Something is brewing in the Middle East – something that will stupefy the world and glorify the God of Israel. The stage is being set for a massive invasion of tiny Israel led by Russia and Iran. Consider some comments on the July 2015 Iran nuclear deal:
One of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into [President Trump, October 2017]
It is completely clear, if one examines this agreement, if nothing changes, that Iran will have an arsenal of nuclear weapons within a few years. This agreement does not block this. It creates a sure path to the production of an enrichment system that could quickly bring Iran to dozens of atomic bombs
[Benjamin Netanyahu, October 2017]
The greatest danger that we face, of hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state … comes from Iran. It comes from the ayatollah regime that is calling outright for the destruction of the Jewish state [Benjamin Netanyahu, November 2017]
What does Iran say?
Israel has no roots in the Middle East and would be ‘eliminated’ [Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 2012]
En Sha’a Allah [God willing], there will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years. Until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists [Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, September, 2015]
We are in the process of increasing our stockpile of enriched uranium as well as our heavy water reserves [Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, 2019]
So, despite the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, those who follow Bible prophecy understand what is really going on and refer to it as the Gog-Magog war.
Prophecy of the Coming Major War against Israel
The prophet Ezekiel clearly describes an end-time invasion of Israel “from the north”. Here’s what he says:
Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia (Heb: Cush), and Libya (Heb: Put) are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you … In the latter years you will come into the land … [to a people] brought out of the nations … (Ezek 38.1-8)
First note that, despite the Old Testament names and symbolic ancient weapons, this invasion takes place “in the latter years” i.e. at the end of this age, and is waged against a people who have been “brought out of the nations” – as seen in present-day aliyah. Secondly, the invasion is initiated by the God of Israel (“I will lead you out …”). Why? It turns out that those nations who today threaten war against Israel e.g. Iran will soon get their desire, but it not turn out as they expect.
Interpreting the Old Testament names, we find it is essentially an Islamic invasion involving Iran, Turkey (Gomer), Libya, Sudan (Ethiopia), and all probably led by Russia (Magog). The western nations question the motives for the invasion (to plunder Israel’s goods), but are not directly involved (Ezek 38:13). The prophecy refers to “Gog of the land of Magog” and so some refer to this as the Gog-Magog war to distinguish it from the final war of the age, Armageddon.
Israel is miraculously protected and the invaders are defeated. The God of Israel says to the invaders:
With pestilence and with blood I will enter into judgment with him [the invader]; and I will rain on him and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones, fire and brimstone. I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord. I will strike your bow from your left hand and dash down your arrows from your right hand (Ezek 38:22-23, 39:3)
The current world situation aligns very well with this prophetic interpretation. The outcome is the total defeat and humiliation of militant Islam in the sight of many nations. Russia is also defeated. Moreover, from that day, Israel starts to know her God as He pours out His Spirit upon her:
So the House of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day forward (Ezek 39.22)
Now, isn’t that a striking picture of the (not too distant) future? We already see the Middle East nations lining up to fit this scenario. It WILL happen! Hit the button below to learn more about this imminent war that will affect the whole world.
The current land disputes with Israel over the so-called “occupied territories” will be relatively short-lived. Bible prophecy points to a soon-coming age (the Millennium) when the people of Israel (Abraham’s descendants, the Jews) live at peace within the boundaries promised unconditionally to Abraham. Those boundaries span from the River Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean in the west, and embrace the disputed territories of the West Bank and Gaza. It is interesting to observe that the boundaries given to Moses as he was about to divide up Canaan for the twelve tribes (Numbers 34) correlate well with the Millennial boundaries given in Ezekiel 47.
Biblical Borders: The Future Borders of Israel According to the Bible
The current borders of Israel are disputed by the international community, from the UN to the Arab leadership. But these parties insist on ignoring the true legal position, link. Even the US, Israel’s greatest ally makes misleading statements:
We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines [Barack Obama, 2011]
Obama gave US support for a future Palestinian state based on borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war. Thankfully, Israel’s border disputes will be short-lived. When this age ends and the 1,000 year ‘Millennial Age’ of earth begins, Israel’s borders will be firmly established by the God of Israel. In fact, Israel’s future borders are already clearly written in Bible prophecy (if only the world would read it).
