THE WAR OF GOG AND MAGOG
As we gather here together today, many of the Bible's many prophecies have already been fulfilled. All of the various dispersions and early regathering of Israel back into their promised land, the many details of the Messiah's first appearance as the Lamb of God, the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and the 1,900 year scattering of the Jews to all parts of the world and their regathering in the 20th century along with the nation's resurrection as modern Israel are all facts of historical record.
But there are two prophecies of major importance to these Last Days that still have yet to happen. I speak now of the two great major wars that will serve to glorify God, the two wars the Bible tells us will precede the return of Jesus Christ to planet Earth when he will set up His 1,000-year rule as King of kings and Lord of Lords.
One of these wars has been written about so much and so often, and has been the focus of so many books and motion pictures, that it has by now become a universal symbol of mass destruction and catastrophe. Its name is Armageddon and it will involve hundreds of millions of soldiers who will come into the Middle East to destroy Israel at the end of the Tribulation period.
But the second of these two wars has received much less attention. Yet, in its own way, it is almost as decisive in the scenario of these Last Days as its better known counnterpart. The Bible calls this war the "Battle of Gog and Magog," Ezekiel Chapter 38, verses 1 through 9, prophecies about this war in these words--" And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal: and I will turn thee about, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them handling swords; Persia, Cush, and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer, and all his hordes; the house of Togarmah in the uttermost parts of the north, and all his hordes; even many peoples with thee.
"Be thou prepared, yea, prepare thyself, thou, and all thy companies that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, that is gathered out of many peoples, upon the mountains of Israel, which have been a continual waste; but it is brought forth out of the peoples, and they shall dwell securely, all of them. And thou shalt ascend, thou shalt come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy hordes, and many peoples with thee."
Using the names by which these nations were known during Biblical times, today we know these countries as Iran, Libya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Turkey and the Moslem Republics known as Magog. These will form a confederation to invade Israel and the Middle East, for the specific purpose of conquering the Jews and destroying their country. Theirs will be a religious crusade, what in Islam is called Jihad, with the sole motive of proving that the prophet Mohammed and his god Allah are superior to Moses and his God Jehovah.
Some expositors believe that the references to "Rosh, Meshech and Tubal" in Ezekiel 38 refers to Russia, Moscow and Tobolsk, two of Russia's major cities. Respected sources like Dwight Pentecost and John Walvoord believe that Russia will lead this invasion of Moslem nations. There is a certain degree of geo-political logic to bolster their view. Russia has for many years coveted a warm water port in the Middle East, and if she can take over the oil wells of the Arabian Peninsula, at one stroke the Bear can regain her status as a world superpower to whom the western world must plead on bended knees for the energy needs so vital to modern industrialized economies.
But there is contrary evidence that limits the invading nations to a strictly Moslem confederacy. Research has found that in Bible times, the terms "Rosh, Meshech and Tubal" described tribes that occupied the land mass just north of the Caucusus Mountain range. And the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, citing ancient Assyrian writings, places the location of Magog in the land mass between ancient Armenia and Media--in short, the Republics south of Russia and north of Israel, comprised of Azerbajian, Afghanistan, Turkestan, Chechnya, Turkey, Iran and Dagestan--significantly all of them Moslem nations.
Whether or not Russian troops will be taking part in this invasion, one thing is very clear. Russian weapons and advisers will certainly be involved, since Russia is heavily committed to arming and training the armed forces of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Ethiopia and Libya, all of them military client states of Russia. Time--and not too much time, in my view--will prove which of these Rosh-Gog-Magog interpretations is correct.
Psalm 83 speaks about this conspiracy against God's covenant people, the Jews, and His nation Israel. Verses 2 through 4 describes this evil plot--" For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, "Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more. For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You"
This prophetic Psalm was written by Asaph several thousand years ago, but has yet to be fulfilled to this day. Bible scholars tells us there is absolutely no evidence that such a massive regional conspiracy to destroy Israel ever occurred in ancient times. Though Israel's enemies will enjoy massive numerical superiority, the Bible clearly tells us that by the power of God, tiny Israel--"the apple of His eye"--will utterly devastate the invading armies and her allies in this war, a war that historians of the day may likely call World War III.
