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Burning weapons during Jesus' millennial reign
Posted By Joel Richardson On 09/02/2012 @ 3:16 pm In Commentary | No Comments
In several commentary articles featured here on WND, I have been addressing the oracle of Ezekiel 38 and 39, and showing why we should understand it to parallel other Antichristic prophecies and passages. In other words, I have explained why Gog is the Antichrist/Beast and why Gog’s hordes are one and the same with the armies of the Antichrist. But while there are numerous very clear reasons to support this view, there remain several objections that seem to maintain traction among those who hold to the popular view that Gog and the Antichrist are two different individuals. In this article, I want to dismantle one of the most common of these arguments.
One of the key features of Ezekiel’s Gog of Magog oracle is that, after Satan’s armies are destroyed, their weapons are burned for seven years. Some argue that there is no room for the burning of weapons during the millennial reign of Jesus. As such, it is argued that the destruction of Gog and Magog must take place at least seven years before Jesus returns.
This argument was first articulated and popularized by Hebrew scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum in his book, “The Footsteps of the Messiah.” Since that time, it has been repeated by numerous students and teachers of biblical prophecy. In the statement below, Nathan Jones of Lamb and Lion Ministries, mirrors Fruchtenbaum’s argument:
Ezekiel 39:9 describes Israel burning the invading enemies weapons for seven years. Placing the Gog-Magog Battle at the end of the Tribulation would push the burning right into the Millennial Kingdom. With Jesus then present to provide everyone’s needs, the curse partially lifted (Isa. 11:8) and the Earth reformatted by earthquakes (Rev. 6:12-14; 16:17-21), there would be no need for Israel to have to burn any weapons for fuel.
So the idea expressed here is that during the millennium, Jesus will simply “provide for everyone’s needs” thus “there would be no need for … fuel.” According to this view, because Jesus will be present on the earth, there will be no need for things like fuel, or presumably, the normal methods of farming, gardening and cooking, etc.
This view of the nature of the millennial kingdom, however, simply cannot be reconciled with Scripture. The Bible teaches that during the time of Jesus’ millennial kingdom reign, the earth will be restored, yes, but it will largely be through the participation, active labor and blessed work of the peoples of the earth. Let’s consider just a few Scriptures that point to the blessed labor and very real life that will continue during the messianic millennial kingdom age.
Perhaps the first passage that should be highlighted is the famous passage from Isaiah (and repeated in Micah), which speaks of the peoples of the earth during Jesus’ reign, beating their “swords into plowshares” and their “spears into pruning hooks”:
And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.
– Isaiah 2:4
If all things are provided supernaturally by Jesus in such as way that even fuel is not needed, then why then will there be need for plowing and pruning? Will Jesus not also “provide for everyone’s needs” by magically plowing the earth and pruning trees? In the same way that Ezekiel portrays weapons of warfare being converted into fuel for domestic and agricultural purposes, so also do Isaiah and Micah speak of converting weapons (swords and spears) into plowshares and pruning hooks for agricultural purposes. The prophetic/poetic portrayals of burning weapons for fuel in Ezekiel and the hammering of weapons into plowshares in Isaiah for agriculture are essentially identical.
What else does the Bible say about the millennial reign of Jesus? According to Isaiah, after Jesus returns, the nations which formerly persecuted and hated Israel will participate in the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel:
[T]he LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around, and see: they all gather together, they come to you. … Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you … and they shall call you The City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
– Isaiah 60:2-4,14
During Jesus’ very real earthly kingdom reign, not only will foreigners work to rebuild Jerusalem, but also the Israelis themselves:
Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, and foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. But you will be called the priests of the LORD; you will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.
– Isaiah 61:4
Here we see that beyond the very real process of rebuilding the earth, there will also be such earthly labor as pasturing flocks and farming.
The prophet Amos also spoke of the millennial age in very similar ways:
In that day … I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. “I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,” Says the LORD your God.
– Amos 9:11,14-15
My father, who is an avid fisherman, was even excited to learn that during the millennial reign of Jesus, there will be a thriving fishing industry!
Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds – like the fish of the Great Sea.
– Ezekiel 47:9-10
While the Greek-influenced mindset struggles with the notion of a blessed but very earthy reality, including blessed labor such as farming, fishing and gardening, these things are all quite basic to the biblical Hebraic mindset consistently revealed throughout Scripture.
In conclusion, the idea that it would be impossible for the Israelis during the millennial reign of Jesus to burn what were formerly weapons for the purpose of fuel is simply not in accord with the consistent Scriptural perspective on these matters. During the millennial reign of Jesus, many blessed labors will take place. Of course, the earth will produce like never before, but it will not happen without some measure of human participation. In that day, the peoples of the earth will rebuild the cities desolated during the Great Tribulation and return in many ways to an agricultural society. As for the weapons that are left after the massive Gog of Magog invasion: What was intended for evil, the peoples of the earth will use for good. In my case, I imagine that my father and I might throw a few old wooden stocks from unneeded Russian-made AK-47s into the fire as we fry up a couple of freshly caught striped bass and sing, “Hallelujah!”
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