Exploring the Bible’s prophetic record over the past twenty five years has been a grand adventure. I’ll admit I don’t have it all figured out, but instead of discouraging me, this has only given me a greater appreciation for the depth and richness of the subject. One aspect of Bible prophecy that I’ve been considering lately is the yet future invasion of Israel by Gog and Magog.
I like to read books on Bible prophecy and it seems that lately the battle of Gog and Magog has been on the mind of many respected prophecy teachers. In this blog post I’d like to explore the subject with the intent of trying to understand where this great prophetic event takes place within the Biblical timeline.
To give you a sense of how the subject is understood by some of today’s popular teachers, I’m going to briefly summarize five interpretations. Though each of these authors offer a unique perspective on certain aspects of this discussion, the majority share a belief that the events of Gog and Magog as described in the book of Ezekiel take place before the millennial reign of Yeshua. Most of my life I have held a premillennial view of Gog and Magog but in researching the subject lately I’ve found several aspects of the subject which trouble me about my long held understanding.
Before we dig into the subject, let’s take a brief look at the two places in the Bible where Gog and Magog are mentioned. The following are only excerpts, so in order to get the full context I recommend reading all of Ezekiel 34-39 and Revelation 20.
Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, And say, Thus saith the Lord YHWH; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:…
After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them…
Thus saith the Lord YHWH; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: 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, (Ezekiel 38:2-11)
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. (Revelation 20:7-8)
Now let’s see how some of today’s prophecy teachers see the subject. Please note, due to the constraints of this blog article I’ve only summarized how I understand their positions. Please see their respective writings on the subject for fuller context. Links are provided.
Joel Richardson, author of the Islamic Antichrist and Mideast Beast takes a more general and poetic position on the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecy. He believes the events described are more of an overview of the entire 7 year tribulation leading up to the return of Yeshua. He also believes that Gog is the antichrist. Here are a couple quotes from his book: Mideast Beast
This prophecy [Ezekiel 38-39] should not be seen as a singular, narrow, and brief event, nor should this passage be viewed as containing a comprehensive description of all the details that this episode will bring with it. Rather, it is a very general prophetic/poetic summarization of the final seven-year period leading up to the return of Jesus, as viewed from Ezekiel’s particular perspective. (Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist (p. 165)
CONCLUSION In considering all of the relevant texts, it has become abundantly, if not painfully clear that Antichrist and Gog are one and the same. The various arguments used against this view all fail. As has been argued throughout this book, Ezekiel 38–39 is simply yet one more retelling of the same story that all the prophets tell: (Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist (p.198)
Prophecy teacher Bill Salus believes Ezekiel 38-39 takes place at some point before the 7 year tribulation. Mr. Salus, in his book The Now Prophecies, makes the case that Ezekiel 38-39 and the Gog / Magog invasions cannot take place until certain other prophetic events first take place and set the stage for this invasion. One of these prerequisites is what Mr. Salus describes as the Psalm 83 war. It is Mr. Salus’ belief that this Psalm 83 war makes it possible for Israel to finally live without walls and with a measure of peace and safety which is described as proceeding the Gog / Magog invasion. Mr. Salus explains:
Therefore, many scholars suggest that Ezekiel 38 and 39 must conclude, not commence, no later than three and one-half years before the seven-years of tribulation even begins. This allows the Jews seven full years to burn the weapons before they begin fleeing for their lives.(The Now Prophecies -Kindle Locations 1872-1873)
The timing of Ezekiel 38 is critical. It occurs in the end times when the Promised Land of Israel hosts the Chosen People (Israelis). ….. My personal view is that the Ezekiel 38 is a post-Rapture, but Pre-Tribulation (Pre-Trib) event. (The Now Prophecies – Kindle Locations 1822-1824)
This chapter treats Psalm 83 as a NOW Prophecy because it appears that Ezekiel 38 and 39 won’t happen until Psalm 83 has been fulfilled and this peace has been achieved. The minor premise for this conclusion is based upon Israel’s present inability to dwell securely in fulfillment of Ezekiel 38: 8, 11, and 14. Due to the current instability in the Middle East, Israel lacks the ability to dwell securely. The fulfillment of Psalm 83 should rectify this problem by better stabilizing the region. (The Now Prophecies – Kindle Locations 1885-1889)
You can read a free preview of Mr. Salus’ book here: The Now Prophecies
In his new book The Next Great War in the Middle East: Russia Prepares to Fulfill the Prophecy of Gog and Magog, author Douglas Woodward offers a rather unique perspective which he believes reconciles some of the many challenges raised by Salus, Richardson, and others of his peers. The following quotes sum up the challenges rather well:
“… But beyond this, they [Shoebat & Richardson] hope to reconcile inconsistencies related to Israel’s restoration. “How could Israel be restored to its Holy Land, be attacked by Gog, be rescued from Gog, and then still face an even greater adversary in the Antichrist?” That is, “How could Israel be promised safety in their land, then rescued, and still face an even greater terror than Gog, perhaps 3.5 to 7 years later?” Of course, the conventional view argues this is exactly what happens. And there is some tension here. The LORD God miraculously saves Israel from Gog, (no indication that Israel suffers any losses then) and yet Israel still does not appreciate that the God of the Bible is the only true God and He seeks their devotion. Afterwards, Antichrist arrives on the scene, confirms a covenant with Israel for seven years, and then breaks that covenant halfway through its term (Daniel 9: 24-27). This initiates another holocaust in which Jerusalem will be attacked and many Jews are killed and taken captive.(The Next Great War in the Middle East – Kindle Locations 2768-2775)
Moreover, I argue this passage pertains not just to the controversial view that Russia is Gog, but that the United States comprises this “land of unwalled villages”. (The Next Great War in the Middle East – Kindle Locations 2177-2178):
You can read a free preview of Mr. Woodward’s book here: The New Great War in the Middle East
Mr. Woodward also has a recent blog article on the timing of Gog & Magog The War of Gog and Magog: When Does it Happen?
