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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 38

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes


6. Future invasion of the Promised Land chs. 38-39

This is the sixth and last message (a proof oracle [Note: Ibid., p. 431.] ) that Ezekiel received from the Lord the night before the refugees reached the exiles with the message that Jerusalem had fallen (cf. Ezekiel 33:21-22). It too deals with God’s plans for Israel in the distant future, when He would restore her to her land. It answers the question, What about future enemies of Israel? This message guarantees Yahweh’s protection of Israel. This section of the book consists of seven messages each marked by the introductory phrase, "Thus says the Lord God" (Ezekiel 38:3; Ezekiel 38:10; Ezekiel 38:14; Ezekiel 38:17; Ezekiel 39:1; Ezekiel 39:17; Ezekiel 39:25). This is another apocalyptic passage.

"In Ezekiel 38-39 the prophet used parallels from Israel’s first Exodus to describe God’s ’new’ exodus preceding the kingdom era. All that God intended for Israel during the first Exodus will be accomplished in the ’new’ one.

• Destruction of Gentile oppressors (Exodus 5-12; Ezekiel 38-39)

• Plans for building God’s house (Exodus 20-40; Ezekiel 40-43)

• Climax: God’s glory enters His house (Exodus 40:35; Ezekiel 43:5)

• Instructions for worship (Leviticus; Ezekiel 43-46)

• Land boundaries for Israel (Numbers 34; Ezekiel 47)

• Division of land among the tribes (Joshua 14-21; Ezekiel 48)" [Note: Dyer, in The Old . . ., p. 691.]

Verses 1-2

The Lord commanded Ezekiel to utter an oracle of judgment against Gog (cf. 1 Chronicles 5:4; Revelation 20:8), who was the prince (king) over Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. His land was Magog (cf. Genesis 10:2; Revelation 20:8).

The identity of this ruler has been the subject of much study and speculation. The possibilities include a Reubenite prince (1 Chronicles 5:4), a former king of Lydia named Gugu (or Gyges), an unknown "dark" figure (from the Sumerian word gug, meaning "darkness"), a man named Gagu who ruled over Sakhi (an area north of Assyria), an unspecified official ruler (taking "Gog" as a title) of a particular land (Magog), a general personal name for an otherwise unidentified enemy of Israel, or a code name for Babylon. [Note: See Alexander, "Ezekiel," p. 929; and Cooper, pp. 331-33.] It is probably safe to say at least that "Gog" refers to the name or title of a ruler who will be active in history while Israel is dwelling safely in her land (cf. Ezekiel 38:8). Perhaps Ezekiel referred to this unnamed future enemy of Israel as a dark figure (unknown and evil) calling him "Dark" much as we might refer to such a person as a new Hitler. [Note: Allen, Ezekiel 20-48, pp. 204-5.] This may be the future "king of the North" (cf. Daniel 11:40-45). I think it is here, but Gog also represents another important eschatological figure.

The land of Magog probably refers to the former domain of the Scythians, who lived in the mountains between the Black and Caspian seas. [Note: Josephus, Antiquities of . . ., 1:6:1. Cf. Carl Armerding, "Russia and the King of the North," Bibliotheca Sacra 120:477 (January-March 1963):50-55.] Gog will also have authority over Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. Rosh (lit. "head" or "chief") has not been identified either by biblical or extrabiblical references. The idea that it refers to Russia rests on etymological similarities, but the name Russia only came into existence in the late eleventh century A.D. [Note: Alexander, "Ezekiel," p. 930.] Thus a linguistic connection between Rosh and Russia is very tenuous. [Note: Jon Ruthven, "Ezekiel’s Rosh And Russia: A Connection?" Bibliotheca Sacra 125:500 (October 1968):324-33, sought to support this connection.] Rosh may be an adjective describing the ruler of Meshech and Tubal. Meshech and Tubal occur together in Scripture (Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 32:26; Genesis 10:2; 1 Chronicles 1:5) and apparently refer to regions of Anatolia (modern western Turkey), the areas that became known as Phrygia and Cappadocia. Some writers have connected Mesheck and Tubal with the Russian cities of Moscow and Tobolsk. [Note: E.g., The Scofield Reference Bible, p. 881.] Another writer concluded that Gomer referred to Germany. [Note: A. C. Gaebelein, The Prophet Ezekiel: An Analytical Exposition, p. 259.] But again the connection is only etymological similarity. There is no literary or historical support for these identifications. The whole region would be what is now parts of southwestern Russia, Georgia, eastern Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

Verses 1-9

The enemy of restored Israel 38:1-9

Verses 3-4

Ezekiel was to announce that Yahweh was opposed to Gog. The Lord would reverse the fortunes of this ruler, take him captive, and bring him and his vast, impressive army out of his homeland. Putting hooks in his jaws pictures control that he would not be able to resist. The Lord would be the first cause of this action, but doubtless there would be secondary causes as well, such as Satan’s influence and human decisions (cf. 2 Samuel 24:1; 1 Chronicles 21:1; Isaiah 10:5-19; Habakkuk 1:5-11).

