10 Jan When does the Gog of Magog Invasion take place?
Over the past several years, I have argued extensively for the view that the invasion of “Gog of Magog”, as prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is simply another retelling of the many Antichrist prophecies found throughout the Bible. In other words, Gog is simply another name for Antichrist. My most thorough argument for this view is found in my most recent book Mideast Beast, though several articles addressing this view can be found in the articles section of this website as well. Although many students of prophecy today believe that the “Gog of Magog” invasion of Israel as described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 takes place either just before or just after the beginning of the final seven years leading up to the return of Jesus, a much smaller number believe that this invasion takes place at the end of the Millennium. This is the view which I seek to address in this brief article.
Most who view the Gog of Magog invasion of Ezekiel 38,39 as being a post-millennial event, arrive at this position because they assume that Ezekiel’s Gog of Magog invasion must be the same as the “Gog and Magog” invasion that takes place at the end of the Millennium as described in Revelation 20:7-9. Let’s look at that text:
When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. Revelation 20:7-9
The first observation is that this invasion will be an utter failure. Before the invaders even begin to accomplish their desire, they are consumed by fire. But as we will see, the invasion described in Ezekiel 38-39 is far from a failure. By the time that Ezekiel’s Gog Magog invasion is defeated, a majority of Israel is actually exiled as captives among the nations. Second, Revelation’s Gog Magog invasion doesn’t even actually enter the “camp of the saints”, but is devoured by fire as they surround the “camp.” On the other hand, the invaders of Ezekiel are destroyed in the actual land of Israel.
Why then the similarity of names? In my opinion, by the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation in the 1st century, the term Gog and Magog had become a well-known motif or expression, similar to the common use of “armageddon” or “apocalypse” today. We might say for example something like, “It was a financial armageddon on Wall Street today”. But this has nothing to do with the valley of Meggiddo in Israel. It simply means any great catastrophe. Likewise, because Ezekiel 38 and 39 was essentially the greatest prophetic passage in the Old Testament concerning the final Satanic invasion of Israel, or what we might rightly call, “the Armageddon of the Old Testament”, the phrase “Gog and Magog” simply came to be understood as a massive Satanic invasion: Satan and his hordes. But the Gog of the land of Magog of Ezekiel 38,39 and the Gog and Magog of Revelation 20 cannot be one and the same. They are separated by 1000 years. Ezekiel is referring to the Antichrist and the events that take place just prior to the return of Jesus, and Revelation 20:7-9 is exactly what it says it is; a very brief event that takes place at the conclusion of the Millennium.
Others who hold to the view that Ezekiel’s invasion is at the end of the millennium frequently cite the fact Ezekiel describes Israel as seeming to be living with such a sense of security that it could only refer to the security that will be experienced during the Millennium. To support this notion, the following passage is cited:
In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you; a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. 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. (Ezekiel 38:14-16; 39:1-3)
I would like to explain why this perspective is, in my opinion, untenable and cannot be reconciled with the Scriptural testimony. First, let’s begin by observing that Israel is not truly secure. They are only living in a false state of security. Notice that Gog plans on attacking a people who are described as “unsuspecting”:
You will say, I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. (Ezekiel 38:12, 13)
I believe the issue of Israel living “securely” is merely perceived. I will demonstrate this through Scripture, but first think through this with me. The Israelites are about to be invaded. So are they truly living securely or merely living with a relative sense of security? If a person is sleeping securely in their bed and five murderous, and well-armed thieves are only moments away from breaking into the house to rob and kill, can it truly be said that the unsuspecting person sleeping is secure? Or it is merely a perceived security?
I would also argue that while the Israel of today fully recognizes that various threats surround them, they are not presently suspecting any massive military invasion from a foreign nation. The sense in Israel is one of relative security. It is difficult not to see Ezekiel’s description of Israel as anything other than the Israel of today:
“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. Ezekiel 38:8
The Israel that Ezekiel describes is a people who have been gathered from many nations. They resettled the land which had formerly been a continual waste. And they are living securely.
