When I first began to really study Bible prophecy over 30 years ago, one of the most fascinating prophetic sections of God’s Word to me was the war, one might say invasion, scenario that we see presented in Ezekiel 38, 39. I began to study after some of the most prominent eschatology teachers of the day, who almost unanimously identified the infamous “Gog” of the land of Magog, as the “Chief Prince” or leader of Russia. Ezekiel also mentions, “Meshech” and “Tubal”, which were identified by again, almost every prominent teacher of the day, as Moscow and Tubalsk in Russia.
The nations that will join with Gog were (and are) easily identifiable as well. They are all nations for the most part surrounding Israel, they are all predominantly Muslim, and they all have their mutual hatred for Israel in common. In the many years that have come and gone, this section of scripture is no less intriguing to me, and I believe now more than ever that the Russian leader, whomever that happens to be when this invasion is launched, will lead a coalition of Muslim nations against Israel in the “Last Days”, and more specifically, “latter years” [See Ezek. 38:16] a time I believe that is closer than ever before.
The current climate politically, militarily, and spiritually across the Middle East region is certainly tenuous (as in delicate) as well as extremely volatile. War in the region is inevitable, with Israel probably sooner than later making a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear reactors to stop the madman at the helm, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, from using Iran’s nuclear capabilities to, “wipe Israel off of the map” as he seems so fond of threatening to do. Apparently Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t think that Ahmadinejad’s vitriol is mere saber rattling, and neither should the government of the United States. It is unfortunate that we have a President who is more concerned about being re-elected than he is about preserving our strong ally status with Israel and the Jewish people.
We turn our attention this time to Ezekiel 39. The Prophet writes, Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, 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 leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel: And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand.Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.
Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD. So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel. Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken. [Ezek. 39:1 – 8]
A quick comparison of the KJV rendering of this passage with other popular English translations shows that the far more accurate translation is here again in the King James. As we are told that when Gog and his armies are brought down, the Lord will leave, but the sixth part of thee. This means that 5/6 of this coalition will be destroyed on the mountains of Israel. This phrase is from the primitive Hebrew root, shasha. This is equivalent to the English, annihilate or decimate. In other words, they will all but totally be destroyed. When the Lord brings this Muslim army to Israel, He will wipe them out.
We see a reference to “bows and arrows” here as well. I personally don’t believe that literal bows and arrows will be used, but that Ezekiel was describing implements of modern warfare in terms of the day. You will recall that in an earlier post we set forth the possibility that literal horses, as the Prophet describes, could be used. Why then not literal bows and arrows? In the case of the horses, we see modern examples of horses being used to carry troops in areas where tanks and trucks would not be able to navigate as well. We listed a few examples in an earlier post. However, given the fact that all of these nations certainly have modern weapons, I see no reason why they would not use them in their effort to “spoil” Israel.
Some interpret the idea of sending fire on Magog and those who live safely in the coast lands as warning of a nuclear exchange. Magog refers to Russia of course, but the identity of the coast lands is less clear. The Hebrew word implies that they are a distant land, and in Isaiah the phrase “beyond the sea” is used to help locate them, the sea being the Mediterranean. This reference could easily be pointing to Europe, and some even believe the US is in focus here. But we’ll have to wait and see.
Also the Hebrew word translated in safety is the same one that is used to describe Israel’s state of mind in Ezek. 38:8. Again it denotes a sense of carelessness, this time on Europe’s part, as if they don’t believe this kind of thing could happen to them and therefore are not prepared for what’s coming.
And once more, the Lord reveals His purpose in all of this. He’s going to use this battle to announce to one and all that He is Israel’s Protector and Champion. The nations of the world are being told that to get to Israel, they’ll have to go through Him.