When the invading armies move across Israel's borders "to take a spoil," what will the rest of the world do to stop the slaughter? According to Ezekiel Chapter 38:13, they will not even lift a finger beyond shouting empty words. Here is how the prophet describes it--"Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, (representing the trading nations) shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take the spoil? hast thou assembled thy company to take the prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take great spoil?" No doubt this spirited outcry will be heard in the debating section of the United Nations General Assembly without effect.
But Israel will have one ally--no less than the Antichrist! According to Daniel 11, the assault against Israel will be launched by Egypt, known Biblically as the "king of the south," against the Antichrist. Let's look at those Scriptures in Daniel now--"And the king (Antichrist) shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods; and he shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished; for that which is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the gods of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall magnify himself above all.
"And at the time of the end shall the king of the south contend with him; and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass through. He shall enter also into the glorious land (Israel), and many [countries] shall be overthrown; but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon (Jordan). He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries; and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps."
Here we see some of the same nations we met earlier in Ezekiel 38--Libya, Ethiopia, and northen peoples of Gog and Magog. So it is apparent that there has been some sort of mutual defense pact between Israel and the nations behind the Antichrist. Even given the seemingly natural events of warfare, God Himself does intervene on Israel's behalf in a mighty way. Apparently, God will cause these vastly numerical Moslem armies to turn their weapons against each other.
We read about this in Ezekiel 39: 1-6--" And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; and I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand. You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. You shall fall on the open field; for I have spoken," says the Lord GOD. And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands. Then they shall know that I am the LORD."
Perhaps God will cause a kind of civil war to break out among the confederacy, where one ethnic group will turn against other ethnic groups in this alliance--Afghans against Syrians, Iranians against Iraquis--as ancient animosities and rivalries rise to the level of revenge. Israel on her part, faced with such an overwhelming invading force, may well decide with the consent of Antichrist, who apparently has a token military presence in the land, to employ battlefield nuclear weapons. These neutron bombs, about the size of a baseball, when detonated on a field of battle will heavily radiate all flesh within a radius of 500 yards of the explosion.
Unlike thermonuclear weapons, these neutron bombs incapicitate every human being caught in its sphere of penetration, disabling any soldier from the capacity to fight. Within thirty minutes, the most severely radiated persons will die as their vital organs cease to function. Those who survive past a half hour will gradually recover their strength and health over a period of two weeks, and will not suffer any long-term bodily damage. The Pope and the Vatican in 1987 honored the inventor of the neutron bomb, Sam Cohen, with its own peace prize. Cohen was cited as having devised a most humane weapon that affects only combatants in war and does not indiscriminately kill and maim civilians.
As the hordes of invading troops still threaten to overrun Israel, the Israelis will likely opt to exercise their military strategy known as the "Sampson Option." This is a contingency plan drafted by Israel after their War of 1973, when a surprise attacked by Arab nations on the Day of Atonement nearly resulted on the unprepared, outnumbered Jews being overrun by much greater Arab armies.
So prime minister Golda Meier and her war ministers passed a desperate plan ordering that any future Israeli government that sees enemy armies overwhelming their soldiers by sheer numbers, that government must resolve to unleash Israel's considerable arsenal of nuclear weapons against the invading nation's major cities. They called this desperate tactic the "Sampson Option" after their Biblical strongman Sampson.
As described in the Book of Judges, Sampson was captured and blinded by his Phillistine enemies. Chained the pillars of the great Phillistine temple, and being mocked and tortured by a hostile gathering of notables, Sampson tore down the supporting pillars and caused the roof to crush everyone present, himself along all his enemies. In this case, when Israel was faced with inevitable destruction, they have vowed to use all their nuclear might against their enemies, even if they would be destroyed along with the attackers.
The evidence is powerful that nuclear weapons will be unleashed in this bloody Gog and Magog conflict. Besides the fire He promised to rain down on the home-country coastlands of the invading armies, Ezekiel 39:11‑13 tells us this‑‑"and it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place for burial in Israel, the valley of them that pass through on the east of the sea; and it shall stop them that pass through: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude; and they shall call it The valley of Hamon-gog. And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying them, that they may cleanse the land. Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown in the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord Jehovah."
Ezekiel continues to describe the aftermath of this coming war with words that read as if they were taken from a modern manual on how to deal with the lingering radiation of an atomic war. Hear how he portrays this radioactive aftermath in Chapter 39, verses 14-16--" And they shall set apart men of continual employment, that shall pass through the land, and, with them that pass through, those that bury them that remain upon the face of the land, to cleanse it. After the end of seven months shall they search. And they that pass through the land shall pass through; and when any seeth a man's bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog. And Hamonah shall also be the name of a city. Thus shall they cleanse the land."
