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Pattern Recognition in the Apocalypse

Chapter 19

Revelation 19 and Ezekiel

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Revelation 19 and Ezekiel


Any approach that failed to address the reuse of Ezekiel in the Apocalypse would be remiss as Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 are intertextually linked with Revelation 19 and 20. Of course the question must be asked why John splits 38 and 39 and reverses their chronological order, with Ezek. 39 forming the subtext for Rev. 19 and Ezek. 38 forming the subtext for Rev. 20.  Critical scholars early in this century tended to explain inconsistencies by a two-source theory of Ezekiel and the NT-scholar Mealey (1992:131-132) went so far as to propose that Ezekiel 38 and 39 refer to two entirely different battles.


Bøe observes that;


From John’s perspective Ezekiel 38-39 probably appeared as an integrated unity held together by the uniform Yahweh speech and its consistent theme of Gog’s attack and defeat. He probably did not question its origin as a genuine Ezekielian prophecy, placed at this specific place among the many oracles of salvation for Israel. In spite of its penultimate place in the book of Ezekiel, it is not certain that it has been read as chronological information, like a timetable…  1   


Stewart Crane, suggests that the chronological order found in Revelation reflects the chapter order in the version of Ezekiel preserved in Papyrus 967 - -


Although Revelation is a Christian book, and therefore one step removed from the focus of our investigation, it nevertheless has a significant thematic layout possibly reflecting both P 967 and the received text’s chapter order. Lust (1980, p.180) proposes that John likely utilised Ezekiel when writing Revelation’s end time events (Rev. 18- 22), while observing a slightly different order of final events in Revelation than in the received text of Ezekiel. Of special interest is Rev. 20.11-15 that has a second resurrection after the battle with Gog and Magog (Rev. 20.7-10), therefore matching P 967 chapter order. It does raise the question of what may have inspired John to write of a second resurrection, if he was using Ezekiel’s order of events.   2    

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The fact that different versions have slightly different chapter alignments is interesting. However, statistical analysis indicates that chapter 38-39 form a unit within the restoration oracles.   3     Moreover, although Crane argues for the last resurrection occurring after the second battle the  text  in  Revelation  20  seems  to  suggest  that  the  battle  and  second resurrection are almost simultaneous events or at the very least closely related.


Even a cursory reading makes it quite clear that John places Ezekiel 39 at the start of the thousand years and Ezekiel 38 at the end of the thousand years.  Although John echoes the language of Ezekiel 39 he omits to mention Gog in Revelation 16 – the enemy in this chapter is the Beast, the Kings of the earth and the false prophet.  At the end of the thousand years the enemy is named as Gog.


Ezekiel 39 relates to a cleansing procedure for removal of the dead bodies and the establishment of a memorial to the destruction of Gog --- these elements are not necessary or even possible at the end of the thousand years as God will be “all in all” and the earth will populated by immortals.


Moreover, the mention of sacrifice and birds in Ezekiel 39 is an echo of the land covenant established at Passover with Abraham.   4    Finally, Gog is cast into the lake of fire where the beast, the kings of the earth and the false prophet already reside (for the past thousand years). Perhaps the best way to highlight the difference in Johannine usage is with a comparison table on the next page:

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Decisive in this reading is the phrase “it is done” (Ezek.39.8) which links with “it is done” in Rev.16.17.   Revelation 16 relates the battle of Armageddon, when Christ “returns as a thief” and the faithful are exhorted to keep their garments (16.15). 

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It is done (Ezek 39.8)


“Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken”.


The phrase “it is done” is used three times in the NT.  The first occurrence is Lk 14.22 is in the parable of the wedding feast (a certain man made a great supper, and bade many v.16) to demonstrate the unpreparedness of the guests (some attended without garments). The second occurrence is in Rev 16.15 in relation to the return of Christ and garments. The third occurrence is at the end of the thousand years when the heavenly Jerusalem is revealed (Rev 21.6). A fourth occurrence (but using a different Greek word) in John 19.30 describes Jesus’ last words as -- “It is finished”. It seems then that versions of this phase are used at pivotal points in divine history. 


