Revelation 20: Four Views of Gog and Magog


Revelation 20: Four Views of Gog and Magog

Adam Maarschalk: April 5, 2010

Scripture texts for this study: Ezekiel 38-39; Revelation 20:7-10

Gog and Magog are referenced together twice in Scripture by name, first in Ezekial 38-39 and very briefly in Revelation 20. A third related passage is Revelation 19:17-18, where Gog and Magog are not mentioned by name but the language there appears to be borrowed from Ezekiel’s prophecy. How are Gog and Magog to be identified? The battle prophesied in Ezekiel, in particular, has merited much speculation among prophecy pundits. I would like to discuss four different interpretations for the references to Gog and Magog by both Ezekiel and John (Rev. 20). The following are some questions/factors to consider as we do so:

  1. Does John (in Rev. 19 or Rev. 20) refer to the same historical event as Ezekiel does, or is the battle described by Ezekiel merely a precedent for the battles John is describing?
  2. Is the book of Ezekiel written in a chronological manner, so that the chapters which come before this battle description (e.g. chapters 36-37) and those which follow it (chapters 40-48) suggest the timing of this battle’s occurrence?
  3. The battle described in Rev. 20:7-10 takes place “when the thousand years are ended,” i.e. at the end of the Millennium. One’s eschatological system, therefore, is a large factor in determining when this battle takes place. For Futurists and premillennialists, it will take place 1000 years after the future Second Coming of Christ. For amillennialists and for postmillennialists, it will take place sometime in the future, but before the Second Coming of Christ, since we are in the Millennium now. For full-preterists (those who believe in the past fulfillment of all Bible prophecy), it took place in or just before 70 AD.

The four interpretations we will consider[1] are these:

[A] The position of partial-preterists David Lowman and Gary DeMar that Ezekiel’s prophecy was fulfilled in Esther’s day. For this position, the battles of Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20 are not one and the same.

[B] Partial-preterist Kenneth Gentry’s position that Ezekiel 38-39 was likely fulfilled in the second century BC, and its imagery is used by John to foreshadow the events of Revelation 19:11-21 and Revelation 20:8-10. For this position, the battles of Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20 are not one and the same (nor are the battles of Rev. 19 and Rev. 20).

[C] The popular Futurist/premillennial position, which says that Ezekiel prophesied of a Russian-led attack on national Israel which is very soon to take place, and that John prophesied of an attack on the literal city of Jerusalem at the end of a future 1000-year Millennium. For this position, the battles of Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20 are not one and the same.

[D] Full-preterist Kurt Simmon’s position that Ezekiel 38-39 was a prophecy concerning Rome’s invasion of Jerusalem in 70 AD, as was John’s prophecy in Revelation 20. Clearly, then, for this position, the battles of Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20 ARE indeed one and the same.

After each position is presented, I will offer some pros and cons as I see them (i.e. as I see them at this time; these are not easy texts to interpret, and my views on this subject are not necessarily set in stone). For clarity, my pros and cons will be listed in red and green font, respectively. Feedback is welcome in the comments section.

[A] David Lowman and Gary DeMar: Ezekiel 38-39 Was Fulfilled in Esther’s Day

1. David Lowman’s View

David Lowman is a Presbyterian pastor, and a partial-preterist (one who sees a past fulfillment in many, but not all, Bible prophecies). In the first post in a brief 4-part series on this subject, David Lowman notes that many “prophecy experts…have over the years…promoted the idea that the names used for [Gog, Magog, and their allies] are related to current nations that will supposedly lead a multi-national conglomerate of nations preparing to attack Israel. Those names are Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.” In this thinking, Rosh is supposed to be Russia, Meshech to be Moscow, and Tubal to be Tobolsk. Lowman says that only the NASB (New American Standard Bible) uses the translation “Rosh” in the first place (having been translated by dispensationalists), but even futurists like Charles Ryrie disagree with this translation. He adds,

The term “Rosh” in Hebrew means “chief” or “leader” [and] is a Hebrew word. “Russia” comes from the 11th century Scandanavian word “Rus” and has no relation in root and etemology to the word “rosh.” It’s beyond a stretch of all credulity [to link the two]… “Meshach” and “Tubal” were actual city/nations before the time of Christ and were part of the larger Persian Empire. These words come from the Asiatic words “Mushka” and “Tabal” and they are both literal locations located in modern day Turkey and, again, have NO relation to the nation of Russia in any way. This is such poor exegesis and now many modern Dispensationalist have abandoned these claims, though the more popular prophecy experts still promote it.

In David Lowman’s second post, he makes the point that Ezekiel described a style of warfare that is very much ancient, and that the weapons he mentioned were made out of wood and thus able to be burned (Ezek. 38:4-5; 39:9). Many believe that Russia’s identity is confirmed because these armies were to come from the north (Ezek. 38:6, 15; 39:2), but Lowman notes that other significant invasions of Israel in the Old Testament were also from the north: [1] Babylon (Jeremiah 1:14, 4:6, 6:10, 10:22), Persia (Isaiah 41:25, Jer. 50:41), and Assyria (Zephaniah 2:13). Lowman then adds:

The truth of the matter is that nearly all attacks against Israel came from the north directionally speaking. The easiest way to travel to attack Israel would be from the North. As noted all the great enemies of Israel were from the East or West but their attacks all came from the North. This is also true in several instances in Ezekiel. There are several mentions of nation from the North attaching even though the nation of origin came from the East or West… The closest nation from a northern proximity to ever attack Israel would have been Rome, from across the Mediterranean Sea.

In Lowman’s third post, he agrees with Kenneth Gentry (as we will see) that the battle of Revelation 20, with its reference to Gog and Magog (verse 8), is only an allusion to the battle described in Ezekiel 38-39, but is not a reference to the same historical event.

In Lowman’s fourth post, he notes that many believe that “this event was fulfilled during the time of the Macabbean Revolt [during the second century BC]. This view argues that the enemy in question is Antiochus Epiphanies which would fit the Persian expectation and the worldwide expanse of the Persian empire at that time.” This doesn’t really fit, though, he says, because the Macabbean Revolt involved throwing off the rule of an occupying force after several years, while the attack in Ezekiel describes divine intervention at the time of an invasion.

Instead, Lowman submits that the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39 “is found during the time of Esther and involves the Israelite victory over Haman’s “schemes” and complete victory of the outmatched Israel forces.” In the second part of this section, Gary DeMar will expand on the idea that Ezekiel 38-39 was fulfilled in Esther’s day.

2. Gary DeMar’s View—Similar to That of David Lowman’s:

At the outset of Gary DeMar’s article, I would like to include a small disclaimer that I personally appreciate some of DeMar’s works more than others. I have read/skimmed excerpts from his books “Last Days Madness” and “Why the End of the World is Not in Your Future,” and appreciated what I read. In short, I have appreciated his articulation of the preterist viewpoint which I also share. However, I’m not on the same page when it comes to the Postmillennial position of his ministry, American Vision, as well as some of the political rants of AV which seem to follow in the vein of World Net Daily, a publication which I respect just about as much as I respect The National Enquirer. Having said that, DeMar’s article on Gog and Magog is quite thought-provoking:

…If the battle described in Ezekiel 38–39 does not refer to modern-day nations that will attack Israel, then when and where in biblical history did this conflict take place? Instead of looking to the distant future or finding fulfillment in a historical setting outside the Bible where we are dependent on unreliable secular sources, James B. Jordan believes that “it is in [the book of] Esther that we see a conspiracy to plunder the Jews, which backfires with the result that the Jews plundered their enemies. This event is then ceremonially sealed with the institution of the annual Feast of Purim.” Jordan continues by establishing the context for Ezekiel 38 and 39:

Ezekiel describes the attack of Gog, Prince of Magog, and his confederates. Ezekiel states that people from all over the world attack God’s people, who are pictured dwelling at peace in the land. God’s people will completely defeat them, however, and the spoils will be immense. The result is that all nations will see the victory, and “the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God from that day onward” (Ezek. 39:21–23). . . . Chronologically this all fits very nicely. The events of Esther took place during the reign of Darius, after the initial rebuilding of the Temple under Joshua [the High Priest] and Zerubbabel and shortly before rebuilding of the walls by Nehemiah. . . . Thus, the interpretive hypothesis I am suggesting (until someone shoots it down) is this: Ezekiel 34–37 describes the first return of the exiles under Zerubbabel, and implies the initial rebuilding of the physical Temple. Ezekiel 38–39 describes the attack of Gog (Haman) and his confederates against the Jews. Finally, Ezekiel 40–48 describes in figurative language the situation as a result of the work of Nehemiah.

Ezekiel 38:5–6 tells us that Israel’s enemies come from “Persia, Cush, and . . . from the remote parts of the north,” all within the boundaries of the Persian Empire of Esther’s day. From Esther we learn that the Persian Empire “extended from India to Cush, 127 provinces” in all (Esther 8:9). Ethiopia (Cush) and Persia are listed in Esther 1:1 and 3 and are also found in Ezekiel 38:5. The other nations were in the geographical boundaries “from India to Ethiopia” in the “127 provinces” over which Ahasueras ruled (Esther 1:1). “In other words, the explicit idea that the Jews were attacked by people from all the provinces of Persia is in both passages,” and the nations listed by Ezekiel were part of the Persian empire of the prophet’s day. The parallels are unmistakable. Even Ezekiel’s statement that the fulfillment of the prophecy takes place in a time when there are “unwalled villages” (Ezek. 38:11) is not an indication of a distant future fulfillment as Grant Jeffrey attempts to argue:

It is interesting to note that during the lifetime of Ezekiel and up until 1900, virtually all of the villages and cities in the Middle East had walls for defense. Ezekiel had never seen a village or city without defensive walls. Yet, in our day, Israel is a “land of unwalled villages” for the simple reason that modern techniques of warfare (bombs and missiles) make city walls irrelevant for defense. This is one more indication that his prophecy refers to our modern generation.

* * * * *

Ezekiel’s reference to “dwell safely” and “without walls . . . neither bars nor gates” refers precisely to Israel’s current military situation, where she is dwelling safely because of her strong armed defense and where her cities and villages have no walls or defensive bars. The prophet had never seen a city without walls, so he was astonished when he saw, in a vision, Israel dwelling in the future without walls. Ezekiel lived in a time when every city in the world used huge walls for military defense.

In Esther we learn that there were Jews who were living peacefully in “unwalled towns” (KJV) (9:19) when Haman conspired against them. Israel’s antagonists in Ezekiel are said to “go up against the land of unwalled villages” (Ezek. 38:11). The Hebrew word perazah is used in Esther 9:19 and Ezekiel 38:11. This fits the conditions of Esther’s day. Jeffrey is mistaken in his assertion that “Ezekiel had never seen a village or city without defensive walls.” They seemed to be quite common outside the main cities. Moreover, his contention that Israel is currently “dwelling safely because of her strong armed defense” is patently untrue. Since 2006, the Israeli government has built more than 435 miles of walls in Israel.

The chief antagonist of the Jews in Esther is Haman, “the son of Hammedatha the Agagite” (Esther 3:1, 10; 8:3, 5; 9:24). An Agagite is a descendant of Amalek, one of the persistent enemies of the people of God. In Numbers 24:20 we read, “Amalek was the first of the nations, but his end shall be destruction.” The phrase “first of the nations” takes us back to the early chapters of Genesis where we find “Gomer,” “Magog,” “Tubal,” and “Meshech,” and their father Japheth (Gen. 10:2), the main antagonist nations that figure prominently in Ezekiel 38 and 39. Amalek was probably a descendant of Japheth (Gen. 10:2). Haman and his ten sons are the last Amalekites who appear in the Bible. In Numbers 24:7, the Septuagint (LXX) translates “Agag” as “Gog.” “One late manuscript to Esther 3:1 and 9:24 refers to Haman as a ‘Gogite.’” Agag and Gog are very similar in their Hebrew spelling and meaning. Agagite means “I will overtop,” while Gog means “mountain.” In his technical commentary on Esther, Lewis Bayles Paton writes:

The only Agag  mentioned in the OT is the king of Amalek [Num. 24:7; 1 Sam. 15:9]. . . . [A]ll Jewish, and many Christian comm[entators] think that Haman is meant to be a descendant of this Agag. This view is probably correct, because Mordecai, his rival, is a descendant of Saul ben Kish, who overthrew Agag [1 Sam. 17:8–16], and is specially cursed in the law [Deut. 25:17]. It is, therefore, probably the author’s intention to represent Haman as descended from this race that was characterized by an ancient and unquenchable hatred of Israel (cf. 3:10, “the enemy of the Jews”).

A cursive Hebrew manuscript identifies Haman as “a Gogite.” Paul Haupt sees a relationship between Haman’s descriptions as an Agagite and “the Gogite.”

There is another link between Haman the Agagite in Esther and Gog in Ezekiel 38–39. “According to Ezekiel 39:11 and 15, the place where the army of Gog is buried will be known as the Valley of Hamon-Gog, and according to verse 16, the nearby city will become known as Hamonah.”[12] The word hamon in Ezekiel “is spelled in Hebrew almost exactly like the name Haman. . . . In Hebrew, both words have the same ‘triliteral root’ (hmn). Only the vowels are different.”

Haman is the “prince-in-chief” of a multi-national force that he gathers from the 127 provinces with the initial permission of king Ahasuerus to wipe out his mortal enemy—the Jews (Ex. 17:8–16; Num. 24:7; 1 Sam. 15:8; 1 Chron. 4:42–43; Deut. 25:17–19). Consider these words: “King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and established his authority over all the princes who were with him” (Esther 3:1). Having “authority over all the princes who were with him” makes him the “chief prince.” In Esther 3:12 we read how Haman is described as the leader of the satraps, governors, and princes… (More here).

