Skip to comments.The Battle of Gog and Magog: Prophetic Deja Vu
Posted on 10/24/2007 8:18:14 AM PDT by topcat54
An article is circulating around the Internet that carries the title “Israel Warns World War III May be Biblical War of Gog and Magog.” It is written by Ezra HaLevi and was published in Israel National News.1 The article begins with the following prophetic claims, not unlike so many evangelical and fundamentalist end-time assurances about the end:
US President George W. Bush said a nuclear Iran would mean World War III. Israeli newscasts featured Gog & Magog maps of the likely alignment of nations in that potential conflict. Channel 2 and Channel 10 TV showed the world map, sketching the basic alignment of the two opposing axes in a coming world war, in a manner evoking associations of the Gog and Magog prophecy for many viewers. The prophecy of Gog and Magog refers to a great world war centered on the Holy Land and Jerusalem and first appears in the book of Yechezkel (Ezekiel). On one side were Israel, the United States, Britain, France and Germany. On the other were Iran, Russia, China, Syria and North Korea.
M. R. DeHaan, writing in 1951, identified “the sign of Gog and Magog” to be one of the “three most outstanding signs of the coming of Christ.”2 In 1972, Carl Johnson wrote Prophecy Made Plain for Times Like These.3 His chapter on “When Russia Invades the Middle East” includes a lengthy quotation from a message Jack Van Impe gave at Canton Baptist Temple in Canton, Ohio, sometime in 1969. Like so many who claim to know what’s on the prophetic horizon, Van Impe made his case for an imminent war with Russia on what the newspapers of 1969 were reporting. This war was so close, he charged, “that the stage is being set for what could explode into World War III at any moment.”4 In 1971, Ronald Reagan, then governor of California, followed a similar prophetic script:
Ezekiel tells us that Gog, the nation that will lead all of the other powers of darkness against Israel, will come out of the north. Biblical scholars have been saying for generations that Gog must be Russia. What other powerful nation is to the north of Israel? None. But it didn’t seem to make sense before the Russian revolution, when Russia was a Christian country. Now it does, now that Russia has become Cummunistic and atheistic, now that Russia has set itself against God. Now it fits the description of Gog perfectly.5
This familiar interpretation of Ezekiel 38 and 39 has been written about, talked about, and repeated so often that it has become an unquestioned tenet of prophetic orthodoxy. The question is, does the Bible teach it?
Ezekiel 38 and 39 has been interpreted in various ways over the centuries. The most popular view is to see the prophecy as a depiction of a future battle that includes an alliance of nations led by modern-day Russia in an attack on Israel. Chuck Missler writes in his book Prophecy 20/20 that “the apparent use of nuclear weapons has made this passage [Ezekiel 38 and 39] appear remarkably timely, and some suspect that it may be on our horizon.”6 Prophecy writers for nearly 2000 years have made similar claims, of course without the reference to “nuclear weapons.” In the fourth and fifth centuries, Gog was thought to refer to the Goths and Moors. In the seventh century, it was the Huns. By the eighth century, the Islamic empire was making a name for itself, so it was a logical candidate. By the tenth century, the Hungarians briefly replaced Islam. But by the sixteenth century, the Turks and Saracens seemed to fit the Gog and Magog profile with the Papacy thrown in for added prophetic juice. In the seventeenth century, Spain and Rome were the end-time bad guys.7 In the nineteenth century, Napoleon was Gog leading the forces of Magog-France.8 For most of the twentieth century, Communist Russia was the logical pick with its military aspirations, its atheistic founding, and its designation of being “far north” of Israel. In a word, identifying Gog and Magog with a specific nation or group of nations in the past is legion.9
As the above brief study shows, when the headlines change, the interpretation of the Bible changes. The failed interpretive history of Ezekiel 38 and 39 is prime evidence that modern-day prophecy writers are not “profiling the future through the lens of Scripture” but through the ever-changing headlines of the evening news.10
A lot has to be read into the Bible in order to make Ezekiel 38 and 39 fit modern-day military realities that include jet planes, “missiles,” and “atomic and explosive” weaponry. Those who claim to interpret the Bible literally have a problem on their hands.
