gog of the land of magog
The Testimony Magazine for January 2001 carries correspondence from a correspondent regarding the identities of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, claiming that the writer of a previous article “seems to be struggling to uphold the standard interpretation, that of Russia invading Israel”, and giving a suggested alternative chronology of events. In order to show that there is no need to so “struggle”, we reproduce for the interest of our readers the following response of Bro Thomas to a correspondent, dealing with the same issues, back in 1859.
In commenting upon our highly esteemed brother’s communication, the first thing to be considered in order is the question propounded by him, namely, “Is Russia to play the grandly prominent part your interpretation assigns to that power before the Lord comes?” In answer to this we would remark, that the Russian power playing a grandly prominent part at all, before or after the coming of the Lord, depends upon this question, “Is the autocracy of Russia the Gog power contemplated by the Spirit in Ezek 38 and 39, or is it not?”
We believe that it is admitted by our correspondent, that the Russian power is the Gog of Ezekiel; if this be so, then we feel under the necessity of replying to his question, that Russia is certainly to play the part assigned to Gog before the Lord comes. But, if the Russian autocracy be not the Gog power, then we confess at once, that we do not even know whether or not Russia is to play any part at all before or after the Apocalypse of Christ. Let it be proved that the Gog power is some other than Russia, and we confess without further comment, that we know nothing about the matter; the wind is then taken out of our sails, our fires are put out, and our vessel is powerless in the trough of the sea – which every mariner knows is a dangerous and desperate “fix”.
IDENTIFYING THE GOG POWER
But we affirm, and as we have said, we are not aware that Bro M disputes it, that the Gog power is certainly that of the Russian autocracy in the full manifestation of its dominion. It is admitted by all geographers and critics of any authority in such matters that var Rös is the Hebrew name for what we call Russia or the Russ. Dr W Newcome, Bishop of Waterford, in his translation of Ezekiel says in a note upon the word, “this word is understood of a people. Bocart shows that the river Arazes was called Ros; whence the Russi, who seem to have settled in Taurica Chersonesus.” (Geograph. 1. Iii., c. 13). Taurica Chersonesus is the Crimea, a peninsula of the Black Sea, with which every one, since the siege of Sebastopol, is quite familiar. The Araxes is a river rising in Armenia, but for the greater part of it’s course flowing through the Russian province of Georgia into the Caspian.
Gesenius upon the word says, “Rosh is the proper name of a northern nation mentioned along with Tubal and Meshech, without much doubt the same as the Russians, who are described by the Byzantine writers of the 10th century under the name of the Rhö as inhabiting the northern parts of Taurus; and also John Fosslan, an Arabian writer of the same period, under the name Rü as dwelling upon the river Wolga, anciently called Rha”.
It is also admitted that Kvm Mosc, as it may be spelled without the points, or Meshech, with them, is the Hebrew name of the people called in modern geography Moscovites. Dr Newcome says in a note, “Tubal and Meshech, sons of Japheth, Gen 10:2. The people called Tibareniand Moschi are here meant, who are generally mentioned together and were situated towards Mount Caucasus.”
Gesenius styles them “a barbarous people inhabiting the Moschian mountains between Iberia, Armenia, and Colchia.” David, speaking prophetically of Israel, says in Psalm 120:5: “Woe is me that I sojourn in Meshech.” They are usually coupled with the neighbouring Tibaroni by Moses, Isaiah and Ezekiel. So, too, by Herodotus. The places their original settlements between the Black Sea, and the Caspian, and in what is now Russian Territory.
It is also admitted that lbt Thubl, or Thubal, is the Hebrew name for the Tibareni, or Siberians who occupied the country watered by the Thubl, or Tobol, north of the Caspian, and east of the Ural mountains. Hence, while Moscow is the capital of Meshech, Tobolski is the capital of the Thubal.
