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 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.
We have looked at the General Timing Clues given by Ezekiel that demonstrate that the Gog-Magog Battle is yet future. We also looked at the two views that place the battle before the Tribulation and two views that place the battle during the Tribulation.
We'll continue by looking at three views that place the Gog-Magog Battle in relation to Jesus Christ's 1,000 year reign on earth called the "Millennium Kingdom." Each view will have listed 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, 47 (6%) voted for "End of the Millennium."
Between the Tribulation and the Millennium
Supporters of this view place the events of Ezekiel 38 and 39 in an interlude time period between the Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom.
1) This is a consistent argument with the view that an interlude time period could exist between the Rapture and the Tribulation.
2) 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 after Christ's Second Coming.
3) An interlude time could be any length of time, granting the seven years given in Ezekiel 39:9 to Israel to burn the invading enemies' weapons for fuel.
1) With Jesus having defeated all the armies of the world at Armageddon (Rev. 19:19), no army would be left to invade Israel so soon.
2) With Jesus' return at the Second Coming, no Gog-Magog invasion would be needed to get Israel to again acknowledge God (Ezek. 39:22,29).
3) Only one interlude time is given in the Bible. Three time indicators are given describing 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation. Daniel 12:12 (NIV) reads, "Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days." Revelation 11:2-3 reads, "But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." The difference between the two books is 75 days. These 75 days will most likely be used by Jesus to judge the world in the Sheep/Goat Judgment (Matt. 25:31-46) and rebuild the planet.
4) The interlude time limited to 75 days does not give Israel the seven months they need to bury the dead invaders' bodies from the Gog-Magog Battle (Ezek. 39:12).
5) With Jesus 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 into the Millennium.
At the Beginning of the Millennium
Supporters of this view, such as Arno Gaebelein, place the Gog-Magog Battle at the beginning of the 1,000 year reign of Christ.
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 after Christ's Second Coming.
1) With Jesus' return at the Second Coming, no Gog-Magog invasion would be needed to get Israel to again acknowledge God (Ezek. 39:22,29).
2) With Jesus having defeated all the armies of the world at Armageddon (Rev. 19:19), no army would be left to invade Israel so soon.
3) No wicked people will have survived the Sheep/Goat Judgment (Jer. 25:32-33; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 19:15-18) to enter into the Millennial Kingdom to start a war. Only believers who survived the Tribulation enter the Millennium and they have no reason to declare war on Christ.
4) No weapons would be available to the invaders of the Gog-Magog Battle, nor be left to burn for seven years, for as Isaiah 2:4b states, "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks."
5) No war exists until the end of the Millennium. Isaiah 2:4b (NIV) describes the Millennium being a time of world peace — "Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." Revelation 20:7-9 describes the only war that will happen during the Millennium, and that is at the end of the thousand years when Satan is let loose from the pit to rally unbelievers in that age against Jesus Christ.
6) With Jesus present to partially lift the curse (Isa. 11:8) and reformat the Earth from the ravages of the Tribulation (Rev. 6:12-14; 16:17-21), the Millennial Kingdom will begin in an almost holy state. Ezekiel 39:12 describes the land after the Gog-Magog Battle needing cleansing from the defilement of the dead invaders' bodies. Defilement contradicts the pristine condition the Millennial Kingdom will begin with.
7) Islam will not exist during the Millennial Kingdom. The unifying theme today among the coalition of nations that attack Israel in the Gog-Magog Battle is their satanically inspired Islamic hatred of Israel and desire of its wealth. Since Satan will be bound (Rev. 20:1-3) while Jesus will be reigning directly over the Kingdom, no opposing satanic religion like Islam will exist to unite those nations during the Millennium.
8) With Jesus' newly returned to rule from Jerusalem with "a rod of iron" (Ps. 2:9), no invader would dare invade Israel.
At the End of the Millennium
According to Dr. Rhodes, the majority of supporters for this view tend to come from a non-evangelical background (p.189).
1) Revelation 20:7-8 places a Gog-Magog Battle at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. "When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth — Gog and Magog — to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore."
2) Similar terminology exists between Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20 concerning the great number of invaders involved.
3) The prosperity described in Ezekiel 38-39 that Israel possess would be fulfilled by God's blessings on Israel during the Millennial Kingdom.
4) God uses supernatural weather in both accounts to destroy the invaders.
1) Ezekiel's chapters would be out of order with this view. Ezekiel 33-39 cover the restoration of Israel and are followed by chapters 40-48 which describe Israel during the Millennial Kingdom.
2) Revelation 20's chronology doesn't harmonize with Ezekiel's chronology. Revelation 20 describes the Millennial Kingdom, which is immediately followed by chapter 21 concerning the eternal state.
3) The Gog-Magog invaders wouldn't have bodies to require Israel to bury for seven months (Ezek. 39:12). Revelation 20:9's account records the invaders being incinerated by fire from out of the heavens.
4) Israel would have no reason to use seven months to bury the dead invaders (Ezek. 39:12) when God is just going to resurrect them at the end of the Millennium, judge them at the Great White Throne Judgment, and then throw them into the Lake of Fire.
5) Israel would have no reason to burn the invaders' weapons into the eternal state.
6) Ezekiel's and Revelation's descriptions of the invading armies do not match. Ezekiel describes a coalition of Russia and Muslim nations attacking Israel. Revelation 20:8 describes a much larger scope, with the invaders coming from the "nations in the four corners of the earth."
7) Ezekiel's and Revelation's descriptions of the battlefields do not match. Ezekiel describes the Gog-Magog Battle taking place on the "mountains of Israel," while the Revelation 20:9 account (in some versions like the NAS) states the battle takes place "on the broad plain of the earth."
8) Ezekiel's and Revelation's descriptions of Israel's rulers do not match. Ezekiel 38-39 follow chapters 36-37 which describe the rebirth of Israel, a nation not yet in belief in God nor has accepted Jesus as Messiah. The Revelation 20 account has Jesus already ruling from Jerusalem for 1,000 years.
9) Ezekiel's and Revelation's descriptions of the invader's rulers do not match. "Gog" is in control of the coalition against Israel in Ezekiel's account, whereas Satan is in control of the coalition against Jesus in Revelation's account. While Satan is clearly mentioned in Revelation's account, it is unknown if Gog is possessed by Satan or is a man possessed by Satan.
10) Ezekiel's and Revelation's descriptions of Israel's faith does not match. In Ezekiel 38-39, God uses the Gog-Magog Battle to make Himself known to Israel and the world. In Revelation 20, Israel has acknowledged Jesus as God and King for 1,000 years.
11) John's use of "Gog" and "Magog" in Revelation 20 is more likely to draw a comparison between Ezekiel's Gog-Magog Battle and the one John is describing at the end of the Millennial Kingdom.
12) The unbelieving children of the Tribulation saints who have survived to live into the Millennial Kingdom will be the ones who wage war against God at the end of the Millennium, as opposed to the children from the age of the "time of the Gentiles" who wage war in Ezekiel and Jesus' accounts (Luke 21:24).
In the final article in this "Timing Gog-Magog" series, I will end with some of my thoughts on when I believe the Gog-Magog Battle will take place.