Ancient Prophetic References to Russia
Eventually, Russia will attack Israel. It won't go well.
I remember in the 1980s when the United States was in the middle of a Cold War with the U.S.S.R. Everyone thought the Soviet Union would play a major role in the events of the end times, and there was even some speculation that Soviet politician Mikhail Gorbachev might be the Antichrist.
But then the Cold War ended. Russia was no longer considered one of the world’s superpowers. And in recent years, the end-times speculation about Russia has felt a little more muted. But Russia continues to be an adversary of the West. And I continue to believe—and the Bible makes it clear—that Russia will play a major role in the events of the end times.
This is on my mind today because I read an article about an Iranian warship spotted in the Baltic Sea on its way to Russia, where it will be one of two Iranian ships participating in a naval parade in St. Petersburg, Russia, celebrating the 325th anniversary of the Russian Navy.
Before that, I’d been immersed in news items about how Iran, Turkey, and Russia were poised to fill the military and diplomatic vacuum opening up in Afghanistan now that U.S. military forces are departing there. I wrote about this in a recent Quick Hits article about the Afghanistan withdrawal and how the Taliban has gained more power and territory as a result.
I say often that Bible prophecy is more up-to-date than tomorrow’s newspaper, and I believe those prophetic passages show that Russia will be involved in the events of the end times.
“The Land of the North”
Some of the most specific scriptures related to the end times have to do with Israel. Here’s one that has been very clearly fulfilled:
“Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that it shall no more be said, ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ 15 but, ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.’ For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers.”—Jeremiah 16:14-15
This is a passage about the restoration of Israel. If you look at a world map and find Israel, then move your finger directly north, your finger will only pass through a few nations: Turkey, Ukraine and then Russia.
Moscow is located almost directly north of Jerusalem.
I believe the “land of the north” in this passage is Russia. God didn’t just deliver His children out of the land of Egypt, but also brought them back to Israel from Russia. From the beginnings of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 until 2002, 1.1 million Russian Jews emigrated from Russia to Israel.
In fact, I gave a leadership conference in Israel a few years ago and our group neglected to bring along a Russian interpreter. We definitely heard about this oversight from attendees. There were hardly any Russia Jews in Israel in the 1990s but by the turn of the century the nation was filled with Messianic Jews from Russia. They wanted to come to our conference but couldn’t because of the language barrier.
God returned His children to Israel from the “Land of the North.” I learned a lesson at that conference and it helped me realize the fulfillment of this prophecy in Jeremiah. God has delivered the Jews from Russia.
“The Prince of Rosh”
More than 2,500 years ago, Ezekiel 38 predicts a war of nations allied against Israel. This war may have seemed farfetched centuries ago, but today reflects a very clear geopolitical reality:
Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. 4 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. 5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; 6 Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you.”—Ezekiel 38:1-6
I’ve written about the Gog-Magog War many times on this site. On a number of occasions I’ve referred to Turkey and Iran in relation to this coming war. But Russia will be a major part of it as well, leading these nations in an attempt to seize Israel.
In the passage above, “the prince of Rosh” could very well be a reference to the leader of Russia. Rosh was the ancient name for the land we now know as Russia, and some scholars believe “Meshech” could refer to Moscow. Others have speculated that the “prince” is a direct reference to Vladimir Putin, who very well could lead Russia and other countries like Iran (Persia) against Israel.
Remember, Russia and Iran are aligned militarily. Russia became a key trading partner for Iran due to the economic sanctions of western nations, and they are allies in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Iran purchases many of its weapons systems from Russia. Iran has an embassy in Moscow and Russia has an embassy in Tehran.
I remember in 2012 when Russia warned Israel against any possible military scenario against Iran. Russia’s deputy foreign minister at the time described any action against Iran as “catastrophic for the region and for the whole system of international relations” and suggested that Israel “should consider the consequences of such action for themselves.” Those are stark words of warning.
In other words, should Iran try to develop a nuclear weapon and Israel defend herself against it, she should be prepared also to face Russia.
“A hook in your jaw”
Russia has further incentive to attack Israel beyond an alliance with Iran. Israel is at the crossroads of the world, with a major Mediterranean seaport and massive deposits of natural gas. Israel is building a pipeline to the EU to compete with oil-rich Russia—and therefore reducing Europe’s dependence on petroleum products from Russia.
In other words, Israel is going to hurt one of Russia’s major sources of income. If Russia could take control over Israel, it could have those billions to itself. As resources get depleted, that’s a recipe for a future invasion, with Russia and Iran teaming up to plunder Israel.
When this happens, however, it won’t go well for Iran or Russia. Through Ezekiel, God says, “I’m going to put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out” (Ezekiel 38:4). In the next chapter, the Lord says “I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh” and vows to drag them down against the mountains of Israel, where they will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:1-2).
What does this mean? In the ancient world, a master would take a stick with a hook on the end of it and insert it into the jaw of a donkey. This forced the animal to follow and obey. Russia is the donkey in this scenario. God is giving Russia this warning: “If you think you are going to destroy Israel, you should know I am in control of you.” When He’s ready, He will lead Russia down to the mountains of Israel and destroy them:
“Then the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. 8 Surely it is coming, and it shall be done,” says the Lord God. “This is the day of which I have spoken.”—Ezekiel 39:7-8
That same passage says it will take seven months to bury the dead and seven years for Israel clear the debris. This Russian-led army will be decimated. Israel will route her enemies.
This regional war is coming and will set the stage for the seven-year covenant with the Antichrist—a possible response to the Gog-Magog War—followed by the events of the Tribulation.
Iran may be blustering about Israel on a daily basis, but don’t forget that Russia is standing right there in the background, ready to move.
These wars are coming. The alliances are falling into place. The geopolitics of Ezekiel’s ancient prophecy align with the realities of today’s world.
As you see this news on a regular basis and hear of conflicts continuing to intensify, know that they represent further steps toward fulfillment of prophecies made thousands of years ago.