The Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 Part 3

   Part 1 through 3 was written by Jack Kelly from Rapture Ready.

Part 3 of our study begins with the first verses of chapter 39.

“Son of man, prophesy against Gog and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the LORD.

” ‘I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel. It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign LORD. This is the day I have spoken of. (Ezek. 39:1-8)

The King James has the more accurate rendering for the beginning of this passage. The phrase translated I will turn you around and drag you along in the NIV and others, literally reads I will turn you around and leave but the sixth part of you which means that 5/6ths of the Moslem armies will be destroyed. The Hebrew concept is roughly equivalent to the one behind the English word “decimate.” Although decimate originally described the punishment requiring that 1 in 10 soldiers in a mutinous Roman Legion be executed, figuratively it has come to mean that something is all but totally destroyed.

Synonyms are “annihilate” or “wipe out.” So it is with the Hebrew. When the Lord brings this Moslem coalition into the mountains of Israel, He will also wipe them out.

And don’t be confused by the reference to bows and arrows. Ezekiel was just using terms he knew. The same Hebrew words could be translated launchers and missiles today.

Some interpret the idea of sending fire on Magog and those who live safely in the coastlands as warning of a nuclear exchange. Magog refers to Russia of course, but the identity of the coastlands is less clear. The Hebrew word implies that they’re 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’s 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 aren’t prepared for what’s coming.

And once more the Lord explains His real purpose. He’s going to use this battle to announce to one and all that He’s 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.

” ‘Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up-the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezek 39:9-10)

In Ezekiel’s day people burned wood for heat and so that’s 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? If, as I believe, this battle will introduce the 70th week of Daniel, 7 years worth of energy is all they’ll need. After that, the Lord will supply their needs. (Rev. 22:5)

” ‘On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel east toward the Sea. It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog.

” ‘For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. All the people of the land will bury them, and the day I am glorified will be a memorable day for them, declares the Sovereign LORD .

” ‘Men will be regularly employed to cleanse the land. Some will go throughout the land and, in addition to them, others will bury those that remain on the ground. At the end of the seven months they will begin their search. As they go through the land and one of them sees a human bone, he will set up a marker beside it until the gravediggers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon Gog. (Also a town called Hamonah will be there.) And so they will cleanse the land’ (Ezek 39:11-16)

The King James version says 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’s 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’ll 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.

“Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and bulls-all of them fattened animals from Bashan. At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,’ declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezek. 39:17-20)

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.

“I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God. And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them.

“Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will now bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezek 39:21-29)

Following this victory the Lord will complete the return of His people Israel to their land, begun in the early 1900’s and made official in 1948. Though He caused them to be scattered all over the world, He’ll now bring them back, not leaving any behind. Since about 55% of the world’s Jewish people currently live outside of Israel this will be some homecoming. But having witnessed His defeat of their enemies, Jews from all over the world will flock to Israel and to Him, yearning for a reinstatement of their Old Covenant relationship. And after waiting for nearly 2000 years for them to return, He’s not going to refuse them now.

Because of a peace treaty enforced on their behalf by a coming world leader, they’ll soon build a Temple, Old Covenant worship being impossible without one. If they follow the instructions from Ezekiel 40-48 as I believe, they’ll build the Temple in Shiloh, about 12 miles (20km) north of Jerusalem. This is the Temple that will be made desolate by the anti-Christ and later cleansed at the beginning of the Millennium, just as the second Temple was first made desolate and then cleansed in the time of the Maccabees. (Read The Coming Temple for all the details.)

And so this battle will permit the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, the last 7 years of human history before the Millennium. Having given this prophecy to Israel, Ezekiel doesn’t get into any detail on its aftermath, especially as is relates to the world’s subsequent reactions. But for we who are the Church today, the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 carries more significance in what Ezekiel didn’t say than in what he did. And that’s the topic of our concluding episode, next time. See you then.

The Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 Part 2

  Conditions are quickly falling into place for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39. Turkey has all but declared itself part of the Moslem coalition after years of being one of Israel’s most reliable allies. As for Israel’s great protector the USA, our current leaders have withdrawn their support to a point where no one can say for sure how we would respond in case of an attack on Israel. Jewish officials suspect our recent pledges of support are just empty words, meant only for public consumption.

If so, all that remains for Ezekiel 38 to happen is for Israel to become confident enough in their military prowess to believe no one would attack them. The fulfillment of prophecies in Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17 could prompt such a careless state of mind, and some informed sources are predicting that these battles could take place as early as this summer. Time will tell. But in the meantime, to freshen our prophetic perspective, we’ll continue our review of Ezekiel 38-39.

” ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people-all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.” Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?” ‘ (Ezek. 38:10-13)

Israel is described here as a country at peace in the idiom of Ezekiel’s day, a land of unwalled villages. In Biblical times villages only built protective walls if they were concerned about being attacked. Israel won’t be expecting war. When this enemy coalition suddenly and unexpectedly attacks, other countries not involved will take notice. They won’t know what’s going on either.

Sheba and Dedan are first mentioned as grandsons of Cush in Genesis 10:7. Later, in Genesis 25:3, we read of grandsons of Abraham named Sheba and Dedan as well, born to Jokshan, a son of Abraham and his 2nd wife, Keturah. From the passage it’s not clear which pair of grandsons is being referenced, but commentaries none-the-less identify these two as representing the nations of the Arabian Peninsula, notably Saudi Arabia. According to archaeologists W. F. Albright and Wendell Phillips, Sheba was on the southwestern edge of the Arabian Peninsula across the Red Sea from present-day Ethiopia. Sheba is known in history as Saba in Southern Arabia, home to the Sabaeans of classical geography, who carried on the trade in spices with the other peoples of the ancient world. Dedan was probably the habitat of the Arabs in the northern part of the Arabian Desert, which is modern-day Saudi Arabia. The ancient capital of Saudi Arabia is still called Dedan on many maps today.

Tarshish was a son of Javan, who settled the area of Southern Greece. Some see his name as a reference to ancient Tartessus, a seaport in southern Spain, near Gibraltar. Others recall the sea going navies of the Phoenicians who sailed “the Ships of Tarshish” out of nearby Cadiz as far north as England for tin, a metal used in the making of bronze and other alloys, which they mined in Cornwall. Some believe that the name Britannia is actually derived from a Phoenician word meaning “source of tin.” If so, since the ships of Tarshish brought tin to the ancient world, this reference could be to Great Britain making the “lions” (KJV) or “villages”(NIV) of Tarshish Great Britain’s colonies, of which the US is the most prominent today. The fact that the Lion is a symbol of the British Empire lends support to this view.

This is the main reason I don’t believe this battle is the Armageddon of Revelation 16:16. There are too many significant countries that aren’t involved, when according to Zechariah 14:2 all the nations of the world will be gathered against Jerusalem for the final battle.

“Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. (Ezek. 38:14-16)

Here the Lord makes His intent unmistakably clear. He’s orchestrating this event to reveal Himself to the world once again. The years and years of debate over God’s existence, begun with the German School of Higher Criticism in the 1800’s and continued in the modern rationalism of the 1950’s will be put to naught as God uses this battle to poke His head through the fabric of the sky and shout, “I’m still here!”

” ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Are you not the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel? At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign LORD. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign LORD . Every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.’ (Ezek. 38:17-23)

When the Moslem coalition attacks Israel, God will say, “You’re the ones I had Ezekiel warn my people about so long ago.” With signs reminiscent of all the Heaven-fought wars of the past, the Lord is aroused in anger to execute judgment against the invaders of His land and enemies of His people. And as He has done before, He sews confusion in the hearts of Israel’s enemies so that they commence attacking themselves while He unleashes the classic weapons of divine retribution. Earthquakes, plagues, bloodshed, rain, hailstones, and burning sulfur; these are His signature signs. Neither Israel, nor the enemy coalition, nor those watching from afar will fail to interpret them correctly.

So ends chapter 38. Next time we’ll see why some think this battle goes nuclear and get another good reason why it’s not the last battle of the Age of Man. See you then.

The Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 Part 1

I first began studying Ezekiel 38 in the 1980s and have watched with great interest as our changing world conforms more and more to Ezekiel’s words. As the time of the end draws nearer the insights we gain from the changes around us give us a better understanding of Bible prophecy in general and Ezekiel 38 in particular. In this update of our study we’ll apply these insights to Ezekiel’s 2600 year old prophecy.

What Time Is It?

First of all, let’s get some kind of time frame settled. Ezekiel’s prophecies are chronological. Falling between the prophecies of Israel’s modern re-birth (Ezekiel 36-37) and the Millennium (Ezekiel 40-48), the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 has to take place during a time of peace after 1948 but before the 2nd coming, and all agree it hasn’t happened yet. This has led some to see the passage as a description of Armageddon, but as we’ll see there are many prominent nations missing from this battle whereas Zechariah 14:2 prophecies that every nation will join the battle of Armageddon. That being the case, the time frame narrows to sometime between 1948 and the beginning of the Great Tribulation, after which no place in the world will be at peace, especially Israel.

Ezekiel prophesied that the Lord would use this battle to turn Israel back to Him and to complete the return of Jews from all over the world to Israel, not leaving any behind (Ezekiel 39:28). This leads us to believe that the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 is the event that re-starts the clock on the 490-year period of time spoken of by Daniel, the famous 70 weeks of Daniel 9:24-27. 69 of those weeks (483 years) had come when the Messiah was crucified and the Temple destroyed, stopping the clock one week (seven years) short of fulfillment. I believe the dramatic victory the Lord wins over Israel’s enemies in Ezekiel’s battle will convince them to officially re-instate their Old Covenant relationship with Him to fulfill the remaining seven years of Daniel’s prophecy. This will require two things to happen. First they’ll need a Temple for worship. It’s this Temple that’s later desecrated by the anti-Christ, kicking off the Great Tribulation.

