The Coming Invasions of Israel
A biblical look at Russia, Islam, and Armageddon
Jewish people have faced annihilation ever since Moses led them out of slavery in Egypt more than 3,400 years ago. Accounts of Jewish genocide are so plentiful, heinous, and gruesome they make you weep and wonder at the abject depravity of the human heart. Jewish people have suffered, and their suffering continues.
The cancer of anti-Semitism is eating away at the world, resulting in no country being despised more, without cause, than the infinitesimally small State of Israel. From Israel’s inception in 1948, nations have challenged its right to exist and have attempted to destroy the little pocket of Jewish people who live there.
Israel is barely a speck on the map of the world, but it’s a speck many are determined to eradicate. From a human perspective, the tiny nation’s chances of surviving are nonexistent.
Only God knows exactly what Israel will face in the future. But He has revealed much in Scripture regarding the events to come. There will be three major attempts to destroy Israel and the Jewish people: A Russian-Islamic confederacy will invade the country; the satanically controlled Antichrist will persecute the Jewish people even more than the Nazis did; and a major conflict, called Armageddon, will devastate them.
The Russian Invasion
Ezekiel 38—39 tells of a vast confederacy of nations that will emerge against Israel. This alliance will extend to Russia in the north, Cush and Put in the south, the Mediterranean Sea in the east, and Persia in the west.
The Leader. The leader of this alliance is identified as “Gog [a title, not a name] of the land of Magog” (38:2). He is called the “prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” (v. 2). In Hebrew, rosh can apply to a person or place. In context, it seems to be used as a proper noun, referring to a place.
Wilhelm Gesenius, a highly respected, early 19th-century German scholar, said the word rosh refers to Russia. Meshech and Tubal are located in southern Russia. Thus, the words apply to the land known as Russia today.
The Alliance. Five nations appear in verses 5–6: “Persia,” currently called Iran; “Ethiopia” (ancient Cush), called Sudan today; “Libya” (ancient Put), which some refer to now as Somalia; “Gomer,” which rabbis say is Germany and others say is Turkey; and “Togarmah,” southern Turkey. These nations are Islamic, but not Arab; and all are historically anti-Semitic.
Russia will spearhead the Israel invasion. “Sheba” and “Dedan,” in Arabia, and “Tarshish” are not involved (v. 13).
The Location. The invasion will take place in the latter years “on the mountains of Israel” (v. 8). This event is clearly future. The army will be huge, “like a cloud, to cover the land” (v. 16).
The Motivation. Prior to the invasion, Israel will be living peacefully and securely, without walls, bars, or gates. Today Israel lives with a 440-mile-long security fence in Judea and Samaria, which it built to protect itself from Palestinian terrorists. In the future, the Jewish people may feel safe because the Antichrist initially will protect them due to an agreement with them (cf. Dan. 9:27).
In this context, the Russian alliance will conceive an “evil plan” (Ezek. 38:10). Its goal will be to plunder Israel, stealing its cattle, goods, silver and gold—symbolic of the great wealth the nation will possess in that day (vv. 11–13). Some people suggest the chemical wealth in the Dead Sea and Israel’s enormous natural gas resources will prompt the invasion. The invaders also may covet the country’s warm seaport on the Mediterranean and its location as a bridge between Europe, Asia, and Africa.
The Timing. This is one of the most disputed and often contentious subjects concerning the attack. There are at least seven views, ranging from the belief the invasion occurred in ancient times to the view that it will occur at the end of the Millennial Kingdom (cf. Rev. 20:7–9). The most popular positions held by conservative scholars are that it will take place (1) before the future seven-year Tribulation or (2) shortly before the Tribulation’s midpoint (the position I favor).
The Triumph. The invasion will fail. Israel will triumph, and God will pour out His wrath on the invaders in four ways:
1. A great earthquake that will destroy many of the enemy (Ezek. 38:19–20)
2. A great confusion that will result in the invaders killing one another by friendly fire (v. 21)
3. A “pestilence” (disease) that will wipe out much of the army (v. 22)
4. A deluge of “great hailstones, fire, and brimstone” (v. 22)
God has told Israel, “The house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day forward” (39:22). Moving forward, the nation is assured of God’s presence as it faces the greatest challenge to its survival in history: the Great Tribulation.
