The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 41

The Invasion of Israel

     On the earth, in the meantime, momentous events have been taking place which, to many of the men and women still on the earth, will be highly encouraging and optimistic.  After decades of war and inflation, political tensions of unrelieved complexity, and a whole host of global ills, almost overnight it seems most of the world’s major problems have been resolved.

     The baleful threat of Russia and her program of global conquest have been removed by a complex of amazing natural catastrophes which have decimated her military machine.  The story had been recorded prophetically long ago, in Ezekiel 38 and 39, and had finally come to pass.  In order to understand the events that follow in Revelation 6, it is necessary to digress at this point to give a brief summary of these two remarkable chapters.

     Ezekiel 38 foresees a sudden invasion of the land of Israel in “the latter days” (Ezekiel 38:8, 16), at a time when Israel has returned to her own land out of the nations and apparently dwelling safely there.  The threats from her immediate Arab neighbors had been neutralized in some way (possibly through nonaggression pacts with Egypt, Arabia, and others, or possibly by the development of new weapons systems which made invasion by the usual methods impracticable).

     The Russian bear far to the north, however, was still Israel’s implacable enemy, and had been gradually extending its power through a ring of puppet nations surrounding Israel.  These are enumerated in Ezekiel 38:2-6.  The prophecy is a follows:

     “Son of man, set thy face against Gog, and 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 armour, 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; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.”

     Gog is evidently the name of the commander of these armies, and he hails from the region originally settled by Japheth’s son, Magog.  This name is probably equivalent to modern “Georgia” and Gog’s name thus may refer to his homeland.  Stalin, for example, was from the Soviet republic of Georgia (the prefix “ma” means “land of,” and “Georgia” may be read “Gog-ia”), and his first successor was named “Georgi” (Malenkov).  In fact, Gog could well be a general title, like Pharaoh, derived from the ancestral home of the vast northern nations.  Meshech and Tubal were also sons of Japheth, and both ancient and modern ethnologists have recognized their names to have been preserved in the modern names Moscow (or Muscovy) and Tobolsk, the chief cities of western and eastern Russia, respectively.  Finally, many scholars have stressed that “chief prince” is actually “prince of Rosh,” and that Russia actually derives its modern name from this very verse.  Thus, there is little doubt that the leader of this latterday anti-Israeli alliance will be Russia.

     The other nations form a clockwise ring around Israel and the entire Middle East.  Persia is, of course, modern Iran.  Ethiopia includes the modern land known as Ethiopia, but may also include a part of the Arabian peninsula across the Red Sea, where the ancestral Ethiopians first settled.  Libya, of course, still has the same name today.  Gomer, another son of Japheth, gave his name to the Cimmerians, the Crimea, and Germani.  Thus, the reference to “Gomer and all his bands” may refer to all the peoples that settled from the Black Sea to eastern Germany.  Similarly, “Togarmah of the North quarters and all his bands” probably refers to Armenia and Turkestan in general.  It is significant that many of these nations today are Moslem nations and all of them are under Russian domination, even though nominally independent.  All of them are strongly anti-Israel.

     The sudden invasion of Israel will be resisted verbally, though not militarily, by “Sheba and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, and the young lions thereof” (Ezekiel 38:13).  Sheba and Dedan were in Arabia, and this passage suggests that the wealthy Arab oil states, themselves the objects of Russian cupidity, may still at that time be outside Russian control.  Tarshish is probably the same as Carthage, founded by the Phoenicians.  “Tarshish” means “smeltry,” and the ancient Phoenicians, the first great mariners, founded iron smeltries, mines, and settlements in many lands, including at least Spain and England, and quite possibly even in America.  Thus “the merchants of Tarshish and their young lions,” in modern equivalence, most likely are the western nations in general.  The original Phoenicia is modern Lebanon, and this nation also will probably be aligned with Israel.

     The attackers will be “like a cloud to cover the land” (38:9) coming from all directions, possibly great waves of paratroopers, as well as cavalry.  Their weapons will be mostly of wood – probably one of the new forms of very light, but very strong wood (39:9), like lignostone.  Perhaps Israel’s advanced weapons technology will have developed laser or microwave beams which render metallic components inoperable.  The overwhelming numerical strength of the invading hosts, a number sufficient to require seven months of work by the whole population just to bury (39:12, 13), would seem to be irresistible.

     But then God will intervene in an unprecedented way!  A tremendous complex of earthquakes, hailstorms, volcanic eruptions, and pestilence, supplemented by fighting among the invading armies themselves, will overwhelm the hosts of Gog, destroying five men out of every six (38:19-22; 39:2-4).  Simultaneously, great fires devastate Russia itself, along with the coastlands of it confederates (39:6), so that it will be completely eliminated as a world power as will its various satellite nations.

     The “coincidences” will be so remarkable (even though the catastrophes are all natural phenomena) that all the nations will know they were sent by God (38:23).  Israel, in particular, will give up the atheism which has dominated the Zionist movement and the modern Israeli nation in general and will “know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward” (39:22).

     It is quite probable that this great event will give Israel both the desire and the opportunity finally to rebuild their ancient temple and reinstitute the ancient worship.  The Moslem “Dome of the Rock” will be razed and a magnificent temple constructed (Revelation 11:1, 2).  With all this, however, the Israeli people will still reject Christ (except for a remnant that will be especially prepared by God), even though they are seeking to restore the worship of the God of their fathers.

