Jerusalem’s Destruction via Babylon (≈588 B.C) à ONWARD
Like all other former or contemporary Tribulation Prophets, Ezekiel was prophesying of the near future from his perspective (sometime between the 5th day of the 10th month of the 12th year & the 10th day of the 1st month of the 25th year; time references: 33:21 & 40:1), approximately 13-14 years after the City of Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon. However, in retrospect, we have come to understand how Ezekiel was also prophesying of the distant future extending beyond the present time. However, we cannot comprehend divine foretelling that extends into the distant future until we understand how and in what way it foretold things of the ancient and recent past.
At the 9th year of the reign of Zedekiah, Babylon decided upon the destruction of Jerusalem according to Ezekiel 24:1-14. After 18 months, this would result in the destruction of the Temple according to Ezekiel 24:15-27. Literally, a man would escape and tell Ezekiel of the news (Ezek. 24:26-27) and until then Ezekiel would be dumb – he would not prophesy concerning Judah, the Jews, or the City of Jerusalem. Hence, Ezekiel 25-32 are prophecies to foreign nations rather than to the Jews of the Kingdom of Judah. The Babylonian Siege upon Jerusalem lasted until the 11th year of the reign of Zedekiah, which was approximately 18 months (Jer. 52:4-6). Then, after an additional 18 months totaling in 36 months, which would have been the 12th year of Zedekiah’s reign had he not been dethroned [it is the 12th year of the Babylonian Captivity counting from when Jehoiachin was taken (2 Kings 24:10-20)], lo and behold the sign was completed in that a messenger came to Ezekiel and gave the report of Jerusalem’s destruction (Ezekiel 24:26-27, 33:21-22). This is why Ezekiel prophesied to the Jews of the Babylonian Captivity in Ezekiel 33 concerning saving faith and repentance in the ongoing Tribulation Period that would continue for a total of 70 years.
Then, with the exile of the Jews from Jerusalem complete, Ezekiel began to prophesy against the fat shepherds of the Jews that scattered the Flock of God (Ezekiel 34:1-10), and, giving the Jews of the Captivity hope, the Lord promised that He would regather the Flock, restore the Kingdom, and set up David as the Prince (Ezek. 34:11-31)! Likewise, the Lord foretold promised that He would destroy Mount Seir (Ezek. 35:1-15) and, on the contrary, He would restore the Mountains of Israel, establish the Kingdom, and secure the regathered Jewish People therein (Ezek. 36:1-38) – a miraculous feat comparable to a valley of dry bones rising to their feet and coming to life (Ezek. 37:1-28)! This brings us to Ezekiel 38.
At having boldly introduced God’s purpose to regather the Jews, restore national Israel, rebuild Jerusalem, and reconstruct a Jewish Temple, one is compelled to wonder who Gog of the Land of Magog is. If Israel will be invaded by Gog’s coalition in the future (Ezek. 38:1-7), this means that the aforementioned regathering & restoration will at least be in progress or already complete. I say that the regathering and restoration is in progress because, it would seem that the foretold glories described in Ezekiel 40-48, and elsewhere, are still unrealized by the time that Gog’s coalition attacks Israel. This would make sense seeing that Ezekiel 40-48 wasn’t prophesied until quite some time after Ezekiel 38-39 and, in respect to Jerusalem, 14 years after its destruction. Rightly so, one would think that adversaries would make a concerted effort to prevent the regathering and restoration of the Jews. This much we know, the consummation of this conflict between Israel & Gog’s coalition, foretold in Ezekiel 38-39, will inevitably result in the foretold glories of Ezekiel 40-48.
My reader, this brings us to the 1st Restoration Generation that returned from Babylon at the completion of the 70-year Tribulation Period (Jer. 25:11-14, 29:10-14, Dan. 9:2). The aforementioned prophecies of Ezekiel are pointing to this specific generation. This point is simply unquestionable! How can I be sure? Well, observe the following parallels.