The Promised Land: Israel’s Biblical Title Deeds
God promised that He would give all the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants. He made a covenant with Abraham:
To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt (traditionally taken as the Nile) as far as the great river, the River Euphrates (Gen 15.18)
I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines (Gaza coast), and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates (Exod 23.31)
Despite Israel’s future disobedience, this promise was unconditional in that the land was to be theirs forever; no strings attached:
I will give to you and to your descendants … all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession (Gen 17.8)
Where was Canaan, this “Promised Land”? Where did the twelve tribes of Israel settle? They settled mainly in the area currently referred to as Israel, including the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights, although the tribes of Benjamin, Gad, Reuben and part of Manasseh settled east of the Jordan (Fig.1). So there we have it: Abraham’s descendants, Isaac, Jacob and the twelve tribes of Israel are promised their own land, their own piece of real estate in the region we now call Israel.
Location of Israel’s Future Borders
Let’s try and identify the biblical geographic boundaries. As the Israelites conquered more territory the term ‘Canaan’ was gradually applied to all the lands west of the Jordan valley, and there are references to Canaanites living in the valleys and plains of this region (Num 13.29)(Josh 11.3)(Judg 1.27). In time the LORD gave more detail of the geographical boundaries. For example, in Num 34.1-12 we find the boundaries given to Moses as he was about to divide up Canaan for the twelve tribes. These are:
Western: the Mediterranean Sea
Eastern: from Kadesh-barnea, via Zin and the salt sea to Zedad and Hamath in the north
Southern: from Kadesh Barnea to the Brook of Egypt (probably not the Nile)
Northern: from the Mediterranean Sea (Mount Hor) to Hamath to Zedad
The boundaries defined in Numbers 34 are shown in Fig.2 and in Ezek 47.13-20 we find more boundary detail which confirm these boundaries. It is clearly stated that the Jordan is the eastern boundary (v18) and the western boundary (the Mediterranean Sea) goes north as far as ‘opposite Hamath’ (v20). The southern boundary is defined by a ‘brook’ in Num 34.5 and Ezek 47.19 and by a ‘river’ in Gen 15.18. Note that this is most likely not the Nile, link, link.
The significant point here is that many understand Ezek 47 (in fact, Ezek 40-48) to describe Millennial Israel. And it is interesting to see how the Old Testament boundaries in Num 34 align closely with Israel’s future borders in Ezek 47.
Future (equal) land Division
Historically, the tribes occupied only some of this land and, as already mentioned, in addition occupied some land east of the Jordan (see also Israel’s History). Under Moses, the land was divided according to the size of each tribe (Josh 13) and so resulted in very unequal division e.g. the tribe of Manasseh took a large share. In contrast, Ezek 47 and 48 state that the land in Millennial Israel will be divided equally between the tribes, and in an east-west way (parallel sections):
The Sovereign Lord said, “These are the boundaries of the land that is to be divided among the twelve tribes … I solemnly promised your ancestors that I would give them possession of this land; now divide it equally among you. (Ezek 47.13-14)
So each tribe will have one portion, starting with Dan in the north and ending with Gad in the south, and all sections run east-west, Fig.3. There are several important points to note here.
The LORD’s Temple
Firstly, there will be a portion of land between the section for the tribe of Judah and the section for the tribe of Benjamin that is “set apart for the LORD” (Ezek 45.1-5, 48.8-22). Why? Recall that one day soon, in the Millennial age, the law will emanate from Zion (Mic 4.2). In the Old Testament, Zion came to mean Jerusalem, and the temple area in particular. This indicates that Christ will rule from some future temple and it’s surrounding area. In fact, Messianic Jews expect such a temple to be built in the near future, and we find a graphic description of such a temple in Ezek 40-48.
So the land “set apart” must include a holy place for the LORD’s temple or sanctuary. It’s precise dimensions are given in Ezek 45.1-5 and it is in the center of this special section of land (see Fig.4). It is the place of Christ’s throne on earth – a glorious place in the midst of the children of Israel. This is the place described as “THE LORD IS THERE” (Ezek 48.35).
Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever (Ezek 43.7)
The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the juniper, the box tree and the cypress together, to beautify the place of My sanctuary; And I shall make the place of My feet glorious (Isa 60.13)
Israeli-Palestinian Problem Solved
We should also ask, “What of the non-Jewish population – those who currently war against the Jews?” In the coming age this conflict is resolved by the LORD. Israel is instructed by God to treat “the stranger” (non-Jews) as one of themselves and let them live in the land:
“… and for the strangers who dwell among you and who bear children among you. They shall be to you as native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall be that in whatever tribe the stranger dwells, there you shall give him his inheritance,” says the Lord God (Ezek 47.22-23)
This of course is nothing new. Thousands of years ago God instructed Moses to tell the people of Israel how they should treat foreigners (non-Jews). They were commanded to love “strangers” and to let them live normal lives amongst them (Deut 10.19):
When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall do him no wrong … (he) … shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself (Lev 19.33,34)
So under the new (Millennial) borders of Israel, God repeats this instruction via the prophet Ezekiel. During an interview in 1989, Arial Sharon was asked: “Do you think of Arabs as your friends, neighbours, your enemies?” He replied:
From my childhood, I have believed Jews and Arabs can live together, and I believe now they should live together. All the rights to this country, to the land of Israel – especially Judea and Samaria – are Jewish … but everyone who lives in the country should have all the rights of the country”. [Ariel Sharon, TIME, April 1989]
Unfortunately, as long as Arab countries refuse to recognize Israel and continue to attack her, such peaceful cohabitation is impossible. But it will happen in the Millennial age under Christ’s rule.
