Gog, Magog, And The Beloved City

“It’s the fulfillment of prophecy right before our eyes!”

That was the very excited comment of someone on social media regarding the news February 24 that Russian President Vladimir Putin had launched the invasion of Ukraine. She had in mind the popular interpretation of Ezekiel’s prophecy about Gog of the land of Magog in “the north parts”—that this is Russia and its leader, who spearheads a coalition of other nations and swoops down on Israel intent on its utter destruction, resulting in their own utter destruction by God.

I doubt that this will be the result of Russia’s present aggression, and I doubt that this is the right interpretation of Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39. Here are verses 14 to 16 of Chapter 38 in the King James Version:

Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?
And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:
And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.

In verse 8 of that chapter we find that this prophecy is to take place in “the latter years.” This no doubt accounts for the expectation among those who have “end-time” things mapped out that the fulfillment of this prophecy is imminent. A quick search revealed dozens of internet sites proclaiming that Gog and Magog speak cryptically of Russia, giving various permutations and combinations as to who the other nations are.

What I did not find was a single site that included in the interpretation the New Testament reference to God and Magog—Revelation 20:7-10. I did find one site that mentioned this passage, but it did not include an interpretation. It’s possible there may be such sites; I didn’t do an exhaustive search.

But is it not very short sighted to explain Old Testament prophecy while ignoring further revelation in the New Testament?

Vision with greater light

Here is a rule that I’ve written into the flyleaf of my Bible:

All Old Testament Scripture must be viewed and interpreted in the light of the new covenant of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Surely we agree that this is so, we who have come to God and are joined to Him by Jesus Christ in new covenant relationship. This means the shining forth of the True Light, the reality who cast all the shadows of the law, revealing the intent of all Old Testament types and all its prophecies. If you stand in doubt of this, simply go through your New Testament and peruse every place where an Old Testament passage is quoted, and discover the kind of light the apostles of the new covenant were seeing by.

This rule accords with something theologian B.B. Warfield wrote:

The Old Testament may be likened to a chamber richly furnished but dimly lighted; the introduction of light brings into it nothing which was not in it before; but it brings out into clearer view much of what is in it but was only dimly or even not at all perceived before.

Amen. With this in mind along with the rule I mentioned above, let’s read the New Testament passage:

And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Rev 20: 7-10 KJV

It may be well to note right here the first six verses of Chapter 20. This does not take place till after the thousand year reign of Christ and His kingdom of priests. Personally I’m not convinced that the “thousand years” is to be interpreted literally; I think it is a symbolic number, as many if not all the numbers in Revelation are.

But let’s look further at verses 7 to 10. This was written by the Spirit-inspired new covenant apostle John. Now, what has he, or rather, the Holy Spirit, done? Has He overlooked a lot of detail included in the Ezekiel passage? Or has He distilled it to its essence? Let me put it this way. Is He not shining brighter light on something hitherto dimly lighted?

Two things are of note.

1. The forces involved in this aggression are “the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth.” John sums them up as “Gog and Magog.” That’s how it reads—“…the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog. In fact New Testament Greek scholar A.T. Robertson (Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament) points out that this is implicit in the inflection of the original Greek:

Gog and Magog (ton Gōg kai Magōg). Accusative in explanatory apposition with ta ethnē (the nations).

What Robertson means by the “accusative in explanatory apposition” is that “Gog and Magog” explains what is meant by “the nations.” That is new covenant light shining upon an Old Testament passage of Scripture. There is no thought here of Russia being the instigator or perpetrator of this rampage. Gog and Magog are “the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth… the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.” Note that. This means that if Russia were Gog (and I don’t accept that this is correct interpretation) then the nations in other quarters of the earth would include, well, you name it. The United States, for one. The United Kingdom. Germany. Aligned with Russia. All the nations are gathered together for this battle. (However, I don’t think that “nations” as we read of them in the Bible are geopolitical entities, but rather people groups. Goyim is the Hebrew word, meaning Gentiles, ethnos the Greek.)

