— President Trump (@POTUS) January 21, 2017
History repeats itself. In his inaugural speech, Donald J. Trump’s words held a familiar ring… like that of Octavius (or, Octavian, the biblical Augustus) when vying for office against those who opposed him after the Second Triumverate’s demise. Octavian reinstituted only a façade of the republic.
Leave the liberal democrat protest smokescreen aside, and consider our current context within history parallels that of ancient Rome quite heavily. The once mighty empire was in throws, the people without hope and diminished. Just as Octavian claimed to be a rescuer of the republic from those who had forgotten the people and from those who had held power too long to their own advantage; even so, Mr. Trump’s inaugural address was filled with the same. Is this a good thing? It depends on your view of history, both ancient Roman and USA.
Briefly, the political notion of the USA was birthed from a revival of Greco-Roman ideals during the European Renaissance’s Enlightenment Era… for which there are many negative consenquences, and which, has been marked by the spread of democratic empire globally. Withstanding, Trump states in his rallying speech that we Americans all share “one glorious destiny.” Is that an allusion to the global Manifest Destiny doctrine? Possibly and probably so.
Also, the Bible foretells a revived Roman empire in the books of Daniel and Revelation. Is the USA that empire? No, it is a brooding nest for the hatching of it. The USA is a great sociopolitical experiment to test and prove and give rise to what Philosophers, USA Founders & Statesmen have called the “perfect man(kind)” or “perfect society” but which the Bible calls the Beast (Empire). The USA has already played and also very soon will play a major role in establishing the Final Gentile Empire to rule Jerusalem and the world from what was ancient Rome’s territorial expanse—the lands surrounding the Mediterranean. The United Nation’s EU and UfM already rule this expanse via their unified supranational territory.
What makes Trump so very like his ancient predessesor Octavian is Trump’s policies, particularly his desire for a global military security force, which would replace NATO. Octavian called this Pax Romana— “Peace of Rome” or “Roman Peace.” What is more alarming, the European Union (with the Union for the Mediterranean) clearly wishes for the same and is taking measures to establish it.
Lastly, and given all of the above, consider that DJT wants to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. The only reason for such a move would be an effort to establish (in the eye of the world and in practical policy) the USA as the foremost protector of Israel and the peace provider of the Middle East, some of the same tactics used by Octavian and emperors after him, Titus especially.
History is indeed repeating itself, but prophecy is unfolding.
These days, Christians everywhere face persecution for their beliefs. One example is in the name “Christmas.” Non-believers, let alone overt pagans, do not like the name. For example, the U.K. just decided that it’s ok to call say Christmas, …for now. But others are enduring lawsuits over display of a “Christmas tree.” Nativity scenes are just as contested, if not moreso.
Within Christendom, Christmas is also controvercial, due to its inaccuracy concerning the actual birth of Jesus / Yeshua, and also because December 25th evidently has pagan roots.
A few weeks ago, Lamb’s Harbinger posted an article by Dr. David Reagan and Dr. James Ya’akov Hugg at Lamb & Lion Ministries. The article asks the question, “When was Jesus Born?” It most precisely uses data from the Bible record as well as historical data to arrive at an accurate date of Feast of Tabernacles (late September / early October)… in the years B.C. 5-4. [The Jewish calendar runs through 2 years, similar to the way a modern school calendar spans 2 years. See timeline below, all credit due Dr. James Ya’akov Hugg]
Now, researchers and Christian apologists such as Lenny Esposito and Sean McDowell have argued for Christmas (observed December 25th) as having truly Christian origins. The articles are found linked below:
- No, Christmas is Not Based on a Pagan Holiday
- Christmas, the Solstice and December 25th
- The Date of Saturnalia Doesn’t Line Up with Christmas
Mr. Esposito goes to great lengths, exhuming ancient records of the early church and 3rd Century Rome—which precede the time of Constantine—in order to prove that Christmas is not based off of Pagan religious festivals such as Saturnalia, Ophelia, Winter Solstice & Sigillaria. Mr. Esposito’s research features a pièce de résistance. He shows that the Roman way of calculating months places these feasts from December 17th – 23rd (3-7 days). From that, he asserts no early Christians could have been copying a pagan holiday, when first celebrating what we now call Christmas. Amid these arguments, Mr. Esposito also inserts that Dies Natalis Solis Invictus—a Roman celebration of Sun worship (at the Winter Solstice, “birth of the new sun”)—began to be celebrated on December 25th, 354 A.D. From that, Mr. Esposito gathers,
the charge of Christians chose December 25 in order to “Christianize” or even just appease a pagan populous is weak at best.
