And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
The last conflict of the world with God, and the complete overthrow of the former. This section Ezekiel 38-39 refers to times subsequent to the restoration of Israel. As the Church (the true Israel) waxes stronger and stronger, more distant nations will come into collision and must be overthrown before the triumph is complete. Some have thought that this prophecy is directed against the Scythians who had possession of Asia twenty-three years, and in the course of this time had overrun Syria, and had probably made their appearance in the holy land. But in this prophecy there is little distinctive of one nation. It is a gathering together of the enemies of Yahweh to make their last effort, and to be overthrown. The seer passes to the final struggle between Good and Evil, and the triumphant establishment of the divine rule. It is the same struggle which is depicted in the Book of Revelation EZechariah 20:7-10, where John adopts words and phrases of Ezekiel.
There are four main divisions of this prophecy:
-1Eze 38:1-13, describing Gog's march;
-2Eze 38:14-23, describing his punishment;
(3) Ezekiel 39:1-16, describing his ruin;
-4Eze 39:17-29, the issue of Gog's ruin in Israel's redemption and sanctification.
Each division is broken up like a poem into stanzas.
Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,
Gog ... - Gog of the land of Magog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. "Gog" is here the name of a captain from "the land of Magog" (compare Genesis 10:2) the name of a people of the north, placed between "Gomer" (the Cimmerians) and "Madai" (the Medes). In the History of Assurbanipal from cuneiform inscriptions, a chief of the Saka (Scythians), called Ga-a-gi, is identified by some with Gog. Rosh, if a proper name, occurs in this connection only.
And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:
And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:
With all sorts - Or, "gorgeously;" see the marginal reference. Omit "of armor."
Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:
Libya and Ethiopia, mixed with the northern invaders, are tribes from the extreme south, to show that this is a general combination of the foes of God's people.
Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.
Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.
Spoken ironically. Make all thy preparations, they will be in vain.
After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.
As Gog was drawn on to his attack upon Israel in order to his ultimate ruin, therefore his preparations were the first step in his visitation from the Almighty.
After many days - For "many days." Many a long day shall the hand of God be upon thee, drawing thee on to thy ruin, and in the latter days shalt thou come.
The land - literally, a "land" once laid waste by the sword, but now delivered from it, whose inhabitants once scattered have been gathered together from out of many peoples.
Always - Rather, a long time. The mountains were at the time of Gog's advance again cultivated and populous.
And they shall dwell - Rather, and they dwell. It is a description of the actual condition at the time of Gog's invasion (compare Judges 18:7). Such was the condition of the restored Jews in their prosperous days, after which came invasion. Such shall be the condition of the Church previous to the final conflict between good and evil.
Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:
And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,
Unwalled villages - Compare Zechariah 2:4-5.
To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.
Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?
Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?
God will mark the prosperous security of the people, and rise up against them as an easy prey.
And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:
And 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.
I shall be sanctified in thee - I shall be shown to be holy and just in avenging Myself of Mine enemy.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?
Gog - is not mentioned by name in any existing prophecy before Ezekiel's time. The reference here shows
(1) that the conflict with Gog does not represent a particular event, but one of which the prophets in general had to speak;
(2) that in the interpretation of Old Testament prophecy we are to look beyond special fulfillments.
Events in the world's history come within a prophet's ken as parts of the divine administration whereby evil struggles against but is overcome by good. As every such conflict is a prelude to the final struggle, so its prediction has reference ultimately to the consummation here foretold.
And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face.
For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;
So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.
And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man's sword shall be against his brother.
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.
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.