2. And what is the objective of these deceived hosts? With whom are they intent upon doing battle?

And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city…

What is the “camp of the saints?” We can be sure that the new covenant apostle is speaking of new covenant saints—those, whether Jew or Gentile, who are set apart unto God in Christ Jesus. The Greek word for camp is used of a military force or fortress. The camp of the saints, then, is one with their beloved city; they are armed and ready to defend her to the death.

And what city is “the beloved city”? Of course this city is Jerusalem. But which Jerusalem? The only Jerusalem we read of in the Revelation is the new Jerusalem (3:12, 21:2), the holy Jerusalem (21:10). John calls her “the beloved city.” He is not waxing sentimental here; he is alluding to an Old Testament passage, as he does hundreds of times in the Revelation. This—the beloved city—is  surely one of them, bringing Psalm 87 to mind. Here it is from the English Standard Version, which I think in two or three places expresses the meaning more clearly than the King James:

On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God. Selah.
Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush— “This one was born there,” they say.
And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her.
The LORD records as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” Selah.
Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.”
Psalm 87 ESV

Is this psalm speaking of the earthly Jerusalem? But mention is made of Rahab (Egypt) and Babylon, Philistia and Tyre and Cush among them that say, “This one was born there.” As the Lord registers the peoples of the earth, He makes note of that. “This one was born there.” “This one and that one…” So surely this is prophetic of the city of God, the beloved city, that is home to redeemed Jews and Gentiles who are one in Christ Jesus regardless of where they reside on the earth. It is this Jerusalem, the “Jerusalem which is above,” that Paul proclaims “is the mother of us all,” that is, of all who are “born of the Spirit” (Gal 4:26,29).

So, according to new covenant revelation it’s not really earth-bound Israel that an unleashed Satan is out to destroy with the help of Gog and Magog, the deceived of “the nations in the four quarters of the earth.” It is “the camp of the saints, and the beloved city.” It is one last-ditch all-out onslaught aimed at annihilating the people of God—those who, whether Jew or Gentile, are in covenant relationship with Him by Jesus Christ.

And fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

Such is the love of God for His beloved city the church in which all men and women are one in Christ, with birth certificates proving their new birth in her. Whether from Rahab or Babylon, or Russia or Ukraine, or China or Canada or Palestine or Israel or wherever… this one, and that one, are walking in love together, dancing and singing together, “All my springs are in you.”

 

 

 

28 responses »

  1. Revelation of the New Jerusalem as given to George Fox:

    “While I was under a strong spiritual travail and suffering, the state of the city New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven, was opened to me; which some carnal-minded people had looked upon to be like an outward city, that had dropped out of the elements. But I saw the beauty and glory of it, the length, the breadth, and the height thereof, all in complete proportion. I saw that all, who are within the light of Christ, in his faith, which he is the author of, in the spirit, the holy ghost, which Christ, the holy prophets, and apostles were in, and within the grace, truth, and power of God, which are the walls of the city, such are within the city, are members of this city, and have right to eat of the tree of life, which yields her fruit every month, and whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.

    “But they that are out of grace, truth, light, spirit, and power of God, such as resist the holy ghost, quench, vex, and grieve the spirit of God, who hate the light, turn from the grace of God into wantonness, and do despite to the spirit of grace, such as have erred from the faith, made shipwreck of it and of a good conscience, who abuse the power of God, and despise prophesying, revelation, and inspiration, these are the unbelievers that are without the city. These make up the great city Babylon.