GOG OF THE LAND OF MAGOG
These three peoples are regarded by Ezekiel as associated under one prince “in the latter days,” whom he styles Gö Nesi, or EMPEROR, PRINCE of Ros, Mosc, and Thubl. The geography indicated above shows that this prince is the ruler, or power, styled, “Autocrat of all the Russians.” The title in Ezekiel can apply to no other power extant. The prophet styles him Gog. He is not Gog by virtue of his being Prince of the Russ, Muscovites, and Tobolskians; but because he becomes, in the fullness of his power, the Ruler of the eretz ham-Mahgog, “of the Land of Magog.”
We have shown in Elpis Israel that Gog is equivalent to Emperor. As Agag was the proper name of the Amelekitish kings, so Gag or Gog without the “A,” is the proper name of the ruler of the territory inhabited by the children of Magog, grandson of Noah. Thus the power styled Agag in the days of Moses, becomes typical of the power styled Gog in the time of the revelation of the prophet, like unto him in power and great glory.
AGAG OF OLD
Israel encountered Agag whilst on their march to Canaan. Agag was then the chief power of the nations, whose policy was to prevent their establishment in Canaan. The antitype to this, is the existence of a chief power of the nations, whose policy shall be to prevent their re-settlement there as an independent nation under its own king and institutions.
The antitypical Agag is provided in Ezekiel’s Gog; and, as the Agag of Amelek and the Gog of Magog, though of different race, yet are the same in policy and at similar epochs in regard to Israel, they are identified in prophecy as the beginning and end of one and the same hostile power; for had Agag and Gog been Mosaic contemporaries, they would both have fought under the same banner against Israel, to exclude them from the land.
THE PROPHECIES OF BALAAM
This being premised, the prophecy of the Spirit by the mouth of Balaam, will be seen to await its completion in the latter days. “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! His king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. AIL brought him out of Egypt; he hath, as it were, the strength of an unicorn; he shall eat up the nations, his enemies, and shall break their bones and pierce them through with his arrows.” Having said this, Balaam added, “Behold, Balak king of Moab, I will advertise thee what this people, Israel shall do to thy people in the latter days.” Having declared this, he spoke of the fate of the Amelek Power of the same period. Moses says that, “When he looked on Amelek, he took up his parable, and said, The chief of the nations is Amelek; but his latter end is for destruction” (Num 24:7,20). This was uttered as “a parable,” or dark saying; that is, Balaam’s words imported more than would be accomplished in the Agag-Power, contemporary with himself. “He looked on Amelek”- He saw in him the representative of a mighty power which should exist in the latter days, and contend with Israel; but that the King of Israel, Jacob’s star and sceptre, should destroy him, and have a dominion more exalted than the chief power of the nations – higher than Gog.
The reader will perhaps excuse this digression upon Agag; and please to accept it in illustration of the title, “Gog”. The prince of the Russians is to be the Gog of the Land of the Magog. These are the descendants of Noah’s grandson in the line of Japheth. The settlements of the Magog extended to the Baltic; and are known in history as the Scythians, Mongols, Tartars, Sarmatians, Germans, Scandinavians, and so forth. Hence, the title bestowed by Ezekiel upon the confederacy of the latter days, clearly imports that the Prince of the Russians is to become Imperial Chief of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and so forth. “He shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall ender also into the land of delights, and many countries shall be overthrown” (Dan 11:40,41).
THE SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
The Russian Autocracy, then, in the fullness of its dominion being Ezekiel’s Gog, the next thing to inquire is, will the power display itself as Ezekiel predicts, before, or after the manifestation of YAHWEH in power and great glory? In answer to this we remark, that Ezekiel evidently declares,
- That a gathering out of many peoples will be in prosperous occupation of the land of Israel; and that of this gathering many will be Israelites (38:8,14,16).
- That this colony does not overspread the whole country; but is limited to “the midst of the land” (v 12, Is 5:12,13)
- That the prosperity of this central colony becomes a bait, tempting Leviathan to bite; in consequence of which, Yahweh’s hook enters his jaws (v 10:12, Is 27:1)
- That Gog invades the land, and because actually there, the Lion-Power of Tarshish makes war upon him (v 13)
- That the invasion of the land by Gog is the exiting cause of the outbreak of ADONAI YAHWEH’S fury (v 18)
- That after Adonai Yahweh’s fury is thus aroused, his presence is manifested upon the land, accompanied with a great earthquake therein, and a panic seizure of all the men, inhabitants and combatants engaged (vs 19,20).
