Middle East Meltdown 018 – Ezekiel 39Ezekiel 39:17-20 • Dr. Andy Woods • June 5, 2022 • Middle East Meltdown
Middle East Meltdown 018 – Ezekiel 39
By Dr Andy Woods – 06/05/2022
Well, good morning let’s open up for a word of prayer, if we could. Father, we’re grateful for this first Sunday in June and grateful for the first of the month here at Sugar Land Bible Church as we’re going to be fellowshipping with a fellowship meal afterwards and also the Lord’s table in the main service. We’re looking forward, Father, to vacation Bible school which will happen towards the middle of this month and just we’re very grateful for all the things that you’re doing in your church, here at Sugar Land Bible Church and as we prepare ourselves to receive from Your Word this morning, we’re just going to take a moment of silence to do personal business with you in case we need to have fellowship restored individually, so that we can receive from your word. Father, we are grateful for the fact that we have an eternal position with you, which can’t be challenged. I think that’ll come out in the main service today, Lord willing. But we do need that from time to time our fellowship restored with you and when we do that it doesn’t make us more saved, it just makes us in fellowship where we can receive from you. So with that being taken care of, I just pray that you’ll be with Sugar Land Bible Church today and everything that happens in this church on campus and online from beginning to end. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said, Amen. 1:57
Alright! Well, let’s take our Bibles, if we could, and open them to the book of Ezekiel chapter 39. Ezekiel chapter 39, and verse 17 (Ezek 39:17). Coming near the end, believe it or not, of our study on the Middle East Meltdown. Let me just do a fast review since last week we didn’t have this study because of the congregational meeting.
- Ezekiel recommissioned (33)
- False shepherds removed (34)
- Edom destroyed (35)
- Israel’s restoration: physical & spiritual (36)
- Israel’s restoration illustrated (37)
- Means of restoration: Northern invasion (38)
- Results of the Northern invasion: conversion (39)
- Millennial Temple (40‒46)
- Tribal land allotment (47‒48)
This is a study that we started at the beginning of the year and it’s basically a study of Ezekiel, 36 through 39, verse by verse and the reason we’re looking into these chapters is these more than any other chapters I can think of, are in play as we speak in the current events world as the prophetic stage is being set like I’ve never seen it happen in my lifetime for the eventual fulfillment of these chapters. So they all sort of go together.
- Israel to prosper again (1-15)
- Israel’s sins inhibiting prosperity (16-21)
- Israel to be restored: physically & spiritually (22-38)
Chapter 36 is Ezekiel’s prophecy given two thousand six hundred years ago of the physical and spiritual restoration in the last days, chapter 36.
- Vision: Valley of the Dry Bones (Ezek 37:1-14)
- Vision (Ezek 37:1-10)
- Interpretation (Ezek 37:11-14)
- Sign: Two Sticks (Ezek 37:15-28)
- Sign (Ezek 37:15-17)
- Interpretation (Ezek 37:18-28)
Chapter 37 is an illustration of the contents of chapter 36 in the form of two illustrations: The vision of the valley of dry bones and also the two sticks coming together. I mean, what’s chapter 37 doing there? It’s explaining in two words pictures what Ezekiel saw in chapter 36. So by the time you get outside of chapter 37, you know, it’s very clear that God, in the last days, concerning Israel, is going to do a twofold restoration. Number one: He’s going to bring Israel back into her land in unbelief in preparation for the tribulation period and by the time you get to the end of the tribulation period, He will have done a second work where that nation will not just be restored to her land in unbelief but she will actually be restored to the Lord. She will be saved, not just physically but spiritually, and so we’re living in some very exciting times because as of now in the year 2022, we’re living in between those two re-gatherings. The re-gathering in unbelief has happened or is happening and yet, you look at Israel today and they’re an unbelieving nation without the Holy Spirit. So we’re waiting for restoration B, yet future, to occur. So then the question becomes, well, then how, you know, God has lots of tools in His toolbox, have you noticed that? What’s the tool that He’s going to use to restore His covenanted nation into faith?
- Invasion planned (Ezek 38:1-13)
- Invasion executed (Ezek 38:14-16)
- Invasion defeated (Ezek 38:17‒39:20)
- Invasion’s results (Ezek 39:21-29)
And that tool that He’s going to use is described in chapter 38, which is a tremendous invasion from the north and the point of this invasion is to put Israel under so much duress and stress that Israel will have no choice but to call out to her Messiah to save her. Of course, she will have a choice, it’s always her choice but God is making her aware through these circumstances of her need for the choice and as that happens, then the Lord will return at the end of the seventieth week of Daniel and He will physically and spiritually restore His nation. So chapters 36 and 37 are the work that God is going to do. Chapters 38 and 39 is the tool that He’s going to use and so you can take chapters 38 and 39 and sort of divide it up as follows:
- Invasion Planned (Ezekiel 38:1-13)
- God’s intention (Ezek 38:1-9)
- Gog’s intention (Ezek 38:10-13)
There’s an invasion planned, verses 1 through 13 of chapter 38 (Ezek 38:1-13) and the ultimate planner is God. God is the one that’s allowing these things to happen. So God’s intention is expressed in verses 1 through 9 (Ezek 38:1-9) but man thinks that he’s actually pulling this off and that man is a man named a Gog and he’s the leader of this coalition and his intentions are given there prophetically in verses 10 through 13 (Ezek 38:10-13).
