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Passage: Ezekiel 38:1-39:29

Ezekiel 38:1-39:29 – The Lord Destroys Gog, the Enemy of God’s People

Summary

In this prophecy against the king Gog in the land of Magog, Ezekiel paints a picture of the utter and final destruction of Israel's enemies after the exile.

Analysis

In bringing Israel back from exile and establishing them in peace, blessing, and the presence of God, the Lord promises to protect Israel from a mighty future enemy. The king is identified as "Gog," and his land is "Magog," in the area of Meshech and Tubal. Meschech and Tubal are provinces in the general area of Asia Minor, but Gog and Magog are unknown. The identity of Gog and Magog remains an open question, with no consensus among scholars. It is quite possible that they are code names for Babylon and its ruler, kept secret because of the political situation of the Jews in exile. Every important neighbor of Judah is included in the prophecies of Ezekiel with one glaring exception: Babylon. These chapters may fill in that gap.

Gog gathers his mighty armies in an attempt to destroy the newly revived Israel after the exile. The Lord God brings upon them all the terrible plagues of Genesis and Exodus, and the vast armies of Magog are utterly destroyed in a vision of tremendous carnage (38:22-39:16).

The book of Revelation uses the names "Gog and Magog" as symbols of God's final enemies at Armageddon. It would be wrong to read back the associations from Revelation 20 into Ezekiel's vision. Given the highly symbolic and exalted character of his other visions of doom and destruction, there is nothing in this vision to suggest anything other than a historical understanding of the reference. Gog and Magog stand for Israel's future military enemies and may be code names from Babylon and its king.