You may run from His mercy;
you cannot from His justice.
— Charles Wesley (Charles Wesley: A Reader)
Israel had a problem. God’s defeat of evil was so complete, they were stuck with a lot of dead bodies to deal with! It’s a good problem, but a serious one. Here are some of the questions that accompany such a problem:
- Should we dignify these enemy bodies with a proper burial?
- Where are we going to find enough room to bury all of these people?
- Should we bury these people inside or outside of Israel?
This paragraph of the Gog narrative is a polemic that answers these questions, and thereby shows how exhaustive God’s defeat of evil actually is. Remember, this is something that Israel is anticipating in their future. For now, they are still in the enemies camp.
This section has the ring of prisoners in a concentration camp discussing how they will bury their jailers!
. . .
This paragraph is an ironic twist on the Dry Bones narrative: Israel was completely destroyed and slaughtered, but God resurrected them into new life. Now, the bodies of the evil powers lie scattered in the valley. It reminds me of Mary’s Song:
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
(Luke 1:51-52, NRSV)
These two narratives in tandem—Dry Bones and Gog’s Burial—would have a cumulative effect on the hearers. Not only were they resurrected, their enemies would share in the punishment they meted out.
What goes around comes around.
An eye for an eye.
Of course, Jesus embodied a higher ethic. When the Gog narrative reaches its prophetic consummation, evil itself will be destroyed. We are not talking about certain nations receiving judgment. People are able to choose whether to align themselves with the dehumanizing powers of evil, or to receive mercy for their actions.
. . .
The text describes the burial process in detail. It will take a symbolic seven months to bury all of the enemies. There are so many bodies, people will have to circuit the land regularly to ensure no dead bodies remains on the surface. If searchers discover an exposed bone, they will flag it and have the buriers return. The land will be cleansed. Evil will receive a more generous dispatching than Israel received before.
In the interim—the time between the defeat of evil on the cross, and the final wiping out of evil on the earth—I wonder how well we bury evil in our own lives?
The picture in Ezekiel is intense. Not only must we resist temptation once, we need to keep guarding ourselves, and flag the slightest hint of any enemy resurgence. With the constant attendance of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to stay faith-full to God until that day.
. . .
Holy Spirit, help me to guard my life against anything that would woo me from you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.