     The other nations of the world will also quickly seek to take advantage of the vacuum left by Russia’s fall.  Quickly forgetting the obvious role of God in the affair, the nations of the western alliance – possibly the NATO nations and/or the nations of the European Common Market – will forge a vast politico/commercial/religious alliance designed to dominate world affairs.  Ten of these nations – all with cultural and legal ties to ancient Rome (Daniel 2:40-43; 7:24; Revelation 17:12) – will unite together, first in a loose alliance, later in a united empire.

     With Russia and the Moslem nations no longer a problem, and the oil resources of the Middle East under their jurisdiction, these western nations will anticipate a tremendous era of peace and prosperity.  In one of these nations, a tremendously capable and charismatic leader will have come into power (Daniel 7:23-25), and he and his nation will quickly enter into a treaty with Israel, which had so recently been in mortal danger.  The Scriptures do not indicate the terms of the covenant except that it is for a seven-year period and possibly guarantees the safe construction of the temple and establishment of its worship (Daniel 9:27).

     At some point in this sequence of events, the Lord will descend from heaven to the earth’s atmosphere, and the great resurrection of the Christian dead and rapture of the living believers will take place.  It is impossible to say with certainty, however, whether it will take place before or after the Russian invasion, since the rapture is always imminent.  Since the seven-year period of the treaty almost certainly corresponds to the seven years covered in Revelation 6-19, the rapture must take place no later than the date of its activation, but it may occur anytime before that.  It is possibly also significant that the wooden weapons of Gog’s devastated armies will serve as fuel for the Israeli people for a period of seven years (Ezekiel 39:9, 10).

     In any case, when the rapture does occur, there will undoubtedly be a great flurry of excitement in the world, particularly in those nations where there are many Christians whose sudden disappearance will be newsworthy.  Probably there will be enough people left with adequate knowledge of biblical eschatology to deduce what has happened, and many and heated will be the letters to the editor.  Liberal pastors will preach sermons to their liberal congregations deploring the rapture theory and trying to explain all the disappearances as some sort of capitalist plot.  Many others will claim that aliens from outer space have spirited them away in their spaceships.  With all the other excitement in the world, the missing Christians will soon be forgotten, at least for a time, and the world will get caught up in the euphoria of anticipated prosperity and peace.

     All of this will be the immediate background of the events in Revelation 6.  On the earth will be the vivid memory of Russia’s recent destruction.  The focus of interest will be increasingly on Israel and the Middle East, and the vanished Christians will soon be forgotten.

     The rapture will have had one other major effect on the world.  No longer will there be any significant voice for morality and righteousness in the world, and the pursuit of pleasures and vices of every description will be unrestrained (2 Thessalonians 2:6-12).

     But then the blow will fall.  “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). 

Revelation 6:2.    And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

     This is the first of the famous “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”  These horses, of course, are clearly symbolic.  There are no horses in heaven.  Further, the first is quite different from the others as no specific plagues are associated with its rider, as are the others (war, famine, and pestilence, respectively).

     For some reason, most futurist commentators take the rider on the white horse to be the coming Antichrist.  This interpretation, however, fails to recognize that all four horsemen are sent forth directly from the Lamb, as judgments on the wicked men on the earth, of whom the most wicked is Antichrist himself.  Furthermore, although this great “man of sin” does indeed attempt to conquer, he certainly is not to be allowed to conquer.  He will quickly be conquered himself – by none other than this same rider on the white horse (see Revelation 19:11-20), who Himself is none other than King of kings and Lord of lords.

     At this tremendous moment in history, “the Son of God goes forth to war,” as the Lamb breaks the first seal.  The seven seal judgments follow, then the seven trumpets, then the seven bowls.  However, the seventh seal includes all the seven trumpets and the seventh trumpet leads into the seven bowls.  The entire series thus represents the Lamb’s successive forays into the invader’s strongholds until finally the enemy is driven out completely.  The climax comes at the battle of Armageddon, when the great Rider appears once again on His white horse to win the final victory (Revelation 19:11, 19).

     This horseman is the only one with a crown, and it is the victor’s crown (Greek stephanos) He is “to conquer”; He is the King.  He is armed with a great bow, but the bow does not speak of warfare; for that is the province of the second horseman.  The word “conquer” is the same as “overcome” used so frequently by the Lord in the letters to the churches.  To the last church, the promise to the “conquering” Christian was that he would share His throne, since He also had “conquered” (Revelation 3:21).

     There may be a suggestion in Habakkuk 3:9.  “Thy bow was made quite naked, . . . even thy word.  Selah.”  Like the sword “which proceeded out of his mouth “ (Revelation 19:21), the bow perhaps speaks of His conquering the hearts of men through His Word, while at the same time He is defeating the rebellions of wicked men by the same Word.  In any case, “when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).  As the seals are broken, the trumpets blown, and the bowls poured out, the wicked are indeed defeated but at the same time a great multitude will be won to Christ (Revelation 7:9).  The bow, like the rainbow, speaks of mercy in the midst of judgment.  The judgments are both preceded and followed, begun and ended, by the one who “is called The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13). 

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