Gog and Magog

Most of you all who visit Joel’s Trumpet regularly know that I only occasionally have time to really engage in deep discussion to the degree that many subjects here really deserve. In this instance, a poster popped in and made some comments that are right in line with what I am working on right now for an upcoming speaking engagement. Gog and Magog is often a very controversial subject, but I believe that understanding what it means and where it belongs is crucial for several reasons. I do not believe that it should be a controversial passage. In fact, I believe that the only reason that some have had a difficulty with this passage is because it does not line up with the Roman End Time Paradigm. Thus many have been forced to inflict all sorts of violence upon it in order to make it fit into the Roman End Time Paradigm. In any case, I have been enjoying the conversation below and thought that it would interest many of you as well, so I’ve actually turned it into a full post. This poster does not hold to the Roman End Time Paradigm, but instead believes that the war described in Ezekiel 38,39 should strictly be interpreted as taking place at the end of the Milennium. Below is the full discussion as it has gone down over the past couple of days. Thanks Michael!

Michael Says:

December 13th, 2008 at 1:19 am e

Joel,

I truly enjoyed your ԁntichristԠbook, which I consider one of the most revealing works on Islam in circulation today. It was given to me recently by a friend who said Բead thisƴhis guy sounds like youԮ It did.

Having said that, I believe your fears about Iran are warranted. The beast in Revelation 13 has the Ԧeet of a bearԬ clearly identifying Persia. If we use what we learned from Nebuchanezzarӳ statue, then the feet represent the final form of this beast. As we watch Iran attempt to dominate the region, this vision takes on real meaning. More on that some other time perhaps.

IӤ like to offer another view of Gog & Magog that you may have covered on this site before, but maybe not. It begins with Revelation 20:7-8, which is the only verse in the Bible other than Ezekiel 38 & 39 that speaks to a battle of ҇og & MagogҮ This passage clearly identifies a post-millennial Gog & Magog battle, so to place Ezekiel 38 & 39 anywhere else seems to require a great burden of proof. Instead, I find additional support for the post-millennial theory in Ezekiel 38 & 39.

Using a few primary verses from Ezekiel, It seems unlikely that ԡll of themԠliving in Israel will live ԩn safetyԠor in Եnwalled villagesԠany time in the near future, since they are building even more walls and barriers in our day. Also, I canӴ imagine Israel becoming a ԰eaceful and unsuspecting peopleԬ since out of necessity they are the most wary people in the world, having been attacked in every decade since their return in 1948. Certainly this does not gel with the statement that they have Բecovered from warԬ since war is ongoing. Additionally, we have to be careful when assuming that Israel has already been Ԣrought out from the nationsԬ since most of the worldӳ Jewry still lives outside of the Holy Land. But in contrast, all of these things can be expected of Israel during and after the 1,000 reign of Jesus Christ.

The fact that Israel will gather wood from a defeated Gog & Magog army also suggests a post-millennium battle. Since implements of war will not be available in the millennium (Isaiah2:4) these hordes will create their makeshift weapons from actual wood. In our day, wood is the last thing that an army would use for weaponryŮbut itӳ probably all that will be readily available in that day.

While many commentators feel the Ԩorses and ridersԠare symbolic for tanks and other mechanized weaponry, this does not square with the statement that the carrion birds and wild animals will ԥat their fillԠof these horses and riders. Birds and animals canӴ eat tanks. But they can eat actual horses and riders. The next attack on Israel will undoubtedly include tanks, so it seems unlikely that it could be this particular attack on horseback.

Also compelling is that God will supernaturally destroy these hordes. For now, one final persecution is looming in Israelӳ future, and God not only will allow it, He has planned for it. He will not destroy them when they come.

Still, the most compelling evidence for a post-millennial Gog & Magog battle may rest in the roll call of the nations involved. They are much farther afield than we would anticipate, given todays Middle East politics. But they make a great deal of sense if one places the battle of Armageddon in our age, then Psalm 83 within the Millennium, and finally Gog & Magog after the end of the millennium where the Revelation pegs it.

For instance, we know that Armageddon will claim Babylon as an eternal casualty, and that Egypt and Assyria (Isaiah 19) will then be absorbed into the greater Israel during the Millennium. So any subsequent attacks should find these nations missing in action.