The Spiritual Status of the Regathered People (Church Purity)
“…the Land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people…the Mountains of Israel, which have always been waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.” – Ezek. 38:8
The Physical Vulnerability of Israel & Jerusalem (Without Walls)
“…the Land of unwalled villages…them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates…the desolate places that are now inhabited…the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the Land.” – Ezek. 38:11-12
“And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein: For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.” – Zech. 2:4-5
The Promise of Full Restoration to this Generation (Ezekiel’s Temple)
“I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a Man with a Measuring Line in his hand. Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof.” – Zech. 2:1-2
“In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south. And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a Man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a Line of Flax in his hand, and a Measuring Reed; and he stood in the gate. And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.” – Ezek. 40:2-4
“Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD. Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon. For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.” – Zech. 2:6-13
The Need for & Promise of Divine Protection (the Shaking)
“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? 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: 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. 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? And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face. For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great SHAKING in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall SHAKE at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man's sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. 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.” – Ezek. 38:14-23
“According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will SHAKE the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will SHAKE all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this House with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. The glory of this Latter House shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.” – Haggai 2:5-9
“Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will SHAKE the heavens and the earth; And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.” – Haggai 2:21-23
Firstly, one must understand the divine purpose of Church Purity during the 70-year Tribulation Period and, in so doing, realize the spiritual status of the regathered people in the 1st Restoration Generation. The Jews are described to be those who have been “brought back from the sword”, according to Ezekiel 38:8, in the same way that Jeremiah described the regathering of the 1st Restoration Generation, calling them, “the people which were left of the sword” (Jer. 31:2). The spiritual implications of being regathered are clearly stated and easily proven (see , , & ).
Secondarily, seeing that the regathering & restoration were in progress and yet to be completed, one must understand how these promises and prophecies were conditional based upon the faith and obedience of the Jews. Full promises of restoration were in progress – even while Jerusalem was physically vulnerable, without walls, and beset by adversaries round about! – hence the relevance of God foretelling His miraculous defense of Israel by a mighty SHAKING! Right? Observe, my reader: Ezekiel prophetically specified the physical vulnerability of Israel and Jerusalem in that they will be unprotected by walls or gates, just as Zechariah describes the people’s estate in Zechariah 2:4-5. Seeing that the regathering & restoration was hereby still in progress and conflicted with many adversaries, the primary one being Babylon, according to Zechariah 2:7, the people needed the divine protection described in Ezekiel 38-39. Only then would the full intent of the restoration come to pass as was promised and prophesied, the climax being the building of Ezekiel’s Temple signaled by the Man with a Measuring Reed (Zech. 2:1-2, Ezek. 40:2-4) & the crowning of a King, , in the restored & united Kingdom (“My Servant David” and also the “One Shepherd” and “Prince” of God’s people - Ezek. 34:23-24; “David My Servant shall be King over them; and they shall have One Shepherd…”, and, “My Servant David shall be their Prince for ever” – Ezek. 37:24-25; Zech. 6:9-15).
As proven elsewhere at length, and here yet again, all of this was originally calendared to happen () in the regathering and restoration directly after the 70-year Babylonian Captivity (Jer. 29:10-14, 25:11-12, 27:22). Then, with a remnant returning (Isa. 10:20-22), they would seek David their King like Hosea the prophet prophesied (Hos. 3:5); strikingly, the regathering and restoration happens at the same time as the Branch (Jer. 23:3-8, Isa. 11:1-12:6) to wit: the Lord will regather them just like he did in bringing them out of Egypt (Jer. 23:3-8, Isa. 11:16, Hag. 2:5) and dwell in the midst of them for the rebuilding of the Temple unto unprecedented manifestations of divine glory (Isa. 12:6, Zech. 1:16, 2:5, 10, 6:12, 8:3)! Knowing this, and hearing God speak of Joshua the High Priest as (Zech. 3:8-10, 6:9-15), the God-fearing Jews of the Restoration Generation would have been in great wonder and expectation of what was about to take place, and for obvious reasons!