    “Many things more did I see concerning the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, which are hard to be uttered, and would be hard to be received. But, in short, this holy city is within the light; and all that are within the light, are within the city; the gates whereof stand open all the day (for there is no night there), that all may come in. Christ’s blood being shed for every man, he tasted death for every man, and enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world; and his grace, that brings salvation, having appeared to all men, there is no place or language where his voice may not be heard. The Christians in the primitive times were called by Christ ‘a city set upon a hill;’ they were also called ‘the light of the world,’ and ‘the salt of the earth;’ but when Christians lost their light, salt, and power of God, they came to be trodden under foot, like unsavoury salt. Even as the Jews, who while they kept the law of God were preserved above all nations, but when they turned their backs on God and his law, they were trodden under foot of other nations: so Adam and Eve, while they obeyed God, were kept in his image and in the paradise of God, in dominion over all the works of his hands; but when they disobeyed God, they lost the image of God, the righteousness and holiness in which they were made; they lost their dominion, were driven out of paradise, and so fell under the dark power of satan, and came under the chains of darkness. But the promise of God was, ‘that the seed of the woman, Christ Jesus, should bruise the serpent’s head,’ should break his power and authority, which had led into captivity, and had held man therein. So Christ, who is the first and last, sets man free, and is the resurrection of the just and unjust, the judge of the quick and dead; and they that are in him are invested with everlasting rest and peace, out of all the labours, travails, and miseries of Adam in the fall. So He is sufficient and of ability to restore man up into the state that He was in before man fell; and not into that state only, but up into that state also that never fell, even to Himself.”

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    • Thanks, Terry. That excerpt from George Fox’s journal is one of my favourites. He wrote, “I saw that all, who are within the light of Christ, in his faith, which he is the author of, in the spirit, the holy ghost, which Christ, the holy prophets, and apostles were in, and within the grace, truth, and power of God, which are the walls of the city, such are within the city, are members of this city…” This accords well with Psalm 87, which is prophetic of the new Jerusalem, the beloved city, which born again Jews and Gentiles call the city of their nativity, and dwell together in love and unity.

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  2. Sorry Allen this is a very weak effort. There are countless scriptures in the OT regarding these things, you should read Zachariah again. Israel is the center of all God’s dealings with the nations at the end of this age. When we try to make the OT scriptures regarding Israel, and try to apply them to the Church, this brings tremendous confusion.

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    • Hi Joe, I suspected that you and no doubt many others would not be in agreement with this. At the same time I’m gratified to see (by the number of “shares” as well as comments on Facebook Friends of Biblebase) that there are many who are saying Amen to it.
      I’ll leave it at that. I trust that you and I are both among those of whom the Lord says, concerning the beloved City, “This one, and that one, were born in her.”

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      • The reason I am so concerned about this view, of which sorry to say, George was also in agreement with. Paul says, Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written. The end of the age of the gentiles does not end well. it ends in a great falling away, All we have to do is look at present Christianity today, its apostate now. Gods wrath is now revealed by allowing deception to run wild in the so called Church. It we truly have eyes to see. The light of the Gentiles is now fading, and darkness is now being called light. The Lord is returning, as the scriptures say, back to Israel. I held your exact view for years, until God revealed to me the mystery of Israel,

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        • Joe, I am aware of your view concerning Israel. I think that basically it’s the same dispensational view popularized by C.I. Scofield and others.
          As to my view, I’m sure you are aware of my perspective, which is covenantal. I think I suggested to you some time ago that you read my book The True Worshippers, which you can find on my blog site in Other Writings. In Chapter Four of that book I set forth the covenantal view of Israel. I’ll leave it at that, Joe. I don’t think it would be fruitful for us to debate this via blog comments, which would no doubt be a lengthy exchange.
          https://amendingfeast.org/other-writings/

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  3. Terry, the language is not quite the same as what I find in Vol. 2 of the Works of Fox, but if anyone is interested, the substance of this quote begins on page 104 and continues onto 105.
    Now, I do have to laugh at myself. The first time I read your comment, I thought, “This sounds a lot like George Fox.” I had missed the attribution at the beginning. Thanks for bringing this forward.

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    • Ellis, Terry had told me that he had tightened up this excerpt from Fox’s journal. That no doubt accounts for the discrepancy.

