Category Archives: Prophecy

Gog’s Three Military Campaigns

Introduction

Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 are the Siamese Twins of prophecy chapters. They have long been attached at the hip by commentators, but if they can be separated they will live better lives.[1]

Three Campaigns, Not One

Dr. Charles Cooper states: “Commentators recognize a similarity between Revelation 19:17-18, and 21b and Ezekiel 39:17-20. The exact nature of the relationship between Revelation 19 and Ezekiel 38-39 is not at all clear. . . . No position enjoys the absence of contradictions.”[2]

I respectfully suggest that the way to interpret Ezekiel 38 and 39 without contradiction or confusion is to recognize that they should be broken into their respective military campaigns, not run together. In Ezekiel 38 and 39, the prophet receives three separate predictions concerning Gog and the nations allied with him. The intermingling of these three prophecies can only generate confusion.

Order of the Three Campaigns

The prophecy of the first attack starts in Ezekiel 38:1, the second in Ezekiel 38:17, and the third in Ezekiel 39:1. Each begins with the phrase “Thus says the Lord God.” Each concludes with a declaration that God’s renown will increase due to His dealings with Gog. See, for example, the last verse in Ezekiel 38:

“‘“I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the LORD.”’” (Ezekiel 38:23)

The description of the attack in Ezekiel 39 closely parallels the description of Armageddon in Revelation 19. However, the “starting condition” for Gog’s initial attack is that Israel will be living in safety, which is not what Israel is doing at the time of Armageddon. Indeed, Israel will be severely persecuted from the midpoint of the seventieth week through the end (though the ones who flee to the wilderness will be protected). So there you have the first (midpoint) attack separated from the third (Armageddon) attack. The second attack occurs at the start of the Day of the Lord, which means it is the Great Winepress (according to Revelation 14 and other passages).

The Battle of the Midpoint

The first prophecy, found in Ezekiel 38:1-16, features God drawing a man named Gog to attack His people (the Jews) in His land (Israel). The Jews in Israel at the time of this attack are described as “living securely” in verses 8, 11, and 14. This attack, if it occurs within the seventieth week of Daniel, must happen no later than the midpoint of that week. Israel will not be dwelling securely on her God-given territory from the midpoint of the seventieth week until the end of it. Rather, she will be exiled, harassed, and hunted.

It is true that Revelation 12 finds the woman (a faithful remnant within Israel) fleeing into the wilderness for 3½ years, the second half of the seventieth week. This remnant will be protected and preserved. The rest of the Jews, though, will suffer the worst persecution ever. It’s a grievous thing to think about or write about. In our eagerness to unravel the puzzles of biblical prophecy, we must not forget that real people will be affected by these tragic events.

The Great Winepress

The second prophecy, given in Ezekiel 38:17-23, finds Gog bringing troops and peoples against Israel again. They have tried to steal God’s land (Israel) and are now poised to attack His people, the Jews—specifically the Jews living in God’s holy city, Jerusalem. God intervenes with an earthquake and with His own presence, which terrifies and confuses Gog’s horde. To this He adds pestilence, blood, a torrential rainfall, hailstones, fire, and brimstone.

Thus, the people who have accompanied Gog into his planned (but thwarted) attack on Jerusalem are crushed in the Great Winepress. The armies are destroyed. The people God has chosen for His own possession are saved. God’s measureless holiness, justice, and mercy shine forth.

The Battle of Armageddon

Gog himself survives the Great Winepress to bring a third military campaign against Israel, which is shown in the third prophecy, located in Ezekiel 39:1-29. This campaign results in a great feast for the birds and the beasts, which in Revelation is called “the Great Supper of God” (Revelation 19:17). This third prophecy, therefore, concerns the Battle of Armageddon, where the Lord Jesus annihilates Gog, his armies, and the armies that have joined them.

Summary

Gog from Magog will attack Israel three times, but be successful only once. The other two attacks are miraculously thwarted. Praise God! Although the chosen people will suffer dreadfully, they will ultimately be rescued and protected. God will never forget His promises to them—or to us! His Word is rock solid. We can depend upon it without reservation.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, unless otherwise noted. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Bolding and italics mine. Brackets mine, added for clarity and emphasis.

[1] This blog post was adapted from material that originally appeared in the author’s book The Great Winepress Is Not Armageddon, copyright © 2008.

[2] “Parousia” Newsletter #16, Fall 2000, p. 7. From the article “The Prophetic Pillars of the PreWrath Position: The Battle of Armageddon Occurs Thirty Days After the Conclusion of Daniel’s seventieth week.” © 2000 The Sign Ministries, a ministry of Sola Scriptura.

