Identity of Gog and Magog (continued)
It is our conviction that the nations spoken of in Ezekiel 38:11-13 are the nations, who, during the time of the “thousand years” of the time when Satan is bound, are in the center of history. They are the nations who are the people who are the “haves;” they possess education, industry, business, science, and art. They are in the center of history. And in the center of these nations God is gathering his church. The church is really the focal point of it. The “camp of the saints,” that is, where the church walks and rests in her pilgrim journey, is in the midst of these nations. However, Gog and Magog, are not these nations. They are the nations which are at the “four quarters of the earth,” or who for the time of the “thousand years” are outside of this main-stream of the life of the nations. But in the last times they shall come up to make total, global war against the nations which were in the main stream of the world, and thus, ultimately, against the church, to surround the “camp of the saints,” the “beloved city!”
Such is the identity of Gog and Magog!
Gog and Magog Spoken of in Old Times By the Prophets
The prophet Ezekiel informs us that the Lord Himself addresses this Gog and Magog as the many nations, who will be united in the end of time, as the enemy of Israel of whom He had spoken of old time by his servants, the prophets. This raises the important and interesting question: by which prophets, and where do we read of this Gog and Magog, apart from what we read here in Ezekiel 38, 39 and Revelation 20:8?
Literally we read in Ezekiel 38:17 as follows: “Thus saith the Lord God; art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by the hands of my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I should bring thee against them?”
Prof. Keil has the following note-worthy remark to make. about this verse: “The statement that Gog is he of whom God had already spoken by the earlier prophets, does not mean that those prophets had actually mentioned Gog, but simply was the enemy of whose rising up against the people of God the prophets of the former time had prophesied, as well as of his destruction by a wrathful judgment of the Lord . . . . . The design of this remark is not to accredit the prophecy by referring to the utterances of earlier prophets, but to show that the attack of the peoples gathered together by Gog, upon the land and the people of the Lord, is not an unexpectant event, or one at variance with the promise of the restoration of Israel as a kingdom of peace.” Kiel’s Commentary, Vol. II, page 168.
We agree with the thrust of the observation of Dr. Keil.
However, since it is here explicitly stated by the Lord that he had spoken of Gog’s appearance and onslaught in history, the question remains still: by which prophets and where?
After giving this matter some thought and study it appears to this writer that, in the light of the nature of prophecy in the Old Testament, the Lord ever spoke of this in the prophecy. We hasten to add that He did not necessarily “pin-point” the prophecy here-to-fore as He does here. Rather we hold that Gog and Magog was implicitly seen by the Lord in all that He prophesied concerning the “latter days,” more particularly concerning the gathering of all the forces of hell in Gog and Magog. If we bear in mind the truth that the Lord knoweth all His works from eternity, declaring the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10) then we have no trouble here. It means that when God put enmity between the seed of the Serpent and the Seed of the woman, and prophesied, promised, and predicted that the Seed of the woman would triumph over the Serpent, He had Gog and Magog in mind and was speaking of this final overthrow of the powers of darkness and of the restoration of all things. The Lord does not say everything, every detail; however, He never lies or tells half-truths. The truth of the matter is that in prophecy He tells all, the whole of things, the end from the beginning, yet in such a way that he needs to articulate the details for us, so that what once was hazy and obscured to us is articulated in such a way that it comes to stand in bold relief.
Perhaps we may venture to guess a few of the instances of the prophets of which the Lord is speaking here in Ezekiel 38:17.
We then call to mind what the Lord did at the time of Noah, prior to the Flood. The “camp of the saints” was indeed surrounded at that time, But the Lord destroyed them all with the Flood. This was a picture of the end of the ages as appears from II Peter 3:1-5. To be sure we see the pattern of things to come in what happened at the time of the Flood. Matt. 24:27, 38; Luke 17:26, 27; II Peter 2:5. What happened there in a limited sense by water shall happen in the final and absolute sense in the days of Gog and Magog!
Furthermore, we have but to think of the prophecy of Enoch as recorded in his eschatological utterance concerning the judgment upon the wicked as recorded in the book of Jude, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with ten thousand of his holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have ungodly wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 1:14, 15.
