Topic for discussion: When does the battle start and end? This gives us some insight into the closeness of the Rapture. Plus it is just fun to discuss. I have been researching Ezek. 38-39 again, based upon a question that has nagged at me for quite some time. That question concerns Ezek. 39:9 and the burning of weapons for seven years. So far, my view has not changed from my original 30 years ago. I believe this war will occur prior to the Tribulation because of the burning of the weapons for seven years. As most scholars will note, the prophetic descriptions of the weapons of warfare used in the end time warfare are usually descriptive of the days in which the prophets wrote. I believe God wanted us to simply understand that weapons are intended and nothing else. So God chose to use words which needed no further explanation to convey His meaning. To take things a step further I feel the invasion could be as far out as 3 1/2 years prior to the the beginning of the Tribulation. The Bible states the following concerning the seven years: Surely it is coming, and it shall be done," says the Lord GOD. "This is the day of which I have spoken. "Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and bucklers, the bows and arrows, the javelins and spears; and they will make fires with them for seven years. They will not take wood from the field nor cut down any from the forests, because they will make fires with the weapons; and they will plunder those who plundered them, and pillage those who pillaged them," says the Lord GOD. (Eze 39:8-10) From this passage the following can be deduced: 1) It is a sure event. God says it will happen 2) The burnings (for fuel????) last seven years - Important for timing and for life 3) The city dwellers will set fire to the weapons - There will still be cities in Israel after the war, albeit in turmoil and distress - An interesting thought is that the ability to produce the energies of electricity and Natural Gas may be completely hindered during this time. That would cause the city dwellers to snatch up anything they can for fuel, be it for heat, cooking or boiling water. It is also possible that to live in the city is not safe because of the poor living conditions due to looting, gangs, disease etc... So that at least some these city dwellers could be living outside the cities (camping) in the countryside by night. A few butt-stocks could make a pretty good fire. 4) The trips to the forests are unnecessary because the smaller weapons are combustible. 5) The battle occurs in the land or as Ezekiel calls it, "The mountains of Israel." 6) There seems to be a good amount of pillaging (looting of those who looted them) in the passage. This indicates that God allows pillaging to occur before He wipes the chief Prince (Demon) Gog's armies out. Some may say that it just means years of taunting and attacking though terrorist attacks. The systematic removal of most of the armies of Islam fighting in Gog's (the Chief Prince demon) commands fits very well with Lahaye's interpretation: The decimation of Israel's Islamic enemies could open the opportunity for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple on the site of the temple mount in Jerusalem. In addition, the manner in which God destroys Israels enemies may open the hearts of the Jews to the truth of the gospel, which they will be responsible for disseminating to the world during the Tribulation because Christians have been removed by the Rapture. Global Warning pg. 136 Ice adds, "If the tribulation is closely preceded by a failed regional invasion of Israel, in other words Russia and her Muslim allies, then this would remove much of the Russian and Muslim influence currently in the world today and allow a Euro-centric orientation to arise." I think there needs to be room for the seven years of the burning of weapons and this needs to be ended prior to the mid or end of the Tribulation. Even though I believe that it could happen as far out as 3 1/2 years before the Tribulation, I am not firmly convinced because the Rapture IMO must occur prior to this battle. Here is a very crazy thought but something to think about: If it were 3 1/2 out from the Tribulation, and the Church is raptured first, then those on earth who turn to Christ prior to the Tribulation will not be part of the church. What label would you give them? Pretrib saints? Let's face some will die of old age. Is it too far fetched to believe that because of the state of affairs in the land and the world, that God is providing these weapons as a way to make fires for, heating, cooking, and the purifying of water for survival while the days of darkness enshroud them? Below is a partial article in which Dr. Ice examines the various views on the timing of the event. I thought you all may find it enlightening. By Dr. Thomas Ice Various Timing Views Prophecy expert, Mark Hitchcock notes: "By far, the most controversial issue in Ezekiel 38-39 is the setting or timing of the invasion. The specific time of the invasion in Ezekiel 38 is difficult to determine." There is no doubt that this is the greatest problem to overcome in our understanding of this passage. In fact, the various positions are labeled according to one's view concerning when these events will be fulfilled. Among those who believe that the Gog-led invasion is historical, some believe that it has already occurred. For example, preterist Gary DeMar says, "The battle in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is clearly an ancient one. . ." When does he believe that this battle took place? Amazingly, DeMar and only a handful of commentators insist that Ezekiel 38 and 39 was fulfilled by the events described in Esther 9, occurring in about 473 b.c. in the days of Queen Esther of Persia. The other views that take this invasion as a historical event place its occurrence in a time future to our day. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins in their best-selling novel Left Behind, place this invasion of Israel right before the rapture of the church. The strength of this position is that it accounts for the burning of the weapons of war for seven years as mentioned in Ezekiel 39:9. However, Tim LaHaye has told me personally that even though they represented a pre-rapture position on Ezekiel 38 and 39 in their novel, he tends to place it after the rapture but before the tribulation. The next view, which is the one I hold at this time, is that it will happen after the rapture but before the tribulation. It will be during the interval of days, weeks, months or years between the rapture and the start of the seven-year tribulation. This view also accounts for the seven years of Ezekiel 39:9. I have always thought that one of the strengths of this view is the way in which it could set the stage for the Biblical scenario of the tribulation. If the tribulation is closely preceded by a failed regional invasion of Israel, in other words Russia and her Muslim allies, then this would remove much of the Russian and Muslim influence currently in the world today and allow a Euro-centric orientation to arise. So the tribulation is preceded by a failed regional attack on Israel and this is why the tribulation ends with all the peoples of the world attacking Israel at Armageddon. It could also set the stage for the rebuilding of the Temple as a result of Islamic humiliation. Perhaps the most widely held view put forth within dispensational literature is that this invasion will take place around the middle of the seven-year tribulation. This view often identifies Ezekiel 38 and 39 with an invasion of the king of the north in Daniel 11:40. Another major argument is based upon the statement that Israel will be "living securely, all of them" (Ezek. 38:8), which is the result of the false peace brought by the anti-Christ in the first half of the tribulation. This view has a lot in its favor. A significant number of Bible teachers believe that the Gog and Magog event is synonymous with what the Book of Revelation calls the Campaign of Armageddon (Rev. 16:16). Since Armageddon is a huge invasion of Israel around the time of the second coming and the invasion of Israel described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is said to be in "the latter years" (Ezek. 38:8) and "in the last days" (Ezek. 38:16), then they must be the same event. A similar, but slightly different view is that the invasion occurs after the second coming of Christ, during the interlude between the tribulation and the start of the millennium. The main argument for this view is that Israel would be dwelling in peace (Ezek. 38:8). The last major view is that the battle of Ezekiel 38 and 39 will occur at the end of the millennium. The basis for this view is significant since Revelation 20:7-9 speaks of a conflict at the end of the millennium when Satan is released. Verse 8 says, "(Satan) will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war . . ." The strength of this view is obvious, Gog and Magog are specifically mentioned in the text.