And second, the Church will have to disappear. Paul wrote that Israel had been hardened in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25). That means as long as the Church is around Israel won’t be able to recognize God’s involvement in their national life. But the Battle of Ezekiel 38 will be such a miraculous victory that it will re-awaken Israel to God’s presence. This means the Dispensation of Grace will have come to an end and the Church will be gone by the time this battle comes to an end.

With all this in mind, let’s begin a careful study of Ezekiel 38-39, to prepare us for these events should they become reality soon.

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army-your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops-the many nations with you. (Ezek. 38:1-6)

In another study, I made the claim that Gog is a supernatural figure (perhaps Satan’s counterpart to the Archangel Michael) and the behind the scenes commander of this event, while Magog is listed in Genesis 10 as one of Noah’s grandsons, a son of Japeth. Over 130 historical references demonstrate that Magog is the father of today’s Russian people. (For a more detailed treatment on the modern names of all the nations mentioned in this passage, click here.)

The phrase “hooks in the jaw” comes from the equestrian world where a special bridle is used to make a rebellious horse obedient to its rider’s commands. It symbolizes God forcing Russia to become involved in this battle to assure that His will is done. Persia is the ancient name for Iran, Cush and Put represent the North African nations, Gomer was Magog’s brother and settled along the Danube River in what would become Eastern Europe, and Togarmah, a son of Gomer’s, inhabited what’s now known as Armenia and Turkey. The characteristic all these nations have in common today is their religion. They’re all Moslem.

“Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety. You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land. (Ezek. 38:7-9)

The fact that Israel is the target in this passage is self evident, but a controversy rages around the Heberew word betach translated “in safety” in verse 8. A secondary meaning, “carelessly” could mean that they’re not really safe but just think they are and so their guard is down. To achieve either of the conditions this word implies would require a truly miraculous change in Israel’s current situation and for many years scholars were uncertain as to how this could ever happen.

But a little known prophecy in the Psalms might have the answer. According to Psalm 83 all of Israel’s next door neighbors will unite in an effort to wipe Israel completely off the map. But Israel will soundly defeat them and capture their lands as well. Enemies like Hezbollah, Lebanon, the Palestinians, Hamas, etc. will cease to exist, and the lands they now occupy will once again belong to Israel. (Many people don’t realize that even the land of Lebanon was originally given to Israel and will belong to Israel again in the Millennium.)

It’s also beginning to look like the Isaiah 17 prophecy of the destruction of Damascus could be fulfilled at the same time. Israel has officially declared that they’ll hold Syria responsible for any attack by Hezbollah, and will retaliate accordingly. High Israeli officials have recently said that the Syrian government will not survive such a retaliation and its infrastructure will be destroyed. This is a direct threat against Damascus.

If the fulfillment of Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17 precede the Battle Ezekiel 38, it helps explain how Israel could be taken by surprise when the Moslem coalition attacks and why none of Israel’s next door neighbors are mentioned in Ezekiel’s line up.

Next time we’ll look at the other nations that are not involved in this battle and you’ll see why it can’t be referring to Armageddon. We’ll also see how the Lord chooses to reveal Himself to the nations. See you then.

Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 21)

Dr. Thomas Ice

And My holy name I shall make known in the midst of My people Israel; and I shall not let My holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. Behold, it is coming and it shall be done," declares the Lord God. "That is the day of which I have spoken. Then those who inhabit the cities of Israel will go out, and make fires with the weapons and burn them, both shields and bucklers, bows and arrows, war clubs and spears and for seven years they will make fires of them. And they will not take wood from the field or gather firewood from the forests, for they will make fires with the weapons; and they will take the spoil of those who despoiled them, and seize the plunder of those who plundered them," declares the Lord God.

—Ezekiel 39:7–10

Why is the Lord God of Israel going to bring Gog and his overwhelming army down to attack Israel at this point in history? The broadest purpose statement for this entire passage is given in verses seven and eight. "My holy name I shall make known in the midst of My people Israel," with the result that "I shall not let My holy name be profaned anymore" (39:7). That God is holy is important to God Himself, even though it is greatly undervalued today, even in Christian circles. Most likely, there is a relationship between national Israel's change of behavior and the restoration and conversion of the nation as described earlier in chapter 37. "These verses restate the divine initiative in the invasion and elaborate upon the fall of Gog and God's purposes."[1]

Holy, Holy, Holy

Three times in verse seven the Hebrew word for "holy" is used (qadosh). Twice "My holy name" and once "the Holy One of Israel." This word means, "set apart for special use; treated with respect, removed from common usage."[2] It appears that the Gog and Magog event will take place at that time in history when the Lord is going to intervene in history in order to sanctify His reputation and that of Israel as well among the nations of this world. E. W. Hengstenburg has noted:

The holy name of God (ver. 7) is His character, arising from His former historical manifestations, as God in the full sense, the absolute, the transcendently glorious, unconditionally separate from all untruth and impotence. God makes known His name among His people when He verifies His historical character anew, when He gives His people the victory over the heathen world that rages against them. He would profane His name if He were to abandon His people continually to the heathen world, as He had done in the time of the prophet on account of their apostasy.[3]

It is through the Lord's obvious, miraculous intervention on behalf of His people that God restores the strained relationship with Israel. The Lord says, "I shall not let My holy name be profaned anymore" (39:7). The Hebrew verb 'ahel is translated "profaned" in this passage and has the basic meaning of "to pollute, defile, or profane."[4] In this context, the verb appears in the hiphil stem, which denotes causative action. Thus, it means to "allow to be profaned" or defiled.[5] God is no longer going to allow His holy name or reputation to be profaned, either by His own people or the nations throughout the world. Charles Feinberg explains:

His true character will appear in its proper light as both righteous and mighty. Such emphasis is made of this thought throughout the book of Ezekiel because this is the design of God in all history, and there is no more important concept in all the universe. That which gives stability and worth to life on earth is the determining truth that a God of holiness, wisdom, love and truth is working out His blessed will throughout the universe and among created intelligences.[6]

If there was any doubt in anyone's mind about the certainty of these events coming to pass, verse 8 reiterates the inevitability that God will see this through. "'Behold, it is coming and it shall be done,' declares the Lord God. 'That is the day of which I have spoken.'" In fact, there is probably not another passage in the entire Bible that emphasizes the certitude of a prophetic event as we find here in Ezekiel 38—39. "There may, indeed, be some who think that matters may be altered or fashioned to their liking," declares Feinberg. "To them the word comes that there is no escape from what has been predicted, for it is as good as done. When God predicts, He makes it manifest that He can also perform that which is foretold."[7] Men may think of themselves as the primary actors in history, but when the truth is told, it is God who is seen to be the Prime Mover.

What is the impact of God's glorification upon the nation of Israel? It is clear that "a revival occurs in Israel, causing many Jews to turn to the Lord."[8]

Seven-Year Burning

What is the point being emphasized in verses 9 and 10 about burning the spoils of war in this passage? "Rather than simply destroy the weapons, they will be used for fuel and thereby benefit the Israelis." [9] Why would they burn the weapons instead of just disposing of them? Randall Price suggests the following: "This ironic disposition of weapons designed to kill the people will be considered a "plunder of those who [intended to] plunder them" (verse 10b)."[10] Verse 10 indicates that during this seven-year period, Israelis will not have to use natural resources from the land for fires. "'And they will not take wood from the field or gather firewood from the forests, for they will make fires with the weapons; and they will take the spoil of those who despoiled them, and seize the plunder of those who plundered them,' declares the Lord God" (39:10).

The fact that these weapons will be burnt for seven years provides a time indicator that could help us discern when this battle will take place on God's prophetic timeline. "These seven months of burying seven years of burning are crucial in determining when this invasion occurs," declares Fruchtenbaum. "For any view to be correct, it must satisfy the requirements of these seven months and seven years."[11]

I believe that the invasion of Gog will likely take place after the rapture of the church, but before the start of the tribulation. One of the primary factors is the seven-year period that is mentioned in this section of the passage. It seems unlikely that the seven-year burning could lapse into the thousand-year kingdom period after our Lord's second coming. Dr. Price expounds upon these issues as follows:

If this battle takes place after the Rapture but before the seventieth week begins, there would be ample time and the freedom of movement even through the first half of the Tribulation (the time of pseudo-peace for Israel under the Antichrist's covenant) to accomplish this job. Moreover, the statement about not needing to gather firewood from the forests (verse 10) would make more sense than after the first trumpet judgment when one-third of the trees were burned up (Revelation 8:7). If this battle were to take place at any point in the Tribulation the people would run out of time to complete this task, before the intensified persecution of the final 42 months (Matthew 24:16-22) that drives the Jewish Remnant into the wilderness to escape the Satanic onslaught (Revelation 12:6). While there is no reason why the burning of weapons for firewood could not continue into the Millennial Kingdom, since during this time other weapons will be converted to peaceful and productive uses (Isaiah 2:4), the renewal of nature and increased productivity of this age (Isaiah 27:6; Zechariah 8:12; Micah 4:4) could argue against this necessity.[12]

When contemplating the timing of the fulfillment of this battle, we must notice four key observations.[13] First, Israel must be back in her land and a nation again, which is the situation today. Second, within the land of Israel itself, the places that were laid waste must be inhabited, which is the exact situation today in Israel. Third, "Israel is dwelling in unwalled villages, a good description of present-day kibbutzim."[14] Fourth, Israel will be dwelling securely. Fruchtenbaum says, "nowhere in the entire text does it speak of Israel as living in peace. Rather, Israel is merely living in security, which means 'confidence,' regardless of whether it is during a state of war or peace."[15]

It appears that even though I believe that this battle will take place after the rapture but before the start of the tribulation, nevertheless, the stage is already set in our own day for these events to take place. Russia is on the prowl again and one of her closest allies is Persia (Iran). The world is moving closer each day to this impending showdown. Maranatha!

