A Cleansed Earth
FEW people will deny that we live in a polluted, defiled earth. This is true not only from a literal viewpoint, with lakes, rivers, seas and air polluted, but also in a moral sense. There is corruption in high places, moral degradation, disease, and defilement of the land by the shedding of blood through murder and warfare.—Compare Numbers 35:33, 34.
What is required for a cleansing of the earth? Men fail because they cannot get at the source of the corruption. What is this unreachable source? The Bible points to the trouble as emanating from an invisible realm called the “land of Magog.” Gog, that is, Satan the Devil since being cast out of heaven, is named as the leader of the inhabitants of this realm. Who are they? They are the Devil’s associate demons, wicked spirit persons. They are angels that rebelled against God and are sentenced to destruction. (1 Pet. 3:19, 20; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6) We find evidences of these troubling mankind in the time when Jesus was on earth.—Luke 4:33-35; 8:27-33.
Today their opposition to God and their troubling of the earth is reaching a climax. Why? Because their destruction is very near, and also because they are now confined in their operations solely to this earth. This restricted area, invisible to men, is called by the Bible “the land of Magog,” the chieftain of which is Satan the Devil. With the establishment of the kingdom of God in the hands of Jesus Christ at the end of the “appointed times of the nations” in 1914, the demons were “hurled down to the earth” along with their chieftain, Satan. In their desperation they oppose all that is right and are bringing the world into a corrupt state, in an attempt to do away with all that has to do with the true worship of God. The Bible says: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Rev. 12:5, 7-12.
So strong is the influence of “Gog” that he is called in the Bible “the god of this system of things.” (2 Cor. 4:4; compare John 12:31; 14:30.) The apostle John wrote: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) Rule by men in the various man-made governments of earth has therefore been controlled by the Devil, even though the rulers themselves may not realize it. Consequently, these man-made governments must be destroyed by God, but Jehovah waits until Gog, the Devil, brings these governments into a unified, direct, overt attack upon his Christian witnesses. In this way it is made plain to all observers that these governments deserve destruction. Accordingly, Jehovah says to Gog:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘Here I am against you, O Gog, you head chieftain of Meshech and Tubal. And I will turn you around and lead you on and cause you to come up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you in upon the mountains of Israel. And I will strike your bow out of your left hand, and your arrows I shall cause to fall out of your own right hand. On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your bands and the peoples that will be with you. To birds of prey, birds of every sort of wing, and the wild beasts of the field I will give you for food. Upon the surface of the field you will fail, for I myself have spoken.’”—Ezek. 39:1-5.
Jehovah catches Gog ‘red-handed,’ as it were, as he brings his entire earthly organization against Jehovah by attacking his representatives in the earth. All on earth will be able to see this. All who ally themselves with Gog have to die. There will be no place to escape, even remote places such as islands being no refuge.
What, though, about the invisible realm where Satan resides, the “land of Magog”? Even this isolated place, called “the remotest parts of the north,” will not escape. Jehovah says:
“And I will send fire upon Magog and upon those who are inhabiting the islands in security; and people will have to know that I am Jehovah. And my holy name I shall make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I shall no more let my holy name be profaned; and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah, the Holy One in Israel.”—Ezek. 39:6, 7.
Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s Commander in Chief, is a spirit person, with the power and authority to bring the Devil to nothing. (Heb. 2:14) Through him Jehovah sends “fire upon Magog.” This follows immediately after the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon, foretold in Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:11-21. After this war Christ takes action personally against Gog, as the Revelation account continues:
“And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he hurled him [away from his place of detention at the earth] into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.”—Rev. 20:1-3.
What a relief for those remaining on earth! But how will the tremendous number of the war dead of Gog’s earthly organization, and their war equipment, be disposed of? The prophecy reveals:
“‘Look! It must come and it must be brought to be,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. ‘This is the day of which I have spoken. And the inhabitants of the cities of Israel will certainly go forth and burn and build fires with the armor and bucklers and large shields,—with the bows and with the arrows and with the handstaves and with the lances; and with them they will have to light fires seven years. And they will not carry sticks of wood from the field, nor will they gather firewood out of the forests, for with the armor they will light fires. And they will certainly make spoil of those who had been making spoil of them, and plunder those who had been plundering them.’”—Ezek. 39:8-10.
