There are two invasions of Israel that we are completely certain about:
They are both described in the New Testament, and their identity is clear. We know who the key players are. We know the circumstances surrounding these events. We know where they fit within the timeline of the Last Days. The question is…
Does the coming of Gog and Magog belong in one of these two battles?
Or, does Gog and Magog come before these two invasions?
So we need to look at each of these battles, and then – in later chapters – compare them with what we know about the Return of Jacob and the coming of Gog and Magog. If Gog and Magog does not fit in either of these battles, then the Return of Jacob must happen before the Antichrist arrives. There is no third alternative, if we are to submit ourselves to what the Bible actually says.
So, let’s look at what God has told us about these two battles, and we start with a look at the army of the Antichrist and its invasion of Israel.
The Army of the Antichrist
I don’t know about you, but I never spent a lot of time thinking about the Antichrist as having an army. I think that most of us think of the Man of Lawlessness as springing out of the ground with sufficient magical power to make everyone follow him. And, it’s true that he does have the ability to do ‘signs and wonders’ and persuade most of the world, but the fact that the Antichrist has an army, tells us that not everyone is completely impressed.
The first hint about this army – for most of us – would have come from the words of Jesus:
15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
I’ve spent many years contemplating that verse, and the verses like it. There’s an intensity about what Jesus says here that should make all of us pay close attention. Jesus is telling us that even a few minutes of hesitation will cause you to be captured by the forces – the army – of the Antichrist. And, the Book of Revelation gives us another snapshot of this invasion of Israel:
13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
The woman who flees is Israel. Actually, I believe that she is more than just Israel, but that is a discussion for another time. The point is that there is a massive and speedy migration of God’s people from the area around Jerusalem and Judea.
Why is there such an urgency for people to flee so quickly?
If they were just fleeing the police, this woman probably wouldn’t need ‘wings of an eagle’ to flee. She could probably get to her place of refuge in a far more sedate way. No police force is large enough to stop a mass migration. Furthermore, it’s doubtful that a local police force could play a role in rounding up a population made up of the friends, neighbors and family of that police force. That’s why you need a foreign army for this effort, and Daniel tells us that the Antichrist actually has such an army:
12 Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.
The Antichrist is given an ARMY. And, because of what is said later, this isn’t a local militia. This is an army that is big enough to invade and defeat the armies of several nations.
TRANSLATION NOTE: The word ‘sacrifices’ is not in the original Hebrew. Hebrew has very specific words for sacrifice or offering. This verse uses none of those words. It just says התמיד (pronounced: ha tah-meed), and it means ‘the always’ or ‘the perpetual’. If someone asks me how often I go to church on Sunday, I would say “tamid!” I always go to church on Sunday! (Or Saturdays, when I’m back in Israel.) ALWAYS – except when I’m sick. Instead of ‘sacrifices’, the translators should have said ‘continual services’ or some such thing.
Here’s a verse that gives you an idea about how big the army of the ‘little horn’ (i.e., Antichrist) is:
9 And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.
So, the Antichrist’s army goes south, east and into Israel – The Glorious Land.
South, East and into Israel… from where?
From one of the nations, in an area that Alexander the Great used to control.
For a more in-depth discussion of WHERE the Antichrist comes from, go here:
Where the Antichrist Comes From
(Seriously, the President of the United States cannot be the Antichrist!)
So, the Antichrist has a big enough army to take over Israel and the rest of the Middle East. And, the Book of Revelation refers to this army taking over Jerusalem:
2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”
Revelation 11 goes on to discuss the ministry of the Two Witnesses, but that’s not the important point – in terms of our discussion. The important thing is that Jerusalem is captured for 42 months. The issue of the ‘temple’ is something of a mystery and may only be answered as we get closer to that time. Those of you who joyfully anticipate the return of sacrifices and burnt offerings, will need to go back and reread the Book of Galatians.
Armageddon And The Kings of the East
However, one thing that we can say with confidence is that Zechariah 14:3-5;12-15 is definitely about the Battle of Armageddon. So, let’s talk about the last battle, just before the Millennium.
The first place in the Bible that we should go, when talking about Armageddon, is Revelation 16:
12 Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. 13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.
– Revelation 16:12-16
There’s no ‘h’ in Greek, so Har Megiddo comes out as ‘Ar’, and ‘Mageddon’ – all fused together. And, Megiddo is the main exit out of the Jezreel valley, into the coastal plain of Israel. It’s also the path that you take when you wish to invade Jerusalem. And, for some reason, God allows the Kings of the East and the rest of the world’s armies assemble in the Jezreel valley.
Why did God choose Jezreel?
Why not the coastal plains?
Why not further north, in Syria or Lebanon?
Ultimately, none of those questions matter. What matters is that the armies of the nations of the world assemble in the Jezreel Valley and attempt to move south, through the choke point of Megiddo. It’s the traditional – and most logical – way for Israel and then Jerusalem to be invaded.
It is theoretically possible to invade Jerusalem by going down through the Jordan Valley, but you would only do that if you were insane. The way is narrow and would cause any large army to be strung out in a long, thin line – making it extremely vulnerable to attack. And, when you reached the point where you need to turn towards Jerusalem, you’d find yourself fighting far more, than if you had invaded from the west.
Conversely, once you get past Megiddo and through the valley into Wadi Ara, you now have access to assembly points in the Coastal Plain that would allow you to regroup and prepare for the final assault on Jerusalem. From that point, you can attack Jerusalem from more than one direction. You can enter from the west, following the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. Or, you could loop around the Jerusalem hills and attack from the south – if you go down to Hebron and then up through Bethlehem.
The point is that the ‘Battle of Armageddon’ happens at Megiddo because the target is Jerusalem. The forces that assemble to fight God aren’t really interested in Yafo, Tel Aviv or Netanya. They have less interest in Haifa, Kfar Saba or even Tiberias. They want Jerusalem. But, they can’t get to Jerusalem without assembling in Jezreel and fighting past Megiddo.
The other place in Revelation that talks about Armageddon is chapter 19:
19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
– Revelation 19:19-21
Again, Armageddon is all about Satan’s desire to capture Jerusalem. Satan might also want the rest of the Land of Israel, but that’s not the primary focus.
If you want other views of Armageddon, you can look at these chapters:
Isaiah 17 – verses 12-14
Isaiah 26 – verse 21
Isaiah 27 – verse 1
Zephaniah 3 – verse 8
Those chapters often talk about more than just Armageddon, and each offers a somewhat different perspective of that event. I also go into detail about Isaiah 17 and Joel 3, later. But, I want to focus a bit on Zechariah 14, because it provides an exceptionally informative account that stands in contrast to Zechariah 12 and 13.
Here are the parts that deal directly with Armageddon:
3 Then the Lord will go forth
And fight against those nations,
As He fights in the day of battle.
4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,
Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
From east to west,
Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north
And half of it toward the south.
This is the beginning of the liberation of Jerusalem and the prelude to the judgment upon the nations at Har Megiddo (aka, Armageddon). The most important part of Zechariah 14:3-4 is this:
And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,…
This is Jesus, returning to Earth as was promised. Zechariah identifies Him as יהוה (Yehovah), and that is who Jesus is. We find another view of Zechariah 4 in the first chapter of Acts:
11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Jesus will return in the same way that He left, with one difference:
The Mount of Olives will split in two.
Zechariah 14 goes on to talk about how the people of Jerusalem escape, followed by the plagues that God inflicts upon those nations that fight against Him. This description of Armageddon is followed by a discussion of what the Millennium will be like. Again, we’ll be getting into more detail about what is in Zechariah 14, here:
Oh, and we know that God rescues Jerusalem BEFORE the Battle of Armageddon, because of this verse in Joel 3
16 The Lord also will roar from Zion,
And utter His voice from Jerusalem;
The heavens and earth will shake;
But the Lord will be a shelter for His people,
And the strength of the children of Israel.
– Joel 3:16
Also, since we know that Jesus splits the Mount of Olives in two, we have a clearer understanding of this verse in Revelation 16:
19 Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath
– Revelation 16:19
I never quite understood why the city of Jerusalem would be split into three pieces until I read what Zechariah said about the Mount of Olives being split in two. The reason WHY the city is split into three parts, is precisely due to the fact that Jesus stands on the Mount of Olives and turns that small mountain into a big valley.
Okay, we could spend a lot of time on the Antichrist and Armageddon. But, we have bigger fish to fry. Now that we have a basic understanding of these two battles, we can begin to talk about Gog and Magog and see how they compare with what we have talked about here. As we go along, we will continue to add details to this picture, comparing and contrasting these battles with each other. By the time that we are done, we should have a clearer understanding of the wars of the Last Days. Most important of all, we will be able to accurately place the Return of Jacob on this timeline of events. But, let’s pull back a bit to look at the big picture.
Let’s turn to the chapter that best describes the return of the children of Jacob to God.
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