Tuesday, January 17, 2017

GOG'S ATTACK PT. 3 - GOD INTERVENES

Ezekiel goes on to declare that when Gog chooses to attack, the people of Israel will be experiencing a time of rest and a feeling of security.   The purpose of his attack is to plunder the nation’s wealth, and the tiny nation possesses many things that we know Russia covets—gas, oil, and the minerals of the Dead Sea to name a few.

The prophet then points out that several nations question Gog’s actions, but do not interfere in any way.

As the prophecy continues to unfold, Ezekiel surprisingly notes that Gog’s attack is an act of God. 

Ezekiel 38:14–16 “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD….thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and 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.”

What is His purpose for bringing about such events?  “That the heathen may know Me.”  The word know in the Hebrew is a reference to comprehending with understanding.  It has always been God’s plan for all peoples to acknowledge Him as Lord.  Because Israel has failed so miserably at fulfilling their chosen purpose before the Lord, it has directly affected how the nations have viewed God.  In human reasoning, it has made Him seem weak and unable to carry out His purposes.  When He intervenes for Israel according to this prophecy and in light of His word, the nations will have to recognize that He has been in control all along and that His purposes will be accomplished in spite of the failings of His people.  I think it is significant to note that this will happen at a time when all nations will be able to watch events unfold “before their eyes.”  That is not a surprising statement in light of the technology available today.

Though the LORD is directing events, Gog’s attack on Israel will make God furious.  It is always cause for me to stop and meditate as I see God’s hand at work bringing about a situation and then responding in fierce judgment in response to that situation.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express the thoughts correctly, but I know that these are the actions of a righteous God.  He is using man’s choices in response to the desires of his flesh and the influence and deception of Satan and his spiritual forces of evil to bring about His sovereign plan.  God does not approve Gog’s actions; he has, however, chosen to use those actions for accomplishing His will.

The prophet then declares that God is going to directly intervene to destroy Gog’s forces.  First, He is going to cause a great earthquake in Israel that causes mountains to fall.  Could this be the earthquake that is described in Revelation as a consequence of the 6th seal (and possibly the rapture of the church)?  Both prophecies indicate these earthquakes will have worldwide effect and are responses to God’s great wrath.

Revelation 6:14–17 “…and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”

Ezekiel goes on to describe what else the armies of Gog will encounter.

Ezekiel 38:22 And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.

Not only will Gog’s armies experience the great earthquake, they will experience—
  • Pestilence – The Hebrew references plague (fever and disease).
  • Blood – This speaks of loss of life.
  • Overflowing rain and hailstones – The overflowing rain is reference to what we would describe as a torrential downpour.  It is interesting to note that hail is often associated with God’s judgment and is declared by Job as being stored by God for that purpose. 

Job 38:22–23 “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?”

  • Fire and brimstone (Many believe this to be a reference to the use of nuclear weapons.)

God declares in no uncertain terms that the nations will recognize these actions as coming from the LORD. 

Ezekiel 38:23 “Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.”

In other words, whether by destruction through “natural” disaster and/or through the use of today’s technology in weaponry, the people on earth will “know that I am the LORD.”

Ezekiel expands his prophecy in the next chapter.

Ezekiel 39:1-6 “Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog….I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand.  Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured….And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.”

Verse 3 basically indicates that God is going to make the weapons of Gog ineffective.  The Hebrew for fall in verse 4 is a reference to falling down dead.  In other words, most, if not all, of Gog’s armies will die on the mountains of Israel; and the birds of prey and beasts of the field will feast on the carcasses. (yuk!)

Not only will Gog’s armies in Israel be destroyed, the Lord will also send fire on Magog (Russia/Turkey), the land over which Gog rules, and upon those “that dwell carelessly in the isles.”  Fire in the Hebrew means just what it says.  I guess the question becomes—What kind of fire?  Of supernatural origin, the forces of nature, the results of war, etc.?  Whatever the “source,” it will be coming from the hand of God.
I know I thought of the isles as islands or coastal lands, but the Hebrew makes reference to anywhere people live.  Carelessly seems to reference a false sense of security.  I would think that this would be a reference to the homelands of those that had joined Gog’s coalition, but this prophecy doesn’t clarify that.  The purpose of this judgment is to make the nations recognize God as LORD.  He is not going to allow the nations to consider Him weak or powerless any longer.

