Soon To Come
E. C. Hadley.
Fourth Edition, Retitled, 1991
Grace & Truth, Inc., 210 Chestnut Street, Danville, Illinois 61832 U.S.A. www.gtpress.org
Preface to Fourth Edition
The Rapture of the Church
The Future Rome
Babylon the Great
The Restoration of the Jews to Palestine
Daniel's Seventy Weeks
The King of the North
An Outline of Coming Events
Gog and His Army
The Glorious Thousand-Year Reign of Christ
Final Revolt Under Satan
The Judgment of the Great White Throne
The New Heavens and the New Earth
Several years have elapsed since the last edition of this booklet on prophecy was printed. The situation in the Middle East is still unsettled.
Since 1967 the old temple site is in Israel's hands, but a Moslem mosque, one of the most sacred spots to the Moslems, still stands there.
Occasionally we hear reports that plans are being made and materials gathered for the rebuilding of the temple.
Prior to 1967 many Christians wondered how it would be possible for Israel to regain the old temple site in old Jerusalem, but it happened and in only six days. In this day of swift changes it is not at all inconceivable that Israel will in some way soon be free to carry out their plans and desire to rebuild their temple on the old temple site and to re-establish the sacrifices.
Prophecy clearly shows that the temple must be rebuilt and the sacrifices established again according to the old Mosaic rites before the last seven years of Israel's history begins. Turning to Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, and 2 Thessalonians 2:4, one will find the temple mentioned in connection with the events of Israel's last seven years. Daniel 9:27 reads "And he (the Roman prince or dictator, that shall come to power during this last seven year period) shall confirm a covenant with the many (of the Jews) for one week (7 years); and in the midst of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and because of the protection (margin: "wing") of abominations (the image of the Roman beast, see Rev. 13:14-15), there shall be a desolator …" (J. N. Darby's Trans.). Christ speaks of this image as the abomination of desolation (that is, which causes desolation) "standing in the holy place," and: "The man of sin sitting in the temple of God showing that he is God" ( 2 Thess. 2:4; cf. Rev. 13:11-15).
This verse in Daniel shows that the sacrifices will be offered in the temple during the first half of this seven years' covenant or agreement made by the Roman beast (dictator) and the Jews in Jerusalem.
This prophecy then together with Matthew 24:15 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4 shows clearly that the Jews are to rebuild a temple in Jerusalem and again offer the sacrifices according to the law.
For this it is necessary that the Jews have possession again of the temple site. No doubt God in His providential overruling has ordered it that the Jews should now have the temple site so that the prophecies He inspired the prophet Daniel to write some 2500 years ago might be fulfilled.
The events of the 1967 Six-Day War in the Middle East were a great step forward toward the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecies concerning the last seven years of Israel's history that will begin immediately or at least very shortly after the rapture of the Church. This must take place before Israel's last seven years begin. All these details are developed more fully in the following chapters of this booklet.
How these events as well as all the rapid developments of the present day make us realize that the rapture of the Church cannot be delayed much longer! The realization of this great fact should stir us all up to have our lights burning and our loins girded, serving, waiting, watching for our Lord to come at any moment.
May the Lord encourage all to study carefully these prophecies. For we are sure Satan is trying to do all he can to keep the children of God from getting a clear grasp of God's prophetic Word, lest they be stirred up to the realization that the time is short. We cannot afford to waste our time. We should walk day by day in close communion with our blessed Lord so as not to be occupied with anything we would not want to be found doing when He comes. May we be occupied only with those things that He would want to find us doing at His coming.
— E. C. Hadley, June 1973
Preface to Fourth Edition — 1983
This valuable, unpretentious and greatly used series of articles on prophecy by E. C. Hadley first appeared in serial form in the magazine "Grace & Truth" during November 1937 through January 1939 under the title of "Studies in Prophecy."
They were later published in booklet form in 1961 and entitled "Outline of Prophetic Events Soon to Come to Pass." A second edition appeared in 1968 and a third updated edition was issued in 1973.
Multitudes of readers have been enlightened and helped over the years as to God's prophetic plan through this able and clear unfolding of "Prophetic Events" by God's faithful servant who was called to his heavenly home on September 15, 1981 at the age of 86.
Events in the world have quickly moved on in the direction set forth in the outline of prophetic Scriptures presented in this booklet. The past forty-three years [now 80 years in 2017] since this series on "Prophetic Events" was first written have confirmed the teaching as the "more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19).
We are thankful for the need of this fourth edition of "Prophetic Events" and happy to commend it to the Lord for continued and greater usefulness to all who will read and take heed. This edition is essentially the same as the previous one with only slight changes in sentence structure.
— R K Campbell, February 1983
"A More Sure Word of Prophecy Whereunto Ye Do Well That Ye Take Heed."
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:19-21).
"Prophecy came not by the will of man." It is not in the power of man to predict future events with any certainty. But God has a vast plan that is unfolding as the ages roll by, and this plan is the subject of prophecy. Surely it is of great profit to our souls to know what it is. And how blessed to know that God has not kept it a secret. He wants to share this secret with all His own. He has made known to us the mystery of His will (Eph. 1:9). "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He reveals His secret unto His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). Their prophecies then are God-given, God-inspired, God revealing His secret, God letting us into His own secret. We may be certain then that there is a rich blessing for our souls in taking heed to His prophetic Word. "Ye do well that ye take heed," says the apostle Peter, unto this prophetic Word as unto:
"A Light That Shines In a Dark Place."
Prophecy was not given to satisfy curiosity. It is given to be a light flooding our souls that we may not be left groping in the darkness. By the light of prophecy we may know the real course of things and the end to which all is tending and the real moral principles that are working underneath the surface; the bold and blasphemous plan of the hidden prince of darkness who is moving behind the scene and fastening his power down on a Christ-rejecting world, working unceasingly with his vast army of demons to bring the world in direct defiance of God and to worship him, "the dragon," "that old serpent," "the deceiver," "a murderer from the beginning," and "the father of lies" (see Rev. 20:2-3; John 8:44).
Is it not a real blessing to have the light of God shedding its revealing, penetrating rays upon this scene of sin, confusion and tumult so that we may see clearly and be brought into God's thoughts about it all — the thoughts of God who is above it all and working out in spite of it all His own glorious plan for the glory of His Son?
"Until the Day Dawn and the Day Star Arise in Your Hearts."
The light of prophecy will be a great source of comfort that will sustain the faithful remnant after the rapture of the Church. This remnant will pass through awful persecution and deep distress during the Great Tribulation while waiting for the "Sun of righteousness to arise with healing in His wings" and usher in the day of His glorious millennial reign (Mal. 4:2). But we have another and more comforting hope. We are waiting for Christ to come as the "Day Star," "the bright and Morning Star" (2 Peter 1:19; Rev. 22:16), who will appear before the day dawn while the darkness is still enshrouding the world to take His heavenly bride unto Himself. The study of prophecy, revealing as it does the awful tribulation and apostasy that is surely and rapidly coming upon this sin-cursed world, makes that blessed hope of His coming as the Day Star shine brighter and brighter in our hearts. This will be the blessed and immediate effect of the study of prophecy where Christ has His place in our affections.
