David Jeremiah - The Resurrection of Russia
The date was mid-August, 2015, less than 18 months after Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from its parent nation, Ukraine. Putin's ambitions for a reunited Soviet bloc took over in his life. And he not only annexed Crimea, he also infiltrated Ukraine with Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms. His purpose was to stir that nation, already reeling from political turmoil, into utter chaos. Someone once told me that he is like a mother bear who has been deprived of his cubs, and he wants to get them all back. He wants to reinstitute the Soviet Union as it was before the Cold War.
Well, as much as we would like to think that his actions are okay, and what's happening with him in the Middle East is okay, perhaps we should go back and ask ourselves this question. Does the Bible have anything to say about that? What should our attitude be about what's going on now? And what is the ultimate goal of Vladimir Putin and the Russian nation? Believe it or not, 2,500 years ago, Ezekiel predicted what would happen to Russia in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. I bet you didn't read from that book for your devotions this morning.
Ezekiel the prophet in the Old Testament. In chapters 38 and 39 of that book, there is a description of the invasion of Russia into the nation of Israel's territory. And it is the most detailed prophecy in all of the Bible concerning war. If you open the book of Ezekiel to the 38th chapter, the first thing you notice is this long list of nations. But you won't find the name Russia on that list. At least, it doesn't look like it's there. But if you look carefully on this list, you will see a word, and it's the word "rosh," R-O-S-H. It is the most important word on that list in many respects because it is the small version of the word "Russia".
The linguistic argument for that goes like this. In the study of how ancient words came into modern language, it is quite common for the consonants to remain the same, and the vowels to be changed. So, if you take rosh, which is R-O-S-H, and you change the vowel to a U, now you have rush. That's the basic word behind the word "Russia". But we don't have to depend just on the linguistic argument because there's a location argument as well. Now, put your thinking caps on and stay with me.
In the Bible, when you read, especially in the Old Testament, words that define a direction, like north, south, east, or west, I don't know if you've ever asked, north, south, east, or west of what? Then you realize if you study the Bible that in the writers' minds, the center of the earth was Israel. In fact, Ezekiel chapter 5 and verse 5 says, "Thus says the Lord God, 'This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her.'" So whenever a Jewish writer would write about languages and about directions, if he said north, what would he mean? North of what? Israel. South, south of Israel.
Now, that's really important because if you go to the book of Daniel, you will read about a person who was called the king of the north. So, if he's the king of the north, what does that mean? He's the king of the north of Israel. And if you take out a pen and get a map, and you just draw a straight line from Israel to the extreme north, there's only one place you're going to end up, and that's Russia. The king of the north is the king of Russia. This is what it says in verses 1 and 2 of Ezekiel 38. "Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.'"
Now, the word "Gog" is found in this reference several times, and it's not the name of a town or a city or a nation. It's the name of a title, like the title president, or pharaoh, or caesar. So, the Gog here is the president. And of course, we now know it's the president of Russia. So Gog is the president of the Russians. And then there are listed some countries that come along with Russia, coming from the north. This incredible coalition of armies is going to come against Israel. Ezekiel goes on to describe the actual invasion and what's going to happen.
In verse 3, he says, "Thus says the Lord God, 'Behold, I am against you.'" The term "you" here refers to Russia. God is prophesying against Russia. And he is saying, "I'm against you". And when he uses the word "they" or "them," he's talking about Israel. And so, the question we have to ask is, why would Russia want to attack Israel? I mean, we've already talked about how small Israel is, and how very inconsequential its size is in relationship with the size of the world. But the Bible tells us why Russia is doing this. There's three reasons.
First of all, the Russians are going to come and seize Israel's land. Ezekiel 38:11 and 12 says, "I will go up against a land of unwalled villages, to stretch out your hands against the waste places that are again inhabited". In other words, this army is coming, first of all, to take Israel's land away from them. Secondly, their second purpose is not only to seize her land, but to steal her wealth. Verses 12 and 13 of Ezekiel 38 read like this. "To take plunder and to take booty, and to carry away silver and gold, and to take away livestock and goods, and to take great plunder"?
You may wonder, what kind of wealth does Israel have that would cause such an army to come together to come and steal all their stuff? Well, if you've ever been to Israel, you know it is a prosperous place. And I'll give you some information about that in a few moments. By the time this attack takes place, Israel will be a plum in the world to be seized. To seize their land, to steal their wealth, and then to slaughter their people. "I will go to a peaceful people," says Ezekiel, "who dwells safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, and stretch out your hand against a people gathered from the nations. 'You will come up against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land.'"
