Monday, January 28, 2008

America Must Pray: Helen Jackson

Helen Jackson was a neighbor of the agnostic Emily Dickinson. Helen, along with other women in the post-Civil War era. was a champion of ensuring that children were properly taught to turn to God in prayer. By the end of the nineteen century that cry became louder and louder. Mrs. Jackson pushed forward this idea.
Jackson wrote during this period one of the most heartrending prayers of that day. The prayer, entitled "A Last Prayer," penned at the end of her life, expressed and bemoaned the fact that during her lifetime she should have done more for the Lord than she did. The prayer, published far and wide, was based somewhat on the Beatitudes.

Father, I scarcely dare to pray,
So clear I see, now it is done,
How I have wasted half my day,
And left my work but just begun.
So clear I see that things I thought
Were right or harmless, were instead a sin
So clear I see that I have sought,
Unconscious, selfish aims to win;
So clear I see that I have hurt
The souls I might have helped to save,
That I have slothful been, inert,
Deaf to the cries the wandering lost gave.

This prayer was often read from pulpits across America. Later while living in Colorado Springs she wrote a book entitled Ramona. The book pointed out the spiritually lost condition of American Indians.

America Must Pray: Fanny Crosby

Struck by a rare inflammation of the eyes, Fanny became blind by a doctor who botched the operation to cure her. The blindness was permanent. But Fanny would not let this loss of sight limit her and she soon became a literary author to be reckoned with. She was celebrated as a poetess by Presidents Martin Van Buren and James K. Polk. Her work was often published in the New York Tribune. Fanny also influenced President Grover Cleveland when he was a young man working as a secretarial clerk at the New York Institute for the Blind, where she was a teacher.
At the age of thirty-eight, Fanny married Alexander Van Alstyne, a blind and gifted organist and composer. He wrote the music to many of her poems which totaled at the end of her life to be nine thousand numbers. Her first major success came with the publication of "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior" in 1864, just before the end of the Civil War.

Pass me not, O Gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou are smiling,
Do not pass me by.

Let me at a throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief;
Kneeling there in deep contrition
Help my unbelief.

This song became one of the most often used to appeal to sinners at revival meetings. No one can sing it without tears coming up in the eyes!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Greek Exegesis of the Raptures Passages, James 5:7-8, 9b


James is probably the oldest of our New Testament books (circa. 45 AD). When he writes about the coming of the Lord is he speaking about the Second Coming or the Rapture of the church? James, as does the apostle Paul, uses the Greek word for "coming" parousia. This word can be used of both the Second Coming and the Rapture. CONTEXT, CONTEXT determines how the word is used. We don't build a doctrine simply on the word itself; context is extremely important.

Free Greek Translation:
Be waiting steadfastly then, until the time of the visitation arrives. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the ground, waiting patiently concerning it, until he receives the early and late rains. You too, be waiting steadfastly, firmly stabilize your emotions, because the visitation of the Lord has progressively been drawing nearer. … Behold, the Judge, as it were, even now is approaching the door.

James 5:7
BE PATIENT. (makrothumeo) The word is used as an Aorist Imperative and could be translated "You start being patient …" The word means to "be forbearing." A.T. Robertson calls this a Constative Aorist and might be translated "Start right now waiting steadfastly" for the coming of the Lord, for the parousia. The YOU is in reference to the church saints of James' day, therefore, the injunction is still applicable to us now. WE are to be so anticipating the coming of the Lord. Since the rapture is the next event on God's calendar for the church, this could happen at any time, day or night! The rapture then is imminent.

UNTIL THE COMING OF THE LORD. The until (eos) is a particle used as a temporal conjunction that denotes the end of a period of time. This church age is going to end, but meanwhile, the church saints are to be waiting, anticipating for it to close with the coming of Christ for His own—the rapture! The instruction then is: "Be waiting steadfastly until the time of the visitation of the Lord arrives."

The parousia is actually two Greek words put together: para=to be alongside and ousia which is a participial form of the Greek verb "to be," eimi. Thus: being alongside, coming alongside, the arrival, visitation.

BEHOLD THE FARMER … By using the patience of the farmer who must wait for the rains to come, James makes a parallel concerning the believers who must wait for the paraousia. The rapture could have happened in the life-time of James' readers and they are to wait for it expectantly. The word "wait" is an old Greek verb meaning "to have eager expectation."
God has kept secret the time of the rapture of the church. But this is still to be a great "expectation" because this world is not the home of the child of God. And to go home should be a truth that both inspires and excites, and, causes a proper perspective to be placed on living life.

James 5:8
YOU TOO BE PATIENT. This is the third time James has mentioned patience and the second time he has used the same Aorist Imperative form. Barnes writes:

In due time, as [the farmer] expects the return of the rain, so you may anticipate deliverance from your trials. Let your purposes and your faith be firm and unwavering. Do not become weary and fretful; but bear with constancy all that is laid upon you, until the time of your deliverance shall come.

STRENGTHEN YOUR HEARTS. Strengthen is from the word sterizo that we get the word steroids, with the basic idea "to strengthen." At its root it means "to fix, to make fast, get a firm footing, be firmly set, situated." (Liddell & Scott) In most cases "hearts" (kardia) refers to the emotional state. "Stabilize firmly your emotions" as you hold out and wait eagerly for the coming arrival of the Master!

IS AT HAND. (egizo) This is actually two words put together, en=in and hand. This is a verb here used with the Perfect Active Indicative. It should read: "The coming of the Lord has come right up to the present, and 'is in the hand,' thus certain and sure to take place." (As the figure of speech: A bird in hand) It is getting closer but it has not arrived, it is absolutely certain to take place. It is "in the vicinity, close by." Kiddell & Scott translate this "to be imminent, to bring near, bring up to, to be at the point of, approximate …"

James 5:9b
THE JUDGE IS STANDING AT THE DOOR. Better, "The Judge has taken up a position, been stationed, has come right up to, the door!" Another Perfect Tense indicating that the Judge has arrived at the door but has not entered or knocked! Therefore this is a rapture passage. This arrival is both Imminent and Immediate. Barnes says, "He is, as it were, even now approaching the door."

CONCLUSION. In view of the hope (anticipation) of Christ's soon return, believers should cease the petty conflicts to which James alluded to … God's children should be on guard for Christ's return. In so doing, good behavior and mutual harmony are essential. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


When it comes to the issue of the literal millennial reign of Christ as King in Israel, the Covenant and amillennial guys are almost heretical. They deny the Lord's coming literal reign on earth for a thousand years in Jerusalem. This is contradictory to what all the prophets teach and what is indicated in the Gospels and the book of Revelation. So, are those who "spiritualize" the Second Coming heretics?

First, let's look at what they say.

One of the Covenant guys, Louis Berkhof, wrote a book entitled Principles of Biblical Interpretation. Concerning prophecy he says that

we must realize that occasionally the prophets transcended their historical and dispensational limitations, and spoke in forms that pointed to a more spiritual dispensation in the future. In some cases the prophetic horizon was enlarged, they sense something of the passing character of the old forms, and gave ideal descriptions of the blessings of the New Testament Church. "(Bold mine)

Now where in the world does that happen in the Old Testament? I don't know!

In his A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, Covenant guy Robert Reymond goes about mixing apples and raw eggs in a yucky interpretative fruit bowl! With a kind of prophetic blindness, Reymond writes,

The multiethnic expansion of the church is fulfilling the predicted "rebuilding of the fallen house of David" (Acts 15:13-17)" (p. 1009). And he adds, "In Messiah Jesus' coming the messianic kingdom apparently had also already become, in some sense, a present reality" (p. 1010).

WRONG! The promise of an earthly messianic reign, with the Jewish nation, from Jerusalem, is still going to happen in a very literal and historic way!

Besides the above amillennial statements above that are wrong, we have Post-millennial comments by theologians like A.H. Strong who believes the church is making things better and better which will usher in the millennial kingdom. He writes virtually heresy: when he says:

Through the preaching of the gospel in all the world, this kingdom of Christ is steadily to enlarge its boundaries, until Jews and Gentiles alike become possessed of its blessings, and a millennial period is introduced in which Christianity generally prevails throughout the earth (Systematic Theology, p. 1008). (Bold mine)

Post-millennialism believes the church is doing such a great job that soon the entire world will be "Christian-ized." Then Christ comes back and begins to reign in the kingdom/church that has won the world for Him.

The problem with both views, the no-kingdom amillennialism, and the we're-making-it-all-better view is that both concepts are WRONG and they are NOT BIBLICAL! But this seems to not bother proponents of both views. Does this violent trashing of the Scriptures somehow, in some way, become heresy?

