Ezekiel 38 and 39: Nuances :: By Mark A. Becker

Ezekiel 38 and 39: Nuances seeks to address many of the elements that were covered in two previous articles – one in November of 2020 and the other in February of 2021 – as well as highlight some other features that should help the Bible prophecy student better comprehend the subtle and not so subtle nuances found in Ezekiel’s amazing prophecy of the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel.

Due to space constraint – as we plan to focus on several nuances in more detail within this study – there are a few nuances we will not cover in this study article, but they can be read about in the above- mentioned two articles.

These nuances are:

Ezekiel 38:18-19 – God and the IDF: A Partnership

Please see Possibilities: The Ezekiel 38 Invasion for why I suggest that God and Israel will have a partnership in repelling the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel. We will also have more to say on this topic below.

Ezekiel 39:2 – ‘Leave but the Sixth Part of Thee’ in the KJV?

Please see Possibilities: The Ezekiel 39 Aftermath, where we note that this phrase is not found in the original language.

Ezekiel 39:9-10 – Israel’s Buring of Weapons for Seven Years

Please see Possibilities: The Ezekiel 39 Aftermath for my supposition on Israel’s burning of the weapons for seven years and how this might very well fit into end-time eschatology.

Underlined Scripture passages and definitions are my own emphasis.

When is the Ezekiel 38 and 39 Invasion of Israel?

There are a few different views when it comes to this question.

Contextually, however, there should be no doubt that this invasion of Israel will occur in the latter days either before the rapture of the church (how long before, no one knows, because no one knows when the rapture will occur) or, most likely, the gap of time in between the rapture of the church and the beginning of the Tribulation.

“After many days thou [Gog] shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword…” – Ezekiel 38:8a

The Hebrew phrase for “in the latter” is בְּאַחֲרִ֨ית “bə·’a·ḥă·rîṯ” with 319 אַחֲרִית “acharith” and can mean of latter part of time or endcloselastlatter end timehinderuttermostlengthposterityremnantresiduereward. This phrase is used 16 times in the Tanakh and is translated in the KJV as in the lastin the latterin the uttermost parts, and in the last end.

Interestingly, the first time this phrase is used is by Jacob when he prophesied over his sons and grandsons when he asked them to gather around him and declared that “I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days” in Genesis 49:1.

Correspondingly, Michael said unto Daniel, “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days” (Daniel 10:14).

“Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord God; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?” – Ezekiel 38:14 (Ezekiel 38:18-19Ezekiel 39:8Ezekiel 39:11)

The phrase “in that day” is extremely versatile in the prophetic Scriptures. Here are four diverse ways this phrase can be used in the Tanakh:

  1. A “day” in which a future prophecy would be fulfilled near to the prophet and the prophecy.
  2. A latter “day” end-time prophecy leading up to the Tribulation.
  3. Equivalent to “that day” or “the day of the Lord,” representing the Tribulation period of Jacob’s trouble.
  4. Equivalent to “that day,” representing the Messianic Millennial Kingdom.

Obviously, when assessing Ezekiel 38:8 and the “latter years,” we are looking at #2 or #3.

“And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land…” – Ezekiel 38:16a

God stresses this invasion will occur “in the latter days,” and is the exact same Hebrew phrase found in Ezekiel 38:8.

In all, we are certainly looking at an invasion that will occur, just as God proclaims, in “the latter years” or “latter days.”

It is my personal conviction that this invasion of Israel, detailed in Ezekiel 38 and 39:1-16, will occur in The Gap between the rapture of the church and the beginning of the Tribulation.

Ezekiel 38:11 – Gog Sees Israel as Being at Rest and Dwelling Safely

Many Bible teachers have suggested that Israel will be living in peace when this invasion occurs. But the Hebrew word for peace, “shalom,” is not in the original text. Rest and dwelling safely, however, is. This is a difference we would do well to investigate.

“And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates…” – Ezekiel 38:11

The Hebrew for “to them that are at rest” is הַשֹּׁ֣קְטִ֔ים “haš·šō·qə·ṭîm” – used only here – with 8252 שָׁקַט “shaqat” and essentially means to be quiet or undisturbed.

The Hebrew for “safely” is לָבֶ֑טַח “lā·ḇe·ṭaḥ” with 983 “betach,” meaning assuranceboldlywithout careconfidencehopesafely securesurely, and is usually rendered securely.

Israel, as a nation and a people, will essentially be undisturbed and living securely in her homeland when this invasion occurs.

We have offered the opinion that Israel has met these conditions today. Please consider the following characteristics of Israel, even today while they are at war.

Israel’s people are living essentially at rest with even an Arab population living in their midst.

