Christadelphians have been thrilled to see the fulfilment of Bible prophecy relating to some of the nations of Ezekiel 38 and Daniel 11 in recent events. We have seen Britain leaving the European Union as required in Ezekiel 38:13, because Tarshish has to be in opposition to Russia and Europe, voicing its protest by say­ing to the northern invader, “Art thou come to take a spoil?” We have also seen Russia becoming entrenched in Syria, ready to take on the mantle of the King of the North (Dan 11:40) and poised ready to take Turkey and then sweep down through Israel into Egypt.

 

Now what about Ethiopia and Libya? Ethiopia and Libya are listed in Ezekiel 38:5 and Daniel 11:43 as confederate with the northern invader in its conquest of Israel and of Egypt. These nations are not prominent in the news and so we may be wondering what is happening in these regions to prepare them for the role they will play with Russia as Gog and King of the North. As we shall see, it turns out that the angelic messengers have been busy manoeuvring them into alignment as well as providing Russia with good reasons to take a deep interest in their geo-political circumstances.

Of all the nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38, it would appear that Libya and Ethiopia are the easiest to identify because they are nations bearing those names today. However, that is not quite the case. The territories of biblical Ethiopia and Libya are much larger than these countries are today. Ethiopia in the Bible is the translation of the Hebrew name ‘Cush’. Libya is the translation of the Hebrew name ‘Phut’. Both of these are the names of sons of Ham. Genesis 10:6 says, “And the sons of Ham: Cush and Mizraim and Phut and Canaan.” Mizraim is the Hebrew name for Egypt and Canaan hardly needs explanation. Cush and Phut require a bit more work to identify them.

Cush

Cush occurs in the Bible in three geographic con­texts. The first context is in relation to Eden (in what is now Iraq) as mentioned in Genesis 2:13, “… river Gihon: the same is it that compas­seth the whole land of Ethiopia (Cush).” The second is the Sinai Peninsula. Moses’ wife is described as being an Ethiopian or Cushite (Num 21:1) yet she is also the daughter of Jethro the priest of Midian and lived in the area around Mt Sinai (Exod 3:1)1. The third is in the area immediately to the south of Egypt and is spoken of in Ezekiel 29:10 in this way: “Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.” The three locations of Cush can be explained because of the migration of the three sons of Noah.

The migration of the sons of Ham and their spreading abroad in their respective geographical areas would have taken many years to be accomplished. In the case of the Cushites, it appears that some stayed in the area of Mesopotamia for some time; others travelled as far as the Sinai Peninsula and stayed there; but the vast majority travelled further and ended up in the area south of Egypt, which includes modern day Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia – See map.

Josephus identifies Cush with Ethiopia2.

Phut

Phut (or “Put” in more recent Bible versions) is generally mentioned with Cush. For example, Jeremiah 46:9 says, “let the mighty men come forth; the Ethiopians (Cush) and the Libyans (Phut), that handle the shield …” Also Ezekiel 30:5 puts “Ethiopia and Libya” together. Josephus identifies Phut with Libya 3. Pliny the elder and Ptolemy4 identify Libya as extending from Egypt to the west as far as modern day Morocco, hence including modern day Algeria.

Why would Russia be Interested in Cush and Phut?

Since both Cush (Sudan and Ethiopia) and Phut (Libya and Algeria) are to support Russia as Gog or King of the North, there must be some reason for Russia’s involvement in these countries. The short answer is oil and gas. All of these countries have large reserves of oil and gas. The Daily Crude Oil Production map from 2008 shown is indicative of the oil production in the area; however, since then much more oil and gas has been found in Sudan and Ethiopia.

 

 

Sudan, South Sudan5 and Ethiopia

Russia has started to exert its influence across these nations. South Sudan (a majority Christian coun­try) seceded from Sudan (97% Sunni Moslem) in 2011, after some 40 years of civil war. The conflict, however, still continued till 2015. In September 2015, Russia hosted a meeting of Sudan and South Sudan in Moscow and largely settled the disputes between the two countries, which made Russia the friend of both countries. (It is noted that there is still civil war within South Sudan and still civil war in the Darfur region of Sudan6.) Russia has also established a security agreement with Sudan and South Sudan 7. On October 4, 2015, The Ministry of Oil in Sudan signed an agreement with Russia’s Gazohim to build a large gas liquefaction plant in Sudan. In December 2015, Sudan and Russia signed 14 co-operation agreements, including Russia being able to prospect for oil in Sudan. Hence Russia is gaining increased acceptance in Sudan.

Ethiopia

Russia has had an historic association with Ethiopia. The pro-western Ethiopian dictator, Haile Selassie, was deposed in 1974 (after 44 years as Emperor of Ethiopia) by the pro-Soviet Mengistu Haile Mariam. From then till the col­lapse of the Soviet Union, Ethiopia was communist and heavily influenced by Russia. Since the 1990s, Ethiopia has been a democratic republic.

