Campaigns of the Kingdom

When the State of Israel came into being five decades ago, Christa-delphians around the world rejoiced greatly, for they felt that this event marked one of the final milestones in the Father's plan; surely it would not be long until the second advent of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His kingdom.

Instead, Israel has been in military and political conflict with its neighbors throughout this remarkable period of fifty years. Several additional unique milestones in prophecy which we did not necessarily expect have since passed and been observed by us; but still the Christ has not appeared. Finally, we have reached the singular point in history at which there remains no more expectation of prophetic fulfillment prior to the Second Advent.

Some have become discouraged by this seeming delay in the plan. But that is a short-sighted view, and must be cleared from the mind by those who desire to remain faithful watchmen.

Indeed, being now much closer to the return of our Master, we can surely see the end-time events clearer than earlier expositors could see them. It has become evident that we must alter some of our general expectations to conform to what the prophets foretell. If we are among those expecting our Savior at the invasion of Israel by the Gogian confederacy of Ezekiel 38 and 39, we shall have miscalculated!

Why do we say this?

Because it has become apparent that, in contrast to earlier views, the end-time wars of Israel involve at least three different and distinct Campaigns, or Phases. That of the Gogian host is almost certainly not the first! Psalm 118:10-12 seems to indicate that God's people will be aggressed thrice; here the people speak under inspiration: "All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them. They compassed me about... but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them."

Prayerful and logical examination of the scriptures in light of the political developments we now observe show us this clear plan.

The Arabic-Islamic Phase

Since the end-time wars are waged against the Jewish State they could not begin until 1948. The political and military confrontations with modern Israel have come almost exclusively from the Islamic states proximal to ("round about") Israel. They vigorously continue their relentless aggression against the people and the land.

The Old Testament references to the nations "round about" are widespread, with over 50 references to these entities between Deuteronomy 6:14 and Zechariah 14:4.

In passages where these are identified by name (e.g., Psalm 83), they are Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, the "Palestinians" of Gaza, the Bedouin PLO within Israel, Jordan (Moab/Edom/Ammon) and Saudi Arabia. Their covetousness of the Land is insatiable; their plans to recover it and to destroy the Jews of Israel are craftily laid, comprehensive, and well-funded with both men and money.

Such passages as Psalm 68 speak of the intractable struggle of the "Palestinians" and their Islamic allies "round about" to wipe out Israel and its people. Ezekiel 35:3-5 speaks of the "perpetual hatred" and the shedding of the blood of the children of Israel by the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end-a reference to Jews in the land-from the first Zionist settlers in Palestine to the five million Jews now living in the State. Without question, their iniquity is indeed brought to its end with the appearance of Messiah and their long-awaited redemption.

Some other passages relating to the approaching last conflict with proximal Islam are Ezekiel 35:12-15 (Edom); Isaiah 34:2-8 (Edom: part of the "all nations" of verse 2; note that "it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion" (vs. 8); Isaiah 63:1-6 ("Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed [blood-stained] garments from Bozrah?); Habbakuk 3:3-7, 12-16 ["He beheld, and drove asunder the nations [Midian]; and the everlasting hills did bow" (vs. 6), "Thou didst thresh the heathen in anger" (vs. 12)]; Isaiah 14:24-27 ("I will break the Assyrian [Iraq] in My land, and... tread him underfoot"), whose words agree with Micah 5:1-6, in which the destruction of "the Assyrian" upon Israel's mountains is foretold, and that "(Israel) shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword" (vs. 6); Isaiah 14:28-32 (Palestina: Gaza and the PLO within Israel!); Isaiah 15 (Moab/Jordan); Isaiah 17 (Damascus, Syria), which also relates to Zechariah 9:1,2 (Syria, Lebanon) and Zechariah 9:5 (Gaza).

There are far more numerous scriptural references to the Arabic-Islamic assault on Israel than to the later phases. Perhaps this is because the later phases are largely academic for those who shall be Saints with Him! These and many other passages relating to the nations "round about" show their final demise to be swift and complete. Only His personal appearance can bring lasting and inviolable peace and security to Israel.

