Click to donate today!
This chapter is the continuation of the previous one and goes on to make known to us what God is going to do with Gog.
Gog as Spoil for Israel
Ezekiel must continue to prophesy against Gog (Ezekiel 39:1). For the fifth time the words “thus says the Lord GOD” are heard in connection with Gog. The first words that follow are similar to those of the beginning of the previous chapter (Ezekiel 38:1-Leviticus :).
The LORD repeats His intention to take Gog up from his home in “the remotest parts of the north” or “the uttermost north” to bring him against “the mountains of Israel” (Ezekiel 39:2). Immediately afterwards, He says that He will disarm Gog and his band in Israel and how He will do it (Ezekiel 39:3). It is presented as a battle, in which Gog has no chance, however. The LORD simply knocks his bow out of his left hand and renders his right hand powerless so that he cannot hold his arrows. There he stands, defenseless. Then he will fall on the mountains of Israel, along with all those who have gone up with him (Ezekiel 39:4). There they lie, defeated. Those who have thought to rob rich booty are given by the LORD to the predatory birds and the hyenas for food.
Even though the armies of Gog that have escaped from the mountains regroup in the open field, they are no match for the LORD there either (Ezekiel 39:5). He will cut them down there. It will happen, because He has declared so. The land in the uttermost north, Magog, from which Gog has gone, will be judged by the LORD with His fire (Ezekiel 39:6). The fire will also come to the coastlands that live in safety. It is possible that this refers to the countries that lie on the coast of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
As for Israel, the LORD will make His holy Name known in their midst (Ezekiel 39:7). He will no longer let His holy Name be profaned. He is the “Holy One” – here not of Israel (Psalms 71:22; Isaiah 5:19; Isaiah 10:20Isaiah 12:6; Isaiah 30:12Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 41:14Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 43:14Isaiah 45:11; Isaiah 47:4Isaiah 48:17; Isaiah 54:5Isaiah 60:14), but – “in Israel”. He dwells in the midst of His people. His judgment on Gog in His land makes that clear once again. In that day, the day about which He has spoken that Gog will be judged and for which He has looked forward, there will be a firm peace, to which no one can change anything (Ezekiel 39:8). Then there will be undisturbed, full peace in Israel and in the world.
The destruction is described in a few words. The description of the consequences is much more detailed. The enemies believe they will ambush Israel as prey, but the opposite happens: the inhabitants of Israel will take spoil of their attackers (Ezekiel 39:9-2 Samuel :). This section is reminiscent of the Jews in Susan in the book of Esther, who are also first threatened with being killed by their enemies, but where the roles are also reversed (Esther 9:1-2 Samuel :).
The weaponry of the armies of Gog will serve as firewood. It is a huge arsenal. One will be able to make fires of it for as much as seven years. Usually captured weapons are added to one’s own weapon stock. But addition to one’s own stock of weapons is not necessary, for there will be no more wars. At the coming of Christ, weapons have been turned into farm implements (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3).
After the complete extermination of Gog, the LORD designates a grave for the fallen in Israel (Ezekiel 39:11). There will be no transportation of the corpses to their own land. The place of the grave is “the valley of those who pass by”. That valley will become a mass grave, so it can no longer be used as a thoroughfare for travelers. The valley will be given a new name, “valley of Hamon-gog” or “valley of the multitude of Gog”.
The slaughter among the armies of Gog will be so great that it will take seven months to bury all the corpses, or what is left of them (Ezekiel 39:12). In burying those countless corpses, the entire population will participate (Ezekiel 39:13). The LORD has defeated the enemy, He gets the glory. His people share in the victory and deal with the results. It is the sure proof of the total annihilation of the enemy. They not only hear of it, but can touch the evidence of it, as it were.
After seven months, when the masses have been buried, men set apart for the purpose will be engaged in tracking down remnants of the enemy (Ezekiel 39:14). This search is necessary to completely cleanse the land (cf. Numbers 19:16). They are aided in this task by those who pass through the land who, as they journey through the land, discover a human bone here or there (Ezekiel 39:15). When they see bones, they are to make them recognizable so that the buriers can easily notice the bones and bury them in the mass grave. This is how the land will be cleansed.
