30th December 2014, mgh
When Isaiah spoke of the great and mighty power of God, he wrote,
The LORD of hosts shall come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it. (Isaiah 31:4-5)
These verses from Isaiah immediately present Yahweh, the God of Israel, as the defender and preserver of the city of Jerusalem.
Not only that, Isaiah also depicts the power that will be used to preserve this ancient city, and how it will be an instrument of judgement,
The LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 31:9)
Zechariah explains and warns that any nations who would touch Israel are touching the apple of Yahweh's eye, which is always focussed on Israel and Jerusalem.
For thus said the LORD of hosts; After the glory has he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that touches you touches the apple of his eye. (Zechariah 2:8)
In many places in the Bible, it is clearly shown that Zion and Jerusalem are to play a most important role in the events leading to the last days (Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:1) or what is also referred to as the latter days (Ezekiel 38:8, Daniel 10:14). As we have shown elsewhere here, 1948 and 1967 culminated in the homeland that was established for the Jewish people in their ancient land. Despite being outnumbered by the greater forces of the surrounding Arab nations, in 1967 they regained their ancient capital of Jerusalem and were victorious against these belligerent Arab Nations, that had set out to destroy Israel and its people.
Today Israel is still surrounded by vocal and hostile neighbours and as a nation has few friends, despite the amazing technological advances that this tiny nation has brought to the world. It is the only truly democratic country in the Middle East and so often has to defend itself against hostile neighbours who want Israel's land. This land was legally assigned to them as their territory as far back as the early 1920's. (Link to 1922 League of Nations article)
What of Israel's and Jerusalem's future?
The prophets of ancient Israel have long predicted that these latter days will bring a time of trouble for the whole world because of the hostility of the nations towards Israel. There are many nations that wish to inflict their will upon the future of the city of Jerusalem.
The prophet Zechariah has a prophecy that well depicts the attitude of so many nations in the world today that want to interfere in the destiny of Jerusalem. However, to try to impose their will on Israel will lead to what Zechariah describes as Jerusalem becoming “a cup of trembling” and “ a burdensome stone” for the nations. He states that all the people of the earth will be “gathered against it”, that is Jerusalem. The outcome will not be what the nations want. Instead, their interference in the affairs of the city of the God of Israel will lead to their being “cut in pieces”. The prophet is clear that there will be a siege against Judah and Jerusalem.
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. (Zechariah 12:2-3)
Take a look at what the prophet Jeremiah says about the nations that will rise up against Jerusalem. The vision is one of great suffering and destruction for those who would attempt to rise up against the city that is called by Yaweh's name.
For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, said the LORD of hosts. Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.
A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD has a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, said the LORD. Thus said the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.
And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground. (Jeremiah 25: 29-33)
Isaiah also prophesies of Yahweh's defence of Jerusalem and the calamity that will come upon the nations that rise up against Jerusalem. He said that punishment will be poured out on the nations.
Earthquake, signs in the heaven and judgement
The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.... Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.(Isaiah 24:20-21,23)
The prophet Joel also predicts the shaking of the earth and the darkening of the sun, moon and stars. There will be warfare and Yahweh will roar out of Zion and utter his voice from Jerusalem to bring judgement on the nations and to save his people Israel from the wickedness of the invaders from the nations. Joel states in Joel 3:2 that they have “parted” the land.
Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision (ie concision): for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.
The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:12-16)
Micah also prophesies that nations will look to take Zion and the concept of 'threshing' and destruction is also used. Isaiah explains that Yahweh's judgement will begin in the south of Israel and extend to all the nations that rise up against Israel.
Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, “Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.”
But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.
Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and you shall beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. (Micah 4:11-13)
If Jerusalem has been fought over in the past, it is nothing compared to the controversy now developing, as many nations seek to divide Jerusalem. All nations in practice oppose the fact that Jews now rule all of Jerusalem, with Sweden, Spain and others in principle supporting a policy to “look upon Zion”, though Jerusalem is far from their borders. These nations who have greater percentages of those that deny the truth of Bible are doing the most to fulfil the words of Micah,
Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he has utterly destroyed them, he has delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood.