Indeed, that is the setting for the Gogian phase of the end-time wars of Israel: the nation and people dwelling in complete peace and security, ruled over by the returned Christ (Ezek. 37:24,25) who shall then undertake the work of the kingdom age in Israel, His First Dominion (Mic. 4:8).

The Gogian Phase

Its description is almost solely in Ezekiel 38 and 39. When we consider the Gogian invasion force (Ezek. 38:2-6) we see certain widely dispersed ancient countries listed in that confederacy: Magog, Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, Persia (Iran), Ethiopia (Sudan), Libya, Gomer, and Togarmah. Consulting a map of the migration of the nations of Genesis 10, the geographic distribution of these named entities is as follows:

Magog-son of Japheth; settled in the areas between, to the north and east of, the Black and Caspian Seas. The present states mainly occupying this area are the predominantly Moslem states of Kazakhstan, Turk-menistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kirghizia, all part of the former Soviet Union.

Rosh-the Hebrew word for "chief prince," yes, but Rosh is treated as a name of a geographical location (Russia!) by such scholars as Bullinger, C. F. Kiel, and Wilhelm Gesenius; also by The Septuagint, The American Standard Version, The New English Bible, and the Jerusalem Bible.

Meshech and Tubal-Japhethites, settled in the area south and east of the Black Sea.

Persia-modern-day Iran.

Ethiopia-translated from the Hebrew Kuwsh (Cush), is Sudan.

Libya-Libya.

Gomer-peoples of the northern central section of Turkey.

Togarmah-located just south of Meshech and Tubal; eastern Turkey.

What do these areas have in common? They are all predominantly Moslem states except Russia. It is extremely significant that Russia's army is mostly Moslem! All Islam is at religious cross-purposes with Israel.

Now, an important fact is that these nations of the Gogian confederacy are not the proximal Islamic states. They are generally more distant from Israel; we call them the distal aggressors. The proximal states are not mentioned nor implicated in Ezekiel 38 and 39 at all! Yet we see scores of references to their utter destruction by the returned Messiah-or at least, the hand of the Almighty. When shall this come, if not before the Gogian affair?

That logic makes us believe that the proximal Islamic states which have given Israel and God's people so much grief for over 50 years, shall have already been defeated and no longer exist when Gog and his hosts make their push upon Israel! All readers are surely aware that IF they still existed, they would, with enthusiasm and "honor" instantly join with the Gogian host in the intended blood-bath of Israel. And if they were still in existence, surely some of them would be named in the Gogian confederacy. Gog would be required to pass through their lands to attack Israel! So they quite evidently have been defeated and erased from the face of the earth by Christ and His people Israel in earlier conflict.

There are other recorded and indicated differences in the two conflicts to guide us to that conclusion. A review of some of them will be helpful:

  1. The references above indicate the destruction of the proximal Arabs and Gog with the distal Arabs at separate times and in different ways.
  2. The two groups are listed separately, and are entirely different from each other.
  3. The proximal Arabs are destroyed progressively, in their own lands or where they have come against Israel, by the returned Christ (and the Saints?) along with the army of Israel. The distal Arabs in cahoots with Gog are destroyed instantly, and in one place, by God Himself ("MY fury shall come up in MY face"-Ezek. 38:18).
  4. The secondary result of the defeat of the proximal Arabs is that ISRAEL may know that God IS God, and that Christ is His returned King (Joel 3:17). The secondary result of the defeat of the Gogian host is not only that anyone remaining uncon-vinced in Israel may be convinced (Ezek. 39:22), but that "THE HEATHEN (the nations) shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel" (Ezek. 39:7).
  5. Whereas the proximal Arab enemies are not even said to be buried, the distal Arab enemies and Gog are given a dedicated burial ground, designated Hamon-gog, east of the Sea. A footnote in The Jerusalem Bible indicates "the valley of the Abarim," which is the Arnon river valley draining the western Moabite highlands, in what is now Jordan.

