On February 24, 2022, the biggest invasion on European soil since the end of the Second World War was launched by Russia against its neighbour, Ukraine. If not handled correctly, it could lead to World War II. Does this invasion have anything to do with the prophecy of Gog and Magog, found in Ezekiel 38-39. Read on …
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, has renewed interest in the Gog and Magog prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39. In short, it is a spontaneous, knee-jerk, massive invasion of end-time Israel by a massive coalition of troops, led by Gog. We continue to examine this prophecy in light of current events. (Please note: We are not condoning the war in Ukraine, nor taking a political position – we simply are examining prophecy, which has renewed interest because of this war).
Reason for the Invasion against Israel?: Spoil will be seized, plunder carried off, livestock and goods confiscated (38:12). Will Israel’s natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea be part of the booty?
God’s Response: God goes against Gog and his allies, sends fire from heaven and destroys the coalition (39:1-6); it takes seven months to bury the dead (39:12). Ultimately, it is God Who draws out Gog and company to battle and ultimately destroys them. When this happens, the nations will hallow and glorify the name of the Lord (38:16).
Israel’s aftermath: Instead of being destroyed, Israel will experience the final ingathering of the exiles (39:27-28). Furthermore, the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon them (37:14; 39:29).
Who is Gog?
This is the million dollar question: we need to identify the key player. Magog, in all probability, means ‘from the land of Gog.’ So let’s focus on Gog himself, the main character. Who is he? The normal interpretation is Russia. Why? Because it is a great power from the North (38:15). Russia’s long thousand year history, which reputedly began in Kiev before gravitating towards Moscow, has incorporated an empire larger than any except the Mongols and Muslims.
The old Soviet Union was a tailor-made villain that fit the spirit of Gog — until it collapsed on Christmas Day 1991. Also, some teachers say ‘Mesech’ equals Moscow and ‘Tubal’ is Tobolsk.
But is this the case?
This author is not completely convinced that Russia equals Gog. The main verse, Ezekiel 38:15: says Gog comes from tzafone yereka. Tzafone is ‘north’ so the adjective YEREKA is a key word. In Strong’s Concordance H3411 is translated YEREKA as side (21x), coasts (3x), parts (2x), border (1x), quarters (1x). ESV translates tzaphone yereka as ‘uttermost parts of the north” (implying Russia, since it is the furthest north of Israel). But KJV translates it ‘north parts.’ Other modern translations speak of ‘far north.’ In any case, the notion that Ezekiel is saying the furthest north is debatable and leaves open other possibilities for the identity of God from nations that are also ‘north of Israel.’
While Russia has been an imperialistic power in the past, it has also been a Christian nation for a thousand years. Vladimir, Prince of Kievan Rus, led his nation into Eastern Orthodoxy in the year 988 AD. The seventy-four years of atheist communist rule during the Soviet times (1917-1991) was an aberration in Russian history; the rest of the millennium it has been influenced by Orthodox Christianity. Furthermore, Russia may have a positive prophetic role to play in the last days.
Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) was the great British missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission. Yet his most memorable prophecy was not about China at all – it was about Russia. Sometime in the latter nineteenth century, Taylor received the following vision.
I have seen a vision. I saw in this vision a great war that encompasses the world. I saw this war recess and then start again, actually being two wars. After this I saw much unrest and revolts that will affect many nations. I saw in some places spiritual awakenings. In Russia, I saw there will come a general all-encompassing, national SPIRITUAL AWAKENING so great that there could never be another like it. From Russia, I saw the awakening spread to many European countries. Then I saw an all-out awakening, followed by the coming of Christ.
It is clear that Taylor, who died in 1905, saw the two world wars. That’s the bad news. Yet the good news was he saw Russia as the epicentre of a great spiritual awakening that would spread westward to Europe and herald the Lord’s return. Taylor is not the only one who prophesied an end-time role for Russia.
Think about it: in Russia today, Christianity, once shunned and persecuted by the godless communist comrades of the defunct Soviet Union, has returned to a prominent place. Not only is the Russian Orthodox Church having a renaissance, but the Baptists and Pentecostals are growing, too. Yes, there is ‘anti-missionary’ and ‘anti-sect’ legislation from the Russian Duma (parliament) in recent years, but there is no mistaking that the atheist days have given way to a conspicuous multi-flavoured Christian presence in Russia.
While Russia is regularly nominated as the Gog of Ezekiel 38, some perhaps many, Russian Christians, reject this interpretation. How could a Christian-influenced country, in coalition with a few Muslim-majority countries, try to destroy Israel?
Another consideration: could Gog be Turkey, which is also north of Israel? The key is the places names written in Scripture, like Gomer and Togarmah could be in Turkey. Likewise, ‘Mesech’ and ‘Tubal’ may not ‘Moscow’ and ‘Tobolsk’ after all.
Finally, the fact is Russia, Iran, and Turkey are currently based in Syria, and Syria is next door to Israel. Could this military arrangement, under certain conditions, trigger the Gog attack? To answer that question, remember to take note the specific details of the prophecy. “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9), we need to follow the Lord’s simple injunction – watch, be sober, and pray (Matthew 26:41; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:6). Not only will we not be caught off guard – we will be part of the solution.
 “Ezekiel 38 (ESV) – The word of the LORD.” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 3 Mar, 2022. https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/eze/38/1/s_840001