The Greek word for Heresy

The Greek word for heretic is hairesis. Titus 3:10 defines a heretic: "A man that is a hairetikos "is one who denies true doctrine. To rewrite the concept of Christ's Second Coming, to misplace it, to allegorize it, and to redefine the kingdom, is heresy! This then also gets rid of Christ as King, specifically as Israel's Messiah (Anointed One) and Sovereign who is to reign on earth, not in the church in some false spiritualized way! To do a cover up on the idea of Christ as King, the opponents of Scripture will say, "well yes, but He is now reigning in your hearts!" This is not the way the word is used in both the Old and New Testaments!

To grasp some importance of Christ as the Son of David, the coming Anointed Ruler over Israel, we need to look slowly and carefully at the story of the Canaanite woman's statements in Matthew 15:21-28. She was an outcast from the nation of Israel, a Gentile living in the regions of Tyre and Sidon (v. 21).

The woman's daughter was "cruelly" demon-possessed so she came to Christ and cried out: "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David" (v. 22). Though the woman was a Gentile she knew her Old Testament theology, and she knew how God was working in Israel to bring forth the future King of that nation.

What Really Was Said!

(1) When she said "Have mercy on me" she was alluding to the fact that Israel's King could heal. She got that from Isaiah 53:4 where it says "Surely our griefs He (the Suffering Servant) Himself will bear, and our sorrows He will carry." This is interpreted in Matthew 8:17 that He will both cast out spirits and heal. Jesus does not counter her statement and say: "Well, I'm not going to be a King as you expect. My Father will replace the Church with Israel. You are mistaken!"

(2) When the woman said "O Lord!" she was referring to Psalm 110:1 where the Messiah will someday be seated in heaven on His Father's throne waiting for "His enemies to be made His footstool." Lord is definitely messianic but more! It implies the fact that the Messiah is deity in that He is given the same title "Lord" as God the Father! The woman certainly did not understand all of the theological ramifications of this but she did know her facts from the Old Testament!

(3) Then the woman cries out "Son of David"! This definitely implies His future Kingship over the nation of Israel and over the entire world. He will come back someday dramatically and reign from Jerusalem in a very historic and literal way. This Kingship cannot be "spiritualize," or allegorized, or made in some way to go away, with somehow the nation of Israel poofed into the Church!


Finally, what is even more important is that Christ did not "correct" the woman's preconceptions about His kingly office, His nature as deity (Lord), nor His ability to heal. The Lord gave her an A in what she said! He did no refute her beliefs, but instead, He commended them and said her "faith was great" (v. 28). The faith was first placed in who Jesus was, and then in the fact that He could heal her daughter.

Studying this passage carefully you cannot arrive at Replacement Theology and get rid of the coming Millennial Kingdom of Christ whereby He will rule on earth, in history, over Israel. Replacement Theology then has to be heretical!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

America Must Pray - Daniel C. Roberts

Roberts (1841-1907) was an Episcopal priest who would make the greatest impact in American hymnology. Brandon, Vermont was holding this nation's centennial celebration. For the occasion Roberts wrote a prayer and a poem known as "God of Our Fathers."

Later, the country's greatest organist, George Warren, put the verses to music. It was premiered at the national conference of the Episcopal Church of the U.S. and published as the "National Hymn."

God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies,
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.
Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast;
Be Thou our ruler, guardian, guide, and stay.
Thy word be our law, Thy paths our chosen way.

As a youngster and a teenager, I can remember this beautiful hymn sung often in school assemblies by the school chorus. All the students would stand and join in. Could this song be sung today in our public school assemblies? I doubt it! What a departure this nation has taken!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ameria Must Pray - Sherman's March to the Sea

It was 1864 and near the end of the Civil War and Sherman was making his sixty mile march to the sea. To end the war quickly Sherman was using a scorched earth policy destroying everything in his path. While the destruction was terrible this tactic would end the conflict soon.

As they marched many of the regimental bands were playing "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow." The men sang the song as they marched along; the song they had heard in their churches back home. Unwittingly Sherman would write in his diary a line that would later become another most popular hymn: "God will take care of them." In the same diary he would make a statement that would become known for decades: "War is hell."

In the South, General Robert E. Lee took every moment to encourage his men to pray. He would often dismount his horse and join his troops in their prayer meetings.

In the weeks after the Battle of Gettysburg, when Jefferson Davis, as he had on so many other occasions, called on the Confederacy to observe a day of "fasting, humiliation, and prayer." General Lee sent out order to his men that "all military duties except those absolutely necessary be suspended" on that day.

Both men were believers and men of prayer and fasting. How strange it is that this war pitted Christian against Christian!

American Must Pray - Julia Ward Howe

Julia was the daughter of a wealthy New York banker. She was exposed to many hymns that had come across the sea from England such as "Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus," "Rock of Ages," and "Onward Christian Soldiers." As a writer and poet from New England, Mrs. Howe wanted to contribute something to the war effort. A pastor by the name of James Clark suggested some of the new words she had written as a poem/prayer be turned into a song using the melody of the familiar "John Brown’s Body." Mrs. Howe wrote all night long and by dawn the final words had come to her.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea;
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me;
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

This became known as The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Greek Exegesis of the Rapture Passages, John 14:1-3


These verses are part of what is called the Upper Room Discourse in which the Lord spoke in an intimate way to His disciples just before His arrest, trials, and crucifixion. Almost all scholars recognize these verses as referring in an initial or primitive description of the doctrine of the rapture. It must be remembered that Christ's disciples will enter the dispensation of the church with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. So therefore the Lord could possibly have come to remove them as members of the church in a dramatic way from the earth and they would not have experienced death.

The time of the rapture is kept in the recesses of the mind of the Lord. Believers, including the apostles, have (or had) no idea as to when the rapture could take place. Obviously it has not yet arrived and we all continue to wait for this great miraculous event called in Scripture "the Blessed Hope."

It must be remembered that the rapture is the removal of believers in this dispensation from the earth before the terrible Day of Tribulation, Day of Wrath, arrives upon the world. The rapture could take place at anytime. The Bible clearly teaches that this is an imminent, "any time" event. No one knows the time of its happening.

Free Greek Translation:

Let not the heart of each of you be disturbed. All of you together are believing in God, in the same way, all of you continue to trust in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places, but if not, I would have told you; because I go to prepare a room for you [to live in]. And if I am going and prepare a room for you, I will be coming again and take you along [to My own home], that where I am, I and you [together].

John 14:1

HEART. (kardia) Refers to the disciples' emotional disturbance when Jesus said that one would "betray Me" (13:21). Or better, their emotional anxiety could have come about when He said "Where I go, you cannot follow Me now" (v. 36). While they heard Him speak of His death they could not at this given moment process this as an actual event about to take place!

LET NOT BE TROUBLED. (tarasso) A Present Passive Imperative. "Let not the heart of you be continually anxious, troubled." The disciples were very much troubled. It is not improbable that they felt that His death would demolish all their schemes, for they had not yet fully learned the doctrine that the Messiah must suffer and die. (Barnes)

BELIEVE IN GOD, BELIEVE ALSO IN ME. (pisteuo) Both believes are Present Active in Greek. Some scholars think the first "believe" is a Present Active Indicative, or simply a statement, but that the second "believe" is a Command, an Imperative. If this is so, the whole passage could read:

Let not your heart be constantly troubled. All of you together are believing in God, in the same way, all of you be believing in Me!

Hendrikson opposes this view in favor of the position that both of these verbs (believe) are Commands, Imperatives. This would be in harmony with the entire discourse and falls in line with the first Imperative statement "Let not your hearts any longer be troubled." Though they had faith, that faith was beginning to waver. Hence (using the continuance Present Imperative) Jesus was saying, "Continue to trust!"

John 14:2


This house could not be the location of the earthly Kingdom in which Jesus will reign. Jesus is going now, in the historical context of His death, to His Father's house in glory. He will come for His own and take them back to a location He has prepared. This, then is a rapture passage. He does not return to stay but to catch away those who are in the body of Christ, believers in the Church age, including the disciples. That is, if possibly the rapture could have happened while the disciples were alive. Christ's statement stands as an event, an imminent happening, with a present hope and anticipation. Though no one knows for sure they are in that generation when the rapture takes place, in which they do not die but are transformed and immediately given a new glorified body!

MANY DWELLING PLACES. (mona) A "dwelling place, room" (Arndt & Gingrich) related to the verb monazo which means "to live alone, to separate oneself." Also, the Greek word monos means "only, alone." What Jesus is saying is "a secure place of your own, yet a place in the presence of the heavenly Father." "I will take you there and fellowship together with you!"

