April 20, 2014

Gog and Magog- Surprise Identity!


This analysis considers the enigmatic references to 'Gog' and 'Magog' in the Bible. Who or what are they? Few commentators have much of value to say about them, instead just repeating the interpretation that seems to have obtained the blessing of the nameless experts-- which is that Gog and Magog must refer to Russia. Said experts are obviously of Western outlook, basing their judgement more on chauvinism than on solid evidence.

Rather than simply swallowing the 'common wisdom' (or lack thereof) let us search the scriptures. Using mostly the scriptures themselves, and aided by inferred history, my conclusions differ radically from the conventional dogma (which shouldn't surprise anyone who's been reading my Bible studies!) Here's what I discovered.

First, let's look at all the passages where either Gog or Magog is mentioned.
> Genesis 10:[1] Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and to them were sons born after the flood. [2] The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. [3] And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. …

> Ezekiel 38:[1] And the word of the Lord came to me saying, [2]“Son of man, set your face toward 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, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. [...]
[22] With pestilence and with blood I will enter into judgement with him; and I will rain on him and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones, fire and brimstone. [23] I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord.

> Ezek 39:[1] And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal; [2] and I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you against the mountains of Israel. [3] I will strike your bow from your left hand and dash down your arrows from your right hand. [4] You will fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you as food to every kind of predatory bird and beast of the field. [5] You will fall on the open field; for it is I who have spoken,” declares the Lord God. [6] “And I will send fire upon Magog and those who inhabit the coastlands in safety; and they will know that I am the Lord. [...]
[29] I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares the Lord God.

> Revelation 20:7-9 (NIV) - The Judgement of Satan – [added title]
[7] When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison [8] and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. [9] They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

So, the first reference occurs in Genesis, in the story of Noah and the Deluge, hence the date is unknown but very ancient. The next reference occurs in Ezekiel, which would place it in approximately the 6th century BC. And the final occurrence is in Revelation, at about 90AD, and must be taken in a symbolic sense (as I say so often regarding the prophecies of Revelation) as a future prophecy.

Searching for extra light on the subject, we find this account from 'The Pulpit Commentary'[1]:
Magog. A fierce and warlike people presided over by Gog (an appellative name, like the titles Pharaoh and Caesar, and corresponding with the Turkish Chak, the Tartarian Kak, and the Mongolian Gog: Kalisch), whose complete destruction was predicted by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 38, 39.); generally understood to be the Scythians, whose territory lay upon the borders of the sea of Asoph, and in the Caucasus. [...] In the Apocalypse (Revelation 20:8-10) Gog and Magog appear as two distinct nations combined against the Church of God.”

The text quoted below is an extract from 'Genesis 10 Explored,' which is a teaching outline by John M. Brown, Flatwoods Church of Christ, Sunday Bible Class, March 2004 [2].
The question sometimes arises, 'Where do the different races and cultures come from?' The answer is found here: all mankind living today has descended through these three sons of Noah!
From Ararat: - Japeth will go NORTH
- Ham will go SOUTH & SOUTHEAST
- Shem will go EASTWARD
THE SONS OF JAPETH
1. GOMER: descendants were assigned to the Caspian and Black Seas areas, and to what is modern Germany (see Ezekiel 38:5-6).
      1. ASHKENAZ: Wales, Brittany, modern Germany
      2. RIPHATH: northern Europe; Phrygia
      3. TOGARMAN: Armenians
2. MAGOG: Caucasians - territory lay in the borders of the sea of Asoph and in the Caucasus (see Ezekiel 38:2)
      3. MADAI: the Ionians or the Medes, dwelling on the southwest shore of the Caspian Sea
      4. JAVAN: Sicily & Greece (the name means “Greek”) - see Isaiah 66:19; Ezekiel 38:2-3;
      Daniel 8:21; 10:20; Joel 3:6).
      1. ELISHAH: Sicilian coast
      2. TARSHISH: Spain, Tuscany (western Italy)
      3. KITTIM: Cyprus (see Numbers 24:24)
      4. DODANIM: Rhodes
5. TUBAL: the Tibarenes & Iberians (northern Armenia) – see Ezekiel 38:2-3; 39:1
6. MESHECH: the area of the Black Sea (Russia)
7. TIRAS: Thracians (according to the Jewish historian Josephus).
'Isles of the Gentiles': CAUCASIAN – WHITE [sic]

We can conclude that the descendents of Japeth settled in an area that stretched across Europe from the Black and Caspian Seas to Spain. These are the Caucasian people from whom will come the Europeans. Remember also the promise that these descendants will be 'enlarged': is it a coincidence that the Europeans are known, historically, for exploration and conquest?”
[End of excerpt verbatim].
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Analysis

The only passages where the words 'Gog' and 'Magog' appear together are in Ezekiel 38 and 39, and in Revelation 20. In Ezekiel, Gog is basically a title, an office, that of Prince, apparently. So, we read the text as it states, 'Gog OF the land of Magog,' where Magog is the 'nation' or region. In Revelation, John clearly refers us back to Ezekiel's prophecy, but he uses the phrase 'Gog AND Magog,' causing most pundits to assume the words refer to two nations.