So as we worked our way through those chapters, we saw that all of these funny sounding names Magog, Rosh, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Put, Kush, Gomer, Togarmah, Sheba, Dedan, Tarshish, the Merchants of Tarshish and of course, Israel by using some basic study methods you can identify all of those nations. They’re the identical nations that you see on your headlines today constantly in their involvement in the Middle East and then you go to chapter 38, verses 14 through 16 (Ezek 38:14-16) where the invasion is no longer in the planning phase but the execution phase and then you get to chapter 38, verse 17 through chapter 39, verse 20 where God shows up and this is what Gog was not planning on. These middle eastern nations never planned on God showing up and He does and He defeats the invasion Ezekiel, 38, verse 17 through chapter 39, verse 20.
III. Invasion Defeated (Ezekiel 38:17‒39:20)
- Armies destroyed (Ezek 38:17‒39:8)
- Weapons burned (Ezek 39:9-10)
- Soldiers buried (Ezek 39:11-16)
- Soldiers eaten (Ezek 39:17-20)
He first of all destroys the armies. Chapter 38, verse 17 through chapter 39, verse 8 and this is where the contents move us away from chapter 38 into chapter 39, which I believe are not here to give us a comprehensive picture of every single thing you’d want to know about the end times. I mean, to fill in all the details, you can’t just rely on these passages. You have to consult other areas of scripture, because these passages are there to give us the outer borders, what happens at the beginning of the invasion towards the beginning of the tribulation; what happens at the end of the invasion, at the end of the tribulation. So chapter 39 sort of leaves the first half of the tribulation and it starts talking about things that are happening at the end of the tribulation. I think that’ll become clearer today and next week as we move into the aftermath of these things, it’s obviously describing things that are happening at the end of the tribulation once you hit chapter 39. 9:47
So the armies are destroyed and then the weapons are burned for seven years, I believe it said, chapter 39, verses 9 and 10 (Ezek 39:9-10), we talked our way through that and then the soldiers are buried and the soldiers here is not the Israeli soldiers, it’s the invading soldiers. So it is interesting that they came to bury Israel and they just wrote her eulogy too fast. I mean, they thought that they were coming to take her gold as we’ve studied, destroy the nation, to metaphorically bury this nation once and for all and the bodies of these invaders are actually buried in the very nation that they came to destroy. Kind of reminds you of the book of Esther, where Haman was hung on the very gallows that he had prepared for Mordechai and they are buried in a valley sort of, as we have studied, kind of north east of the Dead Sea, a valley called Hamon-gog.
Hamon-gog is the burial battleground and so we have a memorial burial ground throughout the millennium to recognize what God did to protect His covenanted nation and then there’s actually a city that’s going to be created named, I think you pronounce that Hamonah, there in that same area.
So we’ve got a burial ground and we’ve got a burial memorial city. These will be very specific geographical areas where these things will occur to commemorate this massive burial that has now taken place and then, I know you guys have been really eager to learn this next one, right? I mean, you’ve been waiting two weeks for this one. Now we learn that the corpses of the soldiers, many of them prior to burial, are going to be consumed by the birds of prey. 12:09
So we pick it up here in chapter 39 and verse 17 (Ezek 39:17) and notice what it says: As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, Speak to every kind of bird and to every beast of the field, Assemble and come, gather from every side to My sacrifice which I am going to sacrifice for you, as a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood… So it seems like it’s a new oracle, because he says there at the beginning of verse 17 “as for you son of man, thus says the Lord, speak”. So He seems to be giving new prophetic content. In other words, God has designed prophetic content to deal with this specific issue of the consuming of the corpses of the deceased soldiers. Now, that may be a subject that you look at and you say that, you know, TMI, too much information, why I need to know about that, but it’s interesting that God wants us to learn about it because He’s designed, apparently, a specific oracle through Ezekiel to cover this issue; and if you go back to chapter 39, verse 4, this is already been hinted at. Back in verse 4 of chapter 39 (Ezek 39:4) same chapter it says: You will fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you as food to every kind of predatory bird and beast of the field… So we know that this is coming, you also see it in verse 5 (Ezek 39:5): You will fall on the open field; for it is I who have spoken, declares the Lord GOD… So we know that there’s going to be this gorging of gluttony of these birds that are going to gorge themselves on the corpses. We know that as early as chapter 39, verses 4 and 5 (Ezek 39:4-5) but we’re not given more details about it until we hit verse 17 (Ezek 39:17) and following which we just read. So I put this little slide together, this is the what question.