(To Be Continued . . .)


Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 20)

Dr. Thomas Ice

"You shall fall on the mountains of Israel, you and allyour troops, and the peoples who are with you; I shall give you as food toevery kind of predatory bird and beast of the field. You will fall on the open field; for it is I who havespoken," declares the Lord God. And I shall send fire upon Magog andthose who inhabit the coastlands in safety; and they will know that I am the Lord."

—Ezekiel 39:4–6

Ezekiel38:8 says Gog and his invaders "will come into the land that is restored fromthe sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to themountains of Israel which had been acontinual waste." Instead, in 39:4God will cause Gog to "fall on the mountains of Israel." Gog intends one thing, but God causes atotally different outcome in His defense of His people Israel.


TheHebrew verb for "fall" is a common word that in this context means to fall inbattle. Since it is usedcorporately of the entire invading force, i.e., "you and all your troops, andthe peoples who are with you," it speaks of their defeat.[1] "Troops" and "peoples" were usedearlier in 38:6. It is clear fromthe previous context that this fall is the result of God's miraculousintervention on behalf of Israel. Arnold Fruchtenbaum describes the mountains of Israel asfollows:

They extend the length ofthe center of the country, beginning at the southern point of the Valley ofJezreel at the town of Jenin in Galilee (biblical Ein Ganim), and continuingsouth until they peter out at a point north of Beersheha in the Negev. These mountains contain the famousbiblical cities of Dothan, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Bethel, Ai, Ramah,Bethlehem, Hebron, Debir, and most importantly, Jerusalem, which seems to bethe goal of the invading army.

Here is another example where the SixDay War has set the stage for the fulfillment of prophecy. Up to the Six Day War in 1967 all ofthe mountains of Israel, except for a small corridor of West Jerusalem, wereentirely in the hands of the Jordanian Arabs. Only since 1967 have the mountains of Israel been in Israel, thussetting the stage for the fulfillment of this prophecy.[2]

SinceGod is the one who will bring down the invading force, He will also use thisoccasion to feed His creation with their flesh. "I shall give you as food to every kind of predatory birdand beast of the field." The verb"give" is used here in the sense of to "set, lay, or place" before one.[3] Here we have "the prophetic perfect"tense of the verb,[4] which means that eventhough the text speaks of a future event, it is best translated as havingalready taken place, i.e., "I have given you." The reason for the prophetic perfect is because when theLord prophesizes something, it is so certain to take place that it is spoken ofas having already taken place, though still in the future. Thus, the Lord will provide Israel'senemies as a meal for the animals and birds as a waiter would set a feast upona table to one to eat. Thereferences to birds and beast describe those who will eat dead meat. The phrase "every kind" modifiesspecifically the reference to birds.[5] Charles Feinberg notes:

Because of the amount ofcarnage, burial will not be the order of the day. The Lord has determined that the carcasses will fall to theravenous birds and beasts. Suchabsence of burial was especially abhorrent in the Near East. This picture in verse 4 anticipateswhat is stated at greater length in verses 17–20.[6]

Verse5 expands upon verse 4 and employs a play-on-words with the use of"field." It is the field where thebeasts are said to roam and that is where the Lord God destroys Gog'sarmies—in the open field. The invaders never make into the population centers in which to mount anattack, instead, they die literally "on the face of the field." This is a Hebrew idiom for the "open"field. They fall on the open fieldsimply because the Lord God of Israel says they will. As in creation, God speaks a word and whatever He commandsoccurs. So it is with the LordGod's word of judgment.

FireUpon The Coastlands

Verse6 says, "And I shall send fire upon Magog and those who inhabit the coastlandsin safety; and they will know that I am the Lord." The Hebrew word for "fire" is the mostcommon noun for "fire," used 376 times in the Old Testament.[7] The verb "send" is in the piel stem,noting intensive action by God. The word "fire" is used in a near context along with "torrential rain,with hailstones, . . . and brimstone" (38:22). Since "fire and brimstone" are used in a similar descriptionin 38:22, it follows that the Lord will use fire and brimstone as He did withSodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24).

Someinterpreters see a nuclear exchange occurring as a means to the fulfillment ofthis prophecy. For example, Bibleteacher Chuck Missler commenting on this verse says, "Some analysts see anintercontinental nuclear exchange possible suggested. With the proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout theworld today, such a prospect is disturbingly likely."[8] The problem I have with seeing anuclear exchange in this passage is that the biblical text clearly emphasizesthat it is God Himself that is bringing the fire from heaven. The passage says, "I shall send fireupon Magog and those who inhabit the coastlands in safety." The passage before us clearly presentsGod Himself as the one sending down fire upon judged invaders. Nowhere does the passage indicate thatthe Lord will use segregates as agents to carry out His judgments. Instead, God has demonstratedthroughout history that He is quite capable of implementing this prophecy byHimself.

Ibelieve that when the Bible says that God or an angel is the one implementing ajudgment, then it must be taken as an indication that indeed God is the onedirectly performing the feat. Ithink that such statements in the Bible would not allow for us to interpretthem as possible reference to human activity like a nuclear war, which would beman vs. man. The first five sealjudgments in Revelation 6 would be an example of God using human agents tocarry out a judgment. However, allof the rest of the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments are said by the biblicaltext to be implemented directly by God, often using angels to carry out thesesupernatural events. This is animportant biblical point: that God is the one doing these things since God isclearly using supernatural means to achieve these ends, just as He did withSodom and Gomorrah, at the Exodus, and will do many times during thetribulation (Rev. 4—19). Thepassage says, "I [God] shall send fire upon Magog and those who inhabit thecoastlands in safety." Therefore,the text clearly says that God is doing this directly and it does not mentionhuman agents. Notice the overallemphasis in the passage as a whole that the Lord is the one acting against Gogand on behalf of Israel (Ezek. 39:1–7). Verse one: "Behold, I am against you, O Gog." Verse two: "I shall turn youaround." Verse three: "I shallstrike your bow from your left hand." Verse four: "I shall give you as food." Verse five: "'for it is I who have spoken,' declares theLord God.'" Verse six: "I shall send fire uponMagog" and "they will know that I am the Lord." Verse seven: " My holy name I shallmake known in the midst of My people Israel; and I shall not let My holy namebe profaned anymore. And thenations will know that I am the Lord,the Holy One in Israel." In otherwords, God performs it so that God will get the notoriety and glory.

Thefire of judgment that the Lord will send upon the coastlands most likely refersto the destruction of Gog's homeland, Magog, and the remotehomelands of his allies (the coastlands, cf. 26:15, 18; 27:3, 6-7, 15, 35), whodwell in safety in these places. The overall lesson will be to teach them that He is God. Some think that this refers to adestruction of all of the coastlands or all nations in the world that dwell insafety. This is unlikely since theentire focus of the passage is upon Gog and his confederacy of invaders. The logic of the Lord in this instanceis that Gog and his allies attack Israel who is "living securely" (38:8), sothe Lord responds with an attack on the invaders homeland where they are saidto be dwelling "in safety," (39:6) or so they thought in their arrogance. Fruchtenbaum says, that the defeat ofGog "will cause Russia to cease being a political force in world affairs."[9] Thus, Israel appeared destined fordestruction in the eyes of the world as a result of a powerful coalition, butthe Lord stepped in and defended Israel and turned the table on the invaders bydestroying their homelands, which they thought to be secure. Maranatha!

(ToBe Continued . . .)



[1] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, TheHebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic version (Leiden, The Netherlands:Koninklijke Brill, 2000).

[2] (italics original) Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Footstepsof the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events (Tustin, CA: Ariel Press, [1982] 2003), p. 114.

[3] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.

[4] Rabbi Dr. S. Fisch, Ezekiel: Hebrew Text &English Translation With An Introduction and Commentary (London: The Soncino Press, 1950), p. 259.

[5] C. F. Keil, Ezekiel, Daniel, Commentary on theOld Testament, trans. JamesMartin (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), p. 171.

[6] Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969), p. 229.

[7] Based upon a search conducted by the computerprogram Accordance, 7.4.2.

[8] Chuck Missler, The Magog Invasion (Palos Verdes, CA: Western Front, 1995), p. 179.

[9] Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps, p. 115.

Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 19)

Dr. Thomas Ice

"And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say,'Thus says the Lord God," Behold,I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; and I shall turnyou around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north, andbring you against the mountains of Israel. And I shall strike your bow from your left hand, and dashdown your arrows from your right hand."

—Ezekiel 39:1–3

AsI write this installment of the future campaign of Gog against Israel, we havejust seen Russia attack Georgia in order to gain control of South Ossetia, aprovince within Georgia. Russiahas also bombed a number of important cities throughout Georgia and sent hermechanized infantry in to occupy certain territories within Georgia. This is the first invasion of anothercountry by Russia since the Soviet Union went into Afghanistan in the1970s. Why did they do it now? Stratfor Intelligence Reportprovides the following analysis:

The war in Georgia,therefore, is Russia's public return to great power status. This is notsomething that just happened—it has been unfolding ever since Putin tookpower, and with growing intensity in the past five years. Part of it has to do with the increaseof Russian power, but a great deal of it has to do with the fact that theMiddle Eastern wars have left the United States off-balance and short onresources. As we have written, this conflict created a window ofopportunity. The Russian goal isto use that window to assert a new reality throughout the region while theAmericans are tied down elsewhere and dependent on the Russians. The war was far from a surprise; it hasbeen building for months. But the geopolitical foundations of the war have beenbuilding since 1992. Russia hasbeen an empire for centuries. Thelast 15 years or so were not the new reality, but simply an aberration thatwould be rectified. And now it isbeing rectified.[1]

Iam not saying that this recent event fits directly into the Gog invasion ofIsrael, but it does appear to be an important event indicating that the Russianbear is back on the prowl. Whenyou couple this invasion with the fact that Russia has resumed flying her Bearbombers along our border near Alaska[2]and the fact that Putin has threatened to put missiles in Cuba again,[3]it makes one realize that Russia is much more aggressive and anti-Western thanshe has been the last fifteen years. This could signal that Russia is interested in military aggression aftera period of dormancy.

