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Prophecy and Current Events Behold, I set thee a Watchman on the Wall" (Isaiah 62:6) War with Iraq and the Ezekiel 38 invasion of Israel - Part 1 By: Vince Aquilino -- To His Glory Ministries
War with Iraq and the Ezekiel 38 Invasion of Israel - Part 1
As war with Iraq is drawing closer, it appears that the United States and Great Britain essentially stand alone in committing troops and armaments to the invasion forces now staged in the Middle East. In terms of logistical support, Saudi Arabia only yesterday reluctantly agreed to allow the United States to use its airfields against Iraq.
With weather conditions now growing worse day-by-day, the optimal window of opportunity for the invasion is closing. In the time that remains, the United States has been feverishly trying to persuade the UN into supporting the invasion -- with little success. What is fascinating and perhaps of incredible prophetic significance is that to-date it is just Great Britain and the United States, the lion and the young lion, standing shoulder to shoulder.
In the 38th and 39th chapters of the Book of Ezekiel an end-times invasion of Israel by a coalition of nations is described. These nations are led by Russia and include Iraq, Iran, Libya, Turkey and others. There intention us to utterly destroy Israel -- the "apple" of God's eye.
When the Israeli invasion gets underway, Ezekiel 38:13 implies that the element of surprise is in play. This is consistent with military strategy. The element of surprise is very important in order to catch Israel and her allies unprepared. Is it possible that when the world is focused on Iraq, that this will be the time that "Gog" (the leader of Russia) thinks "the evil though." And with his radical Muslim allies invades Israel?
I want to focus on Ezekiel 38:13 first and then discuss verses 11-12 in this post. There is much else going on in the Middle East that is positioning for the invasion of Israel including events in Turkey, Russia, and Syria -- these events will be discussed in part 2 of this article.
"Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?" (Eze 38:13)
When the invasion occurs, three nations are surprised and caught off guard.
Sheba is most likely a reference to the area from which came the Queen of Sheba who visited King Solomon. According to archaeologists W. F. Albright and Wendell Phillips, Sheba was on the southwestern edge of the Arabian peninsula. Dedan was probably the habitat of the Arabs on the northern part of the Arabian desert, which is modern-day Saudi Arabia. The ancient capital of Saudi Arabia is still called Dedan on many maps today. We can, therefore, identify Sheba and Dedan as Saudi Arabia.
"The Merchants of Tarshish with all the young lions thereof" is not as simple to identify, but very important in our analysis. Tarshish, according to Davis' Dictionary of the Bible, "was a distant land...it is believed that Tarshish was Tartessus, in the south of Spain, near Gibraltar...ships of Tarshish were originally ships trading to and from Tarshish." According to German writer Gerhard Herm: "In 500 B.C. Tartessus disappeared from sight so mysteriously that Plato was inspired-- or so one imagines--to base his Atlantis myth on it." But the fleet survived and continued to trade.
"Young lions" is derived from the Hebrew word for "whelps" or "cubs". In this context, they probably refer to the colonies or offspring of what or who is represented by the merchants of Tarshish. Ezekiel's "merchants of Tarshish" (i.e. traders by sea) generally operated out of the port of Cadiz after the city of Tartessus disappeared. They continued to established trading posts (many of which had grown into sizable colonies) along the entire coast of Western Europe, including an active tin trade with Britain. Britain later colonized the United States, Canada and Australia. As we shall see, it is no coincidence that the lion is the symbol of Great Britain today.
Around 1010 B.C., the Phoenicians colonized western Spain, including the port city of Cadiz. It was from Cadiz that Phoenician navigators, having usurped the Tartessian routes and trade business, piloted the ocean-going fleet of Tarshish. At the time of Solomon, the Bible mentions the fleet of Tyre as capable of making difficult crossings. The king had at sea a navy of Tarshish which every three years brought gold, silver, apes and ivory. Jeremiah mentions Tarshish and gold from Ophir. Ezekiel apparently visited the ports of Tyre and Sidon where he had seen the Tarshish ships himself (see Ezekiel, chapter 27). In any event, it is possible that in these contexts, the fleet of Tarshish is used to describe an ocean-going navy.
