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Ezekiel 38:1 The word of Yahweh came to me saying- Ezekiel 38 must be understood within its context. Ezekiel was a captive in Babylon, and the book bearing his name records series of prophecies which he gave. Ez. 33:21 – 39:29 is a complete section within the book. I understand Ez. 33:21,22 to mean that Ezekiel opened his mouth and gave the six prophetic utterances in this section on the night before the exiles received the news that Jerusalem had fallen. It was on the fifth day of the tenth month of the 12th year of the exile (Ez. 33:21). Ezekiel’s mouth was opened by Divine inspiration that evening, and he gave these messages through the night until the messenger arrived in the morning with the news that Jerusalem had fallen. Each of the six messages begin with the rubric “Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying…”. The message has been that Judah shall enter a new covenant, although there will be terrible times of trouble and judgment for both her and her enemies. Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, and so it is understandable that the invasion described in chapter 38 alludes to the Babylonian invasion, but climaxing in the good news that Messiah’s coming will save Judah and all Israel. The message was that the tragedy of losing Jerusalem was to be repeated again, on an even grander scale, in the last days- and yet it was to be but a prelude to Messiah’s triumphal coming and the permanent establishment of God’s Kingdom based in Israel. The various nations listed in Ez. 38 may well have been those who were confederate with Babylon in the historical invasion of Judah- this would have been their relevance to Ezekiel’s initial audience of captives in Babylon. Ten nations from within the land are listed in total, plus Persia- and Revelation speaks of an entity, a “beast”, dominated by Babylon but having ten horns, or powers, associated with it. These would correspond to the ten toes of the image of Daniel 2. The significance of the nations listed is that they are from every point of the compass around Jerusalem: Gomer and Togarmah from the North, Persia from the East, Cush from the South and Put / Tarshish from the West. The common description of the invasion of Judah by ‘all the nations round about’ thus comes to term in the prophecy of Ez. 38.

There could have been the restoration promised in Ezekiel 35-37, followed by the invasion by the surrounding nations in Ezekiel 38, and then the judgment of those nations and establishment of the restored Kingdom as detailed in Ezekiel 39, followed by an obedient Judah building and operating the temple of Ez. 40-48. Ezekiel 37 had its primary fulfilment in the return under Ezra. Then, Israel was given “a quickening” (Ezra 9:9 LXX), in fulfilment of how the dry bones in captivity were revived. At that time, Judah could have fully revived. But most of them chose to stay in Babylon. If there had been a full revival, then the events of Ezekiel 38 and 39 would have taken place. It has been suggested that there was a  primary fulfilment of Ezekiel 38/9 in an unrecorded invasion of the land at the time of the restoration. However, historical evidence for this is severely lacking. And yet the Scythian tribes such as Magog, Gomer, Meshech, Tubal etc. are all recorded as being the scourge of the Middle East at that time. They were marauding into more prosperous areas “to take a spoil”, especially “cattle and goods”, at around Ezekiel’s time. They could so easily have turned their attentions toward Israel. That invasion could have happened; but it didn’t.  But because Israel were not faithful the temple was not built properly, and therefore the Ezekiel 38 invasion didn’t happen, and therefore Yahweh’s intervention and establishment of His Kingdom as described in Ezekiel 39 didn’t occur. In some ways, the  Ezekiel 38 invasion and 39 defeat could have occurred but instead has been deferred until the last days... because through that invasion the establishment of the Kingdom is led into. This suggestion makes sense of the thorny problem of Ezekiel 38:11 stating that the invasion would come at a time when Judah would be living in unwalled towns, without bars nor gates, “at rest”- which is the very language of Jer. 30: 10, that the restored Judah would be “in rest and be quiet”. The same word is used in Zech. 1:11 to describe how the land was “at rest” when the captives returned to rebuild Zion.



Ezekiel 38:2 Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog-
This chapter speaks of an invasion of Israel at some point after the Jews have returned to their land (Ezekiel 37) and before the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth (Ezekiel 39,40). This latter day invader will be destroyed by Divine intervention. The language is clearly based upon the historical Assyrian: Ez. 38:4 = Is. 37:29; Ez. 38:7 = Is. 8:7; Ez. 38:8 = Is. 8:8; 10:3; Ez. 38:9,10 = Is. 28:2; 8:9,21; 10:3,7; Ez. 38:11 = Is. 37:24; Ez. 38:12 = Is. 10:6; Ez. 38:19 = Is.  30:27; Ez. 38:22 = Is. 29:6; 30:30; Ez. 38:19,20 = Is. 29:6; 30:25; Ez. 38:23 = Is. 10:15; Ez. 39:10 = Is. 33:1. See on :17; Ez. 39:3. Rev. 20:8 defines “the nations which are in the four quarters of the land” as being “Gog and Magog”; clearly the Ezekiel 38 Gog is being defined as the epitome of the nations along the borders of Israel, who both historically and currently are Israel’s main enemies.

Gog is a personal name, he will be the rosh or prince / caliph of the invading group of nations. The only Biblical Gog was an Israelite who went away from the core of Israelite worship and lived on the East of Jordan, and later assimilated into the Assyrian territories and lived on the banks of the Euphrates (1 Chron. 5:4-9,25,26). The Biblical Gog is therefore from the far northern boundary of the land promised to Abraham, the ends of the eretz / earth. Gog is described as coming from his homeland in the uttermost parts of the north (Ez. 38:15). His origin will be on the northern edge of the land promised to Abraham- which is the Euphrates River. This, then, is the location of Magog; which would explain why there are no cuneiform inscriptions bearing this name. It is simply the land of Gog, and its exact location is irrelevant- it’s simply presented as a territory on the far northern border of the land promised to Abraham. We can look for the latter day Gog to be born somewhere along the Euphrates River.


The usage of the term Gog suggests that this invasion is being made and led by a false Israel. And we find that idea continued when the invaders are described as “a great company” (Ez. 38:4,7,13,15); yet the qahal is a term usually used about the congregation of Israel (Ps. 22:26; 35:18; 40:10,11; Ezra 10:1). Gog is “the chief prince” (Ez. 38:2), but this term is elsewhere used only of the chief princes of the tribes of Israel (Num. 10:4; 36:1). The invaders “come to a land”, Israel (Ez. 38:8)- using the very expression used of how Israel were to “come to a land”, that of Israel (Lev. 14:34; Num. 15:2; 34:2; Dt. 8:7; 17:14; 18:9; 26:1; 32:52). Likewise the beast / whore in Revelation is described in terms of Solomon’s Kingdom, trading in the same goods, and associated with the number 666 as Solomon was (1 Kings 10:14). The point may be that the beast / whore system is a fake Israel, a mock Kingdom of God. Which fits ISIS and Islam. The anti-Christ doesn't mean so much 'against Christ' as 'that which appears as Christ', in the place of Christ. And likewise there is a fake Kingdom of God, a pseudo-Israel... which is what Islam created when Mohammed in the Quran twisted the Genesis record to make the Arab peoples 'Isaac' and the Jews from Jacob as 'Ishmael'. And this would explain why the codename for the leader of the invasion is Gog, an apostate Israelite who likewise lived on the Euphrates.

