The Coming Exile of Israel in Edom

by Lambert Dolphin


With Chuck Missler at Petra, Jordan, February 1996

 

The Right of the Jews to Live in the Land

The God of Israel does not act whimsically or arbitrarily, but deals with individuals and nations on the basis of great contracts or covenants which He Himself initiates.

Five principle covenants--all still in effect--apply to the nation of Israel. These include the Abrahamic Covenant (later confirmed to Isaac and Jacob), The Mosaic Covenant, the Palestinian Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. (For details see The Mainline Covenants of God). Covenants can be conditional or unconditional. As it turns out only one of the covenants applicable to Israel is conditional---the right of the Jews to live in the promised land.

2 Kings, Chapter 17, documents God's reasons for His temporarily removing the ten Northern tribes from the Land. The Lord indicates that the approaching 70 year Babylonian captivity would allow the Land to enjoy its seventh-year Sabbath rests which had been ignored by the Jews since their entry into the land under Joshua.

Small numbers of Jews returned to the Land at the end of the appointed 70 years in Babylon, a modest Second Temple was constructed and the city walls rebuilt, in answers to Daniel's prayer of intercession (Daniel 9:1-19). The land from that time until now was under gentile dominion, however. (See The 400 Years Between the Testaments). The second application of the conditional provisions of the Palestinian Covenant occurred when Israel as a nation rejected her rightful Messiah, Yeshua, on Palm Sunday.

As he [Jesus] was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out." And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, "Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation." (Luke 19:37-44)

One might have thought that during the 400 years following the close of the Old Testament the nation would have learned its lessons from history and been ready for the coming of the Promised One. But the priesthood had become thoroughly corrupt and the bulk of the populace wanted relief from Roman Oppression--not release from inner evil, sin and death. Messiah's rejection as rightful King in the line of David was followed within a few days by His betrayal and execution. In the ensuing clamor the people asked instead for the release of Barabbas,

Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you, Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much over him today in a dream." Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas." Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Let him be crucified." And he said, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified." So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." And all the people answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!" (Matthew 27:15-25)

The resurrection of Jesus three days after his death, and the sudden and dramatic formation of the church of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (50 days after the resurrection) did not turn the heart of the nation to their Messiah. It was only a matter of time until the Jewish followers of Jesus, some thousands in number, were forced to flee Jerusalem. Soon the unbelieving Jews, in their continuing revolt against Rome, provoked the Romans to remove them from the land. Thus in reality the provisional terms of the Palestinian Covenant were invoked for the second time by the Owner of the Land.

The great Diaspora of the Jews from the Land this time lasted not 70 years but for 2000 years! The exciting history of the regathering of the Jews from all lands began a hundred years ago---culminating in the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 and the tiny nation's rise to power and a restored place of great power and influence as a modern progressive democracy. Thankfully, God is faithful to His promises in spite our unbelief!

One might ask if the past hundred years of great economic development, prosperity, and overwhelming military victories against enormous odds, has brought the Jews to a place of contrition and repentance and humility as far as their God is concerned---especially since the restoration of the State of Israel was born out of terrible persecution and hardship?

It is quite true that many thousands of Jews from all over the world have become believers in Yeshua over the past 2000 years, and these have been added to the church (see Ephesians 2:11-3:12 for God's purposes in this present age). It is true that there is also a small remnant of some thousands of believing Jews now resident in the Land of Israel, (Romans 11:5). Yet for the most part Israel is a secular state, most of her citizens are not only indifferent to the God of their Fathers, but openly hostile to any notions that the God of the Land is anything more than an interesting mythology now outgrown and to be discarded.

Although God is known for his great patience and longsuffering, it is appropriate to ask how much longer the Holy God of the Covenants will tolerate the present indifference, rebellion and disregard for His Person which typifies the Israel of the past hundred years? Sadly, we have further indications from the New Testament that tell us that not only will Israel continue in its denial of Yeshua as Messiah--they will in fact readily embrace a counterfeit Messiah. Jesus warned His people,

You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men. But I know that you have not the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (John 5:39-44)

Israel is God's model nation, yet in spite of the fact that Israel's history of repeated failure is on public display in the Bible for all to read, God has neither abandoned nor rejected His chosen people. When all the final scores are in concerning all the nations and their animosity and hatred of the one true God no one will have any cause for boasting. In fact God will judge all the nations of the world by how they have treated the Jews (Joel 3)!

One hundred years of God's grace, kindness, mercy and favor have not turned the nation of Israel towards faith in their God. Nor are they any closer to accepting their true Messiah. Will then God banish the Jews from the land again, perhaps this time permanently?

The answer from Scripture is clear. Israel's final testing will occur in the land and involve the destruction of a majority of the populace, a time of trial compared to which the Nazi holocaust will pale in insignificance.

The Next Major Biblical Event in History: The Rapture of the Church

According to the New Testament, God has been occupied with the calling out of a church from all the nations:

Peter has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, as it is written, `After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who has made these things known from of old.' (Acts 15:14-18. The quote is from Amos 9:11-12).

In his great discourse on Israel's future the Apostle Paul assures us,


Lest you [believing Gentiles] be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in [to the church], and so [or, "then"] all Israel will be saved; as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob"; "and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins." As regards the gospel they are enemies of God, for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy. For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all. (Romans 11:25-32)

The 144,000 Called

Revelation Chapter Seven describes the calling out of 144,000 select Jewish evangelists from the nation Israel at the beginning of the Tribulation period, just after the Rapture of the Church. The 144,000 will vigorously evangelize Israel, completing the task begun by the disciples of Jesus, within Israel but also extending their field to all the nations. The result of their bold and fearless evangelism program will be hundreds of thousands of converts to Jesus Christ.

This great company of true believers are neither part of the church, nor members of believing Israel as such. They are usually called "the tribulation saints" by Bible scholars. Persecution by the forces of evil under the beast and false prophet will be so swift and severe most, if not all, of these new converts will be martyred.

After the Rapture the believing remnant of Jews in Israel who place their faith in Yeshua will be reduced temporarily to zero. However, the calling and conversion of the 144,000 will soon result in new converts to the God of Israel within the nation, (Revelation 6:9-11, 7:9-17) . Judging by recent history, the number of Jews living in Israel who find a personal relationship with Jesus on an annual basis is perhaps only a few dozen, but possibly might reach several hundreds ---as many converts to Yeshua remain secret believers and do not openly and publicly acknowledge their faith. Suffice it to say that during the first half of the tribulation period we might expect the size of the believing remnant of Jews in Israel to climb to at least several thousands, perhaps several tens of thousands.

The seven year period following the parousia (the rapture) and preceding the epiphaneia (the Second Coming in power and glory), is normally divided into two halves. The first three and a half years are characterized by some degree of apparent world peace as the false prophet (i.e. the false Messiah--Revelation 13:11-18, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10, Matthew 24:15) in Israel negotiates a favorable Middle Eastern peace treaty with the help of the political and religious leaders of Western Europe (Revelation 13:1-10).. That peace treaty, described by Isaiah as Israel's "covenant with death," will fail---and terrible war will break out in Israel. The second half of the tribulation period is usually called "the great tribulation" (Matthew 24:21) or "the Day of the Lord." Jeremiah calls it "the time of Jacob's trouble," (Jeremiah 30-31, Daniel 12:1). See The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.

The Flight of the Remnant from Jerusalem at Mid-Tribulation

The mid-point of the tribulation is to be marked by a great sign in Jerusalem. The false Messiah (Paul's "man of sin," 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12) will enter the Third Temple in Jerusalem and declare himself to be God. That event Jesus had said in the Olivet Discourse, would bring great peril to the residents of Jerusalem. The peril for believers in Yeshua at that time period will include the immediate danger of military invasion of Jerusalem by foreign armies. The believing remnant of Jews in Jerusalem at the time the false messiah enters the Third Temple declaring himself to be God will also be in grave danger of their lives because of the antichrist's vigorous persecution of believers, that is, those few Jews who believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Yeshua. As mentioned above, the size of this believing remnant at the mid-tribulation point is open to discussion, but for the sake of argument it would seem to be some thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of believing Jews. The warning to this group by Jesus in Matthew 24 is as follows,

"Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. And as for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days pray that your night may not be in winter or on a sabbath."

Luke's gospel (Chapter 21) gives a slightly different slant on this crisis,

"But when you [believing Jews] see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. "

"And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken."

Ray Stedman remarks on this event,

Who are they who must flee so urgently when the last days begin? Who dare not hesitate long enough even to go back into the house to pick up a wrap, but must immediately head for the hills? There is no need to wonder, for the Lord says plainly, "those who are in Judea" Now Judea is a geographical part of the land of Israel, ancient Palestine. It comprises the hill country surrounding the city of Jerusalem and includes the city as well. It is to the residents of Jerusalem and Judea that this warning is addressed.

Furthermore, the Lord's mention of the Sabbath establishes the fact that these residents of Judea are Jews. He urges them to pray that their flight will not be in the winter, with its distress of cold, or on the Sabbath, with its travel limitations, for Jews are allowed to travel only a short distance on a Sabbath day. Later in this passage these Jews are called "the elect" ("for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened"), and this makes clear they are believing Jews, that is, men and women of faith who know and love Jesus Christ as Lord and are prepared to live or die for him.

