Ezekiel 38:13 Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?
14 Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?
15 And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:
16 And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.
Yesterday I mentioned the protests that have taken place in this country over the past few months. I have mentioned before that I do not support these protests. I do not believe they accomplish anything of value. Those who are born again Christians should be able to see that they have no place in these protests. The environment and the language used in them is no place for those who know the true and living God. We can see from the official response to the latest protest of this weekend, that the officials have no interest in allowing counter views to be heard or seen in a peaceful manner. The heavy police presence at this recent event was clearly there to try to intimidate those who would come to that event. They were there to try to get people to push back against them so that they could arrest them and charge them with resistance, etc. It is a shame to see how the majority of the police are more concerned with money and power; that they are willing to break the law to please their bosses. There have been reports of the police boasting and laughing about the brutality they have used against unarmed citizens.
It is obvious that we no longer have the freedom that our forefathers fought to protect in the first and second world wars. We have crumbled into a similar environment here in our own country, to what our parents and grandparents fled in the hope of finding greater freedom.
What was missing in that flight and what is missing today is the understanding of where freedom comes from. When God does not have the heart of the people, there is no freedom. Ezekiel was directed by God to address the spiritual depravity of his own people. Israel had been blessed by God in so many ways. They had a wonderful homeland. They were protected from external corruption by laws that were given by God to protect them from corruption. Law keeping could not save them. Law keeping cannot save us today. The laws that God gave the nation of Israel were designed to show them the need to know the Law Giver.
The Priesthood was established to give a picture of the need of a mediator between God and men. They were also to teach the law of God to the people. That would require the priests to believe in the true God. They were not to be politically motivated. They were not to be inventors of law. They were not to break the law. However, the priesthood soon became corrupted and they adopted the pagan ways of the nations around them. Jeremiah 17:9-10 tells us:
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
We must understand that even without the pagan nations around Israel, the heart of the Israeli people was just as wicked as the hearts of the nations around them. If they did not turn to the true God in repentance and put their faith in the promise of a Redeemer and understand that the Levitical system was a picture of that Redeemer, they would be pagans as well.
Within the corruption that dominated the nation of Israel for many years prior to Ezekiel’s day, there were a few faithful believers in the true God such as Ezekiel and Daniel, Mishael, Azariah, and Hananiah. God has always had a remnant of those who turn to Him and believe in Him. God does not force anyone to believe in Him. It is a mystery as to what causes one person to embrace the God of truth and yet others around that person reject that same God. It is a testimony to the mercy and grace of God.
Ezekiel was called upon to prophesy regarding the future of the nation of Israel and of the nations of the world that would affect Israel.
In verse 13, God continued to speak of the attack that would come against Israel in the future. Ezekiel was not told how long it would be before that attack. We can know that it has been over 2,000 years from the time the prophecy was given to the time we are living in. To this day, we are still looking into the future for the fulfilment of this prophecy. We know it will come when Israel is living in relative peace and when they will have their guard down. The Bible describes that time as the time when the anti-christ arrives on the scene. As he develops his position as ruler of the world, he will reveal his true nature and the peace will be gone.
Sheba and Dedan were located in what is today known as Saudi Arabia. Tarshish is along the Mediterranean Sea and includes Lebanon or Cyprus. In verse 13 God asked these people a question regarding their plans and actions. Again this is a prophetic question to what is yet coming. The purpose of the future advancement against Israel will be to take a spoil. There is speculation as to what that spoil might be. Some have speculated that it will be for the vast minerals that are in the Dead Sea. Others have speculated that it will be the oil and gas reserves that have been found under the surface of the land of Israel. We are told that they will be coming to take away silver and gold and cattle and other goods. It is described as “a great spoil.”
In verse 14 we see that this message is still directed to Gog. As we mentioned in the past, it is important to pay attention to what is going on in the Middle East and in particular in Israel. The attention of the world has been on that area for many years. Most presidents of the U.S. have tried to make a name for themselves in trying to resolve the conflict in that area of the world. None have succeeded. Gog will be aware of the vulnerability that Israel will be living in at that time and they will seek to take advantage of it.