- Divine annihilation of the coalition (Ezek 38:19-22)
- Birds and beasts feast on the carnage (Ezek 39:4-5, 17-20)
- Seven-month burying of the dead (Ezek 39:11-12, 14-16)
- Seven-year burning of weapons (Ezek 39:9-10)
- Israel’s salvation and restoration (Ezek 39:22, 29)
In other words, what is the outcome of these things? And there’s several things that are happening here. There will be a divine annihilation of the coalition; there will be a seven month burying of the dead; there will be a seven year burning of the weapons and then, if we get to it today, you know, praise the Lord, there’s a happy face at the end. The happy thing at the end that happens is Israel is restored. So these are the lengths that God has to go to to bring His nation in unbelief to faith and one of the things that’s going to happen as we’re talking about here is the birds and the beasts will feast on the carnage. So he, Ezekiel is told to prophesy and assemble all these birds to do their thing, I guess we could say; and I’ll bring to your attention something that I keep bringing up because I think it’s very significant. It mentions here the mountains of Israel: As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, Speak to every kind of bird and to every beast of the field, Assemble and come, gather from every side to My sacrifice which I am going to sacrifice for you, as a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel… It’s very clear and it says this over and over again in these prophecies. That these things don’t just concern Israel, they concern the mountains of Israel and so when that has come up, you know, I made reference to this comment here by Mark Hitchcock, also this extended comment from Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum and both of them are basically saying that you probably could not have had this prophecy be fulfilled prior to 1967, for the simple reason that the mountainous regions in the land of Israel that we see today just weren’t there. On June 5, 1967, which is what we call the Six-day war, and by the way, June 5, what is today by the way? That’s interesting, I didn’t even plan that, so thank you, Lord. I just thought of that when I was up here, today’s June 5? Or is it June 4? It’s the fifth, isn’t it?. On June 5, 1967, the nations basically decided that we’re going to just get rid of Israel. Israel had been reborn in 1948. May 14, 1948 and between May 14, 1948 and prior to June 5,1967 that green area is what Israel possessed, very slender land area militarily speaking.
So Israel was attacked in a war of self-defense in 1967 and when the dust settled, Israel was now in control not only of the land that they got in 1948 but also that yellow area there that the world community unfortunately calls the West Bank. I’ve been reading the Bible for a long time, I can’t find the words West Bank in the Bible. But I do find the expression Judea and Samaria and so that’s basically what it’s called biblically and by the way, as I mentioned before, when you use the expression West Bank, you’ll notice that that territory is not on Israel’s western border. It’s on Israel’s eastern border. But it is on Jordan’s, east of the Red Sea, western border. So when you use the expression West Bank, basically what you’re doing is you’re buying into without even realizing the Jordanian perspective on the issue. I bring that up because words mean things. I mean, we recycle words all the time not fully understanding what they mean. But when that territory Judea and Samaria fell into Israeli hands, all of a sudden you have mountains like you’ve never seen before in the land of Israel and all of a sudden the prophecies that Jesus said in Matthew, 24, starts making more sense because he says in Matthew, 24, verse 16 (Matt 24:16) to the Jews: When you see the temple desecrated by the antichrist midway through the tribulation period, let those living in Judea… That’s right out of your Bible. That’s something Jesus said two thousand years ago… Let those living in Judea flee to the mountains… and that prophecy could not have been fulfilled prior to 1967 because the Jews didn’t have control over Judea. Now they do. So when you look at it from this angle you see how God is just moving these chess pieces around constantly, so the minute details of his prophetic word will be fulfilled because God at the end of the day, He cannot what? He cannot lie and then in 2017 a man named Donald Trump, who was our president at the time, basically told the nation of Israel that the Golan Heights belong to Israel and he reversed United States policy, which at that time was following the United Nations, which was making the Golan Heights some kind of, you know, international zone or something not owned by Syria or Israel. Well Donald Trump reversed that in 2017.
The Golan Heights is a region that is very significant up north of the nation of Israel because it’s a region that stands between Israel and Syria and you probably know where Russia is right now. Russia is in Syria. The current Syrian leadership there is basically a puppet of Russia and so what protects Israel from this northern invasion from Syria, i.e. Russia, is the Golan Heights. I mean, the Golan Heights is a big, big deal.
Oh, and by the way did I mention what happens to be in the Golan Heights? Lots and lots of mountains, so that would be another example how mountainous regions of massive proportion, you know, have now fallen into Israeli hands and it is interesting that this invasion comes from the north, which means these northern invaders have to go through the mountains. All the sudden with the Golan Heights in control of Israel, God just set the stage for that to happen. So we’re living in some times that are just mind blowing in terms of what God is doing concerning the specifics of his word and then you drop down to verse 18 (Ezek 39:18) and he says of these birds of prey that Ezekiel has summoned in this vision: You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, as though they were rams, lambs, goats and bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan… So you’ll notice this expression here in verse 38, the mighty men and one of the things that’s interesting about death is death is the great equalizer. Death brings down the small and it brings down the mighty and death is sort of an equal opportunity type of thing, right? I mean, it hits all of us regardless of our station in life. So even the mighty, even the great are brought down here by the Lord on the mountains of Israel. There is a reference in the book of Revelation chapter 20, verse 12 (Rev 20:12) to the great white throne judgment and it says there: I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds… So you’ll notice that in the final judgment, something called the great white throne judgment, those that are impacted by it are the great and the small. Just like the mighty men are being impacted here. The mighty men and the princes. The movers and the shakers. So when judgment comes, people aren’t going to be able to say, well, Lord, I mean, don’t you understand my socio economic status as an American citizen? You know, don’t you know my education? Don’t you understand how many assets I own? Don’t you understand how big my bank account is? You know, don’t you understand how many people have working under me at work? My position and managerial flowchart? Don’t you know who my parents were and their prestige? Don’t you know that I went to an Ivy League school? I mean, none of that matters anymore and it’s just a situation where judgment has come, death has come, everybody’s equal in terms of the final judgment and that’s why you keep seeing these references to the mighty men and the princes and the small and the great and that’s why it’s such a big deal to get right with Jesus now, before that judgment comes, because when it comes, what we’ll see, is God is not a respecter of persons. It’s going to come upon everybody and it’s going to come upon these invaders in a way that will probably surprise them. In fact, it will surprise them, it will shock them because God is not a respecter of persons. You’ll notice the reference to Bashan. It says: You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, as though they were rams, lambs, goats and bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan… Now, here you move from literal into figurative language, because Bashan was a territory in Israel of big fat cattle, big fat animals and those big fat animals were there to be prepared to sacrifices. They were there to be prepared as slaughter and Amos, who happens to be one of the most politically incorrect people that’s ever lived, is very upset about the oppression that is taking place in the land of Israel in his time period, where the wealthy are using their position of wealth to oppress the poor. Amos doesn’t like that at all and Amos goes on for about nine chapters condemning this and in Amos chapter 4, verse 1 (Amos 4:1), he compares the women to the cows of Bashan. He says, you women you’re acting like a bunch of cows, what he’s saying and don’t get mad at me and write me emails, I didn’t say it, I’m just reading what it says and he’s saying, just like a cow would roll over somebody and crush them to death, that’s what these wealthy women are doing because as the needy are literally being crushed by the powerful, they’re saying to their husbands, oh, honey bring me another drink, you know, get me another latte, get me another strawberry daiquiri, get me another Pina Colada. Well, I have a lot of knowledge of these drinks. I better stop right there. But Amos chapter 4, verse 1 (Amos 4:1) says: Hear this word… And he’s speaking of women when he says this… you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria… And why is Amos upset?… Who exploits the poor, who oppresses the needy, Who say to your husbands, Bring now, that we may drink!… Get me another order from the pool bar, if you could while I crush to death people that the Mosaic Law was designed to protect and so when Ezekiel now uses that same imagery, he’s obviously moving from literal to figurative and he’s saying just like these cattle were gluttonous and fattened to prepare them for slaughter, that is how God, verse 18, looks at these invading armies. I mean, I think they’re really pulling one off and God says, You’re just like the cows of Bashan, you fatten yourself for the day of slaughter. That’s why it keeps analogizing it, as you look at verse 17, also, verse 19. You’ll see references to lambs, goats, bulls and rams. I mean, what do rams, lambs, goats and bulls have in common? They were all used to be sacrificial animals in the temple and so that’s how God is looking at these invaders. I mean, they’re living large, they’re princes, they’re kings but the only thing they’re really doing is fattening themselves for the day of slaughter. Fattening themselves for the day of destruction. 29:37
So Charles Feinberg in his wonderful commentary on the book of Ezekiel, written in 1969. So if you’re looking for something on Ezekiel, I highly recommend him. He says this, he says:
Charles L. Feinberg – The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord, Paperback ed. (Chicago: Moody, 1969; reprint, Chicago: Moody, 1984), 231.
“In verse 18 the actual or literal passes over into the figurative with the reference to princes, then rams. Bashan was famous for its fine pastures and well-fed cattle (cf. Deut. 32:14; Ps. 22:12; Amos 4:1)… Notice he puts some verses there in parenthesis and one of the ones he puts in parenthesis is Amos 4:1, which we just read. He says: It is a vivid figure to bring out the idea of vast carnage, deserved judgment and irrevocable doom.”
