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THE WARLIKE ASSAULT OF GOG, AND ITS REPULSE. (Chap. 38)
EXEGETICAL NOTES.—Ezekiel 38:2. “Gog.” “An ideal name; it is simply the root of Magog, the only related name known to history. The whole prophecy demands a non-literal interpretation. The prophetical delineations of the Divine principles of government are thrown into the familiar forms of Old Testament relations. The final triumph of Messiah’s truth over the most distant and barbarous nations is represented as a literal conflict on a gigantic scale, Israel being the battlefield, ending in the complete triumph of Israel’s anointed King, the Saviour of the world. It is a prophetical parable, in which every trait in the delineation is full of important meaning, only couched in the language of a symbolical representation. While the vision respecting Gog and Magog in the Apocalypse (chap. 20.) may be regarded in substance a reannouncement of the prophecy before us, it does not follow that the prophecy in the Apocalypse has exactly the same compass as in Ezekiel. In each case alike the vision is appropriated to describe the final workings of the world’s evil, and its results in connection with the kingdom of God; only, the starting-point is placed farther in advance in the one case than in the other. Therefore, as found in Ezekiel, it can throw no light on the chronological arrangement of the Apocalypse.”—Fairbairn. “Chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.” “Rosh,” translated chief, is taken as a proper name by some, and probably refers to the Russi, a people from whom the modern Russians derive their name. Schrader accepts Magog as equivalent to Scythians. Tubal = Tabal, according to him, bordered on Cilicia, and seems to have been what was afterwards Cappadocia. It was famous for great horses. Meshech he regards as having lain north-east of Cappadocia in Lower Armenia. Magog was Gog’s original kingdom, though he acquired the mastery over Meshech and Tubal, and so might be called their chief prince.
Ezekiel 38:3. “I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.” His high-sounding titles are repeated, to imply the haughty self-confidence of the invader as invincible.
Ezekiel 38:4. “I will turn thee back”—“as a refractory wild beast which thinks to take its own way, but is bent by a superior power to turn on a course which must end in its destruction. Satan shall be by overruling Providence permitted to deceive them to their ruin (Revelation 20:7-8).”—Fausset. “It is significant that the irruption of Gog is here and in what follows referred to Jehovah. He means to march against Jehovah, but the latter has him in tow—he must march whither He will to his own destruction, as in former times Pharaoh did not thwart the God of Israel when he refused to let His people go, but acted so because Jehovah Himself had hardened his heart to plunge him into destruction.”—Hengstenberg. “And put hooks into thy jaws”—rings in thy jaws; the rings which are put in the most tender parts of intractable animals on which to fasten the bridle or reins (chaps. Ezekiel 19:4, Ezekiel 29:4; 2 Kings 19:28). “Horses and horsemen”—a decidedly Scythian trait, for the richness in horses of these hordes, most equestrian tribes, was already known to Herodotus. “Clothed with all sorts of armour”—“clothed with splendour, an Assyrian element introduced: thus the figure of Gog is enlarged.”—Lange.
Ezekiel 38:5. “Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya,” or Phut. “These are in the farthest south from Babylon, where Ezekiel lived. The Asiatic Cush or Ethiopia lay in Central and Northern Babylon. Phut was the name, according to Ebers, of some wandering tribes of Arabia. Sayce thinks Phut was the Somali country in Eastern Africa.”—Geikie.
Ezekiel 38:6. “Gomer”—the Celtic Cimmerians of Crim-Tartary. “Togarmah”—“the Armenians of the Caucasus, south of Iberia. A pictorial and manifestly symbolical grouping of nations. There is no impossibility in the connection of nations so distant from one another. The anti-Chaldaic coalition, which the prophet himself had witnessed, actually extended from Ethiopia to Persia. The impossible lies rather in this, that all these nations are to co-operate at a definite time against the petty Palestine.”—Hengstenberg, &c.
Ezekiel 38:7. “Be thou prepared.” “Irony. Prepare thee and all thine with all needful accoutrements for war, that ye may perish together!”—Fausset.
