With remarkable prescience brother John Thomas identified Russia as the king of the north at the time of the end. Last century this seemed a most unlikely possibility. Turkey was then the sick old man of Europe and Russia was a far distant country, reluctant to involve itself in international affairs.

How different is the picture today! The changed fortunes of Russia, Europe and the Near East, in harmony with brother Thomas’ predictions based upon the Scriptures, serve to confirm that brother Thomas was specially enabled by God to rediscover the Truth for the Last Days, both doctrinally and prophetically.

In this review we will not attempt to verify the identification of the various nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38; this has been well documented in chapter 5 of the Third Part of Elpis Israel. We will, however, review the chapter in relation to current events and see how dramatically the stage is being set for the grand climax of the ages.

Gog

 Ezekiel 38:2 introduces us to Gog and we should note that his name is not a new concept. Moses in Deuteronomy 28 had already signalled that God would judge Israel for their sins by bringing against them a number of enemies. One of those enemies was Amalek, the chief of the nations and, in the days of Saul, the ruler of the Amalekites was Agag. He was the king who was spared by Saul but hewn in pieces by Samuel.

The spirit recorded a prophecy through Balaam concerning a future king of Israel. Numbers 24:7 predicted, “his king shall be higher than Agag and his kingdom shall be exalted”. Our understanding of this is that a king of Israel would defeat Agag and following this the kingdom would be fully exalted. Israel’s first king, Saul, failed to achieve this and hence the promise remains unfulfilled. The Septuagint translates “Agag” as “Gog” and hence the relevance to our consideration of a latter day fulfilment. Agag was probably the title given to the kings of Amalek in the same way that Gog is the title of Israel’s final enemy. Where the first king failed to destroy Agag, God will provide another king to hew in pieces the latter day Gog (1 Sam 15:8, Dan 2:44).

As an aside it is interesting to note that Haman, the Jewish enemy in the time of Mordechai and Esther, was an Agagite, his overthrow again being typical of that which is to happen to Gog. Furthermore, the use of the names Gog and Magog to describe the confederacy that will revolt against the reign of Christ at the end of the millennium, tends to support the idea that Gog is a title rather than a specific name of an individual (Rev 20:8).

Why does Ezekiel call “the autocrat of all the Russias” Gog? The name itself means “one at the top” or “the roof” and its significance is brought out by brother Thomas in Elpis Israel, pages 429–432, where he recounts Gog’s place in history. Gog is not a Hebrew name; it is a proper name of an individual who was well known to continental history. He became the Major Domus Regiae, or chief of the palace, in the times of Austrasia (Austria-Germany) during the sixth century and was later brutally removed from office. Brother Thomas continues :

“Thus it is evident that Gogue is an historical character and that he was Regent of a part of Magogue. Now, it is probable that, because of certain peculiarities in his history in relation to Magogue, God selected his name as the prophetic title of one who should rule over the same country in ‘the time of the end’. The resemblance between the historical and prophetic Gogues may be stated as follows. I shall distinguish them as Gogue I and Gogue II.

1  Gogue I was a foreigner; Gogue II will be one likewise, belonging to Ros and not to the Germans;

2  Gogue I became sovereign in fact, though not de jure; Gogue II will become sovereign in fact by conquest;

3  Gogue I became ruler in a time of confusion, because the native princes could not maintain order; weakness of the sovereigns and anarchy of the people will precede the de facto sovereignty of Gogue II also;

4  Gogue I, though exalted to the highest point of honour and power, short only of the legitimate sovereignty, was precipitated from his high estate by a violent death. This is also the destiny of the prophetic Gogue, who is to ‘come to his end and no one shall help him’(pages 431–432).

It is evident from Ezekiel 38:2 that Gog is primarily the prince of Rosh, but what do we make of the phrase, “Gog of the land of Magog”? Ezekiel is informing us that Gog is also in control of Germany as well. It is evident that Gog has not yet appeared on the scene and the current volatility and instability in Russia could provide the opportunity for his rise. We need to consider now how this prophecy of Gog’s sovereignty can become a fact.

Political Developments in Russia

 Over the fifty years that have elapsed since the second world war, Russia has undergone significant changes. It first emerged as a world power in the 1950’s recovering from the cost of war which left twenty million Russians dead; more than any other nation.