They are not Christians in the usual sense of that term, referring to those who are members of the church, for we are told that in the church there is neither Jew nor Gentile, bond nor free. Jews are not to be distinguished from Gentiles within the church These distinctions, we ale precisely told by the apostle Paul, have been invalidated in the church The "middle wall of partition" has been eliminated; there are no distinctions of background, race or religious training that are recognized within the church of Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, Christians, we are told, are free from the law and no longer observe special days, special feasts, new moons and Sabbaths. In his letter to the Colossians the apostle Paul clearly speaks of the fact that the Sabbaths were included in those shadows which were done away in Christ. But here the Sabbath distinctly will be a restricting factor in the flight of these people. Here then will be a class of people who cannot be identified with the present day church They will be Jewish believers in Christ who will be converted after the removal of the church and before the time of the Great Tribulation.

As Ray Stedman has noted, Jesus does not tell the residents of Tel Aviv or Haifa to flee. The greatest danger is in Jerusalem and the peril is so great that the true believers must leave town immediately. The number fleeing will certainly number thousands, perhaps several tens of thousands. They are called to flee to the mountains, and since Jerusalem is already in the mountains of Judea, the flight will evidently be down to Jericho, then across into Jordan. Most Bible scholars believe this godly remnant will find refuge in the ancient rock-hewn cliff city of Petra, or least in the land of Edom (Southern Jordan). They will survive, protected by God, for three and a half years.


The route of escape for the Jewish believing remnant from Antichrist's military pursuit as he seeks to annihilate them, has been made ready by the Lord:

"He (the last king of the North) shall come into the glorious land. And tens of thousands shall fall, but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites. " (Daniel 11:41)

Evidently Jordan is given special protection during the last great invasion of Israel which will in fact devastate the Land. Isaiah the Prophet instructs the believing remnant of Israel to find a safe hiding place during the time of Jacob's trouble when God's judgment will fall on the whole earth,

"Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath is past. For behold, the LORD is coming forth out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed upon her, and will no more cover her slain." (Isaiah 26:20-21)

Not All the Jews Flee to Edom

The majority of Jews in Israel will remain in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel during the second half of the tribulation, ignoring the warning of Jesus given some 2000 years earlier. The majority of Jews in fact will stay---and will maintain their secular, apostate stance opposing the God of their forefathers. God will continue to warn them---as Jeremiah did at the time of the Babylonian captivity. At that time when Nebuchadnezzar pillage Israel, remnants led by Daniel and Ezekiel had escaped to Babylon where the enjoyed God's protection and blessing. Jeremiah's warnings went unheeded in Jerusalem, yet God did not leave Himself without a witness in the capital. God clearly told His people to find refuge in Babylon but those who remained in Jerusalem died in the terrible destruction of 586 BC. The glorious Temple of Solomon was pillaged, burned and destroyed on the 9th of Av. Jeremiah was taken by rebellious countrymen to Egypt where he was soon martyred, according to tradition.

In the last half of the coming tribulation period, Jerusalem is to come under military siege and be overrun by foreign armies one more time. Zechariah announces that this will happen just prior to Messiah's final return to the city,

"For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city" (Zechariah 14:2).


The prophet Joel also describes this final invasion,

"Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land (of Israel) tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations. Fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but after them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them."

Joel wrote of the approaching invasion of Israel by Nebuchadnezzar in his own day, and also about the final invasion of foreign armies, especially from the North that would come just prior to Messiah's coming in power and glory. The clue to the end-time application is the phrase "the Day of the LORD" which occurs again at the end of the following section:

"Their appearance is like the appearance of horses, and like war horses they run. As with the rumbling of chariots, they leap on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, like a powerful army drawn up for battle. Before them peoples are in anguish, all faces grow pale. Like warriors they charge, like soldiers they scale the wall. They march each on his way, they do not swerve from their paths. They do not jostle one another, each marches in his path; they burst through the weapons and are not halted. They leap upon the city (Jerusalem), they run upon the walls; they climb up into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The LORD utters his voice before his army, for his host is exceedingly great; he that executes his word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?"

God in mercy has previously saved the godly remnant in Israel at the mid-tribulation point and taken them safely to refuge in Petra for the last half of the tribulation period. Still, Yahweh calls to the remaining Jews in Israel to turn to Him, even at the late hour they are now living in.

Joel's words apply well to both the approaching captivity in Babylon--which was on the near horizon in Joel's day--and even more to the situation during the end time period. God pleads with His people to come back to Him, even at the midnight hour.

"Yet even now," says the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil. Who knows whether he will not turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, a cereal offering and a drink offering for the LORD, your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, "Spare thy people, O LORD, and make not thy heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, `Where is their God?'"

Joel also foresees the final conversion of Israel at the very last minute--just preceding the final return of Messiah. In mercy and grace God will at that time turn one third of the nation back to himself. In fact the prayers of this remnant are necessary for Messiah's return to His own land for the final time. This eleventh-hour conversion of great numbers of Jews to Messiah could well amount to more than one million new believers coming into the kingdom just as the Messiah is returning to the land for the final time:

Then the LORD became jealous for his land, and had pity on his people. The LORD answered and said to his people, "Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations. "I will remove the northerner far from you, and drive him into a parched and desolate land, his front into the eastern sea, and his rear into the western sea; the stench and foul smell of him will rise, for he has done great things. "Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things! Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit, the fig tree and vine give their full yield. "Be glad, O sons of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD, your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. "The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years which the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. "You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the LORD, am your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my spirit. " [only partially fulfilled at Pentecost, Acts 2] And I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that all who call upon the name of the LORD shall be delivered; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls. (Joel 2)

Joel's apocalyptic warning is but one of many in the Old Testament which has a double fulfillment. Joel warned against the devastating invasions of Nebuchadnezzar that lay just ahead in his own day. But the Spirit of God also had in mind a greater and more complete fulfillment of this passage at the end of the age we now live in.

At the same time Jesus calls his faithful remnant to flee Jerusalem and hide in the desert place, he will place two powerful witnesses in Jerusalem. For a full 3.5 years they will speak to the nation and to the world of impending judgment. In spite of the enormously hostile environment of Jerusalem in that Day, these fearless spokesman for the Lord will be kept safe until their mission is accomplished.

Two Fearless Witnesses on the Temple Mount

Revelation, Chapter 11, gives us details concerning two special servants God sets before His nation during the final turbulent months just prior to the return of Messiah in power and glory:

Then I (John the Apostle) was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told: "Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months.

And I will grant my two witnesses power to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands which stand before the Lord of the earth. And if any one would harm them, fire pours out from their mouth and consumes their foes; if any one would harm them, thus he is doomed to be killed. They have power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.

And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends from the bottomless pit will make war upon them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which is allegorically called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. For three days and a half men from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.

But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up hither!" And in the sight of their foes they went up to heaven in a cloud.

And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come. Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever." And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, "We give thanks to thee, Lord God Almighty, who art and who wast, that thou hast taken thy great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but thy wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, for rewarding thy servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear thy name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth." Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. (Revelation 11)

The great earthquake mentioned in this passage is probably the same earthquake that marks the last of the Seven Seals (Rev. 6:5), the last of the Seven Trumpets (Rev. 9:19), the last of the Seven Thunders (Rev. 11:13, above) and the last of the Seven Bowls of wrath (Rev. 16:18-21)--which all run in parallel. (See also Ezekiel 38:19-20 and Zechariah 14:4-5). Many Bible scholars hold that all these scriptures are homing in on one or possibly a connected series of great cataclysmic earthquakes that punctuate the end of the age, the open return of Messiah and the dawning of the Millennial age. Not only does the city of Jerusalem suffer great damage from this earthquake, but "the cities of the nations fall," according to Revelation 16::19. See Earthquakes and the Bible.

A Symbolic Overview of All of Israel's History

The Book of the Revelation, Chapter 12 presents a great vision of the nation of Israel portrayed as a woman. The vantage point is that of eternity.

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.

And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world---he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!"

And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had borne the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time (i.e., for 3 1/2 years---the second half of the tribulation period).

The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. (Revelation 12)

Ray Stedman offers the following commentary on this passage,

There is no mystery to the dragon's identity, for John will disclose that to us in verse 9: "that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray." In the opening verse of chapter 12, the devil is symbolized as a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns upon his heads. But he is also "that ancient serpent" the very one who appeared in the Garden of Eden to the first woman, Eve, deceiving her and introducing sin into the human race. Dragons, of course, symbolize satanic worship in many cultures around the world. As John says in verse 9, the career of the devil has been devoted to deceiving the entire human race and leading human beings astray.

The male child who is born to the woman is the next easiest to identify because verse 5 says that He is the one "who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." This is one of four references in Revelation to Psalm 2. In verse 9 of that prophetic, messianic psalm we read, "You will rule them with an iron scepter."

Though the book of Revelation is truly rooted in the entire Old Testament, it would be a valid analogy to compare Revelation to an oak tree that grows and expands out of the acorn of Psalm 2. In this psalm we read that the One enthroned in heaven says, "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill," and that this King will rule the nations with an iron scepter. Clearly this is a reference to the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ during the Millennium, as is pictured for us in the book of Revelation. The reference to an iron scepter (in Psalm 2 and Revelation 12:5) always indicates a millennial scene. The iron scepter speaks of strict justice. The Millennium will be a time of worldwide blessing and prosperity when the curse of sin will be at least partly removed from the natural world. But sin will still manifest itself to some degree---hence the iron scepter of Christ. As we shall see in Revelation 20, righteousness will reign on earth during the Millennium, but it will have to be enforced.

