Is Gog of Magog the Antichrist?

Category: The End Times 107 2

One of the most controversial figures in the prophetic texts of the Bible is Gog of Magog.[1] Appearing in Ezekiel 38 and 39, he is presented as invading the land of Israel in the End Times and being defeated by God. The controversy around Gog concerns who he is and where he will come from. This article will investigate who Gog is. Another article will look into his origins.

The main question concerning who Gog is can be asked this way: “Is Gog the Antichrist or another figure in the End Times?” There have been different answers to this question. First, Gog has been viewed as a Russian ruler who will invade Israel sometime before the beginning of the Tribulation. His invasion could be the event that begins the Tribulation and leads to the peace treaty between the Antichrist and Israel.[2]

A second interpretation is that Gog’s invasion and defeat occur at the mid-point of the Tribulation.[3] This, like the first view, looks at Gog as a Russian leader whose defeat will usher in an era where the Antichrist will have no rivals and allows him to be a one-world dictator. Scholars John Whitcomb and Leon Wood believe that Gog is identical to the King of the North described in Daniel 11:40-45.[4] This means that Gog’s invasion is the event that leads to the Great Tribulation and could also be what gives the Antichrist his “fatal wound” that is spoken of in Revelation 13:3.[5]

In this perspective, Gog will directly challenge the Antichrist and attack Israel when their guard is down because of their peace treaty with the Antichrist.[6] It is also thought that Gog’s destruction by fire (Ezekiel 38:22 and 39:4) could be a “miracle” performed by the False Prophet (Revelation 13:13 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9).[7] Another interesting thought is that the Antichrist may even take credit for the destruction of Gog by some secret weapon.[8]

In this interpretation, the defeat of Gog “serves New Testament eschatology only as a necessary backdrop or launching pad for the Antichrist, the ultimate masterpiece of Satan.”[9] Both of these views (before or at the mid-point of the Tribulation) assume that the Antichrist will come from a revived Roman Empire. The purpose of Gog’s invasion is that God will destroy the Muslim world along with Russia. The reasons for believing this are:

1) The Antichrist will come from a revived Roman Empire, so Russia and the Muslim nations must be destroyed before the Antichrist emerges on the global stage since Russia and Islam would be major obstacles to the Antichrist controlling the world.

2) The Antichrist will claim to be God (we’ll talk about this belief in a later article in this series). Muslims will never worship a man who says he is God (Allah). How could the Antichrist have a one world government if a good portion of the world population (Muslims) will never accept him as God?

3) So the Lord must destroy the Muslim world before the rise of the Antichrist.

A third interpretation is that of William Hendriksen. He believes that Gog could be Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Greek king of Syria who ruled in the second century BC.[10] This view is not very popular and with good reason. Ezekiel places Gog during the End Times (36:24; 38:8, 11, 14, 16; 39:11).

Fourth, there is the view that Gog is the Antichrist.[11] This is not a very popular view but has been argued by some. This is the perspective that will be examined throughout the rest of this article. Is it possible that Gog of Magog is the Antichrist? If so, then it would completely change the way the End Times should be studied. I will begin with the evidence that is argued in favor of this theory. Then I will take a look at some of the objections brought against it.[12]

The evidence that Gog will be the Antichrist

1)      God calls Gog the Antichrist

The first piece of evidence that Gog may be the Antichrist is found in Ezekiel 39:8 and 38:17. The former says that Gog’s invasion and destruction are “the day of which I [God] have spoken.” The day of the Lord is repeatedly used in the Bible for the second coming of Christ. The latter verse says, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Are you not the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel? At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them.” Notice that God says that Gog is the one who He (God) has spoken of before. Who else in Scripture has God spoken about concerning the End Times besides Jesus? The Antichrist is the only individual whom God has said anything about in this kind of context.[13]

2)      Gog’s Invasion and the Battle of Armageddon

There are also many similarities between the description of Gog’s battle against Israel and the Battle of Armageddon. First, both Gog and the Antichrist are destroyed by an earthquake (Ezekiel 39:19-20; Revelation 16:18-20). Second, Gog and the Antichrist are stricken by plagues (Ezekiel 38:22; Zechariah 14:12; Habakkuk 3:3-6). Third, the armies of Gog and the Antichrist turn on themselves at the last hour (Zechariah 14:13; Ezekiel 38:21). The men in each of these armies begin killing each other.