Criticsof a future fulfillment of the Gog and Magog prophecy often mocked thepossibility of this because of the collapse ofthe Soviet Union. (I never saw theconnection between Russia having to head up the Soviet Union for this prophecyto be possible. The fact thatRussia continued to exist is all the prophecy requires.) Gary North said, "Russia was aprime candidate. But, after 1991,this has become difficult to defend, for obvious reasons. The collapse of the Soviet Union hascreated a major problem for dispensationalism's theologians and its popularauthors."[4] Clearly, Russia's current attempt athegemony over Georgia does not mean that Putin is trying to recreate the oldSoviet Empire. It does signal thatRussia, who has gained a lot of oil wealth in the last few years, is trying torearm itself so that she can be the greatest power in the region. Friedman explains:

Putindid not want to re-establish the Soviet Union, but he did want to re-establishthe Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union region. To accomplish that, he had to do twothings. First, he had to re-establishthe credibility of the Russian army as a fighting force, at least in thecontext of its region. Second, hehad to establish that Western guarantees, including NATO membership, meantnothing in the face of Russian power. He did not want to confront NATO directly, but he did want to confrontand defeat a power that was closely aligned with the United States, had, aid and advisers and was widely seen as being under Americanprotection. Georgia was the perfect choice.

Ezekiel 39

Having completedour commentary on Ezekiel 38, we now turn the page to chapter 39 of this greatprophecy. Arnold Fruchtenbaumnotes that the interpretative principle he calls The Law of Recurrence occurs inchapter 39.[5] Hedescribes it as follows:

This law describes the factthat in some passages of Scripture there exists the recording of an eventfollowed by a second recording of the same event giving more details to thefirst. Hence, it often involvestwo blocks of Scripture. The firstblock presents a description of an event as it transpires in chronologicalsequence. This is followed by asecond block of Scripture dealing with the same event and the same period oftime, but giving further details as to what transpires in the course of theevent.[6]

Fruchtenbaum saysthat Ezekiel 39 "repeats some of the account given in the first block and givessome added details regarding the destruction of the invading army."[7] Perhaps the reason the Lord repeats some prophesies is in order toreally drive home the importance of what He is saying. Thus, this would make the Gog prophecydoubly important because of this emphasis. The second giving of the Gog invasion prophecy is concludedin 39:16. Ezekiel 39:1–6 isthe first section in this chapter that reiterates the place of destruction.

SecondVerse, Same as the First

Ezekiel, who iscalled "son of man" in verse one is told to "prophesy against Gog, and say, 'Thus says the Lord God,"Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal." This passage is an exact repeat of whatwas spoken in 38:3, which I have already commented on in that section. Why is it repeated? I think the first verse is exactly thesame as that which is found in chapter 38 in order to show that it is aprophecy about the same entities and events already prophesied in the precedingsection. That is why, havingestablished their linkage to the previous chapter in 39:1, the Lord then beginsto expand upon this event in 39:3–6.

Versetwo says, "I shall turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotestparts of the north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel." This verse appears to be a summarystatement of 38:4, 6, 8, and 15, which I have already commented on. "The principle contents of ch. xxxviii.4–15," notes C. F. Keil, "are then briefly summed up in verse 2."[8] Charles Feinberg says, "The statementconcerning turning Gog about (v. 2) carries with it the idea of compulsion."[9] However, the phrase "drive you on" isnot used in the previous chapter. In fact, Ezekiel 39:2 is the only place in the entire Hebrew OldTestament that this verb is used.[10] It has the basic idea of "to walkalong,"[11] as one would walkalong side an animal, like leading a dog on leash. This verb is in the piel stem, which indicates the intensiveactive form of the word. So the picturebeing painted is that of the Lord leading Gog and his allies down to themountains of Israel like one would lead an animal on a leash. The clear point being made in thisverse is that the ultimate cause for this invasion, regardless of human action,is the sovereign will of God.


Versethree says, "And I shall strike your bow from your left hand, and dash downyour arrows from your right hand." Both of these phrases are Hebrew idioms that picture the Lord, notIsrael, disarming Gog by knocking out of his hand his bow, which refers toGog's weapons or weapons systems (whatever the case may be). The Lord will also take away theammunition used by Gog during this future invasion, when He will "dash downyour arrows from your right hand." Put simply, the Lord will disarm Gog on behalf of the nation ofIsrael. Keil explains, "In theland of Israel, God will strike his weapons out of his hands, i.e. make himincapable of fighting, . . . and give him up with all his army as a prey todeath."[12] Thus, chapter 39 begins with a shorteroverview and summary of many things that were already revealed in the previouschapter. The Lord drives home thepoint of His intense oversight of this future battle in which He will protectHis people. Further, we could bewitnessing today some of the positioning of the players who will participate inthis great invasion as Russia and Iran manifest their belligerence. Maranatha!

(ToBe Continued . . .)



1] George Friedman, "The Russo-GeorgianWar and the Balance of Power," Stratfor Geopolitical Intelligence Report (Aug. 12, 2008),

[2] "Russia's Bear bomber returns" (Sept. 10, 2007)www.

[3] "Putin eyes renewed Russian ties with Cuba,"(Aug. 4, 2008)

[4] Gary North, "The Unannounced Reason BehindAmerican Fundamentalism's [& Virtually All Evangelicalism] Support for theState of Israel" (July 19, 2000),

[5] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps of the Messiah:A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events (Tustin, CA: Ariel Press, [1982] 2003), p. 6.

[6] Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps, p. 6. Fruchtenbaum classifies the following passages as examples of The Law ofRecurrence: Genesis 1 & 2; Isaiah 30 & 31; Ezekiel 38 & 39;Revelation 17 & 18.

[7] Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps, p. 6.

[8] C. F. Keil, Ezekiel, Daniel, Commentary on theOld Testament, trans. JamesMartin (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), p. 171.

[9] Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969), p. 228.

[10] Based upon a search conducted by the computerprogram Accordance, 7.4.2.

[11] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, TheHebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic version (Leiden, The Netherlands:Koninklijke Brill, 2000).

[12] Keil, Ezekiel, p. 171.

Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 18)

Dr. Thomas Ice

Ezekiel 38 and 39


by Thomas Ice

"And the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, thebeasts of the field, all the creeping things that creep on the earth, and allthe men who are on the face of the earth will shake at My presence; the mountainsalso will be thrown down, the steep pathways will collapse, and every wall willfall to the ground. And I shallcall for a sword against him on all My mountains," declares the Lord God. "Every man's sword will be against his brother. And with pestilence and with blood Ishall enter into judgment with him; and I shall rain on him, and on his troops,and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones,fire, and brimstone. And I shallmagnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of manynations; and they will know that I am the Lord."

—Ezekiel 38:20–23

Asa result of the earthquake within the land of Israel in verse 19, verse 20reflects the corresponding realization of the Lord's greatness throughoutheaven and earth. In all threespheres—land, sea and air—creatures within God's creation willreverence the Lord's display of His power on behalf of His elect nation Israel.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

Thenormal order of things within the sea, land and heavens will be greatlydisturbed by the tremendous display within Israel by the Lord. The text characterizes human reactionto God's display in Israel when it says, "all the men who are on the face ofthe earth will shake at My presence." "The order will be, first, earthquake, then anarchy, pestilence andnatural disasters," notes Charles Feinberg. "God's violent shaking of the earth will affect every areaof nature, both animate and inanimate."[1] Gog attacks Israel armed to the hiltbut God merely shakes the earth a little and they are totally wiped out. It is clear from this passage thatIsrael and their excellent, modern military (including nuclear weapons) havenothing to do with the destruction of Gog and his allies.

Thelast three phrases in verse 20 describe in more detail the "earthquake in theland of Israel." As a result ofthat quake, "the mountains also will be thrown down, the steep pathways willcollapse, and every wall will fall to the ground." Earlier Gog's invasion is noted as taking place on "themountains of Israel" (verse 8). Apassage way or path is needed for an army to make it past the mountains ofIsrael in order to gain entrance into the heartland. In the modern state of Israel's wars, this has been astumbling stone for the Syrians and other Arab armies in their attacks onIsrael. They have had greatdifficulty getting through those mountains. However, in this invasion, it is God, not the Israel DefenseForces (IDF) that will completely destroy the enemy, as the Lord's earthquakewill literally pull the rug out from under the invaders. This will no doubt destroy a greatportion of the invaders.

Friendly Fire

Inmodern warfare when someone accidentally kills someone on your own side it iscalled "friendly fire." I recentlyread that on the modern battlefield of today, because of the great firepower ofmodern armies, that about 20% of deaths are due to friendly fire. Verse 21 clearly says that the onlykilling to be done by Gog's invaders of Israel will be that of massacring theirfellow troops. "'And I shall callfor a sword against him on all My mountains,' declares the Lord God. 'Every man's sword will be against his brother.'" Apparently in the confusion generatedby the Lord's earthquake and great shaking of the mountains of Israel, Gog'sarmies will experience a whole lot of friendly fire as the Lord confuses themand they turn upon one another.

