Some people believe that the invasion described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 happened already, in antiquity; that the prophet’s description was hyper-literal (large and small shields, bows, arrows, etc.). Some believe that it’s completely symbolic; symbolic of what, nobody knows. Some believe that it is Ezekiel’s perspective on the Armageddon campaign.
I don’t happen to hold any of those opinions. However, the current developments in the Middle East have me a bit confused.
See, as a fan of military history, I’ve long wondered at an aspect of the prophecy that I’ve never heard noted by Bible teachers and preachers: The Turks and Russians have been traditional enemies for centuries. (Their mutual animosity was the strongest undercurrent contributing to the Balkan tinderbox that sparked off the First World War.) The Russians have coveted warm water ports and Istanbul (formerly Constantinople; formerly Byzantium) for a long time, and the Turks can’t help but reminisce about the glory days of the Ottoman Empire. Yet, if Biblical and linguistic scholars are correct, Ezekiel prophesied an alliance between Russia and Turkey. Turkey is one of the first-string players in the coalition led by Gog, chief prince of Meschech and Tubal.
Indeed, Turkey, though a NATO country and somewhat westernized over the last century, seemed to be distancing itself from its NATO allies in recent decades, and re-embracing its Islamic roots while covertly pursuing a similar agenda in the Middle East as the Russians.
Now, I didn’t assume the Magog invasion was imminent, like some prophecy buffs. There were a few pieces that still had to fall into place–like some development which enables Israel to “dwell securely” in “unwalled cities” prior to this invasion. Also, Israel’s immediate surrounding neighbors are not included in the coalition lineup. This led me to lean toward the “Psalm 83 War” scenario bandied about for the last few years. If Israel goes to war against Syria, Lebonon (a Syrian puppet state), Gaza, Egypt and Jordan, and wipes the floor with them, that could give them opportunity to “dwell securely” afterward. Other puzzle pieces fall into place as well, like perhaps the destruction of Damascus and the exceeding renown of the IDF. And if the Israelis hold the territory of their enemies this time, rather than giving it back, they would be in possession of significant resources. The primary motivation of the invaders which Ezekiel mentions is a lust for plunder.
I tracked developments and saw how they were causing puzzle pieces to fall into place–like how the toppling of Saddam Hussein destabilized the region, made the current bloodbath inevitable, and could lead to World War III.
And yet, this downing of a Russian jet by Turkey seems to indicate that the alliance I thought I saw forming must be much farther off than I thought. Therefore the Magog invasion must be farther off, unless the names from the Genesis “Table of Nations” used by Ezekiel, long considered the ancestors of the Turks, have been misinterpreted.
Sometimes scholars assume a geographic identifier when the Bible actually used a genetic one…or vice-versa.
I have long ignored how Bible scholars I admire miss the historic fact that the Turks did not start out in the region of modernday Turkey. After all, they are respected Bible scholars and therefore must be correct, right?
The Turks came from the same region that spawned the Schythians, Huns, Mongols and Tartars. In other words, they all share a common ancestor: Magog. That means no Russo-Turkish alliance is truly required by Ezekiel’s prophecy.
And that means that a war between Russian and Turkish principals could very well be the catalyst of the invasion.