FINAL DELIVERANCE FOR GOD’S PEOPLE
Apparently the messages delivered on the night prior to the arrival of the fugitive from Jerusalem continue in chs 38-39 (cf. Eze 33:21-22). These chapters deal with the efforts of some archenemy of God’s people to invade and devastate the land of Israel. The tranquil scene with which the previous chapter closed does not go unchallenged. The new Israel of God undergoes testing, as did national Israel of Old Testament times. These chapters are apocalyptic in nature. The language is highly symbolical and at times deliberately shadowy and even cryptic. These two chapters are one of the most difficult parts of this book.
Chapters 38-39 consist of seven oracles, each introduced with the formula, Thus says the Lord God. For the purpose of this discussion, the material can be divided into four major units: (1) the invasion by Gog (Eze 38:1-13); (2) the overthrow of Gog (Eze 38:14-23); (3) the destruction of Gog (Eze 39:1-20); and (4) the results of Gog’s destruction (Eze 39:21-24). To this is appended a note of consolation for the exiles in Babylon (Eze 39:25-29).
INVASION BY GOG
Announcement of Divine Hostility
The introduction of Gog (38:1-2): The word of the LORD came unto me, saying, (2) Son of man, set your face toward Gog... Ezekiel is to address an oracle to Gog.6 0 Scholars have wrestled with the etymology of the name Gog. Among the more interesting suggestions are the following: (1) Gog is derived from the Sumerian gug, i.e., darkness. Gog would then be a “personification of all that is dark and evil." (2) Gog is the exact equivalent of the Assyrian name Gugu, king of Lydia in Asia Minor from 685-652 B.C. (3) Gog is a name artificially constructed from Magog, the land over which this anonymous ruler is said to have ruled.
In truth there probably never will be general acceptance of any etymology for the name Gog. But more important is this question: Who is it that is given the name Gog? Almost every character of note in the Hellenistic period has been nominated. Probably Gog should not be identified with any figure of history. Gog is an apocalyptic figure of the end-time.
The identification of Gog (Eze 38:2 b): Concerning the identification of Gog, only two clues are given.
He is from a distant land (Eze 38:2 b): from the land of Magog... Magog, along with Meshech and Tubal, is mentioned in the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 as being among the sons of Japheth (cf. 1Ch 1:5). Many scholars follow Josephus (Ant. 1.6.1) in identifying the Magogites as the ruthless Scythians. These warriors were infamous in the ancient world for their practice of pausing to drink the blood of the first enemy soldier killed in battle.
He is leader of a confederation (Eze 38:2 c): prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. Gog is introduced, not as the ruler of some vast empire, but as the leader of a number of confederated national groups. This shadowy figure was not a contemporary of Ezekiel. Gog will irrupt into history after many days, at the end of years (cf. Eze 38:8). Probably the original readers of Ezekiel's book had no more idea who Gog is than does a modern reader. Gog is prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. The identification of Rosh (chief, head) is problematic. A country called Rashu is mentioned in one Assyrian text that also mentions Mushki and Tubal. This identification is likely. On the other hand, some scholars believe that Rosh is a general designation for all northern territories. A more positive identification can be made for Meshech and Tubal, two other lands ruled by Gog. In Assyrian literature these peoples were known as Mushki and Tabal. They inhabited the region of central and eastern Anatolia near the headwaters of the Tigris. The Mushki entered the Near East in the twelfth century B.C. During the time of Sargon II the Mushki were ruled by the famous King Mita-Midas of classical and mythical fame.
The hostility toward Gog (Eze 38:2-3): Prophesy against him, (Eze 38:3) and say: Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.... Ezekiel is to address Gog with the challenge or encounter formula I am against you. These ominous words indicate that Gog is antithetical to Yahweh, his people, and all for which he stands. Unlike the Assyrians in Isaiah, or Nebuchadnezzar in Jeremiah, there is no hint here that Gog in any way serves as God's instrument of chastisement against Israel.
