Russia in Prophecy
September 26th, 1965 @ 7:30 PM
RUSSIA IN PROPHECY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-26-65 7:30 p.m.
And on the radio, on WRR, you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. You have just heard our incomparably wonderful choir, and this is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled Russia in Prophecy. And if you would like to turn in your Bible to the passage, you can easily follow the message of this hour. We shall read a part of it, just a small part. Turn to Ezekiel 38, Ezekiel 38. Sort of in the center of your Bible; Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, chapter 38, and we shall begin reading at the eighteenth verse and read to the end of the chapter [Ezekiel 38:18-23]. Ezekiel, chapter 38, beginning at verse 18, and reading to the end of the chapter. Now all of us out loud together:
And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord God, that My fury shall come up in My face.
For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;
So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at My presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.
And I will call for a sword against him throughout all My mountains, saith the Lord God: every man’s sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
Thus will I magnify Myself, and sanctify Myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.
We have read a small portion of the passage from Ezekiel 38 and 39. These are two chapters that are placed between chapters 37, which describes the return of Israel to Palestine out of the grave of the nations, “Though apparently they are as dead, yet God shall raise them up out of the graves of the nations of the world; and His people Israel will return to Palestine” [Ezekiel 37:12-14]. That prophecy, we have seen begin to come to pass in our day, and in our generation. In 1948, Israel was declared and recognized in representative in the United Nations, and recognized in diplomatic exchange by the United States of America. Israel was recognized as a nation.
For uncounted hundreds and hundreds of years there were no Jews in Palestine, none at all. After the destruction of the nation, and the wasting of the people, and the carrying away into captivity, they were scattered among the nations of the world. But God said, “They will return” [Ezekiel 36:24-29]. The world scoffed at such an idea. It was ridiculous on the face of it, for Israel had no national home and her lands were possessed by strangers. And they lived among all the peoples of the world. They lived in Dallas, in New York, scattered over the face of the earth; but God said, “They will go home. They will return home. This is their land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by an immutable and unconditional guarantee” [Genesis 13:15; Psalm 105:8-11]. And in our day and in our time we have seen the beginning of the return of God’s people homeward.
Now that is the thirty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel [Ezekiel 37]; the chapter immediately preceding this passage we preach out of tonight. Now the succeeding chapters beginning at chapter 40 [Ezekiel 40] is a presentation by the prophet Ezekiel of Israel in their millennial home and in their millennial bliss. When Israel possesses all of the land, they’re going to rebuild their temple. And they’re going to reinstitute those Mosaic rituals: sacrifice, the Mosaic institutions.
Between the return of Israel in Palestine, which is chapter 37 [Ezekiel 37], and the millennial glory of Israel, which is 40 [Ezekiel 40] and the chapters following, there is inserted, chapters 38 and 39 [Ezekiel 38-39], which describes a tremendous, bloody, and awesome war that is going to take place in Palestine after the Jews return. And this is the prophecy:
And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, of Meshech, and Tubal; and prophesy against him,
And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Rosh, of Meshech, and Tubal.
I will put my hooks into thy jaws, I will bring thee forth, all thine army, all sorts of armor, even a great company, with Persia, and Cush, and Put; all of them with shield and helmet,
with Gomer, with Togarmah of the north quarters.
Who are these people? “Son of man, set thy face against Gog” [Ezekiel 38:2], that’s the prince in the land of Magog. That is the name of the land over which he rules; Gog of Magog. Then he describes who he is, “the prince of Rosh” [Ezekiel 38:2-3]. I received a letter this week. And one of the learned and discerning Bible scholars who belongs to this church, wrote me a letter. And he said, “Pastor, it’s going to be interesting to me to see what you are going to say about why the King James Version translated that ‘the chief prince,’ instead of translating as it is written in Hebrew, ‘the prince of Rosh.’” He said, “Could it be that in the days of the King James translation in 1611, that England was afraid of the Russian Bear? So instead of translating it as it is written, ‘the prince of Rosh, the prince of Russia,’ they translated it ‘the chief prince’” [Ezekiel 38:2-3].
And there are many, many of your finest Bible expositors who say that “Meshech” is the word for Moskva, our word Moscow. And that Tubal is the word for Tobalsk, one of the great cities in the Asiatic section of Russia and of course, Persia, Cush, translated here Ethiopia, Cush was an ancient nation east, and then later some of the people migrated to eastern Africa. But Cush for the most part refers to a land to the east. And Put, another land north and east, and Gomer, a land by the Black Sea, and Togarmah, Armenia. But all of this refers to, as he speaks of these great armies coming down from the north, all of this refers to that vast area beyond the Caucasus Mountains, an area that today you know as the Soviet Union, Russia.
