More than 2,600 years ago, the prophet Ezekiel warned of a future time when a vast coalition of nations will attack Israel.
Ezekiel identifies these nations as “Magog, Rosh, Meschech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah” (Ezekiel 38:1-6). These nations have since come to be known as the Gog of Magog alliance.
Now, with the exception of Persia and Cush, I realize most people have never heard of these nations. But keep in mind Ezekiel used the names of these nations as they were known in his day. Each one is a clearly identifiable nation today. So who are these nations in our day and time?
Below is a list. The Old Testament name is listed first, followed by its modern day equivalent:
Rosh = Russia
Magog = Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan
Persia = Iran
Cush = Sudan
Put = Libya
Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah = Turkey
Collectively, these nations have never attacked Israel. In fact, in the history of the world, such an alliance of nations has never existed. But today we see it coming together right in front of us. Since 1989, Russia and Iran have gradually strengthened their diplomatic, military, and economic ties.
Yet, in the first 2,600 years after Ezekiel recorded his prophecies, the nations of Russia and Persia (Iran) had never been part of any alliance of any sort. Never. Cooperation between Russia and Iran, especially military cooperation, didn’t take place.
This led many people to claim Ezekiel’s prophecy was symbolic. Why? Because the idea of the Gog of Magog war seemed absurd. After all, at the dawn of the 20th Century, Russia was an orthodox Christian nation and Israel didn’t exist! But those who believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible knew otherwise. They knew all prophecy would come to pass. Because bible prophecy doesn’t come from mere humans. It’s God’s Word (2 Peter 1:19-21).
In the years since, the stage has been set for the literal fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39. A 1917 communist revolution transformed Russia from a Christian nation to an atheist nation. In 1948, Israel once again became a nation. And earlier this week, Russia and Iran issued a joint statement vowing to respond with force to any aggressor.
And Turkey? For decades, people have wondered how Turkey could be a part of this alliance. After all, Turkey is a member of NATO. But in late 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian jet when it strayed into Turkish airspace. Russia and Turkey seem to be at odds.
So how could Turkey be a part of this alliance? At first glance, it seems unlikely. But in the summer of 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan jailed thousands of political opponents. And recently, Turkey voted to eliminate its parliamentary form of government and give expanded powers to Erdogan.
Ultimately, this could be what pushes Turkey into the Russian sphere of influence. Erdogan is an anti-Western, pro-Islamist leader, and he’s worked hard to strengthen Turkey’s ties with Russia. Turkey has clearly shifted from friend to foe over the past decade and presents a direct threat to Israel having one of the largest militaries in the region.
In light of these developments, we can see the Gog of Magog alliance coming together for the first time in history.
For the first time since Israel re-emerged on the world scene in May 1948, the main players of the Ezekiel 38-39 alliance are all working together. Even more important, they all have military personnel close to Israel’s border. The stage is set for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39.
While terrible destruction awaits Damascus (Isaiah 17:1), northern Israel (Isaiah 17:3), and the entire Gog of Magog Alliance (Ezekiel 38:19-22), we have reason to be hopeful. Because of these events, the Bible says people will soon look to and acknowledge their Creator – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Isaiah 17:7).
When He strikes down Israel’s enemies, the whole world will know He is the God Israel (Ezekiel 38:23). In the days and weeks ahead, we can’t be certain what will happen in Syria. But in the long run, we can be absolutely certain the events of Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38-39 will be fulfilled. Damascus will lie in ruin, and the Gog of Magog Alliance will be destroyed. These events are certain.
Because whatever He has declared, God will bring to pass (Isaiah 14:24). And when these things happen, the world will no longer be able to deny Him. He will destroy the enemies of Israel in plain view of the entire world.
“In this way,” says the Lord. “I will show my greatness and holiness, and I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 38:23 (NLT)