It is always a danger to let ones guard down. We are reminded many times of the fact that those who are saved are in a spiritual warfare and that we need to be fully equipped to fend off the wiles of the devil. The devil never takes a break. I recall the first church I pastored where they were accustomed to run a much more relaxed summer program than they did during the rest of the year. During the summer months they shut down the Sunday School and the Wednesday night Bible study because they said so many people wanted to take a vacation and would be away so they would be short of workers and the attendance would be down. I was not aware of this before we went to that church, but I asked them if they thought the devil took a holiday? The answer to that is rather obvious and thus we did not cancel any services just because it was summer time. In fact we added a VBS program through which we were able to reach many children in that community.
Paul told Timothy to give attendance to doctrine. False doctrine can creep in so easily. I spoke with a man recently who is being taught that Old Testament people were law keepers and New Testament people live by grace. That is a distorted view that has been around a long time, but it is still just as false today as it ever was. We need to know the truth and we need to teach the truth faithfully. Man has never been saved by law keeping. God’s salvation has always been by faith in Him. The obedience He demands is the result of trusting in Him for salvation.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Verses 8&9 show us how a person is saved. That was true for Cain and Abel and it is still true for us today. Abel trusted in God and Cain did not. Abel demonstrated his trust in God by acting in a manner that proved he believed in God. Cain demonstrated his rejection of God in a manner that proved he did not believe in God.
Ephesians 2:10 tell us that at salvation, we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works. We are changed so that we can do good works. It is required of true believers to do good works. Good works do not save. They demonstrate the fact that the person has been saved.
In verse 15 of our text, God gave further details of this future assault. This army will come out of the north and it will be with many people and they will ride upon horses. We know that modern armies have quite sophisticated equipment. We also know that sometimes that sophisticated equipment can let the army down. We know that the technology is at the place now where one group can affect the operations of another group just by messing around with the technology. In the civilian world, it is now possible to shut down the operation of a vehicle with the right equipment. There are continued concerns about an EMP attack on our power grid. It is possible for governments and others to mess around with the Internet and with cell phones.
We are not given all the details, but God knows what will be going on at that time, and He declared that the armies would come down on horses. We do know that Russia still has a large number of horses to this day. It would be a large army and they would be ready to take a great spoil.
Even in Canada, the police used horses to help drive the protesters off of Parliament Hill. They did not use tanks. They used those horses to intimidate and even to do harm to the people.
In verse 16 God tells us this army will come against Israel in the latter days. Again we are reminded of the general time frame. It did not happen in Ezekiel’s day. It did not happen in the time that Jesus Christ was on this earth. It has not happened yet today. However it will happen.
God further declares that He is going to bring this massive army against Israel. He also tells us why He will do this. God is going to teach the heathen an important lesson. The heathen are those who reject the true and living God. Notice that through this event, God will be sanctified in Gog and the alliance that is formed at that time.
The word translated as “sanctified” speaks of “being set apart and be made majestic”. Russia and her allies have no use for God. Iran has their own pagan god. They reject the true God. However, God has a way of exalting Himself even when others reject Him. Israel, at that time will not be exalting God. However, God will prove to them as well as to this invading army, that they are up against a power that is greater than all that man can assemble. No one wins against the true God. That is something that we need to be reminded of today as well. False religions abound. There is such a drive to bring religions of all kinds together. There are various conferences that are being used for this purpose. Most people lack discernment and they assume these conferences are of God even though they smell of compromise all the way around.
True Christians are called to glorify the true God. The true God does not compromise. Jesus interacted with the Pharisees and Sadducees of His day. They hated Him because He would not endorse them. He exposed them for who they really were. He proclaimed Himself to be the truth and He boldly taught the truth. He did not change the Old Testament prophecies nor the law. He came to fulfil the law and He taught the truth. He exposed the distortions of the false teachers and gave the people the opportunity to understand God’s Word as it was given.
The apostles would continue that work and complete the written Word of God. We find nothing at all of God endorsing compromise to reach a broader audience. Truth and error cannot co-exist. Today is the Lord’s Day. It is another day to go to a Bible-believing local church to hear the teaching and preaching of God’s truth.
Follow God’s way and know His blessing today. Let God be sanctified before your eyes today!