Gog and Magog War (Rev. 20:8-9)
Some preachers in churches and TV have promoted the idea that the Russian-Ukraine War fulfills Gog and Magog’s War (Rev. 20:8-9). The number of their army is “two hundred million” (Rev. 9:16), “as the sand of the sea” (Rev. 20:8). This number can easily be reached if Russia and China allied together, and it would be the catastrophic World War III and the end of the world.
The Russian-Ukraine War is not the first war in history, and there is evidence to make us sure that it will be the last one. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matt. 24:6).
According to the Historical Approach of interpreting the book of Revelation, the Commentators try to find fulfillment of the Revelation’s visions in historical events. They referred to many wars as the Battle of Gog& Magog in the past. They miss the spiritual message and the symbolic language of the Book of Revelation by such interpretation.
Who Are Gog and Magog?
The exact meaning of Gog (גּוֹג) is not known. However, it appears in 1 Chronicles 5:4 as the name of one of the later descendants of Reuben, a son of Jacob. Possibly it was the name of some ancient notorious king or the name of a fierce people no longer known from historical records. Magog (מָגו֗ג) appears in Gen. 10:2 and 1 Chronicles 1:5 as the name of one of the sons of Japheth, the son of Noah.
Gog and Magog represent the enemies of God’s people in warfare (Ezekiel 38–39). They attempt to destroy the people of Israel. In this prophecy in Ezekiel, Gog is the prince and leader of the evil forces against Israel (Ezek. 38:7–9,14–16). Gog comes from Magog, a land in the far north (Ezek. 38:2, 15; 39:2). But God promises to deliver His people from this onslaught just when they are about to be annihilated by striking the forces of Gog with fire from heaven (Ezek. 39:3–6).
Gog and Magog eventually became terms that designated evil forces on earth against God and godliness, whatever the source and meaning of their names. Similar, but not identical in signification, is “Babylon” in passages such as in (Rev. 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2,10, 21).
The battle of Gog and Magog portrays the totality of the great effort of the dragon to destroy the saints of God on earth throughout the whole history. These two names represent the gathering of all the world’s nations for this ongoing great war. In his book “The City of God” (20.11), St. Augustine was right when he rejected all narrow interpretations that tried to limit them to certain historical peoples or nations.
The Number of Gog and Magog
The number of Gog and Magog is as the sand of the sea (Rev. 20:8). So prominent in number would be the fallen hosts of Gog that their abandoned weapons would supply Israel with fuel for seven years (Ezek. 39:9–10). It would take the people of Israel seven months to bury their bodies (Ezek. 39:12). Finally, God would invite the birds of prey and the wild animals to a feast upon the corpses of the fallen enemies (Ezek. 39:17–20).
The description of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel and Revelation has spiritual meaning. John saw this prophetic celebration banquet as a type of the great banquet of God. As a result of this banquet, we would celebrate the destruction of “sin” and “the evil, sinful nature,” symbolized as “the beast” and “the false prophet” in (Rev. 19:17–21). God would display His glory to all the nations of the world and His people by overthrowing Gog and his hosts (Ezek. 39:21–29). Similarly, John saw the celebration of destroying Satan,” “the beast,” and “the false prophet” in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).
The War Against the Beloved City
20:9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.
Despite a few differences, Ezekiel 38–39 was for John the prophetic prototype of Gog and Magog to illustrate the great battle here, in (Rev. 20:8–10). In Ezekiel 38:16, the hosts of Gog would come against the people of Israel in their land. John sees the hosts of Gog and Magog covering “the expanse of the earth.” “They encircled the encampment of the saints, the beloved city” (Rev. 20:9); they attack God’s people wherever they are throughout the world.
Prophetically speaking, the land and the people of Israel would typify the people of God. The phrase “the camp of the saints” (Rev. 20:9) expresses the notion that the church is on its earthly pilgrimage in the wilderness, as the Israelites were on their journey to the promised land (Num. 2:2; Rev. 12:14).
The designation “the beloved city” (Rev. 20:9) symbolizes Mount Zion, the city of God, which represents the heavenly Jerusalem (Ps. 87:2; Hebrew 12:22; Gal. 4:24–26; Rev. 21:2).
The evil hosts of Gog trampled underfoot the land and the people of Israel (Ezek. 38:7–16). So the evil forces throughout the world will try to devastate and ruin the kingdom of God, the church (Rev. 20:8; 11:2). As represented by Gog and Magog, all the devil hosts are single-minded in their determination to destroy the people of God, the church of Christ, before the end of the present world comes.
John saw And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured Gog and Magog (Rev. 20:9). The evil forces would annihilate the church if God did not intervene directly. In Mark 13:14–23, the Lord Jesus Christ describes the tribulations of the last days. It would be “a tribulation” (Mark 13:19) of such magnitude that it is beyond compare to any other since creation, and nothing comparable would ever happen again. Unless the Lord cut short those days, all people would perish (Mark 13:20). But for the sake of his “elect, whom He has chosen,” He will cut short those days (Mark 13:20).
The Lord God intervened to rescue His people by sending fire on Magog (Ezek. 39:6, NIV). In (Rev. 20:9), John sees that “fire came down from heaven.” It devours the hosts of Gog and Magog, whereby God rescues His people.
Some commentators suggested many scenarios of Gog and Magog’s battle. They forgot that it is a daily life experience in the faithful believers’ hearts. Satan always energizes sin and the evil, sinful passions to wage war inside the hearts. However, God grants His people victory in Christ by the Holy Spirit and gives them eternal life through their fellowship in the body and the blood of Christ.
To order the book, “Revealing the Father through the Book of Revelation”: