Description
This chapter describes the end-time war which begins with the invasion of Israel by Antichrist and his allies at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, and ends with his defeat at the Battle of Armageddon.
Commentary
This chapter describes the end-time war which begins with the invasion of Israel by Gog and his allies at the beginning of the Great Tribulation (see also Zechariah 14), and ends with his defeat at the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16-21 & 19:11-21). According to verses 18 - 23, at some stage in the battle God intervenes, unleashing a great earthquake and end-time plagues similar to those described in Revelation 16. Verse 20 says, "all people who live on the face of the earth will shake at my presence", indicating that the earthquake coincides with God becoming physically present on the earth at the second coming of Jesus.


Timing (v8)
Verse 8 describes the timing to which this prophecy relates, "After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come to a land restored from the ravages of war, with many peoples gathered on the mountains of Israel that had long been in ruins. Its people were brought out from the peoples, and all of them will be living securely". This includes several time-indicators:
1) 'after many days' meant that relative to Ezekiel's day, it was a prophecy of the distant future.
2) 'in the latter years' is similar to the expression 'in the last days' (Genesis 49:1, Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:1, Hosea 3:5, Acts 2:17, 2 Timothy 3:1, Hebrews 1:2, James 5:3, 2 Peter 3:3), and indicates that it is an end-time prophecy.
3) It will occur after the people of Israel have been restored to the land after a long exile. They will have returned from many nations and will be living securely in the land that had long been in ruins. This is surely a description of the State of Israel today. During the 20th century, the Jews were restored to Israel from all over the world. They re-established Israel as a sovereign nation in 1948, and today live securely. They have restored the land, and although they are surrounded by many enemies, they have a powerful army that enables them to live securely.

Verses 11-12 describe Gog's evil plan, "I will invade a land of unwalled towns; I will advance against those living quietly in security – all of them living without walls and barred gates - to loot and plunder, to attack the inhabited ruins and the people gathered from the nations, who are acquiring cattle and goods, who live at the centre of the earth". This implies that Israel feels secure and is unsuspecting of an enemy attack. It implies the nation has been restored to prosperity. Verse 13 speaks of a great amount of spoils that Gog hopes to plunder from the land.


Gog is the Antichrist (v17)
In verse 17 God asks rhetorically (implying that he is), "Are you the one of whom I spoke in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days that I would bring you against them?". This indicates that Gog is not some isolated character, but one of whom the bible speaks repeatedly. Scripture gives him various different names and titles. Most often, Christians refer to him as the Antichrist, a title that is given to him by the Apostle John (1 John 2:18). He is called 'the Assyrian' by Isaiah (10:17, 14:25 and 30:31) and by Micah (5:5). One complication of Gog and Magog is that they are mentioned in Revelation 20:8 in relation to the rebellion at the end of the Millennium. Consequently, some Christian scholars have identified the Gog and Magog war as distinct from Antichrist's war at the end of this present age. If you take that position, verse 17 gives you a problem, because it begs the question, 'Where else is Gog described by the prophets?'. It is better to see the Gog and Magog war as having its main fulfilment at the end of this age, but having some kind of second fulfilment at the end of the Millennium. Perhaps at the end of the Millennium, Satan will follow a similar strategy, even though it failed the first time.


Meshech, Tubal and Gomer (v2)
Verse 2 addresses 'Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal'. According to Genesis 10:2, Magog, Meshech, and Tubal, together with Gomer (v6) were all sons of Noah's son Japheth. So it is reasonable to assume that these tribal names identify the same general area of the world.

In the 1st century AD, the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, in Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 6.1, wrote "For Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, [Galls,] but were then called Gomerites. Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians. Now as to Javan and Madai, the sons of Japhet; from Madai came the Madeans, who are called Medes, by the Greeks; but from Javan, Ionia, and all the Grecians, are derived. Thobel founded the Thobelites, who are now called Iberes; and the Mosocheni were founded by Mosoch; now they are Cappadocians".

As names are transliterated between Hebrew, Greek, and English, spellings vary. But it is reasonable to make the following associations:

