The destruction of Gog. (1-10) Its extent. (11-22) Israel again favoured. (23-29)
Verses 1-10 The Lord will make the most careless and hardened transgressors know his holy name, either by his righteous anger, or by the riches of his mercy and grace. The weapons formed against Zion shall not prosper. Though this prophecy is to be fulfilled in the latter days, it is certain. From the language used, it seems that the army of Gog will be destroyed by miracle.
Verses 11-22 How numerous the enemies which God destroyed for the defence of his people Israel! Times of great deliverances should be times of reformation. Every one should help the utmost he can, toward cleansing the land from reproach. Sin is an enemy every man should strive against. Those engaged in public work, especially of cleansing and reforming a land, ought to be men who will go through with what they undertake, who will be always employed. When good work is to be done, every one should further it. Having received special favours from God, let us cleanse ourselves from all evil. It is a work which will require persevering diligence, that search may be made into the secret recesses of sin. The judgments of the Lord, brought upon sin and sinners, are a sacrifice to the justice of God, and a feast to the faith and hope of God's people. See how evil pursues sinners, even after death. After all that ambitious and covetous men do and look for, "a place of graves" is all the Lord gives them on earth, while their guilty souls are doomed to misery in another world.
Verses 23-29 When the Lord shall have mercy on the whole house of Israel, by converting them to Christianity, and when they shall have borne the shame of being cast off for their sins, then the nations shall learn to know, worship, and serve him. Then Israel also shall know the Lord, as revealed in and by Christ. Past events do not answer to these predictions. The pouring out of the Spirit is a pledge that God's favour will continue. He will hide his face no more from those on whom he has poured out his Spirit. When we pray that God would never cast us from his presence, we must as earnestly pray that, in order thereto, he would never take his Holy Spirit from us.
Ezekiel 39:1-29 . CONTINUATION OF THE PROPHECY AGAINST GOG.
1. Repeated from Ezekiel 38:3 , to impress the prophecy more on the mind.
2. leave but the sixth part of thee--Margin, "strike thee with six plagues" (namely, pestilence, blood, overflowing rain, hailstones, fire, brimstone, Ezekiel 38:22 ); or, "draw thee back with an hook of six teeth" ( Ezekiel 38:4 ), the six teeth being those six plagues. Rather, "lead thee about" [LUDOVICUS DE DIEU and Septuagint]. As Antiochus was led (to his ruin) to leave Egypt for an expedition against Palestine, so shall the last great enemy of God be.
north parts--from the extreme north [FAIRBAIRN].
3. bow--in which the Scythians were most expert.
4, 5. (Compare Ezekiel 39:17-20 ).
upon the mountains of Israel--The scene of Israel's preservation shall be that of the ungodly foe's destruction.
6. carelessly--in self-confident security.
the isles--Those dwelling in maritime regions, who had helped Gog with fleets and troops, shall be visited with the fire of God's wrath in their own lands.
7. not let them pollute my holy name--by their sins bringing down judgments which made the heathen think that I was unable or unwilling to save My people.
8. it is come . . . it is done--The prediction of the salvation of My people, and the ruin of their enemy, is come to pass--is done: expressing that the event foretold is as certain as if it were already accomplished.
9, 10. The burning of the foe's weapons implies that nothing belonging to them should be left to pollute the land. The seven years (seven being the sacred number) spent on this work, implies the completeness of the cleansing, and the people's zeal for purity. How different from the ancient Israelites, who left not merely the arms, but the heathen themselves, to remain among them [FAIRBAIRN], ( Judges 1:27 Judges 1:28 , Judges 2:2 Judges 2:3 , Psalms 106:34-36 ). The desolation by Antiochus began in the one hundred and forty-first year of the Seleucidæ. From this date to 148, a period of six years and four months ("2300 days," Daniel 8:14 ), when the temple-worship was restored (I Maccabees 4:52), God vouchsafed many triumphs to His people; from this time to the death of Antiochus, early in 149, a period of seven months, the Jews had rest from Antiochus, and purified their land, and on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month celebrated the Encænia, or feast of dedication ( John 10:22 ) and purification of the temple. The whole period, in round numbers, was seven years. Mattathias was the patriotic Jewish leader, and his third son, Judas, the military commander under whom the Syrian generals were defeated. He retook Jerusalem and purified the temple. Simon and Jonathan, his brothers, succeeded him: the independence of the Jews was secured, and the crown vested in the Asmonean family, in which it continued till Herod the Great.
