(Denver, Colorado) — Readers of my novel, The Ezekiel Option, and non-fiction book, Epicenter, and this blog know how interested I am in the ancient prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39 and what is known by rabbis, pastors and Bible scholars as the “War of Gog and Magog.”
The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel wrote some 2,500 years ago that in the “last days” of history, the Jewish people will be gathered back to the land of Israel from all the nations where they have been scattered and exiled, they will rebuild the State of Israel, and they will create a nation of ever-increasing security and prosperity.
At that time, Ezekiel indicates an evil dictator identified as “Gog” will rise up in Russia (known in Biblical times as “Magog”) who will form an alliance with Iran (known in Biblical times as “Persia”), Turkey (known in Biblical times as “Gomer”), and several other Middle Eastern and North African countries. Together, this alliance will surround and then seek to attack and consume Israel and the Jewish people.
Skeptics of the Bible dismiss all talk of prophecy as uneducated, unsophisticated and downright ridiculous, despite the fact that over the last century we’ve been seeing one Bible prophecy after another come to pass:
- Jews from all over the world have been streaming back to live in the Land of Israel (myself included)
- Israelis have been rebuilding the ancient ruins and building a modern, flourishing, prosperous economy.
- Israelis have been creating the strongest and most successful military in the entire Middle East, have forged an enduring alliance with the world’s only superpower, and feel more secure today than ever in their modern existence.
So some of us find headlines like these particularly interesting:
- “Putin in Ankara to forge alliance of Russia, Turkey and Iran” — Al Arabiya
- “Russia’s Putin visits Turkey as ties between nation’s deepen” — Washington Post
Keep in mind that tensions between Russia and Turkey (a NATO member) have been running quite high in recent years.
- In November 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin strongly condemned Turkey, saying Turkish leaders were “accomplices of terrorists” and warned of “serious consequences.”
- In December 2015, Putin imposed harsh economic sanctions on Turkey and announced the cancellation of major investment projects.
- By February 2016, the Financial Times published a story headlined, “Tensions between Russia and Turkey reach new peak.” The article noted that, “Tension between Russia and Turkey has reached a new peak as the two countries step up military action in Syria in support of opposing sides, edging closer to direct confrontation in the country’s increasingly internationalised war….’Putin is furious with Turkey,’ said [a] European official. ‘The situation is really incredibly serious.’”
- If that weren’t enough, in December 2016, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was assassinated in Ankara by a Turkish police officer.
So it’s not exactly obvious that Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan would be meeting in the Turkish capital to forge an alliance together, much less with Iran.
Yet that’s exactly what happened this week.
- Putin’s visit to Ankara comes a few days prior to the scheduled visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s to Moscow on October 5-7, 2017. After patching up an acrimonious row between the countries over the downing of a Russian jetfighter in November 2015 over Syria, both leaders have pledged to restore their political and economic relations to pre-crisis levels….
- Moscow called for a peace conference in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, which involved Turkey and Iran. The countries formed a diplomatic triad for setting up de-escalation zones in Syria in order to end the war and stop the division of the country. Russia chose Astana as a venue for the talks to send a message to the US that it should not get close to Russian borders through former republics of the Soviet Union….
- Turkish leadership is seeking strategic relationship with Russia to replace the loss of its Western alliance. In other words, Ankara is effecting a shift toward a more “Eurasian-ist” orientation due to the proximity of the region, the overlapping of interests, common cultural values and language.
- After winning the war in Syria, Russia is now seeking to ensure its peace – a mission no less difficult than going to war. Initially, Russia used Turkey as a key partner to make the Syrian opposition accept a truce and join peace talks for reaching a political settlement….
- Russian-Turkish bilateral relations have several common traits: pragmatism, multi-faceted approach, commonalities, reliance on energy resources, geopolitical power, military performance, circumspection toward the West. All of this has fueled the Russian and Turkish pursuit to play a pivotal role at the Eurasian and Middle Eastern landscapes….
- In 2014, Putin and Erdogan signed several agreements on bilateral trade with the two countries hoping that their annual trade volume would reach $100 billion by 2020. However, the most important achievement of the meeting was the agreement to expand cooperation in natural gas trade. Russia aimed through these agreements to also increase its gas exports to Turkey by more than 3 billion cubic meters because of the latter’s increasing need for energy.
- Turkey imports 93 percent of its energy needs, 97 percent of which is natural gas. Ankara buy 60 percent of its gas from Russia, which makes it the second largest importer of Russian natural gas after Germany. The value of Turkish exports to Russia does not exceed $6 billion….
- The recent military rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow with the S-400 deal has upset NATO officials because the Russian system, an anti-air defense system, is incompatible with NATO’s. With this deal, Russia will be the third biggest arms exporter to Turkey after Germany and the US.
- Erdogan, who plans to visit Iran in October to bolster military cooperation, will also be discussing the repercussions of any independent Kurdish state that might inflame separatist tensions in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria….
To be clear, I’m not saying that as Yom Kippur begins this year, Israel faces an imminent threat of attack from Russia, Turkey or Iran. Nor am I saying that this week’s meeting between Putin and Erdogan necessarily fulfills Biblical prophecy. It’s simply too early to say whether the alliances that are forming between have Biblical significance. Likewise, it’s also too early to say that Putin is Gog, though he certainly seems “Gog-esque.” We simply don’t have enough information, so we should not be quick to draw conclusions.
That said, even skeptics of the Bible should find recent events not only troubling geopolitically, but also curiously consistent with the words of the ancient Hebrew prophet Ezekiel. I certainly do.