†he Burros of Berea

Gog & Magog for the Very First Time?

Gog & Magog for the Very First Time?

Copyright © Robert E. Cruickshank, Jr. (November 26, 2023)

All Rights Reserved

Daniel E. Harden (Editor)


Following the October 2023 Hamas attack on Israel, political pundit Glenn Beck sat down with prophecy pundit Max Lucado to discuss the “End Times Prophecies Unfolding Around Us.”[1]  While World War II carried with it the “possibility of Christ returning,” they reasoned, there wasn’t quite “enough” Biblical prophecy in play to seal the end-time deal.  This time around, the missing ingredient has finally been added to the mix, they argue. “We’ve got Gog and Magog,” said Beck, “for the very first time.”  Lucado responded with a smile, a chuckle, and a nod of agreement.

But Beck’s fact checkers must have been out to lunch for this episode. We already had Gog and Magog back in February of 2022, according to the late Pat Robertson.  After Russia invaded Ukraine, Roberston enthusiastically announced, “God is getting ready to do something amazing that will be fulfilled!”[2]   He was almost giddy as he repeatedly quoted from Ezekiel 38 and 39, the Gog and Magog prophecy, and said, “You can look at your maps. You can read your newspapers. You can listen to your news. And know for a fact that God is bringing to pass what he prophesied years ago through his servant Ezekiel.”[3]

This being the case, what Beck and Lucado should have said was: “We have Gog and Magog for the first time since we had them the last time.”  Apparently, they didn’t look at their maps, read their newspapers, listen to their news, or at the very least, tune in to Pat Robertson.

Robertson was way off, of course.  As it turned out, Gog of the land of Magog didn’t land on Ukrainian soil, and Russia didn’t go after Israel to take their oil[4] – oil which they didn’t even have in the first place.[5]  And that’s precisely the point: despite the prophecy pundit’s glee, the bad guys never end up being who they’ve been made out to be. Obama wasn’t the Antichrist, Trump wasn’t the Beast, and Putin wasn’t Gog. Or, is Hamas supposed to be Gog now? It’s honestly hard to keep up. Anyway, this is the great irony of Beck’s statement.  Far from the first time, “we’ve got Gog and Magog” for the thousandth time.


Today’s Gog Isn’t What He Used to Be

Gog and Magog have been invoked in popular literature for quite a while now. In the Anne of Green Gables series, Gog and Magog were two porcelain dogs that sat atop Miss Patty’s fireplace mantel. Miss Patty famously said to Miss Maria, “I shall leave the dogs where they are, if you will promise to be very careful of them … Their names are Gog and Magog. Gog looks to the right and Magog to the left.”[6] In the earliest versions of Jack and the Beanstalk, the giant was named Gogmagog before he was replaced by Blunderbore.[7]  Not to be outdone though, Gogmagog has recently made a comeback as the main antagonist in Stephen King’s novel Fairy Tale.  So, contrary to Beck’s claim, this is hardly Gogmagog’s first time around.

Of course, the Dispensationalists will opine that these books were all fictional in nature. But what better comparative to the Dispensational narrative?  The truth is that every Dispensational prediction has turned out to be a work of fiction. It would seem that the Dispensationalists’ Gog and Magog has about as much to do with Biblical fact as a Lovecraftian being in a Stephen King novel, two porcelain dogs on a mantlepiece, or a giant bellowing, “Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman.”  Perhaps the Dispensationalists should ditch the Gog and Magog idea altogether and go with the giant’s second name, Blunderbore?  After all, their failed predictions are just one blunder after another, and they’re always coming back with more.


Gog and Magog: A Short History

As Gary Shogren puts it, “End-Time Number Crunchers have a highly adapted gift of rewriting their predictions, once they have failed.”[8]  This gets to the heart of the matter and strikes at the root of the problem. By and large, the younger believers who are being duped by today’s Dispensational lunacy are unaware of its past buffoonery.[9] They would do well to pick up a copy of Frank Gumerlock’s book, The Day and the Hour,[10] for a survey of the unsuccessful foretelling of days gone by. On the other hand, there are older believers who’ve actually lived through the embarrassment of these empty expectations, but still won’t change the Dispensational station. Perhaps some of those infomercial pills to improve focus and memory loss would help?  To date, the Church’s speculative Gog and Magog forecasts have a 100% failure rate.