After the Millennium the new heaven and the new earth will appear. At that time Christ will no longer reign with a scepter of iron. Nothing evil can enter into the new heaven and the new earth. When sin is finally extinguished forever, the defining characteristic of Christ will no longer be His iron reign but tender, shepherd-like love as He ministers personally and kindly to His redeemed people.

That brings us to the mystery of the woman. Why is she clothed the sun? Why is the moon under her feet? Why are twelve stars arranged in a crown over her head? There are several theories as to whom or what this symbolic woman represents. Roman Catholic scholars have concluded that she is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Having understood that the child who will rule the nation with an iron scepter is Jesus, it certainly makes sense that the mother that child would be Mary. The problem with this theory, however, is that there is no way you can fit Mary into verse 6 where we read that she "fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she will be taken care of for 1,260 days." That never happened to Mary, and never will. The woman in Revelation 12 does not represent a single individual but rather a community of people.

Some Bible scholars say she symbolizes the church. Certainly there is some substantiation for this view, in that the church is pictured at the close of Revelation as a woman, the bride of Christ. But as with the previous theory this view has an insurmountable problem: It is impossible for the woman to represent the church because she is depicted as giving birth to Jesus. The church did not produce Jesus; Jesus produced the church! The church was "born" out of the wounded side of Jesus.

What, then, is the true identity of this woman of mystery'? Let us examine the clues one by one and see where they lead. The clues are significant: The woman is clothed with the sun, moon is under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars is on her head. There is only one other place in Scripture where you find all these symbols clustered together in one place: Genesis 37, the story of Joseph the boy- dreamer. He dreamed one night that the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down before him. The sun, moon, and stars represented his father, mother, and eleven brothers, respectively. Eventually this dream would come true---but not until after those eleven brothers sold Joseph into slavery, not until after Joseph overcame trials of false accusation and unjust imprisonment, not until after Joseph became second in command over all of Egypt.

The symbols of the sun, moon, and stars make it clear: The woman represents the people of Israel, all of whom are descendants of Joseph's father Jacob. Joseph himself would be the twelfth star. In Romans 9:5 Paul said of the people of Israel, "from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ." That is why Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, "Salvation is from the Jews." Even the salvation of the Gentiles comes by way of the Jews, because it is the Jewish race that produced Jesus Christ. So here again, in the symbolism of the woman clothed in the sun with the stars at her head and the moon at her feet, we have a picture of Israel coming again into prominence in the last days.

To understand the vivid images and symbols of Revelation 12 we should remember that we are viewing earthly scenes from heaven's point of view. In Revelation 4 we saw that John was caught up into heaven and shown all the things that follow in Revelation 4 through 19. When you look at earthly events from heaven's standpoint, time is never a factor. This vision does not present a sequence or an ordered chronology. It presents occurrences arranged according to their meaning and importance from a heavenly, eternal perspective. Events that may be widely separated in time may be clustered together in eternity's view. From heaven's perspective we are shown what happens, not when it happens. If we approach this chapter---and indeed all of Revelation---with this point of view, symbols that once seemed murky and obscure will pop into focus...

What we have in Revelation 12 is a kind of tableau, like a scene in a wax museum, of three-dimensional figures frozen in place at the climactic moment of a dramatic event. Satan, the great dragon, is crouched with its fangs bared and its eyes smoldering, watching Israel as she I pares to give birth to her long-promised Son. Israel is pregnant and crying out in her labor pains. The dragon's intention is clear: it seek devour Jesus as soon as He emerges from the womb of Israel and ma His appearance upon the earth. What is the historical reality represented by this grim and symbol-laden tableau?

This scene takes us back to the historical birth of Jesus, to the time of the Roman Empire and its subjugation of Israel. It takes us back to time of King Herod the Great and the demonic malice and enmity filled his heart when he learned of the birth of Jesus. It is easy to see events of that time in the symbolic tableau of Revelation 12:1-4...The dragon of world power in Jesus' day was the Roman Empire which in the Jewish land of Judea was represented by the person of Rome's puppet king Herod the Great. Though in his early career Herod had been a comparatively progressive and benevolent despot, his notorious cruel streak and murderous paranoia were already in full evidence by the time Christ was born. In a fit of jealous rage Herod murdered his favorite among his eight wives, as well as several of her family members. He later murdered his own firstborn son Antipas. So his attempted to kill the newborn Son of God by slaughtering the infants of Bethlehem was true to form for this brutal and unfeeling man. Like a dragon, he lay in wait for the child to be born---then pounced, beast-like, spilling blood as if it were water. But God intervened, sparing the infant Jesus from the maw of the dragon. Warned by the appearance of an angel in a dream, Joseph Mary took Jesus on a secret journey to Egypt beyond the reach of Herod.

This brings us to verse 5. It is at this point in the symbolic allegory of the dragon, the woman, and the child that we come upon a startling statement. John writes, "She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne." Completely ignoring any chronology or .sequence of historical events, this symbolic scene takes a sudden jump from the birth of Jesus to His ascension some 30 years later, skipping over His life, ministry, death, and resurrection in a single breath. In this image, John is shown only the birth and ascension into heaven of Jesus. This symbol encompasses both the beginning and the ending of His earthly ministry.

But a problem of interpretation arises at this point. The problem is this: The clear implication of Revelation 12:5 is that Jesus was "snatched up to God" in order to deliver Him from harm, from the reach of the dragon. Yet we know from reading the gospels and the book of Acts that Jesus' ascension was by no means an escape from harm. Rather it was a triumphal exit following His victory over death. The resurrected Lord was completely beyond the reach of His enemies, and there was no harm anyone could do to Him. Why, then, does this tableau in Revelation 12 depict Jesus as having been "snatched up to God" as a child is snatched out of the path of an onrushing car?

Here is where the interpretation of Revelation becomes sensitive, because of the non-linear, non-chronological nature of the vision. The interpretation is this: There is an aspect of our Lord Jesus Christ which does find deliverance from danger, from the rage of the red dragon, by being snatched away into heaven. By this I mean the Body of Christ that is on the earth today---that is, the church. Throughout the New Testament, the Lord and His church are regarded as one. When Saul (later the apostle Paul) was confronted by an appearance of Christ on the Damascus Road, Jesus said to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Saul had never even met Jesus---but he was persecuting the church. When Jesus spoke to Saul of His church He identified completely with that church. If Saul was persecuting the Lord's church, Saul was persecuting Him, because they were one. Paul later wrote to the Corinthians, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." The church, he said, is a body, and "the body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ." The church and the Lord together are the body of Christ. So when we come to Revelation 12 and see that the child, representing Christ, was "snatched up to God and to his throne," it becomes clear that this is a reference to the removal of the church from the world and from the threatening presence of the dragon...

Verse 6 carries us on into the Tribulation period. In leaping immediately from the birth of Christ to the removal of the church and the beginning of the Tribulation, these verses in Revelation 12 completely eclipse all the centuries of the church age in which we now live. In verse 6, the woman (representing the people of Israel) flees into the desert to a place prepared for her by God. There she is taken care of for a period of 1,260 days---a significant time period, as we learned in the previous chapter. In Revelation 11, we saw that the two witnesses will prophesy for a period of 1,260 days---the last 3 1/2 years of the seven-year Tribulation period. So it would be reasonable and consistent to conclude that the desert exile of the believing Jewish people (represented by the woman) would also take place during the same 3 1/2-year period in which the two witnesses prophesy against the Antichrist.

Notice, too, that a subtle shift has taken place in the symbolism rep resented by the woman. In verses 1 through 4 the woman represented the Jewish nation which was to bring forth Jesus, the Son of God. In verse 5 the child is born and is snatched up to God's throne. In verse 6 the woman flees into the desert to escape the persecution of the Antichrist and the Tribulation. The fleeing woman, then, represents not the Jewish people as a whole---for many Jews will be deceived by the Antichrist--- but the believing remnant of the Jews, those who have trusted in the Messiah and have refused to submit to the rule of the Antichrist.

...This woman, you recall, represents not all Jews of the last days but only the believing remnant. Those Jews who have not believed are suffering under the judgments that are foretold in the Old Testament prophecies. This is "the time of Jacob's trouble," when apostate Jews are cruelly eliminated by the dragon and the faithful remnant is pursued and persecuted. The remnant escapes to the desert, and the swiftness of their flight from danger is symbolized by the eagle's wings.

Many Bible scholars believe the faithful Jews of the last days will flee to the city of Petra, south of the Dead Sea---a strangely beautiful city hewn out of the rock of the earth that is presently an attraction for tourists and archaeologists in the Holy Land. Perhaps this is true, but no one can say with certainty.

What is important in these verses is that God will care for this believing remnant in a supernatural way. They will be borne out of danger on the metaphorical wings of an eagle. I am sure it is no coincidence that this is the very same metaphor God used when the nation of Israel was led out of Egypt by Moses. "You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt," God said to Israel through His servant Moses, "and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself." (Exodus 19:4) This is a picture of God's loving protection and care for the people who are His faithful remnant in that day.

The symbolism of the river of water which the serpent spews in an effort to overtake the woman is likely an image of a vast host of soldiers sent by the Antichrist to overtake and destroy the faithful of Israel in the last days. But God will protect His faithful remnant, probably by mean of a natural cataclysm---perhaps an earthquake---that causes the destruction of the Antichrist's armies and the frustration of his plans.

The Antichrist will be diverted from attacking the faithful Jews o Israel (symbolized by the woman), and will instead turn his attention to "the rest of her offspring" and make war against them. Who is John describing in this phrase? Most likely "the rest of her offspring" refers to "Christ's commandos," the 144,000 Jews we first met in Revelation 7 and will meet again in Revelation 14. They are the special band of believing Jews who move out into the four corners of the world, preaching the gospel of the kingdom to all the nations. The devil gives his final attention to destroying this group because of their powerful and effective witness to the world. The rage of the devil is increasing as he grows more and more desperate, knowing that his time is short. Like any wild and dangerous beast, the devil becomes more deadly and ferocious as he is backed into a corner.

The Return of the Remnant from Edom

The ancient capital of Edom was the city of Bozrah---the Hebrew bosra means sheepfold. It lies 30 miles southeast of the Dead Sea in present-day Jordan. The present Jordanian city of Buseirah is not on any modern road but is a remote mountain village of difficult access. Ancient Bozrah at the same location, however, was on the main North West trade route known as the King's Highway (Numbers 20:17). The city was noted for its weaving industry and export of dyed garments.

Edom as the territory allotted to Jacob's brother Esau is documented in Genesis 36 where a man named Bozrah a descendant of Seir the Horite who inhabited the land "before there were any kings in Israel." The historical record in Deuteronomy includes this parenthetical note:

(The Emim formerly lived there, a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim; like the Anakim they are also known as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim. The Horites also lived in Seir formerly, but the sons of Esau dispossessed them, and destroyed them from before them, and settled in their stead; as Israel did to the land of their possession, which the LORD gave to them.) (Dt. 2:2:10-12)

Edom's long-standing enmity against Israel ultimately brought God's judgment on Edom. Obadiah the prophet devotes his short but potent message to the judgment of Edom, telling us of her pride and arrogance and the reasons for God's final judgment on these people. Amos, the shepherd of Tekoa, wrote of impending judgment on Edom:

Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because he pursued his brother with the sword, and cast off all pity, and his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever. So I will send a fire upon Teman, and it shall devour the strongholds of Bozrah." (Amos 1:11-12)

Several writers have written fine descriptions of Petra and the history of that region of ancient Edom. The Nabateans displaced the descendants of Esau probably in the 6th Century BC. The Greeks and Romans built extensively there and the area was well populated as late as Roman times. Today the area is desolate and sparsely populated.


Petra

South of Bozrah 20 some miles on the King's Highway is Petra, the capital city of the Nabateans. Tourists to this vast mountain-enclosed ancient city in the Wadi Musa generally enter from the east on foot or on horseback through El Siq, an 6000 feet long narrow cleft (width: 12-30 feet) with 100-500 foot high cliff walls. Tombs and houses carved into the bed rock over a vast area at Petra would be suitable for temporarily housing many thousands of people. Mt. Hor is nearby, where Aaron died after Moses passed the high priestly garments of Aaron on to Eliezer in the sight of the congregation (Numbers 20:23-29). An Islamic shrine marks the tomb site.


Tomb of Aaron

The deliverance of the godly remnant by Yeshua, "the angel of the presence" from Petra at the close of the tribulation period is alluded to by Moses in his last words to his people before he died.

This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. He said, "The LORD came ["will come"] from Sinai, and dawned {"will dawn"] from Seir upon us; he shone ["will shine"] forth from Mount Paran, [in Edom] he will come with his ten thousands of holy ones, with flaming fire at his right hand. Yea, he loves his people; all those consecrated to him are in his hand; so they follow in thy steps, receiving direction from thee, (as) when Moses commanded us a law, as a possession for the assembly of Jacob. Thus the LORD will become king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people will be gathered, all the tribes of Israel together. (Deuteronomy 33:1-5)

Earlier we saw that the imagery of the remnant being taken to Petra "on eagles' wings" was reminiscent of God's deliverance of his people under Moses. God will supernaturally protect his remnant in the wilderness of Petra and supernaturally rescue them from the pursuit of Antichrist's armies (Rev. 12:15,16). Yeshua will then lead the remnant to Jerusalem where he will make his public appearance, his epiphaneia.. Earth's rightful ruler will be publicly unveiled in Jerusalem. Jesus foretold of this event:

"...for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people [Israel]; they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the [angelic] powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:22-28)

Moses at his death gave prophetic blessings upon the tribes of Israel, one by one. The fulfillment of these promises will take place after Messiah returns to Jerusalem by way of Seir and Bozrah:

"Let Reuben live, and not die, nor let his men be few."

And this he said of Judah: "Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him in to his people. With thy hands contend for him, and be a help against his adversaries."

And of Levi he said, "Give to Levi thy Thummim, and thy Urim to thy godly one, whom thou didst test at Massah, with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah; who said of his father and mother, `I regard them not'; he disowned his brothers, and ignored his children. For they observed thy word, and kept thy covenant.

They shall teach Jacob thy ordinances, and Israel thy law; they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt offering upon thy altar. Bless, O LORD, his substance, and accept the work of his hands; crush the loins of his adversaries, of those that hate him, that they rise not again."

Of Benjamin he said, "The beloved of the LORD, he dwells in safety by him; he encompasses him all the day long, and makes his dwelling between his shoulders."

And of Joseph he said, "Blessed by the LORD be his land, with the choicest gifts of heaven above, and of the deep that couches beneath, with the choicest fruits of the sun, and the rich yield of the months, with the finest produce of the ancient mountains, and the abundance of the everlasting hills, with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of him that dwelt in the bush. Let these come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the crown of the head of him that is prince among his brothers. His firstling bull has majesty, and his horns are the horns of a wild ox; with them he shall push the peoples, all of them, to the ends of the earth; such are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and such are the thousands of Manasseh."

And of Zebulun he said, "Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out; and Issachar, in your tents. They shall call peoples to their mountain; there they offer right sacrifices; for they suck the affluence of the seas and the hidden treasures of the sand." And of Gad he said, "Blessed be he who enlarges Gad! Gad couches like a lion, he tears the arm, and the crown of the head. He chose the best of the land for himself, for there a commander's portion was reserved; and he came to the heads of the people, with Israel he executed the commands and just decrees of the LORD."

And of Dan he said, "Dan is a lion's whelp, that leaps forth from Bashan."

And of Naphtali he said, "O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full of the blessing of the LORD, possess the lake and the south."

And of Asher he said, "Blessed above sons be Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil. Your bars shall be iron and bronze; and as your days, so shall your strength be. "There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, and in his majesty through the skies. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you, and said, Destroy.

So Israel will dwell in safety, the fountain of Jacob alone, in a land of grain and wine; yea, his heavens drop down dew. Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you; and you shall tread upon their high places." (Deuteronomy 33)

An enigmatic prophecy about Enoch (who was translated into heaven prior to the flood of Noah) is recorded in the book of Jude has a double-fulfillment: First, at the time of the Flood of Noah to judge the antediluvian world, destroying probably many billions of earth's inhabitants and delivering eight persons in the Ark. Then, at the end of the age we now live in Jesus will again appear "with his ten thousands of holy ones."

It was of these (false teachers) also that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord will come with his holy myriads, to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 14-15)

A mystery-filled prophecy in Ezekiel clearly relates in part to the end time and God's judgment of His people Israel:

"As I live, says the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, I will be king over you (Israel). I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out [largely fulfilled in the last century]; and (then, after that) I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, [Note: The term "wilderness of the peoples" may refer to Edom, according to some Bible scholars], and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, says the Lord GOD. I will make you pass under the rod, and I will let you go in by number. [the term the wilderness of the peoples, v35, in the Bible often refers to Edom]. {Note: The term "pass under the rod" appears in Leviticus 27 and symbolizes a separation of the consecrated and the unconsecrated animals of the flock.]

I will purge out the rebels [apostates] from among you, and those who transgress against me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn (Edom?), but they shall not enter (back into?) the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD. "As for you, O house of Israel, thus says the Lord GOD: Go serve every one of you his idols, now and hereafter, if you will not listen to me; but my holy name you shall no more profane with your gifts and your idols. "For on my holy mountain, the mountain height of Israel, says the Lord GOD, there all the house of Israel, all of them, shall serve me in the land; there I will accept them, and there I will require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your sacred offerings. As a pleasing odor I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples, and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country which I swore to give to your fathers. And there you shall remember your ways and all the doings with which you have polluted yourselves [see Zechariah 12:10-14]; and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for my name's sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel, says the Lord GOD." (Ezekiel 20:33-44)

Isaiah 11 also contains mystery concerning the end time:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious.

In that day [at the end of the tribulation] the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant which is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the [rest of the] dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart, and those who harass Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim. But they shall swoop down upon the shoulder of the Philistines in the west, and together they shall plunder the people of the east. They shall put forth their hand against Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites shall obey them. And the LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the sea of Egypt (the Suez Canal); and will wave his hand over the River [the Euphrates?, Rev. 16:12] with his scorching wind, and smite it into seven channels that men may cross dryshod. And there will be a [new king's] highway from Assyria for the remnant which is left of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt. (Isaiah 11)

But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel caused to be profaned among the nations to which they came. "Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations will know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.

Ezekiel says the following about God's mercy, grace and compassion coming on the nation of Israel at the close of the age we live in:

For I will take you [Jews] from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. [Then] I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. [This is an announcement, similar to Jeremiah 30, of God's intention to bring the people of Israel into the New Covenant which Jesus put into effect with his 11 disciples at the Last Supper.]

