In conversation the other day, the timing of the Gog and Magog war, of Ezekiel 38-39, came up. I had thought that everyone had come to the conclusion that this is a late Church-age, pre-Tribulation event, but it appears that many don’t know where it fits, or think that it will occur during the Tribulation itself.
It’s actually not all that difficult to figure out. It just takes a bit of cross-referencing with just a few, relevant passages.
1 Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; 2 Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD’S anger come upon you. 3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’Sanger. Zephaniah 2:1-3
Notice that the “nation not desired”, Israel, is gathered together BEFORE the “fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD’S anger come upon you.” This anger of the Lord is the Great Tribulation, or the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. They are called “not desired” because they are still in a state of unbelief, as they were when they were scattered, some 2700 years ago.
Now, please consider that if some of Israel return, but numbers of Jews, or Israelites, are still living abroad it cannot be said that the nation has come together. I use the term Israelites because many descendants of Jacob do not consider themselves Jews, and are following other religions today. The Pathan, or Pashtun, people of Pakistan and Afghanistan contain large numbers of people who call themselves Bani Israel, or Yosefzai, and also by a large number of names that indicate they are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel.
These people today are Muslims, and actually support, and are even members of the Taliban!
Rather than being a problem this is actually fulfilment of a number of biblical prophecies. Here is one to consider;
Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour. Jeremiah 16:13
This is not an impediment to the Lord’s gathering together again this nation. He will do it, in His time. First, of course, they will have to renounce Islam. This will be accomplished by Israel’s defeat of the Arab armies in the soon-to-occur Psalm 83 war. While many will turn from Islam after that war, some will still cling to it.
Several years after the Psalm 83 war, the Gog and Magog war will occur. This will be Islam’s last gasp. It will go out with a bang, and the surviving Muslims will lose faith in that false god.
So how do we know that the war of Ezekiel 38-39 occurs before the Tribulation?
I’m glad you asked;
It really comes down to a comparison of Ezekiel 39:25 with Zephaniah 2:1-2, although there are many other corroborating passages.
In the early verses of Ezekiel’s account we see that much of Israel has already returned to the land. Here God is speaking to the leader of the Russo-Iranian coalition;
8 After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. Ezekiel 38:8
Israel will be living in peace and security at this time, and will be brought back from the nations to a large degree, but not all of them are back just yet. This passage is not quite the situation we see in the Middle East today. While many Israelites and Jews have returned, there are still many living outside the nation. Israel’s existence is threatened every day. Rockets rain down on them regularly, and the security fence keeps out suicide bombers who were a regular part of the scene until it was constructed.
No, something major has to happen first, before the conditions of Ezekiel 38:8 are met. That “thing” is the Psalm 83 war, but this is another issue.
There is a statement made near the end of Ezekiel 39 which ties in with Zephaniah 2, and puts this passage in perspective;
25 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; 26 After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. 27 When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations;
You see the captivity of Israel has not really been over, up until this point. This is the end of their captivity, and it coincides with the end of the Gog and Magog war. As Zephaniah 2 tells us, this final return will be Before the Tribulation period begins! Obviously, the Gog and Magog war must occur before the Tribulation, during the closing days of the Church-age.
Don’t think the phrase “and will be jealous for my holy name” denotes good things for Israel. At this time God is ready to deal with Israel, and it will not be pretty. He will now call them back to fellowship with Himself, but for those who refuse, only judgment and death await them!
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. Zechariah 13:8
When the bible says that “all Israel shall be saved” it is referring to this one third who turns to Jesus and survives Armageddon, not to every Jew who ever lived!
God’s call back to the land is not entirely friendly.
I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased. Zechariah 10:8
In our English language we have often made the words “redeemed” and “saved” synonymous. The truth is that these words have separate meanings that sometimes overlap. The word “redeemed” actually means “purchased”. In the context of Zechariah 10:8 it does not mean that all Israel is saved, but that God has purchased them!
When did God purchase Israel? When He purchased the world from His father, with His blood, on the cross of Calvary! Israel was included in that purchase.
So why would God use the words “hiss for them”? Serpents hiss. Either God is using Satan to bring back Israel, or he is calling them through His teeth, clenched in anger! Either way it is not good! At least it is not good for the recipients of His wrath.
I think the hiss is the lie that “The Time of Jacob’s trouble is over, and it is now safe to return to the land of Israel.” This lie will be spoken after the Gog and Magog war, and will be repeated by “Christians” and Jews alike, but its origin is with Satan. God will never lie, but He is able to use the lies of others to accomplish His purposes. Now His purpose is to gather Israel completely before the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, the Great Tribulation.
In other words God is returning Israel back to the land, not as a reward for faithfulness, but in their unbelief, He is calling them back for judgment, and so that He can do a work in them. Like a faulty product God is calling Israel back to the place of manufacture, so He can fix their sin problem! This is the last seven years of Daniel’s prophecy (see Daniel 9:24-26), the final week of years allotted for Israel to put away iniquity.
When He says that He will have mercy on the whole house of Israel, He means that all Israel will return, including the scattered tribes, with the Pathan, but His mercy is conditional on their repentance and faith in the Son of God, Yeshua ha Mashiah!
12 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel. 13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem. Isaiah 27:12
Here we have more corroborating evidence from Isaiah. In the war of Gog and Magog, Israel’s enemies will be beaten-off from the Nile to the Euphrates. The gathering “one by one” is because there are not many left outside of Israel at this time. The majority will already have returned before the war. We saw this earlier in Ezekiel 38:8.
This passage, taken along with Zephaniah 2:1-2, also tells us that Israel will control all the territory God promised them, BEFORE the Tribulation begins! Most prophecy scholars will tell you that Israel will not get all their land before the millennial reign of Christ. I disagree. I think that God will allow them to get their land as part of the “hiss”! They will interpret this to mean that the age of messiah is upon them, but in fact the Time of Jacob’s trouble is about to begin! The Messiah will be along later!
The Trumpet mentioned here is the last trumpet, in a series, summoning the tribes of Israel back to the land. I personally believe that this trumpet does double-duty. This is why it is called “the great trumpet”. This trumpet is also the trumpet that calls the Church home in the great snatch!
This trumpet signals the end of the church-age, and the beginning of the last seven years of the age of Israel. Paul mentioned this trumpet in 1 Corinthians 15:52 in context of the rapture of the Church, but this does not mean that there is only one purpose for this event. The Church will be removed when it is God’s time to deal with the world through Israel, again.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. Zechariah 12:10