In his first trip outside the former Soviet Union since the Ukraine war, Russian President Vladimir Putin flew to Tehran last week for a trilateral meeting with his counterparts from Iran and Turkey. One image distributed by Iranian media shows him shaking hands with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
CNN notes that both rulers are heads of oil-rich countries "grappling with grueling Western sanctions," and according to CBN News, Russia and Iran are two isolated countries "shunned by numerous nations, most notably the United States."
Putin's visit was part of a trilateral meeting with Khamenei and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi before convening with Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the NATO leader who has so far refused to join in on Russian sanctions and offered to play a mediating role between Moscow and Kyiv.
The trip is said to indicate closer ties between the allies, but some analysts doubt the strength of the friendship between the three countries. Putin's visit to Iran also comes right after President Joe Biden visited Israel, a nation Iran has repeatedly threatened.
In response, biblical scholars have been quick to point out that "three powers" are mentioned in Ezekiel 38 and 39, an eschatological prophecy of the invasion of Israel.
"I think without any question that there's something going on here that's foreshadowing what the Bible calls the Gog-Magog war," asserts Jan Markell, founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries and host of the "Understanding the Times" radio program. "There are other countries participating in that war, but clearly the powerhouses would be Russia, Iran, and Turkey. So the fact that they're cozying up to each other right now … can't be ignored, because it's the pages of the Bible leaping out at us and telling us to pay attention."
Many believe the "Gog" (an individual) discussed in Ezekiel 38 will be a future leader from Russia (thought to be "Magog" because of geographical placement and directional mentions in Scripture). According to Ezekiel, this Gog from Magog will attack Israel and other partner nations, including Persia (modern-day Iran), but God will step in and defeat the coalition.
Markell adds that there is no definitive scripture related to whether Gog and Magog will be before or after the rapture.
"Scholars are really divided on the timing of that Gog-Magog war. I personally think that it could be today," Markell tells AFN. "I'm surprised that the invasion hasn't already happened."
CBN News acknowledges that the Middle East has long been a "powder keg" and says Russia's actions in Ukraine have only "upped the ante in global chaos." However, Faithwire's Billy Hallowell advises Christians to be careful about date-setting and making definitive proclamations when it comes to the end of days.