Over 2,500 years ago, the prophet Ezekiel foresaw a northern nation allying herself with Muslim nations and ultimately invading Israel.
Keith Malcomson believes this northern aggressor is Russia and the Ukraine conflict is another step in the fulfilment of prophecy
By Keith Malcomson
Ezekiel 38:1-3:“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal”
Writing between 593 and 565 BC, the prophet Ezekiel foresaw an invasion of Israel that would take place after Israel has been restored as a nation and is in her ancient land, with her people regathered from all nations of the earth (Ezekiel 35-37).
What has not yet happened is the sudden invasion of Israel by a great northern power in confederacy with several specifically named nations.
Ezekiel shows that Gog is to be a great leader and Magog is his land or region (Ezekiel 38-39).
But who is this leader andwhere is this land?
Many have traditionally considered that these verses speak of Russia to the far north of Israel. More recently, however, there has been a strong swing away from this idea to teach that Gog and Magog are situated within the Middle Eastern region, and that it will be a Muslim nation – Turkey is often named.
Now I want to give you four reasons from the Bible why I believe it will, in fact, be Russia.
1. Ancient Magog is present day Russia
The first mention of Magog is in Genesis 10:2: “The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.”
From this we see that Magog was the grandson of Noah and the second son of Japheth. He was a noted person and leader who gave birth to one of the earth’s main peoples and nations.
If we can identify the nation called Magog, then we can discover which nation will be prominent in this invasion of Israel in the last days
This people later settled a region in Ezekiel’s day which was called Magog. If we can identify the nation called Magog, then we can discover which nation will be prominent in this invasion of Israel in the last days.
Josephus, the Jewish historian who lived during the first century, wrote that, “Magog founded the Magogians, thus named after him, but who were by the Greeks called Scythians.”
So who were these Scythians, where did they live and what sort of a people were they?
Their heartland was just north of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea; that is present day Ukraine and Russia
Greek writers from the seventh to the third centuries BC frequently spoke about the Scythians. They were a large confederation of different tribes known for their mastery of the horse, constantly on the move as nomads, with great skill in warfare. They had the same culture, clothes, dialect, weapons, lifestyle, horse gear, and they tattooed their bodies. Their heartland was just north of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea; that is present day Ukraine and Russia.
These vast hoards constantly traversed the Steppes of Russia, along a corridor of land stretching about 5,000 miles, from modern-day Ukraine in the west to Mongolia in the east. Included in this region is Siberia, which has around ten per cent of the world’s landmass.
From this region they frequently fought, invaded, and traded to the south with the Greeks, those of Asia Minor (Turkey), Armenia, Assyria, and even China. They even fought against and beat King Darius of Persia. They had no written language so did not leave us a written history, but these other nations wrote about them.
They dominated this entire region from around 900 BC to 200 BC and it was right in the midst of this time that Ezekiel prophesied about them. No country or land can be identified as Ezekiel’s Magog other than present-day Russia.
Christians must love Russians just as much as we love Ukrainians
The Scythians were still recognised as a nation in the time of the New Testament apostles. Paul writes to the Colossians: “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).
It is interesting that Russia is therefore mentioned in a passage where Paul emphasises that the new man in Christ is marked by love and makes no distinction between nations and their people. This tells us that Christians must love Russians just as much as we love Ukrainians.
2. Magog comes from the extreme north
The north is mentioned three times in this prophecy:
Ezekiel 38:6:“…the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee”,
38:15: “And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army”
39:2:39“And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel.”
‘Quarters’ and ‘parts’ are key words here; both literally mean the very uttermost part, the far north, or the furthest coast.
In ancient culture and in the Bible, the region to the far north of the Mediterranean is referred to as the “dark and gloomy” region
The word “north” itself used here in the Hebrew means, “the dark or gloomy region”. You would not describe the Mediterranean or Middle Eastern countries as “dark” or “gloomy”! In ancient culture and in the Bible, the region to the far north of the Mediterranean is referred to as the “dark and gloomy” region.
Of the various nations mentioned along with Magog in connection with this invasion of Israel, only one is mentioned as being in the north. This is Togarmah, which I believe to be Armenia, not Georgia as some believe. (Please email the HEART office if you would like to be sent my explanation).
All the rest, such as Libya, Persia, and Ethiopia, are further south. While Togarmah is placed as the most northern of these other nations, Magog is described as being to the extreme north.
We are left with no doubt that this army which will invade Israel comes from the far, dark, gloomy and most northerly region of the earth in relation to Israel. That can only describe Russia.
3. Russian Jewish migration
Some 500 years before Christ, Jeremiah and Ezekiel both prophesied that Israel would be scattered among all nations and then regathered to her own land (Ezekiel 34:13, 36:24, 39:27).
But Jeremiah went further, explicitly describing one of the lands from which the Jews would return: “Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth…a great company shall return thither” (Jeremiah 31:8).
He goes even further, saying that a day will come when they will no longer speak of the LORD who brought them up out of Egypt but of the LORD who brought them, “…out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land” (Jeremiah 23:7-8).
There’s a good argument that this ‘north country’ refers to Russia. In just one decade after communism fell, between 1989 and 1999, at least 800,000 Jewish immigrants arrived from Russia to Israel to seek citizenship. Prior to 1989, there were more Jewish people in Russia than in any other country in the world. Since 2000 it has been noted that 20% of Israel’s citizen population were born in Russia and still speak Russian in their Israeli homes.
