"Peace and Safety"
Setting the Stage for the Apocalypse
The purpose of this article is to explain how current events are being driven to set the stage for the "peace and safety" that precedes the Day of the Lord. The expected war in Iraq, the role of Israel and Syria, and the situation in Turkey may all play a big part. First we will confirm the beginning of the Day of the Lord within the book of Revelation and show how it is related to the rapture and resurrection of believers, and then we will turn to several Old Testament prophecies that may help to explain the situation in the Middle East prior to the Apocalypse.
The Day of the Lord will begin when the world in general, and Israel in particular, is experiencing a period of relative calm and stability. This is predicted very clearly by the Apostle Paul, who was only reiterating the very words of Jesus. Paul begins his predictions by describing the rapture and the resurrection of living and dead believers, and then he connects it with the beginning of the Day of the Lord. This is the end-times Tribulation, and Paul states that it will begin suddenly and catastrophically when the world least expects it,
According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. ( I Thessalonians 4:15-5:9 NIV)
Compare these words of Paul with the words of Jesus, as recorded in Luke 21:34-36,
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
Paul referred to the Day of the Lord as a day that would come "like a thief in the night" and "suddenly" with great destruction. Jesus warned about "that day," and predicted that those who were not aware would be surprised by it, and it would "close on you unexpectedly like a trap." The similarities are obvious, and Jesus and Paul are speaking on the very same subject.
Jesus also implies that the situation on the earth would be stable by stating that the chief threats to the salvation of individuals would be "dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life." Note that Paul also referred to drunkenness in 1 Thessalonians 5:7 above. Jesus explained that we must not be weighed down by the pressures of this world, and we must not be distracted by the good things that this world can tempt us with. Dissipation means overindulgence, especially in food and drink and the KJV uses the term "surfeiting" which means the same thing. Obviously Jesus' warnings cannot apply to a time after the Tribulation begins, which will be a time of famine and catastrophe, instead He is talking about the temptations prior to the Tribulation and the unexpected manner in which it begins.
Jesus said that we must always be on the watch so that we may be able to "escape all that is about to happen." Paul addresses the Church at Thessalonica by telling them that as believers they are not in darkness, and therefore they will not be surprised by the Day of the Lord. Jesus says that faithful believers who remain on the watch will indeed escape all that is about to happen, while Paul states the opposite fact for unbelievers by saying that when the destruction of the Day of the Lord comes, "they will not escape."
Both of these passages have strong elements that point toward the sixth Seal of Revelation as the fulfillment of the beginning of the Day of the Lord, and as the moment in time when the resurrection and rapture of believers takes place. Remember that in Paul's passage above he was clear that the resurrection and rapture would precede the Day of the Lord, a period that would begin catastrophically, but at a time of "peace and safety."
There are a number of prophecies that make it clear that the shaking of the earth as described in Revelation 6:14 marks the beginning of the Day of the Lord. It is preceded by the darkened sun and blood red moon of 6:12, which according to Joel 2:31 must precede the Day of the Lord, and it is followed in Revelation 6:17 by the people of the earth crying out that the great day of God's wrath has begun. For further evidence that the shaking of the earth in Revelation 6:14 marks the beginning of the Day of the Lord please see the article "Entering the Apocalypse," which describes these details further.
If the Day of the Lord begins in Revelation 6:14, then the resurrection and rapture must precede it. From Revelation 6:12-7:8 John, the disciple of Jesus who recorded the Revelation, describes the effects of the sixth Seal upon the earth. Afterwards, starting with 7:9, John describes how the sixth Seal affects the situation in heaven. The most important change in heaven, from when the sixth Seal is opened in 6:12, to after it has had its effects on the earth, is that during that time a great multitude of believers appear, seemingly out of nowhere, to stand before God's throne,
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 7:9-12)
Jesus said that those who pray, and avoid becoming consumed with the trials and pleasures of this world, would "escape all that is about to happen," to "stand before the Son of Man." The great multitude is the fulfillment of this promise, and believers stand in heaven before the throne of God and in front of the Lamb, who is the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. Paul also said that at the rapture we would meet the Lord, and that after that time "we will be with the Lord forever." The "Lord" in this context (I Thess. 4:17), is Jesus Christ our Saviour.
The final point to be made, to confirm our conclusion that the sixth Seal marks the time of the rapture and resurrection, and the beginning of the Day of the Lord, is the statement Paul made regarding the relationship of believers and unbelievers to the Day of the Lord. He simply said, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." "Salvation" in this context does not necessarily refer to spiritual salvation, but to physical salvation from the Day of the Lord. We will be saved! We will escape the Day of the Lord, and we will be rescued from God's wrath (1 Thess. 1:10). When the great multitude is first shown in heaven they cry out in praise to God saying "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"
The situation that the unbelievers face on the earth is the complete opposite. After the Day of the Lord begins they cry out, "For the great day of [God's] wrath has come, and who can stand?!" It is just as Paul predicted regarding the Day of the Lord. Believers will "receive salvation" and unbelievers will "suffer wrath." Believers will be taken to heaven to escape the Day of the Lord, while unbelievers will remain on the earth to face God's wrath.
