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Chapter 38:17-23 (ESV)

Posted on April 05, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 38:17-23 (ESV) - 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? But on that day, the day that Gog shall come against the land of Israel, declares the Lord God, my wrath will be roused in my anger. For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Lord God. Every man's sword will be against his brother. With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur. 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.

Question to consider: Why does God allow this battle to take place?

One of the reasons I think these events in chapters 38 and 39 are still in the future is because there doesn’t seem to be a time in history where we can point to a leader who assembled such a great war. World War I and World War II may have come close, but those wars were still waged in the eastern hemisphere. God’s people from Kansas may have gone over to fight, but the fight never came to Kansas. 

This final battle has been known by God and by the church for thousands of years, and in the end, it will be God who destroys Satan and his servant, Gog (whomever that turns out to be). We can get anxious seeing the world turning against the church, but we should take solace in the fact that the battle belongs to the Lord. There is a popular view highlighted in fiction books and movies that the church will be spared from the tribulation leading up to this final battle through a secret rapture that occurs seven years before the end. I don’t see anything in Ezekiel or Revelation that would lend credence to this. There is a text in Daniel which is often mishandled to create the doctrine of the seven-year tribulation. At some point, I’ll go through a study on Daniel and discuss what I think that seven year period is really all about.

The earthquakes, pestilence, disease, war, and fire reigning down from heaven are the different means of judgment that God has used throughout history. Essentially, the Lord is telling Ezekiel that He is going to throw everything at Gog and reveal His greatness to the nations. In this case, the mention of swords would be a reference to war and not necessarily literal swords. Modern-day warfare would be difficult for Ezekiel to grasp or describe to his contemporaries.

However this all plays out in reality, it serves as a reminder that one day all forms of sin and death will be defeated, and we will enjoy God’s goodness forever. When we experience disease and difficulties or see loved ones go through pain and death, we have the assurance that nothing is beyond the reach of God, and all of our suffering is for a glorious purpose. It should also remind us that our kingdom is not of this world, and we should consider worldly things and achievements in their proper context.

Prayer

Dear heavenly Father, please fill us with a desire to use our gifts and talents to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. Give us an eternal perspective on our sufferings so that we may praise You that we bear the name of Christ. Amen.