1And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:
Much has been made of the terms Gog and Magog by a host of people and differing views. It is useful to understand that the name “Gog” is only used in three places in scripture: 1 Chr. 5:4 (name given to the son of Shemaiah and father of Shimei); Ezekiel 38-39; and Rev. 20:8. Magog is the name of Japheth’s son in Gen. 10:2 and 1 Chr. 1:5 and only used other than that in Ezekiel 38-39 and Rev. 20:8. It is within this very limited context that we are able to determine who these are.
To begin to understand Gog we must also understand Meshech and Tubal. They are also the names of sons of Japheth (Gen. 10:2; 1 Chr. 1:5). Essentially we must identify Gog and Magog as representatives of the descendants of Japheth, those who moved to the north and became lighter skinned (European) after the flood.
Gog is a man. Magog is his people who have descended from Meshech and Tubal, essentially we are talking about a northern leader and the people he rules.
4And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: 5Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: 6Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.
God is going to bring Gog and his army to war as a great beast of the sea (refer to Job. 41:1-2; Ezek. 29:3-4). This army would be vast containing components from Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya as well as Gomer and Togarmah (descendants of Japheth). It would be an army comprised of a large number of conquered nations from the north. This army would be well equipped. Some have supposed that the phrase “And I will turn thee back” (Hbr. shuwb) indicates that Gog and his army will be turned away from whatever it is they are intending to do, that God will prevent them from succeeding. However, the term shuwb can also mean “return” or simply “out”. I believe here that God is bringing this army out, causing this army to return to a place that God has already brought judgment against. The third phrase supports this: “and I will bring thee forth”. Why would God bring this army forth if He has already turned them back from succeeding? It is a picture of God bringing forth this great army to return to a place to bring judgment.
7Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. 8After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.
This vast army will be well prepared, that is to say that God has been turning the wheels of his machinations (Ezek. 1) for a long time for this to happen. But the key to understanding all of this in its context is found here. In regard to the previous chapter and the establishment of the church we read here of “the latter years”. This is the same as “the last days” or the “end of the age” phrasing that always accompany a discussion of the fall of Jerusalem! Read on for further proof.
Gog and his people will come against those who had been brought back from the sword and gathered out of many people. This is the Jews who had come out of captivity and re-established the Jewish nation. For a time the Jews were allowed to dwell safely in their land, protected by God and preserved (for the purpose of bringing Christ into the world as prophesied). It is after this time period (called the inter-testament period between Malachi and John the Immerser) that these events would take place, the last days.
9Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.
Again the idea of the cloud bringing judgment. Here that cloud is defined as a vast army covering the land (the earth). We see this image in Isa. 19:1 and again with the coming of Christ in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27) and in general reference to the figurative coming of Christ to bring judgment in the NT (Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:62; Rev. 1:7; 14:14-16).
Given the information so far, I believe that Gog is embodied in the Roman general who comes to attack Jerusalem in the seventh decade of the first century AD. [Historically Vaspesian began this effort, but it was Titus that actually accomplished it, though their names do not matter. Only the position they held over the army which was comprised of a host of nations.]
10Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: 11And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, 12To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.
This evil thought deals with the common practice of armies to loot the cities of nations they fight against. The Jews here are pictured as relatively defenseless against the onslaught of the Roman army, but with the belief that they are safe. When Rome comes against Jerusalem, the army will be focused on looting and Gog (the Roman general) will not be able to control that which will lead to specific events of great evil (or calamity).
One other time do we read of a special focus on looting, taking spoil, with regard to Israel. When Nebuchadnezzar took all of the things of precious metal out of Solomon’s Temple (2 Kings 20:13-18 fulfilled in 2 Kings 25:12-17). This looting then will be associated with the fall of the Temple. [Historically we know that Titus actually would have preserved the temple, but his men were overzealous in looting it. This looting eventually set the temple on fire and burned it severely. Later Titus used the remaining stones of the temple to build the ramp to the fortress of Masada to take out the last bastion of the Jews there.]
13Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?
The surrounding nations would see the Romans coming and be concerned over it. In point of fact, they would see the destabilization of the economy through the region with the fall of Jerusalem who sat at the crossroads of trade routes to three continents.
14Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?
This is the external perspective of when the Jews were saying “peace, peace” when there was no peace. (Jer. 6:14; 8:11; Ezek. 13:10; 1 Thess. 5:3)
15And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: 16And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.
God will be “sanctified” in Gog, that is to say that God’s righteousness would be shown in Gog’s activities. With this great army made up of many nations vast enough to be called an overshadowing cloud, God will come in the last days to destroy “my land” [Judea]. The heathen would know God because of the destruction prophesied against physical Israel and brought about.
17Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?
The power of this verse is the time frame that is spoken of. When Gog attacks, he will be fulfilling prophecies of “old time”. Essentially the “new time” is a reference to post-cross, the New Testament period and “old time” is pre-cross, the Old Testament period. The prophets that spoke of Gog coming would be Moses (Lev. 26; Deut. 32) and almost every major and minor prophet.