Aside from the fictional versions of Gog and Magog above, let’s take a romp through the nonfictional candidates throughout the generations[11] – none of whom ever lived up to their prophetic expectations:


Fourth Century: Goths

Fifth Century: Goths and Moors

Seventh Century: Huns

Eighth Century: Islamic Empire

Tenth Century: Hungarians

Eleventh Century: Avars (Turkish Speaking Tribes)

Fourteenth Century: Tartars (Mongols)

Fourteenth Century: Persecutors of the Lollards

Sixteenth Century: Ten Dispersed Tribes of Israel

Sixteenth Century: Turks and Saracens

Sixteenth Century: Mohammedans and the Papacy

Seventeenth Century: Pope and Spain

Seventeenth Century: Native Americans

Twentieth: Soviet Union


Regarding the second to the last contender for the part, the Native Americans might have a different opinion about who was more like Gog and Magog. But that’s another topic for another time. The pertinent nominee, for the purposes of this article, is the last one on the list – the Soviet Union. The sad fact is that the Dispensational memory is about as short as the Dispensational attention span, and many forget how the fall of the Soviet Union put a dent in the Dispensational plan.


Hooked on Dispensational Phonics

Most believers today think that all one needs to make the “Russian Connection” to Gog and Magog are two similar-sounding words, and it’s quite absurd. Nonetheless, the Hebrew word for “prince,” in Ezekiel 38:2 and 39:1, is Rosh. Dispensationalists claim this word sounds a lot like Russia, even though it doesn’t. But even if it did, it would mean nothing. The late Dr. Michael Heiser describes the deep (and I use the word loosely here) Dispensational exegesis that went into making this brilliant (again, a loose use of a word) determination:


“Ah Rosh…Russia. There we go! That’s about all the thought that went into it. It is not a view that is based in primary source material or even coherent thought … Show me someone who does exegesis by matching sounds between languages and then saying the words mean the same thing, and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t understand either exegesis or languages at all. There’s just no merit to this approach. It’s utterly absurd. It’s nonsense.”[12]


The sheer “nonsense” (as Heiser rightly calls it) of this approach can even be demonstrated by comparing words within our own language today.  For example, the word for a wooden club that you swing through the air (bat) sounds just like the word for a rodent that flies through the air (bat). Not only that, but the two “bats” are even spelled the exact same way.  But a baseball bat has about as much in common with a flying bat as Ezekiel’s “chief (Rosh) prince” (Ezek. 38:2, 39:1) has in common with modern-day Russia.

In keeping with the bat theme, the Rosh = Russia hermeneutic is another Dispensational “swing and a miss.”[13] But even if the Rosh bat did connect to the Russian ball, it would still be nothing but a fly ball.


The Gogmagog Gremlin was Nothing Before the Kremlin

Although he wasn’t president at the time, Governor Ronald Reagan explained why the Dispensationalists needed more than a near-rhyme. In and of itself, the Hebrew word Rosh just wasn’t enough for Russia to make the cut in the upcoming apocalyptic thriller. Russia needed to add one more element to its audition performance before it could get the part as the foe from the north. As Reagan explained in 1971:


“What other powerful nation is to the north of Israel? None. But it didn’t seem to make sense before the Russian revolution, when Russia was a Christian country. Now it does, now that Russia has become communistic and atheistic, now that Russia has set itself against God. Now it fits the description of Gog perfectly…. For the first time ever, everything is in place for the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. It can’t be too long now. Ezekiel says that fire and brimstone will be rained upon the enemies of God’s people. That must mean that they will be destroyed by nuclear weapons.”[14]


In the irony of all ironies, Ronald Reagan is credited as being the “one Western leader above all” whose policies eventually forced the collapse of the Soviet Union.[15]  “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” he famously said in the speech that precipitated the end of the Cold War.[16]  Reagan gave this stirring address in 1987, but he must have totally forgotten all about his previous speech 16 years earlier. What was Reagan thinking?

He himself said that everything was “in place for the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ” because the Soviet Union had come to life.  Thus, knocking that wall down would appear to knock all the prophetic pieces out of place, as well. This would mean that believers weren’t getting beamed into space, and the world wasn’t going to Hell. Not anytime soon, anyway. In short, when the Berlin Wall came down, the walls came down for Dispensationalism.


The Late Great Gog and Magog

Make no mistake about it, the Dispensationalists of that day needed the Soviet Union, and their prophecies couldn’t be fulfilled without it.  The negative effect of communism’s downfall upon the Rapture hopefuls cannot be emphasized strongly enough.

As Nicholas M. Railton writes, “most Evangelical leaders” and “nearly all TV preachers” of the time “vehemently attacked all attempts to relax tensions in the world.”[17] This was all done “in the name of Christ”[18] as these conflicts were thought to be the key to ushering in His return. And the Soviet Union was crucial to keeping the conflict going and the apocalyptic signs coming.

According to Tim LaHaye, for example, the Russian Communists donned the pages of Scripture. Silly as it sounds, LaHaye saw “those who dwell securely in the coastlands” (Ezek. 39:6) as “a clear reference to Marxists spies who, after years of indoctrinating students, will suddenly drop dead.”[19] He was dead serious.  “There will be a lot of vacancies in some university chairs,”[20]  LaHaye famously said. Looking back, we just laugh and shake our heads.

The TV preachers of the time preached a resounding message: “God had foreordained Christian America to fight an eschatological nuclear war with the Soviet Union.”[21] “I mean, from now on,” said Pat Robertson, “it’s going to be bloodshed, war, revolution and trouble.”[22] The Soviet Union was the key to the devastation that would usher in the American Christians’ salvation. Instead, when it fell, the resulting impact brought unexpected devastation to all their Dispensational hopes and dreams.

This devastating impact is fully felt in an iconic article that appeared in a 1991 issue of Cornerstone Magazine. With an intentional play on words and a slap in the face to Hal Lindsey, Mike Hertenstein wrote his satirical piece entitled, “The Late Great Gog and Magog.”[23] This powerful editorial captures the shock that believers felt as they watched the signs of the times melt. Hertenstein opened the article by recalling the recent world-changing events in Russia and the Christian believers’ attempts to process what was happening:


It was the third day of three that shook the world, and I was watching CNN with a friend. Events had been unfolding at a fantastic pace. The coup was crumbling. Boris Yeltsin was holding firm. And now Mother Russia was staging a dramatic resurrection from the dead. We sat watching, breathless, as the live report from Moscow concluded.

“Then my friend whirled on me … ‘Here’s what’s gonna happen next. Gorby’s gonna receive this massive head wound. Then he’s gonna get better.  And then the whole world is gonna follow him around. And Yeltsin will be his prophet.”[24]


Many believers today will recognize the script from which Hertenstein’s friend was reading. It’s the same one that we have now, only the actors are different. It’s the script that rips Revelation 13 from its historical context (i.e., the events of the first century and the unholy alliance between Israel and Rome)[25] and makes everything all about us and our current time. The problem is that the “us” always changes as the time changes, and the end-time countdown never engages.

Nonetheless, every self-absorbed generation continues to think that it’s all about “us.”  Hertenstein goes on to describe this as a “…particular Christian subculture which sees in every world crisis a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. We who were raised in the charismatic hinterlands during the late sixties and seventies,” he writes, “can hardly watch the news today without checking events against Hal Lindsey’s End Times calendar.”[26]


Meet the New Prophets/Same as the Old Prophets

The subculture Hertenstein describes still exists today, and too many believers are a part of it. Just replace the sixties and seventies with the 2010s and 2020s, replace Hal Lindsey with David Jeremiah, Greg Laurie, or Jack Hibbs, and nothing has changed at all – except the self-appointed authority figures whose predictions will fall. As Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). Or, as Bon Jovi put it:


It’s all the same
Only the names will change
It seems we’re wasting away[27]


This is what young believers today must wake up and realize. It truly is all the same, and nothing but the names have changed. It’s just different people cashing in on what Hal Lindsey was selling. And unless you’re one of the ones cashing in, you’re going to waste your life away – as so many before you sadly did. In the meantime, the prophecy pundits will line their pockets at your expense, using the same lines that Hal Lindsey used at others’ expense – fifty years ago when he published The Late Great Planet Earth.

Having said that, let’s continue with Hertenstein’s article. Ask yourself: do his words from 1991 sound strangely familiar to you even though you might be reading them for the first time?  All you need to do is make the proper adjustments ­– update the prophets, the books, and the technology, and this might as well be Jeremiah, Laurie, and Hibbs. Or even Beck and Lucado.


“I remember reading The Late Great Planet Earth and similar books in grade school, and then rushing off to school to provide long-winded arguments to my friends. ‘Haven’t you heard? The government is already working on the mark of the beast. The IRS is stamping  ‘666’ on income tax forms. Your name is on a computer in Belgium.

