“Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.” — Ezekiel 38:7
Warnings from a variety of sources have a role in contemporary society. For example, here in the United States, the National Weather Service uses the words “advisory,” “watch,” and “warning” to alert citizens about potentially dangerous weather such as hurricanes, tidal waves, and floods. Understanding these terms and knowing how to react can be a lifesaver. Our Department of State issues travel advisories that alert individuals planning trips abroad about unsafe conditions in other countries. The United States Food and Drug Administration cautions consumers about unapproved and misbranded products. The United Nations issues warnings regarding natural hazards such as pest invasions, diseases, and environmental issues.
Military warnings — both heeded and unheeded — have often changed the course of history. Perhaps one of the most famous warnings in United States history is the legendary ride of Paul Revere to alert American patriots just prior to the Revolutionary War that the British troops were on the move. That warning was immortalized by the poem entitled “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It begins,
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
While the warning of Paul Revere and his fellow patriots impacted the history of the United States, today’s text includes a warning about a war at the end of time that will impact the entire world. And this warning was issued by God himself!
Through the Prophet Ezekiel, God revealed that in the last days, Gog and Magog will wage war against Israel while that nation is enjoying security in their own land. Bible scholars have varying opinions regarding the identity of Gog and Magog, but they clearly represent a coalition of evil powers that will come from the north and align themselves against Israel. Ezekiel 38:4 indicates that they will be drawn by God and will serve His purpose. They will come against Israel like a “storm” — a great oppressive power that will cover the land. However, the evil intent of Gog and Magog will ultimately be thwarted decisively and completely.
While the end time events prophesied by Ezekiel may seem shrouded in mystery to us, they are not hypothetical. We can be certain that they will occur! The battle of Gog and Magog, when the nations representing Satan come to war against God and His people, will be a very real event. While we may not understand every detail, knowing how to respond to this information can be a lifesaver spiritually. We can purpose in our hearts to be alert and aware of the indicators all around us that the time is near. We want to make sure we are prepared — that our peace is made with God and we are on the Lord’s side!
Ezekiel 38 and 39 are a prophecy against a confederacy of nations that will attack Israel in the end time with the purpose of destroying the Jewish people. This massive force will be led by Gog, the leader and commanding general, who is described in verses 2-3 of chapter 38 as the “chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.”
The nations that will invade from the north are identified as Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, and Togarmah, all of which are descendants of Japheth (see Genesis 10).Ethiopia (Cush) and Libya (Phut) are listed as invaders from the south and are descendants of Ham. Persia, coming from the east, generally is thought to have descended from Shem. All these nations will be drawn into a coordinated attack on Israel. Sheba (an area near Yemen), Dedan (northern Saudi Arabia), and Tarshish (on the Iberian peninsula) will also join in the coalition of forces invading Israel. Scholars link the Biblical names to a variety of nations, but the key point is that a combined force from many nations around Israel will participate in the attack.
After announcing in verse 3 that He will oppose Gog, God told how He will use the evil coalition of powers. The phrase “put hooks into thy jaws” (verse 4) describes the forceful way that herdsmen of Ezekiel’s day compelled livestock to follow their masters. Although Gog will choose to attack Israel of his own free will, and the coalition will be drawn into the battle by their own hatred, God will use their evil plans for His purpose: “that the heathen may know me” (verse 16).
Verses 8 and 11 make clear that this prophecy applies to a time after Israel has been fully restored to its land. The “latter” years could also be translated as “end” or “after-part,” placing the invasion and conflict near the end of time. “After many days” substantiates that Israel will not only be fully restored to its land when this battle occurs, but will have enjoyed security in their land for a considerable amount of time. The fact that the people have been “dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates” is a further indicator that they will have enjoyed an era of safety.
Verse 13 indicates that the great trading centers of Sheba, Dedan, and Tarshish will protest against Gog’s usurping of their position as world trade leaders, but will then join the confederacy. This is an indication that avarice will be a motivating factor for this massive end-of-days attack against Israel.
IV. The consolation of Israel
A. Prophecies of Israel’s restoration
6. The destruction of Gog
a. The invasion (38:1-16)
(1) The identity of the invaders (38:1-6)
(2) The preparation for the invasion (38:7-9)
(3) The purpose of the invasion (38:10-13)
(4) The description of the invasion (38:14-16)
By faith we know God’s Word will be fulfilled concerning the Jewish people, and by faith we can trust Him to help us be what He wants us to be until that day.