James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,Ezekiel 38:1-39:29
PROPHECY AGAINST GOG
It is fitting that following the prediction of Israel’s restoration and blessing, there should come another showing judgment upon her enemies. Only it is doubtful if these enemies are those spoken of hitherto. Those were contiguous to Israel, but this is a north-eastern power which gathers its allies on the mountains of the Holy Land. There is reason to identify it with Russia. She and the northern powers allied with her have been the latest persecutors of dispersed Israel, “and it is congruous both with divine justice and God’s covenants with Israel that destruction should fall at the climax of the last made attempt to exterminate her in Jerusalem.”
Let not the similarity of names with Revelation 20:7-8 lead to the supposition that the same event is in mind, as that takes place at the close of the millennium, and this near its beginning.
IDENTIFICATION WITH RUSSIA
Gog is probably a common name of the kings of the land like “Pharaoh” in Egypt. “The chief prince” is more properly Prince of Rosh or Russ, which suggests Russia, to say nothing of Meshec and Tubal, which are almost identical with Moscow and Tobolsk. It is more difficult to locate “Gomer” and “Togarmah,” but the whole military combination never having been referred to prior to this time, strengthens the contention in favor of a Russian alliance of some sort.
THE PERIOD AND THE PLAN
Note the time and conditions in Ezekiel 38:8. “The latter years” the end of this age. Israel is “brought back,” restored, and is dwelling “safely” (also Ezekiel 5:11). Note the enemy’s motive or plan (Ezekiel 38:10-13), and compare Jehovah’s in permitting this to come to pass (Ezekiel 38:14-16). The closing verses show the punishment superhuman in character, and final in its result. No more fears for Israel until the muster of the nations at the close of the millennium.
THOROUGHNESS OF THE JUDGMENT (Ezekiel 39)
The prophecy is continued in this chapter, and verses 8-10 describe the going forth from the cities of Palestine to burn the arms of the foe. There is difficulty here, but seven is the sacred number (Ezekiel 39:9) indicating the completeness of the cleansing in Israel’s zeal for purity. Nothing belonging to the enemy should be left to pollute the land. How different from the earlier times when Israel not only left the arms but the heathen themselves among them, to corrupt them.
A Public Burial Ground
Where the enemy expected to take the land for a possession, he would find a grave. Ezekiel 39:11 might be translated: “I will give unto Gog a place for burial in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the Sea; and it shall stop the passengers; and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude.”
The travelers shall not stop their noses because of the smell, but the great number of mounds in evidence shall stay their progress, and lead them to think upon the vengeance poured out. This is the sense of the passage. In other words these graves shall be in no obscure spot, but in the direct pathway of travelers.
Ezekiel 39:15 is striking as compared with the foregoing. In Ezekiel 39:13, “all the people of the land” are burying the dead for seven months. In Ezekiel 39:14, at the end of that time, special men are employed to continue the task to a finish; while in Ezekiel 39:15, the passers-by are helping them by setting up a sign near any exposed bone to identify it until removed.
Ezekiel 39:17-20 describe the fowls and the beasts feasting on the slain by rams, lambs, goats, etc. (Ezekiel 39:18) being meant men of different ranks and callings.
1. With what Gentile nation is this chapter probably dealing?
2. State two or three reasons for your belief.
3. What period of time is in mind?
4. What shows the superhuman character of the punishment?
5. What illustrates its thoroughness?