Updated: Feb 28, 2022
It may come as a complete shock to many of you but I want to explain in the following paragraphs why Russia has nothing to do with Gog and Magog and why you should stop worrying about it. A war in Europe has broken out. Russia just made a few people put their token on B3 in their game of eschatological bingo and we are one errant missile away from placing that elusive last token on G7 and yelling “Bingo!”, at which time Christ will ride down on His white horse and take his church.
Rinse and Repeat
It’s that time in history again. One country attacks another and Facebook lights up. Anyone remember this?
Little did Churchill know..
Every time someone in the Middle East so much as sneezes we start looking for prophecy in the Bible concerning the return of Christ. “Seriously, has the red heifer arrived? I saw on this site that Israel purchased the land of the temple mount!” We have to get out of this mindset. I know that I tend to lean on the humorous side but I feel very strongly about the seriousness of this Biblical matter. There are so many repercussions for how we interpret prophecy in light of world events. Just as with the facebook image above, we must examine all things by the scriptures (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It is a serious issue that 95% of the people on social media spreading these generated posts about Gog and Magog and the coming tribulation have not picked up their bible in months. We allow people who the only scripture reading going on in their home is the Psalm 23 sign above the kitchen sink tell us when Christ is near. Coincidentally, many of those same people would share the above image thinking it was real.
Yes, the discussion of end times (eschatology) is a complex and diverse topic. But we have witnessed this same cycle throughout the last 2,000 years of Christendom. There is nothing new under the sun. Paul had to give blunt instructions to the Thessalonians concerning this matter. There were those who thought the end was nigh and that Christ would soon take up His church, so Paul instructed the Thessalonians: “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We always google this verse and use it in an argument against the welfare state but never consider why Paul had to issue the command in the first place. Some amongt their flock had become stagnant in kingdom growth because the growth of the kingdom didn’t matter if Christ was coming to take His church within the month. Thus, Paul had to shut this down quickly.
Though eschatology is not a primary doctrine issue that we would break fellowship with other Christians over, it certainly has a strong grip over how we live our lives. I will get to this more in the last section. I fully intend for this post to break my ten-minute rule. I plead with you to please listen or read it all the way through. If I begin to lose you with Biblical cross referencing, at least skip to the section titled “Thoughts for the Unfamiliar” where I will word vomit some things you may want to hear, although I strongly encourage you to read about why Russia has nothing to do with Gog and Magog and the tribulation of the church.
For Those Who Don’t Know
Some of you may be asking, “What is he even talking about?” Let me share a made-up facebook post that you have probably seen on Facebook this last week:
“The Book of Revelations talks clearly about what is going on right now. If you are a Christian you are ready for what is next! We know the Bible says that Jesus will take His church! Bunker down, He is right around the corner.”
First off, it’s the book of Revelation.. singular. We are already off to a bad start with this fake post. In a nutshell, there are many in the Christian community that believe Russia is of significance when it comes to the end of the world. I will discuss below one of those reasons. Anytime Russia whispers something even slightly aggressive the red alerts and air sirens resound through the halls of the Ministry of Profit. I call it the ministry of profit because countless men and women over the last century have pocketed serious cash predicting the end of the world. 88 reasons anyone? If you can twist some scripture and provoke the fear of the sheep into buying your book, why not?
Let’s move forward into the Bible and what all of this even means. Buckle up.
Gog and Magog?
Gog and Magog are mentioned in Ezekiel and Revelation. In Ezekiel, it would do us well to summarize chapters 36-39.
Ezekiel is prophesying in the time of the exile in Babylon. The Lord is telling Israel: Because the land around you disgraced you and you became the possession of the rest of the nations, I will restore you and exact vengeance on them. He promises that Jerusalem will be rebuilt and we see that it is in Ezra and Nehemiah. The prosperity that God promises them is seen plainly in the New Testament recordings of the prosperity of Jerusalem in that time. There is also the reminder in here that because Israel’s ways were unclean, God turned them over in His wrath to the nations, specifically Babylon.
Starting in verse 22 we see the promise of God’s restoration to Israel which also doubles as a prophecy of the new birth as seen in the New Testament. God declares that he will give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them and remove their heart of stone. Verse 33 says, “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt.” It cannot be more abundantly clear that this is speaking directly to the coming restoration of Israel that we read about in Ezra and Nehemiah.
