(Central Israel) — It has been a dramatic month here in Israel, and we’re only eleven days in.
At the moment, we’re experiencing a rash of violence, including a series of stabbings by Arab terrorists, Arab rioting in various cities, and other attacks against Jewish people. Last night, terrorists in Gaza also fired a series of rockets at southern Israel. Fortunately, the Iron Dome system shot down one of the rockets and no one was injured by the others. The Prime Minister has deployed additional police and soldiers to increase security. He has also deployed additional Iron Dome batteries in the south. Please pray for a restoration of calm. We’re not worried. Life is going on nearly as usual here. But life is never dull here, and we need the Lord to move mightily to restrain the forces of evil.
That said, two much bigger stories have also captured people’s attention here in recent days.
1.THE EMERGING RUSSIAN-IRANIAN MILITARY ALLIANCE ENTERS COMBAT. The first story I’ve already noted on this blog, but it’s importance cannot be overstated. We are witnessing a stunning move by Russia and Iran as they send military forces into combat in Syria. For the first time, these two nations — historic enemies — are operating together in a military alliance, one that will have profound consequences for the security of the region, and one that poses a grave danger to the security of Israel.
2.ISRAEL MAKES MASSIVE DISCOVERY OF OIL. The second big story I have noted on Twitter but not yet on this blog. Israel this past week announced the discovery of a massive oil patch in the Golan Heights, along the border of Syria, that could make the Jewish state energy independent for decades to come. I have previously reported Israel’s discovery of massive amounts of natural gas off the Mediterranean coast. But while there has been speculation about the presence of oil in Israel, a major discovery has never been confirmed until now.
“Energy geologists estimate that billions of barrels of crude oil are available in shale in the occupied Golan Heights, but will Israel be able to get to it? If it can, the field could make the Jewish state self-sufficient in oil for years,” explains a news report from NASDAQ. “Afek Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of the U.S. company Genie Energy had been drilling in the southern Golan Heights for more than a year, and in September announced the discovery of the shale deposit. But the size of the field wasn’t confirmed until Oct. 7.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News, the company’s chief geologist, Yuval Bartov, said, ‘We are talking about a strata which is 350 meters thick, and what is important is the thickness and the porosity….On average in the world strata are 20-30 meters thick, so this is 10 times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities. The important thing is to know the oil is in the rock and that’s what we now know.’”
Consider, too, these headlines:
•Huge oil discovery on Golan Heights (Globes, the Israeli financial newspaper)
•Major Shale Find Could Guarantee Israel’s Oil Supply For Years (NASDAQ)
•Geologist Reports Major Oil Find in Israel (Haaretz)
•Major oil reserve said found on Golan (Times of Israel)
Readers of my novels and my non-fiction books will recall that in the past I have suggested such events will happen one days, and could set into motion the fulfillment of the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39, what Bible scholars call the “War of Gog and Magog.” For example, in Epicenter, I predicted the following future headlines:
•“FUTURE HEADLINE: Israel Discovers Massive Reserves of Oil, Gas”
•“FUTURE HEADLINE: Treaties and Truces Leave Israelis More Secure Than Ever Before”
•“FUTURE HEADLINE: A Czar Rises In Russia, Raising Fears of a New Cold War”
•“FUTURE HEADLINE: Kremlin Joins ‘Axis of Evil,’ Forms Military Alliance With Iran”
•“FUTURE HEADLINE: Moscow Extends Military Alliance To Include Arab, Islamic World”
Given that we are definitely seeing such headlines, is it possible that we are also going to see the “War of Gog & Magog” happen soon? As I stated in Part One of this series, it is too early to draw such a conclusion. More would have to happen to convince me the prophecies are definitively coming to pass in our lifetime. But given the trend lines, we cannot rule out the possibility that Ezekiel 38 & 39 will come true soon. It’s certainly possible.
Therefore, let’s continue to look carefully at what the text really says. Here, then, is Part Two of our study:
1.In Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, he Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel describes the rise of an evil military/political/diplomatic leader (Gog) from the land of Magog (Russia) who will form a military coalition with Persia (Iran), Cush (Sudan), Put (Libya & Algeria), Gomer (Turkey), Beth Togarmah (Turkic-speaking nations in Central Asian) countries in “the last days” (Ezekiel 38:16). In the days of Ezekiel, of course, there was no Islam. Today, we know that most of the nations Ezekiel mentions are Muslim-majority countries. We know that Russia is about 20% Muslim. And we know that Russia’s leaders are increasingly allied with Iran and other Islamic countries.
2.The Bible explains very clearly that the target of this military coalition in the End Times will be Israel.
3.Ezekiel 38:8 says “in the latter years, you [Gog and his coalition] will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations and they are living securely, all of them.”
4.Ezekiel 38:16 says that the coalition “will come up against My people Israel” and that “it shall come about in the last days that I will bring you [Gog] against My land.”
5.Ezekiel 39:2 says that Gog will come “from the remotest parts of the north…against the mountains of Israel.”