Fourth, there is also a parallel between Ezekiel and Revelation. Ezekiel 39:17-20 and Revelation 19:17-18 are very similar. Ezekiel says, “’Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and bulls—all of them fattened animals from Bashan. At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,’ declares the Sovereign Lord.”

Revelation says, “And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, ‘Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”

In both passages, the animals are commanded to gather together for a great supper/great sacrifice of the Lord and to eat the flesh of the mighty/princes, horses, and others. This is a powerful parallel between Gog’s final battle and the Antichrist’s final battle.[14]

3)      Both use peace to wage war

The use of peace is another common ground between the Antichrist and Gog. Both of them will invade Israel during a time of peace. Daniel 9:27 says that the Antichrist will make a covenant with Israel and then break it. Isaiah 10:20 says that the Israelites will come to trust the Antichrist, and Paul also speaks of a time of peace and security before the return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).

Daniel 8:25 tells us that the Antichrist will “cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many, and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” Again Daniel (11:24) says, “When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them.” Ezekiel continues this theme in 38:12-13: “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people – all of them living without walls and without gates and bars.”[15]

A map showing the typical interpretation of the invasion of Israel by Gog.
A map showing the typical interpretation of the invasion of Israel by Gog.

The aftermath of the destruction of Gog

So far we have seen many similarities between Gog and the Antichrist. The following evidence is, in my opinion, the strongest in the connection between Gog and the Antichrist:

1) After the defeat of Gog, God’s name will no longer be blasphemed. This indicates that after the battle described in Ezekiel 38-39, no one on the earth will speak badly of the Lord (39:7). This presents a huge problem for those who believe that Gog will be destroyed before the Tribulation. Daniel 7:25 says that the Antichrist will blaspheme the Lord. In fact, the Antichrist will be the greatest blasphemer in all history. Yet, Ezekiel 39:7 specifically says that after the defeat of Gog, God’s name will never again be blasphemed.[16] Scholar Daniel Block, in his commentary on Ezekiel, says, “Never again would he [God] tolerate the desecration of his name.”[17]

2) After Gog’s defeat, the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations will come to know God. Isaiah 11:9 mentions that after the return of Christ the whole world will be filled with the knowledge of God (see also Psalm 22:27). Isaiah (60:14) also says that at this time Israel’s enemies will repent and worship the Lord. Ezekiel 38:23 and 39:6-7 say that the nations, after Gog’s defeat, will know that God is Lord. If the entire world knows the Lord after Gog’s demise, then how can the Antichrist come after Gog?[18]

3) Ezekiel 39:25-28 says that God will deliver the Jewish people and bring every Jew back from captivity with the demise of Gog. Block says in relationship to this: “Indeed, [God’s] commitment to his people is so complete and so precise that not a single one of them will be left out there among the nations.”[19] Yet, Zechariah 14:2 specifically says that the Jews will become captives when Israel is invaded by the Antichrist. If the Antichrist comes after Gog, then God delivers his people just so they can become captives once again in just a few short years. He is in essence wrong in saying that he bring them back to Israel to keep them there forever.[20]

4) According to Zechariah 12:9-11 God will destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem (Armageddon). At this time God will pour out his Spirit on Israel. Interestingly, Ezekiel 39:29 specifically says that after the defeat of Gog, God will pour out his spirit on Israel. Sounds like the same event. As a result, Israel will know the Lord.[21]

5) Joel Richardson makes an interesting argument that Jesus will be present when Gog is defeated. This is according to Ezekiel 38:19-20. God says that everyone will “quake at my presence.” The Hebrew word used for presence is panim. I will quote Richardson: “Panim is a reference to the actual face or presence of a person. When God says that the people of the earth will quake at his panim, He is saying that they will be terrified because of His actual presence.”[22]