"No Prophecy of the Scripture Is of Any Private Interpretation."
God has a vast and eternal plan of which Christ is the center and His glorification the object. We read in Ephesians 3:11 of God's eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ before the world began, and in Ephesians 1:10 that His purpose is to gather together in one (to head up) in Christ all things both which are in heaven and which are on earth. Every prophecy found between the covers of the Bible fits into this one vast plan. Therefore no prophecy can be properly interpreted privately, that is, taken by itself alone. If rightly interpreted it must be interpreted as a part of the whole and in the light of the whole scope of prophecy.
When rightly interpreted, prophecy is thus bound to have a solemn and sanctifying effect upon the soul because it brings one face to face with God and His vast plan for the glorification of His Christ before whom every knee must bow.
As we study prophecy, it should be then with our hearts taken up with Christ, for He is the center and His glorification the object of God's vast plan. God has purposed that every glory shall be His, and that everything that exalts itself against Him shall be crushed. If Christ has not a place in our hearts, if He is not an object of delight for our souls together with a complete renunciation of the pride, vain glory, and self-will of man, it is impossible that we can understand prophecy aright or delight in its scope. But where Christ does have His rightful place, there will be a real heartfelt interest in the study of prophecy and great blessing derived therefrom for our souls.
Our study of prophecy should impress our hearts deeply with a sense of the greatness and majesty of God, having sovereign right to form His own purposes and absolute power to bring them to pass, so as to announce thousands of years beforehand with absolute certainty to the minutest detail the end from the beginning. "For I am God and there is none else; I am God and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do all My pleasure" (Isa. 46:9-10). "Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed so shall it stand" (Isa. 14:24).
As the man of the world looks around on all the turmoil with fear and uncertainty of the things that are coming upon the earth, the child of God can go on quietly and at rest in his soul. He knows that he is the object of God the Father's infinite love, and that His hand is above all things working out unerringly His own wise purposes; first as regards His own children, secondly as regards Israel, now temporarily set aside but soon to be taken up again after the rapture of the Church (Rom. 11:25); and thirdly as regards the entire world.
Prophecy also gives us to see that Satan with all his host of demons and demon-inspired men cannot go one whit beyond the limits God sets. God will give the ungodly over to believe the devil's lies and to worship the man of sin and Satan himself, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved (2 Thess. 2:8-12), but He sets the time and the limit beyond which neither Satan nor wicked man can go (Rev. 13:5). Well did the Psalmist exclaim, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee; and the remainder wilt Thou restrain" (Ps. 76:10). The study of prophecy reveals this absolute control of God over the schemes of Satan and the passions, hatred, and wrath of man. While He does not prompt nor inspire them, yet He overrules so that in the end they must contribute to the exaltation of His Son. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10). And what will not contribute to this end He restrains.
Note: All quotations marked JND are from J. N. Darby's translation.
The Rapture of the Church
Will the Church pass through the Great Tribulation, or will it be caught up before then?
Some in contending that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation say there is no reason why the believers should be saved from the Great Tribulation when the early martyrs suffered so much. In answer, we would say this is not the point. The real point is that of the sovereignty of God. Has God in His sovereign purposes planned that the Church period should continue through the Great Tribulation? The Tribulation is called "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7), not that of the Church's trouble; for it is the time of God especially dealing with Israel and with the nations in connection with Israel (see Jer. 30:7-16). It is "the furnace of affliction" (Isa. 48:10) that God will use to chasten and purify Israel while He makes His mighty Name known also to the apostate Gentiles by His mighty judgments. (See Jer. 30:11; Isa. 2:10-21; 5:16; 10:5-6, 12, 24-27; 34:1-2, 8; 40:1-2; Joel 3:1-2, 11-17; Micah 7:16-20; Ezek. 38:23; 39:7, etc.). All this goes to show that the Church is gone before then.
Enoch, caught up to heaven before the judgment fell on the earth, is a type of the Church, while Noah and his family, kept safe through the overflowing judgment (type of the Great Tribulation) and becoming the nucleus to replenish the purified earth, is a type of the remnant.
Christ will come for Israel at the close of their night of tribulation as "the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings" (Mal. 4:2). But for the Church He appears as "the bright and Morning Star" while the world is still in darkness before the dawning of the day. See Revelation 22:16.
We will now turn to a number of scriptures as further proof that the Rapture takes place before the Great Tribulation.
"And I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there ye may be also" (John 14:3). "Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church" (Eph. 5:25-27). Christ then is coming to receive His own to Himself that they may be with Him where He is in heaven. The Church is called to a heavenly portion as the bride of Christ, while Israel's portion is earthly blessing under His scepter.
"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him" (Col. 3:4). This makes it clear that the Church must be raptured to be with the Lord before His appearing with us in glory.
"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife (bride) has made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7). We see the bride here in heaven for her marriage with the Lamb while the wrath and judgments of God are falling on the earth during the Great Tribulation that ends by the Lord Himself coming with His glorified saints to destroy the might of the enemy. (Read Rev. 19:11-21.)
In Revelation 1:19 John is told to "Write the things which thou hast seen (the vision of the Lord he had just seen, vv. 11-18), and the things which are (the present church dispensation of which we have the prophetic history traced in the addresses to the seven churches in Rev. 2 and Rev. 3), and the things which shall be hereafter (that is, after the church period is over). Then in Rev. 4:1 the voice from heaven calls John, "Come up hither, and I will show thee things which shall be hereafter." So the whole of Revelation from chapter 4 on takes place after the Rapture and after the professing mass without life is "spued out of his mouth" (Rev. 3:16) and left here for judgment.
From the fourth chapter on we see the glorified elders sitting around the throne of God with their censers (Rev. 5:8) and crowns (Rev. 4:4). Israel's priests were divided into 24 courses with one man at the head of each course. See 1 Chronicles 24:1-18. So these 24 elders represent all those who will be caught up to be with Christ when He comes for His own. And we see them here already glorified in heaven and functioning as kings and priests before the throne of God during the time that God's wrath and judgments are falling on the earth. This clearly places the Rapture before the wrath of God falls on Israel and the nations. This is still further confirmed if we look at some of the passages that speak of this Great Tribulation. "Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it" (Jer. 30:6-7). "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book" (Dan. 12:1; cf. Rev. 7:1-8). "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Dan. 9:27; 12:11), stand in the holy place (the temple soon to be rebuilt at Jerusalem), then let them which be in Judea flees … for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matt. 24:15-21; cf. also Mark 13:14-19). These passages show clearly that this time of the Great Tribulation has especially to do with the Jews in Judea. It is the day of Jacob's trouble, not the church's trouble. Michael will stand up for Daniel's people (Jews) during this time of tribulation and deliver those who are written in the book, while the apostate Jews are destroyed by these terrible judgments (Mal. 4:1-2).
During this time we see also in Revelation that the wrath and judgment of God falls on the nations. This whole period is characterized by the pouring out of God's wrath on apostate Israel and apostate Christendom. Just turn to a few passages in Revelation: "The great day of His wrath is come" (Rev. 6:17). "The wrath of God poured out without mixture," and "The great winepress of the wrath of God" (Rev. 14:10, 19). "Go your ways and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth" and "Give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath" (Rev. 16:1, 19). "And He treads the winepress of the fierceness and the wrath of Almighty God" (Rev. 19:15).
The fierce wrath of God poured out upon Israel and the nations is what marks this terrible period covered by Revelation 4 to 19, and this corresponds exactly with Daniel's last week of 7 years. The Church must be raptured to be with the Lord before this last week of Israel's history begins.
Scripture is definite that the church will not go through this terrible time of God's wrath on apostate Israel and Christendom. "For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:9). The Church has and does go through much tribulation and persecution from the hands of the world, but it is to be saved by Christ's coming to take it to Himself from this terrible tribulation and wrath of God that is to fall on this Christ-rejecting world. "Because thou has kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation (trial) which will come upon all the world" (Rev. 3:10). "Much more being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Rom. 5:9). His blood justifies us and His living power saves us from wrath — not only eternal wrath, but also that wrath soon to come upon this Christ-rejecting world. "Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us (JND: our deliverer) from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:9-10). They were waiting for the Savior who would come to deliver them from the wrath to come.
This attitude of waiting for the Lord to come at any time is seen in many passages. "Let your loins be girded about and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord … when he comes" (Luke 12:35-36; see also Luke 12:45-46). "Looking for that blessed hope" (Titus 2:13). "For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body" (Phil. 3:20-21). "For them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation," that is, complete deliverance from this scene of sin, corruption and death (Heb. 9:28). These and other similar passages where the Lord and the apostles exhort the believers to be waiting, watching, and looking for His coming prove that the church will not go through the tribulation and that there are no signs that must be fulfilled before the Lord comes for His own. If there were any sign that had to be fulfilled first, we could not be waiting and looking for His coming until that sign, or the Tribulation, had come to pass first.
There are no signs that must be fulfilled before the rapture of the Church, but there are many prophecies that must be fulfilled during the last seven-year period before Christ comes to reign. We watch the events with great interest as we see things shaping up for the fulfillment of all these prophecies, because we know that Christ will come as the Morning Star to take His bride to be with Himself beforehand. Let us be found watching and ready, with our loins girded and our lights burning, for we may hear His shout at any moment now calling us to meet Him in the air (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
If the great distinction between the Church and Israel were more clearly seen, there could be no doubt at all that the Church must be raptured to heaven before the last week of Israel's prophetic history begins.
The Church is a heavenly people with a heavenly hope and a heavenly inheritance (see Col. 1:5; Eph. 1:3; 1 Peter 1:4; Heb. 3:1; John 14:1-3), while Israel is an earthly people with an earthly hope and an earthly inheritance. (See Ex. 19:5; 33:1-2, 14-16; Deut. 32-40).
The Church is called to obtain God's own eternal glory and to share it with His Son as His bride. (See 1 Peter 5:10; 1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; Rom. 8:17). But Israel was called and separated from other peoples to be God's own peculiar people above all the peoples of the earth, and formed for the display of God's glory in His government over the earth. (See Num. 14:13-21; Isa. 43:21; 41:8-20; Deut. 4:34-35).
From Pentecost on God has temporarily suspended His relationship with Israel and does not now reckon time in connection with their history, while He is calling out from Jews and Gentiles a bride for Christ (Rom. 11:25).
Another weighty reason proving the Rapture must take place before the Tribulation is seen in the different character of the gospel now being preached and that which will be preached by the persecuted remnant during the Great Tribulation. The gospel God is sending to the world today holds out a heavenly hope and calling (Col. 1:5; 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Peter 1:3-12; etc.), whereas the gospel that the remnant will preach holds out an entirely different hope: namely, that of having part in the earthly blessing of the Millennium. They will preach that the Messiah is coming to break down and set aside the wicked and so deliver the persecuted remnant that they may inherit the earth, over which He will establish His reign of righteousness and peace and temporal blessing (Matt. 24:14; Rev. 14:6; Isa. 44:26). God would not send two different gospels with different hopes to the world at the same time. That would be confusion, confounding the heavenly and earthly people with their respective hopes and destinies. As long as the Church is on earth it has the gospel of the heavenly calling to preach; but when the believers are raptured to heaven God will then reject the mass of apostate professors that remain behind, and will turn to the Jews and form among them a remnant whom He will send forth to preach the gospel of the coming kingdom of Christ to all nations.
It is the saints composing this remnant that are mentioned as suffering on earth during Daniel's seventieth week and especially during the Great Tribulation (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 5:8; 8:3; 11:3; 12:17; 13:7, 10; 14:12; 16:6). They bear witness to the coming Messiah and refuse to worship the beast or his image. With them will also be a great company from among the Gentiles, who receive their testimony to the coming King and refuse to bow to the beast (Rev. 7:9-14).
How great and glorious is our portion. How precious is the hope of His soon coming to take His bride home to Himself. As we look around on the world today surely we see the shadow of the day of Jacob's trouble already falling upon the Jews. How that makes our hearts burn within us, for we know that He is coming for us before then. May He find us with our loins girded about and our lights burning and like unto men who wait for their Lord.
Christ Himself becomes much more the object of our hearts as we watch thus daily for His coming. The longing for His coming at any moment to take us to be with Him and like Him in the glory also delivers us, as nothing else could, from the attachments of things down here and deepens our desire to be found constantly in the path of His will, seeking with purpose of heart only the glory of our coming Bridegroom. But this hope of His coming will only be held as a living reality in our hearts as we are walking in intimate communion with Him and the Father. The world that crucified God's Son, our Beloved, will then be seen in its true character of enmity against God, ready to welcome the Antichrist and to worship the dragon and the beast (Rev. 13; 2 Thess. 2).
Seeing the world as thus revealed in prophecy in its utter rejection of God and soon to worship Satan is very oppressing to the heart that knows God unless one is walking in communion with Him who is the constant and only source of joy, peace and quietness of heart that neither the world nor the devil can trouble. God is above all circumstances, overruling and shaping them for the fulfilling of His eternal counsels. As we walk thus in peace and communion with Him, the world becomes for us only the sphere where God has placed us for the moment to display in patience, love, righteousness, and unremitting service His own divine nature we have, as born of Him, while waiting daily for our Lord's coming to take us to Himself. This waiting for Christ as our Bridegroom in communion with Him keeps our heart fresh and our steps steady while we seek with purpose of heart to fill our God-given place and mission till He come.