The Rain for Vindication

In Joel chapter 2, the Northern Army is said to have done “great things”—things that are gigantic in the wrong direction, the direction of evil. Then the Lord is said to do “great things,” but they are gigantic in the right direction, in the protection and restoration of His holy Land (Israel) and His holy People (the Jews):

Do not fear, O land, rejoice and be glad, for the LORD has done great things.

(Joel 2:21)

The Lord has done the “great things” necessary to rescue Judah and Jerusalem from the enemy that threatened to utterly destroy them. Now He will restore the fire-ravaged, army-trodden land to fruitfulness. The Jews of Jerusalem have just been rescued from certain destruction at the hands of the Northern Army. The surrounding land has been devastated by fire and by drought. Now it is time for restoration.

The Land of Israel and the beasts of the field are instructed not to fear while the sons of Zion—that is, the Jewish people, especially those living in Jerusalem—are told to rejoice and to be glad. Why? Because the Lord has given them rain, rain, rain—a heavy downpour which has vindicated them and protected them from their foes. Now that same rain will bring forth crops for them, abundant grain for eating and grapes for making wine. Grain offerings will be possible once more, and the people will have the food and drink they need to survive.

So rejoice, O sons of Zion,

And be glad in the LORD your God;

For He has given you the early rain for your vindication.

And He has poured down for you the rain,

The early and latter rain as before. (Joel 2:23)

How can rain be given “for vindication”? This has stumbled many scholars. If you do not see it as being the cause of the rout of the attacking army, then you will be scratching your head about it. This is an unusual construction in the original Hebrew, which has caused many to search for alternatives, resulting in an intriguing interpretation: the phrase “the early rain for your vindication” can be replaced with “the Teacher for righteousness.”

This “Teacher for Righteousness” is widely interpreted as being the Lord Jesus. In the book I am writing about the Great Winepress, I place the return of Jesus to protect and defend His People at the same point as the torrential downpour that drives off their attackers (here in Joel 2). This is based on a number of parallel passages in holy writ. For now, suffice it to say that “the rain for vindication” and “the Teacher for Righteousness” may both be in view in Joel 2:23.

How are the sons of Zion to be regarded as being “vindicated”? In part, this refers to the difference between the Northern Army and the Jews. The army had attacked Jerusalem at God’s command but were arrogant, violent unbelievers. The Jews were driven to cry out to God for rescue, after long neglecting Him, and discovered He was there for them. Their faith in God was vindicated, and their position as God’s People became evident to all.

This deluge of rain has also been given for the “vindication” (or “righteousness”) of the Jerusalemites because this is the point at which they put on the righteous of God. This is when they look on Jesus and realize they must accept Him as their spiritual savior, their Messiah. He has just saved them from physical destruction; now He saves their souls.

The passage from Joel ends with further notes about the blessings that will now befall those in Jerusalem and Judah:

The threshing floors will be full of grain,

And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil. (Joel 2:24)

The drought is over, the enemy is driven off, and now there will be days of delightful abundance. The Land, the animals, and the sons of Zion should, therefore, rejoice. The attackers are gone, driven off by a ferocious storm. The Israelites have humbled themselves, sought God’s help. Now they enjoy his blessings and delight in their fruitful land, a land that once again flows with milk and honey, a land uniquely chosen and blessed by the Almighty.

The Lord brought about the attack of the Northern Army on Israel, and then He rescued His people. Now He promises to restore their Land to its pre-attack state, making it fruitful.

 “Then I will make up to you for the years

That the swarming locust has eaten,

The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, …

You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied

And praise the name of the LORD your God,

Who has dealt wondrously with you;

Then My people will never be put to shame.” (Joel 2:25-26)

The restoration the Lord grants to His people when they repent includes the restoration of fruitfulness to the Land of Israel. The crops will flourish. The people will feast. More importantly, the people will honor God for who He is and for what He has done.

Have you had years that slipped by without much progress, without much accomplished for the Kingdom of God? Take heart, dear one, for the God we serve can—and often will—restore to you “the years that the locust has eaten.” Ask Him to supply what you lack, and trust Him for the answer.

 

Scripture taken, unless otherwise noted, from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, Updated Edition (NASU), © Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Rhymes of the 4 Horsemen

Here I present the infamous 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse in a light verse for a heavy topic.

Seal 1

The first horse is white,

But his rider’s no knight.

Seal 2

The second is red:

There’s war ahead.