Ezekiel 38:8. “After many days thou shalt be visited” (Isaiah 24:22; Isaiah 29:6). Gog meant to visit the people of God, but in reality he is himself visited. It was God who led him in order to prepare him for his downfall. It is very consolatory to the Church that God not merely conquers its enemies, that even their hostile undertaking is under His guidance, that they move not hand nor foot but at His command. “In the latter years”—“at the end of the years. This indicates that the catastrophe belongs to a quite new order of things—the Messianic epoch.”—Hengstenberg.
Ezekiel 38:9. “Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm—like a cloud to cover the land.” “The cavalry of the Tanjou frequently consisted of two or three hundred thousand men, formidable by the matchless dexterity with which they managed their bows and their horses, by their hardy patience in supporting the inclemency of the weather; unchecked by torrents or by precipices, by the deepest rivers or by the most lofty mountains, they spread themselves over the face of the country and overthrew all who opposed them.”—Gibbon.
Ezekiel 38:10. “Thou shalt think an evil thought”—conceive a mischievous purpose, as to attacking God’s people in their defenceless state.
Ezekiel 38:11. “I will go up to the land of unwalled villages, to them that dwell safely.” The towns lie open, in fancied security, the prize of a sudden attack.
Ezekiel 38:12. “That dwell in the midst of the land”—“the navel of the land, not physically but morally; a central position for being a blessing to the world. The literal sense, ‘navel,’ seems to point to the fact of its being the moral centre of the world, not to its moral eminence (chap. Ezekiel 5:5).”—Fausset.
Ezekiel 38:13. “Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish”—“the Arabian nations Sheba and Dedan as representatives of the land-trade, and Tarshish of the sea-trade. Representatives of that portion of the world who, though they are not disposed to take any active part against the cause of God, are well pleased to see others do it. This worldly feeling makes them disrelish the truth, and they are ready to cheer on those who would make a spoil of its defenders.”—Fairbairn.
Ezekiel 38:15. “All of them riding upon horses.” It is related of the Scythians that they eat, drink, and sleep in the saddle.
Ezekiel 38:16. “When I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog”—when God displays His incomparable glory in his punishment.
Ezekiel 38:17. “Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by My servants the prophets of Israel?” “Gog and Magog are here identified with the enemies spoken of in other prophecies (Numbers 24:17-24; Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 26:20-21; Jeremiah 30:23-24; Joel 3:2; Micah 5:5-6; Isaiah 14:12-14; Isaiah 59:19). God is represented as addressing Gog at the time of his assault; therefore the old time is the time long prior when Ezekiel uttered these prophecies; so he also, as well as Daniel
(11) and Zechariah
(14), are included among the prophets of Israel here.”—Fausset.
Ezekiel 38:18. “My fury shall come up in My face”—literally, into My nose; in Hebrew the idiomatic expression for anger, as men in anger breathe strongly through the nostrils.
Ezekiel 38:20. “All shall shake at My presence.” “An earthquake, the figure of a great annihilating catastrophe in the human world, in which all has the feeling as if the earth were dissolving. The catastrophe affects only the enemies of God’s people; but it is so dreadful that the whole world seems to come to an end—that all that lives on earth is felt to be affected by it; every high thing is cast to the ground without discriminating whether it belongs to the enemy or not. All terrible particular judgments in their operations come upon the sense like a universal judgment.”—Hengstenberg.
Ezekiel 38:21. “Every man’s sword shall be against his brother.” One great means by which God sweeps away the enemies of the king is the internal discord, for which He presents the natural occasions. The community of hatred can scarcely offer successful resistance to these (see historical example, 2 Chronicles 20:0).
Ezekiel 38:22. “With pestilence, blood, hail, fire, and brimstone.” The colours of the picture are partly taken from the Egyptian plagues, and from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Ezekiel 38:23. “Thus will I magnify Myself.” The destruction is effected by an intervention of Jehovah, His fighting for His people, who are small compared to the greatness of Gog (Ezekiel 38:15).