The most common interpretation today among American evangelicals is that the rapture and resurrection of believers does not occur within the sixth Seal, but before the first Seal is even broken, and that the Church is represented in heaven by the Twenty-Four Elders of Revelation 4:4. This is the common Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory. The arguments against this interpretation are many, but we will focus on just two. First of all, the Twenty-Four Elders do not "stand before the Son of Man," which is what Jesus predicted for those who escape the Day of the Lord. The Twenty-Four Elders sit. Secondly, the Twenty-Four Elders are shown in heaven at a time when Jesus Christ is not present. The Twenty-Four Elders do not stand before the Son of Man, they sit before the Father. Then they wait for the Son of Man to appear, which does not occur until some time later in Revelation 5:6. Will this be the fate of the Church, the Bride of Christ, upon our rapture to heaven? Will we be sitting in heaven, arms folded, feet tapping, waiting for our Lord to make His tardy appearance? I think not. As Paul said, we will be raptured to meet the Lord in the air, and then we will be "with the Lord forever." The Twenty-Four Elders do not represent the Church. Only the Great Multitude of Revelation 7 is a precise fulfillment of the predictions made for the rapture of the Church.
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory makes a second major error in placing the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation (the 70th Week of Daniel) at the opening of the first Seal. Our Red Moon Rapture prophetic model places the beginning of the 70th Week of Daniel after the first Trumpet, where it fits much more neatly. The rapture does indeed occur prior to the Tribulation, but not until after the first four Seals are opened, which bring forth the infamous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which relate to the birthpangs of the Tribulation as predicted by Jesus in Matthew 24:3-8 (see "Entering the Apocalypse"). The fifth Seal then gives a picture of past martyrs, and makes a prediction of future martyrs. Then it hints at what may be the resurrection (6:11a), which is followed by the opening of the sixth Seal. The rapture occurs before the Tribulation, but the Tribulation does not begin until the earth is shaken by the hand of God after Jesus opens the sixth Seal.
Upon opening the sixth Seal Jesus will enter the earth's atmosphere and gather the living believers to meet Him in the air (1 Thess.4:17), whereupon the Day of the Lord will then begin with the shaking of the earth (6:14). After the unbelievers upon the earth are all faced with the wrath of God, as felt by the shaking of the earth, then God will reach out and supernaturally save and seal a portion of His nation Israel. These 144,000 Israelites are referred to as "firstfruits" in Revelation 14:4. This description only makes sense when it is understood that the 144,000 are the first people saved after all believers have been previously taken in the rapture. They are the "firstfruits" from the Tribulation period.
Another fundamental doctrine of the mainstream Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory, is the doctrine of "imminence." It is the idea that Jesus Christ could return at any moment, and therefore believers need to always be ready for the rapture. This doctrine is based on the idea that because the Bible offers no explicit signs that must precede the rapture, then therefore the Bible implies that there is nothing that must be fulfilled prior to the rapture. It could happen the next minute, we just don't know! What this effectively does is contradict the words of Jesus and Paul, as given in the opening passages of this article. They both said that believers need to be aware and ready for the Day of the Lord. Jesus said "Be always on the watch," and Paul said that believers "are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief." Paul tells us that we do know, and that we won't be surprised!
Yet according to the teaching of "imminence," how can we be anything but surprised if the rapture could occur at any moment? And if there are no signs that must precede the rapture then why did Jesus tell us that we must be "always on the watch"? What are we supposed to be watching for!?
It is my conclusion that the doctrine of "imminence" is flawed. Just because the Bible does not give a list of signs that are explicitly indicated to occur prior to the rapture, it does not mean that there are no signs or events that will be fulfilled prior to the rapture. According to my understanding of prophecy, the Bible teaches a doctrine of "expectancy," rather than a rigid doctrine of "imminence." We are clearly told to expect the rapture, that it could occur soon, and that it might conceivably surprise us, but only if we are not aware. The rest of this article will be an examination of several prophecies that may define for us what it is that we need to be aware of. They are all related to the "peace and safety" that will precede the Apocalypse, as taught by the Apostle Paul.
In our previous article "Entering the Apocalypse," referred to earlier, we studied the early sequence of end-times events. It established the role of the first four Seals as indicative of the birthpangs of the tribulation, and the fifth Seal as predictive of a great persecution of believers, a global persecution that will be felt by new believers who turn to Christ after the rapture. The sixth Seal was the key to understanding the beginning of the Tribulation, and the connections between the sixth Seal and the first Trumpet, with the Magog invasion of Ezekiel 38-39, were highlighted.
It will be the invasion of Israel by an alliance of Muslim nations, led by Gog of the land of Magog, which will prompt God to intervene globally in human affairs. The earthquake of Revelation 6:12 is the very same earthquake described in Ezekiel 38:19, and the shaking of the earth described in Revelation 6:14 is the very same shaking of the earth described in Ezekiel 38:20. Furthermore, the destruction of the invading armies described in Ezekiel 38:22, and the judgments of fire that accompany it in Ezekiel 39:6, is the very same judgment as the first Trumpet judgment of Revelation. With that said, we must now look at the conditions in Israel just prior to the Magog invasion,
Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. 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 walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land." Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, "Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?" Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? (Ezekiel 38:7-14)
When the Magog invasion occurs, Israel will be living in peace and safety. It will be a "land of unwalled villages," and the people will be living without walls, gates or bars. Israel will be a "peaceful and unsuspecting people," and they will be "living in safety."
Something must radically change, both within Israel and in her relations with her neighbors. Today Israel is paranoid to the extreme. She has walls and fences on every side, and a major fence is proposed to be built around the entire border she shares with the West Bank. Israel lives continually in fear of attacks originating from the Palestinian areas of Gaza in the south, and the West Bank to the east, and there is a guarded fence across the entire northern border to protect Israel from the constant raids that are made by Hezbollah from Lebanon. This must all change for the situation to become similar to the one described by Ezekiel prior to the Magog invasion.
