November - Reading 15

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Nov 15, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good afternoon -

    Ezekiel 38 and 39 are viewed by scholars as a single unit regarding the restoration of Israel and the term "Gog" is used to signify the coalition of powers that would rise against God's people in an effort to destroy them. The name Gog appears only in this passage and in Revelation 20:8. It may be in reference to a specific king of that time or may be a symbolic name for the enemies of Israel. The term "Magog" may also refer to a specific place or not. Magog was one of the sons of Japheth and therefore could have een a real people.

    In the Gospel of John we read the set up for the resurrection of Lazarus. While Martha is usually remembered for her shortcomings in Luke 10:40-41, here she is shown to be a woman of great faith. The point of the reading of John this day is to show that Lazarus was dead, plain and simple.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lesson 7/24/05

    Ezekiel 38-39

    The 38th and 39th chapters of the Book of Ezekiel have long been the object of speculation and have been questionably used as an absolute affirmation of certainty of interpretation. However, this commentator will not take any hard line interpretation on these Passages but will take the text as it stands after presenting the three main interpretive veins associated with the chapter. My desire is that the Holy Spirit will use these Passages to speak to each reader or hearer in a way that will most benefit them.

    The three primary line lines of interpretation are as follows:

    1. When the exiles returned in the late 6th century BC, a leader of a northern nation in Asia Minor named Gog led a coalition of marauding forces against the reforming nation of Israel. Support for such an interpretation lies in verse 39:25 that indicate that these events were transpiring at the end of the exile. The argument against such an interpretive stance is that there is no mention in neither Biblical nor extra-biblical sources of such an event. Though Nehemiah faced much opposition, these were political and propagandist detractors, not the military entourage Ezekiel describes.

    2. Other interpreters indicate that Ezekiel is speaking symbolically. They contend that Ezekiel’s original audience of exiles needed the pastoring comfort offered in this section proclaiming God’s protection when they would return. Though He had turned His face against them in 586, BC, in 538 He would return to the role of defender. By this line of interpretation, the ultimate fulfillment of these Passages will come when God brings final judgment on His enemies.

    3. The third line of interpretation views these two chapters as referring to an eschatological event. In this view, Gog is THE antichrist leading his forces against the children of the promise in the final Armageddon. They link Ezekiel’s prophecies with Revelation 20:7-10 where Gog is once again mentioned. Such interpretation is supported by the prophetic device of the term “in that day,” and “in the latter days,” indicating an event far in the future from Ezekiel.

    As we examine these lines of thought it should be remembered that all attempts to positively identify Gog of Magog have been unsatisfactory. Ezekiel speaks of him as a ruler of a nation but we are left wondering, what nation? Or, is this even a nation at all? Could it be an apocalyptic vision? A few of the theories that have been advanced are that Gog of Magog refers to Babylon, Alexander the Great of Greece, Gyges of Lydia, and Gagu, a leader who lived north of ancient Assyria. Rabbinical literature cite Gog as an invader who would attack just prior to the time of the coming of the Messiah.

    Stepping away from these points of literalism, however, we see a strikingly simplistic situation described before us in the Scriptures. Ezekiel had prophesied that there would be a time of restoration for Israel following the exile and the nation would return to its home and exist once again in the Promised Land. Such an event, however, would not go unnoticed by the surrounding nations and the weakness of the newly reformed people would allow an advantage to the opportunists among them. Israel would be easy pickings for pillage. The critical point in the account is that these people would not be as defenseless as they may seem. Such an act against His children would be despicable to the Lord as it would be an attempt to thwart His Purpose and would awaken His anger. God would be on their side and would fight for them, not only with the swords of the Jews but also with cosmic forces. Not only would Gog be defeated but even his homeland of Magog would be consumed.

    We learn in these verses that there is an overwhelming comfort for the believer when he recognizes the absolute sovereignty of God. He is not only the God of creation but the God of history, both past and future, as well.

    Ezekiel 38:1-9 The Divine Oracle against Gog’s Invading Hosts

    Gog is not described as a leader of a world power nation but merely as a leader of a large band of marauders, thieves. This coalition is precisely described by Ezekiel as consisting of those of Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, Beth-torgarmah, and Prsia from the north and Cush (modern day Ethiopia) and Put from the south. The text implies that mounted cavalry is their primary force.

