Gog and Magog
Text: Ezekiel 38-39
I. This prophecy is frequently cited by premillennialists to support their end-times theories.
A. Example from Family Bible Notes: “This and the following chapter contain a prophecy of the invasion of "the mountains of Israel" by an immense multitude "out of the north parts," assisted by many allies. It shall take place "in the latter years," after Israel has been "brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people," and is dwelling safely in "unwalled villages;" and the invaders shall be overthrown with immense slaughter. It is generally agreed that the fulfilment of this prophecy is yet future. Perhaps it is the same assault as that predicted in Re 20:8-9, which takes place after the binding of Satan for a thousand years. “
B. They ignore the context of Ezekiel with its prophecies against nations of its time.
C. They ignore that person and place is fixed in the prophecy.
II. The prophecy is against a person named Gog who lives in the land of Magog - Ezekiel 38:2-9
A. Gog is a prince, or ruler
1. Commentators consistently state that Gog is a title, much like Pharaoh, and not the name of a particular person.
2. Their conclusion is not based on evidence, but reasoning that Gog is the root of Magog (which can be read “land of Gog”) and the lack of finding a ruler named Gog in history.
3. Ezekiel 38:17 says that Gog was spoken of in prophecies before, but Gog is only mentioned here and in Revelation
a. This means Gog was mentioned before, but under a different name.
B. Magog contains the cities of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal
1. Meshech and Tubal are mentioned earlier in Ezekiel 36:26
2. Rosh is suspected to be the old name for Russia
a. Another alternative is that “rosh” is the Hebrew word for “chief,” which would alter the translation to “chief prince” of Meshech and Tubal.
3. Meshech is the old name for Moscow
a. After the Flood, by Bill Cooper, “The descendants of Meshech are often spoken of in close association with those of Tubal, the Assyrians for example mentioning Tabal and Musku, whilst Herodotus writes of Tiberanoi and Moschoi. A very much earlier reference to the peoples of Meshech, is an inscription of ca 1200 BC which tells us how they overran the Hittite kingdom; and an inscription of Tiglath-pileser I of Assyria from ca 100 BC, who tells us that, in his own day, the Muska-a-ia where able to put into the field an army of 20,000 men. The activities of this same people are also subsequently reported by Tukulti-ninurta II, Ashurnasipal II, Sargon and Shalmaneser III, the last of whom refers to them as the Mushki. Josephus knew them as the Mosocheni (LXX Mosoch), who, he says, were known in his own day as the Cappadocians. Some later writers have pointed out that the name of Meshech is preserved in the old tribal name of Muscovites of Russia, after whom Moscow is named. Such an identification, it must be said, is not at all unlikely, especially when we consider the subsequent history of their historically close associates the people of Tubal, and the fact that the city is still known today in the Russian tongue as Moskva, an exceedingly close, not to say identical relationship to the Assyrian form Musku.”
4. Tubal is the old name for Cappadocia, the area now known as Georgia
a. After the Flood, by Bill Cooper, “The descendants of Tubal first came to our notice in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser I, king of Assyria in about 1100 BC. He refers to them as the Tabali whose original area of settlement (i.e. Tabal) was adjacent to that of Tegarama. Subsequently, Josephus recorded the name of Tubal’s descendants as the Thobelites, who were later known as the Iberes. Their land, in Josephus’ day, was called by the Romans Iberia, and covered what is now the (former Soviet) state of Georgia whose capital to this day bears the name Tubal as Tbilisi. From here, having crossed the Caucasus mountains, this people migrated due north-east, giving their tribal name to the river Tobol, and hence to the famous city of Tobolsk.”
5. Magog was a descendent of Japheth, along with Tubal and Meschech - Genesis 10:2
a. From Magog came the Scythians and the Goths
b. From Tubal came the Iberians, Spanish, and Italians
c. From Meschech came the Cappadocians.