“Now, in certain circles, this sort of thing can make you a star.  I found out real quick there’s a certain breed who swallow this stuff without chewing and beg for more. But I also found – and it bugged me to death – that there was this one kid named Engberg who never really bought any of it.

“Despite countless discussions –sometimes heated– during lunch, the self-assured Engberg wouldn’t budge from his skepticism. That he wouldn’t convert was a source of disappointment to me, but I took comfort knowing Engberg would get his in the Great Tribulation.”[28]


As it turns out, Hertenstein’s friend never did “get his” in “the Great Tribulation,” and Hertenstein grew up to realize that “get saved or get left behind” is not a valid Gospel invitation.   “The Rapture, the Great Tribulation, and Gog and Magog” is not the Gospel message. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Gospel message (1 Cor. 15:1-5). We need to let the Gospel’s light shine and leave the darkness of the misguided, modern-day prophets behind. Hertenstein’s friend, Engberg, knew enough not to get blinded by the light of the big-name prophecy stars of his day.


Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Today, the same science fiction sensationalism that made Hal Lindsey a star is turning a whole new generation of pop-prophecy pundits into stars of their own. And we need more self-assured skeptics, like Engberg, who think critically.  Hertenstein found this out the hard way when the blow to the Kremlin struck a blow to the eschatology of his day. He writes:


“I remember the morning I heard the Berlin Wall had fallen during the night. In fact, I was still half asleep when I heard the radio news reporter make the announcement. My eyes bugged out and I stopped buttoning my shirt and ran over to crank up the volume and hear him repeat the news.

“It was true! This terrible symbol of death and stalemate which had endured my entire life was gone without warning. Talk about a thief in the night! The German people were dancing on the Berlin Wall! And the Soviet guards stood gaping in the same astonishment as everybody else.

“…All of us who had lived out our entire existence under the cold war cosmology suddenly had to apply some perestroika to our worldviews…We took it for granted that such things would never happen in the Soviet Union. Once a Gog, always a Gog.”[29]


Following this, the words that Hertenstein so eloquently penned next, toward the close of his article all those years ago, ring as true today as they did then. Maybe, even more so. Rather than swinging and missing like the prophecy pundits of his day, and those of our day, Hertenstein hit a home run:


“For now, it seems, the rumors of planet earth’s demise may have been somewhat premature. Facing such a possibility will require no small amount of fortitude and perestroika on the part of those American Christians who have been waiting –at least figuratively– upon the hilltops with bags packed. Maybe if we can all stop looking so hard for the rapture, we might be able to start looking for Jesus.”[30]


There’s only one word for this: Amen!


With that said, as we look to Jesus and to His word, we’ll find that all the doomsday events of which He spoke were to take place before His last disciple died (Matt. 16:27-28) and before the first-century generation passed away (Matt. 24:34).  True to Jesus’s words, it all happened as He had foretold in the events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, and there are many excellent books documenting this.[31]

Regarding Ezekiel’s Battle of Gog and Magog, this took place even earlier.  The pages of Ezekiel 38-39 find their fulfillment in the pages of the book of Esther, and there are many works documenting this as well.[32] And the bottom line in all of this? It all took place long before Hamas, modern-day Russia, and even the Cold War. Interpreting fulfilled prophecy as unfilled is the great error of the Church today, and many are getting hurt along the way.


Gog and Magog for the Last Time

Today’s younger believers need to take a page from Engberg’s handbook and start giving these things a second look. People like David Jeremiah, Gregg Laurie and Jack Hibbs will join the ranks of the blundering prophets who went before, and their works will be classified as fiction. Whoever their Gog and Magog is will be added to the list above as the twenty-first-century version of Blunderbore. And a hundred years from now, the next Glenn Beck will be sitting down with the next Max Lucado talking about how they now have “Gog and Magog” for “the very first time.”

Or…maybe not?

God’s People in this generation could finally take a stand and demand that their leaders stop selling the sensationalism of Dispensationalism. Will they do it? Only time will tell. And time will indeed tell, because time isn’t ending any time soon. Here’s hoping that today’s believers will finally say, for the first time, “we’ve had Gog and Magog for the last time! It’s enough already.”



