The Supreme Contest
Ezekiel 38:1, 2
And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,…

What is the real significance of this prophecy? Is it to receive a literal or a symbolical interpretation? If not fairly open to the one, in what direction shall we look for the other? Agreeing with the views advocated by Fairbairn, we give his exposition, reproducing his arguments as given in his work on this prophet. And thus guided, we look at -


1. The name given to the hostile leader points to an "ideal delineation;" while the name of the country is that of a "very indefinite territory," impossible to define.

2. The extraordinary character of the combination of forces, including those most remote and dissociated from one another, is "the reverse of the natural one," and points to "the clothing of an idea rather than to a literal reality."

3. The immensity of the numbers of the allied host makes it impossible that they would actually come up against Israel for plunder; they must necessarily lose rather than gain, even if they succeeded to the full extent of their expectations.

4. The details respecting the wood of the enemy's weapons (Ezekiel 39:9, 10) and the burial of the dead (Ezekiel 39:11, 12) are not such as would become historical

5. The particulars, especially as to the exact locality, do not correspond with those given in other prophecies (see Isaiah 34.; Joel 3.; Zechariah 14.).

6. The undoubted Messianic element in the prophecy demands a non-literal interpretation; for the kingdom of Christ was not to be established or secured by carnal, but by spiritual means.

II. THE TRUE SPIRITUAL INTERPRETATION. The prophet has already, in previous visions, brought us on to a period when Israel (the Church of Christ) has entered on a time of rest and triumph. The second David, the Divine Shepherd of Israel, presides over his people who dwell in security. But that is not the end; much has still to be done and to be experienced. For:

1. The peace and the prospects of the Christian Church stir up the enmity of the world, and "enlarge the field of conflict;" and "as the whole earth is Christ's heritage," there must be conflict until the victory is complete.

2. The war is to be on a gigantic scale, for the question now is "whether God's truth or man's sin is to have possession of the field;" in comparison with this great final conflict all previous contests seem small, and the largest numbers are applicable.

3. Great and preponderating as are the odds against the Church, reckoned by material resources, the presence of Divine power and grace on the side of Israel makes her completely victorious, and issues in the defeat of' the adversary.

4. The kingdom over all the earth becomes the Lord's. It becomes clear that it was his zeal on behalf of righteousness which led to previous chastisements, and that same zeal now causes them to triumph. Before the Church there stretches a "prospect of eternal peace and blessedness." The delineation may, or it may not, nave to do with some particular crisis or decisive moment when the "spiritual controversy rises to a gigantic magnitude, and ranges on either side all that is good and all that is evil in the world."


1. We need not be discouraged because a great and threatening battle has still to be fought out. We have intimations in Scripture that the Church will be called to face overwhelming hosts.

2. We may, by doing our best in the sphere in which we are placed, contribute something to the final triumph of the good.

3. We ought to have some better assurance than the presence of vast and apparently invincible numbers that we are on the winning side. The one decisive question is this - Is God with us or against us? - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

WEB: The word of Yahweh came to me, saying,

The Stability of God's Kingdom
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