Besides funny names that rhyme, Gog and Magog symbolize something sinister having to do with the End Times. They also represent historical peoples that existed a little after the time of Noah and explode onto the scene in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39.
In this article, we’ll differentiate between the historical Gog and Magog featured in Ezekiel, and the Gog and Magog mentioned in Revelation 20:8-9. We’ll also lightly touch on the symbolism of these two names and how they play a role during the Last Days.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 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. 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 (Revelation 20:7-9).
Finally, as usually discussed in these articles, we’ll discuss why we should invest our attention on the topic at hand. After all, all of Scripture is God-breathed. That means even we can apply and learn from some of the most seemingly minor details in our own lives.
Who Are the Historical Gog and Magog?
If you read the book of Ezekiel, it can get a little trippy, and one might have a hard time differentiating which visions pertained to Israel’s situation during the context of the book and which ones foreshadowed events to come in the End Times (and which fit into both categories).
But we do have a historical Gog and Magog that differ from the counterpart we see in Revelation.
We see Gog make a brief appearance in 1 Chronicles 5:4, as a descendant of a prophet named Joel. We don’t receive a whole lot of other information about Gog except he comes from the North and seeks to invade and plunder Israel.
As for Magog, there seems to be a bit of debate as to whether Gog and Magog are one in the same, or Gog hails from the northern region of Magog. Some have conjectured as to the specific kingdom that sought to destroy Israel: Lydia, Sabi, Scythia, or perhaps the Seleucids.
Another instance of Magog appears to be a grandson of Noah, but some of Josephus’ writings indicate Magog ruled over a northern kingdom similar to the Scythians.
In either case, it appears either a nation or many nations will team up against Israel (or had) and that they will not stand against the powers of the Almighty God.
We also do know that they are (or were) skilled warriors who hail from kingdoms north of Israel, but again, we don’t receive many details about them except they appear to be a threat.
Who Are the Gog and Magog in Revelation?
We run into a sticky situation here, because this entirely depends on when the End Times take place. Some have conjectured various northern kingdoms and superpower nations today to represent the Gog and Magog we see in Revelation 20:7-8. Centuries of scholarly division has been poured over this issue, so this article does not intend to debate with anyone about which kingdom represents Gog or Magog.
Although we do not know the exact nature of the kingdom of Gog and Magog, we do know from Revelation that armies from these kingdoms will join forces with Satan in an attempt to destroy God’s people.
And we do know from the description that Satan manages to muster a large army.
Together they launch an attack on Jerusalem, but their progress gets cut short because fire from heaven consumes them.
Why Do Gog and Magog Matter?
As Christians, we have a tendency to ignore passages in the Old Testament. We may not see them as relevant or only want to focus on the New Testament.
But we have to keep in mind that Scripture is one big story, and if we skip three-quarters of it, we miss out on a big part of the redemption arc of humanity and this world.
In the same way, weird visions Ezekiel experiences that may have to do with kingdoms that existed during or after his time have a high relevance for us today. As we approach the Last Days, we need to know what’s in store for us, or future Christians, when the events of Revelation come to pass.
And we need to read the entire Bible, not just portions that we enjoy or portions of the New Testament. If we want to understand God’s redemptive story, that includes reading passages found in Ezekiel about two (or possibly one) kingdoms with rhyming names.
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Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 600 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) Den (releasing July 2020), Dear Hero (releasing September 2020), and Dear Henchman (releasing 2021) Find out more about her at her website.