Will the Battle of Gog and Magog Precede the Rapture?

Manfred E. Kober, Th.D.

The great battle described in vivid detail in Ezekiel 38-39 has been long debated among students of prophecy. At least eight different times have been assigned to the invasion of Israel by a northern army.

Much of the confusion concerning the timing of this eschatological battle is due to the ignoring of what someone has called the three most important principles of biblical interpretation: (1) consider the context; (2) consider the context and (3) consider the context.

The broader context of Ezekiel 38-39 involves God’s final dealing with Israel. Ezekiel 37 records the vision of dry bones with the interpretation given that this is a reference to the regathering of Israel from among the nations (v.22). This regathering must still be future because it involves every single Jew. God speaks in Ezk. 39:28 “I have left none of them anymore there,” or, as the NIV translates, “not leaving any behind.”

This regathering is most likely due to the fact that after the rapture anti-Semitism will explode world-wide. Speaking of that time, Christ predicted, “You shall be hated amongst all nations” (Mt. 24:9).

The dispensational context prevents us from postulating the battle before the imminent rapture. The church age and its conclusion with the blessed hope of the rapture are not at all mentioned in the Old Testament. In fact, Paul clearly states that the church is a mystery, unknown to previous generations (Eph. 3:1-6).

The immediate context is Ezekiel 38-39, which sees Israel living then in the land, completely safe “all of them dwelling without walls and having neither bars nor gates” (Ezk. 38:11). There appears to be only one time when Israel in her tumultuous existence experiences such complete absence of danger, and that is after the rapture. Antichrist will make a covenant of peace and protection with Israel, a treaty which he breaks after three and a half years (Dan. 9:27). One reason for the violation of the covenant may be the invasion of Russia with six allies at the mid-point of the tribulation. God uses eight specific judgments to annihilate the attackers (Ezk. 38:17-23). With Antichrist’s major opponent removed, he will exercise world-wide control for the last half of the tribulation (Rev. 13:5).

This scenario seems to be supported by two chronological references in the context, namely that Israel would be visited “in the latter years” (Ezk. 38:8) and “in the latter days” (Ezk. 38:16). The reference is obviously to the final seven years of the times of the Gentiles prior to the glorious advent of Christ. The following prediction, Ezekiel 40-48, speaks of the world’s worship of our sovereign Savior in the Millennium.

© Manfred E Kober

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