Church of God, New World Ministries

War Coming To The City Of Peace

The Bible reveals that an awesome military engagement – in fact, the last battle of this age will be fought at Jerusalem. Who will win ultimate control of the Holy City, and of the entire Middle East?

Jerusalem is sacred to fully half of the world’s population. Its name literally means “Possession of Peace.” Yet how tragic it is that, down through time, no place on earth has stood at the center of so much conflict and bloodshed. And sadly, the worst is yet to come. For of the end of this age, God says, “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut to pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zech. 12:2-3).

Just what political and religious forces will culminate in this horrific end-time military showdown? What exactly lies ahead for the Holy City?

Let us here point out that you may first want to read “The King of the North and The King of the South” – this prophetic overview of Daniel presented in that article serves as a historical backdrop to this one.

     The article mentioned above stated that Germany is prophesied to ally herself with an Arab confederacy against Israel (Ps. 83). But that alliance won’t last! Notice from Daniel 11 what will happen to a German-led European union, the final “Kingdom of the North”: At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him” (v. 40).What might provoke this? We can better understand by considering the nature of the Hitlerian leader of the coming European “Beast.”

As we will later see more clearly, Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria (vs. 21-31) was in fact a type of this end-time dictator. And Antiochus was a “silver-tongued devil” who used his oily manner to extend his power at every opportunity. He even made a “covenant” or “league” with elements of Jewish leadership and at first entered “peaceably” into the Holy Land (vs. 22-23). Of course, he acted deceitfully and ended up severely persecuting and even slaughtering the Jews. From this and other scriptural indications, it appears that the end-time king of the North may make similar initial overtures of peace with Israel.

“Israel” in this context probably not only means the modern Jewish state, but the nations that comprise the present-day descendants of the “Ten Lost Tribes” of Israel as well, including the United States and Britain. If the new Hitlerian leader proclaims “peace” with modern Israelites, Islamic fundamentalists at the forefront of the Arab confederation who hate Israel and label America as the “Great Satan” – would no doubt see this as an enormous betrayal. Would we not expect them to lash out at some point against their ally-turned enemy?

Whatever the cause, the king of the South will strike against the Beast, thereby provoking Europe to retaliate with a blitzkrieg of air, ground and sea forces (v. 40). And “he shall also enter the Glorious Land” (v. 41).We will delve further into the European occupation of the Holy Land shortly.

But let’s first see how the Beast’s counterstrike will affect other Mideast nations: “many countries shall be overthrown, but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab and the prominent people of Amon” – modern Jordan.

Others will not fare so well: “He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels” (vs. 42-43). Note that modern Sudan may be among those nations swallowed up by the Beast, since its territory was part of ancient Ethiopia.

    Interestingly, Libya and Ethiopia were both part of Egypt at various times in antiquity. So the Kingdom of the South will again be absorbed by the Kingdom of the North.

To learn more about the coming invasion of Israel, we must turn to the New Testament. Christ’s disciples asked Him when the temple would be destroyed and what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age (Matt. 24; Mark 13; and Luke 21). He answered by giving them an outline of events culminating with His return.

Notice Luke 21: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (vs. 20-24).

This has already happened in certain respects. For in A.D. 70, less than 40 years after Christ spoke these words, Roman armies under Emperor Vespasian’s son Titus quelled a Jewish uprising, conquered Judea, destroyed Jerusalem and its temple, and carried the inhabitants away as slaves. From then until modern times, Jerusalem was held by Gentiles. In fact, even present-day Israel has never reassumed complete rule over the entire city – for it still allows Muslims to control the Temple Mount.

Matthew and Mark didn’t record Christ’s remark about armies surrounding Jerusalem. But they did add something Jesus said about the city’s “desolation” that is not found in Luke: “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24:15-16; Mark 13:14).But hadn’t this part of Daniel’s prophecy already been fulfilled almost 200 years earlier in the day of Antiochus Epiphanes when he stopped the daily sacrifices and set up a pagan image in the temple” (Dan. 11:31). Absolutely! So Daniel’s prophecy must have a dual fulfillment!

Yet, though the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple, no “abomination” was set up by them in A.D. 70. So what is the time frame here? Matthew 24 explains what immediately follows: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved (alive): bur for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (vs. 21-22).

