The announcement that Russia will send sophisticated weapons to the Syrian dictator has renewed interest in the Gog and Magog war described in Ezekiel, Chapters 38 and 39.
Russia is often identified with Gog because of the description “Prince of Rosh” which appears in some Bible translations. In fact, “Rosh” is the Hebrew word for “head”, as in “Rosh Hashanna”, and so the better translation is “Chief Prince”. However, we know that Magog, as a tribe of Japeth, would have been in the areas north of the Middle East, and so Russia is a probable location for Magog. Additional northern Japethetic tribes of Gomer and Beth Togarmah, which are part of the nations joining Magog, could also be from Russian territory.
Other aspects of the Gog and Magog war mentioned in Ezekiel do not fit so well with current circumstances. The attacking coalition of Gog, for example, includes the nations of Persia (Iran), Sudan, Libya, and Turkey, but only Persia supports Syria at present. In addition, the attack comes when Israel is at peace, a situation which does not exist today and probably will not exist for the foreseeable future. (See our Blog of 5/8/13 “The Peace of Jerusalem”). Thus, the Gog and Magog war does not seem likely to occur any time soon.
The best place to look for the timing of the Gog and Magog war is in the other place it is mentioned in the Bible, Revelation 20:7-9. Here Gog and Magog are depicted as forming an army to attack Jerusalem, only to be defeated by fire from Heaven (see Ez 39:6). This war is, however, not part of the warfare surrounding the Second Coming of Christ and the battle of Armageddon, but occurs 1,000 years after Armageddon, at the end of the 1,000 year reign of Christ.
Knowing that the Russian arming of Syria is not a prelude to the post millennial Gog and Magog war can help us focus our prayers. The Syrian civil war is a threat to peace in the Middle East, a threat to Israel, and a plague on the people of Syria. Let us pray that this evil dictator will be overthrown, that the anti-Israel forces will also be defeated, and that peace and healing will come to Syria. Let us also pray that a door will be opened to the Gospel message in Syria.
And, as always, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.