One of the first descriptions that Ezekiel gives is that Israel is a "land that has recovered from war." Perhaps it is this war, a war that will be fought before Magog invades, that will be the source of Israel's peace and safety. Of course this goes against everything that we are told about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The "experts" at the UN and the Council on Foreign Relations, and in the liberal media virtually across the board, argue that Israel can only survive if she makes peace with her Palestinian neighbors. Ezekiel seems to predict otherwise, and his prediction is corroborated by the prophet Isaiah, and by a Psalm of Asaph, who was King David's chief singer, musician and poet. We will begin with a look at the Psalm of Asaph,
O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still. See how your enemies are astir, how your foes rear their heads. With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish. "Come," they say, "let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more." With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you-- the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal, Ammon and Amalek, Philistia, with the people of Tyre. Even Assyria has joined them to lend strength to the descendants of Lot. Selah. Do to them as you did to Midian, as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon, who perished at Endor and became like refuse on the ground. Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, who said, "Let us take possession of the pasturelands of God." Make them like tumbleweed, O my God, like chaff before the wind. As fire consumes the forest or a flame sets the mountains ablaze, so pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm. Cover their faces with shame so that men will seek your name, O LORD. May they ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace. Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD-- that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 83)
In this Psalm Asaph describes a great conspiracy to destroy Israel. The tribes and cities that he mentions correspond to the modern-day Palestinians and to Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, and their plan is to "take possession of the pasturelands of God." What is important is the plea that the Psalmist makes to God. He asks God to put an end to this conspiracy, to destroy the members of the conspiracy and to "make them like tumbleweed, O my God, like chaff before the wind." God has never answered this plea, at least not yet, and the conspiracy to destroy Israel still exists to this day.
The Psalmist's plea is finally answered within a prophecy given to Isaiah.
An oracle concerning Damascus: "See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to flocks, which will lie down, with no one to make them afraid. The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and royal power from Damascus; the remnant of Aram will be like the glory of the Israelites," declares the LORD Almighty. "In that day the glory of Jacob will fade; the fat of his body will waste away. It will be as when a reaper gathers the standing grain and harvests the grain with his arm-- as when a man gleans heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim. Yet some gleanings will remain, as when an olive tree is beaten, leaving two or three olives on the topmost branches, four or five on the fruitful boughs," declares the LORD, the God of Israel. In that day men will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands, and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles and the incense altars their fingers have made. In that day their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation. You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines, though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain. Oh, the raging of many nations-- they rage like the raging sea! Oh, the uproar of the peoples-- they roar like the roaring of great waters! Although the peoples roar like the roar of surging waters, when he rebukes them they flee far away, driven before the wind like chaff on the hills, like tumbleweed before a gale. In the evening, sudden terror! Before the morning, they are gone! This is the portion of those who loot us, the lot of those who plunder us. (Isaiah 17)
The names may be different, but the places they refer to are much the same as in Psalm 83. Isaiah describes a major conflict, and the main protagonists are Israel and Syria. The most obvious result of this conflict is the destruction of Damascus. It is the world's oldest continuously inhabited city, and it has never suffered the devastation predicted by Isaiah. Damascus will be destroyed, there can be no doubt about it. The other results of this conflict are as follows,
- The cities of Aroer will be deserted. According to different sources, Aroer is the name of three places in or near Palestine, or it refers to the modern town of Arair, east of the Dead Sea in Jordan.
- The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim. The ancient tribe of Ephraim was given the land that is now in the central part of the Palestinian West Bank. These cities are fortified by the Palestinians who live in constant combat with Israel. Isaiah tells us that after the conflict they will no longer be fortified.
- Royal power will disappear from Damascus. Apparently after Damascus is destroyed it will no longer be the capital city of Syria, if such a nation even exists after the conflict.
- The glory of Jacob will fade as a result of the war. Yet Isaiah says that hope will remain, just as some olives are still left in the branches after an olive tree is beaten.
- The remnant of Aram will be like the glory of the Israelites. Aram's glory will be diminished by the war just as Israel's will be. According to the entry from the Bible Encyclopedia, Aram is simply the Hebrew designation for the land of Syria.
- Their strong cities (Aram's) will be abandoned because of the Israelites and become desolate.
One of the most important spiritual results of this war will be that the people who fought against Israel, specifically the people of Aram, will "look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel." These people who turn to God, and look away from their altars and their Asherah poles and incense altars, are the very people who are forced to abandon their strong cities because of Israel.
The predictions regarding Aram refer to the people of Syria and could also refer to the people known as the modern Assyrians. After the death and resurrection of Christ ancient Assyria was the first nation to accept Christianity and the Assyrian Church was founded by Thomas, Bartholomew and Thaddeus in 33 AD. The modern Assyrian people today, numbering about 3.3 million, occupy an area of about fifty thousand square miles, predominantly in a region located in Syria, western Iran, northern Iraq and southern Turkey. The Christian Assyrians should not be confused with the Kurds, who practice Islam, but the two peoples share much the same land and often come into conflict. According to this webpage on the History of Assyria, from Assyria Online, the traditional Assyrian faith was the worship of the pagan god Ashur. In this context Isaiah's prediction that they "will have no regard" for their Asherah poles makes a great deal of sense.