Then along comes Psalm 83, which is mid-millennial in all likelyhood, and this list of attackers is now headed by Edom. Egypt indeed is not included, nor would we expect them to be, as stated above. But surprisingly we do find Assyria on the list, which God appears to lament when He says ԥven Assyria has joined them.ԠThe Psalm then suggests that God will supernaturally destroy the attackers as He did to several Old Testament characters listed in the Psalm.

Psalm 83 also has a parallel in Ezekiel 35, which similarly describes Edom attacking Israel ԥven though I the Lord was thereԠ(35:10). Oce again, this suggests the same Millennial context where Christ will rule from Jerusalem, and once again it appears that God destroys them with his own hand.

When we finally get to the Gog & Magog attack after Satanӳ release from the Abyss, the roll call of attacking nations becomes even more remote in location. Again, this is expected.

Armageddon will have claimed Babylon, and Psalm 83 will have claimed Edom, so they are naturally not in the list. And Israel will have absorbed most of the remaining Islamic nations all the way to the Euphrates, so they cannot be listed either. So now the attacking nations can come only from the more remote regions that indeed constitute this final updated list in chapters 38 and 39.

Since Turkey is not a noted player in either the battle of Armageddon or Psalm 83, they will be the only Islamic nation remaining with the population and proximity to lead such an assault in the battle of Gog & Magog.

This progression is very linear and logical, and I find nothing else that can reconcile all of the various conditions noted in the various prophecies. That is why the Gog & Magog coalition still cannot be found in our day, try as we may. I believe it is for another time.

All this said, I admire what you have done in your body of work, and I pray that you continue to research and write on the Islamic end-times paradigm. Unless this understanding shifts soon, the western church will pay dearly for clinging to the revived Roman Empire model. The faith of millions will fall away as events unfold contrary to those teachings.

As far as our differing conclusions on this issue, I would only ask that you consider this alternative. It could be wrong, but it could also be right. It provides explanations that I have not found elsewhere. I understand if this post is too long for the website, but I would still welcome your feedback.

God Bless.

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Joel Says:

December 13th, 2008 at 6:39 am e

Michael,

Thanks for your saying hello and for your post. The notion that Ezekiel 38 is simply something that occurs at the end of the millennium is an option that has been battered around by some. There are some problems with this however. The worst of course is Godӳ fairly direct statement that Gog is indeed the same one that is spoken of by the former prophets. What most modern translations word as a rhetorical question is really even more direct in the Septuagint. There it is simply Թou are the one – that I have spoken of through my former prophetsԮ It would seem that this verse should pretty well settle the issue, but it somewhat seems to get ignored. What we need to realize is that despite the fact that many of we modern day Christians have tried to divorce the Ezekiel 38 invasion from the Antichrist invasion, it bears far too many very clear resemblances and internal clues to do so responsibly. What few Christians are aware of is that the Jewish position on this is and has been universal down throughout the centuries: Gog is the Anti-Messiah that the Messiah fights that is spoken of by all of the prophets. In fact, when the Jews speak of the coming ԁntichristԠinvasion, they do not say Armageddon, but rather ԇog and MagogԮ For the Jews, ԇog and MagogԠis simply a reference to the hordes of Godӳ enemies. I liken this to a news reporter referring to the economic meltdown as ԁrmageddonԮ In this culture, the word somewhat loosely is understand to mean Դhe end of the world.ԠIn the same way, to a 1st Century Jewish, Old Testament literate crowd – as the early Church was – the words Gog and Magog would simply mean the gathering of Godӳ enemies. So first they are defeated before the millennium and then there is one last very vague assault again at the end of the millennium but one final time they are dealt with. There is much more that could be said, but I think that this touches on the most important reasons why I personally reject this position. But as you said, and as I always say, God knows best, I could be wrong.

Bless you! Joel

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Michael Says:

December 13th, 2008 at 9:47 pm e

Joel,

Gog certainly was spoken of by the prophets, but Iӭ not tracking on why this would necessarily settle the issue and point to a pre-millennial battle. The prophets wrote of many judgments against Ҵhe nationsҠthat have a variable range of chronological possibilities. Could you expand on this please?