The teaching that the Church may go through the Great Tribulation, we may be sure, is inspired of Satan in order to rob those who believe it of the comforting, sanctifying and stimulating effect that the hope of Christ's coming at any moment is intended to produce in our lives.
The Future Rome
It is clear from prophecy that Rome will yet be at the head of a great empire composed of ten united kingdoms. The revival of the Roman Empire and the role it will play during the Great Tribulation period is the subject of a number of prophecies.
Let us turn first to Daniel 2. Here we get Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great image with its head of gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its legs of iron and its feet part iron and part clay mingled together. God reveals the meaning of this image to Daniel the prophet. The image represents with its four different metals four different empires that were to have power one after another. We know as a matter of history that the Babylonian Empire represented by the head of gold was followed by the Medo-Persian Empire, and that by the Grecian Empire, and the Grecian in turn by the Roman Empire. The iron (Roman) empire, with its Eastern and Western branches represented by the two legs of iron, is now a matter of past history, but its final form represented by the ten toes is yet future. Revelation 17:8 shows us this empire under the figure of the beast that ascends into power again after having for a time ceased to exist. Also in Revelation 13:3 we see it with the deadly wound it had received in one of its heads, healed. That the empire must come into power again in the form of a ten-power kingdom or empire is evident also from Daniel 2:32-45; for Christ, "the Stone cut out without hands," falls in judgment upon it and breaks it in pieces and sets up in its stead His own millennial kingdom which fills, as a mountain, the whole earth. Therefore the Roman Empire must exist as represented by the ten toes at the time of Christ's coming to reign. This is also evident from Revelation 16:13-16 and Revelation 19:11-21 where we see the beast, the last head of the revived Roman Empire, gathered with his armies at Armageddon and taken alive and cast into the lake of fire when Christ appears with His armies from heaven. It is this last form of the revived Roman Empire that is the subject of our study today.
A few years ago there was nothing in the political world to indicate that the Roman Empire would ever be revived, but today we have the European Common Market which is striving for economic and political power. The threat of Russia's power is driving Western Europe to a closer alliance. All this makes even the political world realize the possibility of a revived Roman Empire in the form of a league of nations. But what shall we say when we see God revealing to His prophet way back at the beginning of the Babylonian Empire the rise of the Roman Empire and its destruction in its final form under His judgment by Christ when He comes to reign? There is nothing that strengthens one's faith in divine inspiration of the Scriptures like the study of prophecy. It deepens too the conviction that man must have to do with the living and almighty God.
We will now turn to Daniel 7:7-27 where we get many more details revealed. The beast is the empire from its beginning to its final doom. But in the final form that the empire will take we are told that ten kings represented by the ten horns will arise, and after them arises another, a little horn, which will subdue three of these kings. This little horn becomes the supreme and final dictator of the revived Roman Empire, and it is because of his doings that judgment falls upon the empire (v. 11).
In Revelation 13:1-8 and 17:3, 8-17 we have many more details: this dictator represented in Daniel's prophecies by the little horn is symbolized by the beast itself. He unites and personally controls the whole government of the empire. The ten kings, or heads of the ten kingdoms, are here seen as having united and having given the supreme dictatorship to the beast, and they have power as subordinate to him.
By studying these prophecies and comparing them together we get this brief but clear outline of events that will soon take place in western Europe:
A man will rise in Rome. He will not be strong at first — "a little horn." But rising in power he subdues three kingdoms. Then these three kingdoms together with seven others unite and give the supreme dictatorship over the united ten-power kingdom into the hands of this man. If we add to this Revelation 13:16-17 and Revelation 14:9-11 we learn that this dictatorship is so absolute that he has the complete control over the lives and the commerce of all under his dictatorship, so that none can buy or sell without receiving his mark in his right hand or in his forehead, and he uses this power to enforce the worship of himself together with the dragon, or Satan.
God does not, however, give us in His Word what we might call a prophetic outline of future events simply as a matter of history pre-written. We will always find that future events are revealed in the prophetic Word only as they have a bearing upon God's dealings with man in connection with man's ways before God. The events are only spoken of to show the great moral issues involved — man's apostasy, his rebellion and defiance of God, refusing the light God has given in creation and especially in Christ and the written Word; and God's dealings with man in this connection so as to show forth His holiness in His divine and righteous judgment of evil, His sovereign and triumphant power that establishes Christ in His coming reign over the whole earth, His infinite wisdom, His constant faithfulness to His promises and His goodness and loving-kindness to all such as put their trust in Him. This indeed is the real theme of prophecy, and we would miss the purpose of it altogether as well as lose the profit and blessing to be derived from its study if we study it simply to learn what it predicts about coming political events.
Thus if we read again the above-mentioned passages referring to this last form of the Roman Empire, we will find three things especially noted:
1. The source of its power.
2. Its moral character and actions.
3. Its final doom under the signal judgment of God.
1. The Source of Its Power
In Revelation 17:8 it is said that it will "ascend out of the bottomless pit," and in Revelation 13:2, "And the dragon gave him his power and his seat (throne) and great authority." Thus the revived Roman Empire in its last form will be the direct work of Satan and will be fully energized by him. It is the fruit of complete apostasy from God when man, having refused the love of the truth preached to him in the gospel, takes sides definitely with Satan against God. See 2 Thessalonians 2:1-13.
2. Its Moral Character
We can only expect from such a government the fostering of everything wicked and sinful while opposing and oppressing everyone that will dare in any way to own or honor God. The following verses give us a little view of the moral character of this empire and its last head.
1. Revelation 13:4: "And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast and they worshiped the beast." This man, or final head of the empire, will be worshiped together with the worship of Satan, the dragon, who is recognized as the source of his power. This worship is enforced by a decree with a death penalty (see Rev. 13:14-18; 14:9-11). This brings down the fierce wrath of God upon them as we see in this latter passage.
2. Great arrogant self-assertion — "A mouth speaking great things" (Dan. 7:8-9; see also Rev. 13:5). It is man exalting himself in his own pride and self-importance and supposed self-sufficiency.
3. Violent and injurious speaking against God Himself and against His heavenly saints — "And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven" (Rev. 13:6; see also Dan. 7:25). Those that dwell in heaven are the glorified saints who are caught up to be ever with the Lord when Christ comes for His own before the beast comes to power.
4. Hostility to all that is of God upon the earth — "The same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them" (Dan. 7:21; see also Rev. 13:7; 11:3-7). The saints on the earth will be the godly remnant from among the Jews that will refuse to worship the beast and who preach the gospel of the kingdom, announcing that Christ is coming to destroy the power of the wicked and take over the earth and reign.