"Thus shall they cleanse the land.." There will be an incredible number of dead and maimed soldiers, along with civilians left behind as a result of this disastrous war. Two prophecies found in the writings of Isaiah and Jeremiah suggest that Damascus, the Syrian capitol, will experience the brunt of the nuclear onslaught. In Isaiah 17:1-2, we find these words--"The burden against Damascus. Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap."
And in JEremiah 49, 23 through 27, we read--"Damascus has grown feeble; She turns to flee, and fear has seized her. Anguish and sorrows have taken her like a woman in labor. Why is the city of praise not deserted, the city of My joy? Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day," says the LORD of hosts. "I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus.."
As a result of this war, Israel will be humbled and suffer losses but will not be vanquished. In fact, the losses suffered by Israel's enemies will be so devastating, it may cause some of these Moslems and pagans to turn to Israel's God, just as Asaph prayed in Psalm 83--"Those who said, "Let us take for ourselves the pastures of God for a possession, O my God, make them like the whirling dust, Like the chaff before the wind! As the fire burns the woods, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire, so pursue them with Your tempest, and frighten them with Your storm. Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O LORD. Let them be confounded and dismayed forever; Yes, let them be put to shame and perish, that they may know that You, whose name alone is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth."
The question still remains--when? When can we expect this Mideast version of World War III to break out? As always, the Bible holds the answer. A renowned Bible scholar, the late Dr. David L. Cooper, wrote knowledgeably about this War of Gog and Magog when he noted--"It is utterly impossible to locate the fulfillment of this prediction after the Millenial Age. It cannot be placed at the beginning of the Millennium, nor at the end of the Tribulation. It must, therefore, be located prior to the Tribulation, because there is no other logical place for it to occur since the three other dates are impossible.. This war will occur at a time between now and the beginning of the Tribulation."
The Biblical reasoning behind Dr. Cooper's conclusion is found in Ezekiel 39, where the prophet states that it will take seven years to clear away the rubble and burnt out weaponry left behind by the invading armies. Verses 9 and 10 describes the process in these words--"And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall make fires of the weapons and burn them, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall make fires of them seven years; so that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall make fires of the weapons; and they shall plunder those that plundered them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord Jehovah."
This seven-year period dovetails with the seven years Biblically allotted to the Tribulation, specifically noted in Daniel 9 and Revelation 11. No similar seven-year period is mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, including following the Battle of Armageddon. Armageddon, which many people confuse with the Battle of Gog and Magog, is a totally different war. Gog and Magog involves a limited number of nations in a confederacy to invade Israel, and God uses natural forces to destroy these invading armies.
But even before the smoke and radiation clears, the world leader the Bible calls the Antichrist will step forward to take rob god of the credit for giving the victory to Israel. Surprisingly, not only will the rest of the world, including Israel, believe the Antichrist's boast and go along with his blatant theft of God's glory, this man of sin will even start believing his own story and self-promoting press‑clippings to see himself as a godlike personage.
The European powers, from which the Antichrist comes and gets his power, will unify behind him so that he will be commissioned to step forward and forge a real peace treaty between Israel and her Arab neighbors. Where before, and even today, neither the Palestinians nor the other Arab and Moslem peoples are serious about resigning themselves to the reality of the Jewish homeland in their midst, in the aftermath of the deadly war and the hundreds of thousands of grieving families throughout their nations, they will at last be ready both emotionally and politically to sit down and sign some kind of interim peace accord with Israel.
That will be the time when the Antichrist will propose a seven-year period to be agreed to by all sides, the peace treaty spoken of by the Prophet Daniel in Chapter 9, verse 27 of his book--"Then he (the Antichrist) shall confirm a covenant with many for seven years.." One of the provisions of this peace pact is that the Jews will have the right to build a temple or tabernacle on the old Temple Mount, alongside the Moslem holy places of the Dome of the Rock and the El Aqsa Mosque. At that time, they will reinstitute the old Biblical sacrifices as commanded in the Book of Exodus.29 and so they will again begin observing Biblical Judaism instead of the Rabbinical Judaism they have observed since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in A.D. 70.
