The Battle for Jerusalem is of YHVH
Three major prophecies depict the War of Gog of Magog, the battle for Jerusalem – the final war that will end all wars before the coming of the Anointed One of YHVH.
In chapter “Two Scenarios for the War of Gog of Magog” from the book “The Reckoning of Time“, the present author suggested that both prophecies in Ezekiel 38-39 and Zechariah 12-14 speak of one war – the War of Gog of Magog – in which the scenario in Zec 12-14 appears to be the darkest of the two, while the one in Ezekiel 38-39, the war will be waged outside of Israel and no siege is even mentioned.
We also studied in series of two articles a third possible scenario of the War of Gog of Magog, as depicted in Zechariah 9-11 and Isaiah 29. This scenario differs from the other two and it appears to be a variant of the worst case scenario in Zec 12-14, although not in such a grim portrayal.
The War of Gog of Magog will come regardless. It is predestined from the beginning of the world that the serpent would bruise the woman’s Seed and now the time has come for the Seed to crush the serpent’s head.
Also, in the article “Which war of Gog of Magog will Israel choose?” the present author made the grim view that the darkest of three scenarios, that of Zech 12-14, may come to materialization.
Here is the place to clear this out: the prophecy is not a prediction; the prophets of YHVH does not predict the future. Their mission was to return the people of YHVH to His Covenant (the Ten Commandments). And if the people did not listen to their words, the prophets told them their dark future.
The prophecy of the War of Gog of Magog is not a prediction but rather a warning. Once, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom said,
Precisely because Judaism believes in free will, the human future can never be unfailingly predicted. People are capable of change. God forgives. As we say in our prayers on the High Holy Days: ‘Prayer, penitence and charity avert the evil decree.’ There is no decree that cannot be revoked. A prophet does not foretell. He warns. A prophet does not speak to predict future catastrophe but rather to avert it. If a prediction comes true it has succeeded. If a prophecy comes true it has failed.
There is no prophecy that cannot be revoked, even the darkest one. But how many will hear the warning and repent. If the prophecy of the War of Gog of Magog comes true it has failed; it has not reached its goal to return the people to the covenant and then only the darkest scenario of the three will remain. But if the people of YHVH hear and repent, then the scenario in Ezekiel will materialize and no sufferings will come even close to the Land and Israel will come out victorious of it; the battle will be of YHVH.
But repentance is required.
And according to the choice Israel will make that will affect the entire world, two ordained times for Messiah’s coming are predetermined: according to Ezekiel or Zechariah.
In Chapter Redemption Plan of YHVH of Part I of the aforesaid book, we studied that there are two ordained times for the Messiah’s coming.
The first one is the preordained time by the Creator and the second one — a hastened revelation before the destined time — all depending on the Covenant requirement of repentance.
If Israel’s labor is found worthy, the Messiah may hasten it and come seven years earlier (in the 6,000th year since the Creation) than the predetermined time according to the Redemption Plan counted from the eighth year from the Creation, when man sinned. For surely, the Messiah said to Israel to “bear fruit worthy of repentance” (Luk 3:8), and “Watch then at all times, and pray that you be counted worthy to escape all this about to take place” (Luk 21:35-36).
In other words, if Israel will be found worthy to escape the War of Gog of Magog, then the Messiah will come before the war to protect His people, according to the prophecy in Ezekiel.
However, if Israel is not found worthy of the Messiah, because there has been no corporate repentance of the nation, then Israel will need to labor seven more years to deserve Him. Israel will have to go through the war of Gog of Magog in Zechariah 12-14, and then the Messiah will come in the last year of the Redemption Plan (see Jubilees Table).
In this article, we will go forward towards two elements in the prophecy that deserve more attention.
