|Chap 38 Timeline||
Ezekiel: Chapter 38
Within the book of Daniel, Revelation, and other books of the Bible, there are many prophetic events that are linked in one way or another, with the sequence of their occurrence tied relatively to another event. Such is the case of the seven seals, seven trumpet, and seven bowl judgments, which all occur within seven years of the signing of the seven year covenant between the government that the Antichrist represents with Israel. The aforementioned judgments will not occur independently of the signing of the seven year covenant. Conversely, there are a number of other prophetic events yet to occur, that are not tied explicitly to any other prophetic event in scripture. Their occurrence relative to another event may be inferred from scripture, but there are no declarative statements to tie when one of these independent events will occur. Some of these are:
The following graphic provides some insight into other passages in scripture and how they may align with one another prior to the beginning of the tribulaiton.
The final destruction of Babylon is dependent on the beginning of the tribulation, and all of the events during the tribulation that eventually lead to both her religious destruction, Revelation 17 (see the discussion on this site on Revelation 17), and commercial Babylon's destruction, Revelation 18 (see the discussion on this site on Revelation 18). The prophet Jeremiah prophesied that Babylon would be destroyed, Jeremiah 51:33-37. This reference in Jeremiah has dual fulfilments; the first when Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians, and the second will complete the destruction prophesied for Babylon during the midpoint of the seven years of the tribulation for religious Babylon, and near the end of the tribulation for commercial Babylon. Babylonís current state, which was partially rebuilt by Saddam Hussein, shows that the utter destruction described in Jeremiah is yet to occur.
Similar to the dual fulfillment of Babylon's destruction, there appears to be a similar application with respect to the prophesy concern the destruction of Damascus. Isaiah prophesied against Damascus with a finality that has yet to occur, Isaiah 17:1-4. Some hold that the conquest of Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, who captured Damascus 732 BC, a few years after Isaiahís prophesy, is the fulfillment of this prophesy. However, the claim today is that the city of Damascus is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. As a result of the longevity of the city's history, it does not appear that the prophesy by Isaiah is yet ďfullyĒ fulfilled.
Again, all of the other independent events identified above have no scriptural reference that definitively links one event to another. Any relationship between them, their order whether serial or concurrent, are inferred by comparing scripture with scripture (i.e., there is no scripture that specifically states that ďthe rapture will occur before or after another eventĒ). For more discussion on this topic, see the discussion on this site on 1Corinthians 15, and the sections on 1Thessalonians and 2Thessalonians. To complicate this further, there is no broad consensus within the Christian community on the order of events described above, but there are plenty of opinions.
Just as with the rapture of the church, there are no preconditions to be met prior to the commencement of these events described in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39, other than that the Jews are to be returned to their land. As the events in this chapter are studied, another interesting point is that unlike any of the previous wars waged against Israel since WWII, one prominent country not participating or engaged in any direct way in this modern era in any campaign against Israel is Iran. Their first involvement was by indirect support to the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon in the war of 2006.
It is important to reemphasize all the events leading up to Israel to reoccupy the land that the Lord had promised them. Even recent history should be proof to a casual observer of the exact fulfillment of the word of the Lord concerning His people Israel.
There is no evidence that the events described in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 have occurred yet . This prophesy given by Ezekiel was presented when he was already in captivity after King Nebuchadnezzarís second campaign against Jerusalem. Therefore, the prophesies in this chapter were not fulfilled at that time. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. by the Romans also does not fulfill the details provided in this prophesy with respect to the enemy coming from the far north. In order for the events in these two chapters in Ezekiel to be fulfilled, Israel must return to the land, and Jerusalem will be restored, Zechariah 2:1-9. These passages in Zechariah may have a much broader meaning that cover several episodes in Israelís history and future such as the return of Israel from Babylon, relating to religious Babylon as described in Revelation 17 during the tribulation, and with the events in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39.
There is also no evidence that any other historical event since 70 A.D. would fulfill all the specific elements in these prophetic passages. What distinguishes the event in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 from the events described in the tribulation is the geographical extent of the judgment. During the tribulation, the focus is on the area of Israel, but the judgment is on all nations and covers the entire globe. The events and judgment described in these two chapters in Ezekiel are limited to only those countries who conspired to invade and destroy Israel. Also, this specific event does not involve the Antichrist, and not ALL the nations acknowledge the Lord as a consequence of these events, nor will all the nations be assembled for this war.
