Note: This post will likely bore you to tears if you aren’t at least moderately interested in Christian end-times issues. Caveat emptor.
A just read this week’s K-House newsletter (www.khouse.org) and they have a section on the infamous Gog/Magog invasion, AKA The Ezekiel 38 battle. The link above is a pretty good overview of the generally accepted interpretation of this passage. But for those unfamiliar (or uninterested) in the eschatological community here’s the Cliff’s Notes:
Ezekiel 38, 39 describes a battle where the ‘nation’ of Magog, led by Gog, invades Jerusalem/Israel. It is particularly striking because it would appear that God intervenes directly and defeats the invading army with an earthquake and fire from the sky – pretty dramatic stuff. If you’re familiar with the Left Behind book or movie, the Russian invasion that precedes the rapture by several years is this same prophetic battle.
In every discussion of this passage that I can find, the assumption is that this event happens prior to the second coming. - I don’t think so.
The more extensive discussions of this topic (including the one on Harpazo) mention that Gog and Magog starting a fight is also mentioned in Revelation 20:7-9, but they conclude that this Gog fellow (beside living for at least 1000 years) is a real sucker for punishment – one divine kick in the teeth isn’t enough for him. They conclude that these are two separate events that just include he same major player and story line. - I submit that they are in fact a single event and that the Ezekiel 38 battle takes place at the end of the Millennium.
"Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey..." Ezekiel 38:10-12
First of all, this does not describe Israel today or in the foreseeable future. Israel is NOT secure, they don’t FEEL secure and they are in the middle of building a giant wall around themselves. In fact, events in the last couple of years only make this description of Israel more inaccurate. Keep in mind that a central aspect of the Antichrist’s rise is that he brings peace (“...by peace that he will destroy many" Dan 8:23-25) but if Israel is already secure...what’s the selling point?
Second, God’s weapon of choice in both passages is fire from heaven.
“...and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.” Rev 20:9b
“...and I shall rain on him...hailstones, fire, and brimstone. ” Ez 38:22b
It’s by no means impossible for God to use the same tactic twice, but it does generally contrary to His pattern. And with other similarities, Aukum’s Razor would seem to suggest the simplest explanation is that we’re simply seeing one event from two perspectives as opposed to some kind of divine de ja vu.
The truth is, I can’t find anything that explains why this event is presumed to happen prior to second coming. It’s like it’s this given in the prophecy community that nobody feels the need to restate. The only vague explanation I’ve stumbled across is that Ezekiel 38 directly follows Ezekiel 37, the valley of dry bones. So I guess the presumption is that the two events are closely related chronologically (the dry bones are generally thought to be a vision of Israel’s rebirth and the end of the Diaspora that started at the end of WWII. But Ez 38:1 is “And the word of the Lord came to me saying...” which indicates a new vision, not a continuation of the last one. There is no suggestion that the two visions are near one another in human time.
What about the nukes?
Ez 39:9-16 describes the way in which Israel will clean up after this big ruckus and most modern commentators see a nuclear clean-up operation. All the junk is buried downwind, there is fuel for the entire nation for seven years and civilians are to flag any bone they find in the valley so professionals can come clean it up. The suggestion is that a nuke armed enemy (presumably Russia) makes sense here and therefore we must be really close to this event.
I have to say “no deal” on this one. While the image of a CBR operation is a compelling parallel, that may just be our projection based on what we know today. 75 years ago (a blink in prophetic time) this passage was no doubt an enigma. What could it possibly be describing? But that didn’t make the prophecy any more or less true. In another 50 years, we may have developed some other weapon that more closely matches this description, will we be ‘closer?’ What’s more, there is really no reason to think that the men of the Millennium won’t be equally well armed. There is no scripture that says Christ’s thousand year reign will be characterized by technological simplicity. Gog may very well have nukes then and the best practices of CBR may not have changed much in that time. An alternate is the chance that some some modern nuclear weapon in existence today simply survives that long. I’m no expert, but the idea that some ultra hardened bunker could survive 1000 years, only to be found with an instruction manual right next to it doesn’t seem very hard to believe.
Anyway, I guess that’s what I wanted to say – my take on a favorite prophecy topic.
If anybody can find me some info on why the Ez 38-39 battle is determined to happen prior to the second coming, please pass it on.