In Part 1, we began to get a handle on exactly what nations are involved in the prophetic Gog-Magog War as revealed in Ezekiel 38-39. Now we will identify the general timing clues the prophet left us. Continue on in this academic presentation made by evangelist Nathan E. Jones!
While there is much debate over the specific timing of the Gog-Magog Battle, the student of the Bible can be positive about the general timing. General timing is clearly spelled out in Ezekiel’s account as events that must happen to set the stage for the battle.
1. The first general timing clue is Ezekiel’s use of the terms “latter years” and “last days” (Ezekiel 38:8,16 NKJV). The Gog-Magog Battle must happen in the prophetic scheme of the end times as it relates to the nation of Israel. The key verse which unlocks the understanding as to what these terms mean can be found in Deuteronomy: “When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice” (Deuteronomy 4:30 NKJV). “Distress” is also translated as “Tribulation.” It is the Tribulation, also called Daniel’s Seventieth Week prophecy (Daniel 9:20-27), that brings the Jewish people as a nation back to a belief in Yahweh and later to accept Yeshua as their Messiah. The Tribulation leading up to the Millennial reign of Christ is what the Old Testament prophets consistently and repeatedly taught. And so, these key phrases point to the Gog-Magog Battle happening in relation to the Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom.
2. The second general timing clue rejects the claim that the battle has already happened in history. Never in the history of the Middle East have the nations described in the coalition been united in a concerted attack against Israel. In no time has such a specific group of nations been destroyed by inclement weather. And, in no time in history has Israel named a valley Hamon Gog, nor has the adjoining town called Hamonah, existed where the Jews buried their invaders’ dead bodies (Ezekiel 39:11-12,16). Lack of historical support leaves only a future timing for the battle to occur.
3. The third general timing clue is given in Ezekiel 36 and 37 and involves the regathering of the Jewish people back into their homeland “from out of all countries” of the world (Ezekiel 36:24 NKJV). Like the valley of dry bones reanimated into a living person that Ezekiel envisioned, Israel did indeed become a nation once again. Out of the 14.5 million Jewish people in the world today, 47% reside in Israel, making up 6,841,000 (74%) of the population dwelling in the Holy Land.34 And, the Jews must have control of “the mountains of Israel,” which they gained when they took control of the mountains from the Jordanians during the Six Day War (Ezekiel 38:8 NKJV).35
4. The fourth general timing clue involves the developments nationally that have to occur to make the nations of the coalition unite in an invasion of Israel. Two factors have made this coalition possible today. The first is the religion of Islam uniting these nations in satanic hatred of the Jewish people. The second is the economic bounty that Israel now has with its revitalized land and newly discovered gas deposits.36 The coalition nations now see a viable motivation to unite for the singular purpose of plundering Israel’s wealth.
5. The fifth general timing clue reads, “You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates'” (Ezekiel 38:11 NKJV). Israel must be living without walls, peacefully, and unsuspecting of an attack. Israel today lives in constant fear of attack and is always prepared for an invasion by the 60-plus million hostile Muslims surrounding their borders. Because of this turbulent climate, this part of the prophecy can be argued to have yet to be fulfilled.
As the question as to when the Gog-Magog Battle will occur, two obvious answers can be eliminated from the onset. The first presupposes the battle has already occurred in history, but that would be historically incorrect. That the Gog-Magog Battle was fulfilled in Ezekiel’s day by an invasion of the Scythians, Babylonians, or Greeks fails to fulfill the roster of nations that compile the Gog-Magog invasion force. Also, it fails to address Ezekiel chapters 36-38 which prophesy a regathering of Jews to Israel from all over the world using the end-timing clues given as the “latter years,” or “last days” (Ezekiel 38:8,16 NJKV). A past historical invasion just does not fit the Ezekiel 38-39 description.
The second concludes that the Gog-Magog Battle will never occur and also can be discarded as incorrect. A literal interpretation being replaced with a metaphorical interpretation that postulates that Ezekiel 38-39’s description is somehow “apocalyptic symbolism” representing a struggle between good and evil is Replacement Theology spiritualizing.37 As Semitic languages expert Charles Feinberg once said, “It is either the grammatical, literal, historical interpretation or we are adrift on an uncharted sea with every man the norm for himself.”38 Prophecy fulfilled is always prophecy fulfilled literally, and the prophecy concerning the Gog-Magog Battle should be interpreted no differently.
In the fourth part of this academic presentation about the prophetic Gog-Magog War of Ezekiel 38-39, we will examine the arguments that support this apocalyptic war happening before the Tribulation.
34. “Vital Statistics: Latest Population Statistics for Israel (2020),” Jewish Virtual Library, accessed October 1, 2020, https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/latest-population-statistics-for-israel.
35. Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2012), 310.
36. Luke Baker, “Israel Asks Itself the $150 Billion Question,” Reuters, (May 25, 2011), https://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/25/us-economy-israel-steinitz-idUSTRE74O38R20110525.
37. Taylor, 247-248.
38. Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1969), 219.