By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
In the Book of Ezekiel, there is a fascinating prophecy found which describes a coalition of nations which launch an all-out assault upon “Israel” during the “latter years.” This list of nations has a determination to defeat God’s people; and yet when the Lord Himself intervenes, they are stopped and destroyed.
Who are the countries in this alliance?
When are the “latter years” that the Prophet describes?
How much of this passage is literal, and how much is figurative?
What lessons can we learn from the Magog War?
In this series of articles, we will carefully turn our attention to the Word of God to find answers to these (and other) questions.
In this first article, we will notice what the Bible teaches us regarding WHEN the Magog war will take place.
The Context Of The Prophet Ezekiel
The Prophet Ezekiel was taken captive from the land of Israel in 597 B.C. The mighty nation of Babylon, in keeping with its’ practice of massive deportations learned from the preceding powerful Assyrian Empire, relocated many of their Jewish’ enemies to its’ homeland, where they could be policed and enslaved (Ezekiel 1:1-3).
It was here, among these captive Jews, that the Lord commissioned Ezekiel to preach His Word.
In the year 586 B.C., king Nebuchadnezzar would return to Jerusalem and destroy the temple of God. Using this event, we see that Ezekiel’s prophecies were divided up into the following pattern:
The Prophecies Which Were Made Before The Destruction Of The Temple (1-24)
The Prophecies Which Were Made Destruction The Destruction Of The Temple (25-32)
The Prophecies Which Were Made After The Destruction Of The Temple (33-48)
With these facts firmly in place, we will turn our attention to the question: When will this war take place?
First: The Magog War Will Take Place After The Jews Return To Their Land
God had declared through Jeremiah the Prophet that the people would be in captivity for seventy years in Babylon:
Jeremiah 29:10-For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.
Ezekiel 28:25-Thus says the Lord GOD: “When I have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and am hallowed in them in the sight of the Gentiles, then they will dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob.
Ezekiel 34:13-And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country.
Ezekiel 36:24-For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.
This was fulfilled in the years 536, 457, and 444 B.C when Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah led the Jews back from Babylonian captivity.
Second: The Magog War Will Happen After The Messiah Has Come And Is Reigning
Ezekiel 34:11-31-The Bible here talks about the Lord being the Good Shepherd Who goes and finds the lost sheep. Jesus applies this title to Himself in John 10:1-30.
Ezekiel 37:24-“David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them.
What does it mean that David will rule over them?
The ancient Jews understood that the Messiah would be a descendant of king David.
Several Scriptures document this, and the Jewish sages long before the time of Christ. The famous scholar, John Kill, made the following comment on this passage:
“The King Messiah, as Kimchi interprets it; and so Abarbinel (i) and others; being of the seed of David, and of whom David was an eminent type; and who, as Mediator, is the Lord’s servant, and as man appeared in the form of one: this shows that this prophecy looks further than the times of deliverance from the Babylonish captivity…”. (John Gill)
Thus, “David” was a reference to the Messiah.
Jesus came and He is now reigning (Matthew 28:18; Revelation 1:4-5).
Third: The Magog War Will Happen After The Establishment Of The New Testament
Several times throughout the OldTestament, we are told about the fact that God was going to make a New Covenant with His people. This Covenant would be different from the Old Testament (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Ezekiel talks a great deal about this New Covenant, and we see that it would be established before the events of chapters 38 and 39.
Ezekiel 16:60-62-60 “Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. 61 Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed, when you receive your older and your younger sisters; for I will give them to you for daughters, but not because of My covenant with you. 62 And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
Ezekiel 20:37-I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant;
Ezekiel 34:25-“I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.
Ezekiel 37:26-Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.
The New Covenant was established when Jesus died on the cross of Calvary:
Matthew 26:28-For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
This New Covenant is better then the Old in many ways:
Hebrews 7:22-by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.
Hebrews 8:6-But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
Fourth: The Magog War Will Happen After The People Repent And Are Forgiven By The Lord
Ezekiel tells us that the war of Magog would take place when the people of Israel repented of their sins.
Ezekiel 36:32-33-32 Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord GOD, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!” 33 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt.
Ezekiel 37:23-They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them.
Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
Furthermore, we are told these Jews who repented would be from all the nations of the world:
Ezekiel 36:24-For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.
Notice the beginning of the fulfillment of this:
Acts 2:5-And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
Acts 2:41-Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
Fifth: The Magog War Will Happen After The Holy Spirit Has Been Given To The People Of God
We are told about the fact that the Holy Spirit would be given to the people of Israel before the war of Magog.
Ezekiel 36:27-I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Jesus prophesied about the giving of the Holy Spirit:
John 7:38-39-38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
The Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost:
Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Sixth: The Magog War Would Take Place In The “Latter Years” And The “Latter Days”
We are assured that the Magog War will take place in what Ezekiel calls the “latter years” and the “latter days.”
Ezekiel 38:8-After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely.
Ezekiel 38:16-You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes.”
The phrase “the latter years” is only used here in the Bible (Ezekiel 38:8).
However, the phrase “after days” (also “last days”) is used all throughout the Bible.
It often has reference to the Christian Age (which began at Pentecost and which will continue down through the Second Coming).
Notice that in Acts 2, Peter takes the prophecy of Joel of the “latter days” and points out that it was beginning to be fulfilled in the first century:
Acts 2:16-21-16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS IN THE LAST DAYS, SAYS GOD, THAT I WILL POUR OUT OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL FLESH; YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS. 18 AND ON MY MENSERVANTS AND ON MY MAIDSERVANTS I WILL POUR OUT MY SPIRIT IN THOSE DAYS; AND THEY SHALL PROPHESY. 19 I WILL SHOW WONDERS IN HEAVEN ABOVE AND SIGNS IN THE EARTH BENEATH: BLOOD AND FIRE AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. 20 THE SUN SHALL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS, AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE COMING OF THE GREAT AND AWESOME DAY OF THE LORD. 21 AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS THAT WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.’