The phrase is not, however, used in Revelation 19 because that chapter is an expansion of the sixth vial (Rev.16) --- Rev.19 fills in the details of Rev.16.  The Great Supper is the “messianic banquet” where the enemies of the Lord are depicted as sacrifices. Moreover, Psalm 22, which was recited by Jesus on the cross (and is connected with the sacrifice of Genesis 22)   5     ends with similar phraseology, (literally): “he hath done” (Ps.22.31). It cannot be coincidental that Rev.19 echoes Psalm 22:


Revelation 19 Psalm 22

4. The four and twenty elders and four living creatures.

22. In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

21. Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns (the cherubim in the sanctuary).

5. Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.

23. Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.

6. The voice of a great multitude.

25. My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows (marriage vows?) before them that fear him.

6. Hallelujah, for the Lord God Almighty reigneth.

I will declare thy name unto my brethren.

7,9. The marriage supper of the Lamb.

26. The meek shall eat and be satisfied…your heart shall live forever.


Therefore, Armageddon (Rev.16) and the Great Supper (Rev .19) describe the same event in the figure of an anti-type.  The Lord was crucified and had a “last supper” now the beast is metaphorically crucified and becomes the ingredient (sacrifice) at the “great supper” (wedding feast). This occurs at the return of Christ.  The next time the pivotal “it is done” phrase is introduced is at the end of the thousand years after the recent Gog invasion and the abolition of death.

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The release of Satan at the end of the millennium is the precursor to the recrudescence of evil. This is symbolised by the invasion of Gog and Magog based on the Ezekiel prophecies. There has already been one fulfilment of this prophecy in the banquet of the birds at the start of the millennium, so why is there a second fulfilment at the end of the millennium?


This invasion is different from the earlier one, for although the language of Gog and Magog was employed, the nations were never referred to by name in Revelation chapter 19.  Now “Gog of the land of Magog ” from the prophecy of Ezekiel has become a pair of nations in chapter 20, Gog and Magog.  Gog is therefore, being treated as a true myth, applicable to different historic situations. No longer does the attack come from the uttermost parts of the north (Ezek.39.2), or even from the east (16.12), but from the four- corners of the earth (20.7). In this chapter Gog and Magog symbolise something greater than the constituent nations, for as the Abrahamic descendants are prophesied to be like the sand of the sea shore (Gen.22.17), so Gog and Magog will be like the sand of the sea itself.  Abraham will be a blessing to all his spiritual descendants who come from many nations, but Gog and Magog will bring the curse of death on all their followers, who also originate from many nations.


The object of the attack is the camp of God’s people and the city he loves. Camp is the word used in the story of the Exodus for Israel’s wilderness home, and reminds us that Gods people, even in the golden age of the millennium, the ecclesia in the wilderness is still the ecclesia in pilgrimage.   6    


In order to complete the picture we must ask ourselves another important question.  What occasion calls for all the saints to be gathered in the beloved city at the end of the millennium? We would expect the saints in their role as Christ’s agents and as part of his theocratic government, to be dispersed all over the world.  What occasion calls for this summit meeting? The suggestion is that the only event that merits such a huge gathering is the last judgment. As king-priests it is not unreasonable to assume that they will participate in the judgment scenario just as they did in ruling the nations.


Those cast outside the city are the mortals found wanting at the last (second) resurrection – for, “without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoso loveth and maketh a lie” (22.15).  “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” (Luke 13.28)

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The elements, refused entry to the city, foment the last rebellion. The city is of course the community of saints known as the “New Jerusalem”, with Christ, the tree of life in the midst. The imagery comes from Eden with Satan (cf. the serpent) tempting the nations and the rejected sinners denied access to the tree of life and exiled from Eden (the beloved city). It cannot be coincidence that the last rebellion and the last resurrection both occur at the end of the thousand years. The angel with the key has the authority to release Satan from the pit, but the key is also symbolic of the authority to raise the dead from the pit, for Christ has the key of David and whatever he opens cannot be shut and vice versa (3.7). He has the keys to death and hades and can open or shut the doors of the kingdom on whomsoever he chooses. The prophet Isaiah seems to confirm that the release of Satan and the second resurrection are the same event. “And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.  Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.” (Isa.24.22-23)


If the release of Satan from the abyss equates with the wicked elements rejected at the second resurrection, what purpose does it serve? It seems that the wicked are not immediately condemned to the second death (lake of fire).  Apparently they function as emissaries of Satan, going out into the world at the end of the millennium to preach rebellion. This is in contrast to the immortal ambassadors of Christ, who continued the gospel mission during the millennial age. It is obvious that God has allowed this to occur in order to distinguish the “wheat from the chaff.” In an age of longevity and peace, man is again faced with the same choices that he had at the beginning – love of God or love of self. The antagonistic elements of the mortal population will show their hand - - in their folly they will attack the peaceful and ostensibly unprotected camp of the saints. Those who join the insurrection will be instantly consumed by fire from heaven. Those who choose the side of Christ will be immortalised.  


