Lasting Relief from War
WE HAVE long heard that there is to be a war that will finally end all wars on this earth. Of the thousands of wars fought since the days of Nimrod the mighty hunter, many of the major ones have been thought to be the last. This is especially true of World Wars I and II. World War I, it was declared, would “make the world safe for democracy.” World War II was to make the world free, self-determining, to ensure the “four freedoms” for mankind.
Was World War II the last major war, or will there be another, an even more devastating one? From the history of the nations since World War II, there is much evidence to indicate that it was not the last major war. Some very bitter wars have been fought since then, and that bitterness exists in accentuated form among the nations that have been involved. There are centers of potential explosion in many places and situations that exist right now.
Jesus Christ, the greatest prophet that ever lived, showed that there would indeed be a war that would bring lasting peace. He spoke of the “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning . . . nor will occur again.” (Matt. 24:21) This “great tribulation” was to include this war, described in other places in the Bible.
It is worth while to consider what the Bible says about this war, because it identifies the opponents engaged in it, states the reasons for that war, and why it will bring lasting peace. Outstanding is the Bible’s prophetic forecast in the book of Ezekiel, on which we will focus primary attention throughout this discussion. Ezekiel writes:
“The word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: ‘Son of man, set your face against Gog of the land of Magog, the head chieftain of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him. And you must say, “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘Here I am against you, O Gog, you head chieftain of Meshech and Tubal. And I shall certainly turn you around and put hooks in your jaws and bring you forth with all your military force, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in perfect taste, a numerous congregation, with large shield and buckler, all of them handling swords; Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them with buckler and helmet; Gomer and all its bands, the house of Togarmah, of the remotest parts of the north, and all its bands, many peoples with you.’”’”—Ezek. 38:1-6.
GOG AND THE “LAND OF MAGOG”
The question is, Who is this Gog, and what is the “land of Magog”? The posterity of the peoples described are with us today. But the prophecy evidently did not refer merely to certain nationalities. Rather, it used, for the purpose of illustration, the powerful armed forces of the day, forces that could threaten Israel at that time. Likewise, the powerful, well-equipped armed forces of this world today will be at Gog’s disposal in the final war. It is notable that Babylon is not included, for the setting of Ezekiel’s prophecy is at a time after Babylon had fallen to Medo-Persia, which had by this victory become the Fourth World Power of Bible history.
The prophecy of the Bible book of Revelation gives us clues that help us to identify Gog, the leader of the attack, and to understand what fight it is that Gog leads. In Re chapters seventeen and eighteen, Revelation describes the complete destruction of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. Then, in the Re nineteenth chapter, it speaks of the destruction of the military forces of earth along with their political organizations or governments.—Rev. 19:17-21; compare Revelation 19:19, 20 with Daniel 8:20, 21 as to the Bible’s representation of world political governments figuratively as beasts.
But, just who is Gog? Again, Revelation helps us. For it reveals that the nations are led to war by demonic influence, chief of whom is the “dragon,” Satan the Devil. (Rev. 12:9; 16:13, 14, 16) Gog, therefore, is Satan the Devil since his being hurled down to earth. What is the land in which he dwells, the “land of Magog”? There is no such land mentioned otherwise in Bible history. This “land” is described as “the remotest parts of the north.” (Ezek. 38:6) It would be isolated and sparsely settled.
With regard to what the “land of Magog” figuratively means, Revelation’s prophecy shows that, after Christ’s enthronement takes place in heaven, Satan loses a war in heaven and is hurled down to the earth. This betokens “woe for the earth,” which woe culminates in the final war. Having no further access to heaven, but being confined to the earth’s vicinity, the Devil’s situation is an isolated one, with only the demons accompanying him. So “the land of Magog” is the invisible place or area to which Satan is confined at the time he makes his attack.—Rev. 12:5, 7-12.