5. Open and direct antagonism against Christ which culminates in their gathering their armies together and going to Armageddon in Palestine to attack Christ at His coming from heaven with His glorified saints and all the holy angels with Him —"And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him (Christ) that sat on the horse and against His army." "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them" (Rev. 19:19 and Rev. 17:14; see also Rev. 16:13-16). And this brings us now to:
3. The Final Doom and Judgment
"The Lamb shall overcome them." "And the beast was taken and with him the false prophet. … These both were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse." "Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth and destroy by the brightness of his coming." "Shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms" (Rev. 17:14; Rev. 19:20-21; 2 Thess. 2:8; Dan. 2:34, 44).
It is a solemn thought that the Roman Empire of the near future, that is, United Western Europe, which once boasted of being Christian, will raise itself up against God in open and blasphemous opposition against Him and all His interests, whether in heaven or on earth. But that is just what prophecy shows will soon be, and just what we must expect to come out of all the present juggling between the powers in Europe and the unrest that is reigning there now. But before this will take place the Church will be caught up to be with the Lord in heaven.
We might say in closing that Eastern Germany and Russia will not be in this revived Roman Empire but will form an alliance together also including other nations south of Russia. But this will be the subject of another chapter. We will need to take up first a study of the Jewish people, their false Messiah, their alliance with the Roman Empire, and also the role the apostate church will play in connection with the beast.
With this divine light shed on the final outcome of man's fevered activity today, and God's final overthrow of all its vainglory, pride and self-will with His crushing judgment, preparatory to the exaltation of His Christ as King of kings: how it should solemnize our hearts and make us search them deeply and judge every root of pride and self-will we find there, while yet rejoicing that we are not of this world (see John 17:13-16) that is fast ripening for judgment. Our home is in the Father's house of light and eternal joy where our precious Savior has gone to prepare a place for us (see John 14:1-4), and from whence He is soon coming again to take us to Himself that where He is there we may be also. Yes, with Him who loved us and "who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father, to whom be glory forever" (Gal. 1:4-5).
Babylon the Great
"And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sits upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration (or better translated, astonishment). And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and ten horns" (Rev. 17:1-7).
This scarlet colored Beast "full of names of blasphemy" is the revived Roman Empire. The great harlot who sits upon the beast is the professing Church in its final phase after the true Church, the believers, have been caught up to be with the Lord. In Ephesians 5:23-32 we see Christ presenting to Himself His glorious bride for whom He gave Himself that "He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (vv. 25-27); and in Revelation 19:5-9 we see all heaven rejoicing at the marriage of the Lamb. But in Revelation 17 we have the false Church and her doom described.
In Revelation 19:5-9, the true Church is seen as a woman, the Lamb's bride "arrayed in fine linen, clean and white," and in Revelation 21:9-22, she is described as the heavenly city in whose light "the nations of them that are saved shall walk" (Rev. 21:24) during Christ's glorious reign over the earth; whereas in Revelation 17 we get the false Church described as a great whore decked with all manner of worldly splendor, and in Revelation 18 described as a great worldly city.
During the Dark Ages the Roman Church held sway over all Europe, set up kings and put down kings at her will. The Reformation came and her power was broken. But Protestantism, divided into innumerable sects and permeated with modernism and infidel ministers who deny the divine inspiration of the Bible and fundamentals of true Christianity, has lost its place of influence. What will become of all this professing mass when once all the true believers are caught up to be with the Lord? It will doubtless merge into one great world Church and so form one vast system boasting of its worldly grandeur. It will for a time be upheld by the secular government and have a certain dominating influence over it, as is indicated by the woman sitting upon the beast. But her place of power will not last, for the beast himself that upholds her, at first for his own ends will turn against her and, together with the ten kings who give their power into his hands, will put an end to the whole system (Rev. 17:16; see JND). His whole empire will then turn and worship him and his image and the dragon (see Rev. 13:4, 15; Rev. 14:9).
Today (1968) the ecumenical movement is making rapid strides towards the merging of all church systems, both Catholic and Protestant, into one great world Church. This 17th chapter of Revelation shows us that there will be a close alliance between the secular government and this world Church. The woman rides the beast and the beast upholds the woman. In fact, they are mutually dependent upon and need each other to gain the place of ascendency that both aspire to.
But we must not think that all this is simply accidental. God has purposed to judge the false Church by a signal overthrow by the very hand of the world to which it has turned in turning away from Christ. He allows her to come to that place of worldly splendor that she aspires after, so as to set her aside by His righteous judgment when her iniquity is come to its full.
Flirting With the World
Let us beware of any flirting with the world. The Church was espoused to Christ as a chaste virgin (2 Cor. 11:2); all her heart's affection rightly belongs to Christ who gave Himself for her. Friendship with the world is spiritual adultery (James 4:4). The Church's downfall began when it turned its heart from Christ and set it upon the things of this world. God has revealed His terrible judgment that is to fall upon the professing Church by the hands of the world so that we might be warned against any flirting with it. The world system is ever an enemy of Christ. It said, "We will not have this man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14), and stained its hands in His blood. When a Christian begins to flirt with it, his downfall is certain, unless he repents and recovers himself from its clutches by a complete break with it. It is an immense loss for the Christian to compromise in any degree with the world.
Why Called Babylon?
Revelation 17 gives a brief but comprehensive description of the wickedness and final judgment of the professing Church. We will look at the character of her wickedness, but first at the reason for her being called Babylon. Babylon not only means confusion, but it was there that idolatry had its origin under satanic influence and from there it penetrated into all parts of the ancient world. How sad that the professing Church itself in its final apostate form will be, as it is now notoriously so in Rome, the seat and fountain-head of a system of idolatry that surpasses in subtlety and corruption that of ancient Babylon. So it falls heir to its name and becomes the instrument of Satan, as Babylon of old, for corrupting the world and persecuting unto death the godly remnant who will bear witness to Christ's coming reign. As with Israel, so will it be with the Church. God chose Israel for His people but they, by turning from their mission in the world, became the instrument of Satan to put to death the Son of God and to persecute those who witnessed for Him, forbidding them to preach in His name (1 Thess. 2:15); so now the Church, failing in its heavenly mission to a lost world, in the end becomes Satan's tool for persecuting the godly remnant from among the Jews who will go forth, sent of God, to bear witness to the coming reign and glory of Christ against the apostasy of their day.
Let us notice now in detail some of the special features of Babylon the Great:
Features of Babylon the Great
1. It is a religious system essentially of the earth though claiming to be the true Church of God. It is earthly in origin, associations, and character, she is the "mother of harlots and abominations of the earth" (Rev. 17:5), the guilty associate and friend of the "kings of the earth" and "the merchants of the earth" (Rev. 18:9, 11, etc.); she seeks earthly splendor and "reigns over the kings of the earth" (Rev. 17:18), and "corrupts the earth by her fornication" (Rev. 19:2).
