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Chapter 38 - 39

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A Prophecy Against Gog (ch. 38:1 39:29)

 

In verse 1 and 2 we see that Ezekiel "is to set his face against Gog, of the land of Magog.  Gog is the leader of Magog. "Gog" is a title, like Caesar or President.  Most all Evangelical prophecy teachers understand Gog to be the leader of modern day Russia.  I'll briefly explain.

 

In verse 2 we see that Gog is the chief of Magog.  Magog simply means "from Gog".  Gog is from Magog. That's not hard to understand.

 

In the NIV Gog is the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.  There is a third name that the NIV leaves out but other translations record, including the Greek Septuagint, and that is Rosh. 

 

Magog, Meshach, and Tubal, are all tribes that you can find in the Bible in early civilizations.  Their existence and migration are somewhat traceable.  Rosh, however, is not mentioned in the Bible.  Rosh means, "from the very top", as in, the very top of the earth, as is Russia.  Many scholars trace Russia back to the Scythians who can easily be traced back to Magog or Rosh, just north of the Black Sea, or in southern Russia today.  Thus the reason why "Gog of Magog" means the leader of modern day Russia.   

 

Many of these scholars also say that Moscow has derived its name from Meshech.  

 

All of the above being said, there are a growing number of scholars who no longer believe Russia is Magog, but Turkey , and for good reason.  Those specific peoples in Russia that people say constitute Magog actually came from modern day Turkey .  There's no debate about that.  So, if you're Ezekiel, you'd understand Magog to be Turkey , not Russia . Also, many scholars say that Gog is the anti-Christ.  The anti-Christ forms a world power that is just as much religious as it is political.  They see the rise of Islam fitting this new world empire more than a secular European Community.  The short of this is that it's not Russia that joins forces with Iran and other Islamic nations.  It's Islamic Turkey that joins forces with her Islamic brothers.  If you'd like to understand this more, you can read, "The Islamic Anti-Christ", buy Joel Richardson.           

 

In verse 2 God tells Ezekiel "to set his face against" Gog.  The word "against" suggests to me that what is about to be prophesied is not really something to be taken as being friendly. 

 

Note also that this leader is called "the prince of Magog".  I think this might be important.  Many people see this prince as a world leader, that is, the anti-christ.  I don't believe he is the anti-christ.  The word prince reminds me of Daniel 10 where we see the prince of Persia and the prince of Greece.  The same Bible teachers that say these two princes are actually demons don't necessarily say the prince of Magog is a demon.  This prince might well be a demon who motivates Gog.  If not, the prince of the leader of Magog is obviously inspired by a demon prince of Magog.  Gog, although thought to be the anti-Christ by some, may not be.   I don't believe he is the anti-Christ.  

 

Verse 3 specifically says that God is against Gog.  That being said, we will see, that God uses Gog to do His will, as He often does throughout history.  God uses satan to do His will.  You can certainly see that at the cross of Christ.  

 

In verse 4 God tells Gog that He will put hooks in his jaw and virtually drag Gog out from where he lives with all his armies ready for war.  In the days when Ezekiel was prophesying these things men would put special hooks in the bridles of horses.  If the horse went in a direction he was not supposed to go, these hooks would cut into their jaw.  This is sort of what God was saying here.  God was dragging Gog of Magog from his nation down to the south for war.  Clearly, what was going on here was of God's doing and making, not the devil's.

 

In verses 5 and 6 we note that other nations will be with Gog for the battle spoken of in this chapter.  We see Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth Togarmah.  All five of these names can be traced in the Old Testament.

 

Persia is modern day Iran.  Cush is black Africa.  Put is Libya, Algiers, and northern Africa, but not Egypts.  Gomer is Muslim eastern Europe.  Beth Togarmah is parts of Turkey and the areas in northern Iraq and north of Iraq.      

 

What we can note here is that Gog of Magog, or Russia, forms an alliance with the above nations, who today are Muslim or Muslim influenced.  Anyone who knows what is happening in the news today and over the last few years knows that Russia has been forming a cozy relationship with Iran, the most radical Muslim nation of those mentioned above.  This alliance could not have been formed just a couple of decades ago because the nations listed here, other than Russia, did not have much in common.  They do now in Islam. 

