Gog, Antichrist, Armageddon, and the Presence of God
by Douglas Berner
There is a considerable focus in prophetic circles on Armageddon. Many authors are closely following the events in the Middle East and warning of the impending approach of the final war. The question is frequently asked, “How close are we to the End Times and the Tribulation?” In this context most authors immediately focus on the Antichrist, his seven-year covenant of peace with Israel, and the war of Armageddon. Some authors mention the prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39 (Gog and Magog) and note that it could come before the war of Armageddon. A few, such as Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Peter Goodgame, Grant Jeffrey, Randall Price, and I have argued that the invasion of Gog and Magog will occur as a pretribulational event, and thus could be fulfilled in the near future. Other authors, such as Robert Van Kampen, Arthur E. Bloomfield, Michael Heiser, and Walid Shoebat equate Ezekiel’s main character Gog with the Antichrist and the invasion of Israel by Gog and Magog with the war or campaign of Armageddon.
This article will examine some of the primary characteristics revealed by scripture regarding the end-time leaders of Gog and the Antichrist, and the prophetic wars of Gog and Magog and Armageddon to determine the accuracy of the claim that they are the same leaders and the same wars.
Is Gog another name for the Antichrist?
In his comprehensive examination of the Antichrist, Arthur W. Pink makes one passing reference to Ezekiel 38 in his introduction where he mentions titles for the Antichrist given by the prophets. Pink includes without comment ‘the chief Prince of Meshech and Tubal’ from Ezekiel 38:2 in his introductory list, which is a reference to Gog. Yet, when Pink examines the references to the Antichrist in his chapter “Antichrist in the Prophets” he completely omits any reference to Gog or the prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39. Under Ezekiel, Pink notes the references in 21:25-27 to the ‘wicked Prince of Israel’ and in chapter 28 to the Prince or King of Tyre as titles for the Antichrist, but no Gog. I find it very curious that Arthur Pink did not make more of the prophecy of Gog and Magog, with God’s clear and repeated declaration “I am against you, O Gog” in Ezekiel 38:3 and 39:1, if he was entirely convinced that Gog was the Antichrist.[i]
Nonetheless, there are several authors who do clearly associate Gog with the Antichrist.
Walid Shoebat is an ex-Muslim terrorist and a former member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. He has converted to Christianity and has written an interesting book, Why I Left Jihad. In this book Walid Shoebat argues that Gog and the Antichrist are the same person and that he will come out of Islam. Shoebat claims, “Once we understand that Gog is Satan incarnate, we will see that Ezekiel 38 is the same Gog of Revelation 20:8, unleashed in the world twice, once at Armageddon and once after the Millennium. … Gog is simply another word for the Antichrist, the Assyrian, the Son of Perdition, and Lucifer.”[ii]
In his book, Before the Last Battle – Armageddon, Arthur E. Bloomfield, draws a similar conclusion. “When Satan operates in person on the earth, he is known as Gog and Magog. … Gog is not the name of any man in the Bible. It is the name of Satan when he becomes a man in Antichrist. After the Rapture, Antichrist is Satan in the flesh: then he is Gog.”[iii]
Other authors have equated Gog with the Antichrist including: Robert Van Kampen, The Sign; and Michael S. Heiser, Islam and Armageddon.
What do we know from scripture about the Antichrist?
- The Antichrist will be an End-Time leader who will uproot three leaders in his rise to power over ten kings (Daniel 7:8, 24).
- The Antichrist is restrained from rising to power and being revealed as the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction (perdition) until God’s restraining force is removed out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 6-8).
- The Antichrist will confirm a strong covenant (peace covenant) with Israel for a period of seven years (Daniel 9:27).
- The Antichrist will break the covenant in the middle of the seven years (Daniel 9:27).
- The Antichrist will enter a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and declare himself to be God, exalting himself above all gods (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
- The Antichrist will demand to be worshipped as God and will seek to kill all who refuse to worship him and his image (Revelation 13:15).
- The Antichrist will be empowered by Satan (and given authority by God) over every tribe and nation and will be worshipped by everyone on earth whose name is not recorded in Christ’s book of life (Revelation 13:7-8).
- In his satanically possessed form, the Antichrist is referred to as “the beast.” He is the beast out of the abyss, and the beast out of the sea (Revelation 11:7; Revelation 13). This title is in direct opposition to Christ’s role as the “lamb” of God (Revelation 5:6-13).