A few of the parallels between the accounts in Esther and Ezekiel 38-39, which Gary DeMar didn’t mention but David Lowman does, are as follows:

  • Ezra and Nehemiah both mention the large amounts of silver and gold that the Jews brought back from exile. These are the same items we are told the approaching armies were attacking to plunder.
  • The battle with Haman’s armies takes place after Israel is returned to the land—during Darius’ reign. Ezekiel prophesied until just a few short decades before this time.
  • Esther and Ezekiel’s enemies from the north both contain Persia and Ethiopia.
  • In a very short battle [in Esther] the Israelites destroy Haman’s army killing nearly 100,000 despite being greatly out-manned.
  • In fact, both passages state that the Jews were attacked by all of Persia’s provinces.

PROS: [1] Lowman makes a good point that Ezekiel went to great lengths to describe ancient warfare (“horses and horsemen…full armor…buckler and shield, wielding swords…shields and helmet…bow and arrows, clubs and spears” [Ezek. 38:4-5; 39:9]). Unless context clearly dictates otherwise, it would be a huge stretch to make this a description of modern warfare.

[2] I appreciated DeMar’s effort in noting the context of the chapters surrounding Ezekiel 38-39 (i.e. the first return of the exiles from Babylon under Zerubbabel), thus legitimizing his statement that it’s plausible for this text to be applied to Esther’s day if the other data fits.

[3] DeMar argues well for parallel boundaries between the Persian Empire in Esther’s day and Gog/Magog and her allies in Ezekiel’s vision.

[4] In Ezekiel’s vision, the Jews were living in unwalled towns. DeMar notes that this was also the case in Esther’s day, which makes sense since they were part of the Persian Empire at that time, an empire known for its benevolence and for taking good care of its subjects.

[5] The Agag-Gog connection is very intriguing, where Haman (the enemy of Esther) is shown to be an “Agagite” and even a “Gogite” in some manuscripts. That the invaders in Ezekiel’s vision would be buried in the Valley of Hamon-Gog only adds to the intrigue.

[6] The five parallels between the accounts in Esther and Ezekiel are all credible, making this interpretation a very legitimate possibility.

CONS: [1] There is no Biblical record explicitly stating that what took place in Esther’s day was first prophesied by Ezekiel. The connections, though fascinating, are implicit rather than explicit.

[2] There are details recorded in Ezekiel’s vision that are not recorded in Esther’s account, which can be seen primarily in Esther 9.

[B] Kenneth Gentry: Ezekiel 38-39 is Historically Distinct from Rev. 19 and 20

Kenneth Gentry is an ordained Presbyterian minister and author who, like Gary DeMar and David Lowman, is a partial-preterist. On page 160 of his newest book titled “Navigating the Book of Revelation: Special Studies on Important Issues, Gentry notes several parallels between the structure of Ezekiel and how John organizes the book of Revelation. Among these structural parallels, he says, is the correlation between Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 19-20.[2] Gentry’s main contribution here, though, will be his explanation that Revelation 19 and 20 simply draw on Ezekiel 38-39, but are not the same event. In other words, John, in both Revelation 19 and 20, only alludes to the prophecy given by Ezekiel (future to Ezekiel, but past to John) as a harbinger of what is to come in his own future.

Aside from this explanation, I haven’t been able to find Gentry’s precise position on the interpretation of Ezekiel 38-39. At “The Forerunner” website where many of his products are sold I did find an article written in 1990 by his ministry associate, Jay Rogers, titled “Is the Soviet Union Gog and Magog?” In this article, Jay Rogers proposes that Ezekiel’s prophecy concerned the Scythian invaders of the 2nd century BC:

Others have understood this vision as a prophecy which was fulfilled in the 2nd century B.C. at the defeat of the Assyrian invaders of Palestine by Judas Maccabeus… Ezekiel 38-39 should be understood in the context of its apocalyptic literary style; this is a highly visionary passage depicting an earthly struggle of Ezekiel’s time which is only a smaller reflection of a spiritual conflict between the forces of heaven and hell. Historically, the nations mentioned in this passage, Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer and Beth-togarmah, were a barbarous people known as the Scythians. These were a nomadic people who had moved from central Asia to southern Russia. Just about the same time that Ezekiel was born, the Scythians terrorized southwest Asia and the Middle East.

Whether this is Kenneth Gentry’s personal position at this time, I don’t know. The closest admission I could find from Gentry on his own view of Ezekiel’s prophecy is this statement:

[Greg] Beale (980) allows the possibility that Eze. 38–39 could point to second century BC events (Antiochus Epiphanes) that serve as “typological patterns” for what will “happen at the end of history” (cf. Bøe 373). Riddlebarger recognizes that “Divine judgments in history are, so to speak, rehearsals of the last judgment.” That is precisely my understanding of John’s use of Ezekiel to refer to AD 70: for AD 70 is a distant adumbration of the end of history which will come at the Second Advent.

These thoughts from Gentry, as well as what follows, can be found in a publication written by Kenneth Gentry titled “Recapitulation v Progress.” This is a primer for a full-length, verse-by-verse commentary on the book of Revelation which Gentry is currently working on. This particular publication is #13 among his Revelation Commentary Updates so far, and these excerpts are from pages 2-9 of that publication.

What follows is a summary of Gentry’s view that Ezekiel’s prophecy is merely drawn upon by John to signify the events of Revelation 19-20. In our introduction to Revelation 20 we noted that Gentry’s partial-preterist views cause him to agree with the premillennial position that Revelation 20:7-10 does not cover the same historical ground as Revelation 19:11-21 either. The reason that this is important to note is because both of these passages in Revelation allude to Ezekiel 38-39. His (rare) agreement with premillennialists on this point comes, though, “with quite different results,” as he explains:

I hold that Christ’s coming from heaven to wage war in Revelation 19:11ff represents His judgment coming on Israel in AD 70. As such it reflects the theme of the book found in 1:7, where he comes against those tribes who pierced him (the Jews). Consequently, 20:1ff presents the consequence of Christ’s judgment of Israel, Christianity’s first major enemy: the binding of Satan, the vindication of the martyrs, and the spiritual rule of believers with Christ in the present age.

Here Gentry makes the following statements regarding the non-explicit references to Gog and Magog in Revelation 19 and the explicit mention of Gog and Magog in Revelation 20:

R. Fowler White notes [that Revelation] 19:17–18 is “virtually a verbatim quotation” of Ezekiel 39:17–20 (1989: 326), and [Revelation] 20:7–10 specifically mentions “Gog and Magog” (Ezekiel 38:2; 39:1, 6), showing God destroying them with fire from heaven (cp. Rev 20:7–10; Eze 38:22; 39:6). Clearly then, John bases both “the Armageddon revolt (19:17–21) and the Gog-Magog revolt (20:7–10) on the same prophetic passage” (1989: 327)… [Both Revelation 19:19–21 and Revelation 20:7–10] allude to the same OT eschatological battle prophecy (Ezekiel 38–39).

Gentry notes that there are those who draw from these facts the premise that the events of Revelation 19:19-21 and Revelation 20:7-10 must therefore refer to the same historical event. This is most common among amillennialists who also hold to the Historicist (rather than futurist or preterist) position. However, he adds:

Though “significant correspondence” of a “highly peculiar” nature exists between Rev. 19 and Ezekiel 39, problems confront this interpretation: First, similarity does not entail identity. Simply because John patterns both the battles of Rev. 19 and Rev. 20 on Eze. 38–39 does not mean they are the same battle. Similar language is used because similar fundamental realities prevail: God is catastrophically judging oppressive enemies of His people.

Many scholars see AD 70 as a microcosm of the final judgment. Consequently, we may expect the same imagery to apply to both AD 70 and the end. For instance, of those first century events, Bloesch states: “The catastrophe that befell the Jewish people in A.D. 70 is a sign of the final judgment.” Morris agrees: “…[We see that there is] a theological unity between the two judgments, and that some of what Jesus says [in the Olivet Discourse] could apply equally well to both.” Second, as Bøe notes, John often makes double use of Ezekiel’s images (Bøe, 275). The imagery from Ezekiel’s scroll vision in Eze. 2:8–33 applies both to Rev 5:1 and 10:8–11; Ezekiel’s measuring imagery in Eze 40–48 appears in quite distinct passages in Rev 11:1–2 and 21:10–27 (Bøe 371).

…If John had wanted us to understand recapitulation [the repetition of the same events] rather than sequence in this passage [Revelation 20], John “did us no favor” by: (a) recasting the beast and false prophet (19:20) as Gog and Magog (20:8); (b) inserting a thousand year period between the two battles (20:2–5); (c) representing the period of Christian history from the first century to the end as “a short time” (12:12) and as “a thousand years” (20:2–6)… (d) offering no hint that Satan is bound before Rev 19:11ff while emphasizing his being bound before Rev 20:7ff; and (e) telling us that Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire where the beast and false prophet already are (20:10).

…[The judgment of] AD 70 (in Rev. 19:11–21) anticipates the final eschatological battle (Rev. 20:8–10)… It even seems that the NT emphasizes AD 70 more frequently — probably because it was looming in the near future, directly relevant to first century Christians, and of catastrophic significance in re-orienting their thinking regarding the flow of redemptive history… Indeed, it seems that the NT knows of only two great battles remaining in redemptive history: AD 70 which closes the old covenant era (and inaugurates the new covenant) and the Second Advent which closes the new covenant era (and history). Jesus certainly seems to link AD 70 and the Second Advent in his large Olivet Discourse… In addition, John limits Revelation’s prophecies to the near term (1:1, 3; 22:6, 10), which suggests a strong emphasis on AD 70.

Having made his case that Revelation 19:11-21 and Revelation 20:8-10 are separate and distinct events, Gentry then makes his case for why Ezekiel 38-39 is also not one and the same with Revelation 20:

Ezekiel 38–39 does not fit either the imagery of Rev 20:7–10 or its consummational setting… We see this in that:

(1) In Ezekiel God is on the offensive and gathers Gog (38:1–4; 39:1–2), whereas in Revelation Satan takes the offensive and gathers “Gog” (20:7–10).

(2) In Ezekiel Gog is motivated by plunder (Eze 38:12–13), whereas in Rev. 20:8 he is moved by Satan’s deception without regard to plunder.

(3) Ezekiel speaks of an actual battle wherein God causes men to fight one another with swords (38:21), which is a common motif description for confused historical battle (Judges 7:22; 1 Samuel 14:20; Haggai 2:2; Zech. 14:13). This is a common way of showing God providentially and indirectly (rather than miraculously and directly) punishing men in history (e.g., Isaiah 10:5; 13:17). But Rev. 20:7–10 seems to present a purely final-eschatological judgment, involving direct divine destruction by fire (20:9b), with no mention of human implements of war involved.

(4) Ezekiel speaks of Israel becoming faithful at that time because of that battle (39:22–24), whereas Rev. 20 has God’s people already ruling and reigning (20:4) and living in obedience in the “beloved city” (20:9b) at the time of this final judgment…

(6) Ezekiel emphasizes certain events occurring after the battle, including burning the weapons for seven years (39:9), burying the dead (39:12–16), and other nations witnessing God’s triumph and Israel’s faithfulness “from that day onward” (39:21–24). These clearly show history continuing after the battle. But Revelation presents the climactic end-time wrath of God (20:9c), which is followed by the final judgment and the end of history (20:11–15).

PROS: [1] While Gentry says very little about how Ezekiel 38-39 may have been fulfilled, he provides plenty of well-thought-out reasons for why this passage is to be seen as historically distinct from Revelation 19 and Revelation 20. To add to his reasons already given, I offer these as well: [a] Those being attacked in Ezekiel 38-39 dwell in the cities of Israel (Ezek. 39:9) with livestock, goods (38:13), and are dependent on wood from the forests (39:10). Those who are attacked in Revelation 20:7-10 are identified as “the camp of the saints and the beloved city,” a clear parallel to “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (Hebrews 12:22-23; i.e. the Church). [b] In Ezekiel, Israel’s attackers come from “the uttermost parts of the north” (Ezek. 38:6), while in Revelation Gog and Magog comes from “the four corners of the earth” (Rev. 20:8).

[2] The first-century historian Josephus, as will be noted in the futurist section below, affirmed that the Scythian peoples of his day could trace their descent from Magog.

CONS: Kenneth Gentry, at least here in this material, doesn’t offer much of an explanation for how Ezekiel 38-39 may have been fulfilled by events in the second century BC. This does nothing, however, to take away from his well-argued premise that this prophecy is historically distinct from the prophecies of Revelation 19 and 20.

[C] The Futurist Position: Ezekiel 38-39 is Not Yet Fulfilled (and neither is Revelation 19 or 20)

In this section, we will only deal with the futurist position on Ezekiel 38-39, and not on Revelation 19 and 20 (it’s a given that the majority of futurists see Revelation 19 as taking place in the future prior to Christ’s Second Coming, and Revelation 20 taking place 1000 years later at the end of the Millennium. When it comes to discussions on Gog and Magog, futurist authors have had a great deal to say regarding Ezekiel 38-39. The highly resourceful Preterist Archive has preserved several quotes from well-known futurist authors on this subject. For example, Hal Lindsey had this to say:

“When the Russians invade the Middle East with amphibious and mechanized land forces, they will make a ‘blitzkreig’ type of offensive through the area… The current build-up of Russian ships in the Mediterranean serves as another significant sign of the possible nearness of Armageddon” (The Late Great Planet Earth, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970,  p. 145-146)

“Dr. Cummings, writing in 1864, said, “This king of the North I conceive to be the autocrat of Russia.. that Russia occupies a place, and a very momentous place, in the prophetic word has been admitted by almost all expositors.” (ibid., p. 52)

(Hal Lindsey changing tune after [the] fall of Russia) “But world domination — as Ezekiel makes clear — was never in the script for Russia!” (italics in original, Cited in Pate and Haines, p. 138)

Patti and Paul Lalonde made this sweeping statement in 1992:

“Bible scholars agree that ‘Gog’ also described as ‘prince of Rosh,’ is the leader of what is modern day Russia.” (In the Edge of Time: The Final Countdown Has Begun)

And Tim Lahaye made these remarks, also in 1992:

“Etymology is the study of linguistic changes and the history of words.  We will investigate the etymology of the names of nations.  As we will see, “Magog” is an ancient name for the nation now known as Russia.  “Gog” merely means “the chief prince of Magog,” or more literally, the chief prince of Meschech and Tubal (38:2-3; 39:1).

