Ezekiel goes on to declare that when Gog chooses to attack, the people of Israel will be experiencing a time of rest and a feeling of security. The purpose of his attack is to plunder the nation’s wealth, and the tiny nation possesses many things that we know Russia covets—gas, oil, and the minerals of the Dead Sea to name a few.
The prophet then points out that several nations question Gog’s actions, but do not interfere in any way.
As the prophecy continues to unfold, Ezekiel surprisingly notes that Gog’s attack is an act of God.
Ezekiel 38:14–16 “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD….thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.”
What is His purpose for bringing about such events? “That the heathen may know Me.” The word know in the Hebrew is a reference to comprehending with understanding. It has always been God’s plan for all peoples to acknowledge Him as Lord. Because Israel has failed so miserably at fulfilling their chosen purpose before the Lord, it has directly affected how the nations have viewed God. In human reasoning, it has made Him seem weak and unable to carry out His purposes. When He intervenes for Israel according to this prophecy and in light of His word, the nations will have to recognize that He has been in control all along and that His purposes will be accomplished in spite of the failings of His people. I think it is significant to note that this will happen at a time when all nations will be able to watch events unfold “before their eyes.” That is not a surprising statement in light of the technology available today.
Though the LORD is directing events, Gog’s attack on Israel will make God furious. It is always cause for me to stop and meditate as I see God’s hand at work bringing about a situation and then responding in fierce judgment in response to that situation. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express the thoughts correctly, but I know that these are the actions of a righteous God. He is using man’s choices in response to the desires of his flesh and the influence and deception of Satan and his spiritual forces of evil to bring about His sovereign plan. God does not approve Gog’s actions; he has, however, chosen to use those actions for accomplishing His will.
The prophet then declares that God is going to directly intervene to destroy Gog’s forces. First, He is going to cause a great earthquake in Israel that causes mountains to fall. Could this be the earthquake that is described in Revelation as a consequence of the 6th seal (and possibly the rapture of the church)? Both prophecies indicate these earthquakes will have worldwide effect and are responses to God’s great wrath.
Revelation 6:14–17 “…and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
Ezekiel goes on to describe what else the armies of Gog will encounter.
Ezekiel 38:22 And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
Not only will Gog’s armies experience the great earthquake, they will experience—
- Pestilence – The Hebrew references plague (fever and disease).
- Blood – This speaks of loss of life.
- Overflowing rain and hailstones – The overflowing rain is reference to what we would describe as a torrential downpour. It is interesting to note that hail is often associated with God’s judgment and is declared by Job as being stored by God for that purpose.
Job 38:22–23 “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?”
- Fire and brimstone (Many believe this to be a reference to the use of nuclear weapons.)
God declares in no uncertain terms that the nations will recognize these actions as coming from the LORD.
Ezekiel 38:23 “Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.”
In other words, whether by destruction through “natural” disaster and/or through the use of today’s technology in weaponry, the people on earth will “know that I am the LORD.”
Ezekiel expands his prophecy in the next chapter.
Ezekiel 39:1-6 “Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog….I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured….And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.”
Verse 3 basically indicates that God is going to make the weapons of Gog ineffective. The Hebrew for fall in verse 4 is a reference to falling down dead. In other words, most, if not all, of Gog’s armies will die on the mountains of Israel; and the birds of prey and beasts of the field will feast on the carcasses. (yuk!)
Not only will Gog’s armies in Israel be destroyed, the Lord will also send fire on Magog (Russia/Turkey), the land over which Gog rules, and upon those “that dwell carelessly in the isles.” Fire in the Hebrew means just what it says. I guess the question becomes—What kind of fire? Of supernatural origin, the forces of nature, the results of war, etc.? Whatever the “source,” it will be coming from the hand of God.
I know I thought of the isles as islands or coastal lands, but the Hebrew makes reference to anywhere people live. Carelessly seems to reference a false sense of security. I would think that this would be a reference to the homelands of those that had joined Gog’s coalition, but this prophecy doesn’t clarify that. The purpose of this judgment is to make the nations recognize God as LORD. He is not going to allow the nations to consider Him weak or powerless any longer.
In the aftermath of Gog’s attack, Ezekiel tells us that the people of Israel will be able to burn the recovered weapons of the enemy to use as fuel/energy for seven years even as they gather much booty in the process. The LORD promises that they will be in the position to rob those that robbed them. The prophet also notes that it will take seven months for Israel to bury all the dead; he even details that they will buried in a specific place in Israel—the city of Hamonah (meaning “multitude”) in The Valley of Hamongog. Jack Kelley (www.gracethrufaithcom) makes an interesting observation regarding the description of the burial procedures: “It will require the combined efforts of all Israeli citizens for 7 months to bury the enemy dead. After that they'll hire professionals, some to decontaminate the land and some to search for any bodies the people may have missed. They won't touch any bones they find, but will set up markers and call the professionals to come take them away. This approach fits modern Nuclear Biological Chemical Warfare decontamination procedures to a tee.”
The fact that Gog attacks when the nation of Israel is experiencing a time that they feel relatively safe I think negates the possibility that this is the same war as Armageddon. At that time Israel will be experiencing the despotic rule of the Antichrist and certainly not feeling safe.
(to be continued…)