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falls off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgement. ...For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompence for the controversy of Zion.(Isaiah 34:1-5,8)
Zechariah 12 shows the progress of the judgement on the nations that come against Israel and the salvation of Judah and Jerusalem first.
In that day, said the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God.
In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.
The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.
In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.(Zechariah12:4-9)
Zechariah 14 continues with the saving of Jerusalem and the vision of the effects of a great earthquake that will reshape the terrain around Jerusalem and Mount Zion.
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. (Zechariah14:2-5)
The prophets do not end here but show that a time of peace will follow and the God of Israel shall be respected among the nations.
So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim. Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. (Joel 3: 17-20)
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plough shares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.(Isaiah 2:1-4)
O Zion, that brings good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that brings good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! (Isaiah 40:9)
I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.(Isaiah 46:13)
For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burns. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. Thou shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.(Isaiah 62:1-2)
Who will invade Israel?
It is Ezekiel who gives a clear description of the countries that will invade the Middle East in the last days.
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,And say, Thus says the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the prince of Rosh Meshech and Tubal:
And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:
Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.
After many days you shall be visited: in the latter years you shall 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. You shall ascend and come like a storm, you shall be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee. (Ezekiel 38:1-9)
Ezekiel 38 shows that Gog comes to take a spoil and a prey in verse 12 and to take Israel in verse 16 and there is a great shaking in the land of Israel revealed in verses 19-20. It is clearly stated in verse 16 that these things will occur in the latter years.
Daniel also prophesies that a northern invasion will occur at “the time of the end” and “enter also into the glorious land”. We see that in these two quotations from Ezekiel and Daniel that there are common factors. There is a northern army that invades the “glorious land”. Libyans and Ethiopians are included in both accounts. We are told that this invader “shall come to his end, and none shall help him”.
And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.
But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. (Daniel 11:40-45)
Can we identify these nations?
Exploring these ancient names and seeking their identity requires the help of ancient writers who lived at the time of the great migrations into Europe.
With the aid of ancient writers,such as Herodotus of ancient Greece, Josephus a Jewish contemporary of the Messiah and Paul, Diodorus Siculus about 100 BC and Ptolemy the historian 150AD. and other reliable writers such as Bochart 1640 and Gibbon, these invading countries can be identified.
Our best starting point is the Bible in Genesis 10.
Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.
The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.
By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. (Genesis 10 :1-5)
The term Gog which introduces these nations is a title that can apply to an autocrat or dictator. In this context the appropriate description would be leader or chief commander.
Magog and Gomer
Many of Japheth's sons, whose names equate to some of the names listed in Genesis 10, moved north and east of the Middle East and also located themselves in the islands, described here as the isles of the Gentiles, and they also spread across Europe.
Magogue and Gomer, two of the sons of Japheth, Josephus states, had migrated into Asia and penetrated as far west as the Straits of Gibralter. Josephus identified the descendants of Magog as the Scythians who had branched out from above the Black Sea. Herodotus states that the ancient name scythae was given by the Greeks to the ancient people of Europe who had spread from the river Don in Russia to the River Danube in Europe. Ptolomy distinguished between the Scythians of the East and the Scythians of the West.
Siculus traced the Scythians as far as the Baltic Sea. From his descriptions Gomer points to ancient Gaul which was known to the ancient Greeks and Italians. The Franks invaded Gaul during the period of the Barbarian invasions of Europe and bestowed its well known name of France upon what was ancient Gomer/ Gaul.
The northern Scythae adjacent to Gomer were Magogue and equate to the Germanic nation. Some Jewish sources render Magog as the Goths, again the Germanic nation.
Rosh, Meshech and Tubal
Samuel Bochart wrote that Ros is the most ancient form under which history makes mention of the name of Russia. Scandinavians know Russia as Ros or Rus. Danish dictionaries give the name of Russia as Rusland.
In 984, the Bishop of Cremona described people living in the north, that the Greeks called Rus. Early sources applied the name Rus to what we know as Southern Russia around Kiev, which was the ancient capital of Russia and known as Kievrus. Near Kiev there is a river called Rusit From this information we can discern the modern names of Russia and Moscow or Mosckwa , in the ancient names of Ros and Mosc, or Musc.
