Who is Gog of Magog mentioned in the book of Ezekiel?
For many years, our publications have explained that the name Gog of Magog refers to Satan after he was thrown out of heaven. Why? Because the book of Revelation identifies Satan as the leader of the worldwide attack against God’s people. (Revelation 12:1-17) So we understood that Gog must be another name for Satan.
However, there were some problems with this explanation. Think about the following: When talking about Gog’s destruction, Jehovah said that he would give Gog “as food to all kinds of birds of prey and the wild beasts of the field.” (Ezekiel 39:4) Then Jehovah added: “On that day I will give Gog a burial place there in Israel.” (Ezekiel 39:11) But how could Satan, who is an invisible spirit creature, be eaten by birds and wild beasts? How could he be buried on earth? The Bible clearly shows that Satan will be thrown into the abyss for 1,000 years. He will not be eaten or buried.
The Bible says 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.” (Revelation 20:8) But if Satan is Gog, this means that Satan would have to mislead himself. Therefore, “Gog” does not refer to Satan in either the book of Ezekiel or the book of Revelation.
So who is Gog of Magog? To answer that question, we need to search the Bible to find out who attacks God’s people. The Bible mentions the attack by ‘Gog of Magog,’ the attack by “the king of the north,” and the attack by “the kings of the earth.” (Ezekiel 38:2, 10-13; Daniel 11:40, 44, 45; Revelation 17:14; 19:19) Are these different attacks? That is not likely. It seems that the Bible is using different names to describe the same attack. Why do we say that? Because the Bible tells us that all the nations of the earth will be part of this final attack that starts the war of Armageddon.
When we compare all these Bible references about the final attack on God’s people, it is clear that the name Gog of Magog does not refer to Satan. Instead, Gog of Magog refers to a group of nations. Will “the king of the north” lead this group? We cannot say for sure. But this explanation seems 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.”
Similarly, the prophet Daniel, who lived at the same time as Ezekiel, says about 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.” (Daniel 11:44, 45) This is similar to what the book of Ezekiel says that Gog will do.
What will happen after the 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.” (Daniel 12:1) We read a similar description of what Jesus will do at Revelation 19:11-21.
But who is “Gog and Magog” mentioned at Revelation 20:8? This name refers to all those who rebel against Jehovah and attack his people during the final test at the end of the 1,000 years. They will have the same hateful attitude as Gog of Magog, the nations that attack God’s people at the end of the great tribulation. And just like those nations that will be destroyed at Armageddon, Gog and Magog will also be destroyed. (Revelation 19:20, 21; 20:9) It seems appropriate, then, that all who rebel at the end of the 1,000 years be called “Gog and Magog.”
As serious students of the Bible, we are eager to find out who will become “the king of the north” in the near future. But no matter who leads the nations against God’s people, we are confident of two things: (1) Gog of Magog and his armies will be defeated and destroyed. (2) Our King, Jesus Christ, will save God’s people and bring them into a new world of peace and true security.