One is tempted to see it Lenny Esposito’s way. His argumentation is fairly persuasive. However, there are 2 major flaws with his reasoning.
- Mr. Esposito completely omits any mention of the biblical data presented by scholars such as Dr. Hugg and Dr. Reagan. He instead relies almost solely on tradition, going so far as to cite teachings from Augustine (who admits he quotes tradition) that mystically align Jesus’ conception and birth (“Christmas”) to his death and resurrection (“Easter”)… on a Roman [equinox and solstice] calendar. Even ancient tradition is still tradition. As biblicists, we place Scriptural data above tradition, even from the 3rd Century A.D.
- Mr. Esposito fails to account for variances in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and also, astronomical variances, such as shift in earth’s axes and the adjustment of Solstices.
For the first error, Dr. Reagan and Dr. Hugg precisely and accurately prove the biblical data is accurate for reaching an appropriate date.
For the second error, I offer the following. Calculating Winter Solstice to the time of 1 A.D. – 48 A.D., [as far back as calculators generally tabulate] reveals December 22nd and 23rd as the dates between which Winter Solstice oscillated at the time of Jesus’ life and the first 15-20 years of the early Church. Since Mr. Esposito concedes that Saturnalia and Sigillaria center around this Solstice and last a total of 3-7 days, one can see December 25th falls directly at the Mid-point of the pagan festival set. If we forward those calculations to the time of the 3rd Century A.D., we arrive at December 21st and 22nd as the placement of Winter Solstice… still plenty of time for December 25th to fall within the 3-7 day set of pagan festivals.
Taking this more nearly accurate astronomical data into account, it is easy to say that December 25th was accepted by 3rd Century, pre-Constantine, “paganized” Christianity as a date that would consistently fall within the pagan winter festivals of Rome. Mr. Esposito takes the view that Christianity always was prevailing in Roman society. That is simply not historically honest. The first 10 emperors of the Church’s existence persecuted them repeatedly. Amid those persecutions were attempts to pollute pure Christianity. The Apostles attest to these kinds of onslaughts in their letters.
Genuine Christians have never attempted to “Christianize” anything pagan, according to the biblical command found in 1 Corinthians 6:16-18. However, pagans have always tried to “paganize” Christianity. While Lenny Esposito correctly states “the charge [that] Christians chose December 25 in order to “Christianize” or even just appease a pagan populous is weak at best,” he also needs to consider another possibility. From 30’s A.D. to 354 A.D., Rome took advantage of 320+ years worth of time to persecute, distort and pollute genuine Christianity. Given that view, is it not possible that Romanization and paganizing led to a divergent Christendom? That false Church began its compromise by complying with Saturnalia and Sigillaria in early centuries… and eventually (by 354 A.D.) embraced the pagan Dies Natalis Solis Invictus date of December 25 as the commemoration of the birth of Christ.
2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
Jeremiah 10:2-4 (KJV)
All this being said, I am careful not to judge the motives of current-day believers who celebrate the incarnation of Yeshua / Jesus on December 25th. As a very good friend and wise brother says,
I think it would be good for us, as a church, to move away from using the word “Christmas” to describe the day in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Much like using the word “Easter” has become synonymous with bunnies distributing eggs, Christmas has become synonymous with obsessive self-centered commercialism that has nothing to do with celebrating the birth of Jesus….
