(Ezek. 38:4) Will God cause evil to happen in Israel?

CLAIM: Ezekiel predicts that God will bring Gog and Magog into the land of Israel. He writes, “I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out” (Ezek. 38:4). The language used is definitely God’s active will, whereby he brings the people to the land of Israel. Then it states, “You will go up, you will come like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your troops, and many peoples with you” (v.9). Later, we read, “I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you against the mountains of Israel” (Ezek. 39:2).

RESPONSE: While God brings the nations to the border of Israel forcefully, the evil intention is left up to their own freewill and evil desire. God doesn’t put evil thoughts into their minds; instead, he predicts that they will have evil thoughts in their minds:

(Ezek. 38:10-12) “It will come about on that day, that thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil plan, 11 and you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates, 12 to capture spoil and to seize plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places which are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who live at the center of the world” (Ezek. 38:10-12).

Why does God place these evil nations in this place? He places them there for the purpose of judgment—not evil. He says, “It will come about on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel… that My fury will mount up in My anger” (Ezek. 38:18; cf. v.22).

The prophet Micah provides further insight into this, explaining that the people are unaware of God’s plan at this time. He writes, “And now many nations have been assembled against you who say, ‘Let her be polluted, and let our eyes gloat over Zion.’ 12But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord, and they do not understand His purpose; for He has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor” (Mic. 4:11-12).