The choicest land, the most contested land
Thus said the Master YHVH,
And it shall be in that day that things arise in your heart, and you shall devise an evil plan. And you shall say, “Let me go up against a land of unwalled villages, let me go to those at rest who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates”, to take plunder and to take booty, to turn your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the peoples, acquiring livestock and goods, who dwell in the middle of the earth. (Eze 38:10-12)
An evil plan will come into Gog’s mind to invade the “land of unwalled villages” to invade the land of people that live in peace and security and plunder them. In the Scripture, the word אֶרֶץ erets, literally means an open land, i.e., a land which has no fortified towns, as opposed to a land with walled and fortified cities. The phrase “having neither bars nor gates” means that the defense of such a country is with apparent ease relying on something else rather than its own efforts. In such unwalled cities their inhabitants live in undisturbed peace and safety. Translated into modern-day language this means a country that leaves in peace and security.
“And you shall say”, the prophecy continues on, “Let me go up against that land …”, and here YHVH hints us by saying, “to turn your hand”.
This hint suggests an indication of potential opportunity Gog had or is to be explained from the fact that he had already at an earlier occasion turned his hand against Israel and plundered it.
One of the motives of Gog of Magog for the invasion against Israel will be found in the possessions of Israel: Gog will want to plunder the land and take war booties. A second motive is given in the words: “who dwell in the middle of the earth”.
The expression “in the middle of the earth” is known as a metaphor for a land most glorious and most richly blessed and desirable, so that they who dwell there occupy the choicest land among the nations.
And indeed, the land Israel dwells in happens to be the most contested real estate in the world. There are many disputed lands that have caused regional conflicts and wars, i.e. the disputes between Turkey and Greece, Turkey and Cypress, India and Pakistan, etc. But the land that is indeed in the middle of the earth, the land that began to flourish only when its true inhabitants returned home, is the most disputed land in the world.
The world led by Gog blames the “occupation” of the land on the Jews. The Arabs invented new “nation” called “Palestine” but how many of them know that before them another [Roman] “Gog” invented it and called it “Palestina”.
In one thing the Arabs are right though: this most contested real estate in the world does not belong to Israel. They are right to say that Israel occupied that small sliver of land. But, did Elohim not tell the Israeli[te]s to occupy it?
The land does not belong and never belonged to the Israeli[te]s; it belongs to Elohim who had given it to His people as promised to the fathers: Avraham, Yitschak, and Ya’akov.
Elohim gave enough land to the descendants of Ishmael, to whom He promised a rich of oil vast mass of land, and to the descendants of Israel: a narrow sliver of land. But this was not just enough for the Ishmaelites; they want even this small piece of land.
Siege that will last nine months
Let us now consider YHVH’s prophecy in Micah.
But you, Beyth Lechem Ephrathah, you who are little among the clans of Yehudah out of you shall come forth to Me the One to become ruler in Israel. And His comings forth are of old, from everlasting. Therefore, He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth, and the remnant of His brothers return to the children of Israel. (Mic 5:2-3) (5:1-2 in JPS)
Interestingly, Targum Jonathan (Aramaic paraphrases of the Hebrew Scripture) paraphrases one in the above verse as “the Messiah”. And where it is said “His comings forth are of old, from everlasting” we should first note here that the Hebrew word for “comings” or “goings” is plural in Hebrew, i.e. referring to more than one coming. These “comings” of the one are foretold from time of old (see the prophecy in Gen 3:15).
With the deep knowledge of the Sages we understand that the one whose comings are foretold from the beginning of the world is none other than the Messiah.
Rav said in Sanhedrin 98b commenting on Mic5:3 this,
“The son of David will not come until the [Roman] power enfolds Israel for nine months, as it is written. Therefore, will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.”
The prophet Micah continues to prophesy even further about what will take place after the War of Gog of Magog, which precedes the coming of the Messiah and the Final Redemption of Israel (Mic 5:5, Mic 7:11-15).
