Zion’s Inviolability: Jerusalem as a Place of Refuge?

This guy believes that there will be a remnant physically and spiritually saved during the Great Tribulation in Jerusalem. What is your take on this?

Revelation 11:13 (Rev 11:13) combined with Zech 14:2 show that despite the flooding (Isa 28:2; 59:19; Dan 9:26, 11:22), the desolations (Lev 26:31-32; Isa 51:17, 19-20; 64:10-11; Dan 8:13; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Mt 24:15; Lk 21:20), the treading down (Isa 28:18; 63:18; Dan 8:13; Lk 21:24; Rev 11:2), and the pillaging and raping by the predatory forces of Antichrist (Zech 14:1-2), remarkably, there will yet remain in Jerusalem a Jewish remnant that survives up to the time of Christ’s return at the day of the Lord. This is astonishing when we consider that Jerusalem will then be the very headquarters of the Antichrist (Dan 11:45). I can only attribute such supernatural survival to the protection of the two witnesses, as scripture makes it very plain that their ministry is concurrent, not with the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week, but the last 3 1/2 years (Rev 8:11-12 with Rev 11:12-15).

According to Eze 22:18-22, it is God Himself who gathers the Diaspora back into the city of Jerusalem for the final purging that leads to the national cleansing that fits the survivors of Israel for their enduring millennial inheritance (Isa 4:2-4). This time of final purging (Eze 20:38; Amos 9:9-10) is clearly the last 3 1/2 years, known as Jacob’s trouble and the great tribulation (compare Jer 30:7 with Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21). From this last and most severe time of covenant discipline, the survivors of Israel will all know the Lord from the least to the greatest (Isa 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; Jer 31:31), never again to be plucked up or afflicted by the children of wickedness (2Sam 7:10; Jer 31:40; Amos 9:15).

This means that the present slogan, “never again” (being so recently proclaimed again before the U.N. Assembly), is tragically premature and ominous for its presumption. However much the godly heart must break and lament at the horrifying report (Isa 28:19), it is a non-negotiable fact of scripture that until the day of final deliverance, Israel is a nation appointed to judgment, precisely because of its high covenant calling and election (Amos 3:2; Ro 11:29).

So indeed, a remnant will survive till the end, even in Jerusalem, but we must also remember that Judea in particular is the place from which Jesus commands speedy flight (Mt 24:16). It is the place most specifically to be avoided by any who would think to enter from the surrounding countries (Lk 21:21). This is because Jerusalem will be the scene of appalling desolation, as the holy city is “trodden down” by the gentiles for the last 42 months of this age (Rev 11:2). Prospects of survival will obviously be much greater for those who manage to escape the city than for those trapped within it. For any believer to presume to remain behind (when the signs have made the time clear) would be to countermand the Lord’s clear and express warning. Unless one is on a special divine assignment, as in the case of the two witnesses, to remain in Jerusalem at that time would be a reckless act of presumption.

But to make Jerusalem a special place of refuge, and to encourage Jews to believe that aliyah to Jerusalem will insulate them from the coming judgments and desolation is the equivalent of an ancient heresy known as “Zion’s inviolability.” This is the lie of the false prophets that emboldened the people to reject Jeremiah’s message, which was squarely based on the same principle of covenant discipline invoked by Moses and all the former prophets. Significantly, even after the return, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi would continue to project the same into their view of a yet future tribulation that forms the great transition between this age and the age to come. It is this continuing principle of covenant discipline and wrath that is being overlooked by a similarly misguided optimism today.

The same heresy was invoked to stir rebellion against Rome in the presumption that Jerusalem, and the temple in particular, would be divinely protected, as many fled into the city from the surrounding territories, expecting divine deliverance in another Maccabean-like victory. I have personally heard believers representing the urgency of Jewish return to the Land as a call to “flee to the Ark of Safety.” Can you imagine? There can be all kinds of reason for a Jew to return to the Land, but such misguided optimism is without excuse.