And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years: So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord GOD.[Ezekiel 39:9, 10]
In Ezekiel’s day people burned wood for heat and so that is the idiom he used to describe the situation. In fact, the passage indicates that all of Israel’s energy needs for 7 years will be met by converting the energy from the weapons the enemy leaves behind to peaceful use. I can’t imagine the enemy carrying in enough wood (or any other conventional fuel for that matter) to supply Israel’s power and heating plants for 7 years, so a more modern application is in order. Many observers say this is a reference to nuclear power. The old Soviet Union converted submarine reactors into power generating plants to provide electricity for whole communities so the notion isn’t that far fetched. And as you’ll see, the clean-up procedures for this battle are remarkably similar to today’s nuclear decontamination process. Why only 7 years then, when a nuclear reactor could theoretically supply energy needs for much longer? This is what has lead many expositors to conclude that the Gog/Magog war will be a pre-rapture event. This is a possibility, as I have stated previously. They would only need the energy from converting the weapons into fuel for the seven years of Daniel’s 70th Week, after which time the Lord will provide all of their needs. [See Rev. 22]
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog.
And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land. Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord GOD. And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search. And the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man’s bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog. And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah. Thus shall they cleanse the land. [Ezek. 39:11 – 16]
The King James version says here this valley is east of the Dead Sea. If so it would be in Jordan, not Israel, and even in Ezekiel’s day would have been outside Israel’s borders. Yet verse 11 clearly locates the burial place in Israel. Therefore I believe it is more likely the one traditionally called the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Psalm 23:4) that was part of Israel during Ezekiel’s time. If so, it’s at the bottom of the old Jericho Road that still connects Jerusalem with Jericho and is on the way to the Dead Sea. And remarkably it’s in territory occupied by the Palestinians today, another hint that due to the fulfillment of Psalm 83 they will have lost any claim to the West Bank before Ezekiel’s Battle begins.
It will require the combined efforts of all Israeli citizens for 7 months to bury the enemy dead. After that they will hire professionals, some to decontaminate the land and some to search for any bodies the people may have missed. They won’t touch any bones they find, but will set up markers and call the professionals to come take them away. This approach fits modern Nuclear Biological Chemical Warfare decontamination procedures to a tee. Did the Lord have Ezekiel write this to show us the type of weaponry being used? Between this and the energy reference above, it sure looks that way.
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. [Ezek. 39:17 – 20]
This is a truly gruesome picture. The carrion birds and scavengers will have a field day due to the carnage left behind on the battlefield. Earlier the enemy force was described as being a great horde, like a cloud covering the land. Now that it’s been decimated there are dead bodies everywhere. This is not unique in Israel’s history. Josephus wrote that after the Battle of the Galilee in 68 AD there were so many dead bodies floating in the Sea that you couldn’t see the water.
And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward. And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD. [Ezek. 39:21 – 29]
Following the victory of our Sovereign God over Gog and his hordes on the mountains of Israel, if indeed the timing is as I propose; and that is toward the middle of the Great Tribulation period, Antichrist will break his covenant and move against Israel himself. Then Israel, regathered yet in unbelief, will begin to experience a series of miracles as the Lord prepares for them a place in the wilderness to protect them from the attacks of the “Beast.” [See Rev. 12:6] They will be protected there for three and one-half years.
I have set forth what I see as a possible scenario based on Ezekiel’s prophecies as given to him by the Holy Spirit. I want to emphasize the fact that we cannot really be dogmatic as to the timing of all of this since this since the Lord in His wisdom has not seen fit to reveal a precise time-line to us. I have brethren whom I greatly respect who see this differently than I do. That is fine. I believe if we are going to be intellectually honest, we must admit that we don’t know exactly how all of these events will occur. We do know based on the Bible’s record, that of 100% accuracy, that they will occur at some point.
At some point in the future, we will see the literal fulfillment of Isaiah 17:1 with the destruction of Damascus, Syria (which it has been destroyed many times in the past), except the next time it will never rise to be a city ever again.
At some point in the future there will be a time when the nations surrounding Israel will move against her to be destroyed as Psalm 83 sets forth. They will be utterly defeated, and Israel will be spared.
Lastly, at some point in the future a coalition of Muslim nations, led by the leader of Russia, will attack Israel to “take a spoil.” As we have seen, they will be utterly decimated on the mountains of Israel. This will happen according to the prophecy of Ezekiel 38, 39.
We can trust our lives and eternal future to the veracity of God’s Word. I pray that you have. It is our only place of safety in troublesome times.