Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Timing of Ezekiel 38 and 39

by James C. Morris – 

 There are numerous details in Ezekiel 38 and 39 that show when this great battle will take place. We will first see that this attack is unquestionably an end time event.

In Ezekiel 38:8 the LORD tells Gog, “After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel.” Again, in verse 16 He plainly states that “It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes.” There has been no event even remotely similar to the one described in these chapters at any time in the sad history of this nation. So this event has to take place in the future. But these passages also plainly tell us that it will take place “in the latter years” and “in the latter days.” So it is definitely an end time event.

But when, within the time line prophesied for the end times, will this great event take place? We will first examine several details that show that it cannot take place before the middle of the seventieth week of Danliel’s famous prophecy of the seventy weeks.

In Ezekiel 39:7, after telling Gog he will be destroyed, the Lord says “So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel, and I will not let them profane My holy name anymore.” But Daniel 9:27 tells us that “in the middle of” the seventieth week, the “prince that shall come” “shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate.” There can be no reasonable doubt that the abomination referred to here, is when “the man of sin,” “the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped” “sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (I Thessalonians 2:3-4) Aside from their blasphemy against and crucifixion of Jesus, This will clearly be the worst profaning of the Lord’s name ever done by this rebellious people. But after Gog is destroyed, the Lord “will not let His people Israel “profane” His holy name “anymore.” This shows us that Gog’s destruction cannot take place before the middle of the seventieth week, the time when this abomination will be committed.

We just looked at the first part of Ezekiel 39:7. The rest of that verse is “Then the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.” But according to I Thessalonians 2:9-12, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” During the time of the Antichrist “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.” But beginning with Gog’s destruction, “Then the nations shall know” that Israel’s God is the Lord. This has to be after the time they are under a divinely sent “strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.” This again shows that Gog’s destruction cannot take place before the time of the Antichrist.

But simply knowing it cannot be before the middle of the seventieth week is still not very definitive. The time is shown more precisely than that.

In Ezekiel 39:29 the Lord says that after this great deliverance He “will not hide” His “face from them anymore.” But during the great tribulation:

Then they will cry to the Lord,

But He will not hear them;

He will even hide His face from them at that time,

Because they have been evil in their deeds.”

(Micah 3:4)

This shows that the deliverance from Gog cannot take place until after the great tribulation.

So now we know that Gog’s attack has to be not only after the middle of the seventieth week, but also after the great tribulation, which is the last half of the seventieth week. But scripture gives us the timing even more precisely that this.

In Ezekiel 39:22, the Lord says, “the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day forward” But in John 5:43 Jesus told the Jews (see verses 18-19 of that chapter); “I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.” This plainly shows that the Jews will receive the Antichrist, so at that time they will not know that the Lord is “their God.” But when Gog is destroyed, “the house of Israel shall know that” He is “the LORD their God from that day forward.” During the millennium “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” (Jeremiah 31:34) So Gog will be destroyed before the millennium. From these two details we see that we really do not need anything more than this one verse to understand that Gog’s destruction takes place after the time of the Antichrist (this is the third detail in this prophecy that shows that) and before the millennium.

This is how we know that Gog’s attack and destruction will not only be and end time event, but within the end times it will be after the time of the Antichrist, (shown by three details) after the great tribulation, (shown by one detail) and before the millennium (shown by a final detail.)

There are also less obvious reasons for the conclusion that Ezekiel 38 and 39 take place after the seventieth week. The first of these is that throughout this prophecy the people being attacked are called “Israel,” not “Judah.” In prophecies about suffering in the land during the seventieth week, the people who are suffering are never called “Israel.” This is because only “Judah” will be in the land during that seventieth week. “All Israel” will not be in the land until “Messiah” comes and brings the rest of Israel back to the land. (see Isaiah 66:15-20, Ezekiel 34:11-16, Jeremiah 16:14-18, Matthew 24:29-31, and Ezekiel 20:33-38)

In Ezekiel 36:10, the Lord tells the “mountains of Israel” (verse 8) that He “will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it.” Again, in Micah 2:12, the Lord says “I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold.” It is clear that this has not yet happened, for there are still Jews elsewhere in the world. But when will it happen?

We see this in Ezekiel 20:33-38, where we read: “‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,’ says the Lord GOD.

“‘I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

When the Lord brings Israel “out from the peoples” and gathers them “out of the countries” where they “are scattered,” He will plead His case with them “face to face,” Just as He did with their fathers ”in the wilderness of the land of Egypt.”And the transgressors among them will be brought “out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel.” This is plainly after Messiah comes, so all Israel will not be in the land until that time.

All this agrees perfectly with the fact that those who have now returned to the land are called Jews. The word Jew does not mean an Israelite. It means a descendant of the ancient kingdom of Judah, that is, a member of either the tribe of Judah or the tribe of Benjamin. This can be seen from the Hebrew words translated “Jew” in the Old Testament. The one used most often is יְהוּד,ִ yeudiy in our alphabet, word number 3064 in Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary. The meaning of this word becomes obvious when we see the word it is derived from, יְהוּדָה, yehudah in our alphabet, word number 3063 in Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary. This is the name transliterated Judah, the name of both the tribe and the kingdom of Judah. Thus we see that the original form of the word “Jew” was “Judie,” that is, a citizen of the kingdom of Judah.