The failure of Gog (Eze 38:4): I will turn you about, put hooks in your jaws and bring you and your army out-horses and horsemen, all of them clothed gorgeously, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them handling the sword: Ezekiel is using the thought-forms of his day as vehicles for this eschatological prophecy. Throughout Old Testament history, prophets warned of an attack upon God’s people from the north (cf. Jer 4:5 to Jer 6:26). Ezekiel anticipates that God’s people would face one last dreadful onslaught by the forces of evil out of the north, the traditional region of national Israel’s enemies.
The evil designs of Gog against God’s people cannot succeed. Like a wild beast captured and led about by hooks in the jaws, Gog is forcefully turned back. Though his force is well- equipped, vast in number and gloriously arrayed, Gog cannot defeat the people of God (Eze 38:4).
The allies of Gog (Eze 38:5-6): Five allies of Gog are named.
a. Persia (Eze 38:5 a): The Persians were an Indo-European people who entered the Iranian plateau late in the second millennium B.C. They were located east of the Persian Gulf.
b. Cush (Eze 38:5 b):. The Cushites were a Hamitic nation (Gen 10:6-8; 1Ch 1:8-10) residing south of Egypt. Cush is roughly equivalent to Ethiopia
c. Put (Eze 38:5 c): and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet; War-like
inhabitants of Put were a Hamitic people (Gen 10:6; 1Ch 1:8). They are mentioned elsewhere as allies of Egypt (Nah 3:9; Jer 46:9; Eze 30:5) and Tyre (Eze 27:10). Put was certainly an African nation, but its location is disputed. Probably Put is Libya in North Africa.
d. Gomer (38:6a): Gomer, and all her bands; Gomer was a Japhethic people (Gen 10:2-3). They probably are to be identified with the ancient Gimirrai (Cimmerians). These people invaded the Fertile Crescent from their Ukrainian homeland sometime before the eighth century B.C.
e. Togarmah (Eze 38:6 b): the house of Togarmah in the uttermost parts of the north, all his bands; even many people with you. These Japhethic peoples (Gen 10:3; 1Ch 1:6) were mentioned earlier by Ezekiel as trading partners with Tyre (Eze 27:14). In the fourteenth century, Tegarama is described as lying between Carchemish and Haran on a main trade route through southwest Armenia. Some commentators refer to house of Togarmah as the Armenians.
Announcement of Future Invasion
Preparation for invasion (Eze 38:7): Be prepared, and prepare yourself, you and all your congregation who have congregated about you, and for whom you are a guard. God exhorts Gog to prepare for the invasion of Israel and to assume the guardianship or command of the various people who had assembled about him.
Period of the invasion (Eze 38:8 a): After many days you will be mustered for service, at the end of the years you will come... Verse 8 serves to underscore the timeframe of the entire prophecy. The attack will take place (1) after many days. This phrase suggests that, for a long period of time, Gog and his confederates will be dormant. But at the appropriate time they will be mustered for service, i.e., they will reappear on the stage of history. (2) The attack will transpire at the end the years, i.e., the conclusion of the period consisting of years (Zimmerli). This points to the final end-time period.
Treachery of the invasion (Eze 38:8 b): It is against that has been rescued (38:8b): against the land that is brought back from the sword, that is gathered out of many peoples... Gog's attack will occur after the restoration of the people of God. Ezekiel underscores the treachery of Gog’s crime. He will attack a people that had been rescued from the sword of national death by being gathered out of all peoples where they had been held captive.
It is against a land that has suffered greatly (Eze 38:8 c): against the mountains of Israel, that have been a continual waste; The attack is against a land that already had suffered immeasurably, having been uninhabited a long time.
