- THE GOG & MAGOG WAR
One of the most dramatic events of the end times is an invasion of Israel by a group of specifically mentioned nations. The prophet Ezekiel describes this invasion, known as the Battle of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38–39). Only the supernatural intervention of God will deliver Israel from total annihilation.
Events in our world today strikingly foreshadow the prophecy of the battle of Gog and Magog in Ezek 38–39. It will make the invasions of Israel in 1967 and 1973 by the Arab nations pale in comparison. When Russia assembles this last days strike force, it will look like Israel is finished. But God is in control of the entire situation. He will mount up in His fury to destroy these godless invaders. “It will come about on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel, declares the Lord God, that my fury will mount up in My anger. In my zeal and in My blazing wrath” (Ezek. 39:18-19a).
THE PURPOSE OF THE INVASION
First and foremost, the divine purpose in allowing this invasion is expressed in 38:14-16b. Through the attack God will be sanctified in the eyes of the nations.
The goal of the nations involved is twofold. First, the economies of all of these nations are crippled, especially Iran’s, due to strict sanctions imposed on it by the US. In the meantime, Israel’s economy is blooming and during recent years it has discovered massive oil and natural gas reserves. This most probably relates to the hook God said He would put in the mouth of Gog (Ezekiel 38:4). They will come to take spoil (some translations say “booty”).
Second, the invading Muslim horde will come to destroy the people of Israel and wipe them off the face of the earth (Ezekiel 38:10, 16).
TIMING OF THE INVASION
By far, the most controversial issue in Ezek 39–39 is the setting or timing of the invasion. We believe that the invasion will occur before the tribulation begins, and possibly even before or shortly after the rapture. It fits well with the seven years for burning the weapons and seven months to bury the dead in Ezek 39:9-12. Second, this view provides a reasonable explanation for how the Jewish people will be able to construct a temple on the temple mount in Jerusalem. If the armies of many of the major Islamic nations are decimated in Israel before the tribulation begins, the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem could be accomplished with much less Muslim resistance.
The invasion will occur at a time when Israel is “at rest,” “living securely,” and dwelling in “unwalled villages.” The Hebrew root batach which appears in Ezek 38:8 and 11 simply means “security.” Fruchtenbaum, an expert on Bible prophecy says, “This is not a security due to a state of peace, but a security due to confidence in their own strength. This, too, is a good description of Israel today. The Israeli army has fought four major wars since its founding and won them swiftly each time. Today Israel is secure, confident that her army can repel any invasion from the Arab states. Hence, Israel is dwelling securely.”
Some scholars however argue that the terminology in Ezek 38 fits much better with the first half of the seventieth week of Daniel when Israel will enjoy the protection of her covenant with Antichrist and will temporarily let down her guard (Dan 9:27). Most who hold this view place it closer to the midpoint of the tribulation.
THE ROLE PLAYERS
The prophecy of the battle of Gog and Magog begins with a list of ten proper names in 38:1-7. The name Gog, which occurs eleven times in Ezek 38–39, is a name or title of the leader of the invasion. Gog is an individual since he is directly addressed several times by God (38:14; 39:1) and since he is called a prince (38:2; 39:1).
The other nine proper names in Ezek 38:1-7 are specific geographical locations and they are all found in the Table of the Nations in Gen 10:2-7. The only one that is questionable is Rosh, but it is likely that the name Rosh is derived from the name Tiras in Gen 10:2, since all the other nations in Ezek 38:1-7 are also listed there. It is these specific geographical areas that will be involved.
Gog – the leader of the invasion.
Magog – Modern prophecy teachers often identify Rosh with Russia. Magog today probably represents the former underbelly of the Soviet Union: Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzebekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. Afghanistan could also be part of this territory. All of these nations are dominated by Islam.
Rosh – Bible scholars often identifies Rosh with Russia.
Meshech and Tubal – Meshech and Tubal are normally mentioned together in Scripture. The ancient locations are in modern Turkey.
Persia – The ancient land of Persia became the modern nation of Iran in March 1935, and then the name was changed to the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.
Ethiopia (Cush) – Modern versions often translate the Hebrew word Cush in Ezekiel 38:5 as “Ethiopia.” Modern Sudan inhabits the ancient land of Cush today. Sudan is a hard-line Islamic nation in Northern Africa.
Libya (Put) – Modern Libya, is another Islamic nation in Northern Africa and has been under the rule of Colonel Mu‘ammar al-Gadhafi since 1969. This geographical area could possibly also include nations farther west, such as modern Algeria and Tunisia.
Gomer – Gomer has often been identified as Germany, or more particularly East Germany before the fall of communism. It does however seem more likely that this territory relates to modern Turkey.
Beth-togarmah – This territory also relates to modern Turkey, north of Israel.
Therefore, Russia will have at least five key allies: Turkey, Iran, Libya,Sudan, and the nations of Central Asia. Amazingly, all of these are Muslim nations, with Iran being Israel’s most ardent opponent. There’s no specific mention of Israel’s neighbours such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, or Iraq (ancient Babylon) in this prophecy.
THE END OF THE INVASION
No nation on earth will assist Israel. Ezek 38:13 mentions that “Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof” will question Gog and his allies but they will not physically intervene. These countries probably relate to modern Saudi-Arabia and the US and UK.
God Himself will intervene to rescue his helpless people and will use four means to destroy Russia and her allies. The four means of destruction are listed in Ezek 38:19-22: 1) A great earthquake (Ezekiel 38:19-20). 2) Infighting among the troops (Ezekiel 38:21). In the chaos after the powerful earthquake, the armies from each of the nations will turn against each other. 3) Disease (Ezekiel 38:22). 4) Torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and burning sulfur (Ezekiel 38:22).
Four key events that occur in the aftermath of this invasion.
- The Birds and the Beasts (Ezek. 39:4-5,17-20; cf. Rev. 19:17-18): The carnage that results from this slaughter will provide a great feast for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. God refers to the carnage as “My sacrifice” and “My table” to which He invites the birds and the beasts as His guests.
- The Burying of the Dead for 7 Months (Ezek. 39:11-12, 14-16): Clean-up squads will be assembled to go through the land. They will set up markers wherever they see a human bone. When the gravediggers come behind them they will see the markers and take the remains to the Valley of Gog’s Hordes for burial. The cleansing will be so extensive that a town will be established in the valley at the gravesites to aid those who are cleansing the land. The name of the town will be Hamonah (horde).
- The Burning of the Weapons for 7 Years (Ezek. 39:9-10)
- The Blessing of Salvation (39:22): In the midst of His wrath and fury, God will also pour out His grace and mercy. God will use the awesome display of His power against Russia and her allies to bring many to salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. Many of those who turn to the true God as a result of this demonstration of His power will undoubtedly be among the vast group of the redeemed in Rev 7:9-14.
The seven-year peace treaty mentioned by Daniel will most probably be signed shortly after the Gog and Magog invasion. It will provide a false guarantee of protection for the people of Israel. Something significant must happen to launch the Antichrist to world power. The decimation of the Gog coalition would leave a massive power vacuum and provide a plausible explanation for the Antichrist’s sudden rise, as he may attempt to take credit for the destruction of Gog’s army.