Genesis 10:2 listed Tubal and Meshech as the sons of Japheth. There then appears a very strong association of Meshech and Tubal in Ezekiel 38 to the cities of Russia. We have the River Tobol that gives its name to the city of Tobolium, or Tobolski, the metropolis of the extensive region of Siberia, east of Moscovy, or Mosc. Ezekiel 27:13 describes them as nations trading in copper, which abounds in Siberia. Ros, Mosc and Tobl combine to describe the Russian Empire.
As well as chief of Germany, Gog is also said to be the chief of the Russians, Muscovites and Siberians.
According to Josephus, and Hebrew authority, the sons of Japheth retained their names in their nations and their migration to the north.
Togarmah was the grandson of Japheth and the Son of Gomer (Gen 10:2). They traded in Tyrian fairs with “horses, horsemen and mules” (Ezekiel 27:14) They were to the north of Judea in pasture lands. Gibbon concluded that the Tartary, noted for cavalry, were of the countries of Togarmah. He says that “Georgia and Circassia” are probably the lands of Togarmah's house. Rabbi Aaron Marcus in his work”Kesses HaSofer” identifies Togarmah as the ancient region of Armenia (Syria and northward).
If we now return to the opening verses of Ezekiel 38, we can insert the modern names of these ancient lands.
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog (the Chief), of the land of Magog (Germany), the prince of Rosh Meshech and Tubal (Russia), and prophesy against him,And say, Thus says the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the prince of Rosh Meshech and Tubal (Russia):...
Persia (modern day Iran and Iraq), Ethiopia (Heb. Cush modern Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea), and Libya (north Africa, west of Egypt) with them; all of them with shield and helmet:Gomer (France), and all his bands; the house of Togarmah (Syria and to the north) of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.
What interest do these nations have in Jerusalem?
There is always the search for a spoil such as oil and gas for a world based on the need for these resources to sustain a modern lifestyle. And, this is the initial reason given for this Middle East invasion that has been prophesied.
But why the interest in Jerusalem? Why does Jerusalem become “a cup of trembling” and “ a burdensome stone” for the nations? Why should all the people of the earth be “gathered against it”?
Why would this group of nations invade Israel? Why would Jerusalem be their objective?
If we consider the preoccupation of some of the nations today in relation to Israel, one thing is daily becoming more and more obvious. One by one nations are calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state which means the taking of another portion of the Israeli land. Not only would the Palestinians want a state but the destruction of the Jews also.
If we consider the group of nations described in Ezekiel 38, there are a number of Muslim nations included. And what do the Palestinians want as well as a state? They want Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
The other nations also have a religious objective. The remaining nations are attached to the two main divisions of the Catholic Christian world. They are the Roman Catholic, predominantly European, and the Orthodox churches, whose strong supporter is Russia. Both of these denominations have a strong interest in Israel and particularly Jerusalem. The Popes have long envisioned a Basilica in Jerusalem to house the Pope. Both groups want control over their holy sites.
If the Jews are in control of Jerusalem, this could well be that “evil thought“ that determines an attack on Jerusalem. These nations would see Jerusalem as theirs to divide up and control, as they consider themselves as the custodians of the major religions of the world.
The outcome will not be what the nations want. Instead, their interference in the city of the God of Israel will lead to their being “cut in pieces”.The prophets are clear that there will be a siege against Judah and Jerusalem.
Our concluding thought comes from the New Testament which speaks of similar predictions that we have seen in the Old Testament. It is a message for those who seek and hear today. There are the political and religious upheavals on earth and the physical signs that are being seen in the natural heavens. The sea and the waves roaring symbolise the conflict among the nations. There is great fear and despair on every side among the people. The longed for Jewish Messiah will then come with his saints to bring peace and justice on the earth.
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. (Luke 21:25-27)
Are we perplexed by the chaos in the world today?
It is wise that we watch the signs in the earth. These include the movement and affiliations among the nations, financial crises and the natural calamities that are coming upon this world. In this way we will be prepared for the return in power of the Messiah who will reign as King with justice and peace. This is the world's only hope for that elusive peace which many people long for.
For more you may be intersted in Why Ezekiel 38 refers to the nation of Russia