As we continue to examine the details provided for us by the prophet Ezekiel concerning the Gog-Magog war, we will look closer at a couple of interesting references made to national entities directly in opposition to Gog’s aggression. One of these is found in Ezekiel 38:13 and a second in Ezekiel 39:6:
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?’
“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.”
As was pointed out in Part 10, Sheba is representative of Southern Arabia and Dedan of Northern Arabia. The Merchants of Tarshish and its young lions refers to the inhabitants of Spain, France, Portugal, and maybe, most importantly, England. The reference to the young lions thereof is understood by most scholars as pertaining to the New World colonies of Great Britain, namely the United States and its Western allies, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and others.
It is obvious from the text that this great military conglomeration is intent on destroying Israel. But, my contention is that Gog has much more in mind than just Israel. Is the booty and plunder that Gog is after just what he can take from Israel? I believe it is much more than that.
A strong argument can of course be made that Israel is growing into an economic powerhouse, and that its status in the world is changing exponentially; and due to the enormous natural gas and oil reserves that have been found, there is good reason for an aggressor nation to want to plunder what Israel has. There are numerous Old Testament passages foretelling the great fortune that would be released to Israel in the latter days. Let’s look at some of these passages below.:
“I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bear young; I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.” Ezekiel 36:11
This is a stunning prophecy in light of the fact that Israel was a very wealthy nation during the reign of King Solomon. There is also a passage in Deuteronomy where God confirms Israel’s future wealth through the patriarch Jacob when he prophesied over his sons as he was nearing the end of his life.
Of Benjamin he said, “May the beloved of the LORD dwell in security by Him, Who shields him all the day, and he dwells between His shoulders.” Of Joseph he said, “Blessed of the LORD be his land, with the choice things of heaven, with the dew, and from the deep lying beneath,..They will call peoples to the mountain; there they will offer righteous sacrifices; for they will draw out the abundance of the seas, and the hidden treasures of the sand…Of Asher he said, “More blessed than sons is Asher, may he be favored by his brothers, and may he dip his foot in oil.” Deuteronomy 33:12, 13, 19, 24 (emphasis, mine)
These passages and others found in the Bible make it clear what God had in mind for Israel in the last days just prior to the return of the Messiah. The blessings of God upon the Jewish people and the land God deeded to them thousands of years ago are phenomenal. Yet, today, America is still in control of wealth and resources on this planet like no other nation on earth, nor ever before in history. The power that the US exerts today to levy crippling economic sanctions on other nations—even powerful nations belonging to the United Nations Security Council—has often elicited threats of reprisal. There are even today a number of actions taken by America’s competitors to circumvent the use of the American dollar. The fact that the US dollar is still the world’s reserve currency gives America a great advantage in the world economic market. Some nations have taken “illegal” actions to by-pass imposed sanctions in order to continue selling oil, weapons, or other trade products, partly sometimes in order to keep their own economies afloat.This is presently being done today by Russia, China, North Korea, and other nations who have found themselves crossing America’s “line in the sand.” Is it possible that the time will come when an “evil thought” becomes more than a mere ‘thought’, but rather a well thought-out plan to force a change in the balance of power? I believe this is exactly what Ezekiel is describing and that time is now very near.
The second passage referred to earlier in Ezekiel 39:6, which I believe refers to a second national entity being attacked, says that God will send fire on Magog. We know that this is mainly referring to Gog’s homeland. But, the prophecy goes on to say that fire will also be sent to those who live in security in the coastlands. There are a number of prophetic references to people from the coastlands in the Scriptures. The original Hebrew word for coastlands appears at least 36 times in the Old Testament and can refer to isles or islands, coastlands, and even nations. Some of the references in Jeremiah and Isaiah allude to locations at a long distance from the Mediterranean Sea; in fact, far from the center of the world (which in God’s viewpoint is Jerusalem). In another article, I will provide a more detailed scriptural basis for recognizing America as an integral part of the end-of-the-age prophetic scenario, as well as the reasons for God’s judgment upon the nation. Regardless of the fact that “America” or “The United States” is not mentioned by name in Scripture, America is mentioned by several other identifiers and is interwoven into many end-of-the-age Biblical prophecies. Below are a few more verses from Isaiah 47 written specifically to the Daughter of Babylon, which is one of the identifiers I refer to.