- That after Adonai Yahweh’s presence has evened, “a sword” is developed against Gog, “throughout all Yahweh’s mountains;” and with which He pleads against Gog, in the eyes of many nations fighting under his banner against the Lion-Power of Tarshish (vs 21-23).
- That the sword with which Adonai Yahweh, or Jesus Christ, pleads against Gog, causes his power to be broken upon the mountains of Israel (39:1-5).
- That the war is then transferred from Canaan to Europe, indicated by the terms, “Magog”and “the Isles” (v 6).
- That these events being consummated, Israel no more pollutes the Holy Name; and “THE DAY” proclaimed in the Gospel of the Kingdom, and styled by Paul “The Day of the Christ, is introduced (vs 7,8), the day of Adonai Yahweh’s glorification (v 13).
- That from the time of the great sacrifice of Gog upon the mountains of Israel by the Sword of Judgement called for by Adonai Yahweh; when this is eaten; when the vengeance is executed upon the invader; then will begin the work of bringing again the captivity of Jacob, and the bestowal of mercy upon the whole house of Israel (v 17-25) and lastly,
- That Adonai Yahweh will then pour our the spirit upon the twelve tribes (v 29).
Such is the order of events, to our mind, plainly predicted by the prophet. Being satisfied of the correctness of this analysis of the two chapters, we affirm, with full assurance of faith, that the Russian Power will certainly enact the grandly prominent part assigned it before the advent of the Messiah in power and great glory.
THE SWORD OF JUDGEMENT
We may remark here, in passing, that “the sword” “called for throughout the mountains of Israel,” is that “two-edged sword” David speaks of in the hands of the Saints, with which they are “to execute vengeance upon the nations, and punishments upon the peoples; to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgement written: this honour have all his saints (Ps 149). The call for this sword implies the resurrection of the saints who are to use it. It does not appear that the destruction of Gog’s power is instantaneous.
THE ORDER OF CHRIST’S MANIFESTATION
The order of things seems to be:
- The thief-like presence of Messiah in the land.
- A great shaking of the country, falling of mountain precipices, and walls, in consequence of which all in the country are terrified.
- Though Messiah is in the land, the inhabitants and the contending armies are unaware that the convulsions of nature are the consequences of his presence.
- While they are in consternation at the terrors of the earthquake, that earthquake is casting out the dead in obedience to his call for their co-operation with him in the work of destroying the enemy upon the mountains of Israel.
- This interval between his thief-like arrival and the outbreak of his fury upon Gog, is marked by the Ezekiel proclamtion “in every feathered fowl and to every beast of the field.” The coming sacrifice is said to be especially for them. But feathered fowl and beasts are symbols of the saints, as, for instance, the Cherubim, and Malachi’s “calves of the stall”. The sacrifice is Jehovah’s vengeance for them, and by their instrumentality.
How many days, weeks, or months may elapse between the arrival of Messiah as a thief and his breaking forth against Gog, is not revealed. We do not apprehend that the interval will be long. The heavens and the earth were developed in six days; it may be that the interval is typified thereby. Adam and Eve were created upon the Sixth Day; perhaps, then, after this analogy, the Lamb’s Bride may be brought forth within a week; and in concert with “the last Adam, the Lord from heaven, as “the Stone of Israel, cut out from the mountain,” after that commences operations against Gog. But of the duration of the interval we cannot speak with any certainty; of the existence of an interval there can be little doubt.
THE INVASION NOT POST-MILLENNIAL
The pre-adventual invasion of the land of Israel, and war between Gog and the Lion-Power of Tarshish being shown, all arguments for the post-millennial display of Russian ambition fall to the ground. The Russian Power at the end of Messiah’s Aion will be like the literal Amalek at the present time; and the question is about the Power as now extant among the nations. The Dragon is bound, and thrust into the Abyss at the descending of the symbolic “angel from the heaven” – the angel multitude energised by Omnipotence for the execution of the judgement written.
