Gog and Magog – A Big Battle Looms

In September 2003 Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat declared, “To Jerusalem we are going as martyrs in the millions.”  Arafat is now gone, but if such an attitude is prevalent in the Arab world, we cannot be far from a massive battle.

The battle of Gog and Magog has often been overlooked in the study of prophecy.  The diligent student of the book of Revelation may recognize the names from chapter 20.  Vs 8 “[Satan] will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth- Gog and Magog- to gather them for battle.”

However, Gog and Magog first appear in Ezekiel 38-39.  In light of recent events in the world today, this prophecy has received more attention.  There are of course no guarantees, but some people, myself included, believe that this could occur at literally any time.

First, some background on the book of Ezekiel.  Ezekiel includes numerous dates within his writing and makes it easy to pinpoint exact dates of his writing.  In short, his first vision comes in 593 BC – seven years before the fall of Jerusalem – and his final vision occurs in 573 – fifteen years after the fall of Jerusalem.

Although the entire book is not chronological in order, at least chapters 36 through the end of the book in 48 would appear to be in order.  Chapter 36 describes the New Covenant, which came in effect with Christ.  Chapter 37 skips ahead over 1900 years to the restoration of Israel.  Many bible scholars, myself included, believe the valley of the dry bones to be in reference to Israel once again becoming a nation in 1948.

Chapters 38-39 are next in the time line as chapter 40 begins the description of the Millennial Kingdom.  This does not mean that these events are imminent, as there is a time span of 1900 years between chapters 36 and 37, but it is next in line by Ezekiel’s timeline.  This does also not mean that other things described in other prophecies will not happen before the battle of Gog and Magog.  It is quite possible that the rapture occurs before this battle, but we have no guarantee.

Chapter 38 begins with a prophecy against Gog.  Verse 3 states, “I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.”  In a short explanation, the names mentioned are sons of Japheth (Noah’s son).  They are also the brothers of Magog, all who settled to the north of present day Israel.  Vss 5,6 “Persia, Cush, and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its’ troops- the many nations with you.”  Cush is the upper Nile region (presumably northern Egypt ) and Put is modern day Libya.  Gomer is another son of Japheth and Beth Togarmah is Gomer’s son.  Historically, they are regarded to have originated north of the Black Sea .  North of the Black Sea is present day Ukraine and the western most reaches of Russia.  All put together, the nations described are currently Muslim nations that surround Israel from all sides. 

Verse 8 proclaims that these nations will “invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate.”  The land that is invaded can only appear to be Israel, a nation whose people have been gathering from all over the world for 50 years. 

God has intended this invasion however.  In vs. 16 he declares, “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 though you before their eyes.”  Verses 17-23 describe the exact catastrophes that will befall the invading nations.  They are supernaturally destroyed and no harm is done to Israel.  God will not let his people be harmed.  The miraculous Six Day War of 1967 should have taught everyone that, but the world has turned a blind eye.

Ezekiel 39:9 begins the description of the aftermath.  It is gruesome but also amazing in its detail when looked at in comparison to today.  “Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up – the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears.  For seven years they will use them for fuel.  This statement is remarkable for two reasons.

First is the nature of the weapons.  In the time that Ezekiel wrote this, burning weapons made perfect sense because they were made of wood.  What of today’s weapons however?  How do you burn warplanes and other metals?  Amazingly, Russia has been using Lignostone in the production of its weapons.  Lignostone “is a special kind of wood used for ‘coke breakers.’  It is stronger than steel, is very elastic… and it burns better than coal.”  (90 LaHaye Are We Living in the End Times?)  You can read more about Lignostone on its website at www.lignostone.com.

While a Cold War enemy of the United States, biblical scholars thought for certain that Russia had to be involved in the invasion of Israel.  However, I do not feel certain about this.  If they are not involved in the invasion, it is well known that Russia has supplied weapons to many Middle Eastern countries and their weapons could be used without actually being involved.  Of course it is still plausible that Russia could be involved in any attack against Israel.