Seal 3

The third is black:

Famines attack.

Seal 4

The fourth is pale:

Death we hail.

I love mnemonics. Do you?

Moses in Malachi

At the start of Malachi 3, we read, “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.” The figure called “my messenger” is regarded by most conservative scholars as Elijah, who is mentioned again in Malachi 4. John the Baptist only partially fulfilled this prophecy. It awaits a fuller fulfillment in the End Times.

Malachi 3:1 continues, “And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; ….” Conservative scholars agree “the Lord” refers to the Lord Yeshua (Jesus of Nazareth). When this happens, “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely . . . says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:5). It will be time for the sinners in Israel to be held to account.

First, though, before the Messiah arrives and judges the wayward, He provides help. Elijah, representing the prophets, prepares the way for the second coming of Yeshua the Messiah. Moses, representing the Law, teaches the priests how to please the Lord. The description found toward the end of Malachi 3:1 fits Moses perfectly: “… and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.”

Many teach that the man called “the messenger of the covenant” will be Yeshua. Handel’s Messiah, for example, treats these verses as a description of Him. The question, however, is how the Jewish people can rejoice in Someone they don’t know. They will some day delight in the Messiah. Now, however, the vast majority don’t acknowledge Him as the Messiah, nor do they delight in Him.

Whom do the Jews delight in more than they do in Moses? No one. He is at the top of the list of their sages and heroes. Lois Tverberg notes: “The Jewish people regarded Moses as the greatest prophet of all time. All other prophets heard God speaking in dreams and visions, but God spoke to Moses face to face (Numbers 12:6-8). Moses had also done great miracles to free them from Egypt and led them out of bondage. He had mediated their covenant and given them their scriptures, and they considered him their greatest leader of all time.”[1]

Moses fits both of the criteria given in Malachi 3:1—he is the “messenger of the covenant,” the one through whom God delivered His Law to His people Israel. He is also “the one in whom you delight,” the one the Jews treasure down to the present day.

Moses will be working alongside Elijah as they fill the roles of the two witnesses described for us in Revelation 11. They prophesy during the second half of Daniel’s seventieth week, the time period also known as “the forty-two months.”

Malachi continues his description of Moses, the messenger of the covenant, with the question: “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” The implied answer is “no one can.” Moses will be an instructor of fierce countenance.

“For he [Moses] is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years” (Mal. 3:2-4).

Moses, from the tribe of Levi, will instruct the Levites. He will help them learn how to actually please their God (and ours) with the offerings that they present on His altar.

These Temple sacrifices, in ancient times, all pointed to the future, magnificent Lamb of God. In the same way, when these sacrifices are offered during the seventieth week of Daniel, and on into the Millennium, they will serve as powerful reminders of the Greatest Sacrifice, the Son of God—never as substitutes for Him or His work![2]

The priests and Levites have much to learn from their revered law-giver. Moses, mediator of the covenant between God and Israel, will train these men in living holy, set-apart lives. He will teach them to love, serve, and submit to Yeshua (Jesus), the Messiah. This will be an intense time for them. They will learn to look into their own hearts, and they will not always like what they find. They will need to repent before they can truly represent God to their people (and their people to God).

The great news is that Moses’ instruction bears fruit! The Levites learn to live their lives—and to present their sacrifices—in a way that honors God and His Messiah.

The Temple sacrifices must have begun either before or during the first half of the seventieth week.  We know this because Antichrist, the “man of lawlessness,” defiles the seventieth week Temple. He stops the sacrifices there, and he sets up the Abomination of Desolation.[3]

How, then, can good, pure offerings be presented at a Temple that has been defiled? They can be presented after the Temple has been re-dedicated. This re-dedication is implied in Daniel 9:24, which says that before the seventieth week ends the Most Holy Place will be anointed. Here is a rough timeline of my view on these events for your consideration:

The Abomination of Desolation is a desecrating object of some sort. The Antichrist sets it up in the Holy Place in the Temple of God at the middle of the seventieth week of Daniel (Matt. 24:15-16). He also puts a stop to sacrifice and offering at the Temple (Dan. 9:27), whether by this setting up of the Abomination or by some other means.

By the end of the seventieth week, Israel will experience all six astounding blessings spelled out in Daniel 9:24. One of these is the anointing of the Most Holy Place in the Temple.

When Moses and Elijah begin their work as the two witnesses (Rev. 11:3), this Abomination stands in the way of true worship. Therefore, it appears that those who love God will move it elsewhere (or perhaps even destroy it). Although the Antichrist is still powerful, he does not possess all power. He cannot triumph over the Lamb and His purposes. One of His purposes is to visit the Temple–but only after true worship has been restored.

