Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Father's Lullaby

Lullaby and goodnight, pleasant dreams ‘til tomorrow
Lullaby, now sleep tight, it’s time to close your eyes.
Lay you down, close your eyes; time to go to sleep.
Lay you down, close your eyes; time to go to sleep.

Lullaby and goodnight, you know you should be sleeping
Lullaby and goodnight, Daddy's really getting tired.
Lay you down, close your eyes; how can you be awake?
Lay you down, close your eyes; how can you be awake?

Lullaby and goodnight, I have to work in four hours
Lullaby and goodnight, my alarm goes off soon.
Lay you down, close your eyes; I really need to sleep.
Lay you down, close your eyes; I really need to sleep.

Lullaby and goodnight, it’s almost sunrise
Lullaby and goodnight, I’m feeling half-dead.
Lay you down, close your eyes; maybe I'll wake up mama
Lay you down, close your eyes; maybe I should wake your mom.

Lullaby and goodnight, I think your eyes are closing
Lullaby and goodnight, now I’ll just put you down.
Lay you down, don’t wake up; now I’m off to bed
Lay you down, don’t wake up; now I’ll rest my weary head

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Who Is Gog of Magog?

2 "Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3 and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. 4
Ezek 38:2-4 (NKJV)

Ezekiel prophesied of Gog, of the land of Magog, a future leader who will one day lead a coalition of nations against Israel. The Bible tells us that Gog will be destroyed by divine intervention just before the moment of his triumph. Magog is not found on any modern map, so how will this prophecy be fulfilled?

A clue to the whereabouts of the land of Magog can be found in the story of Noah in Genesis. In Genesis 10:2, Magog is listed as a grandson of Noah (and a son of Noah’s son, Japheth). Meshech and Tubal, whose names were also mentioned by Ezekiel, have the same lineage.

Scholars believe that Magog and his descendents moved north and eventually settled in what is now Russia. According to the historian Josephus, Magog’s descendents eventually became known as the Scythians. The Scythians were a warlike people who were one of the first groups to master horseback riding and the use of horse drawn wagons. The Tartars, another warlike Asian people who settled in modern Russia, may also be descended from Magog.

Similarly, Meshech is believed to have founded northern peoples. Ethnic Georgian tradition is that Georgia was founded by descendents of Meshech. The Russians believe that the city of Moscow (Moskva) was founded by King Mosokh, another descendent of Meshech. They believe that the name of the city is a combination of Mosokh’s name and that of his wife, Kwa.

Tubal is the third son of Japheth identified by Ezekiel. Tubal’s tribe is believed to have settled south of the Black Sea and eventually moved further into Asia. The city of Tobolsk, situated on the Tobol River in Siberia, is believed to refer to Tubal.

Two other grandsons of Noah are also listed by Ezekiel. Gomer, another son of Japheth, was progenitor of the Cimmerians, a people who settled north of the Black Sea. The Cimmerians are believed to have been ancestors of the Celts. Togarmah (Genesis 10:3) is a son of Gomer. Ezekiel refers to Togarmah “from the far north” (38:6).

Likewise, Ezekiel 38:15 says that Gog will come “out of the far north.” When Ezekiel speaks of the north, he uses Israel, and more specifically Jerusalem, as a reference point. One far northern country would be Turkey, and some scholars do believe that Ezekiel’s references do point there. However, beyond Turkey, Moscow lies the far north of Israel and Jerusalem. Given Soviet support for Israel’s enemies over the past few decades, as well as Russia’s support of Iran today, Russia seems to be a much more likely candidate for the country of Gog.

The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) refers to “Rhos” instead of “Rosh” (Ezekiel 38:2). A tribe of Scythians in Crimea used this name, and the inhabitants of Russia may have taken their name from them. Additionally, the Araxes River, which flows through Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan, has also been called the Rhos. An alternative explanation for “Rosh” is that it refers to the Hebrew word for leader and is thus a title.

Finally, the meaning of the word “Gog” remains mysterious. Gog may refer to the name of an individual who will lead the latter days Russian army against Israel. Another possibility is that Gog is a title bestowed upon such a leader. One suggestion is that it may be a contraction of “Chakan,” a Northern Asiatic term for a king.

The clues that the Bible gives about the leader of the coalition can be viewed in terms of modern geopolitics. Two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia is once again resurgent. Oil wealth has provided Russia with the means to revitalize its military.

Vladimir Putin, a former official of the KGB and the FSB (Federal Security Bureau), succeeded Boris Yeltsin as Russia’s president in 2000. He was reelected in 2004, but had to step down in 2008 due to term limits. His handpicked successor, Dmitri Medvedev, immediately named Putin as his prime minister, where he continues to wield considerable power.

Putin’s administration has been characterized by crackdowns on democracy and murders of dissidents. Putin strengthened the power of the Russian executive during his time in office. He has also made numerous veiled and blatant threats against former Soviet republics and, in 2008, was instrumental in Russia’s invasion of Georgia.

Under Putin, Russia and Iran have grown closer. Russia is supplying Iran with nuclear reactors and modern air defense systems. Russia has also interfered with UN and NATO efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Russia and Iran have formed an economic alliance and are very close militarily as well, for the first time in history. Iran, of course, was traditionally known as Persia.