THE OBJECT OF GOG’S ATTACK
Jehovah, knowing the magnitude of the fight Gog is to take up, says to him: “Be ready, and let there be preparation on your part, you with all your congregation, those congregated alongside you, and you must become their guard.” (Ezek. 38:7) Gog becomes the “guard” or commander in chief, he is “chieftain” of all these forces, both demonic and worldly. Jehovah revealed that the attack was not to come in ancient times, but, rather, a long time later, when he said to Gog:
“After many days you will be given attention. In the final part of the years you will come to the land of people brought back from the sword, collected together out of many peoples, onto the mountains of Israel, that have proved to be a constantly devastated place; even a land that has been brought forth from the peoples, where they have dwelt in security, all of them. And you will be bound to come up. Like a storm you will come in. Like clouds to cover the land you will become, you and all your bands and many peoples with you.”—Ezek. 38:8, 9.
Who are the “people brought back from the sword” that Gog attacks? Would their “land” refer to that of the present-day political nation of Israel? No. Israel, with its military forces, is part of this world of which Satan is said to be “god.” (2 Cor. 4:4) It is also one of the political nations that make up the United Nations. The Israel that Gog attacks is the “Israel of God,” spiritual Israel. (Gal. 6:16) How is this? Because God cast off natural Israel as his exclusive nation when they rejected the Messiah and on Pentecost day of 33 C.E. he established the Christian congregation. (Matt. 23:38; Acts 2:1-43) The apostle Paul explained later that “he is not a Jew who is one on the outside, nor is circumcision that which is on the outside upon the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one on the inside, and his circumcision is that of the heart by spirit, and not by a written code.”—Rom. 2:28, 29.
Furthermore, it is through Jehovah’s fight with Gog that he will cause all nations of earth to “know that I am Jehovah,” and this could not be through natural Israel, which refuses to use the name Jehovah, and does not claim that their political government is a theocracy, that is, a God-ruled government, set up to promote the pure worship of Jehovah.—Ezek. 38:23.
This understanding about the object of Gog’s attack is in harmony with Revelation’s picture of the matter when it says that the Devil, after being hurled out of heaven, would make those on earth who represent Jehovah and bear witness to Jesus the chief target of his attacks thereafter.—Rev. 12:17.
Ezekiel’s prophecy focuses attention on the condition or situation of Jehovah’s spiritual people, his Christian witnesses, in that “final part of the years.” They have been “brought back from the sword,” preserved from the persecutions of World War I and that which followed. They have been gathered into complete unity under their King and Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Greater David. At the time Gog makes his attack false religion will have been destroyed, but these Christian witnesses, the only ones who have stood for Jehovah’s pure worship, will be dwelling in spiritual security.—Ezek. 34:23, 24; 37:22-25.
JEHOVAH LURES GOG TO THE FIGHT
Why does Jehovah “put hooks in [Gog’s] jaws” and bring him forth with all his well-equipped forces against God’s own gathered people? (Ezek. 38:4) Because Jehovah’s time has arrived for the fight, and by this means he causes the Devil and those siding with him to show to all persons their hatred for Jehovah. Also, by this fight Jehovah vindicates his name and sovereignty over all the universe. Jehovah says: “I shall certainly bring you against my land, for the purpose that the nations may know me when I sanctify myself in you before their eyes, O Gog.”—Ezek. 38:16.
We can compare Jehovah’s action here with his dealings with Pharaoh of ancient Egypt. Pharaoh was a hard-set enemy of God and his people. His desire was to enslave Jehovah’s people, the Hebrews, the nation then used as His witnesses, and to crush them or, if unable to do this, to destroy them outright. (Isa. 43:12) Jehovah selected the time that would result in the greatest good for his people and simultaneously glorify his own name. By means of his dealings with Pharaoh and his forces, Jehovah proved himself supreme and the Subduer of all the gods of Egypt.—Ex. 12:12; 14:4.
