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Can we expect to see Russia and the UK at odds from Bible prophecy? Ezekiel 38 indicates that we can. This week in Bible in the news we consider Britain and Russia in prophecy.
Hello this is Matt Davies joining you.
The latter days
Ezekiel 38 is a fascinating prophecy because it outlines to us the state of the nations in “the latter days”. This phrase is very interesting to consider. When we come across phrases in the Bible which repeat it is because God, through His inspiration of His prophets, is revealing something for us to consider. “The Latter Days” is a ‘sign post phrase’. It is referring to a specific time in history. Consider what the Bible has to say about this time period:
- The people of Israel will have returned to their land after a period of dispersion (Hosea 3:5)
- The nation of Moab (area of Jordan) would be restored after a time of non-existence (Jer 48:47)
- Israel will be victorious over their Arab neighbors (Num 24:14)
- A power to the North will attack Israel but will come to his end (Daniel 10:14&11:40-45)
- Israel will face a time of tribulation which will cause them to reflect on God (Deut 4:30 & 31:29, Jeremiah 21:20, 30:24)
- God’s law will go forth from Zion and all nations will obey it (Isa 2:2, Micah 4:1)
The prophecy of Ezekiel 38 has a lot to say about this time period. “The latter days” is mentioned in verse 16 so we know this is a revelation of events which take place at the same time as the other passages we have referred to.
Like the other passages, we see the “latter days” is a time period when Israel has returned after a period of dispersion. The prophecy focuses on “the mountains of Israel” which is the modern day “West bank” area. It mentions the Jews who live there as living in places which were “desolate places that are now inhabited” (v12). The inhabitants are those who “are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land”.
Therefore this is speaking of our times. The state of Israel came into existence in 1948 and Jews have been settling in the area of the mountains of Israel ever since – much to the disgust of the nations of the world.
We know therefore we are living in the “latter day” period. The time when ultimately a great conflict will take place with the regathered people of Israel but will end up with the Kingdom of God being established on the earth.
The invader from the North as Russia
Ezekiel 38, like Daniel 11, tells us of a great invading force which comes from the North (Eze 38:15). What is interesting about it, is that it gives us the names of the nations who will be involved. The names though are the ancient names of those nations.
We are told the invading force is headed up by a mysterious man called “Gog”. He is “the prince of Rosh” (NKJV).
According to the Hebrew scholar Gesenius
“Rosh is a “proper name of a northern nation, mentioned with Tubal and Meshech; undoubtedly the Russians, who are mentioned by Byzantine writers of the tenth century, under the name oi Ῥῶς (Ros), dwelling to the north of Taurus [Mountains in Turkey], and described by Ibn Fosslan, an Arabic writer of the same age, as dwelling on the river Rha (Wolga [Volga]).”
Gesenius’, Hebrew Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament
Another scholar called “Clyde E Billington Jr.” states:
“Historical, ethnological, and archaeological evidence all favour the conclusion that the Rosh people of Ezekiel 38-39 were the ancestors of the Rus/Ros people of Europe and Asia. The Rosh people who are mentioned in Ezekiel were well known to ancient and medieval writers by a variety of names which all derived from the names of Tiras and Rosh. Those Rosh people who lived to the north of the Black Sea in ancient and medieval times were called the Rus/Ros/Rox/Aorsi from very early times. From this mixture with Salvs and with the Varangian Rus in the 9th century, the Rosh people of the area north of the Black Sea formed the people known today as the Russians.”
Clyde E Billington Jr., The Rosh People In History And Prophecy (Part Three) Michigan Theological Journal (Spring 1993)
From this evidence, Gog then is the leader of the Russians. Currently, the leader of the Russians is Vladimir Putin. Putin recently won another election as Russia’s president which will keep him in power for another six years.
We are not saying Putin is the Gog of Ezekiel 38 but he is certainly showing the same ruthless aggression and tactical intelligence that we might expect from Gog. Gog though may still be waiting in the shadows learning from the behavior of Putin as Russia becomes great.
In Ezekiel 38 verses 1-9 we read of Gog aligning Russia with other nations to invade Israel. Also with Russia are Persia (Iran), Etheopia and Libya (Northern African nations), Gomer (Western Europe), Magog (Eastern Europe) and the house of Togamer (the Turkic nations).
Tarshish as Britain
The British power is also in Ezekiel 38 but is not with the attacking force who comes against Israel. They are found in verse 13 under the name of ‘Tarshish’.
There are some very good Biblical and historical reasons for concluding Britain is Tarshish. Looking at the clues we get from the Bible we can see that Tarshish is a trading power operating in the region of Sheba & Dedan (modern-day Gulf States). We’re told that in Ezekiel 38:13. Also in Ezekiel 38:13 we read that there are political “young lions” – that is nations who are now independent of their ‘Tarshish’ mother lion. We, therefore, conclude that Tarshish is a colonial power.
From other parts of the Bible, we find that the Tarshish people are descended from Japheth & an area which is an island or coastal land (Gen 10:4-5). It is thought that descendants from these men immigrated to the far West of Europe.
