Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39 describe the occasion in which God Himself
intervenes to quell the ill-fated invasion of Israel by Magog and its allies
(Persia, Cush, Phut, Libya, Gomer, Togarmah, Meshech, and Tubal). This passage
also appears to anticipate the use of nuclear weapons.
Why does the Bible use such strange names? It has to - we keep
changing the names of things: Petrograd = St. Petersburg = Leningrad = St.
Petersburg again. (My friends in Russia remind me that ''in Russia, even the
past is uncertain!'') Byzantium = Constantinople = Istanbul. Cape Canaveral =
Cape Kennedy, etc. But we don’t change the names of our ancestors!
The Magog Identity
Hesiod, ''the father of Greek didactic poetry,'' identified Magog with the
Scythians and southern Russia in the 7th century B.C. (Hesiod’s
writings precede the Book of Ezekiel.)
Herodotus of Harlicarnassus, known as the ''Father of History,'' wrote
extensively about the descendants of Magog by their Greek name, the Scythians,
in the 5th century B.C. Flavius Josephus records that Magogians were
called ''Scythians'' by the Greeks. Philo, in the 1st century,
identifies Magog with southern Russia.
Defense in Depth
One reason Herodotus gave so much detailed information about the Scythians
was that he wanted to describe the people who had succeeded in defeating the
Persian king, Darius. Darius I crossed the Bosporus and invaded Scythia. The
Scythians, however, had devised an unusual tactic for conducting warfare.
The Persians expected to crush the Scythians in a decisive engagement, but
the Scythians avoided such a battle. They retreated deep into their own
territory, laying to waste the region and wearing down the enemy by means of
In pursuing the Scythians, Darius soon came to appreciate the cunning of
these ''partisan'' tactics: Reaching the Volga, Darius, acknowledging defeat,
had to retreat from Scythia in shame.
In 1812, when Napoleon entered Russia, Field Marshall Kutuzov’s similar
strategy - including the sacrifice of Moscow itself - resulted in reducing
Napoleon’s Grande Armée from 453,000 to less than 10,000 and yielded the
infamous defeat now commemorated in Tchaikovsky’s Overture of 1812.
In 1941, Hitler suffered a similar defeat from the same Scythian strategy:
pressing a quick advance deep into the Russian interior only to have his
Wehrmacht swallowed up in the harsh Russian winter.
All the allies of Magog are in position, except one (watch Turkey!). Af-ter
nearly two decades of waiting, Turkey has finally begun official negotiations
for admittance into the European Union. The two largest impediments to Turkey’s
EU membership are its predominantly Muslim population and its refusal to
recognize the island nation of Cyprus (an EU member). This could push a wounded
Turkey back into the arms of the nationalists and hard-line Islamic
Modern Russian history dates from before the fall of the USSR -
beginning with Yuri Andropov’s rise to power in November 1982. As someone who
was in charge of the KGB, in a state where information was tightly
compartmentalized, Andropov came into office knowing something that would not
become apparent to the rest of the world for years: Not only was the Soviet
Union losing the Cold War, but it was dangerously close to economic
The Andropov Doctrine
The West had long since surpassed the Soviets in every measure that mattered:
from economic output, to worker productivity, to military reach. Andropov was
convinced that, in time, Moscow would fall…barring a massive change in
Andropov’s plan was to secure money, managerial skills and non-military
technologies from the West in order to refashion a more functional Soviet Union.
But the Soviets had nothing significant to trade: they did not have the
cash, they lacked goods that the West wanted, and Andropov had no intention of
trading away Soviet military technology (which, even 15 years after the Cold War
ended, still gives its U.S. counterpart a good run for its money).
In the end, Andropov knew that the Soviet Union had only one thing the West
wanted: geopolitical space. So space was what he gave. This continued the
traditional Scythian ''defense in depth'' strategy!
Subsequent leaders - Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin after them - continued
this as well. The one common thread uniting Russian leaders over the past
quarter-century has been the belief that without a fundamental remake, Russia
would not survive, and the only way to gain the tools necessary for that remake
was to give up influence. Consequently, everything - from Cuba to Poland to
Afghanistan to Vietnam - was surrendered, set free or otherwise abandoned.
This was the strategy for nearly 25 years, until the loss of the Ukraine
raised the specter of Russian dissolution. The Russians have now stepped away
from the Andropov Doctrine, abandoned the implicit bargain within it, reformed
the government under the leadership of pragmatists loyal to Putin, and have
begun pushing back against American and Western pressure.
Demographically, the country is in terrible shape: their population is
growing simultaneously older, smaller and sicklier. The number of Muslims is
growing, while the number of ethnic Russians is declining. Nearly all of the
economic growth that has occurred since the 1998 financial crisis has stemmed
from either an artificially weak currency or rising energy prices, and there are
echoes of Soviet financial overextension as occurred after the 1973 and 1981 oil
The START Treaty
The treaty, which took force in 1991, obliges the United States and Russia to
maintain no more than 6,000 nuclear warheads apiece. It expires in 2009, and the
United States is not anxious to renew it.
Among American defense planners, there is a belief that the vast majority of
weapons in the Russian nuclear program is nearing the end of its reliable
life-cycle, and that replacing it would be well beyond Russia’s financial
capacity. From the U.S. point of view, there is no reason to subject itself to a
new treaty that would limit U.S. options, particularly when the Russia of today
is far less able to support an arms race than the Soviet Union of yesteryear.
The weapons that will be used in the Magog Invasion, or the Battle of
Armageddon, may already be in inventory today.