It’s worth noting that some versions of the LXX in the apocryphal book of Sirach 48:17 speak of Gog coming to Jerusalem at the time of the Assyrian invasion at Hezekiah’s time. This would definitely associate Gog with the leader of an Assyrian invasion. It’s also interesting that the LXX of Dt. 3:1,13; 4:47 speaks of “Og king of Bashan” as “Gog”. Bashan refers to the area of the Golan Heights- the northern entrance to Israel, on the border with Syria. This is exactly where the IS are building up their forces and this would be the logical invasion point into Israel.


Haman “the Agagite” is surely another prototype for Gog; Agag and Gog are very similar original words. The similarity is not simply in the similarity of the names. The “wicked device” or plan of Haman to destroy the Jews (Esther 8:3,5; 9:25) is described with the very same word used of how Gog thinks up an evil plan against Israel (Ez. 38:10).


We should note that “Gog” occurs in another place in the LXX, but not in the Masoretic Text: “Thus has the Lord God shewed me; and, behold, a swarm of locusts coming from the east; and, behold, one caterpillar, king Gog” (Am. 7:1). Israel’s enemies are typically described as coming from the north, because armies from Babylon and Assyria [to the East of Israel] would follow the transport routes along the Euphrates and then come down from the north into Israel- rather than marching across the trackless desert. But Gog is described as coming “from the east”. This makes sense if Gog is a person, rather than a nation or army. His origin was to the east of Israel. The “locusts” whom he leads connect with the Assyrians being called locusts (Is. 33:4), and the locusts of Rev. 9:3,7 being paralleled with thousands of horsemen coming against Israel from the Euphrates. Before dismissing the LXX too quickly, remember that the vast majority of Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament are from the LXX, and that version is often preferred over the Hebrew [Masoretic] Text. Yet Amos intercedes: "Repent, O Lord, for this. And this shall not be, saith the Lord". This would suggest that the Gog invasion was conditional and was forestalled by the intercession of Amos; thus not only Ezekiel 40-48 would be conditional prophecy, but Ezekiel 38 and 39 also.

 

The chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him- I calculate ten nations in Ez. 38 [cp. the ten horns on the beast] on the basis that rosh is a proper noun meaning ‘chief prince’ and doesn’t refer to any nation bearing the name rosh. There was no such nation. All attempts to force this word into equivalence with the Kievan rus, from whence ‘Russia’, are opportunistic and cavalier in the extreme. Because two words contain two identical letters when transliterated doesn’t mean they are one and the same word. Further, I understand “Are you come to take a spoil?” in Ez. 38:13 to not be a challenge, but rather said with the implication ‘Are you going to spoil them? We will come too!’.

In Ezekiel 27:13, Meshech and Tubal are mentioned as being sellers of slaves to Tyre; and in Ezekiel 32:26, they are spoken of as " instilling terror in the land of the living." Meshech is thought to be a people called the Moschi dwelling in the Caucasus mountain regions according to Assyrian inscriptions. Tubal is thought to be a people called the Tibareni dwelling on the Southeast shores of the Black Sea [perhaps from whence modern Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia]. But whoever they were, they were connected with the nations of Genesis 10; for all the nations of Ez. 38 are found in that list. We note that none of the descendants of Shem in Gen. 10 are found here in Ez. 38. The nations of Gen. 10 were all peoples within the eretz promised to Abraham; the area which was flooded and then repopulated after the flood, which is the context of Gen. 10.


Ezekiel 38:3 And say, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal-
"Chief prince" means just that; it is facile to try to interpret "rosh" ["chief"] as a proper noun. The word occurs very many times in the Bible and simply means "chief". The same phrase chief prince" often occurs about the princes of the tribes of Israel (Num. 1:16; 7:2; 10:4; 36:1 etc.).


Ezekiel 38:4 I will turn you around-
There are many similarities between Assyria and the Gog invasion. The two invasions of Gog (or three? Ez. 38:4,8,10; or four if v. 4 implies two invasions: "I will turn you back... and bring you forth"- again) find their basis in Assyria coming up several times before the final onslaught on Jerusalem. 

We naturally want to know who precisely the specific nations refer to. But readers of Ezekiel will have been struck by the fact that a number of the nations listed have already been mentioned in Ezekiel- in prophecies which predict or describe their destruction. Tyre (Tarshish), Meshech and Tubal have all been described as having come to their end (Ez. 27:13; 32:5,26,27). The impression, therefore, is that there will be a latter day revival of these nations. And that is what we are seeing happening in the lands around Israel, whose peoples and geographical areas were dormant and insignificant for centuries- until their revival in recent times. A coalition of those nations will arise which includes those territories or ethnic groups. And their intention is clearly and ultimately to invade Israel and destroy the Jews. Radical Islam is already in control of much of the eretz / land promised to Abraham. Indeed, Ez. 38:4 opens the prophecy by saying that God will ‘return’ Gog [AV “turn thee back”], and the Hebraism is well translated elsewhere as ‘restore the fortunes of…’. A revived Gog means a revived Assyria / Babylon. The question is, why does Ezekiel not specifically mention Assyria / Babylon as the leader of this group of nations? Why refer obliquely to them as 'Gog'? The answer may be that because Ezekiel was a captive in Babylon at the time, he referred to them under this code name. Peter does the same in referring to Rome under the code name of Babylon (1 Pet. 5:13). It may be that some of the other nations mentioned in Ez. 38 are likewise code names- because it is very hard to conclusively demonstrate that some of the nations or peoples bearing exactly those same names existed in Ezekiel’s time. The description of Gog’s destruction in Ez. 39 is likewise hard to take literally, and this may mesh well with ‘Gog’ being used as a codename. See the later notes on Ezekiel 39.

Put hooks into your jaws, and will bring you out- Gog is manipulated with hooks in his jaws (Ez. 38:4-6). This alludes to how the Assyrians presented themselves in steles and other art forms as putting hooks in the mouths of those they conquered. The Zincirli Stele pictures Esarhaddon holding Egypt and Tyre by hooks in their jaws; Assyria "took Manasseh captive in hooks" (2 Chron. 33:11 Heb.). The point is, that what Assyria did to others is effectively being done to the latter day Assyrian by God.  This is the very picture of Rev. 13:10- the beast who led God’s people into captivity shall be taken into captivity by God at the last day, and hooks being put in the jaw is the very picture of captivity. Gog and his entity is the beast of Revelation. Indeed, the whole language of putting hooks in the jaws is based upon God’s word to Assyria, that He would put hooks in their jaws and a bridle in their mouth (Is. 37:29)- as if they were an aggressive beast.