6.Clearly, then, the main pre-requisite for this prophecy regarding the “War of Gog and Magog” to come true is that the State of Israel has to be prophetically reborn in the last days. Indeed, this is what the prophecies of Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37 describe in detail.
7.The Lord showed Ezekiel that Jews would living in exile, scattered throughout the world because of sin and disobedience to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ezekiel 36:16-21).
8.But solely because of His grace and mercy, the Lord promised to regather the Jewish people to the land of Israel.
9.The Lord promised that “I will cause men — My people Israel — to walk on you and possess you” (Ezekiel 36:12).
10.The Lord said that the ancient ruins and the “waste places” in the land of Israel will be “rebuilt” by the Jewish people (Ezekiel 36:10). [See also Isaiah 61:4, “Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.”]
11.The Lord said that the land and “mountains of Israel” at that time would “put forth [their] branches” and bear fruit for “My people Israel.” (Ezekiel 36:8) [See also Isaiah 27:6, “In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout, and they will fill the whole world with fruit.”]
12.The Lord also indicates through this Scriptures that a prerequisite for the War of Gog & Magog is that Israel will not only be rebuilt but will be thriving economically in the last days. Indeed, the prophecy notes that part of the motivation (or perceived motivation) of Gog and his forces is “to capture spoil and to seize plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places which are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who live at the center of the world.” (Ezekiel 38:12)
13.Furthermore, the text notes that, “Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish with all its villages will say to you [Gog], ‘Have you come to capture spoil? Have you assembled your company to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to capture great spoil?’” (Ezekiel 38:13) Sheba is the ancient name for Arabia, which is currently known as Saudi Arabia. Dedan is the ancient name for the region of the Persian Gulf, what we currently call the “emirates” (such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, etc). Tarshish is the ancient name for the “Gold Coast” of Spain.
Thus, “the merchants of Tarshish with all its villages” is generally thought of as the business and political leaders of Europe and the West. All this to say that the prophecy indicates that the Saudis, the Gulf states, Europe and the Western powers are not in a coalition against Israel, but are become worried by this Russian-Iranian coalition against Israel because it seems designed to capture the enormous wealth of the Jewish people in the rebuilt and thriving Land of Israel.
14.Could these ancient prophecies be alluding to the discovery of massive amounts of oil and natural gas in and around Israel? Perhaps. In my first novel series (including The Last Jihad, The Last Days, and The Ezekiel Option) that concerns how the War of Gog & Magog might be set into motion and come to pass, I created a fictional scenario in which Israel discovers massive amounts of oil and gas, adding to the tremendous wealth she has already developed and acquired through her high-tech sector, banking and financial sector, and other lucrative elements of her economy. At that time, this appeared to be pure fiction. But since The Last Jihad was published in November 2002, Israel has in fact discovered oil and gas and is steadily becoming a very wealthy economic power in the region. I described some of these developments in my first non-fiction book, Epicenter, in 2006, but more and more gas and oil discoveries have been made since then, up to an including this month.
15.The Lord said, FIRST, the physical restoration of Israel and the Jewish return to the Land would be set into motion (Ezekiel 37:4-8)
16.After the physical restoration of the State of Israel began, then SECOND, the spiritual restoration of the Jewish people would be set into motion (Ezekiel 37:9-14).
17.Then, once Israel was reestablished as a State, and the Jewish people were being regathered to the Land, and the Lord was drawing the Jewish people back into a relationship with Him, and Israel was living securely in the Land (Ezekiel 38:8) with a degree of prosperity even (Ezekiel 38:12), then — and only then — would the Russian-Iranian coalition be set into motion to rob, kill and destroy Israel and the Jewish people.
18.It should be noted that Ezekiel does not describe Israel having “peace.” Rather, twice Israel is described as “living securely” (Ezekiel 38:8 and 38:11).
19.I recognize that these verses can be difficult for some Palestinian Arabs and some Israeli Arabs to read, whether they are born again Christians or nominal Christians (raised in churches but without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ). These passages concerning the rebirth of Israel in the “last days” are also especially difficult, frustrating — even infuriating — for Muslims to read. Yet the Bible clearly teaches that God will set into motion the rebirth of the geopolitical nation state of Israel in the End of Days. Further, the Bible indicates that Jews will be a sinful, unredeemed, worldly people when they are brought back into the Land. Only after they return, the Bible teaches, will the Holy Spirit be poured out upon the Jewish people in an increasingly significant way (Ezekiel 39:29 and Joel 2:28-32 — or Joel chapter 3 in Hebrew Bibles). At that point, a growing number of Jewish people will repent and return to God and discover a personal relationship with the Lord that will transform their lives and attitudes and behavior in a powerful, supernatural way. In the meantime, the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 that there will be “wars and rumors of wars” and “revolutions” and “lawlessness” in the last days. Certainly, the rebirth of Israel — while prophetic and God-ordained — has come with wars, rumors of war, revolutions, sins, and even crimes committed by Arabs as well as some Jews. The Bible doesn’t teach this period of the last days will be easy, and the Bible is right.
