I’ve been writing on the subject of eschatology (the study of the last things) for a long time and countering the argument that a near end-time apocalypse is around the corner. Over the years I have participated in innumerable debates, written ten books on the subject, and published nearly 100 articles. If there’s anyone new to this subject, I can assure you that there’s nothing new in what prophetic speculators are saying. It’s all been said before with similar results. They’ve all been wrong.
In the past week former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and political pitchman Glenn Beck have brought up the subject of Bible prophecy. The following is from Raw Story:
“Michele Bachmann is fantasizing about the apocalypse again — but it’s hard to tell if she’s trying to stop it or enthusiastically cheering it on.
“The former Republican congresswoman appeared Saturday on the ‘end times’ radio program hosted by Jan Markell and Eric Barger, who she warned that the Syrian civil war was setting up the biblical battle of Armageddon, reported Right Wing Watch.
See related article: “Jan Markell’s End-Time Hysteria Conference.”
“Bachmann predicted world leaders were poised to grant ‘legitimacy to the Islamic State,’ and she said Russian and Iranian military intervention in Syria was establishing grounds for a future invasion of Israel to seize its energy resources — in accordance with the biblical prophecy.
“‘I believe that they are positioning themselves so that someday they could invade Israel to be able to take over the vast stores of oil and natural gas that Israel is controlling,’ she said.”
Bachmann is basing her opinion on a faulty reading of Ezekiel 38 and 39. The battle described in these two chapters written around 600 BC is fought with ancient weapons: bows and arrows (39:3, 9), clubs, shields, and swords (38:4-5; 39:23). Horses and chariots are the mode of transportation (39:20).
See related article: “Why Michele Bachmann is Wrong about Her Claim that ‘Jesus is Coming Soon.’”
If this is the type of battle that’s going to be fought in the future, as Bachmann claims, what does Russia need with oil and natural gas? And how would Russian troops transport these energy commodities back to Russia with horses?
Israel’s enemy wants gold, silver, cattle, and goods (Ezek. 38:12-13). There is nothing about oil or natural gas. When you compare Ezekiel with Ezra 1:4, you’ll notice a striking parallel:
“Every survivor, at whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.”
When Israel returned to their land after their Assyrian and Babylonian captivity, they were loaded down with the very items that are mentioned in Ezekiel 38:13. Israel’s enemies wanted their plundered spoils back (39:10).
Ezekiel’s prophecy isn’t about modern-day Russia and Israel. It’s a battle that has already been fought.
By the way, the Hebrew word rosh, which is found in Ezekiel 38:2-3 and 39:1 does not refer to Russia. The Hebrew word rosh — used more than 600 times in the Bible — means “head” or “chief” (as in Rosh Hashanah, literally “head of the year”) and has nothing to do with Russia. It’s not “the prince of rosh,” as some translations have it, but the “chief prince of Meshech.”
Russia isn’t spelled Rosh in Hebrew but Rusiyah, as you can see from the chart.
Because this type of interpretive nonsense is so pervasive and counterproductive to fixing the problems we face as a nation, I’ve written a book on the subject (see above of which I do not receive any royalties): The Gog and Magog End-Time Alliance. It’s a detailed study showing that Ezekiel’s prophecy was fulfilled 2600 years ago. It’s a great way to inoculate yourself against prophetic speculation.
Then there’s Glenn Beck who has decided to read the multi-volume Left Behind series to his children and move to Israel. If beck knew anything about the Left Behind series, he would know that Israel ends up getting the worst of the end times with two-thirds of those living in Israel being slaughtered (Zech. 13:8).
Why bother trying to fix what’s wrong with the world if it’s all leading to a soon and inevitable end? The history of prophetic date-setting has been disastrous. It’s made people question the reliability of the Bible and has led millions of Christians to believe that their only hope is to be taken out of this world to heaven in an event called the “rapture.”
Hal Lindsey and Chuck Smith assured their readers in the 1970s that it would all end before 1988. Yet, here we are nearly 30 years later with some of the same people making the same end-time predictions and waiting for an ending that never comes while the forces of darkness move ahead unabated.