These chapters describe an attack of Gentile countries against “Israel.” Some have concluded that this attack will occur PRIOR to the return of Jesus Christ. Others believe that it is the same attack which is described in the 20th chapter of the book of Revelation; that is, at the END of the Millennium or about 1,000 years AFTER Christ’s return.
The truth is, however, that the events described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 will occur AT THE VERY BEGINNING of the Millennium–shortly AFTER Christ has returned. The attack mentioned in the 20th chapter of the book of Revelation is a different attack, which will occur approximately 1,000 years later. In fact, as we will see, the Bible records that there will be at least THREE future attacks on Jerusalem–the first one at the time of Christ’s return; the second one at the beginning of the Millennium; and the third one at the end of the Millennium.
Let us carefully review the context of Ezekiel 38 and 39.
Ezekiel 38:8, 16, tells us that the events will occur “in the latter years” or in the “latter days.” Verse 8 emphasizes that it will happen at the time when those living in the land have been “brought back from the sword and gathered from among many people.” We are also told that “they were brought out of the nations” and led to “the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate.” It is emphasized that they are NOW dwelling “safely.” Verse 12 also reiterates that these former “waste places” are “again inhabited,” and that the people of Israel, who were gathered from the nations, “have acquired livestock and goods.”
Since there will be no desolate mountains of Israel throughout the Millennium, and since the people of Israel have been living in safety during the Millennium, and since they were gathered out of the nations and brought to the Promised Land at the time of Christ’s return, it is clear that the events described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 do not occur 1,000 years AFTER Christ’s return.
Other passages confirm this conclusion:
Ezekiel 38:10, 14, 19 and Ezekiel 39:11 refer to the time in question as “in that day.” Normally, this phrase refers to the time just prior to or just subsequent to Christ’s return.
We read in Ezekiel 38:11 that the people of Israel will live in “unwalled villages”; that they are a “peaceful people, who dwell safely,” “without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.” This shows that the events will not occur PRIOR to Christ’s return, as the modern descendants of the houses of Israel and Judah — mainly the USA, Great Britain, Canada and the state of Israel–do not live in peace today, and they will not live in peace, without walls, bars or gates, prior to Christ’s return (For proof, please read our free booklets, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”). Christ said that at the time of His return, there would be great tribulation–so great that no human being would be saved alive, unless He was to return to shorten those terrible days (Matthew 24:21). Also, Ezekiel 38:8 refers to the “mountains of Israel” where the modern houses of Israel and Judah will live at that time–but the modern house of Israel does not presently reside there at all, nor will they live there prior to Christ’s return.
Ezekiel 39 emphasizes in numerous places that God will destroy the invading army, and that because of God’s intervention, the nations, and especially the nation of Israel, will know that He is the Lord. Verse 22 states: “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day forward.” This is clearly a reference to the BEGINNING of the Millennium– not to the END when God has ruled over the world and Israel for 1,000 years. Verses 23-29 add that the Gentiles will know by then that “the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity”–a reference to the coming slavery of the modern house of Israel, prior to Christ’s return. Christ will free the modern nations of Israel and Judah out of their slavery when He returns–not 1,000 years later (compare verses 25, 27-28). It is THEN that God will begin to convert the survivors of the modern houses of Israel and Judah (verse 29)–not 1,000 years later.
Let us also briefly discuss the identity of the nations that will try to conquer and destroy the modern peoples of Israel and Judah. Ezekiel 38:2-3, 5, 6 lists “Gog, the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal,” as well as “Persia, Ethiopia and Libya,” and “Gomer and… the house of Togormah.”
“Gog” means “mountain” or “high” and seems to be a reference to a commander (compare also verse 7). Magog has been understood as a reference to the Mongols–or more generally, China; and “Rosh,” meaning “blond,” to the White Russians. “Meshech” is another designation for the city of Moscow, and “Tubal” for the city of Tobolsk. Meshech and Tubal, being sons of Japheth–the father of the Eurasian peoples–and brothers of Gomer and Magog (compare Genesis 10:2), seem to refer here to the Great Russians. Included in this entire description are the vast regions in northern Eurasia extending from the Baltic to the Pacific.
Persia designates modern Iran; and Ethiopia (“Cush” in Hebrew) includes the people of the state of Ethiopia, but also peoples in Central and Southern India and parts of Sri Lanka. Cush’s sons, Seba and Raamah (Genesis 10:7), and Raamah’s son Sheba (same verse), were later worshipped by Hindus as the gods Shiva and Ramah. Libya (“Put” in Hebrew) includes the people of the state of Libya, as well as people from Northern and Central India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Gomer seems to designate the peoples from Asian steppes and deserts, including people from the region of Mongolia. Finally, the reference to “Togarmah from the far north” (Ezekiel 38:6) has been understood as a reference to the people living in Siberia.