- Supernatural authority is granted to the Antichrist to act (to do his own will and the will of Satan) for a specific period of forty-two months (3 ½ years) (Revelation 13:5).
- The Antichrist will be killed by Jesus Christ at His second coming at the end of the War of Armageddon (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:19-20).
- The Antichrist will be killed by Christ but then cast alive (resurrected) into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20).
This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of characteristics or titles by which the person of the Antichrist will be known. However, it does give us several certain specific characteristics which must be identifiable in an end-time leader before we can seriously entertain the notion that he is the Antichrist.
What do we know from Ezekiel 38-39 about Gog?
- Gog is an end-time leader of a large but limited alliance of geographic territories which include: Rosh, Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, Beth-togarmah, and many other peoples with them. (Ezekiel 38:2-6).
- Gog and his alliance will invade Israel in Israel’s “latter years” or its “last days” (Ezekiel 38:8, 16).
- Gog will invade Israel when God Himself summons Gog, at the specific time of God’s choosing (Ezekiel 38:4, 8; 39:2).
- Gog’s armies will be supernaturally destroyed by God. God Himself rises up in divine fury to intercede for Israel through a combination of judgments: global earthquake, turning Gog’s forces against themselves, pestilence, blood, torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and brimstone (Ezekiel 38:18-22).
- Gog will be killed and buried in a mass grave with his troops in Israel (Ezekiel 39:11).
- The destruction of Gog’s invading forces is recognized by Israel and many nations as the intervention of God and God’s holy name will be magnified and made known (Ezekiel 38:15, 23; 39:7, 21-22).
There are some characteristics of similarity between the Antichrist and Gog:
- Both the Antichrist and Gog will lead alliances which will fight against and invade Israel.
- Both the Antichrist and Gog will be killed by the direct intervention of God.
- The timing of the destruction of both the Antichrist and Gog will be linked to a demonstration of God’s presence revealed to the world.
- Both the war of Gog and Magog and the war of Armageddon will be followed by birds feasting on the bodies of dead soldiers (Ezekiel 39:17-20 birds and beasts; Revelation 19:17-18 birds only).
Are these similarities enough to positively assert that Gog is the Antichrist and thus the war of Gog and Magog is the war of Armageddon?
In spite of the similarities, there are some very important questions which we need to consider.
- What supernatural authority is granted to each leader by God, or by Satan?
- What relationship does each leader have to the nation of Israel?
- What is the fate of each leader upon his defeat by God and his physical death?
- What is the spiritual relationship of each leader – his relationship to God?
- What supernatural powers are manifested by each leader’s actions?
- What relationship does each leader have to Satan? Is Gog possessed or indwelt by Satan? Is Gog Satan incarnate?
1. What supernatural authority is granted to each leader by God, or by Satan?
The Antichrist is specifically granted authority by God and supernatural power by Satan to rule for a period of forty-two months (Revelation 13:5-7). He will have authority “to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.”
Are we told that Gog will be granted any supernatural power or authority by God or Satan? The answer is – no! Gog will have an evil thought and will invade the land of Israel, but on the very day that Gog invades God rises up in fury against Gog and his forces and destroys them. Gog is given no opportunity by God to overcome either Israel or the saints, much less every people and nation. Gog does not have 3 ½ years to dominate Israel. His invasion is completely doomed from its very start and it is a very short and one-sided war. God is absolutely clear that Gog’s invasion will not be the least bit successful.
2. What relationship does each leader have to the nation of Israel?
The Antichrist will establish a seven year covenant of peace with Israel which he will break during the middle of the seven year period. Israel will have placed its trust in the leadership of the Antichrist, either as a strong leader of Israel itself or as a strong ally of Israel, but the Antichrist will turn against Israel and betray that trust. The Antichrist will do everything in his power to destroy Israel.
Ezekiel makes no reference to the making or breaking of any peace covenant between Gog and Israel. Gog will form and equip an alliance and invade Israel, to take a spoil and to plunder Israel. However, Gog is not successful for any period of time and will never gain any control over Israel or Jerusalem. Instead, God reveals that Gog’s forces will be turned into a spoil and plundered by Israel who will burn Gog’s weapons for a period of seven years.
