(Central Israel) — Today is Part Three of our study of Ezekiel 38 & 39 and the Biblical prophecies concerning the coming “War of Gog & Magog.”
The stunning move in recent weeks by Russia and Iran to intensify their military alliance and to actually engage in combat operations in Syria, not far from the borders of Israel, has prompted renewed interest in these ancient prophecies. So has Israel’s discovery this month of massive amounts of oil in the Golan Heights, the explosion of Radical Islam and Apocalyptic Islam in the region, and the surge of interest in eschatology (the study of End Times matters) among Muslims, Jews and Christians around the world.
As I explain in my 2006 non-fiction book, Epicenter — and the updated 2008 paperback release, Epicenter 2.0 — the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39 are critically important but often overlooked portions of Scripture. They are also quite controversial. Sincere and well-respected Bible scholars do not all agree on how to interpret these prophecies.
Of particular dispute, for example, is the identification of Magog. Many scholars and Bible teachers believe that the evidence suggests “Magog” is the nation we today call Russia and that “Gomer” is modern-day Turkey. (I am in this group, for reasons I describe in more detail in Epicenter.) Others believe “Magog” and “Gomer” are modern-day Turkey and that Russia isn’t involved in this prophecy at all.
Another dispute: Some Christians are asking whether Russian President Vladimir Putin is the “Gog” figure describe in the prophecies. (I say it’s too early to draw such a conclusion, though I admit Putin is certainly “Gog-esque.”) Other Christians are beginning to wonder if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (pronounced “Air-do-wan”) is “Gog.” (I don’t believe so, but he’s certainly emerging as an enemy of Israel and an ally of Putin.)
My objective in this series of studies is not to persuade you of my view, but to explain the prophecies the best I can and help you study them for yourselves. Indeed, I believe the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 & 39 deserve much more careful study, prayer and discussion in our time — both by scholars and by lay people — especially in light of current trends.
In our study today, let’s look at what the prophet Ezekiel says will happen to the enemies of Israel when the War of Gog and Magog concludes, and what happens with Israel and the Jewish people, as well.
1.As the forces of the Russian dictator (Gog) and his military coalition — including Iran (Persia), Libya & Algeria (Put), Sudan (Cush), Turkey (Gomer), and other Islamic nations (Beth Togarmah) — converges against the State of Israel in the “last days,” the Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel tells us that at the last moment when there seems to be know hope for Israeli Jews, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is going to supernaturally intervene and come to the rescue.
2.Consider Ezekiel 38:18-19. “‘It will come about on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel,’ declares the Lord God, ‘that My fury will mount up in My anger. In My zeal and in My blazing wrath I declare that on that day there will surely be a great earthquake in the land of Israel.”
3.Ezekiel tells us that this earthquake will shake the entire globe and “all the men who are on the face of the earth will shake at My presence” (38:20).
4.The enemy forces will become so frightened and disoriented during this massive earthquake that they will turn and starting fighting each other (38:21).
5.Terrible diseases (pestilence) will start to spread through the enemy forces (38:21).
6.As God judges these enemies of Israel, Ezekiel explains that the Lord “will rain on him [Gog] and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones, fire, and brimstone.” (38:22)
7.In a scene evocative of a Hollywood blockbuster, fire from heaven will fall on the enemies of Israel, consumes and destroying them in divine judgment.
8.The Lord also says “I will send fire upon Magog and those who inhabit the coast lands in safety.” (39:6) In other words, parts of Russia and other enemy countries will be devastated supernaturally by fire from heaven.
9.The Bible does not tell us exactly how this will happen, but it clearly describes a supernatural judgment. This does not appear in the text to be a war started by the Israeli Defense Forces. These do not appear to be missiles from the Israeli Air Force. There no evidence in the text of Israeli military forces on the move and defending themselves and their nation. Perhaps Israeli leaders at that point are engaged in diplomacy, trying to persuade the Russian leader to stand down and back off. Perhaps Israeli leaders at that time are hoping for the U.S. or the U.N. other nations to intervene diplomatically or even militarily to protect them. Whatever the case, the text does not provide clear evidence of the Israeli military going into action to protect their country and defeat their enemies. Rather, the text indicates that the God of Israel steps in and defends Israel Himself, raining fire and brimstone down on the enemy forces and utterly destroying them — and doing so at the very last possible moment, when all hope appears to have been lost.
10.Why does God act to protect the nation of Israel and defeat Israel’s enemies? The Lord tells us directly in Ezekiel 38:22-23 — to bring judgment and to reveal Himself and His power and glory to Israel and the nations. “With pestilence and with blood I will enter into judgment with him [Gog]….I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord.”
11.As we head deeper into the “last days” (Ezekiel 38:16) and the Second Coming of Christ, many nations — and perhaps all nations — will have forgotten or refused to believe what the Bible teaches, that God does, in fact, love the Jewish people very much. The Lord God of the Bible does love the nation of Israel. The Jewish people are by no means perfect. Yet the Bible states that God loves them still and has made promises to them and that the Lord intends to keep those promises. Indeed, the Lord God wants Israel to know that He exists and is All-Powerful and that He loves His Chosen People, and He wants the rest of the world to know that He exists and is All-Powerful and that He loves His Chosen People.