The 1960’s saw the USSR and its own brand of communism rapidly develop in power and influence—though at great cost to her citizens. Soviet influence even extended to Egypt, thereby significantly raising Middle East tensions, and in 1961 the Berlin Wall (the so called Iron Curtain) was erected to consolidate Russian gains in Berlin. The increase of Soviet activity in the Middle East was highlighted in the Yom Kippur war (1973), when Russian MiG fighters were flown by Russian pilots against Israel. Incidentally, Israel downed thirteen of these planes for the loss of only one of their own.

The 1970’s was marked by an escalating arms race, one which Russia was winning, and an increasing Soviet presence throughout the world. Significantly in 1978 Pope John Paul II was elected and this paved the way for the next decade which changed the world. During the 1980’s the Catholic Church swung away from America towards Russia, thereby fostering a strong Vatican-Moscow alliance. Europe, under the leadership of Germany, followed the trend.

By 1985 Gorbachev’s reforms within Russia began to take effect. This resulted in religious freedom, free elections, a reduced KGB influence, a weakened and disaffected military and the bestowal of virtually unlimited power upon the president. The Cold War was over. The decade came to a dazzling conclusion in 1989 when Russia put pressure on Yassir Arafat to make peace with Israel and the Berlin Wall came crashing down amid scenes of wild jubilation. Soon afterwards the USSR dissolved into a chain of loosely connected states.

Our current decade has witnessed further exciting changes. Communism has faltered and revealed the bankruptcy of its sponsoring countries. America and Britain moved into Saudi Arabia and defeated Iraq in operation Desert Storm in 1990. West Germany reunited with East Germany and in 1991 Boris Yeltsin came to power. During February 1996 Russia became the thirty ninth member of the Council of Europe, whilst the world press issued the warning that out of the dying embers of Soviet foreign policy a new, firmer spirit of nationalism was emerging. Today it is negotiating a place in Europe in any attempt to contain the expansion of NATO eastwards.

Ezekiel 38:4 states, “And I will turn thee back”. Strong’s Concordance indicates that the word “back” means “a retreat”. Russia has been forced to retreat or withdraw from Europe, Egypt, the Near East and Afghanistan, no doubt arranged by the angels who superintend world affairs, so that it can re-strengthen its political and economic power at home before making its final move.

Russia and Christianity

 It is worth noting that the word, “back” in Ezekiel 38:4 is also translated “convert” in Isaiah 6:10, hinting that Russia’s turning back also incorporates a return to religious roots. The people’s need for religion after seventy years of sterile communism has fuelled an amazing increase in religious interest. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Moscow became known as the Third Rome because of the subsequent influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in the region. The Russian people are now returning to this church, rather than to Catholicism, in their thousands.

Ezekiel 38:4 goes on to speak of Russia’s alliance as “a great company” or congregation. The Septuagint translates it, “a synagogue”. The current renaissance of religion in Russia (and even the former communists are saying that the Church is their natural ally) would appear to be an important aspect of Russian social life hinted at by the prophecy.

The Alliance

 The confederacy of nations with Russia, Moscow and Tobolsk (in Siberia), include “Togarmah of the north quarters”. In Elpis Israel (pp428–429) Brother Thomas identified Togarmah as Russian and Independent Tartary and her bands as Georgia and Circassia. This includes the area of Chechnya which was invaded by Russian troops in 1995 at a cost of 30,000 dead. This being the case, Rosh, Meshech, Tubal and Togarmah refers to all of Russia. Turkey is not so much an ally as a victim of the invasion.

There are a number of subtle differences in the descriptions of the confederate nations in Ezekiel 38. For example, Magog (central Europe, particularly Germany) is strongly connected with Gog and specially marked out for destruction in 39:6. This implies a willing compliance with the invader. The weapons of this combined force of Russia and Germany include swords and shields (v4)—weapons of offence as well as defence.

Furthermore Ezekiel 38:5 tells us that Persia (Iran), Ethiopia and Libya are “with them” but only “with shield and helmet”; that is, these armies are not recognised as front-line troops. They are considered to be reserve forces acting in a supporting role without weapons of offence. On the other hand, verse 6 indicates that Gomer (France) and Togarmah (southern Russia) do not possess weapons of any kind. This may indicate a degree of unwillingness to participate in the invasion in a front line role. These nations support the thrust south with logistical support, such as transport, medical services, food supply and administration.