After Jehovah’s victory in which he magnifies his name above all others in the universe, the survivors on earth, here called “the inhabitants of the cities of Israel,” will certainly not keep any of the detestable death-dealing war instruments as relics. They will dispose of them, using the material for beneficial purposes.
After the “birds of prey” and the “wild beasts of the field” get their fill of the carcasses of the slain enemies of God, will there be a monumental burial job for the survivors? How will we understand the next section of Ezekiel’s prophecy? For it reads:
“‘And it must occur in that day that I shall give to Gog a place there, a burial place in Israel, the valley of those passing through on the east of the sea, and it will be stopping up those passing through. And there they will have to bury Gog and all his crowd, and they will be certain to call it the Valley of Gog’s Crowd. And those of the house of Israel will have to bury them for the purpose of cleansing the land, for seven months. And all the people of the land will have to do the burying, and it will certainly become for them a matter of fame in the day that I glorify myself,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”—Ezek. 39:11-13.
With so many dead, there would be great danger of disease. Also, the task would be too gigantic for the comparatively few left on earth. So the expression “seven months” evidently merely serves to indicate the vastness of the crowd of ungodly people who will perish. Furthermore, as corpses were considered unclean in Israel, the ‘burying’ of them signifies that this earth will be purified from all defilement that Gog and his ungodly servants have brought.—Num. 19:11-13; 2 Pet. 3:13.
The memory of those who defiled the earth and joined Gog in his God-defying attack will be as nauseating to those surviving as the stench arising from the putrefying carcasses of Gog’s crowd. It will figuratively ‘stop up their noses.’ The slaughtered ones have earned eternal infamy for themselves. There is no memorial for them as war heroes. To make a vivid picture of the completeness of the cleansing of the earth under the Messianic kingdom, Jehovah goes on to say respecting the survivors of Gog’s attack:
“And there will be men for continual employment whom they will divide off, passing along through the land, burying, with those passing through, those left remaining on the surface of the earth, in order to cleanse it. To the end of seven months they will keep making search. And those passing through must pass along through the land, and should one actually see the bone of a man he must also build beside it a marker, until those who do the burying will have buried it in the Valley of Gog’s Crowd. And the name of the city will also be Hamonah. And they will have to cleanse the land.”—Ezek. 39:14-16.
The city Hamonah will be inhabited by those who survive to “cleanse the land.” It does not seem logical that there is to be a literal city named Hamonah, for the survivors will be all over the earth, Gog’s attack and the destruction of his forces having been earth wide. Rather, the city Hamonah (meaning “crowd”) of living people alongside the Valley of Gog’s Crowd appears to represent the organization of the living in contrast to the dead hordes of Gog’s crowd.
A fitting retribution comes to those among Gog’s earthly crowd, who have not only slain men but also wantonly destroyed animals for sheer sport or in a greedy way for commercialism. Jehovah further says:
“Say to the birds of every sort of wing and to all the wild beasts of the field: ‘Collect yourselves together and come. Gather yourselves together all around to my sacrifice, which I am sacrificing for you, a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. And you will certainly eat flesh and drink blood. The flesh of mighty ones you will eat, and the blood of the chieftains of the earth you will drink, rams, young male sheep, and he-goats, young bulls, the fatlings of Bashan all of them. And you will be certain to eat fat to satisfaction and to drink blood to drunkenness, from my sacrifice that I will sacrifice for you.’
“‘And you must get satisfied at my table on horses and charioteers, mighty persons and all sorts of warriors,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”—Ezek. 39:17-20.
The prophecy of Revelation also describes the destruction of Satan’s earthly forces, giving the invitation to the birds to come to “the great evening meal of God.” (Rev. 19:17) On a previous occasion an avowed enemy of God was devoured by dogs, leaving only a few bones to bury. (2 Ki. 9:30-37) But the animals could never dispose of all those slain at Har–Magedon. Hence, the Almighty God will doubtless use some highly scientific means at his disposal to get rid of the surplus of the decaying bodies in a speedy and sanitary way. We remember that Noah and his seven fellow survivors of the global deluge were not burdened with burying the human victims of that world catastrophe after they came out of the ark and renewed Jehovah’s worship on earth.—Gen. 8:18-22.