It is against a people who are at peace (Eze 38:8 d): but they have been brought forth from peoples, and they dwell safely all of them. Finally, the attack is against a land that enjoyed security and peace. Restored Israel is a type of the kingdom of Christ. Here is another clue regarding the timeframe of Gog's invasion. The phrase dwell safely (cf. Eze 38:11; Eze 38:14; Eze 39:26) is used in Ezekiel as a description of messianic security of the new Israel of God. The author of the Book of Revelation seems to allude to this same event, viz., the last battle between the powers of evil and the church of God. He placed this battle immediately before the final judgment and the emergence of the new heavens and the new earth (Rev 20:8).
Enormity of the invasion (Eze 38:9): You will go up, you will come like a storm, you will be like a cloud to cover the land, you and all of your bands, and many people with you. At the conclusion of the future golden age, the awesome armies of Gog come up against the land of Canaan (kingdom of God) like a terrible storm cloud.
Revelation of Gog's Intention
Wickedness of the plot (Eze 38:10): Thus says the Lord GOD: It will come to pass in that day, that things will come up upon your heart. You will devise an evil plot. Ezekiel shifts back in time to the point where Gog first hatched the plot to attack Israel. In that day when Israel was dwelling safely in Canaan, Gog devised an evil plan against the people of God.
Design of the plot (Eze 38:11-12): You will say, I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will come upon those who are quiet, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, having neither bars nor gates; (12) to take spoil and seize prey; to turn your hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and against the people that are gathered from the nations, that have acquired cattle and goods, that dwell in the middle of the earth. The security of God’s people is such that they had not made any preparation to meet such an onslaught. The defenseless, unwalled villages would be an open invitation to tyrants like Gog to invade the land (Eze 38:11). Even before the attack, Gog counted the spoil and captives he would take. He would turn his hand, i.e., take strong measures, in this campaign. Yet those who are the objects of his wrath- God’s people-certainly had done nothing to raise the ire of Gog. He came from the distant north; Israel lived in the center (lit., navel) of the earth. Certainly a people so far removed from Magog could pose no threat. The attack of Gog is an act of naked aggression.
Encouragement in the plot (Eze 38:13): Sheba and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all its powerful ones, will say to you: Have you come to take spoil? Have you assembled a congregation to seize prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take cattle and goods, to take great spoil? In his evil scheme, Gog is encouraged by neighboring merchant nations-Sheba, Dedan, Tarshish (cf. Eze 27:12; Eze 27:15; Eze 27:22). They hoped to enrich themselves by purchasing and reselling the plunder of Israel.
OVERTHROW OF GOG
God's Use of Gog
Gog's purpose (Eze 38:14-15): Therefore, son of man, prophesy, and say to Gog: Thus says the Lord GOD: In that day, when my people Israel dwell safely, will you not know it? (Eze 38:15) You will come from your place, from the uttermost parts of the north, you and many people with you, all of them riding on horses, a great congregation and a mighty army. The plan of Gog utterly fails. He takes note of the unpretentious and peaceful people. He anticipates no difficulty in overwhelming them. With his vast armies coming from the north (Eze 38:15), he arises suddenly and ominously against Israel, like a storm cloud.
God's purpose (Eze 38:16): You will go up against my people Israel like a cloud to cover the land; it will be at the end of days that I will bring you against my land in order that the nations might know me, when I am sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog. The more common at the end of days replaces the unique formula at the end of the years of Eze 38:8. Apparently the two formula mean the same thing. Little do the heathen realize that they are unwittingly carrying out the plans of God. He had brought them in the sense that he had permitted them to make this attack. Through the destruction of this vast throng God will prove conclusively to all that he is king of the universe. He will be sanctified i.e., honored as holy, through the destruction of Gog’s forces.