There is another detail only slightly more obvious, which shows that Gog’s attack cannot be before the seventieth week. The prophecy repeatedly states that at the time of the attack, the people of Israel will be dwelling “safely.” (Ezekiel 38:8,11,14) The Hebrew word translated safely in each of these places is בֶּטַח, betach in our alphabet, word number 983 in Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary. This word doesn’t only refer to the actual fact of safety. It also refers to a feeling of being safe. Whether the word refers to the fact or the feeling of safety can only be determined from the context. In this case, the meaning is plainly the feeling of safety, rather than the actual fact. This can be seen from verse 14: “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “On that day when My people Israel dwell safely, will you not know it?” ’ ” If the meaning was that Gog knew the people were actually safe, this would not make him decide to attack. But if the meaning was that Gog knew they felt safe, it would encourage him to attack. We see this more clearly in verse 11: “You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’” Thus we see that the word safely in this prophecy refers to feeling safe, not actually being safe.

In Daniel 9:27 we are told that The Roman prince will make a seven year covenant with Judah. This seven year period is the seventieth week. This covenant will give them a false sense of security. (Isaiah 28:14-18) It seems obvious that those who dwell in present day Israel will never feel safe until the Roman prince’s treaty is confirmed. But we cannot interpret prophecy on the basis of current events. We need scripture for everything. So what do the scriptures say about this?

For three transgressions of Edom, and for four,

I will not turn away its punishment,

Because he pursued his brother with the sword,

And cast off all pity;

His anger tore perpetually,

And he kept his wrath forever.”

(Amos 1:11)

The anger and wrath of Edom will never cease. The ancient land of Edom covered the southern portion of today’s Jordan and the north-western part of today’s Saudi Arabia. Again, we read:

For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four,

I will not turn away its punishment,

Because they took captive the whole captivity

To deliver them up to Edom,” (Amos 1:6)

This clearly shows that Gaza will join Edom in their wickedness. The next verse, 8, mentions that this is the land of the Philistines. (that is, the Palestinians) And verse 9 adds that Tyre (in present day Lebanon) will join in as well. Thus we see that until Edom is destroyed there will never be a time when Judah (which is now called Israel) will have reasonable cause to feel safe. But this will not happen until Messiah comes.

We know this because we also read:


Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD that

He has taken against Edom,

And His purposes that He has proposed against

the inhabitants of Teman:

Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out;

Surely He shall make their dwelling places

desolate with them.

The earth shakes at the noise of their fall;

At the cry its noise is heard at the Red Sea.

Behold, He shall come up and fly like the eagle,

And spread His wings over Bozrah;

The heart of the mighty men of Edom in that day shall be

Like the heart of a woman in birth pangs.”

(Jeremiah 49:20-22)

Again, we read:

For My sword shall be bathed in heaven;

Indeed it shall come down on Edom,

And on the people of My curse, for judgment.

The sword of the LORD is filled with blood,

It is made overflowing with fatness,

With the blood of lambs and goats,

With the fat of the kidneys of rams.

For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah,

And a great slaughter in the land of Edom.

The wild oxen shall come down with them,

And the young bulls with the mighty bulls;

Their land shall be soaked with blood,

And their dust saturated with fatness.

For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance,

The year of recompense for the cause of Zion.

Its streams shall be turned into pitch,

And its dust into brimstone;

Its land shall become burning pitch.

It shall not be quenched night or day;

Its smoke shall ascend forever.

From generation to generation it shall lie waste;

No one shall pass through it forever and ever.”

(Isaiah 34:5-10)

This judgment begins at Bozrah, about thirty miles south of the Dead Sea. It then goes some twenty-five miles south to Teman, and from there to within hearing of the Red Sea. Habakkuk 3:3 mentions the Lord’s coming from Mount Paran, which is approximately one hundred and sixty miles southeast of Teman, and is on the shore of the Red Sea. This entire area will receive the same judgment as Sodom and Gomorrah.

This obviously takes place at the time when Messiah comes in power and glory, so we know Edom will not be destroyed until that time. And from this, we know that Israel will not dwell safely before that time, and therefore that Gog’s invasion cannot be before that time.

So we see that the scriptures do indeed indicate, and very clearly indicate, that, rather being before the seventieth week, as many imagine, the great attack led by “Gog” in Ezekiel 38 ad 39 will take place after the end of the seventieth week, and before the Millennium.

Now many reject this conclusion due to faulty reasoning.

We read in Ezekiel 39:9-10, “ ‘Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and bucklers, the bows and arrows, the javelins and spears; and they will make fires with them for seven years. They will not take wood from the field nor cut down any from the forests, because they will make fires with the weapons; and they will plunder those who plundered them, and pillage those who pillaged them,’ says the Lord GOD.”

We also read that “For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land.” (Ezekiel 39:12)

These people point out that if the attack described in these two chapters were to come after the seventieth week, this would make these two periods extend into the Millennium. Then they argue that, “since that obviously could not happen,” this attack has to come before the seventieth week begins.

But this argument has a fatal flaw. While this seems obvious to them, they are totally unable to produce even a scrap of scriptural evidence that this “could not happen” during the Millennium. Not only does no scripture say this, there is no scripture that even implies such an idea. This is nothing but pure, unadulterated, human reasoning. And, as we have seen, it is contrary to what the scriptures actually say.

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