 

In verse 7 and 8 God tells Gog and these other nations to be ready for war.  He says in "many days" and in "future years" you will be called to arms.  This will surely happen, and maybe very soon.  Again, you see God Himself initiating this call to arms.  It's not the devil who makes this call.  You can see the same thing in Revelation 6.  The horrible things that happen because of the seven seals only happens because Jesus lets it happen when He, and only He, opens the seals.  Beyond this, the four horsemen described in Revelation 6 are only let loose once the four living creatures tells them to "come" so they can do their evil on the world.  

 

In verse 8 we see who Gog and his allies will be attacking. It is "a land that has recovered from war".  This land is Israel.  I suggest that Israel has already recovered from war, in 1948-49, 1967, 1973, along with all the other skirmishes she has been involved in.  Some suggest that the war of Psalm 83 will take place before this war, and therefore the Psalm 83 war is the war that Israel has recovered from as seen here.  

 

Verse 8 also states that the attack will be against a people who have been gathered from many nations.  Clearly, there's no argument concerning that.  It's been prophesied over and over again, and it has come true.  Jewish people have been returning to their homeland for a number of years now.     

 

In verse 8 we see the words "mountains of Israel".  If you weren't convinced that the nation that will be invaded is Israel, that should tell you for sure.

 

The words "that have long been desolate" also appear in verse 8.  That is speaking of the land of Israel that for centuries has been a desolation, that is, until the Jews returned and made it into a place to live, to grow crops, and most of all, to survive in comfort. 

 

Verse 8 also states that "they", meaning the Jews, have been brought out of the nations and now live in safety.  You might wonder what this means.  Some suggest that this idea of safety is the peace treaty that the anti-christ makes with Israel.  Other suggest that it is not total peace and safety, but relative peace and safety.  Does Israel live in relative peace and safety now?  I don't think so.  If this is true, then before this attack happens, we must see some kind of peace in and for Israel. 

 

Some people see the war of Psalm 83 as happening before this war.  The war of Psalm 83 is a different war because different nations are involved.  These nations are the nations that border present day Israel.  These people suggest that Israel will defeat her enemies on their borders and then live in peace and safety that is spoken of here.  During this time of peace and safety is when this war takes place as stated in the text.  Others see this time of peace and safety as being the peace offered and implemented by the anti-Christ.  The apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 speaks of this day of peace and safety as being a deceptive day, because when everyone is saying "peace and safety", sudden destruction will come.         

 

Verse 9 tells us that Gog with all the nations will go up and cover the land like a cloud.  This suggests to me, one very large army. 

 

When you see the word "go up" here and elsewhere in relation to Israel and Jerusalem, that is not "up" in the sense of direction, but "up" in the sense of elevation.  Jerusalem is high, is up.  That's why the word "up" is used.  I mention this because Russia is to the north of Israel.  Therefore going up directionally would make no sense.  They would have to go down, as in, down south. 

 

In verse 10 we read that "thoughts will come into the mind" of Gog to devise a plan of attack.  This is the question. "Where did these thoughts come from"?  The context makes it clear.  Earlier in the chapter we learned that it was God who would drag Gog down from the north to make his attack.  Therefore, it was God who put the thoughts of verse 10 into the mind of Gog.  That being said, God might use a demon, or the demon prince of Russia as the instrument to put the thought into the mind of Gog. 

 

Verses 11 and 12 state some of the thoughts that go through the mind of Gog.  Note one thought was to attack the land who was in peace, with unwalled cities, who would not expect an attack.  I've noted this a couple of paragraphs back, but Israel at this present time, in 2011 is not in the position that this text states.  They are on the watch for attacks, especially from Iran and Syria.

 

In verse 12 we note that Gog wants to "loot" Israel because they are rich.  Is Israel rich now?  Some might say "yes".  They are to a degree, especially in light of the size of their population.  The population of Israel is less than two thirds of one percent of the world's population. Some suggest that Israel will find oil that will make them richer than ever, and there is that possibility. Others suggest that Israel will be very rich due to its discovery of natural gas off its shores in the Mediterranean Sea.  They say there is enough gas there that could keep Israel going and a nation the size of the United States for seven hundred years.  I'm sure in a pinch, Russia would love to build a natural gas pipe-line from Israel to her land.  

