Gog and Magog Part 4

X. Here are some pertinent elements relative to a near historical fulfillment of EZE 38-39 during the intertestamental period between the prophecy of Malachi and the gospel of Matthew. A. The voice of prophecy was silent during this season of hundreds of years. Therefore there is no authoritative inspired record of the events of those years. 1. This does not mean that God could not confirm His word by other means, as was the case in EZR 6:1-3. 2. There are extra-biblical historical records which do provide reasonably reliable information about the Jewish situation in the intertestamental period, such as some of the Apocryphal books like 1&2 Maccabees or the writings of the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, Wars of the Jews). 3. “These are not inspired writings, but they are authentic and trustworthy histories, which have, in the providence of God, come down to us from ancient times, that by their records, the faith of God’s people might be encouraged, and those that reject his word might be without excuse.” (Philip Mauro, The Seventy Weeks And The Great Tribulation) 4. Prophecy of future events was to be confirmed at their historical fulfillment for the benefit of those who would witness the fulfillment (JOH 13:19; 14:29; MAT 24:24-25). Therefore, a dark prophecy of something that was significant to God’s people in a particular season could have served its purpose for the comfort of the people of that season without having the same significance for the distant future. They would at the time be assured that God had things under control. B. There are indeed inspired prophecies of events that would take place in the intertestamental period. It cannot be affirmed that the prophets completely overlooked that coming era. 1. The Book of Daniel expressly sets forth major events of the intertestamental era, including the rise of the Grecian empire and its influence, demise, etc., and the rise of the Roman Empire. DAN 2:39-40; 8:21; 10:20; 11:2. a. DAN 11 is unique in that it prophesies many specific events not covered elsewhere in the Bible. b. Try and find another chapter in the Bible that gives anywhere close to the same number of prophetic details as DAN 11. c. Its detail and accuracy have led Bible skeptics and critics to hold to a late date for its writing, namely, after its events took place. Yet even the Jewish historian notes concerning Alexander the Great: “And when the book of Daniel was shewed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present, but the next day he called them to him, and bade them ask what favours they pleased of him...” (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities Of The Jews, Book XI, Chap. II) d. Daniel also prophesied of other significant players that arose during the intertestamental period: a vile conniver who would entice a corrupt element of Jewish society and defile true religion, and a stalwart opposition to him. DAN 11:21, 30-33. 2. Zechariah also prophesied of sons of Zion who would be raised up against Greece. ZEC 9:12-13. 3. The foregoing major players are well known in history: Alexander, an heir to his kingdom named Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), and the Jewish priest-warriors (the Maccabees). a. “The following words explain this: I have raised up and animated thy sons, O Zion! against thy sons, O Greece! This was fulfilled when against Antiochus, one of the kings of the Grecian monarchy, the people that knew their God were strong and did exploits, Dan 11:32. And they in the hand of an almighty God were made as the sword of a mighty man, which none can stand before.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on Zechariah 9:13) b. “bent Judah — made Judah as it were My bow, and ‘filled’ it ‘with Ephraim,’ as My arrow, wherewith to overcome the successor of the Grecian Alexander, Antiochus Epiphanes (compare Notes, see on Dan 8:9; see on Dan 11:32; 1 Maccabees 1:62; 2:41-43), the oppressor of Judah. Having spoken (Zec 9:1-8) of Alexander’s victories, after the parenthesis (Zec 9:9, Zec 9:10) as to Messiah the infinitely greater King coming, he passes to the victories which God would enable Judah to gain over Alexander’s successor, after his temporary oppression of them.” (Jamieson, Faussett, Brown Commentary on Zechariah 9:13) C. Some may object that since there is no follow-up mention in Scripture of the fulfillment of EZE 38-39 in ancient history, that it therefore cannot be speaking of ancient times. But there are other prophecies which lack further elucidation which we need not doubt took place. 1. “All this shall be done in a little time: “Within one year according to the years of a hireling (within one year precisely reckoned) this judgment shall come upon Kedar.” If this fixing of the time be of no great use to us now (because we find not either when the prophecy was delivered or when it was accomplished), yet it might be of great use to the Arabians then, to awaken them to repentance, that, like the men of Nineveh, they might prevent the judgment when they were thus told it was just at the door.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on Isaiah 21:16). 2. “Within three years - We have no means of ascertaining the exact fulfillment of this prediction, nor do we certainly know by whom it was accomplished.” (Albert Barnes Commentary on Isaiah 16:14)

