Key To The Understanding Of The Scriptures
by H.P. MANSFIELD
(20) Impending World Crisis and Divine Intervention
A Preview of World History.
Daniel 2, and particularly vv. 26-45, provides a simple, basic prophecy outlining world history from the time of the prophet until the setting up of the Kingdom of God.
It records how that King Nebuchadnezzar saw in a dream, a vision of a man composed of different metals. It had a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, feet part of iron and part of clay.
It stood over the king in threatening aspect, causing him much fear and consternation. But, as he watched, he saw a stone, cut out of a mountain without hands, smite the image on the feet. The top-heavy image fell, breaking to pieces as it did so. And then the stone began to grow and ground to powder the metals of the image which were subsequently blown away by the wind.
The stone continued to grow until it became a mountain and filled the whole earth.
The king was puzzled as to the meaning of the vision, but Daniel the prophet enlighted him.
The head of gold represented Babylon over which the king ruled (v.38). But, inasmuch as the image had breast and arms of silver, the vision indicated that the power of Babylon would give way to another world dominion: the Medo-Persian rule (v.39). This was followed by the brasen power of Greece, and then by the iron might of Rome.
There were two legs of iron, and history records how that Rome ultimately became divided into two parts: East and West.
In the feet and toes, however, the previous unity of the image was broken into many parts, some of which were strong as iron, others were brittle like clay. The toes presented the divided state Europe, that developed out of the Roman Empire, and remains in that state today. There were ten toes, and in remarkable agreement, the Roman Empire was ultimately divided among ten different nations.
History followed in exact sequence the requirements of this vision. There were four world powers: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, after which Europe was divided. Men, like Frederick the Great, Napoleon and even Hitler, have endeavoured to set up a fifth world power, but they have not succeeded. Meanwhile, divided Europe remains as described by Daniel: "partly strong and partly weak . . . shall not cleave together" (vv. 42-43).
The truth of those words is revealed by the utter failure of the League of Nations (prior to World War II) and the United Nations to weld the nations as one. God's word has proved true in spite of all the efforts of men to establish conditions of amity and peace.
There remains a phase of the vision yet to be fulfilled, however. The image was standing united in all its might, when the king saw it shattered by the stone. This suggests that a confederacy of powers uniting into one great alliance those that today exist on the territories of the ancient nations represented by the metals, must come into existence in "the latter days" (vv. 28, 45).
We shall show that the power destined to accomplish this is Russia. It will weld all the nations together in confederacy, and will seek to dominate the world. However, at the eve of success, it will in turn be destroyed by the "stone" power. This will be the Kingdom of God in the hands of Christ and his resurrected and immortalised followers. Daniel interpreted this part of the vision in the following words:
"In the days of these kings (divided Europe) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands (i.e. without human instrumentality), and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure" (Dan. 2:44-45).
Russia In Prophecy.
The great crisis and conflict which will witness nations confederated together, only to be broken by Christ and his immortalised followers, is the subject of many portions of Scripture. In Revelation 16:16 it is described as Armageddon: a symbolic word which in its Hebrew derivation signifies: A heap of sheaves in a valley for judgment. The focal point of this warlike gathering, is said to be Jerusalem (Zech. 14:1-2), and to that spot, in the valley of Jehoshaphat or the judgment Of Yahweh, adjacent to Jerusalem, the nations are described as being gathered as sheaves in the threshing floor (see Joel 3:2, 12-13, 14-mg).
All these prophecies point to the future. Revelation 16:15 speaks of the return of Jesus Christ; Zechariah 14:9 refers to the time when he will rule over the earth; Joel 3:1 states that the prophecy will be fulfilled when God shall "bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem."
Ezekiel 38 provides further details of that time, and enables us to identify the influence of Russia in the work of gathering the nations.
The chapter predicts an invasion of the "land of Israel" in the latter days (v. 16), by a confederated army of nations, whose chief comes from the "uttermost parts of the north" (v.15).
In v.2 this chief is described as "Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal."
The places referred to are the ancient titles of modern nations such as were familiar to the prophet. For example, Josephus, the Jewish historian of Christ's day, showed that Magog related to the ancient Scythians. Concerning them, Herodotus, the Greek historian wrote:
"They spread from the River Tanais, or Don, westward along the banks of the Ister or Danube."
The Magogites occupied the territory of Central Europe which therefore forms the modern "land of Magog."
Meshech is the ancient form of Muscovy, from whence came the word Moscow.
Tubal relates to the Tiberenes, who gave their name to Tobolski, the metropolis of Siberia.
