Our attention is centered upon Ezekiel 38. This chapter, which is often linked with Daniel 11, has been a particular focus for Bible students in all ages. And no wonder, for it is one of the most dramatic chapters in the Bible. It portrays God’s people of Israel gathered back to their own land in the latter days, and then being attacked by a large confederate army led by Gog of the land of Magog. The main invading force comes from the north. The AV says they come from “the north parts”, but more recent translations render this as “far north” or “the recesses of the north” or “uttermost parts of the north”.
Over the last 400 years, as printed Bibles became more readily available in many languages, there has been enormous speculation as to the identity of Gog, and the nations he would lead into this conflict, and the other nations that would be aligned with him. The level of Bible interest was perhaps at its highest in the western world in the 18th and 19th centuries; this coincided with the time of the powerful czars that ruled Russia from the time of Peter the Great, who came to power in 1689. From then on Russia was a country to be reckoned with. It is natural that Bible scholars of the period should consider Russia as a prime candidate for the “King of the North.” Historical and Scriptural evidence was adduced and a lively debate followed. Bible commentaries in the 19th century reflect this debate and the differing conclusions.
The aim of this article is to revisit this debate. We are particularly interested in the evidence on which the conclusions were based. It may also be that there is clearer evidence today, at least historically, than early brethren had available to them. They were understandably very keen to arrive at a conclusion about such a key chapter on prophecy, especially since they thought it was likely to be fulfilled in their lifetimes. It is natural that, in efforts to reach their conclusions, they would have assessed and taken into account the most current political situations and policies of the nations, giving very considerable weight to those immediate circumstances. We might not like to admit that this was (and is) done, but rather that the Bible only is the basis for prophetic interpretations; however, the evidence is compelling. In the case of the return of Israel to their homeland, by contrast, the scripture testimony was plenteous and unambiguous, and so, despite the lack of outward signs of such a return, our brethren of 150 years ago were confident in their expectations. But the identification of the King of the North was and is a different matter!
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Author: David Caudery
Keywords: Russia, Russians, Soviet Union, Tubal, Tubalsk, Moscow, Gog, Magog, King of the north, Land of Magog, Rosh, Prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, Meshech
Bible reference(s): Genesis 10:2, Daniel 11:6-8, Daniel 11:1, Daniel 11:13, Daniel 11:15, Daniel 11:40, Ezekiel 38, Rev. 20:8
Source: “Russia in the Bible?,” The Agora.
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