God's Wrath Against Gog
(Eze 38:17-19 a):
God's prior announcements (Eze 38:17): Thus says the Lord GOD: Are you he of whom I spoke in former days by the hand of my servants the prophets of Israel who prophesied in those days for (many) years, that I would bring you against them? The invasion by Gog was part of God’s foreordained scheme of self-vindication. Long before the invasion occurred, the servants of the Lord predicted such an invasion. The prophecy here in Ezekiel is certainly in view, and possibly passages in Zephaniah (ch 1) and Jeremiah (Eze 4:5 ff.) as well. In a variation of the final assault theme, Joel (ch 3) and Zechariah (ch 14) depict final attempts of hostile armies to crush Jerusalem.
God's burning anger (Eze 38:18-19 a): It will come to pass in that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel (oracle of the Lord GOD), that my wrath will rise up in my nostrils. (19) For in my jealousy, in the fire of my wrath I have spoken. The fate of Gog, as well as the fact of the invasion, is announced by Ezekiel. The furious wrath of God would be manifested against Gog (Eze 38:18). In that day is used five times in chs 38-39. It refers to the day of the Lord, the day of judgment or salvation (cf. Eze 7:7-19; Eze 30:2-18).
Divine jealousy or zeal was aroused whenever man outraged his immutable law. The linkage between anger and jealousy/zeal was previous used in describing Edom's wrath against Israel (cf. Eze 35:11). The fire of my wrath is used of Yahweh's anger (Eze 21:31; Eze 22:21; Eze 22:31).
Earthquake (Eze 38:19-20): Surely in that day there will be a great shaking upon the land of Israel. (Eze 38:20) Fish of the sea, birds of the heavens, beasts of the field, and every creeping thing that creeps upon the ground, and every man who is upon the face of the earth will shake at my presence. The mountains will be ripped open. The steep places will fall. Every wall will fall to the ground. Yahweh brings a great shaking, i.e., an earthquake, in the land (Eze 38:19). The shaking causes consternation and confusion in man and beast alike. Mountains and massive walls crumble (Eze 38:20).
Mutual slaughter (Eze 38:21): I will call against him a sword throughout all my mountains (oracle of the Lord GOD); every man’s sword will be against his brother. In the panic caused by this awesome display of divine power, the enemy soldiers engage in suicidal strife with one another.
Other weapons (Eze 38:22): And I will enter into judgment with him with pestilence, and with blood. An overflowing shower, great hailstones, fire and brimstone I will rain upon him and upon his bands, and upon the many peoples who are with him. In this judgment against Gog, God employs pestilence and bloodshed. A violent, overflowing storm of hailstones, fire and brimstone (cf. Eze 13:11; Eze 13:13) finally brings about the demise of Gog (Eze 38:22).
Result (Eze 38:23): Thus I will magnify myself, and sanctify myself and make myself known before the eyes of many nations; and they will know that I am the LORD. The stroke against Gog, and consequent rescue of Israel, causes citizens of many nations to recognize the majesty and power of the Lord.
Ezekiel Chapter Thirty-Eight
GOG AND MAGOG
It is agreed by all scholars that these two chapters are a single oracle regarding Gog and Magog, only a short paragraph at the end of Ezekiel 39 having any reference to anything else.
We are a little embarrassed at the prevailing ignorance of scholars concerning who Gog is and who are the nations associated with him. There are many assertions of how difficult this chapter is, several referring to it as the most difficult in the Old Testament. We are repeatedly told that Gog is unknown, as are most of the other places mentioned in this oracle.
Adam Clarke's comment is typical: "This is allowed to be the most difficult prophecy in the Old Testament. It is difficult to us because we know not the king nor people intended by it: but I am satisfied they were well known in the times when the prophet wrote."
Our embarrassment comes from the certainty we feel with regard to their identification; but we claim no originality whatever in the knowledge. The Lord has told us exactly who Gog and Magog actually are. After the thousand years reign of Christ has ended, after Satan has been loosed for a little while, prior to the Judgment of the Great Day, Satan will go forth to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war; the number of whom is as the sand of the sea (Rev 20:7-10).
