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We come today to a major passage in biblical prophecy. This chapter covers advanced material. It is not milk but meat. This passage is deep. It is a prophecy about a battle, an end-time battle. It is the most lengthy and detailed prophetic battle in the entire Bible.
The chapter describes World War III. It is about a massive end-time invasion of Israel from every direction by a huge international coalition of nations. As we will see, most of these nations are Muslim. It describes the coming Jihad. It will not just be a northern confederacy. It will be a Muslim confederacy.
What is shocking is how relevant this chapter is. Karl Barth used to say we should always read the Bible with one hand the newspaper in the other. We will see that clearly in these two chapters. We want to read this chapter in light of current events.
When we do that, you will be shocked. The chapter is beginning to unfold right before our eyes. The anti-Israel coalition is already beginning to form. Some nations who have never been aligned before and coming together and some of those countries are the very ones mentioned in this chapter. What do we know about this prophecy.
Characteristics of the Prophecy
1) It is APOCALYPTIC
Ezekiel says that these events will happen “in the latter years” (38:8). He also says that they will happen “in the latter days” (38:16). They are not talking about events in Ezekiel’s day. He says that it takes place “after many days”(38:8) and he defines days as years. The NLT renders Ezekiel 38:8, “in the distant future.” This is an end-time prophecy. It is not talking about events in Ezekiel’s day but events in our day.
2) It is VIOLENT
There is a massacre in this chapter. It is bloody. The chapter ends with piles of dead bodies all over the mountains and it will take seven months to bury them all (39:12). Jews will bury all of the people who invaded their country and tried to kill them.
The invasion results in a massacre of the invaders and a feast for all the birds (39:17-20). Instead of dead animals being eaten by humans. People will die and become a feast for the animals.
3) It is UNEXPECTED
The invasion is unexpected. Israel did not expect it. They were living in peace at the time. The start of the war is unexpected. God draws Gog to Israel to attack His own people. The results of the battle are also unexpected. An international coalition of nations invades the tiny country of Israel from every direction.
All of these countries band together to take on a little country. To them, it looked like a piece of cake but there is a surprise ending. God intervenes and fights for His people. He steps in and wipes out this great army. They are going to walk into a complete trap. They are going to invade Israel so they can plunder the place (38:10-11).
They will come to plunder but end up being plundered themselves. The plunderers are plundered. The robbers are robbed (39:10). The tables are turned.
4) It is DIFFICULT
Much of this chapter is debatable, even among people who believe the Bible. We can have an opinion but with some of these questions, we cannot be dogmatic.
While we cannot answer every question abut this chapter with certainty, we do know who the key characters in this prophecy are? There are four main groups (the victor, the victim, the invaders and the protesters).
The victor is God. He is the one who wins the battle and gets the glory in the end. The is a contest between God and Gog. God wins. God is not caught off guard by this invasion. He is not thinking, ‘What am I going to do? My people are in big trouble.” God actually draws Gog into this fight. He puts hooks into their jaws to pull them into the conflict. It is a graphic picture. They are not drawn to salvation. They are drawn to judgment.
And I WILL TURN YOU ABOUT and put hooks into your jaws, and I WILL BRING YOU OUT, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a great host, all of them with buckler and shield, wielding swords. (38:4 ESV)
You will come up against my people Israel, like a cloud covering the land. In the latter days I WILL BRING YOU AGAINST My land (38:16 ESV)
And I WILL TURN YOU ABOUT and drive you forward, and BRING YOU UP from the uttermost parts of the north, and LEAD YOU AGAINST the mountains of Israel. (39:2 ESV).
That seems strange. God is leading nations to attack His own people but He is drawing them to do this, not so He can destroy Israel but so He can destroy Gog. The interesting thing is that God doesn’t violate free will at all. God will not have to force Gog to invade Israel. He does not make them do it. It is something that they will want to do.
