The Preacher Says....  
  Israel’s God  
  The subtle, or not so subtle effects of modern communication on Christian morality, when our senses are assaulted by so many kinds of mass media, that there is another area where we are affected, and that is with respect to mans perception of God. And this effect on us and our perception of God is done without any deliberate attempt on the part of broadcasters to affect or influence us. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. We know in theory about human deprivation and suffering. Except for mass communications our lives would be circumscribed by our own experience. But day after day we see on television starving and maimed children, famine, hideous disease, slaughter and earthquakes, and on and on. And so what we used to know in theory 75 years ago, we know today in fact; the world is a very hideous place. Coupled with this knowledge is the fact that the media makes each of us a scientist. Or more properly, scientists gather us on the media. Thus we see, for example, the earth from the moon. We see schematic representations of nuclear reactors. We see television plucking pictures out of thin air. And we see programs about the age of the universe; about the fact of light reaching this planet from stars far off in the universe having taken thousands of light years to get here. And all of this happens because of the immutable, invariable laws of nature. The combined effect of all this is our apprehension of the fact that life is this never ending cycle of birth, life, tragedy and death, repeated in lower animal life and higher forms of life, and even among plants. This impression of life against the backdrop of these immutable, uniform laws of the universe create an impression in our mind of a God that no longer acts. I guess what I’m saying is that modern communication tends to make Deists out of all of us. This notion of God is, of course, not new, the idea being three or four centuries old, but in it the philosopher who is a Deist says that his view of the universe not only permits the concept of God, but actually cries out for God. After all, these wonderful, uniform laws speak of a creator. But the creator spoken of does not permit of the God of the Bible. Instead, it only permits of a god who sets the machinery going and no longer tampers with his handiwork.

Bible students are ready to show that this attitude toward God is not new to them. In fact, the apostle Peter said that ‘there shall come in the last days scoffers, saying where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ But despite the fact that the Bible predicts this sort of attitude, this is not to say that it ought to be ridiculed because it’s perfectly understandable. The God revealed by the media is a cold, amoral, first cause. We are different from our ancestors, much more removed from God. They were involved in seedtime and harvest; the mysteries of the universe were much more mysterious to them than they are to us. Much less had been learned and God was very much nearer. But the God that we see today, this scientific God, in their minds is not remotely connected with what they consider to be the God of legend and myth. Which is the way that the God of the Bible is understood. After all, isn’t the God of the Bible very much like the tribal gods of primitives? Can a God who spoke to Abraham and told him to circumcise all the males–can He have any relevance to modern day life? Or who caused the children of Israel to tramp around in the wilderness for forty years following a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day? Or told Adam not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Friends of mine say, "Oh, how I’d like to believe in the Bible. The idea of eternal life is wonderful, do you think I’d willingly reject it? But I can’t be a hypocrite; the Bible is demonstrably a myth." They make the observation that the Bible doesn’t bear out it’s assertion that God is merciful. If He’s so merciful, why doesn’t He stop this sadness, the sorrow, the suffering, the deprivation rampant in the world?

Why does the Bible set up this very arbitrary standard of about who shall or shall not receive eternal life? Why is there no correlation in the world between work and reward if the God of the Bible is, indeed, God? And these are very hard questions to answer. I’m sure each of us has answered these questions for himself, but the answer we give to friends with whom we’ve been speaking, I’m sure would not satisfy them; they would seem to them to be temporizing or rationalizing. There isn’t, they would feel, any evidence to support our views and this is an age when proof is required. Of course, those who can’t go beyond the unfeeling ‘first cause’ type of God really have a false view of what the God of the Bible is really like. Because they are unwilling to believe in the God of the Bible, they don’t read the Bible. Moreover, I’m sure many of them have pangs of conscience every now and then, so turn on the television on Sunday morning and listen to what is euphemistically called the ‘electronic ministry’. And what they find is a glossy, silly, egocentric religion that is just another manifestation of self gratification that this world is obsessed with. They think that this is what the Bible teaches, and of course nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible is full of messages about sacrifice and love of fellow man, and suffering, and not this giggling sort of what’s-in-it-for-me type of religion that television palms off as Christianity.

