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Ezekiel 38 Battle
The Rabbis in Israel have stated that they expect Ezekiel 38 to occur very soon. Their reason for this is the rabbinic tradition that when Turkey becomes an enemy of Israel, that battle is near. In recent days, the government of Turkey under Prime Minister Erdogan has taken a very anti-Israel stance. Instead of the friendly relations that had existed for a number of years that saw trade, military and water agreements, these have now been cancelled and replaced with much hostility. This hostility has included the Turkish role in the flotilla which attempted to break the sea blockade of Gaza in June 2010. It is against this background that the Rabbis have made their comments. In this, however, one important factor has been overlooked. There is a major confrontation with Syria mentioned in Isaiah 17:1-11, Zechariah 9-11, Amos 1:3-5, Zephaniah 2 and elsewhere. From these and other passages, it appears that this Syrian battle must occur before Ezekiel 38 and is an even more immanent event. Let us examine this.
From the references to the various groups given in the verses dealing with the Damascus wipe-out, Syria is not alone in this confrontation. The Jordanians are also involved since "the cities of Aroer are forsaken" as a result of the war (Isaiah 17:2). These are on the east bank of the Jordan river and in territory currently held by Jordan. There is also a more general reference to the Jordanians and their attitude in Zephaniah 2:8. The Palestinians under the control of Hamas in Gaza are involved as they are specifically mentioned. Indeed, we are told that the king, the Palestinian leader, perishes from Gaza (Zechariah 9:5). Furthermore, southern Lebanon is also involved as Tyre and Sidon, the stronghold of the Hezbollah, are specifically mentioned in Zechariah 9:2 and Joel 3:4.
Important in this context is the fact that Turkey is not mentioned and neither is Iran. This is despite the fact that Syria now cooperates with both countries and that Syria and Iran both supply the Hezbollah and Hamas with weapons and support. Therefore, for whatever reason, it appears that Iran and Turkey are not directly involved in the war between Syria and Israel. In addition, Egypt is not mentioned, and it is significant that she has been more cooperative with Israel since their peace-treaty was signed some years ago. It may not be surprising, therefore, that Egypt adopts a more neutral stance in this war with Syria.
So the groups involved in the wipe-out of Syria generally (and Damascus in particular) also include Lebanon, Jordan and the Palestinian strongholds of Gaza and the West Bank. We can say this because of the outcome of the war. Isaiah 17:3 says that the "kingdom will cease from Damascus." In other words, Syria loses all its power. At the same time "the fortress will cease from Ephraim;" that is to say northern Israel will no longer need to be fortified against attack from either the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon or from the Golan Heights in Syria because both those threats will have been completely removed. There is an additional consideration. The Israeli survivors from that war are few; Israel wins but at a tremendous cost. Isaiah 17:6 & 11 indicate that the survivors are in two's and three's here and there. As a result, we find intense migration of Jews from around the world to re-populate the land of Israel (Jeremiah 16:16). These Jewish immigrants settle, not just in territory currently held by Israel, but also in the land of Lebanon, the Golan Heights and the east bank of the Jordan "until no room is found for them" (Zechariah 10:10 also Obadiah 20). The problematical West Bank (or fields of Ephraim and Samaria) and Southern Jordan (Edom) are similarly settled by Jews from around the world (see Obadiah 19).
As a result of this victory against their immediate, close-at-hand enemies, Israel does not need to be defended in the way she has been since her inception. Her borders are secure; the cities do not need fortification against internal and nearby external threats. This situation does not currently exist, nor has it existed since Israel was formed in 1948. It can only come into being after the Syrian war. Yet this peace and security is the precise scenario painted by Ezekiel 38:8 & 11 where the invading armies of Gog and Magog come into the "land that had been bought back by the sword" and "all of them [the Jews in Israel] dwell safely" in "unwalled villages;" that is to say, unprotected and at peace. This will only exist when the Syrian threat has been eliminated. Therefore, the Ezekiel 38 battle must take place at some time after Isaiah 17:1-11.
There is a further consideration that confirms this. In Ezekiel 38 we find that the Arab nations of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon (Tyre and Sidon or the Hezbollah) and the Palestinian territories (Gaza and the West Bank or Hamas) are notably absent from the line-up of nations that come against Israel in that "Gog & Magog war." This suggests that they are no longer a force to be reckoned with. That would only be the case if they had been thoroughly defeated in the Syrian war first. In contrast to the absence of these nations, the Ezekiel 38 passage lists off very specifically the groups that are involved in that particular war. In that war Iran (Persia) is one of the key combatants. So too is Russia, where the tribes of the Moschi and Toboloi are mentioned. These tribes gave their names to the cities of Moscow and Tobolsk (the eastern capital of Russia). In addition there is Togarmah or the Turkomen tribes which are known today as the various "stans" making up the Asian provinces. There is also Put or Libya from north Africa. Then there is Cush or Ethiopia, which may be Ethiopia and/or the Sudan from Africa. Alternatively it might be Afghanistan as the Greeks recognized both an eastern and a western Ethiopia. Thus it is possible that both may be involved.
In addition to these combatants, there seem to be a group of Mid-East nations who are aware of what is going on with these troop movements and make sympathetic noises but do not become involved. These are mentioned in Ezekiel 38:13 where we are told that Sheba (Yemen), Dedan (Saudi Arabia), and, as the most ancient text reads, "the merchants of Chalcedon" (which is where Istanbul in Turkey now stands), and they say "Have you come to take plunder... etc." Two things are relevant from this latter statement. First, these nations do not stop the invasion in any way, neither do they seem to assist it. They are not actively involved.
The second point is also important. Istanbul, or Constantinople as it was then known, was the old Eastern capital of the Roman Empire, and was built on seven hills the same as Rome. This ancient text from 280 BC uses the even older name for this city, namely Chalcedon. The fact that the merchants of this city are mentioned indicates that it has become a major trade center in the Last Days. This ties in with other studies from Daniel 8 and 11. Both these chapters indicate that the kingdom of Antichrist originates in the lands held by General Seleucus and General Ptolemy after the death of Alexander the Great. These lands stretch around the Mediterranean from Turkey in the north around to Egypt and north Africa in the south. These same lands are involved in the 10 nation confederacy called the Mediterranean Union, whose formation is currently being finalized. The backbone of this Union is considered to be Turkey. This Union may well become the Beast Kingdom with Istanbul the key city which sits at the focus of the seas becoming the merchant capital of the Union. Under these circumstances, this Ezekiel battle cannot occur until the merchant status of Istanbul has grown. That comes to full fruition only during the Tribulation & sometime after the Rapture (or Translation) of the Church.
For all these reasons, it is considered likely that the Syrian war of Isaiah 17:1-11 will precede the Ezekiel 38 war (which may be the battle of Armageddon) by as many as 7 years or more.
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