There are other difficulties that the view presents. We will cite merely two:
- What is the role of Israel’s Arab neighbors? They have been waging perpetual war against Israel since before the nation was even born. Do they really play no role in the conflict? If so, what is it?
- Britain is shown as fortifying Jerusalem, finally to retreat to Jordan.
The problem is, Britain does not have a commanding presence in Jerusalem anymore. It is true that they are an ally of Israel (though not to the degree as in times past), but it is incredibly difficult to see how Britain could play this role in today’s atmosphere of the Middle East. Their presence in the region and their ties with Israel are simply not what they used to be.
How did this understanding come about? Like you and I, the Pioneer Brethren interpreted things according to the political scene of their day. In Brother Thomas’ time, “Israel” did not yet exist. In his day, the land was under the Ottoman control. Brother Thomas believed that the Ottoman power would cease and the British would control the land, “Israel” then emerging as a British colony. He was very close in his prediction, particularly given the times in which he lived, but events did not come to pass as expected.
The Ottomans were in fact defeated by the British in World War 1, Jerusalem being liberated in December of 1917. The Balfour Declaration, penned also in 1917, defined the nature of Britain’s control of the land, holding it with a view to support “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” This, however, is where things began to digress from Brother Thomas’ view. In 1947, 30 years later, the United Nations voted to partition “Palestine”, showing national support for the creation of a Jewish state alongside and Arab one. The British then pulled out of “Palestine” in 1948, and the very next day is when Israel declared their statehood. Since that moment, Israel has been its own sovereign nation and incessantly fighting her Arab neighbors to sustain it.
Israel was never a British colony, but its formation was due in part to British control of the land. Consider this though: Brother Thomas fell asleep in 1871, 26 years before the first momentous sign of Israel’s national reemergence occurred: the First Zionist Congress. It would be 76 years from his falling asleep before the UN vote took place which resulted in the pull out of Britain. It is also worth noting that the Arabs, which so persistently assault Israel, did not assume such vehement positions until Israel began forming as a nation. They hated the Jews in Brother Thomas’ day, but it was the struggle for the rights to the land that intensified this hatred to the proportions that we see now. Brother Thomas was remarkably close in his understanding of these events given how far they were in the future, but events progressed in ways different than he could foresee, and other factors (particularly the Arabs) grew to be more significant players than he anticipated.
The fact is, Brother Thomas did the very best he could with what he had, but he simply did not have the benefit that we do of being able to look back on how things actually came to pass. This is no discredit to him. In fact, it is incredible that he was correct with as many things as he was.
This does not mean that we should disregard his prophetical commentaries, but it does mean that we must take this factor into account when understanding his understanding of latter-day events. He was a portrait Bible student who was continually learning and updating his understanding, and had he lived long enough to see events unfold, we have no doubt that his understanding would have changed accordingly. It is our duty as Bible students to do the same, and not only this, but to learn the lesson of our fallibility and understand that in all likelihood, none of us have everything completely correct. Our goal in looking into prophecy is not to make ourselves the wisest or greatest, to be able to say, “Aha! I finished the puzzle!”, but to understand the signs that we have been given, be strengthened and moved by them, and “exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
Now, back to the Gogian passages. While the simple fact of omission of the factors of the traditional view illustrated by the map is not in and of itself proof that it is incorrect true, it is certainly worth noting and urges further investigation. The only clear picture we are given of Gog is of him coming against Israel and only Israel when the time arrives, and that when Christ and the saints are in Jerusalem as is clearly highlighted in Revelation 20:8-9. This same thing is apparent in Ezekiel 38-39, and though it is not stated as clearly as the other passage, a simple consideration of a few cross references and word studies results in compelling evidence.
We, therefore, would like to encourage a careful, basic reading of these chapters to simply follow and identify what the Scriptures say about Gog. The picture that we gain from Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20 is merely that Russia, along with her prophesied allies, will come against Israel at a time when Israel dwells safely and is greatly increased with riches and spoils. Once Gog begins her descent, it is said in
Ezekiel 38:18, 21-23 – And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face… (21) And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man's sword shall be against his brother. (22) And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. (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 the LORD.”
