A website says of the late John F. Walvoord "he is considered perhaps the world's foremost interpreter of biblical prophecy."
In his book Every Prophecy of the Bible, (David C. Cook, 1999) Walvoord interpreted the prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39 about the Gog Magog invasion. He supposed that this prophecy foretold an invasion of the modern Jewish state of Israel by a military force from Russia, Iran, and several other nations. Here, I examine his comments on the last few verses of Ezekiel 38, which tell of God's judgment upon the invading hordes of the army of Gog and Magog.
On p. 194-195 Walvoord wrote:
Ezekiel 38:17-23. God reminded the invaders of what was predicted "in former days by My servants the prophets of Israel" (v. 17). The specifics of this prophecy had not been previously mentioned, but many chapters in the prophets dealt with the nations about Israel and God bringing judgment upon them. Accordingly, what was about to be revealed was in keeping with God's previous prophecies.
Here is what verse 17 says:
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?
Walvoord's comments suggest that he missed what Ezekiel was saying in this verse. Ezekiel said the armies of Gog and Magog come against the prophets of Israel. The prophets of Israel are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, etc. The armies of Gog and Magog come against them! But all those prophets have been resting in their graves for thousands of years.
Perhaps it is their prophecies that the armies of Gog and Magog come against, because these invaders misinterpret their message. Coming against the prophets of Israel makes no sense at all, if the invaders are a modern military force. How could any modern military force threaten the prophets of Israel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, etc.?
Obviously, Walvoord missed what Ezekiel said in verse 17! Or, he simply didn't believe it. The false teachers misinterpret the message of the prophets, and by their sensational claims, and failed predictions, they discredit the entire subject of the interpretation of prophecy. They bring the scriptures and the name of God into dishonour, scorn and ridicule. In the light of Ezekiel 38:18, the invasion by the hordes of Gog and Magog can be seen to be a spiritual one. It is a war about the interpretation of prophecy! The views of critical scholars, and theories of dispensationalism and preterism are all involved. Varieties of dispensationalism have a great influence today. There is classical dispensationalism, revised dispensationalism, (which Walvoord supported) progressive dispensationalism, "mid-Acts" dispensationalism, ultradispensationalism for example. And on the other side, preterism, partial preterism, full preterism or hyper-preterism, etc. These all come against the "prophets of Israel."
God declared His reaction to the attack aginst Israel, "'When Gog attacks the land of Israel. My hot anger will be aroused,' declares the Sovereign Lord. 'In My zeal and fiery wrath I declared that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of lsrael'" (vv. 18-19).
Of course God is jealous about his holy word! And he seeks His saints who have been deceived! Why wouldn't the anger of God be directed against the deceivers, whoever they are?
The remarkable aspect of this prophecy is that the Scriptures do not reveal any opposing army attacking the invaders. Rather, it will be a time when God Himself by surpernatural actions destroys the army. The first step will be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The effect of this earthquake will be felt by all of God's enemies on earth, "The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at My presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground" (v. 20).
There is no opposing army, because the invasion is not a flesh-and-blood army. Paul said the saints "wrestle not against flesh and blood." [Ephesians 6:12] The invasion represents the apostasy and the delusion that has been introduced into the church. This is world wide, as the spread of false theories and interpretations is not limited by national boundaries.
Who are the "fish of the sea"? When Jesus called Peter and Andrew he said "I will make you fishers of men." So perhaps, these fish are humans!
The events described here are not secret, but are open and evident to everyone. God has a controversy with the deceivers.
The second great judgment that God will bring on the invaders will be that they will fight among themselves, "'I will summon a sword aginst Gog on all my mountains,' declares the Sovereign Lord. 'Every man's sword will be against his brother" (v. 21). Because of the disruption brought about by the earthquake and the fact that the army will be composed of various people coming from various nations, it is easy to understand how through misunderstanding they can start fighting among themselves, thinking that the others were a defending people.
People using their "swords" against one another is figurative, and the meaning is easily determined. Paul spoke of "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." [Ephesians 6:17] Those who participate in this invasion wield the scriptures against one another!
I suggest the mountains in Ezekiel's prophecy represent the prophecies and promises of God to his saints. The invaders typically claim to have the best interpretation, and see themselves as most qualified to explain the prophecies of scripture. Ezekiel 36 shows that those who occupy the mountains of Israel claim to possess them, and have "swallowed them up on every side," so they have been "a possession of the heathen;" they are "taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people." Bible prophecy has become a topic of scorn and jokes, because of the many failed predictions of dispensationalists.
Ezekiel showed that the saints will possess those mountains. This suggests that the Church will be given a good understanding of prophecy and all the flawed systems of interpretation will be discredited.
The next form of judgment will be by plague and bloodshed (v. 22). In addition to their being destroyed by the sword, they will experience a plague, a means God has often used to attack the enemies of Israel (cf. Isa. 37:36).
The plague can be compared with the plague described in Zechariah 14:12. The fact that both prophecies mention plague links them together, as two different description of the same end time spiritual warfare. And this is also seen in John's interpretation, in Revelation 20:8-9, where the armies of Gog and Magog come against the camp of the saints and the beloved city, which is the church.
The next judgment speaks of "torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulphur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him" (Ezek. 38:22). The floods caused by torrents of rain would obviously hinder an invading army and cause more confusion in communications and properly accounts for the fact that they will be fighting each other. The hailstones also being supernatural may be destructive of human life. The burning sulphur which will fall on them will be a reminder of how God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The nature of these judgments demonstrated to all that God will fight the invading army and pour His judgment on them. This was brought out in the closing verse of the chapter, "And so I will show My greatness and My holiness, and I will make Myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord" (v. 23).
Would God really send rain, and hail, upon a literal, invading military force armed with modern weapons? Ha ha!
Rain and snow in scripture are symbolic of the word of God.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
The hail mentioned in Ezekiel 38:22 is no doubt symbolic of the word of God also, perhaps given in the form of a strong rebuke. The fire which accompanied the rain, (not discussed by Walvoord) is also used as a metaphor for God's word; Jesus said, "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?" [Luke 12:49]
An interpretation of the nature of the fire that falls upon the hordes of Gog and Magog in Revelation 20:8-9 was given by George Gifford, a Puritan pastor at Mauldin in Essex, England, 1599. [Sermons vpon the whole booke of the Reuelation #24]
But what followeth? Fire (saith S. John) came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. Now he cometh to set forth the destruction of the armies of Gog and Magog, and of their chief captain also which seduced them. He beginneth with the armies, and sheweth how they are consumed with fire from heaven. It might be said: What shall become of the tents of the Saints? what shall become of the beloved city, when all these innumerable multitudes do compass them about? To answer this, here is shewed that the Lord God from heaven doth miraculously destroy these armies, and deliver his church. For that is meant when he saith, that fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. It will be demanded: when was this? or where was this seen? I answer, that ye must understand, that this is a mystical speech. The truth of God is compared to fire, and so is his wrath a consuming fire: and who seeth not, that by the holy word, & by his vengeance he hath already begun to consume and destroy the popish armies? In the 38 chapter of Ezekiel, the Lord doth threaten a tempest of hail, fire and brimstone upon the armies of Gog. And accordingly he speaketh in this place of fire coming down from God from heaven, which doth devour them. What way soever they be destroyed, it is the fire of God's word, and of his wrath from heaven, and we must acknowledge his miraculous power in preserving his Church. Let not the multitude of the armies of Gog and Magog discourage us: for they were far greater than they be, and as the Lord hath begun, so will he utterly burn them up, and consume them in his good time.
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