The name “Moscow” derives from the tribal name “Meshech,” and “Tobolsk, the name of the principal state, from “Tubal.” The noun “Gog” is from the original tribal name “Magog,” which gradually became “Rosh,” then “Russ,” and today is known as “Russia.” (“Will God Destroy Russia, in Storming Towards Armageddon: Essays in Apocalypse, ed. Wm. James (Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press, 1992), p. 260-261)

“Russia is unquestionably the nation identified in the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39.” (“Will God Destroy Russia, in Storming Towards Armageddon: Essays in Apocalypse, ed. Wm. James (Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press, 1992), p. 259)

Dispensationalist futurist Thomas Ice notes that “Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins in their best-selling novel Left Behind, place this invasion of Israel right before the rapture of the church.” Ice adds: “The strength of this position is that it accounts for the burning of the weapons of war for seven years as mentioned in Ezekiel 39:9. However, Tim LaHaye has told me personally that even though they represented a pre-rapture position on Ezekiel 38 and 39 in their novel, he tends to place it after the rapture but before the tribulation.” Ice then accounts for several other variations within the futurist (mostly dispensationalist) camp regarding the placement of Ezekiel’s vision:

The next view, which is the one I hold at this time, is that it will happen after the rapture but before the tribulation. It will be during the interval of days, weeks, months or years between the rapture and the start of the seven-year tribulation. This view also accounts for the seven years of Ezekiel 39:9. I have always thought that one of the strengths of this view is the way in which it could set the stage for the Biblical scenario of the tribulation. If the tribulation is closely preceded by a failed regional invasion of Israel, in other words Russia and her Muslim allies, then this would remove much of the Russian and Muslim influence currently in the world today and allow a Euro-centric orientation to arise. So the tribulation is preceded by a failed regional attack on Israel and this is why the tribulation ends with all the peoples of the world attacking Israel at Armageddon. It could also set the stage for the rebuilding of the Temple as a result of Islamic humiliation.

Perhaps the most widely held view put forth within dispensational literature is that this invasion will take place around the middle of the seven-year tribulation. This view often identifies Ezekiel 38 and 39 with an invasion of the king of the north in Daniel 11:40. Another major argument is based upon the statement that Israel will be “living securely, all of them” (Ezek. 38:8), which is the result of the false peace brought by the anti-Christ in the first half of the tribulation. This view has a lot in its favor.

A significant number of Bible teachers believe that the Gog and Magog event is synonymous with what the Book of Revelation calls the Campaign of Armageddon (Rev. 16:16). Since Armageddon is a huge invasion of Israel around the time of the second coming and the invasion of Israel described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is said to be in “the latter years” (Ezek. 38:8) and “in the last days” (Ezek. 38:16), then they must be the same event. A similar, but slightly different view is that the invasion occurs after the second coming of Christ, during the interlude between the tribulation and the start of the millennium. The main argument for this view is that Israel would be dwelling in peace (Ezek. 38:8).

The last major view is that the battle of Ezekiel 38 and 39 will occur at the end of the millennium. The basis for this view is significant since Revelation 20:7–9 speaks of a conflict at the end of the millennium when Satan is released. Verse 8 says, “(Satan) will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corner of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war . . .” The strength of this view is obvious, Gog and Magog are specifically mentioned in the text.

In Part 2 of this same study, Thomas Ice speculates on the identity of Gog and Magog:

“The name Gog means ‘high, supreme, a height, or a high mountain.’”  The only references to the Gog of Ezekiel’s prophecy appear in the passage itself and there is virtually no information about Gog outside the Bible in history. However, when Gog leads his invasion of Israel he is said to come “from the remote parts of the north” (Ezek. 38:6). Louis Bauman tells us that “L. Sale-Harrison says in his booklet, The Coming Great Northern Confederacy: ‘It is interesting to note that the very word ‘Caucasus’ means ‘Gog’s Fort.’ ‘Gog’ and ‘Chasan’ (Fort) are two Oriental words from which it is derived.’”  So there does appear to be a faint reference to Gog in the general area of Russia that Gog is likely to be from.

Who then is Gog? Bauman says, “Without doubt, Russia will furnish the man—not the Antichrist—who will head up that which is known to most Bible students as ‘the great northeastern confederacy’ of nations and lead it to its doom upon the hills of Israel’s land.” …Hal Lindsey tells us, “Gog is the symbolic name of the nation’s leader and Magog is his land. He is also the prince of the ancient people who were called Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.”  Arnold Fruchtenbaum informs us: “Who Gog will be can only be determined at the time of the invasion, for ‘Gog’ is not a proper name but a title for the rule of Magog, just as the terms ‘pharaoh,’ ‘kaiser,’ and ‘czar’ were titles for rulers and not proper names.”

…The fact that Magog is used in the table of nations (Genesis 10)  provides a basis for tracing the movement of one of the earliest post-flood descendants of Noah. It appears that Ezekiel is using the names of peoples, primarily from the table of nations, and where they lived at the time of the giving of this prophecy in the sixth century B.C. Therefore, if we are able to find out where these people and places were in the sixth century B.C. then we will be able to trace figure out who would be their modern antecedents today. I believe we will be able to accomplish this task and be able to know who will be involved in this battle if it were to come to pass in our own day.

It is probably fair to say that most scholars and experts would trace Magog’s descendants to the ancient people that we know as the Scythians. Chuck Missler notes that a wide collection of ancient historians “identified Magog with the Scythians and southern Russia in the 7th century B.C.”15 These ancients include: Hesiod, Josephus, Philo, and Herodotus. Josephus lived in the first century A.D. and said, “Magog founded the Magogians, thus named after him but who by the Greeks are called Scythians.”

Who are the Scythians? Edwin Yamauchi tells us that the Scythians were divided into two groups, a narrow and broad grouping. “In the narrow sense, the Scythians were the tribes who lived in the area which Herodotus designated as Scythia (i.e., the territory north of the Black Sea),” notes Yamauchi. “In the broad sense the word Scythian can designate some of the many other tribes in the vast steppes of Russia, stretching from the Ukraine in the west to the region of Siberia in the east.”

I haven’t read further in Ice’s narrative, not in any real detail anyway, but the reader can get the idea where he is going from here, in painstakingly attempting to trace through more than 2000 years of history who are the modern descendants of the Scythians. To continue reading, though, by all means see Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10 (which only brings the reader up to Ezekiel 38:6!), and all the other parts that I lost the energy to link to.

PROS: Aside from identifying these speculations as bad exegesis (critical interpretation), it’s difficult to prove them wrong because they are always said to be just ahead in God’s prophetic calendar [I suppose this is part pro / part con]. Thus, it might be said, who can say that these things won’t play out in the way that futurists say that they will?

CONS: [1] This interpretation, ironically, highly allegorizes the references to ancient warfare (“horses and horsemen…full armor…buckler and shield, wielding swords…shields and helmet…bow and arrows, clubs and spears” [Ezek. 38:4-5; 39:9]). This is ironic because futurists and dispensationalists tend to pride themselves on holding to a literal interpretation of Scripture far more often than those who hold alternative viewpoints.

[2] This interpretation virtually ignores the fact that Ezekiel’s prophecies were, in the primary sense, contemporary to his day and concerned the period in which the Israelites were to return from exile in Babylon under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah.

[3] This interpretation makes the modern, political nation of Israel the recipients of God’s special blessing, promises, and protection in this present age. However, the promises were made to Abraham and his singular offspring, Christ (Galatians 3:16), and Abraham’s true offspring (the heirs according to promise) are only those who belong to Christ (Gal. 3:29).

[4] This prophecy must take place when the nation of Israel, according to this view, is dwelling securely (Ezek. 38:8) in “the land of unwalled villages” (verse 11). This is not even close to the situation in Israel today. Many dispensationalists, though (e.g. Lahaye), say this must be the situation prior to a future 7-year Tribulation period, because the weapons of Israel’s attackers will be burned for seven years (Ezek. 39:9), AFTER seven months of burying their attackers (Ezek. 39:12). Yet, dispensationalists say that peace will be secured for national Israel when “the Antichrist” makes a covenant with that nation at the very beginning of the Tribulation (an idea which I believe to be a severe misapplication of Daniel 9:27), only to break it 3.5 years later.

In this scenario, the 7-month burial period would mean that Israel will be dwelling in security more than half a year prior to the alleged future covenant established by “the Antichrist.” Why would such security exist for months before “the Antichrist” comes along to establish it?

[5] There is much more which could be addressed concerning the various futurist viewpoints noted by Thomas Ice above, but I’d rather not take up  more space in doing so. Perhaps I will do so later in the comments section. For the record, though, I personally happen to believe that the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:14) was fulfilled during the Roman-Jewish War leading up to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD, a subject which has been addressed at length elsewhere on this blog.

[D] Kurt Simmons: Ezekiel 38-39, Revelation 19, and Revelation 20 Were All Fulfilled in 70 AD

Kurt M. Simmons is a full-preterist who believes that “Gog and Magog [as mentioned in Revelation 20:8] was a symbol employed for the persecution under Nero and the Jews.” In other words, for Simmons, the battle described in this passage brought an end to the Millennium just before 70 AD, thus making the Millennium last for only 40 years (beginning around 30 AD and ending around 70 AD). This idea was discussed more fully in Part 2 of our Minority Views on the Millennium. Simmons’ viewpoint is the only one discussed so far which sees Revelation 20:7-10 as not merely alluding to Ezekiel 38-39, but being one and the same event described in both texts.

By way of background information on Ezekiel 38-39, Simmons says,

The three major themes of the OT prophets were 1) the coming judgment upon Israel and Judah in which they would be carried into captivity; 2) the restoration of the nation to the land; and 3) the kingdom of the Messiah. Although separated by several hundred years, prophecies about the return of the captivity and the nation’s political restoration were often woven together with prophecies about the kingdom of the Messiah and the spiritual restoration of man in Christ. In fact, the gathering together and return of the captivity under Zerubbabel became a type of the Messiah, who would gather together [true] Israel and lead them unto spiritual Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem.

Simmons then cites Hosea 1:11, 3:4-5 and Amos 9:8-14 as two examples of prophecy having a more immediate sense as well as ultimately a fuller sense. Moving on to the book of Ezekiel, Simmons remarks:

The imagery of Gog and Magog in Revelation is adapted from Ezekiel. Like other prophets, Ezekiel wrote about the coming captivity, the restoration to the land, and the coming kingdom of the Messiah. The first half of Ezekiel addresses the coming captivity and is laden with prophecies of wrath and lamentation; the latter half is devoted to the themes of national restoration and the coming of Christ. Ezekiel’s most graphic portrayal of the return of the captivity is set out in his prophecy of the “valley of dry bones” (Ezek. 37:1-17): The nation was in captivity; the ten northern tribes carried away by the Assyrians; Judah carried away to Babylon. The temple was burned, the city lay in ruins. Ezekiel likened the nation unto a defeated army, whose bleached bones lay scattered across a vast plain. The question for the Jews of the captivity was did the nation have a future? The answer was, Yes!

…The prophecy of the dry bones [Ezekiel 37:11-12] would be fulfilled in the restoration of Israel to its land. Cyrus would allow the city to be rebuilt and the captives to return home. This happened in the great migrations under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. But Ezekiel’s prophecy didn’t stop with the return of the captivity; like other OT prophets it looked beyond the return of the captivity unto the spiritual restoration of man in Christ.

Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side…and David my servant shall be king over them. Ezek. 37:21, 24; emphasis added.

Like Hosea’s prophecy of “David their king,” David here is a symbol for Christ and speaks to the restoration of the Davidic throne that had been usurped by Nebuchadnezzar and the Gentile powers. However, Christ would not sit upon the throne of David on earth or the terrestrial Jerusalem, but in the heavenly Jerusalem above. Peter made this abundantly clear in the very first gospel sermon after Christ’s resurrection [Acts 2:29-34]… Premillennial hopes of Christ seated upon David throne upon earth are empty and vain; they embody the very hope that led the Jews to crucify Christ; for they looked for a national liberator, not a Savior who would deliver from the bondage of sin and death. When, therefore, Ezekiel and the prophets speak of David ruling over his people, we understand that they spoke of Christ and the church. The church is the restored Israel and kingdom of Messianic prophecy.

Ezekiel’s prophecies of the valley of dry bones and “David my servant” occur in Ezekiel thirty-seven; the prophecy of Gog and Magog occurs in chapters thirty-eight and thirty-nine. Thus, restored Israel (the church) under “David” is the historical and chronological context of the prophecy about Gog and Magog.

The Eschatological Battle of Gog & Magog

Ezekiel describes the great battle of the end time in terms of a pagan hoard that invades the land of Israel; a host so numerous that they ascend like a storm and a cloud to cover the land [Ezekiel 38:1-8]. Several points need to be made at this juncture. First, Gog has set himself as the enemy of God and his people and there is an historical account that the Lord wants to settle. When he says that “after many days thou shalt be visited,” the prophet indicates that God has abstained from vengeance for many years, but that Gog’s day would come. Gog’s war against restored Israel was divinely permitted or ordained, and would provide occasion for judgment and vengeance against the people symbolized by Gog. Second, the invasion of Gog would occur in the latter times. This phrase speaks to the closing years of the world economy marked by the reign of sin and death. This places Gog’s attack upon restored Israel in the period immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, for the end of the mosaic age coincided with the end of the world order that obtained from the time of mankind’s fall. Third, the description of Gog’s territory mirrors that of the Roman empire. Ethiopia and Libya were Rome’s south-western boundary, Persia beyond the Euphrates unto the Caspian sea was its eastern-most boundary, and the “north quarters” coasting long the Black sea and the Danube unto theBritish isles were its northern-most holdings. Evidence that Ezekiel’s description of Gog’s territory answers to that of Rome is provided by Agrippa II’s famous speech attempting to dissuade the Jews from war with Rome, recorded by Josephus:

For all Euphrates is not a sufficient boundary for them on the east side, nor the Danube on the north, and for their southern limit, Libya has been searched over by them, as far as countries uninhabited, as is Cadiz their limit on the west.” Josephus, Wars, II, xvi, 4, Whiston ed.

