I think at verse 17 Ezekiel’s prophecy jumps forward in time, much like the prophecy of Isaiah did in chapter 61. This is the passage the LORD Jesus read in the synagogue in Nazareth.
Isaiah 61:1–3 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
Luke 4:18–21 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
Note that Jesus stopped reading in the middle of Isaiah’s prophecy. Why? Because He was not yet going to exact God’s vengeance or bring about the eternal comfort to His people that He will bring when He returns as King.
Beginning at verse 17, Ezekiel mirrors the prophecy of John’s Revelation that does apply to the battle of Armageddon; and I think that is what influences many people to equate Gog’s attack to that final battle. Compare:
Revelation 19:17–18 “And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.”
Ezekiel 39:17–20 “And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD.”
Ezekiel goes on to say that the LORD will then “set My glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see My judgment that I have executed.” I believe this is describing when He takes the throne of David to rule the world after destroying the armies of Antichrist and makes judgment between the sheep and goats described in Matthew 25 to determine who gets to enter His kingdom. It is after this that the prophet declares that the people of Israel will be gathered from out of all the lands and brought home to live and peace, security and prosperity for eternity. The people of Israel who live to enter the kingdom will then “know that the LORD Jesus is the very same God that sent them into captivity and gathered them back to Israel again. Though they will still have a sin nature, they will never again rebel from His authority because He will pour out His spirit upon them to empower them. In other words, they will be living with the same empowerment that we have as Christians today.
This is very convicting to me. We/I have no excuse to succumb to sin. True, the devil will be bound and Messiah will be on the throne ruling with a rod of iron. But we basically say that the power of God is not sufficient if we try to justify our sin for any reason since we possess the power of God within us through the Holy Spirit. I am certainly looking forward to a new body that is no longer influenced by the sin nature, but until that time I truly want to learn to yield to the power of the Holy Spirit in my life to live a life that honors the Savior. I have to call it like it is----Success is dependent on taking self off the throne of my life and yielding to God as LORD in my life in every aspect.