I've been wondering lately about Ezek 38 and 39 - the Gog invasion of Israel. The modern interpretation is that these two chapters describe the same event - twice. My question is why would Ezekiel recapitulate what looks like the same invasion? One right after the other in chapter 38 and then again in chapter 39?

First of all, I don't believe the modern interpretation that these chapters refer to modern day Russia.

This Gog figure is the major antagonist in Ezekiel, just before the establishment of the kingdom of God.

In the Revelation to John, the major antagonist that appears just before the establishment of the kingdom of God is Satan or the Dragon (Rev. 12), personified in the form of the Beast figure or Antichrist (Rev 13). This beast figure and the kings of the earth are assembled at a place called Armageddon (Rev 16:16) where they are destroyed (Rev 19:19-21).

And then in Rev 20, we see again (after the thousand year millennium), Satan is released one more time to deceive the nations (in the form of Gog and Magog). But he and the horde that is assembled is destroyed again (Rev 20:7-10).

We know from both chapters in Ezekiel that God uses the Gog invasion to reveal Himself to the nations:

 I will magnify and sanctify Myself, and will reveal Myself in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.

Ezek 38:23

I will display My glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the judgment that I execute and the hand that I lay upon them.

Ezek 39:21

But I don't believe that these two chapters are describing the same invasion twice. Just as in the Revelation to John, two major invasions are described. I believe Ezekiel also is describing the same two separate invasions - but in reverse order. In Ezekiel's version, he describes the final post-millennial invasion first - in Ezek 38. And then the initial pre-millennial invasion second - in Ezek 39.

Here's why I believe that is the case:

Ezekiel 39

In Gog invasion 1:

Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, drive you along, bring you up from the far north, and send you against the mountains of Israel.

Ezek 39:1-2

Take note of how they are destroyed:

Then I will strike the bow from your left hand and dash down the arrows from your right hand.

Rev 39:3

Rev 19 version:

Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies assembled to wage war against the One seated on the horse, and against His army. But the beast was captured along with the false prophet, who on its behalf had performed signs deceiving those who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. Both the beast and the false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. And the rest were killed with the sword that proceeded from the mouth of the One seated on the horse.

Rev 19:19-21

Now notice this similarity between Ezekiel's and John's version - after the battle takes place:

On the mountains of Israel you will fall—you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to every kind of ravenous bird and wild beast.

Ezek 39:4


Call out to every kind of bird and to every beast of the field: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great feast on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as though they were rams, lambs, goats, and bulls—all the fattened animals of Bashan. At the sacrifice I am preparing, you will eat fat until you are gorged and drink blood until you are drunk. And at My table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, of mighty men and warriors of every kind,’ declares the Lord GOD.

Ezek 39:17-20

This coincides with John's account in Revelation:

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice to all the birds flying overhead, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and commanders and mighty men, of horses and riders, of everyone slave and free, small and great.
And all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

Rev 19:17-21

And then there's the clean-up:

For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land.

Ezek 39:12

The result of this invasion?

So I will make My holy name known among My people Israel and will no longer allow it to be profaned. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.

Ezek 39:7

Take special note of these concluding verses in Ezek 39. Following this invation by Gog and his susequent defeat, Israel comes to know that "I am the LORD their God". "Jacob" is restored from captivity! Israel is regathered from the lands of their enemies!

I will display My glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the judgment that I execute and the hand that I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God. And the nations will know that the house of Israel went into exile for their iniquity, because they were unfaithful to Me. So I hid My face from them and delivered them into the hands of their enemies, so that they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and transgressions, and I hid My face from them.

Therefore this is what the Lord GOD says: Now I will restore Jacob from captivity and will have compassion on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for My holy name. They will forget their disgrace and all the treachery they committed against Me, when they dwell securely in their land, with no one to frighten them. When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them out of the lands of their enemies, I will show My holiness in them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, when I regather them to their own land, not leaving any of them behind after their exile among the nations. And I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.”

