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THE BATTLE OF GOG.
EZEK, xxxix. 1, 11. Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus
saith the LORD Gon; Behold, am against thee O Gog, the chief prince or Meshech and Tubal. And it shall come to pass in that day, ihat I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea : and it shall stop the noises (or mouths) of the passengers: anil there shall they bury Gog, and all his vultitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamon-gog.
A few things, in this prophecy, may to us be dark and intricate, not because God designed in his reve. lation to make it so, to deceive, puzzle or perplex his children, in the study of his holy word ;- far be it from me to impute 'such motives to my heavenly Father;--but on account of the translators' retain. ing certain words, or names of places, or things, in the original language, which might have been used intelligently when Ezekiel prophesied of them in their common tongue, but which, as it respects us, lave become obsolete. Yet I think when I read this passage, which at first view 'may appear dark, with Other prophecies of like import, and compare scripture with seripture, I find not only much instruction, but comfort and consolation in believing that in God's light I can see light. And even in the history of modern times, I can behold the prophet's eye calmly surveying scenes, (on which we are looking, or may look,) with a keen vision and clear perception, which on the score of human reason can never be account.
ed for, only by supposing something more than mortal had given to the prophet's eye powers of perceive ing the end from the beginning; which fixes upon our minds a solemn conviction, that the ken of the prophet once looked on scenes, which he has described in the common language of his day; which he saw far in the distance of the future; and describes them unto us in the typical language of his time. Much of it now Iras become a matter of history unto. as, and the very last part is now being fulfilled before our faces. This consideration ought to lead us to humble prayer, for the same Spirit's piercing rays of light to discern the truth, and for the same child-like, teachable disposition of soul to receive, as our fathers the prophets evidently possessed. May God, therefore, by his Holy Spirit direct us while we shalt attempt to understand,
I. THE CHARACTERS AND PERSONS DESCRIBED IN THIS PROPHECY.
II. THE HISTORY AND TRANSACTIONS PROPHESIED OF. And,
II. THE TIMES AND PERIODS GIVEN US IN THIS PROPHECY.
We shall feel as though we were not treading op forbidden ground, while we attempt,
I. TO UNDERSTAND THE PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS SPOKEN OF BY GOD IN THIS PROPHECY. And first, it appears to me that this prophecy has special reference to the two great contending powers on the earth; their contention, and the final victory of the one over the other. As it respects personal power, it means the wicked and righteous. "As far as principle may be involved in this prophecy, it would mean sin and holiness; but if men in a collective sense, then it must be understood to mean the kingdoms of this world in a worldly sense, and the kingdom of God in a spiritual sense. The places spoken of in these chapters, sometimes describe the world at large, at other times the particular places where the people or kingdoms have sway, spoken of in the prophecy.
let the reader keep in view these princi
ples, or rules, and a knowledge of some of the prin. cipal outlines of history and geography will give, in my humble opinion, sufficient helps to understand ihe literal sense of these chapters, and with the aid of the Holy Spirit, he may improve upon this knowa ledge, to the glory of God, and to the good of his fels low-beings.
What does Gog mean? Answer. God tells Ezekiel that it is "the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.” He is a chief, over what? I say over the world, or wicked nations of the world. Meshech, if a character is meant, signifies, “ to draw by force." If a place is meant, it would mean what is now Russia in Asia, Georgia, &c. Meshech was the sixth son of Japheth, and settled in that part of the world, when the earth was divided, after the Hood. Tubat signifies “confusion," or, properly, “the earth or world." If a place is designed, then it would be in Syria, Armenia, &c. He was the fifth son of Japheth. It is my humble belief, that by Meshech and Tubal we are to understand the character and qualily, rather than place of this chief prince. My reasons are these: the places from whence the mul. titude of the forces of this chief come, are given in another place, Ezek. xxxviii. 5 and 6, and include the three quarters of the world, then supposed to be the whole earth, i. e.--Persia, which is in Asia, and was settled by the descendants of Shem, the third son of Noah; Ethiopia, which is Arabia and Upper Egypt. This country was peopled by Ham's posterity. Sheba and Dedan' are mentioned in this prophecy, 13th Terse, both of them sons of Ham. See Gen. x. 7. Libya is Egypt, Barbary, Tripoli, in Africa. This land was settled by the descendants of Ham also. Gomer was the oldest son of Japheth, and his sons peopled the Grecian islands, and all the maritime countries of Europe, and the part now called the Russian ern. pire, both in Asia and Europe. Togarmuh, he wo was a son of Japheth, and settled the countries of the north; the same as I have mentioned before the Russian empire." These were the three sons uf
Noah : and of them was the whole earth overspread." Gen. ix. 19. Magog is mentioned 100 in this prophecy, as “the land of Magog," Ezek. xxxviii. 2, which signifies " covering.” He, too, was one of the sons of Japheth. And Noah says of Japheth, Gen. ix. 27, “God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant." This prophecy has been literally fulfilled, and the descendants of Japheth have actually covered the world with fruit, and for ages have dwelt in the tents of Shem, and have been chief prince over the nations of Ham. Tarshish is also mentioned in this prophecy; he also was a descendant of Japheth, and settled in Europe. This country lay upon the north side of the Mediterranean sea.
There is now no doubt remaining in my mind, that the Gog spoken of in our text means the great powers which Danie) gives us to understand were to arise up, and each successively rule over the world: the Babylonians, the Medes and Persians, the Grecians, and lastly the Romans. These nations, or kingdoms, have, each in their turn, ruled over the people of God, drawn them into idolatry, and persecuted them with a spirit of the old serpent, the devil, for more than 2500 years. Gog, then, has appeared and “drawn away” the holy people, and ruled over the world, made war with the saints, and opposed God. Gog, in my opinion, constitutes the wicked powers of the earth, and especially Antichrist, or Rome papal. These are the kings of the East,” and of the world, which will be gathered to the great battle of God Almighty in the last day, when the final issue of Gog and the church will be decided, at the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ. You have undoubtedly noticed the similarity of events between Ezek. Xxxix. 17 to 21, and Rev. xix. 17 to 21. These are events of the same time, and describe the last great battle, when God shall destroy the kingdoms of this world, and set up his glorious kingdom, which shall fill the whole earth.
Israel is the other character specially noticed in our text. We should suppose, that there could be no dispute on this word, or who is meant by Israel. Yet on this name there is as much division as on any other in the whole Bible. Some will tell you, that it means the ancient covenant people of God, the Jews; others will tell you that Israel means the "ten tribes" of the children of Israel which were separated from the Jews in the days of Jeroboam; but if you will suffer me to give my opinion, I shall say, that “Israel” means the whole household of faith, whether among Jews or Gentiles, whether under the law or gospel. And Paul has given us this rule in Rom. ix. 6 and 7: “For they are not all Israel that are of Israel. Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” Here is the stumbling stone, where our teachers of prophecy stumble; they will have Israel mean the Jews, and so prove the Jews' return, by this mode of expounding the prophecies; when Paul has given us a plain rule to the contrary. Therefore, wherever I find a prophecy unfulfilled when the gospel was preached hy Christ and his apostles, I am constrained to understand the word Israel to mean the children of Christ, except where they plainly declare they mean Israel in the flesh. Then so far as this prophecy was not fulfilled before Christ, I must understand the “house of Israel” to mean the household of faith. By the word “heathen," we understand not only unbelievers among the Gentiles, but also among the Jews; “for God hath included them all in unbelief,” as Paul tells us, “ that he might have mercy upon all.”