Having established the time of Gog’s attack and the extent of his territory, it remains only to show whom he attacked. Ezekiel describes the objects of Gog’s invasion as those “brought forth out of the nations;” viz., restored Israel under “David,” which is to say, the church. But if Gog’s territory answers to the Roman empire, and the time of his attack upon the church preceded the destruction of Jerusalem, then what historical event must the prophet have in mind? That’s right, the great spiritual battle that overtook the church in the first century. The battle of Gog and Magog is a symbol of the eschatological persecution of the saints by Nero and the Jews. This conclusion is corroborated by John’s Revelation.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll skip much of what Simmons says regarding Revelation 11-12, the on and off persecution of the Church between Christ’s ascension and Nero’s reign, his speculation regarding Claudius Caesar being the angel of Revelation 20:1, etc. It can be seen by following the link to this article, but quite honestly I find some of the details in this section to be noteworthy, and others to be rather odd. Simmons then moves in on his conclusion by saying this:

“Satan” is a generic term signifying an adversary. The character which here in verse seven is called “satan” in verse two is called the “dragon.” In other words, the adversary in this case was world civil power embodied in Rome, Nero, and the Jews. In Rome, the beast was identified with Nero, who was its driving power (Rev. 13:1-10); in Asia and other parts of the empire, the Jews, at the behest of their leaders in Jerusalem, were the driving force. John portrays this by a harlot, riding the beast in a surfeit of blood and gore. (Rev. 17:3-6) In Palestine, the persecution was driven by the “false prophet,” the religious leaders of the Jews who bade them to make an inquisition against the church like unto the beast’s. (Rev. 13:11-18) The dragon and beast make war against the church by surrounding the “camp of the saints” (the church). But fire comes down from God out of heaven and consumes Gog and his host, and the dragon, beast, and false prophet are cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. 19:20, 21; 20:9, 10) The harlot is also consumed. (Rev. 18) An angel calls to the birds of heaven to come and devour the carcasses of the slain. (Rev. 19:17, 18; cf. Ezek. 39:17) Following the world-wide devastations of the last days, God renews the earth, in which the church reigns supreme with Christ. (Rev. 21, 22)

Conclusion

The battle of Gog and Magog was a symbol for the eschatological battle of the last days; the persecution under Nero and the Jews.

PROS: [1] I appreciated Simmons’ development of the chapters surrounding Ezekiel 38-39, as he rightfully (I believe) pointed out that Ezekiel 37 was a prophecy (at least in the primary sense) of Israel’s return to its land and subsequent restoration under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. I was also intrigued by his discussion of the double fulfillment of certain prophetic passages, i.e. having both an immediate sense and an ultimate sense.

[2] Simmons points out that Ezek. 38:8 speaks of this attack taking place in “the latter years,” which he defines as the end of the Mosaic age marked by the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Being that Ezekiel and Daniel were near contemporaries, it’s interesting that Daniel was told that his visions would see fulfillment at “the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4, 9; cf. Dan. 8:17, 26). The phrase(s) used in Daniel are a bit stronger, but it’s possible that “the latter years” could be a synonym for the “the time of the end.” Some of what Daniel prophesies is thought to have taken place, though, during the 2nd century BC and earlier (e.g. the events of Daniel 8:20-22, Dan. 11:1-19), and not as late as the period leading up to 70 AD.

CONS: [1] Simmons pointed out that Ezekiel 37 (the prophecy of the dry bones) is the immediate context of the battle of Ezekiel 38. Since, in the ultimate sense, the end of Ezekiel 37 foreshadowed “restored Israel (the church) under ‘David,’” he then concludes that Ezekiel 38 must speak of an attack on the Church. Why, though, can’t the immediate sense of Ezekiel 37 (the return of the Israelites to the land of Israel in the 5th century BC) also be the context by which we see the battle of Ezekiel 38? If this is allowed, then Ezekiel 38-39 could very well speak of events in Esther’s day as Gary DeMar and David Lowman have proposed (or, one might say, events in the second century BC as Gentry seems to propose).

[2] The armies in Ezekiel 38 are described in great detail as being arrayed in ancient armor and bearing ancient weapons. It seems to be a very large stretch to equate this type of battle imagery with persecution of the saints. Elsewhere in Scripture, and even in a book like Revelation filled with apocalyptic language, the idea of persecution appears to be presented in a much more straightforward manner. This imagery of armor and weapons is also completely absent from Revelation 20:7-10, although, granted, it could be said that space doesn’t allow for it there.

[3] One goal of the invaders in Ezekiel 38 is to sieze silver, gold, livestock, and goods (Ezek. 38:13). This doesn’t seem to be a goal at all in the attack recorded in Revelation 20.

[4] If Ezekiel 38-39 speaks of the events of 70 AD, in what sense did the church burn the wooden weapons of their persecutors at that time for seven years (Ezek. 39:9-10)?

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Having now presented and analyzed each of these four positions, I will now list in descending order how I see these positions in terms of Biblical accuracy and plausibility. At the top of my list is the position I agree with the most, and at the bottom is the position I agree with the least:

#1: David Lowman and Gary DeMar’s position that Ezekiel 38-39 was fulfilled in Esther’s day, Revelation 19 in 70 AD, and Revelation 20:7-10 remains unfulfilled.

#2: Kenneth Gentry’s position that Ezekiel 38-39 was likely fulfilled in the second century BC through the Scythian peoples, Revelation 19 in 70 AD, and Revelation 20:7-10 remains unfulfilled.

#3: Kurt Simmon’s position that Ezekiel 38-39, Revelation 19, and Revelation 20 were all fulfilled in 70 AD.

#4: The futurist position (or one of them anyway) which sees Ezekiel 38-39 as yet to be fulfilled with a Russian/Iranian led invasion upon modern Israel, Revelation 19 awaiting fulfillment at Christ’s future Second Coming, and Revelation 20 as awaiting fulfillment at the end of a future 1000-year Millennium period.

What would your list look like, and why? Do you have an alternative view on these matters which hasn’t been given attention here?

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In the next post, we will examine a discussion of the two ages spoken of frequently in the New Testament. This post will serve as a transition into our study of Revelation 21.

All of our Revelation chapter-by-chapter studies, and any other posts related to the book of Revelation, can be found here.

All of our studies on Revelation 20 and the Millennium can be found here.


[1] Another viewpoint which could have been considered is the viewpoint of amillennialist and Historicist Kim Riddlebarger. I have greatly appreciated and learned from quite a few of his writings, but chose not to include his viewpoint in the main body of this article as I am quite limited in my understanding of Historicism. I also noted that he declared Ezekiel’s vision of Gog and Magog to be a prophecy of “the Assyrian invasion of Israel from the north.” I’m puzzled by this idea, as the Syrian invasion took place in 722 BC and Ezekiel ministered in the time period before and after Babylon’s invasion of Judah and Jerusalem in 586 BC. Riddlebarger sees Ezekiel’s vision as “typological of the end-times war upon the entire people of God as witnessed by John in his vision.”

Another amillennialist article also postulates that Ezekiel predicted the Syrian invasion. Though I’m not in agreement with a number of things in this article, the author (Nollie) does provide an interesting comparison chart for the three passages where Gog and Magog is either mentioned directly or clearly alluded to:

Revelation 19:11-21 Ezekiel 38-39 Revelation 20:7-10
Gog & Magog (38:2; 39:1, 6) Gog & Magog (8)
“to gather them for the battle” (ton polemon) in v. 19 (cf. 16:14, 15a) “to gather them for the battle” (ton polemon) in v. 8
birds feast on defeated humans (“kings” “captains” “mighty men” “horses and their riders”) (17-18) animals and birds feast on defeated humans (“mighty men” “princes” “horses” “charioteers” “warriors”) (39:4, 17-20)
fiery judgment on nations, beast, and false prophet (20) fiery judgment on Gog & Magog (38:22; 39:6) fiery judgment on Gog and Magog and Satan (9-10)
total cosmic destruction by earthquake, hail, rain, and fire (38:19-22) total cosmic destruction (11)
total destruction of wicked (19-21) total destruction of the wicked (9-10)

[2] Duncan McKenzie provides an even more comprehensive analysis of the parallels between Ezekiel and Revelation, here and here.

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21 thoughts on “Revelation 20: Four Views of Gog and Magog

  1. Hi Adam

    I wonder once the ‘thousand years’ have expired whether Dominionism with it’s ‘seven mountains’ and other religious and political offspring(s) and offshoots,could go worldwide. Spreading even to the four corners of the earth.

    Empowered and emboldened by such a one that brothers and sisters in Christ would become a by-word,if ‘this army’ is stood against by such.Perhaps it would take fire coming down from the sky to destroy them (Rev 20:7-10)

    Have you seen this?

    http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain10.htm

    Like

    • Hi Seroled,

      Like you, I’m not entirely sure what Satan’s final deception will look like. It seems like there would be some form of large-scale, even world-wide, persecution against God’s people. Something else I’ve wondered is this: Since the nature of Satan’s deception, before he was bound (in the first century), had a lot to do with keeping the Gentile nations in darkness, will his final deception make use of Dispensationalism / Christian Zionism and its ideology which makes the Jews and Israel far superior to non-Jews? Maybe there’s nothing to that, but it’s something I’ve wondered. The Dominionist movement, like you said, could become even more scary than it already is as well.

      I have seen that article from Let Us Reason. There were parts of it that I appreciated, and other parts that I didn’t. I share their stand against dominionism, but I’m not on board with some of their eschatology or their emphasis on the Jews reclaiming the city of Jerusalem in 1967 and all that this entails for dispensationalists.

      Like

  2. Hi Adam

    Yes there was much dispensational bone in that article.

    You make a good point that dispensationalism and Christian Zionism may be part of the coming deception – definitely something to consider…

    Seroled

    Like

    • Hi Duncan,

      Please accept my apology for only now getting back to you on this. Besides traveling during the Christmas and New Year season, I’ve had some things going on that have kept me away from the blog the last few weeks. I hope I’m not too late that you can’t use this, if you still wish to. That quote came from a publication by Kenneth Gentry titled “”Recapitulation v. Progression in Rev. 19 and 20.” It’s part of a series of “Revelation Commentary Updates,” excerpts from an upcoming commentary that he is working on. He describes these updates here (toward the bottom of the page):

      http://www.kennethgentry.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=384

      The quote you referenced is on page 6 (of 9) of that publication. I’ll go ahead and quote the entire puclication it comes from, even though this is probably far more than you need. I placed the quote in question in bold font.

      THE RELATIONSHIP OF REVELATION 19 AND 20

      Revelation 20 is probably the best known and most hotly debated chapter in Revelation. This
      is the chapter (the only chapter in the Bible!) that mentions Christ’s ruling and reigning with his
      saints for 1000 years. As I noted in my last Update, dispensationalism absolutely depends on
      Revelation 20, even though in the final analysis Revelation 20 absolutely destroys
      dispensationalism. I return to the scene of the accident in this study.

      An extremely important issue arises as we move from Revelation 19 into chapter 20. The
      question arises regarding the relationship between these two passages: Is it one of recapitulation
      (i.e., repetition of the same events) or sequence (two different episodes with one following as a
      result of the other)?

      The prevailing scholarly (non-premillennial) consensus today holds that the relationship
      between these two chapters is one of recapitulation. The recapitulationist sees Rev 20:7–10
      covering the same ground as and repeating 19:11–21. That is, they argue that the final
      eschatological battle at the second coming of Christ appears in both 19:11–21 and 29:7–10.

      This, of course, destroys the premillennial argument that sees the second coming (19:11–21)
      leading to Christ’s subsequently establishing his millennium (20:1–10). Consequently,
      premillennialists insist on sequence rather than recapitulation.

      Oddly enough, my evangelical preterist view agrees with the premillennialist regarding the
      relationship between these two passages — though with quite different results. I hold that
      Christ’s coming from heaven to wage war in Revelation 19:11ff represents his judgment coming
      on Israel in AD 70. As such it reflects the theme of the book found in 1:7, where he comes
      against those tribes who pierced him (the Jews). Consequently, 20:1ff presents the consequence
      of Christ’s judgment of Israel, Christianity’s first major enemy: the binding of Satan, the
      vindication of the matyrs, and the spiritual rule of believers with Christ in the present age.

      As you can easily surmise, this debate on the relationship between Rev 19 and 20 is very
      important for the preterist approach. I spent an enormous amount of research time on this whole
      question. In this Update I will cull out of my lengthy material some of the evidence for
      recapitulation then summarize my response to it. In my lengthier material I deal with eight
      recapitulation arguments, but the four I analyze below are the more significant ones.

      R. Fowler White presents us with a rigorous argument against sequentialism and for
      recapitulation in Rev 19:11-21 and 20:7-10 in his important 1989 article: “Reexamining the
      Evidence for Recapitulation in Rev 20:10-1” in his 1989 Journal of the Evangelical Theological
      Society article (hereinafter: “1989”). He followed this up in JETS in 1994 with his surrejoinder to
      dispensational Harold Hoehner. White’s 1994 article is titled: “Making Sense of Rev 20:1–10?”
      (hereinafter: “1994’). G. K. Beale, Simon Kistemaker, Vern Poythress, Dennis Johnson, Cornelis
      Venema, and others build on his arguments.

      I will first summarize and then critique the leading points of the arguments from these
      scholars, focusing primarily on White.