THE FIERCE ONSLAUGHT OF THE ENEMIES OF THE TRUTH
The beautiful picture of tranquil prosperity depicted in the close of the last chapter would be difficult for the captive Jews to realise, unless there was the assurance of protection from hostile attacks like those which had brought them to their present deplorable condition. What avails it, they cry, even if we are restored? The heathen power still predominates, and we shall be crushed back again into irretrievable ruin. The wild, savage races of Scythia had spread terror over all Western Asia in the days of Josiah, and were still remembered with dread. Against such desponding thoughts the prophet here offers comfort. The heathen nations as a whole, in their opposition to the kingdom of God, are represented under the figure of a great invasion of the Holy Land by the Scythian forces. All the battles which restored Israel has to wage are united in one great battle. He who would lead his people out of captivity would be their omnipotent defender, the foe would be triumphantly vanquished, and Israel, the kingdom of the Messiah, finally delivered from all fear, would enter on a period of temporal and spiritual prosperity. The descriptions of the chapter illustrate the fierce onslaught of the enemies of the Truth. Observe—
I. That the enemies of the Truth are rallied and commanded by a leader of conspicuous ability (Ezekiel 38:2-7). Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal—an ideal character, one possessing great military genius, faculty for organisation, power to manœuvre vast armies, revelling in destruction, and animated by a mighty hatred to the good. Gog’s forces are composed of diverse nationalities, extending over a wide area (Ezekiel 38:5-6), and present an imposing and threatening aspect (Ezekiel 38:4; Ezekiel 38:7). The invasion and overthrow of the Chaldeans, the conflict of the Maccabees with Antiochus Epiphanes, the temporary successes and defeat of the Turks—to each of which historical events some interpreters would limit the application of the prophecy—were but feeble prototypes of a coming struggle with a powerful embodied Antichrist. Sin is fruitful in breeding formidable confederacies, and never lacks a leader. The people of God have often to complain with the Psalmist—“How are they increased that trouble me? Many are they that rise up against me” (Psalms 3:1).
II. That the enemies of the Truth are fertile in plots to work mischief (Ezekiel 38:10-12). “Thou shalt think an evil thought” (Ezekiel 38:10). Here is a land defenceless, “dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,” its people inoffensive, quietly pursuing their avocations in fancied security; their “cattle and goods” are increasing, and they have no means of offering resistance. Let us pick a quarrel with them, and “take a spoil” (Ezekiel 38:12). It is true they have done us no harm, nor are likely to do; but what of that? It is enough that they love the truth that we hate, and will become an easy prey to our superior force. If we yield to the suggestions of an evil heart, we trample down the laws of justice and equity, and can readily concert a plan of wholesale robbery and crime. The boldest highwayman or cattle-riever will not go more directly to his mark than we.
III. That there is a class of persons ever ready to make gain out of the havoc created by the enemies of the Truth (Ezekiel 38:13). The eager merchants of Tarshish are referred to as young lions because of their well-known ferocity. There is little room for gentleness and pity in the breast of the unscrupulous trader. Where the carrion lies, there the vultures gather: where there is spoil, the traders. Gain is often made out of the misfortunes and sufferings of others. Many who would shrink from bringing about the ruin of others do not hesitate to make all possible profit out of the ruin. Looters, “the snappers-up of unconsidered trifles,” hang about the skirts of every victorious army.
IV. That the onslaught of the enemies of the Truth is fierce and terrible (Ezekiel 38:8-9; Ezekiel 38:14-17). The army of Gog was to burst upon Israel like a storm-cloud, enveloping and desolating the land. In all ages the forces of unbelief have made violent attacks upon the citadel of Divine Truth; and there have been times when it seemed as if the foundations had been shaken and the fabric must fall into hopeless ruin. But when the shock has spent itself, the stronghold has stood forth more prominent and stable than before. The great world-crisis is yet future. A time is coming that will test the faith of the most stalwart. Baffled and defeated in all previous attempts, the enemies of the Truth will gather up and concentrate all their powers, and all that wily diplomacy, vindictive hatred, and intensified rage can do will be combined in one grand, united, final effort. What will be the result? Mark—
V. That the most formidable onset of the enemies of the Truth will be Divinely opposed (Ezekiel 38:17-23).
1. The Divine anger will be roused (Ezekiel 38:17-19). “My fury shall come up in My face”—in My nostrils, as men are accustomed to show anger by a flushed countenance and dilated nostrils. An anthropomorphic representation: God stooping to the use of human methods of thought and expression. Injustice and cruelty provoke the Divine wrath; He is not an indifferent spectator of the oppressions inflicted upon His people. “When the great day of His wrath is come, who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17).