The information we are given tells us that Gog is destroyed before it can make too much progress. We do not read of them conquering Israel or taking them into captivity. The most that can be honestly seen of their progress is that they will have penetrated some of Israel’s future borders, only to be utterly destroyed by fire from heaven. The main purpose of God’s Divinely-guided descent appears to be serve as an example to the nations as to what is in store for those who refuse to submit to Christ’s Gospel. The Papal power will be working to incite the nations against Christ (Daniel 8:24-25, Revelation 17:11-16), but the world will be given clear warning and admonition from the Lord:
Psalm 2:10-12 – Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. (11) Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. (12) Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
See also Revelation 14:9-11.
It is evident that many nations will not heed this warning, and Gog himself is crystal clear evidence of it. We learn this in Revelation 20:8, that other chapter that specifically mentions Gog:
Revelation 20:7-8 – And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, (an event which we believe in 1517 with the unloosing of Paganism) (8) And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
If we combine this fact of Gog’s deception with the purpose of Gog’s destruction that we learn from Ezekiel 38:23, it appears to us that Gog and his confederates are used to substantiate the Lord’s warnings and thus serve as an example to the rest of the nations, giving them tangible evidence that the Lord means what he says! When he says that he is the Christ, he means it. When he warns not to war against him, he means it. We believe that Gog’s destruction will play a role in helping some of the nations of the world to see through the Papal deceit and wisely submit to Christ, for the Lord is still “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
What does all this mean? We suggest that Russia’s descent against Israel is still relatively far into the future. As we have recited before, the conviction we have gained from Scripture is that you and I will only see Russia come against Israel if we have been granted the grace and mercy of our Lord at his judgement seat. We believe that we will have already been gathered, judged, immortalized, helped conquer the Promise Land, and begun establishing the Kingdom with our Lord in Jerusalem when Gog descends.
Our intention in bringing up these topics is to not only humbly warn of things to come, but to also excite further study and challenge all to understand why you believe what you believe. Do not take anything at face value, but “try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1). The same goes for everything that we pen. Do not simply believe every word that we write. Challenge it and search the Scriptures daily to determine whether these things are so (Acts 17:11). In doing so, we will all not only grow in our individual understanding and faith, but together as a Household.
So, what might we be looking for in the days ahead for Russia? We’ll try to make it quick! In essence, Putin isn’t happy. For a while, it seemed that he was in somewhat denial of the situation, but he has recently admitted (somewhat) that the latest conflict was not as successful as he wished. The following news items bear on these topics, and we suggest reading the articles for all who have time:
Will Ukraine's advance have consequences for Putin? - MSN
Ukraine counter-offensive won't change Russia's plans – BBC News
Bitter Vladimir Putin 'may strike Ukraine with nukes after crushing battlefield losses' - Mirror
Ukraine news: UK warned Putin is plotting ‘something absolutely atrocious’ - Express
Russia warns US will be dragged into war if they give Ukraine more missiles as Putin, Xi & Iran meet in new Axis of Evil – The Sun
In short, Putin is growing desperate, and that means that he can be more dangerous. Will he use nuclear weapons? Time will tell. We personally believe that he is also looking for a way to get out of the conflict and paint Russia’s involvement as a “win”. If there was a way to do this that would be plausible to the Russian people, we believe he would do it. Either way, he is certainly concerned about his image, and his pride (or more accurately, the Lord) will dictate his actions.
Is it possible that things could change that result in a Russian victory? Of course. It’s certainly possible, but the state of the war at present makes this conclusion illogical and unwarranted. Time will tell!
One brother commented that we are possibly seeing the necessity of the Ezekiel 38 confederacy. Russia’s struggling in the Ukraine war might be the driving force that causes the Russian leader to seek stronger ties with the other countries in Ezekiel 38, resulting in the full formation of the coalition. We already see this confederacy in the formation stages (The Jerusalem Post). We await further development!
We close all Prophecy Letters with a slight pang of dissatisfaction. Certainly, we could always explain better. We could always exhort more effectively. We could always strengthen more. It is, however, our heartfelt hope and prayer that at least some small benefit is derived from this labor of love, for all of these feeble efforts are focused upon one message: our loving, tender-mercied Master is descending to the earth once again, and he is doing so to deliver his faithful, devoted Brothers and Sisters from the woes and pains of this life and establish that perfect, everlasting Kingdom upon this beautiful earth. May we wait for him and be found earnestly watching for his coming, for he will only come once!