The Error of Replacement Theology, Has the Church replaced Israel?

The Error of Replacement Theology

Has the Church replaced Israel?


Star of David
The argument that the Church is the fulfillment of all the Bible's kingdom prophecies is not the only error of Amillennialism. An equally serious one is the assertion that the Church has replaced Israel. This is called Replacement Theology.

The argument usually goes like this: "Since the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah, God rejected them. He poured out His wrath upon them, scattered them all over the earth, and transferred the promises made to them to 'Spiritual Israel,' the Church. God has no purpose left for the Jews. The re-establishment of modern day Israel is, therefore, merely an accident of history with no spiritual meaning."

This viewpoint is held by most of the old mainline, liberal denominations like the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians. It is also held by some conservative groups like the Churches of Christ and the Church of God of Anderson, Indiana. Advocates of the view can even be found among Southern Baptists, although most Baptists would reject it.
I would contend that the view is thoroughly unbiblical.

The Jews' Position with God

There is no doubt that God poured out His wrath on the Jewish people in the First Century in response to their rejection of His Son, Jesus, as their Messiah. And there is no doubt they have remained under the discipline of God to this day. But that does not mean they have been rejected by God.

God loves the Jewish people, even in their rebellion. In the everlasting Abrahamic Covenant, God told Abraham that He would bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse them (Genesis 12:3). In like manner, He told the prophet Zechariah that he who touches Israel, "touches the apple of His eye" (Zechariah 2:8).

Isaiah proclaimed that God could never forget Israel because He has them "inscribed on the palms of His hands" (Isaiah 49:14-16). Jeremiah stated that the Jewish people would exist as a nation forever (Jeremiah 31:36). And prophet after prophet asserted that in the end times, a great remnant of the Jews will be saved when they accept Jesus as their Messiah (Isaiah 10:20-22; Jeremiah 31:1-7, 31-34; Ezekiel 6:8-10; Daniel 12:1; Hosea 2:14-20; Joel 2:31-32; Micah 7:18-20; Zephaniah 3:12-13; and Zechariah 12:10).

Paul's Viewpoint

"But," say the Amillennialists, "all these promises were annulled by the Jews' rejection of Jesus as their Messiah." This assertion explains why chapters 9 through 11 of Romans have been the most ignored and despised chapters of the New Testament throughout Church history. Often, these chapters are simply dismissed as an "irrelevant parenthesis" in the book of Romans.

But the truth is that they are anything but that. In these chapters Paul uses the Jewish people as the quintessential example of God's grace. Despite their history of rebellion against God's will, and their continuing rebellion, Paul teaches that God still loves them, still has a purpose for them, and is still determined to bring a great remnant of them to salvation in Jesus.

In fact, Paul repudiates Replacement Theology before he even gets to these chapters. He begins chapter 3 with two rhetorical questions:
  1. Do Jews have any advantage with God?
  2. Has their unbelief nullified the faithfulness of God?
Historically the Church has answered the first question with a "No!" despite the fact that Romans 1:16 says pointedly that the Gospel is God's power of salvation for "the Jew first."
With regard to the second question, the Church has consistently answered with a resounding "Yes!" arguing that God has "washed His hands of the Jews" because of their unbelief.

But how does the Apostle Paul answer these questions? He responds in exactly the opposite way. He declares that the Jews do have an advantage because "they were entrusted with the oracles of God" (Romans 3:2). This is a reference to the fact that every book of the Bible (yes, I would include the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts) was written by a Jew. With regard to the second question as to whether or not God has rejected the Jews, Paul responds with great emotion, "May it never be!" (Romans 3:4).

The Truth of Romans 9-11

Paul returns to this theme in chapters 9-11. He begins by talking about how important the Jews have been in God's redemptive history, and how important they continue to be (Romans 9:3-4):
" brethren, my kinsmen, according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises..."
Note that Paul is talking about physical Jews, not spiritual ones, and note that he refers to the continuing validity of God's promises to them. In Romans 9:27 he refers to the Old Testament promise that God will one day save a great remnant of the Jews, specifically quoting Isaiah 10:22.
He begins chapter 11 with another rhetorical question: "I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He?" For 2,000 years the Catholic Church has answered this question with a dogmatic "Yes!" When the Reformation occurred, the resulting Protestant churches joined in the chorus. But Paul answers it by saying, "May it never be ...God has not rejected His people whom He forenew" (Romans 11:1-2).

