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God's judgment upon Gog. Israel's victory. Gog's burial in Hamon-gog. The feast of the fowls. Israel, having been plagued for their sins, shall be gathered again.
Before Christ 587.
Ezekiel 39:6. I will send a fire, &c.— That is, into the country of Gog. Gog is supposed to dwell or to have dwelt between the Caspian and the Euxine sea; which is referred to by the expression in the isles, or on the maritime coasts. This fire seems to signify that the land, after the army of Gog had left it, should be laid waste by the neighbouring people.
Ezekiel 39:8. Behold, it is come— The prophet, as is very frequent, speaks, in the rapture of prophesy, of this event as if already completed. See Revelation 16:17.
Ezekiel 39:9. And they shall burn them, &c.— That is, for a long time; a certain for an uncertain number. There shall be in the country so great a quantity of military weapons, that they shall serve them for a long time for fuel. We should remember, that they do not make very large fires in those hot countries. Mariana, in his Spanish History, book 2: chap. 24 relates, that after the victory which the Spaniards gained over the Saracens in 1212, they found so many spears, and other warlike weapons of wood, as served them four years for fuel. See Calmet. Bishop Lowth observes, on Isa 9:4-5 that some heathen nations burnt heaps of arms to the supposed god of victory; and that among the Romans this act was an emblem of peace. Among God's people it might shew trust in him as their defender. Archbishop Newcombe observes on the present passage, "The victory shall be so great, that, during this period of time [seven years], they shall suffice for fires on the mountains, and in the open fields; where the rain shall fall, and whither the inhabitants of the adjoining cities shall occasionally go forth."
Ezekiel 39:11. At place there of graves— An illustrious place for sepulchre; the valley of passengers, opposite to the sea; through which the travellers shall pass stopping their noses. Houbigant. According to the Chaldee, the sea here spoken of was that of Gennezareth. The valley near this lake or sea is called the valley of the passengers, because it was a great road, by which the merchants and traders from Syria, and other eastern countries, went into Egypt. See Genesis 37:17; Gen 37:25 and Calmet.
Ezekiel 39:14. After the end of seven months— Houbigant reads this, And they shall search for them even to the seventh month.
Ezekiel 39:17. Speak unto every feathered fowl— It was the custom for persons who offered sacrifices to invite their friends to the feast, which was made of the remainder. So here the prophet, by God's command, invites the beasts and fowls to partake of the sacrifice of his enemies. Whoever compares Psalms 78:48. Deuteronomy 32:24. Hab 3:5 and Isa 34:7 must confess, that the prophet had all these passages in his eye: but at the same time, from a luxuriance of expression, he has both enlarged upon, and surpassed them. He dwells as long as he can upon this subject; he sets it in all the variety of lights which it will bear, and leaves no room for any that come after him to add or improve; unless we except that passage of St. John, Rev 19:17-18 which is certainly superior in sublimity to this of the prophet. See Michaelis's Notes, p. 110.
Ezekiel 39:18. Drink the blood of the princes of the earth— That is, the fowls and beasts mentioned before, shall drink, &c. There cannot be a greater instance of disingenuousness, and of inveterate malice to the Scriptures and the people of God, than Voltaire has shewn by his infamous misrepresentation of the passage before us; endeavouring to fix it as an opprobrium upon the Jews, that they sacrificed human beings to the Deity. After urging what he calls proofs, he adds, "Nay, Ezekiel himself, in order to encourage them [the Jews], promises them also that they shall eat of human flesh: Ye shall eat both the house and his rider, and drink the blood of princes." Can any person, with the least candour, conceive that this writer really mistook, or misrepresented this passage through downright ignorance?—The supposition is impossible; and in this view, what a heart must he have had, who could thus daringly traduce the sacred oracles of God; and on how wretched a master do they pin their faith, who blindly follow the delusive dictates of so vain and perverse a philosopher!
Ezekiel 39:28. And have left none of them, &c.— Amid the variety of conjectures passed upon these chapters, may we not be allowed to add one more;—proposed merely as a quaere to the learned, and as a subject of investigation? namely, that this prophesy primarily refers to the judgment of God by Cyrus upon the Babylonians, and the restoration of the Jews in consequence; and secondarily to some future judgment, introductory to their grand restoration; for that the last verse of this chapter refers to the effusion of Gospel-grace, there can be no doubt. The last clause of it should be rendered, After, or when I shall have poured out my Spirit, &c. according to Houbigant. Certainly, it is as reasonable to understand this of Cyrus as of Cambyses; and Calmet has well observed, that it is nothing extraordinary in the style of the prophets, to disguise the proper names of the princes or persons of whom they speak. If they were always to name persons, and to express them in a formal and exact manner, the prophesy would differ nothing from a history. I would just add, that, to understand this of the fall of Babylon, and the restoration of the Jews, seems far more consonant to the general tenor of Ezekiel's prophesies, than to refer it to any distant and unknown people and event; and we shall find by turning back to those great prophets, whom we have before considered, that they have not failed to foretel this event; and it is reasonable to suppose, that Ezekiel, who is so similar to them in subject throughout, would not omit to do so. The reader will observe several very similar traces in their prophesies respecting the fall of Babylon, to this of Ezekiel's, concerning the fall of Magog; and if Ezekiel's prophesy (on this subject suppose) be more dark and obscure than theirs, we have a very sufficient reason for that obscurity in the circumstances and situation of Ezekiel, who was a captive in the land of the Chaldeans; and who, having foretold the fall of Egypt by the Babylonians, (see chap. Ezekiel 30:24.) could not well predict the fall of the Babylonians themselves, otherwise than in dark and figurative terms.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, When God begins he will make an end; his enemies shall feel his vengeance and perish utterly.
