Chapter 38, Gog, prince of Rosh
Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37, we see the nation of Israel restored
back to the land of Israel. They were scattered to the nations
twice in fulfillment of God’s covenant provisions in
Deuteronomy 28. Once during the Babylonian
captivity in Ezekiel’s day, the second time following the cutting
off of the Messiah in A.D. 70. God, through the prophets, assured a
day when Jews would be gathered to the land of Israel and be
restored as a nation.
restoration will be complete as the descendents will also be
redeemed from their sin when they are restored. The redemption of
Israel as God’s “chosen people” does not only involve Israel, but
the whole world. The process of Israel’s redemption involves the
nations of the earth who come against Israel, forcing Israel to turn
to God alone. Through Israel turning to God, the nations come to
know the “True” God of Israel in the latter days.
Israel is restored to the land, they are pitted against the nations.
Through this conflict, the nations come to know the NAME of the Lord
22 "Therefore say to
the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord God: "I do not do this for
your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name's sake, which you
have profaned among the nations wherever you went. 23 "And I will
sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations,
which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know
that I am the Lord," says the Lord God, "when I am hallowed in you
before their eyes.Ezekiel 36:22-23
The name of the Lord is linked with His identity while the nations, the
descendents of Adam and Eve, are part of fallen humanity. Just how
do the nations come to know the God of Israel? God has revealed
Himself through the prophets of Israel who foretold of the coming of
the Messiah. Following the death of Jesus Christ, the Gospel was
entrusted to the church, while Israel was scattered to the nations.
In the latter days, God again uses Israel as His instrument for
revealing Himself to the nations.
Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 reveal some of the important details of this
conflict before the return of the Messiah as well as Israel’s
transition to obedience to God. Ezekiel chapters 40 through 48 deals
with the Millennium when the nation of Israel receives the promised
blessings and are blessed above all nations.
The timing of
Ezekiel 38 & 39
The events of these two chapters, particularly the battle of Gog and
Magog, have been a great topic of debate with those who study the
End-Times. Some argue this is a battle which immediately precedes
the coming of the Messiah. Orthodox Judaism places this battle
right before the coming of the Messiah, followed by the descent of
the third temple (Ezekiel 40). Others place this battle within the
tribulation period, and still others before the tribulation. The
internal evidence clearly tells us there is a seven-year period
which follows the defeat of Gog and his allies:
9 "Then those who
dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn
the weapons, both the shields and bucklers, the bows and arrows, the
javelins and spears; and they will make fires with them for seven
years. Ezekiel 39:9
This seven year
time frame corresponds with the period of the tribulation known as
Daniel’s 70th week. For seven-years, following
the defeat of the armies of the nations of Gog, Israel will burn the
weapons left behind. This would not be the case if the battle was
immediately before the Second Coming; therefore, we can conclude
this event takes place before the seven-year tribulation.
The dead are
also buried for seven-months (Ezekiel 39:12) so this clearly happens
before the resurrection.
Gog and his allies
Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 "Son of man,
set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the
prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3 "and
say, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the
prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. 4 "I
will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you
out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly
clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them
handling swords. 5 "Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya
are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; 6 "Gomer
and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far
north and all its troops-many people are with you. Ezekiel 38:1-6
The word of the Lord:
The revelation which follows is directly from the
Lord to Ezekiel, concerning Gog and Israel in the last days.
Son of man:
The title given by the LORD to Ezekiel, a descendent of
humanity. Ezekiel represents God against Israel’s enemy, Gog, and
the nations. The picture here is of someone turning to face the
enemy. Ezekiel is to proclaim the message to Gog through the
centuries and into the future, when the event occurs.
Gog is the leader
or head of an alliance of nations. He is from the land of Magog;
Ezekiel identifies him as the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. The
exact meaning of these names will be discussed below, but Ezekiel
identifies Gog as being of Magog. Gog is probably the political
leader who organizes this alliance.
Land of Magog:
historian Josephus has identified the land of Magog as Scythia, the
progenitors of Russia which is north of Israel. Also in the table
of nations, Genesis chapter 10, Magog is identified as one of the
sons of Japheth. Therefore, by the time of Ezekiel and in the future
his offspring would be a major nation. Gog from Magog leads this
alliance of nations against Israel.
Prince of Rosh:
of this title for Gog is not accepted by all. The Hebrew word for
which can be translated either as a name, Rosh, or as
the adjective chief. Some translations will translate this as
chief prince instead of Prince of Rosh based upon their views.
Regardless, Gog is identified as a leader from the far-north who is
head of the descendents of Meshech and Tubal in the land of Magog.
