Ezekiel 38-39 Overview And Summary

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you. (Ezek 38:3-6)

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you. (Ezek 38:3-6)

One of the most closely watched developments in the Mid East today is Iran’s determination to acquire nuclear weapons capability. Students of prophecy see alarming parallels between this ongoing effort and the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39, in which God had Ezekiel foretell of a time when a coalition of Moslem nations, armed and led by Russia and Iran, would attempt to destroy Israel in a surprise attack. To many, Ezekiel seems to describe the use of nuclear weapons in this battle, perhaps against Europe or even the US as well as Russia. Since Russia has been helping Iran build a string of reactors that can produce weapons grade nuclear energy, and since Iran has recently taken a very hard line against Israel, we may be witnessing the build-up to this coming battle.

Let’s begin with a sampling of recent news reports dealing with Iran’s nuclear activities.

A Geostrategy-Direct.com report from April 2005

The CIA first obtained reports in 1994 of Iran obtaining plutonium components from North Korea.
Ten years later, in late 2004, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps tested a command and control network that would permit a nuclear weapons warhead to be placed on an enhanced Shihab-3 intermediate-range missile. The CIA now believes Iran could immediately assemble several nuclear warheads for the Shihab-3 arsenal.

“This means that U.S. forces in Iraq and southern Europe are under immediate Iranian threat,” Geostrategy says. “Israel and Saudi Arabia are already under Iranian nuclear threat.”

Excerpts from a Debka.com report on May 15, 2005
In March the world learned that in 2001 Iran bought a dozen cruise missiles from the prior Ukrainian regime. Their 1700 mile (3000 km) range is sufficient to reach any European or Israeli city and all US military installations in the region. The only thing missing is a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on the business end, something they’re working feverishly to acquire. Experts say they’re only a few technological steps away.

Debka.com again October 16, 2005
Former members of Russia’s military, secretly working as middlemen between Iran and North Korea, are helping Tehran acquire missile technology that will enable the Islamic republic to strike the capitals of Europe.

The technology, Western intelligence analysts believe, will be sufficient for Iran to develop a missile with a range of 2,200 miles while carrying a 1.2-ton payload – enough to deliver a nuclear weapon to most of Europe.

An unnamed senior U.S. official told the London Telegraph that Tehran’s missile program is “sophisticated and getting larger and more accurate. They have had very much in mind the payload needed to carry a nuclear weapon.

From World Net Daily’s G-2 Intelligence Briefing, December 2005
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered his defense forces to plan for a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities by the end of March 2006 – the time intelligence sources say Tehran will be able to begin producing nuclear weapons.

From the UK Guardian Jan 4, 2006
The news about Iran always gets worse. On Wednesday The Guardian reported on a “western intelligence assessment,” dated July 1, 2005, that “draws upon material gathered by British, French, German and Belgian agencies” and could seemingly shake even Western Europe out of its complacency and pacifism if that was still possible.

The Guardian says that according to the 55-page assessment, “the Iranian government has been successfully scouring Europe for the sophisticated equipment needed to develop a nuclear bomb. . . . Scientists in Tehran are also shopping for parts for a ballistic missile capable of reaching Europe, with”—directly quoting from the report’s conclusion—”import requests and acquisitions … registered almost daily.”

From Kommersant.com, January 13, 2006

Russia’s daily online news service reports that Russia will soon begin evacuating its personnel from Iran to protect them from what’s viewed as a likely attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israel recently “leaked” a military assessment claiming a high probability of success in a pre-emptive attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities, and the Russians don’t want any of their people caught there.

So for 10 years now there’s been a concerted effort on Iran’s part to acquire the weaponry necessary to destroy Israel. Much of the expertise for this has come from Russia, some by way of North Korea and Pakistan.

Now that the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, Russia is publicly distancing itself from Iran. Realizing that what Iran is planning is common knowledge, the Russians want to be perceived as opposing any non-peaceful use of its nuclear technology. Offering to do the fuel processing for Iran, criticizing Iran’s anti-Israel rhetoric, and allowing the discussions on UN sanctions to proceed are part of Russia’s plan to avoid being caught on the wrong side of this issue.