The second important part of this passage is the fact that it will take seven years to burn all the weapons.  The tribulation will be seven years, so this gives us some sort of timeline with which to place this event.  This event would either have to come at the very beginning of the tribulation or before to allow seven full years.

However, this event cannot happen at the beginning of the tribulation because the tribulation begins with the antichrist signing a peace treaty with Israel.  This treaty is not going to immediately be broken with this battle.  It won’t be until 3 ½ years that the treaty is broken.

This means that this battle occurs before the tribulation.  While it is purely speculation on my part, I believe that this is the final straw that leaves everyone crying out for peace and the perfect setting for the antichrist to step in and give it to the nations.

Will believers be around for any of this to take place?  I honestly have no idea.  I believe that we will be taken before the tribulation.  However, even if I’m correct, we have no assurance how long before the tribulation we’ll be taken.  The rapture may occur and then this horrific battle takes place.  Or we may be witness to it.  If we are, let the reader know that the prophetic calendar is being fulfilled in our presence.

Chapter 39 continues with the clean up of these armies that are supernaturally destroyed.  Verse 12 says that for seven months people will work nonstop to cleanse the land.  This isn’t hard to imagine after seeing the devastation caused by the destruction of the World Trade Center.  The cleanup took longer than half a year with crews working around the clock and the best equipment available.  Imagine such destruction spread over forty miles, or an area the size of New Jersey .

Even after the seven month period, there will be people employed full time in cleaning up the land.  Every bone will be marked and carried to the Valley of Hamon Gog, a mass grave for all the invaders.  The name simply means hordes of Gog. 

The reason for all of this destruction is for God to be glorified.  In verses 21-22 he says, “I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them.  From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God.”

After these events, the Israelites return to their native land in force.  Verse 25, “The Sovereign Lord says: I will now bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name.”

Even in such destruction, God has a purpose.  The nations will fear Him and Israel will return to Him and their homeland.  All of this could happen soon.  The world situation is one where any number of  Middle Eastern nations could easily lead a coalition against Israel .  Israel has nothing to fear from their enemies though, because they are protected by the Lord of Hosts.

Daniel’s 70 “Sevens” Explained

The prophecy contained in Daniel chapter 9 has been a much discussed chapter of the Bible.  The passage has confused many Biblical readers for years.  In the sixth century BC, God was giving Daniel a timeline for what was going to come and the amount of time that it would take.  As the modern reader looks at this prophecy 2600 years later, they have the advantage of understanding that some of the prophecy has been fulfilled.  Likewise, the reader may look forward to the remaining portion of prophecy being fulfilled as literally as the first part has been.

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up prophecy and to anoint the most holy.” – Daniel 9:24

The first area of confusion lies in the seventy ‘sevens’.  It must be remembered that the entire Jewish system was designed under a system of sevens.  There were seven days in a week, the seventh day being the Sabbath.  Every seventh year was to be a Sabbath year when no crops were to be planted or harvested.  After seven sets of seven years (or seven Sabbath years) the Israelites were to celebrate The Year of Jubilee.  (The Israelites never celebrated the Sabbath year, nor The Year of Jubilation despite God’s command.)

Thus it should come as no surprise that as God describes His prophetic timetable to Daniel that it should be based on sevens.  An alternate translation of seventy ‘sevens’ would be seventy weeks.  In this case it is seventy weeks of years or 70 x 7 – 490 years total.  It is generally accepted that seventy ‘sevens’ is in reference to weeks and not days, weeks or months.  Common sense and simple math lead us to realize that the events described in the chapter could not occur in 490 days or weeks.  At 490 months – 40 years, 10 months, this would still be a stretch to accomplish what is described and does match any historical facts or dates that are associated with this prophecy.  Thus by process of elimination and understanding we arrive at seventy ‘sevens’ of years, or 490 years.

“Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild the Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’  It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench but in times of trouble.” – Daniel 9-25

The first historical reference appears in this verse with the rebuilding of Jerusalem .  Some may mistake this decree with the one by Cyrus in 538 or 539 BC to allow the Jews to return and rebuild the temple.  Instead, this is the decree found in Nehemiah 2:1-8.  Nehemiah records the date which he speaks to the king.  It is in the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes.  Because no day is given, according to the Jewish system of dating, the first day of the month is to be assumed.  This translates to March 5, 444 BC .

It would take Nehemiah only 52 days to rebuild the walls surrounding the city.  However, it would take much longer to clear away the rubble left from the destruction of the city more than 150 years beforehand.  Also, “streets and a trench” had to be rebuilt.  Although no date is ever recorded in scripture, this has been assumed to take 49 years, or what the first seven ‘sevens’ are in reference to.

“After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.  The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.  The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” – Daniel 9:26

After the rebuilding of the city an additional sixty-two ‘sevens’ pass.  This equals 483 years.  Many may be quick to add 483 years from March 5, 444 BC and reach the date of March 5, 40 AD as the time when the Anointed One is cut off.  However, there is no historical significance with this date and further understanding must be applied.

It must be understood that the Jewish calendar contained only 360 days.  This can be confirmed by noting that the time of the Great Tribulation is referred to as “a time, times, and half a time” in Dan 7:25 , 12:7, and Rev 12:14 .  The same time period is referred to as 1260 days in Rev 11:3 and 12:6.  Finally, it is written as 42 months in Rev 11:2 and 13:5.  By doing the math, one will note that months are counted as 30 days.

This can bring us to the following chart as copied from “The Bible Knowledge Commentary” by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck.

 

Jewish Calendar (360 days/ year) Gregorian Calendar (365 days/ year)
(7 x 7)+(62 x 7) = 483 years 444 BC to 33 AD = 476 years *
      483 years       476 years
X    360 days = X    365 days =
173,880 days 173,740 days
  +    116 days in leap years **
  +      24 days = (March 5 – March 30)
  173,880 days

 

* Only one year occurred between 1 BC and 1 AD giving a total of 476 and not 477 years

** In 476 years there would have been a total of 476/4 = 119 leap years.  However, three days are subtracted because every 100 years a leap year must be skipped but every 400th year it is kept.  This gives a total of 116 leap days and not 119.

March 30, 30 AD occurs on a Sunday.  It is historically known as Palm Sunday.  On that Day Jesus would enter Jerusalem to the waving of palm branches and shouts of “Hosannah!”  Jesus wept as he approached the city that day.  He understood God’s timetable and knew that the time was up.  The Israelites, if they had been attentive to prophecy would have understood as well because the very day had been told to them.  Luke 19:41-44 describes this.

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes.  The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.  They will dash you to the ground, you and your children within your walls.  They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.’”  (emphasis added)

The people of Jerusalem had missed the opportunity and the time had come for the Anointed One to be cut off.  According to vs 26, it would be after the sixty-two ‘sevens’ that the Anointed One would be cut off.  To be cut off is to be killed, just as many of the Jewish laws written in Leviticus called for the lawbreakers to be cut off.

In case there is any doubt that Jesus is the Anointed One to whom the passage is referring, Christ literally means “anointed one.” 

Because of their failure to recognize the coming of the Anointed One, “The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.  The end will come like a flood: war will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.”

History shows beyond a doubt that it was the Romans who entered the city of Jerusalem in AD 70 and flattened it.  The temple was torn apart literally stone by stone.  Because of fire, the gold of the temple melted and ran because the cracks in the stones.  The soldiers pried apart the stones to retrieve the gold.  Over 1 million Jews were killed in the attack and another 90,000 were taken as slaves.

Since that time, war has continued.  Bloody battles were fought over this land for centuries during the Crusades.  In 1948 the nation of Israel was recreated and the people still haven’t had peace.  Immediately they were attacked.  Despite an incredible military, the land is far from peaceful and instead resembles a war zone.

