The Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 ... Conclusion
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
From our study of Ezekiel 38-39 you can see that there is really only one major preceding condition left before this prophecy can be fulfilled, and that's for Israel to be living in an assumed state of peace with its neighbors. So when will that happen?
In the fifty plus years of Israel's modern existence, there really hasn't been a day when this condition has been met, although enemy sneak attacks in 1967 and especially 1973 did take the country by surprise as to timing. The simultaneous invasion by Egypt and Syria on Yom Kippur 1973 brought Israel perilously close to defeat. Historians report that due to "a rare moment of flabbiness in Israeli intelligence and in the government, Israel did not expect any attacks from its neighbors just at this point in time." (Both the Jewish Yom Kippur and Moslem Ramadan forbid waging war during their observance, and in October 1973 as the attack began these Holy Days overlapped.)
It took a week for Israel's forces to recover and go on the offense. Two weeks after that the war was over, cease-fire arrangements having been negotiated by the UN. In the ensuing agreements Egypt regained control of the Suez Canal and the Sinai Peninsula lost in 1967 and Syria got back a small portion of the Golan Heights, although had the UN not stepped in, Israeli forces would have soon entered both Cairo and Damascus.
Those Who Don't Learn From History.....
Not since then has there been such a relaxed state of preparedness by Israel and indeed it's hard to see how one could happen in the future. In fact the Bible mentions only two possibilities for a time of peace in the End Times, and neither fits the bill. The first occurs at the outset of Daniel's seventieth week when the antichrist makes his initial appearance. By means of peace he will deceive many, Daniel 8:25 (KJV) tells us.
The other time is the 1000 years of peace known as the Millennium or Kingdom Age. Let's rule that one out right away. First of all it's an unparalleled time of peace personally administered by the Prince of Peace. No enemy of Israel's will dare attempt a sneak attack until right at the end when Satan is freed from his 1000 years of captivity to lead them. And second, the end time prophecies in Ezekiel are sequential, first the latter days re-gathering of the Jews to Israel in chapters 36-37, then this battle, then from chapter 40 on it's the Millennium. The Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 has to follow the modern re-gathering but precede the Millennium. It can't happen at the Millennium's end.
So let's go back to the first possibility, the beginning of Daniel's 70th week. Daniel 9:27 reveals that as one of his first official acts, the antichrist will enforce a seven-year covenant with Israel that includes permission to build a Temple. (This seven year period is called Daniel's 70th week.) But because of the controversy it would stir up, most Jews today don't want a Temple and won't want one till the Creator of the Universe dramatically reveals Himself to them. He does so in the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39, and after that they'll be clamoring for a Temple, regardless of the consequences. Old Covenant observance requires it. So it appears this battle has to precede Daniel's 70th week, too early for the antichrist's false peace.
Also, the fact that the antichrist emerges as a peacemaker implies that some parts of the world will have recently been at war. Perhaps even a war involving a nuclear exchange, which will have left the world in shock, desperate for a plan that would prevent that ever happening again. Satan's "man of peace" with his seven year covenant will have just the thing to put the world at ease and allow him to begin his meteoric rise to world dominance.
Have You Reached A Verdict?
As we see, circumstantial evidence weighs heavily in favor of the antichrist revealing himself on the heels of the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 to kick off Daniel's 70th week. And so neither of the Bible's identified possibilities for peace will take place in time for this battle. That means that some dramatic chain of events, similar to those that led to the "sudden" fall of the Soviet Union, will have to occur soon to place Israel in the vulnerable state necessary for Ezekiel's prophecy to be fulfilled.
As you read this, Russia and Iran are completing their agreement to bring Iran's first nuclear reactor on line, while Israel trains in the use of new "bunker-buster" ordinance recently purchased from the US specifically for the purpose of destroying it. Iran is said to be leaking false information exaggerating the time required to "go critical" while secretly preparing a pre-emptive strike on Israel to prevent such an attack. Also the EU and Iran are negotiating an understanding that would permit resumed trading between the two in exchange for Iran's pledge that its nuclear intent is purely peaceful. How this will all shake out is anybody's guess, but it's sure to be a dramatic chain of events.
So What's The Point?
Now why is all this so important to us? Well, we've already made a case for the antichrist to appear right after this battle and we know from the passage itself that the Lord uses it to reveal Himself to Israel and draw them back to Him. But here are two more good reasons. First, you'll recall from our study in 2nd Thessalonians that the church has to disappear before the antichrist can be revealed. (2 Thes. 2:7) And second, in the past when the Lord's focus was on Israel there was no church, and while it's been on the church there has been no Israel. These two entities seem to be mutually exclusive in the Lord's workings, so if He's going to focus on Israel again the Church has to disappear (Acts 15:14-18).
So if the Church has to disappear before the antichrist can be revealed and if the church has to disappear when the Lord turns again to Israel, and if both these are outcomes of the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39, you can see why it's so important to us. By the way, none of this is meant to modify or refute the Doctrine of Imminence, which holds that the Lord could come at any time. In fact rather than saying that Ezekiel's battle has to happen before the Rapture, I'm saying that it looks more like the Rapture has to happen before Ezekiel's battle.
In conclusion then, there are compelling reasons to put the prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39 on your urgent watch list. Based on the current state of world affairs, it could be fulfilled in the very near future, and since the Church must disappear as this battle looms, the Rapture must be right over the horizon. Maranatha. If you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 10-17-04