God’s Execution of Judgment on Gog
First, the Lord asked a question of Gog. The question was whether Gog was the one the prophets said the Lord would bring against Israel. Jeremiah, for example, spoke of the invasion from the North. (Jer. 4:6) But Jeremiah spoke of Nebuchadnezzar, not Gog. There was a tradition of prophesying attacks from the north. But the Lord does not tell us which prophets he means or which prophesies and does not explain further what he means by this question.
But I think the implied answer of Gog is “yes, I am the prophesied enemy from the north”. It shows his ego and his arrogance. But, the Lord shows by what he does that Gog is not that enemy.
In the prophesies concerning Assyria and Babylon, the Lord spoke of the terrible things these enemies would do to Israel and Judah. But in this passage, it is the reverse. When Gog comes, the Lord will do terrible things to him, not Israel.
On the day of attack, the Lord will pour out his wrath on Gog. He will act in blazing wrath, jealousy and anger. (19) This is also expressed in cataclysmic terms. There will be a great earthquake in Israel. I think this is a picture of the Lord coming to Israel to protect it. In fact, verse 20 speaks of his presence.
When the Lord appears, the very earth trembles. For example, when the Lord met Moses on Mount Sinai, the “mountain trembled greatly”. (Exodus 19:18) Isaiah 24:18-19 speaks of the day of the Lord and says “For the windows of heaven are opened and the foundations of the earth tremble. The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken.” Here in Ezekiel, the earthquake begins in Israel but is felt all over the earth. All creatures on earth will will quake at his presence, fish, birds, beasts, insects and people will all quake at the Lord’s presence. The earthquake will cause mountains and walls to fall down. Nothing will stand against the power of the Lord poured out in wrath.
The Lord will battle people Gog. (21) He will bring sword and pestilence. This is the same language the Lord spoke against Israel in earlier chapters of Ezekiel. In 21:2, the Lord said he would draw his sword and cut them down. Sword and pestilence are expressions of the Lord’s judgment in Ezekiel and in Jeremiah. Here in verse 22, the Lord said “…I will enter into judgment with him”. And that is not all. He will send torrential rain, hail, sulfur and fire down on Gog. (20) Hail was the seventh plague the Lord sent against Pharaoh and Egypt. (Exodus 9:13 et seq) Fire and sulphur remind of us the Lord’s destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19. Psalm 46:6 says “The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.”
This passage may be an actual description of real events that will happen in the future. There may be a real battle and a real earthquake. It may also be hyperbole meaning this will be the Lord’s judgment and it will be very bad. We see this type of language in apocalyptic passages.
This chapter ends with verse 23, where the Lord again explains why he will do this: “So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD (Yahweh).” Gog is a powerful enemy. He leads many nations. His forces are well armed. He would roll through many nations with little resistance. But the Lord is more powerful than the most powerful man or angel. The Lord will demonstrate his deity and his great power by his decisive triumph over this man and this powerful group of enemies. And he will demonstrate that he is the divine protector of his people. Psalm 46:1 says “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at is swelling.”
The Disposal of Gog
Chapter 39 starts with the language of a new oracle: “and you, on of man, prophesy against God and say…” The first verses restate that pending defeat of Gog.
Verse 4 adds an element: the desecration of the bodies of Gog and his people. We have sent this language before, but applied to Israel. the Lord said he would give their bodies to the birds of prey and beasts of the field to devour. (4) This is the ultimate defeat and disgrace in the Semitic world. Not only are you killed, but your body is not honorable buried. Instead it is eaten by animals and destroyed. The Lord is saying he will completely destroy his enemies and the enemies of his people. It is a judgment against them and their lands. This theme is restated in verses 17 and 18, where Ezekiel is to invite the birds and beasts to come and feast on the bodies. To further the symbolism that the listed nations means all of the earth, the Lord says they will feast on the blood of the “princes of the earth”. (18)
John, in Revelation 19:17 uses this same language. That chapter tells of Jesus coming with the armies of heaven to strike down the nations. It is a pouring out of the wrath of the Father. After the nations are killed, an angel invites the birds to feast on them.
The slaughter will be so great, it will take all those in Israel seven years to burn all the weapons. (9-10) They will take seven months to bury all the bones. (11-16) All of the Lord’s enemies, great in number are destroyed. Their weapons are all destroyed also, symbolizing a permanent peace to come to God’s people. Psalm 46:9 says “He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the chariots with fire.” The plunderers became the plundered.
But dead bodies corrupt the land. They must all be buried to cleanse the land. Once the land is cleansed, the Lord may have a totally restored covenant relationship with Israel: a holy God with a holy name a holy people and a holy land.
This resounding victory over his enemies will result in the holy name of the Lord being known among the nations. (7) This slaughterer is a judgment of the Lord upon the nations who are against his people. By this the Lord will demonstrate his glory. (21) Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
They will also know that Israel went into captivity for their iniquity. The Lord executed judgment on Israel by expelling them from the land. But now the nations will know why Israel was driven from its land. It is not that the Lord was unable to protect them. It was in judgment of their breach of the covenant. God protects the holiness of his name. God protects his glory. He will do this even if it means executed judgment on this own people who are in rebellion against him.