The Christ in Prophecy Journal

Understanding Gog and Magog (Part 1 of 7)

Understanding Gog and Magog

When will the Ezekiel 38-39 war be fulfilled? Get a more secure handle on exactly what nations are involved in Ezekiel 38-39 and when the Gog-Magog Battle will occur in this academic presentation made by evangelist Nathan E. Jones!

Video Presentation

Introduction

“If biblical prophecy teaches us anything, it is that God is in complete control of human history and its culmination.”1

That quote by Dr. Ron Rhodes highlights one of the greatest benefits of studying God’s prophetic word—fulfilled Bible prophecy provides an indisputable apologetic for the existence of God. “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21 NKJV). Intertwined with that apologetic is an evangelistic message that effectively proclaims the triune God of the Bible alone stands apart the one true God, and only as revealed in Scriptures.

While Bible prophecy constitutes a whopping 27% of the Bible, God’s overall plan for the ages appears to be rather like a 100 piece puzzle, and so far, He has only provided 75 pieces. One can definitely make out the outline of a picture, but until certain events unfold, which then adds another new piece to the puzzle, the picture remains incomplete.

These absent proverbial puzzle pieces have been a stumbling block for the apologist wielding Bible prophecy as an evangelistic tool and those to whom they are witnessing, causing both to not properly see the big picture of God’s redemptive plan for mankind. And so, to use Bible prophecy as an effective apologetic in one’s evangelistic efforts, the student of the Bible must dive into the complete Word and utilize that one dirty word so missing in much of today’s “newspaper exegesis” so unfortunately equated with the field of Eschatology—study. The proclaimer of God’s Word must be able to study a particular biblical prophecy, and much like a diamond, carefully examine the many glistening facets in order to discern exactly what revelations the Bible desires to impart.

One such “incomplete” prophecy can be found in Ezekiel chapters 38-39 which concerns what is called the Gog-Magog Battle or the War of Gog and Magog. At first read, as one theologian so colorfully commented, the book of Ezekiel can appear as if a “perplexing maze of incoherent visions—a kaleidoscope of whirling wheels and dry bones that defy interpretation,” causing readers to “shy away from studying the book and to miss one of the great literary and spiritual portions of the Old Testament.”2 And, he would be right.

That is why this study will evaluate the research provided by Dr. Ron Rhodes of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries in his authoritative book on Ezekiel 38-39 titled Northern Storm Rising. Dr. Rhodes earned his Th.M. and Th.D. degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary, has long served as a professor at that seminary, and has authored an incredible 80-plus books mainly about the doctrine of Eschatology. Northern Storm Rising focuses on discerning who the Gog-Magog players are and examines the clues as to when this prophesied war will occur. Dr. Rhodes’ work will be evaluated in light of the research of other esteemed theologians. In the process of mining the book of Ezekiel for its “rich spiritual truths that strike with peculiar force upon the hearts of men,” the hope is the reader will be “brought face to face with a transcendent God, a self-existent being who has absolute power and is constantly revealed in glory.”3

The Battle

The Prophecies

A long 2,600 years ago, the great Hebrew nabi, Ezekiel ben Buzi of the priestly family of Zadok, was exiled to Babylon in 597 B.C.4 There he unveiled a prophecy the Lord God had divulged to him concerning the future of the nation of Israel. Recorded in the book of Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37, the prophet revealed that God would fulfill His promise to regather the Jewish people “out of all [the] countries” of the world where they had been dispersed “and bring you into your own land” that had been promised to their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ezekiel 36:24; Geneses 17:7; 1 Chronicles 16:17-18; Psalm 105:8-11; Romans 9:4 NKJV).

Like dry bones reanimated into a living person, Israel did indeed become a nation once again on May 14, 1948, after nearly 1,900 years since the Romans in 70 A.D. destroyed Jerusalem and exiled the Jewish people across the globe. But, this reanimation would still lack a soul—the national belief in Yahweh and His Son. As one commentator noted: “The bones came together. The flesh crept up over them. They were ready for life, but as yet there was no life in them. It was still a congregation of corpses.”5 After all of these centuries, this prophecy found its fulfillment in our modern generation. But, God was not done unveiling the future of Israel to Ezekiel and the world, for the following two chapters portray a great trial for the newly established nation of Israel—the Gog-Magog Battle—a trial that would lead towards granting that reanimated body a soul.