Further confirming things, let it be noted that this man, the Branch, prophetically identified in the 1st Restoration Generation according Zechariah 3:8-10 & 6:9-15, is the same man who Ezekiel calls “the Prince” in Ezekiel 46. This being the case, Ezekiel’s Temple had to be an Old Testament structure. Right? Even so, my reader, let Ezekiel declare the operation of redemption at hand in the foretold scenario! Lo and behold, the offering of animal sacrifices for atonement was still in practice (Ezek. 40:38-43, 42:13-14) being officiated by the Aaronic Priesthood (Ezek. 40:45-46, 43:19, 44:15-16, 48:11), and the Prince, like any other redeemed man, was in need of atonement for his own sins committed against God (Ezek. 46:4-15); moreover, other evidences include the fact that the Prince has physical sons (Ezek. 46:16-18) and the Sabbath is still in observation (Ezek. 46:1, 3). However, seeing that historical Zerubbabel’s original building (that became the House of 2nd Temple Judaism) didn’t amount to the Latter House Glory prophesied by Haggai, Zechariah, and Ezekiel, it is apparent that this generation fell short of the promises and prophecies directed to them as the Restoration Generation. The same could be said about all the other prophecies and promises that this generation fell short of (“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” – Heb. 4:1-2). Hence, the prophesied in relationship to the Latter House of Glory and all other coinciding manifestations of glory.
Like all authentic Covenants that existed among promised generations and peoples, this one had conditions (Jer. 12:15-17, Zech. 3:6-7, 6:9-15); and, at the continued disobedience of the people the breaches were accounted of (Hag. 2:14, Zech. 7:1-14, Neh. 13:1-31, Mal. 1-4). The scriptural parameters which prophetically outlined the moral status that God required of the regathered people were trespassed; and without this specified status of morality being achieved, the unworthy people were rendered unable to fulfill the divine foretelling. According to the prophecies, these people were supposed to be a people of no more fear or weeping (Jer. 23:4, 46:27-28, Ezek. 36:15, Isa. 30:19), no more uncleanness or defilement (Isa. 52:1, Zech. 14:21, Ezek. 36:29, 33, Ezek. 11:18, 37:23, 43:7), no more straying from God or idolatry (Ezek. 14:11, Zech. 13:2, Ezek. 20:37-42, 36:25, Hos. 14:8), and therefore there would be no more divine anger or war (Ezek. 16:42, Isa. 54:9-10, Ezek. 39:29, Hos. 13:14, 14:4, Jer. 23:4-6, Hos. 2:18, Isa. 60:18, Mic. 4:3-4, Ps. 46:9) and the people would never again leave the Holy Land (Amos 9:11-15, Jer. 31:40)! Did it happen? No. I repeat, Haggai 2:14, Zechariah 7:1-14, Nehemiah 13:1-31, and Malachi 1:1-4:6 do account of the decisive breaches of the Covenant according to the sins of the people and the corresponding repentances of God unto a recasting of the prophecies to be fulfilled in the Latter Days of a distant generation. In other words, the breached promises given especially to the 1st Restoration Generation live-on to be eventually fulfilled in the Messiah (), just like the breached promises that were authentically delivered to the and the .
What would have or should have been a full and complete fulfillment of divine foretelling in the 1st Restoration Generation was hindered because of the sin in the people. In a real sense, the primary adversary of the 1st Restoration Generation, Babylon (Zech. 2:4-5), would have organized Gog’s coalition for the invasion of Israel in an effort to thwart the glorious purposes of God being performed therein; that is, had not the people strayed from God in disobedience to the breaching of the prophetic vision. This climactic occasion never manifested in the same manner that the full prophetic scope of the King of Israel (the Branch) and the Temple (Ezekiel’s Temple) did materialize.
