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Who is Gog of Magog mentioned in the book of Ezekiel?
For a number of years, our publications have explained that Gog of Magog is the name given to Satan the Devil after his ouster from heaven. This explanation was based on the fact that the book of Revelation identifies Satan the Devil as the leader of the worldwide attack on God’s people. (Rev. 12:1-17) So it was thought that Gog must be another prophetic name for Satan.
However, that explanation raised some important questions. Why so? Consider this: When referring to the time that Gog is defeated, Jehovah says regarding Gog: “I will give you as food to all kinds of birds of prey and the wild beasts of the field.” (Ezek. 39:4) Then Jehovah adds: “On that day I will give Gog a burial place there in Israel . . . That is where they will bury Gog and all his hordes.” (Ezek. 39:11) But how could a spirit creature be eaten by “birds of prey and the wild beasts of the field”? How could Satan be given “a burial place” on earth? The Bible clearly shows that Satan will be abyssed for 1,000 years, not eaten or buried.—Rev. 20:1, 2.
We are told that at the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be released from the abyss, and “he will go out to mislead those nations in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war.” (Rev. 20:8) But how can Satan mislead Gog if he himself is Gog? Therefore, “Gog” does not refer to Satan in either Ezekiel’s prophecy or the book of Revelation.
Who, then, is Gog of Magog? To answer that question, we need to search the Scriptures to find out who attacks God’s people. The Bible speaks not only of the attack by ‘Gog of Magog’ but also of the attack by “the king of the north” and of the attack by “the kings of the earth.” (Ezek. 38:2, 10-13; Dan. 11:40, 44, 45; Rev. 17:14; 19:19) Do these represent separate attacks? Not likely. The Bible is no doubt referring to the same attack under different names. Why can we draw that conclusion? Because the Scriptures tell us that all the nations of the earth will be involved in this final attack that prompts the war of Armageddon.—Rev. 16:14, 16.
When we compare all these Scriptural references about the final attack on God’s people, it becomes evident that the name Gog of Magog refers, not to Satan, but to a coalition of nations. Will this coalition be led by the figurative “king of the north”? We cannot say with any certainty. But this thought does seem to be in harmony with what Jehovah says about Gog: “You will come from your place, from the remotest parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great assembly, a vast army.”—Ezek. 38:6, 15.
Similarly, the prophet Daniel, who was a contemporary of Ezekiel, says of the king of the north: “Reports out of the east and out of the north will disturb him, and he will go out in a great rage to annihilate and to devote many to destruction. And he will plant his royal tents between the grand sea and the holy mountain of Decoration; and he will come all the way to his end, and there will be no helper for him.” (Dan. 11:44, 45) This clearly parallels what the book of Ezekiel says about Gog’s activities.—Ezek. 38:8-12, 16.
What occurs next as a result of this final attack? Daniel tells us: “During that time Michael [Jesus Christ] will stand up [at Armageddon], the great prince who is standing [since 1914] in behalf of your people. And there will occur a time of distress [the great tribulation] such as has not occurred since there came to be a nation until that time. And during that time your people will escape, everyone who is found written down in the book.” (Dan. 12:1) This action on the part of God’s representative Jesus is also described at Revelation 19:11-21.
But who is referred to as “Gog and Magog” at Revelation 20:8? During the final test at the end of the 1,000 years, those who rebel against Jehovah will manifest the same murderous attitude as ‘Gog of Magog,’ those nations that attack God’s people at the end of the great tribulation. And the outcome for both groups will be exactly the same—everlasting death! (Rev. 19:20, 21; 20:9) It seems fitting, then, that all those rebels at the end of the Millennium be called “Gog and Magog.”
As keen students of God’s Word, we wait with eager anticipation to see who in the near future will assume the role of “the king of the north.” But no matter who may take the lead in this coalition of nations, we are certain of two things: (1) Gog of Magog and his armies will be defeated and destroyed; and (2) our reigning King, Jesus Christ, will save God’s people and usher them into a new world of peace and true security.—Rev. 7:14-17.