Nor should we overlook the prophetical meaning of such a Scripture passage as Psalm 2. Certainly Gog and Magog in their lofty and proud pretension, to “cast off” their cords from us, fits into this picture. It is the supreme and ultimate attempt of the heathen to “take counsel together” against the LORD and against His anointed Son. The heathen, indeed, rage!
Surely, the Lord had prophesied concerning these ever and anon. Wherefore the repeated refrain is in the prophets concerning the overthrow of the nations. Such is the genius of Israel’s history in her everlasting war with Amalek, a war of the Lord which Saul the son of Kish could and would not wage, but which David, the man after God’s heart fought in the name of the LORD! Such is the ever recurring theme in the Psalms, as we read in Psalm 137:8, 9: “O daughter of Babylon, that art to be destroyed, happy shall he be that rewardeth thee, as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock.”
In the light of the foregoing such a passage as Joel 3:10-12 falls into the perspective of the prophetical search-light as it beams across the ages to the latter days. There we read: “Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. Let the heathen be awakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge the heathen round about.” Surely, this refers to the final battle of the Lord God Almighty with all His foes and the final judgment, when the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet shall be cast into the fires of the abyss of hell. Here also the prophets already spoke of this appearance of the nations, which in Ezekiel 38, 39 andRevelation 20:8 are called Gog and Magog! Possibly we could say with the writer to the Hebrews “that the time would fail” to speak of what we read in all the prophets which the Lord has in mind in this single utterance here in Ezekiel 38:17. For those who are interested to pursue this inquiry further we suggest looking up and studyingIsaiah 25:5, 10, ff.; Isaiah 26:21; Jeremiah 30:23, 25.
Prof. Keil quotes from August Kueper an observation which corroborates what we have attempted to set forth concerning this question of the Lord’s prophesying concerning Gog and Magog by the prophets. Writes Kueper: “It is evident enough that there is no reference here to prophecies concerning Gog and Magog, which have been lost; but those general prophecies, which are met with on every hand directed against the enemies of the church, are here referred to Gog.” And Keil states that, before Kueper had written, J.F. Starck had already said, “In my opinion, we are to understand all those passages in the prophets which treat of the enemies of the church and its persecutions . . . . . . these afflictions were preludes and shadows of the bloody persecution of Gag.”
There is an element of great comfort in the fact that the Lord announces that Gog is the one spoken of. It means that the strategy of the entire battle of the ages is the Lord’s. He has the battle plans. He declares from the decree! With divine mockery and laughter He has Gog and Magog in derision. Psalm 2:4. The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD as the water-courses: He turneth it whithersoever He will. Proverbs 21:1. And so we need not fear. It is the Father’s good-pleasure to give to us, His little flock, the kingdom. And when all these things shall come upon us, we are to lift up our heads in hope and expectation, for then our final redemption is nigh. Luke 21:28. It is as Paul writes in Romans 8:37, “Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The Evil Intent of Gog and Magog
We now touch upon a subject of which also the Lord speaks here repeatedly. He knows the hearts of men and of kings! He trieth the hearts and thoughts of man. All things are naked and open before His eyes. He knows the evil intents of these accumulated nations, called Gog and Magog.
Both Revelation 20: and Ezekiel 38, 39 speak of this evil intent. It is really the intent of the gates of hell which would prevail against the church, marshalling all these principalities of the heavenly usurpers of powers against her. For the battle of the church is not, in the ultimate sense, against flesh and blood; “but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12.
Satan is loosed for a little while to deceive the nations at the four quarters of the earth; he is back of the thoughts and intents of the nations. Of this the Lord speaks in Ezekiel 38:10-13, where we read: “Thus saith the Lord God: it shall come to pass in that day, that things shall come into thy mind, and thou shalt devise an evil device: 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 securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, to take the spoil and to take the prey; to turn thy hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and against the people that are gathered out of the nations, that have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the middle (navel) of the earth. Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take the spoil? hast thou assembled thy company to take the prey: to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take away great spoil?”