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The Gog-Magog and Armageddon Wars – Part 1
By Randy Nettles
The war of Gog-Magog that Ezekiel wrote about in Ezekiel 38 & 39 is located “in the midst” of Ezekiel 37 and Ezekiel 40. This gives us a sense of when this yet future war occurs. Ezekiel 37 is titled “The Dry Bones Live – One Kingdom, One King” and describes the resurrection of the nation of Israel back into their God-given land. Ezekiel is not referring to the nation of Judah returning to their homeland upon Cyrus’ decree but is prophesying about an even further (in time) future event, where the whole house (12 tribes) of the children of Israel will be “resurrected” or brought back to the land that God gave to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and his sons forever (Ezekiel 37:18-20).
In historical hindsight, we know this occurred on May 14, 1948, when Israel declared their independence and joined the ranks of the modern nations of the world. In Ezekiel 37:22-28, Ezekiel prophesies even further into the future and writes on the subject of King Jesus, Prince David, and the nation of Israel in the Millennial Kingdom. Chapters 40-48 describe the Millennial Temple that will be in place during Jesus’ 1000-year reign on earth, which begins at the end of the war of Armageddon and Daniel’s Seventieth Week.
In between Israel’s resurrection as a nation in 1948 and the future Millennial Kingdom is the Gog-Magog war of Ezekiel 38 & 39. This is not the same Gog-Magog mentioned in Revelation 20:7-9 which occurs at the end of the Millennial Kingdom when God destroys the rebels with fire coming down from heaven (as He did at Sodom and Gomorrah). I believe this Gog-Magog is named thus because of the similarities of the original Gog-Magog (in Ezekiel 38, 39) who rebel against God and attempt to destroy the Jews. Their means of destruction and lack of a need for burial (because they are cremated by fire), etc. indicate these are not the same two events and are separated by at least 1000 years.
In a previous article, entitled “What’s Next?” I described the what, where, and why of Gog and his allies’ war on Israel. In this article, I will just give you my opinion (and many others) as to the ‘when’ of this war. There are three prevalent theories on the timing of the Gog-Magog War found in Ezekiel:
1) Before the Tribulation
2) During the Tribulation
3) At the end of the Tribulation and at the same time as the war of Armageddon.
Many teachers of eschatology believe the war of Gog-Magog happens about the same time as the pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. God uses this battle to re-awaken the nations to His presence, especially Israel. It is thought that the Church will have to ‘disappear’ at the Rapture, and then God turns His full attention back to Israel. Acts 15:14-15 confirms this: “Simon (Peter) has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: ‘After this, I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up; so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things.’”
God will certainly get the attention of Israel and the nations when he supernaturally destroys the armies of Gog and his allies. First, God causes a great earthquake to occur in the land of Israel. “For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken: ‘Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground’” (Ezekiel 38:20).
The second method of destruction God uses is one of His old favorites. He causes all the different peoples in this confederacy to fight against one another. “I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all My mountains,” says the Lord God. Every man’s sword will be against his brother (Ezekiel 38:21). The other method God uses to destroy Israel’s enemies is found in verse 22: “And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.”
The “fire and brimstone” that rain down on Gog and his cohorts will not be nuclear weapons from Israel or any other nation but will be a supernatural judgment from God. It is similar to how the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. “Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground” (Genesis 19:24-25). Then God tells Ezekiel, “Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23).
Once again God reminds the children of Israel and the Gentiles that He is the Great I AM, just as when He made His covenant with Abraham, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it” (Genesis 15:7). God also told Moses to tell the children of Israel His name if they asked, “And God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM. And He said, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. Moreover God said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations” (Exodus 3:14-15).
If this supernatural destruction of the Gog coalition described in the book of Ezekiel occurs 3.5 years before the Tribulation, then it satisfies the notion that the timing might occur at least 7 years before the “in the midst” event of the abomination of desolation as described in Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, & Mark 13:14. This is because, according to Ezekiel, the Jews would burn the weapons of the armies of the nations that attacked them for a period of 7 years (Ezekiel 39:10). Juxtaposed with this same period of time is the warning Jesus gives in His Olivet Discourse, that when the generation that sees the A.O.D. spoken of by Daniel the prophet, they should immediately flee to the mountains. They should not even take time to pack their clothes, but to flee for their lives. Now, if this is the case, then the Jews that are fleeing will not bother to burn weapons or take the ‘fuel’ with them to burn later.