The battle in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is clearly an ancient one or at least one fought with ancient weapons. All the soldiers are riding horses (38:4, 15; 39:20). These horse soldiers are “wielding swords” (38:4), carrying “bows and arrows, war clubs and spears” (39:3, 9). The weapons are made of wood (39:10), and it is these abandoned weapons that serve as fuel for “seven years” (39:9). Tim LaHaye describes a highly technological future when the antichrist rises to power to rule the world. “A wave of technological innovation is sweeping the planet. . . . The future wave has already begun. We cannot stop it. . . . [T]he Antichrist will use some of this technology to control the world.”11 How does this assessment of the near prophetic future square with a supposed tribulation period when Israelites “take wood from the field” and “gather firewood from the forests”? (39:10). There is nothing in the context that would lead the reader to conclude that horses, war clubs, swords, bows and arrows, and spears mean anything other than horses, war clubs, swords, bows and arrows, and spears. And what is the Russian air force after? Gold, silver, cattle, and goods (38:12–13). In what modern war can anyone remember armies going after cattle? How much cattle does Israel have? Certainly not enough to feed the Russians! The latest claim is that Israel will discover oil, and this is what will attract the nations to Israel. Where in the Bible do we find this claim?12
Chuck Missler attempts to get around the description of ancient war implements by claiming that the various Hebrew words “is simply 2,500-year-old language that could be describing a mechanized force.”13 The word translated “horse,” “actually means leaper” that “can also mean bird, or even chariot-rider.” He tells us that the Hebrew word translated “sword” “has become a generic term for any weapon or destroying instrument.” In a similar way, “arrow” means “piercer” and “is occasionally used for thunderbolt” and could be “translated today as a missile.” We are to believe that “‘Bow’ is what launches the [missile].”14 Is Missler trying to tell us that when Ezekiel wrote “bow” and “arrow” he really meant a launching pad for a missile? To follow his interpretive methodology requires us to believe that the meaning of the Bible has been inaccessible to the people of God for nearly 2500 years. Missler, like nearly all end-time prognosticators, breaks all the rules of exegesis.
2. M. R. DeHaan, Signs of the Times and other Prophetic Messages (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1951), 74.
3. Carl G. Johnson, Prophecy Made Plain for Times Like These (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972).
4. Jack Van Impe, The Coming War With Russia (Old Time Gospel Hour Press, n.d.). The quotation is taken from a message that Van Impe gave at Canton Baptist Temple, Canton, Ohio. The talk was recorded and available on a as an LP. Quoted in Johnson, Prophecy Made Plain for Times Like These, 82–83.
5. From an address that Ronald Reagan gave at a dinner with California legislators in 1971. Quoted in Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern Culture (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1992), 162.
6. Chuck Missler, Prophecy 20/20: Profiling the Future Through the Lens of Scripture (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 155.
7. Francis X. Gumerlock, The Day and the Hour: Christianity’s Perennial Fascination with Predicting the End of the World (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2000), 68.
8. T.R., “Commentary on Ezekiel’s Prophecy of Gog and Magog,” The Gentleman’s Magazine (October 1816), 307.
10. Gary DeMar, Islam and Russia in Prophecy: The Problem of Interpreting the Bible Through the Lens of History (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2005).
11. Tim LaHaye, “The Coming Wave,” in Ed Hindson and Lee Fredrickson, Future Wave: End Times, Prophecy, and the Technological Explosion (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2001), 7–8.
12. This claim will be discussed in a later chapter.
13. Missler, Prophecy 20/20, 165.
14. Missler, Prophecy 20/20, 165.
"For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:22)
I rarely find such postings by such sources, persuasions the least bit worth my bother.
They clearly are not students of the Bible nor of history.
As far as I can tell, their minds have been darkened by too much selective perception, if not willful blindness.
But I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your ping.
It remains to be seen whether this is to be one of the Gog/Magog Biblically predicted wars, or not. Quite a number think so. I haven’t studied it that closely.
I am utterly convinced that whatever next war occurs there . . . will only ALL THE MORE fulfill Biblical prophecy and set up the Anti-Christ to rule the world as so clearly predicted for our era in so many prophetic Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments.
Well, that’s one perspective.
"all" -- he can't possibly mean "all". He must be writing "allegorically" because Missler doesn't come close to the number of rules that Gary breaks in his interpretations of endtime events.
I think that the article on the internet is a valid article by a real Jew who clearly has a first person interest in what happens to Israel.
TC nor DeMar are in that same boat, so they wouldn’t be as sensitive to it as those who actually are watching forces mass against them.
Is it strange that these threatened Jews would turn to the bible?
Besides, the article quoted above (I’ve seen it), clearly says “evoking associations.” In other words, they look at this current configuration of forces, and they automatically go to the Ezekiel passages because they see some associations.
Makes perfect sense to me.
Does this include the predicted utter destruction of 2/3 of the unbelieving Jews living in Israel during the futurist dispensationalists "great tribulation"?
I CERTAINLY CONCUR
about the original Israeli article.
The rock throwers and naysayers are the ones I find utterly without a shred of an argument.
Sure he does, because Missler approaches every text from his predetermined dispensational theological perspective rather than purely from the Word of God.
Nuclear bombs, indeed.
It seems that many Biblical prophecies about the “last days”, or “end times”, or the “day of Jacob’s trouble” were inspired by God to be written in such a way as to lend them to current events interpretation of almost every generation since their writing.
It is not wrong for those who belong to Jesus Christ to be looking for His return, and for signs of the times, when the Lord Jesus himself gave clear instructions to do just that.
It is also not wrong for the old Testament prophetic words to be viewed in light of today’s events when Jesus himself quoted Daniel as a warning to the Jews of his day (and to those who would read His words in every generation since) about the coming destruction of Jerusalem when every stone of the then standing Temple would be thrown down....
God would not have us ignorant of the “end times” events which must happen before The Messiah returns as the Lion of Judah in all of His righteous and Kingly glory destroying the enemies of God’s people and setting up His earthly Kingdom rule.....but would have us prayerfully study HIS WORD and ask HIS HOLY SPIRIT to help us understand and see what the words of Ezekiel 38 and 39, for instance, mean for us today.
