WATCH VIDEO #3: How can we unpack the mysteries of the coming ‘War of Gog & Magog’ in Ezekiel 38-39?
They are profoundly important to Jews, Christians, and Muslims – but what do they really mean?
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – Earlier this year, ALL ISRAEL NEWS launched an educational series of videos as part of our “Bible Prophecy Project.”
To watch Video #1 – The Power of Bible Prophecy, please click here
To watch Video #2 – Ezekiel 37 Foretold The Resurrection of Israel, please click here
We did so because, while 27% of the Scriptures are verses of prophecy:
So few Jewish Rabbis or Christian pastors study or teach Bible prophecy these days.
So few yeshivas or seminaries or Bible colleges focus on prophecy these days.
So few Jewish or Christian lay people feel qualified to study and decipher the Bible’s most important prophecies for themselves.
This is a problem.
God did not put one-out-of-four verses into the Bible to be skipped over or ignored.
Nor did He make prophecy so difficult to understand we need not bother to study them.
To the contrary, the Lord gave us these prophecies so that we can see what’s coming in the future and prepare ourselves.
True, some passages of Scripture seem especially challenging – yet we ignore them at our peril.
One of the most important – yet least studied and least understood – set of prophecies in all of the Bible were written by the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel more than 2,500 years ago.
Known as the coming “War of Gog & Magog,” they are presented to us in the Book of Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39.
While few have studied the text carefully for themselves, some highly-religious Jews believe the “War of Gog & Magog” will take place just before the coming of the Messiah to earth for the first time.
The relatively few Evangelical Christians who are interested in and focus on this eschatological war believe that it will occur just before the Second Coming of the Messiah to earth in the End of Days.
Some religious Muslims also believe in a coming war that will happen before the Day of Judgment.
They call it the “War of Yajuj & Majuj.”
Their source is not the Bible but rather the Qur’an.
That said, given the profound importance of the Biblical “War of Gog & Magog,” we are honored today to release the first in a series of new videos designed to help Evangelicals and people of all religious backgrounds begin to unpack and truly understand the meaning of Ezekiel 38 and 39.
We hope you find this video helpful and encouraging – and will share it with family and friends on social media.
Here is the full script, in case you’d like to study it more carefully.
One of the most important prophecies regarding the End of Days is known as the “War of Gog and Magog.”
Found in the writings of the ancient Hebrew prophet Ezekiel – in chapters 38 and 39 of the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel – it’s a prophecy deeply important to the Jewish people, as many believe the events it describes will come to pass just before the Messiah comes to Jerusalem the first time.
The “War of Gog and Magog” is also a prophecy that’s deeply important to Christians because many Bible scholars believe the events that Ezekiel describes will take place before the Second Coming of the Messiah. And because there is another version of the “War of Gog and Magog” that’s described in chapter 20 of the New Testament Book of Revelation.
But the “War of Gog and Magog” is also deeply important to Muslims. Why? Because in Islamic eschatology, there is yet another version of the prophecy – known in Arabic as the “War of Yajuj and Majuj” – found in chapters 18 and 21 of the Qur’an.
Now, because the Biblical prophecy found in Ezekiel’s writings is so detailed and so important – and its implications for mankind are so profound – we’re going to unpack it over the course of the next several videos.
Like good journalists – and detectives – we’re going to ask five critical questions:
Today, let’s begin in Ezekiel chapter 38, verses 1 through 3 – I’m using the New American Standard translation – as the Hebrew prophet tells us this.
“And the Word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Son of man, set your face toward Gog – of the land of Magog – the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal and prophesy against him and say, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.”’”
Now, I get it – many people stop right there and go, “Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I’m out!”
Why? Because the words they encounter in these first few verses are so strange and unfamiliar. So, people get nervous and think they won’t be able to understand what God is saying.
But that’s a mistake – you absolutely can understand the basic trajectory of this enormously important Bible prophecy without having a Ph.D. in theology or ancient Hebrew.
Let me show you how.
First, don’t worry about the specific names just yet. Yes, I realize they’re archaic and confusing. So, let’s get back to them in a moment. For now, just take a deep breath, slow down, don’t let yourself get flustered – and don’t give up.
Second, start jotting down notes of what you think is plain – and completely understandable – in the text.