The idea is found far back in Gen. 27:40, where Jacob made a promise about the relationship between Jacob (Israel) and Esau (forefather of many of the nations living in the land promised to Abraham). Jacob predicted that although Esau would be beneath Jacob, there would come a time “when you shall have dominion [Heb. ‘to trample down’, which will happen when Israel and Jerusalem are trodden down by Esau’s invasion of the last days, and will rule or have dominion over Jacob]; and you [Esau] shall break his [Jacob’s] yoke from off your neck”. This suggests that the families of Esau are again presented as a beast that must be controlled. Jacob’s words have so far had no significant fulfilment; but they will do, however briefly, when the beast of Esau takes over Israel and dominates the Jews.


With all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armour, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them handling swords- One cannot miss the emphasis in Ezekiel 38 on the many "horses and horsemen", and the type of armour described ("Bucklers and shields") gives the impression of many well armed cavalry men. Notice Ez. 38:15 too: "All of them riding upon horses". Why this emphasis on cavalry? The Angels are described as horse riders in Zechariah and Revelation; the horses in the chariots of Zech. 6 are also Angels), and there is the obvious connection with the Angel-cherubim chariot. Further Angelic language is found in Ez. 38:20 "My presence"; Ez. 39:7 "The Holy One".

Rev. 9:14-18 describes how 200,000,000 horsemen came from just beyond the Euphrates (exactly where the jihadist hordes have come), using "fire and smoke and brimstone" to punish God's apostate people. This was John in the first century struggling under ‘the tyranny of words’ to describe modern warfare. "By these three was the third part of men killed", suggesting that this invading army has three aspects to its work. The huge number of horsemen must allude to the "great company" of horsemen of Ez. 38:4, which we have shown (:2) to be rooted in the Assyrian invasion. The 200,000,000 horsemen of Rev. 9:16 may correspond to the fact that history records the strength of the Assyrian army which came against Jerusalem as being 200,000 men. The jihadist culture is full of allusion to horsemen, seeing themselves as the revival of previous horse-mounted Islamic warriors. The motif is common in jihadist promotional videos. Jerusalem was truly “compassed with armies” by the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem, and perhaps the Lord has this in mind when He predicted that Jerusalem would again be like this in the last days.


Ezekiel 38:5 Persia, Ethiopia and Libya with them, all of them with shield and helmet-
We note the lack of reference to Babylon and Assyria in the list of ten nations. The primary, potential application of the prophecy was to the repentant captives standing up as a great army in Ez. 37, destroying Babylon and returning to Zion along with the repentant ten tribes and the six nations of Ez. 26-32 who repent and "know Yahweh". They would come to a land made miraculously fruitful for them (Ez. 36). The nations listed here in Ez. 38 are those from all around the compass who then come up to invade the reestablished kingdom of God with its Messianic king. But the invasion is unsuccessful. This prophetic scenario however didn't happen, because the humans involved in it refused to repent. This invasion by various peoples and the Scyths, who were not confederate with the two contemporary power blocks of Babylon and Egypt, could have happened; but it didn't, and so the essence of it will be fulfilled in the last days. I have suggested on Rev. 20 that the Ez. 38 invasion is there described as happening around the return of the Lord Jesus. This would then be the scenario of Psalm 2, with the Lord Jesus enthroned in Zion, surrounded by His enemies, but easily destroying them.

I have explained elsewhere that the latter day beast with ten horns is to dominate the eretz / land of Israel, the area promised to Abraham from Egypt to the Euphrates. The ten toes of Daniel’s image are rooted in the earth / land, and these are the basis for the ten horns in the later development of that vision in Daniel 7 and Revelation. This entity is dominated by a charismatic leader, the little horn; also expressed in Revelation as the whore riding the beast. In Ezekiel 38, we have ten nations plus Persia, led by an individual called Gog [reading rosh not as a nation but as “chief prince”, as it is always elsewhere translated]. Those ten nations are all from within the land promised to Abraham, because they are extracted from the list of nations in the land in Genesis 10. The picture presented is of ten nations or leaders [horns, toes] from within the land promised to Abraham- perhaps to be fulfilled in an Islamic caliphate dominating that area, with ten leaders or factions or peoples under its control. Plus Persia- Iran. It’s unthinkable given current geopolitics that such an invasion would happen and Iran would not get involved. They will- according to Ezekiel 38. It’s also worth noting that Sheba, Dedan and Tarshish appear to join in the invasion as a separate entity. We are left wondering whether this has relevance to the three horns mentioned separately in Dan. 7:8,20,24. 

Another approach is to consider that this refers to an entity of nations from immediately outside the land promised to Abraham, who are distinct from the nations within the eretz / land promised to Abraham. The nations of Ez. 38 who invade Israel after the Lord Jesus has returned are not those within the eretz / land / earth. They are those in the "sea" of nations immediately surrounding the "land" promised to Abraham. The geographical areas include therefore Iran, Egypt and Turkey. Thus when we read that Togarmah comes from “the north border [AV “quarters”]” (Ez. 38:6), this refers to the northern limit of the land / eretz promised to Abraham. Perhaps this is the equivalent of the "beast of the sea" of Rev. 13 which is presented as related to but separate from the "beast of the earth / land". We can look to these areas joining together under one charismatic leader, "Gog", to seek to repeat the invasion of the land and people of Israel by the latter day Assyria / Babylon. This is why although Assyria isn't mentioned, the invasion of Ez. 38 is full of allusion to the prophetic language concerning the Assyrian invasion [hooks in the jaws, etc.]. It will be a foolhardy repeat of the behaviour of the entity within the "land" / eretz which was destroyed by the Lord's coming. The invasion of Ez. 38 is clearly that of the "Gog' of Revelation, which occurs after the Lord's return and establishment in Jerusalem, when the people dwell securely in unwalled villages- the language of the Kingdom. There is repeated emphasis that Elam [Persia] uses a bow and quiver (Is. 22:6; Jer. 49:35); perhaps a reference to Iranian usage of missiles against Israel. protected by a defensive shield and helmet (Ez. 38:5). Iran has developed missile technology to the point that they are a major exporter of military missiles; Iran has invested and developed  missile technology [both offensive and offensive missiles] rather than an air force. This may be the latter day equivalent of the bows and quivers which feature in the prophecies about Persia.


