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A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE
The Coming War with Russia
Russia will invade Israel at a time when war is not expected.
Students of Bible prophecy have long expected a Russian military move in the Middle East. Early in the 20th century, Dr. Ironside wrote:
In the last days, the final head of the Russian people will look with covetous eyes upon the great developments in the land of Palestine. They will determine that Russia must have her part of the wealth there produced. Consequently, we have the picture of a vast army, augmented by warriors from Persia, Cush, Phut, marching down toward Palestine.
Aggressors in Conflict
But why have prophetic experts come to this conclusion?
The reasons are found in chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel's prophecy. There a devastating war is described that takes place in the Middle East involving Israel, Russia, and a number of other nations. The following is Ezekiel's indictment of the aggressors in the conflict:
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of amour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands: and many people with thee... (Ezekiel 38:1 - 6)
It is no secret that the majority of prophetic speakers and writers identify the prime mover among these nations named by Ezekiel as Russia. Millions of booklets, pamphlets, and books have been circulated describing the coming war between Russia and Israel. But is there hard evidence that the conclusions of these students of prophecy are correct?
Did Ezekiel really foresee Russia rising as a military power in the end time and having a special interest in the Middle East, or have present-day writers and speakers simply used today's international tensions as an opportunity to sell books and attract crowds?
Is the public the victim of ecclesiastical opportunists who have themselves set the stage for what they describe as the end-time drama?
How can anyone be sure that Ezekiel's prophecy has anything to do with modern nations when the words used in his description of this conflict are so unfamiliar to today's Bible reader?
Who is Gog? Where is the land of Magog? Where would one look on a map to find the cities of Meshech and Tubal? To what nations did Ezekiel refer when he wrote of Gomer and Togarmah?
Unless these questions can be answered satisfactorily, there is good reason to question the conclusions being so widely accepted and promoted in our time.
Let us begin at the beginning. A table of nations is given in Genesis 10. At the opening of this important chapter, we are confronted with the key names in Ezekiel's prophecy: "Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras" (Genesis 10:1, 2).
These key verses describe the repopulating of the earth after the flood. It was the custom in ancient times for the descendents of a man to adopt his name for their tribe. Understanding this, historians and Bible students have been able to trace the movements of some of the tribes and know where their descendents can be found today. Using this system, the editors of the Scofield Reference Bible have furnished the following information about the names that concern us in the table of nations:
Magog -- "From Magog are descended the ancient Scythians or Tarters, whose descendents predominate in modern Russia."
Tubal -- "Tubal's descendents peopled the region south of the Black Sea from whence they spread north and south. It is probable that Tobolsk perpetuates the tribal name."
Meshech -- "Progenitor of a race mentioned in connection with Tubal, Magog, and other northern nations. Broadly speaking, Russia, excluding the conquests of Peter the Great and his successors, is the modern land of Magog, Tubal, and Meshech."
The Scofield Reference Bible was published in 1909. These notes alone let us know that the identification of Russia as the main aggressor in Ezekiel's end-time battle is not the conclusion of prophetic opportunists. But there is more.
In the orient al tongue, the name of the Caucasus Mountains that run through Russia means "Fort of Gog" or "Gog's last stand." If you were to ask a Russian what he calls the heights of the Caucasus Mountains, he would say, "the Gogh."
The evidence builds.
The word that is translated "chief" in Ezekiel 38:3 is "Rosh" in the Hebrew language. For centuries prophetic scholars have generally agreed that the word "Rosh" is a proper name. Allowing this long-accepted conclusion in the translation of this verse would make it read, "And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the Rosh prince of Meshech and Tubal."
But who is Rosh?
"Rosh" was the name of the tribe dwelling in the area of the Volga. And "Rosh" is the word for "Russia" today in some languages of the world. In Belgium and Holland it is "Rus." Here, abbreviated, it's "Russ," and often appears in that form in the headlines of newspapers. An understanding of this truth moved Robert Lowth, Bishop of London two hundred years ago, to write: "Rosh, taken as a proper name in Ezekiel signifies the inhabitants of Scythia from whom the modern Russians derive their modern name. The name 'Russia' dates only fro m the seventeenth century and was formed from the ancient name 'Russ.'
