As Rockets Land in Israel, we ask: When will there be Peace?
A closer look at the timing of the prophecy of Ezekiel 38.
Friday, March 16, 2012
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Over the last week Israel has been subject to barrages of rockets, fired at its civilian centres from the terrorists in the Gaza strip. The rockets are more and more powerful, reaching larger population centres such as Ashkelon and Beersheba and putting key infrastructure in danger. Schools are having to be closed. Israel has responded with targeted missile attacks and utilized its advanced "Iron Dome" anti-missle system. Israel is in a difficult position, her civilian centres are in danger and the populations are being terrorized, yet entering the Gaza strip is not a desirable option. It is a hornet's nest of terrorists, shielding themselves amongst the civilian population. There have also been attempted terrorist attacks within Israel. On the 15th a mother and her daughter were ambushed on the way home to Bethel, but thankfully they were saved when another car arrived behind them. The Iranian nuclear threat also rumbles on, with options and time running out. Ynet news reports that the US Navy is doubling its presence in the Persian Gulf.
In Ezekiel 38 the regathered Jews are described as living at rest, dwelling safely, "dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates". These words of the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 38 certainly do not apply to Israel today. Israel is internally and externally surrounded by walls, fences, bars and gates. Their population centres are under missile attack and are definitely not "at rest". How this situation could develop is a puzzle. The obstacles that obstruct peace in Israel seem to be unsurmountable. Does this mean that Ezekiel 38 does not apply, will there be a period of peace and safety as Ezekiel describes?
It is worth noting that at one time the prospect of Israel being a prosperous nation, as described by Ezekiel in chapter 38 also seemed impossible. This has completely changed today. On the 13th Israel National News reported that, "Israel has struck oil again, this time off the Tel Aviv coast. Developers maintain the find includes 100 million barrels of oil, worth $10 billion." The oil is less that 15 miles northwest of Tel Aviv in shallow water. The oil is defined as high quality in commercial quantity.
It also must be stated that the peace and safety described by Ezekiel may develop after the return of Christ, but before the invasion of the land by Gog. This is important as we should not think that Christ will not return, until there is peace and safety for the regathered Jews in the land of Israel.
What of Ezekiel 38 then? Lets have a look and see some of the details that it gives us, that define the time when it will be fulfilled.
First, the context of the chapter helps considerably. Ezekiel 38 comes near the end of the chapters concerning the restoration of the Jewish people. These chapters describe the regathering of Israel. For example, Ezekiel 34:13, "And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country." Again, Ezekiel 36:24, "For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land." Ezekiel 37 contains two prophecies of restoration, the prophecy of the dried bones of the house of Israel, which are regathered to their land, and the prophecy of the two sticks of Israel and Judah. Ezekiel 38 fits in with this theme of the regathering and so goes hand in hand with the other chapters, prophesying of the same time period. For example, Ezekiel 38:8, "After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them." The events of Ezekiel 38 take place in the latter years when the regathering of Jews has taken place and at a time when it can be said that the mountains of Israel have "always been waste." This limits the timeframe in which the prophecy can be fulfilled. It must be at a time when it can be said that the mountains have always been waste, yet the Jews are regathered. This suggests that the regathering will be recent history to these events.
We have seen how Ezekiel 38 fits in with the prophecies of restoration. Further the prophecy specifically states that it should be joined with other prophecies of the last days, that are recorded by the prophets. Ezekiel 38:17, "Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?" This informs us that the subject of Gog's invasion is spoken of by many of the prophets of Israel, even though Gog is not spelled out by name as he is here.
While we have mentioned how that Ezekiel 38 states that the prophecy is to take place in the latter days (see verses 8 and 16), Ezekiel 39 is even more specific. Ezekiel 39:8, "Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken." This is "the day". Other prophets also speak of "the day". For instance Isaiah 34:8, "For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion." Again, Isaiah 63:4 speaks of the same day of the controversy of Zion, "For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come." There is only one great day of Yahweh such as is described here and the one great event that brings many of these prophecies together, is the one massive earthquake that will take place at that time. This great earthquake is described in some detail in Zechariah 14:4,5.
"And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee."
There will only be one great earthquake like this that will change the topography of the land of Israel, to that which is described in the later chapters of Ezekiel, where the house of prayer for all nations is dealt with. Ezekiel 38 describes this great earthquake in similar terms in verses 19 and 20.
"For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground."
The earthquake will be so devastating that every wall will fall to the ground. It will be part of the divine hand that will be directed against Gog and his host. These points clearly show that Ezekiel 38 will take place after the regathering of Israel, but before the temple is constructed and the kingdom established. If this were to take place after the kingdom is established or at the end of the millennium it can hardly be expected that "every wall will fall to the ground" and the millennium of peace that the saints have enjoyed in the land promised to them, would be shattered by a massive earthquake, which would destroy the house of prayer for all nations and cause damage in the land promised to Abraham - the inheritance of the saints.
The tremendous events in Ezekiel 38 have a specific purpose and this must be kept in view. This is stated in Ezekiel 39:7. "So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel." The purpose is that God's name would be known among the children of Israel, (implying that in someway this was not the case before these events); that after this Israel would no longer pollute God's name, and; finally that the heathen would know that Yahweh is the Holy one of Israel.
The children of Israel no longer polluting God's name is a feature of the millennium - the kingdom age. This is stated in other prophecies also, such as Isaiah 60:21, "Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified." This is as a result of the New Covenant having been established with Israel as laid out in Jeremiah 31:31-34, when Jeremiah prophecies that "They shall all know me...".
This is a sharp contrast to the situation at the time when Ezekiel 38 transpires, when the children of Israel need Yahweh's name to be made known to them. While the peace and safety that is described in Ezekiel 38 might sound very much as if it were indeed the kingdom of God, upon closer examination it is evident that this pseudo peace is quite different. In Ezekiel 39:25,26 we have some added detail: "Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid." So the time that the children of Israel dwell safely, is characterized as a time when they trespass. This is quite different to the kingdom age "when they shall all know me".
At the end of the millennium there will be a test upon the nations of the world, to test them and their attitude towards the God of Israel. While this prophecy recorded in Revelation 20, has some events in common with Ezekiel 38 - in particular the mention of Gog and Magog, and Revelation 16 the gathering of the nations, it is quite distinct. In Revelation 20 Gog and Magog do not enter the land of Israel, they only encompass the camp of the saints and the city of Jerusalem. The camp of the saints is the "continuing city" which they looked for and have found (Hebrews 13:11-14). It is the "land of promise", "the city" and the "country", which the faithful in Hebrews 11 looked for. In the event at the end of the 100o years in Revelation 20, the host is destroyed by fire from God and they do not enter the land of Israel and are not destroyed on her mountains by a great earthquake.
On this week's Bible in the News we have gone into some detail regarding the timing of Ezekiel 38 and 39 and we hope that it has been helpful. It has assured us that we do live in the time of this prophecy and that we can see these events transpiring before our eyes. It also confirms, that however unlikely it may seem at the present, that a period of peace and safety will develop in Israel before or shortly after the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. Thanks for listening and come back next week God willing, to www.bibleinthenews.com. This has been David Billington with you.
Printed: Friday, March 16, 2012
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