The wicked elements that encouraged rebellion because they were rejected at the second resurrection will also be consumed by fire along with all the others. This second death is called the lake of fire. Gog and his supporters will in fact join the beast and the false prophet who had also been cast into the lake a thousand years previously (20.10).


Casting death and hades into the lake of fire (the second death- 20.14) is a metaphor for condemning those who have the nature of death back to their natural home. Death to death and ashes to ashes but Spirit to Spirit, the last enemy, death has been abolished because effectively, all those who bore the nature of sin and death were consumed in the last rebellion.“O death, where is thy victory? O grave, where is thy sting?” (1 Cor. 15.55).

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Those mortals who remained loyal to Christ become immortals and unite with the rest of the beloved city. Then the entire globe will contain an immortal population and is prepared to be presented to the Father as a perfect gift, for it is covered with his glory (an immortal population who reflect his image).


The language of Ezekiel 39 is employed by John at the commencement of the thousand years to depict Armageddon in Revelation 16 and 19 without mentioning Gog by name. In contrast, Ezekiel 38 is employed by John in Revelation 20 to depict the final Gog invasion at the conclusion of the millennium when sin (Amalek/Agag/Gog) is finally destroyed and all those with the nature of sin (mortality) perish leaving the earth populated with immortals. At that point the divine universal war against sin/Amalek/Agag/Gog is finalized - - a war that lasted from generation to generation is not necessary when there are no more generations!  The “beloved city” (a play on the name of David) is actually a “camp” – a temporary dwelling place - - even in the kingdom age the true fulfilment awaits the revelation of the “heavenly Jerusalem” when the entire earthly population is immortalised.  Note that the context is not “entering the land” or even entering into the “Sabbath rest” (kingdom) but the final fulfilment of the age (it is done) when God will be all in all. The attack occurs immediately prior to this event when the saints are “dwelling safely without walls”. This is a kingdom picture as depicted in Ezekiel 34.24-27:


“And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.  And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: (the beast destroyed at Armageddon) and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.  And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them”. The intertextual employment of Ezekiel 38 -39 as a sub-text for Revelation 19-20 necessitates closer scrutiny of the background and intention of Ezekiel 38.   7 

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Analysis of Ezekiel 38


For several reasons Ezekiel 38 is a difficult prophecy to understand. It presents difficulties in identifying the protagonists, the ancient geographical regions, the chronology and the initial fulfilment (is there a contemporary fulfilment or is it all placed in the future?). The inherit ambiguity in this prophecy lends itself to various interpretations that are often forced onto current geo-political circumstances. One can speak of eisegesis rather than exegesis. In other words, the interpreter makes the prophecy “fit” the interpreters worldview rather than letting the prophecy “speak”.   8 


A cursory reading of the chapter brought to attention the following enigmatic passages:  “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?”(Ezekiel 38.17)  The reference to earlier prophecies is affirmatively confirmed in the next chapter: “Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken”. (Ezekiel 39.8)


The Greek LXX version of 38.17 actually addresses the protagonist with an article as the Gog, leaving no doubt that the subject “he whom I have spoken” is Gog.  But which “earlier” prophecy is here being referenced?   Sverre Bøe lists three options (1) Unknown prophecies lost to posterity (2) A reference to Num 24.17 (3) A reference to similar enemies that do not specifically mention Gog.   9     There is little we can do with option (1) and option (3) is too generic but option (2) requires further examination:


“He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed [Jacob’s] shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted”. (Numbers 24.7)


This is the Balaam oracle when the King of Moab sought to hire the prophet to curse the nation of Israel when they were about to enter the land. The prophecy is concerned with the “latter days” (24.14) and the “star out of Jacob” (24.17) is interpreted as a messianic reference. Note the words in v.19: “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Num 23.19) This is very similar to Ezekiel 39.8; “this is the day whereof I have spoken”.