These nations, like
Magog, are the descendents of Japheth; Gog is the leader of this
alliance. In Ezekiel’s day these nations were listed as traders of
people and brass vessels or utensils for the goods of Tyre.
13 "Javan, Tubal,
and Meshech were your traders. They bartered human lives and vessels
of bronze for your merchandise.
1 Now this is the genealogy of the sons of
Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the
flood. 2 The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal,
Meshech, and Tiras. Genesis 10:1-2
I will turn you:
God is pulling this
alliance toward Israel; God Himself is involved in this upcoming
battle. Gog is pictured as an animal with hooks in its jaws being
pulled into the conflict; God places the hooks in the jaws of Gog.
Egypt is pictured as a crocodile with God also placing hooks in its
jaws, pulling it out of the water while Ezekiel is told to set his
face against Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt (Ezekiel 29).
All your army:
At this point, the
army coming in to attack Israel is an immense force which will
require burial of the dead for seven months. Exactly what
circumstances would ever lead to such a large force coming against
Israel? In light of the current situation, this is entirely left to
speculation. The invasion by this force could be a punitive action
against Israel regarding its relations with the Arab states. In the
past, Russia has threatened and then prepared to attack Israel in
response to wars with its allies, Syria and Egypt.
The point here is that God will use these armies to reveal Himself
to the nations in their conflict with Israel. The weapons described
are terms that Ezekiel and his audience would be familiar with;
horses, horsemen, bucklers and swordsmen. He also uses the term
all sorts of armor, which would include modern weaponry.
Included in this
alliance is the kingdom of Persia which, in Ezekiel’s day, was a
lesser known power to the east of Babylon. Today, Persia is known
as Iran and exists as one of the greatest threats to the nation of
Israel. At no other time in history has there been an alliance where
Persia and Russia were united against the land of Israel.
Today Russia is an ally of Iran; supplying the country with nuclear
technology, helping it to build nuclear power plants and centrifuge
systems. Iran has also contracted with Russia to buy sophisticated
anti-missile and aircraft defense systems to protect it from
Israel’s threats to destroy its nuclear ambitions.
along with these northern nations, will attack Israel in the latter
The Hebrew name here is
Cush the ancient name for Ethiopia, this would include the
nations south of Egypt. Though Ethiopia is historically a Christian
nation, Muslims have made great inroads into gaining power not only
in Ethiopia, but also in Sudan. These nations are united in their
hatred for Israel.
The Hebrew name is
twp Puwt, another ally of Russia and another Islamic nation with a
history of being an enemy to the nation of Israel. Libya is an
ancient nation founded by Phoenician traders as a colony. General
Hannibal is one of this land’s most famous descendents.
This is yet another descendent of Japheth, who is part of the alliance
against Israel in the latter days. In Genesis Chapter 10, Japheth is
listed as having seven sons; four of them are included in this list
as nations who will come against the land of Israel. Gomer is
understood by Jews to stand for Germany; the name Germany is thought
to have come from the term Gomerland. In addition, Jews from
Germany are known as Ashkenazi Jews, named after Ashkenaz, one of
the sons of Gomer.
3 The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. Genesis 10:3
This is another son of Gomer who is noted for trading horses
with the merchants of Tyre (Ezekiel 27:14). This country is
identified with Armenia which was known for its horse breeding and
trading with Persia and Babylon. Today Armenia is identified as an
ally of both Russia and Persia. The Armenians are an Indo-European
language group which has been traced as having migrated into the
land of Armenia from east of Asia Minor in the 7th and 8th
From the far north:
North of Israel is Russia along with Togarmah (Armenia).
Ezekiel 39:2 links Gog with being
‘far north of Israel’. Moscow, the capital of Russia is directly
north of Jerusalem.
many people...with you:
The list of nations is not comprehensive but includes
other people groups in this alliance of nations coming against
Israel. These nations could invade Israel on the basis of a UN
mandate because of Israel’s policy toward its Arab neighbors.
Potential reasons a United Nations attack on Israel could be
justified might be as follows:
might attack a Palestinian State declared by the United Nations
might reject a UN mandated division of Jerusalem
might take control of the Dome of the Rock in an effort to begin
construction of the third temple
Gods message to Gog
and its allies
yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are
gathered about you; and be a guard for them. 8 "After many days
you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into
the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered
from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had
long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations,
and now all of them dwell safely. 9 "You will ascend,
coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all
your troops and many peoples with you." 10 'Thus says the Lord God:
"On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in
your mind, and you will make an evil plan: 11 "You will say, 'I
will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to
a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling
without walls, and having neither bars nor gates' 12 to take plunder
and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places
that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the
nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in
the midst of the land. 13 "Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of
Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, 'Have you come
to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry
away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take
great plunder?' " ' Ezekiel 38:7-13
Here God, through
the centuries, challenges this alliance of nations led by Gog to be
prepared for the coming conflict. In the end of days, it’s God
versus the nations; the kingdoms of the earth versus the kingdom of
God. God tells Gog to be a guard to his alliance of nations.
