How can we know that Christ’s return is near? (Part 10)
The Bible tells us that in the near future, a military power bloc in the Far East will form which will be hostile towards continental Europe. This power bloc is referred to in Scripture as the kings of the East.
We are first introduced to the kings of the East and their powerful armies and weapons in Revelation 9:13-21, which describes the appearance of 200 million “horsemen” from the east (Revelation 9:14, 16).
We should note that Revelation 9:16 literally says, “… and the number of armies of the cavalry two myriads of myriads…” The word for “horsemen” or “cavalry” is hippicon, which is derived from hippos, meaning “horse.” The New Bible Commentary: Revised explains: “… the horsemen seem to be of little account; it is the horses that terrify and destroy.”
Some claim the reference of the huge number is strictly symbolic; others state that the army describes a force of 200 million demons. But since the emphasis is on the “horses” or tanks and other deadly weaponry, the thought should be considered that the tanks are not directed by human beings, but by robots. Especially Far Eastern nations are already heavily engaged in creating and cloning artificial intelligence (AI) machines.
The attack of the kings of the East on Europe will occur shortly after Europe’s invasion of the Middle East and Europe’s attack on the kings of the East (Daniel 11:41-45). This attack is described in Revelation 9:1-12.
This first phase of this coming war between Europe and Asia is also alluded to in Daniel 11:44.
The European forces will attack the kings of the East—Russia, China, Japan and other Asian countries—after rumors from those areas will have disturbed the “beast” (the coming European military leader), perhaps indicating that these Asian nations are planning an attack on Europe and the Middle East. Interestingly enough, the European nations will use weapons that will not kill, but only torment the Asian peoples for five months (Revelation 9:5). They will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them (verse 6). These weapons will not destroy the grass of the earth, nor any green thing or any tree (verse 4). Based on this description, it is apparent that the European forces (described as flying locusts, verses 3, 7, 9) will not use nuclear or conventional weapons, but that they will engage in some kind of biological or chemical warfare.
The kings of the East will fight Europe in retaliation for the attack of the European power bloc. The tormented Asian nations will respond with a counter attack (compare also Revelation 9:17 with Joel 2:4), but their actions will be ruthless and merciless. They will use nuclear weapons of mass destruction and kill “a third of mankind” (Revelation 9:15), showing that the effect of their actions will kill many Europeans, although it will not be limited to just European nations. Other passages tell us that ultimately, Europe will be destroyed by these Asian nations, and the beginning of this destruction will undoubtedly commence with this counter attack, but additional attacks will follow.
Shortly before Christ’s return, at least parts of the armies of the kings of the East—mainly the modern Russians and Ukrainians—will apparently sweep through Europe and create devastating havoc there. Jeremiah 51:27-28 refers to horses as coming up against Babylon like bristling locusts, indicating that they will use some of their tanks and their air force to destroy modern Babylon.
The Bible shows that after the ten European nations, under the authority of a modern Assyrian leader of German or Austrian descent, subdue and conquer many nations, including the USA and the UK, they themselves will be defeated in war by the modern Medes. Compare Isaiah 13:17, which describes the destruction of modern “Babylon” through the hand of the modern “Medes” or Russians and Ukrainians. Verses 6, 9 and 13 designate the timing as occurring during the “day of the LORD.” Compare also Isaiah 21:2.
In ancient times, the Medes lived in present-day Iran. Originally, under Assyrian rule, they revolted against and expelled the Assyrians and imposed their rule over the Persians. They then attacked Nineveh and overthrew the Assyrian Empire. Under Cyrus the Great, the Medes and the Persians were considered as one people. The Encyclopedia Britannica (ed.1959) points out that at least some of the Medes were not Iranians or Indo-Europeans, but perhaps connected with the numerous tribes of the Caucasus. The modern Medes, then, are to be found in modern Russia and surrounding areas, including Ukraine.
At the same time or shortly after their final attack on Europe, the kings from the East will be crossing the dried-up river Euphrates to move their armies and equipment to a place called “Armageddon” in the Middle East (Revelation 16:12, 16). “Armageddon” or the “hill of Megiddo” (“har” meaning “hill” in Hebrew; in German, the word is “Harmageddon”) is about 55 miles or 90 kilometers north of Jerusalem, and about 15 miles or 25 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea.
Megiddo is a huge mound with a commanding view of the long and fertile valley of Jezreel—an ideal place for armies to gather. The kings from the East, as well as all of the other kings of the earth, will be influenced by Satan and the demonically possessed beast and the false prophet to assemble there together (Revelation 16:13–14), to combine their forces with the beast’s armies to fight the returning Christ.
We do not read that there will be a battle at Armageddon—the “battle” will be fought farther south in the valley of Jehoshaphat, which is called today the “Kidron Valley,” which borders Jerusalem on the east. That “battle” is described in the 19th chapter of the book of Revelation and in the 14th chapter of the book of Zechariah, which pictures the return of Jesus Christ. Christ will supernaturally destroy and wipe out those armies trying to fight Him (Revelation 19:15, 21; Zechariah 14:12, 15), and the beast and the false prophet will be thrown through the “breath” or word “of His mouth” (2 Thessalonians 2:8) into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20) to be consumed and burned up there.
