Millennium, What Millenium?
Millennial Madness, Why Gog and Magog Won't be at the Battle of Armageddon
When I was a new Christian, I read The Late, Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey, and was sure that Russia was going to attack Israel and begin the end times at the Battle of Armageddon. Much ink was spilled seeking to prove that the tribes of Gog and Magog migrated to Moscow to become the new center for an end time alliance against Israel. This view of Russia as the new Magog dovetailed with the fact that Communism and the USSR were the major political and military threats to Western Christianity. But I was sure these enemies would be defeated at the Battle of Armageddon and then Christ was going to reign on earth physically for 1,000 years (the Millennium), before some last final temptation.
However, there is a major problem in the chronology with this end time scenario. The first problem is that Gog and Magog do not attack until after the Millennial reign of Christ is completed! (Revelation 20:8) So, if Gog and Magog are going to be part of this end time battle which brings Christ return, then those who believe it must believe that the Millennium is occurring now and is a spiritual, not physical event. What I'm saying is that if we take Revelation at face value, the Battle of Armageddon has nothing to do with Gog and Magog. It has everything to do with Kings of the East, whomever they may be. (Revelation 16:12)
Chapter 16 of Revelation talks about plagues that fall upon the nations. As the first plagues in Exodus were sent to set free the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, the last plagues are sent to set the children of God free from slavery to the economic and political systems of this world. However, as God seeks to set his people free, worldly powers resist:
"The sixth angel poured his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw, issuing from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet, three foul spirits like frogs; for they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. ("Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake, keeping his garments that he may not go naked and be seen exposed!") And they assembled them at the place which is called in Hebrew Armageddon. The seventh angel poured his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" And there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as had never been since men were on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered great Babylon, to make her drain the cup of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found; and great hailstones, heavy as a hundred-weight, dropped on men from heaven, till men cursed God for the plague of the hail, so fearful was that plague." Revelation 16:12-21, RSV.
This battle story continues through to Chapter 20, where the enemies of God are defeated. It says nothing about Armageddon, however we may assume the battle begins there. The problem is that there is no battle. The saints appear with Jesus riding in from heaven and Jesus appears to slay the enemies of God with the sword of his voice, or the Word of his mouth. There is no nuclear holocaust or fire from heaven. The only time a fire consumes Christ's enemies is after the Millennium, the thousand year reign of Christ on Earth:
"Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, "Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great." And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who sits upon the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur. And the rest were slain by the sword of him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh." Revelation 19:11-21, RSV.
"Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city; but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." Revelation 20:1-10, RSV.
So, whatever this small bit of information does to your end time theology, at least try to get your chronology right. If the Millennum is a physical period of rule and not a spiritual one, we will not see Gog and Magog gather to oppose God in our earthly lifetime. After a resurrection, we might see it, but not before.