And this shall be peace. When Ashshur comes into our land, and when he treads in our palaces, we shall raise against him seven shepherds and eight leaders of men. And they shall shepherd the land of Ashshur with the sword, and the land of Nimrod at its entrances. And He shall deliver us from Ashshur, when he comes into our land and when he treads within our borders. And the remnant of Ya’akov shall be in the midst of many peoples, as dew from Yehovah, as showers on the grass, which do not wait for man nor delay for the sons of men. (Mic 5:5-7)
Ashshur (Assyria) is given here as a type of the nations of the world which threatened Israel, because in the time of the prophet, Ashshur was the imperial power of the world. Against this enemy Israel will elect seven and eight leaders of some kind, who will drive the modern-day Ashshur back, and press victoriously into its land.
However, what is meant by seven shepherds and eight leaders in the prophecy in Micah we will see later in this study?
This interpretation of Mic 5:2-7 parallels with the scenario of the War of Gog of Magog in Zec 12:5-6, where we see again the leaders of Israel fighting back its enemies.
If this interpretation of Sages is correct, then it seems that the siege against Israel by foreign armies will take place about nine months (until the time that she who is in labor has given birth) and the lost tribes of Israel return home (the remnant of His brothers return to the children of Israel).
Therefore, the prophecy in Micah places the coming of the son of David in the scenario according to which He will come after the War of Gog of Magog.
In such a case, this may place the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem during the festival of Hanukkah and its end nine months later in the autumnal festivals of YHVH, more particularly on the Day of the Trumpet, when the Messiah is expected to return.
Common elements in both scenarios
And it shall be on that day, on the day when Gog comes against the land of Israel, declares the Master Yehovah, that My wrath shall come up in My face. For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken, On that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel, so that the fish of the sea, and the birds of the heavens, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping creatures that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall fall to the ground. (Eze 38:18-20)
The outburst of wrath of Elohim is literally explained in Eze 38:19 to inflict a great shaking in the land of Israel. So great will this shaking of the land be that all creatures on the ground, and even in the sea, and in the air, will tremble before their Creator. Literally, this shaking of the land will materialize in an actual earthquake, so powerful that will move mountains.
The second element is that the armies of Gog will fight each other in some sort of internal conflict in the coalition. And when the fight between the former allies is in its peak, YHVH Himself will finish off the destruction of Gog of Magog. We read thus,
And I shall call for a sword against Gog on all My mountains, declares the Master Yehovah, the sword of each one being against his brother. And I shall judge him with pestilence and blood, and rain down flooding rain and hailstones, fire and sulphur, on him and on his bands and on the many peoples who are with him. (Eze 38:21-22)
The inhabitants in Israel will tremble at the terrible phenomena of the wrath of Elohim, when pestilence and blood, flooding rain and hailstones, fire and sulphur will come from heaven.
Although the wrath will apply only to their enemy, Gog, as his armies will turn against each other, we can expect that Israel’s defense capabilities will be partially if not completely disabled due to the great earthquake in the land.
We can also expect that this great shaking of the land may to certain degree affect the capacity of the armies of Gog to complete the siege, but in a much higher degree it will incapacitate the defense mechanisms of IDF to fight back, more particularly the disabling of the command centers and the ballistic missiles in their silos.
It is a nuclear taboo in Israel concerning its nuclear capabilities. Israel has never acknowledged the existence of its nuclear program but has given its enemies to know, in one way or the other, the so-called Samson doctrine, according to which if Israel will go down, its enemies will go down with it too. This once happened in the Yom Kippur War.
This manner of self-destruction of the armies of Gog we see also in the scenario of the War of Gog of Magog in the prophecy in Zechariah 14,
And this is the plague with which Yehovah plagues all the people who fought against Jerusalem: their flesh shall decay while they stand on their feet, and their eyes decay in their sockets, and their tongues decay in their mouths. And it shall be in that day that a great confusion from Yehovah is among them, and every one of them shall seize the hand of his neighbor, and his hand rise up against his neighbor’s hand. And Judah shall fight in Jerusalem as well. … (Zec 14:12-14)
Most definitely those who will fight against Jerusalem are “all the nations” (Zec 14:2) that Gog will bring in, and nothing is said about any fight between Jerusalem and Judah, as JPS suggests. The preposition ב is used here as in, not against, as if a civil war was meant in the text, but “And Judah also shall fight in Jerusalem”.
