We are warned of a day when “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. .” (Rev.20:7-9) This prophecy appears to be a more focused view of “. . .the battle of that great day of God Almighty” – Armageddon. The religious world has a degree of interest in this. The range goes from active planning as to what and when Armageddon will be, to a belief that is it way in the past. While others have a blasé attitude. We are admonished to read, hear, and keep the things written, “for the time is at hand”.
It might be well to consider the location of this battle. The camp of the saints (Rev.20:9) is the focal point of Gog and Magog. Where is the camp of the saints? Believers are sojourning in Africa, China, the Philippines, etc . . . only the Chief Shepherd can see them all. The word “camp” suggests a central location. This was the case when Israel made their forty year passage from Egypt to Canaan. They were clustered together in a vast encampment. However the nature of the Holy Nation has changed. It is not sequestered to an earthly national identity and geographical location. We get a glimpse of this absence of boundaries when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman; “. . .Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” (John 4:21-23) Spirit and truth define the perimeter of the camp. Therefore the nature of the battle cannot be in any common theater of operation.
Likewise, the beloved city is described as a city beyond the norm:
- Gal. 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
- Heb. 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion (KJV), and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. . .
- Rev. 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Such a city cannot be materially surrounded, just as the camp of the saints has no central location on earth. So how would Gog and Magog engage this camp and beloved city? It is a mental thing, a matter of the mind and heart, a battle over loyalties and convictions.
There is a precedent for this. In Ezekiel chapters 38 & 39, Gog of the land of Magog was prophesied, coming against Israel “a land of unwalled villages”. Indeed, Israel was surrounded by the people of Japheth with many others, after the Greeks had subdued Egypt, the fertile crescent, and beyond. The issue was whether Israel would keep the “oracles of God”. The question hung in the balance, as many had forgotten the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were more interested in the Grecian games and loose sexuality of the Gentiles. Thanks be to God, that wisdom prevailed, and the Grecian influence was overthrown. Though Israel had many spiritual problems when Jesus came, the question of the Bible being preserved and read was not one of them. Not only that, but Israel still performed the task of upholding the light of hope among the sea of nations, as witnessed by the many synagogues scattered abroad with interested Gentiles attending.
Thus a modern type of Gog and Magog could well be the nations of the world slamming against the testimony and hope of Christ and Him crucified. Perhaps the spiritual conflict will come to a point where the hope for that heavenly city will arrive at the breaking point, thus a type of surrounding or cutting off. The prophecy does suggest coming to the darkest hour just before the very end; a night of sorrows with strong temptations to despair; “they. . .compassed the camp of the saints.”
What circumstances would foment such despair? Surely doubt and despair must be the steely thrust of Gog and Magog, because the death of the body cannot destroy if we rest with Jesus. Undoubtedly, the attack can come/is coming in many forms (the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth). Perhaps it will be or has been precipitated by an earthly conflagration, which in turn, sets the wheels in motion for the false hope of a “new day.” Despair doesn’t just come with the threat of bloodshed, it also comes with sweet words of “peace and safety”; an imaginary hope based on what we would like the world to be, rather than reality. The illusion might be found in any number of social trends: globalism, humanism, hedonism, etc. Even more disturbing are religious trends: Islam with the prospect of an enforced morality and peace, or Mormonism upholding a shiny paragon of family values and material success, or perhaps commercialized Christianity with its notion of Jesus back in Jerusalem ruling the world. These are false hopes one and all – people trying to wed the Kingdom of Heaven with earthly politics. It was like this in the days of the Roman Emperor, Constantine. Certainly, Constantine set the stage for the overthrow of paganism in the Roman Empire, only to pave the way for something more insidious; religious men preaching Jesus with the teeth of the Empire. They murdered those who opposed. Could such a thing happen again? Yes it could, and be welcomed by many who want something more than repentance and submission to Jesus. After all, “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. .” (IICor.11:14)
Even with bloodshed, the real battle has to do with holding on to faith, hope, and love. The battle has always been in that theater. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph.6:12) This was the battle Jesus fought on Calvary. If we follow Jesus, we cannot surpass His work. He said, ” If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Lk.9:23)
Our anchor is the knowledge of the Judgment Day. It is the final thing for this world. This is for all to see and understand. The One who has entered into the very presence of the Father shall return. He won’t come to make a nice place for us here (“I want my Christian MTV”). At His return, there will be no man lifting his hand against another, and there will be no more blasphemy. Even more sobering; there will be no more repentance. “. . . the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. .” (II Thes.1:7-8) The Lord is coming. He is coming quickly. “. . . and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” (Rev.20:9)
We still have time to surrender.
I am an evangelist sent out by the Old Lamine church of Christ, which meets about 3 miles north of Lamine, Missouri.