Gog, the ruler from the north, leads a large army composed of many nations and attacks Israel. This invasion army and its leader will be miraculously, rapidly, and completely destroyed by God. This will ease the takeover by the dictator of the West, the Anti-Christ. The interpretations that have less problems are pre-Tribulation (probably before the rapture) or the middle of the Tribulation. The pre-Tribulation and pre-rapture seems the best understanding and has the least problems. Nothing like this has ever yet occurred. Ezekiel 37 pictures the physical restoration of Israel to her land, the uniting of Israel and Judah, her spiritual rebirth and the Messianic Kingdom. Ezekiel 38 and 39, then describes an attack on Israel after she is back in her land but before her spiritual rebirth and Messianic Kingdom. Most who hold the pre-Tribulation view also believe that the political formation of the nation of Israel in 1948 is very significant—Israel is going back in unbelief to their politically constituted land, and this sets the stage for the events of Ezekiel 38-39.
- Nations will see that God is the LORD (Ezekiel 38.16, 23; 39.6,7,21).
- God will glorify himself to Israel (Ezekiel 39.13), and Israel will know that God is the LORD their God, though she will not come to faith until Christ returns at the second coming (Ezekiel 39.7,22,28).
- Preparation for Israel's national and spiritual restoration of the Millennial Kingdom (Ezekiel 39.2-29).
We see history moving toward the biblical account of end time events. The more this happens, the more the Bible is a source of comfort and security. Though Russia (or the far north which has been Russia for centuries) and her Muslim allies make threats and advances we know that they cannot overthrow God or change his time table for history. Evangelism and Bible teaching are still the mission of believers during this inter-advent period.
Four approaches to understanding prophecy
Rule of interpretation. Interpret the Bible first and then apply it to history. Do not interpret the Bible by history.
- The preterist (past) believes that most, if not all, prophecy has already been fulfilled, usually in relation to God’s judgment of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
- The historicist (present) sees much of the current church age as equal to the tribulation period.
- The Futurists (future) believe that virtually all prophetic events will be fulfilled through events that will occur in the future seven-year tribulation, Second Coming, or millennium—not in the church.
- The idealist (timeless) think that prophetic passages mainly teach great ideas or principles about God’s general dealings with mankind and are to be applied to anyone, in any era. (1-4 from Dr Thomas Ice)
Outline of Ezekiel
Section 1, Preparation of Ezekiel, Ezekiel 1-3
Section 2, Judgment of Judah, Ezekiel 4-24
Section 3, Judgment of Nations, Ezekiel 25-32
Section 4, Prophesies of the Restoration, Ezekiel 33-39
Section 5, Future Kingdom Temple, Priesthood, Sacrifices, and Land, Ezekiel 40-48
It is best to take Rosh as a place name in Ezekiel 38.2,3; 39.1. See James D. Price "Rosh: An Ancient Land Known to Ezekiel," Grace Theological Journal 6 (1985): 67-89. “prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.” Also see Mark Hitchock, http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/battle-of-gog-and-magog. LXX and Greek translations of Symmachus and Theodotian take as proper noun; adjectival use may have begun with Vulgate; also Wilhelm Gesenius (died 1842 and considered one of the greatest scholars of the Hebrew language).
Geography, not names of nations. Some are Muslim, none are Arab nations (Fruchtenbaum). North and south of Israel, but North controls. Therefore, Russia aligned with Muslim nations.
- Magog=Sythians (Josephus), central Asia (Hitchcock). Today Turkey (Ice)
- Meshech=(Muschki and Musku) Turkey (Hitchcock)
- Tubal=(Tubalu) Turkey (Hitchcock). Fruchtenbaum also says that all three places are between the Black and Caspian Seas=southern Russia and that this also includes part of Iran and Turkey.
- Persia= present day Iran
- Cush= Ethiopia-Sudan (Hitchcock). One reference to Mesopotamia in Gen 2.13. All other uses refer to Ethiopia (Fruchtenbaum). Ethiopia (Ice)
- Put or Phut=Lybia (Ice, Hitchcock) or Somaliland or Somalia (Fruchtenbaum), which borders Ethiopia.
- Gomer=Gomer (Cimmerians) Turkey. Germany (Fruchtenbaum).
- Beth-togarmah (Til-garimmu or Tegarma) Turkey. West and central parts of Turkey (Ice); Armenia (Fruchtenbaum).
Some interpretations and references
- Before the tribulation.
- Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, (Ariel Ministries, 2003), pp 106-125. Before Tribulation and before the rapture.
- Mark Hitchock, "The Battle of God and Magog," (http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/battle-of-gog-and-magog). Before Tribulation.
- Tommy Ice, "Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 30), Summary of Conclusions," (http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/ezekiel-38-39-part-30). Before Tribulation and before the rapture.
- Middle of Tribulation.
- J Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, (Dunham Publishing, 1958), Pages 352-355. Middle of Tribulation causing the Beast to break his covenant with Israel, though the Northern Army is defeated separate from Armageddon.
- John F Walvoord, The Nations in Prophecy, (Zondervan, 1967), Page 115. The first half of the Tribulation, but not the invasion from the north as part of Armageddon.
- Double fulfillment.
- Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003). Two phases, at the end of the Tribulation and at the end of the Millennium.
- Ralph Alexander, Ezekiel (Moody Bible Institute, 1978), Pages 127-129. Double fulfillment, at the end of the Tribulation before the Millennium and after the Millennium.
- Preterist. This is the battle noted in Esther 9. Gary DeMar, “Ezekiel’s Magog Invasion: Future or Fulfilled?” Biblical Worldview Magazine, vol. 22. (December, 2006), p. 5.
Questions or Problems to Solve
- Latter years or last days (Ezekiel 38.8,16). The final time in history before Israel's Messianic Kingdom.
- Seven months to bury the dead (Ezekiel 39.12). If the invasion is at the start of the 7 years, this would work. It would not work if it occurred in the second half of the Tribulation, since Israel was told to flee (Matthew 24.16-22).
- Seven years to burn the implements (Ezekiel 39.9). If in the tribulation, they would be burning weapons during the Great Tribulation when they were under attack and needed them. Furthermore, it does not seem consistent to be burning them in the Millennium, though this is possible.
- Living at rest, in security, in unwalled villages (Ezekiel 38.8,11,14). Could be a security due to Israel's confidence in their military, and they carry out life as usual; though it also could refer to the security of the first half of the Tribulation after the covenant with the Western Dictator. Betach, security, securely, (BDB 105, Strong 233).