The really more serious question is the latent humanism that supports it. If only the problem were simple biblical literacy, it could easily be corrected, but it appears to be deeper, as it becomes a question of how we read scripture by what we are willing or not willing to consider. Such misguided optimism bespeaks an abiding humanism that is still at odds with the ‘apocalypticism’ of the Hebrew prophets? It would appear to be based on a naivete concerning the power of the flesh, which raises the question of the lengths that God is required to go in order to bring His beloved Jacob to the end of his power (Deut 32:36; Dan 12:7), and from there to real and lasting resurrection (Hos 6:2; Eze 37; Ro 11:15). Then, in analogy with Paul’s apocalyptic arrest and transformation on the Damascus road, the nation (such as survive) will be ‘born in one day’ by the Spirit of revelation (Isa 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9; 12:10) and thus fitted for its millennial destiny.

[The following was added in response to comments to the above article]

I share your view that the AC will does not become locally established in Jerusalem till just shortly before the end. That’s the implication of Dan 11:45. However, in some difference with you, I see him as personally on the scene when the abomination of desolation is initially set in the holy place, since it is the self exalting little horn in particular who takes away the sacrifice (Dan 8:11; 9:26-27; 11:31; 12:11). That, btw, is a very important point for our view that it is the “prince that shall come” and NOT “Messiah, the prince” who takes away the daily sacrifice in Dan 9:27, but that’s another discussion.

You prompt me to review my own nearly forgotten reasons for believing that it must be the Antichrist himself that both sits in the temple and places the abomination at the same time. Consider: We know that when Satan is cast down by Michael, this begins his ‘short time’, which is manifestly the tribulation (Rev 12:7-12). It is significant that this event coincides with the time that the mortally wounded beast comes up from the abyss to become “the beast who was, and is not, and yet is.” Manifestly, we are being called into a riddle that has all to do with the fulfillment of the mystery of iniquity.

Since the placing of the abomination is by the same one who removes the sacrifice, and it is clear that the abomination and removal of the sacrifice happen simultaneously, as part of a single event, seeing that both the cessation of the sacrifice and the abomination of desolation are placed at equal distance from the end (Dan 9:27; 12:11). This means that it cannot be the false prophet, but the self exalting little horn that places the abomination of desolation in the temple. You are correct that he is not acting alone, but I tend to take the “they” of Dan 11:31 to be the “people of the prince” of Dan 9:26, with all the outside forces that support his invasion (e.g., the ten kings, the 10 nations of Ps 83:4-8, and the host of Eze 38:5-6).

When considering whether the false prophet might be a leader from within the Jewish religious establishment in the Land, I think we have to weigh that thought against the improbability that a Jewish religious leader would so immediately hail the Antichrist as God when all of Israel has been so suddenly flooded by gentile invaders at a time of unsuspecting tranquility (Dan 8:25; 11:24 with Isa 28:14-15; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; Mt 24:15-16; 1Thes 5:3). The Jews (and much of the world) will be caught completely off guard.

The scene is one of violent force, not Jewish consent. Nor can I see the invasion of the armies of Antichrist as facilitated by some internal treachery of Jewish defectors from within the Land. That may have been true of the time of Antiochus IV and the Maccabean revolt, but that scenario does not well enough fit the details of Dan 11:27-35. All things considered (or at least so far considered), I have the greatest difficulty imagining the northern invader being acclaimed and heralded by a Jewish false prophet. Here’s why:

By the time the desolator enters the temple, it is nearly too late for any Jews who have not already availed themselves of the opportunity of escape, as directed by Jesus (Mt 24:15-16). Those who remain will be trapped within the city, as half of the city is taken away into captivity (Zech 14:2). From what I can divine of modern trends, I don’t see the Jews as even having the luxury of submitting to the Antichrist, since the spirit of Satan that incarnates and animates him knows that his only hope is to destroy the seed of promise that completes the covenant promise and signals the end of his rule.