1) Magog is identified by Josephus with the Scythians. The Scythians were nomads of the Russian Steppes. According to The History of Herodotus, the Greek historian of the 5th century BC, the Scythians drove the Cimmerians out of the Caucasus. So according to this identification, Magog could refer to the Caucasus region, or possibly to Russia. Another possible identification of Magog is by the 1st century Roman historian, Pliny the Elder. In Book V of his History of Nature, he associates Magog with Bambyce in northern Syria, also known as Hierapolis. Today Bambyce is known as Mambij.
2) Gomer should probably be identified with the Cimmerians. According to Herodotus, the Cimmerians originally lived in the region of the Caucasus, but migrated south into Anatolia in the 7th century BC to escape Scythian advances into their territory. The Cimmerians conquered Phrygia in 696 BC, and later Lydia in 652 BC. They were overthrown and driven out of Lydia in 619 BC. In the 1st century AD, Josephus associates Gomer with Galatia in central Anatolia. Perhaps this is where they settled after being expelled from Lydia (the Roman province of Asia).
3) Meshech may be identified with Mosoch which Josephus identifies with the Roman province of Cappadocia, in north-eastern Anatolia.
4) Tubal may be identified with Thobel, whom Josephus associates with Iberes. From the 6th century BC the Iberians were associated with Spain. But in the 9th and 8th centuries BC, Tabal is mentioned in Assyrian records, and refers to the region of south-eastern Turkey that had earlier been ruled by the Hittites.


Gog and Magog (v2)
It is most likely that Gog is named after King Gyges who ruled Lydia in western Turkey from about 687 to 652 BC. King Assurbanipal of Assyria referred to him as King Gugu of Luddi, and it is likely that Gog is a Hebrew transliteration of Gugu. Similarly, Magog may be a Hebrew contraction of Mat-Gugu, meaning 'Land of Gugu' in Assyrian. This contraction might have seemed appropriate, given Magog's association with Meshech and Tubal in Genesis 10. In that case, Magog should be identified with Lydia. At its greatest extent, during the reign of Gyges, Lydia covered all of Anatolia west of the River Halys. In the 6th century BC, at about the time of Ezekiel, Lydia looked like this:
Stacks Image 4571
Chief Prince of Meshech and Tubal (v2)
Verse 2 describes Gog literally as "the prince, the chief of Meshech and Tubal" (see NET bible notes). Both 'prince' and 'chief' are nouns. 'Chief' is a translation of the Hebrew word 'rosh' which means chief or head. According to the NET bible notes, 'rosh' should be treated as a common noun in apposition to 'prince'. In other words, they are two different nouns describing the same thing, namely the prince who is also the chief. In that case, the descriptions of Gog as the chief of Meshech and Tubal, together with his likely association with King Gyges of Lydia, seem to depict him as the chief ruler or president of Turkey. And because the eastern parts of Turkey, associated with Meshech and Tubal, were territories of the Assyrian Empire, Antichrist's identification with Turkey is consistent with him being called 'the Assyrian by Isaiah and Micah.

An obvious question to ask is whether President Erdogan of Turkey might be the Antichrist? It is too soon to be sure, but of all current world leaders, he is certainly the most likely candidate. Hugh Fitzgerald's blog post, 'Why Turkey Should Be Expelled From NATO' certainly gives one reasons to wonder. Erdogan is already recognised as the new Caliph of Islam by some Turkish Islamists. See the article 'Caliphate is Erdogan's' on Ahval News, 4 March 2019.

Ultimately Antichrist will reveal himself when he:
1) signs an international peace treaty (Daniel 9:27)
2) breaks it after three and a half years (Daniel 9:27)
3) invades Israel, conquers Jerusalem, and sets up the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15)
4) takes his seat in the Jerusalem temple, declaring himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4)


Beth Togarmah and the Remote Parts of the North (vs 6 & 15)
According to Genesis 10:3, Togarmah was the son of Gomer. As already stated, the tribe of Gomer is identified with the Cimmerians, who originated in the Caucasus region before migrating south into Anatolia. Describing some of Gog's allies, verse 6 says, "They are joined by Gomer with all its troops, and by Beth Togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all its troops – many peoples are with you". The close association between Gomer and Togarmah reflects the same in Genesis 10:3. Togarmah is identified with what the Hittites called Tegarama, and what the Assyrians called Til-Garimmu. Although scholars are in general agreement that it was located in Anatolia, it precise location is a matter of debate. Respect Assyriologist, Oliver Gurney, placed it in Southeast Anatolia.

'Beth Togarmah' simply means 'House of Togarmah' as in 'royal house', denoting a seat of power. The phrase 'the remote parts of the north' is a translation of the Hebrew words 'yerekah zaphon'. Although zaphon means north, it is also the name of Mount Zaphon (known today as Jebel Aqra), which rises above the Mediterranean coastline near the Turkish-Syrian border. This is the same general area identified by Oliver Gurney as the location of Tegarama / Til-Garimmu. According to Canaanite mythology, Mount Zaphon was considered to be the seat of Baal and the other Canaanite gods, just as Mount Olympus was considered by the Greeks to be the seat of Zeus and the Greek gods.

