|@September 30, 2023||ESV (2016)||ESV Prophets Plan 2023|
- Prophecy Against Gog
- The Lord Will Restore Israel
The chapter opens with the continuation of Ezekiel’s prophecy against Gog and how God will use his army against Israel before he is brought down by God himself. Ezek. 39:1-3 are essentially a repeat of the first verse of Ezek. 38.
Ezek. 39:3-6 are of God’s sole defeat of Gog and his army, striking the bow from his left hand and making his arrows drop out of his right hand (Ezek. 39:3). Gog will be given to the birds and beasts of every sort to be devoured (Ezek. 39:4). Gog’s defeat is assured because it has been spoken by God (Ezek. 39:5). Following their defeat, they will know that God is LORD (Ezek. 39:6).
In Ezek. 39:7-8, God focuses much on His holy name, that He will make it known among His people and for it to no longer be profaned (Ezek. 39:7). God preserving and making His name known is a significant theme throughout Ezekiel (Ezek. 39:25; Ezek. 20:9; Ezek. 36:20–23; Ezek. 43:7–9).
Ezek. 39:9-10 are of how the carnage of the defeat of God will be so massive that the Israelites will be able to fuel their fires for seven years with the weapons of her slain enemies. Burning the war implements of a defeated foe recalls the burning of boots and blood-stained cloaks elsewhere in Scripture (Isaiah 9:5; see Ps. 46:9; Ps. 76:3). It also harks back to when the Israelites burned all that belonged to the Canaanites at the time of the conquest (Deut. 7:2; Deut. 20:16–18; Josh. 6:24). In an ironic reversal, the Israelites will plunder those who had come to plunder them.
Ezek. 39:11-16 describes how Gog will be buried in Israel, in the “Valley of the Travelers”. This is variously translated as the valley of “those who have passed on,” “passersby,” “travelers,” or “passengers,” possibly alluding to the underworld (compare Isaiah 14:9–21). The burial will both bring people renown and show God’s glory (Ezek. 39:13). The process will take seven months (Ezek. 39:12) and will serve as a cleansing (Ezek. 39:14, Ezek. 39:16).
In Ezek. 39:17-20, God tells Ezekiel to speak to the birds and beasts of the field. They are to assemble and gather for the “sacrificial feast” God has prepared for them (Ezek. 39:17). This sacrificial feast (Isaiah 34:6–8; Zeph. 1:7) will consist of the flesh and blood of the armies of Gog that had been killed. Birds and beasts will eat fat and drink blood, elements that were reserved exclusively for the Lord when the Hebrews made animal sacrifices (Lev. 3:17). Mention of the fat and blood therefore may be a way of highlighting the Lord’s participation in the annihilation of Israel’s enemies.
Ezek. 39:21-24 is how God was glorified in the defeat of the nations and that, through it, His people would know that He is the LORD. The other nations will come to realize that Israel’s judgment was entirely because God hid His face from them (Ezek. 39:23-24). Israel’s captivity was not because God was unable to prevent it but because their uncleanness and transgressions demanded it.
The remaining verses (Ezek. 39:25-29) shifts the focus to God’s restoration of Israel, that He will “restore the fortunes of Jacob” and “be jealous” for His holy name (Ezek. 39:25). The effects of the restoration will be:
- Forgetting of previous treachery
- Secure dwelling
- Being returned from enemy lands
- God’s holiness will be vindicated
- God’s people will know that God is LORD.
God tells the people that He will “not hide my face anymore”, representing a return of His presence, protection and provision. God will also “pour out” His Spirit “upon the house of Israel”, a contrast from the wrath He promised to “pour out” in previous chapters (Ezek. 7:8; Ezek. 9:8; Ezek. 20:13, Ezek. 21; 22:22; Ezek. 36:18). This pouring out connects the passage in its entirety to Ezek. 36-37 with their focus on the Spirit.
So much of this chapter centers around God’s glory being demonstrated to the preservation and exaltation of His holy name. Gog’s defeat was entirely by God’s hand in order that He would be known among His people and the other nations. The earthly blessing was to be restoration and the pouring of God’s spirit upon the house of Israel.
What seemed particularly noteworthy today was Ezek. 39:13 in its description of Israel’s burial of their enemy. It says that “it will bring them renown on the day that I show my glory”. The tight coupling here of our renown with God’s glory is illuminating. It helps in seeing that authentic acclaim is given to us by God. All other forms of it are counterfeit, faulty and self-serving. Practically, this means putting to death our desire for worldly recognition and instead seeking the Spirit’s guidance in a achieving a renown that brings glory to our Lord.
Scripture Journal Notes
Commentaries & Resources Used
- ESV Study Bible. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008)
- Faithlife Study Bible (Lexham Press, 2016)
- Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 2016)
- CSB Study Bible Notes (Holman Bible Publishers, 2017)
- Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Guardian Press, 1976)
- The Bible: A Reader’s Guide (Sterling Publishing, 2011)
- The Infographic Bible (Zondervan, 2018)
- ESV Digital Scripture Journal (Crossway, 2019)