Should we recoil in horror at the thought of such mass destruction? If a person is disposed to feel that way, he should ask himself, Did I express this reaction toward World Wars I and II, or did I actively or tacitly support these gory wars, which were not fought for Jehovah’s vindication, and did not result in a cleansed earth wherein righteousness dwells? The thing we must keep in mind is that Jehovah, by this fight, brings the earth back fully under his universal sovereignty and removes wickedness so that it can never again govern humankind. Those destroyed are haters of God. If we truly love God, we will take a stand on his side and on the side of his spiritual Israel, so that we can enjoy what Jehovah next says to Ezekiel:
“And I will set my glory among the nations; and all the nations will have to see my judgment that I have executed and my hand that I have placed among them. And those of the house of Israel will have to know that I am Jehovah, their God from that day and forward. And the nations will have to know that it was because of their error that they, the house of Israel, went into exile, on account of the fact that they behaved unfaithfully toward me, so that I concealed my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they kept falling, all of them, by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I did with them, and I kept concealing my face from them.”—Ezek. 39:21-24.
Thus Jehovah corrects any wrong impressions that the nations drew when they were able to treat God’s servants on earth with apparent impunity. These nations failed to realize that Jehovah was letting his people be disciplined and trained. They did not appreciate the fact that God was strict with his covenant people, because they represented his name before the nations. Also, he let them be chastised for their errors, even for their unwitting mistakes, because he loved them and was dealing with them so that they could later be used as a real blessing to the people. (Heb. 12:7-11; Gen. 22:18) Not only did they bring the good news of the Kingdom to those who would hear, but they were being groomed to be associate kings and priests with Jesus Christ during his 1,000-year rule over the cleansed earth.—Rev. 20:4, 6.
Those depicted as fighters against God also failed to see that Jehovah finally completed his chastisement of his people in the year 1919 C.E. and turned his face of favor toward them, establishing them in spiritual peace and security, as described earlier in Ezekiel’s prophecy. (Ezek. 38:8, 11) Instead, the nations continued to hate and look down upon them, finally joining with Gog in his disastrous attempt to destroy Jehovah’s people completely. (Matt. 24:9) Only a few right-hearted ones from among these nations recognized God’s dealing with his people and associated with them. Therefore God says:
“Now is when I shall bring back the captive ones of Jacob and actually have mercy upon all the house of Israel; and I will show exclusive devotion for my holy name. And they will have borne their humiliation and all their unfaithfulness with which they have acted toward me, when they dwell on their soil in security, with no one to make them tremble. When I bring them back from the peoples and I actually collect them together out of the lands of their enemies, I will also sanctify myself among them before the eyes of many nations. And they will have to know that I am Jehovah, their God, when I send them in exile to the nations and actually bring them together upon their soil, so that I shall leave none of them remaining there any longer. And I shall no longer conceal my face from them, because I will pour out my spirit upon the house of Israel.”—Ezek. 39:25-29.
In harmony with what Jehovah has prophesied, the members of spiritual Israel have rejoiced in God’s gathering them together. In unity they have been able to get the good news of his Messianic kingdom preached world wide. Few there are, particularly in the lands called “Christendom,” that do not know the name Jehovah. They know that Jehovah’s witnesses stand firmly for Jehovah’s Messianic kingdom, being neutral as to all worldly conflicts and political factions.
These anointed witnesses of Jehovah, having cleaned themselves up according to the principles of God’s Word and producing the fruits of God’s spirit, are living now for God’s new order. (Gal. 5:22, 23; Eph. 4:20-24) Hundreds of thousands from among the nations have come forward and have taken up residence with them in their ‘spiritual paradise.’ These will compose the “great crowd” that will survive the war of Har–Magedon and the defeat of Gog, to live everlastingly on earth. (Rev. 7:9-17; Matt. 25:31-40, 46; John 10:16) They now take notice of the warning of Gog’s attack and look forward to Jehovah’s victory and the vindication of his name. They keenly anticipate the prospect of living in an earth cleansed of literal pollution of air, water and food, as well as free from moral corruption, for they know that of the King and Shepherd Jesus Christ, it is written: “With righteousness he must judge the lowly ones, and with uprightness he must give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth. . . . And righteousness must prove to be the belt of his hips, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.”—Isa. 11:4, 5.