Now when is this great and vast invasion going to take place? He describes it very accurately here in the Bible. In verse 8 he says,
In the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, gathered out of the nations of the world; thou shalt come against the mountains of Israel, which heretofore have been made waste, but now they are filled with cities and people and a teeming population.
He describes it further in verses 14 through 16:
Son of man prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord God: In that day when My people of Israel dwell safely in that land,
thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou and the people with thee . . .
and thou shalt come up against My people Israel, as a cloud to cover the land: it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring them against My land.
This is going to come to pass between the time that Israel returns home to Palestine and the days of the millennial bliss of His people in the earth [Ezekiel 38:2-3]. In that period of time, in the consummation of the age, this prophecy, God says, will come to pass [Ezekiel 38:16].
Now who are the people who are going to oppose this vast horde of invasion from the north, from the area of Russia and all of their allies? They are going to be opposed by “Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof” [Ezekiel 38:13]. That word Tarshish is used many times here in the Word of God. Always, it refers to the outreaches, the western outreaches. The Hebrew knew the world of the Mediterranean Sea, but beyond the Mediterranean there were islands that the Hebrew knew of. These islands are the islands of Great Britain. And when it refers to Tarshish and the cubs, the young lions of Tarshish [Ezekiel 38:13], one is the United States of America, one of the cubs of Great Britain. Another is Canada, one of the cubs of Great Britain. Another is the commonwealth of nations of the British Empire. These are going to oppose the vast invasion of Russia and her allies from the north.
And in those days God is going to set His face against Russia and her allies. “And it shall come to pass at that time, when God shall come against the land, saith the Lord, That My fury shall come up in My face. For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel” [Ezekiel 38:18-19], and He describes that vast shaking.
And all men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at My presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall . . . and I shall call for a sword against him throughout all My mountains . . .
And I will visit him with pestilence and blood; I will rain upon him and the people with him an overflowing rain with great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
You know, when I turn to the Revelation, it sounds like the opening of that sixth seal:
And I beheld when he opened that sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
And the stars of heaven fell on the earth . . .
And the heaven departed as a scroll . . . and every mountain and island moved out of their places.
And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the captains . . . hid themselves in the rocks;
And said, Fall on us, hide us from the face of Him that sits on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb,
For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
When I read the description of this awful visitation from God upon the armies coming down like hordes to cover their land like a cloud, it reminds me of the sixth seal in the Revelation [Revelation 6:12].
Now so great is this destruction, that the thirty-ninth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel describes it in detail. And it says, “Thus saith the Lord God; I am against thee O Gog, the prince of Rosh, the prince of Meshech and Tubal: I will turn thee back, and will leave but the sixth part of thee” [Ezekiel 39:1-2]. Eighty-four percent of that vast army shall be utterly destroyed, only sixteen percent of it will remain. “And thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and the people that are with thee” [Ezekiel 39:4]. And then He says,
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves . . . east of the Dead Sea. And so vast is the destruction, it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog, and all his multitude; and they shall call it the Valley of Hamon Gog, the Valley of the Multitudes of Gog.
And seven months, it shall take seven months, for the house of Israel to bury the vast hordes of the slain of the armies of Gog . . . Then, son of man, thus saith the Lord God,
speak to every feathered fowl, and every beast of the field, and say Come to the sacrifice of God upon the mountains of Israel,
And ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth . . . and ye shall eat the fat to the full, and drink blood till you are drunk, of My sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.
Thus shall ye be filled at My table with horses and chariots, and mighty men, and all the men of war, saith the Lord God.
And I will set My glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see My judgment that I have executed, and My hand that I have laid upon them.
[Ezekiel 39:11-12, 17-21]
What a terrific prophecy; and one that could come to pass any day now, any time now, as we reach toward the denouement and the consummation of this age.
In the remaining time that is allotted me, I want to speak of those things as we look at them in reality and with the knowledge we have of our present world. First, may I remind you that Daniel, chapter 9, says that wars are determined unto the end [Daniel 9:26]. God says that. God says that.
The preamble of the United States, the preamble of the United Nations, has in it these words: “We the people, in order to save succeeding generations from the curse of war.” It’s a magnificent preamble. It’s a great vision and hope, but it will never come to pass until we see in glory the coming of the Prince of Peace. God says, in the ninth chapter of Daniel, that wars are determined unto the end [Daniel 9:26]. Our Lord, in the great apocalyptic discourse in Matthew 24, said, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars” [Matthew 24:6]. That has been the story of mankind since Cain lifted up his hand to slay Abel [Genesis 4:8]. And it is no different this hour than it was in the days of our fathers, that it shall be, according to the prophecy of God, in the days of our children. Wars are determined unto the end [Daniel 9:6].
