From time to time I receive questions or comments that I think deserve more than just a response on the page in question, or the answers would be interesting to more than just the correspondent.
I received such a question the other day regarding my article “Gog and Magog war a Church-age event“
Brother Dan, you have apparently bought into the prevailing view of the vast majority of dispensationalists that Ezekiel's Gog-Magog invasion is a premillennial event and entirely separate from the Gog-Magog invasion described in Revelation 20, which couldn't be further from the truth. Frankly, I stand amazed that this great prophecy is almost universally misunderstood despite a mountain of Biblical evidence to contradict the premillennial majority view. Since you apparently count yourself as one who has connected the Biblical Gog-Magog dots correctly, tell me, if you can, the context in which the Prophet Ezekiel received this great revelation. Frankly, I don't think that you can. So prove me wrong. Charlie
Not having access to the majority of Premillennial Dispensationalists, I am not aware that the majority view is that the Gog and Magog war is a pretribulation event. I have read several articles that still say that it is a tribulation event. I remember being at a prophecy conference led by Grant Jeffrey, back in the early 90s and he said that he was beginning to think the Gog and Magog war could be a pre-tribulational event.
After doing my own study I came to agree with him, and have found further evidence than what he presented, at that time, to support that contention. In fact when I read the Ezekiel 38-39 account now the whole thing screams “Pre-Tribulation” to me!
In any event, the majority of professing Christians hold to the Amillennial interpretation of eschatology, not Dispenastionalism at all. While I would agree with Dispenastionalists on the pre-Tribulation rapture of the Church, and a literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth, many Dispensationalists hold to the idea that pre-Christian saints were saved by keeping the law, which is a direct contradiction of Scripture and really pure heresy.
All the Old Testament saints were saved by grace through faith, and not by works of any kind, so I am not certain that I qualify as a Dispensationalist, although I would consider myself a co-traveler with them on many points of doctrine.
The question of whether the Gog and Magog invasion of Ezekiel 38-39 is the same event as the Gog and Magog attempt at an invasion, in Revelation 20, hinges on some basic principles of bible interpretation.
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Proverbs 30:5
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. Luke 4:4
While there are some superficial similarities between the two passages there are many more differences, which I will get to shortly.
In the mean time, what about Charlie’s question about the context of Ezekiel’s war? Are Ezekiel’s personal circumstances relevant to the interpretation of this passage? Does it matter if Ezekiel wrote this as a captive in Babylon, or as a prophet in Israel?
The relevant context is actually found within the passage itself, and is separate from, and independent of, Ezekiel’s circumstances.
The passage starts thusly; 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,
So the passage itself says nothing about where Ezekiel was when the Word of the Lord came to him, because it is not relevant to the subject matter. It is addressed to Gog, the chief prince of Magog, Meshech, and Tubal, but the time and place is not addressed. A few verses later the time is addressed;
8 After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that isbrought 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.
So the person identified as “Gog” was not yet born when the prophet wrote this passage, but it is addressed to him. In fact the timing is identified as “after many days” and “in the latter years”, indicating that the events addressed in the passage would not occur for many years.
He then states that this will not occur until Israel returns from the nations of their diaspora, and is dwelling safely in their own land. Such a situation has not occurred yet in history. Israel has lived under constant threat from the late 1800s, when the modern zionist movement began, up until the present day. Israel’s time of peace is still yet future.
This is thus an End Times prophecy. Up to this point I think Charlie would agree with me.
Unlike most dispensationalists, it is my contention that Israel’s time of peace will occur during the Church-age, in the aftermath of the Psalm 83 war. Evidently Charlie believes that Israel’s time of peace will not occur until the millennial reign, thus he believes that the Ezekiel Gog/Magog account is at the end of the millennial reign, and synonymous with the Revelation 20 Gog/Magog account.
If “Gog” is a name, then Charlie would pretty much have to be correct, however, if Gog is a position, then the two Gog accounts could be separated by a large period of time, like a thousand years. It is my contention, and the contention of most dispensationalists that “Gog” refers to a position, thus, different persons can occupy the same position in different times. Gog appears to be equivalent to “president”, “king”, or “leader”.
Let’s look at the passages and you will see that the two wars of Gog and Magog have a different immediate context;
“And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.” Ezekiel 38:16
So there will be heathen people on the earth when Gog goes after Israel. This would hardly describe the world of the millennial reign of Christ. There will be unsaved people at that time, for sure, but they could hardly be called “heathen”. The armies of Gog and Magog, who come against Israel at the end of the millennium, will know exactly who they are coming against; the Lord Jesus Christ! After a thousand years of benevolent rule, they will misjudge Him, but they will know that it is Jesus who they are rebelling against.
God’s purpose in bringing Gog and his armies, against Israel is to be “sanctified in Gog”. This does not mean that the world, or even Israel, will be saved at this time, but they will know for sure that there is a God in Heaven and that He is interested in what goes on, on the earth.
“Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.” (verse 23)
This brings us to another point; It is God who brings the Gog of Ezekiel’s account against Israel. It is someone else who brings the Gog of Revelation 20 against the Holy city; Satan.