What a contrast is this to the true Church — "They are not of the world," says our Lord of them, "even as I am not of the world" (John 17:14). Heavenly in its citizenship — "our citizenship" (the Greek word here means citizenship or commonwealth, not conversation) "is in heaven" (Phil. 3:20). Heavenly in its blessings — "Blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). With heavenly objects for its affection — "Seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:1-2). She is united to Him "Who gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil world" (Gal. 1:4), and who, rejected by the earth, is now glorified in heaven from whence He is coming again to take her to Himself in that place He has prepared for her in the Father's mansions above (John 14:1-3).
In short, earth characterizes the false Church and heaven the true.
2. Babylon seeks a place of supremacy over the world, in contrast to the true Church which is "subject to Christ" (Eph. 5:24), and whose portion now is to suffer with Him and be His witnesses before a world that has rejected Him, while awaiting the time when she shall reign with Him (Rom. 8:17). The great whore "sits upon many waters" (Rev. 17:1), and these are explained to be "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" (Rev. 17:15), showing that her domination extends over many nations. She sits upon the "beast full of names of blasphemy" and "reigns over the kings of the earth" (Rev. 17:3; Rev 17:18). What wickedness must be hers to have such power over such a wicked beast! No wonder we read, "Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and cage of every unclean and hateful bird." Instead of being as in the beginning the vessel through which the Holy Spirit works in divine power and grace, the professing Church becomes the habitation of devils and the instrument of Satan to suppress every true voice that is raised for Christ and the truth.
3. We find another awful characteristic in verse 6: "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." Instead of being an ambassador of Christ to carry the life-giving message of God to a lost world, she is found shedding the blood of the saints and suppressing every voice that is raised in true testimony for God.
4. An illicit union with the world is another characteristic of Babylon the Great, whereas union with Christ is the portion of the true Church. "The kings of the earth have committed fornication with her" (Rev. 17:2).
5. Worldliness of every kind is found in and about her; she is "arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls" (v. 4; see also Rev. 18:12-16). "Babylon the Great" is not only a religious but a vast worldly system, dazzling by her wealth, luxury, and grandeur the kings and merchants of the world and intoxicating the nations by means of her corrupting charms.
6. Finally we see she is the fountain-head of the worst kind of idolatry that Satan has ever brought into his kingdom of darkness. "Having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornications; and upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth" (Rev. 17:4-5). In the Scripture "abomination" is a term frequently used for idols as being so hateful to God and abominable in man; so also fornication and adultery are constantly used for idolatry or any false religious system to which men turn in unfaithfulness to the Lord who had espoused His people to Himself (see Ex. 34:15-16; Lev. 17:7; Ezek. 6:9; 1 Kings 11:5, 7). What is more abominable than to mingle with the worship of God the Father and the Son, the adoration of Mary (blasphemously called the Mother of God), the veneration of saints, and the worship of the host?
To sum it up in a few words, Babylon is a widespread system of religious corruption claiming to be the Church of God. She seeks supremacy over the political system of the world while corrupting and stupefying the masses with her religious ceremonies, thus giving an appearance of godliness while denying the power thereof (2 Tim. 3:5). Under the guise of worshiping God and while giving herself over to worldly splendor and riches, she becomes the fountainhead of a Satan-inspired idolatry that surpasses the idolatry of all past history. She becomes the bloodthirsty persecutor of all the saints who dare to bear witness to Jesus and to the truth of God that exposes her guilt, whether it be the saints of the present Church period or of the Jewish remnant that will bear witness after the rapture of the true Church. "For by thy sorceries (trafficking with Satan) were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth" (Rev. 18:23-24).
Satan uses her to bring in all spiritual and moral corruption in his efforts to prepare the world for that complete and final apostacy he has ever been striving for. So Paul warns in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, "The mystery of iniquity does already work."
Christendom and Judaism will thus finally unite in one common apostacy. The whole corrupt system that bears the name of the Church will finally completely renounce the name of God and His Christ and will bow to an image of the Satan-inspired beast of Rome and worship it and the dragon. At the same time the Jews will do away with their temple worship based on the Mosaic ceremonies and sacrifices which they will soon resume in the temple they are to rebuild. They will substitute for it the worship of this same Roman beast and the dragon (Satan himself) (Rev. 13:1-4). (See Dan. 9:27 JND, "because of the protection of abominations there shall be a desolator." See also Matt. 24:15; Rev. 13:11-18; 2 Thess. 2:4).
Babylon's doom is terrible, "for strong is the Lord God who judges her." The ten heads of the united ten-power Empire of Europe at the time they give their power and strength to the beast, making him supreme dictator over all, will unite with him to destroy and put a complete end to this whole corrupt world church system.
"And the ten horns which thou sawest and the beast (JND), these shall hate the whore, and shall make her naked, and shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire." "For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. … For she says in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death and mourning and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judges her." "And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are His judgments: for He has judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornications, and has avenged the blood of His servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever" (Rev. 17:16; 18:5-8; 19:1-3).
But while in heaven all rejoice at the judgment of the great whore; on earth her overthrow is only to make place for a deeper and fuller apostasy where the worship of the beast and his image and of the dragon will be enforced by a death penalty upon all who refuse it (see Rev. 13).
But has God revealed all this just to give us intelligence of the future? No, He would have it to work effectually on our conscience to separate us absolutely and entirely from all these evil principles of religious corruption and worldliness that are now at work in Christendom and soon to ripen into this awful iniquity. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21). Let us be on our guard against everything that would draw our hearts away from devotion to Christ. We cannot stop the downward trend of Christendom. The mystery of iniquity was already working in the days of the apostles (2 Thess. 2:7). God has held it in restraint, but the time is at hand when God Himself will give Christendom over to its own wicked devices and imaginations and to the strong delusions of Satan. What shall we do then, since we cannot stop its downward course? Walk with Christ and for Christ in separation from every evil thing with a humble and broken spirit and also with a large heart that goes out with compassion for the lost and seeks to succor the weak and enlighten the ignorant. For let us not forget that in spite of the downward trend of Christendom God is working in grace to call out a bride for His Son, and He will continue to work until the last soul is won that shall complete the true Church, the Lamb's bride. And while He is working in grace, He would have His own to be the channels of grace, and the reflection of Christ's lowly walk of holiness, love and grace in the midst of the corruption of His day. Christ overcame and sat down on His Father's throne; so those who are overcomers now have the special promise of sitting down with Him on His throne (see Rev. 3:21).
The Restoration of the Jews to Palestine
This remarkable chapter gives us in figurative but striking and comprehensive language the return of the Jews to Palestine — first in unbelief, only to be trodden down during the Great Tribulation (vv. 1-6), and then their final restoration for blessing under the reign of Christ (v. 7).
For a right understanding of the prophecies it is important to see that there are two distinct restorations of the Jews to Palestine. The first, which has taken place in recent years, is in unbelief, only to receive the Antichrist when he appears and to be trodden down by the terrible judgments of the Great Tribulation. The second is the great and final ingathering so often spoken of in the Prophets. This will take place at the close of the Great Tribulation when those that remain, scattered and broken and humbled by the Great Tribulation, will be restored for blessing in the land under the reign of Christ.
