Notes on Ezekiel 39:17-29

Ezekiel 39:17‑29  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 11
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Next a message of remarkable force is sent through the prophet to all birds and beasts of prey. Now is their time for a feast on a sacrifice such as they have never had before nor can have again. Vast hosts have been decimated, and the rest dispersed or taken, where they failed to make good their retreat; but has the world seen such a slaughter as this? It is assuredly to come.
“And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, 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. And 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 ye shall be filled at My table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord Jehovah” (vss. 17-20).
If Jehovah invites to a great sacrifice for the creatures of prey, will He not make good the word? A similar call is made in Revelation 19:17-18, but there only to all the birds that fly in mid-heaven. It is in view of the carnage which is to befall the armies of the west at the end of this age; and I suppose only the birds are named as in keeping with the judgment of the apostates from the heavenly testimony of Christianity. Here it is larger, as His dealings take effect on the countless eastern hordes, who have not only despised the gospel but seek to possess themselves of the land when His earthly people are being settled there in peace. No mistake can be more glaring than the denial of these judgments on the quick before the reign of the Lord as the true Solomon here below; no truth more evident in the word of God than that the gospel is not destined to put down all rule and all authority and power, but Christ Himself when He comes in glory. In title all things have been put under His feet as He sits on the throne of God; but the process of putting all His enemies under His feet is not yet begun. He is occupied with another work now; He is calling out the joint-heirs who are to be glorified, risen or changed, at His coming, and then to reign together with Him in His kingdom. And this active subjecting of all is not the work of heavenly grace, but of power put forth on earth, of course not always in destruction, though the kingdom opens and closes with it on an immense scale, as we see here and in Revelation 20:8-9.
The moral effect of the judgment executed on Gog and his host we find afterward: “And I will set My glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see My judgment that I have executed, and My hand that I have laid upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am Jehovah their God from that day and forward. And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against Me, therefore hid I My face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid My face from them” (vss. 21-24). The gospel meanwhile if believed puts souls in association with Christ for heaven. The sight of the judgments will be used by the Lord to teach the nations righteousness on earth. Israel too need to learn, and so they will, that He who so deals is Jehovah their God “from that day and forward” (v. 22). It will be plain and undeniable in that day that Israel went into captivity for nothing but their iniquity; that for this only did Jehovah withdraw His favor from them and give them up to the sword of their enemies. It is His retribution that explains their past history with all its sorrows.
But there is a bright future in prospect for Israel: I do not speak of the gospel or the church, where there is neither Jew nor Greek, but of the kingdom on earth when Israel shall be restored to their land, and have the first place among the nations in favor, peace, righteousness, and the manifested power and glory of Jehovah. “Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for My holy name; after that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against Me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; then shall they know that I am Jehovah their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide My face any more from them: for I have poured out My Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah” (vss. 25-29).
It may be observed here as a practical remark of much moment for souls that, if the New Testament is to be believed, God never hides His face from the Christian; and this because the believer possessing eternal life in Christ is now brought into the full efficacy of His sacrifice, and has the Holy Ghost dwelling in him as its continual witness. We accordingly anticipate in this what will be true of Israel by-and-by, instead of standing on the probationary ground of Israel's past. But the traditional unbelief of Christendom puts souls so as to cloud the true grace of God wherein we stand; and this alike among Protestants and Catholics, while the latter add the further error of antedating and appropriating to the church that place of earthly honor, and ease which is reserved for Israel under the Messiah when the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. Some Protestants indeed are so dark as to follow Romanists even in this error, though they in general put it before them as a millennial hope rather than as a present claim. But assume it as they may, the effect of the error is to degrade the church from heaven to earth, and either to deny the hopes of Israel or to make those who hold it inconsistent if they own them.
We may add that, though the Spirit is assuredly to be poured out on Israel when the new age begins, there will be no baptizing the saints then into one body. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). So in Colossians it is laid down that “Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11) and in Ephesiaans that the middle wall of partition is broken down, and the two formed in Himself into one new man (Eph. 2:13-15). But it will not be so then here below. On the contrary, in the millennium the Jewish saints will be in a nearer and more honored position than the Gentiles on the earth. It is a state in contrast with the assembly now, where such distinctions are unknown: the cross has ended them for heaven.