This chapter and the next speak of Gog and Magog, a powerful enemy to the people of God. We cannot make a precise determination concerning the identity of these foes, except that it seems that Gog was the name of the king, and Magog was the name of the kingdom – similar to how we would speak of “Pharoah and the Egyptians.” These adversaries are spoken of as making a formidable descent upon God’s people, and putting them into consternation; but their army would be routed and their intentions defeated. This prophecy may have had a partial fulfillment sometime after the return of the people of Israel from their captivity – perhaps in the struggles that they had with the kings of Syria, particularly Antiochus Epiphanes; or maybe in some other way that is not recorded in the historical Biblical narrative. Through the prophet, God had assured His people of happy times after their return to their own land. But lest they should misinterpret the promises which related to the kingdom of the Messiah as meaning that they would enjoy uninterrupted temporal prosperity, He here tells them – just as Christ told His disciples, in order to prevent a similar mistake – that in the world, they would surely experience tribulation. However, they could still be of good cheer, for they would be victorious at last.
But this prophecy of Gog and Magog reaches much further than any physical warfare that the Old Testament nation of Israel was ever involved in. Gog and Magog are alluded to in the 20th chapter of the Book of Revelation, and they are described as gathering themselves together to wage war against the people of God. We must understand that whether or not the ancient Israelites ever encountered such fearsome enemies as Gog and Magog, this prophecy is really a foretelling of the terrible spiritual forces of evil that will make war against the redeemed saints of Christ! The prophet, through the Holy Spirit, was presenting a picture of what was to take place during the “last days” on earth.
During the Gospel-times in which we ourselves live – that is, between the days of Christ’s earthly ministry and the Day of Judgment at the end of the world – the devil and his forces continually endeavor to counteract the work and mission of Christ’s Church militant on earth. Throughout this time, there will be persecutions and oppressions directed by worldly powers that serve Satan; and these persecutions will often be concentrated in particular nations or regions at one time or another. However, during this period, Satan is restrained – to a certain degree – from doing all that he would like to do against God’s people. This is so that the Church may more effectively fulfill the Great Commission which her Lord has given her.
However, it must not be supposed that the conflict is entirely over! It is a world-wide dominion which Messiah is to wield; the kingdom of righteousness and peace must expand and grow until it embraces the entire circumference of the globe. But will Satan yield up his stolen empire without a struggle? Will he not rather – when he sees the Kingdom of God taking firmer root and rising to a higher elevation – seek to effect its dismemberment or its downfall, by stirring up against it the hostile and gigantic forces that lie scattered in the extremities of the earth? Assuredly he will do so! And God Himself will also direct events into this channel, in order to effectually break up the power of the adversary, and secure the diffusion of His truth and the glory of His name to the remotest regions of the world. Shortly before Christ returns to judge the world, the Book of Revelation tells us that the restraining power that has limited the workings of Satan’s evil mischief will be lifted and he will be “let loose,” so to speak. And when that happens, a final desperate conflict – pictured by the battle which is described here in this chapter, and which is called Armageddon in the Book of Revelation – will ensue between the forces of heathenism from their far-distant territories, and the people of God who continue to steadfastly hold to His truth. In other words, the works of darkness and the powers of evil will be allowed by God to become so widespread and rampant that it will almost seem as if Satan will gain the victory after all!
But the outcome of this spiritual warfare is certain! For since Jesus has already conquered the crooked serpent by crushing his head on Calvary, He cannot do anything other than fight with and for His redeemed people – giving victorious success to their struggles! And thus, in this last great battle, the arm of heathenism shall be completely and permanently broken; its mightiest efforts shall only end in a greater display of its own weakness, as it is compared with the truth and cause of Jehovah. The name of the Lord, as the Holy One of Israel, shall be magnified and feared to the utmost ends of the earth. And since all the forces of evil will be finally and forever put down, it will then be time for all of the Savior’s precious people to cease from being the Church militant on earth, and to become the Church triumphant in heaven! O Lord Jesus, hasten this glorious day!
Lord Jesus, we thank You that we, as Your people, may always and forever dwell in safety – even if we are in unwalled villages – for You Yourself are a protecting wall of fire all around us! Amen.
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