February 20, 2008
In my postings on this blog, I have not yet discussed a nation whose future direction will be very important in how Ezekiel 38’s prophecy unfolds. That nation is Turkey. This commentary is devoted to whether Turkey will remain in NATO’s western alliance or whether it will realign itself with Iran, placing it in the Gog-Magog alliance of Ezekiel 38. Iran (and Syria) are trying to woo Turkey away from the West. Will their efforts be successful?
Turkey has been a staunch and valued member of NATO throughout and since the Cold War, but pressures are mounting upon it to go in an Islamist direction. The link below, from forbes.com’s website, examines the current state of Turkey’s strained relations with Europe. Turkey wants to join the EU for obvious economic reasons, but many Europeans are very reluctant to let a Moslem nation join the EU as it would allow free movement of Moslems from Turkey to any other EU nation at a time when Europe already has mounting problems with a turbulent Islamic population within its borders. As the link notes, a snub to Turkey by the EU nations could drive Turkey out of NATO. This would be very damaging to NATO as Turkey’s position astride the Bosporus and Dardanelles place it in a very strategic position. Turkey controls maritime access between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea so Turkey can block Russia’s Black Sea fleet from exiting the Black Sea in a time of war.
Turkey’s current Prime Minister Erdogan has been moving Turkey in a more Islamic direction, albeit a far milder one than other Moslem nations. This has been a distress to Turkey’s military which has led coups in the past when Turkish governments strayed too far from the secular Islamic state founded by Ataturk. In recent years, Turkey has actually drawn closer to the Israelis. Naval maneuvers have been held where Turkish and Israeli warships have jointly participated and Israeli-Turkish military ties have been growing. This would seem to indicate that Turkey will stay in the western alliance, but other nations like Iran have been trying to pull Turkey out of its secular stance. A rejection by the EU may be all that is needed to push Turkey into the embrace of more-radical Islamic nations. A story from the debka.com website, cited below, details Israeli-Turkish military ties and it reports that Israel may sell one of its spy satellites to Turkey. [As a digression, the story also notes that the Israelis have decided to order three more state-of-the-art diesel submarines from Germany. These subs will likely be retrofitted to handle nuclear-tipped cruise missiles once the Israeli navy takes possession of them.]
Who is Turkey in biblical prophecy? It is my view that Turkey is one of the modern nations of Edom, descended from Abraham via Isaac’s son, Esau. Even as the Israelites had 12 tribes, Abraham’s son, Ishmael, gave birth to 12 “princes” and Esau (also called Edom) had as many nations as well. Abraham was prophesied to be the father of many nations, and his modern progeny include far more than just the Israelite nations. The Arab nations are reported to believe that they are the modern descendants of the Ishmaelites, and I agree with that identification. Genesis 36 also recorded that Edom gave birth to many nations, and one of the foremost was named after “Teman.” Indeed, Genesis 36:34 indicates that a large portion of the ancient territory of Edom was once called the “land of Temani.” Notice that modern Islamic names such as “Omar” and “Bozrah” began as Edomite names (verses 15 and 33). This infers that many Edomites will be found among the Moslem nations today.
The previous name of Turkey was the Ottoman Empire, which was a large and powerful empire for centuries before it collapsed after World War I. Turkey was formed after the Ottoman Empire’s collapse, and the nation was named after Kemal Ataturk, a visionary who founded Turkey as a secular Moslem nation. Notice that the consonants of the word “Ottoman” are “TT-M-N,” the same combination as the consonants of “Teman” (T-M-N), a major nation of the Edomites. This article will not examine the prophetic future of all Edomite nations, but is focused specifically on Turkey’s likely future role.
Ezekiel 38 does not mention any Semitic nation in the list of the allies of Russia, China and Iran in the Gog-Magog alliance. Indeed, to be more specific, it especially is noteworthy that not a single nation descended from Abraham is listed among the nations of the Gog-Magog alliance. This bodes well that Turkey, as a nation of Edom descended from Abraham, will remain in the western alliance and not be part of Russia’s and China’s eastern alliance. However, after listing many nations which will be in the Gog-Magog alliance, Ezekiel 38:6 adds that “many [other] people” will be with this alliance. This allows for other nations to be included which are not specifically named in the prophecy. For this reason, we should watch Turkey’s future direction with special interest. Turkey contributed many soldiers to the UN/USA side in the Korean War and they were excellent warriors. The West should hope (and pray) that Turkey remains in NATO and the western alliance through the end of this age.
Ezekiel 38 may give a hint of a future split in the Islamic world between the Sunni and the Shiite nations. Iran (“Persia”) is a major Shiite nation and it is named as an ally of Russia and China in Ezekiel 38:5. The Ishmaelites and Edomite Turkey are Sunni nations and none are mentioned as allies of Russia and China in the final war of our age. This fact infers that the Arab Sunni nations and Turkey will be in the western camp at the end of this age. The Ishmaelites and the Edomites, like all the modern nations descended from the Israelite tribes, are descended from Abraham. Ezekiel 38, therefore, allows for the possibility that all the nations descended from Abraham will be on the same side at the end of this age. That would give a whole new meaning to the phrase “People of the Book.”