In the Old Testament, panim is used to refer to the presence of God. Genesis 32:30 says, “So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” Panim is used for “face” both times in this passage. Richardson also says something very important concerning the presence of God:

“It is also interesting to note that in place of the Hebrew panim, the Septuagint [the Greek translation of the Old Testament] used the Greek word prosopon. Prosopon is one of two words commonly used in the New Testament to refer to actual presence. The other word is parousia, which is commonly associated with the Second Coming [of Christ]. Between parousia and prosopon, prosopon is the more powerful term. Parousia implies coming, but prosopon implies actual face-to-face presence. As Jesus is coming on the clouds, this is His parousia, but once He has actually arrived, then the word prosopon is used. An excellent example of the New Testament usage of prosopon is a scene where the righteous are actually looking upon the face of God in the eternal city: “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face [prosopon], and his name will be on their foreheads” (Revelation 22:4).[23]

6) Lastly, to go along with point number 6, Ezekiel 39:7 says that the Lord is the Holy One in Israel. This is the only time in the Bible that the phrase “the Holy One in Israel” is used. The phrase “the Holy One of Israel” is used numerous times, but the former phrase appears only here. Ezekiel seems to be making the specific point that God is actually in the land at the defeat of Gog. This is a clear picture of Christ’s return.[24]

Overall, I believe that the arguments above do make it likely that Gog of Magog is the Antichrist. This is probably a very difficult idea to believe for many Christians. Gog is not a military ruler whom God will use to bring about the Antichrist. Gog is simply one of the many names in Scripture for the Antichrist.

Problems with Gog being the Antichrist

Naturally, all ideas have their criticisms. This is no different for the thesis being examined in this article. Below I will list these different criticisms and follow each one with a short discussion.

1)      The armies of the Antichrist and Gog are destroyed in different places.[25]

Ezekiel 38:21 says that God will summon a sword against Gog on the mountains, and 39:17 says that Gog’s army will be a sacrifice on those mountains of Israel. Yet, the battle of Armageddon is said to be at Jerusalem, and Megiddo, the city whom Armageddon is named for. The latter is on a plain in northern Israel, not specifically in the mountains.

I do not believe this is as strong of an argument as some think. Ezekiel 39:5 speaks of Gog falling in the open field. Also, “the mountains of Israel” is a synecdoche for the entire land of Israel. Richardson notes that “the mountains of Israel” is similar to the phrase “all across the fruited plains” as a reference to the entirety of the United States.[26] The descriptions of the defeat of the armies of Gog and the Antichrist do not contradict each other.

2)      The weapons of Gog are burned.[27]

Ezekiel 39:9-10 say that the Israelites will burn the weapons of Gog’s army for fuel for seven years. Why would the Jewish people need fuel if Jesus has returned and can provide for everyone’s needs? There is a very likely answer for this. When we read Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3, we see that the people of the earth will beat their swords into plowshares. This is a very poetic description of taking something for military use in a sinful world and turning it into something peaceful for the coming age of peace.[28] It is likely that Ezekiel is teaching us the same thing.

3)      Gog’s army is destroyed by fire (Ezekiel 38:22), but the Antichrist’s army is destroyed by “a sharp sword” coming out of Christ’s mouth (Revelation 19:15)[29]

The first thing to understand about this criticism is that Jesus will not have a sword literally coming out of his mouth when he returns. With that part of this criticism aside I want to discuss something important that will counter many of the criticisms that will be discussed here. Most of the arguments against Gog being the Antichrist have to do with an argument from silence or an alleged contradiction. For example, Ezekiel says that Gog’s army will be destroyed by fire, but no fire is mentioned in other texts concerning the defeat of the Antichrist and his army.

This is not a problem at all. Do all the prophets have to mention every single detail every time they speak about the Antichrist and the return of Jesus? Of course not. This is no different than in the Gospels. Many times we see an episode recorded by two or more of the Gospel writers and see differences. Just think of the variations in detail concerning the birth of Christ. Just because Matthew mentions, the killing of babies by Herod and Luke doesn’t does not mean that the event was not real or that Matthew and Luke are recording the birth of two different people. They are simply giving two different perspectives of the same period in Jesus’ life.