      The Recapitulation Argument Summarized

      (1) The deception of the nations argument (1989:320-325). White notes that “The case for
      recapitulation . . . rests initially on the observable discrepancy between the events depicted in
      19:11–21 and 20:1–3” in that “it makes no sense to speak of protecting the nations from
      deception by Satan in 20:1–3 after they have just been both deceived by Satan (16:13–16; cf.
      19:19-20) and destroyed by Christ at his return in 19:11–21 (cf. 16:15a, 19)” (321). Indeed, John
      describes Christ’s victory “by describing his enemies in all-inclusive terms: all the nations will
      have taken up arms against the Divine Warrior and all will fall by his sword in the final
      confrontation (N.B. 19:18, 21; cf. 12:5; 19:15).”

      (2) The Ezekiel correlation argument (1989:326-328). Both 19:17-20 and 20:7-10 allude to
      Eze 38–39. In fact, as White notes 19:17–18 is “virtually a verbatim quotation” of Eze 39:17–20
      (1989: 326), and 20:7–10 specifically mentions “Gog and Magog” (Eze 38:2; 39:1, 6), showing
      God destroying them with fire from heaven (cp. Rev 20:7–10; Eze 38:22; 39:6). Clearly then,
      John bases both “the Armageddon revolt (19:17–21) and the Gog-Magog revolt (20:7–10) on the
      same prophetic passage” (1989: 327), implying that they are dealing with the same historical
      episode. This “argues strongly for seeing a reference to the second coming in both passages”
      (1989: 328).

      (3) The similar language argument (1989: 327). White comments: “when writing about the
      Gog-Magog revolt in 20:8 , John uses precisely the same wording he uses in connection with the
      Armageddon revolt in 16:14 and virtually the same wording he uses in 19:19 (N.B. 16:14 . . . ‘to
      gather them for the battle’; 19:19 . . . ‘gathered to wage the battle’; 20:8 . . . ‘to gather them for
      the battle’).” Beale separates this argument from the Gog-Magog argument and suggests that this
      language represents all of these wars as “the same event” (Beale 980).

      (4) The articular battle argument (1989:328–30). The presence of the definite article before
      “battle/war” (ton polemon) in 20:8 is significant. White observes that the word “battle” (polemos)
      occurs nine times in Rev (9:7, 9; 11:7; 12:7, 17; 13:7; 16:14; 19:19; 20:8) but that only the last
      three references have the article. And since 19:19–21 continues the interrupted plot line of
      16:12–16 (thereby linking the two passages), and since both 19:19–21 and 20:7–10 allude to the
      same OT eschatological battle prophecy (Eze 38–39), the definite article before the battle of 20:8
      must be “anaphoric” (329 n 18), referring the reader back to the battle “previously described in
      19:19; and in 16:14” (329). In his later article he argues that “the article with polemos in 19:19 is
      in fact anaphoric, referring back to the use of polemos in 16:14)” (1994:546).

      These are intriguing arguments. But are they adequate to the cause?

      The Recapitulation Argument Critiqued

      1. The Nations’ Deception Argument

      The first argument notes the destruction of “the flesh of all men” in 19:18, pointing out that
      this must be the final eschatological battle because it sees total destruction. Therefore 20:8 must
      be repeating this battle, otherwise there would be no “nation” to draw out for war. This argument
      is not as potent as it first seems, for the following reasons:

      First, apocalyptic imagery often engages in hyperbole by making universalistic statements.
      For instance, Isaiah speaks of the destruction of Idumea in Isa 34 as if “all the nations” are to be
      “utterly destroyed” (34:2) and the universe is to collapse (34:4–5). Regarding Rev’s use of such
      imagery, Düsterdieck (466) notes that the destruction of “all the nations” simply reflects the
      “ideal character” in apocalyptic.

      Second, even in more mundane contexts Scripture can make universal statements without
      requiring a global interpretation. Paul states that in his day the gospel was “proclaimed in all
      creation under heaven” (Col 1:23), “in all the world” (Col 1:6), “throughout the whole world”
      (Ro 1:8). All agree that he is not claiming the gospel had been preached in South Africa,
      Antarctica, and Detroit. Elsewhere he is accused by the Jews of preaching “to all men
      everywhere [pantas pantachç]” (Ac 21:28). Again no record exists for his preaching in Cleveland
      or even in Gaul. If these statements can be made in mundane narratives, why can they not in
      apocalyptic drama?

      Third, Beasley-Murray (282) points out the familiar collective use of “all” as over against its
      distributive sense. When the birds eat “the flesh of all men” it can well mean “all kinds” of men.
      This is most likely in that he specifically lists a wide range of men (19:18). BAGD (784) presents
      this as a widely used function: “everything belonging, in kind, to the class designated by the
      noun, every kind of, all sorts of” (e.g., Mt 4:23; 23:27; Ro 1:28, 29; 1Co 6:18).

      John is probably speaking either of all kinds of men (including the prominent) who are slain
      or of the enormous bloodshed involved in AD 70, not of global destruction. Thus, no problem
      exists for explaining from where the later nations arise.

      2. The Ezekiel Correlation Argument

      The second argument fares no better. Though “significant correspondence” of a “highly
      peculiar” nature exists between Rev 19 and Eze 391, problems confront this interpretation:

      First, similarity does not entail identity. Simply because John patterns both the battles of Rev
      19 and Rev 20 on Eze 38–39 does not mean they are the same battle. Similar language is used
      because similar fundamental realities prevail: God is catastrophically judging oppressive
      enemies of his people.

      Many scholars see AD 70 as a microcosm of the final judgment. Consequently, we may
      expect the same imagery to apply to both AD 70 and the end. For instance, of those first century
      events, Bloesch states: “The catastrophe that befell the Jewish people in A.D. 70 is a sign of the
      final judgment.”2 Morris agrees: “a theological unity between the two judgments, and that some
      of what Jesus says [in the Olivet Discourse] could apply equally well to both.”3

      Second, as Bøe notes, John often makes double use of Ezekiel’s images (Bøe, 275). The
      imagery from Ezekiel’s scroll vision in Eze 2:8–33 applies both to Rev 5:1 and 10:8–11;
      Ezekiel’s measuring imagery in Eze 40–48 appears in quite distinct passages in Rev 11:1–2 and
      21:10–27 (Bøe 371). Beale (Revelation, 93) also allows chronologically distinct fulfillments of
      Da 7:13, on the basis of an “already and not yet” prophetic fulfillment pointing to Christ’s
      ascension and his Second Advent. I would argue that this can apply also to AD 70 as an
      “already” fulfillment which anticipates a later “not yet” fulfillment. Thus, as Michaels (226)
      observes: “to John it is not a case of the same story told twice, but of history repeating itself.”

      Third, Eze 38–39 does not fit either the imagery of Rev 20:7–10 or its consummational
      setting. According to Bøe (381), John often “appears to reappropriate and transform his biblical
      material in a manner which serves his rhetorical and theological needs.” He is “free to transform
      both [sic] terms, themes and structures” (Bøe 362). We see this in that:

      (1) In Eze God is on the offensive and gathers Gog (38:1–4; 39:1–2), whereas in Rev Satan
      takes the offensive and gathers “Gog” (20:7–10). (2) In Ezekiel Gog is motivated by plunder
      (Eze 38:12–13), whereas in Rev 20:8 he is moved by Satan’s deception without regard to
      plunder. (3) Eze speaks of an actual battle wherein God causes men to fight one another with
      swords (38:21), which is a common motif describing for confused historical battle (Jdg 7:22; 1Sa
      14:20; Hag 2:2; Zec 14:13). This is a common way of showing God providentially and indirectly
      (rather than miraculously and directly) punishing men in history (e.g., Isa 10:5; 13:17). But Rev
      20:7–10 seems to present a purely final-eschatological judgment, involving direct divine
      destruction by fire (20:9b), with no mention of human implements of war involved. (4) Eze
      speaks of Israel becoming faithful at that time because of that battle (39:22–24). Whereas Rev
      has God’s people already ruling and reigning (20:4) and living in obedience in the “beloved city”
      (20:9b) at the time of this final judgment.

      (5) Rev 20 presents the antagonists as “Gog and Magog” (20:8) in an episode which results in
      Satan being cast into the lake of fire where the beast and false prophet already are (20:10).
      Whereas the battle in 19:11–21 does not mention Gog and Magog, but rather the beast and false
      prophet who are judged after this battle (19:20) — which is why they are already in the lake of
      fire later when the battle in 20:7–9 concludes.4 (6) Ezekiel emphasizes certain events occurring
      after the battle, including burning the weapons for seven years (39:9), burying the dead
      (39:12–16), and other nations witnessing God’s triumph and Israel’s faithfulness “from that day
      onward” (39:21–24). These clearly show history continuing after the battle. But Rev presents the
      climactic end-time wrath of God (20:9c), which is followed by the final judgment and the end of
      history (20:11–15).

      Fourth, Beale (980) allows the possibility that Eze 38–39 could point to second century BC
      events (Antiochus Epiphanes) that serve as “typological patterns” for what will “happen at the
      end of history” (cf. Bøe 373). Riddlebarger recognizes that “Divine judgments in history are, so
      to speak, rehearsals of the last judgment.”5 That is precisely my understanding of John’s use of
      Ezekiel to refer to AD 70: for AD 70 is a distant adumbration of the end of history which will
      come at the Second Advent.

      First, White (1994:545) complains that “if John really expected us to interpret the revolts in
      Revelation 19–20 as different events, he certainly did us no favor by describing both revolts in
      language, images and plots that are reminiscent of one and the same event in Ezekiel’s
      prophecy.” Though this argument relates to the preceding one, it deserves additional
      consideration.

      (1) Again, similarity does not entail identity. White himself admits (1989:333–34) this: “that
      objection would be fair enough. But those who would argue thus must be prepared to produce the
      dissimilarities that preclude identity.” I have already dealt with this line of argument above. As I
      show above, the wars are thematically related though not historically identical.

      (2) John frequently confuses us. Sequentialists can turn the tables against White to much
      effect. If John had wanted us to understand recapitulation rather than sequence in this passage,
      John “did us no favor” by: (a) recasting the beast and false prophet (19:20) as Gog and Magog
      (20:8); (b) inserting a thousand year period between the two battles (20:2–5); (c) representing the
      period of Christian history from the first century to the end as “a short time” (12:12) and as “a
      thousand years” (20:2–6) (cf. Beale 678, 984; Poythress 138, 178; Venema 320); (d) offering no
      hint that Satan is bound before Rev 19:11ff while emphasizing his being bound before Rev
      20:7ff; and (e) telling us that Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire when the beast and false
      prophet already are (20:10).

      We must disagree with White (1994:544) that: “it is of course precisely the reminiscences of
      God and Magog in both Revelation 19 and Revelation 20 (among other things) that makes the
      notion of chronological progression between the two appear unclear and unnatural.” As Moyise
      observes: “By firmly making the reader think of Ezekiel’s visions and then confronting him or
      her with drastic changes, the reader is forced to stop and ask what is going on.”6 It does not
      appear that John’s use of Eze 38–39 “strongly supports a prima facie understanding of the events
      narrated therein as congruent and concurrent with one another” (White 1989:151).

      Second, Beale (Revelation, 980) notes that the same “gather” language and “deception”
      motive are used in 16:12–16; 19:19–20; 20:8, thereby linking this as the same battles. But this
      loses its force when we realize that earlier allusions to this (allegedly) same battle do not use
      “gather” and “deceive” language. And this despite these latter three references employing the
      anaphoric [repetitious] article referring back to them. For instance, Beale (1022) speaks of the
      “anarthrous [i.e., no article] description of the last battle in 11:7.”

      Interestingly, we can draw an analogy with the famous debate over the resurrections in
      20:4–6. The same language (ezçsan, “come to life”) is used in vv 4 and 5. But in the first instance
      it does not refer to a physical resurrection, whereas in the second instance it does (Beale,
      Revelation, 1002–07; Kistemaker, Revelation, 540; Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, 291–94;
      Poythress, The Returning King, 182). In an important respect, the first resurrection (whether it is
      spiritual or symbolic) anticipates the second resurrection (physical). Likewise, AD 70 (in
      19:11–21) anticipates the final eschatological battle (20:8–10) (see discussion above in my point
      2 on Eze language).

      4. The Definite Article Argument

      Though White (1989:329 n 18; 1994:546) argues that the definite article appearing with three
      of John’s nine uses of the word “battle” (polemos) is anaphoric, this does not prove that these
      three are the same battle (16:14; 19:19; 20:8). Sequentialists agree with recapitulationists that
      these three battles are related; however, being related and being identical are not the same thing.
      Numerous problems weaken the articular argument here.

      First, we must determine if the article is truly anaphoric (an article of previous reference).
      Grammatically this is a judgment call. The anaphoric article does not have a peculiar
      grammatical form to distinguish it, but only a different function. The three articles before us
      could be examples of the article of simple identification, the individualizing article, the monadic
      article, the well-known (familiar reference) article, or some other. As Wallace notes, interpreters
      need to be careful with articles because “you might be tempted to make more out of it than the
      author intended.”7 And the recapitulationist argument certainly lays a heavy burden on the article
      here (though White supplements this by other factors).

      Surprisingly, even while suggesting that it is the anaphoric article, White (1989:329)
      simultaneously argues that it points to “a specific episode of war,” — but this makes the article
      an example of the “well-known” article. Beale (Revelation, 835, cp. 968) allows that it may be
      either the well-known article (thereby referring, in his view, to the “War of the End”) or “an
      article of previous reference.” Which is it? How can the recapitulation argument be built (in part)
      on the anaphoric article if it may in fact be the well-known article?

      Second, even if the article is anaphoric we must determine its previous referent. Beale
      (Revelation, 835) suggests it may refer back to “the same ‘war’ as in 11:7.” But then he also
      allows that it “may be an article of previous reference . . . to the OT prophecy.” Which is it? Does
      it refer back to 11:7 or to the OT? Thus, one of the leading scholarly advocates of recapitulation
      appears to equivocate on the definite article’s use here, showing that it is not clear.

      What is more, Beale (Revelation, 698) links 11:7 and 13:7 by showing that they both virtually
      repeat the phrase “make war with the saints to overcome them.” But he then argues that 13:7
      begins at Christ’s death and continues “during the entire church age” (Beale 700). But if the
      anaphoric article refers back to 11:7 (and to 13:7) it applies “during the entire church age”
      (Beale 700) and does not point to the last battle.

      Further compounding the recapitulationist problem, White (1989:329; cf.1994:546) argues:
      “when polemos appears without the article, it designated the activity of warfare in general.” This
      covers 11:7 despite Beale’s (589) arguing that “11:7 refers to the final onslaught against the
      saints at the end of history” by showing parallels between 11:7; 17:8; 20:7 (an argument similar
      to White’s [1989:329] paralleling 16:14; 19:19; 20:8).

      Recapitulationist Smalley (Revelation, 513) disagrees with Beale regarding 20:8: “The articular form is hardly one of previous reference, alluding to the ‘final’ battle of 11.7” (cp. Aune, Revelation, 16:14).8 Smalley (498) argues that the article in 19:19 is in fact anaphoric, but
      that it refers back to the just mentioned war at 19:11, 14. And this despite his agreeing with Beale
      and White that 16:14; 19:19; and 20:8 refer to “the final conflict” (Smalley 410). The anaphoric
      argument is quite slippery.

      Since recapitulationists see John alluding to Eze 38–39 in 19:19 and 20:8, perhaps the article
      anaphorically refers back to these chapters. If so, these could be instances of his making multiple
      applications of his OT material. Thus, the anaphoric article could simply point to his original
      source material (Eze 38–39) but would not mean he is using both of these instances to refer to
      the same war. This is at least as plausible as the recapitulationist’s analysis.

      Third, if John intends to set apart 16:14; 19:19; and 20:8 as referring to the same battle, why
      does he not employ the same article + noun structure in 17:14? There we read: “these will wage
      war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King
      of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” The verb polemeô
      appearing here also appears in 19:11 and surely refers to “the battle” (ton polemon) in 19:19.
      Kistemaker (Revelation, 543) argues that 20:8–9 “is the same battle John described in 16:12–16;
      17:14–18; and 19:11–21.” Beale (Revelation, 878) agrees, even noting that “17:1–19:1 is a larger
      interpretive review of the sixth and seventh bowls” (Beale 847). So does D. Johnson (Triumph of
      the Lamb, 275) who declares that 17:14; 19:19; 20:9 all describe “the war to end all wars.” See
      also Poythress (Return of the King, 179).

      Yet in 17:14 John uses the verb instead. If John were using the definite article + noun as a
      distinctive marker (so important to the recapitulation argument), it would seem he should use it
      here in 17:14. This certainly appears to be the same war as in 16:14; 19:19 (they are clearly
      related, with 19:19 concluding what 16:14 begins), even involving the ten horns of the beast
      against the Lamb. In fact, “most scholars hold that the battleaccounts [sic] in 16, 14–16 and 17,
      14 (with the future of the verb polemeô) are identical with the war described here in 19, 71–21”
      (Bøe, 293).

      Fourth, the article could simply be the familiar reference or the well-known article, which
      seems also to be White’s argument even while he speaks of its anaphoric use (1989:329 n 18):
      When speaking of “the definite article with the noun polemos” he states that “the noun refers to a
      specific episode of war” (1989:329).

      But if this is so, to which “well-known” battle does John refer? Aune (Revelation, clxv)
      comments regarding the use of the article in Rev in general: “part of the style of apocalyptic
      literature is the use of already familiar persons and things drawn from stock apocalyptic
      imagery.” If so, both the AD 70 war and the ultimate eschatological war are well-known in
      Scripture.

      It even seems that the NT emphasizes AD 70 more frequently — probably because it was
      looming in the near future, directly relevant to first century Christians, and of catastrophic
      significance in re-orienting their thinking regarding the flow of redemptive history (see my
      Introduction to the commentary for a summary of allusions to the removal of Israel’s status in AD 70). Indeed, it seems that the NT knows of only two great battles remaining in redemptive history: AD 70 which closes the old covenant era (and inaugurates the new covenant) and the Second Advent which closes the new covenant era (and history). Jesus certainly seems to link
      AD 70 and the Second Advent in his large Olivet Discourse (see previous statements in Point 2
      above). In addition, John limits Rev’s prophecies to the near term (1:1, 3; 22:6, 10), which
      suggest a strong emphasis on AD 70.

      Conclusion

      This is a greatly reduced summary of my detailed argument. But I hope it is sufficient for
      introducing the important debate regarding the relationship of Rev 19 and Rev 20. And for
      illustrating my objection to recapitulation.

      I am considering producing this material for an article for either Journal of the Evangelical
      Theological Society or Westminster Theological Journal. However, that will take a little time
      which is growing ever scarce for me. Though I do think it might be a valuable “introduction” to
      the scholarly world of my Revelation commentary.

      Notes:

      1 Sverre Bøe, Gog and Magog: Ezekiel 38-39 as Pre-Text for Revelation 19: 17-21 and 20: 7-10
      [Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 2001] 298
      2 Donald G. Bloesch, The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgment, Glory (Downers Grove,
      Ill: InterVarsity, 2004), 84.
      3 Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 593.
      4 If the Gog and M
      5 C. E. B. Cranfield, The Gospel According to Mark (Cambridge: University Press,
      1983), 404.
      Steve Moyise, The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation 6 (Sheffield Academic Press, 1995),
      82.
      7 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
      1997), 218.
      8 For instance, the well-known article is used in Jas 1:1 to refer to the well-known
      Diaspora and in Ac 2:42 to reflect the well-known teaching of the Apostles.

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      • Thank you very much Adam! I can still use it. I have finished volume II of my book but will spend close to a year going over it and refining and editing it. Wonder when Gentry will come out with his full commentary? (good writing takes time) By the way here is a nice overview of my book I just did (The Antichrist and the Second Coming) http://preterism.ning.com/forum/topics/introduction-to-volume-ii-of

        Duncan

        By the way my take on the Gog and Magog thing is that we are in the time at the end of the millennium (I see Ezek 38-39 and Rev. 7-10 as the same invasion) and that the Gog and Magog invasion will happen in the not too distant future. That is almost like a dispy (although they separate the invasion into two).

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    • Duncan,

      You’re welcome, and I’m glad that you can still use the quote in your book. I did read the overview to your book. It’s very informative. Thank you for the link.

      If I remember correctly, Gentry is hoping/planning to get his commentary published this year as well. It sounds like, for him, the timing depends on his level of funding.

      That’s an interesting view you have on Gog and Magog, especially that Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20:7-10 speak of the same future invasion. I’m not sure that I’ve heard it from anyone else before. I have a couple of questions about your view, if you don’t mind: [1] Do you believe that those who are attacked are national Israel, the body of Christ, both, or …? [2] If this is to take place in our future, why do you believe that God described this battle with language depicting ancient warfare (“horses and horsemen…full armor…buckler and shield, wielding swords…shields and helmet…bow and arrows, clubs and spears” [Ezek. 38:4-5; 39:9])?

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      • Hi Adam,

        Number 2 is quite easy; it is at the bottom of what I am putting below. Question 1 takes much longer. I could send you my chapter on the invasion if you like.

        The dispersion of Israel prior to the Gog and Magog invasion is said to be to “many” nations (Ezek. 38:8, 12). As noted earlier, this does not fit the Babylonian exile, which was to one nation. Ruthven brings up an interesting point along these lines:

        The text twice mentions that Israel would be, “gathered from many nations” (Ezek. 38:8 and 12). Long before the time of Ezekiel, Israel had been gathered from bondage in Egypt and led to establish themselves in the Promised Land. Later, the kingdom of Israel was dispersed by Assyria to “many nations,” but was not regatherd. Then Judah was exiled to Babylon, and was regathered. But in cases where they had been exiled to only one nation—Egypt or Babylon—their return could not be “from many nations.” And in the case where they went into “many nations,” they were not again gathered.

        This is an important point. The northern kingdom of Israel was dispersed into many nations in the eighth century BC but was not regathered. The southern kingdom of Judah was exiled to only one nation in the sixth century BC and then regathered (after a relatively short time). Neither of these exiles fit the time that Ezekiel is describing.

        It should be noted that while the Roman invasion in AD 67 was large and geographically diverse, even it was not diverse enough to fit the invasion described in Ezekiel 38-39. The Roman Empire did not include the area north of the Black Sea (the land of Magog, Ezek. 38:2) or the area of Persia (Ezek. 38:5). The territory of Persia was part of the Parthian Empire in the first century; the Parthians did not participate in the Roman invasion of Judea. Added to this, the first-century Roman invasion did not happen at a time when Israel had been gathered from the nations. Quite to the contrary, it was the Roman invasion that sent Israel into the nations.

        In addition to the above considerations, the Jews were not delivered from the Roman invasion as Ezekiel says will happen to the regathered Israel in the Gog and Magog invasion (Ezek. 39:1-9). Any attempt to spiritualized Israel in Ezekiel 38-39 (to try and make it fit an AD 70 fulfillment) is unwarranted. Spiritual Israel (i.e., new covenant believers) was never sent into the nations for any iniquity (Ezek. 39:22-29) and then gathered back after a long time (Ezek. 38:8). When did God ever hide his face from his new covenant people (Ezek. 39:27-29)? The Gog and Magog invasion of Ezekiel and Revelation is referring to an invasion of a regathered nation of Israel that has yet to happen.

        Finally, the argument that the Gog and Magog invasion could not be a modern day invasion because it talks about horses, swords, bows and arrows etc. (Ezek. 38:4; 39:3) is without merit. Ezekiel was communicating in the language of his day. One would not expect him to mention (or even know about) modern implements of war such as laser guided missiles, tanks or troop carriers. As Bøe notes, “The text is probably not primarily intended as a detailed account of military equipments as much as a colorful description of an overwhelming and up-to-date equipped army.” The idea of every combatant in this invasion being on horseback would be especially notable to the ancient mind: “Then you will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army. You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land” (Ezek. 38:15-16). Who could stand against such an onslaught? Even the invincible Roman army was mostly on foot. Prior to modern times and mechanized warfare, there has never been such a well equipped, mobile, multinational army.

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      • Rev 20 and Ezk 38 – 39 are the same event rev 19 is the wedding supper of Christ where he returns to destroy his
        enemy’s the anti Christ and the false profit and their army’s. Rev 20 is the marriage of Christ where he is King over
        the reunited lost tribes of Israel and the tribe of Juda (Ezk two sticks that are joined together again) All of Ezk 37,38,39
        are about the thousand years of peace and at the end of it where Gog and Magog come against them at or near the end

        In Rev you will notice where God uses the anti Christ to execute judgement on the great Prostitute. Who says that
        he cant use Satin himself to do his work, kind of an ultimate insult and show of God’s real control over everything.

        (There is a passage in the Bible somewhere where God uses a Demon to do a certain work for him)

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    • Duncan,

      Thanks for replying to my questions about your view of Gog and Magog. I have to admit that I’m not quite seeing it, but I’ll keep my mind open. I do see your points, though, regarding why the events of 70 AD don’t fit Ezekiel’s prophecy. Before I continue, I should note that I still favor the viewpoint expressed by Gary DeMar and David Lowman above, that Ezekiel’s prophecy was fulfilled in Esther’s day, and that John’s prophecy is yet a future prophecy concerning an intense time of persecution against the body of Christ. So, with that in mind, I’ll respond to just a couple of your other points for now.

      Regarding the Babylonian exile, was not Babylon an empire made up of many nations? I’ve never thought of Babylon as simply one nation. So if the Hebrews were placed throughout the Babylonian empire after 586 BC, weren’t they dwelling in many nations, the nations which had been conquered by Babylon? Later those nations (if they are viewed as such) were under Persian rule.

      On a similar note, here’s a question I’ve had for quite some time (it comes to mind because you said that the Jews from the Northern Kingdom who had been dispersed were not regathered): What prevented the descendents of the 10 scattered tribes from coming back to the land of Israel in the years after the return led by Zerubbabel/Ezra/Nehemiah, or during the rule of the Roman Empire? From what I know, travel was quite freely allowed under both the Persian Empire and the Roman Empire, and perhaps under the Greeks as well. Did the distinction between the 10 tribes and the 2 tribes really continue to exist that much longer? In Acts 2:5, we’re told that “there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven” (The phrase “every nation” here I take to refer to the nations within the Roman Empire, similar to “all the world” in Luke 2:1). Doubtless, some were only visiting for the Feast of Pentecost, and presumably they made this pilgrimage on a regular basis. Still, it seems from this fact, that by the time of Christ, any Jew who wished to visit or live in the land of Israel could do so. Peter addressed “all the house of Israel” on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:36). Paul also referred to the 12 tribes as a whole in Acts 26:7, and James starts off his epistle by addressing “the twelve tribes in the Dispersion.” I also understand that numerous anthropological studies suggest that many who belonged to the 10 tribes were largely absorbed into the nations to which they were scattered, and because of inter-ethnic marriages they didn’t really maintain their Jewish lineage. They couldn’t have been entirely lost, though, as these passages indicate.

      I’ll concede that it’s possible that Ezekiel could have used ancient warfare language to speak of what is to us modern warfare, if everything else (the context of chapters 38-39 and previous chapters) clearly indicated that this prophecy belongs to our future. And to me it doesn’t, or at least I haven’t seen that yet.

      The other point that I have to admit I’m hung up over, with regard to the possibility of Ezek. 38-39 being a future prophecy for national Israel, is that the text refers to the subjects of the prophecy as “My people Israel” (e.g. Ezek. 38:14-16), and to the land in question as “My land” (e.g. Ezek. 38:16). God has already made a people for Himself through the cross, which includes Jewish and Gentile believers on an equal basis, but does not include anyone (Jew or non-Jew) who doesn’t trust in Christ. For that reason, I can’t imagine viewing this prophecy as a future, yet unfulfilled prophecy for a particular race of people. Likewise, I don’t see that the geographical land of Israel is given any emphasis in the New Covenant age, which is described by Jesus and the apostles. Rather, the New Jerusalem, the New Covenant Church, is given emphasis in this present age.

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      • I think you were the one who said the Esther explanation would be more impressive if the Jews had ever made such an connection and they did not. One of the most important things here is the current staus of Israel. Saying that Israel has no signifigance at all is one of the few things that unites full and partial preterists. I think preterism has a problem with group think on this issue. Of course the dispys are way off base in the other direction. Here is something from volume II. Does not look like my footnotes came through 😦

        Israel and the Gog and Magog Invasion

        SUMMARY OF REVELATION
        In this chapter I shall examine where we are now in terms prophetic fulfillment. I believe we are at the end of the millennium—the time when Satan is released from the abyss to deceive the world and instigate the Gog and Magog invasion (Rev. 20:7-10). I will first begin with a very brief summary of the book of Revelation:

        Revelation is a book that unveils the invisible realm of the spirit by way of symbols (Rev. 1:1). Revelation was written around AD 65 towards the end of Nero’s reign (the sixth Caesar, Rev. 17:10). With the two exceptions (Rev. 12:1-12 and 20:7-10), Revelation is referring to events that were soon to happen in the first century (Rev. 1:1, 3; 22:10, 12, 20).
        Revelation is a tale of two cities/wives—Babylon and New Jerusalem. These “cities” represent two communities of people, the unfaithful old covenant community (the harlot wife, cf. Ezek. 16:31-32) and the faithful new covenant community (the bride), cf. Gal. 4:21-31. The harlot is destroyed by fire and the bride becomes married (Rev. 18:8; cf. Matt. 22:1-10). Revelation is showing the covenant curses of Leviticus (ch. 26) and Deuteronomy (chs. 28-32) that were to come on God’s unfaithful old covenant people when they broke the covenant. This is something Israel did in the ultimate sense when she had her King killed (cf. Matt. 21:5); at that point she became a widow (cf. Rev. 18:7).

        God had said that in breaking the covenant, the children of Israel would rise up and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land (Duet. 31:16 cf. Rev. 17:1). He said he would bring four sets of sevenfold punishment on his old covenant people in response to their unfaithfulness (Lev. 26:18, 21, 24, 28). These covenant judgments form the basis of the four sets of sevenfold judgments of Revelation (the seven seals, Rev. 6:1-17; 8:1; the seven trumpets, Rev. 8:2-10:7; the seven thunders, Rev. 10:3-4; and the seven bowls, Rev. 16:1-21). These judgments on unfaithful Israel climax in her destruction—the destruction of the harlot by the Antichrist (Rev. 17-18; cf. Ezek. 16). This happened at the AD 70 destruction of the Jewish nation and the old covenant Temple system by the beast from the abyss that worked through Titus (Rev. 11:7; 17:8; cf. Dan. 9:26).

        Revelation is revealing the AD 70 final end of the old covenant order and the full establishment of the new covenant order—the full establishment of the kingdom of God (Rev. 11:15-18). This is symbolized by the destruction of the old heaven and earth (cf. Jer. 4:19-31) and full establishment of the new heaven and earth (cf. Is. 65:1-19). In AD 70 the kingdom of God was taken from the unfaithful old covenant community and fully given to the faithful new covenant community (Matt. 21:33-43). With God’s unfaithful old covenant wife destroyed, God then marries his new convent bride (Rev. 19:1-9).

        Revelation ends with the bride, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10), coming to earth at AD 70. The sea disappears at this time (Rev. 21:1-2) as the whole earth becomes the land (i.e., the domain of God’s people). This is a picture of the kingdom of God coming with power, a spiritual event (Luke 17:20-21; John 18:36). Some of Jesus’ first-century audience would still be alive when this happened (Mark 8:38-9:1). Today, the “gates” of the New (covenant) Jerusalem are open with the invitation for all to come and eat from the tree of life and drink of the water of life (Rev. 22:14, 17). Those who refuse this call (those who do not become part of the new covenant bride, Rev. 22:14-15) will end up in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).

        Other than Revelation 12:1-12 (the AD 30 ascension of Jesus to God’s throne), the only part of Revelation that was not one of the things that “must shortly take place” (Rev. 1:1) when the book was written is Revelation 20:7-10. Revelation 20:7-10 is a prophecy of what is to happen at the end of the millennium. The millennial reign of Jesus and his people over the nations, was about to begin when Revelation was written (Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; 5:8-10; cf. Luke 19:11-27). Its end, however, the time when Satan would be loosed for a season and then disposed of in the lake of fire, was in the distant future when John wrote (Rev. 20:7). Revelation 20:4, 11-15 is describing a single throne scene that occurs at the beginning of the millennium (cf. Dan. 7:9-10) with a parenthetical description of what will happen at the millennium’s end in Revelation 20:7-10. Here is how this section would look if put in sequential order.

        And I saw thrones and they sat on them and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witnesses to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years . . .
        Then I saw a great throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
        Revelation 20:4, 11-15
        Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and 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. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
        Revelation 20:7-10

        Although John sees the AD 70 beginning of the millennium (“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them . . . .” Rev. 20:4), he does not see the end of the millennium but is prophesying about what will happen at that time (“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison.” Rev. 20:7). As Sverre Bøe notes, “Rev 20:7-10 seems to describe events beyond the horizon of contemporary events.”

        PHYSICAL ISRAEL
        The description of the Gog and Magog invasion in Revelation 20:8-9 contains references to Israel. These are found in its allusions to the invasion of the Holy Land by Gog in Ezekiel 38-39 and in the phrase “the beloved city” (v. 9). To anyone familiar with the OT, the reference to the beloved city would immediately bring to mind Jerusalem. Bøe writes the following on this:

        This expression recalls biblical imagery, though an exact equivalent to “the beloved city” is not found. Three texts from the Psalms come quite close to this, though:
        Ps 78:68: But he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loves.
        Ps. 87:1-2: On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the Lord loves the gates of Zion.
        Ps. 132:13-14: For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation: “This is my resting place forever; here I will reside, for I have desired it.”
        On this background there can be little doubt that every Jew and every person acquainted with the OT would think of Jerusalem as “the beloved city,” even though the name is not used. This lack of an explicit reference to Jerusalem is analogous to Ezekiel 38-39, which nowhere uses the names “Jerusalem” or “Zion.”

        In spite of the above statement, Bøe does not think physical Jerusalem is referred to here. He cites Revelation 11:8 (where Jerusalem is referred to as “the great city” in which Jesus was crucified) as being inconsistent with Jerusalem being called “the beloved city” here. He sees the beloved city of Revelation 20:9 as more of a symbol of the new covenant community. Bøe does admit, however, that this view would make Revelation inconsistent with almost all the rest of the Gog and Magog literature (e.g., Ezek. 38-39; Qumran texts, rabbinic writings, etc.), which see the invasion as being directed against Israel. As I have discussed previously, “the great city” in Revelation 11:8 refers to harlot Babylon (Rev. 18:21). This is a reference to unfaithful Israel and her Temple, not Jerusalem per se, and does not preclude an indication to the city of Jerusalem here.

        Even the language used in Revelation 20:9 to describe the Gog and Magog invasion (“they went up on the breadth of the earth”) is consistent with a physical attack on Jerusalem. Aune notes the following on this:

        “to go up” is used here in three overlapping senses: (1) In Israelite and early Jewish idiom, people always went up (never down ) to Jerusalem . . . (2) The idiom is also used when approaching the land of Israel from outside . . . (3) This idiom can be used in the context of the attack of the nations against Jerusalem in the final eschatological war . . . .”

        While gē is correctly translated as “earth” in verse 8 (Satan “will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth . . . .”), it is better translated as “land” in verse 9 (“They went up on the breadth of the earth [land] and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city” cf. Rev. 7:1).

        The use of an indirect reference (circumlocution) to the city of Jerusalem as the “beloved city” (without calling it Jerusalem, cf. Rev. 11:2) is probably because the New Jerusalem bride is now the real Jerusalem. She is the Jerusalem of promise referred to in passages such as Isaiah 65:17-19; 66:7-13; cf. Gal 4:21-31. While the word “Jerusalem” occurs only three times in Revelation—always in reference to the New Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10)—physical Jerusalem is also referenced, albeit indirectly. It is called “the beloved city” here and “the holy city” in Revelation 11:2 (a reference to Daniel 9:24-27: “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city . . .”). Because of the references to Israel and Jerusalem in verses 8-9, I shall first discuss the prophetic status of current day Israel as a preface to my discussion of Revelation 20:7-10.

        CURRENT DAY ISRAEL
        Most preterists see no prophetic significance in the current reestablishment of the state of Israel. They say that with her destruction in AD 70 that God was finished with national Israel as a people (They are at a bit of a loss to explain why there is a state of Israel today, however!) I see my fellow preterists as being quite wrong on this issue. Full preterists see no prophetic significance to the reestablishment of the nation of Israel because their paradigm does not allow it. The full preterist paradigm necessitates that there is no new fulfillment of biblical prophecy (such as Israel coming back to the land) after AD 70. Most partial preterists also say that Israel coming back to the land has no prophetic significance. This is at least partly due to an overreaction to dispensationalism and its teaching of a physical millennial kingdom centered in Israel.

        Preterists have correctly rejected the dispensationalist’s mistaken interpretation of a physical kingdom of God centered in Jerusalem (cf. Luke 17:20-21; John 18:36) and have emphasized the continuity of God’s covenant. When Israel violated the covenant (by rejecting Jesus), God did not put the kingdom on hold, instead, he went forward with a new people (cf. Matt. 22:1-10). Notice that when the Jews rejected the message of the kingdom in Acts, Paul did not change his message to that of postponement but continued to preach the kingdom of God “with all confidence.”

        “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” And when he had said these words the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves. Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ with all conference, no one forbidding him.
        Acts 28:28-31

        While it was clear to Paul at this point that Israel had rejected Jesus, he in no way changed his kingdom message to that of postponement. Jesus never taught a postponed kingdom; quite to the contrary, he said that the Jews would be cast out at the full establishment of God’s kingdom (Matt. 8:11-12; cf. John 4:21-24).

        The writer of Hebrews similarly proclaimed that believers were “receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken”; there is no mention of any postponement. In AD 70 the kingdom of God was taken away from physical Israel and given to God’s new covenant people (Matt. 21:43; cf. 1 Peter 2:4-10, where language associated with Israel is applied to the church). The kingdom of God came in power in the first century just as God said it would (Dan. 2:40-45; 7:17-27; Mark 8:38-9:1). While these tenants of preterism are true, and the church has become part of true Israel (Rom. 9:6-8; Eph. 2:11-3:7; cf. Rev. 2:9), it does not follow that God is therefore finished with physical Israel. While dispensationalists have largely ignored the continuity of God’s covenant and the spiritual nature of God’s kingdom (cf. Matt. 16:28; Luke 17:20; John 18:36), preterists have ignored the fact that the Bible teaches that God is not finished with physical Israel. His calling on her is irrevocable (Rom. 11:25-33; cf. Lev. 26:44-45).

        GOD’S CALL ON ISRAEL IS IRREVOCABLE
        While Scripture teaches that new covenant believers have become part of true Israel (cf. Luke 2:34; Rom 2:28-29), it also teaches that God is not finished with physical Israel. The eleventh chapter of Romans discusses how God has not totally cast away physical Israel (“I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! . . . For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” Rom. 11:1, 29). Using the analogy of an olive tree, Paul says that the unbelieving “branches” of physical Israel were being cut out in the first century and believing Gentile branches were being grafted into the tree of true Israel (Rom. 11:17-20). This shows the continuity of the covenant; there is one tree of covenant Israel, not two. Too often dispensationalists talk as if there were two trees, physical Israel and the church. Although many of the branches of physical Israel were broken off in the first century (Rom. 11:11-23), Paul says there would come a time when physical Israel would be grafted back into the tree of true Israel.

        For if you [Gentiles] were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches [i.e., physical Israel], be grafted into their own olive tree? For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” Concerning the gospel they are enemies for you sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
        Romans 11:24-29 (underlined emphasis mine)

        Paul wrote this around AD 56. Clearly physical Israel’s blindness was not removed in the fifteen years between when Paul wrote Romans and the Second Coming at AD 70. The majority of the Jews continued in their blindness for the next fifteen years and were scattered to the nations in AD 70 (cf. Luke 21:20-24). While this world-wide dispersion finalized their being cast away, Paul said that a future acceptance of physical Israel by God was to happen after this (“For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? Rom. 11:15). This was a “mystery”—something previously hidden that was now being revealed (Rom. 11:25; cf. Mk. 4:11; 1 Cor. 15:51).

        DOES “ALL ISRAEL” ONLY MEAN A SMALL PART OF ISRAEL?
        Because physical Israel was not reconciled to God at AD 70, full preterists have to say that the reference to “all Israel” being saved is not speaking of the physical Israel but only the believing remnant of physical Israel. Don Preston writes the following along these lines:

        Paul said that in his day, the remnant was being saved, and his statement that “all Israel shall be saved” must be seen within the context of the consummation of God’s scheme to bring the remnant to Him. This means that “all Israel” is a referent to the rest of the remnant that had not yet been brought in . . . In Romans 9-11 Paul laments that the majority of Israel was refusing to obey the call to her Messiah. Just like in the past, Israel, the majority of Israel, was rejecting the prophets, and persecuting them. The remnant however, was accepting the call of the gospel, and were being saved: “Israel has not obtained that for which she sought, but the elect (i.e., the remnant, DKP), has, and the rest were blinded.” (Romans 11.5f). This rejection/acceptance on the part of the majority/minority is the key to understanding Paul’s understanding of the salvation of “all Israel.” He did not believe in the conversion of the majority of Israel. He believed that the “rest of the remnant” was about to be saved (Romans 13.11 f; 16:20).