A Border Discrepancy?
At first sight it appears that there is some discrepancy in the northern boundary, since initially God told Abraham this boundary would be the River Euphrates, much further to the north (Gen 15.18). The kingdoms of David and Solomon did indeed stretch from the river of Egypt on the Sinai peninsula (not the Nile), across the Syrian Desert to Tiphsah on the Euphrates, but the Euphrates boundary is absent from Num 34 and Ezek 47.
A possible explanation is that God is giving boundaries for two time periods. At the Second Coming of Christ, link, there will be significant geological changes in the Middle East (Zech 14.4,10)(Isa 11.15,16) and one of these is the drying up of the Euphrates (Rev 16.12). So whilst the Euphrates served as a boundary for David and Solomon, it virtually ceases to be a landmark in the Millennium.
Comparison with Today’s Borders
It is interesting to compare the future biblical borders and land division with the current situation in Israel. Clearly, the future borders include both the Gaza strip and the West Bank! They also include significant parts of present-day Syria i.e. up to Hamath, and probably all of Lebanon. Are the politicians listening?
Some optimists maintain that man will resolve his global problems through technology and education. But after 6,000 years of steady human progression, the global scenario suddenly seems far less certain. Life as we have known it suddenly looks threatened as we see increasing demographic, climatic, environmental, financial, social and political instability. We are even aware of asteroid impact link!
So some ask ‘What will happen at the end of the world?’ Jesus’ disciples asked a similar question:
What will happen at the end of the age? (Mat 24.3)
According to common (futuristic) prophetic interpretation, the ‘end of the age’ and ‘the end of the world’ are actually separated in time by some 1,000 years. It is maintained that we are currently nearing the end of approximately 6,000 years of human government and the start of 1,000 years of peace on the earth – the so-called “Millennial Age” when Christ rules the earth. It is only after this that the end of the world, the physical destruction of the present earth, occurs.
The term ‘millennium’ (Latin for 1,000) does not appear in the Bible, but it is synonymous with the 1,000 period referred to six times in Revelation 20. So we shouldn’t ignore the concept, but what does it really mean? There are differing viewpoints. At Christ’s return some see the end of a millennial period on the earth and the start of a new heaven and a new earth (Postmillennialism). Others argue that the millennial period referred to in scripture is a symbolic description of the church age and that we are now in the Millennium (Amillennialism).
A third viewpoint sees Christ’s coming as the start of the Millennium and the ushering in of a very real and glorious state of this present earth (Premillennialism). This is the so-called thousand year reign of Christ over the earth – the Kingdom Age. The detailed prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah and Revelation support this viewpoint.
A Literal Interpretation: the Final 1000 years of this World
The incredible prophetic detail in books like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation points to a literal and future Millennial Age on this earth. Consider just two examples in Ezekiel 40-48. The future western border of Israel is ‘the Great Sea (the Mediterranean Sea)’, (Ezek 47.20). This must refer to a Millennial earth and not to the new earth since this has no sea (Rev 21.1).
For a second example, ‘living waters’ flow from the new temple and wherever they flow they give life. Half of the waters flow east towards the ‘eastern sea’ (Zech 14.8) and a glance at the map shows the latter to be the northern end of the Dead or Salt Sea (Ezek 47.8, Josh 3.16). The effect is to remove the salt and enable ‘very many fish’ to live there – enabling fishermen to work from Engedi (about half way down the sea shore) to Eneglaim, whilst the southern end of the sea is ‘left for salt’ (Ezek 47.8-11). Why such detail if it is purely symbolic?
Israel in the Millennial Age
Combining many prophecies paints a picture of life in the Millennial Age under the theocracy and monocracy of Christ the King.
