Every time a war breaks out in the Middle East, I receive a flurry of phone calls and email messages asking if it could be the War of Armageddon. This question is prompted by the fact that most people are familiar with only one end time war — the one that has been popularized in movies and novels as the "Battle of Armageddon." In reality, the Bible describes nine separate end time wars.
We have looked at the first of these battles — the War of Extermination based on Psalm 83. Next in the prophetic sequence is the First War of Gog-Magog based on Ezekiel 38-39, the war when Russia invades Israel with certain specified allies, all of whom are Muslim nations today.
2) The First War of Gog & Magog — Ezekiel 38 and 39
The security provided by the Psalm 83 war will not last long. The Arab nations will turn to their natural ally, Russia, and cry out for help.
And the Russians will be very happy to respond, for they have always dreamed of taking the oil fields of the Middle East. They will, therefore, launch an invasion for the stated purpose of helping the Muslims destroy Israel, but their unstated agenda will be to use the Arab invitation as an excuse to expand their sovereignty over all the Middle East. This ulterior motive is described in Ezekiel 38:12 where it says the Russians will come "to capture spoil and to seize plunder."
The invading armies will be supernaturally destroyed by God "on the mountains of Israel" (Ezekiel 39:4). The Lord will accomplish this destruction through earthquakes, pestilence, hail storms, fire, brimstone, and battlefield confusion (Ezekiel 38:19- 22). Even the Jewish people will recognize that the victory belongs to the Lord, and many will open their hearts to the Lord (Ezekiel 38:23). In fact, this event could mark the occasion when the 144,000 Jews of Revelation 7:1-8 accept Yeshua as their Messiah and are sealed by the Lord for special service throughout the seven year period of the Tribulation.
The greatest mystery concerning this war is its timing. Most have placed it at the beginning of the Tribulation. Others delay its start to the middle of the Tribulation. Increasingly in recent years, the tendency has been to place it before the beginning of the Tribulation.
The best discussion of timing that has yet been written can be found in Ron Rhodes' book, Northern Storm Rising. He concludes that it is most likely to occur 3 1/2 years prior to the Tribulation. One of his most important reasons for this conclusion is that Ezekiel 39:9 says the Jews will spend seven years burning the weapons captured in the war, and the book of Revelation says they will be run out of the land in the middle of the Tribulation (Revelation 12:13-17). Since the middle of the Tribulation will occur 3 1/2 years into that seven year period, that means the only way the Jews could spend seven years burning the weapons is for the war to start at least 3 1/2 years before the Tribulation begins. (Note: The "burning of weapons" could refer to captured nuclear fuel.)
Does this mean the wars of Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38 and 39 must occur before the Rapture? Not at all. The Rapture could occur anytime before, during, or after these wars. Keep in mind that the Rapture is not what marks the beginning of the Tribulation. The Tribulation will begin when the Antichrist signs a security treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27). There could be a period of several years between the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation.
For further information on the Gog-Magog War and its timing, see the article series Timing Gog-Magog.
In the third installment of this "End Time Wars" series, we will look at the third and fourth wars in the end times sequence — both the Conventional and Nuclear Wars of the Tribulation.