Again, he affirms that a remnant will be saved (Romans 11:5) by grace after "the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" to the Church (Romans 11:25). Then, as Paul considers the stubbornness of his brethren in contrast to the patient, lovingkindness of God toward them, he cries out from his heart, "Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" (Romans 11:33).

God's Plan for Israel

It is only when you understand how much God loves the Jewish people and how determined He is to bring a great remnant to salvation, that you can begin to understand what is going on in the Middle East today. The Bible clearly reveals that the 20th Century regathering of the Jewish people from the four corners of the earth back to their homeland is a supernatural act of God that is the first step in bringing about the salvation of a remnant (Isaiah 11: 10-12).

Specifically, the Scriptures teach that once the Jews are regathered in unbelief and their nation is re-established, God will bring all the nations of the earth against them over the issue of who is going to control Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3). The hatred of the Jews and the opposition to their state will climax during the last half of the Tribulation when the Antichrist will turn against them and attempt to annihilate them from the face of the earth (Revelation 12:12-17). During this terrible period of three and a half years, the Antichrist will succeed in killing two-thirds of the Jewish people (Zechariah 13:8).

That's the bad news. But the incredibly good news is that those remaining will be brought to the end of themselves, and in their total desperation, they will turn their hearts toward God. At that moment, Jesus will appear in the heavens, and the Jewish remnant "will look upon Him whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only Son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first born" (Zechariah 12:10). They will call upon the name of the Lord (Joel 2:31-32), and they will cry out, "Baruch Haba Bashem Adonai!" meaning, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Matthew 23:38-39).

God's Amazing Grace

When I first started preaching about God's love for the Jewish people and His determination to pursue them until a great remnant repents and accepts His Son as their Messiah, my wife said to me, "You make me want to be a Jew."

"No," I responded, "you don't want to be a Jew because the overwhelming odds are that if you were a Jew, you would have a spiritual veil over your eyes (2 Corinthians 3:14), and you would refuse to acknowledge Jesus as your Messiah." 

And then I made a point to her that I encouraged her never to forget: "Ann, God is not doing one thing for the Jewish people that He is not willing to do for all of us."

Keep in mind, the Jewish people are God's Chosen People (Deuteronomy 7:6). That does not mean they are saved. Rather, it means they were called by God to be witnesses of Him (Isaiah 43:10-12). Accordingly, when you study their history, you can come to an understanding of what it means to have a relationship with God. Their history shows that when you are faithful, God blesses. When you rebel, He disciplines. And when you repent, He forgives and forgets and starts blessing again (read the book of Judges).

Currently, the Jewish people are under discipline. They have been for two thousand years. But one day soon their eyes will be opened to the reality of Jesus as their Messiah. When that happens, they will be overcome with grief, they will be swept by repentance, and a great remnant will be saved by grace through faith.

God's continuing love for the Jews despite their persistent spiritual rebellion is a great demonstration of the meaning of grace — second only to the Cross itself. People often say to me, "How could God possibly be behind the worldwide regathering of the Jewish people when they are still caught up in unbelief? The only thing they deserve is death."

But that is exactly the point. The only thing any of us deserve is death. But "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

We can thank God that those of us who have put our faith in Jesus will never receive what we deserve. Praise God for His amazing grace! And praise Jesus for His willingness to suffer and die so that we might be reconciled to the Father.

New Age Impact on the Church: Deceptive Teachers

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Age Impact on the Church: Deceptive Teachers

Who are some of the main teachers in the New Age Movement?
Dr. David Reagan and I were delighted to have as our guest on Christ in Prophecy Warren Smith, the author of the book The Light that Was Dark. This fascinating book tells Warren's touching story of how in his search for a Savior he got sidetracked into the occultic darkness of the New Age Movement. From his many years of experience under that influence, Warren now has dedicated his life to warning Christians about the dangers of the New Age and help us recognize how we can avoid these satanic influences from creeping into our churches.
Warren Smith

Deceptive Teachers
Dr. Reagan: Oprah Winfrey, she has been sort of a high priestess of this whole New Age Movement, with one New Age writer and speaker after another being paraded on her program. Would you quickly mention some other New Age names from the secular world that people might recognize that they should be aware of?