Ezekiel begins by writing that “the Word of the Lord” came to him and spoke.
Okay, that’s important. This isn’t a work of fiction written. It’s not a novel. It’s not a work of speculation by Ezekiel. Nor is it a work of Islamic eschatology written 3,000 years later.
No, this is the very word of God. This is truth, spoken by the God of Israel, through one of His trusted messengers.
Now, what exactly does God say to Ezekiel?
“Son of man, set your face toward Gog – of the land of Magog – the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal and prophesy against him and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.”
Again, don’t panic. Don’t get flustered. Just create a section in your notebook for WHO – and in that section, write down the word “Gog.”
What do we know about him? Let’s create some bullet points under this word, “Gog.”
Just by looking at the first few verses, we can see that he’s some sort of political leader, right?
We see that he is a “prince” – a ruler – over a land called “Magog.” Good, write that down.
Next, we see that this territory called “Magog” also includes places called “Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.”
Good – write that down.
What else is plain and clear?
Well, the text says that God is not happy with this political leader?
In verse 2, God says to Ezekiel, “set your face towards Gog…and prophesy against him.”
Then, in verse 3, God says, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.”
This is critical – God (with a “D”) is against Gog (with a “G.”)
That’s not hard to understand, right?
So, write that down.
Gog is an enemy of God.
God is against Gog.
And Ezekiel is told to prophesy against Gog.
Now, skip down for a moment and read verse 10.
God says to Gog, “It will come about on that day, that thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil plan.”
That’s clear – and important – as well.
Write it down.
Gog will devise an “evil plan.”
Gog is one of the Bible bad guys.
Okay, already a clear picture is emerging of WHO this “Gog” character is.
Now, it’s time to ask: WHAT is Gog going to do?
What is this “evil plan” that Gog is going to devise and execute?
As we study verses 4 through 12, we see the plan begin to unfold.
Verse 4 tells us that Gog is a military leader – be sure to write that down under WHO.
But under WHAT, note that Gog is going to mobilize “all” – not some, but “all” – of his military forces.
“I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords.”
But we also learn that Gog will not be acting alone. Rather, it turns out he is a geopolitical leader building a military coalition made up of forces from other countries. Be sure to write that down under WHO.
Now, we need to add some other bullet points under WHO.
Who are the other nations that are involved in this military coalition? Five are mentioned in verses 5 and 6.
The first nation mentioned Persia.
The second one mentioned is described as “Ethiopia” – but the Hebrew word used here is “Cush,” so I’d recommend writing down “Cush” and putting “Ethiopia” in parentheses and we’ll get back to that in a moment.
The third nation mentioned is “Put” – and the text says that all three of these nations will deploy their military forces “with shield and helmet.”
The fourth nation involved in Gog’s evil plan is “Gomer, with all its troops.”
The fifth is “Beth-Togarmah,” which is also described as coming “with all its troops” and with “many peoples with you.”
Verse 7 gives us more information about WHAT Gog is supposed to do.
I particularly appreciate the New International Version of this verse – “Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them.”
It’s easy to get distracted by all the complicated, ancient names.
But the narrative here is crystal clear: Gog is an evil dictator who devises an “evil plan.” The plan involves his military. But it also involves the armies of at least five other nations.
Gog’s job is to get that coalition ready – get those military forces ready – take command of them in a unified fashion in order to attack someone.
At this point, we still don’t know what the target of the attack is.
But we find out in verse 8.
Actually, verse 8 gives us several important details to fill in our chart.
For starters, we get our first “time reference.”
The text tells us that this attack is going to happen in “the latter years.”
Write that down under WHEN.
Now, skip down to verse 16 – here we get another “time reference.”
“It shall come about in the last days.”
Write that down.
These two clues are critically important because they tell us plainly, clearly, that this is an End Times prophecy. It’s not something that has happened in ancient history. It’s something that will happen – one day – in the End of Days.
Good, okay, so we’re making progress.
Now, let’s go back to verse 8.
Here, God says to Gog, “After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them.”
Bing – there it is – in verse 8, God makes it clear what country is going to be the target of Gog’s evil plan in the last days.
A nation “whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations.”
The text makes it clear that Israel is a land that “had been a continual waste.”
But now, its people – the Jewish people – have been “brought out from the nations” – that is, brought back from exile – and have resettled in the Holy Land, the land of Israel.
