The Oracle on Gog And Magog - Chapters 38-39
F. Cundick, Luton
8. The Oracle On Gog And Magog - Chapters 38-39
Following the themes of restoration is the great “Invasion Symphony”, as this oracle has been called. What is the motive of the oracle? Has not the prophet to counteract the despondency of the people? Many would argue that if their present catastrophe were overcome, the predominance of the nations would still remain, and Israel could sink under yet another attack into permanent ruin. Against reasoning of this sort the prophet offers the comfort of the complete, glorious victory of God over all their enemies.
The oracle presents considerable interest to the student of prophecy. Great events such as this always raise questions in the minds of those who love the prophetic word, but one thing is certain. Apart from questions of politics, treaties, balance of power, or any human point of view, the believer can learn from Scripture what is going to happen. The important thing is to find interpretations based upon solid principles.
First, let us once again take a bird’s eye view of Ezekiel’s book. The first part bears upon the siege of Jerusalem; the second, upon the affairs of the surrounding nations; the third, largely upon the future conditions for Israel. At once we are led to consider events of future importance for Israel in chapters 38-39. It is clear from the details supplied in the oracle that no past invasion in Israel’s history is sufficient to be their fulfilment. There follows a survey of the eight parts of the prophecy.
- 38. 1-9. The announcement of the judgment of Gog and his allies. The whole movement of the invasion is depicted as under God’s control.
- 38. 10-13. Gog’s enterprise is prompted by the lust of plunder.
- 38. 14-16. Gog is depicted as moving onward to his execution. The outcome is the “sanctification” of Jehovah.
- 38. 17-23. The attack upon Israel is a prediction of the prophets. The defeat of the powers of the kingdoms arrayed against God and Israel will be an exhibition of the absolute sovereignty of God before all mankind.
- 39. 1-7. The judgment of God will be universal in extent. Consider the meaning of “isles”, v. 6.
- 39. 8-16. Description of the cleansing process of the land after the destruction of Gog’s hosts.
- 39. 17-24. The magnitude of the judgment is set forth under the image of a sacrificial feast to which all the birds of the air and beasts of the field are invited.
- 39. 25-29. The restoration of Israel announced again.
Each of these sections is prefaced with the words, “Thus saith Adonahy Jehovah”, a title expressing the sovereignty of God.
It is necessary next to ascertain as far as possible the identity of the peoples and countries that form the confederacy. This is beset with difficulties, but rewarding. As one works with a map, the geographical positions of the peoples are outlined. To the north of Palestine are seen Gog, Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer and the house of Togarmah. To the east, Persia, and to the south of Persia, Ethiopia and Libya or Cush and Put, as these two latter names are better rendered in the Revised Version reading, v. 5. The area embraced is, predominantly, the Middle East. Over this Gog rules. Whether Gog is a proper noun or not, it does appear that in the context an individual is addressed; see 38. 3; 39. 1. It is difficult to conceive such a vast host moving without a head or chief. “Be thou a commander over them” may mean this; see 38. 7 R.V. marg.
Following this comes the vital question, when does this invasion of the land take place? Some writers suggest a post-millennial invasion, identifying it with the rebellion of Revelation 20. 7-10. This, the only other mention in the Scriptures of Gog and Magog, influences the interpretation of the oracle. There is a moral identity, but not a historical one. The time-note supplied by Ezekiel, “in the latter years”, 38. 8, “in the latter days”, 38. 16, is definitely and frequently used of the closing period of God’s dealing with Israel which leads to their restoration at the beginning of the millennial age. But John says distinctly of the rebellion that in vision-form he saw it taking place “after the thousand years are finished”, Rev. 20. 7, Newberry. If, then, the event is pre-millennial, at what point of time? The whole has a relation to Israel’s latter years in the sense already stated. This gives occasion to say that one good principle of prophetic interpretation is to distinguish between matters that pertain to the different groups of people with whom God is dealing. Some locate its fulfilment before the tribulation; others suggest that it is fulfilled in the middle of Daniel’s seventieth week. Yet another view is that the event will take place after the return of Christ in glory, though there are many arguments against this view. A careful and prayerful reconsideration of the whole subject is called for, namely the nature, extent, subjects and issue of the divine intervention. The event that the prophet describes could well be that seen by the beloved Daniel, Dan. 11. 36-45, and the faithful John, Rev. 19. 17-21.