This is part 5 of a 6-part series from T. Getterman concerning the role of Israel in the end times. Part 6 will be published tomorrow, May 31th at 6pm CST.
Dr. Mike Harmon
EZEKIEL 38-39 BATTLE
The Ezekiel 38-39 Battle is also called the Gog of the Land of Magog Battle, and the attacking forces have often been called Gog and his Islamic armies. Let’s look at that battle by first looking at Scripture.
Ezekiel 38 The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshechand Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army – your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops – the many nations with you. Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. After many days you will be called to arms. In future yearsyou will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety. You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.’” This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. You will say, ‘I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people – all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.’ Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, ‘Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?’ “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: In that day, when My people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against My people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me when I show Myself holy through you before their eyes.’” This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Are you not the one I spoke of in former days by My servants the prophets of Israel? At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, My hot anger will be aroused,” declares the Sovereign LORD. “In My zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the Earth will tremble at My presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all My mountains,” declares the Sovereign LORD. “Every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show My greatness and My holiness, and I will make Myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”
Ezekiel 39 “Son of man, prophesy against Gog and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken,” declares the Sovereign LORD. “I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the LORD. I will make known My holy name among My people Israel. I will no longer let My holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel. It is coming! It will surely take place,” declares the Sovereign LORD. “This is the day I have spoken of. Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up – the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them,” declares the Sovereign LORD. “On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel east toward the Sea. It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog. For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. All the people of the land will bury them, and the day I am glorified will be a memorable day for them,” declares the Sovereign LORD. “Men will be regularly employed to cleanse the land. Some will go throughout the land and, in addition to them, others will bury those that remain on the ground. At the end of the seven months they will begin their search. As they go through the land and one of them sees a human bone, he will set up a marker beside it until the gravediggers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon Gog. (Also a town called Hamonah will be there.) And so they will cleanse the land.” Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the Earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and bulls – all of them fattened animals from Bashan. At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. At My table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,” declares the Sovereign LORD. “I will display My glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God. And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to Me. So I hid My face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid My face from them.” Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “I will now bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for My holy name. They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward Me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show Myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares the Sovereign LORD.
We looked at the “players” from Psalm 83. Now let’s look at those from Ezekiel 38-39. It is important to know what person, peoples, countries or areas the ancient names refer to. You will see that these are the outer ring of countries around Israel.
GOG – He will be the chief prince, which means the dictator in charge. Gog will use his time in power/office to gather his military forces and political allies to prepare for the coming war with Israel.
The name Gog is sometimes identified with Gyges, the king of Lydia (present-day western Turkey) from approximately 687 to 652 BC. Gyges was the founder of the third, or Mermnad, dynasty of Lydian kings. He reigned shortly after the famous king Midas of the golden touch lore. Gyges supposedly bought his way to power by giving six golden mixing bowls worth approximately $14 million in today’s dollars to the Oracle at Delphi, who endorsed his reign. The traditional capital of Lydia was in Sardis, which is one of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation.
I could see this association of Gog with the name of Gyges (and, therefore, present-day Turkey) if we were given no other information in Scripture. However, when Gog is called “the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal” and we are told that he is “of the land of Magog”, I think it is an indication that he will come from much farther north than present-day Turkey. Both Ezekiel 38 and 39 say that he will come from the “far north”. I believe that he will be the leader of present-day Russia.
MAGOG – This was a tribe on the Volga River in present-day Russia. It appears to strongly tie Gog to present-day Russia. Magog was one of the sons of Noah’s son Japheth according to Genesis 10:2.
MESHECH – Some scholars believe that this is a reference to Moscow. Others say that it refers to present-day Georgia and/or part of the Caucasus Mountains and/or a location around the border of present-day Turkey and Georgia. Many Georgians claim that they are descended from Meshech, who was also a son of Noah’s son Japheth according to Genesis 10:2. Keep in mind that Russia invaded Georgia not too long ago and, realistically, controls Georgia. In one sense, it doesn’t matter whether Meshech is a reference to Moscow or Georgia, because the Russian leader is in charge of both of them. These armies will come against Israel from the north and northeast.
I might add that “Rosh” was the original name for present-day Russia. Byzantine writers of the tenth century mention “Ros” as dwelling to the north of Taurus, which was in present-day Turkey. This appears to be a clear reference to present-day Russia also so, in case you read of either of them, “Rosh” and “Ros” appear to be synonymous.
TUBAL – Tubal was also a son of Noah’s son Japheth as we see in Genesis 10:2. Descendants of Tubal are also thought by many to be ancestors of present-day Georgians. Some Bible scholars say that Tubal is a reference to Tobolsk, the modern Siberian oil city on the Tubal River, which would place it in present-day Russia. As discussed above, the Russian leader is in charge of both Russia and Georgia.