So Tarshish was originally a Western European colonizing power based in Spain, and the fleet of Tarshish is sometimes used to describe an ocean-going navy. This fleet is what the Phoenicians ultimately used to conduct trade from Spain, even after the original city of Tartessus ceased to exist.
Ezekiel was certainly seeing a distant time and lands which did not yet have names. So when Ezekiel mentions "the merchants of Tarshish and the young lions thereof", he is referring to a future nation, perhaps with an ocean-going navy, who was associated with or colonized as a result of the Phoenician's colonization activity. This includes Great Britain and (directly or indirectly) the United States.
According to Professor Barry Fall of Harvard, in his book America B.C., the Phoenicians even reached the east coast of America, where they set up trading colonies. However, more importantly, since "young lions" refers to offspring or colonies, one cannot help but notice the connection between Great Britain (whose national symbol is the lion) and the United States (Britain's colony--a young lion).
The U.S. is a major sea power in the Middle East and is also aligned with Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, Isaiah in chapter 60, verse 9, tells us that, in the last days, some of the Jews return home to Israel in "ships of Tarshish." So we have to be able to identify this reference today. And since the largest concentration of Jews outside Israel today is in the United States, when the mass exodus of Jews from the U.S. begins, undoubtedly many will seek transit by ship which can carry many thousands of passengers at a crossing. (Others, of course, will be carried home on the wings of eagles, or modern-day American airplanes.)
In any case, when the invasion begins (perhaps because the invading forces include Russia), the only resistance offered by Saudi Arabia, Great Britain and the U.S. is what amounts to a diplomatic protest - "Have you come to take a spoil?"
The United States and Great Britain (with Saudi Arabia offering logistical support) are the very nations preparing to invade Iraq at any moment. And these are the nations that are caught off guard by the massive invasion of Israel.
We could be on the threshold of a major prophetic event which could mark the spiritual awakening of Israel, the fullness of the Gentile Age, and the nearness of the Rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Let's look at verses 11-12
"And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, to take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land." (Eze 38:11-12)
Gog, the leader of Russia, will observe that Israel is at rest, feeling secure, and so will seize the opportunity to invade this "land of unwalled villages". During Ezekiel's entire lifetime, it is unlikely that he had ever seen a village (let alone a city) without walls, bars and gates. Fortification was the primary method of defense up until the 19th century. So Ezekiel seeing Israel's villages without walls would mean that they had let down their guard. Israel is also focusing on Iraq, but leaving their peace and security to military operations to be carried out by the United States and Great Britan.
Verse 12 also reveals that Gog has "come to take a spoil and to take a prey". These are the two motives for the attack. Cash-poor Russia desires Israel's great wealth; they come to "take cattle and goods". However, the radical Muslim nations, have come to "take a prey"; as they desire to utterly destroy the Jewish people.
"Cattle and goods" are a reference to the wealth of Israel. She is becoming a wealthy nation. Israel has begun to harvest the tremendous mineral wealth of the Dead Sea, worth many trillions of dollars. They have also recently struck a potentially-massive oil reserve south of the Dead Sea (which will certainly inflame their Arab neighbors). Israel is ranked first in the world in graduating PHD's. The Israelis continue to be leaders in medicine and science. Six percent of the work force is engineers (as compared to 1.6% in the U.S.), and thousands of Russian scientists have emigrated to Israel in the "alyia" (return to Israel).
Verse 12 mentions that the invasion occurs after Israel has been regathered from the nations and has re-inhabited the desolate places. This has been accomplished. In fact, they have planted so many trees that the weather has been affected, yielding rain, as the trees on previously-barren mountain tops capture the moisture from passing clouds. This rainfall, coupled with irrigation efforts, has resulted in the "desert blossoming like a rose." (ISA 27:6) In fact, their agricultural techniques have been so successful that their "fruit is filling the whole earth." (ISA 35:1) Tiny Israel, about the size of New Jersey, is now the world's third-largest fruit exporter. Israel is indeed becoming rich. And with her growing braintrust, she will continue to grow in wealth and goods. It is during such a time of prosperity and well-being that Gog will strike.