Russia’s interest in Ethiopia, however, has recently resumed and, significantly, at about the same time that major oil and gas discoveries have been made. Since the 1970s it has been known that Ethiopia had oil and gas fields near the border with Somalia. However, conflict between the two countries has held back development of these fields until around 2013. In 2013, Tullow Oil discovered large reserves of oil, which it intends to develop8. In September 2014, the Russian foreign minister, Sergev Lavrov, initiated discussions with Ethiopia and signed agreements with Ethiopia to strengthen military ties and work on major projects in energy and hydrocarbon production9. In 2015, the Chinese company, Poly-GCL Petroleum, found 100 billion cubic metres of gas in its small tenement in the Ogaden basin in Ethiopia. On 13th April 2016, the company announced it will spend US$4 billion to build an LNG processing plant, pipeline and wharf to export LNG10. The Russians were not slow to respond to this. On 25th April 2016, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergev Lavrov, met with the Ethiopian Foreign Minister to further discuss trade and investment between the two countries11.

Libya

Libya has had a long association with Russia, starting from the time when General Gaddafi seized power in Libya in 1969. Gaddafi turned Libya from being pro-Western to being pro-Soviet until the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. He then switched allegiances and began to court the West until his death in the Arab Spring of 2011.

The Arab Spring uprisings have torn Libya apart and the country is now beset with numerous rival, armed militias, lawlessly asserting their authority over a hapless people. America and Europe have tried to create a government of unity but have largely failed. In the turmoil, ISIS emerged as a strong force in 2014 and took control of the coastal city of Sirte. This has drawn a reluctant America back into bombing ISIS in Libya and in August this year, American forces, together with Libyan government forces, claim to have retaken Sirte from ISIS12.

The people of Libya are weary of the almost constant civil war since Gaddafi was killed in 2011 and are disillusioned with the West for not hav­ing brought stability and peace to their country. Not surprisingly, Libya is starting to look towards Russia. In June 2016, Libya’s General Hifter made a sudden trip to Moscow, which has resulted in several news services running the headline, “Is General Hifter becoming Putin’s man in Libya?”13. Also in June, the Russian Insider ran the headline, “Having saved Syria, Putin now Looking to do the Same in Libya”. The Times of Oman 14 ran an article entitled, “Russia’s Growing Influence in Libya.” It seems that Libya is turning towards Russia, having lost faith in the West. This is, of course, exactly as we would expect from Ezekiel 38 and Daniel 11.

Algeria

Algeria was also a part of ancient Libya or “Phut”. From 1830 to 1962 Algeria was a French Colony. After gaining independence, the country devel­oped into a major exporter of oil and gas. In 1991, civil war broke out and lasted till 2002 when President Bouteflika came to power and stabilised the country. When the Arab Spring came in 2011, there were months of riots throughout Algeria and President Bouteflika and his government were fearful of what the result might be. At the height of the riots, the US State Department issued a press statement15: “We note the ongoing protests in Algeria, and call for restraint on the part of the security services. In addition, we reaffirm our support for the universal rights of the Algerian people, including assembly and expression.” This infuriated Bouteflika, who already felt betrayed by America and the West for fostering the Arab Spring. Since then, Algeria has been increasingly orienting itself towards Russia. Some of the recent news concerning Algeria bears this out. In April 2016, there was a Russia-Algeria economic forum held in Moscow in which Russia indicated its desire to continue to expand economic relation, particu­larly in the fuel and energy sector. In late April 2016, Algeria ordered 42 new attack helicopters from Russia at a cost of US$7.5b16. In June 2016, several news agencies17 reported that Algeria has decided to strengthen its ties with Russia and the countries that are part of an informal but growing anti-NATO bloc.

So Algeria is positioning itself very nicely from a prophetic viewpoint. Being a major producer of oil and gas, it has caught the attention and interest of Russia.

It will be interesting to see how the bonds between Gog and these North African countries will grow in the future. We have no doubt that at the time of the invasion “the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps” (Dan 11:43)18. We pray that the time will soon come when the Lord will be in the earth and defeat the enemy who at last will “come to his end and none shall help him” (Dan 11:45).

Footnotes

  1. Christ and the saints in their march through the Sinai Peninsula to Jerusalem encounter Cushites – Hab 3:7
  2. “For of the four sons of Ham, time has not at all hurt the name of Cush; for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Cushites.” (Antiquities of the Jews 1.6)
  3. “Phut also was the founder of Libya” (Antiquities of the Jews 1.6)
  4. Pliny the Elder Nat. Hist.5.1 and Ptolemy Geog. iv.1.3 both place the river Phuth (named from Phut) on the west side of Mauretania (modern Morocco)
  5. South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 after 40 years of civil war
  6. Reuters, Arms embargo on South Sudan, 12 July 2016
  7. Sudan Tribune
  8. www.tullowoil.com/operations/new-ventures/ethiopia
  9. http://allafrica.com/stories/201409220999.html
  10. Interfaxenergy.com/gas
  11. Tass Russian New agency–http://tass.ru/en/economy/872197
  12. New York Times, 11 August 2016
  13. Eg: al-monitor.com, emailnewsletterstand.com, reddit.com
  14. http://timesofoman.com/article/85707, 10 June 2016
  15. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/02/156515.htm, Feb 2011
  16. United Press International – upi.com
  17. www.fort-Russ.com
  18. Rotherham translates this “with Libyans and Ethiopians among his followers”