One of the biggest mysteries in end times prophecy is the identity of Gog of Magog.
Modern prophecy students look to political leaders such as Vladimir Putin, whose long tenure has made him an attractive candidate here in the West. But since we’ve placed the “uttermost parts of the north” inside the borders of present-day Turkey, should we consider its president as of this writing, Recep Tayyip Erdogan?
He’s another attractive candidate for Gog of Magog because of his obvious neo-Ottoman ambitions. Erdogan has made it clear that the days of secular rule in Turkey are over. As I wrote in I Predict! What 12 Global Experts Believe You Will See by 2025:
The rise of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has given Erdogan the clout to roll back some of the secular reforms of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who modernized Turkey and aligned it with the West after the collapse of the empire in 1923. Ottoman Turkish and Arabic script will again be taught in government schools, and the number of students enrolled in state-run Islamic seminaries has grown from 62,000 in 2002, when Erdogan first came to power, to over 1 million. Considering Erdogan’s public call for Muslims to work toward wresting control of Jerusalem away from Israel, it is no surprise that some Middle East observers are asking in so many words: Is Turkey attempting to resurrect the Ottoman Empire on the back of the Islamic State?
In December of 2017, Erdogan called on the fifty-seven member nations of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to form a united military front against Israel. If the political and religious rivalries within Islam could be overcome—which, to be clear, is not a sure bet to say the least—the OIC could theoretically field a five-million-man army backed by Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
Not a pleasant thought. It makes you wonder how Israel’s political and military leaders sleep at night. But the hatred that divides the factions within Islam is at least as strong as that between Islam and the kafir, which is anyone who rejects the teachings of Muhammad. It’s unlikely we’ll see Sunnis and Shias on the same side of any battlefield, so the odds of an alliance between Turkey and Iran, or the Saudis and Iran (recent diplomatic initiatives notwithstanding), are slim.
Similarly, the Sunnis of Turkey and their Sunnis of Saudi Arabia don’t particularly like one another, either. With Erdogan flexing the muscle of Turkey’s army, which is the second largest in NATO after the US, the Saudis have grown increasingly suspicious of his intentions. Saudi Arabia has controlled Islam’s holiest sites for nearly a century, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the early 1920s, but the Turks haven’t forgotten their glory years. The Ottomans controlled Mecca and Medina, the Levant, most of the Mediterranean, and southeastern Europe for more than six hundred years.
It’s hard for us Americans to grasp the impact of Islam in general, and the Ottomans in particular, on world history, but think about this: In 1683, more than sixty years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the Ottoman Turks laid siege to Vienna. They would have taken the city, and perhaps the rest of Western Europe, if King Jan Sobieski of Poland and his winged hussars, the most fearsome cavalry formation in history, hadn’t arrived to save Vienna at the last possible moment.
Check a map. Austria is a long way from Turkey.
The point is that Turkey, or at least the ruling AKP party of President Erdogan, wants to restore Turkey to great power status, at least in the Middle East. The Saudis aren’t keen to give up that status. Their priority is containing the growing power of Iran, even if that means cooperating with Israel, which they’ve been doing through back channels. Just days before this book went to the editor, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman told Jewish leaders at a gathering in New York that the Palestinian Authority should accept the peace proposals put forward by the Trump administration “or shut up and stop complaining.”
Obviously, this isn’t what Fatah or Hamas wanted to hear, and it’s certainly a different tone than President Erdogan’s call for a united Muslim army to march on Jerusalem. But it makes the point clear: Even the world’s leading Sunni powers don’t get along. So, the notion that they’ll work together against Israel, especially with Israel useful to the Saudis as an ally against Iran, seems far-fetched. Without supernatural intervention, of course. And that’s where I’m going with this. As Dr. Michael Heiser wrote in his highly recommended book The Unseen Realm:
The battle of Gog and Magog would be something expected after the initiation of Yahweh’s plan to reclaim the nations and, therefore, draw his children, Jew or Gentile, from those nations. The Gog invasion would be the response of supernatural evil against the messiah and his kingdom. This is in fact precisely how it is portrayed in Revelation 20:7–10.
Gog would have been perceived as either a figure empowered by supernatural evil or an evil quasi-divine figure from the supernatural world bent on the destruction of God’s people. For this reason, Gog is regarded by many biblical scholars as a template for the New Testament antichrist figure.