It is clear then that Ezekiel was delivering a warning to the Russian prince (leader) of Meshech and Tubal.
We have already seen from Scofield's notes of 1909 that Tubal is the root of the name Tobolsk, but what about Meshech? In his note on Ezekiel 38:2, Scofield continues his work of identification, stating: "That the primary reference is to the northern European powers headed by Russia, all agree... Gog is the prince, Magog his land, the reference to Meshech and Tubal (Moscow and Tobolsk) is a clear mark of identification."
As has been already shown, Dr. Scofield was by no means the first to come to this conclusion. In 1890, Arno C. Gaebelein wrote a book on Ezekiel. Commenting on chapters 38 and 39, he declared: "This is Russia, Moscow, and Tobolsk."
Another important voice of the past is that of Josephus. In Book I, Chapter VI of his work, this historian who lived almost two thousand years ago stated that the Scythians were called Magogites by the Greeks. Why is that important? The Scythians populated Russia.
It is little wonder then that the weight of prophetic scholarship has gone with the conclusion that Russia is the chief aggressor named by Ezekiel in this end-time war with Israel. The allies of Russia in that fierce conflict will be Persia (Iran and Iraq), Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer (Eastern Germany and Slovakia), and Togarmah (Turkey).
It is interesting that Daniel adds Egypt to the names of nations coming against Israel and the final world dictator, so that the invasion includes attacks from the north and the south, as well as the prospect of trouble from the east (see Dan. 11:40-44).
There is no need to marshal the scholars of the past to confirm the place or purpose of this war. Ezekiel explained:
After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is broug ht forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them (Ezek. 38:8).
What a clear and up-to-date description of Israel! She is certainly the land that is brought back from the sword -- gathered out of many people -- a former wasteland -- brought forth out of the nations.
The invaders of Israel will come with immense air power: "Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee" (Ezek. 38:9).
They will also come in full confidence of victory:
And thou shalt say, I will go u p to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land (Ezek. 38:11,12).
We will continue our study in this next week.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
The Night God Took Off His Mask
The ancient Greeks loved the theater. Their writers created elaborate stories -- both comedies and tragedies -- in the form of plays to be acted out in their amphitheaters.
Greek actors, skilled at playing many roles, switched from one character to another by going backstage and changing masks. When an actor returned to the stage with a new face he became another person.
The Greek word for one of these people of many faces was hypokrite -- or hypocrite in English. It has come to mean one who acts out a part or pretends to be what he is not.
In the New Testament Jesus chided the religious elite of His day, the scribes and Pharisees who were more concerned with the traditions and ceremonies of serving God than the meaning and purpose of God's laws. He said, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me (Mark 7:6).
Today so many who call themselves Christians have an extensive collection of masks they can put on and take off at will. They wear many different faces, depending on where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing.
Don't misunderstand me -- I'm not talking about being able to perform different functions as a person. A man may be a husband, father, businessman, sports enthusiast, handyman, scholar, and spiritual leader. A woman may be a wife, mother, counselor, chef, chauffeur, seamstress, designer, musician, gardener, etc. But in both examples, the individual can remain the same person while performing various functions.
Hypocrisy comes from attempting to be completely different people according to the environment or situation in which we find ourselves. And all of us are tempted to try our hand at role playing at one time or another.
The real you!
Do you ever find yourself acting one way at church, another way at home, and still another at work? Have you ever considered allowing your values, appearance, vocabulary, personality, and behavior to change dramatically from Sunday to Monday... from your work place to your home... from public to private life?
Are there times when you wonder who -- and what -- is the real you?
Several years ago, Dr. Van Impe and I knew of a young evangelist who had enormous ability. He was handsome, knowledgeable, and articulate. He spoke with eloquence, diction, and power. It seemed certain that he would become one of the most effective ministers in America.
I remember especially his strong messages about the evils of alcohol and how the devil was using strong drink to cause untold misery and destroy countless lives.