 

We note that Gog has reasons to attack Israel.  The text does not say that the other nations involved have the same reason for attack.  I suggest they don't.  I suggest that there reasons are due to their Islamic religion. Islam teaches that Israel should not exist.  Islam believes that in the end, they will totally destroy Israel.  

 

In verses 12 and 13 we see Sheba , Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish and her villages asking Gog if he was attacking in order to loot Israel.  Many scholars feel that Sheba and Dedan is Saudi Arabia.  We remember Tarshish from Jonah.  That's where he wanted to go to avoid the call of God.  That was the farthest known area of the world in Jonah's day.  The word "Tarshish" incorporates the idea of tin and metal. Ships from Tarshish often brought their goods into the middle east.  It was a two or three year voyage.  Many people think these ships came from what we would call Great Britain today. 

 

Note in verse 12 the phrase "Tarshish and her villages"., or, as some translations state, which I like better, "Tarshish and her young or strong lions".   If Tarshish is Britain, then it is clear who these young strong lions are.  It is those nations that came into existence from the United Kingdom.  They would include Canada, the United States, Australia, among other nations.  This is really clear to see in our world today. It is interesting to note that one of the emblems of England is in fact the lion. I tend to believe that Tarshish is England and not southern Spain as some suggest.  

 

The text seems to suggest that Saudi Arabia, England, Canada, the United States, and other western nations, just sit back for some reason and do nothing about his attack.  It's like they don't have the guts, the fortitude to do what is necessary to stop this attack.  They might well be afraid of a world ending nuclear war, so they let Russia and those with her make the attack.  The populations of these nations might well not have the desire to fight another war, as is becoming the case now, since the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

Some might suggest that the United States should not be a part of the villages of Tarshish because they were never a part of the United Kingdom.  These people may have a point, but on the other hand, America was formed by those who came from the United Kingdom. 

 

Even though the western nations do not seem to participate, they have to be held accountable for not preventing this attack.  It's the Abrahamic Covenant.  Those who curse Israel will be cursed, and not preventing this attack is a form of cursing Israel.

 

In verse 14 God asks Gog that in the day when Israel lives in safety, "will you not take notice of that"?  Simply put, God will turn his face from Israel.  He will withhold His protection from them.  God is actually putting the thought of attack into Gog's mind, just as He did when He put the thought into satan's mind to attack Job. 

 

Verse 15 tells us what happens next.  Gog of Magog, meaning, Russia will advance on Israel, God's people.  Note the word "far north" in reference to where Gog lives.  Obviously, the far north of Israel is Russia. 

 

Notice also that Russia is not the only nation that makes this attack.  Verse 15 states that "many nations" will come with Russia.  We know what nations will mount the attack with Russia because they've already been stated in the first five verses of this chapter.  The words "many nations" might also suggest even more nations than what are listed above.

 

Verse 16 says that Gog will "advance against my people Israel".  As sad as this must be in the heart of God, He is allowing His people to be attacked so they will fall to their knees and give themselves to their God.         

 

In verse 15 we saw the words "my people" and now in verse 16 we see the words "my land".  God has a special claim on the Jews and the portion of land that is theirs.  This verse says that God will bring Gog to His land.  This makes it very clear.  God is involved in the affairs of humanity and national affairs. 

 

The words "my land" is important.  This clearly means that the land God gave to Israel is His land.  It's a special set apart land from the rest of the world that belongs to Him as well.  It is important to understand that the Bible teaches the land of Israel cannot be separated from God or Israel.  The land belongs to both God and Israel.  

 

Verse 16 also tells us why God is doing this.  He is involving Himself in these things to show the nations of the world who He is.  This is the fundamental reason why God dose anything in the world.  It is to show all nations of the world that He is the God of all there is.  Much of humanity does not recognize the God of the Jews, or, the God of the Bible.  People are going about living their lives without any reference or thought of God.  That will change.  When these things happen on earth, people will know that there is a God and that He requires their submission.

