Ezekiel 38:12 - trying to understand Gog, part 3.
Having looked, extensively, at Ezekiel 38, we now turn to chapter 39. Once again, we see God compelling Ezekiel, to turn his face toward Gog, and say, Behold, I am against you. Ah, but who is God really against? But, the entire idea of looking at Ezekiel 38, 39 is this idea of God sending fire down from heaven to stop a war. We are about to get into that; but, first, a quick recap.
The person, Gog, only shows up once in scripture, and there we find that he is a descendant of Reuben. Sadly Reuben's claim to fame is that he had sexual relations with one of his father's wives.
1Chronicles 5:4 The sons of Joel were Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son,
This name does not show up again until Ezekiel begins to prophesy against him years later. With the Exodus beginning around 1446 B.C, it is probable that Gog predates the Exodus. Ezekiel does not come on the scene until approximately 593 B.C. That makes Gog well over 1000 years old if he is still alive, and you know that did not happen.
So who is Gog?
If you do your homework and look the word Gog up, you will find that:
Gog can be depicted as a person (a man,) a people group, or, a nation. We also know that Gog is a leader, that directs his multinational army against Israel. They are of such a large number that they are described as clouds covering the earth. And, the majority of these troops and their leader are killed by God on the mountains of Israel, as a sign to the nations of His Holiness.
One last piece of information: At the end of the millennial reign, Gog, once again leads deceived forces against Israel and the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, in an attempt to kill God; and there, once again, God kills them all with fire from heaven.
Most “Christians” will read this episode from Ezekiel, and not see the severe and deadly nature of Gog's actions, nor what God will do here, mainly in the Megiddo valley.
I believe there are distinct aspects that define Gog, such as Gog and the majority of his troops die on the hills of Israel. How is that possible without some casualties among the citizens of Israel. Just the fact that Gog has made it in inside the borders means that infrastructure will be damaged.
The point I am trying to make here, is that you need, frequently, to put flesh and blood on the biblical characters. People are going to die.
Having been asked, will the church go through tribulation? My response, and even more so now, is, as of this date 07/10/18 Nigeria has now become the deadliest nation in the world for “Christians” as they are being slaughtered because of their beliefs.
So, are we going through tribulations? Absolutely, but keep in mind that trials and the wrath of God being poured out upon the earth and the nations, is an entirely different matter altogether; and NO, we, as followers of Christ, are NOT subject to God's wrath. Tribulations, on the other hand, as Jesus noted, are always going to be a part of our lives.
Since an event of this magnitude - the firestorm that kills so many troops will cause most to cower in fear, I think it is safe to say that God is trying to get them to look at Him more appropriately, instead of the habitual disdain nations have for the God they have refused to know.
And now we find ourselves at the 39th chapter of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 39:1 NASB "And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal;
A translation I am growing fond of is the Complete Jewish Bible, and it reads like this.
(CJB) "So you, human being, prophesy against Gog; say that Adonai Elohim says: 'I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshekh and Tuval.
Odd how there is no mention of Rosh in the Jewish version. Perhaps, Rosh inappropriately causes us to focus on another world leader, like Putin.
After all my years of being in the church, I have concluded, that well-minded souls have repeatedly misdirected us. To some, this is not a problem as they are not going to do the background study that would lead them to the truth, and so they remain within the framework of their church traditions. Someone opposing the church traditions fuels their twisted fears, but all the while they continually try to get us to see the Pope as the Antichrist.
This scenario is what we call false teaching. Not everyone means to deceive you, but it happens because we are not willing to do our homework and cling to tradition over truth.
Ezekiel 39:2 ISV I'm going to turn you around, drag you along to your destruction, and bring you up from the farthest parts of the north, and carry you to the mountains of Israel.
Note how the ISV uses some rather graphic words in this second verse.
“I'm going to turn you around,”
Large-scale leaders are not entirely insane; there is some thought applied, and costs are often counted. I suspect Gog is no different, and yet, God is, going to turn him around. You might think attacking Israel is not the wisest thing to do, but hatred seems to motivate and drive far too many people.
In looking at Ezekiel 38, we see another interesting aspect of Gog's attack on Israel. It is God, who puts the thought in his mind. This idea to attack Israel is not just some casual thought that you can easily ignore; it drives him.
“drag you along to your destruction,”
When Captain Jean Luc Picard, of the 'Starship Enterprise, encountered the Borg, we repeatedly heard a phrase; resistance is futile. I realize that this idea seems to throw the idea of free will out the window, or does it. Perhaps God has factored free will into His equation already. This problem with free will becomes evident to me as I think about a conversation I had with my Thursday morning group. We have recently been reading the Eugene Peterson book on Prayer. Having read several of Peterson's books already, I was not looking forward to it. However, I have been pleasantly surprised, as he looks at prayer from many directions, some of which are often less than religious, and I can appreciate that.
Recently, during a portrayal on Peterson's part, of how adamantly Jesus prayed in the garden setting, I thought about how I once pounded on my steering wheel as I demanded that God honor his word and give me the trophy wife I wanted (Yes, she was pretty but deadly.) I got what I wanted, but dear Lord, I did not need what I got. In jest I said to someone, I think I heard God say, how's that working for you? By-the-way, I don't tell God how to run things anymore. I do, however, believe that the trophy wife, was a part of God's plan in the overall scheme of things, along with the associated pain. And, no, I struggle with the uncomfortable stuff just as you do; and yet, I must believe that it is all part of HIS plan, no matter how things look.
