In our first part of this two-part series on the Ezekiel 38-39 war, we looked at some facts on Russia and what the Bible says about the region where Russia is today. We also considered some of the geopolitical factors involved with the prophetic conflict such as the other nations predicted to be involved in this invasion as well as when the invasion might occur. In Part One we looked at what we can learn from invasions in life. Now, in Part Two, we will look at the motives connected with such an invasion and what will happen when the invasion takes place.
Nearly 27% of the Bible is prophetic in nature. If you’re one of those persons who shies away from prophecy or discounts it altogether, well, that relegates your Bible to only three-quarters of what God intended the Bible to be for you. It’s never good to tie one hand behind your back in a fight, but that is exactly what you would be doing if you willfully overlook Biblical prophecy. If you shy away from prophecy because you don’t understand it, well, that’s why I’ve chosen this area of the Bible for this study, to explain and hopefully make Ezekiel 38-39 somewhat clearer to you. Let’s dig in.
Why Invade Israel?
Ezekiel 38:10-13 – ‘Thus says the Lord God: “On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan:11 “You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’—12 “to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land.13 “Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, ‘Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?’”’
Greed – to plunder Israel’s wealth. What would motivate a mammoth horde from the North to sweep down on Israel, a nation the size of the state of Rhode Island? As we have studied in chapter 36 of Ezekiel, the land that was desolate will become like the Garden of Eden (Ezekiel 36:35-36). Prior to 1948 the area that is Israel today was a barren wasteland. Since 1948 through agricultural and irrigation techniques Israel has indeed become a tremendously fertile area of the world. The minerals of the Dead Sea alone are of immeasurable value. When the Soviet Bloc and the Iron Curtain fell the true poverty of this communistic union was exposed. People in Russia and the old Soviet Bloc nations assemble on food lines for whatever may be offered at the end of them.
In addition to this, there have been huge natural gas resources discovered off the coast of Israel. To an energy starved world this would be a tremendous enticement.
Considering all of this it isn’t difficult to see why Russia and the allies listed above would seek to invade Israel. The motivation for such an invasion would be to “to take plunder and to take booty,” the wealth of Israel. Greed will fuel invasion by Gog of Israel.
Genocide – to murder the people. History reveals that no other people on earth have been as singled out for persecution as the Jews. In verse 12 we see Gog comes, “against a people gathered from the nations.” Antisemitism is a strong part of the motivation for this invasion. The phrase “against a people gathered from the nations,” refers to the Jews of the land of Israel who God has reassembled in the land according to His prophecy. Genocide of the Jews was attempted by Haman (See book of Esther), was carried out by the Catholic Church by way of inquisitions and most recently by Hitler during World War II when upwards of 6 million Jews were murdered. When Gog comes down from the North, he will do so in part to attempt to finish what Hitler termed The Final Solution. Hate is a powerful force and we have seen how God will judge those with ancient hatred against Israel (Ezekiel 35:5). What God did to the Edomites because of their persistent ancient hatred of Israel He will do even more completely against Gog and his allies. Greed and genocide often go hand in hand as a people’s property and wealth cannot be taken until they are out of the way.
Why Will God Allow this Invasion?
Ezekiel 38:14-17 – “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “On that day when My people Israel dwell safely, will you not know it?15 “Then you will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army.16 “You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes.”17 ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days by My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days that I would bring you against them?”
God oftentimes brings people and nations to the end of themselves before they are ready to trust Him and Him alone. Such will be the purpose He allows Gog to swarm down and sweep down from the North, “like a cloud, to cover the land.” God is allowing the immense forces of Gog to come against His people so that He can reveal His power and the light of Who He is to His people as well as to those who watch these events unfold. The revelation will be given, but whether people take note of it is another matter.
God is not a mere Showman. God always has a redemptive purpose behind all that He does. He laughs at the beggarly opposition the kings of the world try to resist Him with, but He uses their resistance as an opportunity to reveal Himself and exalt His Son Jesus. This is the message of Psalm 2, and further fulfillment of Jesus prayer, “And now O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). The initial fulfillment was in the cross and resurrection. The further future fulfillment will be accomplished in the unfolding of God’s future prophetic plans, including that disclosed by Ezekiel.
What Weapons Will God Use?
Ezekiel 38:18-39:8 – “And it will come to pass at the same time, when Gog comes against the land of Israel,” says the Lord God, “that My fury will show in My face.19 “For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken: ‘Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel,20 ‘so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.’21 “I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all My mountains,” says the Lord God. “Every man’s sword will be against his brother.22 “And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.23 “Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.”’ . . . “And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal;2 “and I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel.3 “Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand.4 “You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.5 “You shall fall on the open field; for I have spoken,” says the Lord God.6 “And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.7 “So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel, and I will not let them profane My holy name anymore. Then the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel.8 “Surely it is coming, and it shall be done,” says the Lord God. “This is the day of which I have spoken.”
