When do the events of Ezekiel chapters 35-39 take place?

Email Received:

I was under the impression that the events of Ezekiel 35 through 39 will take place prior to the beginning of the 70th Week and, therefore, could happen at anytime. What do you think about this?

Ted’s Response:

More details can be found in my commentary, The Final Battles. It concentrates primarily on Ezekiel 38 & 39.

Ezekiel 35 describes the ultimate destruction of Edom. A great deal of blood will be shed (35:6), and great numbers of people will be slaughtered (35:8). Mount Seir will be made desolate forever (35:9); in fact, all of Edom will be included in this desolation (35:15). If this desolation is "forever," but these regions are not desolate now, then this permanent judgment by God must be a future event. But when?

Here is what Isaiah wrote:
Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? "It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save." Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? "I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. ... I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground." (Isaiah 63:1-3,6)
John wrote a parallel passage:
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:11,13,15)
All of this describes Jesus having returned to earth at Bozrah, in Edom (not initially "touching down" at the Mount of Olives, as many incorrectly assume). On His way to Jerusalem, Jesus will trample everything in His path in the bloody "winepress" (Isaiah 63:2,3; Revelation 14:15, 19:15), staining his garments with blood as He goes. He will turn Edom into a desolate waste, permanently. As such, I believe the events of Ezekiel 35 will occur at the very end of the 70th Week, when Jesus returns, and not before that point.

Ezekiel 36 gives a brief summation of the desolation, plundering, and ridicule of Israel by its enemies, which will include Edom (Ezekiel 36:4,5). This already will have happened, as detailed in Ezekiel 35. The other nations who will have scorned Israel also will suffer scorn (36:7). Then Israel will be blessed by its towns being inhabited and its ruins being rebuilt, the number of people and animals will be increased, and Israel will prosper (36:10,11). The mountains will be an inheritance of Israel (36:12).

It is clear that God Himself will be the one who will gather the Israelites back into their homeland, will cleanse them from their sins, and will bless them more than ever before:

"For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. ... On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, 'This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.' Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it. ... I will make their people as numerous as sheep, as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the LORD." (Ezekiel 36:24-30,33-36,37c,38)
Thus, God will do the following things for Israel: Now, when will all of this happen? Look at this prophecy given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel:
Seventy "sevens" are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (Daniel 9:24)
It will be at the end of the Seventy Weeks of years (more specifically, at the end of the 70th Week) that God will put an end to sin in Israel and bring everlasting righteousness to Israel. Thus, the events of Ezekiel 36 will occur at the end of the 70th Week, following Jesus' return.

Ezekiel 37 speaks of the famed "dry bones" of Israelites which will be "resurrected" from spiritual death, physical death, or both. It is the Lord God who will put these "bones" together and breathe life into them (37:5-9). God will bring them back to the land of Israel, they will know that God is the Lord, and they finally will settle in their own land (37:12-14). This can happen only at the end of the 70th Week.

Ezekiel continued by providing details about how the house of Israel will be reunited (Ezekiel 37:15-28). Long before this prophecy was made, God became angry, due to Solomon's sin of following other gods, and said that He would tear most of the kingdom of Israel away from the line of Solomon (son of David), after his son Rehoboam became king (1 Kings 11:4-13). Ten of the twelve tribes were given to Jeroboam (11:29-31), while the tribes of Judah and Benjamin stayed with Rehoboam (12:21-24). Israel never has been reunited since that time.

However, at a specific time in the future, all of Israel will be united, again, as one (Ezekiel 37:16-19). It is not that the people from all the tribes of Israel will return to Israel on their own and decide to reunite, nor will they be the ones to destroy Edom and any other nations attacking them. Rather, God Himself will bring them back and will make them to be one nation in the land of Israel; they will be cleansed of their sin, and the true God will be their God (37:21-23).

Jeremiah spoke of a future time, after the remnant of Israelites are returned out of bondage and exile, back to Israel:

"In that day," declares the Lord Almighty, "I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. Instead, they will serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them." (Jeremiah 30:8,9)
King David evidently will be one of the "dry bones" resurrected and brought back to Israel to be their king again, with the Lord Jesus to be King over the entire earth. Ezekiel confirmed this here:
My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. (Ezekiel 37:24,25)
This will be after Jesus returns, because it is at that time that God will make an everlasting covenant of peace with Israel and will place His sanctuary (the millennial Temple) among them (Ezekiel 37:26-28). In fact, "The prince [David] himself is the only one who may sit inside the gateway to eat in the presence of the LORD [Jesus]. He is to enter by way of the portico of the gateway and go out the same way" (44:3). David himself claimed, "Yet the LORD, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever." (1 Chronicles 28:4)

I realize that some see "David" as a Messianic term for Yeshua/Jesus. In this particular case, I disagree. I believe that King David, from the past, will be resurrected. Jesus will be the God of Israel; and David, the king, will be the prince and shepherd of Israel. In essence, David will be established as the King of Israel, answerable only to Jesus, King of the World.