The prophet Zechariah bears witness to the overpassing of the 2nd Restoration Generation with regards to the aforementioned glories. In other words, Ezekiel 38-39 was breached, recalibrated, and recasted to the Last Days. Zechariah, being alive amidst this happening, was inspired to alter the former vision. For example, the physical and spiritual status of Jerusalem in Zechariah 1:17, 2:1-13, 8:4-5, & 12:6 is altogether glorious and in accordance with the soon-to-be situation foretold in Ezekiel 38-39 (all of which is in harmony with the witness of Isaiah 33:20, 44:26, Jer. 30:18-19, 24, 27, 38-40, 33:10-13, Ezek. 36:10-11, Micah 7:11), however, as formerly proven, because the Jews continued in disobedience the vision was radically altered in accordance with Zechariah 13:7-9 & 14:1-2. Evidently, after Israel falls into the hands of an Invader for yet another time, then God promises to secure Jerusalem from her cycles of constant destruction according to Zechariah 14:10-11 which is in harmony with the Ezekiel 38-39 (Revelation 20:1-10). Apparently, the divine protection foretold in Ezekiel 38 will be forfeited on account of the sins of the 1st Restoration Generation, according to Zechariah 13:7-9 & 14:1-2, and Israel will suffer another invasion and a subsequent captivity insomuch that when all is said and done two thirds of the Jews will die and only one third will remain alive.
This divine alteration to the prophetic vision (God in the Ways of Man) as a reaction to the sin of the Jews brings us to reckon with Daniel’s prophecies concerning the Beasts with specific reference to the ongoing destruction suffered by Jerusalem and what was then 2nd Temple Judaism. This ongoing disobedience of the Jews deserved another season of divine chastisement. Even so, God rose up another adversarial Beast to invade Israel & Judah over the 400-year period between Malachi and Matthew (Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria in the Greek Empire – Daniel 8:1-27 & 10:1-12:13), an adversary that God didn’t defend Israel from as was foretold in Ezekiel 38-39. Moreover, and because of continued disobedience, the 2nd Restoration Generation of the Jews in the 1st Century experienced the same thing. Lo and behold, yet another Beast (the Roman Empire – Daniel 2:31-49, 7:7-28, 9:24-27) arose to the hurt of the Jews and, once again, God didn’t defend Israel as was foretold in Ezekiel 38-39. My reader, this brings us to reckon with Jesus’ prophecies regarding Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-38, Luke 19:43-44, Matthew 24:15-31, Mark 13:14-31, & Luke 21:20-38. – all of which extend from and elaborate upon Zechariah 13:7-9, 14:1-2, & Daniel 9:26-27. Yet again, Rome (70 A.D.) was an adversary that God didn’t defend Israel from as was foretold in Ezekiel 38-39. Why? Apparently, Ezekiel 38-39 will be fulfilled at a later time… but, after Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. in accordance with Zechariah 13:7-9, 14:1-2, & Daniel 9:26-27, why wasn’t the glory of Zechariah 14 & Ezekiel 38-39 (in accordance with Revelation 20:1-10) fulfilled in the 2nd Restoration Generation? Well, one must remember that the 2nd Restoration Generation of the Jews fell short of the foretold vision, just like the 1st Restoration Generation, and therefore the vision was yet again breached, recalibrated, and recasted to the Last Days; moreover, with the inclusion of the Gentiles in a Covenant that was originally intended for the Jews, things crescendo into a greater and more glorious complexity of divine wisdom.
So, what is the moral of the story pertaining to the interpretation of Ezekiel 38-39? Ezekiel 38-39 was written before the fall of the 1st Restoration Generation and, consequentially, it was genuinely intended for them, therefore Ezekiel’s prophecy doesn’t take into consideration any additional prophecies that were added by Zechariah or echoed by Daniel (pertaining to the development of a recalibrated and recasted vision of future events), and later elaborated upon by Jesus and harmonized by the apostle John (who incorporate yet another recalibration of the vision). In the same manner, and for the same reasons, Ezekiel 40-48 does not take into consideration (foresee or comment upon) the making of a New Covenant, a sinless Prince, an everlasting Priesthood after the order of Melchisedec, and an end to the sacrificial system of animals for atonement. Contextually, these prophecies were fundamentally altered with the breach of the 1st Restoration Generation (& the 2nd Restoration Generation), which means that they will be fulfilled in a recasted vision that will transpire in the Last Days. Consequentially, we need to rely upon the witness of Biblical Prophecy in its entirety to discover the mysterious fulfillment of these foretold events. This proves the point that things are not as simple as they appear at first reading. Hence, a plain reading of Ezekiel 38-39 can be misleading because the whole counsel of what is chronologically foretold isn’t rehearsed in this text and is intentionally detailed elsewhere.