3. What is the fate of each leader upon his defeat by God and his physical death?
The Antichrist is killed, resurrected, and thrown into the lake of fire by Jesus Christ upon His second coming at the end of the Tribulation (Daniel 11:7; Isaiah 14:19-20; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:20). He is not buried in a tomb or a mass grave with his troops.
Gog will be killed during his invasion of Israel and will be buried in a mass grave with his troops in a valley that will then be known as the valley of Hamon-gog (Ezekiel 39:11). Israel will undergo a process of cleansing the land and burying the dead forces of Gog and Magog that will last for at least a period of seven months. God does not reveal exactly how Gog will be killed and there is no reference to Gog being killed by Jesus Christ. Gog will not be resurrected until the White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennium and will not be cast into the lake of fire before that time.
4. What is the spiritual relationship of each leader – his relationship to God?
The Antichrist is against God. He will speak monstrous things against the God of Israel. He will honor a god of fortresses or war (Satan). He will exalt himself above all gods (Daniel 11:36-38; Revelation 13:6). He will enter the temple in Jerusalem and declare himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). He demands to be worshipped as God. Ultimately, the Antichrist’s target is God as he attempts to replace God as the supreme spiritual being. He will make war with God and attempt to defeat Jesus Christ at His second coming.
God declares that He is against Gog. We do not know who Gog’s god will be. Is he an atheist from Russia? Is he a Muslim who worships Allah? Does he worship Satan? Scripture does not answer these questions. Gog will be against the God of Israel in that he will be in denial of the power of God to save Israel from the overwhelming might of Gog’s alliance. However, Gog’s primary target is Israel, not God. Gog is given no spiritual power or authority in Ezekiel’s prophecy. There is no reference to the Jewish Temple, or to Gog making any declarations of his own deity, or to any demands that he is to be worshipped by his troops or any other peoples.
5. What supernatural powers are manifested by each leader’s actions?
The Antichrist becomes a supernatural figure empowered by Satan. He comes “with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders.” He is associated with the beast out of the earth (false prophet) who will perform great signs and miracles such as calling fire down from heaven. The false prophet will make an image of the Antichrist to seemingly come to life (breathing and speaking) which will then be worshipped by many people (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13).
Gog is not identified as having any supernatural power at all. He is not described as performing any great signs, wonders, or miracles. He is instructed in Ezekiel’s prophecy to be prepared, to prepare his alliance for the invasion of Israel, and to be a guard for his forces and allies. Gog undergoes a lengthy preparation of equipping and arming all of the armies which will invade Israel under his command. Gog’s strength is in planning, preparation, and strength of arms, not supernatural might (Ezekiel 38:7).
6. What relationship does each leader have to Satan? Is Gog possessed or indwelt by Satan? Is Gog Satan incarnate?
The Antichrist is clearly empowered by Satan, the dragon (Revelation 13:2, 4). Most Bible prophecy scholars interpret the Antichrist as originating as a human leader (beast out of the sea) who becomes entirely possessed or indwelt by Satan when Satan is completely cast out of heaven and thus becomes the beast out of the abyss. Thus the Antichrist becomes Satan incarnate.
Gog is not identified with Satan or the dragon in any way in Ezekiel’s prophecy. It is logical to understand that Gog will be a pawn of Satan since Gog is going to have an evil thought and invade Israel. Gog will be an evil, power hungry leader and those are Satan’s kind of leaders. However, Gog is not characterized as having the full power of Satan controlling him.
In fact, the picture portrayed concerning Gog is quite the opposite. Gog is a puppet on a string controlled by God, not Satan. God commands Gog at every step and turn of the prophecy. God repeatedly tells Gog exactly what Gog is going to do and what God is going to do to Gog and his forces. God says that He is going to place hooks in Gog’s jaws and turn him around and drive or lead him against Israel. God tells Gog that after many days (the future from Ezekiel’s time) that Gog will be summoned by God to fulfill his role in this prophecy (Ezekiel 38:4, 8, 39:2).
Ezekiel gives us no reason to view Gog as possessed by Satan or to be Satan incarnate. The portrayal of Gog by Ezekiel really does not say very much for the power or role of Satan when it comes to his relationship with Gog. This is one of the characteristics that is poorly analyzed by authors who equate Gog with Satan because of the passing mention of “Gog and Magog” in Revelation 20:8 which describes Satan’s final rebellion against God. The following table summarizes the characteristics presented by asking these six questions regarding the nature of Gog and the Antichrist.