So that’s powerful language and then we come down to verses 19 and 20 (Ezek 39:19-20), where he says, Ezekiel, to these birds of prey: So you will eat fat until you are glutted… Gluttony in other words… and drink blood until you are drunk, from My sacrifice… Here’s the sacrificial language again… which I have sacrificed for you… And then he says it again in verse 20 (Ezek 39:20): You will be glutted at My table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all the men of war, declares the Lord GOD… Notice the reference to men of war. Notice the reference to mighty men. I mean, these were people that were self-sufficient, independent, they had powerful resources, they were used to getting their way in life until God shows up and suddenly their power means virtually nothing. You know, it’s like in that movie, Titanic, if you’ve seen that, where that wealthy fellow, you know, is sort of strutting around still trying to buy his way out of his problems. Not understanding that the whole ship is going down and your money doesn’t mean anything now, doesn’t mean anything. That’s what it’s like when judgment hits, all these creature comforts that people are, you know, used to resorting to or resting in, suddenly they just deteriorate in a nanosecond and that’s why the Bible says, it’s a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God and that’s what you see being described here. You see a twofold reference to gluttony and then you see these birds just eating and eating and eating and eating and they’ve got plenty to eat cause there’s so many dead bodies. All of these corpses that God has killed in this judgment. Now, this is not the only time in the Bible where these birds of prey are mentioned. Let me give you the other references. Another reference is in Matthew, 24, verse 28 (Matt 24:28) where Jesus in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew, 24 has laid out, I believe in sequence, everything that’s going to happen in the tribulation period, right down to the return of Jesus Christ coming back to the earth. In fact, in Matthew 24:29 at the very end of the tribulation period, it says: But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken… Now, you’ll see language like that in Revelation, 16, concerning the final bowl judgments which happen at the end of the tribulation period. By the way, no extra charge for this but in Matthew 24:29 it says, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. That is a statement that’s so far ahead of its time scientifically, it’s unreal, because it shouldn’t… Excuse me, I have a little trouble here. Maybe someone could have been one of those waters. Thank you, the Bible says you get a reward for that, so thank you. Give a cup of water in Jesus’ name, you will not lose your reward, right? I don’t think it says it has to be cold, does it? Maybe it does, I’ll have to check my exegesis on that and let’s pray it doesn’t spill… The sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. Ancient man looked at the sun and the moon and they always saw them as two different sources of power. You know, moon, light comes from the sun, light comes from the moon, right? I mean, they’re both bright. Well, it’s not until modern times that it is discovered that well, no they’re not two independent sources of power, the moon just reflects the sunlight and here is Jesus all the way back in the first century saying, when the bowl judgments are poured out and it gets very, very dark, the sun gets dark, the moon will not give its light. In other words, you take out the sun and there’s nothing for the moon to refract, there’s nothing for the moon to reflect. So how would a little old Jesus, two thousand years ago, as a Jewish carpenter, understand something so scientifically advanced. You get the idea that maybe Jesus is the one that created the heavens and the earth and knows a little something about our universe. You’ll find statements like this made over and over again in the Bible. Statements that are prescient, they’re outside of their time period because the One that breathed this book into existence is God Himself and then it says in Matthew, 24, verse 30 (Matt 24:30): And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky… That’s the second advent, this is not rapture teaching, this is the second advent at the end of the tribulation… Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory… So it’s very, very clear here that we’re dealing with the second coming at the end of the tribulation period and in Matthew 24:28, it makes reference to these birds of prey, it says: Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather… Now, that’s language right out of Ezekiel and you’ll notice that Jesus in the Olivet discourse puts the gorging of these birds on the corpses, not at the beginning of the tribulation, but at the end of the tribulation. So that becomes a chronological clue concerning where to fit Ezekiel, 39; and then over in the book of Revelation chapter 19, verses 17 through 19 (Rev 19:17-19) it talks about the exact same thing. It says: Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven… What is midheaven? Well, the Greeks divided the heavens into three parts. There is the distance from the ground to the clouds, that’s heaven one; and then there’s a distance from the clouds to the stars, that’s heaven two, that’s midheaven; and then there’s the heaven beyond the stars, where God lives, that’s heaven three and so that helps make sense of Paul’s statement in 2nd Corinthians, 12, verses 1 through 10 (2 Cor 12:1-10) that he was actually caught up into the third heaven. He didn’t go to heaven one, he didn’t go to heaven two, he went to heaven three and he heard things that a man is not fit to hear. Paul knew things because of that experience that ordinary people don’t hear let alone understand and you’ll notice that Paul says in that passage: This happened to me fourteen years ago… So Paul, contrary to what people do today, when they claim they’ve had a similar kind of vision, did not immediately write a book about it. He didn’t immediately go into print and get on television and say, look at this wonderful experience I’ve had with God. He was almost embarrassed about it. So all these books now that are being written and movies about people