At the end of the Messianic Aion, or Millennium, the Diabolos and the Satan, the rebellious world of flesh and blood are permitted to burst the cerements of their prison-house, and to make a last effort for the possession and dominion of the earth; but the Dragon organisation of the Devil and the Satan, of which Russia is an important element at the Advent, appears no more. We read no more of the Dragon after the inauguration of the Messianic Aion; the Dragon, or Fourth Beast, in it’s completeness, is utterly abolished at that time.
THE LATTER DAYS
We cannot admit the suggestion of Bro M that “the latter days”may apply “as well to the period after as before the Millennium.” There is no passage in the Scriptures where the phrase occurs, that will admit of an interpretation in the sense suggested. It is evident from the context that “the latter days” are a period of war; and “the day of Jacob’s trouble;” and of the bringing back the captivity of Moab and Elam; and of the restoration of David’s throne and kingdom. No evil befalls Jacob after the introduction of the Messianic Aion of a thousand years; but Moses predicts that evil will befall them “in the latter days”, therefore “the latter days” are premillennial, and not at the end of that Aion (Deut 31, Jer 30:18-24, 31:40; 31-34).
Daniel’s “time of the end” and Paul’s “end,” are very different and widely separated epochs. Daniel’s period is the era of the increase of knowledge; of the little horn of the goat’s destruction; of the time of trouble, the deliverance of Israel, the resurrection of the dead, and the restoration of the kingdom of the Deity; but Paul’s “end” is the epoch of the delivering up of that kingdom, that God may henceforth be “all things in all”. The events predicted for “the latter days” are the same as those foretold of “the time of the end;”therefore the conclusion is, that they are the same periods differently expressed.
A very conclusive argument against “the time of the end” being postmillennial is, that Daniel’s prophecies are “sealed till the time of the end;” now, if this time be identified with Paul’s end, that is, after the Millennium, then we must believe that Daniel’s prophecies will be unintelligible during all the Messianic Aion; when it is testified, that wisdom and knowledge shall be its stability; and that the knowledge of the glory of Yahweh shall cover the earth as the waters do the sea; and that although he will teach the nations of his ways, and they will be walking in his paths, he will leave Daniel a closed and sealed book till the time comes to deliver up the kingdom at “the end”. We are of necessity brought to this conclusion by blending the ends of Daniel and Paul together; a conclusion which; we are sure no one would be more prompt in repudiating than Bro M.
- Gog is a Prince, and goes forth from the north of Israel’s land: but John’s Gog is not a prince. John says, “the Satan shall go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth, THE GOG AND THE MAGOG.” His Gog and Magog are the nations deceived by the Satan; Ezekiel’s Gog is the Prince of the Russias, who is God of the territory inhabited by the Magogians. John symbolises his postmillennial nations by the style of Ezekiel’s premillennial confederacy. John does not say from what point of the compass “the Satan,” will issue forth in their enterprise of deceiving the nations; he only tells us, that the deceived will rise in rebellion as the sand of the sea in multitude, on every side.
- We have already proved that Gog’s invasion of Palestine is the occasion of Adonia Yahweh’s thief-like presence there. The difficulty with Bro M. In admitting this, lies in the prosperous circumstances predicted of Israel. But we apprehend that he sees more in the testimony than it contains. It does not import a general restoration of Israel; but only a prosperous colony “in the midst of the land,” which, according to Isaiah already referred to, is only a tenth part of the whole country (note the relevance of this to our day with the giving away of land for peace. We are surely wrong to assume the whole land must be occupied by Jews before Gog will invade – CAM)
This Tenth is under the protection of a Maritime Power, styled by Ezekiel, “Sheba and Dedan, and the Merchants of Tarshish, and young Lions thereof.” These are the protecting Power – “the Land shadowing wide with wings extending from beyond the rivers of Khush, that sendeth by sea whirling things, even on vessels of fleetness upon the waters” (Is 38:1). This is the Moabite covert of Jehovah’s outcasts from the face of the Spoiler (Is 36:3).