The Details

The Gog-Magog Battle is set between a massive coalition of nations descended from Noah’s sons Japheth and Ham against Israel (Genesis 10:2-7). The nations are from the territories of ancient Rosh, Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Gomer, and Beth-Togarmah (Ezekiel 38:2-6). Their leader is called “Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” (Ezekiel 38:2-3 NKJV). The battlefield is on “the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate” (Ezekiel 38:8 NKJV). The purpose of the invasion is to “plunder and to take booty” and attack the people of Israel (Ezekiel 38:12-16 NKJV).

The end result of such a massive invasion by a seemingly invincible army on an unprotected Israel ends up surprising the invaders and shocking the world. The invading nations are, in truth, being manipulated by God, pulled out of their lands as with “hooks in your jaws,” so that those nations feel the Sovereign Lord’s fury (Ezekiel 38:4,18 NKJV). God drags these specific nations to the “mountains of Israel” to “bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed… flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone” (Ezekiel 38:21-22 NKJV). God’s ultimate purpose for supernaturally obliterating the invading coalition is so: “Thus, I [God], will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 38:23 NKJV).

God’s supernatural victory over the Gog-Magog invaders allows Him to reintroduce Himself to the world and declare in no uncertain terms that Yahweh is personally defending Israel. Should the people of the world doubt, they only have to look on Israel who “will go out and set on fire and burn the weapons… and they will make fires with them for seven years” (Ezekiel 39:9 NKJV). As for the invaders’ corpses, “for seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land” in the newly named “Valley of Hamon Gog” by a newly built “town called Hamonah” (Ezek. 39:11-12,16 NKJV).

The Leader

Ezekiel provides the prophetic name of the leader of this coalition of nations—“Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” (Ezekiel 38:2-3 NKJV). Whether Gog is a real name as was used of a descendent of Reuben in 1 Chronicles 5:4, or is a title for a supreme position such as king or president, remains to be seen. Some historians even point to King Gyges of Lydia, who asked King Ashurbanipal of Assyria for help in 676 B.C. but then joined an Egyptian-led rebellion against Assyria, as a historic type.6 Gyges’ name in that era became synonymous with terror, bloodshed, and homelessness.7 Others point to Genghis Khan who, during the 1200s, ruled the Mongol empire which covered a fourth of Asia, as another historic type.8 Whether Gog is either historical or the prophesied Antichrist that is yet to come, depends on when one places the timing of the Gog-Magog Battle. Either way, the identity of Gog truly lives up to the meaning of his name—”hidden or covered.”9

The Nations

Ezekiel 38:1-6 provides the ancient names of those territories which comprise the invading nations: Rosh, Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth-Togarmah. If only Ezekiel had gone the extra mile and given the names of the invading nations contemporary to the battle, a lot of debate over their modern identities would have been saved. Nevertheless, God prefers students of the Bible to do their historical research, and the following list of equivalent names is the fruit of that research.

Magog

Some historians point to the former Soviet nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, as well as including Afghanistan, as encompassing the land of Magog. Historian Edwin Yamauchi explains that Magog was the “ancient Scythian northern nomadic tribes who inhabited territory from Central Asia across the southern steppes of modern Russia.”10 These nations, today consisting of a population of 60 million, are united by one commonality—Islam.11

Meshech

The ancient Moschoi or Muschki or Musku tribe settled in Cilicia and Cappadocia, which is now part of modern-day Turkey.12 Ezekiel 27:13 notes these people traded in slaves to Tyre and Ezekiel 32:26 refers to them as an ancient bandit nation.

Tubal

The people of Tubal would have hailed from the ancient Tibarenoi tribe.13 For those who have equated Tubal as the Serbian city of Tobolsk, along with Meshech as the Russian city of Moscow, Hebrew Scripture experts claim there is “no etymological, grammatical, historical, or literary data in support of such a position.”14 This land also resides in modern-day Turkey.