All these titles point directly to Soviet Russia, whose power today extends to Central Europe, or to the "land of Magog."
Other nations associated with Gog are as follows.
"Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya . . . Gomer and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters . . . and many people with thee" (v.5).
Persia, Ethiopia and Libya are well known to the modern world, and are nations being wooed by Russia today. But the other nations are not so easily identified, and it is necessary to search the ancient records to discover their modern counterpart.
Gomer was the Jewish name for the Gauls, and they migrated west to occupy the territory of France, Holland, etc.Togarmah "of the north quarters" has been identified with Turkey, north of Israel.
The prophecy of Ezekiel, therefore, predicts an Eurasian confederacy of nations, headed by Russia, that will invade the Middle East in an attempt at world domination. This attack will ignite the spark that will flame into World War III, and involve the nations in "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation" (Daniel 12:1).
A further point of identification is given in v-15, where Gog is said to descend from "out of the uttermost parts of the north" (Revised Version translation) against the "mountains of Israel." A glance at the map will show that this can only relate to Russia. Moscow is in longitudinal line from Jerusalem, whilst Russia dominates all the territory in "the uttermost parts north" of Israel.
In this amazing prophecy God has revealed the future intentions and destiny of Russia, and outlined the fearful crisis that will involve all nations and people without exception.
By taking heed to the warning of the Bible, you can take steps that will enable you and your family to escape the holocaust that will involve those who are contemptuous of God's purpose (see 2 Thess. 1:8-9).
Russia Is Directly Named In The Bible.
Gog is represented as chief of a mighty host incorporating most of Europe and Asia. Three times he is described as "chief prince of Meshech (Moscow) and Tubal (Tobolski)" (Ezek. 38:2,3; 39:1).
What does the title signify?
The word "Gog" in Hebrew signifies "roof" according to The English and Hebrew Bible Students' Concordance, and therefore defines the "one at the top." The Hebrew word rendered "prince" signifies "one lifted up," i.e. a dictator, and not necessarily a prince of royal birth. The word "chief" is "Rosh," and Hebraists state it is a proper noun, and should be rendered as such. The Revised Version (as with other translations) render it as such, and define Gog as "Prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal."
This title is most significant because Rosh was the ancient name of Russia. The historian Gibbon wrote: "Among the Greeks, Russia was known as Ros." Bochart declared that in this word Rosh, we have "the most ancient form in Hebrew for Russia." He is supported by modern commentators, such as Scoffield.
Stanley, the Church of England clergyman, wrote:
"The name Russ, Hebrew Roas, Greek Ros, unfortunately translated in the English version, 'the chief,' first appears in Ezekiel 38:2 and 39:1. It is the only name of a modern nation that appears In the Old Testament."*
Here, then, is an ancient prophecy declaring that a dictator of Russia will lead a confederacy of nations down into the Middle East, at a time when Israel has been gathered back into the land. The same prophecy declares:
"Thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword (and a people) gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel which have been always waste; but is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely (Hebrew - confidently) all of them . . . to take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places now inhabited, upon the people that are gathered out of the nations . . . against My people of Israel . . . it shall be in the latter days" (Ezek. 38:8,12,16).
How true these words are to the present time. Israel is in the state therein described; Russia is manifesting growing interest in the future of the Middle East, and has already threatened to move her troops down there.
The Bait That Will Draw Russia Into The Middle East.
But God has set His face against this power from the north:
"Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I am against thee O Gog ... and I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth and all thine army . . ."
"I will do it," says God. He will draw Russia and her satellite armies into the Middle East. He likens Himself to a fisherman with baited hook, drawing His catch to the point where He wants to take it.
That is a feature of current events that should not be overlooked. Rulers and statesmen imagine that they are the arbiters of destiny, and that the peace and goodwill of the world depends upon their wisdom and guidance.
Nothing is further from the Truth.
It is God who "rules in the kingdom of men" (Daniel 4:17). He uses the ambitions and schemes of men and nations to further His plans. He used Hitler to drive the Jews back to Palestine (Jer. 17:15-16); He is using the ambitions of Russia to "gather all nations" to the Middle East for judgment (Zeph. 3:8).
And what desirable bait is found on that hook! The Middle East provides the richest strategic and economic prizes the world has to offer. It is the bridgehead of three main continents, linking Africa, Asia and Europe as one. It contains the richest oil deposits in the world. It is the obvious strategic springboard for world domination.
Take but one of the prizes mentioned above: oil. God, Who created the world, not only arranged the land masses so as to cause "His land" (Ezek 38:16) to be strategically most desirable, but also hid beneath its soil that most important of all commodities today -- the black gold of oil.