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Russia helped Israel obtain arms to fight
the contingent of hostile countries that included Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Jordan.
However, after this initial cooperation, relations between the two countries
quickly soured with Russia threatening to attack Israel during both the 1956
Sinai Campaign and the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Russia severed diplomatic
relations with Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War, then aligned itself with
Arab nationalist regimes and gave support to Palestinian militants. Russia also
strongly opposed the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Even today, Russia
remains allied with Israel’s enemies.
Since Putin took power in 1999, he has established unrivaled dominance of
both houses of parliament; reasserted control over the country’s huge energy
industry; forced the closure of the last independent national television
network; strengthened Russia’s ties to its former communist allies; and,
employed what he calls ''managed democracy.''
Putin has manipulated elections, silenced critics, and gradually tight-ened
his grip on the nation. He is a former KGB officer and reports estimate that one
in every four of Putin’s government has a background in the military or security
In recent months, Putin has faced growing criticism for restricting
democratic freedoms and concentrating his presidential powers. Once thought to
be a growing capitalist ally, Russia is now returning to its Soviet roots. Putin
has called on Israel to withdraw ''from all the occupied Arab lands back to the
June 1967 border'' and stressed the necessity of a complete Israeli withdrawal
from the Golan Heights.
Growing Anti-Semitism in Russia
During the Soviet era, more than a million Jews fled Russia to escape
state-sponsored anti-Semitism, and in recent years there has been a dramatic
resurgence of anti-Jewish sentiment. In 2005, following a string of racially
motivated attacks on Jews, a letter with several hundred signatures, including
those of 19 members of the Duma (the Russian parlia-ment), was sent to Russia’s
prosecutor-general. The letter claimed that the Jews themselves were responsible
for inciting anti-Semitic violence and accused them of vandalizing and burning
down synagogues to garner sympathy. It also called for Jewish organizations in
Russia to be investigated and banned.
Russia has further earned Israel’s ire by announcing plans to provide the
Palestinian security forces with two reconnaissance helicopters and 50 armored
vehicles. Russia has also sent its military experts and security personnel to
Gaza to help train Palestinian security forces. After Palestinian terrorists
fired rockets from Gaza into southern Israel recently, the Israelis found
missile fragments belonging to a Russian designed BM-21 rocket. For the last
four years, Palestinians had been using homemade Kassam rockets. This was the
first time a factory-made rocket had been fired into Israel by the
Allies in the Middle East
After losing the Mid-East foothold provided by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the
Russians have been building a new axis of power based on ties with Turkey, Iran
and Syria. Russia is now Turkey’s second-largest trading partner, with a volume
of $10 billion in trade per year; Russia strengthened ties with Iran by
supplying it with nuclear-related technologies; and, Russia and Syria have made
plans to increase diplomatic and military cooperation.
Russia has since written-off nearly 75% - approximately $10 billion - of
Syria’s Soviet-era debt. Russia also intends to proceed with plans to sell SS-26
and SS-18 missiles to Syria, despite U.S. and Israeli opposition. The SS-26 is a
highly mobile missile that uses satellite guidance systems to attain maximum
accuracy. With a range of 180 miles, it can carry a 1,000-pound warhead to most
targets inside Israel; the SA-18 missiles are some of the most sophisticated
shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles on the market and Israel is concerned the
weapons may fall into the hands of Palestinian terrorists.
The SA-18 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile uses its enhanced seeker to
hit aerial targets, such as jet fighters, head-on. They have a
relatively short range of 5.2 km and a maximum altitude of 3.5 km, but they can
be used to destroy planes, helicopters and low-flying unmanned planes.
Syria is on the U.S. State Department’s list of countries that sponsor
terrorism. It gives ''substantial amounts of financial, training, weapons,
ex-plosives, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid'' to terrorist groups
such as Hezbollah and Hamas and other radical Islamic and Palestinian
organizations, many of which are headquartered in Damascus. Many experts believe
that a large-scale confrontation between Syria and Israel could be on the near
horizon, which makes Syria’s growing relationship with nations such as Iran and
Russia even more concerning.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet
Russia may be planning to move its Black Sea Fleet to the Syrian port of
Tartus. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet currently uses a range of naval facilities in
the Ukrainian region of Crimea under a 1997 agreement that allowed Russia to
continue its presence in its neighboring former Soviet republic for rent of $93
million per year. The fleet is not scheduled to withdraw until 2017, but the
Ukraine has demanded that a new agreement be signed and negotiations between
Russia and the Ukraine have stalled. Russia has started dredging at the Syrian
port of Tartus, where it maintains a logistical supply point with a possible eye
to turning it into a full-fledged naval base. Russia has also launched a
modernization project at the port of Latakia, 90 km to the north of Tartus.
An anonymous source at the Defense Ministry indicated that Moscow was
planning to form a squadron led by the Moskva, the Black Sea Fleet’s
flagship missile cruiser, within the next three years. The squadron would
operate in the Mediterranean Sea on a permanent basis.
Russia intends to sell Iran up to 30 Tor M-1 surface-to-air missiles, worth
$700 million. Russia has been the beneficiary of multiple lucrative contracts to
help Iran develop nuclear energy and has also been helping Iran build its
nuclear reactor at Bushehr. Russia, which has veto power on the UN Security
Council, has also threatened to block any attempt by the U.S. to impose UN
sanctions on Iran.
* * *
Next month, Part 2: Why we believe Ezekiel 38 and 39 describes the use of
nuclear weapons and why we believe the Magog Invasion could happen at any