Living Without Walls

In the early years of my interest in the dispensational interpretation of Bible prophecy I was captivated by the possibility that Ezekiel 38-39 predicted an imminent war against the modern state of Israel. Most of us are familiar with this prophecy, which predicts an alliance of nations coming against “My people Israel,” who have been regathered from the nations back to their homeland.

In my book Red Moon Rising my timeline hinged on connecting the events in Ezekiel 38-39 with the Rapture and the beginning of the Day of the Lord as I saw described in Revelation by the sixth Seal and first four Trumpet judgments. The parallels are there and it does seem clear that John the Revelator made conscious use of the apocalyptic descriptions found in Ezekiel 38-39. However, over the years as my study of the New Testament has deepened my faith in the literalistic dispensational model has been almost entirely shattered. I now recognize that the best interpreters of the Old Testament “kingdom” prophecies are the writers of the New Testament, and Jesus and the Apostles simply do not hold to the literalistic view upheld by dispensationalists. I now view the great sweep of the Bible’s end-times predictions more like one great parable, meant to obscure the truth just as much is it is meant to reveal the truth to sincere seekers (see Matthew 13:10-17). I am far from arriving at a dogmatic and precise view of the future such as I once held, but I do believe that I am on the right track when I connect the Great End-Time Parable with the biblical predictions of a New Exodus.

highkingWhat if Jesus Christ Himself is recognized as our best Teacher of what will take place during the “End Times”? What if we made His Word our foundation, and then moved forward carefully from there? This is the position taken by Dean Davis in his book The High King of Heaven. He comes from an amillennial perspective but he shows how this is supported by the very words of Jesus. Does this mean I have completely adopted the amillennial view? No, the amillennial view is not without problems, so I don’t think I can say that. It simply means that I am no longer smug and self-assured about what I think the Bible teaches about the future. I am humble enough to expand my horizons and to give an honest look at interpretations that I once completely dismissed without a second thought, such as amillennialism.

I must say that dispensationalism, as a package, does make sense if you can accept the underlying assumptions. In the same sense amillennialism makes sense. Yet it is hard for me to completely dismiss a future earthly millennium or a future seven year tribulation. I’m still working it out…

Consider once again the predictions of Ezekiel 38-39. If we simply allow the New Testament to place this event on our future timeline many of us will arrive at the same position that is now held by Bible prophecy scholar Chris White. He says that these events must take place at the end of the earthly millennium according to Revelation 20:7-9.

Back in the 1980s and 90s it was widely taught that Ezekiel 38-39 must be pre-millennial. But that was before the Wall was built surrounding the West Bank. Here is a picture of the town of Bethlehem today:

bethlehem-wall-houses

This modern-day reality in Israel, combined with the continuous cycle of Jewish/Palestinian violence, completely contradicts any possible near-term fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39.

Ezekiel 38:10-16 “Thus says the Lord GOD: On that day, thoughts will come into your mind, and you will devise an evil scheme (11) and say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having no bars or gates,’ (12) to seize spoil and carry off plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and the people who were gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell at the center of the earth. … (14) “Therefore, son of man, prophesy, and say to Gog, Thus says the Lord GOD: On that day when my people Israel are dwelling securely, will you not know it? (15) You will come from your place out of the uttermost parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great host, a mighty army. (16) You will come up against my people Israel, like a cloud covering the land. In the latter days I will bring you against my land, that the nations may know me, when through you, O Gog, I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.

WBwall

I know that there are many good bible scholars who do their best to explain away the present reality in Israel and still maintain a belief in the imminent fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39. But I cannot. Forget it, the facts on the ground are simply too concrete.

Yet for me the whole thing remains an enigma, because I also recognize that the post-millennial view of Ezekiel 38-39 has major problems as well. But I am fine with that!

Perhaps those of us who have been captivated by “End Times” must pass through a period of LESS clarity on end-times events before we can receive the wisdom of God that will lead us to the truth.