Ezekiel 38

In Gog invasion 2, we have a very different scenario. First of all, note the timing of this invasion in Ezekiel 38 and compare it to John's account:

"Get ready; prepare yourself, you and all your company gathered around you; you will be their guard. After a long time you will be summoned. In the latter years..." - Ezek 38:8

"When the thousand years are complete, Satan will be released from his prison, and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth- Rev 20:7

"After a long time" and in "the latter years" are terms not used elsewhere in Ezekiel - including the other Gog invasion described in Ezek 39. This too is consistent with John's "when the thousand years are complete".

Let's carry on:

Get ready; prepare yourself, you and all your company gathered around you; you will be their guard. After a long time you will be summoned. In the latter years you will enter a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and all now dwell securely.
On that day, thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will devise an evil plan. You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will come against a tranquil people who dwell securely, all of them living without walls or bars or gates.

Ezek 38:7-11

On that day when My people Israel are dwelling securely, will you not take notice of this? And you will come from your place out of the far north—you and many peoples with you, all riding horses—a mighty horde, a huge army. You will advance against My people Israel like a cloud covering the land. It will happen in the latter days, O Gog, that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me when I show Myself holy in you before their eyes.

Ezek 38:14-16

And in John's account:

When the thousand years are complete, Satan will be released from his prison, and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to assemble them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the seashore.

And they marched across the broad expanse of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city

Rev 20:7-8

This second invasion by Gog and Magog is massive. This invasion occurs "after a long time", "in the latter days", against a "tranquil" people who were already "recovered from war" and are "dwelling securely".

This is describing a restored nation that has been living in peace and security.

Now notice the manner in which this invasion is dealt with, first in Ezekiel's account:

And I will summon a sword against Gog on all My mountains, declares the Lord GOD, and every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed. I will pour out torrents of rain, hailstones, fire, and sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him.

Ezek 38:21-22

In John's account:

But fire came down from heaven and consumed them. And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, into which the beast and the false prophet had already been thrown.

Rev 20:9-10

Fire coming down from heaven to consume them is common to both accounts. But it's not included in the Lord's response to the invading army of the first invasion - though fire is sent "on Magog and on those who dwell securely in the coastlands" during the first invasion. And there is no mention of "birds" or "beasts of the earth" consuming the flesh of these invaders in this account or the clean-up operation that follows.

I think there's often a tendency to dismiss the gravity of this second invasion and the Lord's response to it. Probably because in John's account, the Lord's response is limited to "fire came down from heaven and consumed them".

The text in the Revelation to John doesn't say why God releases Satan from his prison after the millennium - so that he goes out "to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth". But He does, and this final invasion is significant in size.

"Their number is like the sand of the seashore". - Rev 20:8b

"a mighty horde, a huge army... like a cloud covering the land" - Ezek 38:15-16

Probably on the same scale as the first invasion - maybe larger. And I believe Ezekiel's version expands on John's account by adding - "plague", "torrents of rain", "hailstones", and even "a great earthquake" (Ezek 38:19) to God's response. Once again, "all mankind on the face of the earth will tremble at My presence" (Ezek 38:20).

Having read these two chapters over and over again, and comparing each account (and the aftermath) to the two separate invasions in Rev 19 and Rev 20, I believe Ezek 38 and 39 are also describing two separate Gog invasions of Israel:

  • Ezek 39 is describing the pre-millennial invasion by Gog 1 - the Beast/Antichrist. This culminates with the return of Jesus who "strikes down the nations". Israel will come to know that "I am the LORD their God". This then leads to the regathering and restoration of Israel to their own land, a massive clean-up operation, and the establishment of His kingdom on earth.
  • Ezekiel 38 is describing the final post-millennial invasion of Israel by Gog 2. After 1000 years, Satan will be released one more time to deceive the nations and lead them to one final massive invasion against a "peaceful", "tranquil people" who are "dwelling securely" in their own land - Israel. This results in decisive judgement against Gog and these invading nations - destruction by fire. Satan is then thrown into the "lake of fire" where the "beast" and the "false prophet" from the previous Gog invasion had already been thrown. Following this, the great white throne judgement.

Then I saw a great white throne and the One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne.

And there were open books, and one of them was the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their deeds, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead, and each one was judged according to his deeds.

Rev 20:11-13