Then, in the prime of his life, this young minister suddenly died! In an instant he was gone. Later, it was revealed that he had fought an unending personal battle with liquor. Many nights after his evangelistic services he drank himself into an alcoholic stupor. How tragic that he proclaimed the life-changing, transforming power of Christ's salvation to multiplied thousands, yet never accepted God's deliverance from the satanic bondage that enslaved him.
One troubled young man in California came to as after a service and said, "I don't understand my dad's religion. He's a deacon in the church and he seems so pious and so holy. But when he comes home, he yells and swears at my mother." This boy was troubled at the mixed signals he was receiving from his father's behavior. He realized that something was dreadfully wrong.
The Apostle James asked, Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? (James 3:11, 12).
Of course not! Then why is it that we often see entire casts of characters wrapped up in a single individual? Sometimes we're not quite sure which face they will show us next. How can this happen?
I believe it may be explained by noting that man loses the awareness of his true identity when he loses sight of who God is! When man -- either deliberately or accidentally -- loses sight of God the Father, he soon loses his way in the resulting darkness.
The Bible tells how in the beginning the Lord God himself came into the Garden of Eden to have fellowship with Adam and Eve. He knew them personally... and they knew Him.
Then they sinned by disobeying God. Immediately Adam and Eve changed the way they acted -- they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. Ultimately they were driven out of the Garden... and out of fellowship with God.
From that day on, the human family began to lose sight of God -- to forget who He was and what He was really like.
Putting a mask on God
As the years and centuries went by, man created a picture of God that was so distorted and mistaken that very few really understood His divine plan and His tender lovingkindness.
In the eloquent words of Paul the apostle: When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man (Romans 1:21-23).
I like the way The Living Bible expresses verse 21 -- And after a while they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what He wanted them to do.
In effect, man created a mask -- grotesque and corrupt -- and used it to cover the face of God. And darkness again covered the earth and the lives of men.
It was then that God chose to reveal himself afresh and anew to all mankind. Paul Scherer described "the night of all nights when God came down 'the stairs of heaven with a child in his arms .'"
Throwing aside the crude mask that man had placed upon Him, the Father sent His Son, Jesus, from heaven to earth -- to once again walk among men and show them who God is and what He is like. So Jesus came, ministering to the poor, healing the sick, pouring out boundless love to all men. "Do you see me and my works?" He asked. "Then understand that this is the nature of God. For when you see me, you see the Father."
Identify with God
Oh, my friend, the joy of seeing the Father... of having fellowship with God! This is the secret of true self-discovery. For as you find out who God is and your eternal relationship with Him through Christ, you will suddenly see yourself in a new light.
And then, you can strip away all your masks and faces and go forth in your new identity -- as a child of God.
Join me in giving thanks for that first Christmas, when God took off His mask and revealed himself to us again. If you have not yet received Him, I urge you now to --Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Pastor Jack and Rexella
I just wanted to drop you a line and say God-Bless you for your proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I receive your weekly email and it is inspiring to see Bible prophesy proclaimed word for word! Looking at the signs of the times, it is clear that we will be going Home soon! God Bless and keep up the LORD's work,
I just wanted to take the time to offer my appreciation for the Electronic Newsletter. I try to watch your program weekly and learn so much by it: I try to write down the Bible references that Jack uses. He says them so quickly itís a game I play to try to get them all written down for later research! The newsletter is a tool I use to pass on to friends who may be sitting on fences. I send it specifically to a minister in Uganda. He and I have had some in-depth discussions about the Bibleís relevancy for today and whether the Bible should be taken literally or if it is open to interpretation. I pass this newsletter on to him in faith that his searching will lead him directly to God. He is searching, and I trust that the seed I have planted will flourish by the promises God has made. I know he believes in Jesus Christ but he does not believe the Bible should be taken literally. I know my limitations and although I am always seeking His wisdom through His word, I trust Jack to say what I may unwittingly leave unsaid. To me, the newsletter is a requirement for my continued education. Thank you so much for all that you put into it.
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