You [Jews] shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses; and I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominable deeds. [Here is the national repentance of Zechariah 12:10-14 again.]

Ezekiel then describes Messiah's reign over all the nations, from Jerusalem, and the millennial prosperity He will bring to all mankind, through Israel:

It is not for your sake that I will act, says the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. "Thus says the Lord GOD: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. And they will say, `This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now inhabited and fortified.' Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places, and replanted that which was desolate; I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will do it. "Thus says the Lord GOD: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their men like a flock. Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they will know that I am the LORD." (Ezekiel 36:21-38)

God's Dialogs with the Messiah

The latter chapters of Isaiah contain a remarkable series of dialogs between God the Father and His servant the Messiah, or between the prophet and Messiah. In Chapter 42, Messiah is God's humble servant who will not only save Israel but aid the gentiles and bring world-wide justice:

"Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands [isles, or continents, that is, the gentiles dwelling to the corners of the earth from Israel] wait for his law." (42:1-4)

In Isaiah 43-44, Messiah is seen as restoring Israel by forgiving them of all their sins and delivering Jacob from all his enemies. In Chapter 44, Cyrus the Mede is designated and called by name (!) many decades before he was born. God chose him to aid in the restoration of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon. Messiah gives a personal description of his commission from the Father and contains an intimate discussion between God and His Messiah which reveals much about the content of the prayers of Jesus with His Father during his time on earth which would come 700 years later.

In Isaiah 50, Messiah is the true Israel who fulfills all that the nation had failed to attain because of persistent rebellion and disobedience. In Isaiah 52:13 through 53, Messiah is the suffering servant of the Lord whose death and resurrection are vividly foretold. In Chapter 49, Messiah is Israel's goel, or kinsman-redeemer:

[God]..."saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intervene; then his own arm brought him victory, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in fury as a mantle. According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, requital to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render requital. So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives. 'And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,' says the LORD. 'And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD: my spirit which is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your children, or out of the mouth of your children's children, says the LORD, from this time forth and for evermore.'" (59:15-21).

In Isaiah Chapter 63, the dialog takes the following form:

ISAIAH:

Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments (Heb.: "garments of glowing colors") from Bozrah, he who is glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength?

MESSIAH, THE WARRIOR KING AND KINSMAN-REDEEMER:

"It is I, announcing vindication, mighty to save."

ISAIAH:

Why is thy apparel red, and thy garments like his that treads in the wine press?

MESSIAH:

"I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption has come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me victory, and my wrath upheld me. I trod down the peoples in my anger, I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth."

The blood spattering His garments is not the blood of His crucifixion, for that work on the cross was completely finished and ended 2000 years earlier. The blood is that of His enemies, slain in battle, and especially the blood of apostate Jews who have joined the armies of Antichrist to oppose Him. This is clear by the reference to the treading of the wine press. Grapes and vines are a picture of Israel. The harvest of the gentiles is described by the figure of the wheat and the tares. Two separate judgments are involved: a judgment of apostate Jews, and a judgment of the gentile nations. This is clear from Revelation Chapter 14:

"Then I looked, and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat upon the cloud, "Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe." So he who sat upon the cloud swung his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has power over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Put in your sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe." So the angel swung his sickle on the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God; and the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse's bridle, for one thousand six hundred stadia." (Revelation 14:14-20).


Meanwhile the believing remnant of Israel has been gathered under the care of the Great Shepherd of the Sheep at Bozrah. Messiah, the Breaker, is the One who breaks forth with his sheep out of their safe refuge in Bozrah--in the midst of great celebration. He has three titles: Breaker, King, and Yahweh:

"I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob, I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men. He who opens the breach (breaks open) will go up before them; they will break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king will pass on before them, the LORD at their head." (Micah 2:12-13)


The Lord's return (at the parousia) to care for his remnant at Petra and his leading them safely back to Jerusalem by way of Bozrah is then compared by Isaiah with God's care for the Jews through the wilderness in the Days of Moses:

I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel which he has granted them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. For he said, Surely they are my people, sons who will not deal falsely; and he became their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence (compare 1 Cor. 10:3) saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

But they rebelled and grieved his holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses his servant. Where is he who brought up out of the sea the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his holy Spirit, who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. Like cattle that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So thou didst lead thy people, to make for thyself a glorious name.

Now follows a prayer of the remnant for deliverance:

Look down from heaven and see, from thy holy and glorious habitation. Where are thy zeal and thy might? The yearning of thy heart and thy compassion are withheld from me. For thou art our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; thou, O LORD, art our Father, our Redeemer from of old is thy name. O LORD, why dost thou make us err from thy ways and harden our heart, so that we fear thee not? Return for the sake of thy servants, the tribes of thy heritage. Thy holy people possessed thy sanctuary (the Third Temple) a little while; our adversaries have trodden it down. We have become like those over whom thou hast never ruled, like those who are not called by thy name. (Isaiah 63)

The Hebrew Prophetic Future Verb Tense

Verb tenses are not as clearly specified in the Hebrew language as they are in English. In a number of prophetic passages of the Old Testament the verbs are commonly translated as past tense in our English Bibles. However, the prophetic future tense can equally well be used. (Note: When the Hebrew letter waw is added before a word it means "and." When added as a suffix it means "his." Waw before a verb indicates a change of the tense of the verb from past to future and vice versa (a verb in the past tense with a waw in front of it is to be understood as future tense).

Notice in the passage quoted below how the words of the prophet Habakkuk take on new meaning for the end of the age if one switches the verb tenses from past tense to future.

Habakkuk lived just before Nebuchadnezzar's siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple so he was downhearted and grieved because God was bringing great Israel against the chosen people through a foreign people of even great wickedness. It was a dark hour for history similar to the hour that Israel faces in our own time, so Habakkuk's words and prayers applied both to his immediate situation. Yet his pray would seem to apply equally well to the end of the present age:

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth. O LORD, I have heard the report of thee, and thy work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years renew it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.

God will come from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran (i.e., from Petra). His glory will cover the heavens, and the earth will be full of his praise. Selah. His brightness is like the light, rays flash from his hand; and there he will veil his power. Before him goes pestilence, and plague follows close behind. He will stand and measure the earth; he will look and shake the nations; then the eternal mountains will be scattered, the everlasting hills sink low. His ways will be as of old.

I see the tents of Cushan in affliction; the curtains of the land of Midian tremble. Is your wrath against the rivers, O LORD? Is your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea, when you ride upon thy horses, upon your chariot of victory? You will strip the sheath from thy bow, and put the arrows to the string. Selah. You will cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains will see you, and writhe; the raging waters sweep on; the deep gives forth its voice, it lifts its hands on high. The sun and moon stand still in their habitation at the light of your arrows as they speed, at the flash of your glittering spear. You will stride the earth in fury, you will trample the nations in anger. You will go forth for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You will crush the head of the wicked (one), laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah. You will pierce with your shafts the head of his warriors, who come like a whirlwind to scatter me, rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret. You will trample the sea with your horses, the surging of mighty waters.

I hear, and my body trembles, my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones, my steps totter beneath me. I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree do not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds' feet, he makes me tread upon my high places. (Habakkuk 3:1-19)

Jerusalem Surrounded by Armies

Luke Chapter 21 parallels Matthew 24, a sermon by Jesus to his disciples known as the "Olivet Discourse" ---because Jesus was seated with his disciples on the Mt. of Olives opposite the Second Temple when he gave this sweeping outline of the future. Luke adds what Matthew does not tell us, that Jerusalem will be surrounded by hostile armies at the time of the end.

"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.

Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For (a) great distress shall be upon the [entire] earth and (b) wrath upon this people [Israel]; they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Jesus then described the last half of the tribulation period vividly and succinctly:

"And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the (angelic) powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Compare Heb. 12:26-29)

And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption (O Israel) is drawing near." And he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree (Israel), and all the trees; (surrounding nations) as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

"But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man." (Luke 21:20-36)

Isaiah Chapters 24 through 27 are often called "The Little Apocalypse" because of the prophet's description of this end-time period, "the time of Jacob's trouble" for Israel (Jer. 30).

"Behold, the LORD will lay waste the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the slave, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor. The earth shall be utterly laid waste and utterly despoiled; for the LORD has spoken this word. The earth mourns and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left. The wine mourns, the vine languishes, all the merry-hearted sigh. The mirth of the timbrels is stilled, the noise of the jubilant has ceased, the mirth of the lyre is stilled. No more do they drink wine with singing; strong drink is bitter to those who drink it. The city of chaos is broken down, every house is shut up so that none can enter. There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has reached its eventide; the gladness of the earth is banished. Desolation is left in the city (Jerusalem), the gates are battered into ruins. For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, as at the gleaning when the vintage is done..."

The Final Conversion of Israel

Israel's national prayer for their Messiah to come and to forgive them is found in Hosea Chapter 5 beginning at verse 15. Most reputable scholars believe this prayer must be prayed by the nation as a precondition for their national salvation in the coming of Yeshua the Messiah to save them:

I [the LORD] will return again to my place, until they [Israel] acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress they seek me, saying, Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD; his going forth is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth." (Hosea 5:15-6:3).

Earlier we traced the escape of a remnant of some thousands--perhaps tens of thousands--of believing Jews from Jerusalem to Petra which will take at the time of the desecration of the Third Temple at the mid-point of the tribulation period.

