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Timing of the Gog and Magog War and other questions:


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In this part of the study, I attempt to place the timing of the "Gog and Magog War," with respect to other prophetic events in Scripture.

Is Gog the antichrist?

Many do not see two separate wars depicted in Ezekiel 38-39, which has led some to believe that the "Gog and Magog War" is the same as Armageddon. We will look at the reasons this is not the case in a moment.

Gog is not the antichrist. There will apparently be a man in-dwelt by the supernatural chief prince, who is Gog. This man will die and be buried:

Ezekiel 39:11-12 - "It will come to pass in that day that I will give Gog a burial place there in Israel, the valley of those who pass by east of the sea; and it will obstruct travelers, because there they will bury Gog and all his multitude.... For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land."

The antichrist will be cast into the lake of fire, not buried:

Revelation 19:19-20 - And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.

As for the prophets, plural (Ezekiel 38:17), we have previously discussed that Amos 7 speaks of Gog. There were likely more prophets of God than just those who wrote Scripture that could have prophesied about Gog as well. For example, 1 Kings 18-19 shows that there were at least 100 prophets at the time of Obadiah and Elijah who did not author Scripture.

Is the campaign of the antichrist in Daniel 11 the same as the Gog and Magog War?

One of the more popular beliefs is that the "Gog and Magog War" describes the conquest of the antichrist in the middle of the Tribulation. We do see a few similarities in the following passages:

Ezekiel 38:4, 15-17 - I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army.... Then you will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you.... You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land...." Thus says the Lord GOD: "Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days by My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days that I would bring you against them?"
Daniel 11:40-41 - "At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him [the king of the south] like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown."

The passage in Daniel is about the conquest of the antichrist, described as the "king of the North," when he begins to rise in power near the middle of the Tribulation. Babylon will be the center of the antichrist's kingdom, which is northeast of Israel (Revelation 18 & 19). Also, at least two prophets in Scripture refer to the antichrist as the Assyrian (Isaiah 10, 14 & Micah 5), and most of the land of the Assyrian kingdom lay to the north of Israel. However, Ezekiel says that Gog and its troops comes from the "far north" (Ezekiel 38:6), which better describes an area further north than Assyria. Most believe that this country "far north" is Russia.

As shown in the last section, there are differences between Gog and the antichrist. Another difference between the positions of the antichrist and Gog is that a "king" and a "chief prince" have different ranks of command. Also, sometime during the Tribulation the antichrist will take over Israel, as we saw in the passage above in Daniel. Contrast that to the passage below, where God will destroy Gog and his horde before they can destroy Israel in the "Gog and Magog War." It is clear that these are two different campaigns and two different generals:

Ezekiel 39:2-6 - "...and I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand. You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. You shall fall on the open field; for I have spoken," says the Lord GOD. "And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands."

Is the "Gog and Magog War" the same as Armageddon?

Many see parallels between the following passages about the "Gog and Magog War" and Armageddon:

Ezekiel 38:19-22 - ...Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.... And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
Revelation 16:17-18, 20-21 - Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.... Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent.
Ezekiel 39:4 - ...I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured....
Ezekiel 39:17-20 - "And as for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, 'Speak to every sort of bird and to every beast of the field: "Assemble yourselves and come; Gather together from all sides to My sacrificial meal which I am sacrificing for you, a great sacrificial meal on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the might, drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams and lambs, of goats and bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. You shall eat fat till you are full, and drink blood till you are drunk, at My sacrificial meal which I am sacrificing for you. You shall be filled at My table with horses and riders, with mighty men and with all the men of war," says the Lord GOD.
Revelation 19:17-18 - Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great."

Despite the similarities, there are clear differences between the "Gog and Magog War" and Armageddon. We already discussed that Ezekiel 39:4 is speaking of Gog and his army. In contrast, Ezekiel 39:17-20 and Revelation 19:17-18 are speaking of a feasting on a grander scale. Also, Revelation 19:18 includes ALL people groups, while the Gog and Magog horde in Ezekiel consists of a specific group of enemies surrounding Israel:

Ezekiel 38:1-6 - 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. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops - many people are with you."

Armageddon will consist of ALL nations coming against Israel and Jerusalem:

Revelation 16:13-14 - And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Revelation 19:17-18 - Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great."
Zechariah 14:1-2 - Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem.

