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Here is the story:
In Ezekiel 38 and 39 a battle occurs. It is the most lengthy and detailed prophetic battle in the entire bible, even more than Armageddon. This future battle is a coalition which has never formed before in quite the configuration described. For this reason, bible scholars believe the battle to be yet future. I use the term battle and not war deliberately, because this seems to be a very short military foray. As a matter of fact, hardly any weapons are loosed, it is over so quick. It is a battle, and God wins it decisively.
In addition, the battle is not between nations. It is between this coalition of nations and God Himself. The coalition of nations doesn't know it, because they think they are marching against Israel. But it is God who intervenes and protects Israel by smiting the advancing army.
He does this in demonstrable and vivid ways. He wins the battle for Israel so clearly that the nations know it is God who is doing the fighting. More on those details below.
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The LORD said that He will plan this and execute it. He said in Ezekiel 38:4- "And I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a great host, all of them with buckler and shield, wielding swords".
He will do this to show the world that HE IS ISRAEL'S PROTECTOR! And to bring himself glory!!
"And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. The house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day forward. And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt so treacherously with me that I hid my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions, and hid my face from them." (Ezekiel 39:22-24)
He shows His protection of Israel and His glory by doing things that only God does:
"In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord." (Ezekiel 38:19-22)
All the people on the face of the earth tremble at His presence??!?! Even the birds?! He rains brimstone down! Turns over mountains! He sends plague! Some estimate the number of dead invaders at three quarters of a million up to a billion dead. All the earth will know God is on the scene. It will be a momentous day. His wrath is a fearful thing.
Remember when the Japan 9.0 quake happened in March 2011? It was a powerful enough quake that it jolted the earth off its axis 8 feet. The quake in Ezekiel's Gog-Magog battle will be ten times worse. A hundred times worse. I can't quantify it because my brain can't comprehend all the mountains on earth turning over and every cliff and every wall falling down.
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I am so thrilled when the LORD receives Glory and He magnifies Himself. He has been doing that in the Church Age the last 2000 years by redeeming lost sinners, cleansing them with His Son's blood. In the future Gog-Magog battle Ezekiel describes, He will give Himself glory by demonstrating both His raw power and His seriousness about keeping His covenant promise with Israel.
When does this Gog-Magog battle happen? No one is sure where it falls on the schedule of prophesied events, and there are a lot of opinions on this topic. The only collective thought is that it happens at or after the tribulation. All the stances have some biblical credibility, but some stances are weaker than others and some are stronger. Personally, I used to think it will happen at or just after the rapture. But in reading the verse about every mountain falling down, I am not so sure. In Revelation 6:14 we read that:
"The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place."
So the Ezekiel earthquake removes every mountain by overturning them but then the Revelation earthquake crumbles them ... again?
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"And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling,a that is, those who dwell in heaven." (Revelation 13:5-6).
Many have said that since the Ezekiel battle mentions in chapter 39 a special crew of buriers burying the dead over the course of 7 months, marking bones with a flag to identify another part of another body from the army God vanquished. And the people of Israel shall use the weapons for fuel for 7 years, so people believe the 7 years means the battle occurs at the outset of the Tribulation and Israel burns fuel for the duration of it, which is 7 years. However, there is no reason the 7 years could not refer to a battle toward the end of the Tribulation, and the fuel burning overlapping into the Millennium. Or it could occur at the end of the Millennium, a more likely prospect since during that 1000 years God's name is not profaned, AND Israel is dwelling peacefully and securely without walls (Ezekiel 38:11, Ezekiel 39:25).
In other words, the timing of this prophesied battle cannot be clearly and dogmatically stated.
In any case, it seems that the world stage is active and lively right now with prophetic implications of these battles to come. We see a potential Gog in Putin, and Russia rising. We see an isolated Israel, bemoaning they only have God and their military to rely on. God is stripping Israel of all, and when Israel finally says, 'we have ONLY God', He will bring them back to His bosom.
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During this Church Age, God is dealing with people via His Spirit and through Resurrected Jesus who is in heaven. It is an age of grace, not of wrath. During the Tribulation He parts the veil and personally intervenes on earth again- in wrath and not in grace.
Here are several progressive essays which examine the timing of the Gog-Magog battle. They are from Nathan Jones of Lamb and Lion Ministries, and one is from John MacArthur, who believes the Ezekiel battle will occur at the Millennium's close. As always, check out these things for yourself, pray, and think.
1. The Gog-Magog Battle - Search For Timing
2. The Gog-Magog Battle - Before the Tribulation?
3. The Gog-Magog Battle - During the Tribulation?
4. The Gog-Magog Battle - During the Millennium?
5. The Gog-Magog Battle - Unfolding; (their stance on the timing)
6. Twelve attributes of God the study of the Ezekiel Battle yields
John MacArthur: The Gog Magog battle timing- at the end of the Millennium
I hope that when you read those essays and especially when you read the bible, do so with a notion that God is great, and His purpose for all of it is to bring glory to Himself, and to bring people to holiness. End time studies are meant to revive our hearts in love and awe for a great and holy God, to make us aware of the temporal and fleeting time and body in which we live, and the eternal importance of souls.
Joel C Rosenberg: What Netanyahu Is Learning from President Obama’s Vacillations on Syria
Joel C Rosenberg: Does Jeremiah 49 prophesy the destruction of Damascus?
Joel C Rosenberg: Do Isaiah 17 & Jeremiah 49 foretell Damascus destruction? 23 pages of notes on this subject
Israel National News/Op-Ed: Obama has tripped over his own red line
Mother Jones: Oh Magog! Why End-Times Buffs Are Freaking Out About Syria
This article from two days ago from CBS notes that Russia's Putin threatens nuclear war of Syria is touched. It was that article that made me think of the Ezekiel battle in the first place, with the chapter 39 detailed explanation of the buriers burying for 7 months via a special clean up crew with flags marking bones and bodies. this is the protocol for nuclear cleanup. Also for biological clean up after plague.
Russia Warns Of Nuclear Disaster If Syria Is Attacked