If we continue to study His Word with prayer and thanksgiving that it is God’s provision to nourish us and give us a lamp for our paths, especially in what seems to many to be a time of darkening skies with increasing frequency of “birth pangs” as Jesus Christ Himself told us would occur as we move towards the “last days”....God will see to it that we are not taken by surprise by any of these current events.
One tiny note - back in the 1970’s “Rosh” in Ezekiel 38 and 39 was deemed to be “Russia”....but it was not called Russia back in the 70’s - it was called the USSR, the Soviet Union.
Since the 1970’s “Russia” has fit the name of “Rosh” more closely only since the disolution of the old Soviet Union. And only THIS YEAR, in the past several months, has RUSSIA emerged as the openly oil revenue fueled aggressive military (rebuilding) power that could be involved as the “Rosh” of Ezekiel 38 and 39.
Does this mean Ezekiel’s “Rosh” is describing our current modern day “Russia”? I don’t know. I do know that for the first time in my lifetime there is a nation CALLED RUSSIA by the world and by itself which is now a true military threat to join the coalition of nations who shall, some day, sweep down over the land of Israel, from what is indicated in Ezekiel 38, 39....to this generation!
Again, I do not believe anyone can be dogmatic about what exactly Ezekiel 38 and 39 mean TODAY as God’s living word to our generation.
I do believe and know that God’s word is TRUTH and cannot err, and that the One who created our minds and our intellects and constantly encourages us to seek wisdom from Our Heavenly Father, and to not be ignorant, would have us study these ancient prophetic yet timely (for every generation) words penned by Ezekiel but inspired by God Himself....to receive encouragement, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding for this very month and year and time in which we live.
The article is posted below. F15 posted it as a thread about a week ago.
It doesn’t mention dispensationalism at all.
(IsraelNN.com) US President George W. Bush said a nuclear Iran would mean World War III. Israeli newscasts featured Gog & Magog maps of the likely alignment of nations in that potential conflict.
Channel 2 and Channel 10 TV showed the world map, sketching the basic alignment of the two opposing axes in a coming world war, in a manner evoking associations of the Gog and Magog prophecy for many viewers. The prophecy of Gog and Magog refers to a great world war centered on the Holy Land and Jerusalem and first appears in the book of Yechezkel (Ezekiel).
On one side were Israel, the United States, Britain, France and Germany. On the other were Iran, Russia, China, Syria and North Korea.
US President Bush said Wednesday during a press conference that Iran attaining nuclear weapons raises the risk of “World War III.”
“If Iran had a nuclear weapon, it’d be a dangerous threat to world peace,” Bush said. “So I told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested [in preventing a nuclear Iran] I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously.
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Iran Tuesday and slammed the USs refusal to rule out the use of force against Irans nuclear project. “Not only should we reject the use of force, but also the mention of force as a possibility,” he said.
Russia has blocked tougher UN sanctions in the UN Security Council, where it has veto power. The Russian president asserts that there is no evidence Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons rather than a peaceful nuclear power program.
Israels Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called for a new Security Council resolution against Iran at a press conference following her meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Wednesday. “I do believe there is a need for another Security Council resolution, she told reporters. In the past, the need to get everybody on board - including Russia and China - led to some compromises on the nature of the sanctions. I hope this will not be the case this time.”
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Wednesday a sudden trip to Moscow Thursday morning, where he will meet with Putin about Iran. Other topics of discussion will reportedly be Russias continued supply of weapons to Syria, which have then made their way into the hands of various terrorist groups based there as well.
Conclusively??!! I doubt it.
Ellis H. Skolfield is a conservative author and Bible teacher who received his theological training at Columbia Bible College, Columbia, South Carolina in the early 50s. He has written five books on Bible Prophecy, one on Multiple Personality Disorder and two on church ordinances. Better known in Africa than in the United States, Skolfield is now 78 and supposedly retired, but he still holds prophecy seminars in his home for church leaders, missionaries and Bible teachers.Dispensationalism is a form of MPD/schizophrenia when it comes to the people of God.
It doesnt mention dispensationalism at all.
If, as many dispensationalist believe, the Bible has predicted that 2/3 of the unbelieving Jews will be killed in the futurists "great tribulation", and this "great tribulation" is imminent as the futurists continually tell us, then isnt Iran possibly doing Gods will and our interference, or any countrys interference, could be viewed as a (futile) attempt to thwart Gods will?
What exactly are you defending? Either you believe it will "literally" happen as envisioned by the likes of the pop dispensationalists from Jack Van Impe to John Hagee to Chuck Missler, or its all just smoke and mirrors from a crowd that has been consistently wrong with their predictions
“Dispensation” is a New Testament word.
Folks don’t have to mention
eras, dispensations, major time periods
to get some things right about those realities.
The puzzle pieces are largely in place. That’s undeniable . . . except, perhaps, by the brain dead and willfully blind.
I don’t know Hebrew, but my understanding is “Rosh” means “chief” or “head” (as in Rosh Hashanah = “head of the year”).
Personally, I don’t know how one could interpret it to mean Russia.