Through this attack on Israel, God will be glorified in the eyes of
After many days:
this conflict does take place, it is after many days which
implies it is in the distant future. This was not an event during
Ezekiel’s day but after “many days”; the Hebrew word here is
Rab, which means many or great. Fortunately, this verse includes
several qualifiers to clarify this timeframe.
In the latter
is the only place in the Bible that these
two Hebrew words are used; these words link the gathering of
the nation of Israel on the mountains of Israel as an event in the
Last Days, or Latter Years. The Hebrew word
means last, end or
hindermost. Ezekiel links this End-Year event as following a period
of “many days”. Within verse 38:8, Ezekiel lists six qualifiers
which can only apply to the current nation of Israel, as opposed to
the historic return of Jews to the land of Israel in the days of
Cyrus the Great in 539 B.C.
1. Brought back
from the sword:
The sword of the
Romans came against the land in A.D.70 and 132, when the Romans cast
the Jews from the land, destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple.
The land has been
restored from the sword of Rome.
2. Gathered from
Though the Jews
were scattered in Ezekiel’s day, their dispersion was mainly to
Babylon and Egypt. The Jews currently living in Israel are gathered
from all over the world; from every habitable continent, including
North & South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
3. On the mountains
The location of the
Jews is on the mountains in the ancient land of Israel not in a new
4. Which had long
The land the Jews are gathered on has a “continual” or “perpetual”
history of being “wasted” or desolate. Again, the land settled after
the Babylonian destruction in 586 B.C., lay in waste for less than
50-years when Cyrus allowed the Jews to return. Contrast this to the
current nation of Israel which came into existence in 1948. Prior
to the Jews returning to Israel this time, the land was desolate for
more than 1800-years.
5. They were
brought out of the nations:
Not only did the Jews come from many people groups, but they
came from many nations of the earth.
6. Now all of them
Israel, for the
most part, lives safely in un-walled villages. The nation is not
being invaded continually because it has been victorious over the
surrounding nations which have attacked it.
You will ascend:
continues His discourse to Gog through Ezekiel by describing the
assault on Israel by the alliance of nations. The assault is
pictured as a gathering storm as the nations attack a seemingly
thoughts will arise
in your mind:
God describes the
process of how this invasion is brought about. Gog conceives of a
plan to advance on the land of Israel. Gog’s intent is to do evil
to the land of Israel; therefore an evil plan is hatched by
the nations against Israel.
a land of unwalled
This is an amazing description of the future; at this time walled cities
and villages were common since without walls a city was a target of
plunder. However, since cannons were invented, walls have become
useless and are no longer built. Cities without walls were almost
one thousand years in Ezekiel’s future yet he describes a nation
living without walls in the last days that is also back in the land
a peaceful people:
demeanor of Israel is of a nation which has continuously sought
peace with its neighbors only to be met with five different wars
since the nation was founded in 1948. Again, Ezekiel is giving us a
qualifier which can only be fulfilled in our day. Israel is
described as a wealthy nation which has acquired many goods.
The lands of Arabia are linked with Sheba and Dedan, specifically
the land of Yemen. The land south of the Arabian Peninsula is
identified with the queen of Sheba who visited Solomon.
Archeological evidence places her kingdom in an area identified as
being part of current day Yemen.
This is identified as one of the sons of Javan, who is known
as the father of the Greek nation. Some have linked this nation to
Spain. Jonah fled to Tarshish, a distant land from Israel, probably
along the coast where Spain is located.
These are the
nations which, along with Sheba, Dedan and Tarshish, play the role
of spectators. They question but do not challenge Gog. “Young lion”
is the descriptive term for a “new nation”; a young lion cub, a
descendent of the lion (stronger) nations. Could this describe the
role the US and Europe will play? Are they passive observers of
these nations which invade Israel? At this point in time will
Russia and its allies have UN justification because Israel has
violated world opinion? Notice the questions they ask Gog, the
leader of the alliance, have a material rather than a moral focus:
Have you come
to take plunder?
gathered your army to take booty?
To carry away
silver and gold?