In the aftermath of Gog’s attack, Ezekiel tells us that the people of Israel will be able to burn the recovered weapons of the enemy to use as fuel/energy for seven years even as they gather much booty in the process.  The LORD promises that they will be in the position to rob those that robbed them.  The prophet also notes that it will take seven months for Israel to bury all the dead; he even details that they will buried in a specific place in Israel—the city of Hamonah (meaning “multitude”) in The Valley of Hamongog.  Jack Kelley (www.gracethrufaithcom) makes an interesting observation regarding the description of the burial procedures:  It will require the combined efforts of all Israeli citizens for 7 months to bury the enemy dead. After that they'll hire professionals, some to decontaminate the land and some to search for any bodies the people may have missed. They won't touch any bones they find, but will set up markers and call the professionals to come take them away. This approach fits modern Nuclear Biological Chemical Warfare decontamination procedures to a tee.”

The fact that Gog attacks when the nation of Israel is experiencing a time that they feel relatively safe I think negates the possibility that this is the same war as Armageddon.  At that time Israel will be experiencing the despotic rule of the Antichrist and certainly not feeling safe.


(to be continued…)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

GOG'S ATTACK PT 2 - THE CONNECTION TO DAMASCUS AND THE PALESTINIANS

Another prophecy from Isaiah declares that the time is coming when Damascus will be completely destroyed, and some of the surrounding cities in Syria will become a place of grazing for animals.

Isaiah 17:1-2 “The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.  The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.”

The next verse states that there will be repercussions in other areas due to the fall of Damascus.

Isaiah 17:3 “The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts.”

When I looked up Ephraim, it was defined as including Samaria and most of what is today’s West Bank, land that in conjunction with the Gaza Strip is commonly but erroneously identified as Israeli “occupied land.”  Hamas is the ruling authority in Gaza, and Fatah’s Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.  Though these two groups have been divided in government, they are unified in their desire to bring about the destruction of the state of Israel.  Consider the following quote from the New York Times on November 29, 2016, of comments made at a party conference that confirmed Mahmoud Abbas as leader of Fatah:  Ahmed Haj Ali, a senior Hamas legislator, was invited to address the conference.  ‘We are partners in this homeland, our cause, struggle and resolutions,” he told the delegates, “and we in Hamas are ready to fulfill all requirements of this partnership with you and all factions.’”

The relationship between Hamas and Iran has had its ups and downs, but consider this quote from www.al-monitor.com in June 2016:  Relations between Hamas and Iran never ended and were not affected during recent years. They diminished on some levels at certain times, but the relationship remained ongoing, at least on the military level.  The difference today is that Hamas and Iran decided to make this relationship public and saw no need for it to remain clandestine. Public rhetoric about the resumption of relations is now clear and explicit."

This event is also described in Jeremiah 49:23-27 and Zechariah 9:1-7.  When I read through these sections, there seemed to be a connection with the destruction of Damascus to Tyre and Zidon.  These cities were located in what is today known as Lebanon.  This event will bring sorrow to Ashkelon, Gaza, and Ekron (an area that includes the Gaza strip, the land occupied by the Palestinians today, and the area just north of the strip on the coast); these were all Philistine cities of Old Testament times.  Zechariah 9:5 seems to indicate that this will destroy all hope for a Palestinian state.

Zechariah 9:5 Ashkelon shall see it, and fear; Gaza also shall see it, and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.
“ashamed” = disappointed, wither away

From that point on there will be no recognized “king” of Gaza.  Ashkelon, a city on the coast of the Mediterranean just north of the Gaza strip, will not be inhabited after this. 


(to be continued…)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A FRESH LOOK AT EZEKIEL’S PROPHECY OF GOG’S ATTACK ON ISRAEL

Yet another year has flown by and we are closer than ever to the LORD’s return to take His family home to the Father.  Headlines from this past year reveal that the stage is being set and nations are aligning as foretold in the subject prophecy.   I thought it would be good to take a fresh look at that portion of scripture in light of that fact.

This prophecy is found in chapters 38-39 of the book of Ezekiel.  The two chapters preceding this prophecy foretold the rebirth of the nation of Israel after having been “dead” for a long time.  The nation was compared to very dry bones that were resurrected to life—a prophecy that was fulfilled when Israel became a nation once again on May 14, 1948.  Since that time, Israel has been targeted for destruction by the Muslim world in particular and many of the nations of the world in general.  I believe that to be due to the effective influence exerted by Satan and his forces of evil as they seek to thwart God’s will.  It seems his pride is such that he thinks he can actually succeed.

The prophet Zechariah declared that Jerusalem would become a cup of trembling and a burdensome stone for all people on earth.  

Zechariah 12:1–3 “The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him. Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”

In context Zechariah’s prophecy is pointing to Armageddon, but I believe Gog’s attack foreshadows that final battle.  I personally believe the scriptural evidence indicates that Gog’s attack will take place either prior to or at the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel that is commonly referred to as “the tribulation,” the last seven years on planet earth before Jesus returns to reign as King of kings over the whole earth on the throne of David in Jerusalem.

