WHY I SHOCKED BROTHER BILL SALUS
A Controversy in the Making?
This weekend, my much-admired colleague in teaching Bible Prophecy, Bill Salus, provided a thoughtful – albeit slightly more energetic than expected – response to my just aired three-show national radio interview with friend Larry Spargimino produced by Southwest Radio Church. The shows focused on my new book, THE NEXT GREAT WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST. These three shows were assembled into a 1:03 (one hour, three minute) single playable program on YouTube (thank you Dave Flang). I’m quite proud of the interview. Larry did a great job of asking tough questions. He is a fine interviewer, does his research before an interview, and is always prepared. It is a pleasure to work with him. [HERE is a link to the interview.]
My book and the interview take the position that there really isn’t a single “Psalm 83 War” as Bill espouses – certainly not a future event that fulfills Psalm 83 in which all of Israel’s enemies are attacked and destroyed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and their neighbors resources taken as spoil. Bill theorizes this could happen imminently and most importantly, it is a necessary precursor to what is a widely accepted prophetic battle prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39, which eschatology students know as “The Battle of Gog and Magog”. Of course, my view conflicts with Bill’s principle argument upon which his two most successful books, Israelestine and Psalm 83 are based. Consequently, although we agree on most aspects of the “standard futurist scenario” advanced in Dispensationalism, I would expect Bill to differ with me on this specific point – and to do so with some understandable passion.
The Background to the Discussion
Bill learned about my view on Psalm 83 because, frankly, I copy him on my articles hoping that he will stay current on what I’m up to, as I try to stay current with his writings. Consequently, he contacted me to get a copy of the book with which I eagerly supplied him. And he obviously listened carefully to the interview, as the numerous quotes of mine that he cited in his article testify! (See these written quotations at the bottom of this article).
After absorbing some (but I’m pretty sure not all) of the written material, Bill responded with his article published on his PROPHECY DEPOT WEBSITE (Click HERE to review: I truly appreciate Bill bothering to respond to my “challenge” – and as I told him, I very much hope this will spawn a good discussion among “us pre-tribbers” because, as the reader will see, there are some very big matters at stake.
To begin with, his headline was a good one, a real “attention getter”:
NEW PROPHECY THEORY:
RUSSIA TO INVADE THE USA, UK, AND THE SAUDIS!
Bill opens his article with this explanation: “I was shocked to hear recently on a respected radio show, that author Douglas Woodward has formulated a new prophetic theory! Woodward believes that the Lord has revealed to him that Russia is going to invade America, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia as per Ezekiel 38:10-13!”
Was that a fair summary of what was communicated? Well… not exactly. After you listen to the interview, and read the book (I hope you will), you can be the judge. I never said, “invade”… but I did communicate “first strike attack”. And I was very cautious not to suggest that the Lord “revealed” to me something as if it had a prophetic unction. No, I was just relating that if I had discovered a truth formerly hidden and embedded in the scripture, the Holy Spirit gets the credit not me. Of course, Proverbs 25:2 does teach us, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, and the honor of kings to search out a matter.” So I am potentially honored to have searched out the matter. Time will tell (along with my colleagues who serve as a “check and balance”) whether I got it right.
At this point, allow me to say that Bill Salus is a gentleman, a scholar, a fine teacher, and a great contributor to the work of the Kingdom. I really appreciate his kind and gentle spirit. He has done much to bring increased attention to the implications of Bible prophecy in the events of our world today. We who love the study of Bible prophecy owe him a debt. I like to think of him as a friend and I plan to do my best to keep the relationship that way. We work together at prophecy conferences and have one upcoming in June. I’m sure it will be a good interaction. It always is.
Secondly, Bill and I agree on almost all of the major aspects of the “conventional view” of Pre-Tribulational/Pre-Millennial (aka Dispensational) eschatology and even the interpretation of Ezekiel 38-39. For instance:
- Do we both believe in the Pre-Tribulation rapture? YES.
- Do we both believe in a 1,000-year, millennial reign of Christ? YES.
- Do we both believe in a future individual, in some sense incarnating Satan, a personage commonly called, “The Antichrist?” YES.
- Do we agree that the Antichrist is not the same personage as Gog (as is put forward in the “Islamic Antichrist” hypothesis)? YES.
- Do we believe in distinct “end times’” battles (i.e., “Battle of Gog and Magog” from the “Battle of Armageddon” – in contradistinction with the “Islamic Antichrist” theory that sees them as the same battle)? YES.
- Do we believe that Russia is the principal organizer and fulfills the role of Gog from the land of Magog (mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39)? YES.
- Do we believe this war will have an enormous impact on the restoration of Israel, and turning many Jews back to the God of their fathers? YES.
- Do we believe that Sheba and Dedan refers to Saudi Arabia (and probably other Arab Sinai Peninsula nations)? Do we believe that the Merchants of Tarshish likely refers to England? YES.