Warren Smith: Sure. Oprah had M. Scott Peck on her program back in the early 90's. A lot of people don't realize, though Scott Peck described himself as a Christian, he is really more of kind of like an emerging contemplative New Age Christian, because in his book he said, "God is within everybody." He actually laid out a plan when he said, "We're in crisis!" That's also what The Aquarian Conspiracy said to the effect, "We are in crisis and we need to have a new way of looking at things. We need a new worldview."

What Peck basically said was, "Our salvation lies in community." He didn't say "in Jesus Christ," but in community. He said that due to the duress of these times, we need to change some of our rules; and yes, that includes the Church. So, he too was introducing this idea of God-in-all.

I wrote an article years ago about M. Scott Peck and the Community of the Cosmic Christ. Starting off the article, there was a big quote by Peck saying that the mystical prophet who is bringing forth this idea of sort of a quantum leap into a new level of understanding was the Catholic Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. He was the father of the New Age Movement. The title The Aquarian Conspiracy was taken by Chardin. Chardin said, "This soul must be a conspiracy of individuals." And Chardin's teachings are simply this — that God is in every atom.

Nathan Jones: That rather sounds like Star Wars which is pantheism, right?

Warren Smith: May the force be with you! Yes, this force is God penetrating His creation, but that He comes in various ways.

Other New Age teachers are Deepak Chopra, Betty Eadie and Shirley MacLaine.

Mehmet Oz, of the Dr. Oz fame, was for five years featured on Oprah Winfrey. Now he has his own program. Dr. Oz is probably one of the more dangerous, and I say that carefully, occultists out there. He has endorsed a book by a psychic by the name of Ainslie MacLeod. The book is called The Instruction. Dr. Oz has a front cover endorsement. In that book the psychic refers to spirit guides 175 times, with 40 before you get to chapter one. He talks about past lives. He encourages the reader to get into meditation and to contact their spirit guides.

Dr. Oz has also brought forward transcendental meditation, which Oz says he does. This is known as reiki, which is a very dangerous sort of body treatment that includes spirit guides. The reiki practitioners make it very clear that spirit guides are involved in that process.
Dr. Reagan: But these people are so nice, loving, and so smooth.

Warren Smith: In my days when I was a social worker and also in the New Age, some people thought I was kind of nice. But, as you know, niceness doesn't have much to do with it. We have some pastors out there who seem pretty nice, but they are bringing a lot of this New Age teaching into their churches.

Dr. Reagan: In fact, the Antichrist is going to be very nice.

Nathan Jones: Speaking of the Antichrist, you always hear in the New Age Movement of this Lord Maitreya. Can you explain a little to me if he is supposed to be the Antichrist, or as New Agers believe, he is the Messiah of the New Age Movement?

Warren Smith: I'm really impressed. I was at a conference recently and there must have been 300 people and I asked, "Has anybody heard of Maitreya?" Just one person raised their hand. I actually wrote a book called False Christ Coming, and Maitreya was one of the first four chapters.

Benjamin Creme was like Maitreya's John the Baptist. In 1982, there was a full page ad in newspapers all around the world saying, "The Christ is here, and he is waiting to be called forth." Benjamin Creme was on coast to coast radio probably four or five times over the last decade saying the very same thing. He was saying that Maitreya is still waiting to be called forth. A lot of people have just dismissed it as a bad joke. What I show in my book is that what Maitreya teaches is absolutely consistent with A Course in Miracles, with New Age Leader Barbara Marx Hubbard's teachings, with Neale Donald Walsch's Conversations With God, and with everything that Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra and Dr. Oz are teaching. It's all the same bottom line — New Age teachings.
Back to Dr. Oz, he teaches New Age through holistic health. One well known pastor actually said that if you try to change your diet you'll have to be careful, because you could end up changing your worldview. That very well could happen. With Dr. Oz, one well known Christian pastor has actually brought him into his church to teach his congregation how to be healthy!

