Question: I attended a conference recently where it seemed to me that you thought (though you didn’t push it) that Ezekiel 38 and 39 describe Armageddon. It seemed clear that the other speakers believed that these chapters describe an earlier battle (they seemed uncertain as to whether it would come before the Rapture or in the middle of the Great Tribulation). I looked up Armageddon in several commentaries and Bible dictionaries and not one of them seemed to agree with you. Upon what do you base your rather lonely position?
Response: As Bereans we must check out every teaching from God’s Word and come to our own conclusions. I have discussed this issue with a number of prophecy teachers at various conferences. The main reason they all give for their position is that it will take seven months to bury the dead after the war described in these chapters and seven years to burn the weapons. They don’t believe this burying and burning could occur during the millennial reign of Christ and therefore the war can’t come at the time of Christ’s Second Coming.
Obviously, however, since the Great Tribulation lasts seven years, to avoid burning weapons during Christ’s reign the battle would have to come before the Rapture—an unbiblical requirement because it does away with imminency of the coming of Christ for His church. Furthermore, there is no biblical or logical reason why weapons could not be burned during the Millennium.
The evidence that this is Armageddon is simply overwhelming. The war described in these two chapters is one and the same and is clearly the cause of a climactic coming of God himself to this earth: “It shall come to pass...saith the Lord God, that my fury shall come up in my face....Surely...there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel...the fishes of the sea...fowls of the heaven...beasts of the field...all creeping things...and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence...the mountains shall be thrown down...every wall shall fall...” (Ezk 38:18-20). The worldwide shaking at God’s presence is almost impossible for us to imagine. This is climactic for planet earth!
Moreover, the fact that at this time the final redemption of Israel occurs (which is described in Zechariah 12) is also clear: “So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more....(Ezk 39:7); So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and for- ward...(v. 22).” Verse 29 is conclusive: ...“for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.”
Ezekiel can only be describing the fulfillment of Christ’s statement, “But he that shall endure unto the end [nothing to do with hanging onto Christ for salvation but a promise to those left alive at the end of Armageddon],...shall be saved” (Mt 24:13), and Paul’s statement concerning “the fulness of the Gentiles” (Rom:11:25)—i.e., end of Gentiles trampling Jerusalem underfoot (Lk 21:24): “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom:11:26).
Ezekiel:39:28 leaves no doubt that ungodliness for Jacob (i.e., Israel) has come to an end: “Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.” This has not happened yet. Although millions of Jews have returned to Israel, nearly 10 million remain scattered all over the world. Ezekiel is describing the final gathering of every Jew left on planet earth back to Israel to be with their Messiah at His Second Coming, to which Christ referred: “Immediately after the tribulation...he shall send his angels...and they shall gather together his [Jewish] elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Mt 24:29-31).
Surely Zechariah is describing the same event: “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle;...Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations....And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem....[M]y God shall come, and all the saints with thee....And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son....In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness” (Zec:14:1-5; 12:10,11; 13:1).
There are two purposes for Armageddon: to punish the nations for their hatred and abuse of Jews; and to punish Israel for her rebellion against the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and rejection of her Messiah. Two-thirds of all Jews on earth will be killed and those left alive will be brought to such hopeless desperation at this “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer:30:7) that they will cry out for the Messiah to rescue them as Jesus foretold: “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Mt 23:39). That will indeed happen in the midst of Armageddon as Israel, attacked by the armies of the entire world under Antichrist, faces annihilation. In response to this cry, Christ comes to “shorten” those days “for the elect’s sake” or “there should no flesh be saved” (Mt 24: 22) and to rescue Israel. They will see that Jahweh is a Man who was pierced to the death and is risen again, the very Jesus they have despised and rejected as their own prophet Isaiah foretold so clearly (Is 53)—and all Israel will repent and believe in Him.