that are going into heaven and seeing all of these things, I’m extremely reticent to accept any of it, because it doesn’t fit the criteria of 2nd Corinthians, 12, verses 1 through 10 (2 Cor 12:1-10). I mean, it looks like people want to make a profit fast and it looks like they understood everything that they allegedly saw and Paul himself uses the expression, inexpressible when he’s describing his vision. Oh, and by the way when Paul had that vision God gave him something to keep him humble. It’s called a thorn in the flesh, whatever that was, and I don’t hear about a thorn in the flesh from any of these movies and any of these books that have come out. I just hear about bestseller lists and popularity and things of that nature. So I think that’s what midheaven is. These birds are flying in midheaven and it mentions here, then I saw an angel standing in the sun and he cried out with a loud voice saying to all the birds that fly in midheaven come and assemble for the great feast of God so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all people, both free and slave small and great. Notice that, it’s judgment day. It’s everybody free, slave, small, great and then Revelation, 19, verse 19 (Rev 19:19) says: And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army… People always say, well, you know, do you really believe Jesus is coming back on a horse? I mean, clearly that’s metaphorical. The truth of the matter is Jesus came into this world riding on a donkey, didn’t He? That’s predicted in Zechariah, 9, verse 9 (Zech 9:9). Was that a literal donkey? I mean, is it too hard to imagine that Jesus is coming back on a literal horse? And if Christ is not coming back on a literal horse, what do you do with all these other horses that apparently the birds of prey are consuming. So you know, I have no problem believing that Jesus is coming back on a horse cause that’s what the Bible says. In fact, one of my friends Don Perkins takes this so literally, that when it talks about us returning to the earth after being raptured at least seven years earlier and we’re coming back on our horse. Did you know that? You’re coming back on a horse, following Jesus is coming back on a horse. Actually, it says horses. Don Perkins has already got names for his horses and I forgot the names he gives them, I’m trying to book him by the way for our next prophecy conference here at Sugar Land Bible Church. You guys will love Don Perkins. 42:29
So my point in bringing up all of this is: These are end time, end of Daniel’s seventy week events. Every time it mentions these birds consuming on the corpses, it’s dealing with events not at the beginning of the tribulation but at the end of the tribulation. Revelation, 19, verse 20, Revelation, 19 is also as you know, speaking of the second advent of Jesus at the end of the tribulation and it says the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of him who sat on the horse and all the birds were filled with their flesh… So when you study out these birds of prey gorging themselves, in Ezekiel, 39 you’ll see that Jesus connects that with the end of the tribulation period, Matthew, 24, verse 28 (Matt 24:28). It’s connected with the end of the tribulation, Revelation, 19, verse 17 through 19 (Rev 19:17-19). It’s connected with the end of the tribulation period, Revelation chapter 19, verse 21 (Rev 19:21). So that becomes a clue as to where to put Ezekiel, 39. Ezekiel, 39 is obviously not like chapter 38, which was talking about, as we tried to explain when we were there, events at the beginning of the tribulation. He’s obviously flash forward to events at the end of the tribulation. So Charles Feinberg puts it this way:
Charles L. Feinberg – The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord, Paperback ed. (Chicago: Moody, 1969; reprint, Chicago: Moody, 1984), 230-31.
“Now there is presented the third emphasis of the greatness of the invasion and the subsequent slaughter at the hand of the Lord. Incidentally, the figure gives a clue as to the time setting for the entire passage. It is the same scene as that a Revelation, 19, the great supper of God, and the chronology is clear. The events will transpire at the end of the great tribulation and just before the millennial reign of the Messiah of Israel.”
And I bring this up because one of the most debated questions in these chapters that we have been studying, chapters 38 and 39, is when does this invasion occur. In fact, the biggest debates in prophecy don’t concern what, they concern when. That’s where everybody has differences of opinion. Everybody believes in the kingdom. The question is when. Is it now? Amillennialism? Post millennialism? Or is it after Jesus returns pre-millennialism. Everybody believes in the rapture. It’s just a question of when, does that happen before the tribulation starts? Pretribulationism? Does it happen in the middle of the tribulation? Midtribulationism? Does it happen at the end of the tribulation? Posttribulationism. That whole discussion is not a what question, it’s a when question. Of course, we, at Sugar Land Bible Church, teach pre pre. We’re premillennial, you’re not going to have the kingdom until Jesus touches down on planet earth and we are pre tribulational, meaning we believe the rapture of the church will take place before the tribulation period even starts and we actually come out unlike many, many churches, we actually take a stand that’s not on the what question but on the when question and so similarly, one of the great debates in Ezekiel, 38 and 39 is when is this going to happen. Some say it’s at the beginning of the millennial kingdom. That doesn’t work, because in the millennial kingdom there’s no more war, this is a war. Some say at the end of the millennial kingdom but that doesn’t work because that invasion around Israel comes from everywhere. This one is coming from the north. Some would put the whole thing at the end of the tribulation period. Some would put the whole thing before the tribulation period even starts. There are many many very good people that will tell you this whole thing Ezekiel, 38 and 39 is going to happen before the tribulation period even begins. Others will put it in the first half of the tribulation. I take the position of the two phase view.
