By 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'll continue with the study of the views that place the Gog-Magog Battle during the Tribulation, looking at what each view believes are their pros and cons, utilizing what I believe is the best written book on the subject — Northern Storm Rising by Dr. Ron Rhodes. Of the 687 respondents who voted on our "When will the Gog-Magog Battle take place?" poll, 248 (36%) voted "During the Tribulation."
In the First Half or Middle of the Tribulation
Supporters of this view are John F. Walvoord, J. Dwight Pentecost, Charles Ryrie, Herman Hoyt and Mark Hitchcock.
1) The fifth general timing clue (Ezek. 38:11) that requires Israel living unsuspecting and in peace before the Gog-Magog Battle could easily be attained by the peace covenant the Antichrist makes with Israel that starts the seven year countdown of the Tribulation (Dan. 9:27).
2) 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 and fully revive the Roman Empire. 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).
3) By placing the timing of the Gog-Magog Battle early in the Tribulation, the defeat and disillusionment of Muslims worldwide would destroy the strength of Islam. With the Church removed in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, Christianity would also be removed. The resulting polytheistic and pantheistic religions would integrate well into the apostate one-world religion that the False Prophet promotes (Rev. 13:11-15). The only monotheistic religions left to reject the Antichrist would be Judaism and the newly growing Jesus movement, both of which the Antichrist persecutes greatly during the second half of the Tribulation (Rev. 6:11).
1) Ezekiel 39:9 describes Israel burning the invading enemies weapons for seven years. Placing the Gog-Magog Battle at any time during the Tribulation would push the burning right into the Millennial Kingdom. With Jesus then present to provide everyone's needs, the curse partially lifted (Isa. 11:8) and the Earth reformatted by earthquakes (Rev. 6:12-14; 16:17-21), there would be no need for Israel to have to burn any weapons for fuel.
2) The tremendous persecution of the Jews during the second half of the Tribulation would not grant them the freedom to bury the invaders dead bodies for seven months (Ezek. 39:12) unless the Gog-Magog Battle occurred earlier than the mid-point.
3) If the Gog-Magog Battle happened closer to the mid-point, the question is raised as to why God would rescue Israel so dramatically from the Gog-Magog nations only to hand Israel immediately over to the intense persecution by the Antichrist.
At the End of the Tribulation (Armageddon)
Supporters of this view believe the Gog-Magog Battle and the final battle of Armageddon are one and the same.
1) Both the Gog-Magog Battle (Ezek. 38-39) and the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:19) are described as taking place during the first general timing clue "latter years" (Ezek. 38:8) and "last days" (Ezek. 38:16) of the Tribulation.
2) Ezekiel 39:4,17-20 and Revelation 19:17-18 both describe dead invaders being eaten by birds and wild animals.
3) Ezekiel 39:22,29 declare at the defeat of the Gog-Magog invasion Israel will again acknowledge God. These references if coupled with Zechariah 12:10 explaining an acknowledgment by Israel of their true Messiah at the end of the Tribulation would make the Gog-Magog Battle and Armageddon one and the same, if the acknowledgment of God the Father and Jesus the Messiah are also one and the same.
1) The players in the two battles do not match. The Gog-Magog Battle involves the specific nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Sudan, Libya, and possibly Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Algeria and Tunisia against Israel (Ezek. 38:1-6). The references to Armageddon include the nations of the entire earth against Israel (Joel 3:2; Zeph. 3:8; Zech. 12:3; 14:2).
2) The locations described for the two battles do not match. Armageddon takes place in a valley — the Valley of Jezreel by the plain of Megiddo (Judges 5:19; 2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chron. 35:22; Zech. 12:11). Ezekiel 38:8 describes the Gog-Magog Battle taking place on the mountains — the "mountains of Israel."
3) The account of the defeat of the invaders does not match. The Gog-Magog invaders are defeated by God who uses "torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur" as well as in-fighting (Ezek. 38:22). The invading nations at Armageddon are defeated by Jesus who uses "a sharp sword" from His mouth, meaning mere words (Rev. 19:15).
4) The peaceful precondition of Ezekiel 38:11 in which Israel has to be living unsuspecting and in peace before the Gog-Magog Battle (Ezek. 38:11) cannot exist under the Great Tribulation by the Antichrist.
5) Ezekiel 38:13 describes some nations questioning the Gog-Magog invasion. At Armageddon, all the nations are involved in the invasion so none protest (Joel 3:2; Zeph. 3:8; Zech. 12:3; 14:2).
6) Ezekiel 39:9 describes Israel burning the invading enemies weapons for seven years. Placing the Gog-Magog Battle at the end of the Tribulation would push the burning right into the Millennial Kingdom. With Jesus then present to provide everyone's needs, the curse partially lifted (Isa. 11:8) and the Earth reformatted by earthquakes (Rev. 6:12-14; 16:17-21), there would be no need for Israel to have to burn any weapons for fuel.
7) The leaders of the invasions are not the same. Gog is the prince and ruler of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal (Ezek. 38:3). The invading leader at Armageddon is the Beast who controls the whole earth. While it is known that Satan the Dragon possesses the Antichrist (Rev. 13:2), it is unknown if Gog is possessed by Satan.
8) The armies find themselves fighting two different opponents. The Gog-Magog invaders look to conquer a peacefully unsuspecting Israel (Ezek. 38:11). The Armageddon invaders gather to make war against the returned King — Jesus Christ (Rev. 19:19).
The next article in this "Timing Gog-Magog" series will look at views that place the timing of the Gog-Magog Battle in relation to the Millennium.