10 “Thus says the Lord God: On that day, thoughts will come into your mind, and YOU WILL DEVISE AN EVIL SCHEME 11 and say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having no bars or gates,’ 12 to seize spoil and carry off plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and the people who were gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell at the center of the earth. (38:10-12 ESV)
Israel is the prey. What is the picture here? Israel has not been a nation for thousands of years. The dry bones come together and form a nation. They finally get their nation back. They are living in the land in peace and then they are attacked without warning. In order for this prophecy to be fulfilled, three things must take place. We must be living in the last days. Israel must be in their land and they must be living in peace. Two of those conditions have been fulfilled but Israel right now is not at peace with its neighbors.
“Walls, bars, and gates exist in Israel today in order to protect the Israelis from being terrorized by Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and the Palestinians in general. In fact, Israel is probably the most fenced in country in the world. It has fencing at various stretches along all of its land based borders” but the Antichrist will make a peace treaty with Israel in the future (Daniel 9:27).
The leader of the invasion is Gog. Gog is name a king. Magog is the name of a country. Gog is a person. Magog is a place. Gog is the leader of Magog. Why is he called Gog? The Bible does not tell us who this person is. The name Gog is only used in Ezekiel and in one other obscure person in Chronicles. Gog was the name of an old king of Lydia in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). He lived before Ezekiel’s day and reigned from 716 BC to 678 BC.
The Greeks called him Gyges of Lydia. In Gyges of Lydia we have the leader the Assyrians called “Gugu, King of Ludu,” and “Gugu of Magugu,” who is referred to in the Bible as Gog of Magog. This ancient king was a type of the Antichrist. The Antichrist is called “the king of the north” in Daniel 11:40 (so Whitcomb, Wood).
It is interesting to me that this invasion comes from THE NORTH. Israel was invaded from the north. Assyria was NORTH of Israel. Judah was invaded from the north. Babylon was NORTH of Judah and now we are told that in the future Israel will face another invasion from THE NORTH.
Gomer and all his hordes; Beth-togarmah from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes—many peoples are with you. (38:6 ESV)
You will come from your place out of the uttermost parts of the north (39:15 ESV).
And I will turn you about and drive you forward, and bring you up from the uttermost parts of the north, and lead you against the mountains of Israel. (39:2 ESV)
Is this a Russian Invasion?
Many prophecy experts say that it is a Russian invasion. Others argue just as strongly that there is no evidence for this. Just because words sound similar does not mean that they are the same thing. It is anachronistic. Who is right?
They both are. You cannot prove etymologically a connection to Russia. You cannot prove it linguistically. On the other hand, Russia is north of Israel. It is located geographically in “the uttermost parts of the north.” They are not just north but “far north.”
It makes sense not only geographically but politically. Russia is a superpower and is a chief supplier of arms to Israel’s enemies. If you put it all together, you have to conclude that Russia will be involved in this war but they will have help from other countries.
Gog will have some allies all around the world. It will be a massive invasion. This army is called “a great horde” and “a mighty army” (38:15). They will advance like a storm and cover the land like a cloud (38:9). Gog is the leader of Magog in the north and they will have help from five other countries: Persia (38:5) in the east, Cush (38:5) in the south, Put (38:5) in the west, Gomer (38:6) and Beth-Togarmah (38:6) in the north.
What are these countries today? Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya and the Sudan. What do we know about these countries? Most of them are Muslim and are influenced by radical Islam. They want to wipe Israel off the map. What does that have to do with today?
Current Events in Light of This Chapter
Two things have happened which line up completely with Ezekiel 38.
1) There is an alliance today between Russia, Iran and Turkey.
This alliance is recent. There is a picture of the three leaders when they met on April 5, 2018. All three of these countries are mentioned in Ezekiel 38.
2) There is current talk about a Muslim invasion of Israel.