Yet as the age comes to a full close many passages of Scripture speak of the national conversion of Israel. We have seen that the imagery of the trampling out of the vineyard and the blood like grape juice flowing as high as a horse's bridle up and down the length of Israel will be Jewish blood as God judges the apostate majority of Jews in the land of Israel. In this terrible time for Israel, millions of men from invading Gentile armies fighting World War III in Israel will also meet their violent end. All the while the terrible judgments from God depicted in the Book of the Revelation will devastate the entire earth. Most of mankind will perish and the great infrastructures of the past thousand of years of civilization will be destroyed.

Yet Paul argues in Romans 11 that in spite of all this, "all Israel will be saved."

Lest you [Gentiles] be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, [to the church] and then all Israel will be saved; as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob"; "and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins." As regards the gospel they are [now] enemies of God, for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy. For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen. (Romans 11:25-36)

Paul is careful to make clear that he is not speaking of each and every Jew being converted, but true Israel is limited to those who ultimately believe in Yeshua within the nation. Just how many Jews will be saved at the very end of the age? Zechariah seems to give the clue:

Two Thirds and One Third of All Israel

In the whole land, says the LORD, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive.

And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, `They are my people'; and they will say, `The LORD is my God.'" (Zechariah 13:8, 9)

The conversion of one third of the Jews in Israel (if it happened today) would mean well over a million and a half converts to the true and living God. Zechariah says the new converts will be called on to undergo a terrible trial of their faith during the final days (months?) of the great military campaign of Armageddon involving as it will as many as 200 million soldiers from the armies of the nations. While the believing remnant in Edom "passes under the rod" of God's merciful, evaluating judgment, the eleventh-hour converts in Israel must "pass through the fire."

Though our own nation, the United States, contains a professing Christian population that appears to number many tens of millions of believers, it is more realistic to say that the "believing remnant" in America today is perhaps only 5 to 10% of those professing faith in Jesus Christ. Thus the future large-scale conversion of Jews to belief in Yeshua at the close of the age will represent a very great work of grace by the God of Israel. A final conversion of one-third of the populace of Israel will surely be very large in percentage compared to the size of the fractional wheat harvest from among the gentiles. The end result of Yeshua's work in Israel at the end of the age will be a completely righteous nation of believers chosen to be the head of all the nations. Isaiah wrote these words about 700 BC:

On this mountain (Mt. Zion) the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined. And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil [of pride and spiritual blindness] that is spread over all nations. (2 Cor. 4:3,4) He will swallow up death for ever (1 Cor. 15:54), and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth (Rev. 21:4); for the LORD has spoken.

It will be said on that day, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain [Jerusalem], and Moab [Jordan] shall be trodden down in his place, as straw is trodden down in a dung-pit. And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim; but the LORD will lay low his pride together with the skill of his hands. And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down, lay low, and cast to the ground, even to the dust.

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: "We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps faith may enter in. Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee. Trust in the LORD for ever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. For he has brought low the inhabitants of the height, the lofty city. He lays it low, lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust. The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy." The way of the righteous is level; thou dost make smooth the path of the righteous. In the path of thy judgments, O LORD, we wait for thee; thy memorial name is the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for thee in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks thee.

For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals perversely and does not see the majesty of the LORD.

O LORD, thy hand is lifted up, but they see it not. Let them see thy zeal for thy people, and be ashamed. Let the fire for thy adversaries consume them. O LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us, thou hast wrought for us all our works. O LORD our God, other lords besides thee have ruled over us, but thy name alone we acknowledge. They are dead, they will not live; they are shades, they will not arise; to that end thou hast visited them with destruction and wiped out all remembrance of them. But thou hast increased the nation, O LORD, thou hast increased the nation; thou art glorified; thou hast enlarged all the borders of the land (of Israel). O LORD, in distress they sought thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them. Like a woman with child, who writhes and cries out in her pangs, when she is near her time, so were we because of thee, O LORD; we were with child, we writhed, we have as it were brought forth wind. We have wrought no deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen. Thy dead shall live, their bodies shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For thy dew is a dew of light, and on the land of the shades thou wilt let it fall.

In the midst of Isaiah's description of the terrible judgments during the time of Jacob's trouble, the prophet gives a call for the remnant to hide themselves for a season:

In that day the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea; [these creatures symbolize our human pride, inspired by Satan in the hearts of men].

In that day: "A pleasant vineyard {Israel], sing of it! I, the LORD, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest any one harm it, I guard it night and day; I have no wrath. Would that I had thorns and briers to battle! I would set out against them, I would burn them up together. Or let them lay hold of my protection, let them make peace with me, let them make peace with me." In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots, and fill the whole world with fruit. Has he smitten them as he smote those who smote them? Or have they been slain as their slayers were slain? Measure by measure, by exile thou didst contend with them; he removed them with his fierce blast in the day of the east wind. Therefore by this the guilt of Jacob will be expiated, and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin: when he makes all the stones of the altars like chalkstones crushed to pieces, no Asherim or incense altars will remain standing.

For the fortified city (Jerusalem?) is [now] solitary, a habitation deserted and forsaken, like the wilderness; there the calf grazes, there he lies down, and strips its branches. When its boughs are dry, they are broken; women come and make a fire of them. For this is a people without discernment (those who remained in Jerusalem after the flight of the remnant?); therefore he who made them will not have compassion on them, he that formed them will show them no favor.

In that day from the river Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt the LORD will thresh out the grain, and you will be gathered one by one, O people of Israel. And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come (back) and worship the LORD on the holy mountain at Jerusalem. (Isaiah 24-27).

The post-exilic prophet Zechariah had much to say about the close of the age we live in as well as details about both the identity and character of both the true Messiah and the Antichrist.

An Oracle The word of the LORD concerning Israel: Thus says the LORD, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: "Lo, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of reeling to all the peoples round about; it will be against Judah also in the siege against Jerusalem. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it shall grievously hurt themselves.

The term "on that day" is a clue that the passage is referring to the Day of the Lord, i.e. the great tribulation period:

And all the nations of the earth will come together against it [Jerusalem]. On that day, says the LORD, I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But upon the house of Judah I will open my eyes, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, `The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the LORD of hosts, their God.' "On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves; and they shall devour to the right and to the left all the peoples round about, while Jerusalem shall still be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem. "And the LORD will give victory to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not be exalted over that of Judah. On that day the LORD will put a shield about the inhabitants of Jerusalem so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD, at their head. And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

Israel's National Mourning for Yeshua

"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land shall mourn, each family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves; and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves.

"On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. "And on that day, says the LORD of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more; and also I will remove from the land the prophets and the unclean spirit. And if any one again appears as a prophet, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, `You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the LORD'; and his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies. On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies; he will not put on a hairy mantle in order to deceive, but he will say, `I am no prophet, I am a tiller of the soil; for the land has been my possession since my youth.' And if one asks him, `What are these wounds on your back?' he will say, `The wounds I received in the house of my friends.'"

Yeshua, the Church, and the Remnant from Edom return to Jerusalem

Behold, a day of the LORD is coming, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in the midst of you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.

On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward. And the valley of my mountains shall be stopped up, for the valley of the mountains shall touch the side of it; and you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD your God will come, and all the holy ones (saints, i.e., the church, his holy angels, and the believing remnant from Edom] with him.

On that day there shall be neither cold nor frost. And there shall be continuous day (it is known to the LORD), not day and not night, for at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea; it shall continue in summer as in winter. And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one. The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft upon its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king's wine presses. And it shall be inhabited, for there shall be no more curse; Jerusalem shall dwell in security. And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will smite all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh shall rot while they are still on their feet, their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths. And on that day a great panic from the LORD shall fall on them, so that each will lay hold on the hand of his fellow, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other; even Judah will fight against Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the nations round about shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. And a plague like this plague shall fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, the asses, and whatever beasts may be in those camps.

Messiah will Reign from Jerusalem and the Nations will come to Pay Tribute

Then every one that survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem [the sheep of Matthew 25:31-46] shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of booths. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain upon them. And if the family of Egypt do not go up and present themselves, then upon them shall come the plague with which the LORD afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the feast of booths. This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the feast of booths. And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "Holy to the LORD." And the pots in the house of the LORD shall be as the bowls before the altar; and every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the flesh of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day. (Zechariah 12-14)

The Wine Press of Wrath upon the Jews

Then I looked, and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat upon the cloud, "Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe. So he who sat upon the cloud swung his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped."

The first sickle and the references to the reaping of the harvest of the earth indicates the reaping of the wheat and the tares from the nations, Matthew 13. This is a final separation of the believers in the nations other than Israel divided and differentiated from the unbelievers they are co-mingled with.

And another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has power over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Put in your sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth (Israel), for its grapes are ripe." So the angel swung his sickle on the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God; and the wine press was trodden outside the city (Jerusalem), and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse's bridle, for one thousand six hundred stadia. (Revelation 14:14-20)

This series of events is also foretold by the prophet Joel. First Joel discusses the judgment of the nations on the basis of their treatment of the God's people the Jews. This is the same judgment we know as the "Judgment of the Sheep and the Goats" from Matthew 25:31-46.

"For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations, and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a harlot, and have sold a girl for wine, and have drunk it.

"What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will requite your deed upon your own head swiftly and speedily. For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. But now I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will requite your deed upon your own head. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far off; for the LORD has spoken."