In Isaiah 14:13-14, the Antichrist is portrayed as 'the king of Babylon' and says to himself, "I will climb up to the sky. Above the stars of El I will set up my throne. I will rule on the mountain of assembly on the remote slopes of Zaphon (Hebrew: 'yerekah zaphon'). I will climb up to the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High!" Since the Antichrist expresses such an ambition relating to the 'remote slopes of Zaphon' in Isaiah 14, it is reasonable to understand that 'yerekah zaphon' means the same thing in the description of his invasion of Israel here in Ezekiel 38-39.

Similarly, Psalm 48:2-3 says of Jerusalem, "It is lofty and pleasing to look at, a source of joy to the whole earth. Mount Zion resembles the peaks of Zaphon (Hebrew: 'yerekah zaphon'); it is the city of the great king. God is in its fortresses; he reveals himself as its defender". The comparison made here between Mount Zion and Mount Zaphon suggests that Mount Zion is the seat of Israel's Messiah just as Mount Zaphon is the seat of Baal / Satan / the Antichrist.

The Hebrew phrase 'yerekah zaphon' occurs three times in Ezekiel 38-39. In each occurrence if we translate it as 'the peaks of Zaphon' instead of 'remote parts of the north' we get:

38:6 "They are joined by Gomer with all its troops, and by the House of Togarmah from the peaks of Zaphon with all its troops – many peoples are with you".

38:14-15 "…On that day when my people Israel are living securely, you will take notice and come from your place, from the peaks of Zaphon, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a vast army".

39:2 "I will turn you around and drag you along; I will lead you up from the peaks of Zaphon and bring you against the mountains of Israel".

This seems a better fit to me, especially comparing 39:2 and Psalm 48:2.

Mount Zaphon is directly north of Israel, and so if Gog invades from the direction of Mount Zaphon, it will still be a northern invasion. In ancient times, both Assyria and Babylon were seen as the enemies of the north (e.g. Jeremiah 47:2, Zechariah 2:6) since their armies approached via the Fertile Crescent and invaded Israel from the north. Similarly, Antichrist will be Israel's end-time enemy from the north / Mount Zaphon.


What about Russia?
In the 3rd century BC, when the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew into the Greek Septuagint, the translators treated the word 'rosh' in verse 2 as a proper noun. So they translated verse 2 to mean 'Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal'. This is most likely an error, but it is one of several reasons that many prophecy scholars have identified Gog and Magog with Russia. Reasons include:
1) the similarity in sound between Rosh and Russia
2) the association by Josephus of Magog with the Scythians
3) the references in verses 6 and 15 to 'the remote parts of the north'
4) the Cold War between the West and Russia, with Western perceptions of Russia as 'the bad guy' who might invade Israel.

All four of these are weak reasons for identifying Magog with Russia.

The map below shows the Roman provinces of Asia Minor / Anatolia / modern-day Turkey in the 1st century AD. So far, it appears that Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer and Togarmah refer approximately to the regions shown below, but which may also be referred to collectively as Magog:
Stacks Image 4579
Persia, Cush and Put (v5)
Verse 5 identifies Persia, Cush and Put as additional allies of Gog in his invasion of Israel. Persia is modern-day Iran, Cush is northern Sudan, and Put is Lybia. The names that I have looked at above (Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer and Togarmah) all indicate that Antichrist will invade Israel from the north. But Ezekiel's inclusion of Iran, Sudan and Lybia as Gog's allies implies that the invasion will actually come from all directions, north, east, south and west. This is demonstrated in the map below:
Stacks Image p4582_n3
It is likely that Ezekiel's list is merely a sample of Gog's allies, in order to demonstrate the multi-directional nature of the invasion. In verse 9, Ezekiel says of Gog, "You will advance; you will come like a storm. You will be like a cloud covering the earth, you, all your troops, and the many other peoples with you". Psalm 83 also describes what appears to be an end-time attempt to wipe Israel off the map. Most likely this is the same invasion that Ezekiel describes. The Psalmist focusses on the involvement of Israel's immediate neighbours, whereas Ezekiel 38 zooms out and focusses on the wider picture.



The Significance of King Gyges

If Gog is the Hebrew equivalent of the name Gyges, it begs the obvious question, 'Why does the bible name the Antichrist after Gyges?'


1) Gyges as a king of Turkey
Antichrist is named after Gyges in order to identify him as a ruler of Turkey.


2) Gyges as a historical figure
Stacks Image 4575
Gyges according to Herodotus
From The History of Herodotus, Book I
By Herodotus, written 440 BC

Translated by George Rawlinson

The Story of Gyges
The sovereignty of Lydia, which had belonged to the Heraclides, passed into the family of Croesus, who were called the Mermnadae, in the manner which I will now relate. There was a certain king of Sardis, Candaules by name, whom the Greeks called Myrsilus. He was a descendant of Alcaeus, son of Hercules. The first king of this dynasty was Agron, son of Ninus, grandson of Belus, and great-grandson of Alcaeus; Candaules, son of Myrsus, was the last. The kings who reigned before Agron sprang from Lydus, son of Atys, from whom the people of the land, called previously Meonians, received the name of Lydians. The Heraclides, descended from Hercules and the slave-girl of Jardanus, having been entrusted by these princes with the management of affairs, obtained the kingdom by an oracle. Their rule endured for two and twenty generations of men, a space of five hundred and five years; during the whole of which period, from Agron to Candaules, the crown descended in the direct line from father to son.

