Will Israel's "peace and safety," just prior to being attacked by the armies of Gog and Magog, be real or possibly a misperception on their part?
Portions of Ezekiel 38 seem to indicate that Israel will be living in "peace and safety" just before being attacked by the armies of Gog and Magog. Yet, this seems almost contradictory, if not paradoxical. It does not seem that they actually will be in a state of "peace and safety" if danger and destruction are imminent. Do you think they actually will be at peace with their neighbors and living safely at that time, or could this be a misperception or a mistaken belief that they will have? Also, is this the same "peace and safety" that 1 Thessalonians 5:3 refers to?
Here are the verses in question, where God is addressing Gog at a future time:
8After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety. 9You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land. ... 11You will say, "I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting peopleóall of them living without walls and without gates and bars." ... 14This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? 15You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. 16You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes." (Ezekiel 38:8,9,11,14-16)Now, look at God's stipulation, to Israel, of what it will take for them to be living in safety:
Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety. (Leviticus 25:18,19)In Leviticus 25:18,19, the stipulation that God gave to the ancient Israelites that would guarantee their living safely in the land was that they would have to be following His decrees and obeying His laws. Today, maybe some of the orthodox Jews are doing this, or at least are trying to do so. But I do not see the people of Israel, as a whole, doing this at all, nor do I see them doing it effectively and successfully until their Messiah returns.
It may be, at some point during the 70th Week, that the descendents of Jacob will be doing their best to follow God's decrees and to obey God's laws, enabling them to "live in safety," albeit for a short time (until attacked by the Gog/Magog hordesósee my commentary, The Final Battles). Or else it very well could be, as you have suggested, that "living in safety" will be merely a perception or an assumption, by many, that this is happening when, in reality, it will be nothing more than a deceptive illusion. I believe that either one is possible.
Notice, in Ezekiel 39:25, that God will bring the people of Jacob/Israel back from captivity, which will be after He has destroyed the hordes of Gog/Magog (39:6,11). But in 39:26, God refers to the time, not long before all of that takes place, when the people will have been seen to be acting shamefully and unfaithfully by trespassing against Him. YET, at that time, it will seem that they will have been dwelling in safety with nobody making them afraid. This seems to be directly contradictory to Leviticus 25:18,19, which stipulates that the Israelites would have to be following His decrees and obeying His laws to be living in real safety.
Here is what Ezekiel said elsewhere about the false prophets of Israel:
Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, "The LORD declares," though I have not spoken? Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: "Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you," declares the Sovereign LORD. "My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD. Because they lead my people astray, saying, 'Peace,' when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. ... The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign LORD." (Ezekiel 13:7-11,16)Jeremiah also had something to say about Jerusalem's false sense of peace:
"Peace, peace," they say, when there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:11b)These things make me suspect, even further, that the alleged "safety" in which the Israelites will find themselves living (Ezekiel 38:11,14) may be a false safety that they will be deluded into perceiving, by false prophets and perhaps even by the False Prophet and/or the Antichrist. After all, how is it that Israel suddenly will be attacked by the armies of Gog/Magog if they will be living in true safety? I agree with you that the latter does not seem too feasible, especially since I believe that the attack of Gog/Magog will take place near the end of the 70th Week rather than at the beginning, as many believe (see my commentary, The Final Battles, for further details about this).
As to whether or not the allusions to "peace and safety" in Ezekiel 38:8,11,14 are the same as the mention of that phrase in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, I do not know for certain, although my impression is that they are. Paul was making a reference to the Day of the Lord when he wrote about "peace and safety." Likewise, I believe that the Gog/Magog attack will take place during the Day of the Lord period. So it does seem feasible that these are parallel passages. More about "peace and safety" can be found in another email response: When will the Gog/Magog battle begin, and when will Israel be living in safety?
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