Joel now announces the assembly of the nations to the Battle of Armageddon. It is God who draws these armies into His land.

Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare war, stir up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, "I am a warrior." Hasten and come, all you nations round about, gather yourselves there.

Next, Joel invokes the Lord to come down with his armies of heaven to fight against the nations:

Bring down thy warriors, O LORD.

Let the nations bestir themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the nations round about. [Again, this is the sheep and goat judgment of Matthew 25:31-46. The Valley of Jehoshaphat is most probably the Kidron Valley between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives.]

Likewise, Israel is to be judged:

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.

Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.

The Lord makes His open appearance upon the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in the midst of the battle:

And the LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shake. But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. "So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who dwell in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy and strangers shall never again pass through it.

The return of the Lord leads at last into the conditions of peace on earth under Messiah's long-expected reign:

"And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD and water the valley of Shittim. "Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the people of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall be inhabited for ever, and Jerusalem to all generations. I will avenge their blood, and I will not clear the guilty, for the LORD dwells in Zion." (Joel 3)

Although quoted earlier in this chapter, a clear description of this same event---the coming of Messiah to the Mount of Olives in power and glory---is described by the aged Apostle John:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses.

From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to (a) smite the nations, and he will rule [lit: shepherdize] them with a rod of iron; he will (b) tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, "Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great." And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who sits upon the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword of him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Revelation 19:11-21)

Notice that the armies of the world originally gather to battle at Megiddo---to fight one another. In the midst of that battle, ominous portents from outer space---visions and signs of the approach of Yeshua---cause the armies of the world to turn and fight against God and His armies!

Isaiah's Prayer for the Soon-Coming of Messiah:

O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at thy presence---as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil---to make thy name known to thy adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains quaked at thy presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides thee, who works for those who wait for him. Thou meetest him that joyfully works righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways. Behold, thou wast angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one that calls upon thy name, that bestirs himself to take hold of thee; for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast delivered us into the hand of our iniquities.

Yet, O LORD, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou art our potter; we are all the work of thy hand. Be not exceedingly angry, O LORD, and remember not iniquity for ever. Behold, consider, we are all thy people. Thy holy cities have become a wilderness, Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins. Wilt thou restrain thyself at these things, O LORD? Wilt thou keep silent, and afflict us sorely?

Messiah's reply to the prophet:

I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here am I, here am I," to a nation that did not call on my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and burning incense upon bricks; who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; who say, "Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am set apart from you." These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. Behold, it is written before me: "I will not keep silent, but I will repay, yea, I will repay into their bosom their iniquities and their fathers' iniquities together, says the LORD; because they burned incense upon the mountains and reviled me upon the hills, I will measure into their bosom payment for their former doings." Thus says the LORD: "As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, `Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,' so I will do for my servants' sake, and not destroy them all. I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me. But you who forsake the LORD, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny; I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer, when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes, and chose what I did not delight in."

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, my servants (the remnant) shall eat, but you (apostates) shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; behold, my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame; behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart, but you shall cry out for pain of heart, and shall wail for anguish of spirit. You shall leave your name to my chosen for a curse, and the Lord GOD will slay you; but his servants he will call by a different name. So that he who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth, and he who takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hid from my eyes.

"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the child shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their children with them. Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, says the LORD."

Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house which you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things are mine, says the LORD. But this is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. "He who slaughters an ox is like him who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like him who breaks a dog's neck; he who presents a cereal offering, like him who offers swine's blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like him who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose affliction for them, and bring their fears upon them; because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes, and chose that in which I did not delight." Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: "Your brethren who hate you and cast you out for my name's sake have said, `Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy'; but it is they who shall be put to shame. "Hark, an uproar from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the LORD, rendering recompense to his enemies! "Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she was delivered of a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her sons. Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth? says the LORD; shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb? says your God.

"Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may suck and be satisfied with her consoling breasts; that you may drink deeply with delight from the abundance of her glory." For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall suck, you shall be carried upon her hip, and dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the LORD is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies. "For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the storm wind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire will the LORD execute judgment, and by his sword, upon all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many. "Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating swine's flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, says the LORD. "For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD. "For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me, says the LORD; so shall your descendants and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the LORD. "And they shall go forth and look on the dead bodies of the men that have rebelled against me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh." (Isaiah 64-66)

For various Bible References to Esau and the Edomites see Summary, Brief History, and Final Destiny of Edom).

A supplementary set of notes on the presence and role of the Lord---and the Church---on earth during the Tribulation Period is found in the file Supplemental Notes on End-Time Events and Israel's Exile in Edom

 

Addendum:

A city for 'end times'
Is Petra hiding place for Israeli remnant during Armageddon?

"Match me such a marvel, save in Eastern clime A rose-red city, half as old as time." --
From "Petra" by Dean Burgen

By Anthony C. LoBaido,

PETRA, Jordan -- Carved from the rock that served as a base for Esau -- the father of the Edomites -- Petra is a magical and mysterious ancient city that illuminated the imaginations of mankind through the millennia and now serves as a key location for many scholars tracking so-called "end-times" events.

Historians, anthropologists and archaeologists are still fascinated by Petra and continue to travel to Jordan to unearth its many mysteries. Famed director Steven Spielberg came here to film "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." Perhaps most significant, however, is the trend of modern Judeo-Christian believers to increasingly turn to Petra over what some Bible scholars consider its future prophetic significance -- the hiding place for the Jewish/Israeli remnant during the biblical events widely known as Armageddon and the Great Tribulation.

What is Petra? Petra is a heavily fortified rock/city situated south of Amman, Jordan. To the south are Aqaba and the Red Sea. It is surrounded by the mountainous deserts of Wadi Rum, which played host to the mobile guerrilla camps of Lawrence of Arabia during World War I.

According to official accounts, Petra was established by Nabataean Arabs in the sixth century before Christ. These Arabs were nomads, but their work around Petra provided the impetus for a grand and widespread commercial empire that reached north all the way to Damascus. They worked diligently to carve out temples, burial chambers and other facilities from the yellow, white, red and brown sandstone rocks. King Aretas IV was the most prominent Arab architect.

Herod the Great of New Testament fame lusted after Petra, but was unable to take control of it. Pompey, the Roman emperor, ordered his legions to literally carve out a military fortress amid the sheer cliffs of Petra. Pompey overturned Nabataean rule around A.D. 99. Even through the Byzantine era, Rome retained some influence in the region, yet the empire was shifting away from Jordan and establishing itself in western Turkey.

The famous face of Petra

The Crusaders, led by a knight named Baldwin, came in the 12th century and, like the Romans, built military fortifications. During the Crusader era, wild legends about Petra sprang up in the imaginations of the West. The Crusaders, upon examination of Petra's burial chambers and temples that had been dedicated to the Nabateans' god Dhushares and goddess Allat, concluded that these represented the Pharaoh of Exodus and the Pharaoh's daughter.

Since the ancient center of the city was known as the Wadi Musa or "Valley of Moses" and a nearby mountain, Jaal Haroun, was named after Aaron, the Crusaders drew some remarkable conclusions. They claimed that the Pharaoh of Exodus had garrisoned his army at Petra while chasing the fleeing Hebrews, and that Petra was the place where Moses struck the rock in search of water. These stories were propagated by the devout Monks of Saint Aaron, who worked closely with the Crusaders of that era.

After the Crusaders withdrew, the local Arabs had complete control of Petra. In 1812, Swiss adventurer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt traveled to Petra incognito, dressed as an Arab Bedouin. He was fascinated by the royal tombs, sacrificial chambers and obelisks he encountered at Petra. Burckhardt encountered the local Bedouins and tried to learn from them about the history of this wildly rugged place.

The Palestinian connection

What did Burckhardt "discover" at Petra amid the baths, old coins, temples, theaters and water works? It was clear he didn't have much of an historical record to go on. The entire area had disappeared from Western thought since the Crusades. The only historical document in the Western psyche concerning Petra was the Peutinger Table (an examination of the Roman Empire in what is today the Middle East, compiled in the 12th century). There was also a rare map -- drawn by cartographers at the time of the American Revolutionary War -- based on the works of the Roman historian Flavius Josephus.

Marianne Roy, a Swiss graduate student from the French canton of Switzerland, came to Petra to research her graduate school thesis on Burckhardt.

Roy told WorldNetDaily, "Burckhardt may well have followed this map to Petra from the Swiss Alps. One can only wonder about the dangers such a journey entailed back in those times."

Various accounts of Petra from the first century A.D. vary about the inhabitants of Petra. Diodorus, from the island of Sicily, wrote a first century account claiming the inhabitants of the Petra basin were merely "barbarians" and warlike. Yet a contemporary writer of Diodorus, a man named Strabo, wrote of a bustling commercial center.

Could both men have been correct?

Micah Mohammed, WorldNetDaily's Arab-speaking driver and guide on the trip said: "Long ago, according to the Koran and Islamic folklore, the area around Wadi Rum was much different, tropical with lakes and game, like Uganda. The most esteemed scientists and climatologists of today accept this as a fact. The Koran also says that this area was changed into a barren desert as a punishment from Allah. This happened when men turned their backs on God and claimed that it was man himself who had created such a paradise."

Real scientific investigation of Petra was not undertaken until 1897. A book called, "The Sepulcher of an Ancient Civilization" was finally published in 1930. The book claimed that Petra had existed through the millennia as a "dead city," mostly uninhabited and used for burials and other similar ceremonies.