Ezekiel 38:6 Gomer, and all his hordes-
Gomer is thought to have been the Cimmerians, who occupied central Turkey in the days of the Assyrian empire [perhaps the forerunners of the Kurds, who came to live within the eretz promised to Abraham].

The house of Togarmah in the uttermost parts of the north and all his hordes; even many peoples with you- The names of the peoples mentioned are solely relevant to the land promised to Abraham. Thus when we read that Togarmah comes from “the north border [AV “quarters”]” (Ez. 38:6), this refers to the northern limit of the land / eretz promised to Abraham. The allusion to the Genesis 10 list of nations in Ez. 38 would therefore be to signal that the peoples of the land, the kings of the land, would come up against Israel in the last days- and the only outside nation who joins in is Persia / Iran. And that is absolutely imaginable today! The numerical value in the Hebrew for the term Gog and Magog is seventy- and there are 70 peoples listed in the table of nations in Gen. 10. There is no need to become fixated by issues of historical geography in trying to locate where these peoples may have once lived- they are all within the land promised to Abraham. Any reference to Russia, Turkey, Europe etc. is thereby made inappropriate.

Nearly all of the nations mentioned occur in the table of nations in Genesis 10. Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Cush [AV “Ethiopia”], Put [AV “Libya”], Gomer, Togarmah, Dedan, Tarshish and Sheba are all mentioned there- in fact, all of them apart from Persia (Iran is beyond the land promised to Abraham). The connection between Ezekiel 38 and the Genesis 10 table of nations must therefore be highly significant. That table of nations served as an explanation to ancient Israel of the origins of the nations in the eretz / land promised to Abraham. They wondered why they were attacked and opposed by the peoples of the land- and Moses was given Genesis to explain to them the context of geography and history in which they were situated. Genesis and the Pentateuch are God’s version of history, geography and geopolitics for His people. Given this relevance to the situation in the land promised to Abraham, it is foolhardy to speculate that Shem, Ham or Japheth refer to Africans, Europeans etc. Ham refers specifically to “Canaan”, and his servitude under Shem [Israel]; the predicted tension between Shem and Ham refers to the Jew-Arab tension, and not any other tension such as between black people and white European colonialists. This is just wishful thinking, and reflects the cavalier, opportunistic usage of Bible verses for which 19th century Western European theologians have become famous.


Ezekiel 38:7 Be prepared, yes, prepare yourself- The idea is that this confederacy would prepare themselves and yet be confirmed in their own freewill direction by being prepared by God. The 'preparation' is for military action (s.w. Ez. 7:14; Nah. 2:3).

You, and all your companies who are assembled to you, and be a guard to them- They assemble together in order to "take a prey" (:13); according to Ez. 36, the returned exiles could have come to a land miraculously fruitful and prosperous. This would explain the attraction, at the time of the restoration, for the war weary nations to come and take a prey. Gog personally would be a guard to these nations, as if they feel that under his charismatic leadership, they can come to no harm.


Ezekiel 38:8 After many days you shall be visited. In the latter years-
Gog was to "be visited". This is Angelic language. The related passage in Is. 24:21-23 also speaks of the Gog confederacy: "And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall punish (Heb. 'visit') the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered together in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. Then... the Lord of Hosts (Angels) shall reign". There are clear parallels with Gog's confederacy being visited by God, after they have been 'imprisoned' by Gog in order to support Gog's invasion. Gog is to be a "guard"- 'a prison' (s. w. Gen. 42:19)- to the other nations (38:7).  "The host of the high ones that are on high (Heaven), and the kings of the earth upon the earth" refers to both the Angels and their earthly charges. The Isaiah passage implies a gathering together of the confederacy  associated with a first Angelic 'visiting', followed by a "many days" period after which  there will be a second Angelic visiting and the final invasion. The phrase "many days" does not necessarily imply a very long period of  years- "Jacob... mourned for his son many days" (Gen. 37:34)- not more than twenty years at the outside. A woman could have "an issue of her blood many days" (Lev. 15:25). "Ye abode in  Kadesh many days" (Dt. 1:46). Shimei "dwelt in Jerusalem  many  days" (1 Kings 2:38). These two Angelic visitings are spoken of in Ez. 38 too: "I (the Angels) will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth". And secondly "After many days thou (Gog) shalt be visited" by the Angels; "things (shall) 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" (v. 10,11). This thinking was a result of Angelic visiting of Gog- to achieve their purpose of making both Assyria and Gog invade Israel, the Angels acted and will act directly on the hearts of the leaders of those nations.

I observed on Ez. 4 and elsewhere that the length of the exile was flexible. But perhaps that was the "many days" in the primary application of this prophecy.

 

You shall come into the land that is brought back from the sword- The word for "brought... back" is to be found in the references to Judah’s return at the restoration (Ezra 2:1; 6:21; Neh. 7:6; 8:17). The same word is to be found in Ezekiel 38:8 and 39:27, where again, the invasion is to happen once Judah had been ‘brought again’ from captivity. Judah returned, and yet they didn’t rebuild the temple as they were commanded. Therefore the invasion didn’t come, and therefore the Kingdom wasn’t then established. As if knowing this, Hos. 6:11 had prophesied [otherwise strangely] that Judah would reap their punishment, when they returned from captivity. They returned [s.w. ‘bring again’], but not to the Most High (Hos. 7:16). They were brought back from the sword perhaps in the sense that Ezekiel's earlier prophecies had predicted they would be totally destroyed by the sword; but they were saved or brought back from this by grace.

That is gathered out of many peoples- The various provinces of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires. The latter day application could be to the state of Israel established on the basis of immigrants from many peoples. But it could also be that there will be a latter day scattering of Jews from Israel after the various latter day invasions, and they are to return from that scattering before "Gog" invades.

 

On the mountains of Israel, which have been a continual waste- Ezekiel 37 and 38 predict that when the Jews have returned to their land, then there will be a ten nation invasion by a group of surrounding nations, headed up by ‘Gog’- which is to be destroyed by the direct intervention of God to establish His Kingdom. This invasion is to be after the Jews have returned to their land, and will begin with an incursion onto “the mountains of Israel”- which are bordering Syria, the Golan heights: “In the latter years you shall come into the land that is brought back from the sword, that is gathered out of many peoples, on the mountains of Israel, which have been a continual waste; but it is brought forth out of the nations” (Ez. 38:8). Only since 1948 and the uprise of serious Arab powers around Israel could this prophecy come true. All we’re waiting for is the Arab confederacy to push into the Golan Heights. And we could view the news on the internet or turn on the telly- and find it’s happening. Any moment now. And the next step will be the actual return of Christ to earth.