Paul said “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days” (Colossians 2:16)….
There are certainly some parallels that could be drawn regarding an ancient pagan rituals that include similar things we see in what has become traditional Christmas customs. Does that mean that the redeemed must abandon any and all practices that some pagan group decides that they want to include in their rituals? Certainly not. When researching several years ago, I could not find any pagan group that claimed December 25th as a day to worship their false gods/idols or conduct satanic rituals. It doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen in the past, I think that it most certainly did. I am just stating that I couldn’t find any contemporary pagan groups claiming the day….
It is important to note that all of the Earth and all things on & in the Earth were created by God. While God created all things… Satan created nothing. The evil one is an imposter, thief, a liar & deceiver, and while wickedly inventive and resourceful; the devil is not a creator. Satan, while originally cognizant of the truth of God, has promulgated the body of lies he spins to humankind for so long that I would not be surprised if he hasn’t somehow convinced himself that the lies are truth. Why else would he continue to rage against God if he believed he was truly doomed? We know that it is simply Satan’s nature to lie about God’s truth and elevate his own prominence and power while promoting his rebellious agenda.
My point is this; if pagans claim a day of the year to hold celebrations, has God somehow lost the day or is no longer in control of the day? Is the day no longer HIS? Certainly not. My guess is that most Christians would say that they celebrate Christ’s incarnation on and or around what has become known as the Christmas holiday season.
Just because several centuries ago some pagans used a day in December for their worship of idols and false gods, it does not mean that Christians cannot celebrate the birth of our Lord on whatever day(s) they choose. There is nothing inherently sacred or evil about any particular day. It’s what is in an individual’s heart that defiles him or her.
The Apostle Paul—in 1 Corinthians 8—clarifies that there is nothing evil in meat itself, but placed the prohibition on eating such meat which came from the pagan temple only IF it offended a weaker brother. He said they should abstain in order not to offend or put a stumbling block before a young Christian or the Jews who thought is was wrong. The meat itself was not tainted because it came from pagan temple. That is a substantial lesson to be grasped.
The principle God is teaching is clear. A specific day of the year is not sinful. There is nothing evil about the 25th day of December. If true believers want to honor and worship the Lord on Dec. 25 and remember His birth there is no scripture that prohibits it. True Christian believers are not involved in sinful behavior… on December 25 or any other day of celebration.
When born-again, Blood-washed believers celebrate Dec. 25, they are celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus (even though you and I both know that He was born around late September or early October)!
We see Sha’ul (Paul) writes that the mature balance in such matters is to “become all things to all men that by all means [we] might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). We should be ready to change custom, cultural habits, societal status, and dietary restrictions for the Good News’ sake, so long as these do not lead us to worship in pagan ways and thought, or join with them in their worship (2 Cor. 6:14).
In conclusion, this is a time when Christians are persecuted everywhere. Christmas is so closely associated with celebrating Yeshua / Jesus as the incarnate Messiah that whole nations and the international community are trying to decide if it’s ok to say “Christmas.” Since this is a matter of being salt and light—a chance to preach Jesus; and since no pagans (besides the apostate Roman Catholic Church) claim Christmas, I will not abandon celebrating Christmas. But, if a believing brother or sister think celebrating Christmas is wrong for them, then I will do everything in my power to show deference by not celebrating in their presence or forcing them to celebrate.
According to Luke 1:24-26, Mary conceived Jesus in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist. This means that Jesus was born 15 months after the angel Gabriel appeared to Elizabeth’s husband, Zacharias, and informed him that his wife would bear a child.
We know from the Talmud and other sources that the division of Abijah served as priests during the second half of the fourth month of the Jewish religious calendar — which would have put it in late June (the Jewish religious calendar begins in March with Passover).
Fifteen months later would place the birth of Jesus in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. That would be in the fall of the year, in either late September or early October. His conception, not His birth, would have occurred in December of the previous year.