Note that some other people believe that Meshech and Tubal refer to ancient tribes that settled portions of modern-day Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Kosovo. Every possibility for Magog, Meshech and Tubal indicate that these future armies will come against Israel from the north, northwest and northeast.
Also note that Isaiah 66:18-19 tells us that, during the Millennial Kingdom, Christ will send some of His Jewish remnant to Tubal to proclaim His glory. Those verses say, “‘And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see My glory. I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations – to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of My fame or seen My glory. They will proclaim My glory among the nations.’”
Tubal’s armies will be destroyed in the Ezekiel 38-39 Battle but, because we know that Christ will send some of His future disciples there, we know that the area will not be totally destroyed as Damascus will have been earlier.
PERSIA – It is indisputable that this is a reference to present-day Iran, which lies to the east of Israel. The Persians/Iranians are descended from Noah’s son Shem. They will attack Israel from the east.
Note that Isaiah 22:5-8 says that Elam, which was in present-day Iran, “takes up the quiver with her charioteers and horses” and that “the defenses of Judah are stripped away”. These most likely refer to the future Ezekiel 38-39 Battle.
Also note the alliance between Magog/Russia and Persia/Iran. Since this prophecy was written in the 500’s BC, there has never been such an alliance and, instead, there has been pure hatred between these two groups. Now we are seeing the beginnings of an alliance as Vladimir Putin of Russia and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran have worked very closely together on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
CUSH – According to Genesis 10:6, Cush was a son of Noah’s son Ham. It is a reference to present-day Ethiopia on the African continent. Its armies will come against Israel from the south.
PUT – Genesis 10:6 tells us that Put was also a son of Noah’s son Ham. This is a reference to present-day Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, all of which lie in North Africa. Their future armies will come against Israel from the south and southwest. Like present-day Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya are in states of upheaval and chaos as I write this. Isaiah 66:18-19 tells us that, during the Millennial Kingdom, the Messiah will also send some of His Jewish remnant to Libya to proclaim His glory, so we know that Libya will not be totally destroyed.
GOMER – According to Genesis 10:2, Gomer was a son of Noah’s son Japheth. This is a somewhat difficult reference as some scholars place its location in present-day Turkey, as did first century AD historian Flavius Josephus, who placed it in ancient Asia Minor. Others think it refers to present-day Germany and Poland. In either case, this reference appears to be to armies moving against Israel from the north and northwest.
Isaiah 66:18-19 also says that, during the Millennial Kingdom, Christ will send some of His Jewish remnant to Lydia, which was part of present-day Turkey, to proclaim His glory. If Gomer refers to Turkey, then that verse also applies here.
BETH TOGARMAH – Genesis 10:3 tells us that Togarmah was a son of Gomer, so they are descendants of Noah’s son Japheth. All references are to present-day Armenia and western Russia. These future armies will come against Israel from the north and northeast.
SHEBA and DEDAN – According to Genesis 10:7 and 1 Chronicles 1:8-10, they were grandsons of Cush, who was a son of Noah’s son Ham. However, 1 Chronicles 1:32 says that they were Abraham’s grandsons through his second wife Keturah. Abraham was descended through Noah’s son Shem. By the way, Shem’s descendants were called Semites. If you were against Shem’s descendants, you were anti-Semitic. This term has come into our language to mean anti-Jewish, but its original meaning was against all of Shem’s descendants, including the present-day Iranians.
Are the Sheba and Dedan of Ezekiel 38 descended from Abraham, a descendant of Shem, or from Ham? It doesn’t really matter. It could be both, as Jokshan, Abraham’s son, could have had children with one of Ham’s descendants, or Keturah, Abraham’s second wife, could have been a descendant of Ham. We just know that they will go against Israel. All references point to Sheba and Dedan having been trading centers in Arabia, which is primarily present-day Saudi Arabia. These armies will come against Israel from the south and southeast.
TARSHISH – Genesis 10:4 says that he was a grandson of Noah’s son Japheth. Most scholars believe that this is a reference to a leading trade center in the West, possibly in present-day Spain. Others believe that it is a reference to present-day Turkey. These future armies will move against Israel from the west or north.
Note that Isaiah 23:14 tells us that Tarshish will be destroyed. This will likely take place in the Ezekiel 38-39 Battle. However, Tarshish will not be totally destroyed as Damascus will have been earlier, as Isaiah 66:18-19 says that the Messiah will also send some of His Jewish remnant to Tarshish to proclaim His glory. This will take place during the Millennial Kingdom.