Minutes With Messiah Logo

Gog and Magog

by Tim O'Hearn

When it comes to prophecy, especially the similar books of Ezekiel and Revelation, some things can get confusing. Those two books, particularly, are full of symbolism. Since we are living thousands of years after they were written, we have lost some of the meaning of the symbols. Nevertheless, we can still understand the overall meanings of the books (God’s victory and the elevation of his people). Some people are especially confused by the names Gog and Magog.

We first encounter Magog in the genealogies of the Old Testament. “The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.” (Gen 10:2; 1 Chron 1:5) In these cases, Magog is a man after whose name a territory or nation would eventually be called. He was a grandson of Noah, and is often associated with Tubal and Meshech. Magog is generally associated with the current country of Azerbaijan. Tubal is associated with Cappadocia, which is in eastern Turkey on the southern shore of the Black Sea. Meshech is often associated with Armenia, between Cappadocia and the Caspian. These three nations make up the area north of Damascus, which would be considered by the people of Israel as far north.

We meet Gog in Ezekiel 38. He is the ruler of the three territories mentioned above.

Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. (Ezek 38: 2-3)

Ezekiel also mentions many other nations surrounding Israel. They will be held back at one point, but eventually all will be brought to punish God’s wayward people. Ezekiel later prophecies (chapter 39) that Gog and his armies will be defeated and buried in a valley to be named Hamon-Gog.

The next mention of Gog and his land is in the prophecy of Revelation. Two things to remember about this prophecy. First, it is highly symbolic, often using the same symbols as Ezekiel. Second, the prophecy was to be fulfilled in its entirety shortly after it was written, possibly within one generation.

Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. (Rev 20:7-8)

Here, John equates the land of Magog with the whole earth; with everyone who opposes the church. By describing them as gathering for battle, he is showing his symbol to be the same as that in Ezekiel: nations attacking God’s people. He is also hinting that they are to be defeated and buried. There is a similarity in sound between Hamon-Gog and Har-Meggido (Armageddon, Rev 16:16)

People talk about the “battle of Armageddon,” but there is no battle. The armies of the devil are destroyed quickly, just as those of God in Ezekiel. It is less a battle than a momentary blip on the radar of time.

So did Armenia ever attack the church? Remember that the prophecies of the book are in our past. The physical nation of Magog did not attack Israel. The symbolic Magog, the enemies of God have been attacking the church for hundreds of years. (The Armenian Apostolic Church is the oldest state-recognized Christian group in the world, so in fact the land around Magog is very strongly for God.)

Gog and Magog. Even after 700 years, the prince and his land had a bad reputation. Knowing this, perhaps these names are less confusing.