After the conflict predicted in Isaiah 17 many of Israel's enemies will turn back to God, but Israel will not. They will not experience any sort of national spiritual revival until after the Magog invasion when its overwhelming army is destroyed through divine intervention in the form of hail and fire falling from the sky. At that time God will say "I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel," (Ezekiel 39:7).
Isaiah 17 will result in the spiritual revival of the Assyrian people and the fall of the modern nation of Syria, as well as the defeat of the Palestinians and perhaps also Lebanon and Jordan. That explains why these nations, Israel's traditional foes, do not take part in the invasion of Israel that is led by Gog of the land of Magog of Ezekiel 38-39.
The final passages of Isaiah 17 help to tie the prophecy of Isaiah back to Psalm 83. The "raging of many nations" compares with the conspiracy of the many nations to destroy Israel. In the Psalm the goal of the conspiracy is to take possession of the "pasturelands of God," and in Isaiah the goal of Israel's enemies is given as "loot and plunder." The connection is confirmed when the plea made by the Psalmist is compared with Isaiah's description of the raging of Israel's enemies and God's response. Asaph had cried out to God asking Him to, "Make them like tumbleweed, O my God, like chaff before the wind."
Isaiah tells us that the future conflict that includes the destruction of Damascus will be an answer to Asaph's plea, "Although the peoples roar like the roar of surging waters, when he rebukes them they flee far away, driven before the wind like chaff on the hills, like tumbleweed before a gale. In the evening, sudden terror! Before the morning, they are gone!"
This combination of metaphors, of Israel's enemies being compared to chaff and tumbleweeds driven before the wind, only appears in the Bible in these two passages, Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17. Through Isaiah God gives His direct answer to the Psalm of Asaph. The conflict described in Isaiah 17, a conflict in which Israel is overwhelmingly victorious over her neighbors, could well be the war in which Israel is recovered from prior to the Magog invasion that is mentioned in Ezekiel 38:8. It is a war that may finally give Israel a brief period of peace and safety. The next prophecy given by Isaiah, a prophecy against Cush, helps to confirm many of the connections that we have already made.
The nations that make up the Magog alliance are named as Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer and Togarmah. The leader of the alliance is named as Gog, of the land of Magog, who is the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.
The view that has been upheld among most American evangelicals for the past fifty years or so is that the land of Magog, and also Meshech and Tubal, refers to Russia. This has also been my view in the past, as I've written in Chapter 12 of the rough draft of my online book. However, over the past year I have re-evaluated my position and studied the Biblical texts and the positions held by various scholars concerning this question. The work of Michael S. Heiser has been particularly influential in my studies, specifically his book (available online) "Islam and Armageddon." Heiser is an ancient Semitic languages scholar, a devout Christian, and also an authority on the UFO phenomenon as it relates to ancient history and Bible prophecy. His academic and professional credentials are listed here.
Heiser argues against the view that Russia is referred to in Ezekiel 38, and says that the popularity of that view has probably been successful only because it portrayed a popular Cold War villain in a negative light. The idea that Russia is referred to in Ezekiel 38 is actually a very new teaching, unsupported by the Bible, that has only continued because of one dubious claim found in the ancient works of Josephus. Referring to the Table of Nations from Genesis 10 we find that Magog, Meshech and Tubal, as well as Gomer and Togarmah, are all descendents of Noah's son Japheth. Heiser's conclusion is that all of these tribes settled in Anatolia, a conclusion supported by the authoritative Moody Atlas of Bible Lands, and by the vast majority of Bible scholars in the past. If this is indeed the case then Ezekiel is referring to the modern-day nation of Turkey as the leader of the invasion against Israel, rather than Russia.
Today it is my conclusion that the Magog invasion of Israel at the beginning of the Day of the Lord will be led by Turkey, and will include the nations of Iran (Persia), Sudan (Cush), and Libya (Put). These are all Muslim nations, and all of them except Turkey are open enemies of Israel today. Iran has been an enemy since the Shah was overthrown in 1979, Sudan has been an enemy of Israel since the coup that installed General Omar Bashir in 1989, and Libya has been an enemy of Israel since Moammar Qaddafi was installed by the CIA in 1969.
This interpretation of the Magog invasion is also held by a number of Bible prophecy websites which reinforce their conclusions with arguments that, taken together, make a very strong case. I have found an evangelical Christian site at biblicalstudies.com that contains the article "The Nations of Ezekiel 38-39 - Who Will Participate in the Battle?", an excellent Messianic Jewish site run by Hanoch Ben Keshet out of Jerusalem that includes a simple map of the nations involved in the invasion, and an Orthodox Jewish site that arrives at the same conclusion:
What he [Ezekiel] prophesied, then, is an end-time battle involving the following nations coming against Israel: Turkey (Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, Togarmah); Iran (Persia), Sudan (Kush), and Libya (Put).