The same can be said of any historian who chooses to emphasize different details in the life of any figure or event in history. They do not have to give the same details about every person, place, or event. The prophets are simply giving us different details and different perspectives of the same things. They are variations, not contradictions.

4)      Gog is the ruler of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal (Ezekiel 38:3), but the Antichrist is the ruler of the whole world.[30]

I am not going to go into details here, but I have already written an article that demonstrates the likelihood that the Antichrist will not rule the entire world.

5)      Gog is the leader in Ezekiel, but the Antichrist is the leader at Armageddon[31]

This is a bad argument since it already assumes that Gog and the Antichrist are different individuals.

6)      Only Gog and his armies invade Israel, but at Armageddon, all nations invade (some even protest in Ezekiel 38:13).[32]

See the argument under the criticism #3 above, and the link about the Antichrist ruling the entire world.

7)      Israel is at peace before the invasion of Gog but there no mention of Israel’s peace before Armageddon.[33]

See the argument under criticism #3 above. There is no contradiction since Israel could have been at peace before the Antichrist invades.

8)      Gog invades to plunder Israel whereas the Antichrist gathers his army to fight Christ.[34]

See the argument under criticism #3 above. Also, the Antichrist can have both of these goals in mind at the same time.

9)      Gog’s defeat happens so that all the nations will know God but Armageddon happens so that God may destroy the nations[35]

Can’t both of these happen at the same time? Again see the arguments above.

10)   Gog is killed but the Antichrist will be thrown alive into Hell (with no mention of Gog)[36]

Once again, see the arguments above. I also want to say that this criticism misses some very important details. For instance, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 says that the Antichrist will be slain by Jesus when he returns. Daniel 11:45 also says that the Antichrist will meet his end in Israel. One must remember that the dead are still alive in the lake of fire since they are resurrected before being thrown into the fire.[37]

11)   Ezekiel 38 and 39 happen during the first half of the Tribulation, but Armageddon happens at the end of the Tribulation[38]

This is similar to criticism #5 above. It assumes that Gog and the Antichrist are different individuals before fully examining the evidence.

Conclusion

The evidence presented in this article makes a good case that the Antichrist and Gog of Magog are the same individual. The parallels between the battles, their destruction, what God does when he destroys them, and the very fact that Jesus returns at the overthrow of each is good evidence that the popular interpretation that Gog will come before the Great Tribulation is simply false. In the next article, I will look at the various nations that will come with Gog as he does battle with Israel. Is he really from Russia, or will the evidence show a more Middle Eastern origin?

What do you think? Does this article challenge your beliefs about the Antichrist? Leave a comment below. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

[1] This is an updated version of an article originally published on April, 18, 2013.

[2]   David R. Reagan. “The Wars of the End Times” http://www.lamblion.com/articles/articles_tribulation1.php. Nathan E. Jones. “Timing Gog-Magog” http://www.lamblion.com/articles/articles_tribulation2.php.

[3] John C. Whitcomb, Daniel Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1985), 155-161. Leon Wood, A Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1973), 309. Mark Hitchcock, The End (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2012), 306.

[4] Whitcomb, 155-161; Wood, 309.

[5] Whitcomb, 161.

[6] Hitchcock, 293.

[7] Whitcomb, 160.

[8] Hitchcock, 306.

[9] Whitcomb, 161.

[10] William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1967), 193.

[11] Joel Richardson, Mideast Beast (Washington D.C.: WND Books, 2012), 176-177. Walid Shoebat, with Joel Richardson, God’s War on Terror (Top Executive Media, 2008), 270-271. John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 934.

[12] There is a fifth way of looking at Gog of Magog. That is he is the same as the Gog of Revelation 20. This article will discuss the idea that Gog is the Antichrist against the common view that he is a Russian ruler before or during the tribulation. Whether or not the Gog in Ezekiel 38-39 is the same Gog recorded in Revelation 20 will not be fully examined in this article. There are two possibilities that I see. First, they are different. Ezekiel records for us the Antichrist while John borrows the Gog imagery in Revelation 20 for a different individual who rises up against God after the millennium. Second, they are one and the same. The former view fits with a premillennialist view while the latter with amillennialism. This article will not go into the details of the millennium.