Gog vs. Antichrist
|Supernatural Authority||None||3 ½ Years Authority to make war with the saints and over all peoples and nations|
|Relationship to Israel||Invader to take a spoil Very short unsuccessful war||7 Year Covenant of Peace Lengthy war against Israel|
|Fate at death||Buried in a mass grave||Immediately resurrected and cast into the Lake of Fire|
|Spiritual Relationship||Against the God of Israel but makes no claims of deity||Enters the Temple and claims to be God. Exalts himself above all gods. Demands to be worshipped|
|Supernatural Powers||None||Signs, Wonders, and Miracles|
|Relationship to Satan||An evil human leader, but not indwelt or possessed by Satan. Completely controlled by God||Possessed by Satan Satan Incarnate|
The following table summarizes similarities and differences between the wars of Gog and Magog and Armageddon.
War of Gog & Magog vs. War of Armageddon
|Gog & Magog||Armageddon|
|Battle of Gog & Magog – Eze 38 & 39||Battle of the great day of God, the Almighty – Rev 16:14|
|Israel dwelling safely (in false confidence) in the land Eze 38:8, 11, 14||It is a time of much persecution & troubles. The remnant of Israel has fled Jerusalem & Judaea & is dwelling in exile, in refuge in the wilderness of Petra / Bozrah. Rev 12:6, 13-16; Mt 24:15-22|
|Surprise invasion of Israel by an alliance of nations: Magog (Russia); Persia (Iran); Cush (Sudan, Ethiopia); Put (Libya); Gomer (Germania or southern regions of old USSR); Togarmah (Armenia, Turkey) – Eze 38:2-9||All Kings of the world are gathered to Israel to do battle. Rev 16:14 No mention of Gog or any of Gog’s specific allies in the book of Revelation.|
|Invasion from the far north – Eze 38:6, 15. No mention is made of the Kings of the east or of the Euphrates River.||Armies come from all over the world & Kings of the east cross the dried up Euphrates River – Rev 16:12|
|Invasion is made to take a great spoil in the land of Israel. Eze 38:12-13; 39:10||Demonic gathering of armies to crush Israel & unite in war against Christ. Rev 16:12-16|
|Gog is the leader from the far north but not said to be any of: the Antichrist; Beast; Little Horn; Assyrian; King of Assyria; King of Babylon; King of the North; or King of the South||Antichrist is Satanically possessed & is World Dictator. Antichrist; False Prophet; & Satan are working together. Demons from them gather the armies to Megiddo in Israel|
|No mention of Megiddo, Jerusalem, or Babylon||Armies are gathered at Megiddo; Battle against Jerusalem; and Babylon is destroyed in the same time frame|
|No mention of 7 year Peace Covenant||Peace Covenant has been violated & Israel betrayed. Dan 9:27|
|No stated expectation by Israel for any nation or leader to protect Israel from invasion||Israel is being persecuted by the Antichrist & False Prophet. Israel calls upon God in repentance for deliverance. Zech 13:9|
|Diplomatic protest by Sheba & Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, & the young lions thereof: Possibly Saudi Arabia & Western World of England & USA – Eze 38:13||No diplomatic protest – the assembling of the armies is demonically guided & there are no nations allied with Israel against the Antichrist|
|No mention of any of the end time plagues or judgments of God before the invasion is judged by God’s intervention.||The War of Armageddon will be preceded by a number of devastating plagues and judgments from God – Trumpets & Bowls.|
|Invaders are destroyed by supernatural intervention of God but no mention of Jesus Christ or 2nd Coming. Destruction is descriptive of the 6th Seal Judgment – Rev 6:12-17||Armies are destroyed supernaturally by Jesus Christ at the Glorious Appearing of his 2nd Coming – Rev 19:19-21 The 7th Bowl Judgment of God’s Wrath -Rev 16:17-21|
|Homelands of invading armies are also destroyed by fire – Eze 39:6||No mention of homelands – except all cities will fall – Rev 16:19|
|Invaders do not reach Jerusalem – no mention of Jerusalem. Invaders fall on the mountains & open fields of Israel. Very Likely they fall in northern Israel, Lebanon, & possibly Syria Eze 39:4-5||Jerusalem is a primary target – all nations against Jerusalem. Battles extend from Megiddo south to Petra / Bozrah in Jordan (about 200 miles) – Zech 12:1-8; 14:1-3; Rev 14:20|
|Gog & his multitude are buried in the Valley of Gog’s Horde – Eze 39:11||Antichrist & False Prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire. The burial of the armies is not mentioned – Rev 19:20|
|The birds and beasts of the field feast upon Gog’s dead soldiers. God refers to this as “My sacrifice” and “My table” – Eze 39:4, 17-20||Birds feast upon the dead soldiers (beasts not mentioned). God refers to this as “the great supper of God” – Rev 19:17-18, 21|
