A question that is often asked in prophetic Bible study concerns two end times battles, the Battle of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38 & 39 and the Battle (actually campaigns which will be the subject of a future article) of Armageddon in Revelation 16 & 19 (and numerous sources throughout the Old Testament). Are these the same two battles or are they two different battles. Looking at them superficially one would come to the conclusion that they are the same battle told from two different viewpoints similar to the creation story in Genesis 1 & 2. However a deeper look at the text and the description of each battle points to two different battles at two different time periods. When we look deeper into the Word of God instead of a quick reading we discover there is more to understand.
We previously looked at the combatants listed in the Scripture and noticed a considerable difference between the two armies attacking Jerusalem. Now we will look at the results of the battle. How the outcomes are the same or different and what does that show us concerning these two battles?
Please remember, this article is written from a Premillennial, Pre-tribulation Rapture, and literal-grammatical interpretation viewpoint. Anyone of an Amillennial, Preterist, Post-millennial, Pre-wrath Rapture, mid or post tribulation Rapture viewpoint will disagree with most of what I have written.
Are there differences between the outcomes of the two battles?
Ezekiel 38-39 – Fire and earthquakes will fall on the armies who attempt to invade Isarael while their weapons are knocked out of their hands. The bones of the army are buried after 7 months at a specific location by trained professionals (perhaps because their bones are radioactive).
22 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. Ezekiel 38:22
14 “They will set apart men who will constantly pass through the land, burying those who were passing through, even those left on the surface of the ground, in order to cleanse it. At the end of seven months they will make a search.
15 As those who pass through the land pass through and anyone sees a man’s bone, then he will set up a marker by it until the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog. Ezekiel 39:14-15
6 “And I will send fire upon Magog and those who inhabit the coastlands in safety; and they will know that I am the LORD. Ezekiel 39:6
Look at the purpose in this verse, “they will that I am the LORD.” Everything God does is pointing to Him as the reason and giving unbelievers a chance to repent and come to Him. God uses this instance to bring His name among His people, the Jews. God is giving them a chance to restore that relationship and be right with Him before the terrors of the Tribulation. Verse 7 increases the scope of those who will know the LORD is responsible to include the Gentiles, “…And the nations will know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel.”
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Armageddon – The flesh of the armies that come against Israel are dissolved and slain from the sword of the mouth of Jesus. There is no mention of any burial of the bones.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God,
18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.” Revelation 19:17-18
12 Now this will be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth. Zechariah 14:12
We can see that things do not go quite as the Antichrist and his minions expect:
19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.
21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh. Revelation 19:19-21
Another difference related to the outcomes is the protest against God’s invasion:
13 Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish with all its villages will say to you, ‘Have you come to capture spoil? Have you assembled your company to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to capture great spoil?’”’ Ezekiel 38:13
The “Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible” comments:
Sheba and Dedan were countries on the Arabian Peninsula. Tarshish usually means Spain or the western extremities of the Mediterranean world, possibly including, as some think, western France and even England. These countries object to Gog’s invasion.
But at Armageddon we read of no protest. The armies are gathered together and come against Israel in a wave of unbridled passion:
1 Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you.
2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Zechariah 14:1-2
The armies of the Antichrist decimate the city, raping the women and taking half the people captive. This attack against Jerusalem will be severe, but the city itself will not be overthrown. However, the end result will find the Jewish people in such dire straits that only the Messiah will be able to deliver them. Once again we see man in his own power can do mighty things but in the end we all need the Messiah, Jesus.
Just when it seems that all hope will be gone for Jerusalem and the people of Israel, then the LORD will fight for His people. “God is said to go forth when he manifests his power by delivering his people and punishing their enemies.” (Pulpit Commentary)
3 Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. Zechariah 14:3
On a side note, in both verses 1 and 3 LORD is capitalized. When we see this word capitalized it is a reference to the covenant keeping Lord. This is a reminder for the reader, in particular the Jewish reader, of the Abrahamic Covenant and the great promises God made to Israel through Abraham. Never lose sight of this when reading the Old Testament. Remember what this would say to the original audience, the Jewish people, when they studied God’s Word.
However, despite all of these differences, we should point out one similarity, and that is the outcome. In both cases, God will win and will gain victory on behalf of His people, Israel. After the great victory at Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 39:1-7), one would think that the unregenerate world would get the message. But only a few years later, on an even larger scale, the world will again gather its forces against Israel and against the Lord at Armageddon. The old adage will be proven again: the one thing people learn from history, is that they don't learn from history.