In the third segment of our interview with Warren Smith on how New Age teachings have infiltrated the Church, he'll tell us what some of these heresies are.

New Age Impact on the Church: Characteristics

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Age Impact on the Church: Characteristics

What are some of the basic characteristics of the New Age Movement?
Dr. David Reagan and I were delighted to have as our guest on Christ in Prophecy Warren Smith, the author of the book The Light That Was Dark. This fascinating book tells Warren's touching story of how, in his search for a Savior, he got sidetracked into the occultic darkness of the New Age Movement. From his many years of experience under that influence, Warren now has dedicated his life to warning Christians about the dangers of the New Age and help us recognize how we can avoid these satanic influences from creeping into our churches.
Warren Smith

Basic Characteristics
Dr. Reagan: Warren, tell us, what are some of the basic characteristics of the New Age Movement?
Warren Smith: In 2 Corinthians 11, the Apostle Paul talks about the simplicity in Christ. There is a simplicity in deception as well. So, it's really important that people don't get confused.

There are so many different aspects of the deception of the New Age, what is now being called the New Spirituality, and even the New Worldview. New World Religion was the phrase used for a while, but a New Worldview is easier for people to remember.

Christians are being guided into this New Worldview thinking they will help the world come to peace. But, remember that in Daniel 8 we are told that the Antichrist is going to have a wonderful deception. He literally will destroy "wonderfully," for by peace he shall destroy many.

All these deceptive end times teachings are heading up to where the world is going to be told to get in line, and "atonement" will be a word that will be used. But, those of us who were in the New Age understand that it is "at-one-ment", not atonement, so much as "at-one-ment." In other words, the New Age teaches that we are all one because God is in everyone and everything. And, when we recognize our oneness, we can all come together and help achieve world peace. Some Christian leaders are even buying into this by having materials that bring this oneness and this god-in-everything teaching into the Church.

Dr. Reagan: Let's dwell a little bit longer here on the fundamental characteristics of the Movement. You boiled it all down to that the fundamental teaching of the New Age is God that He is in everything and is in us. That's what Shirley MacLaine was doing when she stood on the seashore and yelled, "I am god, I am god, I am god!"

Warren Smith: She was the one who put that teaching forward back in 1987 on television. She may have become the butt of late night jokes, like in David Letterman's jokes, but she's the one primarily responsible for outing that teaching and getting the conversation going. That's the big word these days — conversation. "Let's have a conversation," which really means, "Let's see what we can do to compromise. Let's get it all on the table and see what we can come up with." That's the idea that we can all move forward.

The year Shirley MacLaine started off teaching that we are all gods, that was in 1987, and that was the same year that Marilyn Ferguson the author of The Aquarian Conspiracy was on the Oprah Winfrey Show, on an episode entitled "The New Age Movement." Back in 1980, Marilyn Ferguson wrote her book The Aquarian Conspiracy and in that book she said that basically we have a great idea, a great heretical idea, of God within and God is in everything. She said basically, "We are not going to be able to pull this off right away, but over time if it is widely publicized we will be able to have our way." I mean, it was an outrageous thing to claim!

Actually, a lot of New Age leaders today are very upset that Ferguson used the word "conspiracy" in the title of her book, because it actually plays into the reality that there truly is a conspiracy, and the conspiracy is to get this great heretical idea that God indwells His creation and that God is in everyone and everything. She was trying to be cute.

Likewise, The Shack was a very popular book, not only in the Christian world, but it was actually at the top of the New Age bestseller list as well.

Nathan Jones: Almost every church was preaching from it and every Christian bookstore was carrying The Shack.

Warren Smith: People will claim, "Well, but Jesus is in there." But, what a lot of people don't understand is that from what I think was on page 112, the Jesus of The Shack said, "God who is the ground of all being dwells in and around and through all things." Then, if you look carefully at the book when the word "Creation" is brought up, a capital "C" is used. Those of us from the New Age know that when you see creation with a capital "C", it means that God indwells His creation.