The Antichrist’s Obsession
Scripture clearly teaches that Satan is a relentless adversary of Israel. His objective is to eradicate world Jewry to prevent Messiah Jesus from establishing His 1,000-year, theocratic, Davidic Kingdom. The Kingdom, followed by eternity, will destroy Satan and end his millennia-long rebellion against God (cf. Isa. 14:12–15).
Satan has attacked Israel for centuries. But his most furious persecution will be the Great Tribulation.
Revelation 12 unmasks Satan’s strategy. The chapter is highly symbolic, describing a “woman” (Israel, v. 1); a “child” (Messiah Jesus, v. 2); and a “red dragon” (Satan, v. 3). The dragon is called by various names, including “serpent,” “Devil,” and “Satan” (v. 9).
Satan will empower a man who will rule the entire world: the Antichrist. Scripture depicts this man as a brutal anti-Semite who will be Satan’s protégé, have absolute power, and be a pawn in Satan’s hand to effect the Evil One’s program, which is to annihilate Israel.
The Antichrist will make a firm, binding covenant with Israel for seven years but break it after three and a half years (Dan. 9:27) and savagely turn against the Jewish people. His intense hatred of Israel will culminate during this time.
The Antichrist will enter Jerusalem, seize Israel’s third Temple, and commit “the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet” (Mt. 24:15; cf. Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11): He will desecrate it with his Gentile presence and also by erecting an image there and proclaiming himself to be God (2 Th. 2:4). His self-exaltation will lead to his self-deification and denial of all other gods (Dan. 11:36–37).
Jesus has prewarned the Jewish people who will witness this event to run for their lives from Jerusalem (Mt. 24:16–20; cf. Rev. 12:6, 13–17). A large remnant will flee Israel across the Jordan River (Rev. 12:6). These people will settle in a desolate, mountainous area called Bozrah in the land of Edom, which is present-day southern Jordan. Here they will be protected from the Antichrist throughout the second half of the Great Tribulation. They will survive annihilation and be rescued by Christ when He returns (Isa. 63). Israel will survive Satan and the Antichrist but then will face yet another challenge: Armageddon.
Armageddon and Israel
The culmination of the Great Tribulation is the war of Armageddon. It is a campaign, not merely a single battle. All nations of the world will converge on Jerusalem to fight Israel (Zech. 14:1–2). This event should not be confused with the Gog and Magog invasion in Ezekiel 38—39 or the conflict of Gog and Magog in Revelation 20:7–9. (Even conservative scholars disagree on which modern nations are represented by the ancient names. Click here to read Dr. Renald Showers’ article “Gog of Magog.”)
Although the prophet Joel did not use the term Armageddon, he was one of the first prophets to predict its coming (Joel 3:9–17). “Prepare for war!” (v. 9) is the proclamation that will be heralded throughout the world prior to the campaign.
The great Euphrates River will dry up, creating a route for kings from the east to proceed swiftly to Israel. Unclean spirits will emerge from the dragon (Satan); the Antichrist; and the Antichrist’s right-hand man, called the “false prophet” (Rev. 16:13), to entice all nations to battle Israel.
The war will involve three major sites:
1. The plains of Megiddo (Armageddon, also known as the Valley of Jezreel or Esdraelon).
2. The Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2, 12), called the Kidron Valley today. It is situated between the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives.
3. Bozrah in Edom (Isa. 63:1), near Petra. Christ will go there to rescue a remnant of Jewish people protected from the Antichrist’s fury.
The area involved will have a radius of approximately 200 miles, reaching all of Israel and parts of southern Jordan.
The purpose of this invasion is to capture Jerusalem and exterminate the Jewish people and Judaism from the face of the earth. The aggressors will be exceedingly violent, ransacking and plundering homes and raping women, and will capture half the population (Zech. 12:1–2; 14:1–2)—but not without suffering heavy afflictions from the Lord.
Also, God will give a remnant of Jewish people divine power that will shield and strengthen them during the invasion so they can fight back immediately prior to Jesus’ return (Mic. 4:11—5:1; Zech. 12:3–9). Two-thirds of the nation will die during the invasion, and one-third will be miraculously spared (Zech. 13:8–9).
Fortunately, we serve a God who does not leave us in the dark. He has told us about the invasions in both the Old and New Testaments and has promised that Israel will indeed survive.
More than 2,500 years ago, God told the nation through the prophet Isaiah, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me” (Isa. 54:17). This is a great prophecy in which Israel can take hope in any age, but especially in the last days.