The History of Jerusalem (part 5B)

Introduction

After the Jews were banished from Judea they dispersed all over the world. Jerusalem was ruled by Gentile nations for centuries. The Bible abounds with prophecies concerning the gathering of the Jews back to the Promised Land. The first gathering produced the modern State of Israel, which was necessary for the fulfillment of the prophecies regarding the Tribulation and the many wars against Jerusalem. The second gathering will occur after the national repentance of Israel, and will result in the Messianic Kingdom with Christ ruling on the throne of David. After the final rebellion and the great white throne judgment follows the eternal state, governed from the New Jerusalem.

Part 5A summarizes: 1. The world-wide dispersion of the Jews.
2. The Gentile-controlled period in Jerusalem's history.
Part 5B concerns: 3. The first gathering of the Jews back to the Promised Land.
4. The tribulation
4.1 The start of the tribulation
4.2 The purpose of the tribulation.
4.3 The wars against Jerusalem.
Part 5C focuses on: 5. The second gathering of the Jews.
6. The Messianic kingdom.

3. The first gathering of the Jews back to the Promised Land

God has always dealt with His people conditionally: blessings follow obedience and curses disobedience. [1] The prophet Jeremiah warned Jerusalem that only repentance could avert calamity, and doing evil would cancel proposed blessings. [2] It is therefore not surprising that two gatherings of the people are specifically foretold by Isaiah: “The lord will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of His people,”[3] and this will be “in that day….of salvation.” [4]

The first world-wide gathering will be in unbelief in preparation for judgment – the judgment of the tribulation. The second world-wide gathering will be in faith in preparation for blessing – the blessing of the Messianic kingdom.

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The first gathering in wrath is described by the prophet Ezekiel:
“I will bring you from the nations….with outpoured wrath.”[5] “As I judged your fathers….so I will judge you.”[6] “I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me.” [7] “Because you have all become dross, I will gather you into Jerusalem….I will gather you in my anger and my wrath and put you inside the city and melt you.”[8]

As in the Exodus the people rebelled and had to wander in the wilderness until the next generation, so God will gather the exiles to purge them of rebellion. This will be done through judgment and the fire of a furnace to purify them.

4. The tribulation

4.1.The start of the tribulation

Jesus warned His disciples that “there will be great tribulation such as has not been seen since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”[9] He went on to say that “immediately after the tribulation of those days….they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”10] “But of that day and hour no one knows….”[11]

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The prophet Daniel indicated that the tribulation period will be the last 7 years before the second coming of Christ: “Seventy ‘sevens’ (or ‘weeks’) are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression….”12] “From the issuing of the decree to….rebuild Jerusalem” there will be sixty nine ‘sevens’, and then “the ‘Anointed One’ (or ‘Messiah’) will be cut off.”[13] The seventy ‘sevens’ can therefore not refer to days, weeks or months, but must refer to years. The first 383 years (69x7) were fulfilled in history by the time of the crucifixion of Christ.

Then “the ruler who will come….will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’. In the middle of the ‘seven’, he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And….he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”[14]

This one event, the covenant with Israel for 7 years, will be the real starting point of the tribulation period. The term ‘Antichrist’ is used 3x in the first letter of John [15] and is generally applied to the “beast out of the sea” who will rule over “every tribe, people, language and nation.”[16] Israel signs a peace treaty with the Antichrist for reasons of security, and then boasts that “when an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot harm us.”[17] God replies that this covenant is made “with death” and is “a lie” and that they “will be beaten down by….the overwhelming scourge.”[18]

For Israel to make a peace treaty, there must be a State of Israel, and this has been true only since 1948. For the Antichrist to break this treaty after 3 ½ years, “desecrate the temple” and “abolish daily sacrifice,”[19] there must be a temple in Jerusalem. Israel took possession of the temple mount in 1967 and must build the third temple there at least during the first years of the tribulation.

The Antichrist will “exalt and magnify himself above every god.”[20] He will set up an image in honour of himself and “cause all who refuse to worship the image to be killed.”[21] This is probably the “abomination that causes desolation” which will be set up after the “desecration of the temple” and the abolishing of “the daily sacrifice.” [22]

Revelation 6-18 describes the events of the 7-year tribulation, and includes the 7 seal-, trumpet- and bowl-judgments.