Isaiah speaks about the millennial reign, and states; “Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.” Isaiah 54:15
Note that the Lord clearly states that this group of nations will come against Israel, during the millennial reign, but it is not Him who will lead them to do so. Revelation 20:7-9 clearly shows that it is Satan himself, released from the bottomless pit, who leads this rebellion as his final act of rebellion.
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8And 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 isas the sand of the sea. 9And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
This is clearly contrasted with Ezekiel 38:4 where God declares that He is the one who will bring this Gog against Israel; “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:”
If God brings one group of armies against Israel, and another group comes against Israel, but it is not God who brings them, then it is clear that these are two different events.
Notice Gog’s motivation in Ezekiel And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, 12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.
Notice that Gog is not thinking about the leader of Israel. If Jesus was personally ruling Israel at the time, Gog would certainly consider who it was who he was coming against. This is more evidence that Jesus Christ will not be ruling Israel at the time the first Gog makes his appearance.
Revelation 20 does not say why that particular Gog comes against Israel, only that he is led to do so by Satan. The answer is obvious; here, at the end of the millennial reign, the world will be coming to the end of the most prosperous and peaceful age in its seven thousand year history. Gog the second, will be coming to protest the upcoming destruction of the earth! He will have a bible, and he will know that time is almost up.
Satan will blind him to the consequences of his actions, but these people will have such a love for the magnificent cities and civilizations they have built, that they will be coming to demand that the Lord allow the present earth to continue. They may threaten violence if He doesn’t, but they won’t get the chance, for this will be the end of this earth!
God is not a democrat, and He does not give-in to threats!
“10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.”
The first verse of the next chapter explains what this means; The earth and the heavens will disappear at this time.
Which brings me to the next point; There will be survivors of the Ezekiel account;
“And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:” Eze. 39:2
One sixth of the armies that come against Israel at this time, will survive to return to their nations. There could hardly be survivors when the earth is destroyed. The fire that destroys the armies in Revelation 20 will destroy 100%, even the earth will not survive! What about the saints? It is a side issue, but they will probably get their eternal bodies at this time. The dead armies will be dead only for a short time as they are about to be resurrected for the Great White Throne Judgment.
In the same vein, the people of Israel will burn Gog’s weapons, and perhaps the fuel of his weapons for seven years. There would be no place for them to burn those weapons, and no weapons or fuel, if the earth was destroyed at that time;
“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:” Eze. 39:9
There will be nothing of this world left to go into the eternal state, and if there was it would have to be set aside as the Great White Throne Judgment went on, as people were thrown into the lake of fire! Such a thought is ludicrous!
“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 nosesof the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamon–gog. 12 And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land.” Eze. 39:11-12
Once again, someone will take the time to bury Gog and his armies. It will take seven months to accomplish the task, and they will also change the name of the valley to “the valley of Hamon-Gog”; hardly necessary if the earth was destroyed at the end of this Gog/Magog war. The second Gog will be destroyed by fire from heaven, as the earth itself is being destroyed.
What else will happen as a result of the first Gog’s defeat?
“And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them.” Eze. 39:21
The first Gog/Magog war will occur during the Church age, shortly before the beginning ot the Tribulation, and God is stating here that those who perish during the Tribulation will have no excuse, because they have seen God’s handiwork at this time!
Another thing that my friend has missed is the fact that it is at this time that God calls the last remnants of Israel back to the land;
“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;” Eze. 39:25
In the early verses we see that those living at peace and security in Israel, have returned from the nations, but now we see that not all have come back just yet. It is the victory of this war that gives them the confidence to return. They will convince themselves that this has been the “time of Jacob’s trouble”, and now it is safe to return. This is actually a delusion. This is the “hiss” that God says he will use to call them back.
“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 modern lexicon the word “redeemed” has come to mean “saved”, but this is not the original meaning, nor the context of this passage. Redeemed really means “purchased”. Christ purchased them on the cross, but it will still take some time before they realize this. In the mean time they will take the victory over Gog as a sign that God is pleased with them.
Notice also that God says that Israel will come together BEFORE the time of Jacob’s trouble, the Great Tribulation.
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. Zephaniah 2:1-2
So, when we compare Zephaniah 1:1-2, with Ezekiel 39:25, we see that the Gog and Magog war must occur before the Great Tribulation period begins, because Israel is not completely gathered until after that war.
But God says He will have mercy on the whole house of Israel at this time. Well, that is because this time will coincide with the fullness of the Gentiles. Now is the time of the rapture of the Church (at the end of the Gog and Magog war), and now He will revert to dealing with the world through Israel. Now he will lift off the veil that covers their hearts, and there will be a revival the likes of which the world has never seen!
Yes, the bible does indicate that 2/3 of Israel will die at this time, (Zechariah 13:8) but it is entirely possible that some, if not many, of the dead, will die at the hands of the Antichrist, because of their stand for Jesus. Those who do will be with Him forever, and will return and reign with Him for the millennium. Look at it from God’s eternal perspective.
No, the only way that the Gog and Magog war of Ezekiel 38-39 could be the same war as the one found in Revelation 20 is if words have no meaning.