Imaginethe great embarrassment and humiliation that Gog's constituents back homeexperience when they learn that the IDF did not even engage this great army,they did not have to since many of them killed each other. Upon further examination Gog's allieswill learn that it was really the God of Israel that they went up against. They did not have a chance! But that is not the only means the Lordwill use to defeat the invaders.

God Bugs Gog

Thisyear (2008) the father of so-called "Jesus Rock" or "Contemporary ChristianMusic," Larry Norman died. I usedto listen to him in the early 1970s and one of my favorite songs that he didwas one simply called "Moses." Thesong is about Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and into thePromised Land. There is a verse inthat song that goes as follows:

Mosesknew that God was taking to him,

sohe set off to Egypt with a vigor and vim,

andMoses bugged the Pharaoh—he bugged him,

andhe bugged him,

tillhe got his people free.

Heused real bugs![2]

Just as God used real bugs to bug the Pharaoh at theExodus, once again, He will use real bugs and pestilence to bug Gog and hisarmies, but this time to keep His people free from invasion. In addition to the earthquake andfriendly fire, the Lord will use other means of defeating Israel enemy asindicated in verse 22. "And withpestilence and with blood I shall enter into judgment with him; and I shallrain on him, and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, atorrential rain, with hailstones, fire, and brimstone."

TheHebrew noun for "pestilence" is used of a plague, like the bubonic plague whichcan be caused by something like an insect sting.[3] However, in this case, it is not bugscausing the sickness but it is God who bugs them. Used in conjunction with pestilence is the Hebrew noun for"blood," which in this context refers to "blood shed violently,"[4] as the judgment ofGod. The main verb governing allof the actions of verse 22 is the Hebrew word for "judgment." Thus, all of the pestilence, torrentialrain, hailstones, fire, and brimstone are said to be the judgment of God uponGog and his company of invaders. The first half of the verse tells us that the Lord will enter intojudgment with the invaders by using the means of pestilence that will cause thebloodshed or death of Gog's army. The second half of the verse appears to be the different types ofpestilence that will cause death to the enemies of God and Israel. As in the Exodus, the Lord miraculouslysends down the torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and brimstone upon theinvaders as they attack Israel. Likely the hailstones will target specific individuals of the enemy asin Revelation 16:21. Also, notjust brimstone, but fire also will fall from heaven and targetindividuals. Fire and brimstonewas said to be the only items used to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24),but here we have fire mixed with torrential rain. This will be an amazing combination of pestilence thatcauses the death of Israel invaders. I wonder if there will be a vote in the United Nations or a similar bodyto condemn God because of this event?

God's Glory

Gogwill arrogantly attack Israel with visions of his own glory. However, it will be God who will obtaingreat notoriety from the event. Verse 23 says, "And I shall magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and makeMyself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord."

Therewill be three specific things accomplished by the Lord as a result of Hisdefeat of this company of armies attacking His land Israel. The three lessons are taught by the useof three Hebrew verbs. First, Godshall "magnify" Himself through these events, as express by the hithpael orreflexive-intensive use of gadel. The root word gadelmeans, "to become great." In thehithpael stem it has the sense of "to make oneself great" or "to prove to begreat."[5] This is exactly what the Lord God ofIsrael will do when He will defeat, all by Himself, this vast army descendingupon Israel. He will add thisproof to a long list of other items from the past (for example, creation, theflood, the exodus, etc.) in which He has proven Himself great in time-spacehistory.

Second,qadosh, another hithpael stem verb isused. The root word qadoshis believed to mean, "to cut" and thus carries the basic meaning of "to setapart" for special use. The term"holy" is associated with qadosh and conveys the ideaof setting apart something from common use in order to use it on specialoccasions. The hithpael stem asused in this passage would mean, "to show or demonstrate One as holy."[6] In the context of this passage it issaying that the Lord God has demonstrated to the world that He is Holy,separated from everyone else in a special way, and that He is the unique andonly God since no one else can do what He just did to Israel's enemies.

Third,yadah is a widely used Hebrew verb thatmeans "to know" or "to come to know," usually through experience or interactionwith someone or something. In thisinstance, yadah occurs in the niphal stem, which isthe simple passive or reflexive sense.[7] Therefore, in this context it conveysthe sense that God wants the world to come to know or realize that He is theLord God of Israel as a result of these events. Maranatha!

(ToBe Continued . . .)



[1] Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969), pp. 225–26.

[2] Larry Norman, "Moses," Upon This Rock (New York: Capitol Records, 1969).

[3] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, TheHebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic version (Leiden, The Netherlands:Koninklijke Brill, 2000).

[4] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.

[5] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.

[6] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.

[7] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.

Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 17)

Dr. Thomas Ice

Thus says the Lord God, "Are you the one of whom I spoke informer days through My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in thosedays for many years that I would bring you against them? And it will come about on that day,when Gog comes against the land of Israel," declares the Lord God, "that My fury will mount up in Myanger. And in My zeal and in Myblazing wrath I declare that on that day there will surely be a greatearthquake in the land of Israel."

—Ezekiel 38:17–19

Aswe move into a new section in the prophecy, the Lord once again speaks toEzekiel about God's future victory over Gog and his allies(38:17–23). For the fifthand final time in chapter 38, the prophecy is said to be the word of theLord. "Seven times in Ezekiel38—39 we read the same words, 'Thus says the Lord God' (38:2, 10, 14, 17;39:1, 17, 25)," notes Mark Hitchcock. "Another eight times the refrain, 'declares the Lord God,' appears. Obviously, God doesn't want us to miss thepoint—this is His Word."[1] This prophecy begins with the Lordasking a question to Gog. Thisquestion stems from the previous verse (38:16) and is about how God willsanctify Himself in the eyes of Gog and the nations.

What's The Question?

Itis as if God is taunting Gog with this question that reveals God's absoluteconfidence in the outcome of this encounter. In this section (38:17–23), God answers the questionsof "what" and "how." First, thequestion "what" is answered in verses 17 and 18, while the question of "how" inverses 19 through 23. The questionthat God confronts Gog with is as follows: "Are you the one of whom I spoke informer days through My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in thosedays for many years that I would bring you against them?" The Hebrew grammar causes the reader toexpect an affirmative answer.[2] So where are the other Old Testamentprophecies that the Lord is referring to in this passage? Randall Price answers that question asfollows:

The opening statement ofthis defeat (verse 17) seems to imply a there has been prior prediction inother prophets of Gog's invasion. However, the ambiguity in the expression "are you the one" (even thoughGog is understood from verse 16) spoken of by God in the distant past revealsthat the reference is open to representative "Gogs" whose actions againstIsrael have invited a divine demonstration. Gog's army will be a multi-national force and some of thesenations have had prophecies specifically directed against them by formerIsraelite prophets: Cush/Ethiopia (Isaiah 18:1-7), Arabia (Isaiah21:13-17). However, no directreference to Gog in any of the former prophets is necessary, since all previousinvaders have been types leading to Gog and his allies as the antitype.[3]

TheLord continues the "what" in verse 18 in relation to Gog's invasion of the landof Israel, by noting that His "fury will mount up in My anger." The Lord uses three Hebrew words todescribe His reaction to Gog's invasion of the land of Israel. In the order in which they appear inthe Hebrew text, the first word is the common verb 'alah,which occurs over 1,200 times in the Hebrew Old Testament[4]and means to "go up, ascend, or climb,"[5]is translated "will mount up."

Second,the Hebrew noun chemah, which means "heat, poison or venom(of animals), rage, wrath,"[6]is translated "fury" in this passage. This word is used 120 times in the Hebrew Bible and most of the usagerelates to human or Divine wrath (110 times).[7] The use of chemahto refer to human wrath only occurs 25 times, while it is used 85 times toreference Divine wrath with the most occurrences found in Ezekiel (31 times).[8] Thus, we see the righteous anger of theLord that builds up and is released as His wrath in history.

Third,the final Hebrew word is the noun 'af,which means "nose, anger, nostrils"[9]is used 155 times in the Hebrew Old Testament[10]and is translated in the passage as "My anger." Hebrew nouns not only occur in the singular and pluralmodes, but also have a dual use. "Whenthe reference is to the nose, the singular form is used, while the dual form isused for either the face or nostrils."[11] Here the Lord's anger is expressed within the dual mode, thus, emphasizing the nostrils, which is seen in some animalswhen they get upset they start breathing through the nostrils like a snortinganger. Then chemahand 'af are grouped together in reference toGod, as occurs here, the expression denotes the strongest kind of anger by Godthat leads to action. Keildescribes this as an "anthropopathetic expression, 'my wrath ascends in mynose,' . . . The outburst of wrathshows itself in the vehement breath which the wrathful man inhales and exhalesthrough his nose."[12] The clear message of the passage isthat God has reached the limit of His patience and He will now spring forth inwrathful action against Gog and his allies.

How It Will Happen?

