The End Times According To Ezekiel, Part 4
So far in this study, we've seen the prophecies of Israel's
latter-day rebirth. We've learned
that they would first appear again in unbelief, thinking that they had brought
themselves back to life and that
they themselves had built, populated, and defended their homeland.
But we've read God's declaration that He was behind this, although not
because of anything they'd done to deserve it.
In fact He said He would bring them back in spite of their behavior in
In our last episode we saw that one day soon God will
decide to step from behind the scenes and reveal Himself directly to His people
and to the world, through signature signs like fire, hail, and earthquakes that
always signaled His presence in Old Testament times.
He had Ezekiel tell them and us that this will happen in the context of a
great battle that would catch them off guard and almost put an end to them.
But at just the right time He will intervene and save the day.
Now He's going to tell us how this will happen.
of man, prophesy against Gog and say:
'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of
Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you
from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will
strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right
hand. On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the
nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to
the wild animals. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares
the Sovereign LORD. I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in
the coast lands, and they will know that I am the LORD.
" 'I will make known my
holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned,
and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel. It is
coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign LORD. This is the day
I have spoken of. (Ezek. 39:1-8)
The King James has the more accurate rendering for the
beginning of this passage. The phrase translated
I will turn you around and drag you along in the NIV and others,
literally reads I will turn you around and
leave but the sixth part of you which means that 5/6ths of the Moslem forces
will be destroyed. The Hebrew concept is roughly equivalent to the one behind
the English word "decimate." Although decimate originally described the
punishment requiring that 1 in 10 soldiers in a mutinous Roman Legion be
executed, figuratively it has come to mean that something is all but totally
destroyed. Synonyms are "annihilate" or "wipe out." So it is with the Hebrew.
When the Lord brings this Moslem coalition into the mountains of Israel, He will
also use the ensuing battle to wipe them out.
Because they're too big a force for Israel to handle alone, He'll cause
them to attack each other. Then
He'll make their weapons and
ammunition fall from their hands.
Some interpret the idea of sending fire on Magog and those who
live safely in the coastlands as warning of a nuclear exchange. Magog refers to
Russia of course, but the identity of the coastlands is less clear. The Hebrew
word literally means “a coast, island, or shore” and in Jeremiah 25:22
the phrase "beyond the sea" is used to help locate them, the sea being the
Mediterranean. This reference could easily be pointing to Europe, and some even
believe the US is in focus here. But as I've said, I don't think this attack can
take place until the US is out of the picture, so we'll have to wait and see.
Also the Hebrew word translated
in safety is the same one that's used to describe Israel's state of
mind in Ezek. 38:8. Again it denotes
a sense of carelessness, this time on Europe's part, as if they don't believe
this kind of thing could happen to them and therefore aren't prepared for what's
And once more the Lord explains His real purpose. He's going
to use this battle to announce to one and all that He's Israel's Protector and
Champion. The nations of the world are being told that to get to Israel, they'll
have to go through Him.
" 'Then those who live
in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them
up-the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears.
For seven years they will use them for fuel. They will not need to gather wood
from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons
for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who
looted them, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezek 39:9-10)
In Ezekiel's day people burned wood for heat and so that's the
idiom he used to describe the situation. In fact, the passage indicates that all
of Israel's energy needs for 7 years will be met by converting the energy from
the weapons the enemy leaves behind to peaceful use. I can't imagine the enemy
carrying in enough of any traditional energy source to supply Israel's national
power and heating needs for 7 years, so a more modern application is in order.
Let's say nuclear. The old Soviet Union converted submarine reactors into
electric power plants so the notion isn't that far fetched. And as you'll see,
the clean-up procedures for this battle are remarkably similar to today's
nuclear decontamination process. Why only 7 years then, when a nuclear reactor
could theoretically supply energy needs for much longer? If, as I believe, this
battle will introduce the 70th week of Daniel, 7 years worth of energy is all
they'll need. After that, the Lord will supply their needs. (Rev.
" 'On that day I will
give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel east toward
the Sea. It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will
be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog.
" 'For seven months the
house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. All the
people of the land will bury them, and the day I am glorified will be a
memorable day for them, declares the Sovereign LORD .
" 'Men will be regularly
employed to cleanse the land. Some will go throughout the land and, in addition
to them, others will bury those that remain on the ground. At the end of the
seven months they will begin their search. As they go through the land and one
of them sees a human bone, he will set up a marker beside it until the
gravediggers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon Gog. (Also a town called
Hamonah will be there.) And so they will cleanse the land' (Ezek
If this valley is east of the Dead Sea, as the King James
translation implies, it would be in Jordan today, and even in Ezekiel's day
would have been outside Israel's borders.
Yet verse 11 clearly locates the burial place in Israel.
Therefore I believe the NIV translation is more accurate and the valley
Ezekiel's referring to is more
likely the one traditionally called the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Psalm
23:4) that was part of Israel during Ezekiel's time. If so, it's at the
bottom of the old Jericho Road that still
runs east from Jerusalem to Jericho and is on the way to the Dead Sea.
And remarkably, it's in territory occupied by the Palestinians today. Does
Ezekiel's battle effectively wipe out any Palestinian claims to Biblical land?
Or is this one more clue that the battle described in Psalm 83
will have preceded it and the Palestinian claims have already been done away
It will require the combined efforts of all Israeli citizens
for 7 months to bury the enemy dead. After that they'll hire professionals, some
to decontaminate the land and some to search for any bodies the people may have
missed. They won't touch any bones they find, but will set up markers and call
the professionals to come take them away. This method fits modern Nuclear
Biological Chemical Warfare decontamination procedures to a tee. Did the Lord
have Ezekiel write this to show us the type of weaponry being used? Between this
and the energy reference above, it sure looks that way.
"Son of man, this is
what the Sovereign LORD says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild
animals: 'Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am
preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you
will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink
the blood of the princes of the earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and
bulls-all of them fattened animals from Bashan.
At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are
glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. At my table you will eat your fill
of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,' declares the
Sovereign LORD. (Ezek. 39:17-20)
The carrion birds and scavengers will have a field day due to
the carnage left behind on the battlefield. Earlier the enemy force was
described as being a great horde, like a cloud covering the land. Now that it's
been decimated there are dead bodies everywhere. This is not unique in Israel's
history. Josephus wrote that after the Battle of the Galilee in 68 AD there were
so many dead bodies floating in the Sea that you couldn't see the water.
"I will display my glory
among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the
hand I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I
am the LORD their God. And the nations will know that the people of Israel went
into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face
from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword.
I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid
my face from them. "Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will now
bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of
Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. They will forget their shame and
all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their
land with no one to make them afraid. When I have brought them back from the
nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show
myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that
I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I
will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer
hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel,
declares the Sovereign LORD." (Ezek
Following this victory the Lord will complete the return of
His people Israel to their land, begun in the early 1900's and made official in
1948. Though He caused them to be scattered all over the world, He'll now bring
them back, not leaving any behind. Since about 55% of the world's Jewish people
currently live outside of Israel this will be some homecoming. But having
witnessed His defeat of their enemies, Jews from all over the world will flock
to Israel and to Him, yearning for a reinstatement of their Old Covenant
relationship. And after waiting for nearly 2000 years for them to return, He
certainly won't refuse them now.
For their part they'll soon build a Temple, Old Covenant
worship being impossible without one. Following the instructions from
Ezekiel 40-48, which we'll begin
exploring next time, they'll build the Temple in Shiloh, about 12 miles (20km)
north of Jerusalem. I believe this is the Temple that will be made desolate by
the anti-Christ and later cleansed at the beginning of the Millennium, just as
the second Temple was first made desolate and then cleansed in the time of the
And so this battle will mark the beginning of Daniel's 70th
week, the last 7 years of human history before the Lord returns.
Having given this prophecy to Israel, Ezekiel doesn't get into any detail
about its immediate aftermath, especially as it relates to the world's
subsequent reactions. But for we who
are the Church today, the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 carries more significance in what Ezekiel didn't say
than in what he did.
From our study of
Ezekiel 38-39 you can see that there are really only a few major preceding
conditions left before this prophecy can be fulfilled. Turkey has to switch
sides, the US has to be taken out of the picture, and Israel has to be living in
an assumed state of peace with its neighbors. So when will this happen?
In almost 60 years of Israel's modern existence, there really
hasn't been a day when this condition has been met, although enemy sneak attacks
in 1967 and especially 1973 did take the country by surprise as to timing. The
simultaneous invasion by Egypt and Syria on Yom Kippur 1973, with Jordan and
Iraq right behind them, brought Israel perilously close to defeat. Historians
report that due to "a rare moment of flabbiness in Israeli intelligence and in
the government, Israel did not expect any attacks from its neighbors just at
this point in time." (Both the Jewish Yom Kippur and Moslem Ramadan forbid
waging war during their observance, and in October 1973 as the attack began
these Holy Days overlapped.)
It took a week for Israel's forces to recover and go on the
offense. Two weeks after that the war was over, cease-fire arrangements having
been negotiated by the UN. In the
treaties that followed, Egypt regained control of the Suez Canal and the Sinai
Peninsula lost in 1967 and Syria got back a small portion of the Golan Heights,
although had the UN not stepped in, Israeli forces would have soon entered both
Cairo and Damascus.
