Ezekiel 38 - Bill Koenig
March 18, 2001
How might current events play out in the Middle East during the coming months? Following, for your consideration, are some different scenarios to compliment my “Middle East: Bottom Line” Commentary from earlier this past week.
The signing of a peace treaty between the Israelis and the Palestinians seems very unlikely because, in reality, any resolution comes down to the status of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount sovereignty, the issues over which the talks broke off late last year.
The same prediction goes for the talks between Israel and Syria, which also broke off over possession of a few meters of Golan Heights land along the eastern shoreline of the Sea of Galilee.
So what will produce a peace treaty? Will it be a miracle “peace deal,” introduced by a world leader according to Daniel 9:27? Or will it be a major military victory by Israel, so devastating the Arabs say, “OK, we will agree?”
Would that major victory be the Biblical Gog and Magog war?
Or could the peace deal be initiated by the destruction of Damascus, as foretold in Isaiah 17:1? (Note: This event could also happen as part of the Gog and Magog war or perhaps even another military skirmish.)
The key scripture that could give us a clue to the timing lies in Ezekiel 38:14, which talks of a time of safety in Israel before the Gog and Magog war.
Ezekiel 38:14 (NIV)—“Therefore, son of man. prophesy and say to Gog: This is what the Sovereign Lord says in that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it?”
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of a time of peace when he was in office, yet many prophecy people don’t believe this is the peace spoken of in Ezekiel. That type of peace seems to be the peace that would come with a formal agreement between the Israelis and the Arabs either after a major and decisive victory or after a world leader comes with a plan to which both sides would agree.
So in all likelihood, the Gog and Magog war will occur in Israel after the Daniel 9:27 treaty is manifested. Russia is currently and actively reestablishing military agreements with Arab nations so the extra time will meet their prophetic role more effectively in the Middle East. Just last week a joint Russian and Iranian military and business agreement was revealed.
With that in mind, I think the Isaiah 17:1 destruction of Damascus could be the most likely event leading to a peace treaty. It would be so devastating the Arabs would say, “enough is enough,” and “lets give peace a try,” only to side with Russia later on in the Gog and Magog war. At that time, the world leader would comes to the peace table with the Daniel 9:27 solution.
Perhaps we could get a more diplomatic replacement for Yasser Arafat, one who could work out a deal with the Israelis. However, the key stumbling issues remain the status of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount sovereignty issue.
Moreover, we continue to hear that no Arab leader will be able to physically survive the rage of his own people if any deal is signed without possession of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount being part of it.
Ezekiel 38:8 (NIV)—“After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety.”
1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NIV)—“While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
THE TIMING OF GOG AND MAGOG
Biblical scholars are divided into three predominant scenarios about the timing of Gog and Magog war. In addition, the second group has four schools of thought about the timing of when this event would occur during the seven-year tribulation period.
Scenario 1: This group believes the war happens before the Daniel 9:27 treaty is confirmed and that it would be the catalyst for the treaty’s approval. However, in this scenario, there is not really the time of peace (safety) in Israel before the Gog and Magog war spoken about in Ezekiel 38:14. Some in this group believe that there has already been peace in Israel and that the Gog and Magog war could break out at any time.
Scenario 2: This group believes there has not been a time of peace (safety) as spoken of in Ezekiel 38:14. This time of peace and safety likely would come only after the confirmation of the Daniel 9:27 agreement.
Some of this group believe Gog and Magog will happen in the first year or two of the final seven-year Tribulation period. Others believe it will take place toward the end of the first three and one-half years. Still others believe it will happen in the middle of the final three and one-half years, while a final group believe it will occur toward the latter half of the seven-year period, just before Armageddon.
Scenario 3: This very small third group believes that the Gog and Magog war is that mentioned in Revelation 20:8, taking place after Christ’s thousand-year reign in the New Jerusalem.
However, in this scenario, it looks as if Gog and Magog symbolize the forces of evil, and we must remember that Gog is a human leader.
Additionally, the war in Revelation 20 is followed immediately by the destruction of the earth and the creation of a new heaven and new earth, while in Ezekiel, life goes on for months as people bury the dead. Additionally, the Revelation 20 war has to do with Jerusalem, while Gog and Magog have to do with Israel.
COMMENTARY ON EZEKIEL 38:7-23
Following is a verse-by-verse presentation of Ezekiel 38:7-23 from the King James Version, with my comments following the bullets.
“7 Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. 8 After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.”
Israel was brought back from desolation. The residents came from many places, and the land was waste. But Israel came forth out of many nations, and they shall all dwell safely.
At first, the residents were not prepared militarily to defend themselves, but they certainly are now.
“9 Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.”
The attackers of Israel did come in great numbers. At times, they looked just like “a cloud that covered the land.”
“10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:
11 And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,”
What people are living in unwalled villages, not suspecting war and living in peace? The people of Israel certainly don’t live in peace currently. There is a heightened state of alert with the communities fortified in case of war, and the reserves have been called up. There is daily talk of war and terror from the Arab terror groups.
Some say that Israel has already lived in peace, including former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who made the claim while in office during the Oslo Accords. However, the war of Gog and Magog is prophesied to surprise the inhabitants of Israel.
“12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.”
The people of Israel have gathered themselves together from the nations and have made their land rich with livestock and goods.
“13 Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?”
One group of invaders would come from this area.
“14 Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?”
Today is not a time of safety in Israel, with many living in armed camps and settlements and Palestinian areas isolated and blocked off from entry or exit.
“15 And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: 16 And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.”
God will allow these nations, including Russia, to come against Israel in great numbers, so that He may show them His holiness and power.
“17 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?”
God will bring judgment against the enemies of Israel.
“18 And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face. 19 For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; 20 So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.”
A great earthquake is predicted in Israel, so powerful that the whole earth will experience it and will shake at the Lord’s power and presence.
“21 And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man's sword shall be against his brother.”
At that time, the invaders will fight among themselves, not knowing on whose side they are. The earthquake contributes to this confusion.
“22 And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.”
The invaders will experience major rains, life-threatening hailstones, fire and brimstone as in the time of Sodom and Gomorrah. This will be God’s judgment against them.
“23 Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.”
There will be no doubt that the Lord has spoken through these catastrophic events. The hardened hearts of many unbelievers will then know that this time is unique because of the magnitude of this chain of events.
I will provide commentary on Ezekiel 39 later this week, going into the details of the judgment from the Gog and Magog war and of the subsequent restoration in Israel.
Please note that I will also keep you informed about Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to Washington Monday and Tuesday.
Have a blessed week in Him!
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