While visiting my dad on father’s day, I watched a few minutes of Jack Van Impe with him.
One thing I noticed is that Jack is confusing the Psalm 83 war with the Ezekiel 38-39 war, and with Armageddon itself! He is not alone, as I have seen other Christian scholars do this, and even some Jewish scholars as well.
For the life of me I can’t understand how a scholar can do this. The details of these three wars are so different that you can’t confuse them unless you only focus on generalities. It appears that these scholars are ignoring the details!
Scripture actually gives many specifics of each war. The nations of the Psalm 83 war do not appear in the Ezekiel war, except as entities who protest the invasion, i.e. Sheba, Dedan and Tarshish. Each of these three entities represents an Arab nation or group of nations.
The Gog and Magog war of Ezekiel 38-39 describes the invading armies attacking an Israel that is at peace. This peace is a direct result of the Psalm 83 war, and their victory over the Arabs.
The leader of the Russo-Iranian alliance in Ezekiel 39 will die in the attack and will be buried in Israel on the East side of the sea.
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 Hamon–gog. Ezekiel 39:11
Contrast the end of Gog to the end of the Antichrist in Revelation 19;
“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” Revelation 19:20
When it says that the Antichrist is thrown alive into the Lake of fire, it does not mean that he dies and his spirit is thrown into the lake of fire. It means what it says, he will be picked up bodily, raptured, and taken alive to that lake, where he shall remain for all eternity.
Hell and the lake of fire are often spoken of synonymously, but these really are different places. Hell is like death row. There is torment there, but it is not as bad as the lake of fire. Everyone in hell will be resurrected and will stand before God at judgment day. The Antichrist will not be there at judgment day, as his judgment occurs at the end of Armageddon. He will already have been in the lake of fire for a thousand years before he is joined by the rest of the lost. Just him and the false prophet. Even Satan won’t be with them for that period.
Gog is not the Antichrist. He is a leader of the Russo-Iranian coalition, and could be from Russia, or one of the former states of the Soviet Union, like Uzbekistan, Dagistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmensitan, etc. These latter nations are the people the bible identifies as Magog.
As I noted in The Spirit of Prophecy:
“The “valley of the passengers” is likely the same as “the Valley of
the Travellers”, a valley that runs from mount Moab toward the Dead
Sea. In the past this valley was a part of Moab, and is today a part
of Jordan, yet the prophet identifies this land as “the Mountains of
Israel”. Something must happen in the mean time for this land to
become possessed by Israel. That question is answered by the war
of Psalm 83.” (The Spirit of Prophecy, p. 169)
The first two of these wars are rather limited. The first one is only in the Middle East. The second involves a larger number of nations, but does not include the whole world. There is a likelihood that Gog/Magog might be referred to as World War 3, but it really won’t include everyone.
Only Armageddon itself will actually include the whole world.
Jeremiah 25:15 begins a list of the nations who will be judged by God at Armageddon, and ends with “and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth” in verse 26.
We know that this war is not the last war, which will occur at the end of the millennial reign of Christ, for the Judgment of God at this war begins with Jerusalem, whereas at the end of the millennium everyone of Israel will be saved.
The only war that includes the entire world, including Israel, is Armageddon.
Why are these scholars confusing these three wars? I’m afraid it is because they have misinterpreted the idea that the rapture of the Church is imminent. They are not looking for fulfillment of major prophecies during the Church age.
The rapture of the Church cannot occur until the conditions specified in Scripture are met. Jesus spelled out those conditions in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. The evidence is that the “wars and rumours of wars” he spoke of actually include both the Psalm 83, and the Ezekiel 38-39 wars. This means that both of these wars are Church Age wars, and will most likely occur while the Church is still on the earth. Logically then, because the rapture will occur before the tribulation, the Tribulation itself won’t start until after these wars, plus the rapture!
I am looking for a soon fulfillment of Psalm 83, and then the Gog and Magog war a few years later. These wars constitute signs of Jesus’ soon return for the Church.
Unfortunately, I’m afraid that people who have spent too much time listening to Jack Van Impe, will see these wars and mistake them for the Tribulaton. Making that mistake could lead them to look for the return of Christ at the precise moment the Antichrist is set to rise!
This is a problem, and is one of the main reasons I wrote The Spirit of Prophecy. An incorrect interpretation of prophecy can lead you to affirm the Antichrist, and be left behind at the rapture! In other words the only correct interpretation of prophecy is the one that comes from God! All others have another source, or at least the variations that have been introduced did not come from God!