- Do we believe that Ezekiel 39:6 could be a reference to the U.S. (“And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles”)? YES
- But do we both believe that the U.S. is either the actual powerbase of the Antichrist (Mystery Babylon), or at least an entity prophesied as “the daughter of Babylon”? NO
The specific point of disagreement really centers on whether the U.S. is indeed included in a major way in Bible prophecy. Bill, like Hal Lindsey, the late Grant Jeffrey, Mark Hitchcock, and Tim LaHaye have conjectured that the U.S. is “not a force to be reckoned with” during the very last days before Christ returns (the Great Tribulation) because of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. In other words, the rapture “decimates” America, because so many American’s will be deemed saved and worthy “to escape the hour of trial about to come upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10) Would that that were true. However, while still embracing the Pre-Tribulation view, I suggest the U.S. is not a force to be reckoned with because it receives a devastating attack by powers “from the north” – potentially, and probably, the very same “northern power” Ezekiel identifies that comes against Israel as prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39. That is my contribution to the discussion or my fallacious argument. The truth will out.
The Crux of the Controversy
You see Bill’s view concerning Psalm 83 (as a prophetic war yet to be fulfilled) has now become a standard tenet among many, if not a majority, of Bible prophecy students. Indeed, evangelicals who enjoy attending prophecy conferences, thanks to Bill’s success, anticipate a war breaking out at any moment involving Israel defeating its surrounding enemies in a devastating way. Bloggers write about it as if it is a fait accompli – well, almost so – that is, ready to happen any time now. Other authors and film producers have followed Bill down this path. Filmmaker David Bay has a new short video, ISRAEL’S PROPHESIED TRIUMPH OVER THE PALESTINIANS, in which he teaches that Israel will ignite a fuel air bomb (with the equivalent power of a nuclear device) that will annihilate a million or more Palestinians. “And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.” (Obadiah 1:18) Mr. Bay believes Obadiah’s apocalyptic prophecy will be fulfilled through the IDF with these unconventional military munitions. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Bay and I bet Benjamin Netanyahu would too.
However, in bringing up this issue, I don’t mean to imply that Bill Salus agrees with Mr. Bay; just that this kind of thinking results from implying that Israel has such motives as the Psalm 83 War scenario advances. Geopolitical realities, from my vantage point, would never permit Obadiah’s prophecy to be fulfilled in this bellicose manner by earthly agents. Obadiah speaks of “the day of the Lord” (Obadiah 1:15) and therefore, if this judgment befalls those today we call the Palestinians – it will be Israel’s Messiah that doles out such wrath in that day. If one looks carefully at Ezekiel’s prophecy, we see plainly that it is God and not the U.S. or the IDF that defeats Gog with supernatural force. God does this so that His intervention cannot be misconstrued. Ezekiel 38:22-23 says this explicitly:
And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.
Part and parcel of the Psalm 83 War theory is that Israel must be secure and wealthy. Psalm 83 War theory demands these preconditions for Gog’s attack from what is indeed the conventional interpretation of Ezekiel 38:11-12. I readily admit that the standard futurist scenario sees Israel as the “land of unwalled villages:”
And thou [Gog] shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.
If the land of unwalled villages is Israel, and Israel is neither especially secure nor particularly wealthy, then something must transpire beforehand to create these conditions. Enter the Psalm 83 War theory. For purposes of context, I will only briefly mention the core of my argument here (I will provide links below to articles in which I have articulated why I challenge this view – which takes some serious “deep diving” into Holy Writ). But suffice it to say that if we suppose hypothetically that the “land of unwalled villages” is NOT Israel (despite the immediate context which undeniably SEEMS to say it is), the Psalm 83 War theory unravels. In other words, on the surface, Bill’s theory has strong reasoning to support it. However, as noted above, it conflicts strongly with geopolitical realities in the world today – and for any conceivable future. Ultimately, it also fails to take note of what will happen to the real land of unwalled villages, which I propose is principally the United States, but may also include Britain. The link to the Saudis as a subject of attack seems implied from my suggested interpretation of Ezekiel 38:13:
Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?
If the land of unwalled villages is the United States, and Gog will “think an evil thought toward it” “also” “at the same time” as Gog plans to assault Israel, the U.S. needs to be warned NOW. That is the gist of Ezekiel 38:10: “Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy [Gog’s] mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought” and continuing into verse 11: “And thou [Gog] shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey…”
I am also concerned that the timeline for what may soon happen in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy is pushed out – indefinitely – until Israel is in fact “secure” and “wealthy.” In other words, subsequent events, notably the Battle of Gog and Magog cannot happen until the “Psalm 83 War” happens first.