The New Testament is very specific about this. Gog and Magog are the heathen nations far out on the perimeter of the known world of that era, referred to here as "the uttermost parts of the earth."
And when the thousand years are finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall come forth to deceive the nations that are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up over the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved City: and fire come down out of heaven and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev 20:7-10).
The identification of Gog and Magog here is certain. They are categorically stated to be the nations that dwell in the four corners of the earth, at the time of the end. The names here mean nothing at all except as symbols of that last company of heathen nations that, under the deception of Satan shall oppose God's people and be destroyed in the great holocaust that shall come at the end of time and the onset of the Day of Judgment.
As Plumptre noted, "All of the nations mentioned in these chapters are depicted as coming from the four quarters of the globe. Persia is from the extreme east; Ethiopia or Cush is from the south; Libya or Put represent the extreme west; and the house of Togarmah was in the extreme north." Tarshish is also mentioned, and that city lay on the southwest coast of Spain on the extreme west. In fact, all of the places here fall into the category of being from the uttermost parts of the earth, or the four-corners of the earth.
The very great number of this host is another mark of its identification. Ezekiel's chapters here mentioned that they were so numerous that it took seven months to bury them and that their weapons left by their sudden death were enough to keep Israel in firewood for seven years! All of this is only another way of saying that, "The number of them was as the sand of the sea."
Notice also the instantaneous manner of the death of this vast host. Ezekiel mentioned no battle, no military engagement at all. God simply liquidated the whole multitude. The Revelation indicated that fire from heaven came down and devoured them. The fire and brimstone are even mentioned in both passages (Rev 20:10; Eze 38:22).
According to the passage in Revelation, the total and final destruction of Satan followed immediately upon the destruction of Gog and Magog. According to our understanding of this, as extensively outlined in my commentary on Revelation (Vol, 12, of the New Testament Series), false religion, called the False Prophet, false and oppressive government, called The Beast, and Satan himself called the Dragon, are all prophesied to be destroyed simultaneously at the end of the Millennium (which is nothing more nor less than the age of the reign of Christ, which has been in progress since the Day of Pentecost).
In Revelation, there are three other symbols under which these ancient enemies of God and his people are depicted. The Great Whore of Revelation 17 is false religion; the scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns upon which the Whore rides is false and oppressive government; and the mighty Dragon which was cast out of heaven, drawing a multitude of stars with his tail, is none other than Satan himself. In the Apocalypse of the apostle John, these enemies are introduced as (1) the Dragon; (2) the scarlet Beast (the Sea Beast); and (3) the Great Harlot, (the Land Beast) (Rev 12:13); and then the destruction of these continual enemies of God and his people is prophesied in the reverse order of their introduction! The Great Harlot is destroyed in Revelation 17-18; the Sea Beast, false and oppressive government was destroyed inRevelation 19; and Satan, the Old Serpent, the Dragon, the Accuser, the devil, met his doom in Revelation 20, his very last act, as depicted in these two chapters of Ezekiel, being an assault upon the people of God.
In analyzing what Ezekiel has here written about it, we must remember that there were many things, when Ezekiel received this prophecy, that God had not yet revealed. Ezekiel knew nothing about the New Israel that would replace the Old Israel, nor the New Jerusalem that in the future would be the true "Mother of all God's people" (Gal 4:26), nor of the final apostasy of even the New Israel and of all mankind that would motivate God's leading Gog and Magog, under Satan, to attack God's sinful Israel, an attack that would precipitate the final end of the Christian dispensation. However, nothing that Ezekiel here wrote is in the slightest disagreement with any of this.
GOG'S PREPARATION TO ATTACK ISRAEL (Eze 38:1-9)
"And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal: and I will turn thee about, and shall put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth and all thy army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them handling swords; Persia, Cush, and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer, and all his hordes; the house of Togarmah in the uttermost parts of the north, and all his hordes; even many peoples with thee."
