A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
From our studies you can see that for the past 20 years or more the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 has appeared to be on the brink of fulfillment several times. There have always been the same few preceding conditions left to be met. For the most part they’ve been Turkey switching sides, the US being taken out of the picture, and Israel living in an assumed state of peace with its neighbors.
Within the past year or so we’ve seen Turkey do a major about face, aligning itself with the Moslem world and taking an ever more public stand against Israel. We know this is due to Turkish President Erdogan’s vision of leading the Moslem world by restoring the Ottoman Empire to its former glory.
Now there’s the way the US has gone all wishy-washy where Israel is concerned, saying the absence of peace in the Middle East is costing both blood and treasure and is against the national interest. This is a reference to the Obama administration’s view that if we could achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would quickly wind down, Iran would become more reasonable, and even al Qaeda would relax a little. Therefore they’ve have pretty much said it’s up to Israel to either make the Peace Program happen or face an imposed settlement.
That leaves the biggest one, Israel becoming a peaceful and unsuspecting nation. Could an imposed settlement somehow make that happen? Time will tell.
In the sixty years of Israel’s modern existence, there really hasn’t been a day when this condition has been met, although enemy sneak attacks in 1967 and especially 1973 did take the country by surprise as to timing. The simultaneous invasion by Egypt and Syria on Yom Kippur 1973 brought Israel perilously close to defeat. Historians report that due to “a rare moment of flabbiness in Israeli intelligence and in the government, Israel did not expect any attacks from its neighbors just at this point in time.” (Both the Jewish Yom Kippur and Moslem Ramadan Holy Days forbid waging war during their observance, and in October 1973 as the attack began these two observances overlapped.)
It took a week for Israel’s forces to recover and go on the offense. Two weeks after that the war was over, cease-fire arrangements having been negotiated by the UN. In the ensuing agreements Egypt regained control of the Suez Canal and the Sinai Peninsula lost in 1967 and Syria got back a small portion of the Golan Heights, although had the UN not stepped in, Israeli forces would have soon entered both Cairo and Damascus.
Those Who Don’t Learn From History …
Not since then has there been such a relaxed state of preparedness by Israel and indeed it’s hard to see how one could happen in the future. In fact the Bible mentions only two possibilities for a time of peace in the End Times, and neither fits the bill. The first occurs at the outset of Daniel’s seventieth week when the anti-Christ makes his initial appearance. By means of peace he will deceive many, Daniel 8:25 (KJV) tells us.
The other time is the 1000 years of peace known as the Millennium or Kingdom Age. Let’s rule that one out right away. First of all it’s an unparalleled time of peace personally administered by the Prince of Peace. No enemy of Israel’s will dare attempt a sneak attack until right at the end when Satan is freed from his 1000 years of captivity to lead them.
And second, the end time prophecies in Ezekiel are sequential, first the latter days re-gathering of the Jews to Israel in chapters 36-37, then the battle of Ezekiel 38-39, then from chapter 40 on it’s their Kingdom Age, aka the Millennium. The Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 has to follow the modern re-gathering but precede the Millennium. It can’t happen at the Millennium’s end.
So let’s go back to the first possibility, the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week. Daniel 9:27 reveals that the anti-Christ will begin his reign by enforcing a seven-year covenant with Israel that includes permission to build a Temple. (This seven year period is called Daniel’s 70th week.) But because of the controversy it would stir up, the Jewish leadership today doesn’t want a Temple and the most recent polls show only about 1/3 of the people do. I don’t think there will be a national consensus on this until the Creator of the Universe dramatically reveals Himself to them. According to Ezekiel 39:22 He does so in this battle , and after that they’ll be clamoring for a Temple, regardless of the consequences. Old Covenant observance requires it. So it appears Ezekiel’s battle has to precede Daniel’s 70th week.
Also, the fact that the anti-Christ emerges as a peacemaker implies that some parts of the world will have recently been at war. Perhaps even a war involving a nuclear exchange, which will have left the world in shock, desperate for a plan that would prevent that ever happening again. Satan’s “man of peace” with his seven year covenant will have just the thing to put the world at ease and allow him to begin his meteoric rise to world dominance.
Have You Reached A Verdict?
As we see, circumstantial evidence weighs heavily in favor of the anti-Christ revealing himself on the heels of the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 to kick off Daniel’s 70th week. And so neither of the Bible’s identified possibilities for peace will take place in time for this battle. That means that some dramatic chain of events, similar to those that led to the “sudden” fall of the Soviet Union, will have to occur soon to place Israel in the vulnerable state necessary for Ezekiel’s prophecy to be fulfilled. It’s still too early to see if the US can really impose a peace treaty that will lull them into a false sense of security. More likely, fulfilling the prophecies from Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17 will create the circumstances.
So What’s The Point?
Now why is all this so important to us? Well, we’ve already made a case for the anti-Christ to appear right after the battle of Ezekiel 38 and we know from the passage itself that the Lord uses it to reveal Himself to Israel and draw them back to Him.
We’ve also seen that for the final seven years of the dispensation of Law to be completed the Dispensation of Grace, which interrupted it, has to first come to an end. That means the Church has to disappear before Daniel’s 70th Week can begin. This is what Paul meant by saying Israel had been hardened in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25). This same idea was first put forth by James at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:14-18) when he said that before returning to rebuild David’s fallen tabernacle the Lord would first take from among the Gentiles a people for Himself. Both passages speak of the Lord taking His Church away before turning His attention to Israel again.
So if the Church has to disappear before the Lord turns again to Israel, and if this is the outcome of the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39, you can see why it’s so important to us. The Rapture has to precede Ezekiel’s battle. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.