Let me just put this out there:
I believe that the upcoming Ezekiel 38-39 (Gog/Magog) war will occur in conjunction with the rapture, and that the antichrist will claim it was the Battle of Armageddon. He will then seek to “change the times and laws” and attempt to set up his own “kingdom age”.
There are a few reasons I believe this. The first is that the Jews are expecting a Messiah figure to come and inaugurate a Messianic Kingdom. When Jesus didn’t do that right away, they rejected Him. The coming anti-messiah will attempt to fulfill the Messianic expectations of the Jews. The second reason is that many who call themselves by the “Christian religion” are not truly born again in Christ. These will not be raptured. It is conceivable how those left behind would be confused and ripe for deception if they lack appropriate discernment. The third reason is that the word is expecting an apocalyptic battle. Many religions (Islam and New Age are two) prophesy that a major change is coming and will be marked by war. These prophecies are vague enough that the Ezekiel 38-39 war would easily “fulfill” them, if the right person delivered a smooth interpretation accompanied by signs and wonders…
Much of Israel, and likely the world, will thus interpret the Ezekiel 38-39 (Gog Magog) war and the events that follow as fulfilling Messianic prophecies. Israel’s partial blindness will be lifted (Romans 11:25) and they will see God because of God’s direct and unmistakable intervention to save them. Israel will rightly worship God as a result, but instead of embracing Jesus as their Messiah (Yeshua HaMashiach – as two witnesses and 144,000 Jews will boldly proclaim), many will return to Old Testament / Old Covenant worship and reinstate the sacrificial system. Then, as a nation, it appears that they will perform the ultimate spurning of Jesus and embrace the antichrist as their “messiah”. It is the critical refining test for Israel, and we are told that 2/3 will fail and only 1/3 will pass:
“In the whole land, declares the Lord,
two thirds shall be cut off and perish,
and one third shall be left alive.
And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
Zechariah 13:8-9 ESV
I am fully convinced that the Antichrist will attempt to present himself as the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. Remember that satan knows the Biblical prophecies, and will try to duplicate them well enough to fool even the elect – if it were possible (Matthew 24:24).
I want you to consider the following Messianic tradition, bolding mine:
If necessary, Messiah ben Joseph will wage war against the evil forces and die in combat with the enemies of God and Israel. According to Saadia Gaon the need for his appearance will depend on the spiritual condition of the Jewish people. In the Sefer Zerubbabel and later writings, after his death a period of great calamities will befall Israel. God will then resurrect the dead and usher in the Messianic Era of universal peace. Messiah ben David will reign as a Jewish king during the period when God will resurrect the dead.
The Jewish expectation is that there WILL be future prophetic wars that will result in the ushering in of the Messianic Era of “universal peace”. To examine this further, we go to this article, aish.com – Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus:
Jesus Did Not Fulfill the Messianic Prophecies
What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? One of the central themes of biblical prophecy is the promise of a future age of perfection characterized by universal peace and recognition of God. (Isaiah 2:1-4, 32:15-18, 60:15-18; Zephaniah 3:9; Hosea 2:20-22; Amos 9:13-15; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23, 14:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34)
Specifically, the Bible says he will:
Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: “God will be King over all the world – on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One” (Zechariah 14:9).
If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be the Messiah.
When God intervenes and saves Israel from certain destruction at the hands of Gog, “someone” will arrive promising this age of peace. He will allow the Temple to be rebuilt, the Jews to return to Israel, and attempt to unite humanity in religion. At first, this will probably look a lot like Judaism. However, we know that at some point, this “someone” will claim to be “god” himself. Many Jews will clue in at that point and flee, but many will not…
For more discussion on Messianic Expectation and how many Jews will play into the antichrist’s hand, please see these posts:
- Why Israel Rejected Jesus at His First Coming
- The Covenant With Israel – Who Confirms It?
- Who is the Antichrist and What Does He Do?
- Who is the False Prophet and What Does He Do?
- Who is Mystery Babylon, and What Does She Do?
I wish I didn’t have to include this section. Unfortunately, within the Christian religion, there is much false teaching. Through the letters to the churches in Revelation Chapters 2&3, we understand that there are some true believers in every church – some who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. The sad reality, though, is that many – millions – who go by the name “Christian” are not saved and will not be taken in the rapture. The rapture is akin to salvation in that everyone who would go to heaven if they died that day will be taken; there is no partial rapture.
Recent studies have shown that only 31% of Americans claiming to be “born again” actually have a biblical worldview. The numbers go down from there, with only 2% of those in the Catholic religion having a biblical worldview.
It is clear that not everyone who calls Jesus, “Lord”, is truly known by Him, and these will be left behind at the time of the rapture (Matthew 7:21-23). Many in this “left behind” group do not have a good grasp on the scriptures and are lacking in discernment. They may know that “Jesus is coming someday”, and without searching the scriptures for themselves, many will fall pray to the deception. Within Catholicism in particular, there is much false teaching surrounding the end times:
Strange things seem to be going on in the world, which is prompting news media and citizens alike to think about the coming “apocalypse” (which means “revelation”). Almost all world religions point to some type of climactic event of either enlightenment, ushering in a time of peace, or cataclysmic ending.
None of these compare to the detail and volume of prophecy found in the Bible, which clearly spells out what will happen at the End. Things are going to continue on as always, until suddenly they don’t.
The entertainment industry has flooded us with “apocalyptic” movies for decades now. Starting out rather demurely in the 1950’s, shows now blatantly portray scenes from the book of Revelation – albeit with “doctored” details. Satan has his own version of how he wants things to play out.
Satan, of course, is fully aware that the end is near. His ‘mystery of lawlessness’ is already at work and the world is being bombarded with imagery mocking God’s Word. Satan has primed humanity to accept his explanation of the Ezekiel 38-39 war, the disappearance of millions of Christians, and worldwide calamity. As soon as the Restrainer (Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ) is removed, satan will act on his plan.
As I have stated previously, it’s impossible to overemphasize the significance that God Himself is arranging the Ezekiel 38-39 war exactly according to His schedule. God has one final test for Israel. He will use the battle of Gog / Magog as a challenge for both Israel and the nations. It will be deliberately presented so that it can be interpreted by Israel as the final war (Battle of Armageddon).
This belief might come from naivite, but it also might be part of the satanic deception that will come upon the earth after the rapture of the church. This deception likely involves the antichrist attempting to “fulfill” Biblical prophecy about the Messiah and Messianic Kingdom. This deception would include that the events marking the beginning of the Day of the Lord (including the Ezekiel 38-39 war and the events of the Seals – Seal 6 in particular) are actually marking the inauguration of the Messianic Kingdom.
Satan will attempt to usher in his own “golden age” – thinking to change the course of the end:
He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law – Daniel 7:25 ESV
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 ESV
When God intervenes, Israel will look for the Messiah to inaugurate the Messianic Kingdom. A “messiah” will most certainly appear. Will Israel accept or reject the ultimate false messianic figure?
We know that God’s truth will prevail, and the true battle of Armageddon will come at the end of the antichrist’s rule, approximately 7 years after the rapture of the church.
Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.
The Bible is infallible. I am not. I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture. I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details, some of which I think might need to be adjusted slightly. I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!