The invasion by Russia of neighbouring Ukraine is the biggest military campaign on European soil since the end of World War II. Some commentators see it as a blow to the globalist order. But we need to look at it from another angle: is it a fulfilment of Bible prophecy, particularly Ezekiel 38 and Gog & Magog?
February 24, 2022: Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin, launched an unprovoked invasion against the neighbouring nation of Ukraine. This act of aggression captured the world’s attention and for good reason: the Russian invasion is the biggest military engagement on European soil since World War II, dwarfing the Balkan wars of the 1990s when the former Yugoslavia dissolved. A great civilisational change – even shaking – is the occurring, regardless of what the final outcome of this invasion may be. Joe Biden calls it ‘a new world order’ (though not ‘the new world order’).
Add to the mix that Russia is nuclear armed, has fearsome weapons of mass destruction and is adept at cyber-warfare. If it attacks one or more of the three former Soviet Baltic republics of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – all NATO members – it could trigger a military response from the alliance. Russia’s (temporary) partner, China, could be drawn into the situation and, presto, we have World War III. No wonder people see this conflict in apocalyptic terms.
Our purpose is to understand the nature of the Russia-Ukraine war, especially if it has any implications for Bible prophecy. More precisely, is it related to the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecy, known as ‘Gog & Magog.’ First, let’s be clear: there is more going on here than meets the eye, with much misinformation from all sides, including the West. We also lament the tragedy of fraternal Slavs and Orthodox Christians fighting each other, the displacement of millions of Ukrainians, and the loss of many innocent lives.
Even the fundamental issue of why did Putin invaded his neighbour in the first place is not completely clear. Did he merely want to cause Ukraine to be a neutral border state, unaligned to the European Union and NATO, with a Kremlin-friendly government? Or does he want to conquer and annex Ukraine to Russia? Reconstitute the old Soviet Union? Maintain his iron-grip on power in the Kremlin? We await answers.
As mentioned, the Russia-Ukraine war is causing many people to turn to the Bible to see what are the prophetic implications, if any. We learn from Jesus Himself that the warm-up to the last days preceding His second coming includes “wars and rumours of wars” (Matthew 24:6), a “great shaking” (Hebrews 12:26-27), and “intensity of living” (Matthew 24:37-39); in general, great and unexpected changes. Think back to life just three years ago pre-Covid and it seems like an eternity. The ‘old normal’ is gone and the ‘new normal’ is unclear and unsettling. Life will not be the same again.
The fire and fury of this invasion, plus the unprecedented global attention, has caused many to wonder: Is this the prelude to Ezekiel 38-39? Apart from Armageddon (Zechariah 14; Revelation 16:16), the Ezekiel prophecy is the best known of the major end time events.
1 Chronicles 12:32 speaks of the men of Issachar who discerned the times and seasons and acted prudently. When you “understand the times” – what is happening and why – you will know what to do. When applying current events to Bible prophecy, it is important to understand both the event itself and then carefully see how it lines up to the Biblical record.
Jesus adds this insight in Luke 12:54-56 (ESV): He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
Introducing Gog & Magog
Summary: The Gog and Magog campaign is a massive, spontaneous, latter day invasion of Israel by a coalition of nations led by a great power from the north. At the time of the invasion, Israel is peaceful, unsuspecting, and unprepared. This unexpected invasion is so overwhelming that, humanly speaking, the Jewish state cannot survive. Yet, at the eleventh hour, God Himself intervenes, annihilates Gog and its allies, and Israel is saved.
Now let’s look at some of the details (all references are from the Book of Ezekiel):
Who’s the Leader: Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal (38:1)
Main Allies: Persia (Iran), Cush (Ethiopia or Sudan or Eritrea), and Phut (Libya – 38:5)
Secondary Allies: Gomer, the house of Togarmah (Turkey?) and many peoples with them (38:6)
Timing: In the latter or last days; after “many days you will be visited” (38:8,17). There is discussion and disagreement about where to place the Gog campaign in the prophetic calendar: before the tribulation, during the tribulation, or at the end of the tribulation, making it synonymous with the campaign of Armageddon? A fourth option is after the Millennium – the thousand year reign of Christ on earth – when Satan is loosed from the bottomless pit, gathers the rebels together to attack the beloved city, and fire falls from heaven and destroys them (Revelation 20:7-10). While we cannot be dogmatic about the timing, it appears that most of the prophetic ingredients ‘are in the pantry’ right now.
Target of the Invasion: The invasion will target the people of Israel living in the land of Israel. Jewish people are gathered out of many nations and resettled on the once barren mountains of Israel, dwelling in peace and safety (38:8). Do the October 2020 Abraham (Peace) Accords with Israel by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco point in that direction? Or does the menace of antagonists like Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis in Yemen, whose drones can reach Israel, preclude this ‘safe living?’
Next time, we will continue to look at current events and what implication they have for Gog and Magog.