The Return in Unbelief
"Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia." The rivers of Ethiopia are the Nile and the Euphrates. There were two places called Ethiopia or Cush (for so it is more often translated in our Authorized Version): one was at the headwaters of the Euphrates and the other on the upper Nile. So also of Libya. See Ezekiel 38:5 where the Northern Ethiopia and Libya are, it would seem, referred to in connection with Persia allied with Russia and Gomer.
To return now to our verse, it opens with a "Ho" (not "Woe" as in A.V.). It is a call of attention addressed to a country "shadowing with wings," that is, exercising a friendly protection. The location of this country is "beyond the rivers of Ethiopia," that is, outside and beyond the boundaries of those ancient nations (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, etc.) along the Nile and the Euphrates and the countries in between these two great rivers. It is a country then outside and farther away from Palestine than those ancient nations with which the Jews in their former history were involved.
"That sends ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes (that is, probably, light, swift vessels) upon the waters, saying, Go ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers (invading armies, Isa. 8:7) have spoiled" (v. 2).
The Jews are no doubt meant by the "nation scattered and peeled, a people terrible from their beginning" etc. But a great maritime power befriends them, and helps them in their return to their land. Notice, however, that there is no mention of God in all this. It is all human activity, political policy, etc., and all in unbelief. God is not the object in it nor is it by His command; but it is in line with His purposes, and He providentially favors it and holds in check any hostile effort to overthrow it. It is as it were a setting of the stage for the great and final act of His dealings with apostate Israel and the nations of the world to clear the scene for the introduction of Christ's millennial reign.
The English-speaking world has no doubt taken up this role of protecting and favoring the return of the Jews to Palestine and favoring the establishing of a national homeland for them there. When Great Britain relinquished its role as protector nation, the U.S.A. took up the role, definitely favoring the establishing of a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine. In 1948 Palestine was partitioned between Israel and the Arabs, and the state of Israel as an independent nation became an established fact. Israel was admitted to the United Nations on May 10, 1949. There were then about one million Jews in Palestine. Since then thousands more have been returning yearly in unbelief, so that by October of 1967 the population of Israel was given at 2,700,000, and it is still constantly growing. (Estimated population in 1981 was 4,000,000. [2017 was 6,800,000.])
No nation has been allowed to interfere seriously with this immigration and this establishment of a national government for the Jews in Palestine. In all this we see clearly the fulfillment of this prophecy concerning the "land shadowing with wings" and the call to all the inhabitants of the world to "see" and "hear."
"All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he (this friendly power) lifts up an ensign on the mountains; and when he blows a trumpet, hear ye. For so the Lord said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in ("observe from" JND) my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest" (vv. 3, 4).
These verses are a call of attention to the whole world. "See ye," "Hear ye." It was an event of momentous significance when this protecting nation moved to establish the Jews in their own land again as an independent nation. It was an important step preparatory to the fulfillment of hundreds of prophecies that speak of the Great Tribulation period and the coming of the Lord in power and glory. No period of time in the world's history is so full of significance for the world as that which immediately follows the restoration of a national home for the Jews in Palestine.
But mark, it does not say God blesses the Jews in their return to Palestine in unbelief. He observes it but He cannot bless them in their unbelief. He considers or observes from His dwelling place "like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in harvest." All is sunshine and refreshing at first, but suddenly the storm breaks and God's judgment overtakes them. "For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect and the sour grape is ripening in the flower (or when the blossoming is over and the flower becomes a ripening grape, JND) he will both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches. They shall be left together unto the fowls (ravenous birds) of the mountains, and the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them" (v. 6). They fall prey to the ravages of the anti-Semitic nations around, whom God uses as the rod of His indignation against His apostate people. A leader rising out of the territory of old Assyria (probably Iraq) called the "Assyrian" or "King of the North," so often mentioned in Isaiah, Daniel, and elsewhere, will become the ringleader of this terrible invasion with his anti-Semitic allies. "And the king of the North shall come against him (the king of the Jews spoken of in verses 36 to 39) like a whirlwind, with chariots and with horses and with many ships and shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over" (Dan. 11:40-45). So also in Isaiah 20:5-6: "O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets."
But then God's judgment falls in turn upon this godless leader and his allies. For though God will use this invasion to chastise and humble His earthly people, yet He will not allow the adversary to pour out with impunity hatred without scruple or bounds upon Israel. God will not sanction their implacable hatred, their disregard of pity and righteousness, and their contempt and pride against Himself. As surely as He uses them to chasten Israel because of their failure toward Him, so surely will He also righteously judge their wickedness. "Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord has performed His whole work upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks" (Isa. 10:12, and on to the end of the chapter; please read and compare with Dan. 11:45; Joel 2:1-11, 18-21; Zech. 14:1-3).
How admirable and wonderful are God's dealings with man. He glorifies His grace in the gift of His Son and commanding the gospel to be preached to every creature. But then after long, patient waiting upon the world to repent, He will finally meet every form of evil that manifests itself, however intricate or involved, with a suited judgment, displaying thereby His infinite wisdom, righteousness, holiness and His own divine and absolute power over all of it. The study of prophecy should impress one deeply with the conviction that God is above all and watching over all in an omniscience that sees the end from the beginning and takes note of every detail however little or great. But judgment is "His strange work" (Isa. 28:21); He is reluctant to strike, but when He must mete out righteous judgment He will do it thoroughly and yet with the ultimate end of blessing. By these terrible judgments he clears the world from every form of evil and wickedness to make way for the thousand-year reign of blessing under Christ.
This overwhelming judgment that finally falls upon these nations is such a display of God's majesty and power, righteousness and holiness that those that escape of these nations gathered against Jerusalem will go and declare His glory among the Gentiles, and they will bring all the Israelites wherever they are scattered "for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations." "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 a flame of fire. … It shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my glory. … And I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations" etc. (Isa. 66:15-24; read the whole passage). Then it is that we have the fulfillment of the last verse of our chapter (Isa. 18:7): "In that time shall the present be brought unto the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion." Note that this time it is "unto the Lord." The nations take part in it with a view of pleasing Him. The Lord will be exalted by them in it
This is the last and final ingathering of all Israel of which so many prophets speak (see Ezek. 36:6-35; 28:26; Jer. 30; 31; Ezek. 34:26-27; etc.). It will take place at the close of the Great Tribulation which will fall upon the world after the rapture of the Church. (See Matt. 24:29-31).
In our last section we saw that the Jews are returning to Palestine in unbelief. We will now look at a few prophecies that speak of their leader who will soon appear and be received by them as their long-expected Messiah. But he will be a false one.
