Do you remember the challenge question from a previous article? Here it is in so many words:
Can you find any nations listed in the Old Testament prophets that Christ physically judges upon His return that are not located in the Middle East?
I asked this question because prophecy teachers know the Old Testament prophetic books list the nations Christ judges upon His return by name. They also know they’re all located in the Middle East. That’s not in dispute. However, in order to make these passages support their Western Antichrist theories, some have imagined that there will be a giant war in which the West will wipe out Islam after which a Western Antichrist from Europe will rise to power. This war, they say, takes place in Ezekiel 38 and 39.
As a result of this claim, they have to maintain the position that all the literal references in the Old Testament to these Middle Eastern nations are actually just allegorical names of European nations because, after all, we’re waiting for a European Antichrist. Where is the biblical evidence for this? Did God lie to His prophets when He told them the names of these nations? Does this reasoning make sense to you?
Surely the Lord God does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets. [Amos 3:7 NASB]
This is a worst-case scenario of assuming what you’re trying to prove.
The Battle of Gog of Magog
If you’ve spent any time browsing prophecy web sites in the past year, you’ve probably seen an increasing number of references to Ezekiel 38 and 39, or what has generally been called the Battle of Gog of Magog. The reason for this is that many prophecy teachers believe these chapters tell of a pre-Armageddon invasion of Israel from the north led by Russia, which will ultimately result in Islam’s destruction paving the way for a Western Antichrist.
With recent events concerning Russia and Ukraine, many believe Russia, or Magog, is gathering her allies for this invasion and that Vladimir Putin, or Gog of Magog, is getting ready to lead this invasion. We’re going to examine this popular view by looking at a few passages in these two chapters and by consulting respected, scholarly Bible maps.
Here are the questions for us:
- Is Ezekiel 38-39 a pre-Armageddon invasion of Israel?
- Is Vladimir Putin Gog of Magog?
- Is Vladimir Putin the Antichrist?
- Is Magog in Russia?
Before we go to the text, it’s a good idea for you to read through chapters 38 and 39 so you can know the context. Now, let’s examine a few passages in these two chapters to see if we can bring some clarity to the issue.
and you (Gog) will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates, [Ezekiel 38:11 NASB, parentheses added]
Ezekiel says Gog will go up against Israel, which is described as a “land of unwalled villages” and a people who “live securely”. Can we honestly say Israel dwells in peace and security today? At what time before the return of Christ will Israel dwell in peace and security? Daniel tells us in chapter 9:
And he (Antichrist) will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” [Daniel 9:27, parentheses added]
Ezekiel 38:11 is referring to the time of peace the Antichrist establishes with Israel during the first half of the 7-year tribulation period. In fact, it’s here where this peace is being broken because he has decided it’s finally time to invade the “beautiful land” [Daniel 11:41, 8:25; 1 Thessalonians 5:3].
‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Are you (Gog) the one of whom I spoke in former days through My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days for many years that I would bring you against them? [Ezekiel 38:17 NASB, parentheses added]
According to this verse, if Putin is Gog then we should be able to find references to him in the pages of the other Old Testament prophets. But where? Can you find any references to Gog in the other prophetic books? Have a look. You’ll have a difficult time trying to find this other person in the pages of the prophets. However, there is one person of whom the Old Testament prophets spoke – the Antichrist.
“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 NASB]
God says, after Gog is defeated, He will no longer allow his name to be blasphemed. What about the Antichrist? Isn’t he supposed to come after this?
And he (Antichrist) opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. [Revelation 13:6 NASB, parentheses added]
Ezekiel 39:25-29 NASB Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name.  “They will forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid.  “When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations.  “Then they will know that I am the LORD their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer.  “I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares the Lord GOD.
If Ezekiel 38-39 is a pre-Armageddon invasion of Israel, how can Israel, afterward, “live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid”? Is there no Battle of Armageddon still to come? Is there no Antichrist still to come? Do you see the disconnect?
Additionally, in verse 29 God says, “I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” which is a description of the spiritual restoration of Israel to God after the Antichrist is defeated that is consistent with what the rest of Scripture says about this time.
So far, it’s not looking good for Putin and whatever ambitions he might have to invade the Middle East, but maybe his game plan can be salvaged if we find that Magog is in Russia. Let’s have a look.
To understand prophecy, it’s important that we understand the lay of the land at the time when it was written. If Ezekiel wasn’t describing places that actually existed during his time, then his prophecy wouldn’t have had any relevance to the people who lived then. And if it had no relevance to the people who lived then, it can‘t have any relevance to those who lived after him, either. That includes us. Why? The reason is, if Ezekiel wasn’t describing places that existed during his time then we wouldn’t know where to look now to find Magog (this applies to the rest of the prophets as well). It could be anywhere. In fact, I submit to you that this is the fallacy that many prophecy teachers commit which is why we hear things like “Russia is Magog” and “America is Babylon,” etc. So, where was Magog when Ezekiel wrote his prophecy? The most trusted, scholarly Bible maps place Magog in modern-day Turkey.
Magog is in modern-day Turkey not Russia. This is consistent with the geography we’ve already surveyed in Daniel 11 and, as we will see, the rest of Scripture concerning these things.