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  4. Allan, I am reminded of Luke 17, starting at verse 20: “Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, “Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” We have discussed within you vs among you already. My point here has to do with the events you raise in your post and that they must be recognized/experienced internally. “For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day.” (verse 24) The revelation of Christ within comes as lightning shedding light on all within us. Then we experience the earthly to war against the heavenly king. But those who willingly take up their cross daily experience the fire of the Lord to consume that earthly spirit. Edward Burrough, in his introduction to Vol. 3 of the Works of Fox expresses it thus: “And by this light of Christ in us were we led out of all false ways, and false preachings, and from false ministers, and we met together often, and waited upon the Lord in pure silence from our own words, and all men’s words, and hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and felt his word in our hearts, to burn up and beat down all that was contrary to God; and we obeyed the light of Christ in us, and followed the motions of the Lord’s pure Spirit, and took up the cross to all earthly glories, crowns, and ways, and denied ourselves, our relations, and all that stood in the way betwixt us and the Lord; and we chose to suffer with and for the name of Christ, rather than enjoy all the pleasures upon earth, or all our former zealous professions and practices in religion without the power and spirit of God, which the world yet lives in.” (Works of Fox, Vol. 3, p.13) [There is no good place to stop quoting from that preface.] Without experiencing this inward work/revelation of Christ we can’t know or discern the outward work of the kingdom. We inevitably run after the Lo here and Lo there.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

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    • Hi Ellis. Yes, I remember our discussion regarding “within you vs among you.” And other matters as well. I’m happy to see that we continue to regard one another as brethren.
      Regarding what you wrote regarding my post, that the things whereof I wrote “must be recognized/experienced internally.” This is one of the primary differences between the old covenant and the new. The type and shadows of the law to a large extent have to do with externals– food and dress, etc. Early things. Outward things. The new covenant is concerned with spiritual reality– the inner man, as Paul puts it. Unless there is reality there, in the inner man, all outward things will be false, as Burrough says.
      And so “the beloved city,” the city of Psalm 87, is not an outward earthly city, but a spiritual reality– a present reality, actually, a city to which we have come (Heb 12:22) while at the same time being a city that we anticipate is coming (Heb 13:14).
      Oh, the wonder of it all!

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      • Allan, I was heartened to see this post from you. I had not seen any announcements of posts for some time and was beginning to get concerned. I have found our discussions to always be beneficial even when I don’t agree with you. Maybe particularly when I disagree. It forces me to dig more deeply, to wait before the Lord to seek understanding there. I have admired people like Lewis Benson, who was so good at fielding questions and answering them without time for preparation. Many of his early lectures contain the questions and answers that came after the lecture. I find these to be as beneficial as the text of the lecture. I have never felt that I have had that ability. But I begin to understand that his ability did not lie in expert knowledge (which he had), but in deep waiting on Christ and discernment of what was needed in that situation. Our arguments on various topics push me in that direction. Anyway, I am glad to see you still writing.

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  5. As a fairly patient and long-standing student of the Bible (a lifetime) like you, I think your article says it all, Allan, and does so quite brilliantly. Most Bible scholars would be on your side here – you have named some of them like BB Warfield and AT Robertson, I could add arguably the leading NT scholar today Prof. Tom Wright, etc. I have done my own research at both lay and academic levels. I humbly submit that dispensationalism in its different forms has done enormous harm in the USA and even in my own country – praise God there is a rediscovery of your position all over the world, oh the joy and freedom it brings! I agree, debating these issues on a blog forum doesn’t get one very far, in my experience often only pain and division. The gospel is surely centred not in Israel but in Israel’s/the world’s Messiah viz. Jesus Christ. HE is the mystery, not Israel, and his mystery is an open secret, as explained in Colossians. I love what CH Spurgeon, the prince of preachers said about a century ago: a lion needs no defending, all one has to do is open the cage door. God’s Word and Spirit are faithful and will do the work.

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    • Erroll, thank you kindly for this contribution. Heart warming and encouraging! I didn’t know that there is “a rediscovery of my position all over the world.” That’s good to hear, it means I am just one of many witnesses, then.
      One thing that is important to me is… I fully agree with you that dispensationalism has done “enormous harm.” But I earnestly seek to be careful not to let a difference over doctrine become a division between brethren. Of course there are certain truths that require going our separate ways, but I don’t think this is one of them. May we always be gracious to one another, recognizing that “we know in part.” I’m not talking about compromising; hopefully we can stand true to our convictions while maintaining a loving attitude toward those with whom we disagree.
      I love Spurgeon’s words, Erroll, thanks for that!