This too hearkens back to Daniel’s prophecy, which says that at the time of the end, “there shall be a time of trouble; such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake” (Dan. 12:1-2; 11:40). So this horrific tribulation occurs at the end of the age, just before the resurrection of the dead at Christ’s return (I Cor. 15:21-23). In fact, Daniel writes that “from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination is set up,” there will be 1,290 days or 43 months until the resurrection (Dan. 12:11).

Incredibly, then, the prophesied abomination of desolation is yet future. Thus, we see clearly that the previous invasions by the North – especially that of Antiochus, but also that of Titus and perhaps others were merely precursors of a far more sinister end-time fulfillment that will usher in the most terrifying events in human history! But before we focus more attention on this coming catastrophe, let’s examine how things will be directly beforehand.

Consider that Christ said the abomination will be “standing in the holy place” and that it is prophetically and historically attached to the removal of the daily sacrifices. It appears, then, that some form of temple worship will first be reinstituted by the Jews. Otherwise, how could the sacrifices be “cut off”? However, whether there will be an actual temple – or just a sacrificial altar as in the days of Ezra, is not certain. Yet a strong argument can be made for the former since the Apostle Paul says that the final “man of sin” – the false religious leader known as the Antichrist, who will be partnership with the Beast dictator will enthrone himself “as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (II Thess. 2:4). In fact, this in itself seems closely tied to the end-time abomination.

It should be noted that quite a number of Jews are right now engaged in reproducing implements of Levitical worship and drawing up plans for a new house of worship on the Temple Mount. If they do actually build a temple or altar in the years to come, this would certainly fan the flames of Arab hatred toward Israel. And it should be easy to see that if Europe’s leaders make any pretense to promoting Jewish temple worship, Islamic fundamentalists might well be driven to violent action.

As we saw in Luke 21, Jesus mentioned “days of vengeance” and national captivity (vs. 20-24). Now while this does in some small way describes the 1st century destruction of Jerusalem, it makes much more sense to understand these verses as parallel to Matthew 24:15-22 – which describes the Great Tribulation of the end time. Remember that Christ said, “Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). This refers in part to the fact that Jerusalem would remain under Gentile rule for many centuries. But more importantly, it is also directly tied to an end-time prophecy in Revelation 11:2. There is says that the outer court of the “temple” will be “given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months” that is, for 1,260 days or 42 months (v. 3).

Zechariah 14 describes the coming “day of the Lord” (v. 1) in which, directly before Christ’s return. God begins punishing the nations for their evil deeds. Notice some of the events leading up to this time. “The city (Jerusalem) shall be taken, the houses rifled and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off” (v. 2).

But the Jews will not experience this captivity alone. Hosea 5:5 says that modern Israelites will “fall in their iniquity: Judah also shall fall with them” In ancient times, Judah fell about 135 years after Israel did. But in the end time, both will fall together. Regarding the Tribulation period ahead, Jeremiah 30:7 says, “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble (affecting all Israel), but (after suffering through it) he shall be saved out of it.”

This all means that around the same time that the Beast power invades Palestine, it will also unleash mass destruction against North America. Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the democracies of Northwest Europe – perhaps even nuclear destruction since, among other factors, all major cities in the nations will be laid waste (Ezk. 6:6). A third of their people will be killed in the war, another third will die by famine and pestilence, and the remaining third will be taken captive and sold into slavery (Ezk. 5:12). This will be an awful, terrible time.

How long will the Great Tribulation last? Remember that, according to Daniel, the abomination of desolation will be set up 43 months before Christ returns. Then, just one month later – i.e. 42 months or 3 1/2 years before Christ’s return, the city will be overrun and the Tribulation will begin. But will it last the full 3 ½ years? No. For after “Jacob’s trouble” - but prior to Christ’s return will come the Day of the Lord, mentioned previously. Because of the prophetic “day-for-a-year” principle (Num. 14:34, Ezk. 4:6), it appears that the “day” of the Lord will be the final year before Christ’s Second Coming. So the Tribulation will last 2 1/2 years (Hosea 6:2) ending one year before Jesus’ return.

The book of Revelation mentions the Great Tribulation (Rev. 7:14; 6:9) and in the next few chapters, describes seven trumpets being blown successively. Evidently, they sound over the course of the next year – the Day of the Lord. The 5th trumpet signals “locusts” and “scorpions” rising out of the “bottomless pit” and tormenting men for five months (Rev. 9:1-12).This may be describing modern helicopters and tanks of the Beast (Rev. 17:8), perhaps using chemical or biological weapons (Rev. 9:5-6). But against whom?

