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This is therefore one of the means by which Gog and his army will fall upon the mountains of Israel after their work is accomplished upon the rebellious house of Israel. Another means of destruction that the Lord will use against them is the burning pestilence, which Zechariah says operates as follows (14:12-13): “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. And it shall come to pass in that day that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them, and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbor, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor." And we have shown also from other Scriptures, the Lord turns every man's sword against his brother.
Another means of destruction that the Lord says that he will employ against Gog is an overflowing rain and great hailstones, fire and brimstone. The terrible and deadly nature of this plague of the hail can be estimated by referring to the plagues of Egypt, where it is said (Exod. 9:23), “ And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along the ground, and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. So there was fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation."
Again when Joshua fought against the five kings that came up against Gibeon, because they had made peace with Israel in the day when “the sun stood still upon Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, and hasted not to go down about a whole day, until the people avenged themselves upon their enemies," at that time, it is said, And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah and they died. They were more which died with hail stones, than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword” (Joshua 10:11). And in the last days, when the plagues of old Egypt are to be visited upon spiritual Egypt, namely, the rebellious and idolatrous house of Israel, one of the plagues that God visits upon them under the pouring out of the seventh vail is a great hail which falls upon them out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent.” And yet this has not produced repentance, for it is said, “ And men (that is the idolators of Israel) blasphemed God because of the hail, for the plague thereof was exceeding great” (Rev. 16:21).
THE LAKE OF FIRE AND BRIMSTONE
The judgments that God visits upon Gog and his multitude in the day of their destruction, when God pleads against him with pestilence and blood, when he turns every man's sword against his brother through all their vast armies, and rains hailstones upon them out of heaven, with thunder and lightning which runs along upon the ground as it did in Egypt,- these judgments constitute what is known in the Book of the Revelation (19-20) as "the Lake of fire and brimstone,” and it is into this lake that Gog, or “the Assyrian," or the Beast," and the kings of the earth and their armies ” are cast alive to be consumed; and it is by the spirit of God that these deadly and destructive agencies are used against the wicked and against the armies of the aliens for their destruction, and it is by the word of the Lord which is called "the breath of his mouth " that these things are done. Therefore it is spoken of by the prophets as follows: Isaiah says of Christ, “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked " (Isa. 11:4). Again it is said of him, “Out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations” (Rev. 19:15). Again the prophet Isaiah says, “The breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, kindles the fires of Tophet" (where the Assyrian is to be consumed) (Isa. 30:33).
It is into these fires of God's wrath that the resurrected wicked are cast, which will burn them up root and branch, exterminating them utterly; and those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear, will understand from the testimony of the prophets on this matter that the hell for the wicked is not in the subterranean regions of the earth, but upon the face of the earth, and at the city and environs of Jerusalem. But people who are bewitched with the heathen theory of immortality, namely the immortality of human souls, never can interpret the Holy Scriptures, as we have before shown; for their fancied immortality and their fancied hell, where they suppose that wicked people burn forever without being burned up, is utterly false, and mere wind and confusion. The wicked, whether living or those who have been raised from the dead to die the second death, cannot stand fire and therefore they are said to be quenched like tow and like chaff and stubble, and " like the fat of lambs into smoke shall they consume away.”
THE LORD'S GLORIFICATION After the Lord has destroyed Gog and all his multitude, upon the mountains of Israel, after the manner that he points out by Ezekiel (38:23), he says, “ 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." The punishments that are inflicted, first upon the house of Israel, and afterwards upon the nations, are to teach them that God is the Lord; not simply that there is a God, or one God only and none er, but that he is Lord and all that name implies, and that he is to be honored as such by our believing his word and obeying his voice, and by keeping his statutes, his commandments, his judgments, and his laws, as Abraham did.
The Lord says of the nations and countries that are round about Jerusalem, “ They have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them” (Ezek. 5:6). Even in the days of the apostles when the Lord sent out his servants commanding all nations to repent and believe the gospel, although this command was enforced by the working of wonders, signs, and miracles, even to raising the dead, yet not a single government, Jew or Gentile, obeyed the command. A few, mostly obscure individuals in the lower walks of life, gave ear to the word and obeyed the gospel. And now as all mild and persuasive measures have failed, both with Israel, and the nations, the Lord will break their stubborn, rebellious, and haughty spirits with a rod of iron, with the sword, with famine, with the pestilence, and with hailstones.
Such measures as these are the only means by which the nations of the earth can be taught obedience and the fear of the Lord, as the prophet Isaiah testifies, saying (26:9), “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” But, says the same prophet, and in the same place, “Let favor be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness” (verse 10). Nothing but the righteous judgments of
. God will establish truth, peace, and the fear of God in the earth. In view of these facts, the Lord continues, speaking by the hand of Ezekiel concerning the overthrow of Gog, saying (39: 1-6). “Therefore thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and I will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and I will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel, and I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee. And I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured; thou shalt fall upon the open field, for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God."
