fuel for the people of Israel (Ezek. 39:9-10).
God fights for Israel not just because they are His ‘chosen people’, but firstly to redeem His honour among the nations, and secondly to showcase His reality and power to the nation of Israel. “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward” (vs 22).
When exactly the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecy will be fulfilled, nobody can really tell. But going by current events in the Middle East and in the global political arena generally, it will not be far-fetched to say that we are firmly on that road. Things could soon heat up!
As the end-time prophecies hasten to happen, we will do well to heed “the sure word of prophecy … as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Pet. 1:19).
By heeding the “sure word of prophecy”, not only will we not be overtaken by events, but also we will prepare adequately for the imminent return of Yeshua, “the desire of all nations” (Luke 21:28, 31, 34-36; Haggai 2:7).
The end of the age is almost upon us, even as the coming Kingdom of peace draws ever closer. Choose life and eternity with God by believing in the Messiah and obeying the commandments of God out of a pure and sincere heart (John 3:36; 1 John 5:10-12; Deut. 30:19-20). He’ll in no wise cast you out (John 6:37).