18And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face. 19For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;
This is a picture of the final wrath of God against Israel. The metaphor of the great earthquake is seen again in Revelation (6:12; 8:5; 11:13, 19; 16:18). The earth is the people of Judah (Isa. 1:2,10) and an earthquake is a shaking up of those people, a rending or a tearing through them that is the ultimate form of devastation that can be brought against a land. The earth was going to be destroyed (to make way for the new earth, the new people of God, the church).
20So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. 21And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man's sword shall be against his brother.
Jesus said that he would turn brother against brother (Matt. 10:21; Mark 13:12). The mountains or the dominion of Israel would end. This is utter destruction.
22And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. 23Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.
The plagues of Egypt all revisited just as we see with the breaking of the seals in Revelation. The purpose here is not the end of the kosmos, but to showcase the glory of Jehovah to the world. When people ask “what is the purpose of the study of Revelation”, this is the answer I give them. In the fulfillment of Ezekiel and Isaiah and Daniel and Revelation, we truly come to understand the omnipotence, omni-justice, and the perfection in the keeping of promises of Almighty Jehovah.
1Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:
This is a continuation of chapter 38. At first glance it appears that God is now having Ezekiel condemn Gog and his nation. But remember the contextual setting. We are talking about the establishment of the church, the last days, the fall of Israel. This must be the context in which this section is interpreted. We’ll see further substantiation of this timing/context below.
So in this context what does all this mean? “I am against thee,” not as an enemy, but against him as a driving force to cause Gog to do God’s will, the turning of the hooks in the jaw so to speak.
2And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:
Here we see the turning of the great [sea] beast by the hooks in its jaw toward Israel to bring destruction. The leaving of a sixth part has to do with those of Gog’s army that stayed behind at the staging ground and did not come up against Jerusalem proper.
3And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. 4Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. 5Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. 6And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
The march of the Roman army from Rome to Jerusalem was not a straight shot. They had to fight city after city in Judea so as not to leave Jewish military strongholds behind them. This march had a terrible attrition rate on the gentiles that made up the army. The destruction of the weapons was the wear and tear of use, the using up of arrows, the breaking of bow strings or snapping of the wood for prolonged use. [7 years is a long time to fight a war, even today!] Many Romans would die in the land of Israel quelling the rebellion.
7So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
Here is one of the keys to understanding the context. God will make His name known in the midst of the Jews and will not let them pollute His holy name any more. It is a final end of the Jewish nation where they can no longer rebel against God as His chosen people. Israel would find its final end as a result of Gog’s march.
8Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken. 9And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years:
The 70th seven of Daniel. The seven years that account for the war between Rome and Jerusalem. Jerusalem and the surrounding cities would bring a great attrition against the incoming Roman army before it ever got to Jerusalem. Even after Jerusalem falls [3.5 years, the midst of the 70th 7], Rome still must fight for 3.5 years until the Jewish resistance is entirely ended [Historically Masada].
10So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord GOD. 11And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog.
A place of graves refers to the place where death stacked upon death took place because Gog could not move forward with the conquest. Gog and his multitude were “buried” here in the sense that they were entrenched and unable to complete the war. On the east of the sea from the perspective of Gog can mean east of the Roman Empire (the Sea Beast or Empire of the Sea as seen in Revelation) or east of the Mediterranean (less likely). I have not made up my mind on this one.
12And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land. 13Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord GOD. 14And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search. 15And the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man's bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog. 16And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah. Thus shall they cleanse the land.
For seven months the siege of Masada [called Hamonah here] would take place. Some historians only grant the siege a length of 2-3 months, but this is not a recorded fact in any historical reference and is just an assumption. Titus used stones brought from the Temple in Jerusalem to build the ramp and used captured Jews to do it. Just to haul enough stones in given their limited technology would take a few months. Add to that the descriptions of attempts at the siege before the ramp was built and the Jews used as human shields.
With the fall of Eleazer at the Zealots in Masada, the land of Judah was “cleansed” of the Jews and the Jewish order of things.
17And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. 18Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. 19And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.
Compare to Matt. 24:28; Rev. 14:8,10; 17:6; 18:2. The princes of the earth is the same as the “kings of the earth” in Revelation 17-18. These are the rulers of Israel.
20Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD. 21And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them.
Because of the last judgment against Israel, the heathen will know God.
22So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward. 23And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword. 24According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them.
Remember that Ezekiel is in captivity and God is relating this back to Israel’s current captivity. God is essentially saying “remember, Jews, when I told you that you would go into captivity and it happened? Now remember that I’m telling you that Gog and his people, the Magog, will come against you and destroy you utterly in the span of seven years and I keep My promises.”
25Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; 26After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. 27When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; 28Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. 29Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
The Jews will be brought out of captivity one last time in order to fulfill the purpose to which God called them out of the world. They need to remember this lesson for the final time to come and be faithful in that time.
The pouring out of the spirit of God here is a reference to the prophecy given to Ezekiel and other prophets to warn Israel not to rebel any more or face destruction when the physical nation falls centuries later.
I will admit that this passage is one of the most difficult and that I need a lot of refining on it. But this is where I am at in my understanding at the moment.
In Truth and Love.