Given Russia's ongoing military campaign in Ukraine, these trips highlight the significance of Russia's relationship with these countries - and with Iran and Turkey in particular.
So why should you care? You should care because more than 2,600 years ago, the prophet Ezekiel warned of a future time when a vast coalition of nations will attack Israel. The leader of this coalition is a man known as Gog, the ruler of Magog (Ezekiel 38:1). This is why the invading force is known as the Gog of Magog coalition. According to Ezekiel this alliance will send an overwhelming force to invade Israel in the last days. And today, for the first time in human history, we see this alliance forming.
The Invading Nations
Which nations does Ezekiel describe? He identifies the invading nations as "Magog, Rosh, Meschech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah" (Ezekiel 38:1-6). If you look on a 2022 map of the globe, you won't find any of these nations. So how can I say this alliance is forming?
Because these are the ancient biblical names of these nations, and while their names have changed over the years, we can still locate them on a map today. Below is a list of each nation, followed by its modern day name:
Rosh = Russia
Magog = Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan
Persia = Iran
Cush = Sudan
Put = Libya
Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah = Turkey
Putin's visit to Tehran will mark the third nation he's visited since the Ukraine war began, and all three - Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran - are part of the Gog of Magog alliance. Moreover during the course of these three visits, Putin will meet with two additional members of the Gog of Magog alliance - Kazakhstan and Turkey. Is this a coincidence? I don't think so.
It's been centuries since Ezekiel first recorded these prophecies. Yet, this alliance has never existed. It certainly hasn't invaded Israel. But now? Today, we see it coming together.
An Unlikely Alliance
Putin's trip to Tehran to meet with Iranian and Turkish leaders should be of particular interest to those who study bible prophecy. Why? Because, until recently, these three nations made an unlikely alliance. First, these three nations have never been aligned in all of human history.
Second, Turkey is a member of NATO, and until recently, actively sought EU membership. Third, for most of recorded history, Russia and Iran had a turbulent relationship with little cooperation. In fact, until the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, who deemed Islam incompatible with the atheism of the Soviet Union, the modern nation of Iran had little to do with Russia.
But in recent years, Russia's ties with both nations have strengthened. Following the death of Ayatollah Khomeini and the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1989, Russia (then a part of the Soviet Union), started selling arms to Iran. In 1995, the Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy signed an agreement with Iran to finish the Bushehr nuclear power plant. The civil war in Syria was another area of cooperation between the two countries.
Russia and Iran share a common interest when it comes to keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power. Russia has a vested interest in retaining access to the Syrian naval base in Tartus and stopping the spread of ISIS. As a longtime ally of Assad, Iran also has military forces in Syria. In addition, Iran is the primary sponsor of Hezbollah, a radical terrorist organization. Hezbollah has openly operated in Syria under Assad.
It's clear Russia and Iran have strengthened their diplomatic, economic, and military ties. But what about Turkey? Of all the members of the Gog of Magog coalition, Turkey is the most interesting. Why? Because it seems even more unlikely ally of Russia in an invasion of Israel.
Following World War I, Turkey established a secular western democracy and became a model democratic republic in the Middle East. In 1949, Turkey became the first Muslim majority nation to recognize Israel. In 1952, it joined NATO. For the latter part of the 20th Century, Turkey was a strong ally of Israel, the U.S., and other western nations. As the 21st Century dawned, Turkey explored membership in the European Union. This would have further solidified the nation's western ties. Instead, an event took place that reshaped the future of Turkey.
In 2003, Turkey elected Recep Tayyip Erdogan prime minister. A former member of a banned Islamist political party, Erdogan's administration has been hostile toward Turkey's secular and democratic institutions. Under Erdogan, Turkey has turned from its traditional western allies and cultivated relationships with nations that oppose western democracy.
In July 2016, Erdogan cracked down on his political opponents following what he claimed was a coup attempt. He imprisoned thousands of citizens and consolidated his grip on power. A 2017 referendum further extended that power. Now the president, Erdogan is the undisputed ruler of Turkey. The nation, once hailed as a model of freedom and democracy in the Muslim world, has quickly devolved into a totalitarian regime eager to befriend America's enemies.
