Chapters 38 And 39
These two chapters are not only intriguing, but they are enigmatic and incomplete for our full understanding. The events in the chapters are easy enough to follow, but the timing of those events, some find difficult to place in the series of events in the eschatological framework of Israel’s restoration. The writer feels confident about his own position but is aware of the variance among very recognized writers one counts as credible.
THE IDENTIFICATION OF GOG AND MAGOG
The conjectures about this are as broad as the number of commentators, so we need to exercise caution. I am going to give a few snippets from three sources just as a small summary of some of a few of the ideas:
. From a Jewish source, “My Jewish Learning” – “Gog and Magog refer to the enemies against whom God will wage an apocalyptic war at the dawn of the messianic age. The wars of Gog and Magog have come to be understood as essential to the Jewish eschatological vision of the end of days, a final battle between good and evil that will usher in a period of eternal peace. The origins of this belief lie in the prophecy of Ezekiel, who identifies Gog as a prince and his land as Magog. (The only earlier biblical reference to Magog is in Genesis, which identifies Magog as one of the descendants of Japheth, a son of Noah.)
The wars of Gog and Magog, as the prophecy came to be referred to in later sources, are part of a larger belief that the messianic age will be preceded by a period of great suffering and upheaval — the so-called “birth pangs of the Messiah.”
. From another Jewish source, “Jewish Encyclopaedia” – “Magog is mentioned (Genesis 10:2 and I Chronicles 1:5) as the second son of Japheth, between Gomer and Madai. Gomer represents the Cimmerians, and Madai the Medes. Magog must be a people located east of the Cimmerians and west of the Medes. But in the list of nations (Genesis 10), the term connotes rather the complex of barbarian peoples dwelling at the extreme north and northeast of the geographical survey covered by the chapter.
. From “Bible Gateway” – “The origin of the name “Gog” is unknown. He has been identified with Gyges of Lydia, who is said to have expelled the invading Cimmerians with Syrian help; with Gaga, mentioned in the Amarna letters; with another Gaga, a Babylonian deity; and with Gagi, a ruler of the city of Sabi.”
THE TIMING OF THIS GOG MAGOG INVASION
I think the main views on the timing of chapters 38 and 39 are these:
- This invasion of Israel could happen anytime now before the Rapture.
Those on the fringe even want to speculate about nuclear war in Israel and the Middle East. There will be no nuclear war, for that would obliterate the Jews in Israel and render the whole area unlivable. Those people who write nonsense like that ought to be ashamed of themselves. At best, they are dreamers, and at worst, they are delusional. The main objection to this Gog/Magog war in Israel before the Rapture has to be the great hurdle of The Times of the Gentiles.
God openly intervenes in the Gog/Magog war for the Jews, as shown in many scriptures, and that just can’t happen this side of the Rapture. The Church must be removed first before the 70th week of Daniel can start.
Also, any war now would become a world war, for if Russia and all the northern alliance, and Iran and Ethiopia invaded Israel (part of Gog/Magog), then the USA would intervene. It just will not happen. We have often said that there are indicators for placing prophecy in the time context. The strongest one is “In that day” or “At that time.” This is the expression from verse 38:16 – [“It will come about in the last days that I shall bring you against My land….”] That expression always refers to the end of the Tribulation or set in the Millennium, but as it is used in the Old Testament, it refers to the time at the end of the age corresponding with Matthew 24 and 25. The Lord will NOT take up the Jews until after the Rapture, and He will defend them as shown in those two Ezekiel chapters.
- This invasion will happen after Israel has been settled by God in the land and, of course, restored, as we have seen so many times in the prophets.
The Lord gathers them from every nation after the Second Coming and restores them in the land. So many major, credible commentators take this view, and they tend to base it on these verses: Ezekiel 38:8 [“After many days you will be summoned. In the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste, but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them.” Ezek. 38:11 “And you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls, and having no bars or gates.'”]
I believe it is incredible to think that God restores Israel’s land and restores the people and rebuilds the desolate cities, ruined for millennia, only to have it all destroyed in a catastrophic war. After all, when the Lord comes at the Second Coming, He gathers the sheep and goat nations before Him, and the sheep nations continue, but the goat ones are just taken off the scene. Only the righteous nations are left to enter the Millennium, and they honor Israel. There is no way they will come en masse to attempt to exterminate Israel. I know very many conservative scholars support that view, but I believe them to be wrong. When thought through thoroughly, it has no credibility.