Gomer

The Jewish historian Josephus identified Gomer who “founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians [Galls], but were then called Gomerites.15 Some theologians point to Germany as the land of Gomer, leading one theologian to ask, “What if a united and anti-Semitic Germany were to seek its future fortunes while allied to an anti-Semitic Russia?”16 The Jewish Midrash Rabbah and Talmud also call Gomer “Germania” indicating today’s Germany.17 Not a commonly held view, but one Oxford historian even suggested Gomer’s son who became the ancestor of the Celtic people necessitates including the Cymry of Wales and Brittany, meaning Great Britain.18 Gomer most popularly looks to reference the Gimirrai of the Assyrians, or Cimmerians, who lived in the Black Sea area adjacent to Turkey.19

Beth-Togarmah

Togarmah, or Beth-Togarmah, which means the “house of Togarmah,” contains an etymological connection between the name Togarmah and the names Turkey and Turkestan.20 The Tilgaimmu resided between ancient Carchemish and Haran, which is modern-day Turkey and possibly the lands of Azerbaijan and Armenia.21

Persia

The land of Persia is ancient and long-running and the easiest to identify, only having changed its name to Iran during the last century in 1935.

Cush

Cush is another area easy to identify, having split into Ethiopia and the Sudan in more recent history.

Put

While the Midrash Rabbah claims Put is not Libya or Lub, but rather Somaliland or Somalia bordering on Ethiopia, the scholars reviewed all claim that Put is indeed Libya with the possibility that the land also includes Algeria and Tunisia.22

Many Nations

Ezekiel describes “Sheba and Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions” as just observing the battle (Ezekiel 38:13 NKJV). Sheba and Dedan were Shem’s descendants who settled in modern-day Saudi Arabia.23 Tarshish could refer to Tarsus located just northwest of Israel, or the island of Sardinia located just north of Carthage in the Mediterranean Sea.24 But, more than likely, the inhabitants of Tartessus, located on the southwest coast of Spain, denotes the Phoenician merchants who sailed as far as Britain.25 The “young lions” could then be referring to Spain and Great Britain’s colonies in the New World.

Noticeably absent from this list of Middle Eastern nations are those surrounding modern-day Israel, such as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Gaza, Iraq, and the Arabian peninsula nations. Why these “many nations” are not also actively involved in the Gog-Magog Battle is open to speculation, but a Psalm 83 scenario where the seer Asaph foresaw Israel subjugating their surrounding neighbors could be the scenario that grants Israel the peaceful precondition Ezekiel describes that precedes the Gog-Magog invasion (Ezekiel 38:11).

In the second part of this academic presentation about the prophetic Gog-Magog War of Ezekiel 38-39, I will attempt to prove that ancient Rosh is modern-day Russia.

End Notes

1. Ron Rhodes, Northern Storm Rising (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 13.

2. John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press Publications Inc., 1985), 1225.

3. Kyle M. Yates, Preaching From the Prophets (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1942), 179.

4. Gaalyah Cornfeld, Archaeology of the Bible: Book By Book (London, England: Adam and Charles Black, 1977), 179.

5. W. MacKintosh MacKay, The Goodly Fellowship of the Prophets (New York, NY: Richard R. Smith, Inc. Publishers, 1929), 181.

6. Tent C. Butler, (Ed.), Holman Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1991). 565.

7. William P. Barker, Everyone in the Bible (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1966), 115.

8. Stephen M. Miller, The Complete Guide to Bible Prophecy (Uhrichville, OH: Barbour Publishing, 2010), 128.

9. New Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible (New York, NY: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1957), 997.

10. Edwin M. Yamauchi, Foes From the Northern Frontier (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1982), 64-109.

11. Mark Hitchcock, The Coming Islamic Invasion of Israel (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2002), 31-32.

12. Tim LaHaye & Ed Hindson (Eds.), The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2004), 119-120.

13. John. B. Taylor, Ezekiel: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1969), 244-245.

14. Frank E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Vol 6) (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 930.

15. Josephus, The Works of Josephus. “Antiquities 1.6.1.” (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987), 36.

16. John Phillips, Exploring the Future: A Comprehensive Guide to Bible Prophecy 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, IL: Kregel, 2003), 327.

17. Midrash Rabbah 37:1.

18. Alfred Edersheim, Old Testament Bible History (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975), i.59.

19. Taylor, 244-245.

20. Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976), 247.