The invasion is against those that "dwell in the midst of the land". Israel is certainly surrounded by enemies, but an examination of the words "that dwell in the midst of the land", in the original Greek, lends some unique insight. The words "that dwell in" is the transliterated Greek word "yashab" (Strong's reference number 3427). It is usually translated "to dwell, to remain, to settle or to live". However, it can also mean "to sit down", specifically as a judge, or to sit down in ambush. An ambush is certainly the dynamic of this invasion. It is at a time that the Jews have a new-found sense of peace and security that they are ambushed by Gog's forces. The prospect of removing Sadam Hussein from power and neutering one of the greatest threats to Israel has not been lost on them. Once again the United States wants Israel to sit out this military action offering to protect Israel (safety) and offering peace as Bush continues to pursue his plan for peace in the Middle East. However, the Bush plan calls for dividing God's land and invites the retribution of Almighty God upon the United States.
The phrase "in the midst" is the transliterated Greek word "tubbuwr" (Strong's reference number 2872). It means accumulated; i.e. (by implication) a summit. In this context, accumulated in the sense of a mass of people but, by implication, at a summit. Could summit imply a peace summit? Or is summit referring to the top of a mountain? In scripture, when a Jew is outside of Israel, he always goes "up" to Jerusalem, regardless of the geographic terrain.
With the growing anti-Semitic attitude of Russian leadership and their entangling alliances with the radical Muslim nations, Russia could certainly be getting ready to take a spoil. The stage is indeed set, the players are in place. All that is left is for God to draw Russia and her allies into battle...where they will be judged along with another nation that lives in the safety of the far distant coastlands - the United States?
What the invaders will not anticipate is God's intervention in the course of human history. The result is catastrophic for the invaders, but will change life for all mankind, as well. These events include nuclear weapons and an earthquake so large that it shakes the entire earth. But most important is that, during this time in history, God once again pours out His Spirit on the House of Israel, showing His greatness and holiness, and making Himself known in the sight of many nations. "Then they will know that I am the LORD". (Eze 38:23) God will "once again, in a little while, shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts."(Haggai 2:6-7) "And the desired of the nations shall come.''
God's righteous judgements are always redemptive. He does not desire that anyone perish, but that all come to repentance and everlasting life.
This invasion could now take place at almost any time. To prepare for it, stay close to the Lord by purifying your heart and thoughts through the daily washing of the Word. Be careful not to forsake the Holy One of Israel. Soon the culmination of all things shall begin.
Please read the entire series on Ezekiel 38 and 39 on this web site for further information. Your eternal well-being could depend on it.
``Watch and pray, therefore, that you would be counted worthy to escape the judgment that is coming upon the earth and be able to stand before the Son of Man'' (Luke 21:36).
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Ezekiel 38 Invasion of Israel - Part 1 http://prophecyandcurrentevents.com/thglory/invade01.htm
Ezekiel 38 Invasion of Israel - Part 2 http://prophecyandcurrentevents.com/thglory/invade02.htm
Ezekiel 38 Invasion of Israel - Part 3 http://prophecyandcurrentevents.com/thglory/invade03.htm
Ezekiel 38 Invasion of Israel - Part 4 http://prophecyandcurrentevents.com/thglory/invade04.htm
Ezekiel 38 Invasion of Israel - Part 5 http://prophecyandcurrentevents.com/thglory/invade05.htm
Ezekiel 38 Invasion of Israel - Part 6 http://prophecyandcurrentevents.com/thglory/invade06.htm
Ezekiel 38 Invasion of Israel - Part 7 http://prophecyandcurrentevents.com/thglory/invade07.htm
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What's Next for America - Part 6 http://prophecyandcurrentevents.com/thglory/up031602.htm
What's Next for America - Part 5 http://prophecyandcurrentevents.com/thglory/up020602.htm
What's Next for America - Part 4 http://prophecyandcurrentevents.com/thglory/up010402.htm
What's Next for America - Part 3 http://prophecyandcurrentevents.com/thglory/up122301.htm
What's Next for America - Part 2 http://prophecyandcurrentevents.com/thglory/up112101.htm
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"Watch and pray, therefore, that you would be counted worthy to escape the judgment that is coming upon the earth and be able to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36).
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