posted on Jun, 29 2018 @ 05:08 PM
Several of the Old Testament prophets have prophecy which appears in a number of different forms, but carries this general message;
“The time will come when there will be just one more attack on our people from those outside.
The assault will be repelled with God’s help, and even reversed, and this trouble will then come to a permanent end”.
The name they give to this final enemy varies according to the nations which are prominent in their own time.
Micah calls them “the Assyrian”.
The last ruler in Daniel is called “the king of the north”.
Joel and Zechariah speak of “the nations round about” and “all the nations”.
In Ezekiel’s case, the leader of the final assault is “Gog of the land of Magog” (ch38)
In Ezekiel’s world-view, Assyria has been destroyed, Egypt is about to be destroyed, and Babylon was commissioned to do God’s work. So he forms
his great coalition of the future
out of the more obscure nations that are left.
Most of the peoples at the heart of the movement are found in the north, in Anatolia and the area south of the Caucasus.
Gog himself is the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. The arc of northern tribes runs through Gomer and Togarmah into Persia.
The northern peoples had already helped the Babylonians to destroy the Assyrian empire, back in the days of Josiah, and after Ezekiel’s time a
similar coalition would bring down Babylon itself.
In Revelation, though, the phrase “Gog AND Magog” covers all the nations “at the four corners of the earth” (Revelation ch20 v8).
If this chapter is just another version of the prophetic theme “The outsiders in general come against God’s people”, the exact geography of the
hostile coalition may not be very significant.
Gog is introduced onto the scene by a declaration from the Lord, which puts him in his place;
“I am against you… and I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws”.
Thus we know, from the outset, the true state of the relationship between these two powers, and we can also guess the outcome of the events that will
We are told that they will come up against God’s people at a time when they have been living at peace.
“You will go against the land that is restored from war… its people were brought out from the nations and now dwell securely”.
It will be a land of unwalled villages, without bars or gates. That’s how safe and secure the people will feel.
Ezekiel predicts “You will be mustered… you will go against the land… You will advance, coming on like a storm, you will be like a cloud
covering the land”.
But why will this be happening?
The answer is ambiguous.
On the one hand, it will be a decision they have made for themselves;
“On that day thoughts will be coming into your mind, and you will devise an evil scheme”.
They will be looking for spoil, hoping to “carry off plunder”, both cattle and goods. The merchants of Sheba and Dedan will be hoping to benefit
from the spoil by trading it on, just as Tyre benefited by the destruction of Jerusalem.
At the same time, there is a sense in which God himself is moving them into action.
“I will turn you about and put hooks into your noses and bring you forth” seems to refer, in the first place, to bringing them into action.
“You will be mustered” may imply that God is the one who will be mustering them.
Then God spells it out more clearly;
“In the latter days I will bring you against my land, that the nations may know me, when through you, O Gog, I vindicate my holiness before
their eyes” (v16)
This is a mysterious theme which appears on a number of occasions in the Old Testament.
In brief, human power decides to do something which contravenes God’s will.
God himself determines to allow them to do it, and this permission is described as God causing them to do it.
Thus God and man are working together to the same end, as frequently in scripture, but in this case the human “partner” is quite unconscious that
this is happening.
The classic example is the “hardening of Pharaoh’s heart” in Exodus.
God’s purpose in the exercise is to demonstrate his power by “giving them rope” and then frustrating them. He is leading these people, but he is
leading them up the garden path.
When Gog does come up against the land of Israel, “my wrath will be roused”.
The Lord God goes into detail about the way this wrath will be experienced;
“There shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel”. It will be felt by all the living things of the land- fish, birds, beasts, creeping
things, and of course men. Mountains and cliffs will fall down. In short, it will be felt by the whole of creation there.
Gog will experience pestilence and bloodshed, torrential rains and hailstones, fire and brimstone.
Their abandoned weapons will make firewood for the land, enough to last seven years.
Ezekiel also goes into detail about what will happen to the bodies.
They will be buried “in the valley of the travellers, to the east of the sea”. He doesn’t specify which sea; the valley of Lebanon lies east of
the Mediterranean, but there was also a well-established trade route on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.
The valley and a nearby city will receive a name meaning “multitude”, referring to the number of bodies.
It will take a symbolic seven months to bury them all, so that the land will be cleansed, and even then it will be necessary to be on the look-out for
bones which have not been noticed.
They will be bones, because all the beasts and the birds of the air will have been summoned to consume the flesh.
It will amount to a great sacrifice in the Lord’s honour, because this is what normally happens in sacrifice- the Lord accepts the accomplished
death, and the flesh itself is consumed by others.
In essence, all these details are an elaborate visual metaphor concerning the completeness of their defeat.
The object of the exercise is that the world will see him to be decisively victorious;
“My holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let my holy name be profaned any more, and the nations shall know
that I am the Lord, the Holy One of Israel” (ch39 v7).
It will then be clear that Israel suffered their previous captivity because of their iniquities, not because he lacked the power to defend them.
He will then “restore the fortunes of Jacob”.
He adds that he will bring them back from their exile among the nations and restore them to the land. A little confusingly, because the original
premise of the prophecy was that they were already living peacefully in the land.
At first sight, this looks like a recapitulation of the previous promise to bring them back from the Babylonian exile.
However, we may note one important difference.
In his previous prophecies, we were told that the restored Israel would continue to remember their past sins, and would be ashamed of them.
In this case, though “they will forget their shame” (v26).
There will be a more complete, more final, restoration..
“And I will not hide my face any more from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, says the Lord God” (v29).