Living in the Days of Gog and Magog, Ezekiel 38-39

Gog and Magog, Ezekiel 38-39

Ezekiel comforted God’s people in this passage. Though nations would one day rise up against Israel God promised to rescue them.

In Chapter 38 Ezekiel foretold that the nations from the four corners of the earth will rise up against God’s people and make a war to cover all other wars in shadow. In Chapter 39, God told Ezekiel that these nations will be destroyed. God himself will rise them up and then stop them. God himself will save his people.

Thesis:

This is the Message of Ezekiel 38-39. It Is a message of comfort. Because God wil save his people, they can endure the battle. God will save his people still. God will save you. Therefore it does comfort you today.

One day Jesus will return, in the same way he left his disciples when he ascended into the clouds, as the Bible says in Acts 1:10-11. This week I was driving south on the i15 past Miramar and I saw two fighter Jets screeching through the sky. I was struck by how strange it was to see something coming in the clouds. It was so clear that it created a traffic jam. I was thinking. That is how visible it will be when Jesus returns. He will descend from the clouds. It will be plain and clear. On that day all wars will stop. Jesus will end all tumult, war, sin, suffering, and death.

There will be no one to counter his authority. All will bow the knee to Christ when he returns. On that day, salvation will come.

The message which Ezekiel foretold was that God will save his people. But, in this life there is war and rumor of war. The nature of this age is that Gog and Magog are rising up in tumult. They rage against Jesus and his church. You are armed for this war. You hold two weapons. You have a shield of faith, and a sword of the Spirit of God, that is, the Word of God. Because God will save you, you may endure the battle that rages.

Therefore we have three points tonight.

  1. The Presence of the “Latter Days” – The Timing of Salvation
  2. God’s Jealousy for His Name – The Reason for Salvation
  3. The Outpouring of the Spirit – The Means of Salvation

1. The Timing of Salvation – The Presence of the “Latter Days”

When will Gog and Magog rise up for this war that will cover all other wars in shadow? Without equivocation, the Bible teaches that we are living in the last days, during the tribulation, during the last battle when Gog and Magog are rising up to destroy God’s people. Let me explain what I mean, though, before you pull out the pitch forks and light up the torches.

Ezekiel spoke about two clues to the timing of the battle. First, the Latter Days. Second, Gog and Magog.

First, notice that verse 8 and 16 use the phrase “Latter days” to describe when Gog and Magog will rise up against Israel.

Eze 38:8  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.

Eze 38:16  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.

In the Latter days, they will come up against Israel. If we can determine when the “latter days” are, then we can interpret when these things will be. The New Testament scripture interprets the last days as if we are living in the last days. The Last days are the time between Pentecost and Jesus’ return. This whole age is the “last days.”

For example, look at

Act 2:16-17  But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:  (17)  “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh

Peter spoke about things that will come about in the last days. Peter speaks about the last day as something presently happening. The Last Days are not a single event. It refers to this whole age.

Look also at

1Jn 2:18  Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

In this passage he responded to a false Christs. His logic goes like this. It is the last hour because 1. It was foretold that a false Christ would come. 2. Many Anti Christ’s had already come. Therefore, it was the last hour. It is not a single individual but the new normal.

This prophecy gives us a theological interpretation of our current time. The New Normal for the Church is the presence of the last days. The Battle of Gog and Magog is in the Last Days. Therefore, today is the day of Gog and Magog. This age is the age when nations come up against the Church.

We live in the last days. Think of this like a Vinn diagram. This is sort an “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader” question. What is a Vinn Diagram? It is a diagram where you have a box, and two circles. You try to show the overlap of two things in the two circles. We are living in the overlap.

One circle is the New Creation. The other circle is the present evil age. They are overlapping, and we live in that overlap.

When will Gog and Magog rise up? All the time. This is the New Normal. In fact

Rev 20:8  and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.

In 38:1-5 Ezekiel called out to several nations, Magog and Gomer are in the West, Persia in the East, Ethiopia and Put in the South, and Meschach and Tubal in the North. These are the four corners of the earth. In other words, the whole world is rising against the church.   

Here is the point. The nations are coming against the Church. Therefore it is not just normal human suffering that the church must endure, but the nations are stirred up against the church. This is above and beyond. It is a reckless unprovoked hatred and persecution.