In passages such as 2 Chron 9:21 Psalm 48:7 Isaiah 2:16, 23:1, 60:9 and Ezekiel 27:25 Tarshish was known as an ancient maritime power. Some of the oldest boats ever discovered have been found in and around Britain.
Tarshish was an ancient trading power who was active in global markets and in the past, it particularly traded with India 2 Chron 9:20-21. In Isaiah 23:6 we read Tarshish would take over from the trade of Tyre (Phoenicians).
From Ezekiel 27:12 we can see that in ancient times Tarshish was a source of silver, iron, tin and lead & traded with the ancient Phoenicians of Tyre. These metals are located in abundance in Britain and there is abundant evidence that they have been mined from ancient times.
When you piece all of these things together it would appear that only Britain fulfills the requirements of the Biblical clues of who Tarshish is.
Rosh and Tarshish
What does this Tarshish power do in Ezekiel 38? two points here:
- Tarshish is on opposite sites to the Rosh power.
- When Russia and her confederacy invades Israel the Tarshish power can only say “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?” (v13). Although they pose this question it does not appear that any action is or can be taken against the aggression of Gog.
Therefore we can expect, in the time period of the latter days when Israel have returned to their land a distancing of the powers of Britain and Russia. We can expect Russia to be dominant and aggressive and Britain, although having the pride to verbally stand up to the Russian power, to not have the teeth to do anything to stop an invasion from Russia into Israel.
The events in the news we are witnessing indicate that these predictions from the Bible are holding true.
Bible in the News
On March 3rd this year a Russian lady called “Yulia” arrived in London from Moscow. She was there to visit her Father, Sergei Skripal.
Skripal was a former Russian double agent. Sergei Skripal was jailed by Russia for spying for but released as part of a spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010.
According to the Evening Standard he had recently written to Putin and asked to be pardoned so he could visit his home country.
On March 4th, Yulia was in Salisbury, in the South of England and met up for a drink with her father Sergei. At about 2:20 pm they went to a pizza restaurant.
2 Hours later, they were on a bench outside the Pizza restaurant. A member of the public was calling 999 after seeing the pair in a terrible condition. They were showing all the symptoms of a serious poisoning and it was doubtful the pair would survive.
The next day Wiltshire Police declare what has happened as a “major incident”. Boris Johnson the UK Foreign Secretary declared that Britain would “respond appropriately and robustly” if Russia was involved.
On March 12th, the British Priminister, Theresa May gave a speech and revealed that that the Skripals were poisoned with a Russian-made nerve agent called Novichok, and calls on Russia to give a “credible response”. She set a deadline for Russia to respond. They chose not to.
The prime minister said there were two plausible explanations “Either this was a direct by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”
In a news report by the Guardian it was reported:
“May made clear that she believed there was already “a backdrop of a well-established pattern of Russian state aggression” – listing the illegal annexation of Crimea, violating European airspace and a “sustained campaign of cyber-espionage and disruption”, including “meddling in and hacking the Danish ministry of defence and the Bundestag, among many others”. She also spoke of the extrajudicial killing of terrorists and dissidents outside Russia and the murder of Litvinenko.”
After the deadline was ignored 23 Russian “undeclared intelligence officers” were expelled by Britain. Many other nations condemned Russia and expelled diplomats in solidarity with the UK.
Britain has not shown their evidence that the nerve agent was Russian and this has led to some in the international community condemning Britain. Russia denies all connections with the attack.
The game continues though.
On the 7th of April the BBC ran a report entitled “Russian spy: Embassy request is tactic, says ”. The report came after Russia had asked for a meeting with the UK to discuss the incident. the report stated:
“The Foreign Office has described a Russian request for a meeting with Boris Johnson on the Salisbury poisoning as a “diversionary tactic”. The Foreign Office said Russia’s response had been “unsatisfactory”, as it had been three weeks since Russia was asked to “engage constructively”. The Russian Embassy said it was “high time” for a meeting on the inquiry. Current interaction between the embassy and the Foreign Office was “utterly unsatisfactory”, it said. The Foreign Office said it would respond to the invitation for a meeting between Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko and Foreign Secretary Johnson “in due course”. It said: “It’s over three weeks since we asked Russia to engage constructively and answer a number of questions relating to the attempted assassinations of Skripal and his daughter. “Now, after failing in their attempts the UN and international chemical weapons watchdog this week and with the victims’ condition improving, they seem to be pursuing a different diversionary tactic.”
So as we watch with Bibles in hand we see that the Tarshish power and the people of the Rosh are indeed on separate sides as we would expect from Bible prophecy. As the great conflict of the latter days comes closer the pieces are being arranged so that the nations can take their place just as the prophets of old stated they would by the power of the living God.
The Kingdom of God
We are in the latter days. We are witnessing the formation of the nations as the prophecies of the Bible have predicted.
We’ll end the Bible in the News this week by quoting from Isaiah 2 and other events which will soon unfold on the world stage in “the latter days”. These are descriptions of the coming literal and physical Kingdom of God which Jesus Christ will soon establish on the earth when he returns to sit on the throne of his Father David and the Kingdom of Israel is once again restored. The signs are there to warn us and also encourage us that soon the reality of that Kingdom will be here.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war .” Isaiah 2:2-4
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