Whether the invasion happens just before the Rapture or sometime after the Rapture, I think it will definitely set the stage for the signing of the peace covenant by the Antichrist. Here are three factors that will help to move it along:
1. The position of the Antichrist. As I have written previously, since the Antichrist will probably reside in the E.U., he may be one of those who will question the invasion. This will put him in a good position after the failed invasion is over. He may, in fact, claim that he had something to do with the defeat of the invaders. This will, of course, set him up for being a hero and a peacemaker.
2. The scheming of the Antichrist. Whether the invasion is before or after the Rapture, it is probable that the Antichrist will scheme to take advantage of the situation—both of the failed invasion and of the disappearances of the Rapture.
In the case of the invasion being before the Rapture, here is what I see happening:
First, when the Muslims are wiped out in the invasion, I see that initially most people will look to God and praise Him; for they will see and know that He is the Lord (Ezek. 39:6-7). Now whether some people cling to those thoughts about Him and are converted at that time, it is uncertain. Certainly, in the end we know that one-third of the Jews will be saved and will go into the Millennium.
I take it that Ezekiel 39:21-29 is meant as a prophetical statement of what will soon happen to Israel and not necessarily something that will happen right then. Thomas Ice put it this way: “What was meant to result in the physical death of the nation of Israel by Gog is turned around by God in such a way that it will provide an opportunity for spiritual life for Israel (Ezek. 39:25–29).”11
Later, when the Rapture occurs and all Christians mysteriously disappear, many of those people who praised the Lord, and many others, may at that time begin to praise the Antichrist, particularly if he takes credit for the invasion and also gives a good explanation for the Christian disappearances.
In the case of the invasion being after the Rapture, here is what I see happening:
When the Christians disappear in the Rapture, the Muslim nations will see the Rapture as an ideal time to invade.
After the invasion is over and the Muslims and Russia are wiped out, the Antichrist will quickly take advantage of the situation. Since he will see both Christians and Muslims as a hindrance to his fake peace effort, he will see their absence as an ideal time to sign the peace covenant and to establish himself as a man of peace and world ruler.
3. The witness of the world. Not only will the world see the Antichrist as a hero and a peacemaker, they will also see how God has dealt with Israel (over the centuries until this time) and saved them from their enemies (Ezek. 39:21-29). Hence, even if many are fooled by the false peace of the Antichrist, what they will witness in God’s judgments on the Muslim nations will plant a seed of faith in many hearts as they see God glorified and sanctified in His work on behalf of His people Israel (Ezek. 21, 27). Therefore, it is my belief that God will work to bring salvation to many in the following days and months and years, and even in the Tribulation.
Now if we step back and look at the entire picture—and certainly at the five points that will lead to the peace covenant, as I have laid out earlier, I think we will see that this failed invasion, together with the Rapture, will strengthen the unity that Satan and the Antichrist will hope to achieve. Therefore, we will see that …
- With the Antichrist proclaiming victory in the invasion and in the Rapture, people will admire even more the unity of the E.U.
- People will see his great friendship with Israel.
- Religious unity will be at an all-time high.
- The Antichrist will appear to be more unified with the religious leaders (the harlot).
- The Antichrist will be perceived as a very good man. This, of course, is the perfect set up for when, at the middle of the Tribulation, he will declare himself to be God.