The Visions and Oracles of the Prophet Ezekiel (28)
Biblical Research Monthly, January 1947 thru September 1950 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
- Some Preliminary Observations
- The Call and Commission of Ezekiel
- The Beginnings of Ezekiel's Ministry
- The Final Collapse of Judah Under the Babylonian Siege
- Jehovah's Withdrawal from the City and it's Downfall
- The Flight and Capture of the King Symbolically Represented and Warning Against a Wrong Attitude Concerning Prophecy
- Prophecy and Idolatry
- Israel, the Burnt Vine and the Unfaithful Wife
- The Riddle of the Two Great Eagles and the Messianic Reign of Christ
- God's Reply to the Proverb, “The Fathers have Eaten Sour Grapes, and the Children's Teeth are Set on Edge”
- The Young Lions and the Rods of Judah
- Israel's Past and Future Experiences
- The Sword of Jehovah
- Sinful Jerusalem and Her Punishment
- The Lewdness of Oholah and Oholibah
- The Boiling Caldron
- Oracles Concerning Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia
- The Oracle Concerning Tyre
- The Oracles Concerning Egypt
- The Watchman on the Wall (Chapter 33)
- The Untrue Shepherds of Israel
- The Flock of Jehovah and its Shepherd
- The Judgment upon Edom
- The Curse Removed from the Land of Israel
- Israel's Restoration to the Land of the Fathers and Her Conversion
- The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones
- The Scattered Nation of Israel Reunited under King Messiah
- The Overthrow of the Russian Forces that Invade Palestine (Chapter 38)
- The Overthrow of the Antichrist's Forces Invade Palestine (Chapter 39)
- The Millennial Jerusalem
- The Millennial Temple
- The Prince and the Glorified Millennial Temple
- The Land of Israel in the Millennium
The Overthrow of the Russian Forces that Invade Palestine (Chapter 38)
We have come in this series to Ezekiel, chapter 38, which deals with the overthrow of the Russian forces in Palestine. This subject is a very arresting one and should stimulate in us an intense desire to investigate it. You may ask me why I am so bold as to talk upon something that is in the future. You may say, Have not men from time to time tried to unravel the secrets of the future, have erred in judgment, have become dogmatic by looking at the trend of events, and have made erroneous predictions? I must answer these questions in the affirmative. The Eternal God is the one who frustrates the prognostications of uninspired men. He does not run the universe according to a man-made timetable or schedule, but He has revealed to us certain things that will come to pass. Such prophecies are so very definite and specific that one can recognize the event as the time is approaching. Prophecies made by the men of God in ancient times, that are in the distant future from the people of a certain generation, may be hazy and indistinct from their point of view, but, as the time approaches and draws very close at hand when those predictions are to be fulfilled, the light from the times and the environment in which the prophecy will be fulfilled will throw a clear light upon the predictions, which will enable a person to interpret accurately the prophecies — provided he is willing to take God at His Word, discover what is in the prediction, and not attempt to read anything in the Word of God that is not there.
Everyone throughout the nation, yes, doubtless throughout all nations, are on the tiptoe of fear, dread, and deep anxiety concerning what Russia, with her satellites that are behind the iron curtain, may do at any time. According to reports that are heard on every hand — over the radio, in the press, and in lectures — Russia, like an overgrown bully, has been strutting around on the theatre of the world and acting as if she were the lord of creation. Every open-minded, unbiased person recognizes this fact.
From the time of the Russian revolution back in 1917 to the present moment the leaders of that godless movement have, in plain language, asserted their aims and objectives, namely, the subjection of the world to them. To do this, they do not hesitate to assert that they will destroy the capitalistic system, which to them is the very embodiment of greed, selfishness, and brutality on the part of the few who are simply exploiting the great masses. What the little clique of the Kremlin intends to do they attribute to the leaders of the free peoples. Of course, they always put up a smoke screen to cover up their diabolical, cruel, ruthless plans and schemes to enslave the world.
More and more, it is becoming clearly apparent that the Russians intend to continue their program of infiltration into the nations and, having captured key positions into which they put their own men, they cause revolutions, which bring into the camp of Moscow peoples who hitherto enjoyed freedom and liberty. The peoples of Eastern Europe are examples of this special technique of the Bolshevists. Before our eyes we see China going down under the hammer and the sickle. Other nations are on the communistic slate, thus to be captured and brought into the fold of the Kremlin.
No intelligent, informed person can fail to see the development and spread of godless communism, as the sinister shadow of the Kremlin is creeping over the entire Asiatic Continent, especially.
