The Invasion by Gog and Magog
Since Israel’s rebirth in 1948, it has been fighting for its life. But a greater battle lies ahead, when Gog of the land of Magog (Ezek. 38—39) will invade the Holy Land and cover it “like a cloud”:
Son of man, set thy face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against thee,…And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses, and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armor,…thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy hordes (38:2–4, 9).
What is Magog? Who is Gog? And when will this invasion occur?
Gog is identified as a prince of Rosh. He is associated with a land called Magog, which has two named cities: Meshech and Tubal. Little is said about Magog’s location, except that it is in the remote parts of the “north” (Ezek. 38:15).
Since Israel is the geographic center of the biblical world, “north” means north of Israel. The fact that Magog is in the far north identifies it as the area of the former Soviet Union, or Russia. The ancient historian Flavius Josephus identified Magog as the land of the Scythians, the region north and northeast of the Black Sea and east of the Aral Sea. This area is now occupied by Russia.1
Allied with Magog will be “Persia, Cush, and Put;…Gomer, and all its hordes [troops]; [and] the house of Togarmah” (Ezek. 38:5–6).
Persia is generally identified as Iraq. Cush is probably Sudan; and Put is Libya, both of which are in northern Africa. Gomer is sometimes identified as the land of the Cimmerians, tribes that settled along the Danube and Rhine Rivers and later formed the Germanic peoples.2
Bible scholar Charles Ryrie places Gomer in eastern Turkey and the Ukraine, and Togarmah in the area of Turkey that borders Syria.3
However you look at it, this attack will come from a confederation of nations represented by elements from the region now known as Russia and a number of Islamic countries.
According to Scripture, it will occur when Israel is “at rest” and experiencing peace and security in a land of “unwalled villages” (Ezek. 38:11). Many scholars identify this “at rest” period as Israel’s false peace made in league with the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27).
Gog will “come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many peoples with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army;…against my people of Israel, like a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days” (38:15–16). This event must be future since nothing like it has ever happened to the Chosen People.
The invaders will fail. God said He will break the power of Israel’s enemies, and they will die and burn:
I am against thee, O Gog…I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee…And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy hordes,…I will give thee unto the ravenous birds…and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. And I will send a fire on Magog (39:1–4; 6).
So thorough will be this defeat that Israel will burn its enemies’ weapons “with fire seven years, So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests” (39:9–10). The weapons will provide some type of fuel.
Israel also will “spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them” (39:10). A massive, physical cleansing of the land will take place as the people of the Lord bury the dead in “graves in Israel….There shall they bury Gog and all his multitude; and they shall call it the Valley of Hamon-gog. And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying them, that they may cleanse the land” (39:11–12).
Scholars differ on the exact timing of this event. John Walvoord and Clarence Mason Jr., place the battle in what Mason called a “tribulational setting.”4 In a chapter titled “Russia’s Last Bid for World Conquest” in his book Major Bible Prophecies, Walvoord wrote,
The invaders are urged to attack Israel, but the land of Israel is described as a territory “recovered from war,” and the people of Israel are described as those who “were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate.”…As pointed out previously, this would fit naturally into the prophetic picture of the first half of the last seven years leading up to the second coming of Christ.5
A final reference to Gog and Magog remains. As the future, literal reign of King Jesus on Earth comes to its close, Satan will be freed from his prison. He will deceive the nations “in the four quarters of the earth” and amass an army referred to as “Gog and Magog, . . . the number of whom is as the sand of the sea” (Rev. 20:8). Here Gog and Magog come from everywhere, not just the “north” and its allies. This reference appears to use Gog and Magog as a type, representing all who will live through the Millennium yet rebel and reject Jesus as their King. Fire from heaven will devour them (Rev. 20:9).
- Charles Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible, NKJV (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985), 1314 n. Ezek. 38:2.
- Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), 221.
- Ryrie, 1314 n. Ezek. 38:5–6
- Clarence E. Mason Jr., Prophetic Problems With Alternate Solutions (Chicago: Moody Press, 1973), 202
- John F. Walvoord, Major Bible Prophecies (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 332.