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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books
Ezekiel 39

 

 

Verses 1-29

Chapter Thirty-nine

The Doom Of Israel’s Enemy

Doubtless when the leader of the northern confederacy orders his armies to press on to the land of Palestine in the last days he will have laid his plans very definitely for its complete subjugation, and will be counting on an easy victory because of the overwhelming number of men at his disposal. But he will learn, as many others have learned in the past, that he who rushes upon the thick bosses of the Almighty must be defeated. He who is Israel’s all-powerful Protector will undertake to deliver His people by destroying their mighty foe. It is of this that we read in the following verses.

“And thou, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, prince of Bosh, Meshech, and Tubal: and I ‘will turn thee about, and will lead thee on, and will cause thee to come up from the uttermost parts of the north; and I will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel; and I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy hordes, and the peoples that are with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. Thou shalt fall upon the open field; for I have spoken it, saith the Lord Jehovah. And I will send a fire on Magog, and on them that dwell securely in the isles; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. And My holy name will I make known in the midst of My people Israel; neither will I suffer My holy name to be profaned any more: and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, the Holy One in Israel. Behold, it cometh, and it shall be done, saith the Lord Jehovah; this is the day whereof I have spoken. And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall make fires of the weapons and burn them, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall make fires of them seven years; so that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall make fires of the weapons; and they shall plunder those that plundered them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 1-10.

The mighty armies of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, when brought down from the far north to attack the highlands of Israel, will find themselves utterly unable to cope with the disasters that will face them.

Following the events described in the last section of the previous chapter, we are told here that their destruction will be so complete that their dead bodies will be left as food for all kinds of ravenous birds and wild beasts to devour. Israel will not be obliged to defend themselves, for the Lord will act for them. So terrible and all-embracing will be the destruction of the vast armies of these allied powers that the wood of their weapons will serve as fuel for the people of Israel for seven full years, during which time it will not be necessary to hew down any trees of the forest, because the plunder of those who had intended to plunder Israel will suffice for all purposes as far as fuel is concerned. Some have thought it strange in this age of metallic warfare that such a prophecy could ever be fulfilled literally, but undoubtedly in the coming day many weapons and vehicles of various sorts will be, to a large extent, composed of wood, at least in the area out of which the northern hordes will be gathered. We may not understand fully every detail of the prophecy, but we can be assured that in its own time it will be fulfilled to the letter.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place for burial in Israel, the valley of them that pass through on the east of the sea; and it shall stop them that pass through: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude; and they shall call it The valley of Hamon-gog. And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying them, that they may cleanse the land. Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown in the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord Jehovah. And they shall set apart men of continual employment, that shall pass through the land, and, with them that pass through, those that bury them that remain upon the face of the land, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search. And they that pass through the land shall pass through; and when any seeth a man’s bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog. And Hamonah shall also be the name of a city. Thus shall they cleanse the land”-vers. 11-16.

So suddenly will death claim the myriads who formed these armies that there will be no opportunity to bury their own dead. The blow will come as it were in a moment: the dead bodies will be strewn everywhere in the valley of Hamon-gog, which in all likelihood will be the same as the valley of Mageddo or Jezreel, where the different nations are to be destroyed by fire from heaven at the time of the end. These decayed corpses will poison the very air, and would be a source of grievous pestilence to the whole land if steps were not taken almost immediately to properly inter them: therefore, a great squad of grave-diggers will be formed whose business it will be to go throughout the entire section where Gog’s army has been destroyed, and bury the bodies in order to cleanse the land. For seven months this work will continue before the last bodies will have been covered from human sight. Anyone passing through this region beholding bones or corpses will be required to set up a sign in order that the buriers may see it and so inter the body as soon as possible. In this way the land will be cleansed from its defilement and the air purified.

In the meantime, birds and beasts that feed upon carrion will assist in the work of clearing away the rotting corpses.

“And thou, son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Speak unto the birds of every sort, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to My sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of My sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. And ye shall be filled at My table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 17-20.

One is reminded as he reads these words of that which we have in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation, when the fowls of the air are called to the great supper of God to glut themselves on the flesh of kings, captains, and mighty men, of horses and those that sat thereon.

It is evident that the various powers to be destroyed in the last days will be dealt with similarly. God Himself will pour out His wrath upon those who have spurned His grace and have arrayed themselves in red-handed opposition to earth’s rightful King, our Lord Jesus Christ.

The effect of this judgment upon the nations is given in the verses that follow:

“And I will set My glory among the nations; and all the nations shall see My judgment that I have executed, and My hand that I have laid upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am Jehovah their God, from that day and forward. And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they trespassed against Me, and I hid My face from them: so I gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they fell all of them by the sword. According to their unclean-ness and according to their transgressions did I unto them; and I hid My face from them”-vers. 21-24.

Jehovah’s glory will be manifested among the nations when they see the judgment that shall be executed upon Gog. The house of Israel, too, will recognize then that Jehovah their God had intervened on their behalf, and they will turn to Him as in the days of their fathers when He brought them out of Egypt. The nations will understand then that all the sufferings that the house of Israel has endured through the many centuries of its captivity and the scattering among the Gentiles, was because of its iniquities. The people had trespassed against God, and therefore He had turned His face from them and given them over to the hand of their enemies; and so throughout all the centuries they had fallen by the sword, and because of their uncleanness and their manifold transgressions, God refused to intervene for them but turned away His face when they cried to Him. But in the coming day all this will be at an end, for they will turn back to Him in repentance, and He will turn His face upon them in blessing.

“Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Now will I bring back the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name. And they shall bear their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against Me, when they shall dwell securely in their land, and none shall make them afraid; when I have brought them back from the peoples, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations. And they shall know that I am Jehovah their God, in that I caused them to go into captivity among the nations, and have gathered them unto their own land; and I will leave none of them any more there; neither will I hide My face any more from them; for I have poured out My Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 25-29.

It seems very clear from this portion of the prophecy that the full return of the captivity of Jacob will be after the onslaught and the defeat of Gog and his hosts. This seems to prove definitely that the events we have been considering as set forth in these two chapters, will take place during the time of the great tribulation and before the manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. Israel will understand then the reason for their suffering throughout the centuries, and will return in repentance to the God against whom they have sinned, who will in His infinite grace forgive their iniquities and restore them to Himself. Then they shall dwell safely in their own land with none to make them afraid. When He shall bring them back from the peoples, that is, from the Gentiles among whom they have been scattered for so long, and gather them out of all their enemies’ lands, and be sanctified in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that Jehovah is indeed their God-Jehovah revealed-in that day, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He who caused them to go into captivity will re-gather them; He will leave none of them to wander longer among the nations, neither will He continue to hide His face from them, but will look upon them in infinite grace and loving-kindness. When they bow before Him as a repentant, believing people, He will pour out His Spirit upon the house of Israel, and acknowledge them once more as His own.

This closes another section of Ezekiel’s prophecy, in which God emphasized the sin of His people and their consequent suffering, but also revealed His purpose of grace to restore them when they have learned the important lesson that it is indeed an evil and a bitter thing to forsake the Lord their God. Humbled before Him, contrite and penitent, they will confess their sin and find restoration.

The chapters that follow are of quite a different character, and give an apocalyptic view of the restored nation worshiping in the land when Jehovah’s Prince dwells among them.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 39:4". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/isn/ezekiel-39.html. 1914.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 9th, 2020
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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