The Communists are bold in declaring their plans and purposes to conquer the world and to enslave all mankind. This may be a surprise, and doubtless is, to the bulk of humanity. But it is no surprise to the one who understands the teaching of the infallibly inspired Word of God. What the world is slowly beginning to apprehend, the prophet Ezekiel drew in accurate outline and painted in the most lurid colors. There is no misunderstanding this prophecy, because it is very clear, specific, and straight-forward.
We have every reason to believe that the prophet Ezekiel was carried forward by the Spirit, as the prophets often were, in vision, and was set down in the midst of some future location or situation which he describes in detail. That this is true is evident by verse 8 of chapter 38. This is timed, or dated, for the latter days — the days in which you and I, dear friends, are living. Conditions which exist today are reflected here and there throughout the prophecy contained in 38:1-39:16.
In order to get within the compass of a very few words the message of this mighty oracle, I will ask myself three questions and then answer them: First, who constitute the personnel of this oracle? Second, what does the prophet say will occur? Third, when will it transpire? Reduced to the simplest forms, the questions are who, what, when? Let us take these questions in order.
Who are the personnel of this drama? First, the nations constituting the great northeastern confederacy — the nations behind the iron curtain. They are Russia, the leader of the group, Persia (Iran), Ethiopia, Put, which is probably Eritrea in the Angle-Egyptian Sudan, Germany, and Turkey. But, some asks, are these nations mentioned in prophecy? Most positively! Not, however, in their present-day nomenclature, but in terms that were current in the prophet's day. The study of these names involves an investigation into philology, the study of words. It is impossible for me to enter into this subject now. I do that in my volume, When Gog's Armies Meet the Almighty. Allied with these nations will be vast hordes of others, as the prophet Ezekiel said. I have no doubt, in the light of the present spread of communism, that the hordes of Asia which are now being brought into the fold of the Kremlin are the ones involved.
The second group of nations is “Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, ...” (Ezekiel 38:13). Sheba and Dedan are identified by many as being Muscat and Aden in Southern Arabia. Tarshish is England, as I prove in my book, When Gog's Armies Meet the Almighty. But who are the young lions thereof? In order to understand the significance of this expression, we must interpret it literally if the context demands such a meaning; if not, it is to be understood figuratively. Lions, here, cannot be understood literally, because they are represented as talking and joining their voices with those of Sheba, Dedan, and England. In the light of this fact, then, we are confident that these lions are symbols. When an animal in the Scriptures is thus used, what is its significance? From Daniel 7:17,23 we learn that they indicate kings and their dominions. “These beasts,” declared the angel, “which are four, are four kings that arise out of the earth.” In verse 23 we read that “the fourth beast is a fourth kingdom.” Understanding, then, that beasts symbolize human governments, or kingdoms, we look at the passage under consideration, namely, Ezekiel 38. Here are young lions joining their voices with those of England, Sheba, and Dedan. To interpret these young lions as civil governments — the younger powers of the Western World joined with England — is to see a beautiful harmony in the entire passage. We therefore conclude that these young lions are the younger Western Democracies that are allied with the British; in other words, those powers that are recognized as the powers of the West in contrast with the governments behind the iron curtain.
In Ezekiel 38:7-9 we see the State of Israel. It is spoken of as the people who have gathered back out from among the nations and are established in their own land, enjoying peace, plenty, and prosperity. The personnel of this prophecy, then, consists of the Western Democracies, on the one hand, who are opposed by Russia and her satellite nations on the other side of the iron curtain, and the youngest nation — yet, paradoxically, the oldest nation — of modern times, Israel.
Our second question is, What is foretold as coming to pass according to this prophecy? From Ezekiel 38:9 we learn that Gog, with all his hordes, ascends, comes like a storm against Israel, and then settles down over the land like a cloud. In the light of modern developments, this passage can mean only one thing: an airborne army with all its equipment and ordnance to carry on a mighty attack.
When this occurs, the wrath of the Almighty will come up into His nostrils, for in the fire of His jealousy and wrath hath He spoken: “Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel ...”
When Russia thus seizes Palestine, the Western Powers will send a weak protest. They do not demand that Russia withdraw instantly, or else! On the contrary, they put their protest in the form of questions: “Art thou come to take the spoil? hast thou assembled thy company to take the prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take great spoil?” As I have already suggested, this mild language is seen in its proper perspective when one realizes the situation that has arisen in the last decade. This gentleness in dealing with such a serious, world-shaking event is the carrying out of the appeasement policy that began back at Munich. Moreover, another factor contributing to our understanding of this mild language is to be found in the fact that there is a United Nations Organization, and all such international questions are supposed to be brought before it. Another element entering, into this matter is an eager and earnest desire on the part of the Western Powers not to precipitate a world conflict.