2. The Divine power will employ against the enemies of the Truth the most destructive forces—earthquakes, wars, pestilence, storms (Ezekiel 38:19-22). The resources of the universe are in the hands of God, and He can use them on the side of righteousness and in the punishment of tyranny and wrong. Heaven and earth are armed against every evil work, and will effectually prevent its triumph.
3. The Divine character will be vindicated in taking vengeance on the enemies of the Truth (Ezekiel 38:23). God will be known and His honour magnified in judgment us well as in showing mercy. The mightiest army is impotent before His avenging sword. The defence and rescue of His people will demonstrate His power, His faithfulness, and His justice.
1. Hatred of the Truth manifests itself in violent opposition.
2. A time comes in the life of every man when he must take sides for or against the Truth.
3. Evil is doomed to suffer terrible defeat.
4. The resources of Omnipotence are at work in defence of the Truth.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
Chaps. 28, 29. “The last conflict of the world with God, and the complete overthrow of the former. The place occupied by this section shows that it refers to times subsequent to the restoration of Israel. Hitherto the prophecies have been directed against the more immediate neighbours of God’s people. Their fall is to make room for Israel’s triumph. But as the Church—the true Israel—waxes stronger and stronger, more distant nations will come into collision and must be overthrown before the triumph is complete. Hence the present prophecy is directed against peoples dwelling in the remote regions of the North. From this quarter had come the terrible invasion of the Scythians, who had possession of Asia twenty-three years, and in the course of this time they had certainly overrun Syria, and had probably made their appearance in the Holy Land. Some have thought that this prophecy is directed against these Scythians, foretelling their fall, like that of the other invaders of the land of Israel. But in this prophecy there is little distinctive of one nation. It is a gathering together of the enemies of Jehovah to make their last effort, and to be overthrown. The seer passes now to the final struggle between good and evil, and the triumphant establishment of the Divine rule. It is the same struggle which is depicted in the Book of Revelation (Ezekiel 20:7-10), where St. John adopts words and phrases of Ezekiel, indicating thereby that he is predicting the same event which Ezekiel had foretold.”—Speaker’s Commentary.
Ezekiel 38:1-23. “In many passages of Scripture God forewarns the Church of a great conspiracy, headed by one person, about to be made against God and His Christ, as also against both the literal and the spiritual Israel in the last days. As Antiochus fearfully desolated Judea and blasphemously desecrated the Temple of God, towards the close of Old Testament times, so Antichrist, here described under the ideal name Gog, and his godless hosts under the name Magog, shall terribly oppress Israel and the Church of Christ, and arrogate to himself divine honours, towards the close of the times of the Gentiles in the New Testament dispensation. Haughty and blasphemous self-confidence shall be his prominent characteristic. His immense hordes of formidable warriors in his train, seduced by Satan to their destruction, shall add to his innate presumption.”—Fausset.