Many (pollai) is a plural but it expresses that there will be a multitude of personal dwellings for the saints. There will be in heaven room for all, but yet personal accommodations for all those who belong to Christ!

FOR I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU. With the For (hoti) Jesus is explaining what He will be doing for those who are His.

"I am going to specifically make ready, definitely prepare, accomplish, set up (Aorist Tense) (Arndt & Gingrich) a "place, room" (topos) for you to stay and live in. In the Father's house there is an abiding-place for all. There is no risk that this heavenly house will be overcrowded. The revelation implies a home for all. (Commentary on the Whole Bible)

The picture is of one (Christ) who goes on a journey, and going before, prepares a place for his companions to come and lodge in. He goes to make necessary preparations. For the saints of the coming Church, Christ secures their admission there in heaven, and obtains for them the blessings of eternal life. (Barnes)

John 14:3

IF I GO. (Aorist Active Subjunctive) If I go does not imply uncertainty, but expresses that the fact is in the realm of the future. (Ellicott) Christ is now unfolding this truth to His immediate disciples but it is definitely applicable to future Church saints as well. These disciples will be the first of the Church believers as they enter the new dispensation in Acts 2.

The If (ean) is in the third class condition and is describing a future condition. It expresses that which is not taking place now but will take place in the future. (Summers)

I WILL PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU. This is a Future Active Indicative of etiomazo. "If I am going, then I will prepare a place for you."

I WILL COME AGAIN. "Again, I am coming." "By context, and because of the 'again' this should be taken as a Future Present. A definite promise." (A. T. Robertson, Vincent) "This use of a Present Tense denotes an event which has not yet occurred, but which is regarded as so certain that in thought it may be contemplated as already coming to pass." (Dana & Mantey) This is not the Second Coming of Christ arriving to reign on earth. It is the rapture of the Church to "receive believers unto Himself."

I WILL RECEIVE YOU TO MYSELF. The Greek word paralambano is a compound of para=along side, and lambano=to receive. Thus "to bring alongside." The verb is in a Future Middle Indicative. The Middle Voice is a reflexive. "I will do this Myself!" "I shall take you along to My own home." (A. T. Robertson, Vincent) He comes to get us and takes up back to heaven! This then is a rapture passage. See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

I Thessalonians 4:17b reads:

Likewise, always together with the Lord we shall be!

John 14:1-3 is a rapture passage because …

  1. The passage anticipates the dispensation of the Church which the disciples enter following the giving of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. John 14:1-3 could have taken place while the disciples were alive and they would have been transformed physically and taken home to be with Christ in glory. But they died (and their souls were taken to heaven), so Christ's coming will bring their spirits and souls back for the resurrection, the granting of a new and eternal body!
  2. John 14:1-3 is not painting a picture of the coming judgment of the Son of Man, the Messiah. This passage instead is an intimate picture of a personal blessing for the Church saints.
  3. All commentators believe the "house" is heaven. Thus the Lord is not here simply coming back to earth to judge. Something else is going on.
  4. To be where He is, as given in these verses plus I Thessalonians 4:13-18, implies a being with Him, existing in the new body, changed by the rapture of the Church saints just prior to the coming of the tribulation, the Day of the Lord!

Some years ago I worked on translating all of the passages in the New Testament on the doctrine of the rapture of the church saints. Besides the grammar work I did, I consulted the best of the classical grammarians. I was surprised to see so many who called these passages "rapture" passages, though with their philosophy of amillennialism, they did not know what to do with the verses or where to put them in the order of biblical prophecy. I trust this study will bless all those who have a longing for the Lord's return to carry the Church away before the terrible days of the worldwide tribulation.

Monday, January 14, 2008

America Must Pray - Emily Dickinson

Dickinson was born into an orthodox Congregational family in Amherst, Massachusetts. She would be a product of the changes that swept over the nation following the Civil War. As a young girl Dickinson was familiar with the great hymns of New England but still, she became more and more a restless agnostic. She went into a search for clues to the existence and nature of God. She still had times of prayer and introspections in her poetry. But she went on an evolutionary journey to find spirituality.

Early in her life, she experienced what she thought was a sudden conversion that brought her communion with the great God. She felt for a while that He would listen to her prayers. But in time, she said her experiences had been a figment of her overactive imagination, she realized her spiritual journey was far from over.

At the female seminary Mount Holyoke she joined a prayer group though she refused to be force-fed religious belief. She was self-willed and free-spirited, and when visited by one of the school's spiritual monitors she would not be pinned down as to her beliefs.

In a sense her poems did not make sense, probably because of her own inner spiritual confusion. In fifty-five years she wrote seventeen hundred poems with only seven published in her lifetime. In the end of her days, she began to wear all-white clothing, resolved to continue her search for personal spiritual discovery. She said of prayer that it was only "the little implement through which men reach where the presence [of God] is denied them." With Dickinson God was a distant and unfeeling stranger and yet remained a curiosity who might indeed by the ultimate power and authority! To the end she showed an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and for understanding God and the universe.

But there is little evidence that she truly searched the divine revelation of Scripture nor truly understood true salvation found only in Christ.

Dickinson was a product of her age. The intellectual movement of the transcendentalists, the lingering psychological scars of the War, and Darwin's work on evolution made prior notions of God seem dated and out of focus for her. Se appeared to swim in the recesses of her mind's search for a higher, spiritual truth. Saddened that she was not more firmly anchored spiritually, she wrote:

Savior! I've no one else to tell—
And so I trouble thee.
I am the one who forgot thee so—
Dost thou remember me?

America Must Pray - President Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln was born in 1809 in Kentucky just a few miles from where the Second Great Awakening revivals had started in 1801. Lincoln's Godly mother had steeped him in both the Old and New Testaments. From this he learned early to trust in the absolute "will of God." Too, this early experience in the Scriptures often drove him to prayer. He wrote, "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go."

Lincoln was self-educated. As a young boy he would often walk for miles to borrow books to read. He had a certain ambition within himself, studied for the bar, and received his law certificate. He was a laid back but fairly successful attorney. He became a state representative but it is true that early on he lost almost every election he first ran in.

His oratory made him a man who was both hated and loved. While not eloquent in speaking he spoke directly his home-spun common sense to the average man.

As the President of the United States, the burden of the War would progressively drive him closer and closer to trusting the Lord. He detested denominational squabbling and fights and generally stayed away from organized churches. However in the latter years of the War, Lincoln became more and more in tune to the Christian life. He would often have a Godly Presbyterian minister come to the White House and hold Sunday services. With the burden of his extremely emotional and often unstable wife Mary, and with the death of a young son, Lincoln had to learn more and more to fall back on God's providence. He realized the Lord had placed him in his position as President for the terrible times he was living through.

When Lincoln left Springfield, Illinois to take up the office of the Presidency, and with the War looming on the horizon, he told his friends, "Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell."

When possible during the War, Lincoln would write to a widow who had lost a son. To a Mrs. Bixby he wrote:

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement,
and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.

Lincoln four times during the War called for days of national humiliation and contrition for the sins of the nation. He spoke of how the people had sinned that helped bring on this terrible conflict. He was actually seen more than once on his knees in his office weeping before God. At no time, even in the depths of the War, did Lincoln ever question the motives, the wisdom, or the goodness of God. His prayers were those of wonderment, entreaty, and resignation. His only musings about God were confined to conjecturing what his Maker must think of the way America's Christians justified their actions and purposes.

In Lincoln's short but powerful Gettysburg Address, he mentions God, the Bible, and prayer, some fourteen times. And at least twice he refers to the purposes and the providence of God. Toward the close he made this famous statement: "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." Frederick Douglas called his message "more like a sermon than a state paper."

Lincoln kept with him, and read it everyday, The Believer's Daily Treasure. Each day he read a verse from it, inscribed some spiritual thoughts and a prayer. On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, the entry for the day was: "Search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and they are they, which testify of Me" (John 5:39).

When Lincoln was dead, even his critics realized what the nation had lost. Even in the South there was to a large degree mourning for the loss of this great man. There has never been such a spiritual President as Abraham Lincoln!

America Must Pray - Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

No Confederacy general spoke more about prayer than Stonewall Jackson. He became known as "Stonewall" after the First Battle of Bull Run when he stood up in front of enemy fire like "a stone wall." During the War he was recognized as a great tactician and military commander, but also, as an outstanding and consistent Christian. He believed, taught, and lived by, the absolute sovereignty of God that worked and caused all things for His great good!

Jackson took the Bible seriously and he took daily prayer as a serious matter. He often quoted Paul who urged "pray without ceasing." He once told a West Point classmate, "I can no more forget prayer than to forget to drink when I am thirsty."