By far Mr. White holds a minority position on the subject of Gog/Magog. Mr. White believes this future invasion of Israel takes place 1000 years after the 2nd coming of Yeshua and that the Gog/Magog invasion of Ezekial 38-39 is the same invasion as the Gog/Magog invasion mentioned in Revelation 20. The following quotes are taken from his book False Christ:
“The view that the Gog-Magog war occurs after the end of the millennial reign, when Satan is let out to gather nations to battle Jerusalem but is defeated by God, is the only view on the timing of this war that enjoys explicit biblical support. It is the only view that has no inherent contradictions and makes sense of the entire prophecy of Ezekiel, beginning in chapter 33 and continuing through chapter 39.” (False Christ, Chris White – Kindle p.162)
“Ralph Alexander says of this reference to Gog-Magog:
“The strong basis for this position is the explicit reference to Gog and Magog in Revelation 20: 8. Such an explicit reference cannot be dismissed lightly, as is often the case. The terms employed in Revelation 20: 8 are the same as those in Ezekiel 38 and 39. Normal hermeneutics would require the identification of the two passages (since the terms Gog and Magog are used nowhere else in the Scriptures) unless strong reasons can be brought forth to deny such an equation.”[ 26] (False Christ, Chris White – Kindle p.163)
In the process of writing this article I read Mark Hitchcock’s new release, ISIS, Iran, Israel: And the End of Days. In the book Mr. Hitchcock goes into some detail on the Gog and Magog invasion of Israel. Mr. Hitchcock is a very levelheaded prophecy teacher and his view is representative of many of today’s most respected teachers on the subject. In light of this I thought I’d include his point of view to round out the discussion.
In short Mr. Hitchcock believes the Gog and Magog invasion takes place approximately 3.5 years before the millennial reign of Yeshua. In this new book Mr. Hitchcock also explains why he does not believe Gog is the antichrist and why Psalm 83 does not refer to a war proceeding the invasion of Gog and Magog. Here are a few quotes from his book:
“According to Ezekiel, there will be a time in the latter years when the regathered people of Israel will be living in a time of great peace and prosperity. During this time when Israel has let down her guard, a coalition of nations led by Russia and Iran will invade the land and be wiped out by God.” (p. 151)
“I believe that constructing a separate end-time war out of Psalm 83 is reading too much into a text that is simply saying that Israel has been and always will be surrounded by enemies and that someday the Lord will finally deal with them.” (p. 69)
“Many believe that Gog is the same person as the Antichrist. I don’t agree with this view. I believe the Antichrist will lead the Western confederacy of the end times, while Gog will lead a Russian-Islamic coalition.” (p. 53)
A free preview of Mr. Hitchock’s new book is not available yet. His book can be purchased here: ISIS, Iran, Israel: And the End of Day
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As you can see these authors each have a different take on the timing of the Gog and Magog invasion. Without a doubt the subject is rather complicated and the positions rather divergent. How can five intelligent authors see the subject so differently?
Respected biblical scholar Dr. David L. Cooper proposed what today is considered the Golden Rule of biblical interpretation. I would like to try and apply his rule to our discussion with the hope that we get some clarity on the subject. He said the following:
When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; Therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise.
Gog & Magog in Plain Sense
Today let’s look at Gog & Magog with this approach in mind. The most reasonable starting point in our investigation is with the two references which mention Gog & Magog in the Bible. Revelation 20 and Ezekiel 38-39 are the only places in the Biblical record that Gog & Magog are mentioned in the context of an invasion of Israel.
Further, one of these references (Rev. 20) is specifically dated, so reasonable Biblical interpretive method requires us to first determine if these occurrences of Gog & Magog are the same or different.
Gog & Magog at the End of the Millennium
Because we know that the Gog & Magog invasion of Revelation 20 takes place at the end of the millennium let’s first look more closely at this invasion, its time, and the context of the millennium in general. Once we have done this we will be in a much better position to determine if the Ezekiel 38-39 invasion is a different invasion, like a majority of today’s scholars suggest. To get us started let’s first set the context of the Millennial invasion.
