“Son of man, set thy face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and prophecy against him” Ezekiel 38:2 rv

brother Thomas in Elpis Israel set out the first detailed traditional Christadelphian exposition of Ezekiel 38. With Josephus, he identified the Magogites with the Scythians who occupied the territory of central Europe. Thus the land of Magog has its modern identification with the area from Germany across to European Russia. With many other writers Brother Thomas identified Rosh with modern Russia.

To quote from Unger’s Bible Dictionary under the heading Gog: “Ezekiel 38, 39, which deal with Gog, the prince, and Magog, his land, describe the actual invasion of Palestine by a great northern con­federacy, ostensibly headed up by Russia.” Many a Christadelphian public lecture has commenced with similar words. And we believe there is no reason whatever to vary our traditional understanding of Ezekiel 38.

Consider the commentary in a recent Stratfor newsletter under the above heading. To quote: “Germany and Russia are forging an economic deal that, if it succeeds, may shift the balance of European power… The two sides have agreed in principle to swap a large share of Russia’s $14 bil­lion debt”, The Times reported December 13. One option they are considering is giving Germany a significantly larger share in Gazprom, Russia’s gigantic gas export monopoly. Germany’s Ruhrgas now holds 4%.

Obtaining several billion dollars worth of stakes in Russian enterprise would make Germany a ma­jor shareholder in Russian industry, giving Berlin a stronger voice in Moscow. In addition, it would further tie Berlin’s interests to economic and politi­cal stability in Russia. Russia already supplies about 35% of Germany’s gas needs.

Moscow and Berlin understand this fast-growing mutual cooperation will strengthen each country’s potential and help “advance both to the front stage of world geopolitics”.

How earnestly we have looked for the develop­ment of closer links between Europe and Russia. The comments made in the balance of this article are so much in accord with what Christadelphian ‘watchers’ have anticipated that it is worth quoting at some length.

“Being a part of European civilisation and always yearning for recognition in Europe, the majority of Russia’s elite and the current Russian govern­ment in particular have been reluctant to turn east in their search for allies. They still see Europe as the most desirable place to be.

“… Germany seems to be both able and willing to support Russia’s revival, while not demand­ing humiliating concessions. Berlin sees a close partnership with Moscow as a future geopolitical benefit.

“Germany feels building a secure, united Europe would be impossible if Russia were left without support, destabilised and hostile.

“In a broader sense, Germany foresees Russia as guarding [‘be thou a guard unto them’ Ezek 38:7] the outer borders of a larger European community from Islamic radicals and other growing external threats. For the same reasons, Germany would be glad to see Russia’s vast resources come to Germany and Europe rather than to the east, particularly future geopolitical rivals China and Japan.”

USA and Britain out in the Cold?

“Berlin would also prefer these resources do not move overseas to the United States, Germany’s current geopolitical rival.

“Europe and the European Union—except for US-oriented Great Britain—seem to be solidly behind Germany in its Russian policy.

“Forging a close geopolitical partnership between Germany and Russia, if it is successful, will dra­matically change the global balance of power. As­sisting in Russia’s integration into Europe would result in Germany’s emergence as the leader of a United Europe with Russia on its side. Such a development would significantly weaken US influence in Europe.”

So here is the alliance developing as we expect­ed. Note the significant fact that both political and economic factors are driving this mooted relation­ship, ie “the kings of the earth” and “the merchants of the earth” acting in concert (Rev 18:3). Observe the significant estrangement of the Tarshish powers US and Britain, explicitly mentioned a number of times in the article. And remember that Germany reportedly is happy to see Russia emerge as the mili­tary power acting as guardian of a United Europe!

United States versus Europe-Russia

In apparent response to the growing economic and political links between Europe and Russia, the United States on January 3 leaked a report from its intelligence community to the Washington Post newspaper accusing Russia of deploying tactical nuclear weapons at a Russian base at Kaliningrad near the Lithuanian and Polish border. The report appears to be a deliberate attempt to cause disquiet in Europe over Russian intentions.

The more likely result according to commenta­tors is a furthering of the rift between Europe and the US. The Europeans are now locked solidly into their growing economic ties with Russia, par­ticularly in relation to energy deals. In addition the Europeans have made a deliberate decision to reduce their reliance upon the United States and pursue a more independent policy line.

Washington however insists that NATO should remain at the heart of European security.

“We would not want to see an ESDI (European Security and Defense Identity) that comes into be­ing first within NATO but then grows out of NATO and finally grows away from NATO”, US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott told a conference in London. That statement was made just over a year ago, but the determination of the Europeans to move away from US dominance is clearer than ever. The economic and political realities driving this move of Europe (Magog and Gomer) away from the US and likely Britain as well (Tarshish) towards Russia (Rosh) are developing strongly. And we need to be watching these developments carefully in the days ahead.

The Business of Israel

Elpis Israel 1848: “… They will emigrate thither as agriculturists and traders, in the hope of ultimately establishing their commonwealth, but more imme­diately of getting rich in silver and gold…”.

Financial Review 2000: “Drive alongside the Mediterranean from the ancient port of Jaffa through Tel Aviv and Haifa and glance inland just as you approach the walled Crusader citadel of Acre. A metallic blue tower explains why even the threat of war can’t keep this whole coast from booming. It’s named Silicon Heights.

“The Middle East keeps missing the develop­ment bus on which much of the rest of Asia is rid­ing. But Israel’s GDP has reached 10 per cent of the entire Arab world’s, including oil—with 0.5% per cent of its population.

“The impact of the latest intifada on the economy has yet to become apparent, beyond the immediate collapse of tourism and of construction since Arab workers are not allowed into the sites. The prospects for Israel had earlier looked stunning. In the first nine months of 2000, foreign investment doubled over the same period in 1999, while foreign investment in Israeli stocks soared four times. Since then the shekel has not lost ground, and the inflation target of 2.5% seems safe. Growth of 4 per cent is still anticipated in 2001 after 6 per cent in 2000”.

Despite the small, impoverished yet politically powerful religious right groups in Israel, the country increasingly is a secular, highly educated, wealthy society, “in unbelief of the messiahship of Jesus”, militarily powerful and self confident. They surely are that people “gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods” that Ezekiel saw in his prophecy of the latter days (Ezek 38:12).

An International Industry

In international trade, the big three traded commodi­ties, it is said, are armaments, heroin and oil, in that order. Which suggests, if we can be a little facetious, that the world’s priorities are getting power, getting high and getting around. Being more serious, what are we to say of our world when a criminal trade estimated to be worth $US500 billion per annum, the trade in heroin, is second only to the world arms trade?

We scan Paul’s list of the evils of the last days in 2 Timothy 3, wondering where to place this terrible scourge. It scarcely seems to fit under “lovers of pleasures”. There is in so many users of such drugs an awful emptiness, a self destructive hopelessness that speaks of the ultimate end of a society without God, without standards and without restraint.

In the rapidly developing trends in Europe and the Middle East we see the evident signs of the times that tell us the return of our Lord is so near. And in the awful statistics of the drug trade, and the many other indicators of a lost society we see those elements that demand his return.

Let us continue to be alert to the signs of the times and alert too to those evils of this age which can cause us to be overtaken by the cares of this life, lest that day come upon us unawares.