Now it happened that this Candaules was in love with his own wife; and not only so, but thought her the fairest woman in the whole world. This fancy had strange consequences. There was in his bodyguard a man whom he specially favoured, Gyges, the son of Dascylus. All affairs of greatest moment were entrusted by Candaules to this person, and to him he was wont to extol the surpassing beauty of his wife. So matters went on for a while. At length, one day, Candaules, who was fated to end ill, thus addressed his follower: "I see thou dost not credit what I tell thee of my lady's loveliness; but come now, since men's ears are less credulous than their eyes, contrive some means whereby thou mayst behold her naked." At this the other loudly exclaimed, saying, "What most unwise speech is this, master, which thou hast uttered? Wouldst thou have me behold my mistress when she is naked? Bethink thee that a woman, with her clothes, puts off her bashfulness. Our fathers, in time past, distinguished right and wrong plainly enough, and it is our wisdom to submit to be taught by them. There is an old saying, 'Let each look on his own.' I hold thy wife for the fairest of all womankind. Only, I beseech thee, ask me not to do wickedly."

Gyges thus endeavoured to decline the king's proposal, trembling lest some dreadful evil should befall him through it. But the king replied to him, "Courage, friend; suspect me not of the design to prove thee by this discourse; nor dread thy mistress, lest mischief be. thee at her hands. Be sure I will so manage that she shall not even know that thou hast looked upon her. I will place thee behind the open door of the chamber in which we sleep. When I enter to go to rest she will follow me. There stands a chair close to the entrance, on which she will lay her clothes one by one as she takes them off. Thou wilt be able thus at thy leisure to peruse her person. Then, when she is moving from the chair toward the bed, and her back is turned on thee, be it thy care that she see thee not as thou passest through the doorway."

Gyges, unable to escape, could but declare his readiness. Then Candaules, when bedtime came, led Gyges into his sleeping-chamber, and a moment after the queen followed. She entered, and laid her garments on the chair, and Gyges gazed on her. After a while she moved toward the bed, and her back being then turned, he glided stealthily from the apartment. As he was passing out, however, she saw him, and instantly divining what had happened, she neither screamed as her shame impelled her, nor even appeared to have noticed aught, purposing to take vengeance upon the husband who had so affronted her. For among the Lydians, and indeed among the barbarians generally, it is reckoned a deep disgrace, even to a man, to be seen naked.

No sound or sign of intelligence escaped her at the time. But in the morning, as soon as day broke, she hastened to choose from among her retinue such as she knew to be most faithful to her, and preparing them for what was to ensue, summoned Gyges into her presence. Now it had often happened before that the queen had desired to confer with him, and he was accustomed to come to her at her call. He therefore obeyed the summons, not suspecting that she knew aught of what had occurred. Then she addressed these words to him: "Take thy choice, Gyges, of two courses which are open to thee. Slay Candaules, and thereby become my lord, and obtain the Lydian throne, or die this moment in his room. So wilt thou not again, obeying all behests of thy master, behold what is not lawful for thee. It must needs be that either he perish by whose counsel this thing was done, or thou, who sawest me naked, and so didst break our usages." At these words Gyges stood awhile in mute astonishment; recovering after a time, he earnestly besought the queen that she would not compel him to so hard a choice. But finding he implored in vain, and that necessity was indeed laid on him to kill or to be killed, he made choice of life for himself, and replied by this inquiry: "If it must be so, and thou compellest me against my will to put my lord to death, come, let me hear how thou wilt have me set on him." "Let him be attacked," she answered, "on the spot where I was by him shown naked to you, and let the assault be made when he is asleep."

All was then prepared for the attack, and when night fell, Gyges, seeing that he had no retreat or escape, but must absolutely either slay Candaules, or himself be slain, followed his mistress into the sleeping-room. She placed a dagger in his hand and hid him carefully behind the self-same door. Then Gyges, when the king was fallen asleep, entered privily into the chamber and struck him dead. Thus did the wife and kingdom of Candaules pass into the possession of Gyges, of whom Archilochus the Parian, who lived about the same time, made mention in a poem written in iambic trimeter verse.