For reasons that cannot be explained, the truth that is in the Bible must be mined. Unfortunately, the veins in the mine are far apart. The Bible is written ‘here a little, there a little’, ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’; God says in Isaiah 28 that He has spoken to man with a stammering tongue. Why this is true, I suppose, is a matter for another consideration. But it is in fact true that a coherent picture of God’s plan declared in the Bible comes only with patience. And a patient, studious undertaking of Bible study is not easily done unless there is a basis for believing that such a study will be worthwhile. It’s very difficult to spend the kind of time necessary in Bible study without a preconception, at least, that the study will bear fruit.

Which brings me to the point of these remarks. What I’m trying to find out–to suggest to you–is that in some way we can turn this steely mind of the 20th century man to the Bible and its truth. We can deal with one problem, it seems to me, and that is the objection posed by some of our friends that God is not good or merciful–that He has revoked moral sense–that the rain falls on both the just and the unjust. This notion of God displeases, and yet how silly to make that judgment, because if man does indeed differentiate between good and evil, and if he is a ‘first cause’ type of believer, then he must believe that this concept of good and evil comes from God. If we understand then that if God knows good and evil, isn’t it foolish to believe that God, knowing good, would choose evil? Isn’t it much more reasonable to believe that God, knowing good and evil, is a just God? But He must be just in ways we do not always understand. If He is a just God, does not this mean that there might very well be a just resolution of mans’ dilemma? And if the Bible purports to solve that dilemma, then ought it not to be consulted?

It seems to me, however, that a much more powerful argument to be made to support the God of the Bible is by calling our friend’s attention to the witness of the Jew. After all, the Jew today is on everyone’s mind. Everybody, of course, knows that the Jews are the people of the Bible. They may not know much more than that–the part they play in God’s plan–but one can hardly escape the Jew these days; his nation is before everyone. The fate of that nation is in the balance. Individually, the Jew is unique. What other nation has made such a great contribution to society in terms of artists, scientists, intellectual leaders, business and government leaders? Of course, the ultimate uniqueness of the Jew is his survival. The Jew has survived 2500 years of persecution and he has lived uprooted from his land completely for 2,000 years, and partially for 2,500 years. The remarkable thing about this is that he has survived as an individual and now as a nation, re-gathered to their ancient land as a religious group–the 4,000 year old religion in tact. There is simply no analogy, no comparison that can be made to the Jew. One might say that the Irish, the Pole, the Italian have all been persecuted in their day, as every wave of immigrants suffer some persecution, but the unbelievable 2500 year persecution of the Jew and his survival in spite of that persecution, is unprecedented.

Does the Bible speak to us of the fate of this Jew? This people who are God’s chosen people? Manifestly, it does. And it seems to me this is the way you pique the interest of your friend. Having been chosen by God you call to your friend’s attention the fact there are probably 500 testimonies to the effect, that because of their disobedience, God would scatter them. Let me read just one prophecy that’s over 3,000 years old from Deuteronomy 28:

It shall come to pass that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good,

and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you,

and to bring you to naught; and ye shall be plucked from off the land

whiter thou goest to possess it.

And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people

from one end of the earth even to the other;

and there shalt thou serve other gods, which neither thee

nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.

Among these nations thou shalt find no ease,

neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest;

but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart,

and failing of eyes and sorrow of mind;

and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee;

and thou shalt fear day and night, and shall have none assurance

of thy life.

In the morning thou shalt say, would God it were eve!

And at even thou shalt say, would God it were morning!

For the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear,

and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

500 years later in the time of Ezekiel–more like 1500 years later in the time of Ezekiel–God, through the prophet Ezekiel, speaks to Zedekiah, the last King of Judah, saying,

Thou profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come

when iniquity shall have an end, thus saith the Lord,

Remove the diadem, take off the crown, this shall not be the same

Exalt him that is low, abase him that is high.

