Prophecy teachers vary on where they place the Ezekiel 38 war in relation to the rapture, but all agree it is an end-times war, as specifically stated in the text (verses 8, 14). It will take place after the land has been desolate for a long time, the people are back in the land recovering from war, in a united country with one ruler, and living securely.
Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms” (Ezekiel 37:20-22).
“Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety” (Ezekiel 38:7-8).
That is exactly what has happened to Israel in modern history. And now we see the exact coalition, conditions, and chronology forming before our eyes. These prophecies could not come to pass more clearly than they are right now, except for the moment when this future attack begins and God supernaturally intervenes. It is as if someone were reading Ezekiel 38 like a movie script and directing the global players how to act!
My personal belief is that this war will take place soon after the rapture (as an opportune power/resource grab during the chaotic aftermath). Or it could happen very early in the tribulation period—perhaps as part of the second-seal judgment of war.
While Israel is a supremely successful agricultural, technological, and business start-up country, for decades it has relied entirely on imported energy sources. Jewish rabbis have often joked that God blessed them with milk and honey but accidentally gave all the oil to the Arab countries.
However, in 2009, a natural gas field large enough to fill 40 percent of Israel’s energy needs was discovered. The Tamar field, 15 miles off the coast of Israel, was the first of several such fields Israel would discover in 2012 and 2013. Then in 2015, a massive oil reserve ten times larger than average oil fields in other parts of the world was discovered in the Golan Heights.
What all that means is this: Prior to 2009, Israel had to import energy. But since 2019, she has become a major exporter of energy. All of this amidst reports that oil production in the surrounding countries will peak in a few short years, and the fact that Israeli energy exports to Europe will cut directly into Russia’s oil sales, which are its main source of national (that is, military) funding.
With that in mind, read this telling verse found in Ezekiel 38:13:
Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder?”
Sheba and Dedan are modern-day Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, and many prophecy experts believe Tarshish is modern-day England. If that is the case, Tarshish’s villages— other translations render this as “coastlands”— could be seen as America and other countries originally colonized by England or Spain.
In other words, Saudi Arabia, England, and America (perhaps along with some other countries) will merely protest the invasion, and this verse gives us insight into the fact that Russia will be after something valuable that Israel has. Could it be Israel’s oil and gas? Prophecy experts differ on what will keep America from intervening in the conflict. My view is that America will have been crippled by the rapture (and related events) and unable to come to Israel’s aid. Ahead of that, however, we are already witnessing a significant weakening of America, along with a rising antisemitism toward Israel.
Perhaps Israel’s energy wealth will be one of the main reasons for the “hooks in your jaws” mentioned in Ezekiel 38:4, which will “turn… around” the leader of Russia from his country’s affairs and draw him into a war.
The Amazingly Accurate Fulfillments of Prophecy
The strange and epic prophecies in the book of Ezekiel are fascinating to study. You’ll find that it’s worth the time to pick one or two prophecies from the book and study them in depth. In doing so, your faith will be strengthened as you see the amazing accuracy with which God fulfills prophecy—and you will be greatly encouraged as you see the stage being so clearly set in our day for key end-times prophecies that are relatively soon to be fulfilled. The study of prophecy enriches our appreciation for God’s Word and helps us to recognize it as a supernatural handbook that prepares us for the incredible days in which we live!
Excerpted from Todd Hampson’s book, The Chronological Guide to Bible Prophecy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2022) pg 108-110.