a study on the prophecies concerning Gog and Magog
Gog and Magog are often depicted as cartoonish devil characters with evil expressions and malevolent intentions. Why not laugh and drink and make a joke of prophecy. Be that as it may, though, let's take a closer look. There are two prophetic biblical accounts where Gog of Magog are mentioned. They're both set at different times and connected to different conflicts. Perhaps we could step back from the literal interpretations of Ezekiel and Revelation and consider some alternative symbolic or metaphorical possibilities.
That's exactly what a Rabbinical scholar named Mendel Kessin did recently. He interprets modern events from a Torah perspective and has developed an interesting take on the Gog and Magog prophecies, slightly different than those proposed by most interpreters.
Gog and Magog celebrated and on parade - London
Rabbi Kessin is convinced the world of mankind is living in the End of Days, and fast approaching the arrival of Moshiach (Messiah) as seen through the lens of various prophetic signs. These include such things as the re-founding of the state of Israel (1947), the resurrection of the Hebrew language after nearly 2,000 years, and the ingathering of the Jewish people back to their homeland as promised to Moses:
"When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors." - Deuteronomy 30:1-5
Rabbi Kessin points out that there is no country in the world anymore that is preventing Jewish people from making the return to Israel if they wish. He goes on to point out that among the many signs that indicate we are at the End of Days, the most notable sign is the war of Gog and Magog. (see Ezekiel 38 - 39) Rabbi Kessin believes it's already underway.
In Ezekiel's prophecy, Gog will be the leader of a great army, attacking Israel. The attack will come when Israel is at peace, described as a nation that feels secure, and has laid down it's defenses. However, that does not describe the Israel of today which is not at peace, and the idea of laying down their defenses is presently a preposterous idea. Gog and his armies will be defeated by Yahweh himself on the mountains of Israel. The slaughter will be so great that it will take seven months to bury all the dead. The flying creatures and crawling creatures of the earth will be invited to a great feast on the bodies of warriors.
These are shear cliffs along the southern coast of Australia. The two rock stacks standing in the surf are called
Gog and Magog. A little further along the coast is another group of stacks called the twelve apostles. Fear not.
Kessin may be way off base, but he suggests that the great war is already being waged in the halls of the UN General Assembly. Here the nations of the world have condemned the nation of Israel more times than all other condemnations combined. It's an interesting angle, though the Rabbi may be totally misguided, we always enjoy new perspectives and grist for the mill.
Kessin is bouncing the idea off the recent announcement by President Trump of US intentions to move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This has touched off a collective worldwide conniption fit, that has shaken the dome of the UN
general assembly like an 8.5 on the Richter scale. A truly odd reaction to something so simple, obvious and correct. Kessin noted the spectacle of one delegate after another, from all around the world, standing to condemn the outrageous American announcement. It's reminiscent of the account of Gog's gigantic army, when all the nations of the world are surrounding and menacing little Israel.
The name "Magog" first shows up in scripture in the context of the genealogies found in Genesis. Magog was the name of one of Noah's grandsons, one of the sons of Japheth (Genesis 10:2), two of his several brothers were Meshech and Tubal. This genealogy is repeated in 1 Chronicles 1:5. We hear no more of these names until Ezekiel's prophecy which was produced much later during the Babylonian exile.
In the prophetic visions of Ezekiel, a couple of new names come up, connected to the others, "Gog," and "Rosh." The only other place where the name Rosh appears is also in the genealogies, Genesis 46:21, where he is identified as one of the sons of Benjamin.
"Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops--many people are with you. "Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them. After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely." - Ezekiel 38: 1-8
The account in Ezekiel only refers to a military coalition of a few nations brought against Israel. The account in Revelation is quite different, involving armies of all nations coming from all sides and with the unchained Satan as the primary character at the end of the millennial reign. There is no mention of Satan in the vision of Ezekiel.
"Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." - Revelation 20: 7-10
Ezekiel describes in some detail the work of burying the great numbers of dead, (Ezekiel 39: 11-12) a task that will take at least seven months and occupy all the house of Israel. This is clearly a localized event, rather than worldwide. The birds and beasts will feast on the bodies of the slain.
In contrast, the account in Revelation describes the vast army of Gog being devoured by fire from heaven, suggesting there is nothing left over to bury. The use of the names "Gog and Magog" being highlighted in both accounts suggests that the two prophecies have something in common. In both accounts they represent an overwhelming crowd or multinational coalition in rebellion against God and determined to wipe out those that choose to live in accordance with God's teachings. It is only through divine intervention that their attacks are thwarted, and God's chosen people survive. God's victory is the theme in both.
Near the mythical, magical Glastonbury Tor of Somerset, England, are these two
ancient oak trees of enormous girth, and gnarly demeanor, called Gog and Magog.
Some scholars believe the account of Ezekiel foretells the events associated with the Seleucids and Antiochus Epiphanes. The war of liberation fought by the Maccabees; in which case the prophecy was fulfilled long ago. However, the prophecy clearly states a large army consisting of warriors from as far away as Libya, Persia, Ethiopia and other places. This was not the case with the Syrian Seleucids under Antiochus.
The prophecy of Ezekiel also indicates that the attack will occur in the "latter days," going on to describe what sounds more like the "End of Days," or the "Great Day of Yahweh," a time in the future.
"You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes." - Ezekiel 38: 16
Still others are looking to the events described in Ezekiel's prophecy as the current situation we find developing in the Middle East where Israel is surrounded by hostile Muslim nations. Where the destruction of Israel will unite both Sunni and Shia Islam.
These would include the national groups identified in the prophecy, giving this interpretation some credence. Islam is a relatively new religion, compared to Judaism or Christianity, Mohamed having received his initial visions in the early part of the seventh century CE. There is no way that Ezekiel could have accurately described a coalition of peoples he had never known or even imagined. He could never have imagined the motivations that would serve as the catalyst for the violent assault. All of the nations described in his vision are today, Islamic, but conspicuously absent are Egypt and Jordan, which happen to be the only two Islamic nations that, so far, have signed peace treaties with Israel, recognizing Israel's right to exist. Though, recently a third Islamic state has signed a peace agreement with Israel, the United Arab Emirates. It is now expected that other Islamic nations will also, finally, make peace with Israel. But take care, Biblical prophecy also predicts a promise of peace that will be broken.
approaching the inevitable day of fury -
the world is due to be shaken out of a spiritual slumber
God is urging events forward like a shepherd driving his flock, or like a fisherman that's got a hook in the mouth of a prize gamefish, and he's reeling it in. The great End-Times War is coming and there is no way to escape it, and little one can do to prepare for it. It will ultimately envelope the entire world of mankind. It will explode unexpectedly and with little or no warning. It will all center around this modest little pocket of real estate that God has chosen for Himself, and around these people that God has elected as a special possession.
There is an interesting prophetic description of how the war might unfold when the time comes. It's a prophetic vision from an influential Jewish sage of the 18th century named Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, known as Vilna Gaon, who said the war with Gog would last only twelve minutes and envelope the entire world. Such a statement in the 18th century would have described a preposterous and impossible event. However today, we all know it falls well within the realm of possibility, even likelihood. The best anyone can do to prepare for the inevitable moment of sheer terror, is to deepen one's relationship with God, and seek His mighty hand of protection. Call upon the Holy Name of Yahweh for a shield. Pray for Jerusalem and pray for the coming of the Kingdom of God.