But it is brought forth out of the peoples- This 'bringing forth'  was by grace, because they had not met the required spiritual preconditions- in that they had not in fact cast away their idols (see on Ez. 20:6-8). They were caused to be brought forth (s.w. Ez. 20:10; see note there). And it was to be the same in the exodus from Babylon. This Divine 'causing to go forth' was by the Spirit, for those who left captivity did so because their minds were stirred up by the Spirit to do so, even though they were not spiritually qualified for the restoration (Ezra 1:5). They had been commanded to "go forth" from Babylon (Is. 52:11 s.w.) but it was God who caused them to do this by the grace of His Spirit's operation on their hearts. The same is true of our exodus from this world through the water of baptism. It is all of grace and confirmation of the smallest desire to do so; and so this causing to go forth was by God's "mighty hand" (Ez. 20:34 s.w.).

And they shall dwell securely all of them- The invasion occurs when Israel dwell safely, without bars and gates. This is indeed the language of the Kingdom of God on earth, and the idea of Israel dwelling safely has been used in Ezekiel to describe the situation for Israel after they have repented and accepted Christ (Ez. 34:25,27,28). It could be that the invasion happens after Christ has returned and the little stone has begun to establish Kingdom conditions in the land of Israel. This would then fit with Psalm 2, which describes the kings of the earth [a term used by the Islamic jihadists about themselves] attacking Jerusalem with Christ enthroned there. But this need not make us think that therefore Ezekiel 38 is irrelevant to present conditions. Because Christ could return today and establish His Kingdom in Jerusalem. But the enemies of Israel, Gog and his followers, would have been moved into a position whereby they could immediately then attack Him. Or it could be that in line with predictions in Daniel 8 and 11, Israel make a covenant with their enemies which appears successful, and then when all are saying "peace and safety, then sudden destruction comes". But the very same words are used about Hazor's confident state just before the Babylonian invasion: "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has made a plan against you and formed a purpose against you. Rise up, advance against a nation at ease, that dwells securely, declares the LORD, that has no gates or bars, that dwells alone. Their camels shall become plunder, their herds of livestock a spoil" (Jer. 49:30,31). As Babylon invaded Hazor, so the latter day Gog, as a revived Babylon-Assyria, will invade Israel. Hazor was not then in the Kingdom of God; the language rather speaks of self confidence and assurance. This is indeed how the Hebrew word translated "safely" in Ez. 38:14 is elsewhere used (Jud. 8:11; 18:7 "they lived carelessly"; Job 11:18; Prov. 3:29; Is. 32:17 "assuredness"; Is. 47:8 "carelessly"; Ez. 28:26 "with confidence"; 30:9 "careless"; 39:6 "carelessly"; Mic. 2:8 "securely"). Such a position could be brought about by an Israeli military victory against her enemies, or by a peace agreement which appears to hold.


Ezekiel 38:9 You shall ascend, you shall come like a storm, you shall be like a cloud to cover the land, you, and all your hordes, and many peoples with you-
For "ascend" and "come", see on :16; Ez. 39:2. Gog comes as a "storm" to cover the land. This is the very language and Hebrew word shoa used of the Assyrian invasion in Is. 10:3. And of course the shoa is the term used by Jews today to describe the Nazi holocaust. That is to come again- but in "the land" promised to Abraham. The ascent and covering of the land like a cloud could refer to a massive airborne invasion; or perhaps the mushroom cloud of nuclear weapons. Covering the land with a cloud means that the sun and stars are no longer visible (s.w. Ez. 32:7), and perhaps in this sense some of the imagery of the Olivet prophecy and Revelation will come literally true over the land of Israel; the heavenly bodies will no longer be visible for a brief period, as a sign that the final end is about to come.


Ezekiel 38:10 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: It shall happen in that day, that thoughts shall come into your mind, and you shall devise-
As noted on :11,16 and Ez. 39:2, Gog's freewill is emphasized, although he is Divinely confirmed in that freewill. Or perhaps the thoughts that come to Gog's mind are from God, but Gog does the devising of an evil plan. Thoughts coming into the mind is a phrase which could refer to a memory returning, although not necessarily; the phrase is used like this in Jer. 51:50. The invasion would therefore in this case be motivated by a desire to settle the ancient scores between Israel and her neighbours the Arabs.

An evil plan- The very same words used about the plan of Haman the Agagite, the man of Gog, to liquidate the Jewish population (Esther 8:3; 9:25). The actions of Gog in Ez. 38 are clearly based upon Haman's evil plan. The same phrase is used about the leader of Assyria, who was to devise an evil plan against God's people and thereby Yahweh Himself (Nah. 1:11).


Ezekiel 38:11 You shall say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages-
Zech.  2:4 had foretold that “Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein”, seeing that Yahweh Himself would be as a wall of fire around her to protect her from her adversaries (Ezra had recognised this promise, that God would be a wall to them- Ezra 9:9). Note how this prophecy is introduced by an Angel with a measuring reed measuring out the rebuilt Zion (Zech. 2:1), just as we have in Ezekiel 40. But Judah disbelieved the promise of a Divine wall of fire, and insisted on building a physical wall to protect them; and the record in Nehemiah has plenty of reference to their setting up of bars and gates in their fear (Neh. 3:3,6,13-15). By doing so they disallowed the fulfilment of Ez. 38:11, and thereby precluded what was prophesied as subsequently following. If they had trusted Him and paid their tithes, their cattle would have multiplied, and the Scythian tribes would have come down to seek to take them, as Ez.  38:12,13 foretold. But as it happened, their cattle were diseased and their agriculture not blessed because of their dilatory attention to Yahweh’s house that lay waste (Haggai 1:11). So therefore there was no invasion, and no victory against the nations, and no Kingdom established at that time. See on :1.

"Go up" is "ascend" in :9,16. The thought of Gog is that he and his coalition will "ascend and go up". But the same words are used in :16 of how God will make them ascend and go up. God will work through their own desires and magnify and confirm them; this is how He places hooks in Gog's jaws to manipulate him. But the manipulation is not total, but rather a confirmation of men in that which they themselves wish to do.

 

I will go to those who are at rest, who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls and having neither bars nor gates- See on :1. Israel dwelling in ‘peace and safety’ in Ez. 38 could refer to the conditions of the Messianic Kingdom; or it could refer to a sense of security which arises in literally the very last days before the Lord’s return, as a result of some peace agreement being reached. Whenever the invasion happens chronologically is not our immediate concern; what is significant is the preparation of the geopolitical situation to enable such a situation. And that is what we are seeing now developing.

