Awaken Bible Prophecy Update 7-5-23: Timing of Gog-Magog War

Bible prophecy teachers are seldom in lockstep about various events in Scripture.  One of the seminal prophecies that causes disagreement is the War of Gog-Magog as recounted in Ezekiel 38-39.  Although this is among the most detailed of foretellings in the Bible, there are several different takes on when it will occur.  I don’t know of any prophecy position, i.e. futurist, preterist, or historical, that places this war in the past, thus it remains an unfulfilled prophetic event.  The question then becomes: When in the future will it happen?

There are four timeframes in the future that I’m aware in which prophecy experts say this war will take place.  They are:

  1. At the very end of the Millennium
  2. At the very end of the Tribulation
  3. Sometime early in the 7-Year Tribulation
  4. Prior to the Tribulation

I’m in Camp #4, and in this Prophecy Update will show you why none of the other possible timings make any sense given the details of this war in Scripture.




Bible prophecy teachers are seldom in lockstep about various events in Scripture.  One of the seminal prophecies that causes disagreement is the War of Gog-Magog as recounted in Ezekiel 38-39.  Although this is among the most detailed of foretellings in the Bible, there are several different takes on when it will occur.  I don’t know of any prophecy position, i.e. futurist, preterist, or historical, that places this war in the past, thus it remains an unfulfilled prophetic event.  The question then becomes: When in the future will it happen?


There are four timeframes in the future that I’m aware in which prophecy experts say this war will take place.  They are:


  1. At the very end of the Millennium
  2. At the very end of the Tribulation
  3. Sometime early in the 7-Year Tribulation
  4. Prior to the Tribulation


I’m in Camp #4, and in this Prophecy Update will show you why none of the other possible timings make any sense given the details of this war in Scripture.


We’ll get right to that as soon as we pray and read from God’s Word.






Revelation 1:3

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.



Timing of Gog-Magog War


  • It’s one thing to contend over how the three sets of Judgments during the Tribulation will play out and even the sequence of various events as told in Revelation
  • One would think that this War of Gog-Magog would be straightforward enough for many Bible teachers to agree when it happens
  • But no . . . seemingly like everything in Bible prophecy, everyone has an opinion
  • There’s nothing wrong with that, except in some cases the clarity of the text demands more rigor, which is often a casualty of our differing positions, of perhaps even our denominational differences
  • The one thing I’ve stated for a long time is that not a single one of us who teach Bible prophecy is going to get everything right
  • The interesting thing is that God declares His desire for us to search out His mysteries, and certainly Bible prophecy is included in that desire
  • We see God’s urging of us to delve into these deeper things through various verses such as:


Amos 3:7

“For the Lord God does nothing
without revealing his secret
to his servants the prophets.”


1 Chronicles 12:32

Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.


Acts 17:11

Now these Jews [in Berea] were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.


  • Add to this the fact that some 30% of the Bible is comprised of prophecy, and we see that God forewarns, He praises those who know the prophetic times in which they live, and He very much approves of His people reading His Word and taking it apart so as to know it better.
  • On top of that, we see from Revelation 1:3, which I quoted at the top, that we are blessed in reading the prophetic Word.
  • When we also read in Revelation 19:10:


For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.


. . . we understand that Jesus Himself is the centerpiece of prophecy, so in order to know Him more fully, we need to search out the depths of Scripture to understand all that He wants us to know


  • With that understanding, let’s consider the four different positions I noted earlier
  • You’ll see that from top to bottom of these four, I’m actually prioritizing the least likely to the most likely


  1. At the very end of the Millennium


  • I don’t think there’s too much to commend this timing position
  • There are two arguments I’m aware of for those holding this timeframe
    • The first is Ezekiel 38:10-11:


“Thus says the Lord God: On that day, thoughts will come into your mind, and you will devise an evil scheme and say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having no bars or gates,’”


  • The assumption with this is that at this point in time, of course, Israel will be living securely without any fortifications because Jesus will be ruling and reigning from Jerusalem
  • The whole world will actually be living that way
  • The problem is that Ezekiel says nothing about David the prince ruling then, which might be a clue that Jesus is on the throne
  • The argument also goes that there will only be one time in history that this is possible
  • As I show a little later, this is a fallacy because of the fact that certain prophetic Scriptures can have multiple fulfillments, although I don’t believe this is a fulfillment at all – primarily because of the second problem
  • This second issue is the reference in Revelation 20:7-8:


And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.