The Foundation of the Magog Alliance
The prophecy of Isaiah 18 is a prophecy of Cush, modern-day Sudan, a member of the Magog alliance,
Woe to the land of whirring wings along the rivers of Cush, which sends envoys by sea in papyrus boats over the water. Go, swift messengers, to a people tall and smooth-skinned, to a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers. All you people of the world, you who live on the earth, when a banner is raised on the mountains, you will see it, and when a trumpet sounds, you will hear it. This is what the LORD says to me: "I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest." For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone and the flower becomes a ripening grape, he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives, and cut down and take away the spreading branches. They will all be left to the mountain birds of prey and to the wild animals; the birds will feed on them all summer, the wild animals all winter. At that time gifts will be brought to the LORD Almighty from a people tall and smooth-skinned, from a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers-- the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the LORD Almighty. (NIV)
This prophecy begins with a description of envoys traveling from Cush to a nation that is described in the following manner:
- It is a people tall and smooth skinned
- It is a powerful nation feared far and wide
- It is a nation of strange speech
- It's land is divided by waters
This passage is a difficult one to translate into English from the original Hebrew, and so other versions, such as the KJV and ASV, give somewhat different descriptions,
Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled! (KJV)
Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth, to a people terrible from their beginning onward, a nation that meteth out and treadeth down, whose land the rivers divide! (ASV)
Is this nation one that is "tall and smooth" - as in "smooth-skinned," or is it "scattered and peeled," whatever that might mean, as the KJV translates? Is the nation one that was "meted out and trodden down" in the past, or is this nation one that reaches out and "meteth out and treadeth down" opposing nations? I am not a Hebrew scholar and so I won't try to guess these answers. However, taken together, we can make a case that the envoys from Cush travel to a nation that corresponds most naturally with today's Turkey.
- Turkey's beginnings can be found in the mighty Hittite Empire. After that came the Byzantine Empire, and then the Islamic Ottoman Empire that lasted until World War I. The Turks have always been feared by the West, especially in the Middle Ages when Turkish armies advanced several times into Europe all the way up to Vienna. Historically it is a nation "terrible from their beginning" and "feared far and wide."
- Turkey became a nation after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. The British physically occupied the majority of the Empire (trodden down), and afterwards they divided it up (meted out) between themselves, France, Russia, and their Arab puppet rulers in Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.
- The nationalist Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the founder of Turkey, and he immediately began a campaign to modernize and Westernize his new nation. One of Turkey's first laws made the growing of beards forbidden. Enforcement of this law has steadily become less strict, but for the most part, aside from the occasional moustache, Turkey's men are smooth-skinned.
- The Tigris and Euphrates rivers both begin in Turkey and they divide the country as they cross through it to the south. Turkey also has plans to build more dams on the rivers, but these plans are presently resisted by the governments of Syria and Iraq.
- Turkey is a Muslim nation, but unlike Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Arabia whose people are of Semitic stock, Turkey's people are Indo-European. The original Hittite Empire was descended from Heth, a son of Ham, which was then taken over by sons of Japheth. Jews and Arabs are descendents of Shem (Semites), while the Turks are made up of descendents of Ham and Japheth. Hebrew and Arabic are languages that are closely related, but Turkish comes from an entirely different branch of the language tree. Turkey is definitely a "nation of strange speech" from Israel's perspective.
The envoys from Cush appear to travel to a nation that very closely resembles Turkey. The result of the diplomatic activity appears to be given in Isaiah 18:3,
All you people of the world, you who live on the earth, when a banner is raised on the mountains, you will see it, and when a trumpet sounds, you will hear it.
A banner and a trumpet are both symbols of an advancing army, and the reference to mountains compares with the Magog invasion that advances upon the "mountains of Israel," (Ezekiel 39:2). All the people of the world will see the banner and hear the trumpet (the trumpet might also be symbolic of the rapture, which our timeline places very close to this moment). The next thing that the prophet Isaiah describes is a strange pause in heaven, after the Lord looks down and sees the army coming against his people,
This is what the LORD says to me: "I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest." (Isaiah 18:4)
The main focus of my work in developing the Red Moon Rapture prophetic model has been to establish the links between the book of Revelation and the prophecies of the Old Testament. I have been led in my study to the conclusion that the destruction of the Magog invasion, an invasion that begins with the onset of the Day of the Lord, is brought about by the judgment that comes from God after the blowing of the first Trumpet of Revelation 8:7. Ezekiel's version of the destruction of the Magog invasion has many parallels with the first Trumpet, which can be analyzed in the table located here. When Isaiah describes a period of silence in heaven he is confirming the accuracy of our Red Moon Rapture prophetic timeline, because a similar pause in heaven is shown in Revelation 8:1 at the opening of the seventh Seal, just prior to the first Trumpet judgment,
When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
After God's moment of "quiet" in His "dwelling place," as described in Isaiah 18:4, the prophet goes on to describe the results of the destruction of an army that has many similarities with the words of Ezekiel. Compare the two descriptions,
For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone and the flower becomes a ripening grape, he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives, and cut down and take away the spreading branches. They will all be left to the mountain birds of prey and to the wild animals; the birds will feed on them all summer, the wild animals all winter. (Isaiah 18:5-6)
Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. (Ezekiel 39:17)
The destruction of the Magog invasion that takes place after the pause in heaven also helps to confirm that the first Trumpet judgment, that occurs after a similar pause in heaven, is the way in which the Lord destroys the invaders. All of these passages link together and confirm each other and help us to know the exact sequence of events at the beginning of the end-times Tribulation.
The decision that Turkey makes to be the leader of an unexpected attack against a "peaceful and unsuspecting" Israel appears to be brought about by diplomats who arrive from Sudan. In the next section we will try to put all of the prophetic events that we have learned thus far into a contemporary perspective. Bible prophecy is on the verge of being fulfilled in a major way.