There is much evidence that the Kingdom starts initially in Jerusalem and then spreads worldwide slowly. Many of the prophecies concerning it are addressed to "Jerusalem" and "Mount Zion". The stone of Daniel 2 hits the earth and grows from there to cover the earth. It is logical if it hits the earth at Jerusalem, where all the kingdoms of men represented by the metals will be present, gathered together against Jerusalem. It appears that the unworthy having been destroyed, a colony of saints is established around Jerusalem, living in Kingdom conditions. They live in "the land of unwalled villages...  dwelling safely all of them... without walls, and having neither bars nor gates" (Ez. 38:11)- Kingdom language. The Angels give Gog the "evil thought" of invading the "land of unwalled villages", apparently after the invasions of the land as a whole. The people living there are "gathered out of the nations"- capable of reference to the saints (Mt. 25:31-34) who have just been gathered from all nations. The great wealth which attracts Gog must be due to the Kingdom conditions there- the Arab invasions of Zech. 14 (which must be before the second coming, seeing that Jerusalem is ransacked) will have devastated the land of its present wealth. The sudden prosperity reported around Jerusalem will no doubt intrigue the world, and prove a fatal attraction.

 

Ezekiel 38:12 To take the spoil and to take the wealth- It could be argued that because Ezekiel 38 doesn’t specifically describe any success of the invasion or suffering of Israel, that it therefore describes a futile attack on the Lord Jesus once He is established in Jerusalem. However, the absence of such language doesn’t mean that the invasion will not be successful. It could be that the focus of Ezekiel 38 and 39 is upon the final destruction of the invader, and therefore the suffering of Israel is not mentioned- because that is not the burden of these oracles about Gog. The perspective is not so much upon Gog’s conflict with Israel, but rather upon Gog’s conflict with God. The prophecy is elevating the issue far higher- Gog is to have a showdown with God through making this invasion. Gog comes to take spoil (Ez. 38:12,13). But Zech. 14:1 uses the same word in predicting that Jerusalem will indeed be captured by the final invaders, the women raped, and “your spoil shall be divided in the midst of you”. We must also give due weight to Ez. 39:22: “The house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God, from that day forward”. It is their salvation from Gog and the process of Gog’s destruction which persuades Israel that Yahweh is their God “from that day forward”. That reads very awkwardly if they have already repented and are sitting happily in God’s Kingdom when the Ezekiel 38 invasion happens.

Having repeatedly said that sinful Jerusalem would be given for a prey (Jer. 15:13; 17:3; Ez. 7:21; 23:46) we read that the latter day invasion of Israel comes as a great company (as in Ez. 23:46) to "take a prey" or "spoil" (Ez. 38:12,13); but that invasion is not to be successful, unlike the previous historical invasions which took Jerusalem for a prey. The implication therefore is that Jerusalem finally repents, and so shall not be given for a prey in the very last invasion.

 

To turn your hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered out of the nations, who have gotten livestock and goods- "The waste places that are now inhabited" in the latter day context probably refers specifically  to the temple area/old city of Jerusalem which will have been the scene of much bitter Israeli/Arab fighting. Thus the final onslaught of Gog and his followers occurs, this time with Christ and the redeemed in Jerusalem, thus fulfilling Psalm 2: "The kings of the earth (cp. Is. 24:21) set themselves... against the Lord, and against His anointed (Christ)... yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion". Rev. 20 describes how Gog and Magog will push the saints back into Jerusalem with Christ, until He breaks out upon them again.

Who dwell in the middle of the land- The invasion comes against "the navel of the land" (Ez. 38:12). This could be a reference to the ultimate 'high place', Jerusalem. Both the Bible and Judaism speak of ‘going up’ to Jerusalem or ‘coming down’ from there. The Greeks wrote of their sanctuaries at Dydima, Miletus and Delphi as being 'the navel of the land'; so there could be a reference to the temple mount. Or it could allude to how the land currently inhabited by Israel is the highest point in the land promised to Abraham, from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt. Just as Assyria’s focus was upon Jerusalem, so the latter day Assyrian will have the same interest. And that fits an Islamic Assyrian, for Jerusalem is the burning issue for Islam. The many allusions to the Assyrian invasion which we find in Ezekiel 38 are specifically alluding to how Assyria came up against Jerusalem. Gog ‘ascends’ against the once wasted mountains [an intensive plural for the great mountain- Zion?], he ‘comes up’ against the land (Ez. 38:9,11,16; 39:2- quite some emphasis). The language of ‘ascent’ is relevant specifically to ‘going up’ to Jerusalem specifically. And Rev. 20:9 has Gog’s armies specifically coming up against Jerusalem. The jihadist Magazine Dabiq number 4 (October 2014) is clear that whatever battles are going on in Iraq and Syria, their focus ultimately is Jerusalem: “We perform jihad here while our eyes are upon al-Quds” (p.4).


Ezekiel 38:13 Sheba, Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish- These three nations make up a total of ten nations who come against Israel, inviting connection with the ten nations of Psalm 83, the ten toes of the latter day image and ten horns of the latter day beast. The ten nations of Ez. 38 are from the points of the compass around Israel, going around clockwise. The picture is of Israel's enemies coming at her like a whirlwind from all points of the compass. There may not, therefore, be undue significance in the actual names of the nations- rather is the picture being created of all the surrounding nations, from every point of the compass, coming against Israel under the leadership of Gog as their rosh or "chief prince". Isaiah 23 clearly associates Tyre with Tarshish; Jonah's journey to Tarshish was clearly to some point known to people living in Israel at his time, rather than to some unfamiliar place such as Britain. Sheba and Dedan were sons of Abraham through Keturah, and are therefore ancestors of some Middle Eastern peoples (1 Chron. 1:32). Dedan is noted in Jer. 25:23 as being an associate of Tyre / Tarshish who will be confederate with latter day Babylon, and will drink the same cup of judgment given to Babylon. So this group of three nations, whilst mentioned separately, are hardly on Israel's side in the last days. "The calamity of Esau" will come upon Dedan (Jer. 49:8), for Dedan was within the territory of Edom which is Esau (Ez. 25:13). The men of Dedan worked for Tyre as "traffickers" (Ez. 27:15), so we can understand the association of Dedan with the merchants of Tarshish / Tyre. These three nations along with most of the others mentioned in Ez. 38 are all taken from the table of nations in Genesis 10, which refers to the peoples within the land promised to Abraham, which is the focus of Bible prophecy. The Bible therefore has very little to say about nations outside of that area.

Sheba, Dedan and the merchants of Tyre / Tarshish are the nations of the extreme East and West of the land promised to Abraham. The picture is of Israel's enemies coming at her like a whirlwind from all points of the compass. There may not, therefore, be undue significance in the actual names of the nations- rather is the picture being created of all the surrounding nations, from every point of the compass, coming against Israel under the leadership of Gog.

