You may recognize today’s Scripture reading if you are a student of Bible prophecy. Ezekiel 38 and 39 have been the subject of much debate in the past century. I acknowledge there are various interpretations for today’s passage, and I do not want to add my voice among the speculations, nor add to the confusion.
Remembering many prophecies have an immediate application and a far-reaching implication, I believe the near setting of today’s study was in the decades and centuries after Israel returned from captivity. The far-reaching implication has been suggested by some to reflect the gathering of the nations against Israel preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Whatever your interpretation, the overriding lesson for me is the oversight and loving compassion the LORD has for Israel, His chosen people.
Ezekiel was commanded to prophesy against Gog, the ruler of the land of Magog, who was identified as “the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal” (38:1-2). Many have suggested “Magog” is today’s Russia, and the cities “Meshech and Tubal” are Russian cities we know today as Moscow and Tobolsk. I am satisfied to name Gog as the king of Magog, whom the LORD would employ to move a coalition of nations from the north against Israel (Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, and Gomer might be identified as nations of today’s Middle East, 38:5-6).
Though it was Gog who sat his heart on invading Israel, it was the LORD who brought forth (figuratively, putting hooks in his jaws, 38:4) to the end He would accomplish His divine purpose. The armies of Magog and its allies would descend upon Israel “like a storm…[and] like a cloud to cover the land” (38:9). All this evil would spring from the mind of Gog, that he might make spoil of Israel (38:12-15). Yet, it was the LORD who determined He would destroy those armies of the heathen that gathered against Israel (38:16-18).
King Gog and his coalition of nations would come to destroy Israel, but they would face the God of Israel who in His jealousy and wrath, would send “a great shaking in the land of Israel” (38:19). The whole earth, and all its creatures would be shaken by the earthquake, and men would be terrified (38:20). In their confusion, the soldiers would turn on each other until “every man’s sword [would] be against his brother” (38:21). The LORD would send “pestilence” (disease), and rain, hail, fire, and brimstone would fall from the sky (38:22).
Closing thought (38:23) – We do not find any mention of Israel sending soldiers against the invading armies, for it was the LORD who determined His name would be magnified among the nations, and they would know and acknowledge Him as “the LORD” (38:23).
Ezekiel 39 – Burying the Dead
As we noted in Ezekiel 38, the LORD intervened and gave Israel a victory over insurmountable odds, thus defeating her enemies. The task of burying the dead would take seven months (39:14). Corpses would fill the land of Israel, and birds and beasts of prey would feed upon the dead (39:4). The LORD’s wrath also turned against the land of Magog and her allies, for Ezekiel foretold the LORD would “send a fire,” that “they shall know that [He is] the LORD” (39:5). Israel would witness the LORD make His holy name known not only to His people, but also to the heathen (39:7). In that day, Israel would gather the weapons of war and burn them for seven years that the land might ultimately be cleansed (39:8-10).
Closing thoughts (39:21-29) – Throughout our study of Ezekiel, the LORD has stated one overriding purpose for His judgments: To the end His people and the nations would know He is God, the LORD and Sovereign of the earth. It was His desire that the heathen would see His glory, and His judgment executed (39:21). It was to the end the “house of Israel [would] know [acknowledge] that [He] was the Lord their God from that day and forward.” (39:22; note 39:28).
Sometimes we wonder why trials and troubles come upon us. Have you considered it may be to the end you will humble yourself, and confess He is “the LORD” and sovereign of your life?
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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