Thursday, March 19, 2009

Timing Gog-Magog: Before the Tribulation

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

In this series of articles called Timing Gog-Magog, we are looking to the Bible to discover when the great battle the prophet Ezekiel described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is going to take place.

To recap, the Gog-Magog Battle involves a coalition of nations led by a ruler from the ancient lands once covered by the former Soviet Union and modern-day Turkey which consist of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Sudan, Libya, and possibly Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Algeria and Tunisia. They are united in their fervor to loot and destroy Israel. The invading coalition comes to the mountains of Israel to discover not an easy victory, but a setup by God who utterly destroys them with violent weather. The supernatural defeat of the invading hordes reveals to the world that God is real and indeed protects the nation of Israel. Israel spends the next seven months burying the dead invaders and seven years expending the leftover fuel and weapons.

We have looked upon the General Timing Clues given by Ezekiel that demonstrate that the Gog-Magog Battle is yet future. The first clue was the use of the terms "latter years" (Ezek. 38:8) and "last days" (Ezek. 38:16). The second clue is the historical record that shows no such battle in Israel's history has fit the description. The third is that Israel is a nation once more. The fourth is that the nations that comprise the invading coalition are finally united today by their hatred of the Jews. And, the fifth clue from Ezekiel 38:11 is that Israel has to be living unsuspecting and in peace.

We'll continue with the study of the views that place the Gog-Magog Battle before the Tribulation, looking at what each view believes are their pros and cons. The following two views lie heavily on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture viewpoint.

We'll continue utilizing what I believe is the best written book on the subject — Northern Storm Rising by Dr. Ron Rhodes.


Before Both the Rapture and the Tribulation

Of the 687 respondents who voted on our "When will the Gog-Magog Battle take place?" poll, 101 (14%) voted "Before the Rapture" and 245 (35%) voted "Before the Tribulation." Combining those views would be the "Before Both the Rapture and the Tribulation" view.

Supporters of this view are Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins of the Left Behind series, and Joel Rosenberg who wrote the currently popular Epicenter.

Pros:

1) Israel using seven years to utilize the weaponry of the invaders for fuel (Ezek. 39:9) matches the seven years "Seventieth Week of Daniel" (Dan. 9:27) that the Tribulation will last. The "sevens" compliment each other in a timeline.

2) With the Muslim world in ruins and their faith in Allah shattered from their defeat in the Gog-Magog Battle, the Muslim world would no longer be an impediment for the Jews to rebuild the Temple which the Antichrist will later desecrate (Dan. 9:27 and 2 Thess. 2:3-4).

3) God declaring Himself to the world is in character with His willingness to warn the world before impending judgment. A great multitude could come to God before the Rapture due to God revealing Himself more fully by His victory in the Gog-Magog Battle, and so more would be included in the Rapture and avoid the wrath of the Tribulation.

Cons:

1) Placing the invasion before the Rapture would contradict the first general time clue of the terms "latter years" (Ezek. 38:8) and "last days" (Ezek. 38:16). Old Testament prophets like Ezekiel used these terms to indicate a specific "time of Jacob's trouble" for Israel, which is the Tribulation.

2) Placing the invasion before the Rapture would contradict the fifth general time clue which tells of Israel living in unsuspecting peace before the attack. Unless the peace is derived from a Psalm 83 scenario where Israel has subjugated its surrounding neighbors, true peace may only come to Israel by the peace covenant made between the Antichrist and Israel (Dan. 9:27). That covenant starts the seven year countdown of the Tribulation.

3) The New Testament teaching that no prophetic event has to occur before the Rapture, called "imminency." Imminency precludes such prophetic events like the Gog-Magog Battle from happening before the Rapture.

4) The removal of the "Restrainer" (2 Thes. 2:6-8) causes the Antichrist to emerge. Because the Church is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16), the Rapture has to happen before the Antichrist can come on the scene and provide the peace Israel's looking for.

5) A timing problem exists for Israel in that midway through the Tribulation the Antichrist's abomination in the newly built Temple will cause the Jews to flee into the desert (Matt. 24:15-16). The Jews will no longer have access to the Gog-Magog invader's weapons to burn. And so, the seven years of Tribulation can no longer match the seven years of burning the weapons.