As far as the resemblance between Ezekiel 38 & 39 and Armageddon, I personally see few parallels. Instead, I see immense polarity, with Armageddon portraying the more likely conditions in our day. I believe a comparison would look something like this;

Ezekielӳ Gog & Magog:

1) All Israel living in safety (not in our day)

2) Israel peaceful and unsuspecting (not in our day)

3) Israel living in ҵnwalled villagesҠ(not in our day)

4) Israel has recovered from war (not in our day)

5) Attackers have wood weapons (not in our day)

6) Attackers on horseback (not in our day)

7) Attackers in distant proximity (not in our day)

All of these things mentioned above are not consistent with the conditions for Israel in our day, or in the foreseeable future, but they would be typical of Israel during and after the Millennium. But the conditions that will lead to Armageddon do seem to be consistent with Israel today;

1) All Israel living under persecution, not in safety

2) Israel is quite wary, not peaceful and unsuspecting

3) Israel is ҷallingҠtheir villages as we speak

4) Israel has ongoing war every decade since 1948

5) Attackers today would have steel weapons, not wood

6) Attackers today would ride in vehicles, not on horses

7) Attackers today would be in close proximity (P.A.), not far away

From this it would seem improbable that the conditions of Gog & Magog could occur simultaneously with the run-up to Armageddon, or before it. If Gog & Magog was fought prior to Armageddon, there would be very few left to gather for Armageddon only a few years later. They seemingly must be at different points in time. But if you see something that would disect these very points listed above, I would listen.

Additionally, there is still the issue of the systemic winnowing of the nations in the various prophecies that seemingly can only be explained with the Armageddon-to-Psalm 83-to-Gog & Magog progression. This is entirely ignored in virtually everything IӶe read on this subject.

In regard to the Jewish understanding, it seems logical that they would see only Gog as the coming antichrist, since they reject the NT, and rely on the OT. Their view of the antichrist would naturally be of either Gog, or the beast of Daniel, since these are the two best snapshots of the AC in the OT. And since some Jews feel that the AC in Daniel was fulfilled with Epiphanes in 168 B.C., that leaves only Gog as their primary candidate.

In the end, I believe we are looking at two very different time frames, you and I. But it wouldnӴ surprise me a bit to find that both of us have a little more work to do. Thatӳ the problem with eschatology. Itӳ easier to understand it once itӳ fulfilled.

Thanks for being a good sport.

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Hi Michael,

Gog certainly was spoken of by the prophets, but Iӭ not tracking on why this would necessarily settle the issue and point to a pre-millennial battle. The prophets wrote of many judgments against Ҵhe nationsҠthat have a variable range of chronological possibilities. Could you expand on this please?

This is very important. Where are these clear references to Gog that God would have expected the reader to be aware of? you are the first person that I have encountered that says, “Yes, Gog is spoken of by the prophets.” Could you explain where you believe these references are?

Now, there is a saying among the Jewish commentators that “Scripture does not speak unless it speaks of the Messiah” In other words, the message of the prophets has one general burden and emphasis, and that is the Messiah. It speaks to his first coming and his second coming with arguabley more emphasis on the second coming. Of course, there are other things that Scriptures do speak to, but in general this is the overwhelming prophetic burden and emphasis. So Jesus’ second coming (and the events that immediately surround that event) is the most primary thrust, and ultimate fulfillment of all of the prophetic books. So when we speak about the return of Christ / coming of the Messiah, the story is always the same throughout the prophets. Though they each present us with a different angle, each representing a different snap-shots, the general event is always in mind:

At the end of the age, a large horde of gentile nations would attack Israel and nearly destroy her. One final chastisement from God. But a remnant would be saved. God, through Messiah would deliver Israel and He would forever then be their king. That is the summary of what they are all talking about.

The highly Old Testament literate Jews of Ezekiel’s day would have immediately recognized God’s statement that “You are the one that I have spoken of by the former prophets” (emphasis plural) as pointing to the same thing that all of the other prophets constantly were speaking about: The coming invasion that leads to the coming of the Messiah.