FIRE SENT ON MAGOG AND THE ISLES
After Gog and his multitudes fall upon the open field, the Lord says, And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly (that is, confidently, or securely) in the Isles " (Ezek. 39:6).
It is said that the sons of Japheth were Gomer, and Magog, and Medai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras; and the sons of Gomer, Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah; and the sons of Javan, Elishah, and Tarshash, Kittim, and Dodanim. By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. The descendants, therefore, of Japheth settled to the west upon the shores and bays of the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, and other seas to the west, and are therefore called the Isles of the Gentiles, or countries bordering largely upon great bodies of water, such as Austria, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, the British Isles, Russia, and many of the smaller European countries.
These are the peoples, and nations, that the Lord refers to when he says, "And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the Isles, and they shall know that I am the Lord." It is said of Christ when he comes to reign, that "he shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his laws” (Isa. 42:4). Again it is said, “Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee. And the sons of strangers shall minister unto thee, for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favor have I had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually, they shall not be shut day nor night, that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles (wealth, margin); for the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall utterly perish, yea those nations shall be utterly wasted” (Isa. 60:9-12).
This is the reason why a fire is sent upon those nations, that they may be brought into subjection to the nation of Israel. And the nation that will not submit, will be utterly destroyed. Therefore the Lord says again touching the isles of the Gentiles, “ According to their deeds he will repay fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompense." And as these islands lay to the west of Jerusalem, it is added, “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun" (Isa. 59: 18-19).
: Thus after Gog is destroyed, and a fire has been sent on Magog and among the isles to the west to subdue them, then the Lord speaks and says (Ezek. 39:7-8), “So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more. And the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel; behold it is come and it is done, saith the Lord God, this is the day whereof I have spoken."
THE IMPLEMENTS OF WARFARE
“And they that dwell in the cities of Israel (the remnant that is left) shall go forth and set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, and the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years, so that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forest, for they shall burn the weapons with fire, and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them saith the Lord God (Ezek. 39:9-10).
THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea, and it shall stop the noses of the passengers; and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude, and they shall call it the valley of Hamon-gog (that is the multitude of Gog). And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land; yea, all the people of the land shall bury them. And it shall be to them a renown, the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord God. And they shall sever out men of continual employment passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it. After the end of seven months shall they search, and the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man's bone, then shall he set up a sign by it till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog. And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah (that is, the multitude). Thus shall they cleanse the land." The time that is required to bury the dead, and the number of the years that the implements of warfare suffice for fuel to the remnant of Israel and those who dwell in the land, is a clear indication of the vastness of the armies that will invade Israel's land in that day.
FRUITS OF THE VICTORY FOR THE REMNANT OF ISRAEL We next call attention to what the Lord says of Gog, and to what his vast forces will fall a prey, saying (Ezek. 39: 4), “ Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee." And here observe what further the Lord says of them, “ I will give thee unto
the ravenous birds of every sort (or wing) and to the beasts of the field to be devoured "; and observe further that when these great forces of the enemy have been overthrown and destroyed, then the Lord calls the birds of prey and the beasts of the field to the sacrifice that he has prepared for them, saying (verse 17), “And thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God, Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble and come, gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice, that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. Ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus shall ye be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord God."
Now this that the Lord says to the ravenous birds and to the beasts of the earth, must not by any means be understood as referring literally to the fowls of heaven and the beasts of the field, any more than when the Lord says to these fowls and beasts that they are to eat the flesh of rams, and lambs, and goats, and bullocks, that they are literal beasts. On the contrary, they are people, - Gog and all his army that he figuratively calls beasts. And so of these fowls and beasts that are to consume this great sacrifice; they also are people, referred to in verses 9-10,— they that dwell in the cities of Israel, the remnant that is left, those whom the Lord had hid and spared in the day of his anger, and of whom much is said in different places. For instance, the Lord speaks of them as follows, in the prophecy of Ezekiel ; in speaking of the judgments upon Jerusalem he says, “ Yet, behold therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: Behold they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings, and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it. And they shall comfort you when ye see their ways and their doings, and ye shall know that I have not done without cause, all that I have done in it, saith the Lord God” (Ezek. 14:22-23).
Also concerning this remnant the prophet Zephaniah saith (3: 12-13), “I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth, for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid." And we may also point out that these are the very people that are known in the Revelation as “ the one hundred and forty and four thousand," that "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men (the men of Israel), being the first-fruits unto God and the Lamb."
These people form the beginning of that new age which is inaugurated after the judgment is over; they have come through the fires and will have been tried as gold and silver is tried in the furnace. Moreover it is added of them, as is said of them by Zephaniah, “ And in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Rev. 14:1-5). It is this same remnant, therefore, of whom the Lord says (Ezek. 39: 10),