Another line of evidence that favors the self-exaltation of the Antichrist in the temple at the same time the abomination of desolation is placed is the logic that this symbolic act is part of the public revelation of the man of sin. His forceful entry and desecration of the holy place appears to be closely consequent upon the healing of the mortal wound that brings him up from the abyss as “the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Rev 11:7; 13:3; 17:8, 11) The evidence seems to run in favor of the desecration of the holy place by an individual who has just risen from the dead.

This gives real teeth to his public declaration that he is God above all (Dan 11:36-37 with 2Thes 2:4). It is clear to see that the standing up of Michael in Dan 12:1 begins the unequaled tribulation which is obviously coterminous with Satan’s ‘short time’ (Rev 12:7-12). What is of uppermost significance for understanding the mystery of iniquity is that all of this begins with Michael’s heavenly victory over Satan, which in turn has its immediate earthly consequence in the abomination that starts the tribulation (Mt 24:15-16, 21). I believe that the pieces come together to indicate that there has been an actual resurrection of the man that enters the holy place, stops the sacrifice, and places the abomination (his image?). It seems no discrepancy if he should also sit in the temple at the same time.

Here is the solution to the riddle of ‘the beast that was, and is not, and yet is’ and how it is that the same beast that recovers from the deadly wound ascends from the abyss to “continue a short space” (Rev 17:10). Obviously, the scripture intends that we associate this ‘short space’ with Satan’s ‘short time’, which is obviously coterminous with the 42 month career of the beast (Rev 13:4-5). All becomes clear when we understand that the 8th head is the risen 7th who now, as the composite beast (Rev 13:2; 17:11), incorporates and combines all the fullness of the former beast kingdoms in a man. That is why the number of beast is the number of a man.

The mystery is that this trans-historical, multi-headed, multi-crowned beast comes at last to concentrate all the history of God opposition in a single man, the man of sin, the ultimate personal seed of the Serpent. The riddle is solved when we understand that the symbolism of Revelation contemplates the 7th and 8th heads of the beast as the same person. Clearly, it is in its 7th head that the beast receives the deadly wound. This is how the beast is and is not, and yet is, and why the whole world marvels. The 8th beast is therefore the risen 7th that ascends out of the abyss with the miraculous healing of the wound.

In his beginnings, he rises as a newly emerging small power somewhere to the north of Israel (Dan 7:8, 24; 8:9; 11:23). As the risen 7th, he becomes THE Antichrist, the ultimate beast and man of sin who incorporates the fullness of all the former, which is why he comes up out of the abyss with “ALL power, signs, and lying wonders” (2Thes 2:9).

If the mystery of iniquity (2Thes 2:7) is a true antithesis to the mystery of godliness (1Tim 3:16), we have cause to understand that the resurrected Antichrist will be the bodily fullness of the unholy trinity, just as Jesus was the bodily fullness of the Godhead, in whom all fullness was pleased to dwell. As the uniquely begotten Son was given the Spirit without the measure (Jn 3:34) as His virgin conception was necessary to bypass the fallen nature, the Antichrist through death and resurrection is apparently voided of the last vestiges of moral restraint in order for him to become Satan incarnate.

This takes the subject farther than I intended but you see what a powerful transition takes place in the middle of the week at the time of the abomination in the temple. With Michael’s eviction of Satan from his position in heaven (the removal of the restrainer), the beast that descended into the abyss in its 7th head by means the deadly wound now rises as Satan appears to be forced against his will to become incarnate in the resurrected body of the Antichrist. This is the revelation of the mystery apart from which the age cannot end (2Thes 2:3, 7-8).