I will overturn, overturn, overturn it and it shall be no more

Until he comes whose right it is, and I will give it him.

And Jesus, 2,000 years ago, speaking of the impending destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, after pointing to that destruction, says;

When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know

that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are

in the midst of it depart out, and let not them that are

in the countries enter thereinto; for these be the days of vengeance,

that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them

who are with child and to those that give suck in those days,

for there shall be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people (Jews)

and they shall be led away captive unto all nations,

and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles

Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

Well, they have indeed been trodden down for the past 2,000 years. But what’s going to happen to the Jews? Again, 2,500 years before, Ezekiel says this: that God would re-gather you, specifically, for I will take you from among the heathen and gather you out of all countries and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water upon you and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness and all your idols, will I cleanse you. I’ll give you a new heart and a new spirit, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.(Ezek 11. 1, 19). Well. Has that happened? The first part of it has happened–Jews re-gathered to their own land–we’ve witnessed this miraculous gathering, but as a nation, a people, this cleansing of which the prophet speaks has not taken place. And when will it happen? The prophet Zechariah, 12th chapter, says:

That day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem;

and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David;

and the House of David shall be as God,

as the angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass

in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations

that come against Jerusalem.

And I will pour upon the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem

the spirit of grace and of supplications;

and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced

and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son,

and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness

for his firstborn.

Remember, this was written 2500 years ago, speaking of the time when the Jews will indeed be cleansed when they recognize that person whom they have pierced, Jesus Christ, who at the time of the prophecy had not been born and would not be born for another 500 years. In any event the 9th verse of the portion just read says that before this cleansing of Jerusalem and the Jews takes place, nations will come up against Israel and seek to destroy it, and in fact those nations will be destroyed themselves. And what nation or nations are going to come up? Which brings us back to the chapter just read (Ezek 38).

This enemy that is going to come up against Israel is described in Ezekiel 38 as Gog. Who is Gog? Let’s look at the first half dozen verses of the chapter. He is from the land of Magog; he’s the chief Prince of Meshech and Tubal. If you have a New English Bible it doesn’t quite read like that; it says he’s the Prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. And Gog of the land of Magog, also Prince of Meshech and Tubal, comes up against the land with Gomer and Togarmah (6th verse). Well, if you look back at Genesis 10, you’ll find that Magog, Meshech, Tubal and Gomer, were all sons of Japheth–and Togarmah was the son of Gomer. Why are these names used? Genesis 10 describes the redistribution of people after the flood. God, speaking through Moses, said that the three sons of Noah–Shem, Ham and Japheth, would occupy different parts of the world. And the sons referred to in Ezekiel 38 all happen to be the sons of Japheth. Incidentally, Genesis 10. 15 states that the purpose of this chapter is to tell us the fact that these are families of the sons of Noah after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.

So Ezekiel is using these names to give us a clue as to where Gog’s supporters are. Well, Magog was described by Josephus in the first century as ancient Scythia. The ancient Scythians occupied the land between Romania and the Caspian Steppes, in a crescent over the top of the Black Sea and on into eastern Russia. Meshech and Tubal, who are they? Well, Meshech and Tubal–remember, there are no vowels in the Hebrew language–might very well be Mosk and Tobol–Moscow and Tobesk. Moscow and the Tobol River, these are Russian landmarks. Rosh, (if indeed Rosh is the appropriate translation here)–you see, we have the chief Prince of Meshech and Tubal, and in the Septuagint (NEB) we’ve got Prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. It all depends on whether or not Rosh is a common or a proper noun. In fact it may very well be a common noun here, used as an adjective to describe the word Prince. We don’t really need Rosh identified separately, and he isn’t a son of Japheth, which may indicate that the word is better translated as a proper noun. If this is so, it must be more than coincidence that Rosh, Mosk, and Topol, all words suggestive of Russian origins, are used here.