        While I agree with Preston on many things, I strongly disagree with him here. It is true that Paul was talking about a remnant (the minority) of physical Israel that was being saved (in the first century) in contrast to the majority of physical Israel that had been blinded (or “hardened” Rom. 11:7 NASB). Notice, however, it was the Israel (the majority) that had been blinded (“Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” Rom 11:7) that would eventually be saved (“. . . blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved . . .” Rom. 11:25-26). The “all Israel” that would eventually be saved is not a reference to the remnant who were coming to faith, but the majority of physical Israel who had been blinded.

        “BELOVED FOR THE SAKE OF THE FATHERS”
        Subsequent verses in Romans 11 support the assertion that when Paul says all Israel would be saved, he is referring to blinded/hardened physical Israel. It was the Israel that was the enemy of believers that would eventually be saved: “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers” (v. 28). This was physical Israel; according to Paul they had been blinded and God had committed them “to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all.” (v. 32). Again, it was physical Israel, not the rest of the believing remnant, which God had blinded (v. 7). This blindness would be removed at a future time and physical Israel would be incorporated back into the tree of true Israel (vv. 25-26). While God did cast away the Temple and the old covenant system (cf. Rev. 18:21), he did not cast away his old covenant people. God’s calling on Israel is irrevocable (v. 29); he will eventually have mercy on them again for the sake of the fathers (v. 28; cf. Lev. 26:38-45).
        I concur with the following analysis of Romans 9-11 by Keith Mathison.

        “In [Romans 9] verses 30-33, Paul explains that only a remnant of Israel has been saved thus far because Israel as a people has pursued righteousness by works, rather than faith, and thus they have stumbled over Christ. In Romans 10:1, Paul declares, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” This is the prayer that Paul later says will be answered (11:26 [“And so all Israel will be saved . . .”]). Paul is not praying for the remnant of Israel who are already saved. He is praying for the Israel that has stumbled over Christ [Rom. 9:31-33]. In 10:2-4, Paul grieves over the fact that the Jews have sought to establish a righteousness of their own. In verses 5-15, Paul explains that Christ is the fulfillment and the apex of redemptive history, and that the gospel is for both Jews and Gentiles. Then in verses 16-21, he begins to explain the unexpected paradox that has now occurred in the outworking of redemptive history. Because the Jews as a people have rejected the Messiah, they will be set aside while God pours out the blessing of the covenant on the Gentiles.
        Paul then begins chapter 11 with an important statement. Having explained that Israel as a whole has rejected her Messiah, he declares, “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not!” Repeating the argument he made in Romans 9:6-13, Paul explains that Israel’s rejection is not total and that a remnant has been saved on the basis of God’s sovereign grace (11:1-6). He uses himself as an example of an Israelite who has been saved. In verses 7-10, Paul explains that while a remnant of Israel has obtained salvation, “the rest were hardened” (11:7). It is important to remember that “the rest” who “were hardened” is a reference to Israel according to the flesh (9:3), the Israel that Paul prays may be saved (10:1). In 11:11, Paul asks and answers a very significant rhetorical question: “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not!” But who are “they”? This has to be a reference to Israel according to the flesh, the Israel that stumbled over Christ, the Israel who were hardened—in other words, Israel as a people. It cannot be a reference to the remnant of Israel who have been saved by faith in Christ, because the remnant did not stumble. From [Rom. 11] verse 11 onward, Paul speaks of this hardened people of Israel.” (underlined emphasis mine)

        This distinction between the remnant of physical Israel vs. the majority of physical Israel that were hardened/blinded is crucial. It was not just the remnant that would be saved, eventually all Israel (i.e., hardened physical Israel) would be brought back into relationship with God. Paul reveals the “mystery” (v. 25) that God had committed physical Israel (not the remnant) “to disobedience that He might have mercy on all.” (Rom. 11:32). If Paul was simply teaching that the rest of the remnant of Israel was about to be saved, that would not be much of a mystery. If he is saying that God had hardened physical Israel in the first century so he could have mercy on them at a later time, that is a wondrous mystery and explains Paul’s exclamation about how amazing God’s ways truly are. For God has committed them all to disobedience [cf. Rom. 10:21], that He might have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (Rom. 11:32-33) As to exactly what “all Israel” means, Ladd notes the following: “Paul sums up the entire matter in verses 25-27. Israel is now hardened. The Gentiles are now being brought in. Finally, ‘all Israel shall be saved.’ ‘All Israel’ does not need to mean every single Israelite but the people as a whole.”

        THE REFERENCES TO ISRAEL IN ROMANS 9-11 ARE TO PHYSICAL ISRAEL
        If one examines every reference to Israel in Romans 9-11, in all but one, they are to physical Israel. In the one exception (Rom. 9:26) there is a double reference; the context makes it clear that the first reference is to true or spiritual Israel and the second is to physical Israel (“. . . for they are not all Israel who are of Israel”). Given that all the other references to Israel in Romans chapters 9-11 are to physical Israel, it is hard to come to any other conclusion than that Romans 11:25-26 is also referring to physical Israel “. . . blindness in part has happened to [physical] Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all [physical] Israel will be saved . . .” (Rom. 11:25-26). Mathison writes the following on this:

        “In 11:25-26, Paul makes the statement that has been the source of most of the eschatological controversy surrounding these chapters:
        For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of the mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved.
        There is good reason to believe that the partial hardening, mentioned in 11:25 is a reference to the hardening in 11:7. If this is true, then a case can be made that “Israel in 11:25 means Israel as a people, since it is Israel as a people who have been hardened. There is also good reason to believe that the “Israel” in verse 26 is the same as the “Israel” in verse 25. In other words, although there is controversy surrounding the exact interpretation of this passage, a case can be made for understanding it to mean that someday there will be a reversal of the hardening that has happened to Israel as a people. A remnant of the people of Israel has been turning to Jesus from the first century to this day, but Israel as a people has remained hardened. Paul seems to indicate, however, that this hardening is not a permanent condition. If this interpretation is correct, it is a New Testament prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled.”

        I believe that the blindness of physical Israel is being taken away in our day. Unprecedented numbers of Jews are discovering their true Messiah today. I expect this to continue, as more Jews come to Jesus. In light of Ezekiel 38-39, however, it appears that the full removal of physical Israel’s blindness and their integration back into the olive tree of true Israel only happens after the Gog and Magog invasion (cf. Ezek. 39:21-29). I discuss this later in this chapter.

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    • Duncan,

      Thank you for your latest reply. I lack the time to thoroughly respond to everything you wrote, but I did take the time to carefully read it all. Your summary of Revelation at the beginning was outstanding. I’m very glad you included that.

      One thing that stuck out to me in the rest of what you wrote was your statement that “the Church is now part of true Israel.” By using the word “part,” do you mean that there is another part of true Israel outside of the Church? In your viewpoint, is there anyone within the true Israel who doesn’t belong to Christ? I ask that because I’m sure we would agree that all who belong to Christ are in the Church, and that outside of the Church there is no one who belongs to Christ. I’m just curious, then, as to how anyone could be said to be part of true Israel who does not belong to the Church, the body of Christ. If you’re referring to a future group of Jews who will be converted en masse, they would become part of the Church, right? I hope my questions make sense here.

      I know I’m not doing justice to all that you wrote above, but have you ever read Mike Blume’s article on The Times of the Gentiles? He deals with the statement in Romans 11:25 that “a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” His take is that this hardening was temporal, and coincided with Jesus’ statements predicting judgment upon His own unfaithful generation in Israel. The times of the Gentiles he sees as “the period of time Rome, preceded by other Gentile powers, afflicted Israel as a form of God’s judgment upon them for disobedience.” In other words, the expression “times of the Gentiles” is not salvific. He ties in Romans 11:25 with Luke 21:24 and Rev. 11:2. At this present time, I concur with his view on this, and largely agree with all that he wrote in this article:

      http://mikeblume.com/timesgen.htm

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      • Thanks Adam,

        I willl check out the Blume citation. An interesting discussion here http://americanvision.org/4024/do-you-know-what-the-bible-really-says-about-rebuilding-the-temple/ I did not convince the person I was talking with, but I sure gave him some things to think about!
        Of course DeMar does not think there was a single Antichrist. If that is the case then I do not know what I have been working on the the last 11 years. . . . The Antichrist was the opponent of God/Christ who was defeated by the AD 70 coming of the Lord (Dan. 7:21-22; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:11-21). He was the demonic prince to come that would work through Titus in his attack on Jerusalem at the end of the age (Dan. 11:36-45). This resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (Dan. 9:26) at the AD 70 destruction of the Jewish nation (12:7). Revelation shows this as the destruction of harlot Babylon by the beast from the abyss (Rev. 11:7; 17:8).

        Duncan

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  3. Hi Adam,

    Do you happen to have a reference for the following quote from Gentry? I was hoping to use it in volume II of my book. You cut a little bit out, do you have a little fuller version of this section?

    …If John had wanted us to understand recapitulation [the repetition of the same events] rather than sequence in this passage [Revelation 20], John “did us no favor” by: (a) recasting the beast and false prophet (19:20) as Gog and Magog (20:8); (b) inserting a thousand year period between the two battles (20:2–5); (c) representing the period of Christian history from the first century to the end as “a short time” (12:12) and as “a thousand years” (20:2–6)… (d) offering no hint that Satan is bound before Rev 19:11ff while emphasizing his being bound before Rev 20:7ff; and (e) telling us that Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire where the beast and false prophet already are (20:10).

    Thanks,

    Duncan

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  4. John is merely using the Ezekiel prophecy as a way of explaining events after the Messianic Age (reign of Christ/Millennium/pre-eminence of Christianity) There are a number of similarities, but a number of dissimilarities as well. The Last Day coincides with the defeat of Gog-Satan. Satan IS Gog in John’s scheme of things. It is Satan himself who leads Magog (the collective man of sin from II Thess 2) from behind the scenes. He’s the puppet master, godless Magog is the puppet. Magog believes The Lie. And what is the Lie? That man can be like God (Genesis 3). We are now experiencing the war of Gog and Magog. Christianity lives in a ‘land of unwalled villages’. Anything gets in, because the apostasy of II Thess 2 is present.

    This type of deception never could have happened during the Millennium, because Satan was bound to prevent, but now, he is loosed to permit it.

    Rev 19 is written in the form of a Roman victory parade. Christ, the victorious general rides his white horse, and the armies of heaven come behind him. Last are the prisoners. The devil, Rome (personified primarily by Nero) and the apostate Jews. It was the custom of the victorious general to execute prisoners as he chose, hence Rome and apostate Judaism are cast into the Gehenna, to be remembered no more. Satan is imprisoned that he might see the pre-eminence of his enemies (Isaiah 2). He is permitted to come out of his prison at the proper time by God, and it is the apostasy (II Thess 2) that is the proof OF his release. and also what allows the advent of the man of sin (anthropos hamartia) who is all of the wicked from the four corners of the earth. Man now believes that he is god (it is headed that way), Man rejects God and the things of God and the people of God, Man battles against God in every sense possible from outright persecution to philosophy. Man determines good and evil for himself, which has allowed homosexuality and other perversions to briefly become pre-eminent. Christ will come swiftly and suddenly and destroy Gog and Magog and the Resurrection wil occur and Judgment will be for the saints.

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    • E. W., thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have to disagree, though, that anything comes “after” the reign of Christ. His reign is forever, according to Scripture, and it will have no end. I also respectfully disagree that the events of II Thessalonians 2 are currently being played out (if I understand you correctly). I see too many indications that they were being played out in the first century AD, including Paul’s statements that [1] his first century audience knew exactly who the restrainer was and [2] the mystery of lawlessness was already present in his own time. For a deeper analysis of this passage, if you’re interested, please see this post:

      http://kloposmasm.com/2011/12/20/a-study-of-ii-thessalonians-21-8

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      • If the 1000 year reign is forever, then explain Rev 20. The thousand years have an end and Satan gets a little time to gather together the godless nations. Something doesn’t make sense there.

        And why the upsurge in homosexuality? If Christ is reigning, then shouldn’t these people be dead? Why is the world getting worse morally>? The only explanation I can think of is the loosing of Satan.

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      • E.W., I wasn’t intending to get into the intricacies of Revelation 20, or to examine the 1000 years. My objection is to the idea that Jesus is not presently reigning.

        Daniel 7:13-14 pictures Jesus receiving dominion, glory, and a kingdom at His ascension:

        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. 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.”

        The angel Gabriel said the same to Mary: “…And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).

        Jesus did not rebuke Nathaniel, the Jewish crowds, or Pilate when they proclaimed Him king even during His earthly ministry (John 1:49, Matthew 21:5-19, Luke 19:37-40, John 12:13, John 18:37). Just before He ascended, He proclaimed that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him, and therefore His followers were to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).

        Just before His crucifixion, Jesus told the high priest that “from now on” he would see Him “seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64). Such a statement did not suggest a 2000 year wait before He would begin to reign. Peter declared on the Day of Pentecost that Jesus had already been exalted “at the right hand of God” in fulfillment of the great promises of Psalm 110 (see Acts 2:30-36). Hebrews 1 says much about this as well.

        John, writing to a first century audience, proclaimed that at that time Jesus was “the ruler of kings on earth” (Revelation 1:5).

        Much more testimony in the New Testament confirms that Jesus is reigning now.

        Where, by the way, does the Bible suggest that when Christ reigns, homosexuals meet their death?

        Moral corruption has increased and decreased at various times during the last 2000 years, from what I can see in history. America and various places in the world are in bad shape now, no doubt, but I don’t see this as an indication that Satan must have been loosed recently. There have actually been moral advances when we consider that the early history of the US was marked by genocide among the Native Americans, and African Americans are receiving significantly better treatment in this nation than even 50 years ago. Just some thoughts…

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