25 Aug Missing The Forest For the Trees & Other Eschatological Errors
By Joel Richardson
Anyone who has read any of my writings on Ezekiel 38,39 and the Battle of Gog and Magog knows that I am firmly convinced that the biblical character called “Gog” in Ezekiel 38,39 is none other than the Antichrist. Likewise, the Battle of Gog and Magog as described in Ezekiel 38,39 is the same event as the Battle of Armageddon as described in Revelation 19 and numerous other prophetic passages. Most prophecy students also know that this is not a common position among prophecy teachers. I want to briefly touch on why I believe this position is rejected by so many otherwise fine teachers and respond to some arguments. The first reason that so many prophecy teachers teach a distinction between Gog and the Antichrist is simply because the Gog Magog army is not a European army. Because most are convinced that the Antichrist will come from Europe, they are forced to cast Gog and his armies as being someone other than the AC. But another common reason that many misinterpret Ezekiel 38 is because of what I believe is a common flawed approach to studying Bible Prophecy. It is the error of “missing the forest for the trees”, as the expression goes. It is the error of missing the bigger general picture by getting lost in the minute details of numerous individual prophecies. This approach usually begins when one picks any one of the hundreds of significant prophecies in the Bible and then analyzes it. Detailed conclusions are made. Later another prophecy is analyzed, more disparate conclusions and then another passage, etc. The final step is to make efforts to reconcile all of these now disjointed prophecies together into one wall-dominating Panoramic Biblical Prophecy Timeline Chart. We’ve all seen them. But this approach, in my opinion, has yet to provide the Body of Christ with a more universally recognized picture of what the future holds. Instead it has provided us with dozens of divergent, detailed, often chaotic and confused opinions regarding what the future holds. How many highly detailed yet contradictory prophecy charts do we need before we recognize that something is remiss?
When we begin to step back however and take in the larger picture, when we examine the more general patterns and repeated themes of Bible prophecy, suddenly so many passages that were once viewed as being distinct components of the prophetic timeline are reconciled as referring to the same general events described from a slightly different angle. When one begins to recognize that the general theme of Bible prophecy is actually far more simple than many have made it, then so much of the confusion and chaos is swept away. A fairly clear picture emerges. When Gog and Magog are separated from the Battle of Armageddon, then we have a perfect example of a simple picture getting confused. In our book God’s War On Terror: Islam, Prophecy and the Bible, Walid Shoebat and I put together a summary comparison of the many shared descriptions of the Battle of Gog and Magog and the Battle of Armageddon. I’ll let the reader draw their own conclusions:
ՉAntichrist: Attacks Israel with an army of many nations
ՉGog: Attacks Israel with an army of many nations.
ՉAntichrist: Battle of Armageddon concludes with the supernatural destruction of Antichrist and his forces by Christ.
ՉGog: Battle of Gog concludes with the supernatural destruction of the forces of Gog and his forces by Christ.
ՉAntichrist: After the Antichristӳ defeat, the Kingdom of Christ is established.
ՉGog: After Gogӳ defeat, all of Israel and all the Gentile nations come to a true and lasting knowledge of God with the Spirit being poured out on Israel. Gods name is never again blasphemed. After this, in Ezekiel, chapter 40 we are given a detailed description of the millennial temple.
ՉAntichrist: In Revelation, chapter 6, the Antichrist is portrayed as a rider on a white horse holding a bow going forth conquering and to conquer.
ՉGog: In Ezekiel, Gog is also pictured with a bow in his hand.
ՉAntichrist: At the battle of Armageddon there is a great earthquake.
ՉGog: At the Battle of Gog, there is also a great earthquake.
ՉAntichrist: At the Battle of Armageddon, Ԩundred pound hailstonesԠfall on the forces of Antichrist.
ՉGog: At the Battle of Gog, ԧreat hailstonesԠfall on the forces of Gog.
ՉAntichrist: During the Battle of Armageddon, the Lord is said to Դread the wine-press of the fierce wrath of God.ԍ
ՉGog: Ezekiel 38 says ԍy fury will mount up in My angerԠand ԩn My zeal and in My blazing wrath…ԍ
ՉAntichrist: In Daniel 11, the Antichrist is identified as Դhe king of the north.ԍ
ՉGog: in Ezekiel, Gog is described as being from Դhe remote parts of the north.ԍ
ՉAntichrist: At Armageddon, the birds of the air are invited to feast on the flesh of the fallen soldiers.
ՉGog: At the Gog / Magog invasion, the birds of the air are invited to feast on the flesh of the fallen soldiers.
Yet despite what would seem to be a clear cut case that these two Biblical passages are simply referring to the same event, many still set forth various arguments determined to prove that these two events are not one and the same. In my opinion, many of these arguments often smack of desperation, such as the claim that Israel would be unable to burn weapons during the millennium. I’m not exactly sure why this is even seen as an argument, but for some, it is accepted. Another argument that has been made recently is that Gog comes for booty and spoils while the Antichrist does not. Again, in God’s War on Terror, Walid and I take a whole chapter not only to debunk this myth, but also to show that this characteristic of going to war specifically for booty and spoils is perfectly in keeping with a Muhammadan / Islamic ethic and history. So just for clarity’s sake, lets look at a few passages together:
The Lord clearly warned Israel that in the Last days, the armies of the Antichrist would come to take spoil and plunder:
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)
Then we see that Gog and his armies invade Israel specifically to plunder, for booty and spoil:
ԉ 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, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? Hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? To carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?Ԡ(Ezekiel 38:12,13)
So also does the Antichrist come to plunder, to take loot and spoil.
ԗhen the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade themŠHe will distribute plunder, loot, and wealth among his followers.Ԡ(Daniel 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.Ԡ(Isaiah 10:5-7)
When one simple steps back and compares the oft-repeated themes found throughout the prophets, it becomes clear that Gog and the Antichrist are one and the same. It is for this reason that Yahweh asked Gog through Ezekiel,
“Are you (Gog) not 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)
Once again, those who hold that Gog and Antichrist are two separate characters must be able to produce the Scriptures that speak so abundantly of Gog in those Prophetic books that came before Ezekiel. I issued this challenge in my first book and I have yet to hear of a single effort to explain this passage. Why the silence?
In a forthcoming article, I will further discuss the prophetic ramifications of this fact; namely that Gog is none other than the Antichrist.
For further study, I encourage you to get God’s War on Terror or my latest DVD teaching series Islam & The End Times.
Thanks and Bless Y’all, Joel