Ezekiel 39 (ESV)
The Disposal of Gog
In Hebrew literature it was common to give an account and then to repeat it to give emphasis and a few additional details. Ezekiel 39:1-8 is a summary of what was described in Ezekiel 38.
“The overthrow of Gog and his forces is here retold in different language and in fuller detail. This is typical of Hebrew poetry and of the kind of semi-poetical writing which is used in these oracles. It is fond of repetition and delights to revert to previous statements and enlarge on them, even though the result is to destroy all sense of consecutive arrangement.”
–John B. Taylor
“And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog and say, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. 2 And I will turn you about and drive you forward, and bring you up from the uttermost parts of the north, and lead you against the mountains of Israel. 3 Then I will strike your bow from your left hand, and will make your arrows drop out of your right hand. 4 You shall fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your hordes and the peoples who are with you. I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. 5 You shall fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Lord God. 6 I will send fire on Magog and on those who dwell securely in the coastlands, and they shall know that I am the Lord.
7 “And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. 8 Behold, it is coming and it will be brought about, declares the Lord God. That is the day of which I have spoken.
9 “Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and make fires of the weapons and burn them, shields and bucklers, bow and arrows, clubs and spears; and they will make fires of them for seven years,10 so that they will not need to take wood out of the field or cut down any out of the forests, for they will make their fires of the weapons. They will seize the spoil of those who despoiled them, and plunder those who plundered them, declares the Lord God.
Israel will destroy all the military equipment (described with seven terms) brought by Gog and his allies. Protected by Yahweh, they would no longer need the weapons themselves.
“These are not the weapons of a modern army, but Ezekiel used language the people could understand.”
–Warren W. Wiersbe
“Usually weapons left by a defeated enemy would be added to the victor’s cache of arms. After all, there would be other battles to fight. The war against Gog was to be no ordinary war. It will be the final battle, whose conclusion will make armaments obsolete.”
–Bruce Vawter and Leslie J. Hoppe
11 “On that day I will give to Gog a place for burial in Israel, the Valley of the Travelers, east of the sea. It will block the travelers, for there Gog and all his multitude will be buried. It will be called the Valley of Hamon-gog. 12 For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land. 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. 14 They will set apart men to travel through the land regularly and bury those travelers remaining on the face of the land, so as to cleanse it. At the end of seven months they will make their search. 15 And when these travel through the land and anyone sees a human bone, then he shall set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon-gog. 16 (Hamonah is also the name of the city.) Thus shall they cleanse the land.
The section dealing directly with Gog and his allies ends with this strange and grotesque picture of bird and beast scavengers feasting upon the corpses of the defeated enemy:
17 “As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field: ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. 18 You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth—of rams, of lambs, and of he-goats, of bulls, all of them fat beasts of Bashan. 19 And you shall eat fat till you are filled, and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you. 20 And you shall be filled at my table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors,’ declares the Lord God.
The Lord Will Restore Israel
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. 22 The house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day forward. 23 And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt so treacherously with me that I hid my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword. 24 I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions, and hid my face from them.
The amazing restoration described generally in Ezekiel 34 through 39 was focused on Israel, but never limited to them. God’s intention was also to set His glory among the nations. He would do this through the execution of His judgment.This restoration would bring Israel permanently into new relationship with God. This looks to the ultimate restoration described by Paul in Romans 11:26, when all Israel will be saved.
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. 26 They shall forget their shame and all the treachery they have practiced against me, when they dwell securely in their land with none to make them afraid, 27 when I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them from their enemies’ lands, and through them have vindicated my holiness in the sight of many nations. 28 Then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, because I sent them into exile among the nations and then assembled them into their own land. I will leave none of them remaining among the nations anymore. 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.”
Ezekiel first spoke these words to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, who especially after the fall of Jerusalem and Judah wondered if God would ever restore Israel. These promises were precious to them, and were given a minor and imperfect fulfillment in the return from captivity under Ezra and Zerubbabel. The greater and complete restoration still waits!
HERE is a Taize piece, “Bless the Lord, my soul.”
Bless the Lord, my soul
And bless God’s holy name
Bless the Lord, my soul
Who leads me into life.
English Standard Version (ESV)