Government from Jerusalem
As prophesied, the LORD will be King over all the earth, the government will rest on His shoulders and He will rule the nations with a ‘rod of iron’ from Jerusalem (Isa 9.6, Zech 14.9,17, Rev 2.27). This suggests a somewhat imperfect earth in that the nations sometimes need chastening. The good news is that the corrupt end-time world government will have been crushed and Christ’s kingdom will embrace the whole earth (Dan 2.35):
And the Lord will be King over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one (Zech 14.9)
A Magnificent New Temple
The prophet Micah looked toward the Millennial age when he said ‘the law goes out of Zion’ (Mic 4.2). In the Old Testament Zion came to mean Jerusalem, and the temple area in particular. This implies that Christ will rule from some future temple and it’s surrounding area. We find incredible detail of such a temple in Ezek 40-48 and Messianic Jews expect such a temple to be built in the near future. The whole area around Zion will reflect the glory of the LORD, and nations will stream to Jerusalem to worship:
I will make the place of my feet glorious … the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you (Isa 60.13,14)
The nations will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever more (Ezek 37.28)
Daily Life in the Millennium
Man will still have his daily work but prophecy suggests that work will be biased towards husbandry (farming, Isa 61.5, 65.21, Ezek 48.18,19, Amos 9.13,14) and hunting (fishing, Ezek 47.10, Isa 60.5) rather than industrial manufacturing. It seems that the world (and especially Israel) returns to a pre-industrialized society, to a society where individuals are more self-employed and relaxed (Isa 65.22)(Mic 4.4), to a rural rather than an urban way of life.
The Gentile Nations will soon be Governed from Jerusalem
Why concern ourselves about the future of Jerusalem? Aren’t cities like London or New York more important? In fact, in the foreseeable future, no, they aren’t. Jerusalem is perhaps the most contested city in the world and in the immediate future wars will be fought over who owns Jerusalem. The political war already rages!
The good news is that in the coming age (the so-called ‘Millennial Age’) such issues will be settled and Jerusalem will be at peace. Prophecy says Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) will soon return to rule the nations from Jerusalem, and He will be ‘King over all the Earth’. He returns to the exact place from where He ascended, to the Mount of Olives. At this time, this rather small, rounded mountain opposite Jerusalem and above the Jordan valley splits in two making a great valley (Zech 14.4).
Incidentally, did you know that the Jordan Valley marks the joint of a tectonic-plate fault and that an east-west fault runs through the Mount of Olives, link, link?
Intriguing that maybe, the main point here is that true the Messiah of the Jews – Yeshua – will soon return and rule the earth from Jerusalem, and nations will go up year by year to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. Now that’s even more intriguing!
The Names of Jerusalem foretell her Future
Some biblical names of Jerusalem are prophetic and depict the character and status of Jerusalem in the future – Jerusalem tomorrow. Examples of prophetic names are: “the City of the King” (Ps 48.2), “the City of Righteousness” (Isa 1.26), “the Holy City” (Isa 52.1), “the Throne of the LORD” (Jer 3.17), “the LORD is there” (Ezek 48.35), “the City of Truth” (Zech 8.3). Although Christ walked there 2,000 years ago, He did not come as a “King” with a “throne” – these prophetic names have yet to be realized.
So today, Jerusalem bears only a glimmer of the glory of the city in a future dispensation of time. When we look at Jerusalem in prophecy, we see a more glorious and literal Jerusalem on the Earth. This is during the so-called Millennial Age lasting 1,000 years. Prophecy describes a time when the whole world lives in peace and security as Christ rules as King from Zion (Jerusalem) – a time when the world at last acknowledges Israel as God’s servant and witness (Zech 8.22,23, 14.9-21).
And the Lord will be King over all the earth … the (world) government will rest on His shoulders
(Zech 14.9, Isa 9.6)
For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between nations
Kings are reverenced and respected, and at this time the whole world recognises the call to worship the LORD at Jerusalem:
Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before You
But prophecy also reveals that, in time, this glorious scenario on earth is replaced by the perfect city of the future – the symbolic New Jerusalem embracing the New Earth. So there are really two future Jerusalems seen in prophecy, one literal and one symbolic!
It will Happen Soon
Today we see prophecy being fulfilled as God prepares Israel for such a glorious age on this earth. The nation of Israel is already restored and God’s people are being drawn back from the nations – the ascent to Jerusalem or ‘aliyah’ has been underway for over 100 years. As prophesied, the land of Israel is starting to blossom (Ezek 36.8), the nations rage over Jerusalem, and there are advanced plans for a restored Temple in Jerusalem, link, link. Today, the temple mount in Jerusalem is one of the most holy and important places on the planet since it marks the place where Abraham sealed the covenant with YHVH-God. Will Christ rule the Earth from there? See Rebuilding the Temple.