Dr. Reagan: That is very different from what the Bible teaches. God is not indwelling His creation, right?
Warren Smith: No. Psalm 39:5 tells us, "Verily, every man at his best state is altogether vanity." Or, in John 2:24-25, Jesus said referring to Jesus, "He did not commit himself to men because he knew what was in men." Now, why would that be said if God is in man? Why wouldn't He be emphasizing that? Instead, Jesus was actually saying to the effect, "Watch out! Men amongst themselves can be very dangerous." That is what Jesus was teaching. So, no, God is not within each person.

In the second segment of our interview with Warren Smith on how New Age teachings have infiltrated the Church, he'll tell us who some of the deceptive teachers are who are involved in the movement.

The Last Pope? (Updated)

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Last Pope? (Updated)

Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world on February 11 when he suddenly announced that he would retire on February 28 due to deteriorating health. There had not been a papal resignation since 1415 when Gregory XII stepped aside as part of a controversial arrangement to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal claimants. Benedict became the first Pope in history to resign due to health reasons.

The Pope's resignation created a sensation among Bible prophecy buffs because of a widespread belief that he would be the next-to-the-last Pope. This belief is grounded in what is called "The Prophecy of the Popes," a document consisting of 112 short, cryptic phrases in Latin, which claims to predict all the Popes that would succeed Pope Celestine II who died in 1144.

A Strange Document of Unknown Origin

The document became public in 1595 when a Catholic priest by the name of Arnold de Wyon published a history of the Benedictine Order. He attributed the prophecies to an Irish priest, Saint Malachy, who served as an Archbishop in the 12th Century.

According to the traditional account, Malachy was summoned to Rome in 1139 by Pope Innocent II, and while he was there, he supposedly received a vision of future Popes. The manuscript was deposited in the Vatican Archives and forgotten about until its rediscovery in 1590, just in time for a papal conclave that was in session at the time.

The "prophecies" list 112 Popes that will serve from the time of Pope Urban VII who died in 1590, the first being Pope Gregory XIV whose papacy lasted for only one year. The last Pope in the list is referred to as "Peter the Roman." And it is stated that he will reign among "many tribulations" leading up to the destruction of Rome.

Problems With the Document

There are a number of problems with these "prophecies," as outlined below.

1) Unknown before their publication in 1595. Saint Bernard of Clairvoux, who was a contemporary of Saint Malachy, never mentions the prophecies in his biography of Malachy, nor are they mentioned in any record prior to 1595.

2) Obtuse wording. The "prophecies" are as obtuse as the so-called prophecies of Nostradamus. They simply list a short phrase for each Pope. Examples are: "pig in a sieve," "from cattle country," "star of the swans," "snaky man," and "woodpecker between food."

For the first 74 Popes in the list leading up to 1590 when the document supposedly was found, the discoverer, Arnold de Wyon, tried to make a match between the identifying phrase and the person who actually became the Pope described by the phrase. Thus, the phrase, "from the guardian goose," supposedly pointed to Pope Alexander III (1159 - 1181) whose family's coat of arms featured a goose. Many of Wyon's explanations are terribly stretched and amount to what might be called shoehorning, but the matches are more tenable than the "prophecies" concerning those who were to serve as Popes after the document was made public in 1595, clearly indicating that the document was actually written around the time it was "found."

The "prophecies" dating after 1590 are very difficult to match up with the Pope who supposedly fulfilled the prophecy. For example, the prophecy "country animal" ended up pointing to Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758). Proponents of the prophecies have been able to link this "prophecy" to the Pope in only one absurd way — by arguing that he was a man of "plodding ox diligence."

3) Questionable counting. From the time of the first Pope on the list to Benedict XVI, there were a total of 100 Popes. The only way to get the list up to 111 is to count the 11 men who served as Anti-Popes but who were never recognized by the Vatican as true Popes.

The Validity of the Document
Most experts who have studied the document carefully have concluded that it was manufactured by Arnold de Wyon as a propaganda piece to ensure that his candidate for the papacy in 1590 would be elected. Thus, the prophecy for Urban VII's successor read, "from the old city." The man Wyon favored was Cardinal Girolani Simoncelli who was from a city whose Latin name meant "old city."
The ploy did not work. A man named Niccolo Sfondrati was elected, and he took the papal name of Gregory XIV. There was nothing in his background that linked him to the "prophecy" that stated he would be "from the old city."

