Category Archives: Coming Exile of Jerusalem

Gog’s Three Military Campaigns


Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 are the Siamese Twins of prophecy chapters. They have long been attached at the hip by commentators, but if they can be separated they will live better lives.[1]

Three Campaigns, Not One

Dr. Charles Cooper states: “Commentators recognize a similarity between Revelation 19:17-18, and 21b and Ezekiel 39:17-20. The exact nature of the relationship between Revelation 19 and Ezekiel 38-39 is not at all clear. . . . No position enjoys the absence of contradictions.”[2]

I respectfully suggest that the way to interpret Ezekiel 38 and 39 without contradiction or confusion is to recognize that they should be broken into their respective military campaigns, not run together. In Ezekiel 38 and 39, the prophet receives three separate predictions concerning Gog and the nations allied with him. The intermingling of these three prophecies can only generate confusion.

Order of the Three Campaigns

The prophecy of the first attack starts in Ezekiel 38:1, the second in Ezekiel 38:17, and the third in Ezekiel 39:1. Each begins with the phrase “Thus says the Lord God.” Each concludes with a declaration that God’s renown will increase due to His dealings with Gog. See, for example, the last verse in Ezekiel 38:

“‘“I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the LORD.”’” (Ezekiel 38:23)

The description of the attack in Ezekiel 39 closely parallels the description of Armageddon in Revelation 19. However, the “starting condition” for Gog’s initial attack is that Israel will be living in safety, which is not what Israel is doing at the time of Armageddon. Indeed, Israel will be severely persecuted from the midpoint of the seventieth week through the end (though the ones who flee to the wilderness will be protected). So there you have the first (midpoint) attack separated from the third (Armageddon) attack. The second attack occurs at the start of the Day of the Lord, which means it is the Great Winepress (according to Revelation 14 and other passages).

The Battle of the Midpoint

The first prophecy, found in Ezekiel 38:1-16, features God drawing a man named Gog to attack His people (the Jews) in His land (Israel). The Jews in Israel at the time of this attack are described as “living securely” in verses 8, 11, and 14. This attack, if it occurs within the seventieth week of Daniel, must happen no later than the midpoint of that week. Israel will not be dwelling securely on her God-given territory from the midpoint of the seventieth week until the end of it. Rather, she will be exiled, harassed, and hunted.

It is true that Revelation 12 finds the woman (a faithful remnant within Israel) fleeing into the wilderness for 3½ years, the second half of the seventieth week. This remnant will be protected and preserved. The rest of the Jews, though, will suffer the worst persecution ever. It’s a grievous thing to think about or write about. In our eagerness to unravel the puzzles of biblical prophecy, we must not forget that real people will be affected by these tragic events.

The Great Winepress

The second prophecy, given in Ezekiel 38:17-23, finds Gog bringing troops and peoples against Israel again. They have tried to steal God’s land (Israel) and are now poised to attack His people, the Jews—specifically the Jews living in God’s holy city, Jerusalem. God intervenes with an earthquake and with His own presence, which terrifies and confuses Gog’s horde. To this He adds pestilence, blood, a torrential rainfall, hailstones, fire, and brimstone.

Thus, the people who have accompanied Gog into his planned (but thwarted) attack on Jerusalem are crushed in the Great Winepress. The armies are destroyed. The people God has chosen for His own possession are saved. God’s measureless holiness, justice, and mercy shine forth.

The Battle of Armageddon

Gog himself survives the Great Winepress to bring a third military campaign against Israel, which is shown in the third prophecy, located in Ezekiel 39:1-29. This campaign results in a great feast for the birds and the beasts, which in Revelation is called “the Great Supper of God” (Revelation 19:17). This third prophecy, therefore, concerns the Battle of Armageddon, where the Lord Jesus annihilates Gog, his armies, and the armies that have joined them.


Gog from Magog will attack Israel three times, but be successful only once. The other two attacks are miraculously thwarted. Praise God! Although the chosen people will suffer dreadfully, they will ultimately be rescued and protected. God will never forget His promises to them—or to us! His Word is rock solid. We can depend upon it without reservation.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, unless otherwise noted. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Bolding and italics mine. Brackets mine, added for clarity and emphasis.

[1] This blog post was adapted from material that originally appeared in the author’s book The Great Winepress Is Not Armageddon, copyright © 2008.

[2] “Parousia” Newsletter #16, Fall 2000, p. 7. From the article “The Prophetic Pillars of the PreWrath Position: The Battle of Armageddon Occurs Thirty Days After the Conclusion of Daniel’s seventieth week.” © 2000 The Sign Ministries, a ministry of Sola Scriptura.