While human actors will be involved, the identity of Gog, leader of the Magog coalition, is found in the spirit realm. Ezekiel spelled it out for us by pointing to Isaiah 14. He may even have added a subtle clue in this verse:
You will advance, coming on like a storm. You will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your hordes, and many peoples with you.Ezekiel 38:9 (emphasis added)
By naming yarkete tsaphon as the point of origin for the armies of Gog, Ezekiel pointed to the mountain of the storm-god, Baal, who Jesus identified as Satan.
Does this mean Gog is Satan? No. Gog is the Old Testament Antichrist figure. John the Revelator clearly distinguishes between the Antichrist (the Beast) and Satan (the dragon).
Identifying Gog as the Antichrist is not a new idea. Our Jewish brothers and sisters have been aware of Gog’s starring role in the end times for a long, long time:
An important part in the eschatological drama is assigned to Israel’s final combat with the combined forces of the heathen nations under the leadership of Gog and Magog, barbarian tribes of the North. Assembled for a fierce attack upon Israel in the mountains near Jerusalem, they will suffer a terrible and crushing defeat, and Israel’s land will thenceforth forever remain the seat of God’s kingdom.
In Jewish eschatology, Gog is the great end-times enemy who confronts YHWH and His people, Israel, in a climactic battle that coincides with the arrival of Messiah. (Actually, Jews who believe in a coming Day of Yahweh expect two messiahs, one from the tribe of Joseph or Ephraim, who falls in the Gog-Magog war, and the second from the tribe of Judah, who defeats Gog and is universally accepted as king.) While there are as many differences of opinion about end-times prophecy among Jewish scholars as there are among Christians, it’s clear that Gog was a prototype of the Christian Antichrist described by Paul and John. More on the Gog-Antichrist connection in a bit.
This view of Gog by Jews during the Second Temple period is hinted at by some of the choices made by translators of the Septuagint. For example, they made an interesting choice in rending the first two verses of Amos chapter 7. First, the ESV:
This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, he was forming locusts when the latter growth was just beginning to sprout, and behold, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings. When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said,
“O Lord GOD, please forgive!Amos 7:1–2 (emphasis added)
How can Jacob stand?
He is so small!”
Contrast that with the way the Septuagint translators interpreted the verse:
Thus the LORD showed me, and behold, a swarm of locusts coming early, and behold, one locust, Gog, the king. And it came to pass when he had finished devouring the grass of the land, that I said, “Lord God, be merciful; who shall raise up Jacob? for he is small in number.”Amos 7:1–2 (Septuagint translation by Lancelot C. L. Brenton, 1851, emphasis added)
Explaining how the Jewish translators of the Septuagint rendered that passage the way they did is way above my pay grade, but the bottom line is this: The scholars saw an army of invading locusts, similar (or maybe identical) to the supernatural army of Joel 2, and in trying to make sense of a difficult phrase they chose to connect it to a natural villain—Gog, the supernatural enemy of Israel in the last days.
Regardless which human face is worn by the commander of this great end-times army, the real leader, Gog, is unquestionably a creature from the abyss who leads an army from the cosmic (supernatural) north in a final assault on the holy mountain of God.
 Gilbert, D. (2016). I Predict! What 12 Global Experts Believe You Will See Before 2025. (Crane, MO: Defender).
 Furnish, T. (2018). “Talking Turkey about the Mahdi,” Occidental Jihadist, https://occidentaljihadist.com/2018/03/12/talking-turkey-about-the-mahdi/, retrieved 3/17/18.
 Dillinger, J. (2018). “29 Largest Armies in the World.” World Atlas, https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/29-largest-armies-in-the-world.html, retrieved 3/18/17.
 “MBS: Palestinians Should ‘Accept Trump Proposals or Shut Up,’” Al Jazeera, April 30, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/mbs-palestinians-accept-trump-proposals-shut-180430065228281.html, retrieved 5/2/18.
 Heiser, The Unseen Realm, pp. 364–365.
 Matthew 12:22–26, Mark 3:22–23, and Revelation 2:13.
 Kohler, K. (1906). “Eschatology.” The Jewish Encyclopedia, http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/5849-eschatology, retrieved 3/30/19.
 Kohler, K., and Ginzburg, L. (1906). “Armilus.” The Jewish Encyclopedia, http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1789-armilus, retrieved 3/30/18.