Sheba is the same word translated "Sabeans" in Job 1:15; the people of Sheba fell upon a peaceful member of God's people whilst he lived in "peace and safety" without bars or walls and "took away" his cattle and goods, and slew the servants with the edge of the sword. These are the very same Hebrew words used about the behaviour of the people of Sheba in Ez. 38:13. Tarshish is associated with those who are against God's people, not with them or defending them.

The "merchants" are attracted to the "silver and gold" perceived to be in Israel. Hence ISV renders: "Businessmen based in Sheba, Dedan, Tarshish...".

The nations with Gog are defined in Ez. 39:18 as “the princes / kings of the earth”- the leaders of the peoples within the earth / eretz promised to Abraham. These are the same “kings of the earth / land” which are so often mentioned in Revelation as coming against God’s people as part of the beast entity (Rev. 6:15; 16:14; 17:2,18; 18:3,9). This alludes to the kings of the earth who are raised up from the borders of the earth / land and come with Babylon to invade Israel (Jer. 50:41). The very idea of ‘the borders of the earth’ suggests that ‘the earth’ doesn’t refer to a sphere like the globe, but rather to a specifically defined territory. That territory is the land promised to Abraham. When we read that all “the kings of the earth” came from the very ends of the earth to hear Solomon’s wisdom, we likewise are to understand “the earth” as the land promised to Abraham. The Queen of Sheba was at the end of that earth / land; but the kings of New Zealand or Hawaii didn’t come.

Tarshish is associated with Tyre in Is. 23:1: "The burden of Tyre. Howl you ships of Tarshish...".  It could be that "Tarshish" strictly referred to the isle off the coast of Tyre to which the Tyrians fled when under attack. Hence Is. 23:6: "Pass over to Tarshish! Wail, you inhabitants of the isle!". Tarshish is associated with gold, silver, ivory, apes and peacocks (2 Chron. 9:21)- not exactly things which Britain is famed for. To suggest that 'Tarshish = Britain' one would have to read passages such as Jonah going to Tarshish as referring to Britain. This equation just doesn't work in the various Biblical references to Tarshish.  At best it would refer to the trading ships of Tyre, which become as it were a trademark term for any long distance trading vessel.

Readers of Ezekiel will have been struck by the fact that a number of the nations listed have already been mentioned in Ezekiel- in prophecies which predict or describe their destruction. Tyre (Tarshish), Meshech and Tubal have all been described as having come to their end (Ez. 27:13; 32:5,26,27). The impression, therefore, is that there will be a latter day revival of these nations; the invasion could have happened in Ezekiel's time, but the potential prophetic scenario didn't then happen. And that is what we are seeing happening in the lands around Israel, whose peoples and geographical areas were dormant and insignificant for centuries- until their revival in recent times. A coalition of those nations will arise which includes those territories or ethnic groups. And their intention is clearly and ultimately to invade Israel and destroy the Jews. Radical Islam is already in control of much of the eretz / land promised to Abraham.

With all her young lions- The "young lions" of Tyre could refer to "all her kings" [as in the Jewish Targum on this phrase], "all her traders", "all her leaders" (ESV) or "all her villages". The same Hebrew word translated "young lions" is rendered "villages" in Neh. 6:2. "Young lions" has been used in Ezekiel to refer to princes (Ez. 19:2; 32:2). The Biblical references to young lions associate them with aggression; they are used to describe the Assyrian invaders of Israel (Is. 5:29; 31:4), and it is clear enough that 'Gog' of Ezekiel 38 is portrayed as a latter day Assyrian invader of Judah. "Young lions" be appropriate language for those who are part of the Assyrian invasion, and not for those against it. The same figure is used for other invaders, such as the Babylonians: "The young lions have roared at him [Israel] and yelled, they have desolated his land" (Jer. 2:15; 25:38; 51:38). The imagery of lions and young lions is heavily associated with Israel's neighbouring enemies, especially Assyria and Babylon. The suggestion that the imagery of 'young lions' suggests 'former colonies' or those raised under the influence of another is simply not supported by the majority of references to "young lions" in the Bible. The common picture is of aggression, and particularly aggression against God's people. There is a Hebrew phrase which means "young lions", but that is not what is used here; one Hebrew word alone is used, and it could be fairly rendered "growling lions" as ISV. So the idea of youth or of them having been raised by a mother lion is not necessarily present.

 

Shall say to you: Have you assembled your company to take the wealth?- The Hebrew implies that these three nations will join in with the invasion, rather than challenge it. This was noted by Harry Whittaker, and see Jacob Milgrom and Daniel Israel Block, Ezekiel's Hope: A Commentary on Ezekiel 38-48 (Wipf & Stock, 2012) p. 12.

To carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great spoil?- Ezekiel 38 describes the desire of the invaders to take the wealth and houses of the land of Israel. This is precisely the language used in the Koran regarding how Moslems have a duty to take these things from the disobedient children of Israel: "Allah brought those of the People of the Scripture... down from their strongholds, and cast panic into their hearts. Some ye slew, and ye made captive some. And Allah caused you to inherit their land and their houses and their wealth, and land ye have not trodden. Allah is ever able to do all things" (Sura 33.26,27). The jihadists are carefully observant of the Koran and Hadith, which so often are garbled versions of the Bible, doubtless because Mohammad first heard the Bible in an oral form or by rumour passed on by travelers. But by their careful observance of their holy books, the jihadists will in fact fulfil Bible prophecy exactly.

The Koran teaches that Moslems who go to battle with the Jews will not only win but will be rewarded with much spoil: "And much booty that they will capture. Allah is ever Mighty, Wise. Allah promiseth you much booty that ye will capture...  that it may be a token for the believers" (Sura 48.19,20). The enthusiasm of the Ezekiel 38 invaders for "spoil" and "prey" is therefore appropriate for Islamic jihadist invaders.


Ezekiel 38:14 Therefore, son of man, prophesy and tell Gog, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: In that day when My people Israel dwells securely, shall you not know it?-
The idea seems to be as in GNB and LXX: "Wilt thou not arise in that day, when my people Israel are dwelling securely...?". Perhaps the sense is that Gog realizes that the people are "dwelling securely" as the reestablished kingdom of God, and consciously wishes to attack an entity clearly under God's protection and blessing.


Ezekiel 38:15 You shall come from your place out of the uttermost parts of the north, you, and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses-
See on :4. The "horses" suggest the Scythian hordes of Ezekiel's day which surrounded Israel, who could potentially have fulfilled this prophecy. "Uttermost parts of the north" is not the best translation; if read literally it would refer not to Moscow, as wrongly claimed, but to the very northernmost parts of the Arctic. But such a literal reading is unwarranted; the original clearly means 'from the very northern border / side', and the side or boundary in view is that of eretz Israel. And already the jihadist factions are massing on the northern borders of eretz Israel.