 

Verse 17 needs some thought.  God asks Gog, "are you not the one I spoke of in former days by my servants, the prophets of Israel?  At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them".  The obvious question is, "what prophets prophesied these things and when?  We have no record of these things.  What appears to be happening here is that these words are in fact directed to modern day Russia.  The words in this text is what God is reminding Russia about, and they were spoken 2600 years ago.  Therefore, God will use prophets in the last days to speak these words to Russia .   Russia and the nations of the world haven't taken these words seriously. They may not even know they exist, but Christians today should be making this known to the nations of the world.

 

In verse 18 we see that God gets very angry at Gog, or Russia, when they attack Israel.  This is somewhat ironic.  It is God's will for Gog to attack Israel.  In fact it is God who puts the thought in Gog's mind.  It is God who drags Russia from the far north and makes them invade Israel, and now, He gets angry at Russia for doing His will. 

 

In verse 19 God's wrath is seen in a large earthquake, so the NIV states.  Other translation say a great "shaking'.  If the NIV is correct, there is an earthquake, yet some suggest this shaking is due to bombs, or possibly an atomic bomb.

 

Iv verse 20 we note that all the birds, all the fish, all the animals, and all people, will tremble at the presence of God.  All things will know that this earthquake, or whatever it is, is due to God Himself.  Humanity will finally begin to acknowledge the existence of God in this world.  Verse 20 sure sounds like parts of the book of Revelation where we see people wanting to die but can't.

 

In verse 21 God says that He will bring judgment against Gog by bringing a sword against them.  This is done by those fighting against Israel actually fighting against themselves.  Brother against brother will kill each other.  There will be mass confusion in the battlefield. 

 

The judgment is called a plague of "bloodshed" in verse 22.  You see rain, hailstones, and burning sulfur.  Some people see this as real rain and hailstones.  Others see burning sulfur and see an atomic explosion.  What was not known in Ezekiel's day but is known now, when a nuclear bomb explodes there is so much heat pushing up into the stratosphere that ice is formed and falls to the ground as hail.  You might want to compare this verse with Revelation 8:7, the blowing of the first trumpet.  The same words are used.  You might wonder if Revelation 8:7 is what is talked about here in Ezekiel 38.  It might well be.   

 

In verse 23 God tells us that these things that take place on the earth will show the nations His greatness and His holiness.  You can understand how this would display His greatness.  You might wonder how this would display is holiness.  The point here is that God is holy.  The KJV uses the word "sanctify" here.  The Hebrew word translated as sanctify or holy means pure and clean.  God is very disturbed at our impure way of life.  He is pure.  He demonstrates His holiness by judging the nations for being unholy.

 

Verses 1 and 2 of chapter 39 are basically a repeat of verses 1 and 2 of chapter 38.  You can go back and read my comments on Ezekiel 38:1 and 2.

 

Note again in verse 2 that it is God who will drag Gog, or Russia, to Israel.  The word drag here can easily be translated as "mislead".  God will mislead Russia into attacking Israel.  The text seems to suggest a bit of pressure on God's part to force Russia to attack Israel.  It almost sounds like there is a bit of reluctance on Russia's part.

 

As in chapter 38 we also see in verse 2 that God will bring Gog from the far north.  Again, if you draw a line to the far north of Israel, you will come to Russia.

 

In verses 3 to 5 we see that once God gets Gog and her allies to Israel He will smite them.  He will rain fire on them.  That sounds like a military battle that Israel might well win.  It might well be nuclear.                         

 

Verse 6 says that God will bring fire on Magog and those who live in safety in the coastlands.  To me, this suggests that Israel will not only defeat Russia in her homeland, she will defeat them in Russia.  How could that be?  It might well be with atomic warfare from long range missals.

 

Note the word "coastlands" in verse 6.  When this word is used in the Old Testament it is in reference to lands, or continents, that is far away.  The idea is the those in the middle east sea the coasts of other lands from a distance.  It's a bit speculative, but this could easily include North America, or at least, England and the surrounding nations. 