The seventh month of the Jewish calendar is the month of the Feast of Tabernacles. John 1:14, speaking of Jesus as the Word, says: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” The word “dwelt” that is used here is the Greek word “skenoo” which literally means “to tabernacle”!
So, when God came to earth to tabernacle among Men it appears that He timed His arrival in the Bethlehem manger to coincide with the Feast of Tabernacles. That was only appropriate, for the Feast of Tabernacles is the most joyous of all the Jewish feasts. It is, in fact, their feast of thanksgiving.
The total meaning of that feast will not be fulfilled until the Lord returns again to tabernacle among Men for a thousand years while He reigns over the earth from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. Isn’t the Word of God marvelous?
It’s About Time:
When was Jesus Born?
By Dr. James Ya’akov Hugg
Editor’s Note: James W. Hugg, PhD, has been a disciple of the Messiah since 1971 and has been a member of the Lamb and Lion Board of Trustees since 1982. James has been active in leading worship and teaching youth and adult Bible classes. He has been involved since 1989 in Messianic Judaism, working with Jews for Jesus in street evangelism, and serving as cantor in several Messianic Jewish congregations. James holds dual citizenship in the USA and Israel (where he is called Ya’akov), and dual membership in Northway Fellowship Church, Clifton Park, NY, and Seed of Abraham Messianic Jewish Congregation in Albany, NY. Dr. Hugg is a senior research physicist at the General Electric Global Research Center in Niskayuna, NY, where he designs molecular imaging scanners, including SPECT, PET, and MRI. Dr. Hugg earned his doctorate in nuclear physics from Stanford University. He is married, and he and his wife, Shoshanna, have two children.
I am a research physicist who escaped the slavery of devotion to the atheist religion of secular humanism and the evolutionary worldview. I have investigated a number of biblical topics related in some way to better understanding “time” and I want to share some of my faith-building findings with you.
God created time “In the beginning…” and placed humans into this temporal world to separate the sheep from the goats in preparation for the eternal world where we sheep will live in His presence. So the title of my article “It’s about Time” has a double meaning: I want to write about topics related to questions of time, and the expression “it’s about time” reminds us that our Lord and Savior will soon return to conclude this phase of world history and to establish His Millennial Kingdom on earth.
The Christmas Tradition
We celebrate the birth of Messiah (Christ) on Christmas (from Old English, meaning “coming of Christ”), the 25th day of December. This date was first observed in 336 AD, some 24 years after the Roman emperor Constantine established Christianity as the state religion. Apparently, Pope Julius I chose to replace the pagan winter solstice feast in honor of Mithra, the “Unconquered Sun,” that had been officially recognized by the emperor Aurelian in 274 AD. From Rome, the new feast celebrating the birthday of the “Sun of Righteousness” (Malachi 4:2) spread to all other churches (except the Armenian church) over the following century.
As many Christians are aware, the modern Christmas celebration combines many strands of tradition including the ancient Roman pagan festival of Saturnalia (merrymaking, exchange of presents), the old Germanic midwinter customs (Yule log, decorating evergreen trees), the tradition of Francis of Assisi (displaying the crib, or crèche of Jesus), the medieval feast of St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas in Dutch, hence “Santa Claus”), and the British sending of greeting cards (1840s). The Puritan pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas because of its many unbiblical associations. The holiday was officially recognized in the United States in 1870.
The Dutch Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) is the origin of the North American Santa Claus. According to legend, Sinterklaas makes his rounds on December 5, Saint Nicholas’s Eve. Dressed in a catholic bishop’s robes, Sinterklaas rides through the streets distributing sweets to the children. According to some versions of the popular legend, another figure accompanies him named Black Peter, who carries a whip with which to chastise naughty children.
The Historical Evidence
I think it is fair and not overly critical for us to admit that the date chosen by Constantine and Pope Julius I to celebrate the birth of Jesus was not based on good historical or biblical evidence. Let’s look for that overlooked evidence in the historical account of the birth of Jesus recorded by Dr. Luke.
