Thanks for this [article: ISRAELI RABBIS SAY CURRENT EVENTS COULD LEAD TO “WAR OF GOG AND MAGOG” by Joel Rosenberg], Phil. It is very relevant to yesterday’s exchange on the question of the placement of Ezek 38-39. I’ve long expected Turkey to be among the nations that will participate in the invasion of Gog, which scripture leads me to identify with the initial invasion led by the Antichrist, particularly in view of Ezek 38:17, which in my mind leaves no question.
All of the below underscores many things that are missing from the consciousness, not only of the secular but the religious, not only Jewish but Christian. This prominent rabbi is correct in his reading that the whole world will be against Israel in the days just preceding the final redemption. That in itself is an advance on what you will typically find in Christian scholarship, since even historic pre-millennialists tend to place these events at the end of the millennium. But how many consider that this is not simply the “world against us,” but God Himself (“the quarrel of my covenant;” Lev 26:25)?
It is God Himself (Ezek 38:4) who is putting hooks into the jaws of this ruling principality (Gog; see note ((Note: I believe on the basis of Ezek 38:17 that the name, “Gog”, may be a reference to Satan himself. Notice that Gog is called a “chief prince” (Ezek 38:2-3’ 39:1) just as Michael is called, “one of the chief princes,” in Dan 10:13. In any event, I am far more inclined to see Gog as a demon prince over the nations opposed to the ‘holy covenant (Dan 11:28, 30, i.e., contempt against Jewish divine right to the Land) than merely the name of a country or region, as suggested by those who see a phonetic and etymological connection between the Hebrew word, “Rosh,” (meaning chief), and Russia. What is especially significant about Ezek 38:17 is that there is only one figure about whom “ALL” the prophets of Israel have spoken continually, and that is the final aggressor, who, though described by many names throughout the OT, is known by Christians as the Antichrist. This means that this sudden and unexpected invasion of the Land at a time of comparative security or ‘tranquility’ in some translations (Dan 11:24 compare also Ezek 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26; with 1Thes 5:3) is led by none other than the Antichrist. Though many nations may support his advance in addition to the ten kings, we know that the ten kings are without doubt found among the specific nations that Ezekiel includes in his list in Ezek 38:5-6. In order to see that the nations mentioned here are indeed ‘specific’, and not merely symbolically inclusive of the entire world of the gentiles, as proposed by many commentators, it is significant that some nations are conspicuous for their absence, as for example, Egypt. Normally, Ezekiel is quite prolific in his frequent mention of Egypt all throughout the prophecies of the book, but here Egypt is not mentioned. This is explained when we see that in Daniel, Egypt is not annexed by conquest until sometime later in the tribulation period that began with the abomination of Dan 11:31 (see Dan 11:42). So, although the kings of the East and a host of nations join in the fray at the end, at the point of initial invasion, Israel is dwelling securely when this particular band of specified nations attack. Notably, many of these nations, including modern Turkey, are dominantly Islamic. This means that whoever the Antichrist is, and from wherever he comes, one thing is certain: He has the Islamic world behind him, and Daniel explains the motive of their alliance as a common defiance of the holy covenant (Dan 11:28, 30).)) below) that presides over the nations of the gentiles, particularly those that are banded against the people and land of the covenant (Dan 11:30-31, 39; Ezek 38:8, 18; Joel 3:2). It is much like the passage in Rev 17:17 where it is said of the ten kings, “For God has put in their hearts to fulfill His will, and to agree, and give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.”
The world will be against Israel because God is against Israel’s sin. The good news is that He is so especially and particularly against Israel’s sin, precisely because He is so much for His own purpose in election and grace. Though He loves His Jewish elect in whom Christ will be formed at the set time (Ps 102:13; Jer 31:33; 32:40; Gal 1-:15-16; 4:19), it is even more particularly for the sake of His own name that He can never permit His covenant promise to fail through their natural impenitence and unbelief (compare Num 14:11-21 with Ezek 36:22, 32). They will be turned.
But this great love and covenant privilege is also Israel’s greatest culpability. The same is true of the Christian. Because He has known them in a way He has chosen to know no other nation, He will not spare. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities (Amos 3:2). It is the same for the Christian (Heb 12:6-7). It is a rule belonging to the very nature of covenant that the greater the opportunity for blessing, the greater the severity when that privilege is slighted. God will employ the bitter hatred of the enemy to minister corrective discipline or final judgment where the divine pleading is fatally resisted.
It is the paradox of God’s sovereign over-ruling of evil to accomplish His own purpose in grace (“you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good;” Gen 50:20). Here, Gog thinks an evil thought (Ezek 38:10), but God has planned from all eternity to use that evil thought to bring an end of Israel’s long night of exile by His sovereign employment of Satan’s hatred to bring Jacob to the end of his power (Deut 32:36; Dan 12:7).
Unfortunately, many assume that Israel will only be “buffeted” (their words) by the descent of the armies of Gog (The one Christians call Antichrist, the rabbis call Armillus). Not only Jews, but many misguided Christians read Ezekiel’s vision to imply only that the enemy comes down but does not prevail. On the contrary, the enemy does prevail; he prevails for forty two months of unequaled ‘divine’ severity (Isa 28:19-20; Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21; Rev 11:2).