 

The point here seems to be that when Russia comes down from the north to attack Israel, this starts a world war.  We know from other Biblical passages that there are other nations involved in other end time wars.  This appears to be the war the begins a number of wars at the end of the age.  We know China will be involved in a war, but is not mentioned here.  Again, this seems to be the beginning of many wars, or, a very long running war the escalates as time goes on.

 

In verse 7 God says that at this time He will make His name known among Israel, and no longer will his name be profaned.  Israel was the nation that was profaning the name of God.  All through the Old Testament the word "profane" is used to describe how Israel treats God and His name.  This will happen when Israel falls to her knees and God gives them a spirit of repentance as the prophet Zechariah states.  Also at that time, all the nations will know who God is according to this verse.  They will know because the things that have been happening on earth. 

 

We need to note that Russia is not the only one being attacked here.  The coastlands are attacked too.  If the coastlands signifies North America, that would mean Israel attacks North America, which would mean that North American allegiance to Israel would have gone by the wayside, which is beginning to happen now. 

 

We need to understand that Israel was supposed to represent God to the other nations of the world.  They didn't, and in not doing their part, they profaned God in front of these nations.  As a result of Israel not representing God as they were meant to, those nations of the world did not know God.  You might say the whole world condition is a result of Israel's disobedience.

 

In verse 8 God reconfirms.  "It is coming", He said.  The day of the Lord and His wrath is coming, we can be assured of that.  What we see in these chapters will come, and might come sooner than we think. 

 

Verses 9 and 10 states that the weapons from this battle will be gather up by Israel and used for fuel.  In the minds of many, these weapons must be nuclear, because how would conventional weapons supply fuel, or the energy for modern living?  There will be sufficient energy from these weapons that keeps Israel going for seven years.  I spoke about the natural gas find off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea that would keep Israel and a nation the size of America going for seven hundred years.  Well, if that is so, it might be possible that the pipe-lines for this natural gas were destroyed, and it would take this seven years to fix.  There is also the possibility that Israel will become a major player in oil since they are beginning to discover oil in the rocks beneath the earth. This oil will be very valuable to Russia and the world. 

 

Those who believe this battle takes place at the first of the last seven year period, say that this is how Israel gets her energy needs fulfilled during the seven last years.  Thos who say this battle is in the middle, or the end, of the last seven years point out that when Jesus returns at the end of the seven years to set up his kingdom, Israel will still need energy.  What many fail to think about is that the thousand year rule of Jesus on earth is not the new earth, as seen at the end of the book of Revelation.  The millennium, as it is called by many, is a continuation of human history as we have known it.  Again, it's not the new earth, when all things are made new.  Things will go on as they have, but for a thousand years, Jesus will be in charge, and as you read in Zechariah 14:16 to 21, nations and peoples will still have the choice to obey Jesus or not.  Therefore, we will still need fuel to run our economies.  

 

We also learn in verse 10 that Israel will loot those who attacked them.  This might set Israel up for quite some time. I guess they're getting back what was taken from them.   

 

In verses 11 to 16 we see a seven month period where Israel will bury the dead from the enemy armies.  It will take that long.  Note in verse 14 there are special men employed to do this task.  Those who feel that this attack was with the use of nuclear weapons say that these are experts who know how to handle nuclear material.  Note also that in verse 15 and 16 that if anyone even finds a bone from the dead, he will put a marker by the bone so these experts will be able to take care of the matter and dispose of the bones properly and safely.  Again, this does sound like this war was nuclear in nature.

 

We note that in verse 17 to 20 that even the birds and wild animals get to participate in the recovery efforts.  They get to eat from the dead bodies.  God calls this a sacrifice for the animals.

 

In verse 21 we see God's ultimate goal in all this destruction.  It's just not the revival of Israel so His glory can be seen in her.  It's so that His glory can be seen in all the earth.  He is the creator of all things. Total submission to God by all nations is the ultimate end to what this chapter is all about.