As I write this article (March 16, 2003), President Bush is making it clear to the world that the United States will unilaterally invade Iraq, without the blessing of the UN, and possibly even without the help of Great Britain. If everything goes according to plan the removal of Saddam Hussein should be rather quick and with a minimum amount of casualties, despite what the critics are saying about a half million casualties and house-to-house fighting in Baghdad. This is what I expect and this is what I am praying for.
Unfortunately, there is always the chance that the unexpected could occur. Perhaps Saddam has a few surprises in store. Perhaps there are other powerful forces that have surprises as well. Over the course of my research I have come to realize that the most wicked people in the world are the people at the top of the Anglo-American Establishment. The Masonic Brotherhood is a major part of this Establishment, and one of its goals is the rebuilding of Solomon's Temple (see the notes I have compiled on this subject, and also the EIR report "Who Is Sparking a Religious War in the Middle East?").
Israel's two most powerful leaders are also high level masons, these being Shimon Peres and Ariel Sharon. Politically they appear to be great rivals, but the truth is that personally they are the best of friends. They are both completely wicked and totally compromised, and neither works for the best interests of Israeli citizens. Peres is a member of the Labor Party, and is responsible for the failed Oslo Peace Process, for which he was given a Nobel Peace Prize. He is also personally responsible for the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995.
Ariel Sharon is a member of the Likud Party. While Peres won a Nobel Prize, Sharon is viewed as responsible for the Sabra and Shatilla massacres in Lebanon. If he does not obey his Anglo-American masters he knows that he will be summoned to The Hague, indicted, prosecuted and jailed for war crimes.
One of the main objectives of the Oslo Peace Process was to take the Old City and the Temple Mount out of the hands of the Arabs and give it to the UN and the Vatican. (See "The Vatican's Plot Against Israel" by Barry Chamish from January 17, 2001). This plan would have succeeded if the assassination of Rabin had not been completely botched. Rabin's Labor Party was heading for an election in late 1995 against the Likud's Benyamin Netanyahu. However, things began to fall apart for the Labor Party and Netanyahu appeared to gain the support of the public. This forced Rabin to begin to back out of the Oslo agreements and for this he terribly angered his Anglo-American masters. Peres then formed a plan to assassinate Rabin with the help of Carmi Gillon the head of the Israeli Secret Service (Shabak). Rabin would be killed, the murder blamed on a right-wing extremist, and Peres would be the new head of Labor. The public would then be so disgusted with the right that they would turn away from the Likud and embrace Labor, electing Peres as the new Prime Minister. The peace process would then continue ahead at full speed.
However, because the assassination was such a messy affair the truth immediately came out and the Likud Party, even while helping to cover it up, used it to guarantee Netanyahu's election in early 1996. These events are chronicled in a number of books, most importantly Chamish's "Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin?" and David Morrison's "Lies - Israel's Secret Service and the Rabin Murder." The patsy for the murder was Yigal Amir, an asset of the Shabak who was directly controlled by agent Avishai Raviv. Amir fired blanks, Rabin was dragged unhurt into his limousine, and was then shot by a Shabak bodyguard who Chamish has been publicly naming with impunity for years now. As amazing as this scenario sounds once you know the facts of the case you will not disagree.
Netanyahu's term was a relative time of peace for Israel, but it was not such a great success for the plans of the Establishment. For this reason public opinion against Netanyahu was whipped up by the press and in the next election Ehud Barak was elected Prime Minister. The entire Oslo Peace Process came to a head when President Clinton invited Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat to a 15-day summit at Camp David in the summer of 2000. Both sides made great progress and seemed to be coming to an agreement, but then everything fell apart when Yasser Arafat would not agree to the US-Israeli initiative that the Old City be handed over to international control. Arafat demanded that the Holy Sites remain under Palestinian control, and once the Anglo-American Establishment realized that they could not get their hands on the Holy Sites through peace, they decided that they would be forced to gain control of them through war. Overnight Ariel Sharon became their new man and in October of 2000 he provocatively entered the Temple Mount complex which immediately touched off the "Al-Aqsa Intifada," the Palestinian uprising that continues to this day. Sharon was then elected Prime Minister of Israel in early 2001.
The most powerful forces within the Bush administration today are very closely allied with Sharon and Israel's Likud Party. This is an embarrassing fact, but one that a few have spoken out about lately, including Patrick Buchanan. He points to the policies and agendas of men like Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith and their allies in the media and in the Pentagon, which are all supportive of Ariel Sharon and Israel's new militant approach towards the caged Palestinians. The members of this group also happen to be the strategic planners of the immanent war in Iraq, the plans having been drawn up as far back as 1991, when the elder Bush withdrew from Iraq leaving Saddam in power.
Now I am an evangelical Christian who supports Israel's right to live unmolested in the land that God gave her, but I am not so blind as many other commentators within the Religious Right who support every policy, no matter how extreme or inhuman, that Israel carries out. The fact is that political Zionism is a major part of the Masonic plan to rebuild Solomon's Temple. Zionism and Masonry are opposite sides of the same coin, and the leaders of both are wicked to the core. The possibility that we must address is that this immanent war on Iraq might include just the sort of surprises that I referred to earlier, and that these surprises might be used by Israel as an excuse to crush her immediate neighbors. Perhaps something might even happen to draw Syria into the conflict. One of Syria's largest chemical/biological weapons factories is located on the outskirts of Damascus, and if it was even perceived that these types of weapons might be used Israel would lash out in a heartbeat.
