1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him 3 and say, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. 4 And I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a great host, all of them with buckler and shield, wielding swords. 5 Persia, Cush, and Put are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; 6 Gomer and all his hordes; Beth-togarmah from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes—many peoples are with you.
7 “Be ready and keep ready, you and all your hosts that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them. 8 After many days you will be mustered. In the latter years you will go against the land that is restored from war, the land whose people were gathered from many peoples upon the mountains of Israel, which had been a continual waste. Its people were brought out from the peoples and now dwell securely, all of them. 9 You will advance, coming on like a storm. You will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your hordes, and many peoples with you.
10 “Thus says the Lord God: On that day, thoughts will come into your mind, and you will devise an evil scheme 11 and say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having no bars or gates,’ 12 to seize spoil and carry off plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and the people who were gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell at the center of the earth. 13 Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all its leaders will say to you, ‘Have you come to seize spoil? Have you assembled your hosts to carry off plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to seize great spoil?’
14 “Therefore, son of man, prophesy, and say to Gog, Thus says the Lord God: On that day when my people Israel are dwelling securely, will you not know it? 15 You will come from your place out of the uttermost parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great host, a mighty army. 16 You will come up against my people Israel, like a cloud covering the land. In the latter days I will bring you against my land, that the nations may know me, when through you, O Gog, I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.” – Ezekiel 38:1-16 ESV
God has promised His people that a day is coming when they will return to the land of promise and enjoy a renewed relationship with Him as His chosen people. It will be a time of peace and prosperity, free from the threat of wars, famines, or plagues.
“When I have broken their chains of slavery and rescued them from those who enslaved them, then they will know that I am the Lord. They will no longer be prey for other nations, and wild animals will no longer devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will frighten them.
“And I will make their land famous for its crops, so my people will never again suffer from famines or the insults of foreign nations.” – Ezekiel 34:27-29 NLT
This future period of tranquility and fruitfulness will be accompanied by a remarkable realignment of Israel’s spiritual priorities. The nation’s physical revitalization will be marked by a miraculous transformation of each individual’s religious affections. God will perform much-needed “heart surgery,” providing His once-rebellious people with a new capacity to love and obey Him.
“I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27 NLT
As with all prophetic pronouncements, the timing of God’s promise is left unclear. It seems clear that this divine promise of future peace and prosperity has yet to occur. To date, there has been no time at which Israel has enjoyed the kind of idyllic, war-free environment described in these passages. Even today, while Israel experiences the benefits of its status as a revitalized and prosperous nation, it is surrounded by sworn enemies who wage a relentless campaign of hostilities against its sovereignty and very existence. And, for the most part, modern Israel is a secular nation with less than half the population identifying as religious, orthodox, or traditional in terms of their faith.
When asked, “What is your present religion, if any?” virtually all Israeli Jews say they are Jewish – and almost none say they have no religion – even though roughly half describe themselves as secular and one-in-five do not believe in God. For some, Jewish identity also is bound up with Israeli national pride. Most secular Jews in Israel say they see themselves as Israeli first and Jewish second, while most Orthodox Jews (Haredim and Datiim) say they see themselves as Jewish first and then Israeli. – https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2016/03/08/israels-religiously-divided-society/
So, this prophetic message given to Ezekiel deals with an as-yet-to-be-determined point in history that remains unfulfilled. And, according to chapter 38, Israel’s future restoration to the land will be interrupted by yet another threat of invasion from an outside enemy. Once again, out of the north, will come a powerful alliance of nations that will set its sights on the land of Israel. God personifies this enemy as “Gog of the land of Magog, the prince who rules over the nations of Meshech and Tubal” (Ezekiel 38:2 NLT). And Ezekiel is told to deliver a message to this future enemy of Israel.
“Get ready; be prepared! Keep all the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them. A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel. You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud.” – Ezekiel 38:7-9 NLT
There has been much debate over the centuries as to the exact identity of the individuals and nations named in this prophecy. The names Gog and Magog appear in Ezekiel 38-39 as well as Revelation 20:7-8. This has led many scholars to conclude that both passages are referring to the same end-times event. Whoever Gog is and whatever nations Meshech and Tubal are intended to represent, we know that their arrival lies somewhere in the distant future. God describes the timing of their appearance as “the latter years” (Ezekiel 38:8 ESV) and “the latter days” (Ezekiel 38:16 ESV). On “that day” (Ezekiel 38:14 ESV), God says, “You will come from your place out of the uttermost parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great host, a mighty army. You will come up against my people Israel, like a cloud covering the land. In the latter days I will bring you against my land…” (Ezekiel 38:15-16 ESV).
This coalition of northern nations will form an unholy alliance, determined to destroy God’s restored and spiritually revitalized people. The exact timing of this event is difficult to nail down, but it must take place during the end times. There are some who speculate that it will happen prior to the seven years of tribulation that will mark the end of the age. Others place it at the midway point of the tribulation when Israel is enjoying a period of peace made possible by the one-world leader known as the Antichrist. Then there are those who have concluded that this invasion of Israel is tied to the battle described in Revelation 20, which will take place at the end of Christ’s millennial reign.
When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. – Revelation 20:7-8 NLT
But regardless of the identity of the participants or the exact nature of the timing of the event, God makes it clear that it will be His doing.
“In the latter days I will bring you against my land, that the nations may know me, when through you, O Gog, I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.” – Ezekiel 38:16 ESV
Whoever Gog is, he will think he is acting according to his own prerogatives.
“You will say, ‘Israel is an unprotected land filled with unwalled villages! I will march against her and destroy these people who live in such confidence!” – Ezekiel 38:11 NLT
The land of Israel will look ripe for picking and ideal for plundering. They will appear defenseless and unprotected, living out their lives in blissful ignorance and unwarranted overconfidence. But God reveals that Gog will be wrong in his assessment of the situation. Like so many times before, the Almighty will expose the unmitigated hubris of men and use their arrogant plans to display His own power and holiness. God basically states that by the time He is done with Gog and his allies, “all the nations will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:16 NLT).
As the book of Revelation makes clear, up until the very last minute of the end times, the nations of the earth will continue to oppose God by attacking His people. Even the millennial reign of Christ will do nothing to convince the wicked to repent of their sins and turn to God. The rebelliousness of mankind that began in the Garden of Eden will continue throughout human history and only come to an end when God destroys them at the end of the age.
[Satan] will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. – Revelation 20:8-9 NLT
The psalmist eloquently points out the futility of the nations to oppose God. Their raging against the machine of God’s sovereign plan is useless and pointless, but they will continue to do so until God brings it all to an end.
Why are the nations so angry?
Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
The kings of the earth prepare for battle;
the rulers plot together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.
“Let us break their chains,” they cry,
“and free ourselves from slavery to God.”
But the one who rules in heaven laughs.
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then in anger he rebukes them,
terrifying them with his fierce fury. – Psalm 2:1-5 NLT
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.