- The Anglo-Indian Power from beyond the Euphrates and Tigris, the rivers of Khushistan, whose swift vessels, propelled by whirling screws and paddles, traverse the waters of the east in all directions. With such a wealthy and powerful patron as this, protecting a colony whose existence and prosperity are deemed essential to the safety and interests of the protector, it is not difficult to conceive in how short a time the “midst of the land” of Canaan can be brought to reflect the characteristics exhibited by the prophet in Chapter 38:8, 11, 12. (Indeed, how much more are these characteristics present today – CAM). As the London Times testifies, solid bases of English influence are already laid in those parts. “We have completed out communications, says he, “with India,” we have made our railway from Alexandria to Suez, and by this time the telegraph is laid down along the whole length of the Red Sea; we have concluded arrangements for transporting troops to India across the Isthmus. These are the solid bases of English influence. The Pasha of Egypt knows how much he has to gain by us, inasmuch as Englishmen almost wholly support the railway, which is to a great extent his property: and the steamers (“vessels of fleetness with whirling things”) which leave the port of Suez will soon vie in number and size with those which now cross the Atlantic.
No other nation has resources at all comparable with these, nor could confer such benefits on a friendly prince;” or, we may add, on a friendly colony in the midst of the contiguous land. Does not the reader see that there is already laid a foundation upon which a colony of Jews and English can be built, that in a very short time would be so prosperous as to become the envy, if not the admiration, of the ambitious and superstitious despots of the European Continent? (and how truly have these things come to pass! – CAM) The work is steadily progressing. Let us not be in too great a hurry. We walk by faith and not by sight. The ensuing nine years will develop wonders. A British Protectorate in six months can make the unwalled villages of the land of Canaan as safe to dwell in as the suburbs and rural districts of Britain and its provinces.
THE RUSSIAN ARMY – IN 1859
As to the military equipment of the invaders of Gog, the Russian army happens to be the precise and only one answering the requirements of the prophecy. Her troops are equipped with all sorts of weapons. Concerning Gog’s forces, Ezekiel says, “all of them equipped with all sorts, bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords” – “bows, arrows, and handshooters.”
These were the weapons of Ezekiel’s time. The Spirit by whom he spoke told him nothing about cannon (or modern missiles. Let not the reader assume Russia has little by way of weaponry today; most of it’s resources are spent on “defence” – CAM); but included them in the phrase “all sorts”. They are not excluded because omitted; there were simply no words in Hebrew to express them; those weapons were chiefly named that were known at the time, and which the Spirit knew would not be superseded in Gog’s army by the invention and use of gunpowder. Now the troops of Russia are equipped with “all sorts”. This is known to all Europe; for in 1830, or thereabouts, the allied emperors of Austria and Russia, with the king of Prussia, had a meeting at Toplitz in Bohemia, when several thousand Russian troops were reviewed by these members of “the Holy Alliance”. I recollect reading an account of the review in London Times. It was a very imposing affair: and the correspondent who reported the pageant, called particular attention to the remarkable fact, that the troops were equipped with all sorts of weapons, which he particularised as bows and arrows, shields, helmets, coats of mail, and so forth. A considerable proportion of Russia’s forces is Tartarian, who equip themselves at their own expense, and use the ancient weapons; which are not to be despised by an enemy without bucklers and shields, even though they may be armed with rifles and other noisy weapons.
But we add no more, having said enough, as we think, to prove the premillennial character of the Ezekiel prophecy. We can cordially and earnestly concur in the prayer with which Bro M concludes, saying “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!”
But then, we cannot close our eyes to the absolute necessity of the preadventual development of the Prince of the Russias into the Gog of the land of Magog; and of the premillennial deliverance of the land of Israel out of his hands, to the formation of the situation which shall occasion the manifestation of the Sons of God, and the establishment of his kingdom. Jesus comes to adjudicate the controversy of Zion; that controversy must be brought to a head, and judgement given in the capital of the king. Gog comes there to take possession; Jesus meets him there to eject him, and to let the nations know that no power has a right to reign on Mount Zion but Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David and of the Deity, the Bethlehem born King of the Jews
John Thomas, 1859