Online Bible College
Carelinks Home
FREE Literature
'Bible Lives' Home
Bible Books Home
Buy this Book!
Bible Lives  

11. The exiles who returned

11-1 Ezekiel’s Temple: Based Upon Solomon’s Temple || 11-2 The Nature Of Prophecy || 11-2-1 Conditional Prophecy || 11-2-2 Human Response || 11-2-3 Tyre in Ezekiel 26 || 11-2-4 Delayed Prophecies || 11-2-5 Prophecies With Changed Fulfillment || 11-2-6 The Nature Of Prophecy || 11-3 Command More Than Prediction || 11-4 The Contemporary Relevance Of Ezekiel's Temple || 11-5 The Restoration: Potential Kingdom Of God || 11-6 The Potential And The Reality || 11-6-1 The Weakness Of Judah Under Nehemiah || 11-6-2 Isaiah's Prophecies Of Restoration || 11-6-3 Jeremiah's Restoration Prophecies || 11-6-4 Ezekiel's Restoration Prophecies || 11-6-5 The Cherubim And The Restoration || 11-6-6 Zechariah's Restoration Prophecies || 11-6-7 The Restoration Psalms || 11.7 “The prince" in Ezekiel || 11-7-1 " The prince" : Potential Messiah || 11-7-2 Zerubabbel- Potential Messiah? || 11.8 The Potential For The Surrounding World || 11-8-1 Haggai 2 || 11-8-2 Meshech And Tubal || 11-8-3 Joel Chapter 3 || 11-9 Different Sequences Of Prophetic Fulfillment || 11-10 Zechariah And Malachi: More Chances || 11-11 The Returned Exiles

11-8-2 Meshech And Tubal

This same possible sequence of events is outlined in Ezekiel- there could have been the restoration promised in Ezekiel 35-37, followed by the invasion by the surrounding nations in Ezekiel 38, and then the judgment of those nations and establishment of the Kingdom as detailed in Ezekiel 39.  We want to explore this sequence in more detail. Ezekiel 37 had its primary fulfilment in the return under Ezra. Then, Israel was given “a quickening” (Ezra 9:9 LXX), in fulfilment of how the dry bones in captivity were revived. At that time, Judah could have fully revived. But most of them chose to stay in Babylon. If there had been a full revival, then the events of Ezekiel 38 and 39 would have taken place. It has been suggested that there was a  primary fulfilment of Ezekiel 38/9 in an unrecorded invasion of the land at the time of the restoration. However, historical evidence for this is severely lacking (1). And yet the Scythian tribes such as Magog, Gomer, Meshech, Tubal etc. are all recorded as being the scourge of the Middle East at that time (2). They were marauding into more prosperous areas “to take a spoil”, especially “cattle and goods”, at around Ezekiel’s time. They could so easily have turned their attentions toward Israel. That invasion could have happened; but it didn’t.  But because Israel were not faithful the temple was not built properly, and therefore the Ezekiel 38 invasion didn’t happen, and therefore Yahweh’s intervention and establishment of His Kingdom as described in Ezekiel 39 didn’t occur. In some ways, the  Ezekiel 38 invasion and 39 defeat could have occurred but instead has been deferred until the last days.....because through that invasion the establishment of the Kingdom is led into. This suggestion makes sense of the thorny problem of Ezekiel 38:11 stating that the invasion would come at a time when Judah would be living in unwalled towns, without bars nor gates, “at rest”- which is the very language of Jer. 30: 10, that the restored Judah would be “in rest and be quiet”. The same word is used in Zech. 1:11 to describe how the land was “at rest” when the captives returned to rebuild Zion. Ezekiel 28:25,26 predicted, in a restoration context, that Tyre would be judged, and then Israel would plant vineyards and dwell “securely”. It seems that this was potentially possible; Judah could have become Yahweh’s battle axe against Tyre, the nations brought to fear Him, and then the Kingdom conditions would have begun. The dry bones prophecy of Ezekiel 37 seems to be saying that after the intended spiritual revival of Judah in captivity, they would become a “great army”; but by the rivers of Babylon they lamented exactly in the spirit of Ezekiel 37:11: “Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off”.  

Zech 2:4 had foretold that “Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein”, seeing that Yahweh Himself would be as a wall of fire around her to protect her from her adversaries (Ezra had recognised this promise, that God would be a wall to them- Ezra 9:9). Note how this prophecy is introduced by an Angel with a measuring reed measuring out the rebuilt Zion (Zech. 2:1), just as we have in Ezekiel 40. But Judah disbelieved the promise of a Divine wall of fire, and insisted on building a physical wall to protect them; and the record in Nehemiah has plenty of reference to their setting up of bars and gates in their fear (Neh. 3:3,6,13-15). By doing so they disallowed the fulfilment of Ezekiel 38:11, and thereby precluded what was prophesied as subsequently following. If they had trusted Him and paid their tithes, their cattle would have multiplied, and the Scythian tribes would have come down to seek to take them, as Ezekiel 38:12,13 foretold. But as it happened, their cattle were diseased and their agriculture not blessed because of their dilatory attention to Yahweh’s house that lay waste (Haggai 1:11). So therefore there was no invasion, and no victory against the nations, and no Kingdom established at that time. 