But what if there isn’t a “Psalm 83 war?” What if the “next great war in the Middle East”, is the Gog/Magog conflagration? That is my supposition. That is why I selected a somewhat obtuse title: The Next Great War in the Middle East. For if the U.S. is the land of unwalled villages, watchmen need to be sounding the alarm NOW. We should not be theorizing about a conflict that appears, from my perspective at least, inconceivable. Bible Prophecy should be extremely relevant if it is to have the effect God meant it to have. If we propound theories that appear impossible, our “relevance ratio” falls precipitously. I assert that a surprise attack on the U.S. by Russia (and possibly other Northern Powers like China and North Korea) is not impossible. In fact, it is probable. I spend the first 100 pages of the new book arguing this thesis.
Why So Shocking?
To reiterate: Bill’s assumption is that before Gog/Magog can happen, Israel must be secure and wealthy. As he says in his response to me (paraphrasing) “Israel must be wealthy; otherwise, why would Gog want to attack Israel and take a spoil?” Of course, there is that phrase about ‘God putting hooks in the jaws of Gog to draw him back in’ (Ezekiel 38:4) – which has always begged the question about what the hook would ultimately be. My speculation is that Gog does something that it really doesn’t want to do, but feels it has no choice but to do, perhaps to save itself. If so, that describes Russia’s precarious situation in the world today with the Ruble crumbling, the price of oil falling through the floor, and “internal” Muslim terrorists threatening Russia far more than the United States.
But is Bill (and to be totally fair, virtually everyone else) right in how they interpret Ezekiel 38:10-13? Or does this passage teach something else, something that would actually invalidate the necessity for an intervening but major war as Bill proposes? I think it does teach something different. And what I think it teaches shocks Bill and no doubt should shock most Americans.
But should Bill have been shocked that I have taken this position? Not really. I have been laying out the principles for this argument for quite some time.
For about four years I have been warning that America is about to be judged. My books, Power Quest 1 and 2, The Final Babylon (co-authored with Douglas Krieger and Dene McGriff), Uncommon Sense, and Is Russia Destined to Nuke the U.S.? (that title’s none too subtle!), have been plainly arguing that America plays a vital role in the end times and unfortunately, it is as I customarily say, “wearing the black hat.” Like John Price, the author of The End of America (one of the most successful prophecy books over the past ten years) who graciously wrote the foreword for my latest book, THE NEXT GREAT WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST, I believe America is the “daughter of Babylon” and it will be judged and decimated as described in Jeremiah 50:42, Isaiah 47:1, Zechariah 2:7, and Psalm 137:8. In fact the whole chapters of Jeremiah 50-51 speak deliberately and in detail with attributes that as John and I have shown in previous works, fit the U.S.A. to a tee – and no one else in history before it.
Given that I have been discussing this for about five years now, Bill shouldn’t have been that shocked. And given that many other eschatology scholars have also taught that America is the daughter of Babylon, my point of view is not out of kilter with many of my colleagues. To name a few: the late Frank Logsdon, the late Patrick Heron, the late R.A. Coombs, the late Dr. Stanley Montieth, the late J.R. Church, and the late Noah Hutchings. Happily a few of us that also proclaim that America is destined to fulfill the judgments described in Jeremiah 50-51 are still alive to sound he alarm now: definitely John Price mentioned earlier. I also believe speaker and author Stewart Best does, most likely popular authors Gary Stearman, Terry James, and Tom Horn (based upon my personal discussions with them). Author Douglas Berner. Then my co-authors on various books: Douglas Krieger, Benjamin Baruch, and Dene McGriff. In fact, I could probably identify half a dozen more. The point is: there are many authors, teachers, and scholars that find a great deal of merit in the notion that America is either the final or next to last incarnation of “Mystery Babylon” aka “daughter of Babylon.” So, it should not be all that surprising (and not too shocking really), that we might stumble across something in Ezekiel that tells us the U.S. is mentioned there… if we dig deep enough to find it.
What my nearly unique conviction is (along with Benjamin Baruch who shared his thinking with me about the Ezekiel 38:10-13 passage to help confirm my suspicions) is that there is something distinct about the “land of unwalled villages” that disqualifies it from being Israel. And as I explain in considerable detail in the book, there are many strong reasons to believe the prophet was speaking of a different land “dwelling carelessly” – not securely which is what the Hebrew word betach can also mean according to present day Hebrew scholar, Arnold Fruchtenbaum.