Now consider the fact that the Scriptures inform us that the Antichrist will lull Israel into a false state of security through deception, specifically for the purpose of invading the land:
He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power. Daniel 8:25
“ He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. Daniel 11:21
When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time. Daniel 11:24
So we have seen that the method and scheme of the Antichrist is exactly that of Gog. Again, this is simply because they are simply one and the same.
Now juxtapose the passage concerning the unsuspecting and peaceful state of Israel before the invasion, with their state immediately after the defeat of the Gog of Magog invasion. This passage is absolutely critical to properly understand how serious the Gog of Magog invasion truly is:
“The nations will know that the house of Israel went into exile for their iniquity because they acted treacherously against Me, and I hid My face from them; so I gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and all of them fell by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I dealt with them, and I hid My face from them.”’” Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name. They will 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. 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. Ezekiel 39:24-27
A few observations need to be made. First, many claim that the Gog of Magog invasion is foiled and is not successful. But this is absolutely not true. The passage above absolutely does not allow for it! What the above passage shows is that through the Gog of Magog invasion, many from Israel will once again go into exile and captivity. But after the destruction of the Gog of Magog hordes, the Lord also declares that he will forget Israel’s sins which they comitted against him when they lived securely. This is key. As we saw above, this is clearly a description of the Israel of today. The majority have been regathered from the nations, yet the majority are also living in rebellion towards the Lord. Notice that after the destruction of Gog and his armies, then many Jews are being brought back from captivity. If they began in the land and are out of the land as captives at the end of the invasion, how can anyone say that the invasion was not successful?
Another issue is the fact that the Lord states that all of the other (pre-Ezekielian) prophets spoke about Gog:
You are the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel. At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. Ezekiel 38:17
If all of the other prophets before Ezekiel spoke of the Gog invasion at the end of the Millennium, then where are these many references? One will be very hard pressed to produce a single such reference, though it is quite easy to find many Antichristic prophecies among these prophets.
Ezekiel 38,39 ends with all of the nations coming to know the Lord. Israel comes to know the Lord. Israel returns from captivity, The Lord pours out His spirit on Israel. They are secure from that day forward. The Lord will no longer allow his name to be blasphemed. If we place this at the end of the Millennium, then we are faced with an insurmountable problem. For we must by necessity believe that after 1000 years with Jesus present and ruling over Israel, the Jews and the gentiles still do not know the Lord. While Ezekiel’s passage begins with Israel having been regathered from among the nations, living securely (but in rebellion), we would have to believe that this would be their state throughout the entire Millennium. In my opinion, this is simply impossible to reconcile with Scripture. Zechariah 12 says that they repent when he returns on the clouds, not 1000 years later. During the Millennium, the knowledge of God will cover the earth as the waters covers the sea. The Law will go forth from Jerusalem etc., etc., etc.
Another issue is the “Great Feast”. Why would The Book of Revelation have used “the Great Feast” of Ezekiel 38-39 as the pre-text for “the Great Feast” of Revelation 19:17-21 if the two were not the same feast? Why would John quote from a similar but very different passage concerning a massive invasion and apply it to Antichrist? In other words, John clearly applied the Great Feast of the armies of Gog of Magog to the armies of Antichrist. Gog and the Antichrist are one and the same.
Both Ezekiel and Revelation 19 have the armies of Gog/ Antichrist being either eaten by the birds and beasts, or captured, whereas Revelation 20 has the armies simply “devoured” by fire. This is another significant difference between the two distinct invasions.
So while there are several other issues that we could address, such as the earthquake issue, any effort to make the Gog of Magog of Ezekiel 38,39 and the Gog and Magog of Revelation 20 one and the same must be able to satisfactorily address these issues.
I hope this brief article has begun to demonstrate why it is not possible for Ezekiel’s “Gog of Magog invasion take place at the end of the Millennium.