Vladimir Putin may or may not eventually prove to be Gog of Magog. Currently, he is a likely candidate as the de facto ruler of Russia. His entreaties toward Iran, a traditional enemy of Israel, also match Ezekiel’s prophecy and give him a motive to lead a joint attack on Israel at some point in the future.

Epicenter: How the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future, Joel C. Rosenberg
Schofield’s Study Notes, Bible Explorer 4.0, Wordsearch, 2004.
Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Bible Commentary, Bible Explorer 4.0, Wordsearch, 2004.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change Is Coming

Last night Barack Obama made history by becoming the first black man to be elected President of the United States. For better or for worse, it is a historic moment. Americans did not so much put aside racial differences as embrace them. According to Fox News coverage of exit polls, most voters who said that race played a role in their vote actually voted for Obama.

Obama won by promising change. This promise capitalized on the resentment that many hold for the Bush Administration and the sluggish economy. Many felt that things could not get any worse. To them, let me say that change is not inherently good.

Many of the policy proposals that Obama has laid forth would definitely result in change, but not the type of change that people would like to see. Obama’s plans to raise taxes and restrict free trade through a unilateral renegotiation of NAFTA are strikingly similar to steps taken by Herbert Hoover at the outset of the Great Depression.

In a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Obama talked about his cap-and-trade plan, which amounts to a huge new tax on energy: "Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I'm capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it -- whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers." (Chronicle Vol. 8, No. 45, Nov. 5 2008,

Obama’s capital gains and dividend tax increases would place further pressure on the already strained 401(k) and retirement plans that most Americans hold. Many of these plans have already taken losses of 40-50% due to the Wall St. crisis.

President Obama will also have to contend with congress. Even though the Democrats have majorities in both houses of congress, some parts of Obama’s platform might be difficult to pass. Obama’s tax plan is based on allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, which will happen easily, and then adding tax credits for low- and middle-income taxpayers. Passing new tax credits might be more difficult, especially as congress looks at paying for the many proposed government programs that will cost trillions of dollars.

A lasting impact of the Obama Administration will be his appointment of federal judges. Obama has said that he will appoint judges who are “sympathetic enough to those who are on the outside, those who are vulnerable, those who are powerless, those who can’t have access to political power and as a consequence can’t protect themselves from being — from being dealt with sometimes unfairly” ( All Americans should be concerned if Obama appoints judges who decide cases based on your social class rather than written law.

The world will not get any safer with President Obama in the White House. Recent reports from Israel indicate that Iran may have already tested two nuclear weapons ( While this has not been verified, it is certain that nuclear proliferation in Iran, Syria, and North Korea will be an issue that the next president will face. Doubts about Obama’s support for Israel may convince Israel that the best course is a pre-emptive strike before Obama takes office in January 2009.

A convergence of Bible prophecies also points to the likelihood of another Middle East war. Joel C. Rosenberg, author of Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future, says that Ezekiel 38-39 foretells of a coalition of nations led by Russia and Iran that oppose Israel. Rosenberg points out that Russia and Iran have an alliance now for the first time in history. Rosenberg further points out that two nations conspicuously absent from the coalition are Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, and Iraq, which is rebuilding its military and dealing with an insurgency. The attack is ultimately defeated by divine intervention. If Obama is secretly pro-Arab, as many of his backers believe, then the time could be ripe for a fulfillment of this prophecy, which may then usher in further end-time events.

It has been suggested that Obama’s election may be God’s will. That is possible. It is also possible that Obama’s election is a repudiation of God’s will. At this point, it is impossible to know. Those of us who are concerned by Obama’s record and associations can take comfort in two Bible verses. The first is that “all things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). The second is “by their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). God’s will soon be apparent.

Obama’s first actions as president will likely signal the priorities of his presidency. While there has been no indication from the Obama team as to what his first priorities will be, some other Democratic politicians have indicated what they would like to see. There has been much talk about the Employee Free Choice Act, or the Card Check bill. This misnamed bill would actually deprive employees of the right to a secret ballot election in choosing whether to unionize. Another commonly discussed piece of legislation is the Fairness Doctrine, which would curtail the freedom of speech of radio stations and talk show hosts in an attempt to muzzle conservative radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh. Enacting gun control legislation is another rumored priority of the new government. If any of these limitations to freedom are pushed by the new Obama Administration, Americans should be rightly worried.

America should rightfully be proud that a member of a once oppressed minority can rise to the highest office in the land. We should be less proud that in doing so we paid so little attention to the man himself, his record, and the people who surround him.

It has been suggested that Obama is the John F. Kennedy of our generation. Based on his policy proposals, I fear that he may be our generation’s Herbert Hoover, who tax and regulatory policies turned a recession into the Great Depression, or our Jimmy Carter, whose dictator-friendly administration saw a dramatic expansion of Soviet influence around the world. I pray that he is not our generation’s Lenin.

I will pay close attention to President Obama. I will give him a chance to prove that he is working for the good of the United States as a whole. I pray that he will be a wise and fair leader who stands by his oath to uphold the Constitution. If he doesn’t, I’ll work extra hard to find a replacement for him in 2012. I urge all Americans to do the same.