Before the Tribulation
The following timing views are founded on the Premillennial interpretation of Scriptures as they relate to the order of future events. Premillennialism was the dominant view during the first three centuries of Church history and was later reinstated by German Calvinist theologian Johann Heinrich Alsted in his book The Beloved City (1627).39 The first two timings rest heavily on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture viewpoint, which sees the Church removed from the earth before God pours out His wrath during a seven-year Tribulation period.
Before Both the Rapture and the Tribulation
Some theologians believe the Gog-Magog Battle will occur before both the Rapture of the Church and the seven-year Tribulation. A few of the supporters of this view are Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins of the popular Left Behind series of books, and Joel Rosenberg who wrote Epicenter. Another supporter, David Cooper, noted with confidence back in 1940, years before Israel had even become a nation again, that “there will be a time between now and the beginning of the Tribulation when the Jews will be dwelling in the Land in unwalled cities and will be at rest” after the Church has been raptured.40 The pros and cons of this timing viewpoint are as follows:
2. With Islam’s severe defeat and her coalition nations lying in ruin, many a Muslim’s faith in Allah would be shattered. The Islamic world would no longer impede the Jewish people from removing the Dome of the Rock off of the Temple Mount and begin rebuilding the Third Temple in its place, the very Temple which the Antichrist is prophesied to desecrate during the Tribulation (Daniel 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
3. God revealing Himself to the world so dynamically is in character with His willingness to warn before implementing global judgment and to call people to repentance. A resulting great multitude, therefore, may come to then know Christ and be included in the Rapture and avoid God’s wrath during the Tribulation.
1. Placing the invasion before the Rapture could contradict the first general time clue of the terms “latter years” and “last days,” that is if this “time of Jacob’s trouble” is reserved only for the seven-year Tribulation (Jeremiah 30:7; Ezekiel 38:8,16 NKJV).
2. Placing the invasion before the Rapture would contradict the fifth general time clue which tells of Israel living unsuspecting and in peace before the attack. Unless peace is derived by Israel subjugating its surrounding neighbors or by the peace covenant made with the Antichrist which starts the seven-year countdown, Israel yet to have attained that peaceful precondition (Daniel 9:27).
3. The New Testament indicates that no prophetic event has to occur before the Rapture, which is called imminency. Imminency precludes such prophetic events such as the Gog-Magog Battle happening before the Rapture.
4. The removal of “he who now restrains” coincides with the Antichrist emerging on the world scene (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 NKJV). Because the Church is the temple of the Holy Spirit and so, therefore, could be identified as the Restrainer, the Rapture would have to happen before the Antichrist is revealed (1 Corinthians 3:16). Should the peaceful precondition be tied to the Antichrist’s peace covenant, then the Gog-Magog Battle follows both the Rapture and the onset of the Tribulation.
5. A timing problem exists for Israel in that midway through the Tribulation the Antichrist’s abomination in the newly built Temple will cause the Jews to flee into the desert (Matthew 24:15-16). Some argue the Jews would no longer then have access to the Gog-Magog invader’s weapons to burn. And so, the seven years of Tribulation no longer matches the seven years of burning the weapons.