Islam from a Biblical Perspective XIII
Gog of Magog Part 1
Ezekiel 38 and 39 describe an evil last-days leader called "Gog", and his massive coalition of nations, who together invade the land of Israel, only to be supernaturally decimated. The first presumption is that the Antichrist and his armies will come from Europe. Because Gog's forces are clearly not European, it is deduced that Gog must be someone different from the Antichrist. The second presumption is that the Antichrist will be either a humanist or a universalist who will demand to be worshiped as God or a god. For those who hold this position, then, it became necessary to find some mechanism to eliminate 1.59 billion Muslims of the earth from their eschatological narrative, paving the way for the Antichrist to bring all religions willingly together under his control. The popular interpretation of Ezekiel 38-39 was born not so much out of careful exegesis of the text, but rather, out of a need to make it fit into a previously held and well-developed eschatological narrative.
Popular views of Biblical prophecy genuinely impact the practices of large numbers of Christians. There is simply no middle ground between these views. The Jewish Position In contrast to the popular Christian position, the Jewish rabbinic view identifies Gog as the final enemy of God's people. Further, he and his armies are the same invaders described by all the other prophets. In Ezekiel, a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic, and Rabbinic Sources, we are told: "The final war when Gog will actually break into Jerusalem, is described in Zechariah 14. References to the wars of Gog and Magog abound in Scripture, overtly in the prophets... The longest, most detailed, and most specific accounts are contained in the books of Ezekiel, Zechariah, Joel, and Daniel".
The Jews refer to the final evil dictator as Gog, the New Testament calls him by such titles as the Antichrist (1 John 2:22), the son of destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:3), the lawless one (2 Thessalonians 2:8), the Beast (Revelation 11:7), and other titles. Likewise, in the Talmud, we read: "Behold a king shall go up from the land of Magog at the end of the days. He shall assemble kings wearing crowns and lieutenants wearing armor, and all the nations shall obey him. They shall array battle in the land of Israel against the children of the Dispersion, but the Lord shall be ready for them by burning the breath of life out of them with the flame of fire that issues from beneath the throne of glory. Their dead bodies shall fall upon the mountains of the land of Israel, and the wild beasts of the field and the birds of heaven shall come and consume them. After that, all the dead of Israel shall be resurrected, and shall enjoy the good things which were secretly set aside for them from the beginning, and they shall receive the reward of their labor". and again: "At the end, the very end of days, Gog and Magog and their armies shall go up against Jerusalem, but they shall fall by the hand of the King Messiah. For seven full years the children of Israel shall use their weapons of war for kindling, without having to go into the forest to cut down the trees".
Gog as Antichrist
Gog is the Antichrist, and the nations of Gog's alliance will be among the primary followers of the Antichrist. The invasion of Ezekiel 38-39 is simply one more retelling of the same story that all of the prophets told.
- A group of nations led by Gog/ Antichrist attack Israel and persecute Christians globally.
- As a result, over a period of three and a half years, the nation of Israel experiences one final, utter devastation with many being taken captive.
- Through the Messiah, the Lord intervenes to rescue the survivors and deliver the captives.
- The gentile nations turn to the Lord.
- Israel returns to the Lord forever.
- The Messiah rules from Jerusalem.
The story told by Ezekiel is the same story told by every other prophet throughout the Bible. While using different symbolism and emphasizing different aspects of this story, all of the prophets are pointing to the same series of events. A very common characteristic of Biblical prophecies: they often speak of a broad series of events in a very succinct and limited manner. A perfect example of this is seen in Revelation 12:5, which describes the woman Zion, who gives birth to Jesus, the man-child.
The passage makes no mention of the thirty-three years of Jesus' earthly life that came between His birth and His ascension. While the passage doesn't discuss, or even mention, those three plus decades, in no way does it preclude them.
According to this passage, the acts of the Messiah flow seamlessly from His coming forth as the shoot of Jesse, to striking the earth and slaying the wicked. Nowhere in the text do we find any hint of a two-thousand year gap between Jesus' initial coming and His return for ultimate victory. This same principle is at work in Ezekiel 38-39. This prophecy should not be seen as a singular, narrow, and brief event, nor should this passage be viewed as containing a comprehensive description of all the details that this episode will bring with it. It is a very general prophetic/ poetic summation of the final seven-year period leading up to the return of Jesus, as viewed from Ezekiel's particular perspective.
As a direct destruction of Gog and his armies:
- God's name will never again be blasphemed.
- The surviving nations will come to a saving knowledge of God.
- The captives of Israel will be delivered.
