“Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” — Ezekiel 39:29
The amazing mercy of God is granted to both nations and individuals. Evidence of national mercy is found in our focus verse, where we read that God will one day pour out of His Spirit upon Israel again. On a personal level, we know that God repeatedly reaches out to those who have rejected Him.
Andy Haggren, a veteran of the Apostolic Faith work, was one who benefited from God’s mercy many years ago. He had been saved when he was nineteen years old, but after awhile he lost that victory because he listened to the devil who planted doubts in his mind. For six years, Andy tried to find enjoyment in the ways of the world.
He testified, “One Saturday night I planned to go to a dance. Earlier I had been drinking [this was during the period of the Prohibition when alcohol consumption was illegal in the United States], so I stopped at a café for a cup of coffee. When I left there, I remember stepping into a taxicab. Then I knew nothing more until I found myself struggling to climb a slippery, moss-covered piling in the Willamette River. The shock of the cold water had revived me momentarily.
“I could not climb the piling, and it came to me that on the other side of the river, I could climb up the rocky bank. Without hesitation, I let go of the piling, intending to swim, but I blacked out again. I don’t know how long I was in the water, but I heard a voice calling out of the dark, ‘Grab the rope!’ I couldn’t see anyone, but I felt the rope fall into my hands.
“A tugboat that was heading up the river was playing its light from side to side, looking for submerged logs and other debris. They had seen me! After they had pulled me aboard, someone said: ‘You are one lucky guy!’ I knew it was more than luck. God had spared my life, and I thanked Him for it. I was put ashore, and someone paid my taxi fare home. Whoever had doped me — perhaps putting a pill in my coffee — had also taken all my money, my identification, and even the key for my room.
“How close to Hell I had been! That thought really frightened me. Yet I did not give my heart to the Lord. But early one morning, on my way home from a night of revelry, I just looked up into the starry heavens and sent up an SOS to God. It was not much of a prayer — only, ‘God, help me!’ — but God heard it. I believe He had been waiting for my cry for help.
“On a Sunday afternoon I went to visit my sisters who were just leaving for an afternoon church service. They told me to make myself at home, and I sat down and began to read an Apostolic Faith paper I found on the table.
“I shall never forget how the Spirit of God began talking to my heart again. I felt the call of God as I had never felt it through the years I had been away from Him. With tender cords of love He drew me to Himself, showing me He was willing to forgive all. He gave me courage to make another start for Heaven. By a chair I prayed, purposing that I was through with the old life. I meant to serve God, and He saved me.
“The next morning the devil was there to tempt me again, saying ‘You aren’t saved. A backslider cannot get saved that easily.’ I listened and decided he was right; I had not yet learned to use the shield of faith. I went back to the poolroom, but I couldn’t get interested in the game and soon left. As I walked block after block, the Lord reasoned with me, making Heaven and Hell very real. I had come to the crossroads of life. There was no more room for doubt. Now I knew that henceforth I would live for Jesus and believe His promises.
“God forgave my faltering. I had learned my lesson. Never through the forty-three years since that day have I turned back. It did not come about by my willpower. God gave me the grace. He changed my heart and gave me new desires.
“Words can never express the infinite love and mercy the Lord held out to this repentant sinner who had lost his way. My heart is filled with gratitude.” Andy served God until he was called home to Heaven.
In today’s focus verse, God promised through Ezekiel that someday He would restore Israel. In the years since Ezekiel’s era, His chosen people have rejected Him many times. However, at the end of time, God will bring them to Himself again. In the meantime, God’s mercy still is extended to individuals who turn to Him in repentance. His Spirit is looking and calling for souls to seek God and find the peace and happiness He offers.
Today’s text, the last portion of Ezekiel 39, concludes the prophecy against a confederacy of nations that will attack Israel in the end time, and reveals the manner in which God’s honor will be vindicated.
Verses 17-20 describe in graphic terms the final judgment and destruction of Gog and Magog. The description of “feathered fowl” and “beast of the field” feeding on the bodies and blood of the dead is an implied comparison to a typical feast of that era, to which all neighbors and visitors would be invited as a matter of etiquette. Those who worshipped idols often praised their idols at such gatherings, and ridiculed the gods of the vanquished. At the grotesque sacrificial feast described in verses 17-20, the bodies of unbelievers are eaten by unclean bird and beast scavengers as the Lord judges those who disparaged His name.
According to verses 21-24, the victory of God over Gog and the accompanying forces will remind Israel of the power of the God they serve. Both heathen nations and the house of Israel will come to understand that Israel was chastened because of her own iniquity, not because God was unable to deliver His people.
Verses 25-29 point to the final restoration of “the whole house of Israel” to the land originally promised them. There will no longer be a division between ten tribes and two tribes, but the nation will be whole and complete under a single leadership. Verse 29 reinforces the reality that this is a final restoration; Israel will never again be scattered among the nations.
IV. The consolation of Israel
A. Prophecies of Israel’s restoration
6. The destruction of Gog
b. The destruction
(5) The feast for the birds (39:17-20)
(6) The revelation of God’s glory (39:21-29)
(a) The disclosure of God’s glory (39:21-22)
(b) The reason for Israel’s captivity (39:23-24)
(c) The restoration of Israel (39:25-29)
God’s marvelous mercy is still extended. We can thank Him that He is seeking those who have turned away and calling them with His love.