What Another Bible Teacher Thinks about My Point of View
Successful author John Price speaks most favorably about this controversial point of view with these words from his foreword to my book:
Woodward proves by careful original language analysis of prophetic verses that Gog (Russia) and its allies will launch an attack on America (seen by the prophets as The Daughter of Babylon) during the same period of time as its invasion of Israel. I completely agree. Jeremiah (50:51) refers to the destruction of the Daughter of Babylon as God’s vengeance for this nation’s betrayal of Israel when Gog and the Muslim invaders descend from the north to sweep Israel into the sea. The Prophets tell us that Gog, along with the Kings of the Medes (Iran), will not only conspire to invade Israel (Ezekiel 38 and 39), they will also be used by the Lord to annihilate the Daughter of Babylon (Jeremiah 51:11, 28). Doug’s book makes the case that much of what the U.S. has been doing in Syria and purportedly against ISIS is, in fact, aimed at Russia, attempting to blunt, if not eliminate, its influence in the Middle East.
Since God promises in His Word that those who curse Israel will themselves be cursed (Genesis 12:3), a nation which stabs Israel in the back cannot expect to survive. Thus, this book helps us understand that when Russia and Iran invade Israel, God will permit them to take out America, the primary traitor of Israel, described by Woodward as “a nation unwilling or unable to come to the aid of Israel in its predicted future war against Gog and its company.”
Doug Woodward has researched and authored what I consider to be a major addition to prophetic analysis. In Ezekiel 38 we read:
10 Thus saith the Lord God; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:
11 And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,
12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.
13 Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?
When I wrote The End of America in 2009, I assumed that the verses describing the “land of unwalled villages” were references to Israel. Woodward carefully unpacks the prophecies to show that “on that day” when Gog invades Israel it will also attack the land resting “carelessly” and “dwelling confidently”, which is the Daughter of Babylon. He sees the Ezekiel invasion and the assault on the Daughter of Babylon as happening “almost simultaneously”. His analysis is not only Biblically based, it is centered on geopolitical reality. American Defense Department strategists should study this book and prepare accordingly. In failing to comply with our written promise to Israel (as signed at Camp David), America’s not coming to Israel’s defense will be our undoing.
Thanks John Price. I knew having you write the foreword would come in handy!
Bill has challenged me to do more work on the exegetical aspects of certain verses in Ezekiel 38-39 that he asserts conflict with my point of view. I will. It is a vital topic. Indeed, I believe there is no more important point to discuss in Bible prophecy right now than the role of America and what our fate is should we continue to weaken our support of Israel. I encourage you to read my book and to share the information with those you believe would be interested to learn about these things. It is available on Kindle, iBook, Nook, Lulu, and Amazon.
If you are a student of Bible prophecy and you aren’t taking up the issue of whether America is indeed right smack dab in the middle of Bible prophecy in the last days, you may be missing the most relevant matter of our times. Selah.
WOODWARD QUOTES as taken down by Bill Salus and published in his article
“I believe this passage is a critical one (Ezekiel 38:10-13). I have almost never said that the Lord has revealed to me, because I feel that is probably pretty trumped up. But, I almost believe that in this case that is what I should be saying. I think the Lord has opened some things in this passage to me that I’m excited to share and of course hopefully I will get lots of feedback, some of it not so positive probably.”
“In the context of Ezekiel 38:8-9 we are clearly dealing with Israel. However, something changes.….What you have in Ezekiel 38:10-13 is something of a parenthetical comment, it’s like an “oh by the way….” It’s like the prophet is saying, ‘I told you what’s happening in Israel, but now let me tell you what else is going on.’
“Ezekiel eludes to a land of unwalled villages. Traditional conventional interpretation is that we’re still talking about Israel… in Ezekiel 38:8… I (Woodward) believe we’re NOT!
[BILL MISUNDERSTOOD ME ON EZEKIEL 38:8. IN THIS VERSE EZEKIEL CLEARLY IS TALKING ABOUT ISRAEL]
“I believe the context goes on to point this out. Israel does not dwell safely right now…and yet America always seems to believe that it is impervious to attack; that we are secure.”
“In Ezekiel 38:13, I believe it points out who the subjects are that Gog (Russia) is going after, not subjects that are just protesting or observing what’s happening to Israel, which is the conventional teaching. By conventional I mean Hal Lindsey, Chuck Missler or Bill Salus.”…“I believe this is talking about North America, the United Kingdom and it’s talking about Saudi Arabia.”
“The astonishment of “Sheba and Dedan, the Merchants of Tarshish, and the young lions” comes not from protesting what appears to be the object of Gog’s attack, i.e., Israel, but rather Gog’s attack upon them!” (i)
“Today’s economic picture in the world is essentially run by these three countries (USA, UK and Saudi Arabia). The reason I say that is you have Wall Street; you have the City of London, which is an English version of Wall Street. Then you have the Saudi Arabians, which have been the key to instill the petro-dollar.”
“With these nations (plural) identified in Ezekiel 38:13 you certainly have the axis of economic evil that runs the world economic system…. Where you would go if you wanted to gather up a lot of wealth really quickly?”…“The alternative view that I believe, is that the land of unwalled villages (Ezekiel 38:11) is the United States, (rather than Israel), and it’s secondarily England.”
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