The Holy One *in* Israel

John the Revelator studied Ezekiel. The only question is whether he studied the scrolls himself or had Ezekiel’s vision imparted to him supernaturally. But there is no doubt that John’s prophecy of the last great battle of human history was the same one given to Ezekiel nearly seven hundred years earlier.

Prophecy scholars still debate the timing of Armageddon and the war of Gog and Magog, whether those two are the same, and whether the second conflict with Gog of Magog after Christ’s millennial reign is the same one mentioned earlier in Revelation. We’re going to set all of that aside for the moment. Truth is, we don’t have answers for two of those three questions, but in our defense, they haven’t been settled in the two thousand years since John wrote Revelation.

However, we can say with confidence that John and Ezekiel were pointing to the same events. It’s clear from the aftermath of Armageddon that John was shown what Ezekiel saw.

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon….

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

Revelation 16:12–16, 19:17–21, ESV (emphasis added)

The assembly of the armies of the world at Armageddon described in Revelation 16 is followed by a description of the fall of Babylon the Great that takes up two full chapters before returning to the battle of Armageddon in chapter 19.

The invitation of the angel standing in the sun to the “great supper of God” is clearly the same as the one issued by God in Ezekiel 39. The parallels between the two are too close to be coincidental. The similarities have been noted for literally hundreds of years by Bible scholars such as Matthew Henry,[1] E. W. Bullinger,[2] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown,[3] and others. It really isn’t open to debate.

Ezekiel must have been horrified by this gruesome feast! He protested mightily when God directed him to bake his bread over a fire built from human dung:

Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I have never defiled myself. From my youth up till now I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has tainted meat come into my mouth.”

Ezekiel 4:14, ESV

But at Armageddon, Yahweh will serve the ultimate taboo, human flesh and blood, as a sacrificial feast to unclean animals, scavengers. As scholar Daniel Block notes, there is something unique about this for God to be so extreme:

[The banquet] is designated a zebaḥ, which derives from a root meaning “to slaughter,” and seems to have had reference to any sacrifices that were burned on an altar (mizbēaḥ). More than one kind of zebaḥ was celebrated in Israel, but it was generally assumed that this meal was eaten in the presence of Yahweh (lipnê yhwh), that is, as his guest.… Ezekiel’s designation of this banquet as a zebaḥ classifies it as a ritual event. But by altering all the roles he grossly caricatures the normal image of a zebaḥ. In place of a human worshiper slaughtering animals in the presence of Yahweh, Yahweh slaughters humans for the sake of animals, who gather from all over the world (missābîb) for this gigantic celebration (zebaḥ gādôl) on the mountains of Israel. The battlefield has been transformed into a huge sacrificial table.

Second, the invitation describes the menu. The last statement of v. 17 is thematic, calling on the participants to partake of flesh and blood, a merismic expression for carcasses as wholes. V. 18 specifies these as the flesh of heroic figures (gibbôrîm) and the blood of the princes of the earth (nĕśîʾê hāʾāreṣ), which are to be devoured like fare normally served at a zebaḥ table: rams (ʾêlîm), lambs (kārîm), male goats (ʿattûdîm), bulls (pārîm), and the fatlings of Bashan (mĕrîʾê bāšān). These terms are obviously not used literally, but as animal designations for nobility.[4] (Emphasis added)

Ezekiel probably highlighted the nobility of the Gibborim slaughtered for this gruesome ritual feast for the same reason he noted the special status of the Gibborim of the underworld: They’re fundamentally different from ordinary human soldiers. They are “warriors of Baal,” the Rephaim, spirits of the Nephilim destroyed in the Flood, the semi-divine sons of the Titans.

As Dr. Block notes, “The literary image sketched here must have been shocking for a person as sensitive to cultic matters as Ezekiel.”[5] But the conflict the precedes this repulsive feast is not simply one more battle in a long list of the wars fought by men over the millennia. This one brings a supernaturally reinforced army led by a creature from the abyss to the foot of God’s holy mountain.

John’s account of the aftermath of Armageddon follows Ezekiel’s description of the Gog-Magog war because they describe the same event. It will be fought at Jerusalem for Zion, God’s mount of assembly, and it results in the reversal of an ancient Amorite ritual. Instead of arriving at the har môʿēd for a ritual meal in their honor, the Rephaim will become a sacrificial feast for all of creation.

While it’s our belief that the similarities between the gruesome ritual feasts prophesied by Ezekiel and John are evidence enough to show that the Gog-Magog war is the same conflict as Armageddon, and thus Gog is the Antichrist, it’s not the only clue. Since we’re already in this far, let’s put all our cards on the table. First, both battles end with a massive earthquake:[6]

But on that day, the day that Gog shall come against the land of Israel, declares the Lord GOD, my wrath will be roused in my anger. For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground.

Ezekiel 38:18–20, ESV (emphasis added)

The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.

Revelation 16:17–19, ESV (emphasis added)

Our friend Joel Richardson points out in his book Mideast Beast that Ezekiel was telling us God Himself will be present at the Gog-Magog conflict.[7] In Ezekiel 38:19 above, the Hebrew word translated “presence” is panim. Elsewhere in the Bible, notably in the priestly blessing recorded in Numbers 6:23–27, panim literally means “face.”

Trust us—the one time you do not want the Lord to lift up His panim upon you is when He’s leading the army you’re about to attack. This is what the enemy soldiers at Armageddon will see:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Revelation 19:11–16, ESV

It’s safe to say that Yahweh, in the form of His Messiah, will be present at Armageddon, just as Ezekiel prophesied about the war against Gog.

In the wake of the battle, Ezekiel writes that the world will recognize the greatness and holiness of Yahweh.[8] It’s hard to see that happening if the Gog-Magog war is just a warm-up for all the kings of the earth assembling for the battle of Armageddon. The only way Ezekiel’s prophecy makes sense is if that’s the last battle, after which Gog, the Antichrist, is defeated and dumped into the pit for a thousand years.

Revelation 20:2, ESV

Finally, Yahweh tells Ezekiel that after Gog’s defeat:

My holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel.”[9]

Note that God called Himself “the Holy One in Israel,” not the Holy One of Israel. This is the only place in the Bible where that phrase is used.[10] “The Holy One of Israel” appears more than two dozen times in Scripture, but only here, after the destruction of the army of Gog, does God substitute “in” Israel for “of” Israel. Again, this shows us that God is present at this battle.

In other words, it is undoubtedly the Second Coming, because the war with Gog is the battle at Armageddon against the forces of Antichrist. After that, according to Revelation 20:4, Jesus will literally reign on earth for a thousand years, and He’ll do it from His har môʿēd, Mount Zion.

[1] Henry, M. Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible., retrieved 4/3/18.

[2] Bullinger, E. W. (1909). Commentary on Revelation., retrieved 4/3/18.

[3] Jamieson, R.; Fausset, A. R.; and Brown, D. (1871). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible., retrieved 4/3/18.

[4] Block, D. I. (1997–). The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 25–48 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.), pp. 475–476.

[5] Ibid., p. 477.

[6] This section summarized from the article “Is Gog of Magog the Antichrist?” by Matt McClellan at Christian Worldview Press., retrieved 4/4/18.

[7] Richardson, J. (2012). Mideast Beast (Washington D.C.: WND Books), p. 175.

[8] Ezekiel 38:28, 39:6–7; also Isaiah 11:9 and Psalm 22:27.

[9] Ezekiel 39:7 (ESV).

[10] Richardson (2012). Op. cit., p. 176.

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