A great company and a mighty army- Human armies are often described in Angelic language because there are Angels controlling them. This is also the case here with the Gog invasion, which is fitting seeing that Angels were behind the initial Assyrian invasion which is the prototype of that of Gog. They are described as "a great company, a mighty army"- reflecting the mighty Heavenly host. The language here is a parody of Jer. 31:8, which speaks of the "great company" (s.w.) of Israel coming from the north and returning to Zion. And it is a revived Israel who in Ez. 37 stand up as a "mighty army". The invaders are therefore presented as a fake, imitation Israel. This image is exactly that of their jihadist enemies, claiming to be the true seed of Abraham, who are massed on the northern borders of the eretz.  


Ezekiel 38:16 And you shall come up against My people Israel, as a cloud to cover the land. It shall happen in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, that the nations may know Me, when I shall be sanctified in you, Gog, before their eyes-
"I will bring you..." means that Gog's desire to ascend and go [s.w. "bring"] against the land in :11 is confirmed by God; see on :11. The 'coming up' or ascending is because God makes them come up (Ez. 39:2 s.w.). At every step, Gog's freewill is allowed but is confirmed. God works through human sin; the whole intention of Gog's latter day destruction is to bring the remaining nations to "know Yahweh", to enter relationship with Him.


Ezekiel 38:17 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Are you he of whom I spoke in old time by My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days for many years that I would bring you against them?-
This invader was repeatedly spoken of by the prophets- it can’t refer therefore to Russia but to Assyria / Babylon, of whom the prophets repeatedly speak. And yet the invasion is clearly in the last days. Assyria, therefore, must be revived in some way. The nations listed in Ez. 38 are never spoken of in the prophets as invading Israel; it is usually Babylon and Assyria who are in view. And so we can detect here another case of prophetic transference. The prophecies about Babylon and Assyria are to be transferred to this coalition of the last days; which is why, as pointed out on :2, this invasion is full of allusion to the Assyrians.


Ezekiel 38:18 It shall happen in that day, when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, says the Lord Yahweh, that My wrath shall come up into My nostrils-
This Divine wrath would lead to a literal shaking in Israel (:19). The metaphor is used repeatedly of God's anger with Israel resulting in Him taking them out of their land (e.g. Dt. 29:28). That wrath is now transferred to their abusers. Even in this we see God's love for His people. A more human God would have felt that all His faithless people had suffered was justified; but His wrath with those who so abused them is of itself a testament to the depth of His love for His sinful people.


Ezekiel 38:19 For in My anger 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-
This could be the same earthquake as spoken of in Ez. 37 which causes the resurrection and revival of Israel. The chronological conflicts (for at this stage Israel are apparently already revived and living safely in their land) need not concern us once we realize that we are reading apocalyptic here. We are not being necessarily given a chronological sequence of events, but rather snapshots from various points in the overall saga. This especially needs to be appreciated in understanding the book of Revelation.


Ezekiel 38:20 So that the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals of the field and all creeping things which creep on the earth, and all the men who are on the surface of the earth, shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall and every wall shall fall to the ground-
The impression given is that this is more than a theophany, with God symbolically and metaphorically 'coming down'; but the literal coming down of God to earth, or the land promised to Abraham, resulting in the fulfilment of the final parts of Revelation, where God Himself dwells with men. Absolutely every strata of creation will be aware of this presence. It is the language of Nah. 1:5 about the destruction of Assyria, and also of the theophany at Sinai (Ps. 68:8). For the destruction of Israel's enemies is to be associated with God claiming Israel finally and fully for Himself in eternal covenant. Walls falling to the ground is the language of the fall of all Israel's historical enemies: Babylon (Jer. 51:44), Syria (1 Kings 20:30) and the Canaanites in Jericho (Josh. 6:5).


Ezekiel 38:21 I will call to all My mountains for a sword against him, says the Lord Yahweh-
This is quoting from Jer. 25:29, where the context is of a group of neighbouring nations invading the land and a sword being called upon them. There are several other links with the nations of Ezekiel 38 when we look closer at Jer. 25:19-26. Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish (Jer. 25:22,23) are also part of the invading force in Ezekiel 38, not against it. "All the kings of the north, far and near" (Jer. 25:26) of course includes Gog from the north. These nations all had their part in the Babylonian invasion, which is why they were to be punished in the end after Israel's restoration from captivity (Jer. 25:12). Ezekiel was prophesying about the time of the restoration- after Ez. 38,39 he goes on to give  commands about how to rebuild the temple on their return from captivity. This is the context in which Ezekiel alludes back to Jer. 25.  

Every man’s sword shall be against his brother- The manner of Gog’s destruction also hints at the origin of Gog and those with him. They will be destroyed by every man’s sword turning against his brother. But this is the very language of the curse upon Ishmael, the forefather of so many of the Moslem people who now live in the territory of the land promised to Abraham (Gen. 16:12).


Ezekiel 38:22 With pestilence and with blood will I enter into judgment with him; and I will rain on him and on his hordes and on the many peoples who are with him, an overflowing shower, and great hailstones, fire, and sulphur-
Entering into judgment could imply that God is pleading with them even in their last moments for their repentance. The destruction of the Gog invasion by fire (Rev. 20:9) is exactly as here in Ez. 38:22; 39:6. It is the same invasion in view. It didn't happen as was potentially possible in Ezekiel's time, and so it is transferred to the last days for fulfilment. I would go with Harry Whittaker's suggestion that this invasion by Gog of Rev. 20:8 is when the 1000 year reign is established [not "expired" as in AV]; this would fit with the beast / Gog coming against Christ once He has returned and Israel are dwelling confidently and safely. The beast is destroyed at Christ's return, and yet has a revival. This is very much the theme of the various prophecies about the beast receiving a deadly wound but reviving. Yet the chronological issues should not overly concern us. I have elsewhere explained that Bible prophecy is conditional, and therefore there are various possible outcomes and sequences of events. And further, it seems likely that the nature of time will be compressed or changed around the time of the Lord's return.


Ezekiel 38:23 I will magnify Myself, and sanctify Myself, and I will make Myself known in the eyes of many nations; and they shall know that I am Yahweh-
It could have been that at the restoration, Yahweh would have been magnified from the border of Israel (Mal. 1:5 s.w.). But this prophetic scenario was precluded at the time by Israel's lack of repentance. But it shall come ultimately true in the last days. This is the purpose of all this blood and judgment; to bring about the Kingdom on God on earth, where the remaining nations "know Yahweh", i.e. enter relationship with Him. "Magnify" is the word used in Joel 2:20,21 and Mic. 5:4 of how God will "do great things" in destroying the northern invader; and those great things are in the end for God in the sense that they are for His beloved people.