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It might be objected that Num 24.17 mentions Agag and not Gog, however, both the Septuagint (LXX) and the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) have Gog in this prophecy;“There shall come a man out of his seed, and he shall rule over many nations; and the kingdom of Gog shall be exalted, and his kingdom shall be increased” (LXE Numbers 24.7). Commenting on the work done by Bøe, Myrto Theocharous summarises as follows:  


Bøe notes the early shift from Agag to Gog in the LXX, and possibly in other Greek versions such as Theodotion, in the Vetus Latina and in the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP). As Bøe says of the last-named, “This is surprising since Gog elsewhere is not witnessed in the Pentateuch, but rather in the latter prophets. These writings did not come to hold any canonical position for the Samaritan society.”   10    Nevertheless, in agreement with Gerleman, Bøe recognizes the weight of this tradition in pre-Christian times, meaning that Gog, not Agag, was the common reading. Normally it is a strong indication of a different Vorlage when the LXX and the Samaritan Pentateuch agree against the MT.   11     Bøe’s thorough work on Gog and Magog covers a very broad range of extra-biblical tradition…   12 


Bøe concludes;


Several of the texts studied read Gog where other versions or manuscripts have names which are quite similar to Gog either phonetically or in written form, such as “Agag” (Num 24.17), “the Agagite” (Esth 3.1 and 9.24), and “Og” (Deut 3.1,13; 4,47). There is no indication that “Goug” in 1 Chr 5.4 ever was a part of the Gog and Magog traditions. Other texts referring to Gog may have had a Vorlage with Hebrew words that easily could be confused with “Gog”, such as in Amos 7.1 and Sir 48.17.   13 


Of particular interest to us is Esther (3.1 and 9.24) where Haman is described as an “Agagite” thus linking Esther with Agag in the Baalam oracle of Num 24.17(Gog LXX), which as Bøe remarks is quite similar to Gog either phonetically or in written form. This is interesting as Alan Fowler has suggested that a partial fulfilment of Ezekiel 38 can be found in the genocide planned by Haman;

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The events recorded in Esther probably occurred in the reign of Xerxes during the 60-year ‘silent period’ between the completion of the temple in B.C. 516 and the return under Ezra in B.C. 458). During this period, Jerusalem was without walls and the Israelites were dwelling safely because the Samaritans had been suppressed by the decree of Darius (Ezra 6:7-13).  14 


This suggestion holds merit for several reasons. (1) The restoration “prince” was the legitimate Davidic descendant Zerubbabel (2) The villages and Jerusalem were without walls   15     (3) The Jews were extremely wealthy (4) The surrounding nations were hostile (5) This was a planned genocide.(6) The temple was rebuilt.

Of course there are anomalies as this was but a partial fulfilment (curtailed because of disobedience) – the Davidic prince was not the Messiah and the rebuilt temple was not Ezekiel’s visionary temple and the genocide organised by Haman (the Agagite or Gogite) was not the latter day invasion of Gog. However, the incident prefigured the final confrontation and 75,000 of Israel’s enemies perished (Esther 9.16). As Fowler notes…“there [is no] mention of any loss of life amongst the Jews. It was, therefore, no ordinary war”.  Some form of divine intervention (besides Esther’s mediation) must have occurred and the “Gog invasion” was thwarted on the “mountains of Israel” but (obviously) also in the dispersed provinces and satrapies of Persia. It seems that a coordinated pogrom was organised to target diaspora Jews as well as those in the land, who would all be extinguished on the same day (the planning of this event took twelve months).  Haman can be equated with Hitler. It was motivated by greed and jealousy and involved merchant nations (Tarshish) prepared to “fence” the stolen wealth. As Fowler observes the Jews were the “bankers” of the Persian Empire, they held important positions and accumulated great wealth.   16     In support of this reading we note the similarity between Esther 3.1 and Ezekiel 39.11: “They bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog”




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Although the Lexicon’s point to different roots, the deconstructed phrases are almost homophones and the word play between Haman (the descendant of) Agag and Hamon -Gog would appeal to the Semitic mind and we can possibly speak of a neologism. However, there is more as Kline   17    recognises a word play on Abraham’s new name in Gen.17.14-15; “thou shalt be a father of many nations” or Father of a great multitude (´ab hámôn Gôyìm) - - Abraham’s descendants would be like the sand on the sea shore (Gen 22.17) and the hordes of the latter day Gog would number like the sand of the sea (Rev 20.8). Once again this contrasts with  Num 24.17 where Jacob’s descendants  are described; “And his seed [Jacob’s] shall be in many waters. His king shall be higher than Agag   18    , and his kingdom shall be exalted”. Note that (Num.24.20) - - “Amelek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever”. Amalek was the first nation to war against Israel (in the wilderness) and will be the last nation to war against Israel (at the end of the eschaton) for, “the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation”.