So Israel is going to be attacked by this coalition from the north because they want Israel's land, they want Israel's wealth, and they want to slaughter Israel's people. There is an inherent hate in the hearts of many people toward the Jewish people. So, this coalition of armies will come together, they will come out of the north. They will come to Israel, this little nation, with the purpose of annihilating them so that they are never mentioned again in history. And then we have to ask ourselves, where is this going to occur? Ezekiel 38, verse 8 says, "The land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel".
That statement says definitely this is Israel now regathered in her own land, brought back and into the mountains. At least five times in Ezekiel 38, he affirms that Israel is this target of Russian coalition armies. And this fact makes Ezekiel's prophecy an amazing thing because Israel is one of the smallest nations on the earth. Israel measures 290 miles at its longest, 85 miles at its widest, and 9 miles at its narrowest. It's roughly the size of our fifth smallest state, New Jersey. It's 1/19th the size of California. Listen to this, Russia is 785 times larger than Israel. Here she is, Israel, the center of one of the world's final global wars, the target of a massive coalition led by a world superpower. Wow.
Then the question is, when is this going to happen? Ezekiel tells us that three things have to take place before Israel can be attacked by the Russian northern powers. First of all, Israel has to be present in her land. I mean, you can't attack a nation that doesn't exist. And for 2,000 plus years, Israel has not been in her land. Israel's been scattered all over the world, in the Gentile nations, living some here and some there. But how many of you know in 1948, that all changed? And Israel is now a nation again.
So the first prerequisite for the invasion of Russia has already been fulfilled. Israel is in her land. Obviously, this prophecy couldn't have been fulfilled before 1948, but now at least one of the prerequisites has been fulfilled. What's the second one? The second one is not only must she be present in her land, she must be prosperous in her land. Ezekiel prophesies that when the Jewish people return to their homeland, God would bless them beyond anything they had ever known in their history. Listen to verse 11 of chapter 36 of Ezekiel. "I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bear young. I will make you inhabited as in former times," now listen, "and do better for you than at the beginning. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God".
So let me ask you, has God done that? Is Israel better than it's ever been? For a nation of just a few million people, Israel generates about 500 startups every year, more than every country in the world except the United States. By comparison, the entire continent of Europe, with a population of some 700 million people, produces only 600 to 700 startup companies every year. And Israel produces 500. It is a center of innovation. It is a center of entrepreneurship. When you go there, you sense they're on the cutting edge of things being done, especially in the cyberspace issues, and all of the things that are really on the cutting edge today.
You want to know where it's all happening? It's happening in New York, but it's happening in Israel. When you go there, this nation is on the edge all the time of the new and wonderful things that are happening in our world today. Israel is present in her land, and she's prosperous in her land. Two out of three. But remember, they cannot be attacked until three things happen according to Ezekiel. And the third one is Israel must be at peace in her land. Now, I promise you they are not a land in peace. Everywhere you go, you see people with guns slung over their shoulders. When you go into the malls, many of the malls, you have to go through a metal detector. They are on the alert at all times. They know that any moment, they could be attacked by their neighbors.
And so, Ezekiel says, "I will go up against a land of unwalled villages. I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, having neither bars nor gates". What that means is Israel will be disarmed. Israel will be living in peace. Let me tell you why. At the beginning of the tribulation period, right after the Rapture happens, the Antichrist, the ruler of the world, is going to make a deal with Israel for 7 years. And he's going to say to them, "Don't you worry about protecting yourself. I will use the world's armies to protect you. You can just be safe, and you can worship in your temple, and you can do your sacrifices".
And Israel believes it, and they disarm, and they spend all of their energy, rather than in military things, they spend their energy getting more wealth and becoming more prosperous. So at this particular time, right at the beginning of the tribulation period, or right before it, Israel will be a nation at peace without any walls, and a prime plum to be picked off of the tree by the coalition that comes from the north. Now, you got the picture? Israel is in her land, she's prosperous in her land, she's peaceful in her land. And now, the stage is set for this war.
Let's talk about what's going to happen because Ezekiel gives us a blow by blow account of what's going to happen. The Russian annihilation. In this particular battle, Israel will be so grossly mismatched that there would be absolutely no human way for her to survive. Here is Ezekiel's description of the coalition's advance. Ezekiel 38:15 and 16, "Then you will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you, a great company and a mighty army. You will come up against my people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land".