Thefinal section in chapter 38 (verses 19–23) begins with the Lord revealingHis attitude with which He will defend His people Israel. The first part of verse 19 says, "And inMy zeal and in My blazing wrath . . ." Once again, this phrase contains three important Hebrew wordsdemonstrating that the lexicon was not exhausted in the previous verse when itcomes to describing God's great anger toward Gog and the other invaders. First, the noun translated "zeal" is qinah,which occurs 17 times in the Hebrew Old Testament and it is found the mosttimes in Ezekiel (7 times).[13] The basic meaning is that of "zeal" forsomething (in this case God's zeal for His prized earthly possession Israel)and the "jealousy" and "wrath" that is exhibited when another attempts to movein and take away that possession.[14] We gain insight into the Lord'sattitude toward His people and His land—the land of Israel—twochapters earlier in Ezekiel that reads as follows:

Therefore, thus says theLord God, "Surely in the fire ofMy jealousy I have spoken against the rest of the nations, andagainst all Edom, who appropriated My land for themselves as a possession withwholehearted joy and with scorn of soul, to drive it out for a prey." Therefore, prophesy concerning the landof Israel, and say to the mountains and to the hills, to the ravines and to thevalleys, "Thus says the Lord God,'Behold, I have spoken in My jealousy and in My wrathbecause you have endured the insults of the nations.'" (Ezek. 36:5–6,italics added)

Thesame jealousy that God expressed in chapter 36 is carried into 38:19 concerningthe wife of Jehovah—Israel. "God'spatience would be exhausted with the repeated attempts of Israel's enemies toannihilate her," declares Charles Feinberg. "The Lord Himself will undertake the destruction of Israel'senemies, choosing to use no secondary agent, for this is to be a final andirrecoverable judgment."[15]

Thesecond noun we find in this passage is the Hebrew word 'esh,which means "fire" and in this verse is translated as "blazing."[16] The third word in the Hebrew text is 'evra,which is translated "wrath"[17]in verse 19 and in construct relationship to blazing. Taken together they produce the strongest possible statementabout the wrath of God—it is blazing, it is on fire. "These words express theintensity of God's display of vengeance against the invaders of His Land ('Mymountains,' 38:21)."[18]

Sowhat does the burning zeal of the Lord cause Him to declare? God will "declare that on that daythere will surely be a great earthquake in the land of Israel." "That day" refers to the day in whichGog and his gang will invade the land of Israel. Then God will counterstrike the outsiders by inflicting agreat earthquake upon the land of Israel. Price tells us:

According to verses 19b-21a divinely appointed earthquake will be so severe as to disorient Gog'smulti-national forces and cause them in the confusion to fight each other. Theearthquake will apparently set off volcanic deposits in the region, bringingdown on Gog's army a hail of molten rock and burning sulfur (volcanic ash) withthe result that the enemy troops are utterly destroyed before they can strike ablow against Israel (verse 22).[19]


(ToBe Continued . . .)



[1] Mark Hitchcock, After The Empire: Bible Prophecy in Light of the Fall ofthe Soviet Union (Wheaton, IL:Tyndale House Publishers 1994), p. 174.

[2] C. F. Keil, Ezekiel, Daniel, Commentary on theOld Testament, trans. JamesMartin (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), p. 168.

[3] Randall Price, Unpublished Notes on TheProphecies of Ezekiel, (2007), p.42.

[4] Based upon a search conducted by the computerprogram Accordance, version7.4.2.

[5] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs, Hebrewand English Lexicon of the Old Testament (London: Oxford, 1907), electronic edition.

[6] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, TheHebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic version (Leiden, The Netherlands:Koninklijke Brill, 2000).

[7] G. Johannes Botterweck, & Helmer Ringgren,editors, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, vol. IV (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 462.

[8] Botterweck & Ringgren, TheologicalDictionary, vol. IV, p. 464.

[9] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.

[10] Based upon a search conducted by the computerprogram Accordance, version7.4.2.

[11] Willem A. VanGemeren, gen. editor, NewInternational Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, 5 vols., (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), vol.1, p. 463.

[12] Keil, Ezekiel, p. 169.

[13] Based upon a search conducted by the computerprogram Accordance, version7.4.2.

[14] Definition derived from Koehler and Baumgartner, HebrewLexicon, electronic version.

[15] Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969), p. 225.

[16] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.

[17] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.

[18] Randall Price, "Ezekiel" in Tim LaHaye & EdHindson, editors, The Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2007), p.193.

[19] Price, Unpublished Notes on Ezekiel, p. 42.

Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 16)

Dr. Thomas Ice

"Sheba, and Dedan, and themerchants of Tarshish, with all its villages, will say to you, 'Have you cometo capture spoil? Have youassembled your company to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to takeaway cattle and goods, to capture great spoil?' Therefore, prophesy, son of man, and say to Gog, 'Thus saysthe Lord God, "On that day when Mypeople Israel are living securely, will you not know it? And you will come from your place outof the remote parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of themriding on horses, a great assembly and a mighty army; and you will come upagainst My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It will come about inthe last days that I shall bring you against My land, in order that the nationsmay know Me when I shall be sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog."'


Itappears that Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish are clearly atrading community that is not involved in the invasion and from the sidelinesask the motives of the invaders. "Have you come to capture spoil?" "Have you assembled your company to seize plunder, to carry away silverand gold, to take away cattle and goods, to capture great spoil?" Even though these are questions, theyalso clearly reveal in them the intent of the invaders, which were also statedin verse 12.

Purpose Of The Invaders

Sincemost of the terminology of the invaders is stated in verse 12, it is clear thatthe human motive of the invaders is to steal the wealth of Israel. Many expositors have speculated overthe years what it is about Israel that the invaders have their eye on. Some have said that it is the mineralwealth of the Dead Sea, which is the richest on earth. However, as Arnold Fruchtenbaum notes,"Russia could also obtain the Dead Sea by invading Jordan."[1] Whatever the specifics, the cumulativedescription of verses 12 and 13 make it clear that Israel has wealth and theyinvade her in order to gain that wealth.

Thereis no doubt that Israel is by far the richest country in the region. Today she has developed a productiveeconomy via research and development in the area of technology. Also, she is perhaps the mostproductive country per capita in the world agriculturally. Israel has long controlled the diamondbusiness and is the world leader in generic pharmaceuticals. Wikipedia says, "Israel is considered one of the most advanced countries in the Southwest Asia in economic andindustrial development. . . . Ithas the second-largest number of startup companies in the world (afterthe United States) and the largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies outside North America."[2] Regardless of thespecific enticements, this passage is clear that Israel is invaded for thepurpose of stealing her wealth.

Prophecy Against Gog

Anew section begins with verses 14–16. "Son of man" is a common term used 93 times by God in thisbook to refer to Ezekiel.[3] As C. F. Keil says, it "denotes manaccording to his natural condition . . . denoting the weakness and fragility ofman in opposition to God."[4] The rest of this verse is a repeat ofphrases already analyzed, except the last one: "will you not know it?" This phrase in the English translatestwo Hebrew words. The word for"not" appears at the beginning of the phrase "On that day when My people . .." Even though "not" appears inthe middle of the passage, it relates grammatically to and negates the finalword in the verse, which is the Hebrew verb "to know." Keil rightly explains: "thou wilt know,or perceive, sc. that Israel dwells securely, notexpecting any hostile invasion."[5] Rabbi Fisch echoes Keil and says, "thestate of Israel's peace and confidence which has led to his unpreparedness, sothat thou wilt choose him for thy victim."[6] Charles Feinberg notes Israel's"imagined security" and says, "The question is doubtless a rhetorical one. The Lord knew full well that Gog willhave already acquainted himself with the fact of Israel's political condition inorder to be sure of his attack."[7]

TheLord continues to speak to Gog and says, "you will come from your place." Where is Gog's place? Gog's place is said, as in verse 6, tobe "the remote parts of the north." This phrase was dealt with in verse 6 and is the exact same Hebrewexpression in both places, except verse 15 has the prepositional stem "from,"while it is implied in verse 6. This phrase will also be used again in 39:2. So three times the text emphasizes that Gog will come fromthe remotest parts of the North. "It is intriguing that a tribe of 'Mescherians,' whose territoryincluded the area of the modern city of Moscow," observes Jon Ruthven, "thecapital of the traditional 'Rus',' lies due north of Israel."[8] If one draws a line from Jerusalemnorth to the North Pole, it will come very close to modern Moscow. In fact, the only possible country thatis to the extreme north of Israel is Russia. The country of Russia begins north of the Black Sea inSouthern Russia and is the only country north of the Black Sea. Since we do not have many choices, oneout of one, it is clear that Gog is Russia, which fits the other informationgleaned thus far from Ezekiel 38.

Therest of verse 15 speaks of the fact that Gog will come with a huge army,including many allies with her. Ihave dealt with this terminology already in earlier verses in the passage.

Why Me Lord?

Verse16 concludes the section in which God explains "why" He will sovereignly workin history to bring about Gog's invasion of Israel. This verse makes it clear that the Lord God of Israel seesthe Gog lead invasion as a direct attack upon Him. Gog will "come up against My peopleIsrael;" "I shall bring you against My land;"and "that the nations may know Me" (italicsadded). Gog will descend uponGod's real estate "like a cloud to cover the land." Charles Dyer suggests, "This awesome army will overrun allobstacles as effortlessly as a cloud sailing across the sky."[9] This is true, until God decides tointervene on behalf of His people and land.

Regardlessof what the world thinks and the news media will say about Israel in that day,the Lord God says that that the people who will be invaded are "My peopleIsrael." As Paul says of Israel inthe New Testament, "God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew" (Rom.11:2). On what basis can Paul saythis? He can say it because "thegifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:28). Yet, too many in our day suffer underthe false illusion of replacement theology that God has replace "My peopleIsrael" with the church. It istrue that the church made up of elect Jews and Gentiles during the current ageare also the people of God. However, God is not finished with national or ethnic Israel and willfocus upon them after the rapture.

TheLord also calls the land of Israel "My land." In other words, His people Israel are living in His land,which is also called Israel, in the last days when Gog and his hordes come downto attack them. Thus, this passagemakes it very clear that an attack on God's people and land is an attack uponGod Himself. This is why, eventhough Israel is not ready for this attack God will step in to defend her. Why will He defend His people and land? He will defend them "in order that thenations may know Me when I shall be sanctified through you before their eyes, OGog" (38:16).