Yet the Roman Senate had dubbed Petra as a "metropolis." Certainly, the Roman Empire -- which had expanded into Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine and north Africa -- would not have adopted a dead city, drawn it on their official maps, fought over it, quartered a garrison there and defended Petra all for naught. These actions suggest that someone had resisted Roman rule.

A donkey cart carries people through the trails of Petra

Today, the mystery of the discrepancy of the accounts of Diodorus and Strabo are easily explained. And this is where the Palestinian connection comes into play.

The modern-day Palestinians, according to historians and archaeologists, came into Petra via a migration from the west. They were known as the Edomites. Once they arrived at Petra, they became known as the Idumeans. Some confusion exists over the Semitic to Hellenistic name change.

Through the careful analysis of Petra's ancient metal works, coins, art, burial rights and water works, archaeologists and historians have presented a fusion of two cultures. They are the Arab Nabateans and the Edomites/Idumeans. The two peoples combined to create a strong culture, featuring a vast commercial infrastructure and war-making capabilities.

Concerning the significance of Petra and the biblical end times, Pastor Noah Hutchings of the Southwest Radio Church, an expert on Petra, offers this account:

"Jacob and Esau were twins. Jacob got the best of the deal in trading for Esau's birthright, and then he stole Esau's blessing. The blessing was far more valuable than the birthright. Esau took his minor share of Isaac's cattle and goods and went to Petra, which in the Bible is called Mount Seir, Mount Hor, Selah and Edom's strong city. Esau chased the Horites (cave dwellers) out of Mount Hor and established Petra and the capital city of his kingdom, Edom."

Five hundred years later, when Moses tried to pass through Petra to the Promised Land, the Edomites refused passage and even fought the children of Israel. After the Israelites finally got into the land, the Edomites continually tried to kill them. The wars between Edom and Israel are recorded in the Old Testament in great detail. It was the inherited mission of the Edomites to exterminate the entire population of Israel to the last man.

In 600 B.C., when Babylon invaded Israel, thousands of Israelis were moved to Babylon (today's Iraq) and the Edomites were moved into Israel. The Edomites even helped the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and the temple (Psalm 137). When a remnant of Israel returned after the Babylonian captivity, the Edomites were there to wage war against them while the city and the temple were being rebuilt.

While the scriptures are silent for the 400 years between the book of Malachi and the birth of Jesus, Roman historian Josephus records the struggle between the Edomeans and the Israelites. This racial division and strife in the land prevented Israel from regaining any semblance of its former glory. The nation was easy prey for the Roman Empire on its march to world conquest.

The Romans favored the Edomeans over the Jews because Jews would not compromise their religion and worship Caesar or allow idols in the Temple. The Romans placed Edomean stooges like the Herods in places of authority. Josephus recorded an endless list of the most heinous crimes committed by the Herods against the Jews.

In A.D. 70, the Romans destroyed the temple and Jerusalem. Over 1 million Jews were either killed or died of starvation in Jerusalem alone. The vast majority of the Jews left alive were sold as slaves to other nations. The balance fled to other countries to save their lives.

Of course, there are those who doubt the connection between Esau and the modern Palestinians. This line of reasoning says that Esau was the father of the Philistines and that there is, in fact, no connection between these two peoples other than the similarity in name, which was assigned to the people of "Palestine" by the Romans.

"The Talmud states that Sennacherib the Assyrian despot conquered the Middle East and transferred entire populations. Therefore, the Edomites, Ammonites, Egyptians, etc. who lived after Sennacherib [about 2,500 years ago] are not the real ones, they are transferred populations. The Talmud uses the term Esau to mean a Jew who took Jewish ideas but denied Judaism, and it generally refers to Rome. Because Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, indeed, the older brother, the greatest converts, who became the greatest rabbis, are from the Edomite line. Two of the most famous ones are Unkelus, in the time of Hillel, who authored the accepted Aramaic translation of the bible, and Akilas. Both were from the family of the Roman emperor," Rabbi David Eidensohn told WorldNetDaily. Eidensohn serves as a consultant to the Knight Ridder news service on Jewish issues.

"No other nation, other than Edom, produces outstanding converts. In Cabala, the greatest souls -- period -- were in the soul of Esau, and when the Jews and the world merits, they reveal incredible light that even Jews cannot reveal. Rabbi Mayer, whose name means 'light' was so brilliant that 'none of his colleagues could follow his thoughts,' and he descends from a Roman emperor. Again, the Palestinians are not Edom," stated Eidensohn.

Petra: The ultimate defensive position

WorldNetDaily traveled to Petra with the Amman-based Mossad intelligence agent Avi Rubin -- a former airborne commando in the Israel Defense Force. Rubin explained that Petra might be the ultimate defensive position in a regional war.

"It is an outstanding defensive position. Airborne assault would be most difficult. It is what I would call a natural defensive position. The Roman legions, the Crusaders, the Arabs and now the IDF, Iraq and the Jordanian army all recognized this," said Rubin.

"The most important defensive feature is called 'the Shiq,' which is about 2,000 meters long. [Today, the passage is marked by the 'Indiana Jones' souvenir shop.] It is a narrow passageway which leads into the city. It has very high, sheer walls which will protect the Israeli population as they enter the city from the west. The rocks of Petra can help protect from gunfire, bombing, artillery and perhaps even absorb some radiation."

Bible fundamentalists point to Old Testament passages they claim to be speaking about a war between Israel and the Palestinians. These include Ezekiel 35:2-5 and Ezekiel 36:5. Also, Amos 9:11-12 says, "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen. That they may possess the remnant of Edom. "

Ezekiel 36:5 says, "Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen and against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with spiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey."

Ezekiel 35:2-5 says, "Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir, and prophesy against it. Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end."

Rubin said that both the IDF and the Mossad had examined Petra from a strategic and military perspective.

"The Old Testament speaks of a coming war between Israel and the Palestinians. Any fool can see the Palestinians do not want peace with Israel. We would all be wise to keep an eye on Petra in regard to future events in world history," Rubin concluded.

Speaking of what Jewish writings include about the end times, Eidensohn told WorldNetDaily, "As a Jew -- who has divinely imparted secrets about the affairs of earth, especially the family of Abraham, Ishmael and Esau, Israel, Muslims and Christians -- we see the world heading away from secular [conflicts] to religious ones. The Muslims are pushing up into Russia, and as they gain nuclear weapons, they will not be afraid of China, either. This is the war of the jihad people against America. It is a war against not the U.S., but Christianity.

"The mystical books stress that in the end of days the secular Jews will battle the authority of the rabbis, attempt to make peace with Ishmael, fail, and after that will be the Messianic Era. Zionism was founded to create solutions for the 'Jewish problem,' and the Orthodox opposed this, saying that there will never be a solution for the 'Jewish problem' until Jews behave so honestly and so correctly that Messiah came. As Israelis realize that the Arabs will never make peace, the Orthodox movement is exploding. When Rabbi Amnon Yitschok speaks (he is a former secularist, as are the major movers in the 'Return movement') tens of thousands of people crowd the stadium. Outside, people hawk tickets for ridiculous prices. Once inside, hundreds of people come forward with their gold and silver nose and earrings, and promise to Return. Israel is now a land pulsing with the Messiah and a large amount of people who are coming to grips with the realities opposed to their fervent secular beliefs."

Eindensohn told WorldNetDaily that he believes end-times prophecy has been unfolding over the past decade.

"You remember, of course, that Iraq rained down Scud missiles on Israel, 39 huge containers of explosives, and almost nobody was killed, despite the fact that the Jews were penned up in their apartments and could not go to bomb shelters for fear of poison gas. This was in the Gulf War and was one of the first major public miracles that will herald in the Messianic Era," he added.

"The Orthodox community can take the constant saber rattling because they believe that Arafat and Hussein are harbingers of the Messiah, but the secular community cannot take it. They seek solutions, and there are none. This is the major issue in modern Israel today: whether to seek solutions at any price, or to forget about them and await the Messiah. More and more people realize that there are no secular solutions. Nobody wants peace; they want peace without Jews."

As interest in the end times and the Great Tribulation continues to grow in Western culture, Petra will most likely continue its mysterious hold on those who look to the scriptures for clues to future events. -via: Prophecy Flash Alert 4-24-2001

Major References

1. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, ThM, PhD, Israelogy: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology, Ariel Ministries Press, PO Box 3723, Tustin, CA 92681, 1992.

2. Ray C. Stedman, God's Final Word: Understanding Revelation. Discovery House, Grand Rapids. Available on line as a sermon series: The Ray C. Stedman Library. Also relevant to this discussion is Ray's series on First and Second Thessalonians and the Olivet Discourse Series.

3. Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Wm. H. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1992.

4. Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord, Moody Press, Chicago, 1969.

5. David Baron, The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, 1981.

6. Joyce Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1972.

7. For outstanding briefing packages on Bible prophecy and current events by Chuck Missler go to Koinonia House

8. NASA satellite imagery of Petra


The Coming Exile of Israel in Edom

by Lambert Dolphin

Because of a soaring volume of spam email, I've had to remove my email link from this page. Spammers, as you probably know, use web crawling software to automatically "harvest" email addresses from Internet sites like this one. To email me, use the email address below —but DELETE ALL OF THE SPACES. Thanks for understanding.

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First draft, July 18, 1994, revised June 21, 1995; April 2, 1996, February 27, 1997, October 1, 1998. April 25, 2001. 12/06/07.