Ezek. 38:7 Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.
Interestingly enough, the Lord is warning Gog to be prepared—not only to protect himself, but to protect or put a hedge about all his allies to ensure his command of them. This verse seems to stand out significantly in reference to how Russia is positioning itself in alliance with Muslim nations today—especially Syria.
The strong stance that Russia has taken to support the Assad regime in Syria in alliance with Iran is just another example of how deeply entrenched they have become in the region. Following is quoted from Dmitri Trenin’s Task Force White Paper of April 2016 as posted at Carnegie.ru: “For the Russian defense industry, countries in the Middle East and North Africa are important customers. In 2015, they accounted for 36 percent of Russia’s defense deliveries, second only to Asia (42 percent). Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and Syria have been Moscow’s principal arms customers for decades…. Other vested interests include the Russian nuclear industry, represented by Rosatom, which has built reactors at Bushehr in Iran and looks for new contract there. Rostatom is also working on projects in Turkey and Jordan. A Russian private oil company, Lukoil, is active in Iraq. Russian gas company Gazprom is Turkey’s main supplier of natural gas and has had plans for a pipeline going to Southeast Europe via or close to Turkey. Qatar and Iran are, alongside Russia, key members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.”
The Russians have had a naval base in Tartus, 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, at the same time as Russia said it was considering reopening Soviet-era bases in Vietnam and Cuba.”
Ezek. 38:8 After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years 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 it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.
“After many days” and “in the latter years” are a reference to “end times” in the Hebrew. The rest of the verse is very clear that Gog and his armies are going to invade the reborn nation of Israel whose people have returned to it from “out of the nations.” At that time the people of Israel will be dwelling “safely.” After looking at the Hebrew, this could just mean that they are living with a false sense of security and careless confidence of their safety as a nation. Why? Because of their confidence in the support of the United States (now that Obama is history)? Because of their nuclear arsenal? Tech capabilities? Because of their treaty with the Antichrist? Is this why the Arab nations are not involved? If so, this would indicate that this invasion could not happen until after the signing of the 7-year covenant.
Note that this negates identifying this attack with the Armageddon campaign. At that time Israel will be anything but peaceful or without care.
Ezek. 38:9 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.
This verse indicates that Gog and all his armies (including his allies) will suddenly attack Israel like an unexpected thunderstorm that covers the land with a great cloud (which would seem to reference the magnitude of the combined armies). Could this reference a vast air attack?
Ezek. 38:10 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:
Ezek. 38:11 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,
Ezek. 38:12 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.
I think the wording of the CJB is clearer for verse 10: “Adonai ELOHIM says: ‘When that day comes, thoughts will well up in your mind, and you will devise a sinister scheme.”
Gog is going to attack at a point in time in which Israel is the most vulnerable, a time when they are “at rest” (Hebrew = appease, quiet, settle) and their defenses are down or they are overconfident. Since being reborn as a nation in 1948, Israel has never been in such a position; in fact, they have never experienced this type of rest during their existence since the Babylonian exile. Point is made that Gog’s plan will be an evil one.
The reason for Gog’s attack—
- To take a “spoil” – The Hebrew references booty or plunder.
- To take a “prey” – The Hebrew is basically the same as for spoil but includes the idea of robbery.
Israel possesses things that Gog wants. Cattle is a reference to livestock, but goods is inclusive of anything that represents wealth, money, or riches. Special note is made of the “midst,” or central part of the land.
One might ask, what could Israel have that Gog would covet? I’ve always heard that one of Israel’s great treasures is the Dead Sea. David Legge stated some amazing statistics in his commentary.
“I don't know whether you know this, but the Dead Sea is full of mineral deposits - to such a great extent that in monetary terms it cannot be valued in today's market! It is priceless! It is saturated with chemicals, the water has untold wealth within it. It's estimated that the Dead Sea contains two billion tonnes of potassium chloride, which is potash, which you sweep along ground that is barren and it sweetens it, it enriches it, it makes it fertile soil, it makes fruit grow lavishly again. Two billion tonnes of potassium! Twenty-two billion tonnes of magnesium chloride, twelve billion tonnes of sodium chloride, six billion tonnes of calcium chloride, and in addition to all of that it has cerium, cobalt, manganese, and even gold in the Dead Sea!”
Add to that, two large gas fields that were discovered off the coast of Haifa—Tamar in 2009 and Leviathan in 2010. And in 2015, a huge oil deposit was found in Israel in the Golan Heights.
Maybe it is the thought of these riches that is the “hook in the jaw” that will cause Gog to attack. Maybe it will be due to actions on the part of one of his allies and the need to defend his vested interests that will be the hook. Again, the future will tell.
Ezek. 38:13 Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art 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?
This verse tells us that there are nations that will not be part of Gog’s coalition that will protest his actions. As I read this verse, I though the NLT expressed it best: “But Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish will ask, ‘Who are you to rob them of silver and gold? Who are you to drive away their cattle and seize their goods and make them poor?’”
Who are Sheba, Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish?
- Sheba – The Hebrew connects Sheba with the Sabeans. The Sabeans are descendants of one of Abraham’s sons with Keturah and are associated with southern Arabia (including Yemen).
- Dedan – This would seem to be referencing another of the sons of Keturah whose descendants settled in Arabia.
This would seem to identify Sheba and Dedan as referring to Saudi Arabia and Yemen of today.
- Tarshish – Tarshish is the name of one of the sons of Javan, a son of Japheth, and probably references the place where his descendants settled. I have heard many areas taught as being possibilities for the location of Tarshish—from India to Spain to the British Isles. We know that this is a place that borders the sea since it is the place to which Jonah fled when the Lord instructed him to go to Nineveh. This would also indicate that it was located about as far away from Nineveh as Jonah thought he could get. Ezekiel 27 identifies Tarshish as a trading partner with Tyre.
I won’t go into more speculation on the location of Tarshish except in reference to the phrase “with all the young lions thereof.” Those who postulate that Tarshish is a reference to the British Isles then go on to postulate that the United States would be one of the young lions. It is understandable for Christians of America to wonder at the obvious lack of mention of our country regarding end times prophecy since we occupy such a prominent position of power today. This just tells me that America will not much longer occupy that position. Something will happen that will remove her as a dominant world player when the events associated with this war take place. I would like to think that it comes about as a result of the rapture, but there are many other more sobering possibilities that could bring about such a scenario. In other words, there could be much harder times ahead for those of us living in America today.
I was just about to leave this verse when I noticed the phrase “and the merchants of Tarshish.” This would include not only Tarshish but all of her trading partners. It would still seem to indicate that Tarshish is the dominant player among her trading partners. If, as I believe, this invasion happens just before or at the beginning of the tribulation period, it would be at a time when the Antichrist is just rising to power. Since God is the One who is going to intervene miraculously on Israel’s behalf, the invasion would not appear to have any effect on the 7-year covenant (except maybe to facilitate its acceptance) that marks the beginning of the tribulation or the continued ascendancy of the Antichrist.
As of August 2019, this also leads me to believe that this invasion has to occur after the U.S. has fallen from a position of military might, since Gog’s coalition seems to know they won’t meet any true opposition to their invasion.
(to be continued…)