Chapter 1 - The Gog-Magog Invasion. When?
For many years it has been almost a dogma among
Christadelphian students of Bible prophecy that World War III, the great
conflict, which is to herald, the coming of the Lord, will begin with a Russian
invasion of Palestine. This, of course, on the basis of Ezekiel 38. Yet, whilst
there is nothing known to the present writer which is decisive in favour of such
a conclusion, there are certain considerations which suggest that that
familiar Ezekiel prophecy be fulfilled after Christ is enthroned in
For instance, the sequence of the chapters
(Ezekiel 37 to 40) points strongly towards such a conclusion. Chapter 37 has the
“resurrection” of Israel and their re-establishment in the land of
their fathers. Next, there is a picture of “David my servant” ruling
over them in righteousness. It is a spiritual, as well as a national, revival of
Israel. Then chapter 38 continues with its vigorous portrayal of an invasion
which meets with due retribution, as the fuller picture of Ezekiel 39 shews.
After this, appropriately, is the detailed picture of Zion as the centre of
worship—”a house of prayer for all nations”.
To put the northern invasion before the coming of
the Messiah is to seriously dislocate this sequence. On the other hand, to
accept the order of events suggested by the order of the chapters means at once
the elimination of certain long-standing difficulties. The motive for the
invasion is given thus: “to take a spoil, and to take a prey . . . against
the people that have gotten cattle and goods . . . Art thou come to take a
spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and
gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great
The efforts of prophetic expositors (including
the present writer on more than one occasion) in an attempt to impart reality to
these words in the wrong framework have varied from the ingenious to the
ludicrous. Perhaps the favourite device has been to read the words
“goods” as meaning “oil” especially. But this will
hardly do, for there is almost no oil in Israel. The best supplies of oil are in
an altogether different direction. If Gog goes into Israel for oil, he has lost
Alternatively, emphasis is put on the immense
value of Palestine as the strategically important land bridge between the
continents. This is doubtless true, though now of less and less importance as
the powers become more and more committed to nuclear war. But in any case this,
if valid, is a vastly different consideration from that intimated in the words
just cited. The prophecy does not say: “I will go to the land of unwalled
villages because I covet its geography”.
Instead of these shifts it is manifestly much
more satisfactory to accept the sequence which Ezekiel himself supplies and to
take his chapter 38 as having a fulfilment after the Lord has come to be
King of the Jews’ and after he has already raised his people to a pitch of
prosperity (see Isaiah 60) such as would make chapter 38 the natural and
inevitable sequel of chapter 37.
Yet another difficulty evaporates with the one
just discussed. The invaded people are described as being “at rest,
dwelling safely (RV securely), all of them dwelling without walls, and having
neither bars nor gates”.
Under the domination of the old hypothesis, the
best that the present; writer used to be able to make of these words was to read
them as a contrast between the realization of Jewish nationalism as it is today
in their proud little state of Israel, and the ancient terror and restriction of
the ghetto life which
Jews have had to put up with for the best part of
Yet this is at best an exegete’s expedient.
A glance at any newspaper published since 1948 will provide evidence that
Israel, ringed round by implacable Arab foes, will never be “at
rest”, will never “dwell securely”, will never abandon their
“bars and gates” (their defensive armaments), until the ancient
hostility between Esau and Jacob has been finally ended by the lasting
acceptance by Esau of Jacob’s right to the Land (as in Genesis 33 and
There is also a purely Biblical argument of
considerable force, which seems to have suffered from quite unwarrantable
neglect. Revelation 19 has a vivid symbolic picture of the Word of God going
forth against nations whom he is to “rule with a rod of iron”. He
rides at the head of the armies of heaven in the character of King of Kings, and
Lord of Lords. At this time an angel cries to all the birds that fly in
mid-heaven: “Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the
great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and
the flesh of the mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on
them . . .” (Revelation 19:13-18). What is this but the culmination of the
destruction described in Ezekiel 39? “Speak unto every feathered fowl, and
to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come . . . Ye shall eat
the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth”
(Ezekiel 39:17, 18).
These passages are the only two places in
Scripture where such an idea and such phrases meet the reader. If the
principle of interpretation of Scripture by Scripture is worth anything, one of
two conclusions seems to be inescapable — either that Ezekiel 39 is
to be fulfilled after the Lord’s coming in glory, or that
immediately before and after his coming two similar divine judgements are to be
visited upon the warring enemies of Jehovah. Of the two the former is obviously
the more preferable and the more likely.
In conclusion, the question may be asked: Over
against the arguments adduced in this study, what points of positive evidence
are available in support of the more usual assumption that Ezekiel 38, 39
are to be fulfilled before the Lord comes.
Are there any?
 How many are aware that in
Eureka II 557, and III 405, 602 precisely this interpretation is given to