In September 2018, Turkey met the leaders of Russia and Iran in Tehran to discuss the future of Syria. In February 2019, Turkey met the leaders of Russia and Iran in Sochi to coordinate joint military plans in Syria. Now, these nations are meeting once again in Tehran. The relationship between Putin and Erdogan is strong and growing. All that's left to permanently move Turkey into the Russian ally column is a clear break between Turkey and NATO. What could cause that?
We may be witnessing it now. Turkey is experiencing massive inflation. They also counted on Ukraine for a significant portion of their food supply. Inflation and food shortages threaten Erdogan's grip on power. Where can he get a steady supply of energy and food? Russia. It may be what finally drives Turkey into Russia's corner. When that happens, the key players in the Gog of Magog alliance will be in place.
When Will All This Happen?
So when will this invasion take place? The Bible says it will come "in the latter days" (Ezekiel 38:8). The original Hebrew word in this verse is "acharith" which means "after-part, latter part, last, close, or end." In other words, this alliance will form in the last days just prior to the return of Jesus Christ. Ezekiel uses this same word "acharith" eight verses later, when he says the invasion will come "in the last days" (Ezekiel 38:16).
This is confirmed again when Ezekiel reveals the Russian leader's thoughts. Gog says to himself, "I will attack the once abandoned cities now populated with the Jews who returned from exile among the nations" (Ezekiel 38:12). This tells us Russia and its allies will attack the land when it's filled with the exiles who return from among the nations. In other words, the target is modern day Israel. This means the invasion is coming in our day and time.
Ezekiel stresses this fact again and again when He says the invasion will occur "after Israel's people have been gathered from among many nations" (Ezekiel 38:8) and "when I bring my people home from among the enemy nations" (Ezekiel 39:27). This return home from among many nations has happened only once in all of human history - modern day Israel.
While we wait for that moment, the military forces of the three most powerful members of the Gog of Magog alliance - Russia, Iran, and Turkey - are now cooperating in Syria. This puts their joint military forces right on Israel's border. And not just any border - Israel's northern border. This is where Ezekiel said the invading force will come from - north of Israel (Ezekiel 38:15; Ezekiel 39:2). Is this a coincidence? Again, I don't think so. Never in history have these three nations formed an alliance. Now, they're all stationed directly to Israel's north.
The stage is now set for the fulfillment of the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecies. Turkey has made a strategic choice to align itself with Russia and Iran. Eventually, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the other nations in the Gog of Magog alliance will send an overwhelming invasion force against Israel (Ezekiel 38:8-9). When they do, God will destroy them and display His power and glory for all the nations to see (Ezekiel 38:23). It's one more sign of how close we are to the Second Coming of Jesus.
Jesus is Coming
The rise of the Gog of Magog alliance is a major sign of the end times and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Remember, Ezekiel said this coalition will attack Israel "in the last days" (Ezekiel 38:16) "after they've been gathered from among many nations" (Ezekiel 38:8). The prophet Jeremiah spoke about this same regathering from among the nations.
He said God would "gather the remnant of His flock from the nations where he had driven them and bring them back into the land" (Jeremiah 23:3-4). And then? And then God will "raise up a righteous descendant of King David, a king who will rule the land with wisdom" (Jeremiah 23:5-6). This righteous King is the long-awaited Messiah.
Through the prophet Micah, God promised to "gather His exiles and form them into a strong nation." Then, He promised to "rule from Jerusalem as their king forever" (Micah 4:6-7). The modern day nation of Israel is the fulfillment of God's promise to regather His people back in the land of Israel.
So it should come as no surprise to see Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the other nations Ezekiel noted in cooperation with one another. According to the Bible, it's only a matter of time before they attack Israel (Ezekiel 38:8-9). And after that, it's only a matter of time before Jesus returns to establish His everlasting Kingdom (Revelation 22:20). Take note - Jesus is coming!
Britt Gillette is author of the free ebook Coming to Jesus as well as the books Signs of the Second Coming & Racing Toward Armageddon.