Yet, it’s only strange when we take it out of context. Many biblical scholars discuss this chapter as it relates to future “end time” events. While, that is likely true, it doesn’t “just appear” out of the blue. If you recall what we discussed in the previous post, God had just prophesied much prosperity to Israel. Here, God is backtracking a little to show how they will get to that point, and how he will protect them and ensure them of the future he just promised them.
So, what did God say would happen?
God gives Ezekiel a prophecy of a future time when a league of nations led by a ruler whom he calls Gog, will come against the unified nation of Israel (Ek 38:2). Gog lives in the land of Magog, which seems to be a territory between and above the Caspian and Black Seas. Gog is also called the Prince of Meshech and Tubal, which are likely parts of southern Russia and Georgia. It seems Ezekiel is stating that Gog will form an alliance with Persia (Iran), Cush (Ethiopia), Put (Libya), and Gomer and Togarmah (northern Turkey and Armenia). Opposing these will be Sheba and Dedan (Arabia), and Tarshish (Western Europe).
Let’s take a pause here. Where did all these strange names originate? We can final almost all of them in the genealogy of Noah (Gn 10), who had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Gomer, Magog, Tubal, and Meshech were sons of Japheth. Togarmah and Tarshish were both grandsons of Japheth through Gomer and Javan, respectively. Persia included both Medes (descendants of Madai, son of Japheth) and Elam (son of Shem). Sheba and Dedan were great grandsons of Ham through his son Cush. Therefore, by following the genetic clues of how the population expanded, we get the likely locations of today’s nations from these ancient people. And, believe it or not, it all seems to fit into today’s scenario.
Ezekiel states that Israel will be attacked from the north, south, and east. Those attacking will have a four-fold agenda (Ek 38:11-12): (1) to obtain the wealth of Israel; (2) to control the Middle East; (3) to destroy Israel; and (4) to challenge the authority of the Antichrist. This attack likely occurs in the early reign of the Antichrist after he negotiates a treaty with Israel. It’s likely not later in his rule, because half-way through the Tribulation, the Antichrist himself turns against Israel. When this attack occurs against Israel, the Antichrist, Sheba and Dedan (southern Arabia), and Tarshish (western Europe) will be against the invasion.
It is interesting to note that scripture suggests that this Antichrist will have a ten-territorial kingdom and he will then take over rule of three of them. I bring this up here because it seems to tie very well into what Ezekiel is prophesying here. It seems our United Nations has already had discussions of how to divide our world into ten socio-economic regions. Therefore, without too much imagination, one could envision how such a one could take advantage of this previous work to divide the world into such areas and set up someone to rule these areas under his ultimate control. It is also interesting that the nations mentioned here in Ezekiel all originate from three of the identified territories. So, it would seem very likely that the invasion mentioned here in Ezekiel is the reason these three territories then go under his direct rule (Dn 7:24) as he would have to depose these three leaders of these territories to make himself appear to be a man of peace, even though he is not. Why would he have to do this? Let’s follow on in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel prophesies that God will use several natural disasters to hinder these nations from invading Israel (Ek 38:19-22): (1) a great earthquake; (2) infighting among the troops of these nations doing the invading; (3) disease; and (4) torrential rain, hailstones, and fire with burning sulfur. He then prophesies of four key events as an outcome of the demise of these nations (Ek 39:4-29): (1) birds and beasts are called to gorge on the dead bodies; (2) burying of the dead takes seven months to complete; (3) the weapons left from the invasion of the dead army provide enough fuel to last seven years; and (4) blessings, restoration, and salvation is provided to Israel.
Although it is God Himself who actually saves Israel (Ek 38:21-23), the Antichrist will likely claim credit and get further respect from the other nations of the world who will then see him as one dedicated to peace. This will endear their devotion to him even more. In addition, this information also supports the invasion occurring very early in his reign since the weapons become fuel for seven years and the whole Tribulation period will last for seven years.
We can now go back to the first question asked in this post. God provides hope when he provides doom because he is after the hearts of people and nations. He is showing that his ultimate plan will prevail despite our suffering and what he has to do to get our attention. Through these prophecies, he has given us knowledge, choice, and hope. He gives us the knowledge to see what will be coming, the choice to decide if we are going to believe it and change our perspective, and he gives us hope so that if we do the first two, we will have a blessed future. Don’t you want a blessed future? It’s just a matter of faith. It has always been a matter of faith: in Ezekiel’s time as well as in ours. What do you say? Are you willing to learn from what has been given to us in scripture, choose to believe and put your faith in the only one who has paid our debt of sin to provide us a wonderful future, and receive the hope that is then tangible and so real it is almost palpable? Are you ready?
Millennium or Promised Kingdom – Its Beginning