About a year and a half ago, there was an article in a Turkish newspaper that mentioned how Israel could be wiped out if all of the Muslim nations came together and invaded her. They would be destroyed if fifty-seven Muslim nations with a five-million-man army invaded Israel. The article from this Turkish newspaper published an article on their website called, “What If an Army of Islam Was Formed against Israel?” Israel has nuclear weapons but so does Russia, Turkey and Iran is in the process of getting them.
This invasion will not include everyone. There will be some protestors. It mentions Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish (38:13). Sheba and Dedan are Saudi Arabia. What about the merchants of Tarshish? Some argue that Tarshish refers to Great Britain and America would be one of its young lions or cubs
Is America Prophesied in Ezekiel 38?
Is America included in this prophecy? The answer is yes and no. No one knows for sure where Tarshish is but modern archaeological evidence says that it is Spain. It was a region in southwest Spain called Tartessus by Greek and Roman sources. It was a Phoenician colony. That is the view of modern scholars.
The US is NOT mentioned in Ezekiel 38 but if we had to place the US anywhere, it would be with this group of protesters. We are allies with Israel. Right now under Trump, we would not tolerate an invasion like this but we may have a President in the future who does not support Israel like our current one. Future US presidents may not be pro-Israel.
Outcome for Gog
But on that day, the day that Gog shall come against the land of Israel, declares the Lord God, my wrath will be roused in my anger. 19 For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. 20 The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground. 21 I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Lord God. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. 22 With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur. (38:18-22 ESV)
3 Then I will strike your bow from your left hand, and will make your arrows drop out of your right hand. 4 You shall fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your hordes and the peoples who are with you. I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. 5 You shall fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Lord God. (39:3-5 ESV)
Notice how they are defeated. They are not defeated by Israeli forces or by the US military might. God defeats them. They invade God’s land and attack God’s people (38:16). God is going to execute judgment on God and his armies. They will face God’s wrath (38:18-19). They will face God’s jealousy (38:19).
The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. (38:20 ESV).
It will begin with an earthquake, a massive earthquake (38:19). The earthquake will be followed by a disease, and civil war. God will rain down water (flood), ice (hailstorm) and fire from the sky. He will use natural and supernatural means.
Outcome for Israel
The outcome for Israel will be salvation (39:22). They will know who the Lord is. They have seen him at work. God’s Spirit will be poured out (38:29), a revival will take place, a national revival. Israel will be saved.
FROM THAT DAY FORWARD the people of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. (39:22 ESV)
Applications for Today
1) God intervenes to protect His people
God protects His people. He fights for his people. He fought for them when the odds were stacked against them. Israel will not have one nation against them but a huge coalition of many nations against them. As one writer put it, “The odds weren’t looking too good for Israel. It looked like this was going to be a total annihilation of Israel!” Nations ganged up against Israel from every side with numerical superiority.
Matt Keller wrote a book entitled, God of the Underdogs: When the Odds Are Against You, God Is For You. When things look impossible, that is when God steps in. The Bible is full of examples for this. We saw this with the dry bones. God steps in when the bones are not only dry but very dry and have been dry and dead for thousands of years. He did the same thing at the Red Sea for the Jews. God works when we admit we are in an impossible situation and trust fully in Him. Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.
2) God manifests Himself by supernatural acts in history
There is a difference between God’s omnipresence and his manifest presence. God is omnipresent. God is everywhere. He is in this room but we do not see God and many do not know He is here. God has the ability to manifest His presence so people can know he is present. He can do that to us. He can do that to Israel. He can do that in history. The Israelites and the Egyptians saw God work at the Red Sea. At the end of history, the nations will see God at work in this battle.
“And 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 SHALL KNOW that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. (39:7 ESV)
21 “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 on them. 22 The house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day forward. (39:21-22 ESV)
Many today question God’s presence and even his existence. One day, they will know that He is the Lord. One day everyone will confess that Jesus is Lord. There will be no doubt about it. No one will question or deny it then.
4 Yeni Şafak, December 12, 2017.