What does it say?
Ezekiel 37 is the well-known vision of the valley of dry bones. It’s been ten years since Jerusalem’s fall and the exiles in Babylon have lost hope. Ezekiel’s graphic vision sees a united Israel under a new David, the Messiah. The nation of dead skeletons will be revived, redeemed and restored by the grace of God. What God says he will do for Israel is also his plan for all the peoples of the world (37:26-28).
Chapters 38 and 39 are an apocalyptic vision of tribulation in the end times. The names Magog, Meshech, Tubal and Japheth (Noah’s son) are prominent names in this prophecy, impossible to identify specifically with contemporary nations. We do know that these are the ancestors of the Indo-European peoples from the Black Sea/Caucasus area. Ezekiel foresees a massive invasion of these peoples from the north led by a figure called here Gog, perhaps a personification of the cosmic forces of evil. God himself will take on and destroy these forces. In John’s Revelation, he will use the names of Gog and Magog to represent all those who oppose God and his kingdom in the last great battle led by Satan in the end time.
What does it mean?
There is a great temptation to get lost in the details of biblical prophecy and then lose sight of the mission itself. There have been many desperate and passionate attempts to identify the players of Ezekiel 38 and 39 and to map out and diagram in a very literal sense all the details as they may play out in the future. Opinions, theories and ideas tend to chance with each generation and changing political climate.
Jesus said that it would be impossible to determine the day or hour of his coming. The focus that he imparted to his disciples was one of mission and readiness, not the need to figure out all of the details of things to come. What we know with absolute certainty is Jesus’ promise to return and establish his kingdom. Seeing prophecies of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ came seem at times to be far removed from our everyday reality. Remember that faithful God followers shortly before Jesus’ birth had the same prophecies of his birth, but that they also seemed far removed from daily life – until he came. And when he came, it was nothing like anyone had imagined or interpreted biblical prophecies to mean.
How will I respond?
How should the promise of Christ’s Second Coming affect the way I live? Can I give three practical ways today in which Christ’s promise to come to again should affect my daily reality?