Agag is either the name of an Amalekite dynasty based on a prominent founder or perhaps a title. There was an Amalekite king called Agag (Gog LXX/SP) in the time of Balaam and one slain by Samuel (1 Sam 15.9-33). Haman is given the appellation of Agagite. According to Josephus it is a reference to his Amalekite descent (Jos. Antiq. xi. 6, 5). The LXX and SP have Gog for Agag in Num 24.17. However, under the entry for Haman in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: “Agag was a territory adjacent to that of Media. In an inscription found at Khorsabad, Sargon, the father of Sennacherib, says: “Thirty-four districts of Media I conquered and I added them to the domain of Assyria: I imposed upon them an annual tribute of horses. The country of Agazi (Agag) .... I ravaged, I wasted, I burned.” It may be added that the name of Haman is not Hebrew, neither is that of Hammedatha his father. “The name of Haman,” writes M. Oppert, the distinguished Assyriologist, “as well as that of his father, belongs to the Medo-Persian.”   19 


Of course, we know little of the dispersal and absorption of the Amalekites), and therefore likely subjects of Assyria and subsequently of Persia. Nevertheless, Agag the Amalekite becomes an archetype in Jewish traditional writings, a sort of “bogeyman” bent on the destruction of Jews.  Esau the brother of Jacob married two Hittite wives (Gen 26.34-35; 36.1-2) as well as the daughter of Ishmael (Gen 28.9; 36.3) his descendants formed the Edomites and the Amalekites (and other Semitic peoples through Ishmael’s daughter). All these people became implacable enemies of the Jews.

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Seventy nations


Jewish commentary on Esther   20     describes the exile as follows: “One sheep attempting to survive among seventy wolves.”  Note that Israel in exile is not subjected to one kingdom but to seventy nations.  Where does this figure of seventy nations come from?  It comes from the table of nations in Genesis 10, the same nations from which the coalition of Ezekiel 38 is drawn.   21 


The reference to Magog, Japheth’s son in the table of nations in Gen 10.2 (and in Chr 1.5) is crucial to establishing the connection, as well as references to the other nations of Genesis 10 mentioned in Ezekiel 38. The motif of “seventy” is a recurring motif in the ANE (not just in Israel) based on the council of the “high god” and his pantheon (seventy sons). This was demythologised and deconstructed by the prophets and depicts Yahweh and his divine council which is subsequently reflected throughout Israelite history.  Seventy souls entered Egypt, Moses appointed seventy judges (Sanhedrin), Jesus sends out seventy disciples etc. The idea behind this is that the seventy angels (in heaven) and their proxies (the seventy rulers/judges on earth) would administer the seventy nations in the eschaton.  Moses Song in Deuteronomy 32 informs us that the boundaries of Israel where determined (delimited) by the seventy nations: “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.   When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the LORD'S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance”. (Deuteronomy 32.7-9) The following is the Greek LXX version:


“Remember the days of old, consider the years for past ages: ask thy father, and he shall relate to thee, thine elders, and they shall tell thee. When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God. And his people Jacob became the portion of the Lord, Israel was the line of his inheritance”. (LXE Deuteronomy 32.7-9)


In the MT the boundaries are delimited by the children of Israel (the 70 souls entering into Egypt) and in the LXX the boundaries are defined by the angels (70 archangels controlling the nations). In essence there is little difference as both versions are informing the reader that Israel is God’s portion (inheritance) and his sons (whether angelic or Adamic) function as arbitrators defining and delimiting the boundaries of the Gentile nations. Similarly, Israel (eretz = the earth) is metaphorically depicted as “dry land” emerging from waters (surrounded by the gentile sea) when God establishes the boundaries of land and sea as in Gen 1.9.

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The scenario in Ezekiel 38 depicts the seventy nations breaching the divinely established boundaries and flooding the dry land and uses the same word (cover) that describes the flood in Gen 7.19.  “Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee”. (Ezekiel 38.9) The character of Gog is described as evil in similar terms as the pre-flood generation: “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6.5). “Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought” (Ezekiel 38.10).