The chapter 38 is happening towards the beginning of the tribulation period as there is a trajectory from peace to war. That’s what’s being described in chapter 38 and the best place in the Bible that gives you a prophetic trajectory from peace to war is between seal judgment number one, the antichrist comes to power and brings peace on the earth to war, second seal judgment. That’s all in Revelation, 6 and as that second seal judgment is opened and the world transitions from peace to war, this invasion takes place commensurate with seal judgment number two, that’s chapter 38. Yeah, but pastor, I want to know all the details in chapter 38 and 39, Ezekiel says, sorry I’m not going to give you all the details. If you want to learn all the prophetic details, you’re going to have to put the jigsaw puzzle together consulting other areas of scripture. I’m just going to tell you what happens at the beginning and what happens at the end and by the time you get to chapter 39, with its description of the birds of prey gorging on the corpses, when you consult other areas of the scripture you learned very clearly that that is not something that happens at the beginning of the tribulation, that’s not something that happens before the tribulation period starts, that’s obviously something that’s happening at the end. So this is basically what you call the two phase view, chapter 38, towards the beginning of the tribulation period, chapter 39 towards the end. In other words, Ezekiel’s describing the outer limits of the tribulation. Ezekiel is describing here what we would call a process. This is a process. I believe that is the mistake that most people make when they interpret these chapters, they want it to be a singular event and Ezekiel simply isn’t prophesying that way. The Bible is not set up in such a way that Ezekiel is required to follow my prophecy chart.
By the way, Revelation 8:1-2 says there’s silence in heaven for a half hour. You know, what that’s there for, right? That’s when we all readjust our prophecy charts. Ups, didn’t have a right there, I’ll turn mine into the Lord and he’ll say, Ah B+, cause I don’t think anybody has this perfectly right and I think we’re in for some surprises. 50:23
Having said all that though, Ezekiel’s describing a process in my humble opinion. He’s not describing a singular event. Hey, why should that surprise us? That fits chapter 36 really well, which is not describing a singular event but a process. He sees the nation coming into their land in unbelief, then they’re regenerated. That doesn’t happen in 24 hours. That’s a process and hey, that would fit with chapter 37, where Ezekiel sees the valley of the dry bones and the bones coming together so that they form a skeleton and then muscles and sinews and skin and everything forms on the skeleton and then he’s told to prophesy again and the breath or the ruah in Hebrew or the Holy Spirit enters that dead corpse and the whole body comes to life and Ezekiel is told that these bones represent the house of Israel. That’s not describing something that happens in 24 hours, that’s describing a lengthy process, a process that I would argue that we’re seeing happen from before our very eyes, now. But what is happening in Israel today is not the final product, there’s more to come, because Ezekiel is describing a process. So if Ezekiel, 36 is a process and Ezekiel, 37 is a process, why would we come to Ezekiel, 38 and 39 and demand that it happened at a specific punctiliar point in time? If that’s a word. He’s describing a process. Chapter 38, the beginning of the process, second seal judgment. Chapter 39, the end of the process, the birds of prey gorging on the corpses and as we’ll see, a converted Israel, that’s at the end. So that’s my best shot, if you will, at the when question. I’m seeing basically two phases here and then we come to verses 21 through 29 which is the invasion’s results.
- Invasion planned (Ezek 38:1-13)
- Invasion executed (Ezek 38:14-16)
- Invasion defeated (Ezek 38:17‒39:20)
- Invasion’s results (Ezek 39:21-29)
What is God doing with all of this? What is it designed to produce at the end? Verses 21 through 29 is a description of this and there’s two things that God is doing.