All of Israel will live in peace and safety in "un-walled villages" before the "Gog and Magog War":

Ezekiel 38:8,11-12,14 - In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely.... 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....' "Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "On that day when My people Israel dwell safely, will you not know it?"'

The saved remnant of Israel will have fled to the wilderness in the middle of the Tribulation. They will stay there until Armageddon, when Jesus returns. The remnant will not live in un-walled villages at the end of the Tribulation because they will be supernaturally protected in the mountains:

Matthew 24:15-16 - "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."
Revelation 12:6, 14 - ...the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days... the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

In contrast to God saving Israel out of Gog's hand in the Ezekiel war, Jerusalem will temporarily be captured during Armageddon with much suffering. These are clearly two separate wars:

Zechariah 14:2 - For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity....

Is the "Gog and Magog War" in Ezekiel the same as the one in Revelation?

Revelation 20:7-10 - Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are.

History tends to repeat itself; prophecy is no different:

Ecclesiastes 1:9 - That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

While these two gathering armies have the same name, there are definite differences between the two events. Ezekiel is very specific about cleaning up bodies for seven months and burning weapons for seven years:

Ezekiel 39:9, 14-15 - "Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn the weapons." ...and they will make fires with them for seven years. "They will set apart men regularly employed, with the help of a search party, to pass through the land and bury those bodies remaining on the ground, in order to cleanse it. At the end of seven months they will make a search. The search party will pass through the land; and when anyone sees a man's bone, he shall set up a marker by it, till the buriers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon Gog."

Eternity begins immediately after the "Gog and Magog War" in Revelation 20. Since there is no more time left, this war cannot be the same war in Ezekiel, which describes a period of cleaning up - seven months to clean up dead bodies, and seven years to burn weapons. Right after the war God will put the earth through His refining fire after the war in Revelation, before the final judgment:

Revelation 20:11 - Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.
2 Peter 3:10 - But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

Another difference is that the "Gog and Magog War" in Ezekiel will take place at a time when God is not widely known among the nations, but during the Millennium, when the Gog and Magog armies in Revelation gather at the end, the nations will know the Lord because He will rule over them in the flesh:

Ezekiel 38:23 - Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.
Micah 4:1-3 - Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD's house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion the law shall go forth, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, And rebuke strong nations afar off; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.

Where on the prophetic time clock will the "Gog and Magog War" take place?

We've already discussed why the "Gog and Magog War" will not happen during the middle of the Tribulation, or at the end. Let's take a closer look on why that is the case.

The earth will go through an incredible transformation by the end of the Tribulation:

Revelation 16:18-21 - And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent.

There will be a worldwide earthquake that destroys all the cities. Every island will disappear and every mountain flattened. There will be a tremendous hailstorm that will not only pound everything it hits to a pulp, but imagine the powerful flow of water produced when the hail stones melt, that will wash away everything in its path. These hailstones will pound people to death. The rapid melt of the hailstones, mixed with the blood from the carnage, could be the reason that the river of blood will reach as high as the horse's bridle outside of Jerusalem (Revelation 14:19-20).

When Christ returns, He will elevate Jerusalem, or Zion, to a mountain (Micah 4:1-2). As already mentioned, the Lord will cut down the mountains to no more than hills. It appears that Israel, in addition to the entire surface of the earth, will go through an overhaul in preparation for the Millennium. At the 2nd Coming of Jesus, God is doing the cleaning up, not the "house of Israel" (Ezekiel 39:12-13).

It is my belief that the "Gog and Magog War" must occur at least seven years before the Millennium begins. I see it as either a regional war before Daniel's 70th Week, or that it coincides with the beginning of it, within the Seal judgments in Revelation 6; more on this later. In fact, the "seven years" in Ezekiel 39:9 may even be a clue that the war is at the beginning of "Daniel's 70th Week":

Ezekiel 39:9 - "Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and bucklers, the bows and arrows, the javelins and spears; and they will make fires with them for seven years."