Only one man was righteous – Noah whose name means “rest” alluding to those who “rest” (different Hebrew word) securely and peacefully in the land in Ezekiel’s oracle.  The lifespan of the rebellious pre-flood generation was reduced to one hundred and twenty years (6.3) the same age as Moses when he died because he rebelled against God.  In Deuteronomy 32 Moses is refused entry into the land “…because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel” (32.51) contrast Ezekiel 38.16, “….and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes”.


We have then a number of contrasts established with Deuteronomy 32.  The context of the Song of Moses is that the people are about to enter the land whose boundaries are delimited by the arbiters of the seventy nations. They are warned that a number of calamities would follow apostasy. Moses is not allowed to enter because he did not sanctify God. The Song of Moses had both a prophetic purpose (it predicted the nation’s falling away) and a didactic purpose (it taught the faithfulness of God and the consequences of sin). It warned against God’s wrath and advised them to consider their “latter end” (32.29) after all it was God who “makes alive” and God who “kills” (32.39).


The Ezekiel Oracle reverses the Song of Moses; the saints are now in the land living peacefully the nation has been resurrected (made alive) by God (Ezek. 37) and they have a “Davidic Shepherd” and dwell peacefully (Ezek. 34) there is no more apostasy. The wealth of the nations flows to them as they are the blessed of God and sanctified by him. However, Gog has an evil thought and heads up the nations of Genesis 10 (Ezek. 38), and the gentile nations breach their God established boundaries and converge from all directions to conduct genocide and to rob the peaceful saints. 

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Bøe summarises as follows:   22    The directions from which Gog’s army has been recruited give an impression of a universal plot against Israel; cf. the following list of the nations according to their place on a (modem) map:


38.2 Meshech N
38.2 Tubal N
38.5 Persia E
38.5 Cush SW
38.5 Put W
38.6 Gomer N
38.6 Bel Togarmah N
38.13 Sheba S
38.13 Tarshish W
39.6 “The coastlands” NW


A map of the settlement of the sons of Noah  23 




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Ezekiel 38 and Deuteronomy 32


Ezek 38 Deut 32

Boundaries of nations breached


38.10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought.

38.9…Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.


32.8Boundaries of the nations established

Seventy  listed in Genesis 10  24 

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen 6.5).

The flood covered the land (Gen7.19)


38.8..in the latter  years

38.16…it shall be in the latter days

32.29…that they [Israel] would consider their latter end!

38.8..that is brought back from the sword , and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains

32.26…I said, I would scatter them [Israel] into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men

38.19…For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath  have I spoken [against Gog]

32.22…For a fire is kindled in mine anger [against Israel]

38.17…Art thou he of whom I have spoken  in old  time (Gog LXX Num 24.17)  25 

32.7…Remember the days of old, consider the years… thy elders, and they will tell thee.

38.16…when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog

32.51…because ye [Moses] sanctified me not in the midst of the children  of Israel


In Ezekiel 38 all the punishments reserved for apostate Israel are now poured out on Gog and his hoards as they had breached the ordained boundaries and failed to acknowledge that “Jacob was God’s portion (inheritance)”.  God is now “sanctified” in his punishment of Gog.


“Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, (contrast.Num.24.7; “his king [Jacob’s] shall be higher than Agag, and his [Jacob’s] kingdom shall be exalted”) and the LORD hath not done all this” (Deuteronomy 32.27).

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We find then a complete reversal of fortunes. Israel is safe and secure in the land as there are no walls around Israel’s citiesthis is as close as it comes to a lamb among seventy wolves. It is the story of Esther writ large….the genocide has been averted. The punishments that Israel was warned about when they entered the land have now been heaped on Gog and his hoards. Bøe posits the following considerations regarding the nations of Ezekiel 38  26 


  • All the lands listed are remote nations, geographically as well as culturally.
  • Many of the nations listed were bygone powers, only heard of in historical accounts.
  • None of the peoples with whom Israel and Judah had actually been engaged in war are listed here, e.g. Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Syria, Edom, Moab, Ammon, the Philistines etc.
  • The only nation with whom Israel ever came to be politically involved is Persia and that took place after the days of Ezekiel.
  • All the names, except for Gog, are also found in the tables of the nations in Genesis 10 and 1 Chronicles 1.