So, to connect the dots, I suggest that the Abomination will be moved so that the Holy Place may be cleansed and the Most Holy Place prepared for anointing. When these tasks have been accomplished, then true worship may begin in the seventieth week Temple in Jerusalem.

Moses will, exactly as prophesied, “purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver” (Mal. 3:3b). They will then “bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord” (Mal. 3:3c).

After Moses’ commendable work, God’s holy Temple is ready for the arrival of the Messiah. He and His Father will approve of the Levites’ worship, for the offerings “… will be pleasing to the Lord as in days of old and as in former years” (Mal. 3:4).

 

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Brackets and ellipses mine, added for clarity.

[1] Tverberg, Lois A., Ph.D. “A Prophet Greater than Moses.” En-Gedi Resource Center. 2006. Accessed September 5, 2016. http://www.egrc.net/articles/Rock/Great Expectations/ProphetGreaterThanMoses.html.

[2] “These sacrifices did not take away sin in the Old Testament, but were done in obedience to the Lord in repentance of sin. In a similar way, future animal sacrifices … will not take away sin, but will serve as a reminder or memorial to the Lord (Hebrews 10:3). This is not unlike the way Christians take the Lord’s Supper during this current time period (or church age) as a reminder of Jesus’ death and resurrection.” “Millennial Sacrifices.” Got Questions Ministries. 2011-2016. Accessed October 10, 2016. https://compellingtruth.org/millennial-sacrifices.html. Ellipsis mine.

[3] See 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, Daniel 9:27, and Matthew 24:15-16.

The Coming Exile of Jerusalem in Ezekiel 38

Ezekiel the prophet gives us insight into the coming exile of Jerusalem, Israel. He does not, however, directly mention the exile. What he mentions is the seizing of plunder—a part of the exile scenario, but not the whole story. To see it all, we need to line up the first sixteen verses of Ezekiel 38 with other biblical prophecies.

This exile will happen when Antichrist (the Beast of Revelation, also known as Gog from Magog) launches his first attack against Israel. In this first attack, Gog and the allied snatch much plunder. They disrupt life in Jerusalem.

Some residents flee the city. Others remain in Jerusalem and suffer robbery, rape, and mayhem. Whether some of them are killed outright is not clear. Certainly all who remain behind will wish they had fled. The flight will not be a piece of cake, but those who do make it to safety will be well protected.

The difficult part in understanding Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 comes in knowing where to break them apart. According to my current understanding, there are three different attacks represented in these two chapters.

The first attack is described in verses 1 through 16 of chapter 38. It is this first attack that concerns us here, as it is the same as the Antichrist’s exiling of half of Jerusalem:

For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. (Zech. 14:2)

And when the dragon [Satan] saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman [Israel] who gave birth to the male child [the Messiah]. But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. (Rev. 12:13-14)

The arrival of Gog’s coalition force will be spectacular. God says of this invasion:

“You will go up, you will come like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your troops, and many peoples with you.” (Ezek. 38:9)

This large, prime fighting force, is described as “splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords.” Some come from the north of Israel, largely from the territory we know today as Turkey. Others will join in from northern Africa to the south and from Iran to the east, the region formerly known as Persia. We know this from the list of allies found in Ezekiel 38:2-6.

Whether Iran will have developed nuclear weapons by then is not given to us in Scripture. What year this attack will take place is not obvious, either. What is clear is that Iran’s leaders will still be bent on Israel’s destruction, as they presently are. Whatever may change by the time this happens (whether a few years from now or many decades in the future), the attitude of the rulers toward God’s small but holy land will not alter.

Before this first attack, Israel’s inhabitants “were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them” (Ezek. 38:8d). This condition of “living securely” does not exist currently. It will be the situation after the Jewish nation makes a covenant with the Antichrist (Gog). Israel will live in a state of peace for 3½ years. Then the Antichrist will betray her by launching this first, successful, attack against the nation he had sworn to protect. Israel will not again “live securely” until after the Antichrist is destroyed and his armies killed at the battle of Armageddon, approximately 3½ years later.

Ezekiel 38 and 39 is often understood as presenting just one battle. This is a mistake, in my view. The timing, initial conditions, and outcome for each of the three conflicts are different. These chapters are also interpreted as being an unmitigated triumph for God’s people through His immediate and miraculous intervention. But these chapters actually concern defeat for Israel as well as triumph.