  • It is assumed that because the verse mentions Gog and Magog that this battle must be the one detailed in Ezekiel 38-39
  • However, let’s consider just one huge problem with this
  • This major issue is in the very fact of its timing
  • This war leaves a huge mess in Israel
  • It requires the Israelites to clean up the land for seven years as Ezekiel 39:9: states:


“Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and make fires of the weapons and burn them, shields and bucklers, bow and arrows, clubs and spears; and they will make fires of them for seven years.”


  • Not only that, but as Ezekiel 39:12 tells us, the land is unclean necessitating a more intense cleansing effort:


For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land. 


  • Why is this problematic?
  • What happens following the Millennium?
  • There are two major prophetic events:


  1. The Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15)
  2. The creation of the New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21:1-4)


  • In this sequence there is no place for this earthly clean-up
  • Who would do it and what would be the point?
  • During this time of the Great White Throne Judgment, there will surely not be any Israelites engaged in cleansing the land
  • Presumably everyone who has ever lived in the world will be present for this event
  • Those who are redeemed will watch as Jesus administers justice to those who have not believed
  • Those being judged will then go to their eternal destination
  • Once this process is completed, God brings His cleansing fire to the earth and everything from its past is consumed then made new
  • Note 2 Peter 3:7:


But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.


  • The purpose of all things being burned up like this is that during the Millennium the taint of sin and all previous blood that was shed is still on the earth
  • Up to this point, God hasn’t dealt with that
  • Yes, He must clean up the earth after the Tribulation to make it livable and a garden-like environment, but sin and the blood crying out for justice remains
  • Plus it will be added to because of the final insurrection
  • Sin still resides in the hearts of the mortal humans living during that period, and it comes back in force once Satan is released from his prison in the abyss to gather sinful unbelievers in the final attempt to displace God
  • If God is going to consume the earth with fire and make all things new, there is certainly no reason He’d have the Israelites do their clean-up
  • Neither would there be any 7-years after the Millennium for them to do it
  • Why does Revelation refer to Gog-Magog?
  • It’s a spiritual reference showing the heart of man at this time is the same as during the final days of the Tribulation
  • You can see, that based on timing alone, this position for the placement of the Gog-Magog War makes no sense



  1. At the very end of the Tribulation


  • Timing is also a big issue with placing the war here
  • Bible teachers like this timing because of a similarity detailed in Ezekiel and Revelation that they argue makes these events one
  • They point to Ezekiel 39:17-20 which reads:


“As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field: ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth—of rams, of lambs, and of he-goats, of bulls, all of them fat beasts of Bashan. And you shall eat fat till you are filled, and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you. And you shall be filled at my table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors,’ declares the Lord God.”


  • Then they point out Revelation 19:17-18 for what’s known as the Battle of Armageddon as it winds down:


Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “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.”


  • Obviously, both passages speak of a great feast by the birds upon the dead bodies of those in the war that perished at God’s hand
  • Does that necessarily mean they are one and the same?
  • Does the Bible show or foretell other events that have a strong similarity to something in the future?
  • Absolutely!
  • We speak of this being a telescoping phenomenon
  • Through the one end of the telescope the Bible shows us events that were near at hand
  • Looking through the other end we see those which are farther off
  • An example of this is the description in Daniel 9:27 or 11:31 of an antichrist-like figure in the person of Antiochus Epiphanes who desecrated the temple during the period of the Maccabees in the 2nd Century BC
  • In fact, it is this man that preterist believers state WAS the antichrist
  • That is, if it wasn’t Nero holding that position
  • But we see in Matthew 24:15-16 Jesus warning at the midpoint of the Tribulation, that THE Antichrist will perform a similar act as that earlier king


“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”


  • This begins the Great Tribulation for the next 3 1/2 years with the Jews being mercilessly persecuted, as Antichrist imagines himself on a par with God
  • So yes, there are definitely earlier and later fulfillments of various prophecies, and this one regarding birds eating the flesh of men after a significant battle is one of them
  • If you take that similarity away, what do you have that supports this timing position?
  • Nothing
  • Once more, the two clean-ups of Israel by the Jews are only something that will happen in an earlier time
  • Why?
  • Once the Tribulation ends, it will be God who restores the world to an exceedingly livable condition for the 1000 years of the Millennium
  • The world everywhere is a disaster by this time, so it’s not just Israel that must be refurbished
  • Remember, the human race will have completely destroyed itself plus the world if Jesus doesn’t end the Tribulation when He does
  • If post-apocalyptic doesn’t describe the state of the entire world at this point, I don’t know what does
  • God refurbishing the earth will actually be one of multiple events that will happen during the 75-day period following the Tribulation prior to the beginning of the reign of Christ on earth
  • So, again we see the futility of thinking Ezekiel’s War will occur at the end of the Trib period
  • It simply doesn’t make sense and cannot work given the rest of the sequence of prophetic events