[13] Richardson, 176-177. Shoebat, 270-271.

[14] Richardson, 179-184. Shoebat, 270-271.

[15] Richardson, 187.

[16] Richardson, 166-167. Shoebat, 267.

[17] Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 25-48. In “The New International Commentary on the Old Testament.” Ed. R.K. Harrison and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1998), 463.

[18] Richardson, 167-168. Shoebat, 267-268. Block, 480-481.

[19] Block, 487.

[20] Richardson, 168-170.

[21] Richardson, 170-175. Block, 482. Leslie C. Allen, Ezekiel 20-48. In the “Word Bible Commentary” Volume 29. (Dallas: Word Books, 1990), 208-209.

[22] Richardson, 175.

[23] Ibid., 175-176. Also see Shoebat, 269.

[24] Richardson, 176.

[25] Jones.

[26] Richardson, 190-191.

[27] Jones.

[28] Richardson, 191-192; Shoebat, 273-274; Block, 465.

[29] Jones.

[30] Jones.

[31] Hitchcock, 305.

[32] Ibid., 305. Jones.

[33] Ibid., 305. Ibid.

[34] Ibid., 305. Ibid.

[35] Ibid., 305.

[36] Ibid., 305.

[37] Richardson, 194-195.

[38] Hitchcock, 305.

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2 thoughts on “Is Gog of Magog the Antichrist?

  1. Duane Shippy

    Hi Matt,

    Great article. I think there are a lot of similarities and they may be the same war, but there are other differences that might make it impossible for them to align. Here’s the big one:

    In Ezekiel 39:11-16 it is very specific about how the dead are buried, goes into detail about it taking 7 months and then after that any dead body is marked with a flag and burial teams come and gather them.

    In Jeremiah 25:33 it is said the bodies of those killed by the Lord (appears to be Armageddon) will not be buried and left out there like dung.

    The other big difference is that in Ezekiel Israel is in perceived peace and safety. Prior to Armageddon Israel is scattered, half those who survived the first part of the tribulation are killed (Zech 14:2), the rest have fled to another location per Rev 12:14. I think God is leaving some breadcrumbs to show us these are different wars.

    There are a lot of similarities but these differences and some of the others you outlined above make it clear that these wars are at different times. Based on the lack of surrounding countries in the Ezekiel 38 war I have a feeling the Psalm 83 war occurs first, then the 1st Gog/Magog war, then the rise to power of the Antichrist. But hard to say, timeline isn’t real clear.

    Reply
    1. Janice Hunton

      Good points. It has been awhile since I read Ezekiel, but I remember it seemed to me that God will bring the Gog Magog warriors against Israel on purpose, so that when the world sees the miraculous deliverance of Israel, then they will know that the God of Israel is the one true God. In recent years, Muslim leaders in the UN have gone so far as to say that the Jews have no ties to Jerusalem, and one Muslim leader said the Jews in Israel today are not really descendants of the ancient Jews. So, it’s possible that the Gog Magog war could be God’s response to them, and to the large number of political leaders in the EU and the USA who have come to believe that Palestine should have Jerusalem for its capital. It would open people’s eyes to the truth and hopefully bring them to repentance. If I’m correct, then the Gog Magog war is not the same as Armageddon. At the time of Armageddon, most of the people who lived at the beginning of the Tribulation will already be killed by plagues, etc. Believers will be hiding somewhere, and they will already know God. The two witnesses will have already been preaching in Jerusalem for years, so everyone will have already made the choice to accept or reject their message. Most people will celebrate when the witnesses are killed. When the witnesses are resurrected and caught up to heaven, that should be sufficient to convert anybody who could possibly be converted. Seems that the purpose of Armageddon will be to get rid of the Antichrist and his followers.

      Reply

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