Bøe is essentially correct (with the exception of Amalek), for it was not Israel but God himself who would conduct perpetual war against Amalek, “…the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation”.

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Analysis of Rev 19


At the last supper the disciples and Jesus sang a hymn (Matt 26.30//Mark 14.26). The hymn they sang is part of the traditional liturgy for the Passover service known as the great ‘Hallel’, which is composed of Psalms 113-118. Each first line was repeated till the end of Psalm 118, and the people responded to the rest. The next time we encounter recital of the ‘Hallel’ is not at the last supper but at the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19:



Ps 113.1-9


Rev 19

























24 Elders

Living creatures:

‘Amen, Hallelujah’(v.4)






‘Praise (Hallelu), O ye servants of Yahweh’


‘Give praise to our God all ye his servants’ (v.5)














‘Praise,(Hallelu) the name of Yahweh’
















‘When Israel went out of Egypt’








‘When Israel went out of Egypt’


‘For he hath judged the great whore…






‘The house of Jacob from a people of strange language’


…and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand’ (v.2)














In the same manner, repeating each first line, and responding at the rest, till they came to Psalm 118, when besides the first, these three lines were also repeated by the people (118.25,26):








‘save now I beseech thee Yahweh’




‘O,Yahweh, I beseech Thee, send now prosperity;




‘Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord.’


‘Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’(v. 9)


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It is apparent that the Passover Temple service forms the basis of the ‘Hallelujah’ that is sung in Revelation 19.  The Passover Lamb first appears at the commencement of the Seals, “And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…” (Rev 5.6 NKJ), an obvious reference to the Passover lamb with the ritual of blood redemption referred to in verse nine. 


Passover deliverance is celebrated at intervals throughout Revelation with a ‘New Song’ (5.9; 14:3) which is, “the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” – in other words the “song” of Exodus 15.1 has found its fulfilment in the Passover deliverance wrought by Christ. A summary   27    of the “Passover Hallel”---


    (1) Psalm 113 praises God’s majesty.
    (2) Psalm 114 speaks of deliverance.
    (3) Psalm 115 praises God for the deliverance.
    (4) Psalm 116 praises God for the one through whom the deliverance came.
    (5) Psalm 117 is the appeal by the saints to the mortal nations in the millennium.
    (6) Psalm 118 is the praise of Jesus and the redeemed.


The following verses from these Psalms of praise are particularly appropriate to the scene in chapter 19;


Rev 19 Hallel

And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God (19.1).

Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD (13.1). But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD (115.18).


And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth (19.6).

O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD (117.1-2).


Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready (19.7).

This is the day (i.e., Passover) which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (118.24).

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The marriage of the Lamb is based on the Song of Loves (Psalm 45), a Korah Psalm, which is itself drawn from the Song of Songs. The Korah Psalms are contemporary with Hezekiah.   28 

Ps 45 Rev 19

4. Ride prosperously.

7.Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.


11. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.


3.Gird thy sword on thy thigh, O mighty one.

16. The name on his thigh, LORD OF LORDS AND KING OF KINGS.

5. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.

15,21. Sword and rod of iron… which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

Song  3.8 They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.

14. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.


8. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.


13. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.


6. Thy throne, is the throne of God, is forever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. (RV)

17.I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.


5. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.


13-14  The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.


8. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.


14-15  She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.  With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king's palace.

Rev.21. 2  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.


10. Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house.


Rev.21.4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.


11. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.


10. And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

(Rev.22.9; Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not… worship God )

Song 7.10 I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me  


9. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Song 3.11 Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

12. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

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Beside the Passover, allusions can be found to the apostasy that occurred after the Exodus from Egypt;

Exodus 32 Revelation 19


o   Moses descends the mount (v.15)

o   Heaven opened… (v.11)

o   Worship the golden calf (v.19)

o   Worship  image of the beast (v.20)

o   Who is on the Lord’s side? (v.26)

o   Heavenly armies follow him (v.14) 

o    Levites sword on  thigh (v.27 RV)

o   Sword…name on  thigh  (v.15-16)

o   Levites action blessed  (v.29)

o   Blessed called to the marriage (v.9)

o   Blotted out the book of life (v.33)

o   Thrown into the lake of fire (20.14)


