Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Rise of Gog

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.     Ezekiel 38:1-4  NKJV

Because of the popularity of the “Left Behind” series of books, as well as many others, most believers are familiar with the “Gog-Magog” prophecy from the book of Ezekiel which details an attempted invasion of Israel by what is described as a coalition of most of the countries which surround Israel today.  Most understand and believe that this is the conflict which produces the appearance and revealing of what the Bible describes as “the man of sin”, or the anti-christ who enforces a covenant of peace between Israel and its neighbors.  Many also believe that this event occurs at the beginning of the seven year period of time which the Bible refers to as the seventieth week of Daniel..
The question that first came to my mind when I began to study this prophecy was why would such a large coalition of nations gather against Israel?  It seems to me, especially if you carefully read and compare the language used in both the Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38, that the destruction of Damascus is the event which produces the excuse for the attempted invasion of Israel.  World opinion of Israel as it exists today certainly would support this happening, especially if Israel uses a weapon of mass destruction.  History has shown that no matter how justified Israel might be, they are always viewed negatively.  Logically, if this sequence of events is true then it follows that the destruction of Damascus occurs before both the Gog-Magog war, and the seventieth week.  

Woe to the multitude of many people Who make a noise like the roar of the seas, And to the rushing of nations That make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. Then behold, at eventide, trouble! And before the morning, he is no more. This is the portion of those who plunder us, And the lot of those who rob us.                                      Isaiah 17:12-14  NKJV

These verses at the end of Isaiah 17 describe the reaction of the world to the destruction of Damascus at the hands of Israel.  The language used seems to clearly reveal that this is not just one or two neighboring nations up in arms, but rather a reaction by what we are told is a multitude of people and nations whose uproar is likened to the rushing noise of a great flood.  Most importantly to this discussion, however, is the fact that rather than describing this attack on Israel as vengeance, we are told that they come to plunder and rob.  Compare that then with the language from Ezekiel 38 where that same description is used.

‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan: “You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’—“to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land.           Ezekiel 38:10-12  NKJV

There are two conclusions that I have come to from reading and studying these passages.  The first is that I strongly believe that the attempted invasion we are told about in Ezekiel 38-39 comes after, and is technically a response to, the destruction of Damascus at the hands of Israel.  Why technically?  My second conclusion is that however “offended” the world may be by Israels’ use of nuclear weapons, I believe this passage tells us that Israel was justified in doing so.  I think it is reasonable to come to this conclusion when we see that the invading forces “make an evil plan”, which to my way of thinking is another way of saying they need to manufacture an excuse for their aggression.  Rather than invading on the pretext of punishment for an offense, they are coming to “take plunder and to take booty”.

Another question that always comes up when talking about the Gog Magog war is just who is Gog, the leader of Magog?  The question of who is Magog has been answered in the minds of many scholars  as a result of numerous studies and many hours of research resulting in the identification of Magog as the land to the north encompassing most of what we today call Russia.  Because of this, many have tried over the years to identify him by attaching his identity to a current or former leader of that country, and recently there has been speculation that Vladimir Putin might well be Gog.

I tend to disagree, agreeably, due to something I noticed while studying this passage.  If you look at the description we are given you find that Gog is referred to as the “prince” of Magog, as well as Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.  Notice he is not the King, but a prince.  Although the NKJV translates this phrase as prince, in the Hebrew as well as in many other translations the title is “chief prince”.  That phrase is found somewhere else in scripture which is what caught my attention.  Look at what we are told in the book of Daniel about Michael the archangel trying to come to speak with Daniel.

“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.      Daniel 10:13  NKJV

Most scholars agree that what is being described here is a struggle between the angelic forces of God and the demonic forces of Satan.  The fact that the title of chief prince is used of Michael, and that the term princes is used to describe the forces behind countries leads me to believe that Gog is simply the name of the satanic force behind Magog, inciting the desire to come up with an excuse to invade Israel.

In short, the progression of end time events as I see them is first the rapture of the Church, followed by the Destruction of Damascus and then the evil plan revealed as the war of Gog/Magog.  Next week, things turn from bad to worse.

If the thought of what is to come makes you uneasy, understand that God has provided a way of escape for those who choose to believe that He sent His Son to die for our sins.  If you have never accepted that gift, I encourage you to do that today.  Simply confess to Jesus you are a sinner in need of salvation, and ask Him to forgive you of your sins.  Tell Him you believe that He died for your sins and that He has the power to give you eternal life because you believe.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.         1 John 1:9  NKJV

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