As far as the resemblance between Ezekiel 38 & 39 and Armageddon, I personally see few parallels

I’m baffled by your statement here. Every passage in the Book of Revelation is founded on / rooted in an OT passage. Rev 19 is thoroughly rooted in Ezekiel 38 and Isaiah 63. Pick up virtually any commentary and it will highlight this fact. These two passages are inextricably linked in numerous ways. I’ll look at a few below. But the biggest error that most make is to try to compare Ezekiel and Armageddon in isolation. Instead, we need to compare Ezekiel 38 with all of the various passages about the Antichrist and his invasion, not just Rev 19. The passage in Revelation of Armageddon is only one snap-shot. The Scriptures give us many. When we try to isolate just one passage and draw such important conclusions, we are being irresponsible, in my opinion, as interpreters. We need to always take into consideration the full counself of Scripture. We cannot form doctrines or opinions on isolated passages. This reminds me of the cultists that I used to encounter in Boston shortly after I came to Christ. they were from the Boston Church of Chirst movement. They hold that you are saved only through Baptism (into their group). however, while there is one verse that says that “baptism now saves you.”, there are also 72 other verses that says that we are saved by faith. One must take all of relvant data into consideration before forming doctrines. That said, lets get back to the issue of parallels. Just a few quick comparisons to see if there are truly as you said, only a “few parallels”:

“The Call” – “The birds” – “The Feast of God” – “the flesh of kings”

Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth… At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,’ declares Yahweh the Sovereign. ׼strong>Ezekiel 39:17-20

And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.” ؒevelation 19:17

“Plagues” – “Swords against each other”

This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. On that day men will be stricken by the LORD with great panic. Each man will seize the hand of another, and they will attack each other. –Zechariah 14:12-13

I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign LORD. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed. –Ezekiel 38:21-22

“The Great Earthquake” – “The Mountains fall down”

For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. ׼strong>Ezekiel 38:19-20

Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called ArmageddonŠAnd there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so greatŠand the cities of the nations fellŠAnd every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. ׼strong>Revelation 16:18:-20

I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battleŠThen Yahweh will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. ׼strong>Zechariah 14:1-4

“Great Hailstones”

I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. ׼strong>Ezekiel 38:22

Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called ArmageddonŠThen there cameŠFrom the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. ׼strong>Revelation 16:16-21

“The King of the North”

“Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? 15 You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. 16 You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. Ezekiel 38:14-16

“Son of man, prophesy against Gog and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. 2 I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. 3 Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. 4 On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. Ezekiel: 39:1-4

“At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North (Antichrist) will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. 41 He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. 42 He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. Daniel 11:40-42

“I will drive the northern army far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land, with its front columns going into the eastern sea and those in the rear into the western sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.” Surely he has done great things. Joel 2

“loot, wealth and plunder”

I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.” Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages [a] will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?” Ezekiel 38:12-13

Behold, the day of Yahweh cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Zechariah 14:1-2

ԗhen the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade themŠHe will distribute plunder, loot, and wealth among his followers.ԠDaniel 11:24

ԗoe to the Assyrian (the Antichrist), the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath! I send him against a godless nation; I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets. But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations.ԠIsaiah 10:5-7

Now, I’m not trying to be snarky, but would you still really say that you see only a “few parallels”? I could list more of course.

Instead, I see immense polarity, with Armageddon portraying the more likely conditions in our day. I believe a comparison would look something like this;

Ezekielӳ Gog & Magog:

1) All Israel living in safety (not in our day)

2) Israel peaceful and unsuspecting (not in our day)

3) Israel living in ҵnwalled villagesҠ(not in our day)

4) Israel has recovered from war (not in our day)

All of these things will be precisely the case after the false “peace treaty” is signed. Israel will place her trust in this false treaty. In fact, this is precisely how Daniel describes the invasion motives of the Antichrist. Exactly: ԗhen the richest provinces feel secure, he (the Antichrist) will invade themԠ(Daniel 11:24) As for any “immense polarity” I am certainly not seeing one lick of it yet.

5) Attackers have wood weapons (not in our day)

6) Attackers on horseback (not in our day)

7) Attackers in distant proximity (not in our day)

The issue of horsebacks etc is not a problem. Remember that this is Hebrew prophetic poetry. We cannot read it in a hyper-wooden literal fashion (pun intended). We need to remember that this is indeed poetry and that it is 2500 some odd years old. Ezekiel would not have said that they would come in Toyotas and Nissans etc. To give another example, there is an almost identical passage in Isaiah, that says that in the millenium, after the destruction of the Antichrist, the nations will “beast their swords into plow.” Now, is this verse to be taken literally – that there will be a call that will go out to find all antique and replica swords and bring them to the nearest smelter’s shop to be melted down and turned specifcally into plows? Or should we read this to mean that all weapons of warfare will be dimantled, and instead our efforts will be toward growing food etc? Likewise, in Ezekiel weapons will no longer be needed, instead people will expend their resources for the purpose of common life issues such as cooking, etc. Beyond this, we have no knowledge what the Millennium will be like. Who says that we will not have technology under Christ? Will we only ride horses etc.? Will the Millennium under Christ necessarily be a back to the garden / rainbow festival? That is a very broad assumption that lacks any real support.