Since the age cannot end apart from the revelation of this mystery, the symbolism of Revelation seems best accounted for as pointing to the resurrection of an actual individual. Nothing less public and miraculous would be so likely to so completely deceive the nations or so appropriately fulfill the mystery of iniquity in the ‘prince that shall come’ (Dan 9:26). The symmetry is remarkable as this view sees the present age as bounded on both ends by the incarnation and resurrection by one and then another of the two princes of Dan 9:25-27.

This view best accounts for the profound implications of Gen 3:15 as the eschatological outworking of the age long conflict between the two spirits / natures, headed up in the two princes of Dan 9:25-27. The view that Rome or some other world power is revived does not sufficiently answer to the impact that this event is calculated to have on the nations as the ultimate “lie” and the “strong delusion” that God himself sends upon all who receive not the love of the truth, particularly when the truth has been so powerfully demonstrated and confirmed as to leave all without excuse.

In other words, since the world has become ultimately confident in its rejection of the gospel as shown from prophecy and verified by martyr that were eye witnesses of both the empty tomb and the risen Jesus, they will be forced to receive another who comes in his own name, also with marvelous resurrection attestation, not as offered freely to whosever will, but demanded on threat of death. You can see the irony. When I saw this, everything added up and the pieces fell together with amazing symmetry and harmony. The Antichrist’s ascent from the abyss in synchronization with Michael’s forceful dejection of Satan all adds up to an actual resurrection of the Antichrist.

Contrary to popular assumptions, this is the last thing that Satan wants, since it will mean his time is short. That is why he must be forcibly removed from his place in heaven by Michael in the same way that Michael removed the demon prince of Persia when the angelic messenger was being ‘resisted’ (hindered) from bringing the revelation of Israel’s future to Daniel (Dan 10:12-21). In the same way, it is most significant that the kingdom of God is hindered from coming until Satan is cast down by Michael (Rev 12:10). That is why I believe the restrainer is best identified as Satan whose removal makes way for the revelation of the man of sin, which in turn makes way for the return of Christ and the full coming in of the kingdom on earth (Rev 11:15; 12:10).

Apparently, until he is cast down by Michael (‘taken out of the way’), Satan occupies some kind of place and access to heaven that holds back the revelation of the mystery of iniquity that in turn hold back the return of Jesus. The removal of Satan as the one who hinders and resists (1Thes 2:18; 2Thes 2:7) permits the kingdom to come (Rev 12:10) and Christ to return at the day of the Lord (2Thes 2:2-3, 8).

This suggests that the death of the Antichrist was somehow necessary to remove whatever it is in man that holds back the final and fullest coming of Satan in the flesh. Would this be the image of God that is only fully removed at death? Regardless, something is removed through death that permits the full revelation of the mystery of iniquity. This is somehow forced into ultimate manifestation through this public miracle. I believe it will be a world seducing resurrection event causing all whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life to marvel.

This will have a great practical use in the church’s last witness to Israel. We can hardly calculate what it will mean when such an unparalleled miracle (since Christ) has been foretold in advance. What will this mean for Israel’s urgent flight? Can you imagine how this will impact the Jewish people? I believe that such public verification of the prophetic warning will be a principle reason why many Jews will be able to escape from the cities before it is too late. Without such clear prophetic warning, the population centers of the world will become a death trap with the enforcement of the mark system, and we may be sure that the offering up of the Jews will be part of the price that the nations will pay to be able to continue to buy and sell.

I like very much your application of Dan 11:29-31 to the future, as this gives clear proof that the Antichrist comes from outside the Land and descends from the north according to the key geographical denotation of Dan 8:9. This leaves the question of the identity and whereabouts of the false prophet. Is his rise from within the religious establishment of Israel? Whoever the false prophet proves to be, it is certain that his doctrine, policies, and program will align with the Antichrist, and the scripture makes clear what the Antichrist hates and opposes most particularly. It is the holy covenant (Dan 11:28, 30, 32). When we permit the context of Daniel to define the parameters and nature of the holy covenant, we can get somewhat closer to the character and role of the false prophet as a religious figure. For that, I recommend that we review briefly the tracks and objectives of the Antichrist.

