As I study this topic, I am finding that all prophecies in Scripture have a spiritual purpose because God’s purpose for His creation is spiritual. We live in a physical realm, but the important stuff is all spiritual. Therefore, all prophecies have a spiritual fulfillment which is their primary fulfillment. There is sometimes a physical fulfillment which is the secondary fulfillment.

Here are some big examples:


The name Assyria means “to go straight ahead.” And from that idea we get such meanings as “be successful, be happy, be right and proper.”

But Assyria’s actions point to division and separation. When Assyria was at its height of power, they were famous for taking captives from a conquered land and dispersing them throughout their entire empire. They did this so these subjugated people would feel weak, separated from others who thought like them, and almost alone. Many of them intermarried and lost their language, their unique culture, and their national pride. Through this the Assyrians accomplished their goal of quelling any desire toward uprising or revolution. It worked!

I repeat that the name Assyria could mean “be successful” but what they caused was division.

Before God sent the Northern tribes of Israel into captivity in Assyria, He tested them for a long time to see if they would return and join the Southern tribes in their worship of the God of Creation, but they always refused. You see, when Jeroboam broke away from the Southern Tribes and took most of the tribes with him, he built places of worship to a false god at the northern and southern ends of their new country so his people would not have to go to Jerusalem to worship God at the temple there. In other words, he institutionalized idol worship. No king after him wanted to take the political risk of returning to Jerusalem to worship the true God. So all of them continued the sin of Jeroboam, and any righteous people among them simply moved to the south. So they continued in their idolatry, separated from the true God and from His people, until God reached the point where He had to punish them.

By choosing Assyria, it is as if God were saying, “You thought that abandoning me would bring you success, but it only separated you from me and my ways. You like to division? OK. I will send you to those that are the best at causing division. You are about to learn the full consequences of being separated from the true God.”

Those that were taken captive to Assyria and then dispersed among many nations never returned to Israel. They never came back to be reunited with others who worship the true God. Their separation was permanent.

 Identify areas of your life in which you claim to be going “straight ahead” in order to be “successful, right and proper”  but in reality you are doing something different.


136 years later God sent the Southern Tribes of Israel (often called Judah) into captivity in Babylon. To a Jew, the name Babylon means “confusion” because it was tied to the word Babel, where God confused the languages of all the people living at that time.

During those 136 years the inhabitants of the nation of Judah showed that they were confused – they kept shifting back and forth from serving the true God to serving idols. They would have a few evil kings, then a good one, then some bad ones again. They never managed to keep a good thing going.

Once again, God finally came to the point where He said, “Enough!”

By this time Assyria was no longer a world power, rather Babylon was. It looks like God timed things so He could send his confused children into the land of even deeper confusion so they would stop vacillating between Him and idols. This time it was as if God was saying, “Many people are confused part of the time, but you love confusion; you choose to return to the wayward path every time I place you back on the straight path. Therefore, I will send you to the place known for great confusion. Because you prefer confusion, I will show you the real thing. Instead of going back and forth between two options, you will be in confusion for a full span of time – represented by 70 years. You will get what you earned.”

Babylon meant “gateway of the gods” to the Babylonians, which should have been a warning sign to the Jews – they should have done everything they could to stay away from such a place. Going through “the gateway of the gods” can be seen as the consequence of their earlier vacillation. In reality, only some of them returned to the Promised Land after those 70 years; many of them stayed where they had put down roots – in the land of confusion which was also inside “the gate to foreign gods.”

Identify and write down any areas of your life where you go back and forth from following God’s way to following your own way. Come up with ways to catch yourself and change course whenever you begin following the wrong way. Write these fears down, and, if you are in a group, discuss your plan with your group.

Gog and Magog

Gog and Magog (spoken of in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 as well as Revelation 20:8) represented ruthless warriors who should be feared. (I have two full presentations on Gog and Magog which correspond to the relevant passages in Ezekiel and Revelation. Those two lessons are very similar to each other but have a few details that are unique to their setting.) Here are the links: Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38 and 39 and Gog and Magog in Revelation 20.

The purpose of Ez 38 & 39 is not primarily about military attacks and military victories; the point is that you do not need to fear the things in your life that usually cause fear. Although they look scary and everyone speaks of them with hushed tones, there is absolutely no reason to fear those things. God wants to vanquish your fears utterly and completely. If you let Him, He can conquer your fears and annihilate the root cause behind them. Just like Ezekiel uses the symbolism of a military victory unlike any other, God wants you to experience that level of victory over all your fears.

Whether or not these two chapters are ever fulfilled in a literal way and in every detail, can be debated. God’s message of “Do not fear” should be perfectly clear. It is unfortunate that the popular way of looking at these names has turned our attention away from the purpose for which they are used in Scripture, namely, to remind us that we have no reason to fear.

Most fears come from a focus on self. The more we surrender our lives and futures to God, the less those fears will be able to trouble us.

So, what do you fear? Name the biggest fears in your life. Write these fears down, and, if you are in a group, discuss these fears with your group. Now thank God for His victory over those fears. The final step is to come up with a clear plan of what you will do whenever those fears come back into your mind. Find verses you can quote, or statements you can say to yourself which will remind you that there is no reason for fear. Write down your plan and, if your are in a group, share your plan with your group.