From this it would seem improbable that the conditions of Gog & Magog could occur simultaneously with the run-up to Armageddon, or before it. If Gog & Magog was fought prior to Armageddon, there would be very few left to gather for Armageddon only a few years later.

In my opinion, they are the same battle. Different accounts, different perspectives. Again, no need to overcomplicate the simple themes of the prophets. Gog Magog I believe is a very general overview of that whole final 3 and a half year time period. Lets put it this way: Even as the Gospel accounts vary greatly on some points, sometimes even seeming contradictory, they are simply different accounts, different perspectives. But if I used the somewhat rigid western literalism that some use when trying to divorce Gog from the AC, then I could actually far more effectively argue that each Gospel is telling about a different Jesus.

Additionally, there is still the issue of the systemic winnowing of the nations in the various prophecies that seemingly can only be explained with the Armageddon-to-Psalm 83-to-Gog & Magog progression. This is entirely ignored in virtually everything IӶe read on this subject.

Hmmm. Where is the Scriptures is there any “systematic winnowing” of the nations. I see wars and rumors of wars and nations rising up against nation, and then the final battle. But not a gradual winnowing. Where does Psalm 83 specifically describe an actual invasion in such a way to merit such a strong position? I see the plans, but no actual implementation. If you can find it, let me know. Also, why not also separate Joel 2-3, Zechariah 12-14, Psalm 2, Isaiah 63 as all separate battles as well?

In regard to the Jewish understanding, it seems logical that they would see only Gog as the coming antichrist, since they reject the NT, and rely on the OT. Their view of the antichrist would naturally be of either Gog, or the beast of Daniel, since these are the two best snapshots of the AC in the OT. And since some Jews feel that the AC in Daniel was fulfilled with Epiphanes in 168 B.C., that leaves only Gog as their primary candidate.

Hold up. First of all, the Old Testament is rife with descriptions of the Antichrist and his final attack. Micah 5 and Isaiah speak extensively for instance about the Assyrian. And I am unaware of any Jewish commentators who think that Antiochus fulfilled the all of Daniel’s prophecies. I am big on Jewish commentaries to get a fuller understanding and the various sages and Rabbis down through the ages, (I would argue including the Jewish believers in the 1st century) understood Gog and Magog to be the final evil ruler and his armies. Again, remember that Rev 19 the Battle of Armageddon is founded on Ezekiel 38. The whole passage about the birds feasting on the flesh of kings and the great feast of God is essentially ripped word for word right out of Ezekiel 38. Any Jewish interpreter would see a clear continuity between the two passages.

In the end, I believe we are looking at two very different time frames, you and I. But it wouldnӴ surprise me a bit to find that both of us have a little more work to do. Thatӳ the problem with eschatology. Itӳ easier to understand it once itӳ fulfilled.

I fully agree.

Thanks for being a good sport.

I am on this right now, preparing for a message on it, so this is good for me to review. But truthfully I wish I had gone for a run this morning instead. 🙂

Bless you, Joel

Update (after my short run):

There is another very important factor in this. God emphasizes the fact that it is only AFTER the destruction of Gog and Magog that the nations and Israel will actually know Him. To make such a statement after Christ has been literally ruling over the earth for a thousand years would make utterly no sense at all:

And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am Yahweh.’ I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am YahwehŠ ” ‘I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I Yahweh am the Holy One in Israel. It is coming! It will surely take place, declares Yahweh the Sovereign. This is the day I have spoken of. ؅zekiel 38:23-39:7-8

Clearly the nations and Israel would have all already known this quite well if they were living in the millennium under Christ’s rule. The millennium is the period afterall where “the knowledge of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” Habukuuk 2:14, Isaiah 11:9. So this also is another, in my opinion, clear reason not to see Ezekiel 38, 39 as an event that takes place at the end of the Millennium.

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