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.