Gyges was afterwards confirmed in the possession of the throne by an answer of the Delphic oracle. Enraged at the murder of their king, the people flew to arms, but after a while the partisans of Gyges came to terms with them, and it was agreed that if the Delphic oracle declared him king of the Lydians, he should reign; if otherwise, he should yield the throne to the Heraclides. As the oracle was given in his favour he became king. The Pythoness, however, added that, in the fifth generation from Gyges, vengeance should come for the Heraclides; a prophecy of which neither the Lydians nor their princes took any account till it was fulfilled. Such was the way in which the Mermnadae deposed the Heraclides, and themselves obtained the sovereignty.

When Gyges was established on the throne, he sent no small presents to Delphi, as his many silver offerings at the Delphic shrine testify. Besides this silver he gave a vast number of vessels of gold, among which the most worthy of mention are the goblets, six in number, and weighing altogether thirty talents, which stand in the Corinthian treasury, dedicated by him. I call it the Corinthian treasury, though in strictness of speech it is the treasury not of the whole Corinthian people, but of Cypselus, son of Eetion. Excepting Midas, son of Gordias, king of Phrygia, Gyges was the first of the barbarians whom we know to have sent offerings to Delphi. Midas dedicated the royal throne whereon he was accustomed to sit and administer justice, an object well worth looking at. It lies in the same place as the goblets presented by Gyges. The Delphians call the whole of the silver and the gold which Gyges dedicated, after the name of the donor, Gygian.

As soon as Gyges was king he made an in-road on Miletus and Smyrna, and took the city of Colophon. Afterwards, however, though he reigned eight and thirty years, he did not perform a single noble exploit. I shall therefore make no further mention of him, but pass on to his son and successor in the kingdom, Ardys.
The above painting by William Etty, 1830, depicts the story of Gyges' rise to power according to the Greek historian Herodotus (5th century BC) in Book 1 of 'The History of Herodotus'. According to this account, Gyges was the bodyguard to King Candaules of Lydia. Candaules wanted to show off his wife's stunning beauty to Gyges and allowed him to spy on Nyssia as she undressed in front of her husband. When Nyssia noticed Gyges spying on her, she realised her husband must have known that he was there. She was outraged and demanded that Gyges either be executed, or that he kill Candaules for allowing such infringement of her privacy. Gyges chose the latter and assassinated Candaules. He then seized the throne and took Nyssia as his own wife. There are alternative versions to this story, but what is clear is that Gyges assassinated Candaules and seized the throne.

According to Herodotus, the Lydians were enraged that their king had been murdered, and took up arms. However, civil war was averted when Gyges was confirmed as king by the Oracle of Delphi, and the Lydians accepted that his rule was the will of the gods. Once established on the throne, Gyges then greatly honoured the Oracle of Delphi with huge gifts of gold and silver. He ruled Lydia for 38 years, but apart from establishing his rule over the cities of Lydia, Herodotus says he performed no noble deeds during his reign.

What is it in this story that makes Gyges an appropriate name for the Antichrist? I think there are 2 things:
i) In Daniel 7, in his vision of the fourth beast, Daniel prophesies the rise of the end-time empire. It first arises as a coalition of ten rulers, depicted as ten horns. After that, the Antichrist who is depicted as an eleventh horn, arises as its ruler and deposes three of the original ten rulers. I understand this end-time empire to be a coalition of Sunni Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia which is depicted in Isaiah 21 and in Revelation 17-18 as Mystery Babylon. If the Antichrist rises to power over this coalition and deposes three of its rulers, it is likely this action would lead to outrage and civil war within the Muslim world. However, if the Islamic authorities in Saudi Arabia confirm the Antichrist as the new Caliph of Islam, just as the Oracle of Delphi confirmed Gyges as the new king of Lydia, the Antichrist may be confirmed and accepted as Caliph by the Muslim world.

ii) Daniel 11:38-39 says of the Antichrist, "What he will honour is a god of fortresses – a god his fathers did not acknowledge he will honour with gold, silver, valuable stones, and treasured commodities. He will attack mighty fortresses, aided by a foreign deity. To those who recognise him he will grant considerable honour. He will place them in authority over many people, and he will parcel out land for a price". I understand this to mean that Antichrist will honour Allah, the Islamic authorities will recognise him as Caliph, he will embark on a new Islamic Jihad, and he will greatly honour those to confirm and recognise him, just as Gyges greatly honoured the Oracle of Delphi.

Later on, I believe Antichrist will betray Saudi Arabia. Isaiah 21 describes the Antichrist as a traitor and portrays an Iranian invasion of Arabia. Isaiah figuratively refers to Arabia as Babylon, but all the specific places that he mentions in the prophecy were located in Arabia. Revelation 17 describes Arabia as the Great Prostitute. Although she will initially confirm Antichrist, Revelation 17:16 says, "The ten horns that you saw, and the beast – these will hate the prostitute and make her desolate and naked. They will consume her flesh and burn her up with fire".



