When does the Gog/Magog battle, described in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, occur?
Israel is defended by God in a very specific battle described in Ezekiel 38 and 39. Israel will know that God defended them as God Himself wipes out the forces that come against them. Where do you place this battle in the chronology of end-time events?
You are absolutely correct in saying that Israel will know that God has defended them against their enemies. But not all of Israel will believe that their Messiah and Lord Yeshua/Jesus has defeated their foes until they literally see Him, and that only can be when He returns. As Ezekiel wrote, immediately following the battle involving the armies of Gog/Magog, "From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God" (Ezekiel 39:22). This carnage of the forces of Gog and Magog is the same as the winepress of God's wrath (Isaiah 63:1-16; Joel 3:13; Revelation 14:19,20, 19:15).
Unlike many who believe that this combat will happen prior to, or near the beginning of, the 70th Week, I am convinced that although it may begin at some point during the final 3½ years, it will culminate at the very end of the 70th Week, when Jesus returns physically to earth. This is not the same as the Battle of Armageddon, which will occur 30 days later. All of the details describing this can be found in my commentary, The Final Battles.
Firstly, note the nations that will join Gog in coming against Israel. When Jesus returns, He will strike down these nations:
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you. (Ezekiel 38:3-6)Secondly, note the similarities within these parallel passages in Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Revelation, at the time that the destruction of the armies of Gog/Magog, likened to "rams and lambs, goats and bulls" (Ezekiel 39:18), takes place, beginning in Bozrah, Edom:
On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. (Ezekiel 39:4a)
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. ... Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:11,15)
The sword of the LORD is bathed in blood, it is covered with fat—the blood of lambs and goats, fat from the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah and a great slaughter in Edom. And the wild oxen will fall with them, the bull calves and the great bulls. Their land will be drenched with blood, and the dust will be soaked with fat. (Isaiah 34:5-7)Also, note the similarities within these parallel passages in Isaiah and Revelation, at the time that Jesus returns bodily to earth at Bozrah, Edom, to tread the winepress of God's wrath:
I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. ... Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: "Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and bulls—all of them fattened animals from Bashan. At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind," declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezekiel 39:4b,17-20)
I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great." (Revelation 19:17,18)
Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? "It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save." Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? "I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. ... I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground." (Isaiah 63:1-3,6)Next, Joel wrote,
The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia. (Revelation 14:19,20)
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:11-13,15)
I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. ... Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow—so great is their wickedness! (Joel 3:2,12,13).The Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2,12) is a valley along the eastern edge of Jerusalem, next to the Mount of Olives. This "treading of the winepress" (Joel 3:13; Revelation 14:19,20, 19:15) has nothing to do with the Plain of Megiddo, and it is not the Battle of Armageddon. This is a parallel description to a passage written by Ezekiel:
Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. ... I will execute judgment upon him...and on his troops and on the many nations with him" (Ezekiel 38:14-16,22).Note that both passages describe how God will enter into, or execute, judgment against/upon the nations, a great horde who will be attacking Israel. God’s coming against these nations also is shown in the following parallel passages by Isaiah, Zechariah, and John:
But your many enemies will become like fine dust, the ruthless hordes like blown chaff. Suddenly, in an instant, the LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire. Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with a vision in the night.... (Isaiah 29:5-7)In the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, there is a reference to Gog, indicating that he will be the king of a "swarm of locusts":
I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. (Zechariah 14:2,3)
Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty (Revelation 19:15).
Thus the Lord showed me, and behold a swarm of locusts were coming, and, behold, one of the young devastating locusts was Gog, the King. (Amos 7:1)Literal locust insects do not have a leader or "king" (Proverbs 30:27). So this very well may be referring to a demon host, indicating that Gog, leading the armies in the Ezekiel 38 & 39 prophecy, will be a demonic being or fallen angel. This seems credible, knowing also that Gog will return 1,000 years later, as seen in John’s vision (Revelation 20:7,8). Furthermore, it is possible (I believe probable) that this demon, "Gog," will possess or inhabit two different men, over 1,000 years apart, to lead armies against Jerusalem. The first (human) leader will die and be buried (Ezekiel 39:11), while the second one will be devoured from fire coming down from heaven (Revelation 20:9).