Joel Richardson teaches this passage well. He does merge the attacks by Gog into just one military campaign (which, as noted above, differs from my analysis). Yet he presents this military conflict as taking place over time, not all within just a day or two. Most importantly, he correctly represents Israel as suffering severe loss during this campaign. Gog will, indeed, triumph for a time. Israel will be in desperate need. Then, and only then, do the Jews cry out for rescue, for God and His Messiah to save them from certain destruction.

So it will be. The Jews of Jerusalem will grow desperate:

I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. (Hos. 5:15)

But their desperation and rescue concern the second and third attacks, not this first one. A key point to remember is that Israel will not be miraculously rescued from Gog’s first military campaign, which occurs at the midpoint of the seventieth week of Daniel.

 

All Scripture verses are taken from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition (NASU), unless otherwise noted. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. Brackets mine, added for clarity.

 

The Coming Exile of Jerusalem in Revelation 12

When I look at all the tiny nation of Israel has endured through the years, my heart goes out to her. As a follower of the Messiah, I would love to believe, as some actually teach, that the worst is behind her.

Scripturally, that is an untenable position. Israel has been through hell. Worse still is coming before the glory days begin.

Will Israel dramatically and miraculously escape from the Antichrist’s clutches? In the end, yes. Before that, however, in the middle, the rescue (however dramatic) of God’s holy people is a partial rescue only.

Even this partial rescue requires their obedience. Obedience, it might be noted, to a prophecy found in the New Testament, a portion of Scripture few Jewish rabbis are reading:

Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader [help the congregation] understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15-16, NASU)

An idol will, according to Daniel 12:11, be set up in the Temple when the regular sacrifice is abolished. “He [the Antichrist] will make the temple abominable (and therefore desolate) by setting up in the temple an image of himself to be worshiped (2 Thes. 2:4; Rev. 13:14–15).”[1] Such an event will be clearly recognizable by everyone.

In Daniel 9:27, we read of “the prince who is to come” (the Antichrist). He will put an end to the Temple sacrifices in the middle of “the seventieth week.” The term “week” in this usage consists of seven years of 360 days each, according to conservative scholarship.

How is it that many of the Jews will flee from Jerusalem and Judea when the Abomination is set up in God’s Holy Temple? Are they really aware of the Lord Yeshua’s warning (quoted above) from the Olivet Discourse? Or are they perhaps just prudent? When the Antichrist (whomever he turns out to be) sets up the Abomination, his evil intentions toward the Jews will be clear to everyone. The wise will flee without delay.

Revelation 12 portrays Israel as a woman wearing a crown of twelve stars, one star for each of Jacob’s sons. This imagery harkens back to the dreams of Joseph in Genesis 37.

The woman gives birth to the Messiah. Satan tries to kill Him, but He is caught up to heaven.

His mother—Israel, the woman—flees to the wilderness. There she finds a place God has already prepared for her. She will be nourished there for 1,260 days. She will also be protected from the Antichrist and his murderous intent.

This number of days corresponds to the 42 months that the two witnesses of Revelation 11 testify and also to the “time, times, and half a time” (3½ years) mentioned later in this chapter and in the twelfth chapter of Daniel. These are all parallel expressions for the second half of the seventieth week.

The 42 months end when the seventh trumpet is about to be sounded. In other words, the “woman” of Revelation 12 hides in the wilderness for the entire second half of the seventieth week of Daniel. So Israel is safe from the Antichrist during these 42 months, right?

Yes and no. This particular set of Jews is safe, yes. Those who fled from Judea and Jerusalem the minute that the Abomination was set up, yes. But we know from Zechariah 14:2 that only one-half of the city of Jerusalem will be exiled. No mention is made of how many in the surrounding area (Judea) also head for the hills.

Life will be hard during the second half of Daniel’s seventieth week. Those not in the safe haven, the “place prepared” in the wilderness, will be subjected to intense persecution.

Furthermore, Zechariah 13 contains a severe, sobering statistic. Of those Jews who enter the seventieth week of Daniel, only one-third will survive to the end. The majority will be slaughtered by God’s enemies.

That is the truth of what the Bible says, in my view. A desire to spare Israel further suffering, however noble, will not prevent these prophecies from being fulfilled.

Brothers and sisters, weep for Israel. Pray for Israel. Witness to, bless, and love the Jews you know personally.

