A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record by now, but there’s an enormous potential for a giant leap forward in End Times prophecy this summer, and this week we came breathtakingly close to witnessing its beginning.
After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations and now all of them live in safety. You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm, you will be like a cloud covering the land.
This is what the sovereign Lord says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages, I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people – all of them living without gates and bars.” (Ezek. 38:8-11)
Many students of prophecy, myself included, see the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 as one of the most significant events on God’s prophetic calendar. In the scenario Ezekiel described nearly 2500 years ago, a coalition of Moslem countries, armed and led by the Russians, will attack Israel and be utterly defeated due to God’s direct intervention. He will use this battle to re-introduce Himself to Israel as their protector, to recall the rest of His people to their ancient homeland, and to reinstate His relationship with them.
When Will These Things happen?
All agree that this battle has not yet taken place. Following WW 2 the Jewish people began returning to the land for the first time in centuries and only since then have conditions been such that Ezekiel’s prophecy could be fulfilled.
Speaking of this battle Lord said, “I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them (the attacking Moslem coalition). From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God. (Ezek. 39:22). He concluded by saying, “I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind.” (Ezek. 39:28)
Israel’s re-gathering, officially begun in 1948, will continue to completion and will be both spiritual and physical. According to Acts 15: 13-19 and Daniel 9:27 it will result it a temple being built. That means the Jews will return to their Old Covenant relationship with God, bringing an end to the Age of Grace and causing the Church to disappear into Heaven. The 490 year clock that stopped on year 483 at the time of the Crucifixion will begin ticking again, its final 7 years (known as Daniel’s 70th Week) unfolding. God’s attention will again be focused on Israel.
The Jews will begin Temple construction assisted by the anti-Christ (Dan 9:27) in what will be his first big move to establish himself as the god of this world. 3 1/2 years later he will stand in this very Temple and proclaim himself to be God, a declaration that will jump start the Great Tribulation. (Matt. 24:15 & 2 Thes. 2:4) So Ezekiel’s battle must be inserted into the window of time between the rebirth of the nation in 1948 and the rebuilding of the Temple, still in the future. You can see why prophecy students are so interested. Israel’s return to God, the Rapture of the Church, Daniel’s 70th week, the Coming Temple, the introduction of the anti-Christ, the Great Tribulation and the 2nd Coming are all somehow impacted by this battle. (Although the Rapture can happen at any time, I believe Rom. 11:25 says it has to happen before the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week) Can you imagine any event more critical to the fulfillment of End Times prophecies?
A Peaceful And Unsuspecting People
So what else has to happen before this battle can take place? The participants are in place and it’s no secret that they’re in the final stages of preparation. Nor is their intent a mystery. Iran has openly predicted Israel’s soon coming demise, and Turkey has finally taken its place in the Moslem Coalition Ezekiel described.
There’s just one other condition. Israel is described as living in safety in Ezek. 38:8 at the time of the attack. The Hebrew word translated safety there is betach. Of 42 Old Testament appearances, it’s translated into some form of the word safety 28 times. (One meaning of the word is careless, in the sense that the people feel so safe they’re not being cautious.) To underscore the attitude in Israel at the time of the attack, Ezekiel calls them a land of unwalled villages, a peaceful and unsuspecting people, living without gates and bars (Ezekiel 38:11).
It’s safe to say that none of these conditions exist in Israel today. Two thirds of a proposed 436 mile long security fence has been built to prevent Palestinian terrorists from crossing into Israel, so it’s decidedly not a land of unwalled villages. The Jewish people know there are up to 40,000 rockets and missiles pointed at them, leaving no part of Israel safe from attack. Then there’s the Gaza blockade crisis. Last week Hezbollah and Iran announced their intention to break the blockade with ships that were ready to set sail on a moments notice. Israel responded quickly, saying they’d be treated like enemy ships if they entered its territorial waters. (As of this week both have been at least temporarily held back by pressure from the international community. Had this not been the case, we’d literally be hearing the opening salvos of Psalm 83 by now. ) For months, Israel’s military leaders have been telling their troops to prepare for war this summer.
These are not the actions of a peaceful and unsuspecting people. In fact, persistent rumors have Israel preparing to launch a pre-emptive attack against Iran. According to DEBKAfile Israeli bombers have been secretly positioned in Azerbaijan causing Iran to declare a state of war along its nearby border and position troops there, and it has also been reported that Israeli aircraft have the green light to overfly Saudi Arabia enroute to an attack on Iran.
Observers have called this summer the time when things will change forever in the Middle East. What ever happens will not be the long awaited Battle of Ezekiel 38 but it will certainly be setting the stage for it. We’ve already discussed the Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17 scenarios. A pre-emptive attack on Iran could easily trigger the fulfillment of these prophecies and decisive victories could put Israel into the state of mind consistent with one meaning of the Hebrew word betach; feeling so safe they’re no longer being cautious. Time will tell. But more so now than ever before, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. (06-26-10)