A swarm of demonic locusts is seen to come out of the Abyss during the Fifth Trumpet Judgment (Revelation 9:1-3), which I feel will take place during the seventh year of the 70th Week. The angel Abaddon (the Destroyer) is described as the king over them (9:11). Conceivably, then, Abaddon, the king angel of the Abyss, could be Gog (or, perhaps, a fallen angel in command of Gog).
Now, there will be a giant earthquake after Gog attacks the land of Israel—the same one that will occur when Jesus returns to Jerusalem, in conjunction with the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet; that earthquake in Israel will cause mountains to move and the Mount of Olives to split in two:
This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign LORD. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. ... And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD. (Ezekiel 38:18-20,23)The Magog nations, following Gog, will come against and ravage Israel, particularly Jerusalem; but Jesus will return to put an end to it (Zechariah 12:2-9, 14:2-4). On the contrary, the armies of the Antichrist, and the kings who follow him, will be gathered to come not against Israel or Jerusalem but, specifically, against Jesus, the Lamb (Revelation 16:14, 17:12-14). This will be after He already has returned to earth to rule and reign and is sitting as King in Zion/Jerusalem (Psalm 2:6).
At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon. The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:13-15)
I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. ... The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (Zechariah 14:2-5,9)
When Jesus comes back to earth, as the Rider on a white horse, He will return initially to Bozrah and then will travel to Jerusalem, slaughtering the nations' armies in the bloody "winepress of God's wrath" along the way. Both Isaiah and John described Jesus' garments, blood red from treading the winepress and slaughtering the armies (Isaiah 63:2,3; Revelation 19:13,15c). Then (after that), the Antichrist (beast) and his armies will gather (in the plains of Megiddo) to make war exclusively against Jesus (Revelation 19:19). The birds who have gathered will feast first on the armies of Gog/Magog, then later on the armies of the Antichrist.
In Ezekiel 39, pertaining to the time when God will deliver Israel from the Gog/Magog attackers, these two things are stated: "From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God" (39:22) and "I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD" (39:29). If the Gog/Magog invasion were to take place early in the 70th Week, those two verses would appear to make no sense.
Israel, along with the rest of the world, will have to endure the Great Tribulation period (which I believe will begin at the midpoint of the 70th Week). If Israel were to know the Lord their God, according to Ezekiel 39:22, it would seem quite unfair and unjust of God to put them through any further suffering and distress. The latter will involve God's turning away from Israel, which would seem to violate Ezekiel 39:29.
Now, look at this prophecy, given to Daniel:
From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. (Daniel 12:11)The "abomination that causes desolation" will be set up in the middle of the 70th Week (Daniel 9:27). At that time, a remnant of Israelis will flee from Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15-17) and will be protected for 1,260 days (Revelation 12:6). At the end of the 1,260 days, Jesus will return to earth and will destroy the (Gog/Magog) armies coming against Jerusalem. This will leave 30 days (that is, 1,290 days – 1,260 days) remaining until the onset of the Battle of Armageddon.
Thus, the Antichrist's control and influence will extend from the day the abomination that causes desolation is set up until he is defeated in the Battle of Armageddon takes place, completing the fulfillment of Daniel 12:11. So the Antichrist's control and influence will extend from the setting up of the abomination that causes desolation to his demise in the Battle of Armageddon.
During that 30-day period is when Psalm 2:1-12 will take place. At the end of the 30 days, the Antichrist and His armies, enraged that the seven Bowl Judgments will have been being poured out upon them during that month, will meet in the plain of Megiddo, that is at Armageddon (Revelation 16:1-16). They will be preparing to come against Jesus, Who already will have been sitting on His throne in Jerusalem since having returned to earth 30 days prior to that.
Note two verses written by Zechariah:
On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. (Zechariah 12:11)In the first case, on the day Jesus returns, there will be weeping in Jerusalem. That weeping will be like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon (a place in the Valley of Megiddo) when Jesus later destroys the armies of the Antichrist at the Battle of Armageddon.
Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. (Zechariah 14:3)
In the second case, the Lord (Jesus) will fight against Gog and the armies from the Magog nations, who will come against Jerusalem, just as He later will fight against the Antichrist and his armies at the Battle of Armageddon. For more information, see also the "Ezekiel 38" and "Ezekiel 39" sections of When do the events of Ezekiel chapters 35-39 take place? and my commentary, The Final Battles.
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