January 7, 2015 - A. V. Rauf
Ezekiel 38-39: The War of Gog & Magog (Part 1)
Israel is the apple of God’s eye; the center of God’s prophetic program; they have been brought back as a nation beginning in 1948. This is a miracle in itself in terms of natural history. No nation has ever experienced this. Especially since 1967, when Jerusalem was recognized as a city in Israel a plethora of miraculous fulfillments of Bible prophecy regarding the nation of Israel have come to pass and are continuing to come to fruition even as I am writing this post! What is also noteworthy is how this small nation seems to be in the forefront of the global media as events in the Middle East are now being showcased before the entire world. This was also written in the book of Zechariah (which is a complimentary book also referred to as “The Little Apocalypse”)as compared to the Book of Revelation:
Zechariah 12:1-3— 1 The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him. 2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. 3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
The first thing we need to know is that Gog and Magog are mentioned in the Book of Revelation:
Revelation 20.7-8—And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
Some say that this coming war prophesied in Ezekiel will occur after the thousand year reign of Christ according to these verses. That is not true. This will be a minor rebellion in the eyes of God and it will be dealt with rather quickly. Not with the magnitude of what was described in Ezekiel 38-39.
There are four major views regarding this war. Now in reference to what is currently taking place in the Middle East, what we will examine in the next few posts is of extreme interest.
View # 1: The war will happen after the Millennium (unsupportive view)
View # 2: It will occur in the Middle of the Tribulation period. This would be 3-1/2 years into the final 7 years on this earth prior to the return of Jesus Christ to set up His Millenial kingdom.
View # 3: The war will occur before the rapture of the church, preceding the seven year tribulation period. One of the reasons for believing this is found in Ezekiel 39:4-12:
4 Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. 5 Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God. 6 And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the Lord. 7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. 8 Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord God; this is the day whereof I have spoken. 9 And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years: 10 So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord God. 11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog. 12 And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land.
Many Bible scholars find it difficult to see the fact that weapons being burned for seven years occurs during the Millennium. They also notice in this passage that it takes seven months to bury the dead. Again they don’t see this happening during the Millenium. They also believe that Gog & Magog refers to Russia and its allies consist of a Pan-Islamic Empire that will be defeated before the tribulation begins. (e.g. during this seven years the weapons are being burned.)
Thus, this is different then the Battle of Armageddon.
View # 4: This war takes place during the Battle of Armageddon. This is the view that is believed by most Jewish rabbis :
Zechariah 14:1-3– Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. ( I suggest you read this chapter in its entirety.)
There is no difference between this and what the other Hebrew prophets spoke about. This is the great Final Battle which occurs at the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of seven year tribulation period.
THESE ARE THE FOUR COMMON VIEWS HELD BY BIBLE SCHOLARS. LET US NOW EXAMINE THE SCRIPTURES…….
Ezekiel 38:1-6— 1 And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3 And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: 4 And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: 5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: 6 Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.
In the opening six verses of Chapter 38 we have a recognition of those who will invade Israel. I want to break this down into 2 categories:
- the identity of Gog (verses 2-3)
- the involvement of other nations involved in this invasion ( verses 5-6)
So in order to see who invades Israel let’start with the identity of Gog:
- The identity of Gog.
The land of Magog means simply “from Gog.” So Magog is the land where Gog has his Empire or throne perhaps. The reason this became of great interest is due to the research of a Hebrew scholar named Gasinius. In examining the Hebrew words used in this text, Gasinius identified the words “chief prince,” which in Hebrew means “rosh” or “the head leader.” He identified the word “rosh,” and its phonetic equivalent with the modern country of Russia. He then proceeded to use the same method of phonetic equivalent of the Hebrew terms compared to their Russian meanings. Therefore, “Meshach” becomes “Moscow” and “Tubal” becomes “Tobolsk.”
Many scholars in the past have identified Gog and Magog with the ancient Scythians. The Scyths were early mounted Nomads; unequalled in their archery skills. Aiming backward, riding at a gallop, they could kill birds in flight—right or left handed! The Scythians are mentioned in Colossians 3:11 in the N.T. Many believe that they were the ancestors of many of today’s Russian people. Or at least those of the former Soviet Republic. They dominated the vast steppes of Russia from Ukraine to the Great Wall of China.
An eight century reference refeered to the great Wall of China as “ Sud Yagog et Magog.” Or the rampart of Gog and Magog. A rampart is a high, elevated protection or defense. The Quran makes reference to it as Vadjudj wa madjudj. They were known to be very Barbaric, and even cannibalistic. They were known to eat the remains of their deceased relatives (according to Tertulian, one of the early church fathers.) Also, they were also identified as being “north” of Israel.
In order to identify Gog from a biblical perspective, we will look at three categories 1.
1. A Historical Connection:
Genesis 10:2–The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.