- God will pour out His Spirit on Israel.
- The survivors of Israel will come to know the Lord forevermore.
- Israel will dwell securely in their land forever.
- The Lord Himself will reside in the land of Israel.
Because these are descriptions that can only be applied to the time of the return of Jesus and the establishment of His Messianic kingdom, it is impossible that Gog and his armies are anything other than the Antichrist and his armies. We have to consider several timing texts that show that the passage concludes with the Messiah's return and reign.
The Antichrist will repeatedly blaspheme the Lord. In Daniel 11:36, we see that the Antichrist will "exalt himself" and "speak astonishing things against the God of gods". In Daniel 7:25, we are told that the Antichrist will blaspheme "the Most High". The Antichrist will also gather a global following of those who no doubt will imitate his example. The global religious movement inspired and led by the Antichrist will be the greatest and most significant movement of blasphemy that the world has ever known. After the defeat of Gog and his armies, God's name will never again, be blasphemed.
How can it be said that God's name will never again be blasphemed, immediately prior to the emergence of history's most prominent blasphemer, who will openly curse God for three and a half years? This passage can be reconciled with the greater context of end-time prophecy is if we understand Gog to be the Antichrist. When Gog is destroyed, along with his armies, only then will the mouths of the blasphemers forever be shut.
During Jesus' millennial reign, even the Gentile nations will worship the God of Israel.
After God judges Gog and his armies, all nations come to know the Lord.
The only way to do this passage justice is to view it as a reference to the nations actually coming to know and worship God, precisely as described by Isaiah when the whole earth is full of the knowledge - or more appropriately, the knowledge of God. And this simply does not happen until after Jesus returns. The Lord spoke of the Jewish captives being delivered in Amos.
Jesus spoke quite directly concerning the many Jewish captives who will be taken to the surrounding nations during the onslaught of the Antichrist:
King David prophesied concerning the deliverance of the Jewish captives and the glorious days that would follow:
Psalm 102:13-16, 19-21
Isaiah also connected the deliverance of the Jewish captives to the day of the Lord's vengeance:
Zechariah connected the deliverance of the captives to the age of the Messiah's rule:
Joel and Zephaniah also prophesied concerning these things:
These prophets harmonize precisely with what Ezekiel describes will take place specifically as a result of the destruction of Gog and his armies:
The captives of Israel are delivered specifically and as a direct result of the destruction of Gog and his armies. The passage states that none of the captives will remain captive "any longer". It is a complete and final deliverance that can only be associated with the Messianic age. The only way this portion of the prophecy can be reconciled with all of the other prophets is if Gog and the Antichrist are one and the same. Israel will know the Lord forevermore:
Isaiah 10:20 2
The whole house of Israel comes to know "the Lord their God". This powerful national salvation was described in detail earlier in Ezekiel 20.
In this passage, the Lord connects the following essential details:
- The Lord becomes King over Israel
- The Lord enters into judgment with Israel
- The Lord enters into an eternal covenant with Israel
- The rebels are "purged" from Israel
- The Lord removes the scattered Jews from among the nations
- All of Israel comes to know the Lord
The following passage refers to the fullness of Israel's national salvation:
Every last Jew will dwell securely in the land forevermore:
Israel will only truly dwell securely after all of her enemies have been destroyed. God will pour out His spirit on Israel:
There are three events that coincide:
1. The Lord destroys the invading nations
2. The Jewish people come to recognize that Jesus is in fact, the Messiah
3. The Lord pours out His Spirit upon the Jewish people
The following seals the nature of this event:
At the conclusion of Gog's destruction, Jesus the Messiah is physically present on the ground:
The word used for presence is the Hebrew word Panim. Panim is a reference to the actual face or presence of a person. He is saying that they will actually be terrified because of His actual presence. Panim is used throughout the Old Testament to refer to the actual presence of God. In the following verse, face is Panim:
Further evidence for the physical presence of Jesus at the conclusion this battle is seen in the next passage:
This is the only time that the phrase "the Holy One in Israel" is used in the Bible. It is the Hebrew Qadowsh Qadowsh ba Yisra'el. This phrase is used 31 times in scripture but here, the Lord is not merely the Holy One of Israel; He is actually present in the land and on the ground. While the popular position holds that this passage concludes several years before the return of Jesus, this verse makes this an absolute impossibility. God directly declares that Gog is the Antichrist:
The Septuagint doesn't word it as a question, but a declaration: "Thus saith the Lord God, to Gog; Thou are he concerning whom I spoke in former times, by the hand of my servants the prophets of Israel, in those days and years, that i would bring thee up against them"