During the War Jackson would often stop and raise his hands and turn his eyes towards heaven, pray and ask for a blessing. He would pray over wounded or dead soldiers. For those still alive he would pray that the Lord would save their souls.

In God's mysterious providence Jackson was mortally wounded by a shot from his own troops. Within days he was dead of pneumonia, having had his injured arm removed by an army surgeon. He was incredibly calm in the face of death. His death turned into a spiritual crisis for the Confederacy. Many southerners could not understand how such a pious, praying individual could be taken from them in such a needless way.

Those attending his funeral heard for the first time the playing of "Taps." No one knew that this haunting tune was written by a Union general and his bugler just ten months earlier!

Ezekiel 38-39 The Rabbinical Teaching on:The Coming Russian Invasion of Israel

From the fall of 2007 onward, the Middle East more and more looks like smoldering kindling ready to burst into a full blown conflagration. This part of the world, whether there is some sort of temporary semblance of peace or not, will never be the same. The Islamic near-target is Israel, but the far-target is America. Whether the fire will burst forth soon or with some delay is not known.

The catalytic cause of the conflagration will probably be about oil, but the hidden spiritual cause is the hatred of God’s people—the Jews. Yet, whatever takes place is because God is the ultimate Author of these events for His judgments.

Without question, through many seen and unseen twists and turns, things will lead to the fulfillment of what the Bible has to say about the end-times. Ezekiel 38-39 is part of that predicted story. And it appears we are getting closer to its fulfillment!


Author: Ezekiel. Name means "God will strengthen."
Role: Prophet and Priest, whose father’s name was Buzi (1:3).
Exiled: Was taken from Jerusalem to Babylon with the second deportation that took place under king Nebuchadnezzar along with the Judean king Jehoiachin in 597 B.C.
Where he lived: In his own house at Tel-Abib near the river Chebar, a canal that was part of the Euphrates River.
Time of ministry: From 593 B.C. to around 560 B.C. (Jerusalem destroyed in 586 B.C.)
Babylonian kings: Nebuchadnezzar . Evil-Merodach
Prophet contemporaries: Jeremiah and Daniel
Prophesied to those back in Jerusalem: (16:2; 21:2; 22:2)

  • The Jews will be regathered into their own land (v. 21).
  • They will no longer be two nations but one in the land (v. 22).
  • The New Covenant will be in place: The eternal covenant of peace (v. 26).
  • They will be cleansed from their sins (v. 23).
  • They will be God’s people; He will be their God (v. 23).
  • God’s servant David will be their prince, king, and shepherd (vv. 24, 25). David will be resurrected!
  • God’s dwelling-place, God’s Presence (the Shekinah) with be with His people again in Jerusalem (v. 27).
  • God’s sanctuary, the temple, with be in their midst (v. 26, 28).
  • The nations will know God has sanctified Israel (v. 28).



38:1-6 The invading nations
38:7-9 The invasion itself
38:10-13 The rationale for the invasion
38:14-16 The trauma of the invasion
38:17-23 God’s judgment for the invasion
39:1-8 God’s anger with the invasion
39:9-20 The destruction with the invasion
39:21-24 God’s glory recognized
39:25-29 Israel blessed following the invasion


Rabbinical comments: Chapter 37 closes with the assurance that Israel will ultimately be restored back to the land of his fathers. The land will become the permanent abode of the Divine Presence, the Shekinah. This restoration, however, will not pass unchallenged. Formidable armies from the extreme north under the leadership of Gog will invade Israel after his return.

But the invasion by Gog and his confederates, which had been predicted by former prophets (see 38:17), would end in the utter destruction of their forces. No specific date is given. The character of these two chapters is definitely prophetic and relates to the far-off future, the advent of the Messiah, indicated by the phrase in the last days (v. 16).

After the victory, peace and security will be established in Israel forever, the Sovereignty of God reasserted and His holy name sanctified throughout the world. (Soncino Rabbinical Commentary on Ezekiel)

[Important: all scholars agree that the events of Ezekiel 38-39 have never happened in Middle Eastern history. The conclusion is that it is definitely a future event!]

38:1-6 The Invading Nations

38:2 Ezekiel is told to face (north) and speak to Gog of the land of Magog.

"Gog is the leader of a hostile army that comes against Israel before the coming of the Messiah." (Rabbinical) The Ma of Magog is a Coptic word that means place thus "of the land of the place of Gog." Gog could be a person but Fairbairn holds to the view that Magog would automatically denote the people, with the land, thus representing both land and people.

Gog is clearly a unique name formed by Ezekiel from the word Magog.

In Rabbinic literature Gog and Magog are frequently referred to as the leaders of a hostile army [that comes] against Israel before the coming of the Messiah. … The Palestinian Talmud identifies Magog with Gothia, the land of the Goths. Josephus associates the Magogites with the Scythians, the ancestors of the Gothians who inhabited the region of the Caucasus mountains. (Soncino, Ezekiel)

Prince (Nasi) of Rosh could well be a person, but the Rosh could refer to a people known as the Ros, or Rhos, or the people referred to as the Russi, or Russians. Nasi then could relate to the collective leadership. Whichever, Meshech and Tubal is a definite reference to the Moschi and Tibareni of the regions about the Caucasus Mountain area. The Moschi "seem to have formed the chief population in Cappadocia down to classical times. … These peoples are northern tribes; and Jerome gives it as the opinion of the Jews in his day, that Magog was a general name for the numerous Scythian tribes." (Fairbairn)

"Long before Russia rose to its present state of power [men] foresaw its role in history." (Lindsey) "Informed citizens of Judah were probably aware of the existence of these peoples in the far north, but their knowledge of them must have been based on second and third hand reports. … The peoples in the distant north were shrouded in mystery. The reports of these mysterious people groups that filtered down spoke of wild peoples, brutal and barbaric." (Block, Commentary)

38:3 I am against you. The word against is actually "toward" in the sense that God is facing them, coming at them (him), to lead them to destruction! "What Ezekiel envisions is actually a duel between Yahweh and Gog. … The emphasis is on Yahweh’s direct and deliberate manipulation of Gog, calling him into the fray, and announcing the military strategy he is to pursue." (Block, Commentary)

38:4 I will turn you about. The description of weaponry is that of ancient times. This would be expected of an ancient prophet who would not be able to explain tanks, etc., and modern machinery. On this verse Block says, "Gog’s forces are not only well dressed but also well armed. … The portrait is that of a superbly equipped force, fearfully efficient against unsuspecting targets."

Keil notes that "Jehovah is about to mislead Gog to a crusade against His people Israel, and summons him to prepare for the invasion of the restored land of Israel.. … Gog is represented as an unmanageable horse, which is compelled to follow its leader; and the thought is thereby expressed, that Gog is compelled to obey the power of God against his will." These peoples are being dragged to come against the Jewish people!

38:5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Put. Besides the descendants of part of Babylon, the Persian people, part of the confederacy also includes two African nations, Ethiopia (Cush) and Libya (Put). There is little question about the identification of these nations. Today, they are Islamic in religion. The glue that solidifies their actions is anti-Semitism. In the inventory of nations, Israel is almost encircled. These nations all together are to the north, north-east, and south!

Shield and helmet. Interesting to note: all soldiers today wear body armor (shield) and helmets.

38:6 Gomer, Beth-togarmah. Gomer was the eldest son of Japheth (Gen. 10:2). It is from Japheth that the European peoples spring. "Some scholars identify Gomer with the Cimmerians, the Greek name for the Armenians. The Jewish Targum renders it Germamia. In the Talmudic passages the reading is Germania which is identified with Kerman in south Persia." (Socino, Ezekiel)

The great Hebrew language lexicographer Gesenius says: Gomer is a northern people who come from Beth-togarmah (house of Togarmah) which could be the Armenians or the people of Turkey today, Muslim in religion. In ancient times these peoples came from the Don Basin and Danube River regions. And it could be that "Gomer [is] identified as a wild tribe living in the fog-bound region north of the Black Sea, perhaps as far west as the Crimean Peninsula." (Block) In the sixth century before Christ these peoples made incursions into Asia Minor.

Without question European nations are in view!

Remote parts of the north. By this Ezekiel is saying "Look to the north if you want to know where these peoples are coming from!"

Twice Ezekiel says with all its troops, which gives an indication that all its forces are committed to this conflict. This may tell us how determined they are to destroy Israel!

Many peoples with you. This add to the fact that other international forces are joining Gog in its determination to liquidate the Jewish people. People forget that during World War II, many other nations and peoples joined the Germans in their aggression. That included: some Polish, Finish, Scandinavians, Romanians, Italians, Hungarians, and even some Russians who despised Communism.