But notice also that Ezekiel was directed to write that there will be given "Gog a place there of graves in Israel" (Ezek. 39:11). Yet the place designated by Ezekiel is not in Israel today. Our conclusion is that Christ's and the Israelis' defeat of the proximal Arab enemies will result in the acquisition of all those countries and their wealth (Zech. 14:14) by Christ and Israel, and obliteration of much of their population.

Thus, The Christ's Greater Israel will stretch far beyond the present borders of the State today, from sea to sea (from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean) and from the River of Egypt (the Nile) to the great river Euphrates. When Gog is defeated, his dead will occupy the largest potter's field on earth, in Israel, "east of the Sea."

The Euro-Beast Phase

After the destruction of the Gogian host, what then?

The scriptures indicate that Christ is doing several other things while He is defeating the Gogian confederacy. He shall disarm Israel completely and "speak peace unto the heathen," as indicated by Zechariah 9:10.

He begins to build the great temple (Ezek. 37:26,27) of the Millennium described in Ezekiel 40-48. He first saves the tents of Judah (Zech. 12:7), then calls for worldwide return of Israelites of all tribes (Ezek. 37:21; Zech. 10:7-10), reassembling all His people as one nation upon the mountains of Israel (Ezek. 37:15-22).

Now sitting upon David's restored throne (Luke 1:32), He makes an everlasting covenant (Ezek. 37:26) with the whole house of Israel. He proclaims the everlasting gospel (Rev. 14:6) to all the world. He also begins to assert His authority to all the earth (Rev. 19:11-19).

That will be the next source of resistance to His universal reign-this vigorous extension of His dominion beyond His own controversial domain.

The Euro-Beast powers of Catholic Europe will vigorously oppose the expansion of His kingdom to their area, as well as to others. In a sense, at least, it will be the third set of powers which shall have encompassed the Christ and His people, for their muster to resist Him shall spread far abroad. Whether these physically encircle Israel yet again, we cannot discern. Apocalypse 17:14 reveals this certainty: "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful."

This prophecy seems not to be fulfilled until there is a direct, arms-length confrontation between the returned Christ and those Beast powers; but we suspect that it will be on their turf, not His-for the Almighty and His Son shall never allow another encroachment upon His people and His holy portion (Nahum 1:15). Even prior to the Gogian affair, we are assured that they dwell in absolute peace and security under "David, My Servant" (Ezek. 37:24,25), under "My Beloved"-without doubt, their returned Messiah.

Conclusion

There is within our body some resistance to an Islamic phase of aggression against Israel prior to the Gogian onslaught. Yet Islam's fierce, death-throes resistance to the Jews and their State has been in progress for fifty years! The texts of both The PLO Covenant and The Hamas Charter reveal the depth of purpose-the extreme, intractable hatred-of all Islam for God and His plan for Israel.

These two documents announce their perverse intention to thwart our Father's plan, and to decimate His people in the Land. However, the faithful are assured in the words of Micah 5:2 "Truly, He will leave them helpless until she who is to bear has borne; then the rest of His countrymen shall return to the children of Israel (Tanakh)."

That key revelation links with Isaiah 66:7-8, a passage we have recognized for fifty years as reference to Israel's rebirth in one day; it identifies the "she who (was) to bear" as Zion, embodied in Zionism-the Worldwide Zionist Organization-which, without controversy, has been utilized by the Almighty in His divine purpose!

Under their Father's direction, fervent intention is being placed in the hearts of Jews worldwide to return to their Land at this particular time, to inhabit their State, and to prosper in the face of great adversity. Israel, the State, is that "ensign" of Isaiah 11:12, to which five million of God's people have returned in the last hundred years... perhaps three times the total number which came out of Egypt! Our Father is not bringing these back home to destroy and scatter them yet another time.

With the formation of Israel, His abandonment of them ceased. It is the time to favor Zion (Psa. 102:13). When they have beheld Him and the power of His righteous arm exercised against proximal Islam, saving them from absolutely certain destruction, their hearts shall be changed to hearts of flesh; He then writes upon these compliant hearts the everlasting covenant of salvation (Ezek. 37:26) which He shall make with His people.

Harold Lafferty
Hagerstown, Maryland


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