Some claim that the army which Christ will destroy at His return will consist of “two hundred million” human beings. However, even if the reference in Revelation 9:16 to 200 million “horsemen” refers to human soldiers at that prior time, the Bible does not say that the kings from the East will move again two hundred million Asian soldiers to the Middle East and Armageddon. We do not know how many soldiers will be present at Armageddon and at the subsequent battle in the Kidron Valley.
Some feel that the kings of the East or the Asiatic hordes will also attack the descendants of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah—including America, Great Britain and the state of Israel—before Christ returns. They refer to Ezekiel 38 and 39 in this context.
However, these events will occur AT THE VERY BEGINNING of the Millennium–-shortly AFTER Christ has returned (We learned earlier that prior to the return of Christ, the modern descendants of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah will be attacked and conquered by the modern Babylonian system of Europe—not by the Asiatic hordes).
Ezekiel 38:8 emphasizes that the Asiatic hordes will attack Israel and Judah when those living in the Promised Land have been “brought back from the sword and gathered from among many people.” It is emphasized that they are THEN dwelling “safely.” Verse 12 also reiterates that these former “waste places” are “again inhabited,” and that the people of Israel, who were gathered from the nations, “have acquired livestock and goods.”
We read in Ezekiel 38:11 that the people of Israel will live in “unwalled villages”; that they are a “peaceful people, who dwell safely,” “without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.” This shows that the events will not occur PRIOR to Christ’s return, as the modern descendants of the houses of Israel and Judah do not live in peace today, and they will not live in peace, without walls, bars or gates, prior to Christ’s return.
Also, Ezekiel 38:8 refers to the “mountains of Israel” where the modern house of Israel will live at that time (compare Ezekiel 39:12, 22, 23, 29)—but the modern house of Israel does not presently reside there at all, nor will they live there prior to Christ’s return.
Ezekiel 38 identifies the Asiatic nations and armies. This gives us a clue as to who the nations of the kings of the East will be that will attack Europe and that will invade the Middle East prior to Christ’s return. Therefore, we will observe a growing military collaboration between those nations in the near future, and when we do, we know that Christ’s return is near.
Ezekiel 38:2-3, 5, 6 speaks of “Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal,” as well as “Persia, Ethiopia and Libya,” “Gomer and… the house of Togarmah.”
“Gog” means “mountain” or “high” and seems to be a reference to a commander (compare also verse 7). As he is called “Gog of the land of Magog,” and also “the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal,” it appears that at that time the leader of the future kings of the East and the nations under his command will be Chinese.
Magog has been understood as a reference to the Mongols–or more generally, China. “Rosh,” meaning “blond,” is a reference to the White Russians or Ukrainians. “Meshech” is another designation for the city of Moscow, and “Tubal” for the city of Tobolsk. Meshech and Tubal, being sons of Japheth—the father of the Eurasian peoples—and brothers of Gomer and Magog (compare Genesis 10:2), seem to refer here to the Great Russians. Included in this entire description are the vast regions in northern Eurasia extending from the Baltic to the Pacific.
Persia designates modern Iran; and Ethiopia (Cush in Hebrew) includes the people of the state of Ethiopia, but also peoples in Central and Southern India and parts of Sri Lanka. Cush’s sons, Seba and Raamah (Genesis 10:7), and Raamah’s son Sheba (same verse), were later worshipped by Hindus as the gods Shiva and Ramah.
Libya (Put in Hebrew) includes the people of the state of Libya, as well as people from Northern and Central India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
As we read earlier that Ethiopia and Libya will be conquered by the beast prior to Christ’s return, they won’t be part of the kings of the East at that time, but they might become part of that collaboration after Christ’s return, unless in Ezekiel 38, Cush and Put refer exclusively to the peoples of Southern India, Sri Lanka, Northern and Central India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Gomer seems to designate the peoples from Asian steppes and deserts, including people from the region of Mongolia. Finally, the reference to “Togarmah from the far north” (Ezekiel 38:6) has been understood as a reference to the people living in Siberia.
We note that certain other Far Eastern countries are not mentioned in Ezekiel 38, such as Japan and Korea, but it is highly likely that they will be part of the kings of the East prior to Christ’s return.
We read in the 38th and 39th chapters of the book of Ezekiel that God will supernaturally intervene and destroy those Asian warring nations.
In passing, a similar final attack on Jerusalem will occur when the Millennium is ending and Satan will be “released from his prison” for a short while. He will “go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:7-8).
This is not the same incident as the one described in Ezekiel 38 and 39, as major differences are listed. For instance, Revelation 20:8 speaks of the hostile nations which are in “the four corners of the earth,” while Ezekiel 38:15 and Ezekiel 39:2 say that they come from “the far north.”
Also, the nations referred to in Revelation 20 are not necessarily identical with those mentioned in Ezekiel 38 and 39, but they are mentioned symbolically in the book of Revelation to signify those who are opposing God and following Satan. They will try to conquer Jerusalem, but God will supernaturally destroy them (Revelation 20:9). This will be the very last time when man will try to fight in war.
In conclusion, when we see that Far Eastern nations, including Russia, China, Japan, Korea, India and Pakistan, are forming a military power bloc at approximately the same time when a core European military power bloc of ten nations or groups of nations is forming, we know that Christ’s return is near.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link