Verses 5-6

Along with Gog, the Lord would take Persia, Ethiopia, Put, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah captive. This would involve vast numbers of soldiers. Persia lay to Israel’s northeast, Ethiopia to her southwest, Put to her southeast (on the African coast of the southern Red Sea), Gomer to her northwest (in the Taurus mountains of Anatolia and possibly farther northwest in modern western Europe), and Beth-togarmah to her northwest (southeast of the Black Sea). Thus peoples all around Israel would unite against her under Gog’s leadership. As Babylonia sought to destroy Israel in the past, so this latter-day Babylon will seek to destroy her in the future (cf. Revelation 16:13-14; Revelation 17:5). Ezekiel pictured a large alliance of nations against Israel.

Verses 7-9

The Lord told Gog to be ready with his allies. He would summon Gog to attack the Promised Land when the Israelites were back in it having been re-gathered in the end times (cf. Jeremiah 32:14; Daniel 8:26). The Israelites would be living securely in their land at this time enjoying peaceful conditions (cf. Ezekiel 37:26). Gog and his allies would descend on the land like a storm cloud.

Verses 10-12

At that time Gog would devise an evil plan against the Israelites. He would plan to invade the Israelites while they are at rest and plunder them. Israel would seem to be completely defenseless relying on her God to protect her and not fortifying herself. Israel has never in her past or present history enjoyed such an ideally peaceful situation. She would be living then at the center of the world as far as God’s purposes for the world are concerned (cf. Ezekiel 5:5; Deuteronomy 32:8), namely, the Promised Land.

Verses 10-13

The enemy’s intention 38:10-13

Verse 13

Other nations would also inquire about Gog’s intentions and clarify his purpose to take much spoil from the Israelites. Sheba was in eastern Arabia, Dedan in Arabia, and Tarshish was in southern Spain or Sardinia.

Verse 14

The Lord wanted Ezekiel to tell Gog that on the day the Lord would call him up for service (Ezekiel 38:4) he would know that Israel dwelt securely in her own land.

Verses 14-16

The invasion of the enemy from the north 38:14-16

Verses 15-16

He and his allies would descend on Israel from the north and cover her like a storm cloud (cf. Ezekiel 38:6; Ezekiel 39:2; Daniel 11:40-45). Coming from the north recalls the earlier invasions of the Assyrians and Babylonians, but this will be a future invasion. God would bring Gog against His people "in the last days" (cf. Ezekiel 38:8; Ezekiel 38:14; Ezekiel 38:18; Ezekiel 39:8; Ezekiel 39:11) to teach the nations to acknowledge Yahweh. They would do this when God used Gog to demonstrate His holiness (unique deity) in their eyes. Yahweh would raise up Gog as He had raised up the Pharaoh of the Exodus to demonstrate His power when He overthrew him.

Verse 17

The Lord asked rhetorically if it was Gog about whom He had spoken through His other servants the prophets many years earlier. "Are you he of whom the prophets spoke?" Yes, he was. This was not the first revelation of a powerful enemy whom God would bring against the Israelites (cf. Deuteronomy 31:17; Psalms 2:1-3; Isaiah 14:24-25; Isaiah 26:20-21; Isaiah 29:1-8; Jeremiah 4:5; Jeremiah 6:26; Jeremiah 30:18-24; Joel 2:20; Joel 3:9-21; Zephaniah 1:14-18; Zephaniah 3:8; Zephaniah 3:15-20; Zechariah 12:2-3; Zechariah 14:2).

Verses 17-23

Yahweh’s judgment of the enemy 38:17-23

Verses 18-19

God would become very angry with Gog when he attacked Israel (cf. Genesis 12:3). He would send a great earthquake in the land that would express His anger (cf. Revelation 16:18).

"Yahweh’s emotional reaction to Gog’s invasion is obvious as he explodes, heaping up expressions for anger unparalleled in the book, if not in the entire OT." [Note: Block, The Book . . . 48, p. 457.]

Verses 20-21

Every living thing on earth would feel this earthquake, the sign of God’s presence. Mountains would fall down, as well as cliffs with their steep pathways, as would the walls that people had erected. Gog’s allied forces would even turn on each other and fight one another (cf. Judges 7:22; 1 Samuel 14:20; Haggai 2:22; Zechariah 14:13; Revelation 19:19-20). Apparently the sword that God would call for to defeat Gog would be that of his own allies rather than that of Israel (cf. Revelation 20:9).

Verses 22-23

The Lord would shower hailstones, lightning, and burning sulfur, probably from erupting volcanoes, on Gog and his allies (cf. Genesis 19:24; Revelation 19:21). He would also attack his armies causing bloodshed and disease (cf. Revelation 19:15). This would result in great glory for God among the nations (cf. Revelation 19:6). They would recognize Him as the only true God when He revealed Himself this way. The Lord had used Nebuchadnezzar as His sword against Israel, but He would wield this sword against Gog Himself.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 38". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/ezekiel-38.html. 2012.
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