Ezekiel 38:7-9 The Invasion Itself

38:7 Be prepared, and prepare yourself. "Gog is ironically exhorted to make himself prepared and also to spur on his allies so that they are ready for the campaign against Israel." (Soncino) He is also to protect those forces ("be a guard to them"). This was the role of the Germans with their multi-national allies who joined them in their invasion of Russia and other countries.

38:8 After many days … The Rabbinical commentary says:

The attack by Gog will take place in the distant future when Israel has been restored and for a time has enjoyed peace and security. Rabbi Kimchi was apparently aware of the story told in the Koran (Sura 18) that Alexanderthe Great built a wall around Gog and Magog to shut them off from the restof the world; and he understands the clause to mean that, after having been excluded from the outside world, Gog will make a reappearance upon the stage of history. (Soncino)

The Koran of course exaggerates, no such wall was ever built, but the point is well made. Russia would be a backward nation, isolated from the world for centuries. It was Peter the Great who began to bring Russia into the light. By the way, the Czars felt they had a God-given role to bring Russian Orthodoxy to the rest of the world. It was the only true faith, in their minds. The Czar would be the "King" over the millennium (the Russian Church).

Restored from the sword. It is amazing to how may today are so ignorant of world history! Islam has always been known as "the religion of the sword." This could be a distinct and direct prophecy that the Holy Land would be controlled for centuries by Islam and only recently has been partially liberated from its clutches! But the sword of Islam will have been thrown off at this time.

In the latter years. Verse 16 adds, "in the last days." These events will take place far from the years of Ezekiel. "From the sword" would indicate a general timetable of the Muslim conquest and control of the Holy Land. These events will take place at the end of history as we know it.

The gravity of Gog’s crime will lie in the fact that his attack was directed against a land (the Holy Land) which had been desolated and whose people (the Jews) have been redeemed from the countries of their dispersion. (Soncino)

Whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel. … It’s people were brought out from the nations and they are living securely all of them. (see verse 11) How could anyone deny and miss the timing of this incredible prophecy! "This visitation [from the Lord] consists in the fact of God’s leading Gog to invade the land of Israel, that He might sanctify Himself upon [with Gog by His] judgment. … [It happens] in the end of days, the last time, not the future generally, but the final future, the Messianic time of the completing of the kingdom of God." (Keil) This great Old Testament German scholar, Carl Friedrich Keil, was premillennial and almost dispensational in his views. He saw the truth of a literal earthly kingdom established by the coming reign of the Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ!

A continual waste. "Been laid waste continually, i.e. for a long time, but are now inhabited again." (Keil) The "continual waste" must be calculated from the time of the final dispersion that began in 70 AD with the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem.

Living securely. This is repeated in verse 11. Something going on at that time gives the Jews a sense of safety. They are not expecting such an invasion. The proclamation of some peace overtures makes the people of Israel believe that there is no danger lurking over the mountains.

38:9 A storm, a cloud covering the land. This is not indicating that Gog and his forces have come into the Holy Land itself like a cloud. It is simply a figure of speech that indicates that the people can see on the horizon the dark cloud gathering and moving in their direction. Later Ezekiel will tell us that the aggressive forces in fall in defeat upon the mountains of Israel and do not come into the land itself.

Ezekiel 38:10-13 The Rationale for the Invasion

38:10 On that day. This is a figure of speech meaning "a certain period." "At the time when Israel is again settled in the land." (Soncino) The plan to invade is prompted by apparent diabolical secret events being hatched in the Middle East.

Devise an evil plan. The evil plan has to do with the hatred against the Jewish people and a jealousy that they are restored back to the Holy Land. It is interesting to note that God in His providence is bringing the nations against His Land (v. 4), but at the same time, there is culpability among Gog and his forces. God is sovereign; man is responsible! Both are true! While God is not the author of evil, He can and does use evil for His purposes.

38:11 I will go up against the land. Something will be transpiring in the Middle East that will temporarily make the Jews think that all is well—that there is no immediate threat of an invasion. The Jews will not have defensive fortresses or physical constructions that could deter invading forces. This reminds us of the plotting of Nebuchadnezzar when he came against Israel.

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, has devised a plan against you, he has conceived a scheme against you: "Arise, attack a nation at ease, that lives securely," declares the Lord. (Jer. 49:30-31)

38:12 To capture spoil. The people regathered from the nations, the Jews, become extremely prosperous above all those surrounding them. They are envied by their enemies who want to take over the fertile and productive land for their own possession.

The people gathered from the nations. This verse gives the prophetic time-frame. The land had been "waste places." This is exactly the state of the Holy Land for centuries until the Jews began going back in large numbers, around 1920. This invasion of Gog will take place when the land is "now inhabited." This would certainly describe the Holy Land from around 1948 (with its founding as a nation) until the present time.

Who live at the center of the world. The word center is actually the Hebrew word for navel. "The navel of the earth" is mentioned earlier in Judges 9:37. The Land of Israel to God is the international center of the globe, i.e. what happens in the land is central to world history and the plans of the Lord. As the navel is the center of the body, so is Israel the key to human history in the Lord’s mind. "The land of Israel/Zion is viewed as a cosmic midpoint. … God has placed Jerusalem in the middle of the nations." (Block)

38:13 Sheba and Dedan, merchants of Tarshish. These nations are questioning the motive of the invasion attempt by Gog and his forces. Sheba, Dedan are the tribal peoples to the east of Israel. Today, they would be the people of Saudi Arabia who apparently may not join in this invasion. They are questioning the motive of the incursion. Tarshish is Spain today. It probably represents here the Mediterranean nations who are stunned by this attempt to totally destroy Israel. The economy of the region will be affected. The trading nations will be harmed economically by the invasion.

To capture spoil … to size plunder … to capture great spoil. This summarizes the point of the invasion and it shows that Gog wishes to "clean" out all the wealth, and plunder the resources of Israel for itself and its invading allies.

Gog resolves to fall upon Israel, now living in peace and security, and dwelling in open unfortified places, and to rob and plunder it. … A covetous desire for the possessions of the people of God, and envy at his exalted position in the center of the world, are therefore the motives by which Gog is impelled to enter upon his predatory expedition against the people living in the depth of peace. … Israel dwells securely, not expecting any hostile invasion. (Keil)

Ezekiel 38:14-16 The Trauma of the Invasion

38:14 My people Israel. Some say there is one people of God that includes both the Jews in the Old Testament and the Church in the New Testament. They are seen all together as one. But here Israel has a special relationship as "God’s people." God has one plan for Israel and one for the Church! They represent two distinct dispensations.

Living securely, will you not know it? This is a rhetorical question. The Lord knows that Gog is aware of the human limits of the Jewish people. But the Lord’s question increases the guilt of Gog who plans to invade though Israel is not expecting it.

38:15 Remote parts of the north. Or, "most distances" (ye’rachah) of the north!

Many peoples. These are the allies who join Gog in this invasion.

Riding on horses. It is only expected that the prophet Ezekiel would mention instruments of war that he and his generation would be familiar with. We would not expect him to mention tanks, Humvee, etc.

A mighty army. This is redundancy in that the prophet keeps mentioning the great company, divisions, hordes, and battalions, coming against God’s land! The point is to be taken that from the human point of view, who could stand up under such an invasion? No one unless God in His providence is protecting them!

38:16 You will come, I shall bring you. Gog had put in his evil mind to come up against the Jews, but he does not count on God’s providence, that He would use this wickedness against His people for His purposes. The orthodox Rabbis in the Soncino commentary series believe in the absolute sovereignty of God, and on this verse say:

How can it be just that God should Himself lead the barbarians to a crime for which He destroys them? To the Hebrews, God is the ultimate cause of all things; if the savage comes God must have brought him; if he is destroyed, God must have planned to destroy him. Though the purpose of God’s campaign is said to be lust for destruction and spoil, it is an act designed in God’s wisdom to bring mankind to the realization that He is King of the universe.

Notice the "My people Israel," "the land," "My land." The land and the Jewish people belong to the Lord even when they are living in unbelief!

I shall be sanctified. Be sanctified in the Hebrew the word ko’desh means "to be holy, sanctified, made special." It is in the Niphal Infinitive (Passsive) form and can be translated, "I am to be made special" in the eyes of these Gentiles by what happens! Does this mean that some in these Gentile nations will turn to the Lord in light of their defeat when they come up against the Land? Possibly so, but this is not certain.

