For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

Before beginning our study of this chapter, it is suggested that those desiring detailed information relative to the nations mentioned, consult Things To Come by Dr J. Dwight Pentecost, one of the best books available on the subject of Biblical Eschatology.


38:1.  “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”


38:2.  “Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him.”


Gog is the name of the leader; and Magog the name of the land north of the Black and Caspian Seas, in what is modern Russia, and from which will come the great northern confederation headed by Russia, as one of the participants in the invasion of Israel in the Great Tribulation.  Meshech and Tubal were two peoples who inhabited the region of the Caucasus mountains and the adjoining steppes.  By their enmity towards Israel in the coming Tribulation era they will make themselves also God’s enemies, which dooms them from the start, for no one can successfully contest with Him.


38:3.  “And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:”


Not all scholars accept Meshech as the ancient name of Moscow; or Tubal, of Tobolsk: many understand them to have been in what is now Turkey.  This, however, does not exclude Russia from the coalition of nations that will attack Israel in the Tribulation era, for it is clear that she will, in fact, head up that coalition.  God here declares Himself their enemy.


38:4.  “And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armor, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:”


God’s turning them back, and putting hooks into their jaws, foretells their utter defeat in their attack upon Israel. All their military might will be useless against the power of God exercised for her protection.  This battle, incidentally, which takes place in the middle of the Tribulation era, is not to be confused with that of Armageddon which occurs at the end of those seven years.


38:5.  “Persia (Iran), Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:”


38:6.  “Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.”


Gomer lay south of the Black Sea in modern Turkey; and Togarmah, in the region of the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, hence its being described as in “the north quarters,” in relation to Israel.


38:7.  “Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.”


This was God’s warning to them to be prepared for His judgment that was about to fall upon them, “be thou a guard unto them” being also translated “keep yourself in reserve for me,” i.e., for my judgment.


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 “latter years” are generally accepted as being the seven-year Tribulation era; and “thou shalt be visited” is also translated, “you will be summoned to attack Israel,” that attack coming when Israel, regathered from her long dispersal amongst the nations, will be dwelling in her land enjoying the false peace guaranteed by her treaty with the Beast emperor.


38:9.  “Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.”


Gog and his vast army will invade Israel, covering the land like a terrible dark storm cloud.


38:10.  “Thus saith the Lord God; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:”


38:11.  “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.”


38:12.  “To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.”


These verses reveal the motive behind Gog’s attack upon regathered Israel: he will see the people as easy prey; for they, relying on their treaty with the Beast, will be resting in a false security, without any defense.


38:13.  “Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey?  to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?


Sheba and Dedan were located in Arabia, on the shores of the Red Sea, Sheba in the south, and Dedan in the north, while Tarshish may have been in Sardinia or Spain.


“... the young lions” are the principal merchants of the places mentioned here, and they will protest the attack on Israel, but will do nothing to stop it.


38:14.  “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?”


“... shalt thou not know it?” is also better translated, will you not be roused?  will you not bestir yourself?  In other words, Gog would be roused to covet Israel’s wealth, and to plunder it.


38:15.  “And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:”


For comments on “out of the north parts,” see verses 5 and 6.  “... many people with thee” refers to the nations that will be allied with Magog.  Their “riding upon horses” undoubtedly refers to their coming in modern mechanized vehicles such as trucks, tanks, etc., mechanized vehicles being unknown in those days, and horses being synonymous with strength and military might.


38:16.  “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.”


Relative to the time “in the latter days,” the term “latter days” always refers to the Tribulation era; “last day,” refers to God’s resurrection and judgment program; and “last days” refers to Israel’s salvation and blessing in the Millennium.  In this verse the reference is to the seven-year Tribulation era, the peace being enjoyed by Israel making it clear that the time is the first half of that seven-year period, for it is only the final three and a half years that will be characterized by war, famine, disease and death.


Gog, like every other unbeliever, imagined himself a free agent, never dreaming that he was but an instrument in God’s hand for the accomplishment of His purposes.  It was God Who would bring him up against Israel so that the heathen (nations) would come to know God as the One Who works all things according to His will, for His Own glory, and for the blessing of obedient men.  God’s being sanctified in or through Gog means that His holiness would be revealed and vindicated through His dealings with the unbelieving king of Magog.


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?”


“Art thou he of whom I have spoken ...” is not a question, but rather the interrogatively phrased statement of the truth that Gog was the one of whom God’s prophets had spoken in years past when they foretold the coming of one whom God was going to use to punish Israel’s wickedness.  Since there is no direct mention of Gog in any of the prophetic writings, the implication is that what the prophets had declared concerning Gog was not committed to writing.


38:18.  “And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord God, that my fury shall come up in my face.”


God’s fury in this present context is not against Gog, but rather against Israel whose wickedness has aroused His fierce anger so  that He brings Gog against her to punish her wickedness.


38:19.  “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;”


“... shaking” is also translated “quaking,” and is understood by many to be associated, not just with Israel’s general terror, but also with an earthquake.  See Rev 6:2; 8:5; 11:13,19 and 16:18 for references to earthquakes in the Tribulation.


38:20.  “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 (quake) at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.”


This continues the account of the terrible devastation and terror  that will result from earthquakes in the Great Tribulation.


38:21.  “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.”


It is Gog and his hordes who will have invaded Israel, and against whom God will bring a sword; the mention of every man’s sword being against his brother, indicating that in their confusion and terror they will mistake friend for foe, and will slay one another.


38:22.  “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.”


“... plead” here means that God will exercise judgment against Gog and all his allies, using as His agents disease, internecine strife, torrential rain, great hailstones, thunder and lightning;

this word picture presenting a scene of destruction, confusion,  terror, and death that is impossible to fully imagine, and reminding us again that, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” Heb 10:31.


38:23.  “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.”


In the terrible destruction of Gog and his hordes God would display His greatness and His holiness, thus compelling many nations to acknowledge Him as the Almighty; and demonstrating again the sad truth that almost invariably man in his innate perversity chooses to know God as the terrible Adversary of the rebel, when by obedience he could know Him as the beneficent Blesser.

[Ezekiel 39]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough