What is the purpose of the Great Tribulation? What is the prophetic role of Ammon, Moab, and Edom (now known as Jordan)? Where do those who are in Judea flee? Where does Jesus return? The Mount of Olives? (Zech 14:4) or Edom? (Isa 63).
Last month we explored the historical backgrounds of Ammon, Moab and Edom. This month well take a look at their prophetic destiny:
He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. - Daniel 11:41
Ammon is now Amman, the capital of Jordan. It appears this is one of the few areas that escape the rule of the coming world leader (commonly known as the Antichrist).
Jesus warned the dwellers in Judea that when they see the Abomination of Desolation"a desecrating idol installed in the Holy of Holies of the Temple"to immediately flee to the mountains. The remnant of Israel will find refuge there for three-and-a-half years while God protects them and provides for them. From other passages, we learn that the remnant will flee to Bozrah in the mountains of Edom.
The Great Tribulation
The Tribulation is often used as a generic term for the entire seven years of the 70th Week of Daniel. However, the Great Tribulation is actually defined as the last half of the week: three-and-a-half, not seven years.
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a na-tion even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. - Daniel 12:1
Note too, that although it is worldwide, the focus is on Israel:
Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacobs trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. - Jeremiah 30:7
The Next Holocaust
Some view the Nazi Holocaust in Germany as its fulfillment. However, devastating as that was, it hardly fits the text. It is to be followed by dramatic cosmic signs and the Second Coming of Christ:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. - Matthew 24:28, 29
This was hardly fulfilled historically. Tortuous attempts to allegorize this text just dont work. The worst is yet to come. It has been estimated that the Nazi Holocaust killed one Jew in three; it appears the next one will take two out of three:
Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. - Zechariah 13:7-9
The Purpose of the Great Tribulation
The purpose of this ordeal, the Time of Jacobs Trouble, is to drive Israel en extremis, to return to God: I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me earnestly (Hosea 5:15). Interesting Old Testament passage: God says, I will go and return to my place To return, He must have left it! Watch those untils in the text: they often denote significant milestones. The term offence is singular and specific. Apparently, a prerequisite condition for the Second Coming of Christ is for Israel to acknowledge her Messiah and to petition His return. (This would help explain why Satan continues to be so intensely committed to the Jews destruction.)
The Armageddon Campaign
And he gathered them together into a place called in the He-brew tongue Armageddon. - Revelation 16:16
The engagement involves a global confederacy led by the coming world leader. The campaign includes the following stages:
The Assembly of the Army (Rev 16:12-16): The Valley of Jezreel is the staging area for the armies coming against Jerusalem and, thus, against God the Father and His Messiah. Gods viewpoint is one of mockery (Joel 3:9-11; Ps 2:1-6). This is the Day of Vengeance (Isa 61:2).
Bozrah (Sheepfold): Bozrah is pinpointed, which was located in the region of Mount Seir, on the western side of Edom in southern Jordan (Micah 2:12). An ancient sheepfold had a narrow entrance so that the shepherd could count his sheep, and, once inside, he could guard a single entrance to contain them. (Cf. I am the door, John 10). Sela, now Petra, fits the description, shaped like an ancient sheepfold, with a narrow passageway (the Siq) opening up to a spacious city surrounded by cliffs.
The National Regeneration of Israel: Israels required confession (Lev 26:40-42; Jer 3:11-18; Hos 5:15) and pe-titioning the Messiah (Zech 12:10) inaugurates the final three days of the campaign with pleading and petition (Hos 6:1-3; Isa 53:1-9), fulfilling Romans 11:25-27 (see also Zech 12:10-13:9; Joel 2:28-32; Isa 64:1-12; Ezek 20:33f; Ps 79:1-13; 80:1-19). When the faithful remnant petitions Jesus to return, He comes to rescue them.
The Second Coming of Christ (Isa 63:1-6): If this battle wasnt stopped, all mankind would be destroyed; however, the Lord interrupts it, at Petra in Edom, fighting for His remnant of believers. He is described as covered with the blood of His enemies. (Note: His armies are not re-quired in the fighting.)
From Bozrah to the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Isa 63:1-4; Rev 19:13; Isa 34:5-6, 8). The Antichrist is powerless be-fore Christ (Hab 3:13; 2 Thess 2:8; Isa 14:3-11, 16-21). His armies are destroyed (Zech 14:12-15; Joel 3:12-13) at Bozrah (Jer 49:20-22), then Megiddo. Bozrah to Megiddo is 176 miles; 1,600 furlongs (Rev 14:20).
The Victory Ascent upon the Mount of Olives: (Zech 14:3-4; Rev 16:17-21; Mt 24:29; Joel 3:14-17.) His ultimate victorious return to the Mount of Olives is described in Zechariah 14. That leads to the establishment of the Lords Millennial Kingdom on the Earth. Many experts believe the weapons that will be used at Armageddon are in inventory today.
Role and Placement of Ezekiel 38
However, we hold the view (which is disputed by reputable Bible scholars) that Ezekiel 38 is not part of Armageddon scenario:
- In Ezekiel, the invasion comes from the north; Armageddon, from the whole earth;
- Definite armies from the north (Magog); not all nations of the world;
- Egypt not involved (cf. King of the South in Dan 11:40);
- Russias invasion is for spoil; Armageddon, to destroy the Jews;
- Seven-month cleanup inconsistent with Israels flight;
- Cleansing may be preparation for rebuilding the Temple;
- Seven years energy requirement would carry into the Millennium. (See The Magog Invasion for further study.)