The Coming Exile of Jerusalem in Ezekiel 38

Ezekiel the prophet gives us insight into the coming exile of Jerusalem, Israel. He does not, however, directly mention the exile. What he mentions is the seizing of plunder—a part of the exile scenario, but not the whole story. To see it all, we need to line up the first sixteen verses of Ezekiel 38 with other biblical prophecies.

This exile will happen when Antichrist (the Beast of Revelation, also known as Gog from Magog) launches his first attack against Israel. In this first attack, Gog and the allied snatch much plunder. They disrupt life in Jerusalem.

Some residents flee the city. Others remain in Jerusalem and suffer robbery, rape, and mayhem. Whether some of them are killed outright is not clear. Certainly all who remain behind will wish they had fled. The flight will not be a piece of cake, but those who do make it to safety will be well protected.

The difficult part in understanding Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 comes in knowing where to break them apart. According to my current understanding, there are three different attacks represented in these two chapters.

The first attack is described in verses 1 through 16 of chapter 38. It is this first attack that concerns us here, as it is the same as the Antichrist’s exiling of half of Jerusalem:

For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. (Zech. 14:2)

And when the dragon [Satan] saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman [Israel] who gave birth to the male child [the Messiah]. But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. (Rev. 12:13-14)

The arrival of Gog’s coalition force will be spectacular. God says of this invasion:

“You will go up, you will come like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your troops, and many peoples with you.” (Ezek. 38:9)

This large, prime fighting force, is described as “splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords.” Some come from the north of Israel, largely from the territory we know today as Turkey. Others will join in from northern Africa to the south and from Iran to the east, the region formerly known as Persia. We know this from the list of allies found in Ezekiel 38:2-6.

Whether Iran will have developed nuclear weapons by then is not given to us in Scripture. What year this attack will take place is not obvious, either. What is clear is that Iran’s leaders will still be bent on Israel’s destruction, as they presently are. Whatever may change by the time this happens (whether a few years from now or many decades in the future), the attitude of the rulers toward God’s small but holy land will not alter.

Before this first attack, Israel’s inhabitants “were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them” (Ezek. 38:8d). This condition of “living securely” does not exist currently. It will be the situation after the Jewish nation makes a covenant with the Antichrist (Gog). Israel will live in a state of peace for 3½ years. Then the Antichrist will betray her by launching this first, successful, attack against the nation he had sworn to protect. Israel will not again “live securely” until after the Antichrist is destroyed and his armies killed at the battle of Armageddon, approximately 3½ years later.

Ezekiel 38 and 39 is often understood as presenting just one battle. This is a mistake, in my view. The timing, initial conditions, and outcome for each of the three conflicts are different. These chapters are also interpreted as being an unmitigated triumph for God’s people through His immediate and miraculous intervention. But these chapters actually concern defeat for Israel as well as triumph.

Joel Richardson teaches this passage well. He does merge the attacks by Gog into just one military campaign (which, as noted above, differs from my analysis). Yet he presents this military conflict as taking place over time, not all within just a day or two. Most importantly, he correctly represents Israel as suffering severe loss during this campaign. Gog will, indeed, triumph for a time. Israel will be in desperate need. Then, and only then, do the Jews cry out for rescue, for God and His Messiah to save them from certain destruction.

So it will be. The Jews of Jerusalem will grow desperate:

I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. (Hos. 5:15)

But their desperation and rescue concern the second and third attacks, not this first one. A key point to remember is that Israel will not be miraculously rescued from Gog’s first military campaign, which occurs at the midpoint of the seventieth week of Daniel.


All Scripture verses are taken from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition (NASU), unless otherwise noted. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. Brackets mine, added for clarity.


The Coming Exile of Jerusalem in Revelation 12

When I look at all the tiny nation of Israel has endured through the years, my heart goes out to her. As a follower of the Messiah, I would love to believe, as some actually teach, that the worst is behind her.

Scripturally, that is an untenable position. Israel has been through hell. Worse still is coming before the glory days begin.

Will Israel dramatically and miraculously escape from the Antichrist’s clutches? In the end, yes. Before that, however, in the middle, the rescue (however dramatic) of God’s holy people is a partial rescue only.

Even this partial rescue requires their obedience. Obedience, it might be noted, to a prophecy found in the New Testament, a portion of Scripture few Jewish rabbis are reading:

Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader [help the congregation] understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15-16, NASU)

An idol will, according to Daniel 12:11, be set up in the Temple when the regular sacrifice is abolished. “He [the Antichrist] will make the temple abominable (and therefore desolate) by setting up in the temple an image of himself to be worshiped (2 Thes. 2:4; Rev. 13:14–15).”[1] Such an event will be clearly recognizable by everyone.