Ezekiel declares his prophecy to be against Gog (a specific being) of the land of Magog. 

Ezekiel 38:2–3 “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:”

This same being is referenced in the book of Revelation 20.

Revelation 20:7–8 “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.”

I believe that Gog is an evil spirit in Satan’s army that uses a willing human host, one that is the dominant ruler in the land of Magog.  The prophet Daniel alluded to evil spiritual beings that battle God’s angelic forces whose purpose is to minister to men and accomplish God’s will on earth (Daniel 10).  Paul affirmed in his letter to the Ephesians that our main fight is against the spiritual forces of evil.

Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

I do not think we as believers often think about the spiritual realm that interacts with our physical realm in the ongoing war of rebellion involving Satan and his forces against God’s heavenly host.  That, however, does not negate its reality.

So to what nation does Magog refer?  Magog, Meshech and Tubal are all identified as sons of Japheth.  Hesiod, a Greek poet that was a contemporary of Ezekiel, identified Magog with the Scythians.  The historian Josephus declared that the Greeks also identified Magog with the Scythians.  The NIV Commentary states that the land areas being referenced are “generally toward the south of the Black and Caspian Seas, in the modern countries of Turkey, Russia and Iran.”  Britannica states, “the Royal Scyths, finally established themselves as rulers of the southern Russian and Crimean territories.  It is there that the richest, oldest and most numerous relics of Scythian civilization have been found.”

At the current time, it would seem that Vladimir Putin would be Gog’s human counterpart.

Ezekiel goes on to declare that GOD is against Gog and will use hooks to draw him into an attack against Israel in alliance with several other nations.  The prophet goes on to describe some of the hooks as “a spoil” and “prey” or booty (from the Hebrew), e.g., gas, oil, minerals, etc.  I believe other hooks will prove to be action intended to protect economic and military investments made in coalition nations.

Interestingly, the first ally mentioned by Ezekiel is Persia, or modern day Iran.  The news from the previous year in particular declares the growing strength of the bond between Russia and Iran in light of their efforts in support of Syria’s Bashar Assad in his fight against enemy rebels and ISIS.  Iran has invested too much in Syria to let it fall out of its sphere of influence.  Russia also has important interests in Syria.  They have had a naval base in Syria for a long time that they now plan to make permanent.  It is their only naval base in the Mediterranean.  Consider this quote from www.gulfnews.com dated January 4, 2017:  In October, Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Nikolai Pankov spelt out how Tartus fits into the Putin government’s global military vision, when he announced that the port would be expanded to become a permanent base for the Russian navy.”

Others identified as part of Gog’s coalition are Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer and Togarmah.  Ethiopia is generally associated with “Black Africa,” especially Sudan.  Josephus identifies the descendants of Put as the Libyans (including Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco).  Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a noted Jewish scholar, believes, “the Put of Ezekiel 38-39 is not Libya, but Somalia.”  Most of my research points to Turkey and southern Russia as the land of Gomer and Togarmah. 

Isn’t it interesting how the news headlines at the end of 2016 reported of the strengthening bond developing between the leaders of Russia and Turkey.  Following is a quote from sputniknews.com (12/20/16):  Turkey will not allow anyone to spoil relations with Russia, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday at the ceremony to unveil the Eurasia Tunnel in Istanbul.”  And this quote (12/26/16) from Putin’s year-end press conference:  “…we realize the importance of Russian-Turkish ties and will make every effort to deepen them.”
After identifying these primary allies, Ezekiel notes that “many people” will join Gog’s coalition.  I am sure this is a reference to other nations that resent the existence of Israel.

It is interesting to note that the nations immediately surrounding Israel (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt) are not named as part of Gog’s coalition.  Some posit that this is because Israel defeats them in a war that precedes Gog’s attack.  Except for Lebanon, ruled by Hezbollah, and Syria, these nations do not want to see Iran expand its influence in the region and will choose to avoid any type of alliance with them—even against Israel.


(to be continued…)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

THE PROMISE OF CHRISTMAS

Just want to wish you all a Merry Christmas!  I hope you will hear my heart with my poem about the reason for the season.

THE PROMISE OF CHRISTMAS

Glory to God in the highest
The angels did proclaim.
The Son of God has come to earth
And Jesus is His name.

He came to show the Father's love
To do the Father's will
To take away the curse of sin
His promise to fulfill.

He gave His life and shed His blood
To wash away our sin.
He rose victorious from the grave
To give us peace within.

One day soon He's coming back
To take His family home
Transforming our old bodies
Into one just like His own.

I can hardly wait to see
The Lord upon His throne
And all He promised to prepare
For our eternal home.

Don't delay; the time is short.
Choose Jesus now and gain
A future filled with love and joy

Forever--as He reigns.














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