We live in the days of Gog and Magog, and Ezekiel’s prophecy means to you that you need to endure Gog and Magog. God will indeed save his people, therefore we can endure this age. Your calling is a call to endure. You carry a shield into battle marked on it, “FAITH.” This is your first line of defense, know that your calling is to endure.

  The point is, like our savior, who, though he did not wrong, died at the hands of sinful men. So, we must endure the tribulation of these days. There is one thing clear about this age, trial and tribulation.

Ezekiel’s message to you is this, because God will save his people, you may endure the battle in faith. When is the Battle? It is today. It is this life you must endure. The application to draw from this passage is that God himself will save, either in death, or in the Return of Jesus.  When Jesus returns, the tumultuous and teaming nations will rage no longer. They will all bow their knee to Jesus.

 Transition:

When is the battle? It is today. We need endurance for the battle, but we also need to know why this battle rages. This is to where we turn now.

2. The Reason God Will Save – God’s Jealousy for His Name

The Reason the Lord will save his People is because he Is Jealous for his name. This comes up over and over in the text. God is jealous for his name.

Eze 38:16  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.

Eze 38:23  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.

Eze 39:13  All the people of the land will bury them, and it will bring them renown on the day that I show my glory, declares the Lord GOD.

Eze 39:25  “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name.

What does this mean? This means that God will be honored in the sight of the nations. God is talking about his own reputation in the sight of the nations.

In order to understand this we need to define the meaning of honor and glory and guilt and shame. Shame and Honor are categories that are foreign to us Californians. I had a Korean friend when I was young. He would always talk about “saving face.” I did not know what that meant, but it sounded like a good idea. Honor has historically very important in the church. These are Biblical categories. This terminology “jealousy for his name” could be put, “he cares about his good name,” or “the honor of His reputation.”

Let me explain or define honor and Shame. You have to think of honor and shame in light of a group of people. A community has a certain set of expectations that individuals seek to meet. If someone fails to meet the expectations of the group, they bring shame to themselves. If they succeed in reflecting, or even going above and beyond the expectations of the group, then they bring honor and even glory to themselves. The point here is consistency to expectations.

Even Pagans know the concepts of Honor and Shame. Unfortunately, these are not terms we like as evangelicals. In fact, many evangelical psychologists detest honor and shame because they tend to create guilty conscience. There is probably some truth to that. But there is also something unbiblical about denying honor and shame. It is like saying, the command, “Thou shalt not murder causes a guilty conscience, therefore we should not enforce it.”  Though we may not like honor and shame language, it is a Biblical concept. Think, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” In fact, It is a part of Gods very character.

I would offer you one piece of application here and one piece of warning. As for application: Honor and shame are good things to keep in mind. Shame leads to a healthy fear of sin. There are horizontal effects to sin. That is, we sin against others. As for the warning, only consider honorable or shameful what the Bible does. Do not go beyond the Scripture, and what can be deduced from Scripture by “good and necessary consequence.”  (Though, I doubt this is our problem, since we tend to be shameless.)  

God is not in a group. He holds himself to his own infinite standard of Justice. His reputation is not in light of the esteem of the nations, but in light of his own justice. God is totally consistent with his nature. He is totally consistent to his promises. Thus God seeks honor himself.

 Though God is free from any obligation to creatures, he has condescended to us by making two promises. God promises 1. To be Just, 2. To be Merciful to His Covenant People, Israel.

Notice first, God promised justice. Look at

Eze 38:17  “Thus says the Lord GOD: Are you he of whom I spoke in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel, who in those days prophesied for years that I would bring you against them?

He promised in the “former days” to bring Nations upon Israel if they rebelled against him. He is referring to the warnings Moses gave in Deut 29-31. God is making good on those warnings.

Second, God will bring glory to himself by being merciful to Israel. In verse

Eze 39:25  “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name.

God is jealous for his name. Therefore he will indeed do what he said. He will not be called a liar.

 Is there a contradiction here? God said that he would bring justice and mercy to Israel. How can he bring both destruction and salvation? Does this make him unjust? The answer is that our Lord Jesus Christ keeps both promises! He died on the cross for you to satisfy God’s justice, and simultaneously to offer mercy to you!  Jesus keeps both promises!

 Here is the point: You can be assured of your salvation because Jesus does not change! Notice that God’s unchanging character is the foundation for our existence:

Mal 3:6  “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

The foundation for our Salvation

Rom 8:33  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

The foundation for our Assurance

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The foundation for our perseverance

Php 1:6  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

In all of these cases, salvation is certain because of God’s unchanging character. God is self consistent. He is jealous for his name. He will keep his promises to you. You want God to be jealous for his name, because this is the ground of your assurance.