Then if we take a more literal understanding of Ezekiel's prophecy, right out of today's headlines comes the controversy over the proposal to annex portions of the West Bank (the west side of the Jordan River). This proposal appears to be galvanizing the Islamic world, as well as the EU, the UK, and the UN. The leaders of all the great ecumenical denominations of Christian churches have also denounced the proposal. Only the US has announced support for the proposal, but in the context of a larger peace agreement. Some within Israel say, the Israelis should move ahead, unilaterally, but there is no agreement on this, even among Israelis. It is seen by some as a way of forcing the intransigent Palestinians to come to the table and work out a larger peace agreement. We shall see what happens.
Recently, in an interview, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said there is "no reason" for Iran (Persia) to set up military installations in Syria, pointing out that the Islamic Republic doesn't even share a border with Israel.
But there could be an obvious reason for Iran to be in Syria, and that is to better position themselves for the multi-pronged attack against Israel that they have been urging for many years. Note, they also support the Hamas organization in the Gaza Strip on Israel's southern border. The reason is simple enough. Iran’s economy is collapsing. The people are upset at Tehran’s leadership economically, and in their poor handling of the pandemic crisis where Iran is reported to have suffered the most virus-related deaths in the Middle East, and indeed, the most, second only to China. The only way that the mullahs can divert attention away from the domestic disaster they've created is to gain support throughout the Muslim world by attacking Israel.
HAS THIS GREAT BATTLE ALREADY TAKEN PLACE
Something similar to the attack of Gog and Magog has already taken place. It was called the Yom Kippur War and was fought in 1973. It is true that many of the same 'players' described in Ezekiel's vision were involved, and the surprise attack was aimed directly at the people of Israel. But it falls short of true prophetic fulfillment on many points. It would more likely appear to be but a minor fulfillment of the prophecy, helping to set the table for the greater battle to come.
Many things changed after the Yom Kippur War. However, it wasn't the intervention of God that helped the Israeli soldiers push back the tide of the Islamic assault. It was the intervention of President Richard Nixon from across the Atlantic Ocean. Then again, perhaps God made good use of Nixon to suit his purposes. Nixon's intervention on the side of Israel resulted in the retaliatory oil embargo, meant to cripple the American economy, imposed at the behest of the Arab states exercising their control of OPEC. This single act forever changed the world's calculus concerning the Middle East.
Another result of the Yom Kippur War, was that Israel established itself as a military force to be reckoned with, afterwards, allowing the people of Israel to enjoy a sense of security. The danger here is the sense of complacency that must be guarded against. Much as in the days of Moses leading the Hebrew people out of Egypt. At that time, they felt invincible, and relieved, enjoying a sense of having defeated the great army of Pharaoh with the mighty hand of God on their side. But before they could hardly catch their breath, they were surprised with an unprovoked attack from the Amalekite army.
"Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget". - Deuteronomy 25:17-19
These words from Deuteronomy contain within them, a curios paradox. The Hebrews were instructed to blot out the name of the evil Amalek forever, and at the same time instructed not to forget. A peculiar prophetic lesson, reminding the Jews that, while they may feel secure in the strength of their military forces, and indeed may feel weary from the endless sniping of terrorists, they should not let down their guard. Don't forget that the spirit of Amalek lives on.
WHO ARE GOG AND MAGOG
In this context, Rabbi Kessin may well be on to something perhaps of a lessor fulfillment, a warning sign, if you will, whereby the wealthy, oil rich Islamic nations have collectively bought or otherwise influenced the votes of the rest of the General Assembly to gang up on Israel. They have been simultaneously pushing a relentless propaganda campaign against Israel, promoting such ridiculous lies as that the Jews have no history in the land, or that the holocaust never happened, or that the Jews are blood-thirsty killers doing Satan's work. To believe the Islamic liars, there was never a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. According to Ezekiel's words, written so long ago, when the Islamic coalition finally launches the all-out attack, God will personally intervene on behalf of Israel.
"Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel...Then saith the Lord God; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit and have seen nothing. Oh Israel, thy prophets are like foxes in the deserts...Even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace, and there was no peace". - Eze.13:2-4,10
He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the LORD, the LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.” - Exodus 17:16
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