Also, the "Gog and Magog War" could pave the way for the "Mystery Babylon" religion to rise. This religious harlot system will rule during the first half of "Daniel's 70th Week," before the ten kings destroy her and hand over their power to the antichrist (Revelation 17). "Mystery Babylon" will fill the void left after the "Gog and Magog War," and effectively wipe out radical Islam and atheism. Islam will already be crushed, as discussed in the "Great Middle East War." That being said, the "Gog and Magog War" will remove any doubt that Allah is a false god.

The result will be that everyone will be looking for an answer, likely through religion because of the supernatural nature of this war. Ezekiel 38:23 says "I will be known in the eyes of many nations... they shall know that I am the Lord." Unfortunately, many will be looking in the wrong place and be led into deception; first through the "Mystery Babylon" religion, and then later by the antichrist.

God will show Himself again to the Jews during the "Gog and Magog War." Jews who recognize this war fulfills the prophecy in Ezekiel will see that the chapters after the war describe restoration of their covenant relationship and temple worship. However, the Jews may want to build a temple before the "Gog and Magog War"; more on this point in a bit. Either way, a temple must stand before the middle of the Tribulation week, when the antichrist will cause the "abomination of desolation" there:

Daniel 9:27 - "Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate."

Additional support for the "Gog and Magog War" coinciding with the beginning of the Tribulation is that some of the Seal judgments in Revelation 6 parallel the "Gog and Magog War" described in Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah, and Joel:


Seal Judgments Gog and Magog War
False peace under diplomatic conquest (Revelation 6:2) Israel believes they are living in "peace and safety" (Ezekiel 38:8)
Death by sword
(Revelation 6:8)
Every man's sword will be against his brother (Ezekiel 38:21, Haggai 2:22)
Death by pestilence
(Revelation 6:8)
Judgment by pestilence
(Ezekiel 38:22)
Death by the beasts of the earth
(Revelation 6:8)
Devoured by beasts of the field
(Ezekiel 39:4)
Great earthquake
(Revelation 6:12 )
Great earthquake
(Ezekiel 38:19-20)
Earthquake and cosmic disturbances
(Revelation 6:12-14 )
God will shake Heaven and Earth
(Haggai 2:21)
Sun black as sackcloth and
moon like blood (Revelation 6:12)
Sun turned into darkness, and the moon into blood (Joel 2:31)
God's wrath has come
(Revelation 6:17)
God's wrath comes with fire
(Ezekiel 38:18-19, Zechariah 2:4-6)

This is a strong possibility considering the carnage described in Ezekiel, compared to the quarter of the earth that will be subject to death from the 4th Seal judgment alone (Revelation 6:8). However, the judgments poured out on Gog and Magog in Ezekiel deal with a specific group of nations, not all nations. That being said, it is not hard to see how decimation of these particular nations will cause a ripple effect throughout the world; especially considering the global dependence on oil from those nations. In fact, it says in Ezekiel 38:19 that there will be an earthquake in Israel, but it will affect everyone on earth. All creatures will shake, apparently in fear, from the supernatural aspect of the judgments. But if this war parallels the Seal judgments, there will also be a literal shaking throughout all the world:

Revelation 6:12-14 - I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.

In this scenario, a covenant confirmed by the antichrist and "many", perhaps on the heels of a war between Israel and her immediate neighbors, would fulfill the first Seal judgment. Russia would be pulled into the war because of their alliance with the other Muslim countries. Presumably, these nations are not among the "many" that confirm the covenant. The other Seal judgments of war, scarcity and death, and the "Wrath of the Lamb" earthquake centered near Israel, would follow in rapid-fire succession.

One other thing to consider in the timing of the war is that the antichrist will have confirmed a 7-year peace covenant with Israel at the beginning of the Tribulation week. Under that covenant they will be living in a false sense of security. This would fit with the emphasis in Ezekiel that Israel will be living in "peace and safety."

The Lord turns back to the Jews in the "Gog and Magog War" (Ezekiel 38:18-23), which supports this war occurring in the Tribulation period. As shown in the study on Israel, the chapters leading up to the "Gog and Magog War" in Ezekiel show the Lord's reason for gathering them back into the land in these last days, which is to prepare them for the Millennium.