1) Our first clue is found in Luke 1:5. Here is how it reads in the Complete Jewish Bible:1 “In the days of Herod, King of Y’hudah (Judea), there was a cohen (Jewish priest) named Z’kharyah (Zacharias) who belonged to the Aviyah (Abijah) division.” The service of the Abijah division of priests was scheduled for the last two weeks of the fourth month of the Jewish religious calendar (15-29 Tammuz, June-July), according to the Talmud (rabbinic commentaries) and Qumran sources.2
Dr. Luke tells us that Zacharias was serving in the 2nd Jewish Temple in Jerusalem when he was chosen to enter the holy place to burn incense outside the Holy of Holies. The archangel Gavri’el (Gabriel) appeared to Zacharias and revealed that he and his barren wife Elisheva (Elizabeth) would have a son named Yochanan (John) who would precede and prepare the way for the Messiah. He returned home after his two-week service, then his wife conceived, as Gabriel had prophesied. The earliest date for John’s conception would be the 1st of Av (July).
2) In the 6th month (Kislev-Tevet, December) of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Gabriel visited Miryam (Mary) in Nazareth to announce: “You will become pregnant, you will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Yeshua (Jesus, meaning “God’s salvation”)” (Luke 1:31, CJB). Gabriel also revealed to Mary that her relative, Elizabeth, was six-months pregnant. Elizabeth’s sixth month included the celebration of the Jewish feast of Hanukkah, the “Feast of the Dedication” (John 10:22) connected with the rededication of the temple after the Maccabean revolt. Without delay, Mary hurried to visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:39), about a week’s journey on foot from Nazareth.
3) When Mary arrived, Elizabeth greeted her: “How blessed is the child in your womb!” (Luke 1:42). From this, we conclude that there was no delay between the time of Gabriel’s announcement to Mary and the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit. We can infer that the same was true for the conception of John. At most, only a few days passed between the announcement and the fulfillment of each of these two angelic prophecies.
4) Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months, until John was born (probably during Pesach or Passover, 15-21 Nisan, April), circumcised on the eighth day, and given his prophesied name (Luke 1:57-80). One of the long-held Jewish traditions is that the prophet Elijah will return at Passover (Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6). Gabriel had prophesied to Zacharias that John would come “in the spirit and power of Eliyahu (Elijah)” (Luke 1:17, CJB).
5) Mary returned to Nazareth, where an angel (probably Gabriel again) reassured her betrothed husband: “Yosef (Joseph), son of David, do not be afraid to take Miryam (Mary) home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Yeshua [which means ADONAI (God) saves], because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21, CJB). Emperor Augustus ordered a census that required Joseph to take Mary to Beit-Lechem (Bethlehem) where she gave birth to Jesus (probably during Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, 15-21 Tishrei, September-October). “The Word [Jesus] became a human being and lived [tabernacled] with us” (John 1:14).
6) The night of the birth of Jesus, an angel (probably the archangel Michael) appeared with the angelic armies of heaven to announce the birth to the shepherds of Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-15). Perhaps there is a long forgotten connection with Michaelmas (“coming of Michael”) Day, the feast of Michael the Archangel, which is celebrated in some traditions (particularly in the United Kingdom) on the 29th of September. Michael is the leader of the angelic armies who hurls Lucifer (Satan, the Devil) down from heaven because of his treachery (Revelation 12:7).
7) Joseph and Mary presented Jesus at the Jewish Temple on the 40th day after His birth (probably late Cheshvan, early November) for the ceremony of Pidyon HaBen (redemption of the firstborn son). There He received the blessings of Shim’on (Simeon) and Hannah, two righteous Jewish prophets (Luke 2:22-38).
8) Magi from the east came (probably in Winter) to inquire of King Herod about the birth of Jesus. The head cohanim (Jewish priests) admitted that Messiah must be born in Bethlehem, so the Magi went there (three miles from Jerusalem) and found Joseph, Mary, and Jesus living in a house. They worshipped Him and gave Him gifts, then obeyed an angelic warning (probably Gabriel) to avoid revealing to King Herod the location of Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12).
