Chapter 38:1-9 (ESV) - The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him and say, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. 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. Persia, Cush, and Put are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all his hordes; Beth-togarmah from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes—many peoples are with you.
“Be ready and keep ready, you and all your hosts that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them. 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. 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.
Question to consider: What do you think the Lord means by “the latter years” in this word to Ezekiel?
The sons of Noah were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Magog, Meshech, Tubal and Gomer were all sons of Japheth who became nations (and Togarmah was a son of Gomer). Persia (Canaan), Cush, and Put were all sons of Ham who became nations. The holy line of Israel of course was a descendant of Shem. When taken together, all of these nations essentially cover all of the lands to the North, South, East and West of Israel. The chief prince (rosh) who rises up is named Gog. The only other place in the Old Testament where the name “Gog” is used is one who was a descendant of Reuben, the firstborn son of Jacob (1 Chronicles 5:4). At first glance, I don’t see any connection between the two, but Gog appears to lead the other nations against Israel in this vision.
God’s word to Ezekiel was about the “latter years” so it was a time that was far off. We also need to consider that this word from the Lord is situated after the one that spoke of the Lord sending His servant David to unite the kingdoms of Israel, raise up an army from the valley of dry bones, and establish an everlasting covenant with them. Through this covenant, the Lord promised to shepherd them, to give them a heart of flesh and to put His Spirit into them so that they would seek to obey His statutes.
There are some who attribute Gog to Antiochus IV Epiphanes who desecrated the temple built by Zerubbabel during the time of the Maccabees. However, if this word from Ezekiel was meant to be after the one who was to shepherd the people Israel, it would seem to point to the time after His reign which was seen by John in the Revelation, “And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 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. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:7-10)
After Jesus rose from the dead, He declared to the disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) If He ascended to His throne after this and ruled His church from the heavenly Jerusalem, this would seem to be in the latter years of His reign in which Satan would be released from his prison to deceive the nations and turn them all against the church. As Paul wrote, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) So we definitely know that we are in a spiritual battle and that there is a growing population of people who wish to make war against the church.
Do we live in the time in which Satan has been released from prison? It certainly seems possible. It is amazing to see the level of deception in the world that has risen up in the last 20 years, and I can’t think of a single thing that God has called good in which the world hasn’t entirely rejected. I’m sure every generation of believers thinks that theirs will be the last, but I don’t know where we go from here when every pillar of faith has been thrown down. If anything, we should see this passage as a reminder that Christ could come back at any time.
Dear heavenly father, only You know the time of Christ’s return. Help us to look forward to that day and continue to pray for its arrival. At the same time, help us to use our time wisely in service to the gospel. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna! Amen.