Russia’s Place in Prophecy
In the scheme of events divinely predicted, it will appear obvious to the careful reader of the prophetic Scriptures that God will deal with the fighting forces of this world first when Judgment, His strange work, begins; and, thereafter, with the civilian population: for the latter see Matthew 25:31-46.
The Western Confederacy, the ten toes of the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar and interpreted by Daniel (Dan. 2), enters into a covenant with apostate Jewry (Dan. 9:26-27) . The Southern Confederacy (Ezek. 30:5, and Dan. 11:40) and the Eastern Confederacy (Rev. 9:13-16; 16:12; Dan. 11:44-45; Isa. 10:12; Joel 2:20) are destroyed, some by the opposing forces of their enemies, others by divine intervention. Greece obviously will be dealt with separately, see Joel 3:5-8; Zechariah 9:13. The Beast, in its representative, crucified the Lord Jesus Christ after three times affirming His innocence. Subsequently, the blood of the people was shed in such a volume that millions were involved in that awful slaughter, the worst in history till the events of the last world war were enacted when millions of Jews were cruelly done to death. The slave markets of this world were glutted with human merchandise when Titus the Roman general “destroyed the murderers and burnt up their city” in A.D. 70. The Grecians were the most enthusiastic purchasers of the youth of that day, and the sons of Zion were slaves to them. God has not forgotten this, and He will deal in righteous indignation with Greece in the day to come.
The only remaining fighting force to demand the Judgment of a righteous God is that of Russia in the far northern parts (Ezek. 38 and 39).
This section of the prophecy of Ezekiel must not be divorced from the context of the Prophecy. It is worthy of note that God must cleanse His earthly people prior to the establishing of the kingdom about which prophet and seer have spoken in the distant past. In Ezekiel 36:24-27 God states, “A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you…” This is followed in chapter 37 by the vision of the valley of bones. God interprets this so that there is no speculation. The “dry bones” are the whole house of Israel (V. 11). By the power of God shall the whole nation be established: twelve tribes as one commonwealth in the land; not two as existed when Christ first came into this scene to be refused as “The King of the Jews.” The restoration of Israel is here prefigured as a resurrection. God brings the nation into a condition in which, even to themselves, all hope has vanished (V. 11). Israel shall learn her lesson in abasement, and thereafter will she prove the wonders of divine grace which shall work on her account. New life in the Spirit will be given to Israel, which thus becomes miraculously organized (Vs. 1 to 14). The healing of the breach between Judah and Ephraim will take place; then Israel shall be one commonwealth in the land and David shall be king over the nation. David was the Shepherd King and the Warrior King and in these aspects depicts for us the coming monarch, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The problem is the passage from death to life. This has never been accomplished, and never will, except by the power of God. Man may boast that he has conquered space; but there Is only One Man who has conquered death, even our Lord Jesus Christ. The nation will be born anew by the Word of God, and in this we have the process. Every step is a true creative work of God: “Born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Pet. 1:23). The Spirit comes as the influence for the enjoyment of the new life and position; and in this we have the power. Those who were but the scattered relics of the dead are now the hosts of the Lord, “an exceeding great army” (V. 10).
In the Prophecy of Zechariah chapter 14, we learn that the faithful remnant of Judah will be spared through the troublous times of the Great Tribulation. The Lord shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, and a way of escape shall be made for the faithful ones as they are exhorted to “flee to the valley of the mountains” (Vs. 4-5). See also Revelation 12:14.
We are informed that the ten tribes of Israel will be caused to pass under the rod and be brought into the bond of the covenant (Ezek. 20 and 21). Then there will exist one commonwealth in the land of Immanuel, all brought back by divine power and in divine purpose and wisdom.
The conditions obtaining at the time Russia comes on the prophetic stage are as follows: the land will be brought back from the sword (Ezek. 38:8). Israel shall dwell safely in unwalled villages having neither bars nor gates (Ezek. 38:11). The desolate places will be inhabited when the people shall have been gathered out of the nations, and when they have accumulated much material wealth. “My people of Israel dwelleth safely” (Ezek. 38:14). These statements reveal that Israel is back in the land, drawn from many nations to possess their possessions as divinely promised.