The Apostle Paul also writes about the last days:
Hebrews 1:1-2-1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
Seventh: The Magog War Would Occur When Iran Is At Peace With Russia
In the next article in this series, I will go into more detail about the identification of the nations here described. For now, I will simply point out that “Rosh” (Ezekiel 38:2) is most likely a reference to Russia, and Persia is a reference to Iran.
We are told:
Ezekiel 38:5-Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet;
Now, here is why that is significant: the Russians and Iranians have never had an alliance until the last few years!
Eighth: The Magog War Would Occur When “Israel” Was In Peace And Secure In Her Land
The final clue to notice about when the war of Magog will happen when the people of Israel are secure in their land.
Ezekiel 38:11-You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’—
In our next article, we will talk more about the identity of “Israel” here.
However, i want to share this fact with you: if “Israel” here has reference to the literal Jewish people (i.e., the physical descendants of Abraham), then this prophecy would seem to still be in the future.
One author has written:
“Some argue that Israel is at rest and living securely today, and they believe this prophecy could be fulfilled at any time. They maintain that Israel is living in great prosperity and is enjoying security. While that is true to some degree, no matter how hard one might try to stretch the meaning of these words, Israel is not really at rest today. Today an armed truce and a no-man’s-land separate Israel from their enemies. At the time of this writing, Israel is an armed camp, living under a tenuous truce with only two of their Arab neighbors—Egypt and Jordan—and both of those agreements could be jeopardized at any time by current events in the Middle East. Their other neighbors would love nothing more than to drive every Israelite into the Mediterranean Sea and kill all of them. The reason that they do not is that, humanly speaking, Israel has a good army that is more than a match for its neighbors. Every young Israeli man is required to have three years of military training and every young woman, two years of military training. While the women are trained for jobs that are not necessarily combatant, they also learn to use weapons, so that if they need to fight, they can. After military training, many of them are settled in villages near the border, where they can serve a double purpose—following their civilian job, whatever it is, and serving as guards for the border of Israel. If the nations of Ezekiel 38–39 should invade the Middle East today, it would not fulfill this prophecy because Israel is not at rest. Israel’s current state of unrest does not correspond to Ezekiel’s prophecy.” (Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview Of Bible Prophecy And The End Of Days, 304 (Kindle Edition); Carol Stream, Illinois; Tyndale House Foundation)
The Magog War will occur:
After The Jews Were Returned To Their Land (Fulfilled)
After The Messiah Has Come And Is Reigning (Fulfilled)
After The New Testament Has Been Established (Fulfilled)
After The People Had Repented And Would Be Forgiven (Fulfilled)
After The Holy Spirit Had Been Given (Fulfilled)
After The Time Of The Latter Days Had Begun (Fulfilled)
After The Nations Of Russia And Iran Have Made Peace (Fulfilled)
After The People Of Israel Are Living Peacefully And Securely In Their Land (Unfulfilled)
Let me also make some other observations for you to consider.
First, these subjects show us very clearly that God knows the future. He is God! He is all-knowing (1 John 3:20).
Since we are so limited in our understanding, wouldn’t it be wise to turn to Him and allow Him to lead us?
Knowing that God knows the future, shouldn’t we be making plans to get right with Him for whenever we do meet Him?
Second, these examples of prophecy and fulfillment from Ezekiel demonstrate again the supernatural origin of the Bible.
Friends, the Bible IS the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17)! It is the complete and final revelation of God to mankind, and it is what is needed to direct us (1 Corinthians 14:37; Jude 3; 1 Timothy 3:14-15).
Recently, I was having a brief Bible discussion with a gentleman who wanted to know why we in the churches of Christ do not use instrumental music in our worship services to God.
As we talked, he asked the question, “Well, who decides what we can and can’t do in worship?”
My response was simple: “The Bible.”
I don’t believe that sat well with him, just like it doesn’t set well with a lot of people. Yet the simple truth is: the Bible is the Word of God! Why call Jesus Lord if we are not going to do what He says to do (Luke 6:46)?
We need to surrender ourselves to His Word and allow Him to lead us.
Third, this study has demonstrated very clearly that when we are God’s people, we are going to have enemies.
Not long ago, I was having a Bible study with a young man who asked why so many people do not like Christians. I told him that one reason (not the only one) is because people want to live in darkness and they do not like the Light.
So, when they see and hear people who stand for the Word of Jesus (the Light of the World), they will often hate and persecute His light-bringers.
Isn’t that what Jesus taught?
John 3:19-And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
John 15:20-21-20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
Being a Christian will mean that we will have enemies. Yes, we strive to love them and pray for them and do good to them (Matthew 5:44-45), but make no mistake about it: people will often hate us for standing up for the Word of God.
Yes, they will attack us.
Yes, they will stand against us.
Yet in the end, we are going to be victorious!
Friends, Jesus Christ died for your sins on the Cross of Calvary because of the great love of God for mankind (1 Timothy 2:6). He wants you to be saved from Hell and to be with Him for eternity in Heaven (1 Timothy 2:4).
For you, He died, was buried, and arose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
He calls believers to repent and be baptized by the authority of Christ for the remission of their sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
Why not obey Him today?
If you are an erring child of God, will you not today repent of your sin and confess it to the Lord in prayer as you return to Him and His church (1 John 1:8-2:2)?
Even now He is knocking and inviting you back to Him (Revelation 3:20).
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.