However, proponents of the "prophecies" argue that Gregory XIV's father was a senator from Milan, and that the word, senator, is derived from the Latin word, senex, which means "old man." Alternatively, they argue that Milan is the "old city" referred to. Again, an example of twisting a "prophecy" to mean virtually anything.

The New Pope
Although the newly elected Pope is from Argentina, he is not an Hispanic. He is of Roman descent, having been born of Italian immigrants to Argentina, but his birth name was not Peter, nor did he select that as his papal name. He does not fulfill the "prophecy" about him. Still, he could well prove to be the last Pope because the signs of the times clearly point to the imminent return of Jesus.
I think it is interesting to note that in the weeks following the election of Pope Francis, the greatest rumor-mongering machine in the world, the Internet, has been full of wild speculations to the effect that Pope Francis really is a fulfillment of Malachy's "prophecies."

For example, some are claiming that he really is the Peter spoken of in the Malachy document. The argument goes like this: He named himself after Saint Francis of Assisi, but Saint Francis' real birth name was Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, and Pietro is the Italian version of Peter. This is the kind of nonsensical interpretations that have historically been applied to the Malachy "prophecies." Thus, if a Malachy clue for a Pope is "Rose," the true believers will search day and night to find some connection to a rose, even if it ends it to be the fact that the new Pope's great grandmother loved roses!

Tom Horn, the author of the book, Petrus Romanus, is currently providing an explanation almost as far-fetched. He is arguing that the reference to the name Peter simply "implies this pope will reaffirm the authority of the Roman Pontiff over the Church and will emphasize the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Faith and the Roman Catholic Church above all other religions and denominations, and its authority over all Christians and all peoples of the world." This is a classic spiritualization of a "prophecy," making it mean whatever you want it to mean.

Another rumor that is prominent on the Internet is the assertion that the "prophecies" of Malachy included the statement that the last Pope would be a "black pope." They then point to the fact that Pope Francis is the first Jesuit Pope and the leader of the Jesuits has always been referred to historically as "The Black Pope." Sorry, there is no such statement in the "prophecies" of Malachy.
The only prophecies we need to pay attention to are those contained in God's Word, for He is the only one who truly knows the future.
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, "My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure"...
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.
- Isaiah 46:9b-11

The Gog-Magog Battle - Search For Timing

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Gog-Magog Battle - Search For Timing

 By Nathan Jones

The million dollar question for you and me is, "Are we going to live through the events of Ezekiel 38-39?" Will we suffer from the fallout of a world turned upside down, or is this event not meant for the Church?
Let us go to the Bible in search for the answers. Five general timing clues the Bible gives us when taken together will reveal a clearer picture of when this world-altering battle will occur.

Clue 1) "Latter Years" and "Last Days"

The first general timing clue is Ezekiel's use of the terms "latter years" (Ezek 38:8) and "last days" (Ezek. 38:16). The key verse to understanding what these terms mean is Deuteronomy 4:30 which reads, "When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him." "Distress" is also translated as "Tribulation." It is the Tribulation of Daniel's 70th week that brings the Jewish people as a nation back into the belief in God, and later to accept Yeshua as their Messiah. The Tribulation leading up to the Millennial reign of Christ is what the Old Testament prophets consistently and repeatedly taught about.
Conclusion: We now know based on these key phrases that the Gog-Magog Battle has to happen somewhere around or in the Tribulation and in relation to the Millennial Kingdom — the 1,000 year reign of Christ. Neither of these have occurred, so we know that Ezekiel 38-39 is future.

Clue 2) Historical Absence

The second general timing clue is that history has never recorded the Gog-Magog Battle as ever having happened. Never in the history of the Middle East have the nations described in the Gog-Magog coalition been united in an attack against Israel. In no time has such a specific group of nations been destroyed by inclement weather. And, in no time in history has Israel named a valley Hamon Gog (Ezek. 39:11). No adjoining town called Hamonah has existed where the Jews buried invaders.
Conclusion: History just does not show that the Gog-Magog Battle has ever happened, which only leaves a future timing for it to occur.