For more information on the Biblical origin and identity of modern nations and peoples, please see the Q&A in Update #126 (“Identity of Biblical Nations”).
What we find described, then, in Ezekiel 38 and 39, is an attack by a huge army composed of many Eurasian peoples at the beginning of the Millennium. This army will try to conquer and destroy the nations of the modern houses of Israel and Judah who will by then live in the Promised Land. At that time, the Eurasian army under the leadership of “Gog,” will “ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you” (Ezekiel 38:9). This power bloc is beginning to form in front of our very eyes right now.
But when they attack, GOD will do the fighting for His people. Remember, the nations of this world who will be taught by God will not WANT to learn war any more, but desire to live in peace (Isaiah 2:1-4). And so, GOD will do the fighting for them (Ezekiel 38:21-22). He would do the same for our peoples today, if we would only let Him do so, submit to HIM and be obedient to His commands.
It is true that “kings from the east” and their armies will fight against Christ AT His return, but they will be defeated. Some have wondered how the Eurasian peoples could muster another great army shortly AFTER Christ destroyed their army. They claim that the army which Christ will destroy at His return will consist of “two hundred million.” However, this is not what the Bible says.
We read in Revelation 9:14, 16, that “four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates” were released, and that the number of the army, which will at THAT time be fighting against a resurrected or revived Roman Empire in EUROPE, will be two hundred million. That war is also alluded to in Daniel 11:44-45. (For further information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”).
However, we read in Revelation 16:12, that SUBSEQUENTLY, an angel will pour out “his bowl on the great river Euphrates,” and that its water will be “dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.” We are informed, in verses 13-14, that Satan and his demons will “gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty,” in addition to “the kings of the earth and of the whole world.” That place, where the armies will be gathered, is called Armageddon (verse 16). However, we do not read here that the kings from the east will appear at Armageddon with an army of two hundred million. We are not told how big their army is going to be AT THAT TIME.
In addition, no war will take place at Armageddon. The reference to the proverbial WAR at Armageddon is unbiblical. Armageddon (meaning Har Megiddo, and describing a great valley several miles away from Jerusalem) is just the place where the armies will meet. They will then move towards Jerusalem. The actual battle will take place just outside the city.
That battle is described in Revelation 19:19-21: “And I saw the beast [a military European leader], the kings of the earth [including the kings from the east], and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse [Jesus Christ] and against His army [His angels]. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet [a European religious leader]… And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse…”
Another reference to that great battle can be found in the book of Joel. We read there that God will “GATHER all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat” (Joel 3:2). We read in Joel 3:16 that at that time, “The LORD also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem.”
A reference to that battle is also contained in Revelation 14:19-20, where we read: “So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the wine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs [Lit., stadia, about 184 miles in all].” The same terminology is used in Revelation 19:15, describing the return of Jesus Christ: “… He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”
In addition, Zechariah 14:2 says that Christ will GATHER all the nations to battle against Jerusalem, and verse 3 adds that He will fight against those nations, when His feet stand on the Mount of Olives. Verse 12 tells us about the plague with which God will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem–their flesh, their eyes and their tongue will dissolve while they stand on their feet. We don’t know how many people will be fighting against Christ. In any event, there will be people LEFT who will not be destroyed at that time (compare verse 16).
Regardless of HOW it is possible that the Eurasian peoples will be able to attack Jerusalem at the beginning of the Millennium–after a previous battle involving them and destroying their army had taken place at the time of Christ’s return–it is clear that they will do so. At that time, God will again supernaturally intervene and destroy those nations, as we read in the 38th and 39th chapters of the book of Ezekiel.
A similar [third] attack on Jerusalem will occur about 1,000 years later, after Satan has been “released from his prison.” While Satan was imprisoned, unable to deceive the nations, this world enjoyed 1,000 years of peace. But with Satan being released for a short while, things will change. He 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” (Revelation 20:7-8). As they did 1,000 years earlier, they will try to conquer Jerusalem, but God will destroy them (verse 9). Again, no human being will fight against those warring and attacking nations–it will be GOD who will do the fighting for His people.
This is the last time that we read that humans–deceived by Satan the devil–will fight. Satan will be removed forever, unable to deceive humans anymore to fight and kill in war. Ultimately, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link