Ezekiel 38:17-23

38:17 Of whom I spoke of in former days … My servants the prophets. "Gog’s invasion had been predicted long ago although [Gog’s] name had not been specified, God now identifies him with the one spoken of [in other prophetic books]." (Soncino)

Where is Gog previously mentioned? Some of the Rabbis say in Zephaniah 1 but on a closer examination, this seems clearly to be speaking of the seven year tribulation, not the events here in Ezekiel of Gog and Magog. Also mentioned is Jeremiah where the Lord says, "Seek refuge, … for I am bringing evil from the north, and great destruction" (Jer. 4:6). But this chapter goes on and speaks of destruction upon Israel, which does not happen with the invasion of Gog. Unger cites Daniel 11:40-45 ("the king of the north") and Zechariah 12:1-4; 14:1-9 as additional references that Ezekiel 38:17 has in mind. It is not impossible that the prophecies the Lord is referring to are from some of His prophets whose words are not recorded in written revelation!

38:18 On that day. The specific prophetic time when all of these things transpire.

My fury will mount up in My anger. This "denotes the Divine anger manifesting itself as a destructive force." (Soncino) God’s anger will also be manifested in the seven year tribulation mainly against the nations, and against the entire world order—against the antichrist, the false prophet, the whore of Babylon, and generally against the sins of the Gentile powers. But Ezekiel 38-39 focuses here only on the Gog invasion of Israel. Many take this same position.

God’s righteousness and holiness demands that evil be punished. And while He is patient and longsuffering, there is a limit. He will punish the evil nations and wicked world leaders. In Jeremiah 30:23-24 we read:

Behold, the tempest of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a sweeping tempest; it will burst on the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back, until He has performed, and until He has accomplished the intent of His heart; in the latter days you will understand this.

38:19-20 In my zeal. The better reading for the Hebrew word kin’ah is vindication. Will the Lord be vindicating Israel or Himself? More than likely Himself! Keil writes:

The inhabitants of the land of Israel tremble at the terrible phenomena attending the revelation of the wrath of God, although the wrathful judgment does not apply to them, but to their enemies, Gog and his hosts. The Lord calls the sword against Gog, that his hosts may wound and slay one another. This feature of the destruction is of the enemy inflicting wounds upon itself. The bursting out of the wrath of God is literally explained here in verse 19. In the jealousy of His wrath God will speak, i.e. determine to inflict a great trembling upon the land of Israel. The trembling which will come upon the land of Israel, so that all creatures in the sea, in the air, and upon the ground, tremble before Jehovah, who appears to judge, will [bring forth] in nature into an actual earthquake, which overthrows mountains, hills, and walls.

38:21 I shall call for a sword. All of the collective forces that came with Gog against Israel will turn on themselves. "Every man’s sword will be against his brother." Arguments, debates, conflicts, will burst forth so that the troops begin killing each other. God is the One causing the confusion! He is causing the various military army contingencies to begin a self-annihilation.

On all My holy mountains. It seems as if these forces are destroyed on the northern and eastern mountains that are on the borders of Israel. These troops apparently do not come into the land but they are stopped in these heights and begin the self-destruction. Notice that the Lord calls the hills "My mountains," and He also sees them as holy to Himself.

38:22 Pestilence and blood. "I shall enter into judgment" actually reads "I will plead against him." The Jewish Rabbis say, "By exercising His judgment upon Gog, God will demonstrate Gog’s guilt [to the world]." (Soncino) This verse is like a courtroom scene where the sentencing of punishment is terrible, as with the sending forth of disease and the shedding of blood, i.e. "pestilence and blood." The verse continues and describes how the Lord will pour out a torrent of wrath upon Gog and his allies, "the many peoples," who come against Israel. Keil writes:

The overthrow of the enemy is intensified by marvelous plagues inflicted by God—pestilence and blood, torrents of rain and hailstones, and the raining of fire and brimstone upon Gog as formerly upon Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24)—Thus will Jehovah prove Himself to be the almighty God by judgment upon His enemies, and sanctify Himself before all the nations.

38:23 I shall magnify Myself, sanctify Myself. Magnify is ga’dol in Hebrew and means "to make great, enlarge." Grammatically it is in the Hithpael form which intensifies the force of the verb. "I shall intensely, specifically make Myself great!" The same Hithpael form is used with sanctify (ko’desh). "I will intensely, specifically by made Holy" in the eyes of many nations. This destruction of Gog and his forces will be recognized by the world as a form of a miracle. How could such a small nation survive against an overwhelming force of many aggressive nations coming against him? Even the world will have to admit, "God is in this"!

They will know that I am the Lord. "The demonstration of God’s omnipotence and His deliverance of Israel will bring about universal recognition of His Sovereignty." (Soncino) The I is definite in Hebrew. "They will know that "it is Me, I am the Lord (the Everexisting One, Yahweh)."

Ezekiel 39:1-29

The prophet Ezekiel proceeds to give a more detailed and vivid account of the disaster which is to befall God’s armies. … After reiterating the wholesome effect which the annihilation of God’s followers will have upon Israel and upon mankind in general, Ezekiel declares in a final, triumphant oracle that the restoration of Israel, confirmed by the destruction of his enemies, will be complete and his regeneration lasting, for I have poured out My Spirit upon the house of Israel. (Rabbinical, Soncino)

Ezekiel 39:1-8 God’s anger with the invasion

39:1-2 The same forces are mentioned here that were mentioned in 38:2. However, here God mentions bringing them all the way up to, and against, the mountains of Israel. "Turn you around" means that at first they were not facing Israel or intending to come against him immediately. Yet the Lord gets their attention and directs them to make a sudden invasion against the Jewish people. It is the Lord who will "take you up from the remotest parts of the north." He collects the forces together to cause their incursion into the Holy Land!

"Most invaders would be content with ravaging the plains; this horde leaves no hilly spot untouched." (Soncino)

39:3 Ancient weapons would only be what Ezekiel could identify. But the bow and arrows represent the state-of-the-art in armament. As already pointed out, Ezekiel would be unable to identify or relate to modern military arms. The point made in the verse is that God will cause their weapons to be worthless. The enemy will be completely stripped of its weapons of destruction. They will be made to abandon their armament! "God will strike his weapons out of his hands, i.e. make him incapable of fighting." (Keil)

39:4-5 You shall fall on the mountains of Israel. The point being that they do not come into the land but are stopped just short, on the heights of the hills surrounding the core of the land. As before, the Lord wants to make sure we understand that Gog’s allies also perish in the destruction that He sends. "With ‘all your troops, and the peoples who are with you.’" This reminds us of the allies of Nazi Germany who were slaughtered in the snows of Russia—the Hungarians, Rumanians, and Italians.

I shall give you as food … The Rabbis call this a distinct verb form showing prophecy. They call the verb form "the prophetic perfect." The dead bodies will be the food for the predatory birds and animals of the field. The carnage of the slain will be overwhelming!

You will fall on the open field. Though the invading forces are stopped on the mountains, they scatter and run through the fields, traversing over cliffs, dashing through forests. But the miracle is they die without engaging any strong enemy. They will just fall as dead men!

39:6 I shall send fire upon Magog. The Rabbis note: "Not only will the invaders be slain in the Land of Israel, but the countries from which they came will also suffer at God’s hand." The destruction from the Lord will also descend upon the country of Magog. That land will suffer for their hatred of and attempted invasion of Israel. The fire could be volcanic or fiery meteors from outer space. We do not know specifically what the Lord will send. He can use natural means or human instruments. Whichever, He is in charge and this comes upon Magog in God’s active providence! Keil writes:

Fire, primarily the fire of war; then, in a further sense, a figure denoting destruction inflicted directly by God, as in chapter 38:22, which is therefore represented in Revelation 2:9 as fire falling from heaven.

Magog is the population of the land of Magog (38:2). With this the inhabitants of the distant coastlands of the west are associated, as representatives of the remotest heathen nations.

Coastlands in safety. This statement seems to show that there is a breakout of the conflict, or at least God’s judgments that fall upon Gog and Magog, his allies, and the distant nations who believe they are immune to what is happening in the Middle East. By their "safety" or neutrality, they are showing their lack of concern for the Jewish people who are facing this enormous invasion. Their attitude is, "Just so we are untouched in this conflict." Many see Ezekiel 38-39 as possibly a short-lived but devastating World War III. Views on the time of Ezekiel 38-39. (1) Before the rapture, (2) At the beginning of the tribulation, (3) At the middle of the tribulation, (4) At the end of the tribulation. It is not impossible that it could happen before the tribulation!

They will know that I am the Lord. (See 38:16) The question: does this mean that the nations are converted and come to the Lord or does it simply mean that they now must rethink their attitude about God and His people the Jews?