9) After the Magi departed Bethlehem, an angel (probably Gabriel) warned Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape King Herod’s attempt to murder Jesus. They left that same night (Matthew 2:13-15). King Herod ordered the slaughter of all boys in Bethlehem up to age two, but Joseph escaped with his family to Egypt (possibly the Sinai peninsula), where they remained until Herod’s death (Matthew 2:16-18). I assume that Herod included a margin of error in calculating how old the newborn Messiah, King of the Jews, would be when he ordered the murder of all Bethlehem boys less than two years old.
10) After King Herod’s death, an angel (probably Gabriel) appeared to Joseph to tell him it was safe to return home to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23). The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus recorded the death of the evil King Herod in the spring of 4 BC.3 I assume that Herod did not live long after the slaughter of the innocent boys of Bethlehem, and thus that the family of Jesus did not stay long in Egypt. Therefore, we can place the birth of Jesus on a fairly well constrained timeline.
Determining the Date
If Jesus was born during Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, (which began the 29th of September) in 5 BC, as we deduced from the evidence above, then His conception was probably during Hanukkah, possibly as late as the 25th of December in 6 BC. It is also possible that the Magi visited Bethlehem around the 25th of December in 5 BC, when Jesus would have been almost 3 months old.
‘Anno Domini’ (AD) dating was adopted in Western Europe during the 8th century. In 525 AD when the monk Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Little, meaning humble) calculated the year of Jesus’ birth, he missed by about 3 years. We now have evidence that Herod died in 4 BC, probably less than a year after Jesus was born.
Does it really matter when Jesus was born or when we celebrate Christmas? In some ways, no, it doesn’t matter — after all, if it was critically important to know precisely when Jesus was born, God would have told us He was born on a particular day and month and year. We have the freedom as believers to celebrate, or not to celebrate, the birth of our Lord and Savior on any day of our choosing (Romans 14:1-12).
Christmas is not a commandment. It is far more important HOW we celebrate (“remember the reason for the season”) than WHEN. Let us not give or receive condemnation for observing the 25th of December, rather let us celebrate that God’s Son became fully human and lived a perfect life so that He could become our perfect sacrifice and conquer sin and death in our place.
But, in another way, it IS important to consider the evidence God gave us and to place it in a proper Jewish context so that we can better understand the foundation of our faith. For example, the information I have presented in this article makes it clear that an important prophecy about the Messiah was fulfilled in the life of Jesus. That prophecy is found in Genesis 49:10 — “The scepter will not pass from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his legs, until Shiloh [Messiah] comes, and it is He whom the peoples will obey.”Second Temple rabbis understood this as a Messianic prophecy.
In about 7 AD, the Romans abolished the power of the Jewish Sanhedrin Council in Judah to pronounce the death penalty.4 Furthermore, Herod was the first king of Israel who was not a descendent of the tribe of Judah. However, Jesus had already been born in 5 BC, before the scepter and staff (power) departed from Judah.
There is a deeper meaning and real significance to the conclusion that Jesus was probably born during the Feast of Tabernacles, thus bringing partial fulfillment to the prophetic type of that important feast established by God. Tabernacles (booths) are temporary, insecure dwellings and emphasize our reliance on God’s grace. So also the temporary human body in which the Son of God dwelled among us demonstrated what total reliance on God can accomplish.
The ultimate fulfillment of the prophetic significance of the Feast of Tabernacles will occur when Jesus returns in glory and majesty to tabernacle among us as King of kings and Lord of lords. Maranatha!
World War is currently upon humanity. In America, there is a general feeling of peacetime apart from this war. Life goes on relatively undisturbed, but that feeling lies. Facts tell us quite another story, and the only true hope for these world events is found within Bible prophecy, which predicted the rise of this global war. It also predicts how it will end. The prediction of the current global war is found in Ezekiel 37-39.
