|Q58 : Ezekiel 38 and the Rapture|
Is it likely that the church will have already been raptured by the time Gog attempts to invade Israel? I mean, there's no indication that any other big nations are preventing the attack. And this is no covert operation as verses 9 and 16 indicate. So, all others must know what's going on. But they're not doing anything to stop it. I would've expected several million faithful Christians to take a stronger stand during this time.
|A58 : by Tony Garland |
I don't think we can infer the relative timing of the rapture and the attack upon Israel from the north as described in Ezekiel 38 and 39. As you observe, the invasion will take place without any apparent intervention but this is not necessarily an indication that Christians are not present at the time — having been taken in the rapture. There are several points to consider:
- Moral or Political Weakness
- Ezekiel records the reaction of other world powers who watch the invasion take place:
Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, 'Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder? (Ezekiel 38:13).
It seems clear that these countries give nothing more than lip-service in reaction to the invasion, perhaps because of their compromised moral or political conditions.
They still will not offer any real resistance to it. Worldliness or moral weakness will make them impervious to the unprovoked violence and unbridled greed and includine them to be ready to be tolerant of the ill-gotten plunder of the invaders of God's people. 1
It sounds like another case of "situational ethics" where the surrounding nations follow convenience over principle — certainly something which is alive and wll in today's world full of Christians. Incidentally, some theorize a connection between Tarshish and tin mining production as far afield as Britain and infer that the "young lions" or "Tarshish" may be a vieled reference to powers in the Western Hemisphere.
Three such places [Tarshish] are known in history. One was located on the east coast of Africa, but the exact location is unknown. . . . The second place was in Spain, founded by the city of Tyre. . . . The third location was in England. 2
- Replacement Theology
- Never underestimate the negative effects of the majority view within Christendom that "the church replaces Israel." This well-entrenched, but unbiblical view, breeds complacency on the part of many Christians in relation to Israel. In our own day there are many popular teachers who believe that Israel is no longer significant in the plan and purposes of God — at least not as a nation. The result, intentional or otherwise, is an unwillingness to stand with God's chosen nation in times of modern peril. Consider the divestment of Israel recommended by the World Council of Churches and the anti-Israel stance of the Presbyterian Church in 2005. Apparently, these organizations do not believe that modern Israel is significant in relation to unfulfilled prophetic themes found in God's Word. When the world turns against Israel, we should not count on large numbers of poorly-taught believers to risk much on behalf of those who Paul called "beloved for the sake of the fathers" (Rom. 11:28).
- Consider the lesson of the Holocaust. Did Christian nations such as the United States and Great Britian really do all they could to immediately stop the burning of Jews once they knew it was taking place? Although these nations opposed Hitler and gave many lives to keep Europe free, on the matter of the holocaust itself it seems there are troubling questions concerning their support at the height of Jewish peril.
- Another significant factor is anti-Semitism, whether operating outside or inside the Christian church. A study of Biblical history coupled with an understanding of Revelation 12 will show the spiritual backdrop to this powerful force which is very much alive today despite 6 million deaths testifying to its evil. According to my reading of Scripture, we haven't seen the last or the worst of anti-Semitism and it may have seriously eroded any real opposition to attacks upon Israel at the time of Ezekiel 38.
In summary, I would not expect a large number of Christians to take an unconvenient stand at the time of Ezekiel 38. I expect there will be numerous pragmatic, practical reasons for Christian nations not to cause too much of a stir when Gog descends upon Israel. A sad view, but probably sober reality. On the other hand, this lack of support merely contributes to the glory due God for His miraculous vindication of Israel:
I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. (Ezekiel 39:21).
1. Merrill Unger, Unger's Commentary on the Old Testamenta (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002).
2. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiahb, rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003).