3) Gyges in Greek Mythology
Although Gyges was a king of western Turkey in the 7th century BC, the name Gyges goes much further back than that. It is a name that has significance in Greek mythology. To understand why Greek mythology might be significant to Ezekiel's prophecies of the Antichrist, you have to consider several biblical passages that connect Old Testament Israel to Greek mythology, or to the more localised Canaanite version of it.

2 Kings 23 describes the reforms that King Josiah of Judah made in the year 623 BC, after Hilkiah the Priest rediscovered the books of Moses. Verse 5 says, "He eliminated the pagan priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to offer sacrifices on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the area right around Jerusalem. (They offered sacrifices to Baal, the sun god, the moon god, the constellations, and all the stars in the sky.)" And verse 11 continues, "He removed from the entrance to the Lord’s temple the statues of horses that the kings of Judah had placed there in honor of the sun god. (They were kept near the room of Nathan Melech the eunuch, which was situated among the courtyards.) He burned up the chariots devoted to the sun god". These verses reveal that as far back as the 7th century BC, the people of Judah were worshipping Greek gods as part of their pagan religious mix. According to Greek mythology, Helios the Sun god rides his chariots across the sky each day, and Selene the Moon god rides her chariots across the sky each night. In addition, the prophet Jeremiah made frequent references to their worship of the Queen of Heaven, who was the Greek goddess Hera (e.g. Jeremiah 7:18).

About a century earlier, Isaiah prophesied that Satan would end up in hell after incarnating himself as a man (the Antichrist) and attempting to exalt himself. Isaiah 14:13-16 says, "You said to yourself, “I will climb up to the sky. Above the stars of El I will set up my throne. I will rule on the mountain of assembly on the remote slopes of Zaphon. I will climb up to the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High!” But you were brought down to Sheol, to the remote slopes of the Pit. Those who see you stare at you, they look at you carefully, thinking: “Is this the man who shook the earth, the one who made kingdoms tremble?" The phrase 'the remote slopes of Zaphon' is a reference to Mount Zaphon (known today as Jebel Aqra), which rises above the Mediterranean coastline near the Turkish-Syrian border. It was the Canaanite equivalent of Mount Olympus, and considered to be the assembly of Baal and the Canaanite gods. Baal was the Canaanite equivalent of Zeus.

Given that Greek and Canaanite mythology had been part of Israel's religious mix for centuries, it should not surprise us that biblical prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel allude to it, and freely borrow words and figures of speech from it. This does not mean the bible affirms Greek mythology. But it does mean that an understanding of Greek mythology is necessary for understanding certain biblical passages. 'Mythos' by Stephen Fry is an excellent retelling of Greek myths in modern English for anyone who wishes to delve deeper. But here is a very basic summary of some of the key points:

In the beginning, there was formless Chaos. Out of Chaos sprang Erebus (the darkness) and Nyx (the night). Erebus and Nyx coupled to produce Hemera (the day) and Aether (light). Out of Chaos also sprang Gaia (the Earth) and Tartarus (the depths and caves beneath the earth). Gaia then spontaneously gave birth to Pontus (the Sea) and Ouranos (the Sky). Together, Darkness, Night, Day, Light, Earth, Tartarus, the Sea and the Sky were the primordial deities, the first order of creation. Gaia and Ouranos (Earth and Sky) then reproduced, giving birth to the twelve children known as the Titans, including Kronos (Time). With the birth of Kronos, time began, stories developed, and the gods developed personalities. Gaia and Ouranos also gave birth to the three Cyclopes and the three Hecatoncheires. These and the twelve Titans represent the second order of creation. When the Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires were born, Ouranos took an instant dislike to them and forced them back into Gaia's womb, causing her terrible pain. In time, Gaia sought relief and revenge. She convinced her son Kronos that he should kill his father Ouranos, and gave him a scythe with which to do so. In his sweep of the scythe, Kronos failed to kill Ouranos, but castrated him and defeated him. Having overthrown Ouranos, Kronos now wrested dominion from each of his siblings to become overall ruler of the universe. With another sweep of his scythe he cut open Gaia's side and delivered her of the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires. He then confined both Ouranos to Tartarus and assigned the Hecatoncheires as the guardians of its gates. First however, Ouranos cursed Kronos saying, "May your children destroy you as you have destroyed me".