11. place . . . of graves--Gog found only a grave where he had expected the spoils of conquest.
valley--So vast were to be the masses that nothing but a deep valley would suffice for their corpses.
the passengers on the east of the sea--those travelling on the high road, east of the Dead Sea, from Syria to Petra and Egypt. The publicity of the road would cause many to observe God's judgments, as the stench (as English Version translates) or the multitude of graves (as HENDERSON translates, "it shall stop the passengers") would arrest the attention of passers-by. Their grave would be close to that of their ancient prototypes, Sodom and Gomorrah in the Dead Sea, both alike being signal instances of God's judgments.
13. I . . . glorified--in destroying the foe ( Ezekiel 28:22 ).
14. with the passengers--The men employed continually in the burying were to be helped by those happening to pass by; all were to combine.
after the end of seven months shall they search--to see if the work was complete [MUNSTER].
15. First "all the people of the land" engaged in the burying for seven months; then special men were employed, at the end of the seven months, to search for any still left unburied. The passers-by helped them by setting up a mark near any such bones, in order to keep others from being defiled by casually touching them, and that the buriers might come and remove them. Denoting the minute care to put away every relic of heathen pollution from the Holy Land.
16. A city in the neighborhood was to receive the name Hamonah, "multitude," to commemorate the overthrow of the multitudes of the foe [HENDERSON]. The multitude of the slain shall give a name to the city of Jerusalem after the land shall have been cleansed [GROTIUS]. Jerusalem shall be famed as the conqueror of multitudes.
17. ( Revelation 19:17 ).
sacrifice--Anciently worshippers feasted on the sacrifices. The birds and beasts of prey are invited to the sacrificial feast provided by God (compare Isaiah 18:6 , 34:6 , Zephaniah 1:7 , 9:49 ). Here this sacrifice holds only a subordinate place in the picture, and so is put last. Not only shall their bones lie long unburied, but they shall be stripped of the flesh by beasts and birds of prey.
18. rams . . . lambs . . . goats--By these various animal victims used in sacrifices are meant various ranks of men, princes, generals, and soldiers (compare Isaiah 34:6 ).
fatlings of Bashan--ungodly men of might ( Psalms 22:12 ). Bashan, beyond Jordan, was famed for its fat cattle. Fat implies prosperity which often makes men refractory towards God ( Deuteronomy 32:14 Deuteronomy 32:15 ).
20. my table--the field of battle on the mountains of Israel ( Ezekiel 38:8 Ezekiel 38:20 ).
chariots--that is, charioteers.
22. So the house of Israel shall know . . . Lord--by My interposition for them. So, too, the heathen shall be led to fear the name of the Lord ( Psalms 102:15 ).
23. hid I my face--( Deuteronomy 31:17 , Isaiah 59:2 ).
25. bring again the captivity--restore from calamity to prosperity.
the whole house of Israel--so "all Israel" ( Romans 11:26 ). The restorations of Israel heretofore have been partial; there must be one yet future that is to be universal ( Hosea 1:11 ).
26. After that they have borne their shame--the punishment of their sin: after they have become sensible of their guilt, and ashamed of it ( Ezekiel 20:43 , 36:31 ).
27. sanctified in them--vindicated as holy in My dealings with them.
28. The Jews, having no dominion, settled country, or fixed property to detain them, may return at any time without difficulty (compare Hosea 3:4 Hosea 3:5 ).
29. poured out my Spirit upon . . . Israel--the sure forerunner of their conversion ( Joel 2:28 , Zechariah 12:10 ). The pouring out of His Spirit is a pledge that He will hide His face no more ( 2 Corinthians 1:22 , Ephesians 1:14 , Philippians 1:6 ).