Verse 12 tells us that the Jewish people are being regathered to live at the “center of the world.”
That’s an interesting phrase, the “center of the world.”
In Hebrew, the word “center” is “taboor,” which literally means “navel,” or “bellybutton.”
Write that down in the WHERE section of your chart.
God doesn’t see Israel as just some other country among many.
No, no – God says He has put Israel at the center, the navel, the bellybutton of the earth.
That’s one reason I call Israel the “epicenter” of the world.
Another reason is because of Ezekiel 5:5.
“Thus says the Lord God, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations.”
It couldn’t be clearer.
And that’s why I titled my first non-fiction book, EPICENTER – because Israel is the dead center, the heart and soul, of God’s plan and purpose for the world.
And in EPICENTER, I walked readers through Ezekiel’s prophecies in great detail, because they are so important for Jews, for Christians, indeed, for everyone on earth.
What happens here has profound implications for all of mankind, especially in these last days, and we ignore these prophecies at our peril.
So, we can now fill in several more sections of our chart.
Under WHO, note that Gog is targeting the Jewish people with his evil plan.
Under WHAT, note that Gog is preparing to invade the resurrected and reborn State of Israel.
Under WHERE, note that Israel is the “epicenter” of the world and that the land of Israel is center stage for these prophecies to unfold.
And under WHEN, note that the text makes it clear that before Ezekiel 38 and 39 happen – before the “War of Gog and Magog” can come to pass – Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37 must come to pass first.
Those chapters, of course, include the most famous prophecies in the Bible about the miraculous, dramatic rebirth of the sovereign State of Israel, the ingathering of the Jewish people from all the nations of the earth, the deserts blooming again, and the Jews rebuilding their “ancient ruins” in the land of Israel.
That’s why in the last video that we produced for THE BIBLE PROJECT, we looked at Ezekiel 37, the prophecy regarding the “Valley of the Dry Bones.” If you missed it, I encourage you to go back and watch it with family and friends. You’ll see what the prophecy says, what it means, and that sure enough over the last 100 years or so, God has been bringing Ezekiel 37 to pass.
Think about how astonishing that is. We now live in the days when the Jewish people are being miraculously and dramatically regathered to the Promised Land from all the nations of the world.
We now live in the age when the sovereign State of Israel has been miraculously reborn, rebuilt, and resurrected from the ashes and ruins of the Holocaust and the terrors of World Wars I and II.
And that’s why it’s so important to now turn our attention to Ezekiel 38 and 39, because as each item on God’s prophetic checklist gets checked off, we need to understand the next set of End Times prophecies that will also come to pass.
That’s why in our next video, we’ll embark on some exciting historical detective work.
We’ll discover where these ancient Biblical names like Magog, Rosh, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth-Togarmah come from – and what modern countries they actually refer to.
We’ll learn more about the “evil plan” that this “Gog” figure is plotting to unleash on Israel.
And how this apocalyptic prophecy will literally affect every person on earth.
For now, though, I just want to ask you: Are you getting all this? Are you writing it all down?
Can you see how many important details in these two chapters of Ezekiel that you’ve been able to understand, even though you don’t yet know which countries will be involved in attacking Israel?
Are you discovering that I wasn’t kidding when I promised that if you slow down, and take a deep breath, and look at the text very slowly and carefully, you really can understand the gist of what God is saying, even in some of the Bible’s more complicated passages?
Good, because this is one of the most important lessons in studying Bible prophecy.
You can do it.
It’s not impossible.
God isn’t trying to hide the truth from you.
True, He doesn’t intend to tell us about every event that’s going to happen in every country in every season of history.
But there are certain events in certain countries that are going to happen at certain times in the future that He absolutely wants us to be aware of and truly understand.
The miraculous rebirth of the sovereign State of Israel – as described in Ezekiel 36 and 37 – after centuries of exile is one of them.
The coming “War of Gog and Magog” – as described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 – is another.
The first set of prophecies was wonderful and encouraging.
The second set, to be honest, is very, very sobering.
But we dare not ignore them.
Because they’re not a bunch of guesses designed to scare us.
They’re a bunch of promises from Almighty God designed to prepare us.
And that, my friend, is the purpose and power of Bible prophecy.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.