“But these two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day; the loss of children, and widowhood. They shall come upon you in their fullness because of the multitude of your sorceries, for the great abundance of your enchantments. For you have trusted in your wickedness; you have said, ‘No one sees me’, your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you; and you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me,’ therefore evil shall come upon you; you shall not know from where it arises, and trouble shall fall upon you; you will not be able to put it off. And desolation shall come upon you suddenly, which you shall not know. Isaiah 47:9-11
As we continue looking at Ezekiel’s prophecy, we find in verse two that God makes it clear that Gog has crossed a line with God that He is not going to allow. God tells him, “I am against you, O Gog…” And then after naming some of Gog’s main allies, God goes on to say, “I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel.” God said something very similar to this in 38:3: “I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out…” Gog may think that he is making his own decisions, but the Sovereign God says differently.
Gog has gone beyond the point of no return with God and will now be used for His purposes. This is much as it was with the Egyptian pharaoh who withstood Moses through ten horrendous plagues that decimated the land of Egypt. Again and again, Pharaoh would resist Moses but then would give in to Moses’ demands. Yet, the Exodus storyline is that “God hardened his heart.” Pharaoh would then change his mind, putting the land of Egypt through even worse calamity than before! Egypt and its pharaoh passed a point of no return when God determined He was going to destroy the land, and use Israel’s exodus to do so.
Many have questioned what the “hook” is that God refers to in Ezekiel 38:3. First of all, historically hooks like the ones Ezekiel is referring to are used to lead an animal to its slaughter. As to what the actual hook is, there are differing opinions. Some believe that the hook has to do with the spoils of war that Gog will be able to confiscate by overrunning Israel. That may be part of the motive, but I believe it is more likely that Gog intends to seize control of the entire Middle East. If Gog were to gain control of the entire Mideast, he would have the oil from all of the Gulf nations, or at least control of those resources. Gog would also have the massive natural gas reserves that Israel has recently uncovered. Israel is building undersea gas pipelines and signing contracts to sell their gas to surrounding nations, including Europe which is heavily dependent on gas for heat. In fact, presently, Europe purchases approximately 1/3 of their gas from Russia. An additional benefit Gog would have is access to many locations for warm water ports–which Russia is badly lacking today. Or, the “hook” might be a sudden unexpected event that draws Gog down onto the mountains of Israel. One thing for sure…it WILL happen.
An additional bit of information that is often missed in the complaint Sheba, Dedan, and the young lions of Tarshish make to Gog, is the fact that this is more than a mere complaint. The original Hebrew uses more than one word “to take” a spoil. Some usages are more violent than others. Ezekiel uses three separate words for “to take” in one verse alone. In researching the word usage in the Old Testament, often the “taking” is with little if any regard for life. It is my contention that verse 13 is more than just a “protest” to the attack. It is much more an expression of astonishment that Gog would have the nerve to attack Israel. It is conveying shock or surprise because these nations are also the recipients of Gog’s attack. There are those who are of the opinion that these nations look on Gog as taking what they themselves would like to have taken for themselves. But I believe this this passage conveys their surprise that they themselves are also under attack. Their concern is not so much the attack on Israel as the fact that they too are under violent assault.
As we continue the story-line in chapter 39, we find God providing more information of how He Himself is going to deal with Gog and his allies’ attack on Israel in verse three.
“Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand.
In early world history, armies would fight with swords, spears, and with bows and arrows. This is not what Ezekiel is describing in this verse. This is referring to missiles and rockets and the missile launchers that most modern armies use. The terrorist group, Hezbollah, for example, has 130,000 to 150,000 rockets and missiles which are today aimed at all parts of Israel. Apparently, when Gog gathers his forces which appear to come in by the millions; as Gog begins to attack, God supernaturally intervenes by destroying the launchers and knocking the missiles out of the sky. One can only imagine what the reality of this might look like. With the size of the military force gathered to obliterate Israel, the number of precision missiles shot in the direction of Israel’s cities must be thousands at a time. Yet, they will fail to hit their targets! God will deal with this enemy much as He did with Israel’s Old Testament enemies. God is never intimidated by the great numbers of enemies His people face. He is the Almighty! And, there is none other!
In verses four and five, Ezekiel says what happens next:
“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. You shall fall on the open field, for I have spoken,” says the LORD.
In the Old King James version of the Bible, it actually says that five out of every six will die on the mountains of Israel! In chapter 38:21 Ezekiel adds:
“…call for a sword against Gog throughout all His mountains, every man’s sword will be against his brother. And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed…”
It should be noticed here that God claims ownership of these mountains. They belong to no nation on earth other than the Jewish nation to which God granted ownership. It is important to remember that God has an non-rescindable covenant with Israel, not any other nation on earth. The covenant was only made with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
As we examine the details of God’s dealings with Israel’s enemies, we see it is a near total extermination. God hits Israel’s enemy from underneath the ground and from the sky above, and meets them head-on. We will come back to the details of the massive earthquake and the fire and brimstone God uses on Gog shortly.
Ezekiel makes note of the fact that it will take Israel seven months to bury the dead. In the Old King James’ version of this passage, verse eleven actually says that the stench from the mass of corpses will stop up the noses of travelers. In the aftermath of the slaughter, the Jewish nation will actually train and use professionals to locate and dispose of all human remains, no matter how small. This may be because they will be contaminated, likely with chemicals or nuclear radiation. The process will be so intense and overwhelming, that the entire nation of Israel will be involved in the task; in fact, they will gain worldwide notoriety for their learned expertise. Ezekiel put it in these words in verses 11-16 of chapter 39:
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.”
I find it interesting that Ezekiel says that God will find a place in Israel for Gog’s burial. The location he is describing is on the eastern side of the Jordan river. This area presently is within the boundaries of Jordan, not Israel. It may seem insignificant to some, but facts in the Scriptures always prove to be undeniable truths in the end. As has been the contention throughout this series of articles, Israel will be dealing with their border enemies before the Gog-Magog confederation of nations comes down onto the mountains of Israel from the north. One of the prophecies specifying this is found in Jeremiah 49:1-2:
Against the Ammonites, thus says the LORD: “Has Israel no sons? Has he no heir? Why then does Milcom inherit Gad, and his people dwell in its cities? Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will cause to be heard an alarm of war in Rabbah of the Ammonites; it shall be a desolate mound, and her villages shall be burned with fire, then Israel shall take possession of his inheritance,” says the LORD.
This prophecy by Jeremiah, as well as others that confirm the same details, is saying that God sees that part of the land He has deeded to the Jewish people is being occupied by someone else. The reference to ancient Rabbah is referring to what is today Amman, Jordan. God is asking the question: “Does Israel have no sons, no heirs, that foreigners worshipping pagan gods are dwelling in what should be Israel’s cities?” God then foretells that this is going to change. As we have examined other passages of Scripture, we have seen that Israel will in the latter years—which is today—take back by means of war at least a portion of what has been taken from them. What they do not take just prior to the Day of the LORD, will be given to them in full by the returning Messiah at the beginning of His Millennial Kingdom reign.
In spite of the fact that the Jewish people today—at least for the most part, are spiritually blind, God has not discarded them. He has promised to remove their blindness so that they will come to the recognition of Who their real Messiah was and is. This is God’s promise to them and it will be fulfilled just as He has promised. In the meantime, for the last 2,000 years, God has provided His grace, mercy, and forgiveness to the Gentiles. Only God knows the number of Gentiles who have been grafted into the original olive tree. But, the original tree is still Jewish. The Apostle Paul reminds us of how we should view God’s grace toward the Jews and also toward us, as Gentiles:
“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? 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, and so all Israel will be saved…” Romans 11:24-25
A principle that will become increasingly clear as we come to the end of this age, is the fact that there is only one source of absolute Truth, and that is GOD and His Word. There are many in our world who claim to have “truth” but at best, they only have partial truth. That’s not good enough. God, as the Almighty Creator of all things, is the only One that has all truth. He exists outside of time and is the only one who can claim to be THE ETERNAL, The Alpha and Omega; the Beginning and the End; the First and Last. He has no beginning and has no end. He can never be outdone, outmaneuvered, or defeated. He cannot forget, nor can He ever make a mistake. He does not learn, does not mature, get more powerful, or wiser, nor does He become more Godly as time passes. He just is. Man can accept Who He is and accept His free gift of salvation through Jesus, the Messiah, or be lost for eternity. God is either All-God, or not God at all! Man can even choose to deny God’s existence, but he is a fool if he does. Even Satan believes in God…and he trembles!
I took this detour in the study just to say: His Word will never fail to come to pass! Every word. What God has foretold through His holy prophets is set in stone. It cannot fail. Biblical prophecies have been 100% accurate to this point, and they will be completed with 100% accuracy. Our eternity depends on it…as does Israel’s future!
As we have now taken a brief look at Ezekiel’s War of Gog and Magog in Part Eleven of this series, in Part Twelve we will take a look at how this conflict erupts as World War III. We will also examine the great earthquake, the fire and brimstone, and hail that God will use to defeat Israel’s enemies, and how this event may be a part of something much larger, described as the sixth seal of Revelation 6.
Continued in Part Twelve…