Conditions During the Millennium
- YHWH will extend peace to Jerusalem, “like a river”. (Isa. 66:12)
- The Gentiles will bring the Jewish people (out of all nations) back to Jerusalem as an offering to YHWH. (Isa. 66:20)
- These returnees will be brought on horses, chariots, litters, mules, and swift beasts. (Isa. 66:20)
- “All flesh” shall worship before YHWH from “one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another.” (Isa.?66:23)
- All nations shall flow to YHWH’s house (Isaiah 2:2)
- Weapons of war will be converted to tools of agriculture (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3)
- Nations will no longer go to war with one another. (Micah 4:3)
- The nations will no longer learn how to make war. (Micah 4:3)
- Men will sit under his vine and fig tree, “none shall make them afraid.” (Micah 4:4)
- Representatives of all nations of the earth will come up to Jerusalem to worship every year during the Feast of Tabernacles. (Zech. 14:16-17)
- Israel with dwell securely in the land (adamah) with none to make them afraid. (Eze. 34:28)
Jerusalem During the Millennium
Now let’s expand on conditions during the millennium for a moment. It is apparent from the Biblical record that Jerusalem in particular and Israel in general during the millennium will be a land at rest where its inhabitant dwell securely.
After the devastating earth changes and wars that occur during the tribulation it is very likely that our technological age as it exists today will be brought to at least a temporary close. This brings to mind a famous quote by Albert Einstein about our modern age and the effects war:
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Will Einstein be correct about WWIII and the aftermath? Consider just our dependency on oil. It is that life blood of the technological age. Oil and other hydrocarbons drawn from deep within the earth are what allow modern nations to make war on all corners of the earth. Take away the availability of oil and most factories, cities, and machines will simply cease to function as they once did. It’s ironic really that the substance (chemar – bitumen, a derivative of oil) which held together the bricks of the ancient tower of Babel is virtually the same substance which holds together mankind’s modern technological tower of Babel.
And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime [bitumen] had they for morter.
And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
And YHWH said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. (Genesis 11:3-4, 6)
Just as YHWH destroyed ancient Babel to protect mankind from themselves; it becomes apparent from both the Old and New Testament that he will use the tribulation period leading up to the return of Christ to accomplish this task once again.
The earthquakes and wars of the tribulation will surely devastate the production, refinement, and distribution of oil. This will force the survivors on earth to once again use a more equestrian mode of transportation. Factories, colleges, and institutions of war will be no longer. There will be no tanks, aircraft carriers, missiles, or other modern weaponry. Can you imagine living without iphones, facebook, or texting. In fact during the millennium, if you are one of the surviving gentile nations you won’t be logging into the internet to learn about the ways of YHWH you’ll have to travel to Jerusalem.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the YHWH’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the YHWH, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the YHWH from Jerusalem.
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2:2-4
Gog and Magog Attack a Land at Peace
It’s apparent from the passages above that during the millennium there will be an unprecedented period of peace on earth under the rule of Yeshua. Life will be radically different than what you and I experience today. Yet, towards the end of this period of time Satan will be let loose one last time to stir the passions of men in rebellion against their Creator. Think about that for a moment. A thousand years of righteous rule by Yeshua will still not be enough to tame the sin in the heart of mankind. All that sin will need is a catalyst:
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season…
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. (Revelation 20:2-9)
A Sobering Reality
The sobering reality is that without a change of heart, mankind, even under the most ideal circumstances, will fail to live up to the potential YHWH has blessed us with. We will fail miserably. As the apostle Paul explained to the Romans, our only hope is the redeeming power of Yeshua’s sacrifice on our behalf which quickens our mortal bodies by His Spirit and gives us the hope of future redemption of those mortal bodies.
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead well in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you…
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:11-23)
Yeshua is our only hope
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Now that we have a better idea what the millennium looks like at the time of the Gog and Magog invasion at the end of the 1000 years (Rev. 20), next week, YA willing, we will compare the Gog and Magog invasion of Ezekiel 38-39 to the invasion of Revelation 20 with the goal in mind of determining when Ezekiel’s invasion takes place. As you will see the subject is not quite as clear as either side in this debate has tried to make it out. Both sides have some unanswered questions which need to be answered before this subject is settled. In the next article we will look at:
- The context of Ezekiel 38-39 relative to the larger context of Ezekiel 34-37.
- What does Ezekiel mean when he describes Israel dwelling in peace and security?
- What period of Biblical history is Ezekiel 39:25-29 describing?
- The context of Ezekiel 34-39 relative to the context of Revelation 20.
Finally, we will look at the invasion of Gog and Magog mentioned in Revelation 20 in light of the overreaching context of the Bible’s chronology and jubilee cycles. As you will see the jubilee cycle provides us with a unique insight which just might be a factor in placing the events of Ezekiel 38-39. It should be a fascinating discussion so I hope to see you next week.
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