God has been called “Pure act” or “actus purus.” This does not mean that God is always acting. But that He is infinitely the perfection of all that he ever will be. So, any change from perfection would be a change to less than perfect. God does not change. You can be certain of that. Let this be a comfort to you. God has guaranteed your assurance by his very name!

Segue: We live in the days of Gog and Magog. God will save his people in the end. Therefore we may endure this present evil age, because God is jealous for his name. Therefore our salvation is as sure as God is true. But now the question is, How does God fight his battles? How will he bring salvation about? The Answer is, He will pour out his Spirit. That is to where we now turn.

3. The Means of Salvation, The Outpouring of the Spirit

Like Paul Revere cried out “The Redcoats are coming! ” so Ezekiel cried out, “The Nations are coming!” This message would have terrified Ezekiel’s audience. It would mean; yes you will go back to the land. Yes you will rebuild the temple. But Pagan nations will rise up against you! In order to be able to endure this they needed to know from Ezekiel: How will God save us? God has said he will save, but how will he do it?

The answer is that God will send his “Holy Spirit.” Notice verse 29.

Eze 39:29  And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.”

The Holy Spirit’s work clearly revives Israel, but He also conquers the nations. Notice that in verse 21 it says,

Eze 39:21  “And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them.

God would be glorified by the nations. His justice will be seen by them. But it does not just mean that they will acknowledge God’s glory. It means that God will set or place people in the nations to glorify him! This means the Nations will be converted. How will God save his people and destroy his enemies? By the power of the Holy Spirit spreading the Gospel!

Of course, the Holy Spirit has come. We live in the age of the Last Battle. In these last days, Jesus is leading the army. John’s Revelation presents Jesus as wielding a sword. But it is not a sword in his hand. It is a Sword in his mouth. It is the “Sword of the Spirit,” the Word of God in Rev 19. When Jesus returns, there will be no battle. No one will rival him. Every knee will bow. Today, during the last days before he returns, He wields a sword, the Word of God. The Holy Spirit makes that sword alive. The sword is not only swift and sharp. It is red hot! It will cut through marrow and flesh like butter.

App: What is the point? Jesus is sending his Gospel message to all parts of the earth. The Spirit is going out and gathering in the Israel of God, yet the Nations are rising up against God’s people. Here is the point.  God raises up the nations to bring them to the front door of the church.

Throughout the history of the church, persecution has lead to the spread of the Gospel. The Romans persecuted the church until the church permeated their whole society. When the Barbarians attacked the Roman Empire (where many Christians lived) Christianity spread to the Barbarian Germans and Swedes.

When Saint Patrick was a young man he was kidnapped by Irish Pirates. He eventually escaped. Upon returning home he converted to Christianity. His heart eventually melted for his pagan captors. So he returned to Ireland and preached the Gospel. He was the first missionary to that land. God brought the pagans to his doorstep.  

Who are the nations at your door? This is the reality in which we live. The last days are days of persecution, but also days when Jesus’ Gospel goes out with great power.

Many people are afraid of Islam. Many also question why it has not been successfully penetrated by the Gospel. I think the answer is beyond us. But the right response is at hand. You have a sword in the battle. That sword is the Word of God. The Answer to Islam is the Bible. The right attitude toward Islam is not fear, but compassion. They are sinners in need of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring. 

Conclusion:

These are the last days. The nations will not stop rising up until Jesus returns. However, He has not left us hopeless. Nor has he left us helpless. 1. We are not hopeless, because he promises he will return. He has staked his very reputation upon it. One Day Jesus will descend from the sky in the same way he ascended into heaven. 2. We are not helpless. In fact he has left us with a sure promise, and two weapons. The weapons are the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit. The weapons are good, but the promise is our strength. The promise is this, that the Holy Spirit himself is with us!

In the ancient world, Kings would ride out on the front lines of battle. Some would even taunt their enemies by standing up on their horses. Our contemporary politicians would probably have a little less bravado if they had to do this sort of thing, especially with the advent of heat seeking missiles.  Presidents are commanders in chief, but they don’t ride out into battle. Our King does not just sit behind the line. He rides out in front of the cavalry.

The Promise is this. We endure Gog and Magog, but Jesus is with us in His Holy Spirit.

May he continue to guide and keep us until the day of Christ’s Return.

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