Thissection concludes with God's purpose, which is the ultimate and overridingpurpose, for bringing Gog against His people "in the lastdays" (38:14). Gog's purposefrom the human perspective was noted earlier (38:10–13), but the utmostpurpose is to teach the nations to acknowledge the Lord. They would do this when God used Gog todemonstrate His holiness before them as the whole world watches. God will mobilize Gog as He had raisedup Pharaoh at the Exodus to demonstrate His power and holiness when Hesubsequently puts him down. "Though the purpose of Gog's campaign is said to be lust for destructionand spoil," declares Fisch, "it is an act designed inGod's wisdom to bring mankind to the realization that He is King of theuniverse."[10] Thus, God's intent through all of thisis to demonstrate who He is and what He values in this world. He is a holy God who has given Israelher land and He knows how to protect His people. O, that we would all learn this lesson. Maranatha!

(ToBe Continued . . .)



[1] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps of the Messiah:A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events (Tustin, CA: Ariel Press, [1982] 2003), p. 111.

[2] Wikipedia, accessed May13, 2008.

[3] From a search conducted by the computer program Accordance, version 7.4.2.

[4] C. F. Keil, Ezekiel, Daniel, Commentary on theOld Testament, trans. JamesMartin (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), p. 47.

[5] Keil, Ezekiel, p. 167.

[6] S. Fisch, Ezekiel: Hebrew Text & Englishtranslation with an Introduction and Commentary (London: The Soncino Press, 1950), p. 256.

[7] Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969), p. 224.

[8] Jon Mark Ruthven, The Prophecy That Is ShapingHistory: New Research on Ezekiel's Vision of the End (Fairfax, VA: Xulon Press, 2003), p. 39.

[9] Charles H. Dyer, "Ezekiel," in The BibleKnowledge Commentary: Old Testament,ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor Books,1985), p. 1301.

[10] Fisch, Ezekiel, p. 257.

Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 15)

Dr. Thomas Ice

"'to capture spoil and to seizeplunder, to turn your hand against the waste places which are now inhabited,and against the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquiredcattle and goods, who live at the center of the world.' Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants ofTarshish, with all its villages, will say to you, 'Have you come to capturespoil? Have you assembled yourcompany to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattleand goods, to capture great spoil?'"'


TwiceIsrael and Jerusalem are said in Ezekiel to dwell at the center of theearth. "Thus says the Lord God, 'This is Jerusalem; I have set herat the center of the nations, with lands around her'" (Ezek. 5:5). Rabbi Fisch says, "Following Ezekiel,Dante places Jerusalem at the centre of the world, with the Ganges as theextreme east and the pillars of Hercules as the extreme west."[1] Israel and its chief city Jerusalem wascreated by God and placed in the center of the earth so that she could be alight to the nations as the Lord desired to use her to spread His messageacross the globe. Rabbi Fischnotes, "Jerusalem intended to be the radiating centre of the knowledge of Godfor all peoples."[2] It is within such a context thatEzekiel 38:12 notes that the nation of Israel is "at the center of the world."

Israel: Center of the World

TheHebrew word translated "world" in the New American Standard translation that Iuse is really the Hebrew term for "earth." Ha'aretz is used over 2,500 times in theHebrew Old Testament[3]and is used in five basic ways: 1) ground, earth; 2) a specific piece ofground; 3) a territory or country; 4) the whole of the land, the earth; 5)depths of the earth or the underworld.[4] In this context it clearly is areference to the entire earth. Itis important to note that "earth" instead of "world" is used in the original,since world could denote the people and not the land. The emphasis here is upon being in the center of the earth'sland—the geographical naval. The Hebrew word for "center" is literally "the naval,"[5]"as the naval is in the centre of the body."[6]

Whyis Israel's location mentioned at this point in the passage? I agree with Rabbi Fisch's opinion:"This is mentioned to stress the viciousness of Gog's plan. He dwelt in the far north, a greatdistance from the Land of Israel; so the people of the latter could have handno aggressive designs upon him."[7] C. F. Keil echoes Rabbi Fisch's viewand describes it as one of their two motives for invasion in the following:

This figurative expressionis to be explained from ch. v. 5; "Jerusalem in the midst of the nations." The navel is not a figure denoting thehigh land, but signifies the land situated in the middle of the earth, andtherefore the land most glorious and most richly blessed; so that they whodwell there occupy the most exalted position among the nations. A covetous desire for the possessionsof the people of god, and envy at his exalted position in the centre of theworld, are therefore the motives by which Gog is impelled to enter upon hispredatory expedition against the people living in the depth of peace.[8]

Belief in Israel's special status andglobal location explains the famous rabbinical statement derived from these twopassages in Ezekiel:

As the navel is set in the centre ofthe human body, so is the land of Israel the navel of the world . . . situatedin the centre of the world, and Jerusalem in the centre of the land of Israel,and the sanctuary in the centre of Jerusalem, and the holy place in the centreof the sanctuary, and the ark in the centre of the holy place, and thefoundation stone before the holy place, because from it the world was founded.[9]

Manycommentators on this passage only stress the economic gain as the single motivefor Gog's invasion from the human perspective. However, this final phrase in verse 12 makes it clear thatthey also invade out of envy of Israel's special status with God and herresulting geographic location.

Sheba and Dedan

Whoare Sheba and Dedan? "Sheba andDedan are not difficult to identify. They are located in the modern country of Saudi Arabia."[10] "Sheba and Dedan are countiesin northern Arabia," notes Arnold Fruchtenbaum.[11] As indicated in the context, they wereknown for their commercial trading, thus, their interest in the Gog invasion ofnearby Israel in order to take spoil. Randall Price locates Sheba as modern Yemen in the southern part of theArabian peninsula and Dedan as Saudi Arabia.[12] Regardless of their precise location onthe Arabian peninsula, there appears to be no doubt that it is a reference toSaudi Arabia and perhaps some of the other Arab nations currently occupyingthat peninsula.


Sheba and Dedanare said to be in alignment with "the merchants of Tarshish, with all itsvillages." What does the phrase "the merchants of Tarshish" mean? Like those in Sheba and Dedan, they aresaid to be merchants or traders. But where is Tarshish located?

Tarshish appearsto be a wealthy trading community on the extremity of the Mediterraneanworld. "Tarshish is ancientTartessus in the present-day nation of Spain."[13] This view is supported by standard Hebrew language reference books.[14] For example, Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner in their HebrewLexicon say, "these point to Spain with its richmineral resources. [Tarshish]could be a town the territory of which is in the region of the mouth of theGuadalquivir. With some variationthis is probably the most widely accepted view today"[15] "We read often in the OT of'ships of Tarshish' which were large, oceangoing vessels (Ezk 27:25) thatcarried all sorts of precious cargo, especially metals such as silver and gold(I Kgs 10:22; 22:48; II Chr 9:21; Isa 60:9; Jer 10:9; Ezk 38:13) as well asiron, tin, and lead (Ezk 27:12)."[16]

HarvardProfessor, Barry Fell, has done extensive study on these matters and theirrelation to activities in pre-Columbus America. Dr. Barry Fell says:

From the Bible we learn that the shipsof Tarshish were the largest seagoing vessels known to the Semitic world, andthe name was eventually applied to any large ocean-going vessel. . . . theships of Tarshish became proverbial as an expression of sea power. . . .

it is not unlikely that the merchants of Tarshish may havebeen associated with the trans-Atlantic migration of the Celts who came toAmerica. Indeed James Whittall,with whom I have discussed the decipherment of Tartessian inscriptions here inAmerica, thinks that the American Celts were deliberately brought here byPhoenicians, who wanted mining communities to exploit American naturalresources, and with whom they could then trade. If this hypothesis is correct, then Tartessian vessels wouldsurely have played a major role in the Celtic migration to New England.[17]

There does appearto be a significant basis to support the notion that the merchants of Tarshishare connected with the seafaring Phoenicians of 3,000 years ago. These merchants naturally establishedtrading posts scattered along their various routes. Dr. Stuart McBirnie may well be right when he concludes:

Only in the past half-dozenyears has much light been thrown on the historic location of ancientTarshish. Books and articles inlearned archaeological journals written before that time now seem to haverather limited value. In someinstances, they are more confusing than helpful, despite the prestige of theirauthors. The reasons for certaintyof identification are found in recent archaeological discoveries which confirmthat ancient authorities were right all along in their identification ofTarshish as a Western European colonizing power based in Spain.[18]

Thus,the merchants of Tarshish appear to refer to the Phoenician maritime andtrading community located in Spain during the general time of King Solomon,3,000 years ago. The merchants ofTarshish, during the last 500 years, developed into the modern mercantilenations of Western Europe like Spain, Holland, and Britain. Hitchcock concludes: "Tarshish, ormodern Spain, could be used by Ezekiel to represent all of the western nationswhich Saudi Arabia will join with in denouncing this invasion. . . . It is highly probable that Ezekiel usedthe far western colony of Tarshish to represent the end-time empire of theAntichrist."[19] Maranatha!

(ToBe Continued . . .)


[1] S. Fisch, Ezekiel: Hebrew Text & Englishtranslation with an Introduction and Commentary (London: The Soncino Press, 1950), p. 25.

[2] Fisch, Ezekiel, p. 25.

[3] From a search conducted by the computer program Accordance, version 7.4.2.

[4] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, TheHebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic version (Leiden, The Netherlands:Koninklijke Brill, 2000).

[5] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.

[6] Fisch, Ezekiel, p. 25.