C. God states that He has hooks in their mouths
1. In other words, he has them under His control - II Kings 19:28; Ezekiel 29:4
2. He will turn back their army
D. The army is composed of mercenary soldiers from other lands
a. Descendants of Madai, son of Japheth (Medes)
2. Ethiopia and Libya
a. Cush, son of Ham, founder of Ethiopia
b. Put, son of Ham, founder of Libya
c. These countries once aided Egypt - Ezekiel 27:10; 30:5
d. Daniel prophesies that they would aid a king from the north - Daniel 11:40-43
(1) The king of the north and south are referring to four-way split of Alexander the Great’s empire.
(a) Ptolemy and his descendants were the kings of the south, ruling from Egypt
(b) Seleucus and his descendants were the kings of the north, ruling from Syria.
(c) Their battles for territory left Israel in the middle of warring factions.
(d) A third king, who does as he pleases (Daniel 11:36), storms through and smashes both the northern and southern kingdoms. Most likely a reference to the invasion of Rome.
(2) It is interesting that this invasion also comes from the north
3. Gomer and Beth-togarmah
a. Gomer, son of Japheth, founder of the Cimmerians on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
b. Togarmah is the son of Gomer settled in Armenia
4. One commentator, Bob Waldron, notes that there is no nation descended from Shem listed here.
a. He concludes that Gog and his army represents something bigger than just a physical army invading Israel.
b. Israel, a descendant of Shem, would represent God’s people being attack by the wicked represented by the descendants of Japheth and Ham.
5. The idea that this takes place in the future must then explain why a future army is still using swords, shields, and horses.
E. Gog and his army needs to be prepared because they are about to meet defeat - Ezekiel 38:7
1. God has issued similar warnings before
2. To Egypt - Jeremiah 46:3-4
3. To Babylon - Jeremiah 51:12
F. The battle would take place after Israel returned from captivity - Ezekiel 38:8
1. Adam Clarke notes there was an invasion of Egypt by Chambyses about twelve years after Israel returned from captivity. The armies route would have been through Israel.
2. Most commentators believe it is referring to the times of the Maccabees, about 200 years after Ezekiel’s writings
G. They would “storm” the land - Ezekiel 38:9
1. The king of the north, Antiochus, was said to come like a whirlwind - Daniel 11:40
2. Description of an earlier attack on Jerusalem - Jeremiah 4:11-13
3. Babylon attacking Jerusalem - Joel 2:1-11
III. Though on the way to a different destination, Gog will have the terrible idea of taking advantage of the seemingly unprotected land of Israel - Ezekiel 38:10-14
A. Again, it matches the time of Antiochus who in his many raids of Egypt took advantage of the land he marched through - Daniel 11:24-25, 31-32, 36
B. Unwalled cities indicate an extended time of peace where defenses are not necessary - Esther 9:19
C. Gog does what Solomon warned not to do - Proverbs 3:29-30
D. Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 1, chapter 1 “... Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, had a quarrel with the sixth Ptolemy about his right to the whole country of Syria, ...”
1. A group of Jewish leaders decided to take advantage of the situation and invited Antiochus into Judea.
2. “The king being thereto disposed beforehand, complied with them, and came upon the Jews with a great army, and took their city by force, and slew a great multitude of those that favored Ptolemy, and sent out his soldiers to plunder them without mercy. He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months.”
3. “Now Antiochus was not satisfied either with his unexpected taking of the city, or with its pillage, or with the great slaughter he made there; but being overcome with his violent passions, and remembering what he had suffered during the siege, he compelled the Jews to dissolve the laws of their country, and to keep their infants uncircumcised, and to sacrifice swine’s flesh upon the altar”
4. Thus started the war of the Maccabees.
E. The note pirates / merchants of that day, Sheba, Dedan, and Tarshish, all approach Gog to bargain over the spoils in advance of the actual battle - Ezekiel 38:13
1. Recall Ezekiel 27:12, 15, 20, 22-23
IV. God’s judgment against Gog - Ezekiel 38:14-23
A. Gog was well aware that he was making an unprovoked attack against a peaceful people.
B. When he comes and is defeated, God will be hallowed in Gog’s eyes
1. Like Pharaoh - Exodus 9:16
C. There can be certainty of his defeat because God has been speaking of him and his overthrow for a long time. The fact that he came to power and attacked is proof that God foreknew this. This would include this passage and Daniel 11.