39:7 My holy name I shall make known in the midst of My people Israel. This great miracle will cause Israel to wake up spiritually. God’s holy name will no longer "be profaned anymore." The Rabbis comment:

The dispersion of Israel and his subsequent sufferings led to the profanation of God’s holy name, because they were interpreted by heathen nations as due to His inability to protect His people. (Soncino)

And I shall not let My holy name be profaned. The word profaned (gah’lal) is in the Hiphil form with the idea "Someone made profane My name …" The root idea of the word is "to untie, make invalid, make common." With the destruction of Gog’s forces the Lord will not again allow His name to be made common!

I am the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. The Rabbis write: "That the Divine Presence (the Shekinah) will abide [again] in the midst of Israel will at that time become evident to those nations who had [held] so false a [view] about His people in their exile."

39:8 Behold, it is coming and it shall be done. Behold (he’nay) (an interjection—a word of emotion) means "look" and emphasizes the entire clause that follows. "The catastrophe upon Gog is so certain that it is as good as accomplished." (Soncino, Rabbinical) "That is the day of which I have spoken." It is going to happen!

Ezekiel 39:9-20 The destruction with the invasion

39:9-10 Make fires with the weapons, for seven years. Again, since Ezekiel had never seen modern weaponry it is only normal and expected that he would describe the armament in terms he would understand. Following the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Israel re-configured, melted down, stripped off the guns from the tanks, and generally used the booty that had been captured from the Arabs for some ten years or more.

With this Ezekiel Gog and Magog war, the Israelites will do the same with the equipment left on the field of battle by Gog and his allies. They will not gather firewood from the forests. The wooden parts will replace firewood. However there seems to be a difference in what will happen in the Ezekiel war and what happened in theYom Kippur War. There is no indication that the left over booty will be needed for some future war. The Jewish Rabbis in their commentaries make note of this fact.

The Rabbis write:
The inhabitants of the Land of Israel, who hitherto had not left their homes to meet Gog in battle, will now come out to gather the wooden parts of the weapons for fuel. It is to be noted that in the state of security assured by God, the weapons themselves serve no useful purpose and are not gathered and stored for a future war. (Soncino)

The Jews will be blessed at the end of this conflict. The equipment of the enemy was meant to aid in despoiling and plundering Israel, instead, what is left over that Israel confiscates will "despoil them (the enemy) and be used to plunder the invaders." The worm turns! And what was meant to be used against the Jews is turned on those who invaded them.

39:11 I shall give Gog a burial ground. The carnage will be terrible. Part of the nation of Israel will become a mass grave in a valley where many travel, "who pass by east of the sea." Or, the valley of the passers through. Most believe this is the Dead Sea. Traffic will have to be rerouted around this huge cemetery. Gog and the multitude of his forces, his allies, will be buried there. "It will be blocked by the multitude of the dead bodies." (Rabbi Rashi) The American Version (AV) reads "It will stop the (noses of the) passengers." The valley will be called Hamon-Gog, or the burial ground of "the multitude of Gog."

39:12 For seven months Israel will be burying them. "An unburied corpse is a reproach to God and causes defilement of the land (cf. Deut. 21:23). Therefore Israel will have to bury the slain to cleanse the land. There will be so many that the task will last seven months." (Rabbinical, Soncino)

39:13 On the day that I glorify Myself. This victory is so remarkable, so overwhelming, even in the eyes of the world, that the Lord will be glorified. He will be glorified because His people are having to bury a tremendous number of invaders, and in that, the Jews also will be "renown." The Rabbis teach (though it may not be true):

The whole population of Israel will take part in the burial of their enemies, and their act of honoring these dead will bring them among the nations. (Rashi) The renown will be due to the vast number of the slain as proved by the length of time the burial took. The greatness of Israel’s victory will bring honor to God’s name. (Soncino)

39:14-16 And they will set aside men for burying. While it is said that it will take seven months to bury the dead (v. 12), the special burial team will have to wait for seven months before they begin the task of making the search for the bodies and of then disposing of them in graves. Some have suggested that (1) the stench of the dead is so great, they cannot start the burial process for seven months. Others propose (2) that this incredible large, invading force was stopped with nuclear weapons which kept the ground contaminated with radiation for seven months. This view was proposed by a physician, a specialist in nuclear issues who was the medical officer aboard a nuclear submarine!

Can God use "natural" or "human" means to bring about this destruction?

Of course He can! This does not detract from the fact that He is sovereign and the final Cause of the slaying of the enemies of Israel.

Those who pass through the land. The bones of the dead will be so scattered that even strangers will help in locating them. But they cannot touch a bone. They must put up a stake, a marker "until the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-Gog." This supports the fact that the bones may be radioactive and cannot be touched. But whether the Lord uses some sort of direct miraculous means of killing this great horde of troops or He uses human instrumentation, does not matter. He still is the One in charge by His divine providence!

By the name of a city. There is no definite article with city.

A city shall also be built in commemoration of Gog’s overthrow; naturally the city must be supposed situated near the valley of Hamon-Gog, because its name Hamonah ("multitude"), if the city were situated elsewhere, would not of itself suggest any connection with Gog. (Soncino)

39:17-19 Gather from every side to My sacrifice. The birds and the animal world help pick clean the many bodies that litter the field. It is as if a great sacrificial ceremony was being held. "A great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel." While all of this may sound macabre and bizarre it is a horrible happening because of the sin of the world against God’s people, the Jews!

Every kind of bird and … every beast of the field are gathered to eat the flesh of the "mighty men" (the generals) and the "princes of the earth" (the overall leadership) "as though they were rams, lambs, goats, and bulls, all of the fattlings of Bashan." These animals listed are those Israel uses in their ceremonial sacrifices. It as if this is a "religious" festival! The cows of Bashan were known as superior for use in sacrifice.

So you will eat fat until you are glutted. It is as if the Lord is addressing the birds and the animals to come to a huge banquet of the dead and partake of the religious offering. The animals will eat and drink blood "from My sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you." This is a religious parody in that Israel was forbidden to drink blood!

39:20 With horses and charioteers. The parody continues. The reference to horses and charioteers seems to be to the enemy troops killed on the mountains of Israel. God is the Host at His banquet table of the dead. "The Hebrew recheh is more strictly ‘chariot’ and represents ‘charioteers’; but there are passages where the meaning seems to be rider."

Ezekiel 39:21-24 God’s glory recognized

39:21 I shall set My glory among the nations. (38:23; 39:6, 7, 13) "The overthrow of Gog’s formidable force will be acknowledged to be a Divine act." (Soncino) Again, does this mean the nations are converted by seeing this act of destruction, which they have to admit was caused by the Lord? Or does it simply mean that they were forced to recognize His sovereignty, but still do not necessarily come to Him in repentance that leads to salvation? More than likely this is not about salvation.

39:22 Israel will know that I am the Lord. Not only will the nations have a wakeup call but the people of Israel will also know that God is "the Lord their God from that day onward." They will know that I am Yahweh ("The One who ever exists!"). The Rabbis say, "The miraculous deliverance will also confirm Israel’s faith and confidence in God."

39:23 The nations will know … The Hebrew word for know is ya’tha and is used of both Israel knowing (v. 22) and the nations knowing. Israel will know from now on that God is the Lord (Master) but the nations will simply know that God sent His people into exile because "they acted treacherously again Him." Therefore, He hid His face from them and "gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and all of them fell by the sword." The Rabbis write:

The manifestation of God’s omnipotence in the defeat of Gog and His intervention on behalf of His people will prove to the nations that Israel’s suffering in exile was not due to His inability to save him but to his sin.

39:24 According to their uncleaness … I dealt with them. Before, God looked at Israel through the lens of their special relationship to Him. When that was broken they were cast out into the world of the pagan Gentiles. They took on their characteristics and sinful ways. When this happened God "hid His face from them." This means He no longer looked upon them in favor, though He will certainly do so in the future.

Ezekiel 39:25-29 Israel blessed following the invasion

39:25 I shall restore the fortunes of Jacob. This renewal and restoration is national, geographical, and spiritual. Verses 25-26 look forward to the millennial blessings! God will sprinkle clean water on them and restore them to their land (36:24-28). A national and spiritual resurrection will take place (37:1-14). This will be the initiation of the New covenant upon Israel.

The Lord will have mercy on the whole house of Israel. Only those who by His mercy turn to their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, will be the restored remnant. "The whole house" represents all the people though not every individual Jew will turn to Christ. God will act because as He says, He is "jealous for My holy name." The Rabbis say, "The decree of punishment for Israel’s sins having been fulfilled, a new and happy era will be inaugurated for the nation."

Jealous is the Hebrew word che’nay. It is in an intensive Piel form. "I will be aroused, be greatly eager, envious, furious" over "My holy name." The Lord’s name is at stake in these matters! God is bringing Israel back to its state of favor in His eyes!