Russia has ample oil of her own, but if she controlled the existing Middle East oil-wells, she could cripple the economy and military potential of the West that depends upon them.
Three-fourths of the world's proven oil reserves are located in the Middle East. Whereas wells elsewhere may produce 10, 20 or 30 barrels of oil a day, some wells in the Middle East produce 6,000 barrels in a day! [These figures were correct when this book was written -- no doubt the figures have increased in our time. -- Antipas]
There is also a vast supply of chemicals in the Dead Sea from which billions of tons of fertilizer can be made. Furthermore, its waters contain a great variety of chemicals needed in modern industry. From the standpoint of sheer wealth, the Dead Sea is the richest spot in all the world!
During the Suez crisis of 1956, as well as the six day's war of June, 1967, it was obvious that Russia had designs on the Middle East, and this has been made even more apparent since then. Strategists know that the nation that dominates in that area is in a position to rule the world.
Christ Will Challenge Russian Might.
The Russian invasion of the Middle East will not be merely a conflict between nations not merely a contest of power between the East and West, Communism and Capitalism; but between the Russian Colossus and Christ; between the greatest accumulation of human power ever wielded by man, and Divine power in the hands of the Son of God. It will commence with war between east and west,* but it will end with the intervention of the Lord Jesus who will become the Victor of Armageddon.
The prophecy of Ezekiel 38 issues a decree to the Russian Gog:
"Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them" (v.7).
This is an ironical statement. The prophet represents God as calling upon the Russian Gog, with all its godless Communism, to mass its mighty accumulation of power -- its modern, nuclear weapons of war, its guided missiles, its space rockets, its massed legions of soldiers -- for a tremendous contest of power, in which He will vindicate His authority, and show the folly of Jew and Gentile who put their confidence in the arm of flesh.
And Russia's power is mighty from a human standpoint. She has the largest army, the greatest number of submarines, the most numerous air-force, and the second largest navy in the world. Since World War II, over 1000 million people have been drawn into the Communist orbit. The influence of the Soviet today extends deep into European territory; it has close ideological links with China and south Asia; it is actively intriguing in Africa; it wages a constant war of nerves on Turkey and Japan; it steadily increases its influence in the Middle East; it manifests open hostility towards Israel.
Moreover, Russia is a "guard" unto the nations, as Ezekiel indicated she should be. The word, in Hebrew, suggests one who hedges in those over whom one has gained control. It is a most significant definition for Russia with its "iron curtain" barrier, and its Berlin wall!
When the time is ripe, Russia will emerge from its Iron Curtain, and having confederated other European nations under its control, will invade the Middle East. The world will be convulsed in the greatest crisis of all history. It will erupt into a death-struggle between East and West with the Middle East as the focal point. By land, sea and air, Russia will drive south and occupy Egypt (Dan. 11:40-45), for the moment by-passing Jerusalem. Troublous tidings (possibly telling of allied concentration of troops at Jerusalem) will cause the Russian Gog to move north from Egypt to Jerusalem, where he will engage other armies drawn there for war (Dan. 11:44. Zech. 14:2).
Jerusalem will fall to the Russian onslaught, and the Jews, with their Anglo-American allies, will be decisively defeated. Russia's triumph will seem complete! The world will appear to be on the eve of becoming completely communised, when, suddenly, a new power will be manifested in the political arena. Jesus Christ will intervene in the affairs of the nations, to over- throw the warring armies, and set up his power on earth.
Christ Humbles The Nations.
The Bible indicates that before Russia lays siege to Jerusalem, an event of even greater importance will take place. This will be the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth. He comes to first judge his followers, and then judge the world (1 Peter 4:17; 2 Thess. 2:1; 2 Tim. 4:1,8). Those responsible for judgment (believers), will be brought before him, that he might reward them according as their work has been (Rev. 22:12; 1 Cor. 15:20-23). The righteous will be granted life eternal (Rom. 2:7; Matt. 19:29), but the rebellious will be banished from his presence, to ultimately experience a second death (Rev. 2:11; Gal. 6:8).
Having thus judged his own, he will proceed to judge the world (2 Thess. 1:7-8). He will move against the nations then convulsed in war, and in company with his glorified followers
|Christ's conquest of the nations will be in two stages: first, the overthrow of Gentile political power in the destruction of the confederated forces of Europe and Asia under Russia in the land of Israel (Ezek. 38); and second, by the successful invasion by Christ's forces into the European area by which ecclesiastical tyranny will be overthrown (Rev. 7:5,14).|
(Psalm 149:9) he will manifest himself at embattled Jerusalem in great power (Zech. 14:5). Using Divine power he will overthrow them. The very elements will be used to that end. A storm of unprecedented fury will break over the Holy Land; heaven's artillery will thunder forth; lightning and hail of tremendous force will scatter the enemy; a terrible earthquake will shake the ground.