Some of the most hawkish voices within the Israeli political establishment have even been arguing that the only way to achieve peace is to crush the Palestinian Authority and carry out mass deportations of Palestinians such as occurred in 1948 and 1967. They argue that Israel's long-term security can only be gained by neutralizing the Palestinians and taking over the West Bank entirely, eliminating Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and crushing Syria, which is seen within the Bush Administration as a lesser satellite of the Iraq-Iran-North Korea axis of evil.
To summarize, the Middle East is surrounded by evil on all sides. Saddam Hussein is evil, but the Bush Adminstration's short-sighted narrow-minded plan to remove him is also evil, and could be taken care of in a much less costlier and less violent manner. Israel's neighbors are evil, and their long-term goal to see Israel completely obliterated is divinely ordained to come to nothing. Finally, Israel's leaders are evil to the core as well, but the political Religious Right (Falwell and Robertson) blindly embraces them, supports them and props them up with cash, even knowing that it is just these men who will betray their own people when the Antichrist comes on the scene.
When the Iraq war begins we will know where our world is at on the prophetic timeline by the actions of Israel's leaders. Will she emerge from the controlled chaos to find herself existing in a new position of peace and safety? Will she emerge in full possession of Jerusalem's Holy Sites?
The Emergence of Turkey
For years American Evangelicals helped to justify the Establishment's "Cold War" through the belief that we were covertly fighting against Russia, identified as Magog, that was destined to invade Israel. We thought we were doing a Christian duty by protecting Israel and forestalling the Apocalypse. Today the Bush Administration, as part of its preparation to invade Iraq, has attempted to bribe the government of Turkey with billion of dollars of aid in return for the use of Turkish bases and airspace. Half of the proposed aid is conditional and must be used to purchase weapons and material for the Turkish military from American defense contractors. The searing irony is that the Bush Administration, so closely (and falsely) associated with genuine evangelical Christianity, is the very one paving the way for the real Magog to fulfill its pre-ordained role as the leader of the invasion of Israel!
We cannot know for certain what will be the end result of this future war on Iraq. Perhaps it will result in the fulfillment of Isaiah 17, or perhaps not. What we must consider now is the situation that Turkey will find herself in after the Iraq war, and after the fulfillment of Isaiah 17, whenever that is destined to occur. In both cases, Islam will find itself greatly humbled, with no one stepping up to carry Mohammed's banner. In the Iraq war "Christian" America will prove victorious against a Muslim country, and with the fulfillment of Isaiah 17 "Zionist" Israel will emerge victorious against the Palestinians and Syrians. Who will Islam look to in such a humiliated condition? The name of the man could very well be Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Let's look again at the members of the Magog alliance, and examine the history of Turkey, Iran, Sudan and Libya, to find the thread that binds them together.
In two prior articles I outlined how the Shah of Iran was betrayed by the West and how his country was deliberately handed over to the Islamic Fundamentalists. This was part of the Establishment's "Arc of Crisis" policy to crush Arab nationalism and development, ensuring the Middle East's long-term role as servants of the West. The main component of the Western campaign to destabilize the region has been a group known as the Muslim Brotherhood. It is the Muslim world's most powerful mafia, and the decisions reached at Brotherhood conferences in London and Geneva have global ramifications. One of the aspects of the Muslim Brotherhood is that it reaches across sectarian lines and has great influence within Sunni Islam as well as within Shiite Islam that is based for the most part in Iran. The Muslim Brotherhood faction that largely controlled the Revolution that overthrew the Shah was a branch known as the Fedayeen-e-Islam, and it was the Fedayeen's leader the Ayatollah Khalkali who became the chief judge in the trials of thousands of Shah supporters after the Revolution. The Fedayeen also controlled the opium production and drug smuggling networks that operated covertly under the Shah, who was trying to eliminate them before being thrown out, and after the Revolution Khalkali was cynically appointed by Khomeini to be the head of Iran's national anti-drug program.
In Sudan the situation was the same. The present ruler of Sudan, General Omar Bashir, was placed in power by Islamic Fundamentalists associated with the International Muslim Brotherhood in 1989 (after a Brotherhood meeting in London months earlier). The man behind the throne was the most powerful Muslim Brotherhood spokesman in all of Africa by the name of Hassan al-Turabi, and under his guidance Sudan emerged as Africa's most important terrorist base. Soon mujahedin from around the globe were streaming into Khartoum to be trained at Iranian-funded military camps. In 1995 the Muslim Brotherhood, with Sudanese and Iranian sponsorship, carried out an assassination attempt of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak when he visited Ethiopia. As a result Egypt almost went to war with Sudan. Saudi Arabia became agitated as well because they did not appreciate Sudan's closeness with Iran, their Shiite enemy. It was during this time that Osama bin Laden lived in Sudan. He had been brought into Sudan by Turabi and he developed a very close friendship with Turabi's son.
Sudan's open involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood lasted for only a few years. With the bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 the game was up. Sudan's economy was in a shambles and the government had to take steps to bring itself back into the civilized world. General Omar Bashir dismissed Turabi from the government in December of 1999, and then had him arrested in February of 2001. He was later released in October of 2001, and today his whereabouts is not known for certain. He is the Muslim Brotherhood's most important African spokesman, referred to in the past as the "Black Pope of Islam," and therefore he is a protected asset. Perhaps his masters have an important role for him to play in the future. (Please refer to my article on the Muslim Brotherhood for further background on this man.)
Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Khaddafi has not enjoyed the same type of support from the Muslim Brotherhood. He loves to foment violence against the Jews and the West, but at the same time the Muslim Brotherhood is a group that is controlled to a great degree from London, and Khadaffi knows this. According to former MI-5 agent David Shayler, British Intelligence hired Osama bin Laden (a lifelong member of the Muslim Brotherhood) in a bid to assassinate Colonel Khaddafi in 1996. However, in the Arab world alliances can shift very fast, and one way or another we know that Libya will join forces with Sudan and Turkey in a bid to obliterate Israel. Libya does share a border with Sudan, and since Turabi was removed from Sudan's government Khadaffi and Bashir have enjoyed closer ties. The truth is that there are many avenues through which Libya might be brought into the alliance.
Turkey's involvement with Islam has been very frustrated since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk built the nation out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. From the beginning he was determined that Turkey should remain secular and so almost every type of religious expression, especially Muslim, became greatly restricted. As mentioned earlier he outlawed beards, and he also outlawed the wearing of the veil. Ataturk died in 1938 and he left a government that has been continually dominated by the top generals of the army, who have been determined to carry on Ataturk's anti-Islamic policies.
Over the years the country was able to suppress Islam and to maintain a political status-quo that respected the vision of Ataturk. This all changed with the rise of Necmettin Erbakan who received his support and funding from the International Muslim Brotherhood. Erbakan was the founder of several pro-Islamic parties and in 1980 the military acted against Islamic agitation and rioting by carrying out a coup and installing a new government. Erbakan's party was banned and he was excluded from politics for seven years. From the sidelines he formed the Welfare Party in 1983 and he helped to sponsor candidates running on the Welfare Party's agenda's to stop corruption and allow freedom of religion.
The height of his career was reached when he was elected Prime Minister of Turkey in 1996. He was Turkey's first openly Islamic Prime Minister and he served exactly twelve months until the military forced him from power. Some of the dubious distinctions of his term were that he improved Turkey's relations with Libya and Iran, seen as "terrorist" states by the West, and he also snubbed Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. He also changed his position regarding Turkey's petition to join the EU, first campaigning against it, but then turning to support it.
Erbakan has always been the Muslim Brotherhood's link with Turkey, and one of Erbakan's primary backers has been the Swiss financier Ahmed Huber. To read about Huber please refer to Kevin Coogan's article "The Mysterious Ahmed Huber."
To summarize, Huber is a Swiss financier and journalist who began his career as a socialist. He then converted to Islam in the 1950s in a Geneva mosque that was founded by Muslim Brotherhood leader Said Ramadan. Later he journeyed to Egypt where he became friends with the pro-Nazi Mufti Amin al-Husayni. His entire career has been spent in supporting one anti-Semitic crusade after the other. After Sadat made peace with Israel he turned away from Egypt and made friends with powerful Iranian interests. By 1994 his views had become so openly extreme that his own Swiss socialist party expelled him.
Huber is one of five managers of the investment group Nada Management, also known as Al Taqwa Management. This bank was on a list of 62 organizations and individuals that were suspected of funding Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida. In the aftermath of September 11 Huber praised the attacks, and journalists who interviewed him in his office could look up and see large portraits of his two heroes, Adolph Hitler and Osama bin Laden, on the wall behind his desk. The Swiss journalist Richard Labeviere writes in "Dollars For Terror," that Huber also has photographs displayed of Necmettim Erbakan, Jean-Marie Le Pen and the Ayatollah Khomeini in his office. Labeviere writes that Huber introduced Erbakan to Le Pen and that Huber's two friends, "supposedly stated that they 'share the same view of the world,' and expressed 'their common desire to work together to remove the last racist obstacles that still prevent the union of the Islamist movement with the national right of Europe.'"
Labeviere writes that Huber "published a European press review for the Iranian leaders, then for the Turkish Refah [Erbakan's Welfare Party]. Since the former lacked financial means, A.H. [Ahmed Huber] chose to put his efforts to the service of the latter. An outpost of the Turkish Muslim Brothers, Refah thus became A.H.'s principal employer; and it was through the intermediary of the Turkish Islamist party that this former parliamentary correspondent became a shareholder in the bank A.T. [Al Taqwa]."
The principle owner of the bank, Yussef Nada, admitted to Labeviere that since the beginning of its activities "A.T. [Al Taqwa] placed all its transactions under the control of Sheik Yussef al-Qardawi." Sheikh Qaradawi is a well known member of the Muslim Brotherhood and has been at the forefront of Islamic scholars defending the anti-Islamic practice of suicide bombing.
Today Necmettin Erbakan's political career is basically over, but his influence in Turkey is not. His protégé is a young Islamist politician named Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Born in 1954, in the Black Sea port of Rize, Erdogan first met Erbakan while he attended Istanbul's Marmara University. Erdogan was pulled into the Islamist movement and, according to this BBC bio, he had his first brush with the law after the military coup of 1980 when he refused an order from his boss at the Istanbul transport authority to shave off his moustache. Some time later he began his career as a Welfare Party politician. With steadfast support from his mentor Erbakan, he was elected the mayor of Istanbul in 1994.
I'll be back shortly to summarize Erdogan's views regarding Turkey's illustrious Islamic past, his alleged status as the current leader of the Turkish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, his attitude towards Israel, and to offer my final thoughts for this article. In the meantime, Pray that this world might come to realize the "peace which passeth understanding" that can only be found through Jesus Christ.
March 17, 2003