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The many verbal similarities between Rev 19.3-5 and the seventh trump (Rev 11. 15) make it clear that Rev 19 is a detailed exposition of the same theme. The servants….who fear him, both great and small (Rev 11.18), the peals of thunder (Rev 11.19), and above all the declaration of divine sovereignty (Rev 11.15-16). Then it was the choir of heaven that sang: “the sovereignty of the world has passed to our Lord and to his Christ”; now the vast throng of martyrs joins the Hallelujah chorus, because it is through them that God has broken down the last resistance to his universal and eternal reign. Then the elders declared; “Now is the time… for rewarding your servants the prophets…for destroying the destroyer of the earth,” and these are the two themes that the chapter proceeds to develop. The host sings a second Hallelujah. Their praise is that the smoke of Babylon rises forever and ever. This verse is an allusion to Isaiah 34.10; “It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up forever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever.”


Isaiah 34.10 and Rev.19.3 share the same hyperbole, which portrays the destruction as lasting forever i.e. emphasising the finality and totality of the destruction. It also draws on the destruction of Sodom (Gen.19.28), which is fitting, for this city is spiritually Sodom (Rev 11. 8). As the hymn of triumph rises up, so also does “the smoke of her burning.”  In contrast New Jerusalem will be shrouded in the shekinah glory; the pillar of cloud and fire (Exod.14. 20,24);“And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” (Isa.4.5-6)


The whole of creation prostrates itself before God, in praise to him. The twenty four elders represent the “heavenly priesthood” they are symbolic of the old and new covenant – they are the twelve patriarchs (Rev 21.12) and the twelve apostles (Rev 21.14). They are joined in their adoration by the four living creatures, respectively lion, ox, man and eagle. We have already observed that they represent God’s glory in the natural and spiritual creation. He is the “living God” because his throne is in the midst of the “living creatures”, for in him everything lives moves and has its being.  He is a God of the living not of the dead – and all his creation, the old and the new and the natural together with the spiritual will join in their praise of him – Hallelujah!!! The voice that comes from the midst of the throne is that of Jesus Christ, for “thy throne is the throne of God forever and ever.” (Ps.45.6) and also Psalm 22.22-23; “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.”

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The voice instructs the congregation to praise our God. Some commentators consider this inappropriate, and suggest that the voice could not be that of Christ otherwise the phrase “my God” would have been used. The sonship of Jesus is, after all, distinct from that of his disciples: “Jesus saith unto her, ‘Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.’ ” (John 20.17).While it is true that the sonship of Jesus is unique, in the kingdom age the saints will be “like him” - immortal beings, they are joint-heirs with Christ, they suffered with him and they are glorified with him (Rom 8.17). It is therefore an honour for them to be addressed by their Lord in this manner, and it emphasises a great truth – “they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev 21.3).


Two sets of people are called on to praise God. First, there are his servants. In Revelation two kinds of people are specially called the servants of God; the prophets (Rev 10.7, 11.18, 22. 6), and the martyrs (Rev 7.3, 19.2). First, then, this is the praise of the prophets and the martyrs who have witnessed for God with their voices and their lives. Second, there are the small and great.  The praising of God involves all his servants, those of low and high status. God is no respecter of persons, so what does this mean? The gospel teaches that “he that is least among you all, the same shall be great” (Luke 9.48) and “he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve” (Luke 22.26).  This reverses human notions of “greatness.”   The apostle Paul, whose name means little or small, saw himself as the “least of all saints” (Eph 3.8), and the “least of the apostles” (1 Cor. 15.19).  If Paul considered himself the least, then who is the greatest? His zeal for God was unmatched, and his ministry unsurpassed. Paul himself reminds the Corinthians that the least honourable members of the body often perform some of the most important functions, and therefore require our lavish attention and protection. For God “gives more abundant honour to that part which lacked” (1 Cor.12.24).  Who then is small and who is great in the kingdom of God? It was a question that exercised the mind of John the recipient of the apocalypse, and his brother James. Their mother requested (no doubt on their behalf) the honour of sitting on his right and left hand. Jesus asked them if they could drink from his cup and be baptised with his baptism (suffer martyrdom like him).  When they answered positively, Jesus acknowledged that they would indeed suffer martyrdom. But even this could not guarantee high status in the kingdom, for, “It is not mine to give, but it shall be given them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” God is not “beholden” to any man and it is his gift to grant high status in the kingdom. We should be content to take the lowest seat at the wedding feast.