Many people take verse 24-28 as fulfilled prophecy in 1948 when Israel restored its statehood. The only problem is, when God takes Israel from the nations and gathers them into their own land, then he gives them a new heart and new spirit. Has Israel as a nation been cleansed since their 1948 restoration? No. They reject Christ as a nation to this day, overwhelmingly at that. Many people use 1948, Israel’s most recent restoration, as a landmark event of their end time formulas. However, even if you try to take it in good faith that it actually has significance, God says in verse 35 that the land will be desolate before God restores it. Israel as a land was not desolate when statehood was reaffirmed. People lived there. It was inhabited. At best, the doomsday countdown can’t begin in 1948. It would need to begin back when Israel became “undesolate“ and “inhabited.”
This chapter harbors the famous Sunday School story of the valley of dry bones. It is a double prophecy of God bringing Israel back to life from captivity and God’s Spirit working in us at the time of regeneration. I want to focus in on verse 23 here: ”they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” There is no special treatment of the Jews outside of Christ in the post ascension world we inhabit. Israel is not loved and cherished by God outside of the risen King. And Israel, as a nation, still doesn’t recognize Christ. This prophecy looped in with the rest of these prophecies/judgement decrees cannot possibly be specific to modern day Jews.
This is the chapter where Gog and Magog show their ugly, elusive faces. This prophecy is fulfilled, in my opinion, in Babylon. Gog comes from the North (v. 15). Babylon had to go around the desert in order to besiege Jerusalem, so they had to go up and around it. This would have made them come from the north. This is one reason people think this has something to do with Russia because Russia is north of Israel. Also, God, through Ezekiel, says that ”thoughts will come into your mind, and you will devise an evil scheme and say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages.’” (v.10,11) Israel is currently surrounded by walls. The only time they weren’t surrounded by walls happened to be when Babylon captured Jerusalem after many previous attacks that left them defenseless.
Chapter 38:17-39:6 talks about how Gog is devoured after destroying Jerusalem. It just so happens that the Medo-Persian empire sacked Babylon halfway through the 70 year captivity period. They inherited Israel as slaves. It was the Persian king Artaxerxes that approved Nehemiah to return to the land to rebuild.
Gog and Magog are mentioned in Revelation 20. “And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them,” (7-9)
This chapter is where the millennial kingdom of Christ is discussed. The millennium is a 1,000 year period of peace and prosperity in which Christ rules the earth. At the beginning of this 1,000 year period Satan is bound in chains in a pit so that he may no longer deceive the nations. At the end of this 1,000 years, Satan is released from his prison and will deceive the nations who are mentioned synonymously with Gog and Magog. Once his army is assembled from the four corners of the earth, he will march on the beloved city but Christ will destroy them in a breath.
Thoughts for the Unfamiliar
For those completely unfamiliar with eschatology (study of end times), I urge you to study this for yourselves. Eschatology matters and I will tell you why in the last section. However, here are some baseline thoughts for you:
In the second chapter of the book of Isaiah we get a description of what the “latter days” will look like. I take this to be towards the end of humanity before Christ returns because we have yet to see this up to this point in history, which is my exact point. We have not witnessed this prophecy ever.
“Isaiah 2:2–4 (ESV): It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
3 and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and 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
Also in Habukkuk 2:14:
”For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
We have yet to reach a point in human history where we can say, “yes, this has happened.” Gog and Magog have already marched on Jerusalem (see above). The Gog and Magog of Revelation is symbolic of the deceived nations marching against Christianity. And even though you may be unfamiliar with the deeper understandings of eschatology, I know you are familiar with the rapture. The traditional rapture view, the dominant rapture view, is that Christ takes his church before the seven years of tribulation. But what comes after the tribulation? The millennium. So if Russia is in fact Gog and Magog, at best we have around 1,007 years before they march on the holy city. You need to understand that there are very few, if any, respectable scholars out on social media spewing that Russia is ushering in the end times. Read the Bible for yourself so that you are not deceived the way the nations are.
Thoughts for the Familiar
For those familiar with eschatology:
If you choose to read Ezekiel chronologically and only chronologically, you now have to deal with the rebuilding of the temple that immediately follows in chapter 40. Ezekiel’s temple was rebuilt in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. This is not the third temple that everyone is waiting on to be rebuilt.
Gog and Magog are clearly symbolic of the greater nations being deceived at the end of the millennium. If you take them literally, then you are saying the only nation(s) left are Gog and Magog. Or just Magog. However you interpret these two entities.
Taking Revelation chronologically, the millennial kingdom starts when? After the following verses:
“And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh,” Revelation 19:19–21
Every evil person on earth is dead heading into the millennial kingdom. In this 1,000 years of peace where Christ reigns in perfect power from the throne of David in the city Jerusalem, where do evil people come from? How can we be okay with saying that Christ returns for 1,000 years of peace but there are still evil babies being born?