After the Rapture but Before the Tribulation

A popular supporter of this view is Dr. Tommy Ice of the Pre-Trib Research Center.

Pros:

1) With the world in chaos from a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, Russia and its Muslim coalition could seize the opportunity to attack a friendless Israel.

2) With the Muslim Gog-Magog nations out of the picture just before the Tribulation, the Antichrist would have an easier time of making good on a peace covenant with Israel.

3) With the more christianized nations in tatters due to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture and the Islamic world in ruins from the Gog-Magog Battle, the remaining European world power could fill the vacuum in the Middle East. By making a peace treaty with Israel and easily conquering the lands of the once Middle-Eastern Muslim countries, the Roman Empire could truly be revived once more. The only remaining world powers would be East-Asian, and the Bible records their continued existence (though under the control of the Antichrist) until the end of the Tribulation (Rev. 16:12).

4) With the Muslim world in tatters, Israel would have no resistance to their rebuilding the Temple.

5) The Rapture does not start the Tribulation, but rather the signing of the peace covenant between the Antichrist and Israel does (Dan. 9:27). This fact would allow a 3 1/2 year or more time delay between the Rapture and the Tribulation, giving Israel the full seven years to burn the weapons from the Gog-Magog Battle before being forced to flee into the desert (Matt. 24:15-16).

Cons:

1) Placing the invasion before the Tribulation would contradict the first general time clue of the terms "latter years" (Ezek. 38:8) and "last days" (Ezek. 38:16). Old Testament prophets like Ezekiel used these terms to indicate the specific "time of Jacob's trouble" for Israel, which is the Tribulation.

2) The peaceful precondition of Ezekiel 38:11 in which Israel has to be living unsuspecting and in peace before the Gog-Magog Battle may only occur because of the peace covenant with the Antichrist, who can't be revealed until the Tribulation begins.


The next article in this "Timing Gog-Magog" series will take an interlude to identify Rosh as modern-day Russia.

12 comments:

Justine said...

Nathan,
thanks for another great article. I enjoyed seeing you on tv last night with dr. reagan and dennis. Keep up the good work; there are so many of us out here that appreciate it!!

hartdawg said...

hi everyone. hello billy,here is my take on the timing, AFTER the rapture, paul said when the fullness of the gentiles comes in he (God) will regraft isreal and this begins that grafting. Gods attention is toward isreal again a senerio AFTER the rapture. also God is dealing with the nations in judgement a senerio AFTER the rapture and furthermore the rapture is imminent.HOWEVER it also comes BEFORE the tribulation 1.no mention of a temple or peace treaty. the antichrist would be forced to defend isreal 2.7yrs for burning fuel and isreal flees 3.5yrs into the tribulation (that means there is at least a 3.5yr gap between rapture and tribulation so be ready)therefore i believe it is AFTER the rapture (or the rapture is during this invasion then people wont notice millions missing especially if russia attacks the u.s. first)but BEFORE the tribulation

son of thunder said...

My opinion is that the Rapture is after Gog-Magog, but before the Tribulation period. I think that God allows Gog-Magog before the Rapture so believers will be able to say, "Look, here's what's going on," and point to Ezekiel 38-39 to prove the validity of the Bible one last time to an unsaved world.

Anonymous said...

Good article Nathan.

Jim said...

Look at Revelation 16:2, and remember that it takes place during the Day of the Lord—the time of Christ’s return.

“. . . There fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast. . . .”

The Mark of the Beast, acquired during the Tribulation, will still be current when Christ returns. With this information in hand, a later passage in Revelation ends much of the confusion about End-of-the-Age chronology.

. . . I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Revelation 20:4-5

The First Resurrection includes those who did not worship the Beast or receive his mark; i.e., Christians whom the Beast put to death. A resurrection prior to the time of the Beast could not include those individuals martyred by the Beast. Only two resurrections are prophesied, the second not occurring until the end of the Millennial Reign.
Remembering Paul’s assurance that living Christians would not “prevent” (go before) those resurrected to meet Christ (I Thessalonians 4:13-17), there can be no “Rapture” prior to the Tribulation, that is, not until after the Beast has martyred many Christians. Thus, the passage in I Corinthians 15:51-52 and I Thessalonians 4:15-17 are chronologically established. Christians, both resurrected and living, are given their new bodies and caught up to meet Christ at the last trump(et), at Christ’s single, visible return.