1. He threatens the destruction of Gog and his army, and the desolation of his country. His soldiers, for whom he drained his kingdom, and left but a sixth part behind him, shall be disabled from hurting God's people, and fall upon the mountains of Israel, a prey to every beast and bird; and, while the king with his army miserably perishes there, the fire of God, some consuming judgment, shall devour his country; and even the isles of his dominion, which promised themselves security from their situation, shall be consumed together: for, when God riseth up to judgment, no place or person is privileged, or may hope for exemption. Note; (1.) The mightiest armies before God are as easily crushed as the moth. (2.) While the ambitious unjustly labour to usurp the rights of others, God justly punishes them with the loss of what was their own.
2. God will thus make himself known and glorious. His people will prove his power, faithfulness, and grace, signally manifested on their behalf, and be engaged thereby, renouncing all their former idolatries, to cleave to him alone: for nothing tends to separate the heart from sin so effectually as the right knowledge of God. And his enemies the heathen shall know him too by these examples of his vengeance, shall fear to provoke his jealousy, nor dare any more to molest his people. Note; The judgments of God on others should be our warnings.
2nd, What God hath spoken as absolutely to be accomplished, is as sure as if it were already done. It is come, it is done: for faith realizes both as present.
By three things the dreadful destruction of the army of Gog is represented.
1. By the vast quantity of weapons of war which, among other spoil, should be collected, and furnish the people of Israel with fuel during seven years; and every chip that they burned would serve to remind them of God's mercy, and to awaken their gratitude.
2. By the length of time which it will take to bury the dead, and the numbers employed in the service. The whole house of Israel, assisted by the passengers, who would willingly labour to remove so great a nuisance, shall be no less than seven months employed in cleansing the land, and collecting the bodies to their burying-place, the valley of the passengers, on the east of the sea, of the sea of Gennezareth, which shall from this event receive a new name, and be called the valley of Hamon-gog, and the city near thereunto Hamonah, alluding to the multitudes there buried. And it shall be a renown to Israel in that day, when God shall be glorified; such an astonishing instance of the divine interposition in their favour shall make them respected, and their humanity to the dead redound greatly to their honour. And at the seven months' end, when the multitudes that fell together are covered in the earth, certain persons shall be appointed to go through the land, and bury the scattered corpses; whilst every traveller who passes by, when he sees a bone, shall set up a mark for the notice of the searchers appointed, until the land be thoroughly cleansed. Note; (1.) When our nostrils are offended with the putrefaction of a corpse, we should remember the sin which has made these bodies so vile. (2.) They who have experienced great national mercies, should unite in their labour to cleanse their land from every pollution of sin; and to this every lover of his country will gladly lend a helping hand. (3.) To advance God's glory is Israel's great renown.
3. There will be enough for every bird and beast to feed upon; and they are commanded to come and devour the slain, sacrificed to divine justice. Corpses enough there will be, not merely for a meal, but to fatten them; and this not only of the common soldiers, but of the mighty, and the princes of the earth, strewed around with their horses and chariots, fallen in one promiscuous ruin.
Thus God will make the heathen to see and observe his judgments against the enemies of his people, and will advance his own great glory thereby: while the house of Israel shall exult in his salvation, and receive fresh confirmation of God's care and love, engaging their confidence in him from that day forward. Let God's Israel then to the end of time trust in the Lord, yea, for ever: for he will never disappoint the expectations of them who place their whole confidence in him.
3rdly, Much had the people of God suffered from the blasphemies of their enemies, much under the heavy hand of God upon them in afflictions; but now he will deliver them out of all their troubles.
1. The heathen shall be silenced, and convinced of God's designs in the sufferings of his people. They thought the captivity of Israel was owing to their weakness, or the inability of their God to protect them; but by this amazing exertion of divine power on their behalf, they shall see that the only cause of their suffering was their sin, for which they were given into their enemies' hands; and that God dealt with them according to their transgressions, in all the evils that he brought upon them. So that what he did was with a view to his own glory, visiting their iniquity with a rod; yet, as by the event appeared, not suffering his truth to fail, nor wanting power to recover and restore them to their former splendour, when they had smarted sufficiently under his corrections.
2. God's faithful people shall know his designs of grace towards them, notwithstanding all that they have suffered. Jealous for his own honour, which the heathen had reproached, he will magnify himself in Israel's deliverance, since they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses, and testified unfeigned repentance for their provocations, aggravated by the mercies, peace, and comforts that they had enjoyed, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. Therefore he will now turn his hand, recover them from their dispersion, and bring them to their own land; and hereby God will be sanctified in the sight of many nations, who will own his dispensations towards his Israel to have been righteous, just, and good. And the faithful, while they acknowledge God's justice in their sufferings, shall experience his rich grace in their salvation, and know him to be their God, their covenant God, who will no more withdraw the light of his countenance from them as a nation, but will pour out his Spirit upon them in a most glorious manner. Note; (1.) True penitents are willing to bear their shame, and own their sufferings to be less than their iniquities deserve. (2.) When by divine grace we return to God, he will return to us, and lift up again upon us the light of his countenance.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezekiel 39". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent