Israel's Future: Armageddon and Kingdom. Nov. 14, 2006
The second half of the Tribulation is when things become extremely intense, especially for Israel. It seems like the focal point of everything that is happening in the world is on Israel and on Jerusalem. As we go into these birth pangs, Joel 3:14-17 describes what the purpose is. The purpose is to drive Israel, to pressure them to a point of decision making, to a point of calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ their Messiah, recognizing that He is their Messiah and calling upon Him to deliver them. "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel." In the day of the Lord, even though it is a time of tremendous judgment, for those among Israel who trust Him and follow the commands of the Lord He will be a refuge for them and a shelter for them. "So shall you know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more." That is the end of the times of the Gentiles. From the time of the Babylonians up until the time of the return of Jesus Christ Jerusalem has always been under the dominance of these foreign powers.
When we get into the Tribulation there are four groups of Jews. The first group is the group that is in the land. These are mostly unregenerate. This is the group that must be there for the Antichrist to be able to sign a covenant with and in order to be the focal point in the Tribulation, and the focal point also of increased anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. These are apostate Jews. Then the second group of Jews in the period of the Tribulation is the sealed 144,000 mentioned in Revelation chapter seven who function as evangelists, both in the Jews who are still out in the diaspora and those who are in the land. There will be a number of Jews in both groups who respond to that evangelistic message, and this is the third group: Jewish believers. Some of these will die during the Tribulation, they will be martyred, but some will be part of that elect that is gathered together at the end of the Tribulation and brought to Jerusalem. The fourth group will be a one-third remnant in the land. Zechariah 13:8, 9, "And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, says 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." When we get into the New Testament and read that all Israel will be saved, that is the "all Israel" that will be saved. They are the ones who follow the Lord's command to flee to the mountains.
There is a second passage related to this in Isaiah 10:20-23, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob [the ones who flee to the mountains], shall no more again depend upon him who defeated them [the Antichrist]; but will depend on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant will return, even the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them shall return: the destruction decreed shall overflow with righteousness. For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a determined end, in the midst of all the land." These are the ones who flee according to the instructions of Matthew 24:16.
Then we connect this to Revelation 12:6, "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days." This place that God has prepared for them is down in ancient Edom. Verse 14, "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, to her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [three and a half years. The second half of the Tribulation period], from the face of the serpent."
We look at the basis for Christ's return. Matthew 23:37-39, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to you, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate [Since 70 AD]. For I say to you, You shall not see me no more, until you shall say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." So all of this Tribulation, up to the end, is designed to get Israel to the point where they have their backs against the wall literally, and they have to cry out to the Lord, to Jesus Christ as their Messiah, to come and deliver them.
The two strongest passages for a future for Israel are Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks and Romans chapter 11. At the core of Romans 11 we have this imagery of an olive tree, beginning at v. 16. "For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches." What Paul is saying there is that the root which is the Abrahamic covenant is set apart, and as a result of that, that which comes out of the root, i.e. the branches, is also holy. "And if some of the branches be broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree [you Gentile Romans], were grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches. But if you boast, you bear not the root, but the root you." What God is illustrating in this olive tree analogy is that Israel is the natural branches. Because of unbelief they are broken off. The wild olive branches, the Gentiles, are grafted in. But there is a warning that just as Israel was broken off because of unbelief, so too the Gentiles can be broken off because of unbelief. Paul's conclusion: Romans 11:25-27. "For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own opinion; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles is come in." When the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, then it will go back to Israel. "And so [in this manner] all Israel will be saved: as it is written, The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins."
Te time of their deliverance is what is commonly called the Battle of Armageddon, but is more accurately translated "the campaign of Armageddon." There is a series of battles that take place at the end of history. They do not actually take place in Armageddon. The Scriptures seem to be clear that Babylon is going to be restored in the end times. The prophecies in the Old Testament that relate to the destruction of Babylon have never been fulfilled. There have always been two or three Bedouin villages and Arab village son the site of ancient Babylon through all the centuries, and the biblical prophecy was that it will be made completely uninhabitable. That has not been fulfilled. If we take the Scriptures literally it suggests that ancient Babylon will be restored and will become a central place for the headquarters for the Antichrist during the Tribulation period.
There are eight stages to this campaign. He first is when the armies of the Antichrist come together in a staging area known popularly as the valley of Armageddon, also known as the Plains of Esdraelon. It is a huge broad valley. It will be a staging area, where the armies gather and bring all their supplies. Revelation 16:12-16 is the only passage in Scripture that specifically identifies this place as the valley of Armageddon. It is the sixth bowl judgment. "And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared [Iran and Iraq]. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast [Antichrist], and out of the mouth of the false prophet." These are the leaders of the kings of the east. "For they are the spirits of demons, working signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew, Armageddon." This is the place where all these armies are going to form up, where they are going to get organized for their last assault against Jerusalem. That is stage one: the gathering of the armies of the Antichrist.
Stage two: Babylon is destroyed by God. The home base of the Antichrist is destroyed at this time. This is mentioned in passages such as Zechariah 5:5-11; Isaiah 13-14. In fact, that famous passage we all know which talks about the fall of Satan is really looking back on Satan. It is a prophetic passage talking about this time way off down here in the future when Babylon is destroyed and this is the end time empire. They are taunting Satan and looking back and saying, "You are the one who deceived the kings, you are the one who said you wanted to be like the Most High," etc. This is what will be said to Satan at the end of the Battle of Armageddon when he has lost and when the armies of the Antichrist have been defeated. Isaiah 13-14 describes that ultimate destruction of Babylon, along with Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51. Jeremiah 50:39-40 states, "Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever [this still has not happened]; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor cities thereof, says the LORD; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein."