To take away
livestock and goods?
To take great
plunder?' " '
Gog invades Israel
in the latter days
14 "Therefore, son
of man, prophesy and say to Gog, 'Thus says the Lord God: "On
that day when My people Israel dwell safely, will you not know
it? 15 "Then you will come from your place out of the far
north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses,
a great company and a mighty army. 16 "You will come up against
My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be
in the latter days that I will bring you against
My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am
hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes." 17 'Thus says the
Lord God: "Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days
by My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years
in those days that I would bring you against them? 18 "And it will
come to pass at the same time, when Gog comes against the land of
Israel," says the Lord God, "that My fury will show in My
face. 19 "For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have
spoken: 'Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake
in the land of Israel, 20 'so that the fish of the sea, the
birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things
that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the
earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be
thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall
to the ground.' 21 "I will call for a sword against Gog
throughout all My mountains," says the Lord God. "Every man's sword
will be against his brother. 22 "And I will bring him to judgment
with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his
troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain,
great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. 23 "Thus I will magnify
Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes
of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord."
Say to Gog:
God again commands
Ezekiel to reiterate God’s words to Gog, the leader of the alliance
of nations. God is challenging Gog, declaring His thoughts,
demonstrating His nature and power to the world. In our secular
world it is popular to deny the existence of God and mock those who
believe the Bible is the Word of God. Through Gog, God will be
glorified in the eyes of the nations.
On that day:
Israel is secure in
the land when Gog will move against her. How could this day come
about? What could possibly happen that Gog would feel confident
enough to invade Israel? Why would the US, an Israeli ally, just
stand by or not even be mentioned in this scenario?
reasons an Invasion might take place
At this point, the US may turn against Israel. A new administration
might side with the Muslim powers; urging Israel to submit to UN
resolutions. Israel, on the other hand, could reject UN resolutions
and choose its own course which would cause the UN to allow these
nations to invade Israel based on international justice. Currently,
there are three major issues regarding Israel and the nations that
could make this invasion a reality:
A. The borders of Israel:
According to the world, Israel claims occupied Arab land, namely the
West Bank and Gaza. The world has made it a goal to create an Arab
Palestinian State as part of the peace process. Just where would
these borders be located? The term Pre-1967 borders is often
mentioned which refers to Israel’s borders before it won the 1967
war with its Arab neighbors.
The UN and the nations might require Israel to surrender these lands with
the threat of war if they do not submit to UN resolutions.
B. The status of Jerusalem:
A major part of the
1967 victory was the conquest of East Jerusalem which included the
Temple Mount, the location of the third temple. This location is
also claimed by the Arab world as the third most holy place for
Islam. The Arabs claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future
Palestinian state, the UN might very well agree with the Arab
nations, along with the United States. Israel might reject this
claim, giving further justification for invasion.
A key point to remember is that Israel requires control of the Temple
Mount to build the third temple. The nations do not want a third
temple built because it would require the destruction of the Dome of
the Rock; this would pit Israel against the nations. This is exactly
what Ezekiel tells us will happen in the last-days, Israel versus
C. The status of the Arab refugees (the right of return):
When the Jews returned to the land of Israel they took
possession of the land. When they were declared a nation in 1948,
they were attacked by the Arabs. The Arabs forces actually removed
Arab families who were in the line of fire, promising them they
could return after the Jews were defeated. Unfortunately for these
families, the Jews were not defeated and Arabs were displaced to
Lebanon, Jordan and Gaza, instead of returning to current day
Israel. Arab nations claim these Arabs have the right to return to
Israel and become citizens.
With millions of Arabs returning to Israel and taking possession of lands
now occupied by Israelis, the very existence of Israel would be in
jeopardy. Therefore, Israel has refused to even consider this as an
option in the peace talks. Israel claims when the Jews fled from
Arab lands, no one was willing to compensate them; therefore the
Arabs who fled have no claim to Israel. Furthermore, Israel claims
that the population of Jordan is primarily Palestinian and
therefore, Jordan should be the Palestinian nation. Israel’s
position on this places it in conflict with the Arab nations.
D. The timing of the rapture:
factor which might preclude the US and Europe from being involved in
end times is the rapture (I Thes. 4:13-18). The rapture could occur
before the battle of Gog. Such an event would shake the US causing
its very existence and stability to come into question. During such
a time, Israel would appear vulnerable without its allies in the
E. Nuclear Terror:
A terrorist act in
the US could easily destroy America’s ability to respond to conflict
in the Middle East, again allowing Israel to seem vulnerable without
its allies in the West.