The personification of Gog here as the leader of all those terminal nations of mankind suggests his identification with Satan, in the same way that Jesus said to Peter, on an occasion, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Also, back in Ezekiel 28, Ezekiel referred to Satan as the "king of Tyre," despite the ruling monarch's identification as a human being. Certainly the whole campaign of Gog was instigated and motivated by the Evil One.
"Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal ..." (Eze 38:2). "There is no evidence that a country named Rosh ever existed." This is no problem at all. We believe all of these place-names are symbolical representatives of the the terminal nations of the human race at a time just prior to the Eternal Judgment; and it would appear that the true names of those nations at that time are not known to any one. The names of them, after all, are of no importance whatever.
Plumptre is one of very few scholars whom we have consulted who referred us to Rev 20:8 as the place to seek light on this chapter.
Beasley-Murray thought the time of this uprising and overthrow of God was "just prior to the Millennium";but this cannot be true because the Lord has revealed that it will be after the thousand years reign of Christ (Rev 20:7). On the contrary, it will occur as the terminal action of Satan's opposition to God and just prior to his overthrow in hell.
Keil called attention to the fact that, "Ezekiel gives prominence to the leading of God in causing the nations to come against God's people, whereas in Rev 20:7-10, Satan is mentioned as the seducer of the nations." This is no problem, because in the final hardening of all mankind that will be taking place at that very time, there are three sources of the hardening, (1) the willful sins of the people hardened, (2) God's `giving them up' to a reprobate mind. (3) and the active `blinding' by Satan, `the god of this world.'
Jamieson's comment on this was: "Satan thought to have his own way; but his will was bent by a superior power to turn upon a course that would end in his destruction. Satan, by an overruling providence, was permitted to deceive the nations unto their min." Although none of this appears in Ezekiel's prophecy, the nations whom Satan deceived were by no means blameless but fully deserved the destruction that came upon them.
Feinberg enumerated half a dozen positions which various scholars have taken as to the time of which these chapters in Ezekiel prophesy. But Rev 20:7-10 clearly places the time just prior to the terminal Judgment of the Great Day. As Keil put it, "It will be in the end of the days, the last time, not the future generally, but the final future, the Messianic time of the completion of God's kingdom."
This mighty onslaught against the people of God will occur "after many years" at a time long, long after the return of racial Israel to Canaan, after their final hardening, after their rejection of the Saviour, after the formation of the New Israel, and after God's judgment and scattering of racial Israel a final time, and after the progressive hardening, blinding, and apostasy even of . the New Israel; and in that time of which Jesus asked, "When the Son of man cometh shall he find faith on the earth (Luk 18:8)?" At that time Gog inspired by Satan would make the final move against God.
"Be thou prepared, yea, prepare thyself, thou, and all thy companies that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years, thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, that is gathered out of many peoples, upon the mountains of Israel, which have been a continual waste, and they shall dwell securely, all of them. And thou shalt ascend, and shall come like a storm, thou shalt be like a storm to cover the land, thou, and all thy hordes, and many peoples with thee."
"Thou shalt come into the land ..." (Eze 38:18) This speaks of the time when Satan shall enter "the land" itself, arriving like a great storm cloud and covering the whole land (Eze 38:9). This will not happen soon.
"After many days ... in the latter years ..." (Eze 38:8). It will be at the time spoken of a few paragraphs above, when the complacency, indifference, unbelief and apostasy of the New Israel shall give Satan the opportunity to enter the holy Church itself. Gog (in whom Satan dwelt) is said to enter the land, which in the language of Ezekiel, meant God's people. Note the land was "covered," an indication that the true faith was almost extinguished. That was the appropriate time for "The End" to come; and this prophecy indicates that that is indeed when it will come (Eze 38:16).
"Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: It shall come to pass in that day, that things shall come into thy mind, and thou shalt devise an evil device: and shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages, I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates; to take the spoil and to take the prey, to turn thy hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and against the people that are gathered out of the nations, that have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the middle of the earth. Sheba, and Dealart, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take the spoil? hast thou assembled thy company to take the prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take great prey? Therefore, Son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; In that day when my people Israel dwelleth securely, shalt thou not know it? And thou shalt come from thy place out of the uttermost parts of the north, thou, and many peoples with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: and thou shalt come up against my people Israel, as a cloud to cover the land: it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring thee against my land, that the nations may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes."
THE MOTIVATION FOR GOG'S ATTACK (Eze 38:10-16)
At this point, we should inquire as to the reason why God desired that Satan through Gog and associates should come up against his people; and the reasons are clear enough as stated in this paragraph. God's people had allowed themselves to become defenseless. They were without walls, gates, bars, or any other means of protection. This has no reference whatever to earthly fortifications. What is meant is that the church has left off the whole armor of God, They have forsaken the holy doctrines of the Church of Christ; worldliness, licentiousness, drunkenness, and the works of the flesh are freely indulged by them. They no longer believe in a personal God; they do not accept the Holy Bible as God's Word; they have accepted a New Morality; they propose to be saved by Faith alone; and they have abandoned doing any work at all in the kingdom of God.
"I will go to them that are at rest ..." (Eze 38:11). Is resting the work of God's church on earth? No! His people are not fighting the good fight of faith; they are not working in the vineyard of the Lord; they are not preaching the gospel to the whole creation; they have forgotten the admonition of the Lord who said, "Work for the night is coming when no man can work." On no! They are at rest!
"The spoil ... silver, gold ... cattle and goods ... the prey ... the great spoil ..." (Eze 38:12-13). Notice the abundant use of this type of terminology in this paragraph. It is not hard to see what has aroused the cupidity, the avarice, and the jealous greed of the heathen. The so-called Christian world is the most affluent, the richest, wealthiest and most blessed of all the inhabited earth; but the Christians have lavished it all upon their own comforts, convenience, and luxurious preferences instead of evangelizing the world with it, as God commanded.
Thus, the three reasons why God announced in this prophecy that he would bring upon them Gog and Magog are: (1) they have forsaken God's Word which alone was their defense; (2) they are doing nothing for God, but merely resting in ease and luxury, and (3) they have grown wealthy and complacent. Anyone who is familiar with the religious picture in America today can hardly miss seeing this.
"That dwell in the middle of the earth ..." (Eze 38:12). The literal Hebrew here has "the navel of the earth." The ancients thought that the middle part of the earth was naturally the best part of it. Not merely Israel, but other nations also claimed the same location for their land.
"Things shall come into thy mind ..." (Eze 38:10). "We learn in Eze 38:12-13 what those evil designs were." Gog would behold the defenseless church, their incomparable wealth, their idleness and complacency in God's service; and he proposed to go into the land (a metaphor for entering the Church), to rob and plunder it; and did he do it!
"Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Art thou he of whom I spake in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, that prophesied in those days, that I would bring thee against them? And it shall come to pass in that day when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah, that my wrath shall come up into my nostrils. For in my jealousy, and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken. Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; so that the fishes of the sea, and the birds of the heavens, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. And I will call for a sword against him unto all my mountains, saith the Lord Jehovah: every man's sword shall be against his brother. And with pestilence and with blood will I enter into judgment with him; and I will rain upon him and upon his hordes, and upon many peoples that are with him, an overflowing shower, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. And I will magnify myself, and sanctify myself, and I will make myself known in the eyes of many nations; and they shall know that I am Jehovah."
GOD ANNOUNCES THE OVERTHROW OF GOG (Eze 38:17-23)
"Art thou he of whom I spoke in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel ..." (Eze 38:17). Note that this verse teaches that the prophets of Israel spoke, not their own words, but the Word of God.