Those Who Don't Learn From History ...
Not since then has there been such a relaxed state of
readiness by Israel and indeed it's hard to see how one could happen in the
future. In fact the Bible mentions only two possibilities for a time of peace in
the entire End Times scenario, and neither fits the bill. The first occurs at
the outset of Daniel's seventieth week when the anti-Christ makes his initial
appearance. By means of peace he will
deceive many, Daniel 8:25 (KJV) tells us.
The other time is during the 1000 years of peace known as
the Millennium or Kingdom Age. Let's rule that one out right away. First of all
it's an unparalleled time of peace personally administered by the Prince of
Peace. Israel won't have any enemies
to attempt a sneak attack until right at the end when Satan is freed from his
1000 years of captivity to lead them. And second, the end time prophecies in
Ezekiel are sequential, first the latter days re-gathering of the Jews to Israel
in chapters 36-37, then this battle, then from chapter 40 on it's the
Millennium. The Battle of Ezekiel 38-39
has to follow the modern re-gathering but precede the Millennium. It can't
happen at the Millennium's end.
So let's go back to the first possibility, the beginning of
Daniel's 70th week. Daniel 9:27
reveals that as one of his first official acts, the anti-Christ will enforce a
seven-year covenant with Israel that includes permission to build a Temple.
(This seven year period is called Daniel's 70th week.) But because of the
controversy it would stir up, most Jews today don't want a Temple and won't want
one till the Creator of the Universe dramatically reveals Himself to them. He
does so in the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39,
and after that they'll be clamoring for a Temple, regardless of the
consequences. Old Covenant observance requires it. So it appears that this
battle has to precede Daniel's 70th week, too early for the anti-Christ's false
Also, the fact that the anti-Christ emerges as a peacemaker
implies that some parts of the world will have recently been at war. Perhaps
even a war involving a nuclear exchange, which will have left the world in
shock, desperate for a plan that would prevent that ever happening again.
Satan's "man of peace" with his seven year covenant will have just the thing to
put the world at ease and allow him to begin his meteoric rise to world
Have You Reached A Verdict?
As we see, circumstantial evidence weighs heavily in favor
of the anti-Christ revealing himself on the heels of Ezekiel's battle
rather than before it. And so
neither of the Bible's identified possibilities for peace will take place in
time for this battle. That means that some dramatic chain of events, similar to
those that led to the "sudden" fall of the Soviet Union, will have to occur soon
to place Israel in the vulnerable state necessary for Ezekiel's prophecy to be
From what we currently understand about End Times Prophecy,
the two events most likely to create such a sudden change in the political
climate are the destruction of Damascus, foretold in Isaiah 17 and the
battle that's the subject of Psalm 83. No
alliance against Israel such as the one described there has happened in history,
and if the Lord grants the psalmist's request to destroy them, the Palestinians,
Jordanians, Lebanese, and Syrians will all cease to be a threat when it's over.
In its aftermath, Israel will be larger, stronger, and feel more secure
than at any time in its modern history.
Perhaps secure enough to let down their guard a little.
So What's The Point?
Now why is all this so important to us? Well, we've already
made a case for the anti-Christ to appear right after the battle of
Ezekiel 38 and we know from the
passage itself that the Lord uses it to reveal Himself to Israel and draw them
back to Him.
But here are two more good reasons. First, you'll recall from
our study in 2nd Thessalonians that the church has to disappear before the
anti-Christ can be revealed. (2 Thes. 2:7)
And second, in the past when the Lord's focus was on Israel there was no Church,
and while it's been on the Church there has been no Israel. These two entities
seem to be mutually exclusive in the Lord's workings, so if He's going to focus
on Israel again the Church has to disappear (Romans 11:25 &
So if the Church has to disappear before the anti-Christ can
be revealed and if the Church has to disappear when the Lord turns again to
Israel, and if both these are outcomes of the Battle of
Ezekiel 38-39, you can see why it's so important to us. By the way,
none of this is meant to modify or refute the Doctrine of Imminence, which holds
that the Lord could come at any time. In fact rather than saying that Ezekiel's
battle has to happen before the Rapture, I'm saying that it looks more like the
Rapture has to happen before Ezekiel's battle.
Beginning in chapter 40 the focus will shift to the
Millennium, Israel's Kingdom Age. We'll learn a lot about the coming Temple and
about life in Israel after the 2nd Coming.
We'll see God's return to the Temple after a 2600 year absence,
signifying that the people, the Temple, the City and the Land will all have
become holy again. See you then.