Clue 3) Israel a Nation Once More

The third general timing clue is given in Ezekiel 36 and 37 — the regathering of the Jewish people back into their homeland "from all the countries" of the world (Ezek. 36:24). Like the vision of dry bones reanimated into a living person that Ezekiel witnessed, Israel did indeed become a nation once again on May 14, 1948, after nearly 1900 years since the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D and scattered the Jewish people across the globe. After all these centuries, this prophecy has been fulfilled in our modern generation.
Conclusion: Because this prophecy has been fulfilled and Israel is a nation once more, that vital piece is in place allowing for the prophecy concerning the Gog-Magog Battle to commence.

Clue 4) — Uniting the Nations

The fourth general timing clue involves the developments nationally that have to occur to make the nations of the coalition unite in an effort to invade Israel. Two factors have made this coalition possible today. The first is the religion of Islam uniting these nations in satanic hatred of the Jewish people. The second is the economic bounty that Israel now has with its revitalized land and newly discovered gas and oil deposits. Today, the nations of the coalition are united in the single purpose of destroying Israel and plundering its wealth.
Conclusion: The daily news is resplendent with stories in support that this general timing clue has been fulfilled in just the last few years, allowing for the prophecy concerning the Gog-Magog Battle to commence.

Clue 5) Israel Peaceful and Unsuspecting

The fifth general timing clue is given in Ezekiel 38:11 which reads, "You will say, 'I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people — all of them living without walls and without gates and bars.'"
This verse requires that Israel must be living without walls, peacefully and unsuspecting of an attack. Israel today lives in constant fear of attack and is always prepared for an invasion by the 60-plus million hostile Muslims surrounding their borders.
Conclusion: Because of this most unfriendly climate and the constant tension on the borders, this part of the prophecy cannot have yet been fulfilled and so is future.

Final Analysis:
The Gog-Magog Battle is certainly future, but not the next invasion of Israel. Something has to cause the violent bordering nations of Egypt, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon to not become members of the Gog-Magog coalition. For them to sit out acting on their hatred of Israel and to pass up on seizing such an opportunity as Gog presents is an utter improbability.
Another prophecy has to happen first for Israel to become a "peaceful and unsuspecting people." The most likely prophecy that would lie before the Gog-Magog invasion is a Psalm 83 scenario where Israel has subjugated their bordering neighbors, or a nuclear deterrent like Isaiah 17 describes with the one-day destruction of Damascus, or a combination of the two.

Can we clear up the picture even more and know just when during the "latter years" Ezekiel's prophecy in chapters 38 and 39 will occur? In the next part of this "Impending Invasion of Israel" series we'll analyze the possibility that the Gog-Magog Battle could happen before the 7-year Tribulation.

The Gog-Magog Battle - Before the Tribulation?

The Gog-Magog Battle - Before the Tribulation?

We have deciphered the general timing clues given by Ezekiel and concluded that the Gog-Magog Battle has to be future.
The first clue is the use of the terms "latter years" (Ezek. 38:8) and "last days" (Ezek. 38:16). The second clue is the historical record that shows no such battle in Israel's history has fit the description. The third is that Israel is a nation once more. The fourth is that the nations that comprise the invading coalition are finally united today by their hatred of the Jews. And, the fifth clue from Ezekiel 38:11 is that Israel has to be living unsuspecting and in peace.
In an attempt to pinpoint the exact timeframe for the occurrence of Ezekiel's prophecy, the following arguments will weigh the pros and cons of different future scenarios, beginning with the time period before the 7-year Tribulation. The following two views lie heavily on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture viewpoint.
I'll seek some ideas from what I believe is the best written book on the subject — Northern Storm Rising by Dr. Ron Rhodes.