Both Israeli and Arab citizens dwell securely in Israel; in fact, many people say they feel safer in Israel than in any other country on Earth.

Just about every city and village in Israel has no walls for protection, but they do have partitions and security checkpoints on their nation’s borders with their enemies, just as most other nations have — or at least should have.

Most every city in Israel has neither bars nor gates protecting them as they did in ancient times.

Israeli, Arab, and Druze citizenry, along with visiting people from virtually every nation on Earth can freely roam Israel and safely travel from town to town, all having a true sense of rest.

I do suspect, however, that when this invasion does occur, Israel may be in a state of respite from their enemies. But, again, these same conditions hold true for Israel, even while at war, as there are very few bars or gates on her cities, towns, and villages that separate them from other cities, towns, and villages in Israel, and people of all nations freely travel securely from city to city.

Many Christians and other people from many various countries have given testimonial accounts that they feel more secure in Israel than even in their own nations or other countries they have visited.

Finally, when we consider the centuries that the Israeli people have been estranged from their God-given homeland, the very fact that many Israelis call Israel home, as they do today, signifies a rest that Israel has not possessed ever since their worldwide dispersion at the hands of Rome in 70-135 AD.

Truly, in the scope of modern history, Israel is living at rest and in security in her homeland today.

‘They Shall Know That I AM the Lord’

“Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.” – Ezekiel 38:23

“And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.” – Ezekiel 38:16

We are going to focus on Ezekiel 38:16, but the same exact information is applicable to Ezekiel 38:23 as well.

The Hebrew word for “know” is 3045 יָדַע “yada” and is a most versatile word with many meanings and, depending on context, can mean make oneself knownknowlearn to knowknow by experienceperceiverecognizeacknowledgeadmitacquainted withadviseanswerappointassuredlybe awareconsider.

In context, consider that God is making Himself known to the nations by the defeat of His and Israel’s enemies, and the nations will have learned to know by experienceperceiverecognizeacknowledgeadmitconsider, and are aware that the God of Israel is ultimately behind Israel’s victory over the invading hordes.

Israel defeating her enemies who were vastly superior on a human level has happened repeatedly throughout Israel’s history, yet have these nations, by knowing that the God of Israel was the power behind their defeat, humbled themselves and come to God in true repentance and faith? Time and time again, the answer is no. Some people of the nations will undoubtedly be convinced of the God of Israel’s supremacy and will come to the Messiah by grace through faith from this incredible prophesied event, but most will not.

‘They Shall Know That I AM the LORD’ — Eventually

In continuing to make our case, we will first examine the book of Ezekiel itself and consider when this frequently proclaimed phrase by God is often fulfilled.

Then shall ye know that I am the Lord, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols. So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am the Lord.” – Ezekiel 6:13-14 (Ezekiel 6:6-71020:4437:13et al.)

God continuously proclaims in the book of Ezekiel that Israel would know that He is the Lord when the Babylonians would destroy them and their country. Did they? Hardly.

Consider Ezekiel himself, how God had him ministering to the exiles in Babylon while they rejected their plight and dispersion as coming from the Lord. They were a stiffed-necked people who, even after the destruction of their homeland and their dispersion – and hearing from God’s prophets warn them of what God was going to do – refused to acknowledge that God had done what He said He would do.

Repeatedly, God calls out the leaders, elders, and nobles of Judah and Jerusalem who were taken captive in the first wave with Ezekiel and asserts that they were a rebellious house and pined for their idols in their hearts. Even when the final waves of captives came to Babylon, Israel refused to believe that the Lord God was the power behind the destruction of their nation by the hands of the Babylonians. In fact, it would take a full 70 years of captivity before Israel would finally purge themselves of their idols and acknowledge that God was indeed the Lord. It happened, but it took many years before God’s Words were fulfilled.

When God commissioned Moses and Aaron to go to Pharaoh, He said:

“And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.

“And the Egyptians shall know [“yada”] that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” – Exodus 7:3-5

When the Egyptians pursued Israel and cornered them at the Red Sea, God made the following statement:

“And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know [“yada”] that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.” – Exodus 14:17-18

In both cases, the Egyptians surely recognized the hand of the LORD was against them, but they certainly did not repent and submit to the authority of the God of Israel. And neither will the nations who will all recognize the hand of the Lord, in concert with His people, destroying the invading armies of the Gog/Magog coalition. They will not, as nations, repent and submit to the God of Israel!

So, in conclusion to this section, there is no justification for anyone to believe and teach that God’s statement that the nations will know that He is the Lord in any way reflects the notion that the nations will repent and come to a saving faith in the Lord, thus indicating that this must be Armageddon at Christ’s Second Coming. Nothing in all of Ezekiel 38:1 through 39:16 ever gives this impression.