In 2Chronicles 20, there is an important record in Israel's history that parallels the events that are yet to occur as revealed in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39. Reviewing this passage will help to understand how the Lord will deliver His people in this future time of great distress. In that much earlier time, Judah was invaded by Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir during the days of King Jehoshaphat. Their response to the report of a vast army attacking them was to seek the Lord's help as the nation humbled themselves before Him, 2Chronicles 20:1-4. The end of the prayer to God by King Jehoshaphat may be the same as what will be raised to the Lord by Israel when the coalition of Muslim countries led by Gog attacks Israel from the north, 2Chronicles 20:12. The Lordís response and deliverance is given to the king and the men and women of Judah, 2Chronicles 20:13-17, and 2Chronicles 20:21-25. The awesome response of the Lord to the invasion described in these two chapters of Ezekiel will be to deliver Israel directly from a humanly impossible situation.
The opening verses in Ezekiel 38:1 show that this is an open and direct letter to the leader of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, which is Gog. The prophesy was given in the days of Ezekiel, and about 2Ĺ millennia later it is still awaiting fulfillment. No time has been given as to when these prophetic events will occur, but relative to Israel, is it necessary that the land of Israel must be settled by the Jews, which is the case today. As with the rapture of the church, there is no other situation or event necessary before either of these two events occur, but it is certain that they will, independently, one from another.
In Ezekiel 38:2-3, Gog is the main character in this whole prophetic event, and he cannot be dogmatically tied to Russia, but neither can that potential association be eliminated in light of current events. Meshech (or Rosh) and Tubal are generally thought to be around the areas of the Black and Caspian Seas, and Gog may be a name for a title or position, such as the title of president in our lexicon. In the days that Ezekiel was told by the Lord to set his face against Gog and the land he ruled over, he gave and recorded this word of the Lord.
In Ezekiel 38:3-4, the Lord had many serious things to say to Gog. First, the Lord asserts His sovereignty over this matter (a phrase often repeated in the book of Ezekiel) and He will take action against Gog. Sometime in the future, the Lord will turn Gog and his armies, who are fully prepared for war, and move them from out of their land into Northern Israel. This is similar to what the Lord had said regarding Pharaoh during the contest between him and God through Moses, Romans 9:15-18, and Proverbs 21:1. The exact events that will cause Gog and his hordes to invade Israel are not given, but the Lord is very clear through this passage, that it will be sudden action and a very determined decision on the part of Gog and his confederates to do this evil thing against Israel.
In Ezekiel 38:4, the Lord will put hooks in the jaw of Gog and turn him around. This gives an appearance of a sudden change in the direction that Gog and his confederates were heading politically and militarily. This is similar to when King Nebuchadnezzar was deciding on who to battle with next, Ezekiel 21:18-23, whether to go against the Ammonites or attack Jerusalem for the third and final time, he obviously choose to battle and destroy Jerusalem. Every decision is from the Lord, despite attempts to cast lots or seek divinations, Proverbs 16:33.
In Ezekiel 38:5-6, the list of Gogís confederates are given; Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth Program. Many other nations are alluded to participating in this conquest. the following table provides the same list, with possible modern geolocation names for them, and some scriptural references that relate to each country.
It is instructive to note who are not listed in this list of confederated nations with Gog:
In Ezekiel 38:7, the Lord foretells through Ezekiel that it is Gog who will take command of this federation and guard them. He is instructed to get ready and be prepared for the day of calamity that he will seek on others, but instead he and his country will suffer that fate. This may indicate that battle plans have been conceived and all the logistics for carrying out the plan have been worked out, it only needs to be executed. Since Gog may be the only power able to amass a mighty naval fleet in the area, they may set up a naval blockade of Israel and the region to protect the western flank of these assembling forces. With Gogís military might, they may also assist in the rapid transport and assembly of this military might into northern Israel.
The time frame of this event, as described in Ezekiel 38:8, is only identified as the latter years, not the time of the end or other phrases used to indicate the tribulation period. Instead, this passage indicates that this will occur in the latter years, and when the Jews occupy their land. This verse clearly identifies the subject of the invasion as being Israel. The people described were gathered from many nations, which only modern history attests as being true only with Israel.
A possible scenario of how and when all these things can take place is the potential of a precursor event that will force the fulfillment of actions found in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39. There is another prophetic event that is to be fulfilled, which concerns the destruction of Damascus. As mentioned above, there is no scriptural evidence to tie a series of these independent prophetic events together, except within the realm of speculation. Whether a military strike is made by Israel against Damascus, or an accidental ignition of a catastrophic event occurs, the end result will be the utter destruction of Damascus, and Israel will be blamed, and her place in world opinion will worsen, Isaiah 17:1-4. The events described in Psalm 83 may be a sequel preceding the events in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39. The result of this earlier war, and prior Gog's invasion, may be a time when Israel may be in a state of safety, relative to the conditions that they have lived in before, which were constant threats and attacks by her enemies.
In Ezekiel 38:9 the Lord equates the invasion of Gog and his confederates into Israel as a covering like a cloud. Following any one of the several wars and battles that Israel will face in modern times, and not associated with the tribulation, the new confederation of nations led by Gog to invade Israel will be massive and move rapidly without any impediment to their plans.
In Ezekiel 38:10, the Lord repeats his sovereignty over these affairs, just as was described throughout the book of Ezekiel. The invasion of Israel and the assembly of the armies of Gog and his confederation into Northern Israel are these ďevil thoughtsĒ entering into the mind of Gog. This pattern from thought to deed, to death is the same that James wrote of in James 1:13-15. As a result, Gog and his confederates will devise an evil scheme that will constitute the second event that will ultimately lead to Godís judgment.
In Ezekiel 38:11-12, the Lord reveals the thoughts of Gog and his confederates toward Israel. As seen in Ezekiel 38:4, the Lord will cause this confederation with Gog to suddenly change course, which is vividly portrayed as having hooks in their jaws. They will turn on their heels and immediately pursue after the prize by executing the plans that they had made. Whatever that event may be, whether it is through the rapid change in the current political or military environment that has protected Israel and frustrated these plans or through the rapture of the church, this confederation will suddenly find themselves in an advantageous position to exploit Israel. It is interesting to see the condition, or state of Israel before this invasion begins. Israel is seen as a country with villages that are without walls, at peace and unsuspecting that such an evil could be perpetuated against them. In Zechariah 2:1-9, the calls His people to return to the land from the north, and that He will be a wall of fire around it. Indeed, as these events unfold concerning Gog, the Lord will intervene to save Israel from an otherwise impossible situaiton. It is peculiar, or even prophetic, that the walls that now exist in Israel are there to prevent uninhibited entry by the Palestinians into Israel to guard against suicide bombers, and therefore they are the ones who are walled in, not the Jews. Gog has no interest in the plight of the Palestinians, though they may be used as pawns in the preparations to invade Israel. The statement continues to say that they are a peaceful people, who dwell safely. There is no doubt that Israel is going out of their way to seek peace with her neighbors, even to the extent of giving away the most precious and valuable commodity they possess, land. With respect to dwelling safely, it is hard to imagine in these current events that this could happen, but it will. There will be a lull in the current hostilities against Israel and her actions against her enemies. For a moment in time, there will be safe living for those living in Israel, but it does not say peace. Peace will only come when the Prince of Peace Himself will return, the Lord Jesus Christ with His army of saints to end the battle of Armageddon and establish His millennial reign.
In Ezekiel 38:12, the reason for this coming invasion is centered around an old worn out theme, economic gain. The invasion is again focused on the recognition that the Jews have returned to their ancient land, but no recognition is given to the fact that their return is by the hand of God. The Lord God of Israel is never a consideration in this plan that has been developed, since there is no belief in either His existence, and therefore no regard is given to any of the prophecies written about this very event and its outcome. These invaders are looking solely at the heart of the nation, Jerusalem. Some hold that the impetus for Gogís ultimate invasion is that something happens to the U.S. making them unable to respond on behalf of Israel. The U.S. was the first country to recognize Israel when it was first formed as a nation in this modern era, and has been her staunchest ally through all of the wars and fighting that she has had to endure since then. However, on this future occasion the U.S. will not provide assistance as before. Some catastrophic event, either natural or manmade, the rapture of the body of Christ (the church), or significant political and/or economic change will suddenly occur that will prompt Gog and her allies to believe that the plan that they conceived is at last executable and successful.
