Is Russia the Nation from the Uttermost North?
David Liang and Dorothy Liang
Events happening in our world today have captured the attention of Bible scholars. For over two centuries, those who study prophecy have sought to identify the land mentioned in the book of Ezekiel as the “uttermost parts of the north.” Today they are wondering if it could be Russia.
The Bible says in Ezekiel 38:2–3 and 39:1 that Gog is the leader from the land of Magog. Scholars are not entirely clear where the land of Magog is except that it is situated in the "uttermost parts of the north" from Israel's point of view. Northward travel from Israel leads through Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, the Black Sea, and finally Russia—all the way up to the Arctic Circle. Much of this territory consists of militant Islamic states harbouring hatred toward Israel. Ezekiel 38 and 39 foresee that Gog and Magog will align with other nations to form a formidable army against Israel.
Superpower Role Reversal
During the Cold War, successive Soviet leaders sought to exploit the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to increase Moscow's influence in the Middle East in opposition to the U.S. At the end of the Cold War, as the Soviet Union disintegrated, Russia lost its superpower status, making the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy seem impossible.
But today, Russian President Vladimir Putin has put Russia back on the world stage. Holding himself out as modern Russia’s greatest national hero, with such geopolitical maneuvers as invading Georgia, annexing Crimea, and posturing in Syria, Putin has restored Russia’s global influence.
These days there’s a constant stream of Middle Eastern visitors going to Moscow. The Egyptians, Jordanians, Turks, and even Israelis are beating a path to the Kremlin in hopes that Putin can secure their interests and fix their problems. And by making friendly overtures toward Russia, Saudi King Salman has become the first monarch of the oil-rich kingdom to visit Moscow.
Until recently, Washington stood alone as the go-to destination for such leaders. But at present, American power in the region is perceptibly in retreat—testimony to the success of Russia’s military intervention in Syria, which shored up President Bashar al-Assad after years of U.S. insistence that he must go.
Syria has become a big stage—the field on which world powers, neighboring countries, and ethnic groups and tribes all slug it out, while hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians are slaughtered and millions more become exiles in their own country or refugees beyond its borders. The fallout from the war has spread far beyond Syria. The wave of refugees from the Middle East, along with several deadly terror attacks, has changed the internal political situation in Europe. Russia positioned itself as the leader of the diplomatic process aimed at bringing about a cease-fire in Syria, while also using Syria as a testing ground for its latest weapons systems.
Courting Favor with Religious Groups
Over the years, Putin has carried out a distinctive style of diplomacy among devotees of major religious groups. In 2012, he visited the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) and, upon hearing an Israeli bystander explain the importance of the Temple Mount and the Jewish Temple, responded: “That’s exactly the reason I came here—to pray for the Temple to be built again.” During that same year, on a Middle East tour, Putin stopped to kneel and pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This is not the first time he has been there. He admits this is one of his favorite places to visit. In 2017, Putin vowed that Russia would “help rebuild Christian churches in Syria and establish peace in historically Christian regions of the war-torn country.”
Could it be that, as Putin continues a Middle East power play, Russia is increasingly likely to assume the role of leading mighty armies to descend upon the Holy Land, thereby fulfilling a Bible prophecy from over 2,600 years ago?
Significance of the Iran Deal
The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran is likely to increase the strength of bonds among the Bible’s prophetical coalition of Israel-hating nations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had loudly denounced the agreement with Iran, and Trump’s siding with Israel could only add fuel to the fire in terms of Iran’s hatred of Israel.
Unfortunately for Israel, after Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Putin reportedly reached out to European leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, proposing a shared “strategic interest.” Trump’s bombshell withdrawal seems to be driving European leaders to seek rapprochement with Russia, moving them further away from supporting Israel. This will further enhance Putin’s influence in Europe and the Middle East—in line with the Bible prophecy pointing to the rise of a power from the uttermost parts of the north.
Furthermore, Trump’s unreserved support will not last indefinitely. Future U.S. presidents might not be as supportive of Israel. Other background factors include the U.S.’ limited resources and the worrisome discord between the U.S. and its European allies in terms of their respective views on Israel. The U.S. may well have to eventually withdraw from the Middle East geopolitical theatre. And what might take place after this? Ezekiel 38:13 may hold a clue.
Israel, the Land of Great Spoil
“Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?” (KJV)
The foregoing Bible verse reveals the reason Russia and its allies would want to invade the Holy Land. What prey and spoil does Israel possess which would entice Russia to come to the Holy Land with such a large coalition of armies? While some learned scholars have explored the possibility that King Solomon buried gold and treasure in some as-yet undiscovered area of the Holy Land, others believe the prey and spoil might be found in Israeli "black gold."
In recent years the Holy Land has proven to be not only a land of milk and honey but also a land of plentiful oil and gas. Afek Oil and Gas, an Israeli subsidiary of the U.S. company Genie Energy, has confirmed that it thinks it has found an oil reservoir with the potential of billions of barrels. The company’s chief geologist explained: “On average in the world, strata are 20–30 meters thick, and this is ten times as large as that—so we are talking about significant quantities. The important thing is to know the oil is in the rock and that's what we now know.”
Israel is also poised to enter a new era of exporting natural gas to her neighbors as well as displacing coal for domestic energy production. Israel’s ability to export natural gas has provided a common interest for Israel and its neighbors, including Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey. Natural gas has put Israel in the position of energy supplier and not just energy consumer.
At the same time, Zion Oil & Gas has reported a different kind of find. They announced that during a cleaning of the well bore operation, they encountered free-flowing hydrocarbons, clear evidence of oil and gas in the deeper portion of their wells.
Awareness of this discovery might partly explain why Russia has so adamantly propped up the Assad regime in Syria. The scenario predicted in Ezekiel 36–39 appears to be taking shape as Russia moves more military assets into and close to Syria. As Ezekiel predicted some 2,600 years ago, Gog (Russia) will invade Israel with the prime motivation of seizing spoil and carrying off plunder (Ezekiel 38:12). Oil—which remains a necessity for most of the world—is worthy of being plundered.
A Doomed Invasion
God has promised divine protection of His Chosen People. The Russian invasion of the Holy Land will be doomed!
“I [the Lord God] will execute judgment on him [Gog the leader of Magog, i.e. Russia] with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him” (Ezekiel 38:22).
In the aftermath, Israelis will bury the bodies of the fallen armies of Magog [Russia] and its allies. The task will be so enormous that it will take over seven months to complete (Ezekiel 39:11).
“And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23).
So whatever audacious geopolitical maneuvers Russia attempts under Putin or his successors, the outcomes were prophesied more than 2,600 years ago. How awesome to see that the Bible foresaw the rise of Russia and the coalition involving Iran that Russia will lead in attacking the Holy Land. These hastening footsteps should tell us that He is coming soon.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!