Many people believe the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:12-21; 19:11-21) and the battle of Gog and Magog (Revelation 20:7-10) are one and the same, or that they are two parts of the same war. Adding to the confusion is that there are two different battles of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39 & Revelation 20). Added to this, many debate whether the battle in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is one or two battles.
The Bible speaks of the battle of Gog and Magog two different times- Ezekiel 38-39; and Revelation 20. Are these battles one and the same, or are they different battles? Where does the battle of Armageddon fall in all of this?
To quickly clarify, the battle of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38 occurs before the Great Tribulation. The battle of Armageddon occurs at the end of the Great Tribulation and at the beginning of the millennium. The battle of Gog and Magog of Revelation 20 occurs at the end of the millennium. So, we actually have three battles- one at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, one at the beginning of the millennium, and one at the end of the millennium.
THE FIRST BATTLE OF GOG AND MAGOG
There is great debate and disagreement as to whether the battle of Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 39 is the same as Ezekiel 38, or if it belongs to either of the other two battles. We will leave it alone, for now, as it does not add an additional battle of Gog and Magog, and coupling it with the wrong battle only adds confusion.
The identity of Gog, and Magog, is subject to much debate, but they appear to simply be an allusion to the evil enemies of God’s children. In Ezekiel 38, Magog means “land of Gog” and is one of several nations which will gather forces against God’s people. Revelation 20:8 identifies Gog and Magog as “the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth”. In truth, the identity of Gog and Magog is probably of little significance, and trying to identify a specific nation tends to cause confusion. We should rather focus on the battle itself.
While it is Satan that deceives the nations, and gathers them together for battle (Ezekiel 38:8-9), it is God who orchestrates the events in order to rid the world of evil(Ezekiel 38:4, 23). In this first battle of Gog and Magog, the enemies of God will be destroyed by war, disease, and “great hailstones, fire, and brimstone” (Ezekiel 38:21-22).
This first battle of Gog and Magog occurs some time after a rebirth of the nation of Israel (Ezekiel 38:8; Zechariah 10:8-10). The battle takes place after a time of relative peace (Ezekiel 38:14), and before the Great Tribulation (Revelation 12:12-17; Zechariah 14). It also occurs before the Wrath of God (Ezekiel 38:18). and some time before the millennial reign of Jesus (Ezekiel 38:16, 23).
THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
The Battle of Armageddon is an end-times battle between the forces of the Satan and the forces of Jesus, after His return. The Antichrist and False Prophet will gather forces together (Revelation 16:13-14) to a place called Armageddon, which means “Mount of Meddigo” (Revelation 16:16). This location apparently refers to the valley of Jezreel, east of Meddigo in northern Israel. Joel calls this place the Valley of Jehosaphat, and the Valley of Decision (Joel 3:12-14).
The battle of Armageddon will occur some time after the return of Jesus, which will be after the seven trumpets of Revelation (Revelation 11:15-19), and before the pouring out of the seven bowls of God’s wrath (Revelation 14:1-10). The battle will occur specifically after the sixth bowl (Revelation 16:12-16). The pouring of the sixth bowl dries up the great river Euphrates, to make way for the “kings of the East”. Most rapture beliefs place the rapture before the battle of Armageddon (see- A Comparison of the Pre-trib, Mid-trib, Pre-wrath, and Post-trib Rapture Views).
The Battle of Armageddon will be the Antichrist’s (but not Satan’s) final attack against Jesus (Revelation 19:17-21), after He begins to reign from Zion (Joel 3:16; Zephaniah 3:14-20). The enemies of God will be destroyed by a great earthquake and great hailstones (Revelation 16:16-21), and by the “sword” of Jesus, and their bodies eaten by birds (Revelation 19:17-21).
THE SECOND BATTLE OF GOG AND MAGOG
This battle Gog and Magog clearly takes place at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:1-8). This battle will be Satan’s final attack against Jesus. Gog and Magog are identified as “the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth” (Revelation 20:8). The enemies of God will be devoured by fire from heaven (Revelation 20:9).
Specifically, we have a battle of Gog and Magog before the Great Tribulation (Ezekiel 38). The battle of Armageddon occurs at the end of the Great Tribulation, and just before the millennium (Revelation 16:13-14; 19:17-21). Then, we have a second battle of Gog and Magog at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:1-10).