John uses much of the same imagery as Ezekiel, for example, the utter destruction to be visited upon Gog/Magog, and the feast their dead bodies provide for the carnivorous birds. The parallels are striking (e.g. Ezek 39:4 vs Rev 19:18). This literary device of John is used repeatedly in his Revelation, where there are numerous allusions to OT scriptures, BUT they are always re-cast and employed in a new manner.

John uses the past events to evoke a mood intended to apply allegorically to the events yet to be experienced. The original scenario is local and specific to the literal people of Israel. The prophetic forecast is global and embraces the de-facto people of God (heart-changed Christians, not pew-warmers). It is also of note that the prophecy of Ezekiel 38/39 has not been fulfilled, historically.

My conclusion is that both the OT and NT passages are referring to the same event-- which is yet to occur. Second, it is notable that Magog can be taken to symbolize the 'White or Caucasian' races that populated modern Europe... and who have, in the main, transformed into a secular, godless (even rabidly atheistic) society, today.

Those pundits who want to interpret 'prince of Rosh' as Russia really have only the etymological link, the assonance, on which to rest their case. This can be a helpful tool at times, but can hardly be regarded as a robust hermeneutic in general. The Hebrew word Rosh implies ‘chief,’ ‘head,’ or ‘beginning,’ and is translated as such in Ezekiel in various Bibles (including the King James version). Thus ‘the prince of Rosh’ is better understood as ‘the chief prince' (of Meshech and Tubal).

Just as there are plenty of pundits who want to pin the Vatican as the 'beast' of Revelation, there are zealous cold-warriors who want to nail Russia as a villain, somewhere in eschatology! As usual, that is jumping to conclusions, and pressing desired meaning on the scriptures.

John actually defines Gog and Magog as “the nations in the four corners of the earth,” so the mention of the two names seems redundant. Likely, it's purpose is to indicate that the swarming of the ungodly nations is instigated and pushed by the Caucasian/ European/ Western governments. This inference is reinforced by the assertion that Satan 'will... deceive the nations... Gog and Magog' (Rev 20:8) since we are today seeing the Western coalition using endless lies to justify their relentless predation. Either they have been deceived into believing those lies themselves, or they are repeating them as satanic deception.

Revelation states that the unholy armies “marched across the breadth of the earth,” so they are not at all confined to the Middle East region, or related areas. The text goes on to say, “and [they] surrounded the camp of God’s people,” meaning in allegory that the faithful are completely hedged around by the forces of Satan. The 'mountains of Israel' (Ezek 39) is another way of signifying the scattered remnants of believers, wherever on Earth they live.
Hence, the attack of 'Gog/Magog' on the 'mountains of Israel' is an allegorical description of the End Times final assault of the atheistic, Western (NATO) alliance on the true believers in God. 
It is therefore, another way of describing the 'Battle of Armageddon.' Neither battle takes place in one location (i.e. the literal plain of Megiddo) as so many expositors claim! It is a global phenomenon, involving the final battle of Evil against Good, the forces of Satan versus the people of God.

I submit, then, that reading prophecy with a dispassionate mind renders a much different understanding of Gog and Magog than has been popularly professed. It's up to the reader to decide; but only time will reveal it with full accuracy.

Addendum:

These curious entities are also mentioned in the Qur’an in connection with the End of the Age and are called, transliterating from Arabic, Y'ajuj and M'ajuj.

On pg 121/122 of the book 'Jerusalem in the Qor'an,' author Imran Hosein notes that the ostensible Christian Europe retains a strange obsession with the Holy Land, even after morphing into a godless, secular society. Likewise, he observes, the ostensible, Jewish Europeans (the Ashkenazim), who descend from 7th century Khazaria in the Caucasus, also became godless and secular, and have a similar obsession with Palestine. In the 20th century, the two entities joined forces to install back in the once Holy Land the modern state that calls itself Israel. Sheik Hosein does not make the statement, but it seems to me that these two forces are very viable candidates as being 'Gog and Magog' in a purely symbolic sense. And that would explain why John alters the original reference in Ezekiel to read as two entities (instead of 'the Gog of Magog').

[1] http://biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/genesis/10.htm
[2] http://flatwoodscoc.tripod.com/id37.html

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