20.That said, we would be not be honest to the Word of God if we were to ignore, deny or try to explain away the plain meaning of these verses. The Bible told us well in advance that Israel would be reborn and the Jews would come back to the Land, and this has come to pass. Genesis 12:1-3 tells us that the Lord will bless those who bless the children of Abraham, and He will curse those who curse the children of Abraham. Those who have cursed Israel have, sadly, found themselves facing great pain and suffering. Sometimes Bible truths are difficult to accept, but they are true nonetheless and we must accept them by faith.
21.That said, while the Bible clearly explains that the Lord will bring the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel and allow them to reclaim their God-given ownership of the Land, nowhere in the Bible are Jews (or any group of people) given a license to commit injustice. To the contrary, the Bible teaches that Israelis are commanded to love their neighbors (Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 19:19). The Bible also teaches that Israelis are commanded to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them (Matthew 5:44). The Jews do have rights to the ownership of the Land, but they also have responsibilities to govern justly and compassionately, in accordance with the Scriptures. In Leviticus 19:33-34, for example, the Lord says: “When a stranger [non-Jew] resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”
22.Those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ need to teach sound Bible doctrine regarding Israel and the Palestinians. We need to love both, bless both, pray for both. Moreover, we need to stand with and encourage our brothers and sisters in the Messiah, whether they are Jewish or Arab. The Bible gives us no freedom to ignore, deny, or oppose our brothers and sisters on either side. Rather, Jesus said “blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). We need to be pro-actively building relationships with Israelis and Palestinians and being ambassadors of Christ and agents of reconciliation whenever and wherever possible.
23.We do not have to agree with everything that our brothers and sisters believe, especially if those beliefs are unscriptural. But we are commanded to love them unconditionally and sacrificially. After all, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
24.Now, back to the prophecy and its analysis: It could be reasonably argued that Israel is more prosperous and is living more securely today than at any other time in its 67 years. The Israeli Defense Forces are widely considered the strongest and most effective ground fighting force in the Middle East. The Israeli Air Force is widely considered dominant in the skies. Israel has peace treaties with two major neighbors, Egypt and Jordan. Yasser Arafat is gone.
Saddam Hussein is gone. Osama bin Laden is gone. Palestinian suicide bombings are not a daily part of Israeli life since 2004. Israel now has the very effective “Iron Dome” system to shoot down rockets fired at Israeli civilians from Gaza in the South or from Lebanon and Syria in the North. Meanwhile, Israel has submarines, ballistic missiles, and first-rate intelligence services in her defense. Israel has also enjoyed decades of a close strategic partnership with the United States (though this is fraying), has a strong and vibrant economy, and is widely believed to have defensive nuclear weapons, though the government maintains a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on the subject, neither confirming nor denying the existence of those weapons.
25.Could Israel currently be secure enough to fulfill this prophetic prerequisite? Perhaps. Certainly this month Israelis feel somewhat on edge due to a rash of Arab stabbings, riots and other attacks. Perhaps events soon will lead Israelis to being and feeling even more secure. But there is no question that even with emerging new threats on the horizon, overall, Israelis feel more secure today than ever before its their modern State’s existence.
26.Given the fact that the major End Times prophecies of Ezekiel 36 and 37 have largely come true in our lifetime, does this mean that we will see Ezekiel 38 and 39 come true in our lifetime as well? At the moment, I believe it is too soon to say so definitively. Certainly we are seeing geopolitical events unfold in recent decades and in recent years that are strikingly consistent with what the Bible describes as preparations essential for the “War of Gog and Magog.” The presence of Russian and Iranian military forces fighting in an alliance together in Syria — just miles north of the mountains of Israel — is a development we have never seen in the 2,500 years since this prophecy was written. So we should be ready. And we should be prepared — not caught off guard — if events accelerate in the near future. But we must also remember that the Lord in His sovereignty could also decide to delay events for quite some time for His own sovereign purposes.
27.That said, it should be noted that when the Russian dictator finishes building his military coalition in Israel and begins to move his forces to surround Israel in the “last days,” Ezekiel gives us no indication that any country will come to Israel’s defense. There are no indications that the United Nations, or the European Union, or NATO will defend Israel. Nor is there any indication that the United States will defend Israel. Rather, Israel will be — and will feel — all alone in the world.
28.Today, Israel is increasingly isolated from the international community. And U.S.-Israeli relations have become deeply strained during the Obama-Biden administration. God could change the heart of American leaders to once again become more pro-Israel. And/or a new President could come to office in 2017 or beyond that repairs the U.S.-Israeli alliance. But in the end, the Scriptures are clear that Israel will be abandoned by all nations. That would have to include the United States. How soon that will happen I cannot say. But we need to be aware that this will happen and not be surprised when it does.
Next, I will describe what the Bible tells us will happen to the forces of Gog and Magog.