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Revelation 20:8

go out to deceive the nations
As soon as Satan is released, he goes forth in his age-old pattern of deception. That Scripture records his going forth in deception is further confirmation of the fact that he was completely unable to do so during the time of his binding.

the four corners of the earth
This is figurative language indicating the four main compass directions (Eze. Eze. 7:2; Rev. Rev. 7:1+).

Gog and Magog
The name Gog first appears as a descendant of Joel, of the tribe of Reuben (1Chr. 1Chr. 5:4). The leader of the rebellion which came against Israel more than one thousand years prior to this event was also named Gog:

The prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal (“the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal,” KJV), who, Ezekiel said, would invade the restored land of Israel from the far distant northern land by the appointment of God in the last times, with a powerful army of numerous nations (Eze. Eze. 38:1-9) and with the intention of plundering Israel, now dwelling in security (Eze. Eze. 38:1: 10-16).1

Attempts to identify Gog have included proposals of connections with (1) Gyges, King of Lydia (Gugu of Ashurbanipal’s records); (2) Gaga, a name in the Amarna correspondence for the nations of the N; (3) Gaga, a god from Ras Shamra writings; (4) a historical figure, especially Alexander; and (5) mythological sources, with Gog being a representation of the evil forces of darkness which range themselves against Yahweh and his people. None of these identifications has been demonstrated with certainty.2

The name Magog is introduced to us as a son of Japheth and grandson of Noah (Gen. Gen. 10:2). In the previous attack against Israel, Gog is said to be “of the land of Magog” (Eze. Eze. 38:2):

The descendants of Magog (Eze. Eze. 38:2), possibly a people who lived in northern Asia and Europe. The Jewish historian Josephus identified these people as the Scythians, known for their destructive warfare. Magog may be a comprehensive term meaning “northern barbarians.” The people of Magog are described as skilled horsemen (Eze. Eze. 38:15) and experts in the use of the bow and arrow (Eze. Eze. 39:3, Eze. 39:9).3

Although Gog and Magog are both mentioned in Ezekiel Eze. 38:1 and Eze. 39:1, this rebellion is not the same event, as a comparison of several factors reveals:

This prophecy of Ezekiel concerning Gog and Magog cannot be identified with the prophecy in Rev. Rev. 20:7-10+ for three reasons. The former takes place before the Kingdom is established on earth; the latter after this Kingdom. Also, in Ezekiel the invasion comes only from the north, but in Revelation it comes from the ‘four quarters of the earth.’ Furthermore, the rebellion of Gog and Magog and their destruction in Rev. Rev. 20:7-10+ marks the ushering in of the eternal state (Rev. Rev. 20:11-15+); but in Ezekiel it is preliminary to the Millennial Kingdom on earth.4

First, the Ezekiel invasion comes from the north; the Revelation invasion comes from all over the world; Second, this view also fails to answer the problem of the seven months and seven years. This earth is done away with soon after the invasion mentioned in Revelation, not allowing any time (or place!) for seven months of burial or seven years of burning.5

Whether Gog and Magog is a general reference to the enemies of the people of God or specific peoples in the rebellion of the end is difficult to determine from the scant details of this final rebellion.6

While many explanations have been made, one of the intriguing ones is that Gog refers to the ruler and Magog to the people as in Ezekiel Eze. 38:1. Hence, what the passage means is that the nations of the world follow Satan, including the rulers (Gog) and the people (Magog) under the rulers. Another plausible explanation is that the expression is used much as we use the term “Waterloo” to express a disastrous battle, but one related to the historic origination of the term.7

to gather them to battle
They are gathered by the deceiver, Satan. His function in the final rebellion is much like that of the three unclean spirits which went forth to gather the kings of the earth to the Campaign of Armageddon (Rev. Rev. 16:13-16+). Battle is πόλεμον [polemon] : armed conflict. The term is often used of a protracted engagement, but can also be used of a single battle.8 See commentary on Revelation 16:14.

Notes

1 Merrill K. Unger, R. Harrison, Frederic F Vos, and Cyril J. Barber, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1988), s.v. “Gog.”

2 Kenneth H. Cuffey, “Gog,” in David Noel Freeman, ed., The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1996, c1992), 2:1056.

3 Ronald F. Youngblood and R. K. Harrison, eds., Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995), s.v. “Magog.”

4 Alva J. McClain, The Greatness Of The Kingdom (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1959), 187.

5 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 121.

6 Barnhouse suggests that the Gog of Ezekiel, by way of demonic powers, is brought back after the Millennium for this final rebellion: John 13:27), whether personally or through one of his mighty principalities and powers we do not know, and as Satan clothed the human being called the wild beast, with his power, his throne, and great authority (Rev. Rev. 13:2+), thus making him the Antichrist, so Satan possesses some princeling, perhaps named Gog, through one of his mighty angels who own his sway.”—Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 387.

7 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), 303.

8 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 685.

Read Revelation 20:8