39:26 They shall forget their disgrace. The NAS says "They shall forget their disgrace," but Keil says it should better read, "They shall bear their disgrace." Keil writes:

They will bear their reproach. … [They will be] ashamed of their sins and their consequences, and feeling disgust thereat. They will feel this shame when the Lord grants them lasting peace in their own land. [Rabbi] Rashi has correctly explained it thus: "When I shall have done them good, and not rewarded them as their iniquity deserved, they will be filled with shame, so that they will not dare to lift up their faces."

39:27 When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies. This is a guarantee of a literal, actual, historical happening—the return of the Jewish people back to the Holy Land! This verse, and thousands like it, cannot be "spiritualized" or made mystical to mean the Church receiving some kind of foggy and allegorized blessing from God. The verse means just what it says: the people of Israel will be restored to their Promised Land! The Lord will be sanctified through them before the nations of the world. This has been said over and over throughout these two chapters.

39:28 Then they will know that I am the Lord their God. Many Jews today are atheists or agnostics. They are skeptics about the promises made in their own Bible. So many have even become caustic and bitter. But the awesome events of these two chapters will be used of God to open their eyes. The Lord will be made "special" (Holy) in their eyes.

I made them go into exile. God is the sovereign Master over His own universe, and over His own people. Even the scattering was part of His eternal Plan! The Rabbis put it this way:

God’s dealing with Israel will bring home to the nations that He reveals Himself in history no less than in Nature, and there is a Divine plan in human affairs which gradually unfolds itself in time. (Soncino)

I [will] gather them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there [among the nations] any longer. Again, such a clear promise cannot be allegorized. This is going to happen actually and historically! In fact, the Jews have already begun the movement back to the land, though they are now going back in unbelief. But at the end of the seven year tribulation, many will have died in unbelief but also Jesus, the Messiah, will bring more, a remnant, back home to the Promised Land, in belief.

39:29 I will not hide My face any longer. With favor, the Lord will look upon His people. He will not turn His back on His own again. Specifically, He will favor His people by pouring out His Spirit on the house of Israel. The Rabbis write: "Under the … influence of God’s [S]pirit, the nation will not again lapse into evil and so the redeemed state of Israel will endure." The orthodox Rabbis are confused about the Spirit of God. On one hand, they refuse to see the issue of the Trinity in such verses. God’s Spirit is a force, an influence, but not a person as Christians believe the Scriptures clearly show.

This pouring out of the Spirit has to do with the applying of the New covenant to the nation of Israel. The church now benefits from this covenant but does not fulfill it. It will be fulfilled when by it, and by the work of the Holy Spirit, the Jews are converted to enter into the blessings of the Kingdom. (See Isaiah 32:15-18)


  1. Ezekiel 38-39 will take place before the terrible seven year tribulation.
  2. This prophecy has not been fulfilled in the past.
  3. The prelude to this prophecy—the Jews returning to the Land in unbelief — has already taken place.
  4. These two chapters really tell us what God is going to do. The personal, the possessive, and the reflexive pronouns are used here all together more than in any one section of all of the Scriptures:

  • My people Israel (38:14)My people Israel (38:16)
  • My land (38:16)
  • My servants the prophets (38:17)
  • My fury (38:18)
  • My anger (38:18)
  • My zeal (38:19)
  • My presence (38:20)
  • My mountains (38:21)
  • I shall magnify Myself (38:23)
  • I shall sanctify Myself (38:23)
  • My people Israel (39:7)
  • My holy name (39:7)
  • I will glorify Myself (39:13)
  • My sacrifice (39:17)
  • My sacrifice (39:19)
  • My table (39:20)
  • My glory (39:21)
  • My judgment (39:21)
  • My hand (39:21)
  • I hid My face from them (39:23)
  • I hid My face from them (39:24)
  • My holy name (39:25)
  • I will not hide My face from them (39:29)
  • I shall pour out My Spirit (39:29)

God’s primary purpose of the lengthy account of Ezekiel 39:8-29 is not primarily the depiction of end-time events but a manifestation of Himself to the nations (39:21) and to Israel (39:21) in a display of His greatness (38:23), His holiness (38:23) and His glory (39:13). Above all, Ezekiel 38 and 39 are a demonstration of God’s holiness. The passage makes abundantly clear that "God’s holiness is not just shown in His saving power but also in His destructive power … it is simply that God will sanctify Himself through Gog before the nations.

(Mal Couch, gen. ed., The Gathering Storm, Manfred Kober, "What is ‘Gog and Magog’ in Regard to Bible Prophecy?")

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Coming World Economic Collapse

Almost all economists know that the world cannot go on as it is economically. But specifically, what about America, much less the entire world? What is building up monetarily in the U.S. cannot sustain indefinitely and go on forever. But the average citizen does not see what is coming over the horizon upon this nation.

The American public is even deeper in debt on credit card charges than ever. Many have purchased homes with no collateral and with poor credit. Every day, the balance of trade for this country grows more precarious in that we are spending more overseas than we are taking in for the sale of goods manufactured in trade.

A price to pay. The U.S. has almost no energy reserves, and what we have, is locked up in bureaucracy and "green peace" litigation and short-sightedness. We are more and more beholding to the Arab nations for oil and their hatred for Israel could cause them at any time to shut off the supply and bring this nation to its knees. China will soon be the largest consumer of energy, and it will in a short time control the assets and bonds of the world and especially of America.

The United States was the moral beacon of the world, and the most prosperous country above all the nations on the globe. But the country is slipping rapidly into decline. If everything a nation, and an individual does is theological, then there is a price to pay for our spiritual apostasy. Materialism, narcissism, gross immorality, self-centeredness, are all coming together to destroy us within.

Greed and spending. Since 1994, U.S. households have increasingly added to their debt at a faster rate than the increase of their disposable income. In other words, Americans are spending more than they make—and they just add the debt to their high interest credit cards. In the fall of 2007 this accelerated at an unbelievable rate!

With low mortgage rates, they moved upwards to more expensive homes. A vacuum developed at the lower end of the market where buyers were scarce and where they almost always did not qualify for a mortgage. Mortgage brokers were then squeezed by lending banks for more issuances of almost bogus mortgages.

A cycle began that was a worldwide phenomenon. Seeing problems on the horizon, banks began to slice up their holding of a large number of accumulated mortgages. In the Clinton years a dangerous trend began. Many who relied on sub-prime mortgages to own a house, lagged behind their rising real cost of living. Many bought a house with no money down, with no equity, no credit check. When the time came to take on a new loan agreement, the new contract was made on a balloon with a much higher percentage to pay on that loan. Many homeowners then started to go into foreclosure.

When biblical morality and financial sanity ruled the cry was to "Save, save, save"! But now the cry is to "Spend, spend, spend"! Those institutions who hold mortgages believe now this is the only way to save the U.S. economy! However some banks have already admitted to writing off large amounts of losses, compelling them to seek equally large capital injections in order to avoid having to call in loans.

Easy mortgages were the rule from late 2005 to early 2007 and many of these are due to mature to a higher rate in 2008. The only answer, which is a disaster in itself, is for the government to step in and institute measures to protect the U.S. financial system before it falls under the control of perhaps not the most friendly of foreign investors, i.e. the Chinese. Some say our only answer will be higher inflation rates which would cause a death blow to the U.S. economy at this stage of the melt-down and freeze up the entire financial system. Either way, what happens will ultimately be caused by godless selfishness and greed, whether the fault lies with the bankers or unabated consumerism.

Whether our own government or foreign investors, such as the Chinese, try to bail us out, in either case we will become a slave nation brought to our knees by our own sins.

Israel’s fall, morally and economically, came about because the nation turned away from the Lord. The people stopped listening to God and replaced Him with their own brand of prosperity. The Lord then said,

To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are closed, and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it. ... For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. (Jer. 6:11-14)

Even more, Jeremiah had warned that the nation of Israel’s waywardness would bring on the destruction of the Babylonians. The nation, when it lost God, would lose its prosperity and its protection.

The Babylonians will devour your harvest and your food; they will devour your flocks and your herds; they will devour your vines and your fig trees; they will demolish with the sword your fortified cities in which you trust. (Jer. 5:16-17)

The problem for Israel was a spiritual issue, just as with America today. Jeremiah said: "They have refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent" (Jer. 5:3). But the people did not believe that destruction would come. "They have lied about the Lord and said, ‘Not He; misfortune will not come on us; and we will not see sword or famine’" (v. 12).

So with America! We do not believe there will be a price to pay for our sinful waywardness!

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