There is no doubt that this particular chapter is and has been a source of controversy for many years, as it deals with a nation, Magog, and an alliance with Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. There is no historical evidence that any of these nations existed at that time; there are historians that feel Magog represents one of two leaders that were men of war that came about 12 years after Israel had returned to the land of Promise following the 70 years, Cambyses, king of Persia or Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria.
Over the years many have concluded that this chapter refers to the gathering of a great army led by a “far northern nation”, most often Russia. As a general guideline in prophecy, there would be an understanding of who was intended in the day or would be understood that it was an individual arising on the scene that the spokesman and his audience would know. Note, the term “general guideline”, not a hard fast rule. Also, in prophecy there is often a double meaning and/or application of intent, one for the immediate or near future and secondly for the distant future.
It is my opinion there is a “double” meaning here, as there is historical evidence that Antiochus did attack Jerusalem again on his return from Egypt and took the articles used for worship out of the temple. As to the distant future application, there is much debate. There are those in the past that have said this refers to America, because many U.S. citizens are descendants of Scythians. Some Jewish commentators have felt it referenced “Christians” in general.
The “near future” application has historic records that Antiochus and his army were defeated and destroyed by Judas Maccabeus. What about the “distant future”?
There are those that say this prophetic declaration speaks of our present day. However for the integrity of prophecy, Israel/Jerusalem would need to be dwelling in saftey (vs. 14). That certainly isn’t the case now, nor in the recent past, nor does it look promising in the days ahead. Some would say it depends on what is intended by to “dwell safely” means. It could yet come to pass, that Israel would be a locale of safety, but that is a topic for another time.
What’s the “take away” from this chapter? God has and will always have the last word when it comes to His people, whether believing Jew or believing Gentile. Germany and Hitler came to understand this, even though there were many heroes for the Jewish people during the reign of terror that Hitler’s henchmen brought against the Jewish people of Europe.
Let us live in light of eternity and be the people of light!