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      • I agree wholeheartedly, Allan, re doctrinal differences and salvation in Christ. By grace we can all help spread the Gospel now, and ultimately gather at the Saviour’s feet in eternal worship. After all, what did the dying thief on the cross know about doctrine!

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  6. REPLY TO ELLIS from Terry:
    Hi Ellis. When I published my reply to this blog and had left out a small portion from the Journal I felt that if anybody would notice it would be you. I knew from your previous comments that you are very familiar with the Journals of George Fox and this wouldn’t get past you. This is a compliment to you, not a criticism.
    I believe that Allan’s main intent was to draw the reader’s attention to ‘The Beloved City’ and not the great city Babylon (confusion). As soon as I read the blog I felt to send in my reply as I believe it is a strong confirmation to what Allan is saying. The left-out portion goes into strong detail about the the very dark inner workings of great city Babylon and I felt were not vital to this blog at this time.
    As I was reviewing what I had published I saw a statement that seems to me to be more vital to this blog today then I realized yesterday….”But the promise of God was ‘that the seed of the woman, CHRIST JESUS, should bruise the serpent’s head,’ should break his power and authority, which had led into captivity, and had held man therein….So He is sufficient and of ability to restore man up into the state that He was in before man fell; and not into that state only, but up into that state also that never fell, even to Himself.”

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    • Thank you, Terry, for the compliment. I am not sure I deserve it. I have a digital copy of the 8 volumes of Fox’s Works. (The copy is from scans of the pages that were run through OCR software. The text is not perfect, but usable.) The ability to do searches makes me appear more knowledgeable than I would otherwise appear.

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  7. Susanna Perry-Ettel

    It can get so embarrassing for some of us thinking Christians sometimes! How about this article, from Rolling Stone of all places: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/end-times-christians-russia-ukraine-invasion-jesus-return-1317243/

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    • Hi Susanna. Whatever are you doing reading Rolling Stone? 😉 My first thought was that rock and roll must be at an all-time low for Rolling Stone to condescend to publishing something like this. But no, on second thought, they publish it with glee, for, to their delight, it makes Christians a laughingstock.
      Indeed, it is embarrassing, Susanna, and more: it’s a reproach, and the well-deserved reproach of those who hold these views falls on those who hold to the truth. We are pained by it all, for the beautiful name of Jesus is trodden under foot once again. How long, Lord?

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      • PS to my earlier comment, Susanna. I hope you (and others also) noticed the wink in the emoticon, 😉 and realized I was just teasing.
        Blessings, dear sister, thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your input.

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        • Susanna Perry-Ettel

          Ha ha! I have actually never read Rolling Stone in my life! Simply saw this article ‘flipped’ on Flipboard (which I do visit fairly often), and found it quite spot on in terms of highlighting too much of the brightly-lit wrongheadedness in too much of what has become anti-evangelicalism. If only it were called that I’d have no (mentionable) issues with it. BIG smile and wink 🙂

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          • I’m happy to see that you didn’t think I was suggesting you had become an apostate, Susanna!
            There’s a lot packed into the phrase you wrote: “the brightly-lit wrongheadedness in too much of what has become anti-evangelicalism.” What a day of apostasy we are in– when evangelicalism has become anti-evangelicalism.

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          • Susanna Perry-Ettel

            Putting a finer point on it (OUCH!), that too many who call themselves evangelical are in fact behaving quite anti-Gospel, hence being anti-evangelical IS the point. I don’t think “evangelicalism has become anti-evangelicalism” — such a transformation is logically, ethically and spiritually impossible–but I think we are saying and believing the same thing(s)!

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  8. Mathew 12:30 (KJV):
    He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

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