The next theory of the timing of the Gog-Magog war is that it will occur at the start of the Tribulation or in the first 3.5 years of the 7-year Tribulation.
If it begins at the start (or slightly before) of the Tribulation, the weapons could be burned up before the Millennium begins. However, the advice of Jesus to the Jews regarding to “flee to the mountains (immediately if not sooner) when you see the A.O.D.” would have to be ignored, and they will carry some of the weapons (as fuel for fire) with them to Petra. This will result in many deaths as the Antichrist’s persecution of the Jews will be swift and decisive.
If the Gog-Magog war starts sometime in the first half of the Tribulation, then 7 years later the Millennium Kingdom will have already started. The Jews would still be burning weapons for fuel, for at least 3.5 years into the Millennium. Because of this fact, I don’t see this as a viable option.
The last theory, and least likely in my opinion, is that the Gog-Magog war is the same as the Armageddon war, and will occur at the end of the Tribulation and before the 2nd Coming of Christ. In this scenario, Russia and her allies are merely part of a worldwide coalition that comes against Israel at the end of days. However, there are several problems with this view. According to Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, there are eight objections to this end of the Tribulation (war of Armageddon) timing of the Gog-Magog war.
“First, in Ezekiel, there are definite allies mentioned and they are limited in number, while other nations stand in opposition. In the Campaign of Armageddon, all nations are allied together against Jerusalem without exception.
Second, the Ezekiel invasion comes from the north, but the Armageddon invasion comes from the whole earth.
Third, the purpose of the Russian invasion is to take the spoil; the purpose of the Armageddon campaign is to destroy all the Jews.
Fourth, in the Ezekiel invasion, there is a protest against the invasion; in the Armageddon invasion, there is no protest because all the nations are involved.
Fifth, the Armageddon invasion is destroyed by the personal Second Coming of Jesus the Messiah.
Sixth, the Ezekiel invasion is destroyed on the mountains of Israel; the Armageddon invasion is destroyed in the area between Petra and Jerusalem.
Seventh, the Russian invasion takes place while Israel is living securely in the Land; the Armageddon campaign takes place while Israel is in flight and in hiding.”
“Furthermore, this view fails to solve the problem of the seven months (burial) and seven years (weapons burning), since both would have to continue into the Millennium to be accomplished. Again, this is inconsistent with other revelation regarding the Kingdom, which starts out with a thoroughly cleansed earth.” (1)
Let me reiterate the fifth point of Mr. Fruchtenbaum. Gog and allies will meet their demise by natural and supernatural means: a great earthquake, fighting amongst themselves, pestilence and bloodshed, flooding rain and great hailstones, fire and brimstone. The Armageddon forces will meet their demise by supernatural means as well, but it will be on a personal level as Jesus Christ defeats them in person with no outside help.
Because of the supernatural means of destruction in the Gog-Magog war, it will be evident to the Jews that God intervened for Israel to save them. “I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward” (Ezekiel 39:21). They will, at this point, attempt to renew their old covenant (the Law) with God and make preparations to rebuild their third temple in Jerusalem. They will not at this point accept (still) Jesus as their Messiah.
The destruction of the Gog-Magog alliance will initiate the conditions for the 10 kings’ government to take control and begin the “great reset” or new world order (world government). They will re-zone the world into 10 regions with 10 kings. Israel will acquiesce and become part of this pact. Eventually, the Antichrist will come on the scene and will confirm (make stronger) a 7-year covenant (of nations) and guarantee Israel’s security in exchange for giving up some land for the Palestinians. As part of the ‘covenant’, the A.C. will allow Israel to build a temple in Jerusalem and allow animal sacrifices for their religious rituals. The temple must be built before the mid-point of the 7-year covenant when the A.C. attacks Jerusalem and sets up his ‘abomination of desolation’ in the newly built temple.
I believe Ezekiel 39:25-29 is a continuation of Ezekiel 37:22-28 and is referring to the Millennial Kingdom of God after Jesus Christ returns to the earth; when He will gather all 12 tribes of the children of Israel back to the Promised Land after Jacob’s Trouble (Tribulation). Israel will then have fulfilled all the objectives of Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 Weeks/Sevens. This will only happen at the end of the Tribulation when Israel (remnant Jews) finally recognize Jesus as the Messiah and confess their national sin. They will plead with Him to return and save them from physical and spiritual death.
In part 2 we will examine the Armageddon war and further compare the two.