Ezekiel 38:1-13. The Audacity of Evil.—
1. Often embodied in a champion of distinguished genius (Ezekiel 38:2-3).
2. Succeeds in organising a formidable confederacy (Ezekiel 38:4-6).
3. Is blind to the superiority of the power with which it has to wrestle, and is deaf to all warnings (Ezekiel 38:7-8).
4. Apparently overwhelming in its attack (Ezekiel 38:9).
5. Stimulated by its own wicked devices (Ezekiel 38:10).
6. Wantonly assaults the inoffensive and defenceless (Ezekiel 38:11-12).
7. Is applauded by those who hope to share in the wreckage it creates (Ezekiel 38:13).
Ezekiel 38:1-7. The Sufferings of God’s People. “
1. After prophecies of grace and mercy come tidings of afflictions and judgments (Ezekiel 38:2).
2. The great princes of the earth, being no friends to the Church of God, have God for their enemy (Ezekiel 38:3).
3. The Lord at His pleasure can bring enemies and armies upon His own people (Ezekiel 38:4).
4. The Lord can easily bring men to do His work and service, whatever the difficulty or danger be (Ezekiel 38:4).
5. From all quarters of the world there are enemies ready to combine and act with Gog and Antichrist against the Church, the Truth, and Christ Himself (Ezekiel 38:5-6).
6. The enemies of the Church make great preparations against the same (Ezekiel 38:7).
7. Princes, notwithstanding all their preparations, cannot secure themselves, nor those under their command (Ezekiel 38:7).”—Greenhill.
Ezekiel 38:2. “This cannot be one single person, or one only prince, though like enough it points out some one by whom the troubles foretold were begun; yet the successors of this one, whoever he was, are included and designed by this Gog; nor is he to be limited to one certain nation that he was king of, nor yet confined to one age, or to two or three. Others think that all the enemies of Israel, in all quarters, both open and secret enemies, are here intended, and that the anti-Christian forces and combinations are what the prophet foretells.”—Pool.
Ezekiel 38:4. “I will turn thee back, and put My hook into thy jaws”—“I will disappoint all thy designs, and turn thee about as easily as a fisherman masters a great fish, when he has once fastened the hook into its jaws.”—Benson.
—“I will place rings in thy jaws.” “Gog is represented as an unmanageable beast which is compelled to follow its leader, and the thought is thereby expressed that Gog is compelled to obey the power of God against his will.”—Keil.
Ezekiel 38:7. “God, the prophet, and the Church deride this mighty preparation, as once the daughter of Zion laughed Sennacherib, that proud Assyrian, to scorn, and the scoff is doubled. Such a mighty army will need great magazines and granaries, and good watches and guards, for their marching in safety; therefore, awaken thy diligence, let nothing be wanting, for, O Gog, thou wilt find I am against thee, saith the Lord.”—Pool.
Ezekiel 38:8. God Slow to Punish. “
1. God bears with the worst of men a long time. ‘After many days.’
2. Though wicked men be spared long, yet at last they shall suffer. ‘Thou shalt be visited.’ ”—Greenhill.
—“They shall dwell safely.” “This began to be fulfilled when, for three hundred and eighty years after their return, Israel lived tolerably quiet: afterwards Antiochus vexed them and did much damage. What remains of longer and fuller quiet and prosperity after the slaying of Gog, time will discover to the people of God; whose lot it will be to stand up in those days.”—Pool.
Ezekiel 38:9. “This storm is violent, with confused, tumultuous noises and with devastation, as the word implies; and come as a storm—that is, as dark, as large, as inevitable, and which continueth the violent waving storm.”—Pool.
—The Adversities of the Church. “
1. The Church and people of God are subject to calamities. The Church is oft afflicted and tossed with tempest: but here is some comfort—storms, tempests, and clouds last not long; they cease after a little time, and the sun shines again.
2. The goodness of God in foretelling the Church what shall come upon it: storm, clouds, perplexity—not to discourage His people, but to awaken them to prayer, holiness of life, and living by faith.”—Greenhill.
—“In the world we have anguish to the end; before we expect it, a storm arises and heaven and earth seem hid from our eyes. Our security is peace with God: Christians wish indeed peace with all men, but the world keeps no peace with them. Such is its turbulence, that it has no rest; such its darkness, that it would like to shut out all light, even God Himself from being our lamp.—If great armies resemble clouds, how soon can a wind disperse them! (2 Kings 19:35).”—Lange.
Ezekiel 38:10-13. God’s Knowledge of the Tactics of the Wicked. “
1. God foreknows and determines things to come, even those things that seem most free and contingent, as the thoughts of men’s hearts (Ezekiel 38:10).