And when I pick up the Bible and read the Revelation, which is the description of the vast consummation of this age, of history—when I read that, it is full of blood, and violence, and war. This great war that is just described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 in the destruction of Rosh, the great war called the campaign or battle of Armageddon [Revelation 16:16], which brings the intervention of Christ from the skies [Revelation 19:11-21], and in that final battle after the millennium, when Satan goes out to deceive the nations once again [Revelation 20:7-8], and he is opposed by the intervention of Almighty God; war, war [Revelation 20:9-10].
Now so much of this is described because the Bible has to do with His people and with the revelation of His Son from heaven. So much of this concerns the bloodshed in Palestine. And in that tiny country, there is outlined for us this vast carnage in the destruction of Russia, and of course the battle of Har Megiddo—Armageddon—the valley of the hill of Megiddo.
In this recent journey, one of the ministers who likes to spiritualize the Word of God, one of the ministers was scoffing at the idea that in Megiddo, many of you I’m sure have been there, in the little hill of Megiddo and the Esdraelon Valley before it, that in that small place of Megiddo, and he was ridiculing the idea, as it is presented in the Word of God literally, he said, “It is ridiculous to think that these vast armies could ever converge in so small a place, and ever be destroyed with such vast carnage. It’s not literal. It’s not to be taken factually. This is a spiritual presentation of the ultimate battle that shall bathe the world in blood but it isn’t actually so.”
Well, I said, “That’s all right for you to say that and to believe that. But,” I said, “you don’t follow closely the Word of God.” You listen to the Word of the Lord. There is no intimation in the Word of God that this final, and ultimate, and bloody battle is going to take place in one little spot, on one little hill called Armageddon. Listen to the Word of the Lord:
And an angel came and he stood by the altar; and cried with a loud voice saying, Thrust in the sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
So great is this battle, this carnage, that blood, up to the bridles of the horses, covers an area of one thousand six hundred furlongs. A furlong is an eighth of a mile. Two hundred miles, bathed in blood. Where is that? The Word of God tells us. The Word of God tells us. Listen to Isaiah 63:
Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?…
Wherefore are Thou red in Thine apparel, and Thy garments like him that treadeth in the winepress?
And He answers—
I have trodden the winepress . . . I will tread them in Mine anger, and trample them in My fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments, and I will stain all of My garments.
This is the day of the judgment and intervention of God. And it says He comes from Bozrah, treading the winepress of the fury of the wrath of Almighty God and the blood of the carnage of the battle has dyed His garments red [Isaiah 63:1-3]. And from Bozrah, in Edom to Megiddo in Esdraelon, is exactly one thousand six hundred furlongs, exactly. That battle and that carnage is not going to be on one little mountain, that a man could scoff at and describe. But it begins in Bozrah in Edom, and follows in blood one thousand six hundred furlongs, two hundred miles. And so vast is the carnage that Israel takes seven months to bury the dead [Ezekiel 39:12].
Now that raises another question in our day and our generation. And I want to give you the answer as it occurred and as I learned it. American Airlines said to me in Los Angeles––I was flying from Los Angeles to Detroit to speak to the Conservative Baptist Convention, meeting in Detroit––and when I went to get on the plane they said to me, “Now this plane we have oversold, and would you be nice enough, and kind enough to sit on this plane? It also is going to Chicago, non-stop,” where I was to transfer to another plane to get to Detroit. Well, I said, “Surely, I’d be that nice and that kind. I don’t mind whether I sit on this plane or this one.”
But American Airlines forgot to tell me that the plane that I was going on, that I had a reservation on, was a DC-7, and this plane that they put me on was a DC-6. And the DC-6 got to Chicago after my connecting plane was already leaving for Detroit. And I was burned up. I was seething on the inside because I had a close schedule and was to speak that night. I got on that American plane, I stomped down through the aisle, there’s only one seat left, and I plopped down in it just as mad as I could be, just sat there, seething on the inside. Well, when my temper allayed a moment, I looked over here, and there was a colonel in all his glory. I looked over here, and there was a general in all of his magnificence. And I looked down there and there was another officer. And right there was another officer.