The Lord of course is not fooled, and had Ezekiel foretell this 2600 years ago. Speaking to Magog (Russia) He said, “I will put hooks in your jaws and bring you out.” (Ezek. 38:4) The “hooks in your jaw” symbolism comes from a special bridle used on a rebellious horse to make it submissive to the rider’s will. Sharp hook-like protrusions on the bit (mouthpiece) irritate the inside of the horse’s cheek, making it painful to resist turning when the reins are pulled and forcing to horse to go where the rider wants. It’s a graphic illustration of how the Lord will drag Russia into this confrontation.

I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the LORD. (Ezek. 39:6) Isaiah described the distant coastlands as being the area beyond the Mediterranean, most likely Western Europe. Given the above news reports, Iran either already does or soon will have the capability for delivering nuclear warheads to any European capital. Of course this range also covers all of Israel and every US military installation in the Middle East.

With the possible exception of the Rapture of the Church, no major End Times prophecy seems more likely to occur soon. At this point, it looks like the only way to stop things is for Israel to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. But even that would only set Iran’s timetable back for about two years. Remember, Ezekiel wrote the prophecy 2600 years ago. It’s not a matter of if this will happen, but when.

And when it does, other pieces will begin falling into place with stunning speed and regularity. For instance, there’s no Temple in Israel today because a majority of Jews don’t want one. And even if they did, it would simply be too dangerous to begin construction. Before a Temple can be built two major paradigm shifts must take place. First the Moslems would have to be willing to permit it, and second the Jews would have to be united in wanting one. The Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 will bring about both those shifts.

First Things First

Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezek 39:3-5) Even in the NIV’s weakened language, the defeat of the Moslem forces is clearly described, but in the original Hebrew, these verses foretell of their utter annihilation. A force so large that it resembles a cloud covering the land (Ezek. 38:9) will quickly be reduced to food for the vultures, resulting from such confusion on the field of battle that surviving enemy soldiers actually turn upon each other. The Moslem world will be in no position to resist Israel’s demand for a Temple following such a defeat.

And In The Second Place

“I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God. I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezek. 39:21-22, 28-29) Having revealed Himself to His People, that God shaped hole in their hearts will finally be filled again. He will draw every living Jew to Israel where He’ll renew their Old Covenant relationship. Old Covenant worship requires a Temple, and they’ll demand the right to build one immediately. (This is not to be confused with the call to recognize Jesus as their Messiah, foretold in Zechariah 12:10-11. That happens near the time of the 2nd Coming and would actually make a Temple unnecessary.)

But Wait, There’s More

This is one of the reasons why many scholars believe the Battle of Ezekiel 38 inaugurates the 70th Week of Daniel rather than taking place at its end. During the Great Tribulation (the last half of Daniel’s 70th week) God’s evangelistic effort will be to bring His people into a New Covenant relationship to save them. But Gabriel told Daniel a Temple would be rebuilt early in the 70th week, meaning that the Jews would first return to Him through the Old Covenant. The Temple has to be in place before the middle of the week to be desecrated by the anti-Christ (Daniel 9:27 and 2 Thes 2:4) kicking off the Great Tribulation.

Daniel’s prophecy also implies that the anti-Christ will be involved in getting permission for Israel to build the Temple. This means that the Battle of Ezekiel 38 prepares the world for his entrance.

And finally the Battle of Ezekiel 38, having turned God’s focus back to Israel, means the Age of the Church has ended. And the event that ends the Church Age is the Rapture. For that reason the Rapture has to happen before or no later than during Ezekiel’s battle.

The Lord’s brother James was very clear on this point. When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me. Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:

” ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things that have been known for ages.
(Acts 15:13-18)

It was at the Council of Jerusalem, 20 years after the cross. Paul and Barnabas had begun evangelizing the Gentiles of Asia Minor (Turkey), causing no little controversy. The critical questions before them were, “Does a Gentile have to become a Jew before becoming a Christian? And if not, what’s to become of Israel?”

James, who was head of the Church in Jerusalem, gave the answer from prophecy. Israel was being set aside until the Lord took from among the Gentiles a people for Himself (the church). After He had taken (raptured) them, He would return to build the Temple, and then the remnant of men, Jews and Gentiles, would have one final chance to seek Him. Other prophecies tell us this chance would come during the final seven years of human history, Daniel’s 70th Week.

The Rapture, The Anti-Christ, the 70th Week, the Temple, it’s hard to imagine an event more central to the fulfillment of End Times Prophecy than the Battle of Ezekiel 38. If you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 01-22-06