In the face of these manifestations of Divine power, the heterogeneous forces of the Russian invader will be seized with fear. In superstitious panic, they will turn their weapons on one another, seeking to escape from the awful presence of Christ. Mutual slaughter will result. The prophet declares:
"Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel . . . and I will call for a sword against him (Gog) throughout all My mountains, saith the Lord God; every man's sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus will I magnify myself and sanctity Myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezek. 38:18-23).
Gog's defeat will be complete and final.
What will it accomplish?
The prophet declares: "When Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (Isa. 26:9). The terrible disaster, the overwhelming victory will result in the humbling of the nations, and the elevation of the Lord Jesus. The initial success of Russia will humble the West and Israel; the final defeat of Gog will lay the pomp and power of man in the dust. Thus God shall be magnified in the eyes of all mankind in the person of His son.
Christ will then call upon all nations to submit to his rule. Those who refuse will be overthrown; those who submit will be incorporated in the worldwide Kingdom he will set up on earth. The prophet declares: "The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish" (Isa. 60:12). On the other hand, nations will ascend up to Jerusalem to worship (Zech. 14:16), and from that city will emanate the law of the Lord unto all nations (Isaiah 2:24). The result will be:
"He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2:2-4).
International peace and goodwill among nations will then be established throughout the earth. The Lord's prayer will be fulfilled: "Thy kingdom come, that Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." The song of the angels at the birth of Christ will be realised in the earth: "Glory to God in the highest, and upon earth peace and goodwill towards men."
Men at last will see the folly of placing any confidence in the arm of flesh. They will recognise that Almighty Power is vested in the Creator alone, and will be forced to acknowledge the authority of God manifested through His son.
Israel, humbled by disaster, will then be completely restored. The Jewish people shall "look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn" because of their past blindness (Zech. 12:10). The "Deliverer shall come out of Zion and turn away ungodliness from Jacob," (Rom. 11:26). The nation will at last submit to its King, and will be restored to its land and position of favor before God, as in the days of old (Amos. 9:11).
Jerusalem, the city where Christ was humiliated 1900 years ago, will become the metropolis of his reign. It shall be called "the throne of the Lord," (Jer. 3:17), and it will become the centre of his glory, and the scene of his triumph. Thus will "the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 11:15).
What This Means To You!
Thus out of the storm-clouds of trouble and war, a bright future will unfold for the earth. Russia's bid for world domination will fail, for it is the purpose of God to set up a kingdom "which shall never be destroyed," and which shall "break in pieces" those nations that oppose it, finally incorporating all peoples under its rule (Dan. 2:44; 7:27).
The call of the Gospel, is a call to you to associate with Christ now, in the hope of attaining unto life eternal then, and forming part of that aristocracy that will be associated with the Lord in the day of his triumph (see Revelation 5:9-10; 2:26-27). "They shall live and reign with Christ a thousand years" is the summary of their position in that age (Rev. 20:4).
During Christ's millenial reign, his subjects (the people of all nations -- both Jew and Gentile) will remain mortal (Isa. 65:20), though his glorified followers will have been made immortal. At the end of this thousand years' reign, those mortals who have lived during the millenium, and who warrant it, will also be given immortality through a second resurrection (Rev. 20:12-15). The result will find death eliminated from the earth, to the glory of God, that He might be "all in all" (1 Cor. 15:2).
In view of the threat of world conflict, therefore, we can confidently proclaim that Christ is coming! There is no doubt about the Bible teaching on this theme. The purpose of God demands it; the signs of the times indicate it; the needs of humanity require it. The question remains: Will we witness it? The answer depends upon our individual attitude to the Bible. The way to life eternal, in the Kingdom that God will set up on earth, is revealed therein. Christ invites us to walk that way. He has declared: "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." But how do we come unto him? He instructed his disciples: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel, he that BELIEVETH and is BAPTISED shall be saved" (Mark 16:16).
Those are the steps required. Are you prepared to take them? Or would you prefer to remain in a world that is hastening towards Armageddon and the greatest holocaust in all history. Remember, the times are significant and the need is urgent. We earnestly suggest that you seek into these matters. It costs you nothing to do so; and yet eternal life is bound up in them. Surely you owe it to God, your family and yourself to seek a way that is spiritually rewarding and will lead finally to life and glory in the age to come.
QUESTIONS TO STUDY No. 20