Yet, how can we be sure the current world war is the one described in Ezekiel 38? If the timing & description of the current war match that found in Ezekile 38, then it is the war. Some specialists & scholars—both Hassidic Jew and Christian alike—call this the War of Gog & Magog (ex. Joel Rosenberg & here http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/76487/war-gog-magog-happening-eyes-middle-east-europe-says-rabbi/). Still others, such as Bill Salus and David Reagan assert this cannot be the War of Gog & Magog, because a Psalm 83 war (Arab – Israeli) has not yet occurred. Let’s investigate whether the current war meets that described in Ezekiel 38, and whether there is a solution to Psalm 83’s occurrence:
The Timing & Setting
In the latter years you will go against the land that is restored from war, the land whose people were gathered from many peoples upon the mountains of Israel, which had been a continual waste. Its people were brought out from the peoples and now dwell securely, all of them. 9 You will advance, coming on like a storm. You will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your hordes, and many peoples with you. Ezekiel 38:8-9
All scholars who take this prophecy literally also agree that we now live in the time of “the latter years.” This fact is undisputed within Hassidic Judaism and conservative evangelical Christianity.
The prophecy also mentions the setting: “a land restored from war, the land whose people were gathered from many peoples upon the mountains of Israel, which had been a continual waste.” This can be nothing other than the modern nation of Israel, which gained nationhood as a result of WWII and after more than 2000 yrs. of desolation and diaspora.
Conditions of the Setting
About the condition of the setting, scholars disagree.
Have the people of modern Israel—all of them—dwelled securely? When one considers that the Jewish people found homeland, having been slaughtered and then spewed out of WWII nations like Nazi Germany, Bolshevik-Communist Russia, etc… yes, I would say the people of Israel have dwelled in the same relative security, which all the other League of Nations countries have dwelled in since the end of WWII. League of Nations, NATO, USA, UN have historically (up until recently) either helped protect Israel or helped Israel protect itself. But, the alliances of Gog & Magog will change all of that and will “come in like a storm….”
Secondly, concerning the condition of the setting, scholars disagree on the description of Israel. It is prophesied in Ezekiel 38 that the king leading the Gog & Magog war against Israel will say to himself:
‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having no bars or gates,’ 12 to seize spoil and carry off plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and the people who were gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell at the center of the earth. Ezekiel 38:11-12
Is Israel currently a land of post-war, unwalled villages? Compared to ancient times, absolutely yes. But even by modern standards, yes! The Kibbutzim have continued along side of Rivivim, and furthermore Area C and other living developments are not walled. These newly built Israeli villages are the unwalled dwellings which are so hotly contested by Israel’s enemies—allies with Gog & Magog. Areas A, B & C and the Negev were indeed once waste places, but they are now flourishing, literally and figuratively, in Israel—the center of the lands.
What about the Arab – Israeli War of Psalm 83?
There are those who contend that the current global war is not Ezekiel’s Gog & Magog but Psalm 83’s Arab-Israeli war. Many evidences show these good scholars are wrong. More precisely said, these scholars are correct about the necessity of Psalm 83’s war preceding Ezekiel 38’s war. However, they fail to see Psalm 83 as already having been fulfilled.
The Arab-Israeli War of 1948 fulfilled Psalm 83. It meets the descriptions and conditions. What is more, it sets up motive for alliance against Israel between all those mentioned in Ezekiel 38.
The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006 was but the forefront of the current Gog & Magog world war.
The scale of the current global war, stemming from the Middle East is, well … global and not isolated to an Arab-Israeli war. From July 8 – August 9 of this year, many factors erupted, indicating this is indeed a world war, replete with clearly formed sides/alliances and warfronts. The alliances which are against Israel match Ezekiel 38 perfectly.
Given the descriptions of timing and setting for the Ezekiel 38 War of Gog & Magog; and given the fulfillment of Psalm 83 in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War (which sets up the current war), it is not merely speculation to say the current war facing the globe at present is the Gog & Magog War of Ezekiel 38.