|Invasion is followed by 7 months of cleansing of the land and burying the dead; & 7 years of burning the weapons. Israel will spoil & rob those who came to spoil & rob her. Eze 39:9-16||Armageddon is followed by an interim interval of 75 days which will include cleansing the land & the Temple after which the Millennial Kingdom of God will begin – Dan 12:11-12; Rev 20:6; Dan 7:14, 27|
|Spiritual wake up call to the world- God has intervened! Leads to spiritual revival of faith – a national reawakening of Israel to God (but not Christ) & many nations of the world will know God is the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. Eze 38:23; 39:21-22||Follows the National spiritual regeneration of Israel under the New Covenant with their acceptance of Christ Jer 31:31-34; Zech 12:10|
|Leads to an increased re-gathering of Jews in Jerusalem & Israel in preparation for judgment by God||Results in the final worldwide re-gathering of all Jews to Israel with the supernatural assistance of angels – Mt 24:31|
|War of Gog & Magog similar enough to Armageddon to confuse the elect – Israel will view this war as the last war (Armageddon) & will accept an emerging leader as Messiah!||Messiah will return in the clouds from heaven & will be visible to all with the brightness of his coming – the sign of the Son of Man will be in the sky – Mt 24:30; Rev 19:11-16|
We can readily see that there are several major differences between Ezekiel’s prophecy of Gog and Magog and the prophecies which reveal the characteristics of the Antichrist and the war of Armageddon. Some of the extremely important characteristics that are revealed about the Antichrist are either not revealed regarding Gog or are completely impossible for him to fulfill.
God’s Revealed Presence
Another issue that is related to the question concerning the relationship of Gog and the Antichrist and the direct association of the war of Gog and Magog with the war of Armageddon has to do with the revealed presence of God. In both prophecies, God will reveal Himself to Israel and the nations of the world. Are these the same manifestations of God and thus the same event?
There are three sub-questions which fall under this inquiry.
- Is the earthquake in Ezekiel 38:19 the same as the earthquake in Revelation 16:18 or the earthquake in Zechariah 14:4?
- Is the reference in Ezekiel 38:18 to God’s fury coming up in His face a direct reference to Jesus Christ at His second coming?
- Is God’s reference to being the Holy One in Israel in Ezekiel 39: 7 a confirmation of the timing of Gog and Magog at Christ’s second coming?
In his book, Why I Left Jihad, Walid Shoebat claims that these references to God’s presence are all connected and that they are representations of Jesus Christ when He descends upon the Mount of Olives at His second coming. “In Ezekiel 38:19, the earthquake is the greatest in history and matches Zechariah 14:4. This earthquake is definitely the mark of the Messiah’s presence on earth at the moment of His touch-down. He will descend from heaven to fight the enemy, Gog … This ‘presence’ can be demonstrated further within Christian theology to prove that Ezekiel 38-39 is the showdown between Christ and Antichrist (Gog). … ”[iv]
1. Is the earthquake in Ezekiel 38:19 the same as the earthquake in Revelation 16:18 or the earthquake in Zechariah 14:4?
“In My zeal and in My blazing wrath I declare that on that day [the day Gog invades Israel] there will surely be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all the creeping things that creep on the earth, and all the men who are on the face of the earth will shake at My presence; the mountains also will be thrown down, the steep pathways will collapse and every wall will fall to the ground.” Ezekiel 38:19-20
“And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.” Revelation 16:18-21
“In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.” Zechariah 14:4
There is strong similarity between the earthquake in Ezekiel 38 and the one in Revelation 16, but similarity does not make for sameness. What we know about the earthquake in Revelation 16 is that it is the result of the seventh angel pouring out the seventh bowl of God’s wrath at the end of the Tribulation. It is the last manifestation of God’s wrath cast upon the earth and it is associated with God’s final judgment upon Babylon. This earthquake will be the greatest, most severe earthquake in the history of mankind. Contrary to Shoebat’s claim, while the earthquake in Ezekiel 38 is said to be great, it is not specifically identified as being the greatest in history. Scripturally that distinction is reserved for the earthquake in Revelation 16.