The book of Joel is a summary of the wars in the last days, including the "Great Middle East War," the "Gog and Magog War," and "Armageddon." The second chapter in Joel covers the "Gog and Magog War," with parallels to both Ezekiel and Revelation. Joel shows us that "the day of the Lord is at hand" (verse 2), which supports this war taking place at the beginning of the Tribulation:

Joel 2 Possible Parallel Passages
1 Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand: Ezekiel 38:20 - ...all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence.
2 A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations. Ezekiel 38:9, 15-16 - You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you... many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army. You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land....
3 A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; surely nothing shall escape them. Ezekiel 36:35 - So they will say, 'This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.'
4 Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like swift steeds, so they run. It appears there are two armies described in Joel.
5 With a noise like chariots over mountaintops they leap, like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, like a strong people set in battle array. Parallel description to the Gog and Magog army: The first army is of men (Joel 2:2), led from the north (Joel 2:20), who are defeated and buried in current day Jordan (Joel 2:20).
6 Before them the people writhe in pain; all faces are drained of color. - - -
7 They run like mighty men, they climb the wall like men of war; every one marches in formation, and they do not break ranks. Parallel description to God's army: The second army appears supernatural (Joel 2:3-11). As described in 2 Kings 6:17, God's army has horses and flaming chariots.
8 They do not push one another; every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, they are not cut down.
- - -
9 They run to and fro in the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter at the windows like a thief. Ezekiel 38:20 - ...The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.
10 The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. Revelation 6:12-13 - ...there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth....

(These "stars" are probably meteors. In contrast, the physical stars in Joel become darkened)
11 The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it? Revelation 6:17 - For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?
12 "Now, therefore," says the LORD, "Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." Ezekiel 36:31 - Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations.
13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Ezekiel 36:26 - I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
14 Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him - A grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?
- - -
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; Revelation 4:4 - Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.
16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room. (The 24 elders, who symbolize the Church, gather around God's throne before the Tribulation judgments begin.)
17 Let the priests, who minister to the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say, "Spare Your people, O LORD, and do not give Your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'" Ezekiel 39:7 - So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel, and I will not let them profane My holy name anymore. Then the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
18 Then the LORD will be zealous for His land, and pity His people. - - -
19 The LORD will answer and say to His people, "Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations. Ezekiel 36:15 - "Nor will I let you hear the taunts of the nations anymore, nor bear the reproach of the peoples anymore, nor shall you cause your nation to stumble anymore," says the Lord GOD.'"
20 "But I will remove far from you the northern army, and will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, with his face toward the eastern sea and his back toward the western sea; his stench will come up, and his foul odor will rise, because he has done monstrous things.... It will come to pass in that day that I will give Gog a burial place there in Israel, the valley of those who pass by east of the sea.... Ezekiel 39:2, 11 - I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel.
21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done marvelous things! Ezekiel 36:8-9 - But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come. For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown.
22 Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; for the open pastures are springing up, and the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their strength. Ezekiel 36:30 - And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields....
23 Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; for He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you - The former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.

- - -
24 The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. Ezekiel 36:29 - I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you.
25 "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, my great army which I sent among you. Ezekiel 36:11 - I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bear young; I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.
26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame. Ezekiel 36:30 - And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations.
27 Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the LORD your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame. Ezekiel 38:23 - Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.
28 "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.

- - -
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. Ezekiel 39:29 - And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says the Lord GOD.
30 "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. Ezekiel 38:22 - And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. Revelation 6:12...and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.
32 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD calls. Ezekiel 37:23 - They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.

Another possibility is that the "Gog and Magog War" is a pre-Tribulation war that will, in effect, cause a power vacuum in the Middle East. Some believe this will be the catalyst for the rise of the antichrist. One argument for the war being pre-Tribulation is that a Jewish remnant will be in hiding at Petra during the "Great Tribulation," therefore they will unavailable to burn the weapons half way into the Tribulation. However, a closer look at this passage reveals that it is "those who dwell in the cities of Israel" that will be burning the weapons:

Ezekiel 39:9 - "Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and bucklers, the bows and arrows, the javelins and spears; and they will make fires with them for seven years."

Those "who dwell in the cities of Israel" may not necessarily be limited to the remnant that flees to Petra, considering there will still be people, probably Arabs and/or unbelieving Jews, inhabiting and defending Jerusalem just before the Lord's return at His 2nd Coming:

Zechariah 14:2 - For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity.

