Author: Ron Graham
Ezekiel Chapters 37, 38 and 39
—Outline and Notes
1 Context Overview
Chapters 37, 38, and 39 of Ezekiel are outlined and analysed. These chapters are about the vision of the valley of dry bones, and oracles against Gog and Magog.
2 Outline of Ezekiel 37, 38, and 39
The Vision of Dry Bones
- The Spirit transports Ezekiel to a valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-2).
- Ezekiel is asked whether these dry bones can live. He replied, "O Lord GOD, only You know." (Ezekiel 37:3).
- God commands Ezekiel to declare God's word to these bones that they will live. They'll grow tendons, flesh, and skin, and be given breath (Ezekiel 37:4-6).
- As Ezekiel prophesied, the bones rattled and the prophesy came true before his very eyes (Ezekiel 37:7-8).
- God urges Ezekiel is to prophesy to the breath to come from the four winds. He did so and the breath entered the bodies who came to life, stood on their feet, a vast army (Ezekiel 37:9-10).
- The bones represent the whole house of Israel in devastation. But God says, "I will open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put My Spirit in you and you will live. I will settle you in your own land" (Ezekiel 37:11-14).
One Nation with One King
- God tells Ezekiel to take two sticks and write on one "For Judah and all the house of Israel associated with him", and on the other, "For Joseph, Ephraim, and all the house of Israel associated with him" (Ezekiel 37:15-17).
- Ezekiel must then join the two sticks as one in his hand, signifying that the divided kingdom will no longer be divided (Ezekiel 37:18-19).
- God promises, "I will take the Israelites out of the nations to which they have gone, and I will gather them from all around and bring them into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will rule over all of them. Then they will no longer be two nations and will never again be divided into two kingdoms" (Ezekiel 37:20-22).
- God says that apostasies and idolatry will be no more among them (Ezekiel 37:23).
- God says, "My servant David will be king over them, and there will be one shepherd for all" (Ezekiel 37:24).
- God will make a new and everlasting covenant with them and set his sanctuary among them forever (Ezekiel 37:25-28).
Gog and Magog
- Through Ezekiel, God addresses the descendants of Magog, Tubal, and Meshech, sons of Japheth, one of Noah's sons. But God includes many nations with them including Persia. God is against the one they follow whom he calls Gog. (Genesis 10:1-2), Ezekiel 38:1-3).
- These nations will attack the Israelites living peacefully and securely in their land. God will bring together the armies of the nations to do battle against Israel (Ezekiel 38:4-6).
- God tells Gog and these nations to prepare for a summons to atack the Israelites who returned to their long desolate land and settled there. This call will come in "latter years" (Ezekiel 38:7-9).
- At that day, the Jews will be "a tranquil people who dwell securely, all of them living without walls or bars or gates". The nations will be of a mind to attack and pillage (Ezekiel 38:10-12).
- The preparations and armies on the march will cause many towns and villages to ask, "Have you come to capture the plunder?" (Ezekiel 38:13).
- God repeats to Ezekiel his message to Gog. The point of this battle is that the nations may know God when by victory he shows himself holy before their eyes.(Ezekiel 38:14-16).
- God says that in former times the prophets warned that nations under antichrist will attack the Israelites. But this time God will be furious and he will attack the attackers (Ezekiel 38:17-18).
- God says that his zeal will cause a great earthquake on that day (Ezekiel 38:19-20).
- There will also be confusion among the enemy so that they slaughter each other and God will send huge rain and hail upon the enemy (Ezekiel 38:21-22).
- God says, "I will magnify and sanctify Myself, and will reveal Myself in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD" (Ezekiel 38:23).
The Slaughter of Gog’s Armies
- God tells Ezekiel to prophesy against Gog that God will bring his armies to the mountains of Israel but God will strike the bow from his left hand and the arrows from his right (Ezekiel 39:1-3).
- Gog and all his troops will fall (Ezekiel 39:4-5).
- God will send fire on Magog. The nations of the coastlands will know that God is holy in Israel. It will surely happen. (Ezekiel 39:6-8).
- The weapons of the dead will be gathered by the Israelites for fuel. They will plunder those who plundered them (Ezekiel 39:9-10).
- Gog and the multitude of his armies will be buried in Israel by the Israelites (Ezekiel 39:11-13).
- The land of Israel will be carefully and systematically cleansed of the dead (Ezekiel 39:14-16).
- Ezekiel is to call every bird and beast to assemble, after the carnage, to eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of princes (Ezekiel 39:17-20).
Israel to Be Restored
- God recalls how he sent Israel into exile, into the hands of their enemies, because of their rebellion and sin (Ezekiel 39:21-24).
- Now God promises to restore Israel. He will bring them back from the nations among which they were scattered. He will pour out his Spirit upon them (Ezekiel 39:25-29).
3 What Do These Prophecies Predict?
In some of his previous prophecies, Ezekiel was given glimpses of the future when Israel would return to its land to rebuild and resettle. This began in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah.
The prophecies we have outlined above look forward to the time of Esther and Mordecai when Mordecai issued a summons, authorised by King Ahasuerus, for the enemies of the Jews to come out to battle. The Jews slaughtered the enemy armies in great numbers.
Prior to that war, Gog in the person of Haman met his doom. He was hanged on the gallows he had made for Mordecai.
Also in Ezekiel's previous prophecies and visions there is sometimes a much more distant view over and beyond the nearer one. This is the time of Messiah and his kingdom of heaven. For example when God says, "My servant David will be king over them, and there will be one shepherd for all" he is speaking of the Messiah (of whom David is a type or symbol) (Ezekiel 37:24).
A lot of Old Testament prophecies are easier to understand when we realise that they may have a nearer and distant fulfilment. The nearer one may be a type or microcosm of the distant one.
So a prophecy may refer partly to the nearer event and partly to the distant event. For example the vision of the dry bones that came to life looks forward to the end of Israel’s desolation and the return of the Israelites to the land. But the vision also may look forward far more distantly to the resurrection of the saints at the last day.
One might ask, "If the prophecy about the slaughter of Israel’s enemies was fulfilled in Ester’s time, what about the great earthquake that God said would happen? It is not mentioned in Ester and it would have wrecked the land and villages of Israel!" (Ezekiel 38:19-20).
The verses about the earthquake look to the distant future and the destruction of the world at the last day when God will shake heaven and earth to destruction (Hebrews 12:25-29). God’s people, the Israel of Christ, will go in victory to their eternal inheritance while their enemies and the antichrists perish.
4 Gog and Magog (Ezekiel)
Through Ezekiel, God addresses the nations whose ancestors were Magog, Tubal, and Meshech, sons of Japheth, one of Noah's sons. Who these nations were and where they were situated is not certain. But that hardly matters because God includes many nations with them including Persia (Genesis 10:1-2, Ezekiel 38:1-6).
Down the years Israel has known many enemies. So Magog in Ezekiel may be regarded as an umbrella term for nasty nations who gang up on Israel.
The name Gog in this context seems to elude explanation (as distinct from speculation). Just as Gog is within the name Magog, so the spirit of antichrist is within the enemy nations.
It is a sobering thought that even today there are nations who side with antichrist. Gog and Magog live on, but they don't win every battle and their final doom will come.