D. God will get very angry with Gog, to the point that all will tremble
E. God will call for a sword (a leader and army) and there will be internal strife as well in Gog’s army - Ezekiel 38:21
F. His defeat will bring further glory to God
V. God repeats His opposition to Gog - Ezekiel 39:1-7
A. God will cause Gog and his army to attack Israel
1. Antiochus was distracted from his raids on Egypt by a seemingly easy victory over Israel. This lead to his downfall.
B. But there they will be defeated and slaughtered - Psalm 76:3
C. Their homelands will be attacked
1. Magog and the other nations
D. Thus people will know that God is Lord
1. I Maccabees records how Antiochus profaned the temple and insulted God: “ The king sent messengers with letters to Jerusalem and to the cities of Judah, ordering them to follow customs foreign to their land; to prohibit holocausts, sacrifices, and libations in the sanctuary, to profane the sabbaths and feast days, to desecrate the sanctuary and the sacred ministers, to build pagan altars and temples and shrines, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, to leave their sons uncircumcised, and to let themselves be defiled with every kind of impurity and abomination, so that they might forget the law and change all their observances. Whoever refused to act according to the command of the king should be put to death.” (I Maccabees 1:44-50).
2. God will demonstrate His power in His response.
VI. The extent of the defeat
A. The destruction of Gog is coming. It will certainly happen - Ezekiel 39:8
B. The burning of weapons - Ezekiel 39:9-10
1. The weapons will be burnt, rendering them unusable
2. The mention of seven years might be symbolic (seven representing completeness).
a. But Adam Clarke mentions that in the aftermath of a battle in Spain in 1212 AD it was mentioned that so many weapons were abandoned, that people were finding them and using the wood for fire wood for four years.
b. Jamieson, Fausset, Brown mentions: “The desolation by Antiochus began in the one hundred and forty-first year of the Seleucidae. From this date to 148, a period of six years and four months ("2300 days," Daniel 8:14), when the temple-worship was restored (1 Maccabees 4:52), God vouchsafed many triumphs to His people; from this time to the death of Antiochus, early in 149, a period of seven months, the Jews had rest from Antiochus, and purified their land, and on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month celebrated the Encaenia, or feast of dedication (John 10:22) and purification of the temple. The whole period, in round numbers, was seven years.”
3. Thus the would be looters are looted.
C. The burying of the slain - Ezekiel 39:11-16
1. The dead of Gog’s army would be buried in a valley east of the sea that is normally used as a trade route. The route would close because of the stench.
2. There is some debate as to which sea is being mentioned: The Sea of Galilee or the Dead Sea, but being on the east would put the bodies outside the limits of Israel’s borders.
3. The name Hamon-gog is unknown, but it means “the multitude of Gog”
4. It would take seven months to bury all the dead. Again, it could be a symbolic number. Then again, the defeated army would have scattered and the wound would have died in hiding. It would take time to find all the bodies (see Ezekiel 39:15)
5. The number of graves would bring renown to Israel and therefore God.
a. It would keep men regularly employed in finding and burying the dead.
b. The city near the burial place would be nicknamed Hamonah (multitude).
D. The feasting of the birds - Ezekiel 39:17-22
1. As Israel goes looking for the dead, carrion birds will have a feast - Isaiah 18:6; Zephaniah 1:7
2. The army is described as animals
a. Rams - leaders
b. Lambs - the ordinary or innocent
c. Goats - the rambunctious or impetuous
d. Bulls - the slow, but of great strength
e. All overfed - Deuteronomy 32:14-15
3. The nations will recognize God, as will Israel
VII. God’s kindness to Israel - Ezekiel 39:23-29
A. All the nations knew that Israel was destroyed and sent into captivity because of Israel’s sins
B. But God brought them back. Their shame and punishment will be past - Isaiah 54:8
C. Their peace and prosperity will show them that they have been restored to God’s favor.
D. But this major defeat of an enemy will demonstrate to the nations that God has Israel in His favor again and is protecting them.
E. The pouring out of God’s spirit hints of the future age - Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17 (This puts an outer limit on when the prophesy would be fulfilled -- i.e. before the church age).