We know that Togarmah is traditionally Associated with Armenia. However, Gomer (6th verse) and all his bands that accompany Gog, traditionally describes western Europe. How can this be when we’re talking about these eastern nations? You will recall in Revelation 17. 12, when the 10 kings have one hour with the beast, it is thought that the Common Market nations–France, Germany, etc., now called "the nine"–isn’t that interesting, nine–almost to ten–the nine Common Market nations, (perhaps, ultimately, the ten Common Market nations), will come under the sway of Russia just at the time of the end, and for one hour, symbolically, have power with Russia. Western Europe, an approach to Israel from western Europe, would not fit the prophecy here, because Gog comes up against the mountains of Israel. In order to come against that boundary buttressed with mountains, you’d have to come in from the north, from Syria. Indeed the 15th verse says that Gog shall come down against the land out of the north parts. And so I think it’s interesting, we may see this: Russia taking over the Common Market nations, looking to the west, and then, as said in Ezekiel 38. 4, God will ‘turn thee back’, that is turn thee back out of Europe and put hooks into their jaws and ‘bring them forth’ so that they can come down through the north–through Syria–up against the mountains of Israel, as the prophecy requires.

In the 5th verse of Ezek 38, we find that this army is accompanied by other armies–the armies of Persia, Ethiopia and Libya. And of course we can readily understand Persia, the same country as Iran. With the situation in Iran as it is today, it seems almost inevitable that Persia, or Iran, will come under the dominance of Russia. Communism makes capital out of the kind of internal dissension and strife rampant in Iran today. But how about Ethiopia and Libya? They seem far removed. Well, why are they in here? If you’ve got a Bible other than the King James version, a New English Bible for example, you’ll find the words Ethiopia and Libya do not appear in the Hebrew at all, but the words are Cush and Put. I repeat, Cush and Put. Back to Genesis 10.

Here Cush and Put are described as being the sons of Ham, who was one of the sons of Noah. And where did they go? Well, we know with respect to Cush, Genesis 10 says that he had a son named Nimrod, known as a mighty hunter, and the beginning of his kingdom it says in the 10th verse was in the land of Shinar. Shinar is the ancient name for Mesopotamia where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are. Today that country is modern Iraq. Iran and Iraq–Persia and Cush–are both there in a position to control the Persian Gulf–to control the oil in Iran and the Arabian Sheikdoms on the southern side of the Gulf. But you notice in Genesis that Shinar is said to be the beginning of the Kingdom of Cush. Just recently, of course, we’ve had these events in Afghanistan where Russia has marched in and attempted to capture the country, obviously to enlarge their common border, the border they share in common with Iran. And if you look at a map of Afghanistan, you’ll find that the country is virtually covered with a mountain range, called the Hindu Cush mountains. I submit that it is possible that the nomadic descendants of Cush occupied not only Mesopotamia, but also Afghanistan. So now the prophecy can be fulfilled without the inconsistency that Libya and Ethiopia placed on it. Because we can see Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Russia, all coming out of the north quarters into Syria, and against the mountains of Israel. Which brings us to the end–almost to the end–of the story which appears in Ezekiel 39. 1 - 8:

Therefore, thou son of man, prophecy against Gog, and say,

thus saith the Lord God; Behold I am against thee, O Gog,

the chief Prince of Meshech and Tubal;

And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee,

and will cause thee to come up from the north parts,

and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:

and I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand,

and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand.

Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel,

thou and all thy bands and the people that is with thee:

I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort

and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.

Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it saith the Lord.

And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell

carelessly in the isles: and they shall know I am the Lord.

So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel:

and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more:

and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, the holy one in Israel.

Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord God;

This is the day whereof I have spoken.

Let me conclude with the words of the prophet Zechariah 8,23:

In those days it shall come to pass,

that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations,

even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying,

we will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.