DIG: How is this a summary of the previous chapter? What new information is given? What will be the ultimate purpose of all this destruction?
The battle continues from the previous chapter. We can be confident of this interpretation because of the Law of Recurrence. This law describes the fact that in some passage of Scripture there exists the recording of an event followed by a second recording of the same event giving more details to the first. Hence, it often involves two blocks of Scripture. The first block presents a description of an event as it happens in chronological sequence. This is followed by a second block of Scripture dealing with the same event and the same period of time, but giving further details. Ezekiel 38:1-23 gave us a complete overview of the invasion of Isra'el from the north and the subsequent destruction of the invading army. This is now followed by a second block of Scripture, Ezekiel 39:1-16, which repeats some of the account given in the first block, but gives some added details regarding the destruction of the invading army. Therefore, Ezekiel 39:1-8 is a summary of the invasion and destruction of Gog and the alliance.
God wanted Ezekiel, the son of man, to prophesy against Gog. Once again, the statement son of man begins a new section. This is what ADONAI ELOHIM says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal (Ezekiel 39:1). This is a summary of the invasion from the previous chapter.
I will turn you around from a planned attack elsewhere and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north, or Russia, and send you against the mountains of Isra'el (Ezekiel 39:2). The invaders will break through the coastal plain and enter the central mountain ranges of Isra'el. Little did they realize that Jerusalem would be their Waterloo. Before the six-day war, virtually all the mountains of Isra'el were not located in Isra'el, but actually in Jordan. The only part of the mountains controlled by Isra'el at that time was a small passage called the Jerusalem corridor. It came in from the coastal plain, cut Tziyon in half and went out again to the coastal plain. It has only been since the six-day war that the mountains of Isra'el have been in Isra'el. Therefore, this prophecy could not have been fulfilled before 1967. The emphasis here is what the LORD causes to be done.
Then we have the destruction of the invading army: I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand (Ezekiel 39:3). They will be heavily armed, but their weapons will do them no good because the nature of the destruction will be a combination of natural and supernatural means (Ezekiel 38:17-22). On the mountains of Isra'el you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you (Ezekiel 39:4a). Ezekiel was very specific about the place of the destruction of the invaders; it will be on the mountains of Isra'el. Both Joel 3 and Zechariah 14 describe the Second Coming of Christ. In 38:13 we were told that the reason Gog invaded the Land was to obtain plunder, but now we are told that he and his allies become the spoil.
Because of the amount of carnage, burial will not be the order of the day. God will send ravenous birds and beasts to devour the carcasses of the dead invaders. This once mighty army will become food to all kinds of carrion birds and wild animals (Ezekiel 39:4b). The looters will become the loot. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares ADONAI ELOHIM (Ezekiel 39:5). The absence of a proper burial is especially despised in the Near East. Thus, in verses 3 through 5, the LORD describes the destruction of the invading armies and has summarized Chapter 38:17-22. But then in verse 6 we begin to receive some new information.
Now the Holy Spirit reveals something new. Not only will Gog and his armies be destroyed in Isra'el, but also the land of Magog itself will suffer massive destruction. God declares that He will send fire on Magog (Ezekiel 39:6). This same method of destruction will be seen again when Gog and Magog rebel after the thousand year reign of Christ’s messianic Kingdom (Revelation 20:9). Even as the armies and allies of Magog are being destroyed in the Land of Isra'el, the land of Magog itself will suffer significantly. This fire will be like the sulfur rained down on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (see my commentary on Genesis Fa - The LORD Rained Down Burning Sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah).
The fire will also descend on those who live in safety in the coastlands. This refers to the islands off of the coastland of the invading forces. They will also suffer a destructive judgment, and those who try to escape by trying to make it out to the islands off the coast will find themselves unable to do so. Though the judgment on the armies of the invaders will occur in Isra'el, the catastrophe will even extend to their homelands.
And the ultimate result will be that they will know that ADONAI is sovereign over all the earth (Ezekiel 39:6). Once more He will relate His purpose for Israel to the whole world. It is the concept of concentric circles. Jerusalem is set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her (Ezekiel 5:5), and reaches out irresistibly to the farthest confines of the circumference. God is exalted over all the nations, His glory above the heavens (Psalm 113:4). His true character will appear in its proper light as both righteous and mighty. There is nothing as important in the universe.
The Teaching Ministry of Jay Mack 2006-2017