[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

General Conference

Russia, World War III, and Bible Prophecies

How is it possible to correctly understand the current conflict in Eastern Europe in the light of biblical prophecies?

Brazil | Felipe Lemos

The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has raised discussions about geopolitics, humanitarian crises, and also prophetic aspects. I will not dwell in this article on topics about the origin of the clash between Russia and Ukraine or the background that exists behind situations like this. There are several specialists who, with propriety, already explain the phenomenon adequately, or, at least, they offer several perspectives on which to build an opinion. Regarding the humanitarian crisis, I recommend seeing aid updates from agencies such as the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) or at news.adventistas.org, in addition to the international website adra.org, as well as their profiles on social networks.

I believe it is important to bring up some aspects that will help clarify doubts that usually arise at a time like this. There are some questions sincere Christians can ask, in the face of a conflict with death, destruction, and an antagonism with economic, political, and social effects on the entire planet.

One of the questions is, Is this type of attack by Russia something prophesied in the Bible? or, Is there any clear indication that Russia is a power mentioned in the Word of God?

Russia and Bible Prophecy

For several years now, a group of Bible prophecy scholars of various denominations has identified Russia in Ezekiel 38 and 39, specifically in the prophecy against Gog. One of the main reasons for this thought is the mention, in 38:2, that Gog would be the prince of Ros and Meshech (see the New American Version). By phonetic assimilation, many interpret “Rôs” as a word associated with Russia and “Meshech” as a term that refers to Moscow, the current capital of Russia.

Adherents to this idea believe Gog's attack on Israel in the future will be literal. Advocates of this view, many along the line known as “dispensationalism,” have a specific argument. They claim that, at some future time, the nation of Israel will be involved in a great battle carried out by other nations, including Russia. Dr. Rodrigo Silva, a specialist in archeology and biblical historicity, stressed, in a live presentation,[1] that dispensationalists understand this will happen in the battle of Armageddon, which appears in Revelation 16.

Terms in Ezekiel

The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, when dealing with Ezekiel 38, especially verse 2, states, “the translation of ro'sh as a proper name, Rôs, is questionable. The word is very common in Hebrew and occurs about 600 times in the Old Testament. Its basic meaning is 'head' and, apart from Ezekiel, the only occurrence of the translation of ro'sh as a proper name is in Genesis 46:21, where it is the name given to one of the sons of Benjamin.”[2]

According to the same source, Russia is likely to have originated from rus. The commentary notes, “one can see that any sound similarity between Rôs and Russia is, of course, purely coincidental. There seems to be no evidence that the name was applied to that country before about the 10th century AD.”[3]

Ezekiel and Revelation

In an article published in 2007,[4] the Adventist theologian Jiri Moskala concludes that the prophecies depicted in Ezekiel 38 and 39 need to be correctly understood in the light of other texts such as Revelation 20:8. In this passage, the apostle John mentioned Gog already in the final destruction of Satan and the lost people after the millennium and, therefore, after the return of Jesus Christ. Moskala defends the idea that Gog's attack on Israel could be interpreted historically as taking place after the Babylonian exile. This would sound plausible if Israel, as a nation, became faithful to God.

The author, however, considers that John universalized Ezekiel's prophecy. For Mosakala, “Gog and Magog are no longer political enemies of the Israelite ethnic group, but eschatological enemies, adversaries of all generations of wicked people, from Adam to the second coming of Christ, who obstinately rebelled against God and His values ​​and His faithful followers.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary goes along the same vein when it states, “Gog is most likely an abstract name by which Ezekiel describes the leader of the heathen hosts who make a final attack on Israel after Israel’s restoration and at a time when God’s people are enjoying the promised prosperity on condition of obedience.”

Babylon and the Third War?

In the same live presentation, Dr. Silva remembers commentators who make reference to the fact that Gog is a codename for Babylon. He explains, in detail, the technique that allows reaching this conclusion. Josef Greig also alludes to this code in an article from 1978. There, he points out, “the pagan hordes mentioned in Ezekiel can be used to symbolically represent the powers of evil that have always been and always will be in conflict with the kingdom of God until the final triumph of God.”[5]

The subject is long and deserves, therefore, an exclusive article. However, the Bible does not imply the world will eventually be destroyed by a third world war or even a nuclear strike. Daniel 2 gives us a very clear perspective of how the eternal kingdom will put an end to what we have seen here today.

Jesus, in the famous prophetic sermon recorded in Matthew 24, places wars and rumors of wars (see verse 6) as indicative of the end times before His return. At the same time, he confidently stresses that the gospel will be preached to all people, and that is the great sign of the end.

Return of Jesus

According to Malachi 4, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 20, and other texts, there will be the complete annihilation of evil. It is a retribution for those who clung to sin and did not accept the grace of Christ that leads to repentance and life transformation. They are those who adhered to the concept of evil contrary to the will and purposes of God faithfully, represented by Babylon and obviously what Ezekiel chose to call “Gog and Magog.”

The return of Christ, promised in the Old Testament and confirmed by Jesus Himself, such as in John 14, is the culmination of universal history. This should be reason enough to produce hope in people's lives and deep confidence in a better prospect in the near future.

—Felipe Lemos is a journalist and editor of the Adventist Portal and the website Apocalipse.com.

References:

[1] Russia versus Ukraine, prophesied in the Bible? Live with Dr. Rodrigo Silva - https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=l9tfl5bYTfk&t=2356s

[2] NICHOL, Francis. Seventh-day Adventist Biblical Commentary. Vol. 4. Tatuí: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 2012, p. 776.

[3] NICHOL, Francis. Seventh-day Adventist Biblical Commentary. Vol. 4. Tatuí: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 2012, p. 777.

[4] MOSKALA, Jiri. “Toward the Fulfillment of the Gog and Magog Prophecy of Ezekiel 38–39.” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 2007. Available at https://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/jats/vol18/iss2/6/.

[5] GREIG, Josef. “Gog and Magog: Hebrew ciphers help solve a problem and knock some cherished speculations.” Ministry Magazine, 1978. Available at https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1978/02/gog-and-magog.

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s news site

 

arrow-bracket-rightCommentscontact