2. God doth not only foreknow but prediscovers the purposes, counsels, and plots of His Church’s enemies, to evidence His care thereof (Ezekiel 38:10-11).
3. The enemies of the Church do watch and take advantage against the Church: they wait for and seek occasions to ruin the same (Ezekiel 38:11-12).
4. Wicked ones will undertake great matters and venture their lives to satisfy their lusts (Ezekiel 38:12).
5. The wicked confederate and combine together to mischief the Church of God (Ezekiel 38:13). Wicked men are thorns, and they cleave together to scratch and vex the righteous.”—Greenhill.
Ezekiel 38:10. A Wicked Brain.
1. A willing ally of a wicked heart.
2. Fertile in plotting mischief.
3. Its only conception of justice is how it may most cleverly circumvent it.
4. Is indifferent to the sufferings its schemings may occasion others.
5. Is often deluded by its own smartness.
—“Thus God is a heart-searcher; He knows the evil purpose in the man himself.”—Starck.
Ezekiel 38:12-13. “A covetous desire for the possessions of the people of God and envy at their exalted position in the centre of the world are the motives by which Gog is impelled to enter upon his predatory expedition against the people living in the depth of peace. This covetousness is so great, that even the rich trading populations of Sabea, Dedan, and Tarshish perceive it, and declare that it is this alone which has determined Gog to undertake his expedition. Their words give prominence to the obvious thirst for booty which characterises the multitude led by Gog.”—Keil.
Ezekiel 38:12. “How good it is to possess the goods which cannot be stolen—the joy which no one shall take from us!—To the end the world seeks only the temporal, the earthly.”—Lange.
Ezekiel 38:13. “The merchants of Tarshish—the inhabitants of the sea-coast westward, and Magog north. Robbers by land on three sides, pirates by sea on the fourth, in a confederacy to spoil the Church of God.”—Pool.
—“It is the tendency of a gain-seeking spirit to look to no other considerations but its own selfish and worldly interests. Gain is the godliness of the carnal mind. Whatever promotes directly or indirectly the acquisition of silver, gold, cattle, and goods is the uppermost thought; and whilst, perhaps, the more quietly disposed of the worldly shrink from an active participation in unjust and ungodly invasions, yet they are well pleased at such wars when seeming to be conducive to their own gains, and will not scruple to traffic in the unhallowed spoils, at the sacrifice of conscience and the will of God.”—Fausset.
Ezekiel 38:14-23. The Power of Evil—
1. Is imposing in its battle-march (Ezekiel 38:14-16).
2. Is allured and limited by the power it opposes (Ezekiel 38:16-17).
3. Excites the Divine wrath (Ezekiel 38:18-19).
4. The forces of heaven and earth combine in its defeat (Ezekiel 38:20-22).
5. Its defeat a signal vindication of the Divine character (Ezekiel 38:23).
Ezekiel 38:14-16. The Divine Protection. “
1. When God’s people are in Canaan they have safety (Ezekiel 38:14).
2. Those who design and attempt mischief against the people of God shall experimentally know that God is their Protector and the Revenger of their wrongs (Ezekiel 38:14).
3. The secret plots and deep designs of men at length break out into action (Ezekiel 38:15).
4. The great enemies of the Church have many helpers and adherents fitted to further their wicked designs (Ezekiel 38:15).
5. Though all people and lands in the world be the Lord’s, yet some people and lands are His in a more peculiar manner (Ezekiel 38:16).
6. God takes occasion, from the attempts of the wicked, to execute His just judgments upon them, and so to get glory to His name even from heathens (Ezekiel 38:16).”—Greenhill.
Ezekiel 38:14. “ ‘Prophesy and say unto Gog.’ Say it over again, that it may be the better considered for the strengthening of the hands and hearts of My people.”—Trapp.
Ezekiel 38:16. “Gog gathers all from all quarters to be with him to take the spoil; God brings them together to do that among them which may make the heathen see and own His hand. They do it in proud contempt of God and His people; but God doth it to glorify His own name and to vindicate His people.”—Pool.