 

AN AERIAL VIEW OF ISRAEL'S  SECURITY BARRIER IN EAST JERUSALEM


14 thoughts on “Living Without Walls

  1. Michael Heiser believes prophecy is intentionally obscured so as not to tip off the enemy. Anyone who claims to know exactly how it will happen has had to cheat, because it’s just not that clear.

    I devoured Chris White’s 3 books on this topic, but you have to admit he is still a staunch dispensationalist. He’s just not making many friends in that camp by placing the rapture after the seals, and making the antichrist defeat muslims.

    I think the enemy is luring western believers into a big trap: America and Israel are unconditionally God’s nations regardless of beliefs and actions, and conservative capitalism is the only political/economic system sanctioned by God himself. It’s idolatry.

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  2. Doesn’t is seem like the land of unwalled villages reads more like AMERICA than the middle east? seriously, think about it…I’d love to hear why this absolutely could not be the case. Is there a reason why the text reads like the following? “Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall ALSO come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land. (Ez 38:10-12)

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  3. In my post I explained at first why I was highly critical of a pre-millennial fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39. Then at the end I also pointed out that a post-millennial fulfillment is also very problematic. Both of these possibilities seem unlikely to me if we are looking for a strictly literal fulfillment of this prophecy. The only other option is to view the passage as Ezekiel’s limited perspective on how he foresaw the Antichrist’s final assault against God’s people. Looking back with a New Testament hermeneutic we can read “Israel” as the Church, the true Israel. This would be a spiritual fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy but on a general level, not on a precise literal level. Everyone spiritualizes at least some of this text. The question is how far do we go when we spiritualize? For NT writers we find that they went much further in spiritualizing OT Scripture than modern dispensationalists are willing to go. What if Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20:7-9 are both descriptions of Satan’s final assault against the Church? This could fit a post-millennial or even better an amillennial fulfillment just before the return of Christ.

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  4. Hi Peter,
    I can hear your love for Yahweh and His word. You will continue to find yourself with “disconnects” until you come to see “who” you really are as defined by Scriptures.

    His word is of order and harmony… To often I was finding myself at the mercy of teachers who left me confused… So I began a study with the Author of the book… It’s been awesome! 1John 2:27…His anointing will teach you…

    I only briefly went over some of what you wrote, I intend to read more.
    Please may I encourage you to do “word” studies… Israel…sheep…
    Scatter…scattered….chosen….remnant….

    I had to ask Yahweh to remove from my mind any of “mans doctrine” or “mans theology” that was not of Him….

    I am able to see Yahweh has opened your eyes to much…. Yet, there is more to open…(as is true of myself). If He will open up your eyes to “who” you are, your “dots” will start connecting….

    Remember…Matt 15:24….But He answered and said, “I was not sent, except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”.
    Jer. 31:31. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the House of Judah.

    The new covenant is made with Israel and Judah!

    Jer. 50:6 “my people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, they have turned them away on the mountains, they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.

    The word “scatter/scattered”, will provide great insight…

    “Israel” is lost, not because He cannot find them….but, because they do not know “who” they are……

    Not to be confused with the Christain church “replacing” Israel…👎

    Blessings….

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  5. I think the New Testament is clear, through the words of Jesus and the Apostles as backed up with their use of OT Scripture, that Jesus expanded the boundaries of Israel in the New Covenant to include Gentiles as well as Jews. So in this sense the “church,” which simply means “assembly,” is in fact the “assembly” of all the redeemed of the restored and re-born Israel, those chosen from before the foundation of the world, Jews and Gentiles united in one new man. A truly holy nation and a chosen generation in a new and everlasting covenant with the Creator Himself in the person of Jesus.

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  6. Ex. 12:38 A “mixed multitude” went up with them also, and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock.
    Strangers and foreigners have been welcomed in to the tribes of Israel since Moses led them out…. The book of Ruth is also a picture of that.

    Ex.12:19 ‘For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land..