God has told us in advance what it will take for the Hebrews to cry out to Him for rescue. It will take severe persecution, the “worst ever” period of tribulation, and the shattering of their power (Hosea 5:14-15, Daniel 12:7). What is this “power” that will be shattered? My vote goes to Israel’s military might. Their famed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will fail them. They will have no other nations helping them, no allies at all. Then, at last, with no one else to rely on, they will seek Yehovah, the Most High God, and live.

May it be that our witness and our help is a blessing to many Jewish people even before the time of their greatest need, soon to transpire. May it be that many of their unbelieving neighbors bless and protect them as well. May the ranks of the “sheep” swell and their efforts prosper (Matthew 25:40).

Meanwhile, please join me in praying for the flight of the Jerusalemites. Should their exile occur in on a Sabbath day, things will be harder for them. Buses and trains do not run on the Sabbath in Jerusalem.[2] Some roads are even blocked to prevent vehicular traffic.[3]

In the winter, Jerusalem and Judea sometimes experience snow. Depending on where their safe haven is located, those who flee may need to navigate mountains and hills, possibly on foot. This explains why the Lord Yeshua directed (in Matthew 24:20 and Mark 13:18) those living in Jerusalem and Judea to pray their flight would not be in the winter or on a Sabbath day.

Pregnant women and nursing mothers will have a particularly rough time (Mark 13:17). Love dictates that we pray in advance for their successful flight.

Let us also pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as Psalm 122 directs:

I was glad when they said to me,

“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

Our feet are standing

Within your gates, O Jerusalem,

Jerusalem, that is built

As a city that is compact together;

To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD—

An ordinance for Israel—

To give thanks to the name of the LORD.

For there thrones were set for judgment,

The thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

“May they prosper who love you.

“May peace be within your walls,

And prosperity within your palaces.”

For the sake of my brothers and my friends,

I will now say, “May peace be within you.”

For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,

I will seek your good.

(Psalm 122, NASU)

All Scripture verses are taken from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition (NASU), unless otherwise noted. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. Brackets mine, added for clarity.

[1] Barbieri, L. A., Jr. (1985). Matthew. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books. Brackets mine.

[2] http://www.touristisrael.com/shabbat-in-jerusalem/11023/ Accessed 24 July 2015.

[3] http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/06/27/us-israel-religion-idUSTRE55Q21L20090627 Accessed 24 July 2015.

Do the Earth Dwellers Give God Praise?

Several verses in the book of Revelation feature a group called “those who dwell on the earth,” which students of Scripture generally shorten to “the earth dwellers.” This group follows after the Antichrist (the “first beast” in Revelation). They oppose Almighty God and His good plans.

They never repent of their wickedness nor of their worship of false gods. They close their ears to the gospel message.

What are we to make, then, of the great earthquake in Jerusalem at the sixth trumpet? The holy city, Jerusalem, has been given to the nations. The Gentiles are trampling it underfoot, except for the holy temple. These unrighteous Gentiles have opposed the ministry of the two witnesses. They throw a party when the Antichrist kills them:

And those who dwell on the earth {will} rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets [the two witnesses] tormented those who dwell on the earth. (Rev. 11.10 NASB)

These earth dwellers get the shock of their lives when the two witnesses come back to life again and ascend to heaven. Yet the earth dwellers are still called “enemies” of the two witnesses, not “converts” of them.

Here we come to the bit about the earthquake:

And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell [many buildings collapsed]; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. (Rev. 11.13 NASB)

It’s understandable that those living in Jerusalem will be terrified. Yet it is totally unlike the earth dwellers to give glory to Almighty God. We don’t see them praising God or repenting anywhere else in the 70th Week of Daniel or thereafter.

Do they really repent here? There are basically two options. One is that yes, the earth dwellers do give glory to God, but it’s not really the ascribing of worth to His holy name that is usually meant by “give glory to.” It’s a lesser form of praise. While the Greek words involved may technically allow for this option, it is not persuasive.

Could “the rest” refer instead to the Jewish remnant in Jerusalem? Only half of the city was exiled (Zech. 14.2), which implies that a large number of Jews remained in Jerusalem.

The Jewish remnant will not side with their persecutor, the Antichrist. All Israel will be saved, Paul says in Rom. 11.26. The 70 Weeks decreed for the Jewish people will end their transgression and usher in their everlasting righteousness (Dan. 9.24). So we see that those who give glory to God at the sixth trumpet are likely the Jews who have survived, and who sincerely praise their God and give Him the honor due His holy name.

Scripture taken, unless otherwise noted, from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, Updated Edition (NASB), © Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Brackets mine (added to some verses for clarity).