The prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and 39, often referred to as the Battle of Gog and Magog, is hands-down one of the most important and influential end-time prophecies in all of Scripture. But it is also one of the most controversial and widely misunderstood prophecies.
Gog and Magog are names that appear in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), notably Ezekiel, and the Book of Revelation, sometimes indicating individuals and sometimes lands and peoples. Sometimes, but not always, they are connected with the end times, and the passages from the Book of Ezekiel and Revelation in particular have attracted attention for this reason. From ancient times to the late Middle Ages, Gog and Magog were identified with Eurasian nomads such as the Khazars, Huns and Mongols and were conflated with various other legends concerning Alexander the Great, the Amazons, Red Jews, and the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, and became the subject of much fanciful literature. They appear in the Qur’an as Yajuj and Majuj, and the Muslim world identified them first with Turkic tribes from Central Asia and later with the Mongols. In modern times they remain associated with apocalyptic thinking, especially in the United States and the Muslim world.
As one nomadic people followed another on the Eurasian steppes, so the identification of Gog and Magog shifted. In the 9th and 10th centuries these kingdoms were identified by some with the lands of the Khazars, a Turkic people who had converted to Judaism and whose empire dominated Central Asia–the 9th-century monk Christian of Stavelot referred to Gazari, said of the Khazars that they were “living in the lands of Gog and Magog” and noted that they were “circumcised and observing all [the laws of] Judaism. Arab traveler ibn Fadlan also reported of this belief, writing around 921 he recorded that “Some hold the opinion that Gog and Magog are the Khazars.” According to the famous Khazar Correspondence (c. 960), King Joseph of Khazaria claimed that his people were the descendants of “Kozar”, the seventh son of Togarmah.
The early Muslim traditions were summarised by al-Qazwini (d. 1283) in a popular work saying: “They scratch at their wall each day until they almost break through, and each night God restores it, but when they do break through they will be so numerous that “their vanguard is in Syria and their rear in Khorasan.”
When Yajuj an Majuj were identified with real peoples it was the Turks, who threatened Baghdad and northern Iran; later, when the Mongols destroyed Baghdad in 1258, it was they who were Gog and Magog.
In Europe expectations of the end-times have receded with the advance of a secular worldview during the 19th century. This has not been the case in the U.S., where a 2002 poll indicated that 59% of Americans believed the events predicted in the Book of Revelation would come to pass.
Considering geographical knowledge in Ezekiel’s time (during the Babylonian Exile), the northern most land of that day would be placed in Asia Minor or Anatolia-today known as Turkey-an Islamic nation, and one rediscovering its Islamist roots, thanks to Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The only conclusion can be that Gog and Magog is Turkey.
Most conservative, trained scholars of the Bible use what is called the historical-grammatical method of interpretation. This is to say that they simply identify the names found within Ezekiel’s prophecy according to how Ezekiel himself would have understood them. Thus in the late seventh and early sixth century B.C. when Ezekiel prophesied, Magog, Meshech and Tubal were known to have dwelt in Asia Minor, or modern-day Turkey.
The only conclusion can be that Gog and Magog is Turkey.