Here it lists Gomer, Magog, Tubal and Meshach as the sons of Japheth. (Remember that after the flood of Noah, it was his three sons that re-populated the earth: Shem, Ham and Japheth.) By the way the name Togarmah, which is mentioned in Ezekiel 38 was the son of Gomer, or rather the grandson of Japheth.
Now the term Gog can be found 11 times in the Bible. However, 9 of the 11 times it is mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39. I Chronicles 5:4 ( in the genealogical tables) list Gog as a descendant of Reuben of the tribes of Israel. So there is a historic connection to this name:
I Chronicles 5:4–The sons of Joel; Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son,
It comes from the Japhetic nations. Japheth was promised that he would be dominating the world scene. Thus, world empires were sprung from Japheth. According to the Jewish rabbis, the Japhetic nations would always be involved in Armageddon. They saw the “Semitic” peoples of Israel being attacked by the Japhetic peoples who would primarily be dominating the world in the days of the coming of the Messiah King.
2. A Geographical Connection: In verse 6 of chapter 38 we read “north quarters.”
In verse 2 of chapter 39, we read “north parts.” Now Magog is mentioned in the Bible 5 times. In I Chronicles 1:5, we see Magog as the son of Japheth. All we know is that it is north of Israel. When you look at a map, and you go the furthest direction upward, it appears that that nation is Russia. Some say it could mean Turkey. In what is referred to as the “Fertile Crescent,” all countries are north of Israel. This is regarded so by the Bible and it is still regarded so today. For example, although Iran appears east of Israel, (see map) one must still travel north. You can’t cut across the Saudi Arabian desert, you must go north. Now first you go through Syria and then Iraq which is always north. Isn’t it interesting that Syria and Iraq are being targeted by ISIS as they attempt to re-establish an Islamic Caliphate in the Fertile Crescent! As I am studying the current crisis with ISIS and the Levant, it is clear that these events are a pre-cursor to a possible war (perhaps Psalm 83) that will ultimately lead to the War of Gog and Magog and the appearance of Anti-Christ.
Psalm 83–1 Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. 2 For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. 3 They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. 4 They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. 5 For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: 6 The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; 7 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; 8 Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah. 9 Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: 10 Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth. 11 Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: 12 Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession. 13 O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. 14 As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; 15 So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. 16 Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O Lord. 17 Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: 18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth.
The ancient Assyrians were always referred to as a Northern power. Even ancient Babylon was always referred to as a Northern power. So even as we read our maps, we are not necessarily viewing them from a Hebraic background. So it is probable that Gog and Magog, although they are referred to as a Northern power, can stretch out as far as Iran, when you study this from a Hebraic perspective. We do know that Iran in fact is mentioned here.
3. A Political Connection: In 38:2 Gog is referred to as the chief prince, or leader of Meshach and Tubal. It does not say that he is the chief prince of Magog, although he is from the land of Magog.
So what does the Bible have to say about Meshach and Tubal?
Meshach appears 8 times in the Bible. He is listed as a son of Japheth in I Chronicles 1:5. Interestingly, the name Meshach is also referred to as the son of Shem. So Meshach also descends from the Semitic nations.
I Chronicles 1:17–The sons of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram, and Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Meshech.
He is also called the brother of Elam and Asher, which today is Iran and Iraq by the way. Both Meshach and Tubal are listed together as merchants. They apparently are very active in trading with other countries.
Tubal is listed 8 times in the Bible. Tubal and Meshach are listed in the Bible as among the nations whose graves are seen as the result of God’s judgment. The other nations are Asher (ancient Assyria/modern Iraq), Elam, (modern Iran), Egypt, and Edom (which is Jordan.)
Ezekiel 32:17-29– It came to pass also in the twelfth year, in the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 18 Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down, even her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit. 19 Whom dost thou pass in beauty? go down, and be thou laid with the uncircumcised. 20 They shall fall in the midst of them that are slain by the sword: she is delivered to the sword: draw her and all her multitudes. 21 The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword. 22 Asshur is there and all her company: his graves are about him: all of them slain, fallen by the sword: 23 Whose graves are set in the sides of the pit, and her company is round about her grave: all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living. 24 There is Elam and all her multitude round about her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living; yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit. 25 They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword: though their terror was caused in the land of the living, yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit: he is put in the midst of them that be slain. 26 There is Meshech, Tubal, and all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword, though they caused their terror in the land of the living. 27 And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living. 28 Yea, thou shalt be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised, and shalt lie with them that are slain with the sword. 29 There is Edom, her kings, and all her princes, which with their might are laid by them that were slain by the sword: they shall lie with the uncircumcised, and with them that go down to the pit.
God says those are the graves which will result from God’s great judgment in Armageddon. It is very interesting that Tubal and Meshech are among these nations. ( To be continued….)