Jesus Plus Nothing Bible Studies - Ezekiel, Israel and the End Times
Ezekiel 39 - Gog, Magog and the coming storm - Part 2
by I Gordon
We saw in the first study of the Gog and Magog invasion that the Bible predicts an end-time alliance between Russia, Iran and Turkey (along with other countries) that will come against Israel in the last days leading up to the return of Jesus. As they cover the land like a storm it will look like a sure-thing win for the invading forces. A sure-thing that is until God steps in! We saw in the first study that God will not allow this invading force to prevail but will supernaturally wipe them out on the mountains of Israel in an event that will literally leave an unbelieving world gasping! It will, the Bible says, be an event that will be used by God to make His name known again to both Israel and the nations of the world.
In this study we will look at what else we can learn about this event from the next chapter, Ezekiel 39. While there are quite a few aspects that we have already seen and are repeated in Ezekiel 39, I'll mainly focus on the new revelation that sheds additional light on this coming event. I will highlight in the biblical text the parts that have not been mentioned before. But it should also be noted that God isn't someone to repeat Himself for no reason. So that which is continually emphasized by the Holy Spirit will also be examined. Ok... let's begin!
A fire for Magog too!
Ezekiel 39:1-6 "And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal; (2) and I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you against the mountains of Israel. (3) "I will strike your bow from your left hand and dash down your arrows from your right hand. (4) "You will fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you as food to every kind of predatory bird and beast of the field. (5) "You will fall on the open field; for it is I who have spoken," declares the Lord GOD. (6) "And I will send fire upon Magog and those who inhabit the coastlands in safety; and they will know that I am the LORD.
Verse 2 and 4 reveal new information not found in Ezekiel 38 stating that the armies will fall on the Mountains of Israel and their bodies will be given to the birds to eat. This is similar to the events of Armageddon as described in Revelation 19:17-18 and has caused some to believe that the Magog invasion is actually describing the war of Armageddon. While there are similarities there are also large differences. The most notable is that this war of Gog and Magog will come at a time when Israel is living in peace and security, in unwalled villages. This certainly WILL NOT be the case at the end of the tribulation as the inhabitants of Israel has to flee for their lives at the mid-point of the tribulation (Matt 24:15-22, Rev 12:6,13-17)
Another new piece of information is in verse 6 that speaks of a fire in Magog itself. Now imagine if you were a hard nosed skeptic who didn't believe in any god, let alone the God of Israel and the Bible. As you see the armies bearing down on Israel, poised for victory, you watch on as suddenly a huge earthquake wipes out a large part of the troops. Now, if you were particularly hard-hearted, you might just put this down to a very unlucky coincidence. Chaos then breaks out within the ranks as the Magog army turns on itself. Again, if you didn't want to believe, you may say this is just what happens in war sometimes. Then the skies open and fire and hail is poured down upon the remains of the invading army. "Well" you say, "that is unusual and odd timing but there will be a human or scientific explanation because we all know there isn't a God." But if someone really wanted to turn a blind eye to what is happening, they also have to explain what happens next. Ezekiel reveals in verse 6 that the fire isn't just reserved for the armies on the mountains of Israel... No, the country of Magog itself will be burnt. Arnold Fructenbaum, in his 'Footsteps of the Messiah' (page 115) writes concerning this 'Not only is the Russian and allied army destroyed in Israel, but the land of Russia itself is devastated by the raining of brimstone, causing much destruction to the nation itself. It will cause Russia to cease being a political force in world affairs.' Anyone without a completely hardened heart will have to acknowledge the startling truth of this event - "This cannot just be a coincidence! God did this!". And thus, God ends this section with the result of this supernatural event - 'They will know that I am the LORD!'
Israel too will know Me
Ezekiel 39:7-10 "My holy name I will make known in the midst of My people Israel; and I will not let My holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel. (8) "Behold, it is coming and it shall be done," declares the Lord GOD. "That is the day of which I have spoken. (9) "Then those who inhabit the cities of Israel will go out and make fires with the weapons and burn them, both shields and bucklers, bows and arrows, war clubs and spears, and for seven years they will make fires of them. (10) "They will not take wood from the field or gather firewood from the forests, for they will make fires with the weapons; and they will take the spoil of those who despoiled them and seize the plunder of those who plundered them," declares the Lord GOD.
While I have mentioned it previously, in terms of Ezekiel 38 and 39, this is the first time that it specifically says that God will make His holy name known to the nation of Israel and it will not be profaned anymore. We saw in Ezekiel 36 that God said He would do this not because Israel deserved it, but so that He would be faithful to His own name and promises. So when the reality of this invasion and deliverance is seen, it will jolt Israel out of its current worldly slumber. They will know, once and for all, that they are the Lord's people and they need to repent, uphold His name, and believe in their Lord God once again. Revival is coming to Israel!
The other piece of new information revealed here concerns the use of the armies equipment. Israel will take many items as the spoils of victory and will also burn the invading armies weapons as fuel for seven years. They shall loot those that came to loot them! We should also note the weapons mentioned such as shields, bucklers, bows and arrows, spears etc. Previously in chapter 38:4 it also spoke about horses. Should this be taken literally? Or are more modern day weaponry and methods meant? Concerning this, the Bible Knowledge Commentary states:
The text itself can allow for both interpretations, but the normal meaning of the words would lead one to see Ezekiel referring to literal horses, etc. With the other worldwide catastrophes evident during the first three and one-half years of Daniel's 70th Week (Mat_24:6-8; Rev_6:1-17), a reversion to more primitive methods of warfare might become possible.