In luring Satan to the attack God merely presents what seems to Satan to be the opportunity to vent his rage and hatred on Jehovah’s witnesses. The prophecy reveals the motive Satan has:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘And it must occur in that day that things will come up into your heart, and you will certainly think up an injurious scheme; and you must say: “I shall go up against the land of open rural country. I shall come in upon those having no disturbance, dwelling in security, all of them dwelling without wall, and they do not have even bar and doors.” It will be to get a big spoil and to do much plundering, in order to turn your hand back upon devastated places reinhabited and upon a people gathered together out of the nations, one that is accumulating wealth and property, those who are dwelling in the center of the earth.’”—Ezek. 38:10-12.
Is the “big spoil” Satan hopes to get from these apparently defenseless people material gain? No, for Jehovah’s witnesses have comparatively little of this world’s goods. (Jas. 2:5; 1 Cor. 1:27-29) They are also harmless, without military equipment. What Satan hopes to despoil are the Kingdom interests that these people have. For Jehovah’s witnesses continually preach that kingdom and its good news for the people, and take care of these Kingdom interests world wide. And in this they are successful, gathering many persons from all nations to the side of that kingdom.
This the Devil and those having his spirit hate. We recall that the Devil stirred up the Pharisees because of Jesus’ caring for Kingdom interests. People listened to Jesus. But these Jewish religious rulers said among themselves: “You observe you are getting absolutely nowhere. See! The world has gone after him.”—John 12:19.
It is these Kingdom interests in the hands of God’s anointed witnesses on earth that disturb the Devil. If he could just destroy these witnesses of Jehovah, there would be no one on earth to uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty. At the point of time that the attack comes, the first part of the “great tribulation” has already resulted in the destruction by the political rulers of all other religion. These religious systems had no protection, for their claim to be servants of God was false. Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, are still standing. They have always been neutral toward all the political and military conflicts all around them. In their spiritual estate they figuratively dwell “in the center [Hebrew, navel] of the earth.” Standing as they do, for worship of Jehovah, they are the focal point, the prime target, of Gog’s hostility.—Ezek. 38:12.
THE END OF PEACE DISTURBERS
So, Gog goes headlong into the attack, and the war is on! Gog’s military forces, armed with nuclear weapons, germ and chemical warfare and other death-dealing equipment, may have struck fear into the hearts of worldly people. But how much more terror inspiring Jehovah proves to be when provoked by Gog’s attack upon his people, whose attackers are ‘touching his eyeball’! (Zech. 2:8) He says:
“‘And it must occur in that day, in the day when Gog comes in upon the soil of Israel,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘that my rage will come up in my nose. And in my ardor, in the fire of my fury, I shall have to speak. Surely in that day a great quaking will occur in the soil of Israel. And because of me the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and the wild beasts of the field and all the creeping things that are creeping on the ground and all mankind that are upon the surface of the ground will be bound to shiver, and the mountains will actually be thrown down and the steep ways will have to fall, and to the earth even every wall will fall.’”—Ezek. 38:18-20.
This quaking will paralyze Gog’s hordes with fear and will result in great confusion. What follows demonstrates the unprecedented fury with which Jehovah will strike with the awesome forces at his disposal:
“‘And I will call forth against him throughout all my mountainous region a sword,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. ‘Against his own brother the sword of each one will come to be. And I will bring myself into judgment with him, with pestilence and with blood; and a flooding downpour and hailstones, fire and sulphur I shall rain down upon him and upon his bands and upon the many peoples that will be with him. And I shall certainly magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known before the eyes of many nations; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.’”—Ezek. 38:21-23.
Thus the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” brings lasting peace by destroying earthly war makers. It is fought at the symbolic ‘battlefield’ called Har–Magedon (the situation the nations reach that sets the stage for the battle). Jehovah protects his people during that fight, vindicating himself as Universal Sovereign and the Preserver and Deliverer of his people. Just before they go down into destruction, the nations that have taken the side of Gog will be forced to see and to realize, as he foretold, “that I am Jehovah.”—Rev. 16:14, 16.
In the next issue of this magazine we shall consider what God’s Word forecasts as the developments to follow this destruction of Jehovah’s enemies.