By Don Koenig
The timing of these wars is certainly open for debate. The alignment of the nations against Israel is different in each of these wars. In Psalms 83 an Arab Confederacy comes against Israel to cut her off from being a nation. In the war of Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 a nation with a leader called Gog comes from the North acting as a protector of a group of nations that today are all Muslem. According to the prophecy God puts hooks in Gog's jaw and brings them down and an evil thought comes into Gog's mind to plunder Israel of her goods.
Ezekiel's prophecy indicates it has to be at a time when Israel is at rest and dwelling securely in the land. That could only happen after there is peace establish in that area but can anyone foresee peace in Israel? It can not happen until there is a tragic war followed by a peace agreement or until the Antichrist mystically brokers peace in the area.
The peace necessary to fulfill the Ezekiel prophecy has led some to believe that the war of Psalm 83 occurs first before the tribulation and allows Israel to defeat her inner ring Arab nations and have peace until the time appointed for the Gog war. That view is very logical to me because none of these inner ring Arab nations are mentioned as coming against Israel in the Ezekiel war. Therefore, looking at the present world situation, I think the next major war of Israel against Arab nations may bring the fulfillment of the war of Psalm 83.
Some prophecy scholars say the war of Ezekiel is at or just a few days before the start of the seven year tribulation but that timing seems to leave no time for Israel to be dwelling securely before the covenant is confirmed by the Antichrist figure for seven years. They make the first 3 1/2 years of a seven year covenant foretold by Daniel to be the entire length of this peace in Israel. However, that does does not seem to be what Daniel or Ezekiel imply. I do not know how an attitude of peace and security can come about in so short a time.
Other prophecy scholars say Ezekiel's war occurs in the middle of the tribulation but this is when Israel is told to flee to the mountains for 1260 days. How then can they also burn the weapons of war for seven years and bury the dead after seven months in Israel as the prophecy in Ezekiel declares? How do they do this while the greatest tribulation ever is taking place on earth? Seems to me they don't.
Still others claim the War of Ezekiel is at the end of the tribulation at the second coming of Jesus but Ezekiel's description does not fit the nations that come against Israel at the end of the tribulation. These armies come from all nations deceived by the Antichrist. The Ezekiel war mentions only specific nations and they are led by Gog. The destruction of the armies are different in both wars and Gog's armies are buried but the armies led by the Antichrist are not.
That pretty much leaves only the possibility that the war in Ezekiel is prior to the seven year covenant and the war sets the stage for a peace treaty that is later confirmed by the Antichrist figure. Therefore, it seems to me that there must be peace in Israel even before the Antichrist signs or confirms the seven-year covenant foretold by Daniel. The scripture says a leader confirms a covenant with many for seven years. It is highly likely that the peace deal was already worked out and in place before this man even came on the scene.
I believe that there could be a 3 1/2 year period called "the beginning of sorrows" or "false birth pains" between the rapture and the seven year period foretold by Daniel. This will make the entry of the false Christ to be seven years after the rapture. That would be very convincing to those that still identify with Christianity even after the rapture. They will be expecting some concept of Christ seven years after the rapture and/or seven years after God's intervention for Israel mentioned in Ezekiel chapter 39.
Maybe this also explains the passages that seem to indicate that some who literally expect the bridegroom to return will get tired of waiting. Jesus will not fulfill the popular time expectations taught in Christian circles about His return being seven years after the rapture. Instead many will look for a substitute Christ and find the Antichrist. That of course assumes that the war of Ezekiel is pretribulation.
If my theory is true, it would make the passage that says Israel will be burning the weapons of war for seven years sensible. They would have to stop after seven years because the arrival of the Beast will force them to flee to the mountains or be killed. My theory implies that the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl events of Revelation will span 10 1/2 years rather than just seven. All this is further developed in my Revelation commentary.
Some scoff about Ezekiel being a modern war because of the description of some of the weapons being used, but most of the blame for the descriptions of the weapons should be placed on the early translators who translated the scripture when modern weapons were unknown. Their translation should not be equated to Ezekiel's actual description. For example, if you go back to the root word that Ezekiel used for bows you should see that it can just as easily be translated as "launchers" and the root word translated as arrows could just as well translate as "rockets", "artillery", or "missiles". Therefore, those who think this is talking about an ancient war because of the description of the weapons are basing that assumption on descriptions by translators who did not know a thing about modern weapons. Nothing said by Ezekiel implies that this was an ancient war and no historical war fitting this description was ever recorded. Those that make it an allegorical war ignore the earthly detail and that is just plain silly.
For the latest scholarly book on the prophecy in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 read the following:
The Prophecy That Is Shaping History New Research on Ezekiel's Vision of the End, by Jon Mark Ruthven, PhD - a free ebook can be downloaded (PDF, 9 Megs) or the book may be purchased from Amazon.
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