Russia, Iran, and the End Times
By Britt Gillette
I ran across an article last week about the recent drop in gasoline prices. While the recent decline could be attributable to a number of factors, this particular article speculated that Saudi Arabia and the United States are working together to increase production and lower oil prices. Their goal? To punish Russia and Iran economically.
Now, I don’t necessarily accept the article’s hypothesis, but I had to do a double-take when I read that. Why? Because the article inferred that two strategic geopolitical alliances have formed – one featuring the United States and Saudi Arabia and the other featuring Russia and Iran. And why is this such a big deal? Because 2,600 years ago, the prophet Ezekiel stated that an alliance of nations will form in the latter days, just before Christ returns (Ezekiel 38), and that alliance will include Russia and Iran. Historically, Russia and Iran have never been a part of such an alliance (at least until recently).
The Gog of Magog Alliance
Ezekiel identifies the nations in this alliance as “Magog, Rosh, Meschech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah” (Ezekiel 38:1-6). I don’t blame you at all if none of these names make any sense. After all, these don’t sound like the names of any nations on earth today. But keep in mind that Ezekiel named the nations of this alliance as they were known in his day, and each one represents a clearly identifiable nation currently in existence.
In fact, long before Russia became a world power, scholars identified Rosh as the nation of Russia and Gog as its ruler. And of course, right up until the day of March 21, 1935, the world knew the nation of Iran as Persia – the same Persia referenced in the Gog of Magog Alliance. So Persia is a clear reference to Iran.
Below is the list of nations cited by Ezekiel. The Old Testament name is listed first, followed by its modern day equivalent:
Rosh = Russia
Magog = Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan
Persia = Iran
Cush = Sudan
Put = Libya
Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah = Turkey
In the history of the world, such an alliance of nations has never existed. But today we see it coming together right in front of us. Don’t believe me? Just check your history books.
In the 2,600 years since Ezekiel recorded his prophecies, the nations of Russia and Persia have never been part of an alliance of any sort. Until around 1989, economic and military cooperation between Persia (Iran) and Russia had never taken place.
Today, that cooperation continues. Iran and Russia are strong allies. For example, in 1995 the Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy signed an agreement with Iran to finish the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Construction on the plant had come to a stop following the 1979 Islamic revolution. But today, thanks to Russia, work is once again in progress. The two nations continue to strengthen their economic and military ties, and Russia is one of the few world powers that consistently defends the existence of Iran’s nuclear program.
When Will This Alliance Form?
The Bible says this alliance will form and come against Israel “in the latter days” (Ezekiel 38:8). The Hebrew word used in this passage is “acharith,” and it generally translates as the “after-part, latter part, last, close, or end.” In other words, this alliance will form in the last days just prior to the return of Jesus Christ. Ezekiel uses this same word “acharith” again, when God says He will bring the alliance against the land of Israel “in the last days” (Ezekiel 38:16). And, at the beginning of verse 8, he reveals that this will happen “a long time from now” or “in the distant future.” In other words, this is not a prophecy fulfilled in Ezekiel’s day.
But that’s not all that’s said. Ezekiel provides us with additional clues. In the same passage cited above, God reveals the exact time when this invasion will occur. In verse 12, Russia’s ruler (Gog) says to himself, “I will attack the once abandoned cities that are now populated with the Jews who returned from exile among the nations” (Ezekiel 38:12). Did you catch that? The ruler of Russia (Gog) will attack the land when it’s filled with the exiles who return from among the nations. The target of this future invasion is the modern day state of Israel.
God Himself confirms this when He says the invasion will occur “after Israel’s people have been gathered from among many nations” (Ezekiel 38:8). He says it will happen “when I bring my people home from among the enemy nations” (Ezekiel 39:27). This return home from among many nations has happened only once in all of human history. And our generation is a witness to that event – the 1948 gathering of the Jewish people and the restoration of Israel in the Promised Land.
Today’s headlines point to the fulfillment of the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecies in the near future, and those prophecies point to the fulfillment of all the Second Coming prophecies in short order – within the expected lifetime of many of the people reading this article. Never before have so many signs of the Second Coming been present. And never before has it been more important to share the Good News. So make sure to tell everyone you know “the Messiah you’re looking for is Jesus” (Acts 5:42), and He’s coming soon (Revelation 22:20)!