[1] https://rumble.com/v3sdcle-max-lucado-and-glenn-beck-discuss-end-times-prophecies-unfolding-around-us.html?fbclid=IwAR3qK38AUsvzpYp3rJqGhpN4-ULjfOlHaSpcYmYKuZUdJI4XB56e_VXebkA

[2] https://www2.cbn.com/news/world/god-getting-ready-do-something-amazing-cbn-founder-pat-robertson-russia-and-its-place

[3] https://www2.cbn.com/news/world/god-getting-ready-do-something-amazing-cbn-founder-pat-robertson-russia-and-its-place

[4] For an example of the Dispensational contention that Russia is going to invade Israel for oil, see: Andy Woods, The Middle East Meltdown: The Coming Islamic Invasion of Israel, pp. 62-65.

[5] As Golda Meir once said, “Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against Moses. He took us 40 years through the desert in order to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil!” https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/golda_meir_115960

[6] https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~rgs/ann-X.html

[7] https://fairytale.fandom.com/wiki/Jack_and_the_Beanstalk

[8] https://openoureyeslord.com/2015/09/10/how-to-calculate-when-jesus-will-come-without-even-being-a-prophet/

[9] https://americanvision.org/posts/the-nagging-persistence-of-failed-eschatologies/

[10] https://store.americanvision.org/collections/books/products/the-day-and-the-hour-christianitys-perennial-fascination-with-predicting-the-end-of-the-world

[11] Adapted from Gary DeMar, The Gog and Magog End-Time Alliance, p. 48.

[12] Naked Bible Transcript, Episode 152, pp. 11, 12  https://nakedbiblepodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/NB-152-Transcript.pdf


[13] For more on this, see: Robert E. Cruickshank, Jr., “Dispensationalism Strikes Out Again: Three More Verses They Get Wrong.” https://burrosofberea.com/dispensationalism-strikes-out-again-three-more-verses-they-get-wrong/

[14] From an address that Ronald Reagan gave at a dinner with California legislators in 1971. A shorter version of this address is found in Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern Culture (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1992), 162.

[15] https://www.heritage.org/report/ronald-reagan-and-the-fall-communism

[16] https://www.britannica.com/story/mr-gorbachev-tear-down-this-wall-reagans-berlin-speech

[17] Railton, Nicholas M. “Gog and Magog: the History of a Symbol.” Evangelical Quarterly: An International Review of Bible and Theology 75.1 (2003): 23-43, p. 42

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Mike Herenstein, “The Late Great Gog and Magog,” Cornerstone, Volume 20, Issue 96, Jesus People USA, 1991, pp. 5-6.

[24] Ibid., p. 5.

[25] See: David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation https://store.americanvision.org/collections/books/products/the-days-of-vengeance

[26] Ibid. p. 5.

[27] https://genius.com/Bon-jovi-wanted-dead-or-alive-lyrics

[28] Hertenstein, “The Late Great Gog and Magog,” p. 5.

[29] Ibid., p. 5.

[30] Ibid., p. 6.

[31] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness https://store.americanvision.org/collections/books/products/last-days-madness

Gary DeMar, Wars and Rumors of War https://store.americanvision.org/collections/books/products/wars-and-rumors-of-wars

John Bray, Matthew 24 Fulfilled https://store.americanvision.org/collections/books/products/matthew-24-fulfilled

Brian Godawa, Matthew 24 Fulfilled: Biblical and Historical Sources  https://www.amazon.com/Matthew-24-Fulfilled-Biblical-Historical-ebook/dp/B06X96MGWC

James B. Jordan, Matthew 23-25: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary https://store.americanvision.org/collections/books/products/matthew-23-25-a-literary-historical-and-theological-commentary

[32] Gary DeMar, The Gog and Magog End-Time Alliance: Israel, Russia and Syria in Bible Prophecy https://store.americanvision.org/collections/books/products/the-gog-and-magog-end-time-alliance-israel-russia-and-syria-in-bible-prophecy

Gary DeMar, Why the End of the World is Not in Your Future, https://store.americanvision.org/collections/books/products/why-the-end-of-the-world-is-not-in-your-future

Phil Kayser, “The Battle of Gog and Magog Fulfilled in Esther” https://biblicalblueprints.com/Sermons/Old%20Testament/Esther/battle%20of%20Ezek?utm_source=kaysercommentary.com

James B. Jordan, “The Battle of Gog and Magog” http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/biblical-horizons/no-2-the-battle-of-gog-and-magog/

Robert E. Cruickshank, Jr. “Gog and Magog, Part 1” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYoe_PsG3Mo

Robert E. Cruickshank, Jr. “Gog and Magog, Part 2” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv8GR1tLo1k