By Ephraim and Rimona Frank
Used by permission
Is the war presently being fought in Israel the beginning of the Gog and Magog War of Ezekiel 38? I don’t think so. I may be wrong, but here is a statement from this chapter that leads me to believe that we are not in the throes of the Ezekiel 38 scenario: “After many days you [Gog] will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them” (Ezekiel 38:8 emphases added). Obviously, the two sticks of the previous chapter have not yet been joined together on the mountains of Israel, nor are they restored from the sword, or living securely. At this point in time only the House of Judah has returned to a small portion of the Promised Land. So, what is the present war all about?
The prophet/watchman Habakkuk was complaining to the Almighty that all he saw was violence: “The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw. ‘O YHVH, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ [chamas] And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law [Torah] is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds” (Habakkuk 1:1-4).
I mentioned Joel chapter three a couple of weeks ago, which describes a war that takes place during the days of Judah and Jerusalem and is fought with the surrounding nations. I might add that this war started in the late 1800’s when the Jews began to fulfill their national aspirations. “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations, and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land” (Joel 3:1-2). These words echo Ezekiel 36: “Thus says YHVH Adonai, ‘Because the enemy has spoken against you, ‘Aha!’ and, ‘The everlasting heights have become our possession’… “Surely in the fire of My jealousy, I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, who appropriated My land for themselves as a possession with wholehearted joy and with scorn of soul, to drive it out for a prey” (Ezekiel 36:2,5).
For well over a hundred years now, the Jewish people have reclaimed parts of the Promised Land and established the State of Israel. At the same time, the gathering of all nations (in the form of the League of Nations and later the United Nations) has also taken place. All this was and is for the sake of YHVH’s people and His inheritance “Israel”, a large portion of whom are still scattered in the nations and as of yet have not been restored to their identity. Additionally, the sections of the land that they are to reclaim are still occupied by the ten-nation confederacy of Psalm 83.
Zechariah chapter 10 portrays Judah as a mighty army, during the time of the latter rain or end times: “For YHVH of armies has visited His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like His majestic horse in battle” (Zechariah 10:3). He then assigns them tasks: “From them will come the cornerstone, from them the tent peg, from them the bow of battle, from them every ruler, all of them together. And they will be as mighty men, treading down the enemy in the mire of the streets in battle; and they will fight, for YHVH will be with them” (Zechariah 10:4-5). Judah is seen here as a mighty warrior, which is reminiscent of what is said in Joel 3, regarding the war with the surrounding nations: “Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, ‘I am a mighty man.’ Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves there. Bring down, O YHVH, Your mighty ones” (Joel 3:9-11 emphases added).
According to Zechariah 10, while Judah is back in the land with Jerusalem as its capital, YHVH is out in the nations saving the lost sheep of the house of Israel/Joseph. “And I shall save the house of Joseph, and I shall bring them back because I have had compassion on them; and they will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am YHVH their Elohim, and I will answer them. And Ephraim will be like a mighty man” (Zechariah 10:6-7 emphasis added). Here we see that Ephraim is also raised up to be a mighty man. Could these be the same “mighty men” that Joel is speaking about, who come down and fight this battle with the surrounding nations? Isaiah 11 also speaks of the two joining together in this latter-day battle with the surrounding nations: “And He will lift up a standard for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart, and those who harass Judah will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, and Judah will not harass Ephraim. And they will swoop down on the slopes of the Philistines on the west [the Gaza Strip?]; Together they will plunder the sons of the east; They will possess Edom and Moab; And the sons of Ammon will be subject to them. And YHVH will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt” (Isaiah 11:12-15).
When this regional and well over one century-old war comes to an end, and with the tent pegs stretched, Ephraim will take over Gilead and Lebanon and some of the territory of the other surrounding nations that will have become subjected to Israelite rule. “I will whistle for them [Ephraim] to gather them together, for I have redeemed them; And they will be as numerous as they were before. When I scatter them among the peoples, they will remember Me in far countries, and they with their children will live and come back. I will bring them back from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria, and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon Until no room can be found for them”. (Zechariah 10:8-10).