Then you will
God summarizes the invasion points made earlier; Gog will come from
the far north with many troops.
the far north:
The far north is clearly Russia, coupling this with Gog
being located in the land of Magog and having the name Prince of
Rosh, we can justify this view. Even Russia’s continued opposition
to Israel fits this scenario.
Against My people:
This battle is really a war against God. God will defend His
people against the nations. Through Israel the other nations come to
know the God of Israel. God has promised that His relationship with
Israel is an eternal relationship; He will fulfill His promises made
to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
35 Thus says the
Lord, Who gives the sun for a light by day, The ordinances of the
moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And
its waves roar (The Lord of hosts is His name):
36 "If those
ordinances depart From before Me, says the Lord, Then the seed of
Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever."
It will be in the latter days:
reiterates this event will take place literally in the “Last Days”.
Earlier in Ezekiel 38:8
the term “Last Years” was used, here the term “Last Days” is used.
Identifying this in multiple locations and in various ways shows
that the “Last Days” is being stressed. God wants us to know this is
an END TIME event.
I will bring you:
God is involved in
this struggle; God Himself is bringing these nations to this
climactic event. God will put Himself in opposition to the
nations. In other words, it does not matter what the world thinks,
God is the one who controls the nations. The nations who come
against Israel will have to deal with God Himself.
so that the nations
may know Me:
What is the purpose
of this conflict? So that the nations might know who God is. We
live in a “relativistic” world where all opinions about God and
morality are seen as equally valid. God rejects the pluralistic,
relativist view. God’s Word declares there is One Truth, He is the
focus of this Truth
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one
comes to the Father except through Me
16 So that he who
blesses himself in the earth Shall bless himself in the God of
truth; And he who swears in the earth Shall swear by the God of
truth; Because the former troubles are forgotten, And because they
are hidden from My eyes. Isaiah
Hallowed in …Gog: Through this conflict, God is elevated above the false “gods”
and rebellious thoughts of the nations. What happens in Israel will
cause the whole world to have to deal with the God of Israel. This
is in direct opposition to what the nations currently think. This
is another reason the United States and Europe may be excluded from
this conflict; if the US were involved then the US would get the
credit rather than God. This event will be super-natural in nature.
Are you he:
In this amazing
comment, God reports how the events in the last days will be
perceived. When these events happen, people will look back at God’s
prophets and will read about the events written down before they
occurred. People will understand God alone is behind these events
and He will get the glory.
Former days: Through
of the past, people in the future will look back at the “former
days” - the days of Ezekiel. They will question the source of this
revelation and in the end God will get the glory and credit for what
Prophesied for years: This event will be seen as the fulfillment of an ancient
prophecy against the land of Israel.
God is angry at the
nations and will judge the world. The nations will team up against
Israel which will unleash God’s judgment against these invading
a great earthquake:
shakes the earth starting in the land of Israel. These invading
armies are defeated by God, not by the power of Israel’s army.
in the land of Israel:
Though the whole
world knows about this earthquake, the quake is centered in the land
of Israel. The shocks will shake not only Israel but the whole world
Shake at My presence:
The whole world takes notice of the presence of God as
it sees what happens to the armies of Gog. The God of Israel will
get credit for this battle in the eyes of the nations. They will
turn to the Bible and see what Ezekiel foretold was coming.
Sword against Gog:
Not only is Gog’s alliance defeated by the great earthquake
in the land, but the alliance itself unravels as fights and
confusion cause the armies to battle each other.
God will judge these nations with earthquakes, wars from
within and a host of other supernatural events.
Plagues and pestilence are noted here showing that sometimes
God uses disease as part of His judgment. This clearly takes place
in the Old and New Testaments.
The armies will destroy each other, along with Israel’s army
involved in the conflict.
Torrential rains will fall on the armies as God’s judgment
against Gog begins.
This could be missiles, super-natural objects or meteorites
raining on these armies.
Volcanic judgments or super-natural judgments falling on Gog’s allies.
I will be known:
In the end, the whole purpose is not the glory of Israel, but
the knowledge of God. God will be known in the eyes of the
nations. God will identify Himself to the world through these
events. These events will launch the period known as the
Tribulation, Daniel’s 70th week and the Time of Jacob’s
trouble. Throughout the earth, people will be confronted with the
God of the Bible. The people of the earth will be forced to make a
choice between the God of the Bible and the rule of man. In the
end, many will come to know the Lord as the book of Revelation
9 After these things
I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number,
of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the
throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm
branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice,
saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to
the Lamb!" 13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who
are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" 14
And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the
ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.