In contrast, God specifically says that it is the "house of Israel" and "all the people of the land" who do the burying of the dead, after the "Gog and Magog War"; not just "those who dwell in the cities of Israel." The seven months it takes to do this would fit with either a pre-Tribulation or early Tribulation timing of the "Gog and Magog War":

Ezekiel 39:12-13 - "For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land. Indeed all the people of the land will be burying, and they will gain renown for it on the day that I am glorified," says the Lord GOD.

However, for the "Gog and Magog War" to occur before the Tribulation, Israel must feel like it is living securely first. As previously discussed, despite the "wars and rumors of wars," it is possible "peace and safety" is already checked off "God's to-do list." But the continual emphasis on the prerequisite of "peace and safety" seems to show that it will be more than just a "feeling," but something more concrete like a "covenant" that will give them confidence in their security. Indeed, the Bible says Israel will confirm a peace covenant with the antichrist at the beginning of the Tribulation. Interestingly, the passage in Isaiah below shows that Israel will believe that the "covenant with death" is a "refuge" for them, before they discover the deception and destruction in it:

Isaiah 28:15 - Because you have said, "We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we are in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves."
Daniel 9:27 - Then he [the antichrist] shall confirm a covenant with many for one week....
Daniel 11:21-24 - And in his place shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue. With the force of a flood they shall be swept away from before him and be broken, and also the prince of the covenant. And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province....
1 Thessalonians 5:3 - For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
Revelation 6:2 - And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow [lack of arrows may show diplomacy instead of war]; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

Will the rapture of the Church take place before the "Gog and Magog War?"

God will be pouring out His wrath during the "Gog and Magog War":

Ezekiel 38:18-19 - "And it will come to pass at the same time, when Gog comes against the land of Israel," says the Lord GOD, "that My fury will show in My face. For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken...."

The Lord has promised the Church that they will not endure His wrath:

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 - For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 - For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

God is also calling Israel His people again, which suggests a dispensation change has occurred:

Ezekiel 39:6-7 - "And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands. Then they shall know that I am the LORD. So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel, and I will not let them profane My holy name anymore. Then the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel."

This may also explain why the United States is not defending Israel, or restraining Russia and its coalition. The rapture of the Church is sure to cause great chaos, especially in a country where presumably a sizable part of the Bride of Christ resides. What remains of the United States may very well be protesting on the sidelines with Tarshish, Sheba, and Dedan (Ezekiel 38:13), but left incapacitated and therefore unable to do anything about it. That being said, by the end of the Tribulation all nations will come against Israel (Zechariah 14:2). So, it is entirely possible that the United States will turn their backs on Israel, even before the rapture of the Church.

Why are Israel's immediate neighbors not listed in Ezekiel's prophecy?

Indeed, all of Israel neighbors are enemies who continually top the headlines with threats to "wipe Israel off the map," or to "throw the Jews into the sea." Some prophecy teachers like Joel Rosenberg, lump Israel's neighbors in with "the many people" in Ezekiel 38:6. The context seems to speak of the vastness of the army, not of other countries. God thinks that Israel's neighbors are very important; He specifically mentions Israel's neighbors by name over and over throughout Scripture. Perhaps the Lord intentionally left these countries out of this passage because they will not join the Gog and Magog confederacy. Sometimes what isn't in Scripture is just as important as what is there. We should take care not to assume anything.

Psalm 83 and several unfulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament may explain what will happen to Israel's immediate neighbors that will keep them from joining the Gog and Magog coalition. As I discuss in my study on "The Great Middle East War," when Israel defeats her neighbors the world will go into an uproar. It seems fitting to me that the time would be ripe for the antichrist to come on the scene at that time and confirm the "covenant with death" with Israel that will make them feel safe. It would not surprise me if in celebration, Israel goes out and tears down all the walls they have built up for security after they defeat their neighbors, like the tearing down of the Berlin wall when Germany was re-united. Such an event would truly make Israel a country with "un-walled" villages (Ezekiel 38:11) that believes they are finally living in "peace and safety." However, Israel will find out that only God can give them true "peace and safety" after He defends them in the "Gog and Magog War."

For more on the "Gog and Magog War" in light of other prophetic events, check out the following studies:

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