Turkey was the center of the great Islamic caliphate known as the Ottoman Empire, which reigned over a sizeable portion of the world until it was dissolved at the end of World War I. At the present time it is controlled by a secular government and is considered the geographical, political, and religious connection between Europe and the struggling Islamic nations of the Middle East.
The country has a stable economy and one of the largest standing armies in the world. It has applied for membership in the European Union. It has a defense pact with Israel, but relations between the two countries have been severely strained since the Israelis intercepted a flotilla heading from Turkey to Gaza in 2010. The ships were supposedly only carrying humanitarian aid, but they were in fact bringing illegal weapons.
Turkey figures prominently in Bible prophecy as the land of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation, and as a key ally of Magog, a powerful nation in the North that many prophecy scholars have tentatively identified as Russia. Together with other nations, these allies will engage Israel in a future war against Israel. See The War of Gog and Magog.
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Prophetic Significance of Turkey
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According to Ezekiel, an alliance of enemies will attack Israel in the End Times. The leader will be Gog of the land of Magog, who is the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. He is assisted by Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, Beth T ogarmah, and other nations. Most of these names are listed in the genealogies of Genesis 10. Gog is not listed in Genesis 10, but he is evidently the head of the land of Magog, who is mentioned as a son of Japheth, one of Noah's sons. It is known that Japheth traveled north from Mt. Ararat after the flood. Hesoid, a Greek writer of the 7th century BC, and contemporary of Ezekiel, identified Magog with the Scythians and southern Russia. Flavius Josephus, a 1st century Jewish historian said that Magogians were called "Scythians" by the Greeks. Philo, a 1st century Greek identified Magog with southern Russia.Commentators from the turn of this century and before have generally identified Gog and Magog with Russia even though, at the time, they could not explain why Russia would turn against God's people. They conjectured that perhaps the time would come when there would be animosity between Russia and Israel. Rosh ("head", "chief") sounds like Russia. Meshech sounds like Moscow or Mushkovi, the old name for Russia. Tubal sounds like Tobolsk.
- The Target: Israel - Ezekiel 38:2-12
This is the only time in history that this could be said of Israel, that they were brought back from many nations. It is true that they were brought back from Babylon and Persia in the Old Testament, but it is only since the Zionist movement, which began in the late 1800's, that Jewish people have returned from nations all over the world. They had been scattered abroad even in New Testament times. On the Day of Pentecost, for example, the various languages spoken by the Apostles, when the Holy Spirit came upon them, represented the many lands where they had settled. But they had not returned to stay. This really never happened until the amazing events that led to the rebirth of Israel in 1948. What thoughts would come into Russia's mind to make them want to attack Israel? A consideration of Russia's instability and the plans of some of their leaders for expansion throughout the Mediterranean area is given below. Israel has always been a key land bridge between Russia's allies and is presently an enemy of some of those allies. Any number of scenarios in the always-volatile Middle East politics could lead to a Russian attack in the future.
- Russia's Allies - Ezekiel 38:5-6
Persia is now known as Iran, and there is an amazingly close relationship now between Russia and Iran. Cush is Ethiopia, Put is Libya, Gomer and Beth Togarmah may well be Turkey and/or other Islamic nations like those once part of the Soviet Union.
It is interesting that Mizraim, the forefather of Egypt is apparently missing from this lineup. This, of course, fits the current world scene, with Egypt being the first Arab nation to make peace with Israel.
- Israel's Allies - Ezekiel 38:13
Israel's allies appear to be few and feeble. Some of Saudi Arabia was populated by Sheba and Dedan. The merchants of Tarshish could be England and English colonies. In that case, The United States could even be included since we were once an English colony. These allies ask why Russia and its allies are coming, but do not appear to deter them.
- The Outcome - Ezekiel 38:22
The quick end of this future war will be with God's judgment. It could be God's personal power, raining literal fire and brimstone, as in the days of Sodom, or it could be God using nation against nation, as he often did in the Old Testament, to precipitate a nuclear exchange.
The next chapter of Ezekiel continues to give details of this great conflict. Again, it is a scene of utter destruction.