In Ezekiel 38:13, a threshold is reached by Gog and his confederates that alarms some in the region, but only to the point to ask them of their intention, but nothing further. The situation described by the Lord through Ezekiel is one that is dire for Israel. They are literally alone among the nations in the world, and not one nation is rushing to stop the impending invasion. Only Sheba (possibly modern day Yemen or it may be representative of the Saudi Arabia region) and Dedan (Ezekiel 25:13, possibly modern day Jordan), and Tarshish (Jonah 1:3, 2Chronicles 9:21, possibly may be associated with Spain), but no other voice is heard to raise concern as to what is happening. It is curious that the term merchants is used with Tarshish, which may indicate more than just a country, but a group of countries and companies who trade in the Mediterranean Sea. In the many wars that Israel has fought in this modern era, she has never faced such an advanced and formidable military might as that amassed by Gog.
In Ezekiel 38:14, the Lord is again showing His sovereignty over Gog during this entire event, and He is having Ezekiel prophesy again. This time, there is an emphasis made of Gog's recognition of an opportunity to seize the land of Israel for his own gain. These plans had been developed previously, but the opportunity to execute them never availed itself. Something occurs that suddenly and unexpectedly causes Gog to seize the moment and take the actions that had been planned with his confederates.
In Ezekiel 38:15, the Lord provides more information with respect to the geographic origin of Gog relative to Jerusalem. Gog is found to be far north from Israel, which is likely Moscow, based on the other information already provided.
In Ezekiel 38:16, The main purpose for this entire event is that the nations MAY know the Lord. That He alone battles this enormous military strength assembled by Gog, whose intentions of invasion became known, and whose might could not be repelled by any country at that moment. Israel herself is absolutely no match to meet this vast military strength.
It must be stressed, however that the events described here are not part of the battle of Armageddon, where ALL nations will be assembled for this battle, Joel 3:1-3. Nor should this be confused with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ where every eye shall see the His return, Revelation 1:7. What differentiates the afore mentioned events from that of Ezekiel 38 is the term used in this passage that nations MAY know, as opposed to ALL. This is exactly what resulted in the contest between God and Pharaoh during the Exodus of Israel Exodus 7:3-5, the Egyptians will know that it is the Lord who fought against them Joshua 2:9-11. This is brought out by the testimony of Rahab, the prostitute in Jericho, who spoke of the events that fell upon the Egyptians and deliverance of Israel by God. She provides the witness on how this information spread to other nations within the local area. Certainly, the whole world was not aware of these events in Egypt, but those in the near east were. With the destruction of Gog in the next verses, all the nations will know something tremendous will have occurred, but not all will accept that it was of the Lord, as indicated here. Certainly, the inhabitants of Jericho were aware of the events and feared, but not to the point of recognizing the God of Israel as the one and true God, and asking for forgiveness from the Lord that they may live.
In Ezekiel 38:17, as well as many other times in this chapter, the Lord expresses His will over the nations. Note the number of times in this chapter where the Lordís sovereignty is expressed; six times in this chapter and it continues into the next chapter. The Lord is sovereign of all of manís activities, though there is still free will for man to choose or deny the Lord as his personal savior and Lord. Also, there are seven oracles from God in these two chapters, Ezekiel 38 and 39. They are shown in the following table.
This verse notes that there were many prophets of old through whom the Lord spoke saying that this day would come. There are no direct references that provide details or call out this singular event, but there are several passages that relate to those who would go against Israel. Some references that relate to this episode in Israelís history include:
Another aspect in these passages in Ezekiel is not just the nations that have assembled in Northern Israel for an attack to destroy the nation, but most importantly the relationship between the Lord and Israel. An important Biblical concept demonstrated multiple times in scripture is the forgiveness of the Lord and the plans He has for the nation. An example is associated with the threat of an Assyrian invasion during the days of Isaiah and Israelís attempt to find relief from Egypt rather than the Lord. Isaiah 30:1-2 shows the Lordís statement of woe to the children of Israel for not taking the Lordís counsel, for making plans independent of any inquiry of the Lord, and forsook the Lord by going down to Egypt. Israel is reminded of what the Lord expects from His people, which is likely the key to the Lords response to protect Israel, where they are to in returning and resting in the Lord they shall be saved, and in quietness and confidence will be their strength, Isaiah 30:15-16. Further, the Lord states that He will wait, that He may be gracious to Israel. As a result He will be exalted and may have mercy on Israel. The Lord will hear Israelís cry and answer them, Isaiah 30:18-19. The invasion described in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 indicates that the battle is the Lordí, Israel is incapable of defending herself due to the sheer numbers of the invaders. It is expected, based on all that is described in Isaiah 30, that Israel will turn to the Lord nationally, repent and rest in the Lord for their salvation, and their quietness and confidence in the Lord will be their strength in the face of this this invading source. The Lord responds to the cry if Israel unleashing judgment that destroys the invasion force and their homeland.
