Two new prophecy books have been published that recycle some old arguments related to an end-time battle that includes Russia, but with an Islamic twist: Grant R. Jeffrey’s The Next World War: What Prophecy Reveals About Extreme Islam and the West and Joel C. Rosenberg’s, Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future and today’s Islamic nations. They look to the battle described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 to make their case that it’s about modern-day Russia in alliance with today’s Islamic nations.

It’s obvious by anyone who reads Ezekiel 38 and 39 that the battle is an ancient one considering the weapons used and the nations mentioned. James B. Jordan believes that “it is in [the book of] Esther that we see a conspiracy to plunder the Jews, which backfires with the result that the Jews plundered their enemies. This event is then ceremonially sealed with the institution of the annual Feast of Purim.”[1] Jordan continues by establishing the context for Ezekiel 38 and 39:

Ezekiel describes the attack of Gog, Prince of Magog, and his confederates. Ezekiel states that people from all over the world attack God’s people, who are pictured dwelling at peace in the land. God’s people will completely defeat them, however, and the spoils will be immense. The result is that all nations will see the victory, and “the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God from that day onward” (Ezek. 39:21–23). . . . Chronologically this all fits very nicely. The events of Esther took place during the reign of Darius, after the initial rebuilding of the Temple under Joshua [the High Priest] and Zerubbabel and shortly before rebuilding of the walls by Nehemiah. . . . Thus, the interpretive hypothesis I am suggesting (until someone shoots it down) is this: Ezekiel 34–37 describes the first return of the exiles under Zerubbabel, and implies the initial rebuilding of the physical Temple. Ezekiel 38–39 describes the attack of Gog (Haman) and his confederates against the Jews. Finally, Ezekiel 40–48 describes in figurative language the situation as a result of the work of Nehemiah.[2]

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The slaughter of Israel’s enemies in Ezekiel 39:11–16 fits with the number of deaths listed in Esther 9:10, 15–16 (75,310) and the time it would take to bury the casualties, an average of 10,000 bodies each month for seven months. With modern-day earth moving equipment, placing the bodies in massive common craves, the task could be accomplished today in about two weeks.

Ezekiel 38:5–6 tells us that Israel’s enemies come from “Persia, Ethiopia [lit., Cush], and. . .from the remote parts of the north. . . ,” all within the boundaries of the Persian Empire of Esther’s day. From Esther we learn that the Persian Empire “extended from India to Ethiopia [lit., Cush], 127 provinces. . .” in all (Esther 8:9). “In other words, the explicit idea that the Jews were attacked by people from all the provinces of Persia is in both passages.”[3] The parallels are unmistakable. Even Ezekiel’s statement that the fulfillment of the prophecy takes place in a time when there are “unwalled villages” (Ezek. 38:11) is not an indication of a distant future fulfillment as Grant Jeffrey claims in The Next World War:

It is interesting to note that during the lifetime of Ezekiel and up until 1900, virtually all of the villages and cities in the Middle East had walls for defense. Ezekiel had never seen a village or city without defensive walls. Yet, in our day, Israel is a “land of unwalled villages” for the simple reason that modern techniques of warfare (bombs and missiles) make city walls irrelevant for defense. This is one more indication that his prophecy refers to our modern generation.

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Ezekiel’s reference to “dwell safely” and “without walls . . . neither bars nor gates” refers precisely to Israel’s current military situation, where she is dwelling safely because of her strong armed defense and where her cities and villages have no walls or defensive bars. The prophet had never seen a city without walls, so he was astonished when he saw, in a vision, Israel dwelling in the future without walls. Ezekiel lived in a time when every city in the world used huge walls for military defense. [4]

In Esther 9:19 we learn that there were Jews who were living peacefully in “unwalled towns” (KJV) when Haman conspired against them. Israel’s antagonists in Ezekiel are said to “go up against the land of unwalled villages” (38:11). The Hebrew word perazah is used in Esther 9:13 and Ezekiel 38:11.[5] This fits the conditions of Esther’s day.

Jeffrey is mistaken in his claim that “Ezekiel had never seen a village or city without defensive walls.” They were quite common outside the main cities of Ezekiel’s day. Moreover, his assertion that Israel is currently “dwelling safely because of her strong armed defense” is contrary to present Middle East realities. Israel’s latest skirmish with Lebanon revealed how vulnerable she really is.

These new books are following a century-long script of changing their interpretations to fit the latest in newspaper headlines.


[1] James B. Jordan, Esther in the Midst of Covenant History (Niceville, FL: Biblical Horizons, 1995), 5. [2] Jordan, Esther in the Midst of Covenant History, 5–7. [3] Jordan, Esther in the Midst of Covenant History, 7. [4] Grant R. Jeffrey, The Next World War: What Prophecy Reveals About Extreme Islam and the West (Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press, 2006), 143, 147–148. [5] It’s unfortunate that the translators of the New American Standard Version translate perazah as “rural towns” in Esther 9:19 instead of “unwalled villages” like they do in Ezekiel 38:11.