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Ezekiel 38-39

09.02.2010

During a round of prophesying (like a round of golf? a round of pool? a round of beer? who knows…), Ezekiel spends two chapters on Gog and Magog.  ‘Cool,’ you say. 

Then you realize, ‘Wait, those sound familiar to me.’  And, sure enough, they are the lands mentioned in Revelation as being enlisted by Satan in the final battle.  They make a cameo here in Ezekiel.  Rather, based on the amount of verbiage devoted to them in the respective books, Ezekiel is really their feature, and Revelation is just a return cameo.  Either way…uh, I’m not sure what. 

See, here’s my issue with prophecy.  It’s very easy and within a certain comfort zone to look at prophecy from the past that has come true in the interim and say, “See, prophecy is reliable!”  It’s a much scarier thing to look at prophecy that has yet to come true and make the same assertions.

Perhaps I’m just too wedded in my post-Enlightenment, Western empiricism:  I don’t mind dealing with evidence, no matter how bizarre, but I don’t like predictions.  It takes more faith that I can muster to stand firm on prophecy and confidently state that such-and-such will happen or so-and-so will do something.  It feels too much like crazy-talk. 

Are Gog and Magog real places that will feature in world events?  Are they aliases for places whose names we already know (India & Indonesia?  Guinea & Papua New Guinea?  Togo & Tonga?  Kansas & Arkansas?)?  Does this passage describe something that has already occurred without us knowing how to identify it as such?  Is this just symbolic language for a future spiritual reality, not a physical series of events?

I don’t know.  The part of me that’s ‘in the world’ wants to avoid being a millenarian wacko.  The part of me that’s ‘not of the world’ wants to have the faith to stand on the word of God, confident that what He says will happen will, indeed, happen. 

The only recourse I have is humility, in either direction.  I can’t claim to know how to read these passages of the Bible one way or the other.  This isn’t terribly satisfying, either for eschatalogical enthusiasts or for Biblical skeptics.  But I can see no other way to deal with these elements of God’s word without serious risk of error.

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