Is the earthquake in Revelation 16 the same earthquake that Zechariah predicts will split the Mount of Olives at Christ’s presence? We cannot say for certain, but it is quite possible. There are multiple earthquakes mentioned in the book of Revelation and of those this is the most likely candidate for Zechariah’s earthquake.
However, is the seventh bowl earthquake the same earthquake revealed in Ezekiel 38? I argue that it is not. Ezekiel’s earthquake will be extremely severe and it will be a global event, but will it be part of the manifestation of God’s final judgment of divine wrath? Absolutely not! Let’s take God at His own word for our proof. God adamantly declares that the reason that He will bring Gog against Israel is that God is going to use the event of Gog’s invasion and destruction as an excuse to reveal Himself to Israel and the nations who profane His holy name. God is going to make Himself known by His supernatural intervention to save Israel and that Israel and many nations will recognize that intervention. Many nations, not all nations, will recognize God’s intervention.
“It will come about in the last days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations will know Me when I am sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog. … I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the LORD. … My holy name I will make known in the midst of My people Israel; and I will not let My holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.” Ezekiel 38:16, 23; 39:7
Is this the second coming of Christ and Christ’s continued presence within Israel? At first glance these verses might seem to indicate just that. However, what is the point that God is really making? At the time of Gog’s invasion, not only are the nations of the world profaning God’s name but Israel is also profaning God’s holy name. Christ’s second coming will not take place until Israel turns to both God and Jesus Christ in repentance and calls upon Him to save them. So at the time of Christ’s second coming Israel will not be profaning God’s holy name. Israel, as a national people, will have gotten past that form of rebellion against God and Jesus Christ. The invasion of Israel by Gog and Magog must come before the national conversion of Israel to Jesus Christ, not after. God’s destruction of Gog will not awaken the nation of Israel to the reality of Jesus Christ as God’s true Messiah. Instead it will reawaken Israel to the Old Testament God of their ancestors. It will cause a spiritual rebirth within Israel to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel’s conversion to accepting Jesus Christ as the Messiah comes later, after Israel is betrayed by the Antichrist. This is another reason why Gog and the Antichrist cannot be the same end-time leader.
This argues for a much earlier fulfillment of Gog and Magog than Armageddon. Since a devastating global earthquake is so characteristically linked to the destruction of Gog and Magog where God rattles the entire world and causes all people to shake at His presence, what other end-time earthquake can we identify that fits this description of events?
We find this earthquake in Revelation 6 when Christ opens the sixth seal. “I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” Revelation 6:12-17
This is the earthquake that equates to Ezekiel’s earthquake that comes with the invasion of Gog and Magog. The passages in Isaiah 2:10-21 and 13:6-8 also correspond to this event. The sixth seal describes seven categories of men (symbolism of totality) from all walks of life and thus from all over the planet. This is a global earthquake. All people are shaken by the revealed presence of God and Christ in judgment against a rebellious world. However, this is not the second coming of Christ. This is at the beginning of God’s judgments in Revelation. Note that the people realize that “the great day of their wrath has come.”
This great day is the beginning of God’s Day of the Lord judgments which comes in the form of sudden destruction (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3), not the final day of wrath at the second coming of Christ. Many students of prophecy get this confused. The similarity between the sixth seal and the seventh bowl judgments cause some to claim that they portray the same events. But that is not possible. The great earthquake of Revelation 6:12 cannot be the same event as the greatest earthquake of Revelation 16:18.
All seven seals must be opened before the scroll can be read – before the entire message of God’s judgment is revealed in heaven and on earth. The seventh seal must be opened before the seven angels with the trumpets can reveal God’s trumpet judgments (Revelation 8:1-2, 6-7), and the seventh trumpet must sound before the seven angels pour out the bowls of God’s greatest wrath (Revelation 11:15; 15:1, 6-8; 16:1-2). The progression of these three series of events is consecutive, not concurrent. This point is emphasized by Revelation 15:1, “Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished.” These seven angels with the bowls of God’s wrath are the last of his judgments. This clearly differentiates them from the series of seven seals and seven trumpet judgments.
