Ezekiel 38 Devotional
By Pastor Lawrence
Out of all of the apocalyptic passages in the Old Testament, Ezekiel chs. 38-39 have been discussed and debated more than any other. The mysterious figure of Gog and his homeland Magog have never been clearly identified in any historical account, which has led many interpreters throughout the years to identify this great enemy of God’s people as one of their contemporary threats. For instance, in the fourth century some assumed that Gog and his warriors referred to the Goths, in the fifth century the Moors, in the seventh the Huns, in the eight the Muslims, in the tenth the Hungarians, in the fourteenth the Mongols, in the sixteenth the Turks and the Papacy, in the seventeenth the Native Americans, and in the twentieth century the Russians. Now in the twenty-first century already some have suggested the Chinese.
But the people of Magog were actually mentioned in Scripture as early as the book of Genesis, with the Table of Nations in ch.10, where Magog is mentioned as one of the sons of Japheth, a grandson of Noah, along with his brothers Gomer, Tubal and Meshech, thus the people of Magog are all descendants of the original grandson with the land being named after him. Gog, on the other hand is not mentioned prior to the book of Ezekiel, but, presumably, the people living in ancient times had heard of a mighty warrior by that name in the same vein as Nimrod, Goliath or Hercules and believed him to be an unstoppable foe.
But it is not so much this particular figure or even his particular land that is to be feared, but rather this international alliance of warriors from Persia, Cush and Put, an axis of evil that he gathers from the four corners of the world, from the north, the south, the east and the west. So God’s people are not to be looking out for any particular group or nation but realize that at God’s appointed time, the Lord himself will raise up this dark force, putting his hooks in their jaws, leading out their armies to fight against God’s people. Like a vast and mighty storm cloud, this horde of men would seek to crush the seed of the woman.
Depending upon one’s view of eschatology, or the End Times, this event may have already taken place in the past, it might be taking place now in some form in the present, or it might be something fully reserved for the future. Based upon the context of where this passage fits within the book of Ezekiel, I lean toward a future interpretation but with some elements being fulfilled in the present as well. If you consider the book as a whole, Chs. 1-24 are devoted to God’s judgment upon the nation of Judah at that time, then in chs. 25-32 God pronounces judgment upon the surrounding nations. But once the temple and Jerusalem are destroyed in ch.33, God transitions from a message of judgement to one of hope for the future in chs. 34ff, with a promise of a return to the land and the restoration of the King of David upon the throne with God dwelling continually in their midst. And in all the chapters following chs.38-39, clearly God is speaking of the end times in which Christ would reign on earth and the temple of God would fill the earth with his glory. But, in between the promises and that final vision of glory that is describing the eternal state in the same manner as Revelation 21 and 22, there are these two chapters which seem to describe a day of Armageddon, if you will, in which Satan’s hordes are unleashed for a brief period before God finally wipes them off the face of the earth.
Why would God put these chapters here? Certainly not for the purpose of us speculating who God and Magog is, but to help all believers returning from their captivity and all those who would follow them to know that the greatest enemies that they will ever face in the future will also meet a certain end and that God is in control even over their movements, even when they seem to be attacking a very helpless and vulnerable people. Certainly, God sees the arrogance of the wicked and can intervene at any time, but the Lord has established a day of judgment in which he will rid the world of all its evil and finally usher his people into their promised rest. That land of rest Israel would never see in the flesh when they returned from their captivity, for that land has still yet to be revealed until Christ returns in glory. So these chapters are looking far into the future to give comfort to all God’s people who suffer and who long for a better country, a heavenly one.