And what happens next is one of the most astounding stories in the Bible. How many of you love stories when God rescues people out of their misery? Why do we like that? Because we're hoping he's going to rescue us out of our misery, amen? And we know that whenever God is involved in the equation, everything changes. Remember now, Israel isn't even armed. Israel is at peace. Israel isn't expecting anything. Israel's sitting under their fig trees, and envying their bounty. And here comes this army against them. "'It will come to pass at the same time, when Gog comes against the land of Israel,' says the Lord God, 'that my fury will show in my face. For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath I have spoken.'"
Ezekiel describes four calamities that will descend upon this army. Now, watch this. Here's Israel, this small, unprotected group. And here's this massive army. And this massive army has surrounded them. They're about to attack. Enter God. First of all, there will be monumental convulsions. Ezekiel 38 says, "Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, so that the fish of the sea, and the birds of the heavens, and the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth will shake at my presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, and step places will fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground".
God pulls out one weapon, the earthquake. My favorite one is the next one. Not only will there be monumental convulsions, there will be military confusion. Now, watch this. "'I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all my mountains,' says the Lord God. 'Every man's sword will be against his brother.'" If you don't have enough people to shoot at the people that are shooting at you, just get them to shoot at each other. It's called friendly fire. And that's what God allows to happen. First the earthquake, and then the confusion.
And then the Bible says he will follow this up with major contagion. "I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed". God's third weapon against these people who are invading his holy land will be an epidemic breakout of disease. Unburied bodies lay everywhere, causing a malignant plague that infects the land, and thousands more of the invaders will die. And then finally, in Ezekiel's list is sort of a general comment about multiple calamities. Ezekiel 38:22, "I will rain down on him, and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone".
A deluge of fire and brimstone will fall on Russia and her allies, just as God rained down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah. And the victory that God wins on behalf of his people will be the most astounding thing that has ever happened on this earth. And God himself will get the glory. And there will be no doubt about who saved Israel. It's almost like God takes every weapon out of the hands of the Israeli people, puts them in the most defenseless position they could be in so that none of them can stand up and say, "Look what we did". No, you didn't do anything. You just stood there, and God came in, and he won the war for you, or you wouldn't be alive today.
And how many of you know that's the way it is for all of us, isn't it? I've often thought God likes to get us at the end of ourselves, where we don't have anything we can do, so that when he does it, he's the only one who can get the credit. I'll tell you one thing I've learned. When you're laying in the hospital bed, and the only way you can look is up, that's not a bad place to be because up is where the help comes from, amen. Well, what happens after that is sort of the cleanup detail. Ezekiel records God's invitation to all of the birds of the world and the beasts of the field to come to Israel and devour the multiple thousands of bodies that will be scattered across the land. And God actually calls it a sacrificial meal for the scavengers that will do his bidding, and clean up the land for his people.
There are two suppers in the book of Revelation. There's the marriage supper of the Lamb, and there's the supper of God. Make sure you go to the right supper. 'Cause if you don't go to the right supper, you are the supper, amen? I'm looking forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb. I won't be on this earth when all this happens. Then the Bible says after the birds are summoned to clean up the carnage of the war, there will be some burnings. Not only will the failed Russian invasion leave masses of bodies. It will also leave all the coalition's military equipment littering the landscape everywhere. It will take 7 years to burn all of the enormous number of weapons the allies of the north will leave in Israel.
The birds and the beasts, the burnings, and the burials. "It will come to pass in that day that I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, the valley of those who pass by east of the sea; and it will obstruct travelers, because there they will bury Gog and all of his multitudes. They will call it the valley of Hamon Gog. For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land". If you know the Jewish law, they will be totally motivated to get rid of all of the evidences of death.
So as you read today's ominous headlines, and they thrust themselves at you, remember that your God is the God of justice. Evil will not prevail. He is the God of love. He will protect all of his people, just as he did Israel. He is the God of truth. He keeps his promises, no matter what. And God is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think. And in this situation in which we find ourselves today in our nation, in our culture, I hear so many times people say, "Well, I don't think it makes any difference what you do. What's going to happen is going to happen". They throw up their hands. And I don't think that's the right answer.
I think we should all be involved as much as we can be, pursuing that which we think is right. But after all of that is finished, and we have done our best, and sometimes we feel like it's been very inadequate and insufficient, God is still there with all of his power, with all of his majesty, with all of his ability. And stories like the one we have studied today remind us we have a great and awesome God, and nothing is beyond his power. Even when it looks like there is no hope, God can come in and change everything, as he did for the people of Israel.