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.
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 unearthly 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.
In review, we analyzed the Battle and looked into the history books and determined that Ezekiel's reference to Rosh is modern-day Russia. Ezekiel's General Timing Clues were listed to demonstrate that the Gog-Magog Battle is yet future. We also looked at the two views that place the battle before the Tribulation, the two views that place the battle during the Tribulation, and the three views that place the battle in relation to the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ. In our study we utilized what I believe is the best written book on the subject — Northern Storm Rising by Dr. Ron Rhodes.
I'll conclude this series by analyzing the views and stating when I believe the Gog-Magog Battle will take place.
Let me go on the record, though, by stating that I am not dogmatic about this end time topic, nor should anyone be. The study of the end times (eschatology) is non-primary. Since God has given mankind merely an overview of His future plans, He has left us with nothing concrete enough to pinpoint the exact timing, probably so that we Christians will not just sit quietly by, but get out there and witness with all our energy until the Lord's return. The study and debate over when the Gog-Magog Battle will take place should never divide the brethren.
Analyzing the Views
Each of the Gog-Magog Battle timing views appear to revolve around dealing with two yet-to-be fulfilled key prerequisites:
- Israel is in a state of unsuspecting peace before the invasion (Ezek. 38:11).
- Israel has the seven months to bury the dead invaders bodies (Ezek. 39:12-16) and the whole seven years to expend the leftover fuel and weapons (Ezek. 39:9).
The three views that time the Gog-Magog Battle in relation to the Millennium do great justice to the first prerequisite in putting Israel at a time of peace due to Jesus' victory and reign, but cannot overcome the obstacles of the second prerequisite. With Jesus having subjected all His enemies before the start of the Millennium, there would be no invaders to invade. With no invaders, there are no bodies to bury nor weapons to burn.
The best of the three Millennial views is the one placing the timing at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, which Revelation 20:7-8 describes as an uprising of unbelievers born during the Millennium that are led be Satan to his final defeat. While there are some similarities to Ezekiel's account of the Gog-Magog Battle, the dissimilarities prove Ezekiel is talking about a different Gog-Magog Battle than the battle the Apostle John is describing. I agree that John's use of "Gog" and "Magog" in Revelation 20 is more likely to draw a comparison between Ezekiel's Gog-Magog Battle as a type of what the battle will be like at the end of the Millennial Kingdom.
For the two views that place the timing during the Tribulation, they both wrestle with the same prerequisites.
Like the view that proposes Ezekiel's Gog-Magog Battle is the uprising of Satan at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, the view that places the timing at the end of the Tribulation proposes that Ezekiel's Gog-Magog Battle is Armageddon. While similarities exist between Gog-Magog and Armageddon, their differences far outweigh their similarities. Also, placing the battle at the end of the Tribulation violates the first prerequisite that Israel is living in peace, a condition which would be impossible under the intense persecution by the Antichrist and Israel's subsequent flight into the desert.
Placing the timing at the beginning, but not by the middle, of the Tribulation gives Israel the seven months to bury the dead invaders and the full seven years to burn the fuel if they have a reserve of it where they flee to. This view would need then to settle the peaceful condition of Israel by resting it on either the peace covenant with the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27) or a Psalm 83 subjugation of Israel's surrounding hostile neighbors.
The two views that place the timing of the Gog-Magog Battle before the Tribulation can perfectly grant the time needed to burn the weapons — the full seven years if the Jews have a reserve of it where they flee to, or at least 3 1/2 years before the Tribulation to the middle of the Tribulation before the Jews flee. But, since the Tribulation begins with the peace covenant between the Antichrist and Israel, the only viable scenario for a peaceful prerequisite would be a Psalm 83 fulfillment or to take Ezekiel's description of Israel being at peace to mean they're militarily secure, which with the world's fourth largest military they are today.
As we can see, all the views struggle over some issue.
Which view one holds probably rests more on what one sees is the view that provides the most logical answers to the prerequisites. To me, timing the Gog-Magog Battle just before or at the very beginning of the Tribulation can best fulfill these prerequisites and makes the most logical sense in my mind.
This is how I see the timeline most likely playing out:
- The Rapture of the Church removes the Restrainer.
- Israel subjugates their surrounding neighbors in fulfillment of Psalm 83.
- The Gog-Magog Battle destroys the Russian and Muslim influence in the Middle East, makes the world aware of God's presence, and restores Israel's belief in the God of the Torah.
- The Antichrist conquers what's left of the Middle East and makes a peace covenant with Israel to complete the Revived Roman Empire.
- Israel spends the seven years of the Tribulation burning the weapons.
- Jesus returns at the end of the seven years to defeat His enemies at Armageddon resulting in Israel acknowledging that Jesus is God's Son.
- Jesus gathers the people from all over the world for the Sheep/Goat Judgment, which results in only believers entering the Millennial Kingdom.
Time will tell when the Gog-Magog Battle will truly take place. But, the players are already in place and the scene is just about all set for this epic battle to be waged in the not-too-distant future.