God steps into the picture and champions the cause of His beloved people Israel. He causes an earthquake to shake down the mountains of Israel. Since there are vast hordes of people behind the iron curtain who invade Palestine in this initial spearhead in a drive for world domination, we can, while staying within the bounds of reason and fact, imagine millions of men engaged in this stupendous operation. I must emphasize the fact that there is but one force mentioned in the prophecy, and that is the invading army. The Western Powers do not so much as turn their hand upside down after they issue their mild protest.
The Almighty, by different means, completely wipes out the colossal invading army:
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; 20 so that the fishes of the sea, and the birds of the heavens, and 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, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. 21 And I will call for a sword against him unto all my mountains, saith the Lord Jehovah: every man's sword shall be against his brother. 22 And with pestilence and with blood will I enter into judgment with him: and I will rain upon him and upon his hordes, and upon the many peoples that are with him, an overflowing shower, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.”
When will this great invasion by Russia occur? There are four different answers given by Bible students. Some date it as occurring before the Tribulation; others are convinced that it will occur during the Tribulation; while still others think it will take place during the Millennium; and some believe that it will take place at the conclusion of our Lord's millennial reign. Obviously three of these answers are incorrect.
Which is the right one? Let us take them in the reverse order. Is it possible for this prediction of the invasion of Palestine by the nations behind the iron curtain to be the one that is spoken of in Revelation, chapter 20? Many sincere expositors identify the two predictions as referring to the same event, occurring after Our Lord's reign. One consideration disproves this position. The invasion foretold by Ezekiel is a local affair — local in contrast to a global, international military operation. We have already seen that those invading Palestine are simply the nations behind the iron curtain. The Western Democracies protest, even though weakly. What about the one prophesied by John in Revelation, chapter 20? At the conclusion of our Lord's reign of a thousand years upon the earth, we see that people will go up — being stirred by the devil, who at that time will be unloosed for a little season — against Jerusalem at the camp of the saints from the four corners of the earth. They will go there, as we learn by comparing scripture with scripture, to intimidate our Lord. Just such a movement as that occurred in the days of ex-President Herbert Hoover. There was a hunger march upon Washington. It was designed solely for the purpose of embarrassing the administration. Thus there will be a youth movement that will be going up from the four corners of the globe to try to intimidate Christ. This fact shows that the Apostle John was talking about an international affair. It is clear, then, from these facts, that Ezekiel foretold a purely local affair, whereas John prophesied concerning an international invasion. The two movements cannot be identical. Therefore we reject the fourth answer to this question as being impossible.
Can this occur during our Lord's reign upon the earth? My answer is an emphatic no! The reason for such a dogmatic position is that, when our Lord returns, He will destroy all the weapons of war. From that time on nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. It will be impossible to equip, under the regime of our Lord, such an army as the one mentioned by Ezekiel's prophecy. This fact discredits the third answer as to when Ezekiel's prophecy will be fulfilled.
The second answer places the fulfillment of this particular prophecy in the Tribulation Period, especially at the end. Is this interpretation feasible or reasonable? I say again, emphatically, no! Why? you may ask. When Russia invades Palestine in fulfillment of Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39, the Jews will be dwelling in their own land, in peace, enjoying plenty and prosperity. They will be dwelling in cities without walls. During the Tribulation Israel's condition will be entirely different. According to Isaiah, she will be hounded down from time to time. Many of the Jews will be languishing in prison; others will be in hiding in the caves and the holes of the earth, and in the mountain-fastnesses and gorges. Israel's condition when the prophecy is fulfilled, on the contrary, will be that of peace, plenty, and prosperity. The Chosen People's condition in the Tribulation will be anything else but that. We therefore know from this angle that Ezekiel's prophecy cannot be fulfilled during the Tribulation.
If this prophecy cannot be fulfilled at the conclusion of the Tribulation; nor at the conclusion of the Millennium; nor during the Millennium; nor during the Tribulation, it must be fulfilled before the Tribulation. From this position there is no possible escape.
In view of these facts it is quite evident that, since we are approaching very rapidly the end of this age and the Tribulation Period, we are much closer to the fulfillment of this prediction than most of us imagine. We shall not be illogical and err very far if we should say that there is a possibility that the fulfillment of this prediction is just around the corner.
May the Lord open our eyes and enable us to see the world situation and what is confronting us at the present time is my sincere, earnest prayer.
Do, friends, pray that the people of God may awake and be alert to the times in which we are living. Pray God that He may lead us to see clearly the import of these marvelous predictions and then adjust our plans to His.
Now may the blessing's of the Triune God rest upon each one of us until the Lord returns for His saints. Amen.