Daily Reflections October 6, 2017
Ezekiel’s prophecy against Gog and Magog is one that is debated amongst Bible readers because there is little that we know about them. The mention of them in Revelation 20 after the millennial reign of Christ has caused many to interpret them as the most current superpower of the day.
“And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.” (Revelation 20:7-8).
It's often fruitless to attempt to identify these things that are not explicitly revealed to us. Additionally, we often miss the wonderful truths that are there in the text while contemplating who it might or might not be. So, it is likely best to simply understand Gog and Magog as symbolic of an unidentified, distant, warlike nation that will come against God’s people as a formidable foe at some point in the future.
With all the ambiguity, what truths do we find in this passage?
1. Great tribulation will come. The Israelites needed to know that Babylonian exile was not the end of judgment. There would be more gruelling trials right up until the very end. And this isn't because God has lost control. Like a bridled horse, God drives the armies against his people. He will use this to show himself to all nations as the most powerful, holy God.
2. God does not abandon his people. Yes, he must pour out judgment in order to be a just and righteous judge. And it might seem like his people are on the brink of total destruction, but God will intervene to save his people. He will preserve his remnant and completely conquer his foes, no matter how multitudinous. God will pour fire, pestilence, hailstones, and all kinds of wrath from heaven. Ezekiel is quite graphic about their bodies being feasted on by animals, and weapons of war used as firewood for seven years. God’s people have nothing to fear. Even in Revelation 20, we read there about Gog and Magog,
“And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:9-10)
God will be glorified. In all things, God will be found righteous and holy. His display of justice will exalt him and show him as worthy to be worshiped. He is a jealous God and he will ensure that his name alone is praised. Multiple times, this purpose is repeated in these two chapters.
The beautiful truths of these chapters may be missed if we quarrel about whether Russia, U.S., or China is the identity of Gog and Magog. But when we read them simply, we may hear hints of the words of Jesus,
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
Psalm 90 begins with an interesting comparison between God and man. God, we are told, is the dwelling place of His people, the Creator of the world, and the One who exists from everlasting to everlasting. In contrast with this grandeur, man is but dust. His days are not only numbered, but they are filled with toil and trouble. This comparison should remind the reader of their desperate need of God. It should strip away all feelings of pride and significance, and promote a humble adoration of the God who is everlasting to everlasting. Hope, security, and significance are found only when the Lord is made your dwelling place.
Mankind, however, are stubborn creatures and prone to rebel against their Creator. This is the case of God’s people at the time of the psalmist’s writing. We are not told what act of rebellion the people were involved in, but the psalmist writes that the Lord’s anger burns against them because of their iniquity (v.7-8). The people should have known that this would be the result of their sin, but they failed to fully contemplate God’s power and wrath. An appropriate fear of the Lord was absent from their lives (v.11).
While God’s anger is never a pleasant experience, it works for the good of God’s people. In this psalm it serves to draw God’s people back to an appropriate fear of the Lord. It works as a powerful reminder that God is great and man is not. The psalmist asks for the Lord to remind them of this fact so that they might have hearts of wisdom (v.12). He then makes a prayer to God of which we should note three parts. First, he asks that God would have pity on the people and return to them (v.13, 14). Secondly, he asks that God would satisfy and make them glad with His steadfast love (v.14-15). And thirdly, he asks that this would not be a temporary blessing, but one that would last for all their days and even to the generations of their children (v.14, 16)
This psalm reminds us that there are two ways that we can respond to God’s discipline. We can harden our hearts and persist in our sins, or we can follow the example of the psalmist and pray for restoration. What a blessing it is that we can not only ask this of God, but that we can have full assurance that He delights to bless and protect those who seek Him in humility. We are reminded of this in the words of the Apostle Paul when he writes:
“He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will He not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
Director of Youth Ministries Ryan Shevalier