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.

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