And I screwed up enough courage to look to see by whom I was a sitting, and the first thing I saw was a shoulder with five stars on it. I could see now, why that one seat was vacant; five stars. Oh, and there little me sat by five stars. I looked around in the face of the fellow and it was General Omar Bradley, Chief of Staff of the armies of the United States of America. I never had such a marvelous time in my life. He got out his papers, and we fought the Korean War from beginning to ending, all the way through and a lot of other things. And one of the things I asked him was this, I said, “General Bradley, haven’t the atomic bombs, and the hydrogen bombs, and all of these modern mechanized instruments of warfare, haven’t they rendered obsolete the armies of the world? No longer will nations fight with vast hordes of men. Won’t it be push button war, missile war?”
“Oh, preacher,” he said, “no, no, not at all.” He says, “It will never be that way.” He said, “The only way that an atomic bomb can be effective is when you constrict the enemy. They have to be pushed together some way.” He says, “If there’s somebody there, a soldier there, and there’s a soldier yonder, and there’s an outfit over yonder, and there’s a battalion there, and there’s a segment over yonder,” he said, “your atomic bomb is no good. The only way you can use atomic fission in warfare is when you constrict the enemy and push him together. Then,” he says, “when the armies push together the enemy, and you have them all together, then” he said, “you can drop your bomb from your jet plane, and immediately it becomes one of annihilation and destruction.”
That’s what I wanted to know. For the Book says, that that land for two hundred miles is going to be bathed in blood in the armies of these nations that are gripped in mortal war [Revelation 14:20]. And however the missile may be invented and however the bomb may be perfected, the only way it can be used in warfare is when the armies of the nations constrict their enemies so that the bomb can be dropped upon the enemy army and it be destroyed. That’s why you’re going to have those vast hordes covering the land of Palestine.
Then there’s one other question to be answered, and that is this. How in the earth is it that these vast armies are going to converge upon that bridge between the continents of Europe, and Asia, and Africa? All three of those continents converge in that place. Why is it and how is it that they’re going to converge in that area and this is the place of that vast destruction and carnage? Well, God has answered and showed us in the Revelation. He says here that
I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, all three of them.
And they are the spirits of demons, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the great day of God Almighty’s battle . . .
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Har Megiddo, Armageddon.
It will be the spirit of deceit and deception that goes out into the whole world to deceive the rulers of the nations to bring them together to that great final battle of the Lord God Almighty. And I have mentioned to you the first battle is this in the waste and destruction of Russia [Ezekiel 38-39]. And the second great battle will be Armageddon at which the intervention of God is made when Jesus comes down [Revelation 19:11-21]. And the last one when Satan is loosed for a season and he goes forth to deceive the nations of the world [Revelation 20:7-8]; the war against God and His Son, and in that war, final triumph and victory is bestowed upon the people of God [Revelation 20:9-10].
As we face these tragic, and harsh, and awful days at the consummation, what of the remnant? What of God’s people? Will they be in that bloodshed? Will they see that holocaust? Oh, no, for that is one of the gifts the Lord bestows upon those who place their trust in Him. As 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, “God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to receive salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ.” As Revelation 3:10 says, “Because thou hast kept My word, I also will keep thee in that hour of triumph that shall come upon the whole world.” And as the glorious Word of our Lord avows in Luke 21:
When these things begin to come to pass, lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.
Watch and pray therefore, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape the trial that shall come upon the whole earth.
This is God’s rapture; taking away when the day becomes dark, and the hour becomes horrible, and the future is darkened in the wrath and the judgment of Almighty God; the Lord’s people are taken away [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. As the angel said unto Lot, “I can do nothing until thou become thither” [Genesis 19:22], and when God snatched away Lot, the fire fell––the brimstone, and the judgment––but not until Lot was taken away [Genesis 19: 24-25]. So it is, in the time of the end; not till God’s people are taken away will the judgment fall [2 Thessalonians 3:6-8]. Oh, that we may be accounted worthy to attain unto that resurrection; to see Jesus coming for His own! [John 14:3]. O blessed hope and precious faith [Titus 2:13]; God give it as it is bestowed as a gift, God give it to us who believe in Him [Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8].
And while we sing this song of appeal, in this balcony round you; on this lower floor you; a family, a couple, somebody you, coming to the Lord, putting your life in the church, make it tonight [Ephesians 2:8]. Make it now. There is time and to spare for you, for you. If you’ve never looked in faith to Jesus, open your heart and accept Him tonight. Do it now. Then in any exigency, in any trial, in any providence, whatever God shall bring on any tomorrow, we’re ready. Jesus has saved us. We’re ready. Have you taken Him as your Lord? Do it tonight. Do it now [Romans 10:8-13]. To put your life with us, in this precious church, come [Hebrews 10:24-25]. A family, or one somebody you, make it now. Come, while we stand and while we sing.