Like a boxer who rope-a-dopes or lures his opponent into a trap and then puts him away with a flurry of devastating blows, so will God’s destruction of Gog be. God will first move the ground under the feet of Gog and his forces by way of an earthquake (38:19-20). Nothing is quite so unsettling as an earthquake. This unsettling situation will expose Gog to “a sword” which may refer to infighting amongst the various allies of Gog or from another quarter (38:21). Disease will then attack the forces of Gog followed by flooding rain, hailstones, fire, and brimstone (38:22). Groggy and staggering, the knockout punch will be delivered by God with a fiery flurry (39:1-6). By the final round Gog and his forces will be staggering ripe pickins for God to deliver the knock-out. Such will be the weaponry used by God against Gog and his forces.
Why Such a Wrap Up?
Ezekiel 39:9-20 – “Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and bucklers, the bows and arrows, the javelins and spears; and they will make fires with them for seven years.10 “They will not take wood from the field nor cut down any from the forests, because they will make fires with the weapons; and they will plunder those who plundered them, and pillage those who pillaged them,” says the Lord God.11 “It will come to pass in that day that I will give Gog a burial place there in Israel, the valley of those who pass by east of the sea; and it will obstruct travelers, because there they will bury Gog and all his multitude. Therefore they will call it the Valley of Hamon Gog.12 “For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land.13 “Indeed all the people of the land will be burying, and they will gain renown for it on the day that I am glorified,” says the Lord God.14 “They will set apart men regularly employed, with the help of a search party, to pass through the land and bury those bodies remaining on the ground, in order to cleanse it. At the end of seven months they will make a search.15 “The search party will pass through the land; and when anyone sees a man’s bone, he shall set up a marker by it, till the buriers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon Gog.16 “The name of the city will also be Hamonah. Thus they shall cleanse the land.” ’17 “And as for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God, ‘Speak to every sort of bird and to every beast of the field: 1 “Assemble yourselves and come; Gather together from all sides to My sacrificial meal Which I am sacrificing for you, A great sacrificial meal on the mountains of Israel, That you may eat flesh and drink blood.18 You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, Drink the blood of the princes of the earth, Of rams and lambs, Of goats and bulls, All of them fatlings of Bashan.19 You shall eat fat till you are full, And drink blood till you are drunk, At My sacrificial meal Which I am sacrificing for you.20 You shall be filled at My table With horses and riders, With mighty men And with all the men of war,” says the Lord God.” (Emphasis added.)
This wrap up of the forces of Gog that have fallen has some peculiar characteristics which need to be noted. The weapons will be burned and provide fuel for seven years (39:9-10). While the weapons are described with words Ezekiel would know from his point in history, it would likely be wrong to interpret this description literally. It’s more likely that the prophet is simply describing what he saw with words familiar to him in his time.
How the weapons of a modern army could be burned is not clear. Anything, including metal, will burn if enough heat is used. Perhaps the covenant made by antichrist with Israel will have led to world peace and disarmament that would quite literally have left Gog and his forces to rely on primitive weapons such as those mentioned in Ezekiel. Possible, but not probable. The bottom line is that the military weaponry of Gog and his forces will have been crashed, trashed, and burned in the end.
Also of interest is that fact that the bodies of the slain army will require fulltime workers to search out the bodies (39:14). Furthermore, when “a man’s bone” is seen, rather than pick it up or bury it, the men “shall set up a marker” (39:15). This is interesting and may indicate the presence of radiation or fall-out from a nuclear exchange. Radiation fallout from nuclear weapons would also explain the long-lasting effects and need to cleanse the land (39:16). Chemical and biological weapons may have been used as well, which would explain the spread of the bodies over large areas. Such corpses would be left to the animals of the fields and the birds of the air to feed on (39:17-20).
Whatever this wrap up indicates, the one thing that cannot be overlooked is that those who came to plunder were themselves plundered (39:10).
What is God’s Purpose in All of This?
There are two purposes for what God allows to transpire in Ezekiel 38-39:
“THE NATIONS SHALL SEE MY JUDGMENT”
Ezekiel 39:21-24 – “I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them.22 “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward.23 “The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword.24 “According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them.”’
God acts decisively in history so that the nations may see that He is real and have opportunity to repent and turn to faith in God. For those who reject God, such visible and unmistakable evidence of God’s power and glory make their rejection of God inexcusable.
We see this further emphasized earlier in our section of study when it is stated:
- Ezekiel 38:14-17,23 – “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “On that day when My people Israel dwell safely, will you not know it?15 “Then you will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army.16 “You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes.”17 ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days by My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days that I would bring you against them? . . . 23 “Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.”’
God acts in such a way here that all the nations will have to admit that He is God. If they refuse it will not be because they doubt God’s existence and omnipotence, it will be because of outright rebellion against God.