In time, Kronos married his sister Rhea and they gave birth to children. Afraid of his father's curse, Kronos swallowed each them whole the moment they were born. Wise to this, before their sixth child Zeus was born, Rhea wrapped a smooth stone in swaddling cloths like a baby and tricked Kronos into thinking she had given birth. Kronos swallowed the stone whole, none the wiser. Rhea then gave birth to Zeus, who survived and grew to adulthood. Later, Rhea gave Kronos a potion that made him vomit up all the children he had swallowed, and they were effectively reborn. In time, Zeus and his siblings rose up against their father, starting a ten-year war known as the Titanomachy. Eventually, with help from the Hecatoncheires whom he brought up from Tartarus, Zeus defeated the Titans. One of these Hecatoncheires was called Gyges, the long-limbed one. Establishing his seat of power on Mount Olympus, Zeus became the new ruler of the universe. His siblings and their offspring ruled with him as the Olympian gods, and Zeus' brother Hades became ruler of the underworld. Zeus married his sister Hera, who was worshipped by some Old Testament Israelites as the Queen of Heaven (e.g. Jeremiah 7:18).

The bible alludes to both Zeus and Kronos as pictures of Satan. In Revelation 2:13, Jesus referred to the Pergamum Altar of Zeus as Satan's throne. In Revelation 12:4, Satan is pictured as a dragon, seeking to devour Israel's child as soon it is born. In that passage, the birth of the child represents the return of Jesus as Israel's Messiah. Just as Kronos sought to devour his children out of fear of the prophecy, so also is Satan afraid that Messiah will fulfil the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 and crush his head. As part of his plan, Satan brings a beast up from the Abyss (Revelation 13:1). This beast represents both an empire and its king. Its king (the Antichrist) is called Gog after Gyges the Hecatoncheire (Ezekiel 38:2). Satan hopes that just as Gyges helped Zeus defeat Kronos, so Gog will help Satan defeat Jesus.

In 168 BC, the Seleucid king, Antiochus Epiphanes, desecrated the Jewish temple and set up a statue of Zeus. He declared himself to be the earthly incarnation of Zeus and forced the Jews to sacrifice pigs to him on the temple altar. Four hundred years earlier, Daniel had prophesied this event in Daniel 11:31, referring to the statue of Zeus as the 'abomination that causes desolation'.

As already stated, Isaiah 14:13-14 describes Satan's dream of rising above the stars of El (the God of the Bible) and setting his throne on the slopes of Mount Zaphon.

Putting all this together, you end up with Satan's dream that Gog the Antichrist will one day help him overthrow El (the God of the Bible). Then Satan can rule as supreme god of the Universe. In the process, Antichrist will once again desecrate the Jerusalem temple, setting up a new 'abomination of desolation' (Matthew 24:15), only this time it will not be a statue of Zeus. The bible's depiction of Zeus or Baal as Satan reflects the idea that all false gods are ultimately different guises of Satan. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:20, "I mean that what the pagans sacrifice is to demons and not to God". By the 7th century AD, Zeus worship was going out of fashion, so with the help of a 'prophet' from Arabia, Satan came up with a new guise. He now masquerades as Allah, the god who calls himself 'the Greatest of Deceivers' (Quran 3:54). Like Gyges, the long-limbed hundred-handed Hecatoncheire, the Antichrist will have a long reach into all the nations of the world. And like Gyges the king of western Turkey in the 7th century BC, Antichrist will be the 'chief prince of Meshech and Tubal' (ancient names for Turkey) - Ezekiel 38:3. Jihadist fighters will join his armies from all nations of the world to help him fight Jesus, the great son of El.


How Long Will the Invasion Last?
Verse 10 says, "On that day thoughts will come into your mind, and you will devise an evil plan". Verses 18 and 19 refer to the 'day' when Gog invades Israel, when God's rage mounts up in response, and when there will be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. If you interpret this 'day' as a literal 24-hour day, this chapter gives the impression that Antichrist's invasion will be a failure and he will immediately be defeated. However, in verse 14, Ezekiel says, "On that day when my people Israel are living securely, you will take notice". It is clear that 'day' is referring to a period of time, not a literal 24-hour day. I believe that Antichrist will successfully conquer Jerusalem, as described in Zechariah 14, and will set up the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15). This event marks the beginning of the 'Day of the Lord' (Zechariah 14:1), or the 'day of vengeance of our God' (Isaiah 61:2). It is equivalent to the period of Great Tribulation which lasts for three and a half years (Daniel 7:25, 12:7, Revelation 12:14), or 42 months (Revelation 11:2, 13:5) or 1,260 days (Revelation 11:3 and 12:6).

According to Zechariah 14:2, when Jerusalem falls to the Antichrist, half will remain in the city, and half will go into exile. Many will escape to a desert safe place when Jesus divides the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:5 and Revelation 12:6). Ezekiel 38:17 - 39:20 describes the defeat of Antichrist and his armies, but this happens in the battle of Armageddon at the end of the Great Tribulation. As in Zechariah 14, Ezekiel 39:21-29 makes it clear that Israel will be driven into exile once again by Antichrist's invasion, and will need to once again be restored to the land at the end of the Great Tribulation.