- Invasion’s Results (Ezekiel 39:21-29)
- God’s glory manifested (Ezek 39:21-24)
- Israel restored (Ezek 39:25-29)
You know, we get so caught up in who Rosh is and who Persia is and those are interesting things to think about, they’re important things to think about but sometimes we spend so much time studying the veins on the leaves of the trees, that we forget what the forest looks like. Let’s stop for a minute and let’s go up to the ten thousand foot level and let’s figure out what the big picture is. Why is God allowing this to happen? Number one, He is orchestrating circumstances so His glory is manifested, verses 21 through 24 and number two, His whole purpose in all of these things is to bring Israel to faith and that’s described in verses 25 through 29. It is somewhat moving to think about this, that after all these centuries and millennia of the nation of Israel, God’s choice nation as the nation of Israel is shunning God, turning their back on God, that God hasn’t forgotten about Israel. I mean, if I were God, which obviously I’m not, just ask my wife, I would have written Israel with all of the things that she did against God, I would have written her off a long, long time ago. In fact, that’s what most, very sadly, theological systems do. It’s called replacement theology, which very sadly has been the dominant system of theology in Christendom, going back to Augustine in the fourth century. Most Christians by way of denominational affiliation are sitting in churches that either believe or rabidly teach replacement theology which is basically the idea that God cut the cord on Israel. All of Israel’s blessings have been transferred to the church, the new Israel. It sometimes goes under the expression “supersessionism” meaning the church, the new Israel has superseded ancient Israel and they think that way because how could God shed His grace on those people? When they rejected their Messiah in the first century and we, by contrast, received Him. I mean, don’t we deserve as the church greater preeminence than Israel? That’s how most Christians think about this. In fact, I’m going back to the days of my fiery youth, I actually wanted to teach some of this stuff in a Presbyterian church, if you can believe that. Some people invited me to speak and I was going to talk about this and the pastor kind of got wind as to what I was going to do and he says, I don’t want any of that heresy taught in this church. He used the H word, heresy and that was sort of an eye opener, how could you look at this as heresy? This is not heresy, this is the grace of God and the reason it’s sort of emotionally moving to me, to think about this, is if God is not going to cut the cord on Israel, then He’s not going to cut the cord on who else? He’s not going to cut the cord on me, because I have promises too and some days, I live in a way where I’m deserving of those promises, other days I really don’t. But God’s word is very clear, if we are faithless, He remains what? Faithful, 2nd Timothy, 2, verse 13 (2 Tim 2:13), for He cannot deny Himself. So as you’re looking at God keeping His word to His ancient people, you have to look at it as a vindication of God’s character, as a promise keeper. That is one of the things that a little bit got under my skin with that movement promise keepers, remember that movement? The truth of the matter is there are no promise keepers, other than God. I mean, God is the only one that really keeps His promises in perfection. I mean, let’s have some conferences not telling us to keep our promises. Let’s have some conferences praising God because of His ability to keep all of His promises, Israel and me which leads to the doctrine of eternal security. So His glory is going to be manifested and Israel will be restored.
- Invasion’s Results (Ezekiel 39:21-29)
- God’s glory manifested (Ezek 39:21-24)
- Israel restored (Ezek 39:25-29)
Notice how God restores His glory through all of this in chapter 39, verse 21 (Ezek 39:21): And I will set My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed and My hand which I have laid on them… In other words, it keeps saying my, I. God organizes this in such a way that the only one who can get glory is God. Man can’t take it, because man couldn’t have pulled off a rescue operation like this. Israel’s military can’t take the glory, because they’re put in a situation where they’re completely and totally outnumbered and overwhelmed. America, riding to the rescue as a faithful ally of Israel, America can’t take the glory probably because America internally imploded, I would think, long before these events happened. I don’t know that for sure but I do find it very, very interesting that America and the United States of America, as much as people want to pry Bible text out of context to find America somewhere in these passages, America is not mentioned. You know, a long time ago I stopped worrying about Israel. Israel is going to be just fine. She has a covenant with God. If you want to be concerned about something, be concerned about the United States, because the Bible says very clearly, righteousness exalts a nation and sin is a reproach to any people and if the United States of America just continues on with policies, one after the other that flagrantly go against this book, which apparently is our modern day trajectory. God’s hand cannot stay, a blessing can’t stay on our nation or any other nation that flagrantly violates His word because His word says righteousness exalts a nation, sin is a reproach to any people. So our problem as Americans is not high gas prices, it’s not the Keystone pipeline, it’s not the inflation. Those issues are very significant but if you really want to look at the problems with America, it is unrighteousness. You know, it is sin. It is taking things that God’s word condemns as perverse and normalizing them, mainstreaming them. You know, you can have the best tax policy in the world, but the truth of the matter is if a nation flagrantly lives its life as if God didn’t exist and in the process ignores its godly heritage, which this country has, you just can’t expect God to continue to bless the country. So rather than worrying about Israel, I think I’m a little bit more concerned about the United States and that may be a reason why the United States is not found in the pages of Bible prophecy.
So we’ll pick it up there with verse 21 next time, the glory of God manifested. Father, we’re thankful for these prophecies and how we’re living in a time period where these things are actually beginning to happen. Help make us good stewards of these things this week. We will be careful to give you all the praise of the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said, Amen. Happy intermission.