  1. Sometime early in the 7-Year Tribulation


  • This gets us closer to something that will work, but as you’ll see, there’s still too much that argues against this position
  • The problem here is that too many details specified in the prophecy are ignored by adhering to this timeframe
  • Here are several:
    • Once more we note Ezekiel 38:10-11 concerning Israel dwelling securely without walls, bars, and gates
    • As most Bible prophecy teachers understand the breaking of the first four Seals and the unleashing of the four horses with their unique riders . . .
      • the Antichrist comes on the scene with a false peace,
      • war nonetheless breaks out,
      • worldwide famine and scarcity follow in the wake of these many conflicts,
      • and as a result, many deaths occur around the globe,
        • and because of the unbelieving nature of most people at that time, they are relegated to hell
      • Given this scenario, it seems like there’s an awful lot of conflict and chaos everywhere for Israel to be dwelling in such peace and security
      • One can argue that Israel is living that way because of the Covenant Agreement brokered by the Antichrist
      • Surely the people of Israel will think that for those seven years, they’ve got it made regardless of what’s happening elsewhere in the world
      • But, would they go so far as to dismantle all fortifications simply because of the Covenant?
      • I find that idea preposterous
      • They may look upon Antichrist as their savior and/or messiah, and think his promises are ironclad . . .
      • Still, it’s only an agreement for seven years
      • What happens after that?
      • Wouldn’t they potentially need those walls, etc?
      • One can argue that this War of Gog-Magog is part of the 2nd Seal of War – which I actually think is a possibility – but only given certain preconditions and an Alternative View of when the Seals are opened, which I’ll discuss in timing scenario #4 that I support
      • The biggest problem with this idea of where Gog-Magog is placed again goes to the clean-up from Ezekiel 39:9 that I mentioned previously
      • How long does that take?
      • Seven years
      • So, if this war is placed at the beginning of the Trib period, the clean-up of Israel will consume the entire seven years of the Tribulation
      • But wait . . .
      • What happens at the midpoint?
      • Antichrist desecrates the temple, declares that he is god – dashing the hopes of the Jews, and then begins their genocide through extreme persecution
      • Do you really think that the people of Israel running for their very lives will still be worried about cleaning up the land for the next 3 1/2 years?
      • I don’t think so
      • This is a killer issue (literally) concerning placing this war within the 7-year Trib period
      • Unless, of course, the text is wrong that the Israelites will spend the entire seven years cleansing the land of the remnants of this battle
      • Do you really think that’s the case?
      • No, given the severe persecution of the Jewish people by Antichrist during that time . . . me neither
      • That detail really puts a nail in this timing coffin