Look for Gog at the end of the Millennial reign.

For a greater elaboration of this, check out
http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/096517171X

Anonymous said...

Jim,

Many (dare I say "Most"?) people on this blog would disagree with you about the timing of the rapture being during the Tribulation. I don't know if you've looked at any of Nathan and Dr. Reagan's articles pertaining to the rapture, but I do encourage you to check them out. They might not change your mind, but they may give you something to think about--as in how they interpret Scripture literally to come to their conclusions. I might add that they present some very persuasive evidence.

Of course, you don't have to agree with their view of the rapture (after all, it's a nonessential belief that should never divide Christians), but I thought I would recommend the articles since you are on their site!

In Christ,
Laura

loki said...

Laura, that was a nice courteous response to Jim.

However, Jim has posted exactly the same thing - word for word - on other blogs and has been answered. He has done the same on a blog I contribute to. I'm just surprised he hasn't suggested Googling X-raying Margaret or pre-trib die-hards. If you actually do a Google search on some of the names that come with these comments you discover that several people will use the same commentaries and post then on any blog discussing the rapture – especially pre-trib. I’ve come across a Todd, an Irv (quite prolific), a Flo etc, etc. It all relates back to Dave MacPherson’s materials. I've often woondered whether he pays them a commission.

Mitchell said...

Nathan says, "And, the fifth clue from Ezekiel 38:11 is that Israel has to be living unsuspecting and in peace."

Yes, this is a clue, and the only time they will be living "unsuspecting and in peace" is after the 'peace treaty' is signed. Today, they are not unsuspecting nor are they living in peace. They're on constant alert from terrorist attacks and have recently fought against Hezbollah and Hamas (and my do so again soon), and have their eyes on Iran right now and are still under threat in the south from rocket and mortar attacks. In fact, they're constructing a defensive wall right now to protect their towns, cities and villages from terrorist attacks, yet 38:11 says "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". The only time when conditions will be such that Israel will believe it is ok to remove this barrier is after a peace treaty is signed and they are living peacefully, not before.

There is also a six clue Nathan -- an extremely important one -- and it is Ezekiel 38:17 where God addresses Gog specifically and says, "Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days by My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days that I would bring you against them?"

The Lord is speaking directly to Gog here -- "he of whom I have spoken". It is indisputable in searching through all of the other books of the prophets that the Antichrist is referred to many times by many names, but here in Ezekiel is the only place in the Bible we have a reference to a prince called "Gog". So, if God's servants the prophets of Israel "prophesied for years in those days that I would bring you [Gog] against them" then Gog and Antichrist have to be the same person. The only one the other prophets prophesied about invading Israel in the Last Days was Antichrist.

The prophets elsewhere referred to Antichrist as:

"the Assyrian"
"the King of the North"
the "Prince that shall come"
"the Beast"
"the Son of Perdition"
"that evil one"
"a wicked counsellor"
"the king of Babylon" etc.

And now, thanks to Ezekiel, we can also refer to him as "Gog" and "the Chief Prince of Meshech and Tubal".

Anonymous said...

Hi Mitchell,

One other possible scenario of when Israel might be living unsuspecting and at peace is after they conquer their surrounding enemies in the Psalm 83 war. To me, that is a much more plausible outcome than what you suggest, but, of course, we don't have to agree. It's one of those nonessential things!

Mitchell said...

We don't have to agree, very true. My concern with that thought however is that Scripture makes it explicit in Ezekiel, Joel, Zechariah for example that it is God who destroys the surrounding nations for their wickedness at Armageddon, and it is God who saves Israel.

Anonymous said...

What I hope is imminent is that everyone will imminently visit the POWERED BY CHRIST MINISTRIES site and then read "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty." Ann

Anonymous said...

Damascus destroyed, psalm 83, rapture, gog magog, peace treaty.