For the answer, we must return to Daniel 11. Look at what the European dictator will do after his Mideast occupation is well established: “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him, therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many” (v. 44). It seems, then, that rumors of hostility toward him from Eastern capitals and “the north” (Moscow is almost due north of the Holy Land) will cause the Europeans to launch a preemptive strike against the powers of the East, which will be successful for a time.

The end-time king of the North will then move his capital to the Holy Land: “And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain” (Dan. 11:45) in Jerusalem, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea, “yet he shall come to his end, and none will help him.” How will this transpire?

The 6th trumpet of Revelation signals a titanic and merciless counterattack by Eastern forces from beyond the Euphrates River (Rev. 9:13-21). By their incredible military force --200 million strong (v. 16)! They will devastate Europe and much of the world. Nuclear armaments or other weapons of mass destruction will certainly be employed as a third of mankind will be killed in a very short time (v. 18)!

The Eastern forces will then march toward Israel, intent on finishing the job of wiping out the Beast power and its leader. The Euphrates River will be dried up “so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared” (Rev. 16:12). The Beast and his forces will meet the European army at Armageddon or Megiddo in northern Israel (v. 16) – in fact, “the kings of the earth and of the whole world” will be there (v. 14).

Then, just when it appears that humanity will completely destroy itself, events will not be allowed to run their course (Matt. 24:22). For at that time” all the tribes of the earth will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (v. 30). Jesus and a mighty angelic army with Him will suddenly appear on the scene (Rev. 19: 11, 14). And the resurrected saints will accompany them (Jude 14-15).What an awesome and wonderful event!

But the nations will be “angry” (Rev. 11:18). It may be that they will view the return of Christ as an extraterrestrial invasion, or perhaps as the appearance of the Antichrist. Whatever their reasons, they view Christ as a common enemy! The Apostle John writes, “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him and against His army” (Rev. 19:19). So “all nations” then march together to the Valley of Jehoshaphat (the modern Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem) to fight against the Lord (Joel 3:1-2).

What happens then? God says, “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley. Then you shall flee through My mountains valley” (Zech. 14:2-5). But just who will flee? Remember that only half of Jerusalem’s people will have been taken captive. And, as the city’s population is currently 6,119.000 there will still be quite a few Jews there, as well as the surrounding countryside.

In fact, God says, “On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place. The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:6-8). And, “Judah also will fight at Jerusalem (Zech 14:14), rebuilding the city.

In the final battle, the Almighty “will strike every horse (armored vehicle?) with confusion, and its rider with madness every horse of the peoples with blindness” (Zech 12:4). Will the electronic sensors and guidance systems of enemy tanks malfunction, causing a flurry of “friendly fire” incident that spark uncontrolled infighting?  Perhaps. But, however He does it, God Himself will send a “great panic” among the attacking nations, causing them to slaughter one another in the ensuing confusing (Zech 14:13-15), just as He did to ancient Gentiles forces that came against Judah in the day of Kings Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah (II Chron. 20; II Kings 18-19).

Yet this is not the primary method God will use to obliterate the enemy forces. For upon His return, the Living Christ will smite the attacking armies with the equivalent of a nuclear firestorm! “And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve (“consume away” KJV) while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths” (Zech. 14:12).

The book of Isaiah fills in more details: “For behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword the Lord will judge all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many” (Isa. 66:15-16; II Thess. 1:7-8). This is the same fate described for the Beast’s accomplice, the False Prophet, “whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (II Thess. 2:8).

In a blinding flash, untold numbers of people will be instantly incinerated: “Moreover the multitude of (Jerusalem’s) foes shall be like fine dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones shall be as chaff that passes away” (Isa. 29:5). And as the Living Bible renders verse 7, “all the nations fighting Jerusalem will vanish like a dream!” Indeed, the nightmare will at long last be over.

Yet right now you may be somewhat disturbed and frightened at what is to come. But you need not live in fear. For Jesus said, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these ting that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). You can have God’s protection if you start obeying Him and completely submit your life to His will (Rev. 3:10).

If you have not yet read our reprint article “The King of The North and The King of The South” you should do so immediately. You need not be left in the dark regarding events that lie just ahead of us.

 
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