"That prophesied that I would bring thee (Gog) against them (Israel) ..." (Eze 38:17). Some believe this is a reference to prophecies that may have been lost; but Keil stated that, "It is evident enough that there is no reference here to lost prophecies about Gog and Magog, but to general prophecies that are met with throughout the Old Testament." Moses, the greatest of the Old Testament prophets specifically prophesied of the overthrow of Israel in case of their apostasy (Deuteronomy 28); and there are many other examples of God's prophecies to bring the heathen against Israel in case of their disobedience. Among these are the following cited by Alexander: Deu 30:7; Isa 26:20-21, and Jer 30:18-24. Cooke has stated concerning this prophecy of Gog's overthrow that "the writer may have been thinking of Zep 1:3." Such a comment points up the difference in thinking between the authors of the International Critical Commentary and those of this writer. We believe that God is the one who had Zephaniah in mind here; and it is by no means certain that Ezekiel fully understood exactly what God was saying. The apostle Peter states categorically in 1 Peter 10-12 that such prophets did not understand the full meaning of their prophecies; and we feel certain this applies especially to Ezekiel in this chapter.
Yes indeed, Zephaniah is a prophecy of the final judgment day; and that passage is supplementary and parallel to this prophecy through Ezekiel in Ezekiel 38-39. If there had been any doubt of it, Eze 38:17-23 make it obvious.
"There shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel ..." (Eze 38:19). "Of course, this refers to an actual earthquake," often referred to in both the Old Testament and the New Testament as an invariable accompaniment of the Final Judgment Day (Rev 6:12-17).
"The fishes ... the birds ... the beasts ..." (Eze 38:20). The prophet Zephaniah spoke of the destruction of all of these, along with mankind as a feature of "The Day of Jehovah," that is the Great and Final Day of God's judgment of the rebellious and apostate race of Adam (Zep 1:3-5).
"The mountains shall be thrown down, etc. ..." (Eze 38:21). See again the passage in Rev 6:12-17.
"With pestilence and with blood will I enter into judgment with him ..." (Eze 38:22). This is one of several ways in which God will destroy the whole heathen world (Gog and Magog) at the end of probation for the human family, at which time God will execute his wrath upon evil; and there will be fulfilled and carried out the sentence against Adam and Eve, the parents of all living, which God passed upon them in consequence of their eating of the forbidden tree in Eden. That sentence shall be executed upon Adam and Eve "in the same day they sinned," namely, the seventh day of Creation, the day that is still going on and has not ended yet. The sentence shall result in the death of Adam and Eve in the person of their total posterity, the sole exceptions being the redeemed of all ages and dispensations "in Jesus Christ."
"Every man's sword shall be against his brother ..." (Eze 38:21). As Cooke noted, "This refers to a situation as in a panic, such as that in Jdg 7:22." The panic mentioned there, it will be remembered, resulted in the victory of Gideon over the Midianites.
"With pestilence and with blood will I enter into judgment with him ..." (Eze 38:22). Medical scientists are striving constantly to deliver mankind from the scourge of all kinds of diseases; but, as any medical doctor knows, there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of potential diseases, any one of which could develop in epidemic proportions at any time. Back in the middle of this century, Dr. Hans Victor Reisser, writing in An American Doctor's Odyssey, very convincingly stressed this potential development of diseases. As soon as Medical science triumphs over one disease, another suddenly appears, as, for example, in the development of AIDS in our own generation. At the proper time, God will call forth just the correct disease for destroying Gog and Magog.
"Hailstones, fire, and brimstone ..." (Eze 38:22). These also are usually cited in scripture as appearing in connection with the Final Judgment of Adam's race (Rev 16:20-21).
"And I shall make myself known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am Jehovah ..." (Eze 38:23). This also fits into the Final Judgment scene. See Rev 6:12-17, where the kings, the princes, the chief captains, the rich and the poor, every bondman and every freeman cried for the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. Thirty seconds after the onset of the Eternal Judgment Day, there will remain no more in the whole world, either an agnostic or an infidel.