Ezekiel 38:1-9: World War

The rockets are burning
The dreamers are at full swing
The heavens have painted
Have brushed you with angel wings
And you know in your heart
That the farsighted see better things
— Five Iron Frenzy (“Farsighted” from Electric Boogaloo)

Conductors have a multifaceted role. They signal the entrance of instruments—they also close them out. They have the ability to raise and lower the intensity of different instruments while the music is being played. They set the tempo: they speed up the sluggish and calm the racing. Their biggest asset is the ability to comprehend the entire piece of music from beginning to end. A conductor is able to bring out hints of motives that will appear later in grandiose phrases.

If God is the conductor of history, here he shows Ezekiel the end of the score.

We don’t often get to see the distant future. I find that God usually shows us just enough to keep us following him. It’s that sense of the unexpected that gives us hope. Here God shows Ezekiel a dark yet triumphant history.

. . .

It’s difficult to identify Gog and its allies. In fact, this is the only place in the Bible that Gog is mentioned in a historical sense—Revelation wisely picks up on the apocalyptic theme.

When you look at the list of Gog’s allies, a few things stand out:

  1. These are fringe nations that Israel didn’t have a lot of contact with.
  2. There are seven allies listed, which is a symbolic number.
  3. Four allies are from the extreme north of the world (Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, and Beth-Togarmah), while three allies are from the extreme south (Paras, Cush, and Put).

When you put these observations together, you get the impression that the names serve a symbolic function. At some time in the distant future, God will bring out the entire world to fight against his people. Christians, informed by Revelation, understood this as an early vision of the final apocalypse.

. . .

I love the way God takes control of this situation:

I will turn you around
and put hooks into your jaws,
and I will lead you out. (v. 4, NRSV)

At any given time, there are Christians living in peace and Christians living in persecution.  This verse speaks powerfully to those who are living in persecution.

Here’s the message: a time is coming when the worst imaginable persecution will occur. The whole world will come out to fight against God’s people. Yet God is in full control of the situation. In fact, he is the one (this might rattle your theology) who will grab the enemies and bring them to the fight.

Somehow in the mystery of God, this battle will provide a fitting recapitulation to the sonata of human history.

. . .

Lord my Conductor, help me to be content with whatever you wish to reveal to me. Guide me as I play my part. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

< Ezekiel 37:22-28 | Too Perilous

Ezekiel 38:10-13 | Seek First >

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