21. LaHaye & Hindson.

22. Midrash Rabbah 37:1.

23. Marshall W. Best, Through the Prophet’s Eye (Enumclaw, WA: WinePress Publishing, 2000), 146.

24. Best, 144.

25. Charles F. Pfeiffer, Baker Bible Atlas (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1961), 40.

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Nathan Jones

Nathan Jones

As the Internet Evangelist at Lamb & Lion Ministries, Nathan reaches out to the over 4.5 billion people accessible over the Internet with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

26 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • It is interesting to think we could be on the cusp of this prophecy being fulfilled this decade, and certainly with little doubt this century. I always thought the day America turns against Israel, I will probably leave this nation for God’s judgment will be certain. How might this happen – I figured economic problems, military problems and/or political powers in America under Satan’s influence. Wow, it is looking like all three reasons might be the cause.

    Where does America stand in end-time prophecy? The fact that we aren’t in end-time prophecy I believe is prophecy unto itself; America is irrelevant among the world powers. I have always hoped that it is due to a pre-trib rapture and a revival in America, but the silence and inaction of the Church may stifle God’s Spirit from making this possible.

    On the other hand, maybe we don’t even exist as a nation because of God’s judgment for our rebellion and a comatose Church that sits in apathy and silence while the ungodly battle in all spheres of influence for their wickedness to spread! Wake-up Christians and Catholics! 2 Chronicles 7:14 is as relevant today for America and it was for Israel back in the time of the Northern Kingdom and Judea falling into rebellion and seeing God’s judgment. Why would America be any different Church? Do you think God is unconcerned with believer’s apathy and compromise for sin to appease the culture? Wake up and read Revelation 3:16 “So I will spit you out of my mouth, because you are only warm and not hot or cold.”

    Jesus called every believer to stand for justice when there is injustice, stand for righteousness when there is unrighteousness, and spread the gospel to the ungodly that come into our lives. That is the fundamental basic desire of God for every believer of every nation of every ethnicity that received the gift and knowledge of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our atonement to sin!

  • Appreciate all that you do Nathan and everyone at beloved Lamb & Lion Ministries! I share, point to, reference your bar setting ministry with everyone I can! Blessings to all!

  • Part 1 is wonderful and in-depth. I have longed for something like this yet easy to comprehend. You have uncovered some interesting facts of ancient history. Can’t go to Part 2 tonight b/c I need to go to bed.

  • Well done Nathan. Praying you will continue with your “studies”. A couple of questions for you. If the Ez. 38-39 invasion happens after the rapture, doesn’t this nullify the resulting worldwide revival which would happen when God’s name is glorified among the heathen when he judges the invading armies? Wouldn’t it make more sense for the rapture to happen after the judgement so that those who are converted as a result would be added to the church and then be raptured before the tribulation starts rather then be converted and then face the horrors of the trib. later? Also, will Gog invade Israel because the western world has been immobilized by the rapture event and therefore will not resist such an invasion or will Gog be motivated by an “evil thought” when Israel is victorious in the Ps. 83 war and thus dwelling securely but not suspecting another surprise attack from the north?

    • Jon, that would assume there will be a worldwide revival before the Rapture, which I don’t see as happening due to the final phase of the Church Age being the apathetic Church of Laodicea (Rev. 3). The great soul harvest will come during the Tribulation as the result of the ministry of the Two Witnesses, 144,000 Jewish evangelists, and the Gospel Angel.

      I believe the “evil thought” motivation for Russia will be that it assumes no interference from the West, likely due to the Rapture, economic collapse, or civil war. For the Muslim nations, along with no fear of interference from the West, it could be revenge for the Psalm 83 War and the destruction of Damascus (Isa. 17; Jer. 49).

  • It is my belief that the reason the nations surrounding Israel are not mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39 is because they are represented as the ancient Persian Empire. Over the past 20 years the Islamic Caliphate has, in my opinion, reconstituted the Empire of Persia. This would mean that the complete and utter destruction of all of Israel’s enemies both near and far could only be accomplished by God Himself. I believe the destruction of Damascus as prophesied in Isaiah 17 will precede this on the prophetic calendar.

  • Hallo Nathan,

    Keep preaching it Nathan, this is the Truth that the world needs.

    Many blessings in Yeshua.

  • Regarding your paper, Understanding Gog and Magog, I would like to point you to the works of one Bill Salus. Namely, his two great books, Psalm 83, and The NOW Prophecies. In his book, The NOW Prophecies, in Chapter 8, starting with page 71, he gives the definitive explanation of who exactly is “Tarshish” and it’s not Spain.
    In his excellent book, Psalm 83, he shows us that the nations depicted in that Psalm, constitute an inner ring around Israel, and will fight Israel first. Have you noticed that not only do these countries surround Israel, but they are all Arab?
    Have you noticed that in Ezekiel 38/39, that none of these countries from Psalm 83 are present? Have you noticed that the battle of Ezekiel 38/39 present an outer ring around Israel, and are anything but Arab?
    Some are yelling, “The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming” in regards to Ezekiel 38/39, BUT, our Bill Salus tell us that the battle of Psalm 83 will occur first, and will lay the ground work for the Gog of Magog war.
    You do your reader a great disserveice by not explaining the thought and work
    in Bill’s great book. If you are going to go on and on, take the time to explain his work also. I personally don’t like or take the time to read long winded papers. I believe that the American nation has gone into judgement, that we are indeed in the “last days”, so what makes you think that the average person is going to have the time to read long winded dissertations?
    I am Ned Bankston

  • Awesome study Nathan! Thank you very much for your dedication and sharing your knowledge in this post! Wow!

  • Apostasy in the Church
    Hi folks. Just watched the message. We have forgotten, about the harvest. It is more plentiful today, than ever before. Where are the laborers? I sought the Lord, years ago, to be able to reach as many lost people, as Christ would allow. In prayer, and with a Servants heart, I hit the ground, walking, with Jesus before me. 10,000 Tracts ordered, the message, God Loves You. The message of Salvation. If God can use an Uneducated, woman, who sits on the back pew, still has to seek a dictionary, from time to time, to spell difficult words, then God can use anyone, anytime, any place, Who truly loves the Lord. The Light is shining in my Father’s House. But we are to be the Light of Jesus, outside the church door. Arise from the pew, see the poor, see the Lost, see the homeless, see the widow, see the children, see as Christ sees. His vision was keen , while His Blood 🩸, was pouring in His Eyes, on the Cross, from a Crown of Thorns, not gently placed, but rammed into his Forehead. He saw you, and He saw me. The Lost. We must as God’s children, have a desire to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My grandson, who is 12 now, Joel Peyton Shue, reminded me at the young age of 4, to leave my worries at the Feet of Jesus, at the Cross. Arise America. This is the United States of America. One Nation Under God. He will not be Mocked. The earth, will shake. It is His Nation, His People, His White House. Everything Belongs to My Jesus. He is Holy. I am in love with Jesus.
    Denise Shue
    Sanford, NC

  • I”\’m not sure if you saw the Smithsonian Magazine issue from September 2020 regarding Cush or Kush. “The Lost Kingdom Of Kush”. Kush are called “The Black Pharaoh’s” who ruled Egypt for about a century.
    I appreciate your work and content. I found very helpful because I have friends and family want to understand the future events. Thanks again

  • Nathan, We can see God’s sovereign and mighty power in this event to destroy Israel’s enemies, and awaken them to the truth. Ezekiel 39: 7. “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 the Lord am the Holy One in Israel. It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of. This would be something to see happen, though the Church is supposed to be with the Lord in the latter days, or tribulation, correct.

  • Six women and I just finished a study in Revelations that took us through Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, etc. as most of the revelation prophecy is described in greater detail there. We studied under Pastor Stephen Armstrong with a church based in Texas. He past shortly after completing this 29 week study. He taught that the Ezekiel war doesn’t happen until after the millennium because two points of prophecy are not met prior to that time one of which is that all Jews, not some Jews will live in Israel at that time. Clearly not all Jews live in Israel currently. Also, he said that prophecy states this will be a time of peace for Israel and Israel currently isn’t experiencing peace nor does it seem they will in the foreseeable future. He said that people get this confused because they think that Ezekiel is writing chronologically when in fact he’s writing in order of what God promised in the Abrahamic covenant. Your thoughts?

    • Karrie, so sorry to hear about the passing of your pastor. You’ll notice in the Ezekiel 38-39 account that the result of the Gog-Magog War leads all of the world’s Jews to return to Israel, not beforehand. And, the precondition of “peace and safety” could be the result of the Psalm 83 War or the Jews feeling safe behind their military. See later parts of this study for the pros and cons of the view that places the war at the end of the Millennial Kingdom.

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