Ezekiel 38 describes how, when Gog attacks Israel, God's anger will be aroused, and a great earthquake will occur (38:18,19). This probably will be the same earthquake mentioned in Revelation 11:13, just prior to the return of Jesus to earth to rule and reign (11:15-17). All people on the earth will tremble at God's presence (Ezekiel 38:20), indicating that Jesus will have returned to earth (at the end of the 70th Week). At that time, everyone will know that God (Jesus) is the Lord (38:23).

Ezekiel 39 is, essentially, a restatement of Ezekiel 38, with added details. (See also When does the Gog/Magog battle, described in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, occur?) God will cause Gog and the armies of the nations following him to attack Israel (39:2). Then God will disarm them, cause them to fall, and give them as food to the birds and animals (39:3,4). We can know that this will happen at the end of the 70th Week by looking further. The following will occur only when Jesus returns to the earth:

I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel. ... From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God. ... Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezekiel 39:7,22,28,29)
Here are parallel descriptions, by both Ezekiel and John, of the gathering of the wild birds and animals to eat the hordes who have died in this great, very bloody slaughter:
On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. ... Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: "Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and bulls—all of them fattened animals from Bashan [see also Isaiah 34:5-7]. At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind," declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezekiel 39:4,17-20)

I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great." (Revelation 19:17,18)
Many believe that this great slaughter of the armies of Gog and Magog will occur just prior to the beginning of the 70th Week. This is because Ezekiel described how those who live in Israel will use the weapons for fuel for seven years (Ezekiel 39:9).

However, this one verse, standing on its own, cannot be used to demonstrate that the seven years in question are equivalent to the so-called "tribulation" period. In fact, it has been commonplace for God to use periods of "seven" in the past, for various activities, such as the following (most of which involve seven-year periods):

The seven years mentioned in Ezekiel 39:9 most likely refer to the first seven years of the Millennium, after Jesus has returned to earth. Jesus will not simply "clean up" the entire mess left behind in Israel when He returns. Rather, He will require human involvement in this specific endeavor, perhaps as a reminder to the Israelites of the bloody fate of those who oppose Him, as well as the blood of their enemies that was shed so that they could continue living.

Also, consider the weapons that will be burned for fuel: "the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears" (Ezekiel 39:9). These certainly are not modern weapons of warfare. Perhaps the desolation of the earth, during the period known as the "day of vengeance," will result in the destruction of the major weapon stockpiles of the nations, leaving them only primitive weapons with which to make war.

Ezekiel 40-46 describes the brand new millennial Temple in Jerusalem (where I believe Jesus will reside after He returns), as well as the distribution of the land to the future tribes of Israel. I believe that Ezekiel 40 follows chronologically and immediately after Ezekiel 39, which is another example of why I feel Ezekiel 39 occurs at the very end of the 70th Week. The Temple of Ezekiel 40-46 is not the same as the Third Temple, constructed during the 70th Week, which John was told to measure in Revelation 11:1.

Now, note the following:

In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the fall of the city—on that very day the hand of the LORD was upon me and he took me there (Ezekiel 40:1)
At the beginning of the (Hebrew) year, on the tenth of the first month (Tishri), is Yom Kippur; and I believe that this is a concealed reference to a future Yom Kippur. Furthermore, I have become convinced that Jesus will return to earth, at the end of the 70th Week, on a Yom Kippur.

The great slaughter of the armies of Gog and Magog—which I believe is a picture of Jesus' treading the winepress of God's wrath (Isaiah 63:2,3; Revelation 14:15, 19:15) from Bozrah to Jerusalem, upon His return to earth—is not the same as the Battle of Armageddon. The latter will take place 30 days thereafter. The following prophecy in Daniel 12:11,12 must be looked at more closely to understand this:

From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days. (Daniel 12:11,12)
Jesus' second advent (bodily descent) back to earth will be on day 1,260 following the setting up of the abomination that causes desolation, at the midpoint of the 70th Week. I believe that the Battle of Armageddon will be 30 days later, on day 1,290 (Daniel 12:11). So the Antichrist's control and influence will extend from the day the abomination that causes desolation is set up until he is defeated in the Battle of Armageddon: 1,260 days + 30 days = 1,290 days (Daniel 12:11).

Now, each year, the first or second day of Hanukkah is 75 days after Yom Kippur. The latter will be the day that Jesus returns, and day 1,260 + 75 days = day 1,335. Therefore, I believe it is very likely that the millennial Temple will be consecrated and dedicated on day 1,335 (12:12), during Hanukkah = the Feast of Dedication. For many more details about this, read my commentary, The Final Battles.

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