Following the thought above, are we okay with saying that when Christ comes back to rule on earth, after the mocking, shaming, cursing he experienced the first time that he will be mocked again? Is not the nations of the earth surrounding Jerusalem humiliating to the King of kings and Lord of lords?
“Ezekiel 39:9 (ESV): Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and make fires of the weapons and burn them, shields and bucklers, bow and arrows, clubs and spears; and they will make fires of them for seven years,”
How can this happen now? Last I saw on the news, Russia has tanks and fighter jets and armored vehicles. Unless this is part of their Stone Age special forces unit? I guess deception is one of the principles of the art of war. Sorry I had to throw that in there. To answer the answer to this question.. maybe I have lost you at this point. If you say that we have gotten to this point because the situation of the world is so terrible that we have resorted to this type of warfare, then what about the mark of the beast? Is it a microchip or is it something else? We have lost all technology pertaining to weaponry but not chipping people to buy, sell and trade? We could talk about this for weeks. There are no shortage of books out there debating these matters but this is a blog post. I want to move into the crux of the matter. Why does this matter?
Eschatology matters. Ideas have consequences. I read of a story one time about a couple in the post WWII days that refused to have children because they were persuaded that the end of the world was near. With two major world wars and the establishing of Israel as a nation again, the writing was on the wall that the end was nigh. This couple interpreted the scripture wrongly, as we now know, or were deceived and as a consequence they rejected one of the first command blessings that God gave humanity: Be fruitful and multiply. The sad thing? We know this was not a one-off incident. Eschatology matters. If you think the end of the world is within the next three years you won’t have kids that can change the world, you won’t invest to establish yourself for the future, you may quit your evangelism, and many other terrible decisions will be made. If you think that the end of the world is centuries away then you will plan and live your life drastically different. You won’t be able to plant a tree the same way anymore. You will understand that you will have great great great great grandkids and their soul and general livelihood will be affected by the decisions you make in the life and generation God has given you (Acts 13:36).
If you are in the former group, the group that believes the end is nigh, then you are probably in one of two camps:
“Why polish the brass on a sinking ship?” If the end is near then I’m going to hunker down and make sure my faith is good with God and make sure I get right with him that way I can grace the gate of eternal happiness.
“The end is near! We need to go out and preach the gospel and save as many people as we can. There is little time before the rapture. We need to take as many people as we can into the kingdom!”
I would like to speak to both camps briefly before wrapping up this maze of a post.
If you are in position one, you probably aren’t as concerned with gracing the gate of eternal happiness so much as you are with not gracing the gate of everlasting doom. If this stepped on your toes, you probably needed to hear it. Are you content with living your life in neglect of Jesus, the one who bought His church with His blood, only to pick up your Bible when some Facebook post talks about the current world events are in the end times scenario of scripture? I was at one point. I started reading the Bible after fear of dying at the hand of a mass shooter on campus. I knew I had not lived up to the Christian name I claimed and that if I died I would be in hell. By God’s grace, he kept me in that Word. By His grace I am what I am, and you can be too. I challenge you to live out the faith you claim to have when the going gets tough. Don‘t use our Lord as an MRE when you are starving. Let him be a nutritious meal morning, noon, and night. Repent of your apathy towards Him and His kingdom and begin working even now to be a steward of His gospel to the nations, starting in your community. Read your Bible and commit yourself to a local church and the rest will sort itself out.
If you are in position two, why can’t you have this zeal every day? What’s wrong with living your life with this mindset every day you have breath? Are you content with telling Christ on the day of judgement that the kingdom only mattered when the going was tough? Did Christ tell us to take the gospel to the nations in the event of world turmoil? No, he just said to take the gospel to the nations. Period. But even if he said the former, the world has always been in turmoil so you should always be preaching!
Stop living in fear and live as though Christ were ruling from His throne right now, not in some distant millennial kingdom. Why should you live this way? Because he is on His throne now:
Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV):
“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.”
This vision in Daniel is the events taking place in heaven immediately after Christ bent the laws of nature and ascended on a cloud before His disciples eyes. Christ is King. Not Putin, not Biden, not Ceasar; Christ. The sooner we start acknowledging His kingship the quicker we will see his Kingdom come into fruition on this rock we call earth. Stop worrying about Vladimir Putin and worry about the Kingdom of our Blessed Lord.
P.S. For those looking to study a little further see the link below for a wonderful round table between studied men of the Bible with different eschatological beliefs.