Note who was responsible for the original destruction of Jerusalem .  It was the people of Rome .  They are the people of the ruler to come.  Hence, the ruler to come must be a Roman.  The ruler to come is described in the following verse and it is clear that Daniel is referring to the Antichrist.  This all adds up to the fact that the Antichrist himself will be Roman!  (Although many have pointed the finger at the Pope as the Antichrist, this in no way means that this is the person just because he is Roman.  The end times will see a revived Roman Empire and one must remember that the original Roman Empire expanded to include most of modern day Europe !)

“He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’  In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering.  And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” – Daniel 9:27

Verse 27 describes the 70th ‘seven.’  At the end of the 69th ‘seven’ there is an unknown expanse of time.  The final ‘seven’ has yet to occur.  The final seven years is the tribulation.  While Daniel does not describe any of the catastrophe that falls upon the earth during that time, he does detail what the Antichrist will be doing during this time.

The Antichrist will sign a peace treaty with Israel .  The Jews will be allowed to sacrifice in their temple once again.  This will be the start of the Tribulation.  Those who are on earth at this time can count the days until the return of Christ.  (I believe that the church will be raptured before the tribulation and no one on earth is actually going to recognize what is happening and start counting because the Christians will be removed.)

In the middle of the final seven years, the peace treaty will be broken.  The Antichrist will put an end to the sacrifices.  Then he will set up an abomination on a wing of the temple.  The Antichrist will command of all people what Satan has always wanted: worship of himself rather than God.  This abomination will likely be an image of some sort of the Antichrist that all the peoples of earth are supposed to worship.

There are some scholars who insist that this abomination has already occurred in the 2nd century BC, however, not all of the details were fulfilled then.  It was only a foreshadowing of what was to come.

During that time Antiochus Epiphanes IV sacrificed a pig to the God Zeus on the altar in Jerusalem .  Such an act was obviously an abomination to the Jews, however it does not fit the details of what is described in Daniel.

At the end of the 70 ‘sevens’ and the end of Daniel 9, we see the power of God displayed.  We need not be concerned about all the things that are to come, as dramatic and fearsome as they may be.  God is in control.  In the end, the Antichrist meets the end that is decreed for him.  That end in described in Revelation 19:20 , “But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf.  With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image.  The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.”

God is in control of the situation.  He is also in control of the timetable.  Everything will happen according to His purpose.  He has told us through Daniel what his plans are and has given us a partial timetable.  It will be fulfilled literally just as the first part of the prophecy has been! 

Biblical Prophecy and the End Times

Everyone is interested in what the future holds.  Only in biblical prophecy do we have any assurance of what will truly take place however.

God has given us a roadmap to what the future holds for humanity.  It is not easy to understand prophecy however, just as many Jews missed the coming of Jesus despite all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning Him.  Fortunately the Bible has an abundance of passages that clearly do tell us what will take place in the future.

Every time a major disaster happens, some people get swept up in wondering whether we are facing the end of the world.  The wise student of prophecy keeps a close eye on Israel and the Middle East as they play an important role in prophecy.  Today the pieces may be coming into place for the return of Christ but we cannot know for sure.  All we can truly know is that Christ’s return may come at any moment and that we have signs to look out for.

Prophecy scares some people but it should give us hope.  We know that God wins.  Jesus is victorious over sin, death, and Satan.  No matter what confusion people may have about prophecy, we can all rest assured in this fact.

There are many ways to discover what you may be looking for in this prophecy section.  The easiest is to just use the search box on the upper left.  You may also choose to select an article by checking out the categories or by looking at the commonly used tags.

Interpreting Biblical Prophecy Looking for the Antichrist
Is this the end? Daniel’s 70 ‘Sevens’ Explained
The Millennial Kingdom

The Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ

Gog and Magog – A Big Battle Looms The Future According to Jesus
Mount Olivet Discourse Bible Study

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