Note: This is the second of a three-part series. Click here for part one.
In this suspenseful section of Ezekiel (Chapters 38-39), the prophet identifies three reasons the coalition of Islamic neighbors will seek to annihilate the Jewish nation, in these "latter days."
In his analysis, pastor/teacher David Jeremiah classifies them in Ezekiel 38 as 1. to seize Israel's land (vv. 11-12), 2. to steal Israel's wealth (vv. 12-13) and 3. to slaughter Israel's people (vv. 11-12, 16).
At the beginning of this chapter, Ezekiel lists the invading allies (vv. 1-6) before describing the actual invasion (vv. 7-17). We read these verses with interest, knowing of Russia's aggressive activities over the past 100 years. As mentioned last time, some believe the leader of this aggression will actually not be Russia but modern-day Turkey (thought to be named in verse six as Togarmah), with its transparent aspirations to restore an Islamic Caliphate to the region, if not to the whole world!
Russia is "far north" of Israel (38:15; 39:2) and, on a flat map, Moscow is directly north of Jerusalem. But, on a world globe or a map adjusted for the curvature of the earth, Turkey is also north of Israel. In fact, adjusting for the global factors, Ankara, Turkey is due north of Jerusalem, Israel.
The Turkish Ottoman Caliphate ruled over the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries for over 400 years before mistakenly aligning with Germany in World War I. It suffered the military consequences and the Allied distribution of its powers and territories. Turkey's current "president" is a near dictator and, while the country is a member of the NATO Alliance, is continuing to exert influence and control over many of the countries of the former Ottoman Empire.
Historical records indicate the names of "Rosh, Meshech and Tubal" were also known throughout "Asia Minor," which is part of what is Turkey today. So, this initial coalition, headed by a "prince" named "Gog, of the land of Magog," may have been all in what is modern-day Turkey. So you might say, "The Turks are coming!"
It appears these allied (perhaps totally Islamic) armies will be overwhelmed from the very start of this campaign, as this otherwise superior force faces the forces of nature and nature's God. The dramatic decimation commences with a "great earthquake," which creates pandemonium among the fish, birds, mammals and humans! The mixed-language armies, gathered for war, start attacking each other (v. 21).
At the same time, thousands will die during an epidemic of disease among the invaders, followed by natural calamities of "an overflowing rain and hailstones, fire and brimstone" falling on the armies which remain alive (v. 22). Their dead bodies will "fall upon the mountains" and "fall upon the open field," to be picked apart by scavenging birds and animals (v. 4-5).
Full-time search parties will scour the land for the dead. It will take Israel seven months to find and bury all the bones and bodies of the coalition's dead, in order to carefully sanitize or "cleanse the land" (v. 12, 14, 16).
Stay tuned to charisamag.com for part three of this series next week.
Gary Curtis served in full-time ministry for 50 years, the last 27 years of which he was part of the pastoral staff of The Church on The Way, the Van Nuys' California Foursquare church. Now retired, Gary continues to write a weekly blog at worshipontheway.wordpress.com and frequent articles for digital and print platforms. Gary and his wife live in Southern California and have two married daughters and five grandchildren.
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