Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj
Of late, after Russia invaded Ukraine, there has been a lot of focus on Bible Passages like Ezekiel 38 and 39. There is a talk that Gog and Magog mentioned in these chapters concerns Russia and Putin and so on and so forth. But I want issue a word of caution here. This word of warning comes straight from Scripture. Revelation 11:8 goes this way: “Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city – which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt – where also their Lord was crucified” (NIV). We know that the city where our Lord was crucified to be historically Jerusalem. But historic Jerusalem is symbolically called Sodom and Egypt in the book of Revelation. Why should this be so. The answer is obvious: Jerusalem committed the very same sins of Sodom (sexual immorality) and Egypt (Idol Worship).
So as the coming of the Lord nears, we must not get super-excited about names of places and their physical locations! You excitedly blurt out, “Gog and Magog – that is about Russia! This is about Putin!” Don’t be so quick! Just above we saw proof that when the Bible talks about literal Jerusalem it may not be literal Jerusalem! We need to open to the possibility that Gog and Magog can signify another place spiritually speaking and not Russia. I am not saying this because of a personal bias. But I am saying this from the method of interpretation laid out in Revelation 11:8. Similarly, the ‘Babylon’ mentioned in I Peter 5:13, could have been used instead of Rome as there is no record in any other Bible passage which mentions that Apostle Peter and his spiritual son Mark ever ministered in geographical Babylon. Peter was using Babylon as a codeword for Rome, where he ministered. The phrase ‘She who is in Babylon together with you, sends you her greetings’ can be taken to mean the church in Rome sends you greetings. Peter uses this phrase just to be on the safer side when persecution was being stepped up. Babylon was a cryptogram for Rome. That’s all. If a Roman officer who was against the church get go to read I Peter, he would have got fooled when he read I Peter 5:13’s reference in Babylon, but believers of that time would instinctively know that Peter was talking about the church in Rome, and not the church in Babylon there.
Let’s read another passage from the book of Revelation: Revelation 20:7-8. It goes this way: ‘When the thousand years are over, 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 – and to gather them for battle.’ Here Satan-deceived nations from the four corners of the Earth are called Gog and Magog. So, there is a real possibility that Gog and Magog is not indicative of one place in the end-times. As the coming of the Lord nears, you would be biblically wise, if you don’t be focus on physical locations like Russia, Jerusalem, Israel, etc. Instead your spiritual senses alert and you will see that people from all four directions of the globe are being deceived by Satan as the end draws near.
Jesus had told his disciples in no uncertain terms that the time of his return could not be guessed as the Father only knows this (Matt. 24:36; Mk. 13:32). Knowing they could not get an answer if they asked him a question, ‘When will you return Lord?’, I believe, they asked him a smartly-worded question which was a lot similar. They asked Jesus this question concerning the last days, the end times: ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?’ I believe this question is not much different from the questions we spend all our time speculating about these days: “Is Gog and Magog about Russia? Is Putin the anti-Christ? Will not Jesus surely return before one generation of people pass away after the formation of national Israel?” I believe Jesus’ answer to these questions is the same as his answer to the question of his disciples concerning geographical Israel’s future recorded by Luke in Acts: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Did you notice that Jesus indirectly mentions Gog and Magog, here? When speaks about the ‘ends of the earth’, I believe, Gog and Magog are also included in the list of places we must share the Goodnews with, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Rather than do unfruitful speculation about lesser important details about eschatology(end-times), we must focus our attention on gospel proclamation – that is the clear message of Acts 1:6-8. Ofcourse, the most important things concerning eschatology are these: the physical return of Jesus, the day of judgement where Jesus would be the judge, the eternal conscious torment of the stubborn Christ-rejectors, the reality of eternal heaven.
If I get a chance to meet Putin, I will not ask him, ‘Are you the anti-Christ?’. Rather, I would look to share the Gospel with him! Rather than speculate on the role of nations in the endtimes, we must seek to spread the goodnews there! It is God’s job to harden their heart after having given them enough opportunities to repent like he did in Pharoah’s case. Once their heart is hardened they would go about fulfilling all what is written in the Bible about them in God’s calender. Till that happens, frankly, is none of our business. But it is our business to proclaim the Gospel to all in all nations – including Russia and Israel. God’s Word says so.
(A version of this article by Dr. Duke Jeyaraj appeared in the June 2022 edition of Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Aim magazine. Duke Jeyaraj, the author, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. This is a reader-supported, inter-denominational Indian ministry to presentday people. Find out more by emailing Duke via firstname.lastname@example.org or whatsapping him at +91-8886040605).