Ezekiel 38:17. “ ‘By My servants the prophets of Israel.’ Not by prognosticators or soothsayers, but by true prophets. Now, though they had not foretold this when Ezekiel did, yet when the question shall be asked by the Church, it will be so many hundreds of years past, it may well refer to these prophets. Besides, Daniel 11:0; Zechariah 14:0; Isaiah 26:20-21; Isaiah 27:1; Jeremiah 30:23-24; Joel 3:1; Joel 3:15-16; Micah 5:5-6, are prophets cited as those who spake of this mighty enemy and his coming, and from which an understanding reader may soon collect that this foe was intended as well as others in those places.”—Pool.
—The Credibility of Prophecy. “
1. The Lord doth infallibly know things to come.
2. The prophets delivered many things which were not recorded.
3. Those whom God sends to make known His mind to men, He owns, honours, and protects.
4. It is not an accidental or casual thing that enemies do come against the Church.”—Greenhill.
—Everything has been told before: they who hold to the Word have to fear no surprises.
Ezekiel 38:18-22. God’s Proceedings against His Enemies. “
1. When wicked men are plotting and attempting the ruin of the Church, God’s wrath is kindled against them (Ezekiel 38:18).
2. When mischief is intended against God’s people, His love and indignation are manifested: His love to His people, His indignation towards their enemies (Ezekiel 38:18-19).
3. The judgments of God are dreadful; they affect all creatures—the fishes of the sea, the fowls of heaven, the beasts of the field, all that creeps upon the earth: all men on the face of the earth shall shake; mountains, rocks, walls, shall fall (Ezekiel 38:20).
4. God can easily raise forces against His and the Church’s enemies; He can do it without any trouble (Ezekiel 38:21-22).
5. As God can easily gather armies for the good of His Church, so He can as easily ruin armies which are against His Church: He can mingle a perverse spirit among them, so divide them that they shall execute one another (Ezekiel 38:21).
6. God hath a variety of means and ways whereby to destroy armies and punish enemies (Ezekiel 38:22).
7. Those who join with great ones in wicked enterprises must look to suffer grievous things with them.”—Greenhill.
Ezekiel 38:18. “Fury is the glow which bursts forth in the breathing of wrath. The wrath of God is the holy jealousy with which He, for the protection of His kingdom—the kingdom of peace—dashes down the wicked; and this wrath of eternal protecting love is fearful.”—Schmieder.
Ezekiel 38:19-23. “The visible creation takes part in this great catastrophe. A dreadful scene of confusion ensues, and ruin bursts forth from every side upon the head of sinners. In fierce bewilderment they draw their swords one upon another. All conceivable plagues work together for their destruction, and so Jehovah is manifested as the holy God.”—Hävernick.
Ezekiel 38:20. “Here is a lofty strain indeed, giving us the description of the tokens of God’s presence against His enemies; the effects of His displeasure against them are seen in all the creatures, sensible that their Maker is angry, though they know not with whom or for what. If to be interpreted literally, we shall find some Scripture parallels (Psalms 77:16; Psalms 77:19; Psalms 29:5-6). But men, apprehensive of God’s displeasure and shaken with their own guilt, shall much more shake. But I think it is a very elegant allusive description of those strange troubles and consternation of men’s minds at that day, and so metaphorically to be understood.”—Pool.
Ezekiel 38:23. “Thus undeniably prove that I am the mighty, just, faithful, wise, holy, and merciful God toward My people; and that I am the great, just, and terrible One against Mine and My Church’s enemies.”—Pool.
—“This end God proposeth to Himself in all His works; and well He may, since He hath none higher than Himself to whom to have respect. And let all this that hath been said comfort us against the rage and good success, if any such yet be, of the anti-Christian rout, since these are but—as was once said of decaying Carthage—the last sprunts and bites of dying wild beasts.”—Trapp.
—“The conclusion is, that the result of everything is to magnify and sanctify God. We ought, therefore, to begin all our affairs with God.”—Lange.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Ezekiel 38". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27