    Ezekiel 38:10-16 The Evil Plan of Gog

    Gog’s strategy is to attack the forming nation of Israel before they have any chance at erecting fortifications. The failure of Gog’s strategy is in thinking that because the Jews do not have walls built, they are defenseless. He does not realize that walls are not their true security but rather God is their defense and security. God was with the Israelites in their rebuilding. Once the walls went up as prescribed in Ezekiel 36:35 and accomplished in Nehemiah, there would be double protection – that of God and that of man.

    These hordes that followed Gog were not conquerors. They were barbaric hordes bent on looting and pillaging. They used the mobility of cavalry and opportunity to raid weaker cities in the pursuit of booty. There is no evidence that they sought siege. There is no mention of war machinery such as battering rams, ramps, or chariots. They did not seek territorial control. They were simply a multinational band of thieves.

    Ezekiel 38:17-23 God Protects His Own

    Verse 17 poses a rhetorical question asked by God of Gog. Whether the answer is negative or affirmative is pivotal to one’s interpretation of this Passage. If positive, then Ezekiel is viewing this event as the Day of the Lord spoken of by previous prophets. If the answer is negative, Gog is a little man with grandiose ideas.

    In either case, Gog’s actions raise God’s ire and He retaliates with cosmic forces associated with the Day of the Lord. He will use the weapons of nature in His arsenal against the bandits: hail, rain, earthquakes, fire and brimstone (associated with volcanic activity by most modern scholars).

    The use of natural elements as a weapon by God is not unique to this Passage. Joshua was aided in his defeat of the Amorites by a hailstorm. Judges 5:21 speaks of flooding aiding Deborah and Barak in defeating the Canaanites. The plagues of Egypt qualify as a warfare effort. The wind drove back the water of the Red Sea in the exodus. Yahweh is not only sovereign over the course of history involving men but over the course of nature as well. So chaotic will the onslaught of nature be against the forces of Gog that in the confusion they will even turn their swords on each other in the confusion.

    Ezekiel 39:1-20 The Defeat of Gog

    In this Passage we see that Gog’s evil plan will be incorporated into a testimony of the Sovereign Lord. In challenging Israel, Gog’s defeat will show the Lord as being the Holy One of Israel. The surrounding nations will recognize that the same people who had lost to Babylon and led to captivity while physically fortified would be protected and victorious while spiritually fortified. In this way God would show His power over man and history.

    Two points are emphasized in this Passage: (1) The overwhelming victory of God over the foe, and (2) the priestly concerns of Ezekiel in the aftermath. The account is shown as a personal confrontation between God and those who would attempt to thwart His Purpose. God says, “I am against you,” and the invaders are slaughtered in the valleys and on the mountains. Not only will the enemy be defeated but disaster will also fall upon their homeland. Thus God shows His sovereignty not only within the borders of Israel but in all the nations. The wording states clearly that these things are certain to happen.

    The numerical strength of the invaders is emphasized underlining the significance of the defeat. So many weapons are abandoned that the Israelites have no need to drop trees or gather wood for fuel. The spear and arrow shafts supply them for seven years. With the holocaust brought about by God, their intended victims will pillage the land of the pillagers.

    The number of dead and the amount of time required to bury them heightens the awesome nature of the victory. The dead would be so numerous that their corpses would completely fill the place of their interment. It would take seven months to accomplish the burials employing the entire house of Israel. Some would be appointed the task of locating the remains and marking them for collection. Ezekiel is here following the strict cult procedure for cleansing the land. This would avoid contamination and provide ritual purification.

    Verses 17-20 describe the carnage as a great sacrificial feast for the birds and beast who consume carrion prepared by God Himself. At the summons of the Lord they gather at His table to gorge themselves on the bodies of His enemies.

    Ezekiel 39:21-29 The Restoration of Israel’s Fortune

    This brief concluding Passage is marked with a reaffirmation of the promise of restoration. It is through the overwhelming victory of God over Gog that all the nations will see the judgment of God. More importantly, however, is that Israel will know that He is God. This is an important distinction. While the other nations see Him as the God of Israel, Israel sees Him as their God. There is no hint in Ezekiel of a universal nature to God’s Grace towards the Gentile. It does, however, indicate Israel’s acknowledgement.

    The previous delivering of Israel into the hands of the Babylonians compared to the defeat of Gog of Magog will convince the people that their exile and suffering was justifiable. Thus, with all of Israel’s enemies crushed and the Covenant once again recognized, the fortunes of Israel will be restored. The concluding verse of 29 marks the transition to the next Passage describing the nation in its restored and unique form.
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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