But at the midpoint of this seven‑year period, the Antichrist will decide to renege on some of the provisions of the peace treaty he guaranteed to Israel. He does the unthinkable‑‑he orders his troops to stop the Orthodox Jewish priests from offering their ritual daily sacrifices and their sin offerings. But if you think this will make all the Israelites unhappy, think again. There will be lots of worldly unbelieving Jews and unbelieving gentiles who will applaud his action and mock the religious Torah-observant Jews who will protest.
At that time, I also believe the Antichrist will increase the persecutions against Jewish christians in israel and christians everywhere. Jesus Himself alludes to that in Matthew 24--"Then shall they deliver you up unto tribulation, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all the nations for my name's sake. And then shall many stumble, and shall deliver up one another, and shall hate one another."
Sometime later, the Antichrist will place some detestable thing upon Israel's Holy Place, the sacrificial altar over the ark of the covenant. We are not told what this despicable thing is, but it must be something that defiles and outrages the Most Holy God the altar represents. Perhaps Antichrist will set up his own throne there, or establish his media headquarters in the Tribulation temple. We know from Revelation 13:15 that it will likely include his own image and likeness--"And it was given [unto him] to give breath to it, [even] to the image to the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as should not worship the image of the beast should be killed."
How long after the Antichrist orders the daily sacrifice stopped will this final desecration of the temple take place? Daniel 12:11 speaks to this timing--"And from the time that the continual [burnt-offering] shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand and two hundred and ninety days." The space of 1,290 days expressed in years comes to three-and-a-half prophetic years plus one thirty day month.
Now the Antichrist openly defies the Living God by presenting himself to the whole world "as if he were God," and he will demand from the entire world that he be worshiped. Paul tells us this in 2 Thessalonians 2:3‑4--"Let no man beguile you in any wise: for [it will not be,] except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God."
From that moment until he meets his end, the antichrist will strive mightily to bring the entire world under his absolute control. But he will have made that one colossal blunder, that one crucial ego-maniacal action, when he dares to pollute the Holy Place with some impudent insult to the Living God--and that will trigger the great outpouring of God's wrath that will destroy him at the final Tribulation battle called Armageddon.
Armageddon describes the great battle where all the armies of the world gather against Jerusalem. The Battle of Armageddon culminates when the Lord Jesus Christ returns from Heaven with His raptured church, and He destroys these armies supernaturally with "the sword of His mouth"--simply using His spoken word Wild beasts and flesh-eating birds will devour the dead bodies left behind in a short period of time, after which Christ will set up His millennial reign at once, without any seven-year "waiting period."
that final decisive war of armageddon will be the final vindication for israel because God Himself will fight for Israel as in the days of old and give her the victory. We see this described by the prophet Zechariah in Chapter 12:3 and following of his book--"And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all the peoples; all that burden themselves with it shall be sore wounded; and all the nations of the earth shall be gathered together against it.. In that day shall Jehovah defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of Jehovah before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem."
Will believers be around to see the outbreak of this earlier gog & magog war? I believe we will, based on the premise that this regional mideast war will bring about the conditions that culminate in the seven-year peace treaty between Israel and the Arab nations. But if the gog & Magog war breaks out after the peace treaty is signed and not before, then we who have placed our faith in Christ will already have been snatched away to Heaven in the Rapture.
Whatever the time frame, one fact remains unchanged. That is the need to make your peace now with God through the Messiah, His Son Jesus Christ, and not have to sweat out the momentous events of these Last Days. Why do I always end these articles with a call to receive salvation and eternal security? Because all the pre-knowledge in the world is not going to help anyone who is not reborn by the Spirit of God in a new relationship.
Even if you have great wisdom, or can speak with the eloquence of angels, and can do wondrous deeds through your talents and gifts, if you have not given your life to Jesus, it is nothing but ashes that will blow away when the winds begin to blow. So this very moment, as you read these words, I urge you to open your heart and mind and ask quietly in your spirit something like this--"Father God, I want to know You in a personal way. I want to communicate with You and have You direct my path, give me the joy of Your salvation and the peace that comes only through the Prince of Peace, through Your Son Jesus.
So please, God, come to me and make me a member of your holy family through the death and resurrection of your Son. I believe He suffered and died for me, and rose from the dead to prove His divinity and lives even now beside you in your throneroom. Hear me, Jesus, and come into my life. Take me, mold me in your own divine image--and may this be the day of my salvation. Amen."
LET US PRAY...