This article was first written on 8-29-21.
Prophecy in Scripture – Ezekiel 38-39
Scripture is full of prophecies, both fulfilled and unfulfilled (yet to be fulfilled). There is an Old Testament prophecy found in Ezekiel 38-39 that speaks of a war against Israel in the last days. Some Bible scholars think this war is yet to be fulfilled. We hold that position as well and we will explain why. (Also see Is The War of Ezekiel 38-39 The Same War As The Battle of Armageddon?)
As we discuss Ezekiel 38-39, remember that prophecies are God-given windows of revelation. Even though they are true, they are not always the full picture. God has chosen to reveal only certain specifics in His Word. We may not understand all the details, timing, or how one text might relate to another. So, we should consider them with humility.
War Against Israel
Let’s begin by reading Ezekiel 38:1-23 & Ezekiel 39. Keep in mind that chapters 38 & 39 are speaking of the same war. The beginning of chapter 39 summarizes the actual war in chapter 38 and continues with the aftermath.
According to Ezekiel 38:15-16, there will be a war against Israel in the last days commanded by a chief prince, Gog (symbolic name), who is of the land of Magog. We do not know exactly who Gog is, but the geographical area of Magog is around the Caucasus Mountains and also north/northeast of the Black Sea and northwest of the Caspian Sea.
There are several other names listed in verses 2-6 that are included in this war against Israel. These were people groups of that day. Listing them and the location where they settled will help us understand what areas will be involved in the war. (These areas are general as it is hard to pinpoint their extent.)
- Magog – Caucasus Mountains, North/East of the Black Sea and West of Caspian Sea
- Meshech – area above Black Sea; Southern Russia, Georgia, Ukraine
- Tubal – Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan
- Persia – Iran
- Cush – Ethiopia, Sudan
- Put – Northern Africa, Libya
- Gomer – Turkey, Southern Russia
- Togarmah – Turkey, Armenia
For more specific information on the people groups involved and from whom they descended see Who Are Gog and Magog?
When Will This War Occur?
Though the current war with Hamas and Israel could lead to it, the war of Ezekiel 38-39 has not yet occurred in history. To confirm it has not already occurred, we need to know when Ezekiel 38-39 was written so we can identify if it is speaking of any war in the past or not.
The prophecies in Ezekiel 32:1 and 32:17 are said to be in the 12th year of his exile. Ezekiel was one of 10,000 Jews exiled to Babylon in 597 BCE. So the twelfth year of his exile would have been 585 BCE. That date is verified in Ezekiel 33 when he recalls the 586 besieging of Jerusalem the year before. “Now in the twelfth year of our exile, on the fifth of the tenth month, the survivor from Jerusalem came to me, saying, “The city has been taken.” Ezekiel 33:21. So we can safely assume that Ezekiel 38 & 39 was written sometime after 585 BCE.
Is there anything that has occurred in history since 585 BCE that comes close to fulfilling the prophecies found in Ezekiel 38 & 39? Considering all the details of that war, we believe the answer is “not yet!” Again, this current war in Israel with Hamas may fit the criteria, but we will have to wait and see. There will need to be others from the various areas listed above who get involved.
Further, there are differing opinions as to when this war against Israel occurs relating to the end times. I tend to think it will be a war that is just before the 7-year tribulation period when the beast/antichrist comes to full power (Revelation 13) and confirms a covenant with Israel (Daniel 9).
How Will This War End?
According to Ezekiel 38:22-23, this war will end with God Himself destroying Gog and the enemies of Israel, bringing glory to His name among the nations!
“With pestilence and with blood I will enter into judgment 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. 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.” Ezekiel 38:22-23 (NASB)
The end of this war might also be the beginning of a revival in Israel where they would “see the face” of their true God, the Son, the Messiah Jesus! “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.” Ezekiel 39:29 NASB
As we study unfulfilled prophecies, especially in uncertain times, we can be reassured that God wins in the end! Although God has not revealed how everything will unfold, we can rest on the fact that God has a plan. He is in control and will glorify His name! Our responsibility is to remain faithful and steadfast in proclaiming the truth to a world that is watching.
For More on Revelation and End-Time Events
End Time Events: A Brief Overview By David Sheldon
Is Revelation in Chronological Order? By David Sheldon
Will Christians Know Who the Antichrist Will Be? (Order of End-Time Events) By David Sheldon
The Beast From the Sea (Revelation 13) By David Sheldon