Sheba, Dedan and Tarshish (v10-13)
Verses 10 to 12 describe the day when Antichrist will come up with an evil plan to invade and plunder Israel. At this planning stage, verse 13 portrays Sheba (Yemen), Dedan (located in Saudi Arabia) and Tarshish (an unidentified seafaring nation) questioning Antichrist's plan and intentions. Ezekiel does not tell us whether they will join his invasion force. Because Iran is one of Antichrist's allies, I suspect he will exclude Saudi Arabia, and that all three of these nations will be outside observers rather than participants.


God's plan
In verses 14 to 23, God reveals that it is actually his plan to bring Gog and his vast army against Israel. Gog's plan is to loot and plunder Israel, but God's plan is to magnify himself in the sight of the nations by destroying Gog and his armies, so that all the nations know God is the Lord. God will rise up in fury (v18) and intervene on the earth against Gog. All people and animals on the face of the earth will shake at God's presence on the earth (v20). A massive earthquake will occur (v19-20), and God will call for a sword to attack Gog (v21). Every man's sword will be against his brother, implying that Gog's armies will destroy each other. And God will rain down plagues of hail, fire and brimstone on Gog and his armies (v22). These correspond with the bowl judgments of Revelation 16, especially the seventh and last bowl that releases a massive earthquake, together with gigantic hailstones, and brings final judgment upon Mystery Babylon (Revelation 16:17-21). At the end of it all, God will be magnified as God before all nations (v23). He will make himself known to Israel and to all nations (Ezekiel 39:7 and 22).




Further Reading
'Gog and Magog, Islam and Christian Missions' by Joel Richardson, 17 Aug 2018

Video
SkyWatch TV Interview with Joel Richardson, 13 June 2018:
Tags
Places: Israel, Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Turkey, Persia, Iran, Cush, Sudan, Put, Lybia, Gomer, Beth Togarmah, Caucasus, Russia, Dedan, Saudi Arabia, Sheba, Yemen
Symbols:
Tags: Antichrist, Antichrist as Gog, Gog and Magog, Gyges, Greek mythology, Antichrist invades Israel, Second coming appearance, Earthquake, Plagues, Bowl judgments, End-time empire, Allies of the Antichrist, Jesus fights muslim nations, Return of exiles to Israel
A Prophecy Against Gog
1 The Lord’s message came to me:
2 “Son of man, turn toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Prophesy against him
3 and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look, I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.
4 I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and bring you out with all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them fully armed, a great company with shields of different types, all of them armed with swords.
5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Put are with them, all of them with shields and helmets.
6 They are joined by Gomer with all its troops, and by Beth Togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all its troops – many peoples are with you.
7 “‘Be ready and stay ready, you and all your companies assembled around you, and be a guard for them.
8 After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come to a land restored from the ravages of war, from many peoples gathered on the mountains of Israel that had long been in ruins. Its people were brought out from the peoples, and all of them will be living securely.
9 You will advance; you will come like a storm. You will be like a cloud covering the earth, you, all your troops, and the many other peoples with you.
10 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind, and you will devise an evil plan.
11 You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled towns; I will advance against those living quietly in security – all of them living without walls and barred gates –
12 to loot and plunder, to attack the inhabited ruins and the people gathered from the nations, who are acquiring cattle and goods, who live at the center of the earth.”
13 Sheba and Dedan and the traders of Tarshish with all its young warriors will say to you, “Have you come to loot? Have you assembled your armies to plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to haul away a great amount of spoils?”’
14 “Therefore, prophesy, son of man, and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On that day when my people Israel are living securely, you will take notice
15 and come from your place, from the remote parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a vast army.
16 You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud covering the earth. In the latter days I will bring you against my land so that the nations may acknowledge me, when before their eyes I magnify myself through you, O Gog.
17 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Are you the one of whom I spoke in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days that I would bring you against them?
18 On that day, when Gog invades the land of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord, my rage will mount up in my anger.
19 In my zeal, in the fire of my fury, I declare that on that day there will be a great earthquake in the land of Israel.
20 The fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the wild beasts, all the things that creep on the ground, and all people who live on the face of the earth will shake at my presence. The mountains will topple, the cliffs will fall, and every wall will fall to the ground.
21 I will call for a sword to attack Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord; every man’s sword will be against his brother.
22 I will judge him with plague and bloodshed. I will rain down on him, his troops and the many peoples who are with him a torrential downpour, hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
23 I will exalt and magnify myself; I will reveal myself before many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’
(NET)