4. Magog allies with contemporary nations
Ezekiel 38:3:“And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal…” 38:5: “Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them…” 38:6: “Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.”
Each of these nations now has a military force which was partially or significantly armed by Russia. All but one of these nations is Muslim; all but one is very against Israel and all but one is aligned with Russia in a union of some sort.
This was not always true; it is a recent phenomenon which shows the accuracy of Bible prophecy.
In Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, Gog is mentioned nine times. It is clear from these references that Gog is not only a man, but the leader of this mass military attack upon Israel. We see that God is against Gog and calls upon Ezekiel to prophesy against him.
Gog is the supreme political or military commander
There will be a specific person who will fulfil this prophecy. Gog is not his name, but rather a title or an explanation of his role in this invasion.
Three times he is spoken of as “Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal” (38:2, 3; 39:1)
Those who have taught correctly that Magog is Russia have often gone on to wrongly teach that Meshech was Russia’s capital, Moscow, and that Tubal was Tobolsk, a province in Russia. They have even gone further by saying that the word “chief”, which is ‘rosh’ in Hebrew, is translated wrongly in our English Bible and should in fact be translated as a country name rather than as a title for a leader.
By this means they argue that Gog is the leader of ‘Rosh’, or of Russia. However, the Hebrew word ‘rosh’ is used almost 600 times in the Old Testament and is never once used of a person, nation or land. The word actually means, ‘top, beginning, or chief; the source, the head, or the leader; the chief prince’. The word ‘prince’ means ‘exalted one’, king, or leader.
So this joint term, “chief prince”, would seem to mean that Gog is actually the supreme political or military commander of Meshech and Tubal in this military action. Gog will lead their entire confederate military force to invade Israel.
I believe Meschech and Tubal actually refer to Turkey. Meshech comes from the name of an ancient people group in Ezekiel’s day, called Mushki (Moschi) who dwelt in central Turkey in the region of Phrygia. Tubal comes from peoples called the Tubali (Tibareni) who lived in an area in the east of Turkey in the region of Pontus. Both of them in the Bible and in ancient records are always mentioned together. Ezekiel 38:6 also mentions “Gomer, and all his bands”. Again, Gomer was found in Turkey in Ezekiel’s day.
Because we are given three ancient nations who made their home in the one contemporary nation of Turkey, we must be aware that this is a very important nation in this future war. A Russian leader will lead this Turkish and allied force. Note that Turkey currently has one of the ten biggest armies in the world and has one of the three largest tank forces in the world.
Recent events lend support to this idea. Until 2002, Turkey was a very mild and moderate nation and most of us took no notice of it, let alone considered the role it would play in fulfilling Bible prophecy. Yet its current president, Erdogan, spent five months in prison for having radical, extremist Muslim views. Then in 2002 there was a revolution and Erdogan took power as President and made Turkey a Ukrainian people flee their homes in a desperate attempt to find shelter from the shelling radical Muslim nation.
In 2016 the CIA went into Turkey to attempt to overthrow the government, but Russia warned Turkey and the CIA’s efforts failed. This pushed Turkey towards aligning with Russia more.
When Ezekiel goes further to describe “all” of Gog’s “army” in verse 5, he begins with Persia, which we know to be present-day Iran. Persia bore the same name from the time of ancient history right through until 1935, when it was renamed Iran; its people still speak Persian. Iran used to be a mild, friendly and non-combative nation until the CIA went in, started a revolution in 1978, and it became a radical Muslim nation.
Therefore, I believe the first three nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38:3-6 are Russia, Turkey and Iran. It is only since 2016 that they have been joined in regular summits to discuss and work together in reference to the crisis in Syria by co-ordinating the activities of their military forces on the ground in the Middle East just north of Israel. This is the first time in history we see this. Their last joint, trilateral summit was held in December 2021.
Since 1948 Russia has been supporting Muslim conflicts against Israel
The other three nations distinctly named here are Ethiopia or ‘Kush’ which was situated on the southern border of Egypt (Ezekiel 29:9-10), which is present-day Sudan. Then Libya, or ‘Phut’, which Russia, Turkey and Iran are planning to make a second Syria. It may include Algeria, or even Morocco and Tunisia.
Since 1948 Russia has been supporting the various Muslim conflicts against Israel, by arming them, providing military vehicles, protecting from western powers, and intervening politically when needed. To date they have never led an armed attack upon Israel, but I believe the present conflict between Ukraine and Russia is only aligning this entire scenario further in preparing for the final fulfilment of Ezekiel’s prophecy.
All Bible quotations are from the King James version.
There are differing views on Bible prophecy and the role of the CIA in past events. Another helpful source of information on end-time prophecy is the quarterly bulletin, ‘Light for the Last Days’ by Tony Pearce which is available from www.lightforthelastdays.co.uk
Keith Malcomson is pastor of Limerick City Church. This message is on YouTube under the title, ‘Is Russia in Bible Prophecy?’ followed by a second part called ‘Gog and Magog Clarified’. To receive the original, longer version of this article, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send a donation of £3 or sae (at least DL size – long enough for A4 paper) if you would like to be sent a paper copy.