 

In verse 22 we see the reoccurring theme.  In that day Israel will know that Yahweh is their God.  The thought continues in verse 23.  Also on that day, all the nations will finally know that the reason why Israel went into exile was because of their sins.  The exile spoken of here is the exile that took place in 70 A.D..  The exile spoken of here is when Rome came into Jerusalem and destroyed the city and scattered the Jews into the uttermost parts of the world. 

 

Verse 23 says that God hid His face from Israel during those years.  He hid His face, but He did not leave or forsake them.  There is a difference.  In 1948 He began to stop hiding His face.  This is similar to what God the Father did to Jesus while on the cross.  God hid His face from Jesus because He became sin.  God did not leave or forsake Jesus.  He just refused to deliver Him from the cross. 

 

In verse 24 God said that He dealt with Israel "according to their uncleanness and their offenses".  There seems to be a matter of degree here.  I do believe that God judges, condemns, and punishes people in degree according to their offenses.  I think that is only just.  There some hints in the Bible that even in eternity, there are degrees of punishment.  There is evidence that there are degrees of rewards in the next life for the believer as well.

 

Verse 25 repeats what has already been said.  God will bring His people Israel back from captivity and have compassion on them.  Even before 1948 God began to bring His people back.  When Israel became a nation in 1948, His people had their own land to come to.  Since 1948 the Jews have continued to come back to their homeland.  Yet just having the Jews returning is not the end of the matter.  Once they come back we have the punishment of God on Israel that will bring the Jews to their knees so God can pour out a spirit of repentance on them.  Then I believe this verse comes into play.  God will have full compassion on the Jews when they repent.  This would be the fulfillment of verse 25.

 

There's one thing we need to understand concerning prophecy.  Here we see that God will bring the Jews back to Israel, but if you look at the last century and see the Jews returning to their land, the carnal non-Christian can't see that God is behind this return.  It just looks like the Jews on their own decide to return.  It's the same with Russia coming down to attack Israel.  That simply looks to the carnal man that it is Russia's choice and decision to attack, but it's not.  God is behind Russia's attack, as He is behind many world events.  It's just that humanity can't see this, and that is the exact reason for the calamities of the last seven years of this age.  That is, so the world will know that God is who He says He is and the world will know that to be true.        

 

Note God saying, "I will be zealous for my holy name".  Yes, God does love us, but all the way through this prophecy and throughout the Old Testament we see that God is zealous to keep is name from being defamed.  That means a lot to Him, and in the long run,  all that He does is to protect His holy image.  This is what I believe this phrase means.

 

In verse 26 God criticized Israel for their false sense of security.  They felt safe for secure in their own land.  They trusted themselves and not their God.  Many Christians are in the same situation today. 

 

This idea that Israel was safe in their own land is well debated.  Are they living in safety now?  That's debatable.  I think they live in fear.  Some suggest that the anti-christ will bring a measure of safety.  It's hard to say exactly what this might mean, but we will know some day.

 

Part of the end result of all these things is seen in verse 27.  One end result is that all the nations of the world will know that God's chosen people is Israel, and they have a real job to play in the history of man from this point onward.

 

In verse 28 we see that God exiled Israel, and I believe this is speaking of 70 A.D..  Then He brings them back to their land, which I believe has been happening for the last number of decades.  On the surface, both of these events could not be seen as an act of God, but they were. 

 

What God says in verse 29 goes along with what He spoke through Zechariah, and that is, God will pour His Spirit out on Israel.  What a day that will be.

 

There is one thing I'd like to note concerning this war of Ezekiel 38 and 39.  It is not the same war that is mentioned in Psalm 83.  The nations that are mentioned in the Ezekiel war do not specifically surround modern day Israel.  The ten nations that are mentioned in Psalm 83 all border on present day Israel.  The corresponding modern day nations to those mentioned in Psalm 83 are, Egypt, Saudi Arabia , Jordan, Syria ,Lebanon, and possibly Turkey and Iraq.  So it appears that we have two different wars. 

 

Some Bible teachers see more than two wars at the end of this age. Some see up to nine wars.  Some suggest that the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39 might be a brief overview of all the final wars. The problem with figuring out the meaning to these wars is the timing, and there is much debate over this matter today.  

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