The Ezekiel 38 ‘Earthquake’ or ‘Shaking’

There has been, somewhat understandably, some confusion over Ezekiel’s earthquake or shaking.

“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.

“And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord God: every man’s sword shall be against his brother.

“And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.” – Ezekiel 38:19-22

First and foremost, this earthquake or shaking has no resemblance whatsoever to the final climatic worldwide earthquake in Revelation 16:17-21 when “the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage” (Isaiah 24:20).

The Ezekiel 38 earthquake or shaking, from God’s perspective, is centered in “the land of Israel” and, more specifically, in the “mountains of Israel” in Israel’s north, which is the Golan Heights and surrounding areas to the west.

The Hebrew for “the earth” is הָאֲדָמָ֑ה “hā·’ă·ḏā·māh” (used 113 times in Tanakh, translated the earth or, most often, as the land or the ground) with 127 אֲדָמָה “adamah” which can mean, depending on context, countryearthgroundhusbandmanland. From ‘adam; soil (from its general redness) — country, earth, ground, husband(-man) (-ry), land.

Because of context, “the earth,” along with a “great shaking,” is the land or ground of the northern mountains “in the land of Israel.” The statement in Ezekiel 38:22 concerning Gog and his bands – “And I will call for a sword against him [Gog] throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord God: every man’s sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him [Gog] with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him [Gog], and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him [Gog], an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.” – aids in confirming northern Israel’s mountainous geography along with the intense shaking and demise that the invaders will experience there.

In Possibilities: The Ezekiel 38 Invasion under the subheading, Israel: A Strong Nation & God’s Sovereignty, we gave a brief supposition that this shaking could very well be the result of a nuclear attack by Israel to repel her enemies as a last resort and in desperation. Considering the “pestilence and with blood” and that God “will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone,” one can certainly picture a nuclear strike and the ensuing aftermath.

This will undoubtedly render most of northern Israel virtually uninhabitable and inhospitable to life going into the Tribulation, linking this supposition with the mop-up efforts in Ezekiel 39:12-16, which seems to be why the focus of Israel during the Tribulation is primarily centered on Judah and Jerusalem, exclusively.

This relocation of those in northern Israel to southern Israel will be reminiscent of when the nation of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, beginning in approximately 740 BC, with some of the remnant tribes in Israel who were allowed to remain – those who desired to stay close to the God of Israel – moving south into Judah.

The more I have reflected on this invasion, the more I believe this could very well be the case.

There is also the possibility that this “great shaking in the land of Israel” may coincide with the earliest earthquake in Revelation when the Sixth Seal is broken (Revelation 6:12-17).

[For more on this earthquake and the Seal Judgments, please see Revelation 6: Our Marriage and The Gap.]

Ezekiel 39:17-29 – A New Prophecy

Ezekiel 39:17-29 is probably the greatest reason that some prophecy teachers and students insist that the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel must occur at the end of the Tribulation, or Armageddon.

There are three factors, though, that nullify this assumption at the outset.

  1. While there are many nations who come against Israel in the Gog/Magog invasion, every nation on Earth that survives the Tribulation will be gathered together, waiting for Christ at His Second Coming.
  2. Israel is repeatedly mentioned as living in her land when the invasion of Gog/Magog takes place, while surviving Israelites from Judah and Jerusalem will be exiled and supernaturally protected in the wilderness during the Great Tribulation following Antichrist’s Abomination of Desolation up until Christ’s Second Coming. This will be Israel’s last dispersion.
  3. In the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel, those nations will be destroyed in the northern mountains of Israel as they come down to her from the north, while during Christ’s Second Coming, all the nations of Earth (those who survive the Tribulation) will already be waiting for Messiah while stationed south/southeast of Jerusalem and extending all the way to Bozrah in modern-day southern Jordan.

The main reason – despite the above conflicting details and competing facts – that those who believe Ezekiel 38 and 39 are speaking of Armageddon at the Second Coming and have come to this conclusion is because of Ezekiel 39:17-29. What those who take this position fail to understand, however, is that Ezekiel 39:17-29 is an entirely different prophecy for a later time!

In the entire passage, from Ezekiel 39:17-29, the prophecy jumps forward seven-plus years into the future to the Lord’s Second Coming. But how do we know this?

As a quick review of the preceding verses of Ezekiel 39:1-16, we have the destruction of the Gog/Magog invaders in the northern mountains and open fields of Israel, the devouring of the bodies of the Gog/Magog invaders by birds and beasts, the burning of weapons by Israel for an ensuing seven years, the ultimate burying of the Gog/Magog invaders and the cleansing of the land in The Valley of Hamongog that will take seven months, and the naming of the city Hamonah in verse 16 which concludes the Gog/Magog narrative.