In Ezekiel 38:18-19, the Lordís judgment is initiated when Gog attacks Israel and not before, and the Lord will be hot with anger against him. In the Lordís fury, there will be a great earthquake in the land of Israel such as during the exodus, Exodus 19:16-19. At this time, the Lord's anger is described as being visible in His face, and that it will consist of His jealousy and wrath. No one in these assembled armies will even have a chance, and the sad thing is that they will not have that understanding until the Lord executes His judgment on them. Then it will be to late, and the collective armies will suffer a devastating defeat.
In Ezekiel 38:20, the manifestation of the Lord's anger, is not a description of the Lordís presence on earth at that time; His return and physical presence on earth will occur with His return as described in Revelation 19. However, even at this time in Ezekiel 38, the Lord's anger will afflict all the living creatures, including man. All will tremble, the mountains will overturn, and cliffs and walls will fall.
There are several instances of the Lord appearing, or being present and evoking a form of fear and terror among many. A similar incident to Ezekiel 38 is recorded in Daniel 10:4-7, when a vision appeared to Daniel on the banks of the Tigris river, which only he saw. Those with him did not see anything, but terror overwhelmed them and they fled and hid themselves. In Acts 9:3-8, as Paul traveled on the Damascus road with companions to prosecute any who belonged to the ďWay,Ē he suddenly was in the presence of the Lord, with a bright light and voice. The others with Paul heard a sound but did not see anyone. The point is that the presence of the Lord does not have to be a physical one, such as at his first advent, and soon second advent, but His presence can be manifest in other ways. In contrast to the previous examples, the presence of the Lord can also be very peaceful, such as recorded in 1Kings 19:11-13. During the reign of King Ahab, after the contest on Mount Carmel between Elijah and the Baal priests, Elijah fled to escape the threats of Jezebel, who sought revenge for the deaths of the priests whom Elijah had slain. During this solitary time for Elijah, the presence of the Lord was manifest in a faint voice, though there was a great wind, earthquake, and fire.
As evidenced in Ezekiel 38:21, the Lord will execute His judgment against Gog and his assembled armies where they had assembled in preparation to war against Israel, in the mountains of Israel. They will never leave their assembly area, and not march on Jerusalem as they intended. Instead, as a result of God's judgment, they will end up destroying each other as in the days of King Jehoshaphat. Due to the series of plagues from the Lord that will fall on the armies of Gog, Ezekiel 38:22, the earthquakes will block their ways of transport, the rains will make trafficability impossible, the sword of the Lord will slay many, and the hailstones and burning sulfur will kill the remaining few. Though some feel that this is indicative of a nuclear exchange, the plagues shown here are what God himself delivered upon His enemies in the past, as shown in the table below. There is no need to diminish Godís sovereignty nor his power and judgment by trying to explain the results of His actions with natural or manmade phenomena. This is all of the Lord.
In Ezekiel 38:23, it is written that the Lord will be known by many nations. Notice that it does not say ALL nations. This is one of the main reasons for teaching that this battle is not part of the battle of Armageddon, but a separate event. After Armageddon, all people who survive the seven years of tribulation with know the Lord whereas after this battle described in Ezekiel 38 mentions many nations, not all nations will know the Lord. This is also the time when God's witness is His greatness and His holiness.
God is known through His judgment, as has been stated many times throughout the book of Ezekiel and other books in the Bible, Isaiah 26:9-10.
Copyright (c) 2001, 2005, 2008, 2014, J.E. Huntley. All rights reserved.
last edited August 2014