12.The devastation that results from these divine judgments is so horrific that chapter 39 tells us it takes the Israelis seven months to bury all the bodies of the enemy forces (39:12-16).
13.Ezekiel tells us it would probably take longer than seven months but the birds of the air and the beasts of the field eat many of the bodies (39:17-20)
14.The prophesies regarding Gog & Magog remind us that sin has consequences.
God said in Genesis 12:1-3 that those who bless the children of Abraham will be blessed, but those who curse them will be cursed. God is patient. He is slow to anger. But when pushed too far, He will act against those who hate the Jewish people and seek to rob, kill and destroy them. Let the nations be warned.
15.There is more to the story, however. Not only will the “War of Gog and Magog” be a day of great judgment; it will also be a day of great mercy. The Bible says that the militaries of these enemies will be destroyed. There are hints here and in other texts (Jeremiah 49, for example) that the governments of these countries will be judged, as well. But God is not going to wipe out all the people of these enemy countries. To the contrary, He wants them to see His glory and His mercy. Ezekiel 39:21 — “I will set My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed and My hand which I have laid on them.”
16.Consider that verse carefully. The text says that “all” the nations will “see” God’s glory and judgment. Today, we are living in the first generation in human history where because of the miracle of global satellite television technology people in every country on the planet will be able to watch the prophecies of the Bible come true before their very eyes. When the Russian-Iranian alliance converges against Israel, the world will be able to see it happen on television. When fire falls from heaven on the enemy forces, the world will be able to watch it on television. Anyone in any nation that has a television will be able to see the mighty hand of God reaching into human history to bring about divine judgment on Israel’s enemies and divine mercy on Israel’s people, both Jews and Arabs. It will a dramatic moment, and “all the nations” will “see” God’s glory and power.
17.As a result, I believe Ezekiel 38-39 describes the end of Radical and Apocalyptic Islam — and effectively the end of all of Islam — as we have known it. After all, when the God of Israel destroys these Islamic and Russian military forces supernaturally while Muslims watch live on Al Jazeera and other networks, how will Muslims wake up the day after and believe that the Qur’an is the true word of God and that Muhammad is a true prophet? As a result of the War of Gog & Magog, the vast majority of Muslims will abandon Islam. They will have seen their god and false prophet defeated before their very eyes, by the God of Israel, no less. As a result, their faith in Islam will be shattered. Many will turn to faith in Jesus Christ. Not all, of course, but many will because they will have seen the Word of God come true right in front of them and the Word was God and the Word is God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and His name is Jesus the Messiah. (John chapter 1)
18.Thus, the War of Gog & Magog may very well turn out to be the most dramatic moment of Muslims converting to faith in Jesus Christ in fourteen centuries.
19.Meanwhile, Israelis will feel very afraid and very much alone as the crisis builds and unfolds, right up until the Lord shows His mighty hand. But at that point, when they see the judgment of their enemies, then even those who are secular will know there is a God in heaven.
20.Consider Ezekiel 39:22 — “And the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God from that day onward.”
21.Consider Ezekiel 39:25-26,28 — “Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name. They will forget their treachery which they perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid….Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land and I will leave none of them there any longer.’”
22.Israeli and Jewish secularism will be over, once and for all.
23.On top of all this, the Lord says He will no longer hide His face from the Jewish people and that He will pour out His Holy Spirit upon the Jewish people. “I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Lord.” (39:29)
24.As a result, many Jews will come to faith in Jesus as Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, for that is the role of the Holy Spirit, to reveal the true identity of Jesus to people. Jesus said in John 14:26, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (see also John 16:13-15.) Not all Jews will come to faith in Jesus at that time, but many will because the Father will pour out His Holy Spirit on the house of Israel.
25.While we know these events will all happen in the “last days” (38:16), we cannot determine whether the “War of Gog and Magog” will happen before the Rapture (when the Lord suddenly snatches born again believers in Jesus off of the earth, prior to the Tribulation) or not, because the text does not tell us one way or the other.
26.That said, I believe it is very possible — not certain, but very possible — that these events will unfold within this generation, and possibly quite soon. We are certainly seeing geopolitical events unfolding in a way consistent with Ezekiel 38-39.
27.Therefore, the most important question we must ask is this: Since the Lord in Ezekiel 38:7 told Gog, the enemy of Israel, to “get ready, be prepared,” what then should Israelis themselves and friends of Israel be doing? Shouldn’t we, too, get ready and be prepared — spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, and in every other possible way, for the coming War of Gog & Magog?
28.These prophecies are some of the most interesting and important descriptions of End Times events in all of the Bible. Unfortunately, too few people in the world are aware of them, or have read them, much less studied them carefully. May the Lord bless you and reveal Himself and His heart to you as you get yourself ready for the prophecies coming our way.
In our next study, I will answer some frequently asked questions about these prophecies.