“SO THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL SHALL KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD THEIR GOD”
Ezekiel 39:22,25-29 – “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward. . . 25 “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name—26 ‘after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid.27 ‘When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations,28 ‘then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer.29 ‘And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ says the Lord God.”
God isn’t finished with Israel; He has a plan for this nation. God’s purpose in all of this is to shake up His people to recognize Jesus as their Savior. When they see the deliverance of God it will be a final jolt to the reality of this truth.
In the book of Revelation after the Rapture of the church in Revelation 4:1, and the opening of six of seven seals, we see during these developments a group of 144,000 Israelites who are set apart with the “seal of the living God.” (Revelation 7:2). These are called to a special task and are protected through the Tribulation (Revelation 14:1-5). These 144,000 are described in Revelation 14 as having been preserved through the Tribulation, protected by God. We see this portion of scripture describe them as follows:
- Revelation 14:1-5 – “Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.5 And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
Don’t miss this! They are described as, “The ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” What does this mean? It means that the sudden removal of millions of true believers at the Rapture (Revelation 4:1), the natural devastations, war, and famine occurring in the world (Revelation 6,8,9), the testimony of the two special witnesses (Revelation 11:3-14), the persecution of Jews fueled by Satan’s hatred (Revelation 12:13-17; 13), and the assault from Gog and his allies in the north and God’s divine deliverance, all these events will finally shake up Israel to a saving faith in Jesus as their Messiah. Finally Israel will wake up to see Jesus as their Messiah. And when they awake, wherever Jesus goes, they will go. Wonderful, simply wonderful! Could the Ezekiel 38-39 invasion play a role in this development? Possibly. Hopefully
At such a point on God’s prophetic timeline the troubles of Israel will not be over but indeed they will only be half completed. There will be trouble following in the last half of the seven-year Tribulation. But God’s purposes will have been achieved. Paul referred the role of Israel when he was inspired to write:
- Romans 11:22-27 – “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” (Emphasis added.)
“So all Israel will be saved,” Paul says. The purpose of God is to save Israel and that she would assume the purpose for which she was originally called, to be a light to the world of God’s faithfulness, truth, and love. Considering what God intends to do with Israel Paul concludes this section in Romans by praising God and saying:
- Romans 11:33-36 – “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?”35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
God’s plans are glorious. Let’s make sure we are on the right side of them.
What Invasion is God Permitting in Your Life?
Israel was dwelling in safety when out of the North came the horde led by Gog. This unsettled them and shook up their world as they knew it. God allows such trials to enter our lives to refine our faith and make it suitable for eternity. Peter wrote:
- 1 Peter 1:3-9 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”
Peter’s inspired words are interesting here. He says, “kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” We know that the end times will bring trials and that is what he goes on to refer to, “though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” Why? “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” God allows trials in our lives to purify and build our faith. Sometimes, like Israel, we say we depend on God but really do not. Sometimes our faith in God is cluttered and we delude ourselves that we are trusting in Him when we really are not. Indeed, sometimes, as we have seen with Israel God allows trials to enter our lives to shock us and wake us up from these self-delusions. God brings us to the extreme end of ourselves to teach us to totally depend upon Him. He does this because in eternity, all we will have is Him. We need to begin trusting in Him now. What invasion are you experiencing? Has a horde of health threatening illness come upon the horizon of your life to wake you up from the delusion that you’re going to live on like this forever? Maybe your peace has been based on the things of this world and those things are being taken away and you’ve been shaken by it. Maybe you have slipped into a subtle form or forms of idolatry; you’re putting things or people before God and living for them first rather than putting God first. I believe that soon and very soon we will go to see the King at the rapture of true believers. But you may be experiencing the last days type of trials now. God may have allowed an invasion of some kind to enter your life now. If that has occurred, rejoice, for you are being prepared for an eternity with Him. Remember, God will allow an invasion into your life to wake you up to faith in Him, but He will just as surely save you in the end.
You may be thinking to yourself, “So what? What does that have to do with me?” It has a lot to do with you.
First, God’s word is important for us to know simply because it is from God. God would not have given the prophecy of Gog’s invasion unless it was important and necessary for us to know about.
Second, just as God brought Israel to her point of extremity, He will bring you to your point of extremity so that He may seize the opportunity to reveal Himself to you in a personal saving relationship. Do you depend on Jesus and Jesus alone for your salvation? Or are you depending upon Jesus and something or someone else for salvation? Jesus alone is sufficient for salvation and until you realize this, you have yet to reach your extremity (Acts 4:12; 5:27-32; 10:42-43; Rom. 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 3:11; 1 Tim. 2:5-6). But God is faithful, He will bring it to pass, He will bring you there, to the point of extremity that He will use for a saving opportunity.
Remember the inspired words and promise of God found in Isaiah:
Isaiah 61:1–3 (NKJV)
61 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
When you are invaded, take the hand of Jesus and trust in Him. Trust the LORD through the invasion sof life. Run to Jesus. If you do, you will discover God is able to give you beauty for ashes.