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Weekly Newsletter – November 2, 2015

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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.

Convincing Evidence

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 up 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

Listen to the Birds

My husband, Jack, and I have a special fondness for birds. We enjoy seeing them fly, darting from tree to tree, soaring and wheeling about, riding the wind in joyous freedom.

And it’s fun to watch them splash in a puddle or pool of water, bathing themselves and carefully preening their feathers.

We have two feeders and a drinking bowl in our backyard, and the birds have discovered this safe haven. Besides sparrows, cardinals, robins, blackbirds, and other small songbirds, we’ve seen crows, doves, mallard ducks, and even Canadian Geese in our yard. Sometimes there will he several different kinds of birds there all at the same time.

I especially enjoy listening to the birds. More than any other creature, it seems to me they have learned to serve the Lord with gladness: [and] come before his presence with singing (Psalm 100:2).

When God created the fowl of the air on the fifth day of creation, He gave them a song. And virtually all types of birds make some kind of joyful noise — it seems like they’re always praising the Lord. I’ve seen them after a winter snowstorm, sitting on top of the feeders, thankfully chirping and singing because the food is there.

Jesus once referred to the sparrows, which many consider an ordinary little bird with no apparent value. But He, who values all His creatures, said not one of them falls to the ground without God noticing (see Matthew 10:29).

Luke records what the Lord said about the common crow. Consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? (Luke 12:24).

Watching the birds and remembering what God has said about them has really been a blessing to Jack and me.

Lessons from the birds

There is much we can learn from our fine feathered friends. The Bible is filled with references to birds as symbols of what we humans ought to be or can do with God’s help.

On the top of the pole where our American flag flies there often is the image of an eagle, symbol of strength and majesty. The Bible tells us that if we wait upon the Lord, He will give us strength to overcome every difficulty and to mount up on wings, as the eagle (see Isaiah 40:31).

Genesis 8 tells us that when the ark landed on solid ground after the great flood, Noah sent out a dove to see if the land was habitable. The dove found no place to light and returned to the ark. A week later, Noah sent the dove out again and it returned in the evening with an olive branch in its beak. So Noah knew it would soon be safe to go out into the unknown.

Of course, it is no accident that the dove is symbolic of the Holy Spirit who wings His way over the abyss of man’s sinful past, bridged by the sacrificial ark of the cross of Christ, and leads all who will follow step by step into the Father’s new beginning.

God used a common barnyard rooster to deal with the heart of Peter during the last days of Jesus’ life. After Peter had boasted that he would stay close to the Lord no matter what happened or who turned against Him, Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him before the cock crowed the next morning.

The gospels tell the awful story of how Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane, then taken before Caiaphas the high priest to be sentenced to death. Warming himself by the fire at the edge of the angry mob, Peter was asked once, twice, three times if he knew or was a companion to this Jesus.

Once, twice, three times — with oaths — Peter denied knowing the Lord! And at that darkest hour, just before the dawn, a rooster crowed! Instantly Peter remembered his prideful boast and Jesus’ prophetic words… and he wept bitterly.

Of course, we know Peter repented and went on to become a leader in proclaiming the message of Christ’s death and Resurrection all across the known world.

Being fed by the birds

You may remember the story of how God used birds to answer the prayers of the Children of Israel. After wandering in the wilderness for many years and being fed on manna, the people cried out for meat. God caused coveys of quail to come near their camp until there was plenty to feed all the people.

The Old Testament tells of the Prophet Elijah being sent into the wilderness to wait beside the brook Cherith. Twice a day the Lord sent ravens to deliver his food. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening (1 Kings 17:6).

Imagine depending on crows to deliver your breakfast and supper! I’m not sure I’d want to trust them with my food. But Elijah did… and he never went hungry.

Are birds good parents?

I’m certainly not an ornithological expert, but I’ve been impressed about the strong parental instinct birds seem to have. It’s fascinating to watch them building a nest, gathering twigs, straw, string, and grass to fashion a fragile but sturdy place to lay their eggs.

In some species, both father and mother bird take turns sitting on the nest, keeping the eggs safe and warm. And once the little ones come out of the eggs, the parents feed the babies until they grow large enough to fly.

I’ve seen mother birds fiercely attack other birds, even animals that prowled too close to their nest. In many instances, the mother seems willing to give her own life to protect her young.

During the time the baby birds are being incubated, then fed and cared for until they can fly away, nothing is more important to the mother bird. Her babies are the center of her life and the sole reason for her existence.

In our day, necessity sometimes forces both parents to work outside the home. Still, I can’t help feeling there are lessons both fathers and mothers can learn about parenting from the example of the birds. Most of all, we must understand how precious the lives of our children really are, worth any sacrifice to protect and nurture in the fear and admonition of God.

Once for a lifetime

I’m impressed with the instinct of birds to be good, faithful partners. I’ve heard that some species, including the turtle dove, mate once for a lifetime. Once a male and female come together, they stay with their mate and remain faithful to each other until separated by death.

Oh, that these beautiful creatures could teach the men and women of America the lessons of fidelity and faithfulness. In a society where there are more divorces being granted than new marriages performed, surely we need to turn again to the example of these beautiful creatures for instruction in living as God intended.

Listen, my friend, to the voices of the little birds, and hear God speaking to you today. Observe the life-style and the joy of these beautiful creatures and learn anew of God’s plan for your life.


CHANGED LIVES-one at a time

Thank you so much for your email news every week.

It gives me understanding how things develop in the world, how the enemy works and how I can pray for my family, as well as for our brothers and sisters that are being persecuted around the world.

May God Bless

A. V.

South Africa

 

Thank you so much for your weekly newsletter I have learned so much and continue to learn each and every time I receive my newsletter. I love the way you break everything down so I can understand it more it’s a great teaching. I am so thankful for you and Rexella and I thank God for your healing from your illness and that he has brought such a man of God back to us. May God bless you both and may you continue to tell the truth in the way it was intended to be told and not afraid to tell it. It seems to be a going thing now that most churches are into more show or entertainment than preaching the word of God and that is a shame. Jesus is coming soon and everybody needs to get ready you can feel it in the air that changes are coming so I thank God for you and Rexella two precious people who keeps us updated on the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God Bless You Both

Anne


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