In Daniel 9:27, we read of “the prince who is to come” (the Antichrist). He will put an end to the Temple sacrifices in the middle of “the seventieth week.” The term “week” in this usage consists of seven years of 360 days each, according to conservative scholarship.

How is it that many of the Jews will flee from Jerusalem and Judea when the Abomination is set up in God’s Holy Temple? Are they really aware of the Lord Yeshua’s warning (quoted above) from the Olivet Discourse? Or are they perhaps just prudent? When the Antichrist (whomever he turns out to be) sets up the Abomination, his evil intentions toward the Jews will be clear to everyone. The wise will flee without delay.

Revelation 12 portrays Israel as a woman wearing a crown of twelve stars, one star for each of Jacob’s sons. This imagery harkens back to the dreams of Joseph in Genesis 37.

The woman gives birth to the Messiah. Satan tries to kill Him, but He is caught up to heaven.

His mother—Israel, the woman—flees to the wilderness. There she finds a place God has already prepared for her. She will be nourished there for 1,260 days. She will also be protected from the Antichrist and his murderous intent.

This number of days corresponds to the 42 months that the two witnesses of Revelation 11 testify and also to the “time, times, and half a time” (3½ years) mentioned later in this chapter and in the twelfth chapter of Daniel. These are all parallel expressions for the second half of the seventieth week.

The 42 months end when the seventh trumpet is about to be sounded. In other words, the “woman” of Revelation 12 hides in the wilderness for the entire second half of the seventieth week of Daniel. So Israel is safe from the Antichrist during these 42 months, right?

Yes and no. This particular set of Jews is safe, yes. Those who fled from Judea and Jerusalem the minute that the Abomination was set up, yes. But we know from Zechariah 14:2 that only one-half of the city of Jerusalem will be exiled. No mention is made of how many in the surrounding area (Judea) also head for the hills.

Life will be hard during the second half of Daniel’s seventieth week. Those not in the safe haven, the “place prepared” in the wilderness, will be subjected to intense persecution.

Furthermore, Zechariah 13 contains a severe, sobering statistic. Of those Jews who enter the seventieth week of Daniel, only one-third will survive to the end. The majority will be slaughtered by God’s enemies.

That is the truth of what the Bible says, in my view. A desire to spare Israel further suffering, however noble, will not prevent these prophecies from being fulfilled.

Brothers and sisters, weep for Israel. Pray for Israel. Witness to, bless, and love the Jews you know personally.

God has told us in advance what it will take for the Hebrews to cry out to Him for rescue. It will take severe persecution, the “worst ever” period of tribulation, and the shattering of their power (Hosea 5:14-15, Daniel 12:7). What is this “power” that will be shattered? My vote goes to Israel’s military might. Their famed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will fail them. They will have no other nations helping them, no allies at all. Then, at last, with no one else to rely on, they will seek Yehovah, the Most High God, and live.

May it be that our witness and our help is a blessing to many Jewish people even before the time of their greatest need, soon to transpire. May it be that many of their unbelieving neighbors bless and protect them as well. May the ranks of the “sheep” swell and their efforts prosper (Matthew 25:40).

Meanwhile, please join me in praying for the flight of the Jerusalemites. Should their exile occur in on a Sabbath day, things will be harder for them. Buses and trains do not run on the Sabbath in Jerusalem.[2] Some roads are even blocked to prevent vehicular traffic.[3]

In the winter, Jerusalem and Judea sometimes experience snow. Depending on where their safe haven is located, those who flee may need to navigate mountains and hills, possibly on foot. This explains why the Lord Yeshua directed (in Matthew 24:20 and Mark 13:18) those living in Jerusalem and Judea to pray their flight would not be in the winter or on a Sabbath day.

Pregnant women and nursing mothers will have a particularly rough time (Mark 13:17). Love dictates that we pray in advance for their successful flight.

Let us also pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as Psalm 122 directs:

I was glad when they said to me,

“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

Our feet are standing

Within your gates, O Jerusalem,

Jerusalem, that is built

As a city that is compact together;

To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD—

An ordinance for Israel—

To give thanks to the name of the LORD.

For there thrones were set for judgment,

The thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

“May they prosper who love you.

“May peace be within your walls,

And prosperity within your palaces.”

For the sake of my brothers and my friends,

I will now say, “May peace be within you.”

For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,

I will seek your good.

(Psalm 122, NASU)

All Scripture verses are taken from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition (NASU), unless otherwise noted. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. Brackets mine, added for clarity.

[1] Barbieri, L. A., Jr. (1985). Matthew. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books. Brackets mine.

[2] Accessed 24 July 2015.

[3] Accessed 24 July 2015.