    Moses led out from Egypt the 12 tribes of Israel and those placing faith in Israels God….this was before the “new covenant”

    Ezekiel. 3716 “As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’ 17 “Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand. 18 “And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?’— 19 “say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.” ‘ 20 “And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. 21 “Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 “and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. 23 “They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God. 24 “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. 25 “Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. 26 “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 “My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 28 “The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” ‘ ”
    This is the “two, becoming one”….they shall no longer be two nations, no longer shall they be divided kingdoms/houses…..

    You said, “the church, is in fact all the redeemed and restored Israel”.
    This sounds very much like “replacement Theology”…..
    (That you reject…?). I’m confused…..

    Blessings…….

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  7. Mr. Goodgame,
    I recently did an personal study of Ezekiel 38 and 39, mainly for my own benefit but came to some unexpected conclusions. Viewing the words and phrases contained in the passages, it is my assumption the text is referring to the wrath of God at the end of the 70th week of Daniel. I rewrote the information into a two part thesis format and posted it on my blog and on the website, Before Its News (which is similar to a Hollywood scandal rag with so-called current events as subject matter). Regardless, I thought it might help Biblically enlighten a few people. If you would care to read it, I can send it to you as a Word doc. or you can go to the blog website.

    I would also like to say that I am enjoying your New Exodus posts.

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  8. First off I’d like to say I’m enjoying the site, now as concerning
    Ezekiel38:10-16 it is the USA that is the unwalled people
    It is Russia attacking us from the north,ie by way of Alaska, we the USA are made up of the ten tribes. As sharie said above,
    You need to understand who you are, we as a people dwell pretty safely as far as being attacked by other nations. But when all this takes place,it will be God himself who fights this battle,showing the world that there is a God i n Israel.

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  9. First, let me say that I once pursued the Herbert W Armstrong theory that England and the USA are descendants of the lost 10 tribes. Read several books on the subject and have come to the conclusion that it may be true and it may not, because there is only circumstantial evidence to that effect that would immediately be tossed out of a court. I have done a study of Ezekiel 38 and 39 and have come to the conclusion that it is referring to several sequences of the wrath of God just prior to the advent of Jesus.
    I know it feels good to look at current events and consider that OT prophecies are referring to them but that is just not the case. When the beast begins his conquests Israel will be eliminated of its immediate enemies; the Palestinian issue will be gone; the temple will be rebuilt; the beast will place his headquarters and military around Jerusalem and it will become an unwalled village. Also, God stopping a Russian attack on the USA will probably not show the world there is a God in Israel. The world will not know there is a God at all until the beginning of the wrath of God.

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  10. My question is what do we do with Ezekiel 39:9 the seven year period in which Israel burns the weapons and bury the bodies of the invading armies. Could this seven year period be the beginning of Daniels 70th week prophesied in Daniel 9:24-27.You are seeing Christians beheaded and murdered in the Arabian peninsula as we speak. Is it possible that Isis could be the army that the Beast uses to do his bidding. Let’s not forget the 3rd and 4th blood red moons that are due to appear this year.(Rev.6:12 Joel 2:13) It seems to me that the enemies of the cross of Christ are rearing their heads in Paris and in Africa. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and to pray for them. God is not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance. May the Lord continue to watch over all his people and may we do our part to help others to see that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

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  11. [In My Opinion] The world will be devastated following the wrath of God. There will be no running water, no utilities, no electricity; no grocery stores, no planes, no running cars, no gas stations, it will be back to nature. I supposes God could snap His fingers and everything will be an Edenic paradise but I don’t think that will happen. The beginning of the Millennium will be man and nature. Build a fire and cook the food. No McDonald’s will be around.

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  12. For those serious about timing of the Gog/Magog events, see Doug berner’s work “the silence is broken”, Where he exhaustively details out pros and cons to each of the potential perspectives and why the post millennial reference is a completely different event.
    In the meantime, let us occupy until he comes and be about our father’s business, focused primarily on loving/ serving Him and others rather than “nailing down 100% the dtls on exactly how it all will play out.”

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