In this scenario, not only will the Almighty smite Gog of Magog miraculously with plagues on the flesh and confusion among Gog’s allies, but Israel will also take part in the fight against them, and will fight against them in Jerusalem, which they have taken.
This self-destruction of Gog is not without a precedent, though. We find this precedent in the defeat of the Midianites in the time of Gideon (Jdg 7:22), and also in the destruction of the invading enemy of Ammon and Moav in the reign of King Yehoshaphat (2Ch 20:23). And in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire and brimstone.
In both scenarios, the destruction of Gog of Magog and his armies is further intensified by the mysterious plagues inflicted by Elohim. Thus, Elohim will prove Himself to be the One, not Israel, who will execute the judgment on Gog of Magog.
The battle of YHVH
The judgment on Gog is further intensified with a repetition of the command to the prophet to prophesy against the enemy of Israel in the next chapter of the prophecy (Eze 39:1-2).
We should note here the repetition that it will be He who will turn Gog of Magog around and bring him as a beast in the land for judgment, and also the repetition of first person “I will” referring to Elohim who will execute the judgment (Eze 39:3-8).
In the land of Israel, the Mighty One will strike Gog’s weapons out of his hands, thus making him incapable of fighting any further. Then, He will destroy the foreign troops completely, and give them up as a prey to the scavengers (Eze 39:1-5 and Eze 39:17-20).
And this is the same picture the apostle saw, namely, the call for the scavengers to prepare for the feast of Elohim to cleanse His Land from the dead flesh.
And I saw one messenger standing in the sun, and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great Elohim, to eat the flesh of sovereigns, and the flesh of commanders, and the flesh of strong ones, and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” (Rev 19:17-18)
And what will be fulfilled follows suit,
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to fight Him who sat on the horse and His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he led astray those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. The two were thrown alive into the lake of fire burning with sulphur. (Rev 19:19-20)
Yes, the invading coalition of armies in Ezekiel 38-39 and Zechariah 12-14 is led by the beast and his puppet in Revelation 19. The prophets and the apostle speak of the same final war in this world: the War of Gog of Magog.
The destruction of Gog, however, will not be confined only to the destruction of his armies in the land of Israel, but as prophesied in Eze 39:6 will also extend to his land, Magog, and to all the nations that have sent their armies in the Middle East.
Therefore, the utter destruction of Gog of Magog will have this twofold effect: firstly, Israel will know that it will be He who will execute the judgment on Gog,
So the house of Israel shall know that I am YHVH their Elohim, from that day and forward. (Eze 39:22)
The day YHVH is referring to is the day on which He will defeat the armies of Gog of Magog.
And secondly, Gog himself will know that it was YHVH who had sent Israel into exile and it was He who brought them back into the land, so that the heathens will not boast that by their power and might they caused the sufferings upon His people (Eze 39:23-25).
Sages’ prophetic writings
And this shall be peace. When Ashshur comes into our land, and when he treads in our palaces, we shall raise against him seven shepherds and eight leaders of men. … (Mic 5:5-7)
What is meant by seven shepherds and eight leaders in the prophecy in Micah?
Recently, Israel went and still going through troublous times since the secular Avigdor Lieberman, a Moldavian-born Israeli Defense Minister, stabbed Netanyahu in the back and left the coalition government. Since then Israel went through elections with no clear advantage of one coalition over the other.
After bitter fights over who will lead Israel in the last days, on 26 March 2020 Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz agreed to join Likud in a national emergency government on a rotation principle. If the agreement is finalized the new coalition government will be headed by Binyamin Netanyahu until Sept 2021, while Gantz is taking on the Speaker’s role.
Then the positions will shift and Gantz will become PM. Thus the unity government will have a solid majority of 78 in the 120-member House, and on paper, Israel will have a stable unity government.
But is this so?
There is an intriguing message in the 11th-century Midrash Vayosha, concerning the War of Gog of Magog. It says,
And when the days of the Messiah arrive, Gog and Magog will come up against the Lord of Israel, because they will hear that Israel is without a king and sits in safety.