XI. Here is a summary of world events relative to Israel during the intertestamental period. A. The Medo-Persian empire was overcome by the Greek, Alexander the Great (ca. 336 B.C.), who built a massive empire at a young age and who died young. When dying, he was supposedly asked, “To whom do you leave your kingdom?” and he answered wryly, “To the strongest.” B. Alexander’s kingdom was eventually divided among four of his generals (Lysimachus, Ptolemy, Seleucus, Cassander) with a northern, southern, eastern, and western division of the empire (Asia, Egypt, Syria, Greece). The hellenic influence of Greek civilization ran through all. C. There were ongoing struggles for dominance between the Ptolemaic monarchy of Egypt (kings of the south) and the Seleucid monarchy of Syria (kings of the north) and these struggles are outlined in Daniel. D. The Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, came to the throne in 175 B.C. 1. “Dan. 11:21 calls him a contemptible person.’ I Macc. 1:10 refers to him as ‘a sinful root,’ and II 9:28 calls him a ‘murderer and a blasphemer.’ He gave himself the special name of Epiphanes, which means ‘God made manifest.’” (Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary, p. 590) 2. In his warring exploits he also oppressed Judah and Jerusalem, doing so with great notoriety. He is of central interest to the prophecy of EZE 38-39. E. The Jews, typical of their history, eventually fell into worldliness and apostasy after the return from Babylon. 1. Religion, even for the priesthood, had been deteriorating from the days of Malachi. 2. The modernized Greek culture was very appealing to a large element of the Jewish people who were willing to cast off their history and order to mainstream Jewish life in a Greek world and “be like the cool kids.” a. “...Menelaus and the sons of Tobias were distressed, and retired to Antiochus, and informed him, that they were desirous to leave the laws of their country, and the Jewish way of living according to them, and to follow the king’s laws, and the Grecian way of living: wherefore they desired his permission to build them a gymnasium at Jerusalem. And when he had given them leave, they also hid the circumcision of their genitals, that even when they were naked they might appear to be Greeks. Accordingly, they left off all the customs that belonged to their own country, and imitated the practices of other nations.” (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities Of The Jews, Book XII, Chap. V) b. There is nothing new under the sun (ECC 1:9) and history has a way of repeating itself for those who are ignorant of, or who willfully disregard, its lessons. 3. DAN 8:9-12 describe the rise and reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. a. “And there came out of them a wicked root Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been a hostage at Rome, and he reigned in the hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks” (1Mac. 1:10). b. He posted a garrison of soldiers to hinder God’s worship and promote his worship in which he offered swine in God’s temple. c. “He did all he could do to extirpate and abolish true religion and godliness; he cut in pieces the copies of the book of the law, and burnt them, called the law of truth in Mal. 2:6, and put to death the professors of truth; and showed all the contempt of true doctrine and worship he was capable of.” (John Gill) d. God allowed this, it is written, “by reason of transgression” (DAN 8:12). In other words, it was allowed as a judgment against the Jews because of their sin. e. God gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers because of their sin. ISA 42:24. f. “The great transgression of the Jews after the captivity was a contempt and profanation of the holy things, snuffing at the service of God, bringing the torn and lame for sacrifice, as if the table of the Lord were a contemptible thing, and therefore God sent Antiochus to take away the daily sacrifice and cast down the place of his sanctuary. Note, it is just with God to deprive those of the privileges of his house who despise and profane them, and to make those know the worth of ordinances by the want of them who would not know it by the enjoyment of them.” (Matthew Henry Commentary) g. The transgression of the Jews is clearly stated by the prophet Malachi in MAL 1:6-14; 2:1-17; 3:5-15.

XII. Dr. Scofield affirmed that the invading forces of EZE 38-39 had to be speaking about Russia and northern European powers in the far-distant future. A. “That the primary reference is to the northern (European) powers, headed up by Russia, all agree.” (SRB on Ezekiel 38:2) B. This slant on EZE 38-39 fit better with Dr. Scofield’s premillennial dispensational theory of an end-time regathering of Israel and the final establishing of the Messianic Davidic throne therein. C. But Scofield was wrong: all do NOT agree that modern Russia, etc. are in the prophecy. In fact, the consensus was otherwise. 1. “The Scythian Tauri in the Crimea were so called. The Araxes also was called “Rhos.” The modern Russians may have hence assumed their name, as Moscow and Tobolsk from Meshech and Tubal, though their proper ancient name was Slavi, or Wends.” (Jamieson, Fausett, Brown Commentary on Ezekiel 38:2). 2. “The Revelation [sic] David Martin, pastor of the Waloon church at Utrecht, concludes, after examining all previous opinions, that Antiochus Epiphanes, the great enemy on the Israelites, is alone intended here; and that Gog, which signifies covered, is an allusion to the well-known character of Antiochus, whom historians describe as an artful, cunning, and dissembling man. See Dan 8:23, Dan 8:25; Dan 11:23, Dan 11:27, Dan 11:32. Magog he supposes to mean the country of Syria. Of this opinion the following quotation from Pliny, Hist. Nat., lib. v., c. 23, seems a proof; who, speaking of Coele-Syria, says Coele habet Apamiam Marsyia amne divisam a Nazarinorum Tetrarchia. Bambycem quam alio nomine Hierapolis vocatur, Syris vero Magog. “Coele-Syria has Apamia separated from the tetrarchy of the Nazarenes by the river Marsyia; and Bambyce, otherwise called Hierapolis; but by the Syrians, Magog.” (Adam Clarke Commentary on Ezekiel 38:2)

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