[7] Fisch, Ezekiel, p. 25.

[8] C. F. Keil, Ezekiel, Daniel, Commentary on theOld Testament, trans. JamesMartin (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), p. 166.

[9] Midrash Tanchuma, Qedoshim.

[10] Mark Hitchcock, After The Empire: Bible Prophecy in Light of the Fall ofthe Soviet Union (Wheaton, IL:Tyndale House Publishers 1994), p. 100.

[11] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps of the Messiah:A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events (Tustin, CA: Ariel Press, [1982] 2003), p. 111.

[12] Randall Price, "Ezekiel" in Tim LaHaye & EdHindson, editors, The Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2007), p.191.

[13] Hitchcock, After the Empire, pp. 100–101.

[14]See Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs,eds., The New Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew—Lexicon of the Old Testament, (New York: Oxford University Press, rev. ed,1977) p. 1076-77;Wilhelm Gesenius, Gesenius' Hebrew & Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1949), p. 875.

[15] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.

[16]R. Laird Harris, Gleason J. Archer, Jr., Bruce K.Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 Vols., (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), II:981.

[17]Barry Fell, America B. C., (New York: Pocket Books, 1976, [1989]), pp. 93-94.

[18]W. S. McBirnie, Antichrist (Dallas: Acclaimed Books, 1978), p. 62.

[19] Hitchcock, After the Empire, p. 101.

Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 14)

Dr. Thomas Ice

Thus saysthe Lord God, "It will come abouton that day, that thoughts will come into your mind, and you will devise anevil plan, and you will say, 'I will go up against the land of unwalledvillages. I will go against thosewho are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls, andhaving no bars or gates, to capture spoil and to seize plunder, to turn yourhand against the waste places which are now inhabited, and against the peoplewho are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who liveat the center of the world.'"


Verses10 through 13 records the intentions of the invaders. It is no problem for the God of the Bible to know thethoughts and intentions of one's mind and heart (Heb. 4:12–13) and thusreveal to us what one's motives are. Even though the Lord "put hooks in their jaws" (38:4) in order to bringthe invaders down, the human thought process isrevealed in this section.

Bad Intentions

"TheLord God" is a term that denotes "the sovereign Lord of the nations,"[1]which is certainly on display in this passage. "On that day" is a reference to the preceding section whenIsrael is again settled in the land and the time when the invasion will take place. It is on that day that "thoughts willcome into your mind." The Hebrewword translated "thoughts" is a common noun dabar, which is usually translated "word," "speech" or "thing"[2]depending on the context. In thiscontext, the best rendering is "not words, but things which come into hismind. What things these are, welearn from verses 11 and 12."[3] The Hebrew language does not have aword for "mind," even though it is used in the New American Standardtranslation from which I have quoted throughout this series. That is surely the sense of the word,but it is translated "mind" and is the Hebrew labeb that has the basic meaning of "inner man" or"heart."[4] Thus, inner activity like thinking wasassigned to the "heart." In thiscontext, the passage speaks of the things that will take place in the innerman, which would be "thoughts."

Verse10 concludes with the line, "you will devise an evil plan." This phrase is made up of three Hebrewwords. "You will devise" is theHebrew verb hasabat, which has the ideaof "to weave," and in relation to the heart or mind it would convey the idea ofweaving, scheming or devising a plan.[5] The noun is from the same exact root asthe verb. Thus, a literaltranslation would convey the idea of thinking thoughts. But since the third word is anadjective meaning "evil,"[6]it is clear that the sense of this passage refers to an evil plan against God'schosen people, Israel. Therefore,this verse appears to be telling us that even though the general idea to attackIsrael is the result of God's sovereign plan (38:4), the details are conceivedand developed within the mind of Rosh and his band will invaders. Because it is characterized as amanmade scheme or plan, Rosh and his fellow attackers are held responsible.

The Plan Revealed

Theevil scheme is disclosed in verse eleven. The evil thoughts are those of Rosh and say, "I will go up against theland of unwalled villages." Verse11 describes Rosh's perception of a regathered Israel at this time inhistory. There is no reason tothink that Rosh's description is inaccurate. The verb "go up" is a very common Hebrew expression thatmeans "to ascend, go up." It iscommonly used of anyone going to the land of Israel or Jerusalem from outsidethe country. There is no militaryovertone in this verb.[7] The land of Israel is described in thispassage in the following four ways: 1) the land ofunwalled villages; 2) those who are at rest; 3) that live securely; and 4) allof them living without walls, and having no bars or gates.

The first characterizationof Israel as a land of unwalled villages means that they will not build wallsaround their villages for protection as in ancient times. Randall Price notes: "only the Old Cityof Jerusalem has a wall and the modern city since the late 1800's has existedoutside these walls."[8] This probably means that the nationwill lack protection from invasion since that was the purpose of building wallsin ancient times. Rabbi Fischsays, "Israel will have made no preparations against attack by building wallsaround his cities."[9]

Thesecond phrase tells of a people who are at rest. The Hebrew participle saqat describes a people who are "quiet, undisturbed, and at rest."[10] This verb is used frequently in Joshuaand Judges to note the quiet or rest that resulted from Israel's militaryvictories over the Canaanites as they conquered the Land under Joshua.[11] This term refers to quiet or rest frommilitary conflict. The third term is betah and was used in verse 8. We saw that it refers to Israel living in security, whichmeans confidence.[12]

The fourth characterizationis all of them living without walls, and having nobars or gates. We have seenearlier that living without walls would literally mean that none of theircities or towns will have walls that the ancients had in order to hold off aninvading army. This picture isreinforced by the note that they will not have bars or gates, presumably inwalls that they do not have. Barsand gates were important points of defense in ancient city walls.

What does thismean in relation to the invasion? First, this passage is the perspective of Gog, who thinks that Israel isnot properly defended and thus vulnerable to a surprise attack. Second, Price points out that, "Israel'ssecurity is based on the strength of its military, which is acknowledged as oneof the best in the world and which has defended the country againstoverwhelming odds in numerous past invasions."[13] Third, these conditions were never trueat any time in Israel's past, thus it must refer to a future time as alreadynoted by the phrases "after many days" and "in the latter years" (38:8). Keil says, "This description ofIsrael's mode of life also points beyond the times succeeding the Babyloniancaptivity."[14]

Follow The Money

Two reasons arerevealed by God in verse 12 as Gog's motive for the future invasion ofIsrael. These reasons areindicated by a pair of infinitival phrases and are first, "to capture spoil"and second, "to seize plunder." Inboth instances the Hebrew text uses the same word twice, a verb as aninfinitive followed by the noun in construct to the verb to describe Gog'smotive for the invasion.

The first phrase,"to capture spoil," comes from the Hebrew root word shalal and means "to congregate, assemble together in order torob."[15] Thus, since both the verb and the nounare from the same Hebrew root, it would mean something like "to spoilspoil." However, that is not goodEnglish. The Hebrew idem is betterrendered "to capture spoil," even though the fact that both words are from thesame root is lost in translation.

The second idem,"to size plunder" comes from the Hebrew root baz and means "to plunder, spoil, take booty, rob."[16] Thus, it would have the sense in Hebrewof "spoiling spoil." This word carrieswith it the idea of dividing up the spoil or bounty captured in a raid ormilitary conquest. Thus, the clearmotive for invasion is to gain material wealth. Charles Feinberg notes, "The enemy, greedy of Israel'swealth, will embark on a campaign of conquest for gain."[17]

The rest of verse12 reinforces the two opening declarations concerning Gog's motive forinvasion. A third infinitivedeclares that Gog desires "to turn your hand against the waste places which arenow inhabited, and against the people who are gathered from the nations, whohave acquired cattle and goods." The notion of "turning one's hand against" pictures one doing a 180degree turn around from the direction they were headed in order to attackanother. This is described inverse 10 as Gog devising an evil plan, but must be seen as the human means toan overall process originally initiated by God Himself (38:2–4). To make matters worse concerning Gog'sevil thoughts is the picture painted by the last part of verse 12, which speaksof Israel returning to her land which had become a waste place in her absence,then turning it into a wealth producing land, that Gog and his attackers nowwant to invade in order to take this wealth for themselves. Israel has survived over 2,000 years ofdispersion among the nations and God brings them back to her land in which theybecome highly productive and wealthy, only to have Gog and his allies attackthem to take away her newly gained wealth. Maranatha!

(ToBe Continued . . .)


[1] Merrill F. Unger, Unger's Commentary on TheOld Testament (Chattanooga, TN:AMG Publishers, [1981] 2002), p. 1578.

[2] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs, Hebrewand English Lexicon of the Old Testament (London: Oxford, 1907), electronic edition.

[3] C. F. Keil, Ezekiel, Daniel, Commentary on theOld Testament, trans. JamesMartin (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), p. 164.

[4] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic edition.

[5] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, TheHebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic version (Leiden, The Netherlands:Koninklijke Brill, 2000).

[6] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic edition.

[7] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.

[8] Randall Price, Unpublished Notes on TheProphecies of Ezekiel, (2007), p.40.

[9] S. Fisch, Ezekiel: Hebrew Text & Englishtranslation with an Introduction and Commentary (London: The Soncino Press, 1950), p. 255.

[10] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic edition.

[11] See Joshua 11:23; 14:15; Judges 3:11, 30; 5:31;8:28.

[12] See Thomas Ice, "Ezekiel 38 and 39, Part XIII," Pre-TribPerspectives (Feb. 2008), pp.6–7.

[13] Price, Ezekiel, pp. 40–41.

[14] Keil, Ezekiel, p. 165.

[15] Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic version.

[16] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew Lexicon, electronic edition.

[17] Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969), p. 222.