There is another reason why this idea is incorrect. I will answer it with the following verses and note the underlined parts. All these verses apply when God brings His people home and settles them securely in their land after His Second Coming and the judgment of the sheep and goats.
Ezekiel 34:28 [“They will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour them, but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid.“]
Ezekiel 39:25 [“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Now I shall restore the fortunes of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I shall be jealous for My holy name. Ezek 39:26 And they shall forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they perpetrated against Me when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid.'”]
Jeremiah 30:10 [“And fear not, O Jacob My servant,’ declares the LORD, ‘and do not be dismayed, O Israel, for behold, I will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity, and Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, and no one shall make him afraid.”]
Isaiah 54:3 [“for you will spread abroad to the right and to the left and your descendants will possess nations, and they will resettle the desolate cities. Isa 54:4 Fear not, for you will not be put to shame, neither feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced, but you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.”]
So many more verses can be quoted, and I have done those earlier in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Once the Lord settles them in the land – for it is the Lord who brings them back – then never again will anything cause them to fear. Just returning for a moment to these problem verses, 38:8 and 38:11 – The first thing to realize in these verses is that no reference about the restoration of the people in righteousness is mentioned. It talks about living securely, and that is what Israel is doing now. Yes, enemies are around, and the Palestinians fire 225 rockets a day into Israel, BUT down through the centuries, the Jews have been hunted and killed and lived in fear.
They dwell securely today in their land when compared with what they have been through. The second thing to notice is that it mentions they have been brought out from the nations, BUT not every nation, as will happen when the Lord gathers them on His return. The current condition is that the Jews have returned from many nations, but most still live outside of Israel. Thirdly, “restored from the sword” is not the spiritual restoration the redeemed Jews will know when the Holy Spirit is poured out on them; Ezekiel 38:8 means leaving the nations where they have been persecuted, especially just after WW2.
On the other hand, these verses occur straight AFTER the destruction of Gog – Ezekiel 39:25 [“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Now I shall restore the fortunes of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel and I shall be jealous for My holy name. Ezek 39:26 And they shall forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they perpetrated against Me when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid. Ezek 39:27 When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations.’”] That is the restoration of the Jews, and then they will live securely, all happening AFTER the Second Coming, and it is God who will do it, consistent with dozens of passages we have already examined.
- My conclusion is that this Gog/Magog invasion must happen before the Second Coming, almost certainly on the eve of the Second Coming. I present my reasons for this.
[A.] The negative reasoning has been covered above. Those two views have been dismissed, so only the third remains and must be valid.
[B]. There are three main alliances that combine in a loose way for the defeat of Israel. They will follow the lead of the world leader/Antichrist, who prepares His forces for the great battle of Armageddon. Those armies of Antichrist, the first group, are predominately from western Europe and comprise the nations which made up the former Roman Empire. In Israel, they will be gathered in the Jezreel Valley at Har Meddigo (Har-Magedon, NASB).
The second group are the kings of the east as mentioned in Revelation 16:12 [“The sixth angel poured out his bowl upon the great river, the Euphrates, and its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings from the east.”] They will come from mainly the Asian nations – and if today’s military nations are considered, then from China, Japan, Korea and India plus others perhaps. Let me suggest something only as an idea, not one I can prove: when you move east of Israel, yes, you will come to the Asian nations, but continue moving east and you come to the Americas, etc. It is just a thought that they might be included in the kings of the east. Moving east (towards the sunrise) was more important in scripture than moving west.
The third group is the one Ezekiel and Zechariah speak of, and that is Gog and Magog and their affiliates. More is devoted to them than to any other future enemy of Israel.
We will look at those references soon.
[C]. The end of chapter 39 is very important. It shows that the Gog/Magog alliance must suffer defeat at the second Coming before God restores His people and pours His Spirit out on them.
Then they will have peace and live securely. Just one verse – Ezekiel 39:25 [“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Now I shall restore the fortunes of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I shall be jealous for My holy name.'”]