The name of the mass grave is connected to the name of the city Hamonah (Ezekiel 39:16). Hamonah means ‘multitude’. When all the remnants of the ‘multitude’ of corpses are buried in that one place, the land will be cleansed.
The Judgment on Gog Glorifies the LORD
In Ezekiel 39:17 we hear a new “thus says the Lord GOD” – for the sixth time in these two chapters. The LORD is returning to what He said to Ezekiel in Ezekiel 39:4. He is to call all the birds of prey and beasts of prey to feast on the fallen multitude of Gog. The LORD calls it “My sacrifice” (Ezekiel 39:17; Ezekiel 39:19) and “a great sacrifice” (Ezekiel 39:17) that He brings.
The predators may eat the flesh and drink the blood (Ezekiel 39:17-Psalms :). The blood is life and belongs to God. He can therefore determine what He does with it. Here He gives it to the beasts of prey, making the libelous destruction of this immense army even more libelous. The ‘meal’ is mentioned in parts and there may be unlimited eating, to satiety and drunkenness. The sacrifice that the LORD brings knows no measure. They may eat it at “My table” (Ezekiel 39:20). The LORD has prepared everything, they need only consume, placing no limit on themselves.
Through His dealings with Gog and his multitude, God shows His glory to the nations (Ezekiel 39:21). Those nations will see His judgment that He has executed. They will see in that judgment His hand that He has laid on Gog and His multitude as proof of His complete rule over these rebels.
If ever there was a thought that the LORD could not deliver His people, it has now been set right (Ezekiel 39:22). That thought may have arisen in the past among His people, the house of Israel, who have been besieged and destroyed again and again by enemies. That thought may also have occurred to the nations who have been able to take possession of Israel again and again (Ezekiel 39:23). The nations will come to realize that they were very wrong in attributing Israel’s exile to God’s inability to protect His people from the enemies.
It did not occur to them that God sent those very enemies and gave them the power to overcome His people because His people had been unfaithful to Him and therefore He had to discipline them. That is why the king of Babylon was able to lead the people into exile and why other enemies were able to kill them. It is because the LORD has given His people into their hands. He dealt with His people because of their transgressions against Him (Ezekiel 39:24). Therefore, He had to hide His face from them.
Israel Restored to Their Land
For the seventh and final time in these two chapters, the words “thus says the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 39:25) are heard. The content of those words is the restoration of Israel to the land. That restoration begins by bringing a reversal in the captivity of His people whom He calls “Jacob” (cf. Psalms 85:1; Jeremiah 30:18; Jeremiah 33:26). The name Jacob recalls their progenitor in his weakness. The origin of restoration lies with the LORD and has its ground in His mercy and in standing up for His Name. He takes care of “the whole house of Israel”, that is, all twelve tribes (cf. Ezekiel 3:7; Ezekiel 20:40Ezekiel 36:10; Ezekiel 37:11). At the same time He stands up for His holy Name.
All their disgrace and all their treachery in the past will be forgotten once they dwell in their land (Ezekiel 39:26). The people dwell in the land in peace as a people restored in their relationship with the LORD. This is also consistent with the prophet’s speech which speaks of the returned people who have finally found rest in the blessing of the peace kingdom.
The Author of the blessing of the realm of peace is the LORD. He is bringing them back from the nations and gathering them from the lands of their enemies (Ezekiel 39:27). As a result, He will be sanctified through them in the sight of many nations, that is, they will recognize Him as the one true God. It will no longer be a question of Who is the God of Israel and that He – and not the nations – dealt with His people (Ezekiel 39:28).
He led His people into exile among the nations because of their unfaithfulness to Him. First in Babylon and later also among “many nations” because of their rejection of the Messiah. It will also be perfectly clear that it is He and no one else Who has gathered His people back to their land, not forgetting anyone.
Then the relationship is not merely temporary or partial, but forever and completely restored. He will no longer hide His face from them (Ezekiel 39:29). They don’t have to, because they will serve Him with all their heart. They do this because the LORD has poured out His Spirit on them. The Spirit lays hold of them and as a result they will always do everything to the glory of God. The Spirit will also dwell in the midst of God’s people in the rebuilt temple, about which the following chapters will inform us in detail.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 39". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter