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 can i online 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.
2 thoughts on “Millennium, What Millenium?”
Let us consider the following:
There is one war at Armageddon before the Millenial reign (please read Acts 1…A Jew never understands the reign of Messiah as only-spiritual, but both spiritual and physical) and another war after the Millenial reign of Christ. Revelation 16 specifically names “Armageddon” as the location and Revelation 20 says that the armies are gathered “at the plain…surrounding the camp of the Saints and the Holy City”, i.e. Jerusalem.
Also, we have to consider that Ezekiel 38-39 names specific regions with regard to Gog and Magog and Revelation 20 says Gog and Magog will be constituted of the nations “which are in the four corners of the earth”, i.e. all nations.
Furthermore, notice how Jerusalem is called “Sodom and Egypt” in Revelation 11 before the Return of Christ and in Revelation 20, “the beloved city” in the Milenial reign.
Thus, “Gog and Magog” is probably a “codeword” for godless nations just as “Babylon” became the epitome and “codeword” for spiritual harlotry and anti-YHWH doctrine.
And if you read the passages in Ezekiel about Gog and Magog, YHWH says “it is THE day of which I spoke”…”and all the nations shall know that I am YHWH”. When will “all” nations know that HE (=Jesus Christ) is YHWH? At His return! “The Day” is that great day of YHWH – the return of the KING OF KINGS, and LORD OF LORDS Jesus Christ.
So it can be said with certainty that Ezekiel talks about a Gog and Magog war before(!) the return of Christ (i,e. Revelation 16). That doesn’t mean that Revelation 20 is wrong when it says that there will be a Gog and Magog war after(!) the Millenium, because “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; ” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
This is typical Hebrew circular reasoning and most likely why the writer of Revelation used a name like Gog and Magog (which in one sense, according to Ezekiel obviously occurs before Christ’s return) and apply it to a war that will be rekindled after the physical, literal Millenial reign of the King Christ Jesus.
Just as there are many “Babylons” and “Antichrists”, etc. the same probably applies to “Gog and Magog” which is most likely referred to as a “spiritual principle” and “codeword”. The abovementioned examples in the Scriptures substantiate this understanding and that the prophets have understood prophecy and the Word of YHWH in this way and uttered their prophecies accordingly.
I have a three problems with a purely material literal interpretation of the Millennial reign of Christ followed by a war.
1. it doesn’t align with what Paul says about the final defeat of evil at the “last trump” which is his return.
“For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14–18, ESV)
IOW, we will always be with the Lord. No death, no falling away, etc. The literal interpretation implies that evil will return and people will fall away after having been tested in this life.
2. Secondly, we will have celestial bodies, but there is no indication of reproduction and more children (contra the Sadducees who ridiculed the idea of marriage in heaven), and these bodies are not subject to death and decay according to Paul.
3. Revelation is apocalyptic literature not pure prophesy, unlike 2 Thessalonians or Zechariah (both of which prophesy a final battle with evil, which is defeated by the Messiah. Apocalyptic literature is full of symbols and references to Old Testament types which the Jews would have understood. There is also no second witness in the scriptures to a millennium. The wars have to do with Jerusalem. And Revelation appears to be a covenant lawsuit over the rejection of the Messiah and is well documented in “Days of Vengeance” by David Chilton.
Jerusalem is a center of contention for this world as we now see. There have been wars over Jerusalem. And it may be that many of these prophesies were fulfilled when Rome sacked Jerusalem in 70 A.D. An interesting book I have reviewed is called Victorious Eschatology, which provides strong evidence against a Dispensational interpretation of scripture, but which also underestimates the growth of evil in the world. However it talks about the desolating sacrilege in Matthew and Luke, where Luke says the sacrilege is Jerusalem surrounded by armies and Rome’s standard was the eagle, which is the same word as vulture. I.e., the vultures had gathered over the carcass of Jerusalem, whose house had been left desolate by its rejection of the Messiah.