There is one detail in Ezekiel 38 which definitely suggests that prophecy could have been fulfilled at the time of the restoration. Ezekiel 38:21 says that a sword will be called for against Gog and thus he will meet his end. This is quoting from Jer. 25:29, where the context is of a group of Arab nations invading the land and a sword being called upon them. There are several other links with the nations of Ezekiel 38 when we look closer at Jer. 25:19-26: 

Edom, Moab, Ammon

Dedan & the merchants of Tarshish (vv. 22,23)- it is possible to read the text as suggesting that Sheba, Dedan and the merchants are part of the invading force in Ezekiel 38, not against it.

" All the kings of the north, far and near" (v. 26). 

These nations all had their part in the Babylonian invasion, which is why they were to be punished in the end after Israel's restoration from captivity (Jer. 25:12). Ezekiel was prophesying about the time of the restoration- after 38,39 he goes on to give  commands about how to rebuild the temple on their return from captivity. This is the context in which Ezekiel alludes back to Jer. 25.  


(1) There are other examples of Bible prophecies which apparently have no fulfilment in conventional history, e.g. Egypt being desolate 40 years. My previous comment on this has been that just because history has some gaps in it [cf. Velikovsky's theories in Ages In Chaos and Mankind In Amnesia], this doesn't mean that the prophecies weren't fulfilled because history doesn't record it. But another possibility is that these were prophecies which had conditional fulfilments, and the preconditions were never attained by the men and women concerned at the time.

(2) “Historically, the nations mentioned in this passage [Ezekiel 38], Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer and Beth-togarmah, were a barbarous people known as the Scythians...Just about the same time that Ezekiel was born, the Scythians terrorised Southwest Asia and the Middle East. Pouring through the passes of the Caucasus mountains, hordes of Scythians covered the fertile plains of the south. Known and feared for their ruthless cruelty, they came like a flight of locusts, devouring the countryside, consuming crops, slaughtering livestock, burning homes and villages, and massacring the inhabitants of the land...All carried a double curved bow, shooting over the horse's left shoulder. Arrows and bow were carried in a case slung from the left side of a belt. The Scyths also carried swords, knives and daggers and wore bronze helmets and chain mail jerkins lined with red felt. They carried round shields decorated with central gold emblems in the shape of an animal. The Scythians were accomplished horsemen, being among the first people to master the art of riding. This made their approach seem unnaturally sudden and gave them the great advantage of surprise attack [this is exactly the picture presented in Ezekiel 38]...During the time of Ezekiel and Jeremiah, the Scythians attacked Syria...from their capital city of SaqqEzekiel Later, they attacked Egypt...In the same year that the prophet Jeremiah was called (626 B.C.), swarms of Scythian invaders struck terror into the nations surrounding the Assyrian empire [which could have included Israel / Judah]. Having made a pact with the Assyrians, Scythian horsemen were sent against Egypt...The inclusion of the nations of Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, Beth-togarmah, Persia, Ethiopia and Put in Ezekiel 38:3,5,6 is best understood in light of the historical context of the Scythian invasion.  

- In Genesis 10:2, Magog, Meshech, Tubal, and Gomer are named as the sons of Japheth and are the founders of the northern group of nations from which the Scythians descended.

- In Ezekiel 27:13, Meshech and Tubal are mentioned as being sellers of slaves to Tyre; and in Ezekiel 32:26, they are spoken of as " instilling terror in the land of the living."

- Meshech is thought to be a people called the Moschi dwelling in the Caucasus mountain regions according to Assyrian inscriptions.

- Tubal is thought to be a people called the Tibareni dwelling on the Southeast shores of the Black Sea [perhaps from whence modern Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia].

- Gomer is thought to have been the Cimmerians, who occupied central Turkey in the days of the Assyrian empire [the forerunners of the Kurds?].

- Beth-togarmah is thought to be Armenia.

- Persia is the people inhabiting the region of modern day Iraq and Iran.

When the history of the Scythian people is examined, it becomes apparent that they are the people described in Ezekiel's prophecy. Herodotus, the Greek historian, refers to the suddenness of the Scythians attack on the Assyrian empire. By examining this passage in its historical and cultural context, it can be seen that Ezekiel 38-39 describes the Scythian invasions during the time of Ezekiel”.

Jay Rogers , Is the Soviet Union Gog and Magog? (Melbourne, FL, USA:Media House International, 1990).  

Comments in square brackets are my own. A similar summary of Scythian activity, commenting on how strangely Judah avoided their invasions, is to be found in H.P. Mansfield, Zephaniah: Prophet Of Doom And Destiny.