SOME BACKGROUND AND EXPLANATION FOR THESE TWO CHAPTERS
We may wonder how practical it is to bring all the world’s armies into Israel, but when Revelation is read carefully, you see an enormous loss of life so that the population is very greatly reduced. Not only that, but the whole of the military structure would be struggling after such massive judgments. The last of the Revelation judgments are the bowl (vial) judgments given in Revelation 16. We must understand that in the previous seal and trumpet judgments, a very great number of the earth’s people are killed.
The bowl judgments are the most severe, and they are – “a loathsome and malignant sore”; “every living thing in the sea died”; “the springs of waters became blood”; “the sun was given to scorch men with fire, and with fierce heat”; “the kingdom of the beast gnawed their tongues because of pain”; “there was a great earthquake such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth”; “huge hailstones, extremely severe, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men.” Not only was there severe loss of life (and it is assumed infrastructure) before Revelation 16, that chapter will cause such chaos in the world still existing that these armies will be a tiny fraction of what they are today. The world will be severely weakened.
I am now going to include the verses from Revelation, where we are told there is loss of life. These will change the world like nothing has ever done before except the great flood:
. Rev 6:4 [“and another, a red horse, went out, and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men should slay one another, and a great sword was given to him.”] (The 2nd seal judgment after the Antichrist has taken control. There will be war and conflicts all over the earth. The way the world is right now, we are seeing racial, national, and ethnic problems that will easily ignite into war. It is not specified how many will die in all this, but it will be considerable.)
. Rev 6:8 [“and I looked, and behold, an ashen horse, and he who sat on it had the name Death, and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.”] (This is the 4th seal and follows the 3rd seal that was famine.
Both those seals follow the wars of the 2nd seal, and we know in war, diseases and disasters follow.
The Chinese virus of 2020 is merely a prelude of what a pestilence will be like. There is debate whether the “fourth of the earth” means a quarter of the earth’s population will die or if only a quarter of the earth will suffer death.)
. Rev 8:7 [“and the first sounded and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees was burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.”] (This verse, the 1st trumpet judgment, speaks about a third of the earth burnt up and does not mention loss of human life; but going by the severity of this event, then I presume it is inevitable that many will die.)
. Rev 8:9 [“and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.”] (This is the 2nd trumpet judgment, and a huge mountain-like thing was cast into the sea, causing the sea to become blood. A third of ships will be destroyed – and all those on them, of course – and the merchant and military navies are all over the seas and very plentiful.)
. Rev 8:11 [“and the name of the star is called Wormwood, and a third of the waters became wormwood and many men died from the waters because they were made bitter.”] (This 3rd trumpet will see a great star fall from heaven to affect the rivers and springs – fresh water – so that “many die.” Many is many, so we assume that over the world, that will be a lot.)
. Rev 9:15-16 [“and the four angels who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year were released so that they might kill a third of mankind, and the number of the armies of the horsemen was two hundred million. I heard the number of them.”] (This is probably the most horrible of the judgments, the 6th trumpet. It will see demonic creatures swarm the earth, and one-third of people are killed. Even so, people who remain alive will not repent and will curse God.)
. Rev 11:5 [“If anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth(s) and devours their enemies, and if anyone would desire to harm them, in this manner he must be killed.”] (This speaks of the two witnesses, Enoch and Elijah in Jerusalem, and maybe those who die are more localized, but we do not know.)
. Rev 11:13 [“In that hour there was a great earthquake and a tenth of the city fell, and seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.”] (This happens when the two witnesses are called to heaven after their resurrection, and it happens in Jerusalem.)
. Rev 13:4 [“They worshipped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?'”] (This is from the chapter describing the world leader/Antichrist and the False Prophet.
It is an argument from silence.
It says, “Who is able to wage war with him?” That infers that the Antichrist will be warring; therefore, loss of life.)
Just to end these references, this last one will be considered. Rev 14:16-18 [“He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. Another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.'”] (Although this is recorded in chapter 14, it is a foresight of Armageddon that will still lie in the future. There are a few incidents in Revelation where preludes are given before the event proper. It will happen at the Second Coming.)
END OF PART 1