Then, God proclaims a new Word through Ezekiel when He introduces this new prophecy by stating, “And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God…

And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood.

“Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan [“bullocks or bulls of Bashan” in this verse and Psalm 22:12 equate symbolically to those who are physically and spiritually the enemies of the Lord]. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.

“Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord God.” – Ezekiel 39:17-20

Remember, God had already prophesied to the Gog/Magog invaders that they would be feasted on by the animals of prey in Ezekiel 39:4.

Here is that passage:

“Thou [Gog/Magog invaders of Israel] shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.” – Ezekiel 39:4

One major difference between the devouring of the Gog/Magog invaders in the northern mountains of Israel in Ezekiel 39:4 and God’s “sacrifice” at our Lord’s Second Coming in the southern mountains of Israel in Ezekiel 39:17-20 is that in the Gog/Magog invasion, no animals will be on the scene to be devoured as there will be in the Second Coming of Messiah Jesus.

[For a study on why “horses” and “horsemen” are cited in Ezekiel 38:4 and 15, and these Hebrew words’ relationship to modern-day warfare, please see Prophetic Hebrew Words of Warfare.]

God’s “sacrifice” in Ezekiel 39:19-20 is the “Supper of the Great God” at the Second Coming of Christ in Revelation.

“And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great…

“And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” – Revelation 19:17-1821

[For more on this very interesting aspect of animals being utilized by Messiah’s enemies at His Second Coming, please see The Mark of The Beasts.]

The second takeaway, as always and of most importance when studying Scripture, is context, as we move along in the passage.

“And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them.” – Ezekiel 39:21

God, through Messiah Yeshua, “will set [His] glory among the [nations]” after they have seen His “judgment that [He] has executed, and [His] hand that [He] laid upon them” at His Second Coming.

“So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward.” – Ezekiel 39:22

Israel will finally truly know that Yeshua is their Messiah from then on.

God then speaks of Israel’s last dispersion after the Abomination of Desolation at the midway point of the Tribulation and will personally bring His people back home to their God-given land for the very last time.

“And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword.  According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them.” – Ezekiel 39:23-24

God’s hiding of His face from Israel during the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) was the only way that God could bring His people back to Himself that began in earnest with the Abomination of Desolation “by the sword” of Antichrist and his forces. How many times in the past has God used people and nations more wicked than His own people to produce repentance in them?!?

And now God speaks of His bringing His people back to their land.

“Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob [Jacob, or Israel, will not be in captivity during and immediately following the Gog/Magog invasion, but will be in captivity and in exile during the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) in the Great Tribulation -the last three and one-half years of the seven-year Tribulation], 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 [Israel’s condition within her land just before the Gog/Magog invasion and following their covenantal agreement with Antichrist soon thereafter, just before their final dispersion after the Abomination of Desolation].

“When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.” – Ezekiel 39:25-28

No longer will any Israeli ever live outside of the Promised Land that God gave to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac, Jacob, and the 12 tribes of Israel.

And finally, the entire house of remnant Israel will each have the indwelling Holy Spirit upon their receiving of Messiah Yeshua – just as everyone since the cross has – and all Israel shall be saved (Romans 11:26-27).

“Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” – Ezekiel 39:29.

Note the connection with Zechariah 12…

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” – Zechariah 12:9-10

… and of Joel…

“And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.

“And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions…” – Joel 2:26-28 [Fulfilled in part in Acts 2:17-18 and will be fulfilled in full measure at the end of the Tribulation.]

… and Isaiah…

“Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places…” – Isaiah 32:15-18

I really do look forward to seeing God’s chosen people finally, as a nation and individually, all accepting their Messiah and receiving of His glorious Holy Spirit by grace through faith.

What a joyous and glorious time this will be as all the promises of God to His chosen people Israel will finally be fulfilled in the Messianic Millennial Kingdom!

Upon completing this study and considering that God will indeed pour out His Spirit upon all flesh, a profound thought came into my mind.

Once the resurrection/rapture of the church takes place, not one single human being on planet Earth will have the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is the polar opposite of the conditions after Christ returns. For once the Goats are severed from the Sheep and remnant Israel following The Separation of the Sheep and Goat Judgement, every single human being on planet Earth, at that time, will have the indwelling Holy Spirit as they enter the Messianic Millennial Kingdom, just as God had promised.

What a difference seven-plus years, in the plans of God, makes!

Stay strong in the Lord, Saint, and finish well!


May we all keep Answering the Call of The Great Commission, and giving an answer to every man and woman who so desperately needs Jesus and asks us, “Why Am I Here and What Is It All About?

Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!

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