The description of the opening of the sixth seal ends with a question: “who is able to stand?” This is not an idle question. No one on earth will be able to stand during this tremendous earthquake and revealed presence of God. The only people who will be able to stand will be those who have just been resurrected and raptured to heaven to stand before God’s throne and before Christ. And thus we see in Revelation 7:9 a great multitude of redeemed people standing with Christ before the throne in heaven praising God and Christ for their salvation.
What is important to observe here is that God is going to reveal Himself to the world more than once during the end times. He is going to reveal Himself at the very beginning of the Day of the Lord and then He is going to reveal Himself again at the very end. The latter revelation will be manifested as the second coming of Christ and will be accompanied by the greatest earthquake in the history of mankind. The beginning of the Day of the Lord will be characterized by the events of the sixth seal and the invasion of Gog and Magog, when God breaks His silence and returns His hidden face towards Israel. Men will attempt to hide from God’s revealed presence which is described in the portrayal of the sixth seal and also by the prophet Isaiah in 2:10-21. This is true in part because Satan has not yet been cast out of heaven and the Antichrist is not in power as Satan incarnate when the Day of the Lord begins. However, at the time of Armageddon and Christ’s second coming, Satan and the Antichrist will be supervising the war against God and Christ and we see no description of people hiding from God in fear, but they are instead blaspheming God for the severity of His judgments.
2. Is the reference in Ezekiel 38:18 to God’s fury coming up in His face a direct reference to Jesus Christ at His second coming?
“And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face.” Ezekiel 38:18 KJV
Ezekiel 38-39 is an Old Testament prophecy. It needs to be evaluated in the context of the Old Testament scriptures. The important characteristic that we should remember when it comes to references to God’s face is that God uses His face as an indication of His relationship to the nation of Israel. In the Old Testament, scripture repeatedly describes God as having His face turned toward Israel or away from Israel. When He turns His face away from Israel God is said to be hiding His face from Israel. This is the silence of God. The long period of Israel’s exile from the land of Israel (the Diaspora) has been characterized by God’s hiding His face from Israel.
This description in Ezekiel 38 of God’s fury mounting up in His face relates directly to the pent up anger that God has against Israel’s enemies. When that anger reaches the boiling point, which it does with Gog’s invasion of Israel, God will return His face back to Israel and unleash His pent up fury on Israel’s enemies. God’s silence will be broken. God is describing a serious form of divine intervention to save Israel from utter destruction, but this intervention is not manifested in the form of the bodily second coming of Christ to the earth. This is an Old Testament manifestation of God which comes at the very beginning of God’s Day of the Lord judgments.
New Testament scripture describes Christ as treading the wine press of God’s wrath. His eyes are described as flames of fire. From His mouth comes a sharp sword (the word of God). But we are not given a description of Him displaying an angry face full of pent up fury when He comes at His second coming to stand on the Mount of Olives.
3. Is God’s reference to being the Holy One in Israel in Ezekiel 39: 7 a confirmation of the timing of Gog and Magog at Christ’s second coming?
“My holy name I will make known in the midst of My people Israel; and I will not let My holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.” Ezekiel 39:7
Walid Shoebat examines this verse and draws the conclusion, “Note that the Holy One is in Israel; the rest of Scripture uses the phrase ‘Holy One of Israel,’ hence Messiah will be found on Earth.”[v]
Again, Ezekiel 38-39 is an Old Testament prophecy. All throughout the Old Testament the holy name of God is יהוה which is Yahweh (sometimes rendered as Jehovah) and is translated “LORD” by the KJV and other versions of the Bible. “God then said to Moses, ‘You must [then] say to the Israelites, “YHVH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, sent me to you.” This is My eternal name, and this is how I am to be recalled for all generations.’” (Exodus 3:15 The Living Torah).[vi]
God is going to use Gog’s invasion of Israel to make known His holy name to Israel and the nations of the world. Is that the name of Jesus (Yeshua) or God’s eternal name of YHVH? It is His eternal name. Israel is a predominantly secular nation in denial of the Old Testament God of Israel, in addition to being in denial and rebellion to Jesus Christ. While God calls individuals to Christ, from both Jews and Gentiles, to become a “One New Man” in the body of Christ, He deals with the nation of Israel as an entirely different corporate body.