Now, let us connect the dots and try to see the whole picture.
The prophet says that there will be seven shepherds and eight leaders who will “shepherd the land of “Ashshur” with the sword, and the land of Nimrod at its entrances” and thus Elohim will deliver Israel from “Ashshur”, Gog, when he comes into the land to plunder it.
Secondly, the Sages say (note this it has been said in the 11th century) that Israel will be without a king (a leadership), but still “sits in safety”.
And thirdly, Israel is going through an unprecedented political crisis in its history without a stable government and de facto without a PM, i.e. a king. The efforts of the leftist to “dethrone” Netanyahu first by indicting him on the allegations of political corruption, partially succeeded and now Israel is without a “king”.
When the Sages say that “Israel is without a king and sits in safety”, it could be taken to mean that in reality there is no leader in Israel, i.e. there is no permanent PM, and the nation “sits in safety” could mean that there is a false impression of a political stability of a “unity government”.
Then, seven shepherds and eight leaders could mean either a large coalition government of 15 parties or two consecutive unstable minority governments: of seven and of eight parties each, which may mean another round of elections in Israel.
As of today, this is the sense that can be made from the political reality in Israel.
The Messiah Psalm
With all that being said, Israel is going through troublous times in the domestic and foreign arenas. The political crisis at home and the threat from Iran and its proxies from without.
In this dire situation, COVID-19 the coronavirus pandemic is making the things for Israel from bad to worse.
As of the time of this writing, 6th of April 2020, two days before eating the Passover lamb, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Israel is 8,611; the death toll raised to 56 with six more elderly people dead.
Yet, COVID-19 the coronavirus is not the worst. What worsens the situation is that Israel keeps on relying on itself: on the political stage, the nation relies on a “unity government”, and in the war on terrorism: on IDF. But where is the Elohim of the fathers?
It is true that there is a remnant of zealous people who stay in the Covenant of YHVH and make any efforts to lead the people on the righteous path, but most of the people are liberal and secular who do not see it that way. And the election results unequivocally expose it: Israel is without a “king”.
Then, the only way YHVH will bring the nation to repentance is through the tribulation of Jacob’s troubles.
And indeed, the nation may be brought to a situation close to that of the fathers were, when they were closed in between the sea and the Egyptians. With nowhere to go and no one to cry out to, they cried out to YHVH (Exo 14:10). And when no help came, their faith turned into rebellion.
But, will the seven shepherds and eight leaders say today as Mosheh did then,
Yehovah does fight for you, and you keep silent. (Exo 14:14)
COVID-19 the coronavirus plague paralyzed the whole world and Israel. But how many in the world will see the warning that just one plague did so little and carried out so much without blood, flooding rain and hailstones, fire and sulphur.
The coming Seed of the woman in His last address to the nation lamented,
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to her! How often I wished to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you would not! Look! Your house is left to you laid waste, for I say to you, from now on you shall by no means see Me, until you say, “Blessed is He who is coming in the Name of Yehovah!” (Mat 23:37-39)
Here the Messiah prophetically quoted Psalm 118 (aka the Messiah Psalm),
I called on Yah in distress; Yah answered me in a broad place. Yehovah is on my side; I do not fear what man does to me! Yehovah is for me among those helping me; Therefore, I look on those hating me. It is better to take refuge in Yehovah Than to trust in man. … All the nations surrounded me, in the Name of Yehovah I shall cut them off. … Yah is my strength and song, And He has become my deliverance. … Blessed is He who is coming in the Name of Yehovah! We shall bless you from the House of Yehovah. (Psa 118:5-26)
Psalm 118:5 is recited towards the end of our Pesach seder, and uses a word that is central to the themes of Pesach: maytzar, meaning “pains” or “distress”. This word is closely related to the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim.
This coming Pesach (Passover), for the first time in the last 3,500 years we will eat the Passover lamb in distress, as the fathers ate it back then: in haste and fear while the maytzar was going throughout the land of Mitzrayim.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.