Before Both the Rapture and the Tribulation
Supporters of this view are Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins of the Left Behind series, and Joel Rosenberg who wrote the popular Ezekiel 38-39 themed book Epicenter.
1) Israel taking seven years to burn the weapons for fuel (Ezek. 39:9) matches the seven year timeframe given in Daniel 9:27 that the Tribulation will last. Since both take seven years, Gog-Magog would have to happen before the Tribulation.
2) A supernatural defeat by God would leave the Muslim world in ruins and their faith in Allah shattered. Islam would no longer be a threat that holds the Jews back from rebuilding the prophesied Third Temple which the Antichrist will later desecrate at the midpoint of the Tribulation (Dan. 9:27 and 2 Thess. 2:3-4). The Jews must build their new Temple before the half-way point, and certainly could before the Tribulation if there was no Muslim opposition.
3) God declaring Himself to the world is in character with His willingness to warn the world before impending judgment. A great multitude could come to God before the Rapture due to God revealing Himself more fully by His victory in the Gog-Magog Battle, and so more people would be included in the Rapture and avoid the wrath of the Tribulation.
4) The Jews having to flee into the desert 3.5 years into the Tribulation due to the Antichrist's abomination in the newly built Temple may cut them off from being able to burn the Gog-Magog invader's weapons (Matt. 24:15-16). If they couldn't get to the weapons to burn them in the prophesied amount of time, at least 3.5 years would be needed before the Tribulation, placing the Gog-Magog Battle well before the Tribulation begins.
1) Placing the invasion before the Rapture would contradict the first general time clue of the terms "latter years" (Ezek. 38:8) and "last days" (Ezek. 38:16). Old Testament prophets like Ezekiel used these terms to indicate a specific "time of Jacob's trouble" for Israel, which is the Tribulation.
2) Placing the invasion before the Rapture would contradict the fifth general time clue which says Israel will be living in unsuspecting peace before the attack. Unless the peace is derived from a Psalm 83 scenario where Israel has subjugated its surrounding neighbors, true peace may only come to Israel by the peace covenant made between the Antichrist and Israel (Dan. 9:27). That covenant starts the seven year countdown of the Tribulation.
3) The New Testament teaches that no prophetic event has to occur before the Rapture, called "imminency." Imminency precludes such prophetic events like the Gog-Magog Battle from happening before the Rapture.
4) The removal of the "Restrainer" allows the Antichrist to rise to power (2 Thes. 2:6-8). Because the Church is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16), the removal by the Rapture of the Holy Spirit's work through the Church must then take place before the Antichrist can arise and create the peaceful precondition for Israel.

After the Rapture But Before the Tribulation
A popular supporter of this view is Dr. Tommy Ice of the Pre-Trib Research Center.
1) Certainly the world will be in chaos due to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, which Russia and its Muslim coalition could use to seize the opportunity to attack a friendless Israel.
2) Having the Muslim nations shattered before the Tribulation gives the Antichrist an easier time of making good on a peace covenant with Israel.
3) With the more christianized nations in tatters due to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture and the Islamic world in ruins from the Gog-Magog Battle, the remaining European world power could fill the vacuum in the Middle East. By making a peace treaty with Israel and easily conquering the lands of the once Middle-Eastern Muslim countries, the Roman Empire could truly be revived once more. The only remaining world powers would be East-Asian, and the Bible records their continued existence (though under the control of the Antichrist) until the end of the Tribulation (Rev. 16:12).
4) With the Muslim world in tatters, Israel would have no resistance to their rebuilding the Temple at the onset of the Tribulation.
5) The Rapture does not start the Tribulation, but rather the signing of the peace covenant between the Antichrist and Israel does (Dan. 9:27). This fact would allow a 3.5 year or more time delay between the Rapture and the Tribulation, giving Israel the full seven years to burn the weapons from the Gog-Magog Battle before being forced to flee into the desert (Matt. 24:15-16).
1) Placing the invasion before the Tribulation would contradict the first general time clue of the terms "latter years" (Ezek. 38:8) and "last days" (Ezek. 38:16). Old Testament prophets like Ezekiel used these terms to indicate the specific "time of Jacob's trouble" for Israel, which is the Tribulation.
2) The peaceful precondition of Ezekiel 38:11 in which Israel has to be living unsuspecting and in peace before the Gog-Magog Battle may depend on the peace covenant with the Antichrist. Since the Antichrist can't be revealed until the Tribulation begins, Israel would not attain the conditional requirement for the Gog-Magog invasion to occur.

In the next part of this "Impending Invasion of Israel" series we'll analyze the possibility that the Gog-Magog Battle could happen during the 7-year Tribulation.