The cleansing of the land
Ezekiel 39:11-20 "On that day I will give Gog a burial ground there in Israel, the valley of those who pass by east of the sea, and it will block off those who would pass by. So they will bury Gog there with all his horde, and they will call it the valley of Hamon-gog. (12) "For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. (13) "Even all the people of the land will bury them; and it will be to their renown on the day that I glorify Myself," declares the Lord GOD. (14) "They will set apart men who will constantly pass through the land, burying those who were passing through, even those left on the surface of the ground, in order to cleanse it. At the end of seven months they will make a search. (15) "As those who pass through the land pass through and anyone sees a man's bone, then he will set up a marker by it until the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog. (16) "And even the name of the city will be Hamonah. So they will cleanse the land. "As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, 'Speak to every kind of bird and to every beast of the field, "Assemble and come, gather from every side to My sacrifice which I am going to sacrifice for you, as a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood. (18) "You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, as though they were rams, lambs, goats and bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. (19) "So you will eat fat until you are glutted, and drink blood until you are drunk, from My sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. (20) "You will be glutted at My table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all the men of war," declares the Lord GOD."'
As well as the 7 years of burning weapons for fuel, there will also be a thorough 7 month period where the dead are buried. H.A Ironside writes: '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... 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. '
So with the land needing to be totally cleansed from this event, a special burial place east of the Meditation sea in the Jordan valley will be given for this purpose. It will also be given a new name - Hamon-gog which means 'the multitude or hordes of Gog.' This will not just be the task of the government or military however. Such is the number of dead bodies and devastation that scripture says that 'all the people of the land' will bury them. But there will be certain men set apart whose job it is to continually search for any remaining body or bone so that the whole land can be cleansed. The bird kingdom will help in this regard too. They will get to dine on kings and princes, the rich and mighty. The city nearby the burial valley will be renamed as 'Hamonah' meaning 'his multitude' or 'his uproar'. It will stand as a continual reminder of the fate of those that oppose the living God.
The finale - Glory and knowledge amongst the nations
Ezekiel 39:21-24 "And I will set My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed and My hand which I have laid on them. (22) "And the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God from that day onward. (23) "The nations will know that the house of Israel went into exile for their iniquity because they acted treacherously against Me, and I hid My face from them; so I gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and all of them fell by the sword. (24) "According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I dealt with them, and I hid My face from them."'"
The finale to this study in Ezekiel comes in two parts. Firstly there is the glory among the nations. Secondly there is spiritual rebirth for Israel. It is a wonderful way to finish with both Israel and the nations blessed. While I don't believe the Magog invasion is at the end of the tribulation (for reasons previously given) I do believe that verses 21-29 take us to that time right at the end. There is a fitting conclusion in these verses that does not seem to fit if we were to try apply them to a pre-tribulation or early tribulation time frame. These last verses only make sense with the return of the Lord Jesus and the setting up of His kingdom (as shown in Ezekiel 40 onwards).
So what do we see in these verses? God's glory is going to be upon the nations. They will have knowledge and understanding of God's ways. They will also see and understand why Israel was scattered in exile. They will understand that this was God's judgement upon Israel until the ordained time came to regather and establish them within the land once again. The nations will also understand why they were judged. They will see the justice in God's ways, realising that they too were deserving of judgement. Of course, only those amongst the nations who are deemed eligible will have access into the Messianic kingdom as Jesus spoke in Matt 25:31-46. But what a time it will be for those that do enter as the nations see and experience the glory of God and live in the most perfect conditions on earth since the pre-fall days in the garden of Eden!
The finale - Spiritual rebirth and redemption for Israel
Ezekiel 39:25-29 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name. (26) "They will forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid. (27) "When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations. (28) "Then they will know that I am the LORD their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. (29) "I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel," declares the Lord GOD.
The end is also glorious for the nation of Israel. They too will understand why they were sent into exile. But God will be jealous for His holy name to fulfill all that He promised to his people Israel, regathering all of them and leaving none behind. Their disgrace will be forgotten. Their sin will be remembered no more. For the first time since becoming a nation in the days of Joshua, they will live in their land in complete security, free from all fear. And best of all, the Spirit will be poured out on the house of Israel. This is the promise that has been spoken of by Ezekiel previously and by all the prophets. It is summed up well in the prophecy of Isaiah which shows that all of Israel will delight in belonging to the Lord (and even having His name written on their hand!):
Isaiah 44:1-5 But now listen, O Jacob, my servant, Israel, whom I have chosen. (2) This is what the LORD says-- he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. (3) For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. (4) They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. (5) One will say, 'I belong to the LORD'; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, 'The LORD's,' and will take the name Israel.
Let's close with one other declaration from the book of Psalms. It foretells of a day, a distant day from the Psalmist perspective, when a future generation will see all these things. It speaks of what we have seen in this study and is a good place to end. The nations will fear the Lord, they will see and revere His glory. And He will arise with favour and compassion for Zion. And all the kingdoms on the earth shall assemble to worship the LORD! Believe this for it is coming and is close at hand.
But you, O LORD, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.
The nations will fear the name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
For the LORD will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory.
He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.
Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD:
The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth,
To hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death."
So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem
When the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the LORD.