Gog is the Antichrist
There is no separate person known as Gog who will invade the Middle East before the Antichrist does. Ezekiel 38-39 is a retelling of Armageddon from Ezekiel’s perspective and Gog is none other than the Antichrist of whom the Old Testament prophets spoke. Knowing this, let’s revisit our questions from the beginning:
- Is Putin Gog of Magog? No, because Gog is the Antichrist.
- Is Putin the Antichrist? No, because Magog is in Turkey not Russia (and he is also not from the line of Ishmael).
- Therefore, can Ezekiel 38-39 be a pre-Armageddon invasion of Israel? The answer, again, is no.
And, by the way, if the Antichrist is coming from the area known today as Turkey, what other popular candidates can we eliminate as well?
Now, in light of these things, it’s important for us to be as cautious and conservative as possible to avoid unneeded speculation. What this does not mean is that Russia absolutely won’t be involved in a war in the Middle East someday. What this does mean is that Ezekiel 38-39 doesn’t say it will, nor does it say anywhere else in prophecy. It also means Russia will not control the Middle East even if it is involved in a war. We can now remove Russia from our focus (and even our peripheral vision) and focus on the area of the world where prophecy has been and is now taking place.
Loose ends of the earth
Let’s have a look at one more passage that has tempted prophecy teachers to conclude that Russia is Magog.
“Therefore prophesy, son of man, and say to Gog, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “On that day when My people Israel are living securely, will you not know it? You will come from your place out of the remote parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great assembly and a mighty army; [Ezekiel 38:14-15 NASB, see also 38:6]
Gog will come from the “remote parts of the north.” Since there is no landmass more north of Israel than Russia, prophecy teachers conclude that Russia is Magog. However, we have already identified from Daniel 11 where this north kingdom is and that, at the end time, it will be ruled by the last king of the north – the Antichrist [Daniel 11:40].
This area of land is in modern-day Turkey et al, and we saw above that Ezekiel tells us the same thing by identifying the Antichrist as Gog of the land of Magog, which is in the same place. If we apply a conservative interpretation to this passage that doesn’t go beyond the borders of Scripture, the “remote parts of the north” becomes the northernmost parts of this north kingdom, or the northernmost parts of Turkey.
Peace deals [Ezekiel 38:11, Daniel 9:27]
All of these things, and especially the prophetic geography, are just some of the reasons why we don’t have to watch everyone who steps onto the world stage trying to make peace between Israel and the surrounding nations. This is an unwarranted and fruitless activity and only serves to muddy the waters.
Even if peace is made between Israel and the surrounding nations tomorrow, that doesn’t mean the one who made it will be the Antichrist. Just making peace isn’t enough. Anyone can seek to make peace between Israel and the surrounding nations and some may be successful, but that’s not all Scripture says about it. There are four additional requirements (at least) that help us to identify the right peacemaker:
- Daniel’s north kingdom must already exist encompassing parts of Turkey/Syria/Lebanon/Iran/Iraq [Daniel 11]
- He must rise to power in this north kingdom; He must come from the area known today as Turkey [Daniel 11; Ezekiel 38:1-4]
- A ten-kingdom Islamic Caliphate must already exist (with the north kingdom being one of the ten) [Daniel 7:8, 7:24]
- He must seize three additional Islamic kingdoms thereby securing his reign over the Caliphate [Daniel 7:8, 7:24]
Peace comes after the peacemaker is ruling the Caliphate. He would have no authority to make peace if he wasn’t already ruling. The rule of the Caliphate comes after he has risen to power in and is ruling a reunited north kingdom. (I also want to add here that there are those who believe the Antichrist will be Jewish and so go about watching Jewish leaders trying to make peace with the surrounding nations. Consider, if peace is made between Israel and the surrounding nations, naturally a Jew will be have to be the recipient of the deal on behalf of Israel. That doesn’t mean he is the Antichrist. In other words, two people, one from each side, are required to make a treaty and prophetic geography tells us which one to watch.)
The Bible is very specific for our benefit. Let’s take advantage of it! These events plus this entire study is what makes saying things like “Barack Obama is the Antichrist” incredibly irresponsible. This only contributes to the deception to which the Church has already fallen prey concerning Islam. I’ve even read that John Kerry is the Antichrist because he’s been trying to make a peace deal at the time of this writing! Where will it end? By this logic, you could propose a peace treaty and it could be ratified which would make you a candidate for the Antichrist! How does that make you feel, Christian?
This is why I lament that so many lovers of prophecy are missing the very things they so long to see! What’s even more tragic is that they think they are watching them! Christians are watching Russia, which the Bible has nothing to say about, rather than taking note of the rise of Turkey and it’s desires to once again unite the Islamic world and rule a revived Caliphate (a new Ottoman Empire) based on the commands of a religion that is encouraging people in the Middle East to murder and behead Christians and Jews right now who do not pledge thought and deed to Islam [Revelation 13:16-17]. Are we ready to wake up, Church?
Videos and links below:
Gog of Magog Part 1: Russia or Turkey? [Ezekiel 38 & 39]
Modern Bible scholars universally place Magog in Turkey rather than Russia.
Gog of Magog Part 1: Russia or Turkey? [Ezekiel 38 & 39]
What are the benefits of using the Historical-Grammatical Method to interpret prophecy rather than a bloodline-lineage or Ancestral-Migration Method?