Eschatology Studies (28)

It is written:

And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; (Ezekiel 39:1)

Having established that the Magog War will occur near the end of the Christian Age, we now turn our attention to trying to identify some of the key figures and events in Ezekiel 38-39. The first one we will examine is the person identified as Gog.

From the text, several things are immediately clear about this person:

Gog is associated with the land of Magog (Ezekiel 38:2);

Gog is the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal (Ezekiel 38:3);

Gog will know when the people of Israel dwell safely in their land without fear (Ezekiel 38:14);

Gog will lead a coalition of nations to attack Israel (Ezekiel 38:16);

Gog will face warfare from others (Ezekiel 38:18);

Gog will ultimately have the Lord as his enemy (Ezekiel 39:1);

Gog and his army will be defeated by God and be buried in the land of Israel (Ezekiel 39:11);

Gog’s army is demonically empowered (Ezekiel 39:11, 18);

Gog’s defeat will bring glory to God as He saves those who repent (Ezekiel 39:21-29)

When we carefully consider these characteristics of Gog, it is little wonder that the Jewish people for centuries identify this person as the one that Christians refer to as the antichrist. One author has researched ancient Jewish thought regarding Gog and has noted:

“In the period immediately preceding the coming of the MESSIAH there will be a great war of Gog and Magog against Israel, bringing destruction in its wake (see ESCHATOLOGY). These legendary nations are based on the prophecy of Ezekiel about Gog from the land of Magog (Ezek. 38: 2). Armilus, their king, was born from sexual intercourse between Satan and the stone statue of a girl in Rome. He will finally be defeated by the Messiah and his army in a war to end all wars.” (Alan Unterman, Dictionary of Jewish Lore & Legend, 279 (Kindle Edition); Thames & Hudson)

When we turn our attention to the rest of the Scriptures regarding Gog, we find some other very interesting answers…and encounter some more deep questions.

The Old Testament (written originally in Hebrew) was translated into Greek about two hundred or so before Christ was born. This translation (known as the Septuagint) was a very scholarly translation, and is often referenced by Christ and His Apostles.

Notice two passages of Scripture where the Greek Old Testament speaks of Gog:

Numbers 24:7-There shall come a man out of his seed, and he shall rule over many nations; and the kingdom of Gog shall be exalted, and his kingdom shall be increased.

Amos 7:1-Thus has the Lord God shewed me; and, behold, a swarm of locusts coming from the east; and, behold, one caterpillar, king Gog.

Speaking of the translation of these passages, Heiser notes:

“In Numbers 24: 7, part of the Balaam oracle, the traditional Masoretic Hebrew text reads, “[ Jacob’s] king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.” The point is that Israel’s (eventual, Davidic) king will defeat the king of his enemies (in this case, a reference to Agag of the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15). But the Septuagint—created long after the days of Samuel and Agag—does something quite surprising with this passage. Instead of “than Agag” (Hebrew: mʾgg) the Septuagint has “his kingdom shall be higher than Gog.” The effect is to transform the prophecy of Balaam into a remote, end-times prophecy pitting Gog against the Davidic Messiah, as opposed to an Israelite king having victory over Agag in the early days of Israel’s monarchy. How are we to understand this dramatic difference between the traditional text and the Septuagint? The LXX translation is only textually explainable if the Hebrew text being used by the Septuagint translator read mgwg instead of the Masoretic Text’s mʾgg. However, it is more likely that the Septuagint translator may have been confused by mʾgg and invented “from Gog” as a translation solution. The reason that confusion seems to be the best answer to the odd situation in Numbers 24: 7 is that the Septuagint translator certainly blunders elsewhere with respect to Gog. Compare the traditional text with the Septuagint at the end of Amos 7: 1: Masoretic Text Septuagint This is what the Lord God showed Thus the Lord showed me and behold, me: behold, he was forming locusts when an early offspring of grasshoppers coming, the latter growth was just beginning to and behold one locust larva, Gog ( gwg) the sprout, and behold, it was the latter growth king. after the king’s mowings ( gzy). Lust notes in regard to this verse, “In Amos’ vision of the plague of locusts (7: 1), the LXX translator read gwg for gzy (mowings?), focusing on Gog as the leader of a threatening army represented as a swarm of locusts.” 278 It’s very hard to follow the logic of the Septuagint translator. The waters get muddied a bit more when we discover that the Septuagint translator arbitrarily transforms Og of Bashan in Deuteronomy 3: 1, 13 and 4: 47 to “Gog” in his translation. Even more confusing is the fact that at least one Septuagint manuscript does the reverse—swapping in Og for Gog in Ezekiel 38: 2.279 One certainty arises out of this messiness: At least some Second Temple Jews were comfortable associating Gog with the giant of Bashan/ Hermon and the great eschatological enemy.” (Michael S. Heiser, Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ, 168-170 (Kindle Edition))

Why did the translators of the Septuagint insert “Gog”into these verses? Some believe that they blundered, and this may be so since no translation is perfect. However, I find it hard to believe that these scholars would make such a drastic departure from the Hebrew Scriptures without having what they considered sufficient textual reasons for such.

Commenting on the passage in Amos, Missler has noted:

“Sometimes the Dead Sea Scrolls have been able to address misunderstandings caused by a copyist error in either or both the LXX and the MT, and sometimes the LXX clarifies confusion found in the MT. Here is an example. I was doing some research in Ezekiel 38, and I happened to stumble into Amos 7: 1. Amos 7: 1 in the King James reads as follows: Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings. What does that mean? I have no idea. It makes absolutely no sense to me as it stands. In the Septuagint, Amos 7: 1 looks very different. It says: Thus the Lord showed me; and behold, a swarm of locusts were coming from the east; and, behold, one of the young devastating locusts was Gog the king. Let me back up. According to Proverbs 30: 27, “The locusts have no king…” Normal locusts that swarm across the earth do so without the leadership of a locust king. Yet, we find something very interesting in Revelation. Revelation 9: 3-11 speaks of a plague of terrible locusts upon the earth, and these brutal locusts do have a king over them-the angel of the bottomless pit. This locust king’s name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, and in the Greek tongue his name is Apollyon, both of which mean “destruction” or “destroyer.” Proverbs states that the locusts have no king, yet Revelation 9: 11 tells us that these particular locusts do. Proverbs 30: 27 helps us understand that the locusts in Revelation 9 are not literal natural locusts; they’re demons of some kind, and “locusts” is being used as a figure of speech. This makes Amos 7: 1 in the Septuagint particularly interesting when it says: Thus the Lord showed me; and behold, a swarm of locusts were coming from the east; and, behold, one of the young devastating locusts was Gog the king. The Greek version makes it clear that Amos is talking about the demonic locusts, because Gog is their king. I was very excited as I kept researching this, because Gog shows up in Ezekiel 38 and 39. Both Gog and Magog make their appearance there, with no background, no linkage. It’s very strange in the Bible to find an important person without a family line or historical explanation.” (Chuck Missler, How We Got Our Bible by Chuck Missler, 675-699 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)

In our next study, we will see that Gog and his army will be supernaturally empowered by demonic forces.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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