“and bring you up from the farthest parts of the north, and carry you to the mountains of Israel.”
How many times do we do things, thinking that it was our great idea? For myself, I am reminded of a night I got to thinking about something else and missed my turn to get on the freeway. Insistent upon using the highway it took another minute and a half to get back to the on-ramp. Up the hill I went; what I found as I crested the hill was a cataclysmic accident. Most likely I would have been a part of the crash had I not missed my turn.
So, God hooks this man, plants the idea in his head, and drags him and his troops to the mountains of Israel. Rather impressive, and Gog thinks it is all him.
Ezekiel 39:3 MSG Then I'll knock your bow out of your left hand and your arrows from your right hand.
This idea of knocking your bow out of one hand, and your arrows out of another, cannot be literal, for, in today's warfare, you will die quickly, unless of course, you are a ninja. Seriously, a whole battlefield of ninjas, that is not going to happen. So it is an analogy, which demonstrates how futile, on the overall, that this war of Gog, is going to be. Again, I remind you, that Jews will die, but in comparison to the intent, the effect will be minimal.
Ezekiel 39:4-5 NASB "You will fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you as food to every kind of predatory bird and beast of the field. 5) "You will fall on the open field; for it is I who have spoken," declares the Lord GOD.
Note how the NASB tells us that Gog, and his troops, will fall on the mountains of Israel; and, they will fall in the open field. Now, look at how the Message reads.
Ezekiel 39:4-5 MSG On the mountains of Israel you'll be slaughtered, you and all your troops and the people with you. I'll serve you up as a meal to carrion birds and scavenging animals. 5) You'll be killed in the open field. I've given my word. Decree of GOD, the Master.'
In reading this literally, the first thing I see is Gog and his slaughtered troops on the mountains. Holding tightly to a literal read would then leave no one to “kill” in the open field, and yet, there they are. So the NASB, it seems, gives a more appropriate read of the upcoming play by play.
Another thing I always think about when I read scripture. Having read statements where the Old Testament tells a story and everyone was there. One of the places we see this is in Daniel, where King Nebuchadnezzar has ordered a statue of himself built, and everyone must bow to it; the obvious factor, if you know the story, is that some created this scenario as an attempt at Jewish genocide. Now everyone, we are told was there, but we primarily see the three Hebrew's that worked in Nebuchadnezzar's court. Since you know the story, then you also know they did not bow and were thrown into the fiery furnace, and, walked out of that same furnace untouched by the smell of smoke. Where was Daniel? While the absence of Daniel seems insignificant, it proves that not everyone was there. Examples like this, but on a larger scale, are all throughout the O.T.
So, here is the current scorecard.
Gog and his armies – killed on the hills of Israel, and killed in the Megiddo valley.
But watch what happens next.
Ezekiel 39:6 NET. I will send fire on Magog and those who live securely in the coastlands; then they will know that I am the LORD.
The typical “Christian” might read Ezekiel 38, 39, and because they are lead about so easily by false teachers, will believe that Russia is the sole army coming down from the North and attacking Israel. But, we are told this person, the leader of Magog is coming, and they will be killed. If Gog and his troops have been killed, who then, are all these people in the coastlands, and why are they getting punished?
So what do we know for sure?
Ezekiel 38:3 Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. It is easy to visualize Meshech and Tubal, but there are allies of Gog coming to this fight. These people were descendants of Reuben, and Gog was most likely born in Egypt. By the time God's people were led out of Egypt, they were fully immersed as Egyptians, hence the law. Oral history was the only thing they had. Thankfully, some remembered the stories tied to Abraham and their forefathers, or they would have been Egyptians to the soul. Since Reuben was intentionally disinherited, his anger and disdain may have carried with his descendants. We know that Gog traveled north to the region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and, we know that Russia had a heavy hand in this same region for years. Turkey now plays the heavy hand across the majority of Asia Minor. These people were also integrated into what was known as the Scythians. A violent people group that were feared because they were excellent equestrians that excelled at warfare from horseback. People from Egypt, Iran, Russia, and Siberia were associated with the Scythians. Even Genghis Khan has Scythian blood as part of his ancestry. Ezekiel 38:5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Put are with them, all of them with shields and helmets. Persia = Modern day Iran. However, Persia has always had an association with Assyria, just as Nineveh did. So tuned your thinking toward those associated with Assyria (Babylon.)
Ethiopia is easy enough to picture, as its name is modernized here. However, many call this Cush. Smith's Bible Dictionary tells us that Cush is “The name of a son of Ham, apparently the eldest, and of a territory or territories occupied by his descendants. The Cushites appear to have spread along tracts, extending from the higher Nile to the Euphrates and Tigris. History affords many traces of this relation of Babylonia, Arabia, and Ethiopia."
Put = Also a son of Ham. Put can be thought of as Libya, or the northern African continent. If it is the North African continent, then what nation has consistently been in the news lately? Nigeria, as they, under the auspices of Boko Haran (the African version of Islam,) go about killing off Christians.
So, what is the common thread? Islamic nations.
One of the things you should note is that places like Tarshish cannot be found on a map, and Sheba and Dedan seem to be allies.
As of 07/12/18 Putin of Russia, is now working closely with Libya to strengthen their fighting abilities.
Integration by Russia, to that level, tends to put Russia into this mix, albeit as a technical advisor.
We seem to be on the verge of a massive and deadly event, that may carry long- term nuclear significance.