It is noteworthy that Dan 11:27 shows that before his second attempt to move south, the Antichrist has secret conspiracy with the recently defeated south against the holy covenant but their plans are frustrated because the time is not right, because “the end is yet for a time appointed.” What has brought these erstwhile enemies into agreement with a common objective? Obviously, it is their mutual hatred and desire to overturn the the covenant that is centered in Jerusalem, as his actions in the next few verses prove (Dan 11:28-32; 12:11). I added the word ‘secret’ to describe the conspiracy of the two kings, because it is clear that Israel is unprepared for the invasion when it comes. We may therefore be sure that the talks of strategy against the covenant are not being made public.

This account gives us important, behind the scenes insight into the seething hatred that exists for the covenant among other leaders and nations in the region of the Antichrist’s preliminary actives. This mutual hatred unites even erstwhile enemies in common cause. Now what is the region and the religion of the territories that are today dominated by a common hatred of the thought of a Jewish Jerusalem and even more particularly a re-centralized Jewish worship on the temple mount? This will be the issue of what Ezekiel calls, “the everlasting hatred” (Eze 35:5) that scripture shows to be alive and well till the end (Ps 83:4-8; Eze 35:5, 10-14; 36:2, 5; Obad 10-15). This narrows our search for the false prophet, since whatever or whoever he will be, he will have to be tolerated, if not venerated by the world of Islam.

If the false prophet is working from within the religious establishment of Israel, it is hard to see how he will so instantly receive and be so instantly received by a gentile conqueror that has swept into the Land with great violence and the irresistible force of a flood (Isa 28:2; 59:19; Eze 38:9, 16-17; Dan 9:26; 11:22, 31; Rev 13:4). We know of scriptures that speak of a false shepherd. We know of one who is called in Dan 11:22, “the prince of the covenant,” but he is overflown and destroyed by the flood of invading armies when they enter the Land with great fury.

As I mentioned, I cannot imagine that Islamic hatred, or more particularly the hatred of the Antichrist to leave Jews even the choice to submit. Yet, I find it both amazing and glorious that despite the very presence of the Antichrist, at least at the first and towards the end, Zech 14:2 with Rev 11:13 make clear that a remnant will survive, even in Jerusalem itself. I can only credit such a manifest miracle of divine preservation to the protection of the two witnesses over some part of the city. However it is accomplished, this is heartening news, but in no way should such promise of preservation embolden any believer to recklessly neglect the clear and urgent direction of Jesus to flee (Mt 24:16; Rev 12:6).

On your earlier question: I know the view that Christ’s return is waiting on the invitation of the leaders of Israel. I don’t think this necessarily follows from His statement, “You will not see me henceforth till you will say, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord” (Mt 23:39). It is true that Jacob will have been brought to the end of his power and it is sure that many will be calling out for Messiah, but I think the reference is to that glorious revelation when Israel looks upon Him whom they pierced (Zech 12:10; Rev 1:7, and possibly Mt 24:30).

Not that there hasn’t been a preparation of the soil, but this is NOT a progressive kind of event. The set time to favor Zion will come with the day of His power (Ps 102:13; 110:3), as the nation is born suddenly, in one day (Isa 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9). I see it as a sudden divine arrest, much to be compared with Paul’s revelation on the road to Damascus. If the Jews were saved before this time, it follows that they would be translated at the last trumpet, but instead they enter the millennial period as a newly saved and Spirit filled nation. But all of this works in concert with the transformation of the heart that will call certainly call Jesus blessed. I’m just not seeing Messiah return as so much waiting on this response as the revelation of Him at His return is its cause. My view is that His return is not the ‘result’ but the ’cause’ of their penitent and glad response.

His grace abound to you and yours, Reggie

Filed under
Jacob's Trouble, The Last Days
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