Another factor to be considered in this study is the time when Russia takes action. We are informed that it is “in the latter years” (Ezek. 38:8); moreover, it will be “in the latter days” (Ezek. 38:16). It will be at the close of the Great Tribulation, Jehovah has stated, “Then I will be the God of all the families of Israel” (Jer. 31:1). Israel established in the land of promise will enjoy that tranquility which their God alone can bestow. This will be in contrast to the conditions obtaining at present in that land. The spirit of Ishmael is prevalent there at the moment, and he was the one who mocked Isaac. This feeling has prevailed down the line, Esau and Jacob demonstrate it.
The enemies are detailed for us: they are “God and Magog” (Ezek. 38:2). “The Prince of Rosh, Meshech and ‘rubel.” The final ruler over the peoples of the far northern parts is designated “The Prince of Rosh”: and the two capitals of the empire are suggested in the names “Meshech” (Moscow, the European capital) and “Tubal” (Tobolsk, the Asiatic capital). It is interesting to note that it is only in the last few decades that Russia changed its capital from Saint Petersburg to Moscow. There is also Persia, Ethiopia, Lybia, Gomer and all his bands and the House of Togarmah of the north quarters, or Uttermost north (J.N.D.). Greed has ever been in the heart of Russia, even in the Czars’ time she coveted other people’s territory but nobody wanted any of her possessions.
It is good to remember that “He doeth according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:35). God affirms in Ezekiel 38:4, “I will turn thee back …” Russia, that pretentious nation which denies the existence of God, shall say, “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.” The sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man are emphasized in this chapter. While God says, “I will bring thee against My land” (V. 16); Russia says, “I will go up… to take a spoil, and to take a prey” (Vs. 11-12). In verse 13 Russia expresses her desire to annex by force silver and gold, cattle and goods. God’s great objective is revealed in verse 23, “Thus will I magnify Myself, and sanctify Myself: and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am Jehovah.” He also assures us that He will make His holy name known in the midst of the people of Israel (ch. 39:25). He also affirms, “When I have… gathered them out of their enemies lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations: then shall they know that I am Jehovah their God” (v. 27).
God allows men to go “thus far but no farther.” He states, “When God shall come against the land of Israel… My fury shall come up in My face” (ch. 38:18). “Every man’s sword shall be against his brother” (ch. 38:21). God is not indifferent to His promises, nor will He permit His earthly people to be exterminated; and when Russia would advance with greed in her heart God asserts,” I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws” (Ezek. 38:4); and, again, “I will turn thee back, and will lead thee, and will cause thee to come up from the uttermost north, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel. And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand” (Ezek. 39:2-3 N.T.).
The Final Doom
The proud hosts of the uttermost north, with Russia as the evil genius planning the attack and desiring the product of the nation of Israel now established in the land, and awaiting the appearing of the Son of Man who will establish a regime such as this world has never dreamed of. Christ, Israel’s Messiah shall “fall upon the mountains of Israel” and the ravenous birds and beasts shall devour that great mass of humanity (Ezek. 39:4-5). The ultimate doom of that great host is to perish on the Mountains of Lebanon which skirt the northern part of Immanuel’s land. No human force meets in deadly conflict this great army; it is God who intervenes and destroys it.
When this whole army is routed and the personnel has perished at the hand of God then “they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall kindle fires, and burn weapons … and they shall make fires with them seven years” (Ezek. 39:9 N.T.). For a period of seven months shall the house of Israel be occupied in burying the dead that they may cleanse the land (Ch. 39:12).
This is the final judgment of the fighting forces of the world. Consequent upon this, the Lord shall be revealed as the Son of Man coming in His glory, and then shall sit upon the throne of His glory (Matt. 25:31). At this juncture the Lord Jesus Christ, as Son of Man, shall judge the living nations, i.e. the civilian population. Their destiny is determined by their attitude to the Messiah the King.
It will be readily observed that the King of the North is not the Russian. First of all the Assyrian, or king of the North, comes on the scene at the beginning of the Great Tribulation; Russia at the close. The forces of the Assyrian come from the east; those of Russia from the north. The Assyrian and his army enter the land of Palestine and leave it waste; the Russian does not enter the land. The Assyrian perishes in the Arabian desert; the Russian on the Mountains of Israel, which are the Mountains of Lebanon. Both, however, are destroyed by divine intervention, and this is the one point of similarity so far as their final destruction is concerned. Both come with the same objective “to take a spoil, and to take a prey.” The former succeeds, but Russia fails.