It is at this time, in the second stage, that the Jews begin to head out and to leave Jerusalem and to turn to the Lord. It is a lengthy process. Jeremiah 50:4, 5, "In those days, and in that time, says the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces toward it, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten."
Jeremiah 50:19, 20, "And I will bring Israel again to his home, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied on mount Ephraim and Gilead. In those days, and in that time, says the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I preserve." This is talking about that final restoration and regeneration of Israel.
After the Antichrist gathers his armies together, after Babylon is destroyed, then he heads out to take vengeance on the city of God in Jerusalem. He attacks Jerusalem. Zechariah 14:1, 2, is one of many passages that talk about this: "Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; half of the city shall go forth into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city." So half of them survive in the city of Jerusalem.
Following this Israel will turn to the Lord, and we have the time of their regeneration. As they get hemmed in by the armies of the Antichrist they know it is all over with and the only hope is to turn to Jesus Christ. Paul mentions this in Romans 11:26, "In this manner all Israel will be saved … The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob…." Isaiah 64:10ff, "Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and our beautiful temple, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste. Will you restrain yourself for these things, O LORD? will you hold your peace, and afflict us very severely?" It is at this time that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to return, and he will gather them together as an army. They will then head across into Judea and up from the south to Jerusalem, destroying the armies of the Antichrist along the way.
Zechariah 12:9, 10, "And it will come to pass in that day, that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."
Isaiah 34:6 gives us a picture of the victorious Lord Jesus Christ at that time: "The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made overflowing with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Edom." Isaiah 63:1, "Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah [from the armies of the Antichrist]? he who is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I who speaks in righteousness, mighty to save." So the Lord Jesus Christ leads them back to Jerusalem and the end of fighting takes place at the Valley of Jehoshaphat, The Kidron Valley between the Mount of Olives and the temple mount.
Joel 3:12, 13, "Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, go down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great." It is at this time that the Lord Jesus Christ will ascend the Mount of Olives, the Mount of Olives is going to split and the remnant is going to evacuate Jerusalem through the split. Then the Lord Jesus Christ is going to enter through the eastern gate, into the temple mount, and there He is going to destroy the Antichrist and the false prophet and cast them into the pit.
Zechariah 14:3,4, "Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south … And then you shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yes, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light will diminish." This is the final stage in the Battle of Armageddon.
It is described in Revelation 19:11-15, And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and wages war…. And the armies which were in heaven [the church] followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he will rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God."
Isaiah 66:15-16, "For, behold, the LORD will come in fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For the LORD will execute judgment by fire and by his sword on all flesh: and those slain by the LORD will be many." It is at this time that He is going to cast the beasts into the lake of fire.
Isaiah 66:8, "Who has heard such a thing? who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? can a nation be brought forth all at once?" It is at that time that the nation is reestablished and the Millennial kingdom begins.
Matthew 24:29-31, "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. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." That is the final regathering of the Jews in belief.
Revelation 20:1-3, "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season." This is the beginning of the Millennial kingdom, the 1000-year reign of Christ on the earth in fulfillment of the ancient promises and covenants of Israel. The Abrahamic covenant is completed, the Palestinian covenant is fulfilled, the Davidic covenant is fulfilled with the son of David on the throne of Israel, and the New covenant is enacted for Israel. Jesus Christ is on the throne of David and David reigns over Israel; Jesus Christ rules over the earth, and the church, the bride of Christ, will rule and reign with Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 2:4, "And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." The UN has assumed that responsibility for themselves. Are they theologically neutral? No, they think they are the Messiah! They think they are going to bring in the kingdom. The UN is an apostate religious organization trying to usurp the powers of Jesus Christ, as indicated by their use of Scripture (Isaiah 2:4).
What will happen during the Millennium? Righteous angels will no longer function in governmental capacities because now we, the church, are over the angels. We will judge the angels. It is the church that is in ultimate control of overseeing the universe. Believers who survive the great Tribulation will have mortal bodies and will also outlive the Millennium. Jerusalem will be the religious and political center of the world. Isaiah chapter two says all the nations will come to Jerusalem to worship at the Millennial temple. World worship will be centered at the temple. There will be a restored temple which will be much larger and grander than any temple in history. In fact, there will be a massive upheaval at the time of the great earthquake that splits the Mount of Olives which will raise up that whole area. There will be a temple that will be a mile square. That will be the location of the Millennial temple. The knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth. All education will be religiously orthodox, biblically correct. Isaiah 25:10, "For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest …" Zechariah 14:10, 11, "All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses. And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited." The glory of the Lord will come into the temple and will dwell on the earth. Dwight Pentecost writes in his book, Thy Kingdom Come, "Israel as a nation will fulfill the function for which they were originally set apart by God. They will become a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6) who are intermediaries between those who need to be saved and the King who provides salvation. They will become as they were originally appointed to be: God's lights to the world."
The land itself finally realizes its promised proportions. It extends all the way from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates. They will be given all the land of modern Jordan, parts of Syria and parts of modern Iraq.
There will be a restoration of animal sacrifices as well, according to Ezekiel. One of the things that is observed when comparing the animal sacrifices that are listed in Ezekiel that will be part of the future temple, is that they don't include the atonement, the soteriological sacrifices in the Levitical offerings. There are differences. In the Millennial temple will be the priests of Zadok who are going to be in charge of the ritual and the service of the temple. These are sinners in mortal bodies. They are priests who are going to have to have ritual cleansing to serve the Lord. So the sacrifices that are restored are for ritual cleansing of the priesthood. They are also memorial in character, but they serve in the same way Old Testament sacrifices served as ritual cleansing of the priests in the Old Testament. So there will be the restoration of animal sacrifices during the Millennial kingdom.