  1. Prior to the Tribulation


  • Even within this correct placement for when Gog-Magog happens, there are two camps:
    • The Traditional View
    • The Alternative View – to which I subscribe
  • With both of these, the idea is that following the pre-Tribulation Rapture of the true church, there is a Gap Period before the actual seven years of the Trib begins
  • It used to be that many people thought the Rapture would immediately start the Tribulation, as the Covenant Agreement would essentially be signed the next day
  • That doesn’t make sense given how events in this world take time to gather momentum and play out
  • Thus, most Bible teachers agree with the idea of a Gap so those things can take place
  • Here’s where it gets interesting
  • The Traditional View sees the Rapture and the Gap, and places the Gog-Magog War in the Gap before the Covenant and the official beginning of the Tribulation
  • In this view, obviously this war cannot be part of the wars unleashed during the 2nd Seal timeframe since none of the Seals are being opened yet
  • This View indeed could be the case
  • I certainly can’t say definitively that Ezekiel is or isn’t part of the 2nd Seal wars
  • The Traditional View can absolutely work as long as Gog-Magog occurs at least 3 ½ years prior to the Covenant and the official start of the Tribulation
  • Why?
  • Remember, the clean-up of Israel must itself take seven years, and at the midpoint of the Tribulation everything in this regard likely ceases
  • Thus Gog-Magog must be 3 1/2 years before the Tribulation officially begins in order to be added to the 3 1/2 years to the Trib’s midpoint, making the entire seven year cleansing possible
  • The Alternative View – first postulated by Bill Salus – makes the radical suggestion that the first 5 Seals actually begin prior to the official beginning of the Tribulation marked by the Antichrist Covenant Agreement
  • Now you’re scratching your head and wrinkling up your face saying, “Wait! How can that be?”
  • Interestingly enough, there’s nothing textual in the Bible that specifically says all the Seal Judgments must take place within the seven years of the Tribulation
  • Check it out
  • That being the case, it opens up the potential for some of the Seals – the first 5 Seals in this argument – to be opened in the Gap Period
  • What would that look like?
    • The pre-Tribulation Rapture occurs
    • That causes the Holy Spirit to step aside allowing for the revealing of Antichrist as the 1st Seal is opened
    • From there, we have the next 3 Seals as the world spirals downward
    • Among the various events is the rise of the Harlot religion in the form of the very ecumenical Catholic church
    • Remember the Vatican teaches amillennialism with no Rapture
    • Thus, as the true church of Christ disappears, the Catholic church will be deceived to think that they remain so as to bring the world under the Vatican’s religious umbrella
    • The Catholic church has a sordid history of persecution against those who disagree with its many heretical teachings
    • Under this timing scenario, the Vatican initiates a persecution campaign against all new true believers in Jesus Christ
    • Join the true church under the auspices of the pope, or die
    • Many who come to faith in Christ during these several years lose their lives
    • Thus the 5th Seal shows us these newly-minted believers
    • Note the question they ask: “How long, O God?”
    • Why would they ask this?
    • Because they’ve died in the Gap Period which has no specified dates surrounding it
    • Anyone with knowledge of the Bible during the actual seven years of the Tribulation will be able to pinpoint with some specificity exactly where on the timeline they are – but not this group
    • Finally, as the Antichrist consolidates power and earns the trust of Israel in that process, he “saves” Israel from the depredations of the Vatican which wants everyone, everywhere, to become subservient to the Catholic church
    • Obviously, the Jews in Israel don’t want that, but the enforcement by the Vatican is so great and threatening that it is an overwhelming scourge about to consume Israel
    • Antichrist steps in and brokers the Covenant which keeps Israel secure – so they think – for an entire seven years
    • The Catholic church is stopped at the door, so to speak, and Israel enjoys 3 1/2 years of peace and security while the rest of the world suffers from the various plagues
    • Sadly, the Israelites are deceived by this false Covenant
    • Note what Isaiah 28:14-15, 18-19 has to say about this:


Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers,
    who rule this people in Jerusalem!
Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
    and with Sheol we have an agreement,
when the overwhelming whip passes through
    it will not come to us,
for we have made lies our refuge,
    and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;


“Then your covenant with death will be annulled,
    and your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
when the overwhelming scourge passes through,
    you will be beaten down by it.
As often as it passes through it will take you;
    for morning by morning it will pass through,
    by day and by night;
and it will be sheer terror to understand the message.”


  • Israel has made a huge mistake in putting their trust in this false Covenant and the man who brokered it
  • In their doing so, however, that begins the official seven years of the Tribulation
  • Following the signing of the Covenant, the plagues continue with the 6th Seal being opened – interestingly enough with terrible physical disturbances in the earth – perhaps as a warning sign from God about this terrible false Agreement which signals the official beginning of the Tribulation’s seven years
  • Whether the Traditional View or the Alternative View is correct, the one other piece to this puzzle to make it logically work is the necessity of the Psalm 83 War
  • I discussed that in depth in my Biblical Audio Commentary titled Israel’s Psalm 83 Prophesied Land Grab
  • It is this war that sets the stage for Ezekiel because it enables Israel to live without walls, bar, or gates
  • This is necessary so that the prophecy will be exactly true to the last detail
  • It will make them think they are invincible
  • Their pride will swell
  • The IDF – Israeli Defense Forces – are the strongest in the world
  • What do they have to fear?
  • Thus, Israel dismantles the walls which are one of their primary defensive mechanisms
  • Then, the Ezekiel coalition of nations attacks and Israel is helpless
  • The IDF can’t do a thing to resist
  • It is this that enables God to win the entire victory and to set the people of Israel on the course of once more revering Him and not their own secular strength
  • Of course, in this return of devotion to God, they still miss the fact of Jesus Christ being their true Savior and Messiah
  • There is so much that works in this scenario that is simply missing if the Gog-Magog War is placed at any other time in the future


  • In examining the prophetic Word of God, we need to pay attention to the details
  • If we don’t, they will derail us and set us on a wrong course of interpretation
  • God wants us to seek out and know His will and the things He has planned
  • Let’s not neglect the Word of God in any way, shape, or form
  • Amazing things are in store for us and this world
  • If we keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ, we’ll be ready for them
  • All glory to God!

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