The Identity of Gog (continued)
Since the Scriptures ever interpret the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament, we believe that we do well to attempt first to understand from Rev. 20:8, 9concerning the identity of Gog and, of course, of Magog.
In Rev. 20 Gog and Magog are the “nations which are in the four quarters of the earth.” Any attempt to find these nations on the map as known nations in the Old Testament must fail. We do not find such nations such as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece-Macedonia, and Rome. But Gog and Magog do not fall into the class of historical nations in the past. Rather they are “many nations,” and they are from, “the four quarters of the earth.” Besides, they are nations who have come “to battle,” having been gathered by Satan for this purpose.
In order to see this, we need to have an understanding of the nature of the book of Revelation in general and of the intent of the vision which John sees on the island of Patmos as recorded for us in Revelation 20:1-10. It is, then, quite evident that John was shown in visionary form the following:
1. He is shown a long period in history, after the exaltation of Christ at God’s right hand, and before the final return of the Parousia, in which there is a drastic curtailment in the work of Satan, the Dragon, the old Serpent. Satan, during this time, can do many things. Here too he is limited by what God permits him efficaciously to do. But there is one thing which Satan cannot do during this period here indicated. He “cannot deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth! He cannot make the nations rise up against the church to destroy her from off the face of the earth.
2. This long period is designated with the term “a thousand years.” It is true, chiliasts attempt to make this period of a thousand years refer to the glorification of earthly Jerusalem, prior to the final return of Christ; but there is not support for this their contention in Scripture. The term “thousand years” is rather the symbolical number of the full span and measure of time in history as determined by God’s counsel and as realized by His providence, his government in history. We hold that this period of a thousand years refers to the entire time when the church in the New Testament dispensation is gathered out of every tongue, tribe, people and nation! Incidentally, it is due to this dispensation of God that the church cannot be surrounded when one nation rises up against the church. In the Old Testament dispensation Israel was ever surrounded, could be surrounded. It was literally surrounded from the time of Joshua till the day of Christ’s appearance upon earth, and that, too, so that it was in the center of the world. However, such is not the case in the New Testament dispensation. Only when the totality of the nations rise up against the church can she be surrounded, as the camp of the saints, the holy city. This will not be able to take place “during the thousand years.”
3. At the end of the thousand years, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison. He will then be able to be the instrument in the hand of God to bring the nations from the four-corners of the earth “to gather them to battle.” And we are told that the “number of whom is as the sand of the sea.” Rev. 20:8.
We may, therefore, deem it established from Rev. 20 that Gog and Magog are the many nations, a great throng of peoples under the spiritual deception of Satan. They walk in the lie. They think they shall attain in their purpose and design, but they shall miserably fail. They are deceived! Yet, in their deception, with fanatical hatred they shall come to battle against the church, as the church is among many nations, the so-called Christian nations. And in their total assault upon the nations where the church is gathered, they shall succeed finally once more to surround the “camp of the saints,” as did the Assyrian king Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah. Yet, in this battle, which shall be the final one, the strategy is not really Satan’s, but the Lord’s. They are brought to the place where the nations shall be finally and forever destroyed, so that they shall never more imagine vain things against the Lord and against His anointed Son. The Lord in the heavens shall laugh at them and have them in derision! Psalm 2:4. Then shall the Lord break them with a rod of iron, and shall dash them to pieces as a potter’s vessel!
For, according to Rev. 20:9, “fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” Their overthrow is as final as that of Sodom and Gomorrah. For after this the devil that deceived them is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever! See vs. 10.
Such is the identity of Gog and Magog!
At least such is the identity of these nations according to Rev. 20:1-10.
With this interpretation accords what we read in Rev. 16:12-14. Here we read: “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the great day of God Almighty.”
In the first place, it ought to be observed, that what transpires here is under the direction of Him who sitteth upon the throne, God. He has the book in His right hand, and it was given to the Lamb, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. Rev. 5:1-9. All is directed from the throne of God as the unfolding of His counsel.
In the second place, we notice that the entire scheme of the book of Revelation is such that it is controlled by the number seven; seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials. The seventh seal becomes the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet becomes the seven vials. And this passage from Rev. 16:12-14 is the pouring out of the sixth vial in these “seven vials.” They are the vials which are filled with the wrath of God Almighty, His just judgments upon the nations. They proceed from God’s holy temple, from the holy of holies. Thus we read inRev. 15:8: “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.”
In the third place, the symbolism here in Rev. 16:12-14 is such that it is based on the Old Testament situation of Israel in the land of Canaan as her enemies, the Pan-Asiatic nations come from across the Euphrates river, the nations of Assyria and Babylon, which came to take Israel and Judah captive respectively. Such is the symbolism here. Thus we can understand the sentence, “And the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.” This does not mean that the kings shall come from the east literally as they did during the time of Israel and Judah, but rather that what happened’ there historically shall happen at the pouring out of the sixth vial according to the same pattern, be it then on a larger and broader scale. Of that the text here speaks.
In the fourth place, that the nations which come are “deceived” by three unclean spirits. These come “from the mouth of the dragon,” and “out of the mouth of the beast” and “out of the mouth of the false prophet.” The influence here is:
1. Directly of Satanic origin, in the first place. It is a matter which comes up in the mind of the Devil. He is “let loose” for a season.
2. It is also from the mouth of the “beast,” that is, it is of a political, antichristian nature, the political powers which make war upon the saints and which come up out of the sea. Rev. 13:1.
3. The religious, idolatrous powers which are inspired by Satan and which stand in the service of the beast. This is the entire seed of the serpent of which we already read in Gen. 3:15.
In the fifth place, that this is to be the last “battle” of the ages between the two Seeds, the Seed of the woman in and through the Christ and His church, and the entire demonic world, including angels and men. Wherefore they are brought to the place called in the Hebrew tongue “Armageddon,” that is, the valley of Megiddo. As is well-known, the valley of Megiddo is the place where Deborah and Barak slew the armies in the day of the judges, and of which Deborah sings in the Song of Deborah as follows:
“The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money. They fought from heaven, the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O, my soul thou hast trodden down strength. Then were the horse hoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones.” Judges 5:19-23
Truly this will be the “Waterloo” of the nations of the earth. It will be a re-enactment, only on a far larger scale, of what took place at Megiddo. It will truly be the battle of God with His foes.
What we .read here in Rev. 16:12-14 is most relevant to what John sees in the vision in Rev. 20:1-10 concerning the loosing of Satan for a season so that he deceives the nations at the four quarters of the earth. The two cast a perfect light upon each other, and both are at the end of history.
The “kings of the east” are essentially the same as “Gog and Magog,” that is, they are the kings who ever arise and make war against the church of God. In the Old Testament that was against the land of Israel, and in the last days it will be against the church of God in every tongue, tribe, people, and nation.
We believe that a study of the various elements inEzekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 will confirm what we have learned from Rev. 20:1-10; it will show that we are correct concerning the identity of Gog and Magog.
First of all, we would observe that the “land of Magog” represents in Ezekiel 38:5, 6 the inhabitable world of three continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe. There we read: “Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them, all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer and all his bands, and many people with thee.” When we remember that these three continents were the then known and inhabited world, the entire world where history is made and recorded, we see that Magog is presented in its global nature!
Closely connected with the foregoing, and confirming it, is that fact that the lands against which God at the head of Magog comes to battle are also of this “global” nature! These lands too are in the aforementioned three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe. Thus we read in Ezekiel 38:11-13: “And thou shalt say, (speaking of Magog), 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 within walls, and having neither bars nor gates, to take a spoil, and to take a prey: to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land. Sheba and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?”