How can Israel jump into an immediate acceptance of Jesus Christ as God when they are, as a nation, in active denial of God Himself? They cannot. And that is why God has prophetically planned out the Day of the Lord. It is the period of time that God will use to refine Israel and bring it to salvation as a nation. The nation of Israel, as a body of people, must be returned to the God of their fathers before they will be made ready to make the transition to a full recognition and acceptance of Jesus Christ as their promised Messiah. That is what God is telling Israel. God uses Gog’s invasion as the mechanism for revealing Himself to Israel and reawakening them spiritually to Him as YHVH.
The Church, the body of Christ, must be removed from the earth, and God will supernaturally seal the 144,000 Jewish servants of God as His true remnant of believers on earth. When does God accomplish that sealing? In Revelation 7, exactly when the great multitude of saved believers shows up in heaven standing with Christ before God’s throne. God interjects this between the opening of the sixth and seventh seals which is the time of the invasion of Gog and Magog and the global earthquake. Where is Christ? He is in heaven with the raptured Church not on earth in the midst of Israel.
These 144,000 Jewish evangelists will take up the message of the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ as the Messiah. However, the corporate body of Israel, will first turn to a renewed belief in God [יהוה] and rebuild their temple in Jerusalem. “And the nations will know that I am the LORD [יהוה], the Holy One in Israel.” While God had His face turned away (hidden) from Israel He was the God (Holy One) of Israel who allowed all of the tragedies of the Diaspora and the Holocaust to be perpetrated against Israel. Following His intervention to save Israel from Gog and Magog, God will have His face turned back to Israel and will be the God (Holy One) in Israel. However, God is setting Israel up to be the sacrificial Passover lamb. Just as God sacrificed His Son Jesus Christ as a Passover lamb, Israel will be sacrificed and purged (refined) through the period of time known as the Day of the Lord until the final purified remnant of Israel turns completely to an acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Messiah and God.
How do the Antichrist and the False Prophet rise to power? Israel and the nations (including Islam) who are reawakened to the knowledge of the eternal God YHVH as the Holy One in Israel must look for God’s Messiah, and one will come. But he will not be the real Jesus Christ. He will be the Antichrist.
If one compares the most dynamic characteristics of Gog and the Antichrist, it is easy to see that these two end-time leaders cannot be the same person. Gog does not have any of the supernatural power and authority that is the hallmark of the Antichrist. In spite of some similarities, there are irreconcilable differences between the wars of Gog and Magog and Armageddon. Israel must be at rest and dwelling under a sense of security (albeit false) at the time of Gog’s invasion. That is an absolutely impossible characteristic for Israel during any part of the second half of Daniel’s 70th Week after the Antichrist enters the temple and declares himself to be God.
Instead, Gog and Antichrist are two different leaders and Gog and Magog and Armageddon are two completely different wars which take place at different times. The war of Gog and Magog comes first and begins God’s Day of the Lord judgments. It is accompanied by a global earthquake and the revealed presence of God at the opening of the sixth seal. The war of Armageddon and the defeat of Antichrist comes after his 3 ½ year period of supernatural empowerment. This event takes place in conjunction with the seventh bowl judgment, the greatest earthquake in the history of mankind, and the revealed presence of God in the form of the second coming of Jesus Christ.
For a more detailed examination of the differences between the wars of Gog and Magog, Armageddon, and Satan’s final rebellion I refer the reader to my book: The Silence is Broken!
[i] Arthur W. Pink, The Antichrist, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1988, reprint of 1923 original), p. 11.
[ii] Walid Shoebat, Why I Left Jihad: The Root of Terrorism and the Rise of Islam, (USA: Top Executive Media, 2005), p. 229.
[iii] Arthur E. Bloomfield, Before the Last Battle—Armageddon, (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, Inc. 1971), p. 89.
[iv] Shoebat, Why I Left Jihad: The Root of Terrorism and the Rise of Islam, pp. 227-228.
[v] Shoebat, Why I Left Jihad: The Root of Terrorism and the Rise of Islam, p. 228.
[vi] Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, The Living Torah, (New York: Maznaim Publishing Corporation, 1981), p. 271.