This raises the question as to why these different roles or attitudes should be so. For the answer we must look at how Gog achieves his authority over these countries.

The Image Develops

 Brother Thomas wrote that whilst the metals of the image existed in his days, the clay feet had not yet formed (Herald of the Kingdom, Vol 2, No 1, pp8–18). He went on to say that Russia is the clay and Gog is the autocrat who will act as the potter moulding the clay and iron feet into shape.

Today we see the forming of the feet with Russia slowly but surely entering into European affairs through alliances and friendships. Assisting this fusion is the economic power of Germany which is leading the European Union into greater affiliation with Russia to the exclusion of America. Simultaneously France and Germany are seeking a more independent role in the command of NATO forces.

In June 1996 Yeltsin was re-elected as president of Russia with 54% of the vote. His inauguration was conducted under the banner of a double-headed eagle representing the joining of East and West. Within this banner was an emblem of St George slaying the dragon—a portrayal of Ivan III’s work 500 years before. Alongside Yeltsin was the Russian Orthodox leader, Patriarch Alexi II, who blessed the Russian leader’s inauguration. There is now a proposal for a new Tsar as part of the Russian National Ideal.

Interestingly the word, “prince”, in Ezekiel 38:2 is said to designate “an official who has been elevated or lifted up and thus elected” (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament). No doubt we will shortly see the elevation of someone in Moscow who will fill the position of Gog exactly.

The image will develop through a combination of strategies. For a start Daniel 8:23 makes it clear that Gog is highly ambitious and a terror to the nations. He is “a king of fierce countenance”. It is recorded that “his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and destroy the mighty and the holy people” (v24). His whirlwind advance will take the world by force, hence the unwillingness of Europe generally, and France and Chechnya in particular, to fully co-operate in the building up of the image empire.

On the other hand, verse 25 states that “through his policy also he shall cause craft (the Hebrew “mirmah” means “fraud” and “deceit” and is used in Jeremiah 9:6 of the deceit that robs people of their knowledge of God; hence brother Thomas’ translation—priestcraft) to prosper in his hand”. This is because the co-operation of the Church of Rome is essential for the subjugation of the image countries. The verse continues, “by peace he shall destroy many”. In other words his stratagem also employs the use of political intrigue which no doubt will ensure the co-operation of Germany and others.

The alliance between the dragon (Russia), the beast (Austria-Germany) and the false prophet (the Papacy since 1870) is spoken of in Revelation 16:13, where all three centres exert a common policy of liberty, equality and fraternity.

Allegiance to Gog is due to the fact that Gog is a “guard” (Ezekiel 38:7): the Hebrew word signifies “one who hedges in”. This implies that the clay holds the feet together not necessarily by willing submission.

To Take a Spoil and to Take a Prey

 Russia’s motive for invasion is described in Ezekiel 38:12—“to take a spoil and to take a prey”. The first phrase suggests that her military power is impoverished; the second that she is fiercely anti-Semitic. Perhaps this very anti-Semitism will be one of the binding forces between Russia and Europe.

Over recent times Russia has had great difficulty paying wages and consistently supplying its people with proper food. Indeed, grain production in some areas has fallen to a lower level per capita than before World War 1 and the Revolution. Many have been deluded into thinking that this bankruptcy has diminished the chance for war. Military analysts, however, see things differently. Bankruptcy is often a major incentive to military adventure, thereby diverting attention at home away from the issues of poverty, unemployment, crime and corruption. (See also Elpis Israel, p367.)

He Shall Come to his End

 Despite this brutal invasion of “the pleasant land” Gog will ultimately be smashed upon the mountains of Israel. In the language of Genesis 3:15, the woman’s seed will “strike through kings in the day of his wrath… he shall wound the heads (Hebrew— ”rosh”) over many countries” (Ps 110:5–6). And again, “God shall wound (translated “crush” in Gen 3:15) the head (“rosh”) of his enemies” (Psa 68:21) and finally, “thou woundest the head (“rosh”) out of the house of the wicked” (Hab 3:13).

We look with eager anticipation for the development of these prophecies and more importantly, long for the time when Yahweh alone will be victorious over all His enemies.