4.2 The purpose of the tribulation

There seems to be 3 aspects to the purpose:
To make an end of wickedness. [23] The whole world (both Jew and Gentile) must be punished for its wickedness and sins against God.
To bring about a world-wide revival. [24] God will prepare 144,000 Jewish witnesses (12,000 from each tribe of Israel) to preach the gospel to all the nations in the whole world.
To “break the power of the holy people”[25] The tribulation will prepare the people of Israel for deliverance. When they acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah, then God will “pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn….”[26]

4.3 The wars against Jerusalem

“The end will come like a flood: Wars will continue until the end and desolations have been decreed.”[27]
Although the direct target of the war described in Ezekiel 38-39 is not Jerusalem, the war will be fought in the central “mountains of Israel”[28] where the city is situated. “Gog” is a title, like Pharao, and will be the leader of the invasion. The countries named [29] are the ancient geographical sites of Russia, Turkey, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Central Asia. [30] The attack will take place in the ”latter years” [31] when Israel is at rest [32] and has been gathered to the Promised Land. [33] The only time that Israel will enjoy peace before the return of the Prince of Peace, will be the first 3 ½ years of the tribulation under the reign of Antichrist. The rationale of the invading force will be to cash in on the wealth of Israel [34] and to challenge the authority of the Antichrist. [35] God will supernaturally defend Israel through “a great earthquake,” infighting among the troops, “plague” and “torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulphur.” [36]

The great war of Armageddon will take place during the second half of the tribulation, involving all the nations of the world gathered to destroy Israel. [37] The Euphrates river will be dried up to prepare the way for the “kings of the east.” [38] While the Antichrist is at Armageddon – Valley of Esdraelon, around the hill of Megiddo, 50 miles north of Jerusalem – his opponents will attack and destroy his capital, Babylon. [39] He will then move south and “lay…. siege against Jerusalem. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” [40] Jerusalem will fall and the temple will be desecrated. Jesus told the people of Judea to “flee to the mountains” when they see the “abomination that causes desolation….standing in the holy place.” [41] They will flee to the area of Bozrah and Petra at the location of Mount Seir, 30 miles south of the Dead Sea, where God had prepared a safe place for them. The Antichrist will move there to try and finally annihilate the remnant of the Jews.

The wars of Armageddon will be resolved when Christ returns to set up His millennial kingdom (see part 5C of these articles).

References:

  1. Deuteronomy 28
  2. Jeremiah 18:7-10
  3. Isaiah 11:11
  4. Isaiah 11:11-12:9
  5. Ezekiel 20:34
  6. Ezekiel 20:36
  7. Ezekiel 20:38
  8. Ezekiel 22:19-22
  9. Matthew 24:21 NKJV
  10. Matthew 24:29-30 NKJV
  11. Matthew 24:36 NKJV
  12. Daniel 9:24
  13. Daniel 9:25-26
  14. Daniel 9:26-27
  15. 1 John 2:18,22; 4:3
  16. Revelation 13:1,7
  17. Isaiah 28:15
  18. Isaiah 28:14-22
  19. Daniel 11:31
  20. Daniel 11:36
  21. Revelation 13:15
  22. Daniel 11:31
  23. Daniel 9:24; Isaiah 13:7, 24:19-20
  24. Revelation 7:1,7
  25. Daniel 12:7
  26. Zecheriah 12:10
  27. Daniel 9:26
  28. Ezekiel 38:7-9; 39:2
  29. Ezekiel 38:1-6
  30. Lahaye p.119-120
  31. Ezekiel 38:8 NKJV
  32. Ezekiel 38:8,11,14
  33. Ezekiel 38:8
  34. Ezekiel 38:11-12
  35. Daniel 11:40-45
  36. Ezekiel 38:19-22
  37. Zecheriah 12:3;14:2; Rev 16:14-16
  38. Revelation 16:12-16
  39. Revelation 18
  40. Zecheriah 12:1-3
  41. Matthew 24:15-16

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Lahaye,T. and Hindson, E. (eds) The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy, Oregon, U.S.A.: Harvest House Publishers, 2004.
  2. Lahaye, T. and Hindson, E. (eds) The Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary, Oregon, U.S.A. : Harvest House Publishers, 2006
  3. Thompson, F.C. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible (N.I.V.), Michigan, U.S.A. : Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1983

All Scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.

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Posted in: Bible by on June 14, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

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