Take your Bibles now and turn to John 5:43. Here we have Christ's own words: "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: If another shall come in his own name him ye will receive." Christ, their true Messiah, came, but they would not receive Him; another shall come in his own name and by Satan's power, and him they will receive because he suits their wicked hearts.
Now turn to Revelation 13:11: "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake like a dragon." Here is one who has an appearance like a lamb — he has two horns like a lamb. It was in the strong horns of the ram or he-goat that lay the power to subdue and dominate the flock, so that the horns were taken by the ancients as the symbol of power to rule or govern (Ps. 75:4-5; 92:10; 148:14, etc.). This beast assumes a power, then, over the people that is in appearance like that of a lamb. He makes a pretense of being the true Messiah, but "he spake like a dragon." Ah, yes, he is the dragon's mouthpiece; he is Satan's man, his false messiah, and Antichrist.
And now let us read verse 12: "And he exercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed." Yes, that is it. He does not exercise a power that comes from above, but that of the first beast of this chapter. He is his associate and delegate. The two are in intimate league together. The first beast of this chapter with the ten horns, to whom "the dragon gave his power and his seat and great authority" is, as we have seen in a previous study, the head of the revived Roman Empire. He is the dictator over the United Kingdoms of Europe. The second beast (vv. 11-18) is the false messiah or Antichrist, called in Daniel 11:36-40 "the king." He is the dictator of the Jews at Jerusalem. Both beasts are working together.
Many think that when the Antichrist comes he will reign over the whole world, but a more careful study of prophecy will show that this is a mistake. There is a trinity of evil that works together: "the dragon," that is Satan himself, and these two beasts. The first beast is the political head of Rome and the United Kingdoms of Europe, with the Jews also in league with him. The second is the head of the Jews at Jerusalem. He exercises the power of the first beast politically as his delegate, but religiously he seems to exercise a power far beyond the Jews. He works great miracles through the power of Satan by which he deceives the world and imposes the worship of the first beast and his image upon all. That is why he is also called "the false prophet" (Rev. 16:13; 19:20; 20:10; but compare with Acts 7:37 and Deut. 18:15-19). He is Satan's counterfeit prophet as he is also the counterfeit lamb or messiah. "He causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceives them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life (breath) unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Rev. 13:12-17).
This is where all our present trend to government control of labor and commerce will end with these two men at the head and using it to enforce the worship of the Roman beast and of the dragon.
Let us turn now to Daniel 11:36-39 and we will see how completely it agrees with Revelation 13. "And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous (monstrous) things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation shall be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the god of his fathers, nor the desire of women (that is, the desire of every Jewish woman to become the mother of the Messiah), nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honor the god of forces ("the god of fortresses," JND. Note, god with a small g, not a capital G), and a god whom his fathers knew not will he honor with gold, and silver and with precious stones, and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god." "He will magnify himself above every god," yet in his self-exaltation he will have a god unknown to the Jews before this, whom he will honor and cause to be worshiped, called the god of forces, or fortresses. Who is this god of forces? Does not Revelation 13:12-15 give the answer? It is the first beast of Revelation 13, the Roman dictator, who will be possessed by Satan himself, and who will have at his command all the vast military forces of the ten United Kingdoms backed by the power of the devil and all his host of demons. "And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" (v. 4). The devil himself is the god of this world system (see 2 Cor. 4:4). This man, the head of united Europe, who will be at Rome, under whose command will be all the military might of Europe, will be the devil's man. He will be possessed by the devil and inspired by him and backed up by all his hosts of demons. He will be worshiped as the god of power together with the dragon. The Antichrist uses his religious power to enforce this worship.
In 2 Thessalonians 2 we get the man of sin, "the son of perdition who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. … Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (Read the whole passage, vv. 3-12). Who is this man of sin that exalts himself above all that is called God? From Daniel 11:36-39, the passage we have just been looking at, it is certain that this willful king of the Jews, the Antichrist, will "exalt himself and magnify himself above every god." He shall not regard God nor the promised Messiah, but "shall magnify himself above all." Yet in spite of that he honors another as the "god of forces." So in Revelation 13 the false lamb enforces the worship of the Roman beast upon all. So it is really difficult to say just which one of these two beasts is spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2, as both exalt themselves above God and claim the worship of all and both are intimately associated together and equally inspired of Satan. It would seem, however, by comparing 2 Thessalonians 2 with Revelation 13 that the first beast is the one that is worshiped and that the miracles and signs that are used to deceive the people and enforce his worship upon all are wrought by the second beast. At any rate it ought to be clear to all that it is the second beast with "horns like a lamb" that is the Antichrist, the false lamb.
How bold and open will sin of every kind be when "the man of sin" is worshiped and exalted above God. What a cesspool of sin and corruption the so-called Christian world is fast sinking into. It will surpass all that has ever been in the worst day of heathenism of the past. Sin will be exalted and righteousness abased; morality will be despised and immorality spoken well of; Satan, that murderer from the beginning and liar and arch deceiver, will be honored and God opposed and His Christ made war against. And the remnant that will dare to speak in favor of God or His Christ will be persecuted unto death. Brute force will reign, not justice; truth will lie fallen in the streets; peace will have taken its flight from the earth, driven away by hatred, strife, war and every evil work. Gross darkness will cover the face of the earth (Isa. 59:14; 60:2).
John tells us, "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time"; read the whole passage in 1 John 2:18-27 and 4:1-6. Satan has ever been opposed to Christ. He and his host of demons are ever busy to bring discredit upon Him and His atoning death and saving power. All forms of false religions have been invented by Satan to keep people from turning to Christ, and the professed Church has been filled with teachers who are ministers of Satan posing as ministers of righteousness, inculcating their false doctrine to undermine Christ and exalt man. "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (2 Cor. 11:13-15). They speak against His virgin birth and deny His deity, or claim that all men have a divine spark in them that they have only to fan into a flame to be like Christ without needing to be born again or needing Christ's atoning blood to cleanse them from sin. Protestantism is filled with modernism and Catholicism exalts Mary above Christ, blasphemously calling her the mother of God. Then you have Christian Science, Unity, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. All these are only parts of one overall plan of Satan to discredit Christ and prepare the world to accept the Antichrist with his system of Satan worship.
How timely then the warning of the apostle John in 1 John 2:28: "And now, little children, abide in him; that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming."
Daniel's Seventy Weeks
"Seventy weeks are apportioned out upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to close the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make expiation for iniquity, and to bring in the righteousness of the ages, and to seal the vision and prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies" (Dan. 9:24 JND).
This seventy weeks takes us right to the threshold of the Millennium. The Jews not only had a sabbath day every seventh day but also a sabbath year every seventh year. The root meaning of the word week here in Hebrew is seven, and it was used to designate not only a week of seven days but also a week of seven years. Seventy weeks then would be 70 times 7 or 490 years. This is divided in verse 25 into 7 weeks, which is the time taken to rebuild the city after the Babylonian captivity, and then 62 weeks following that till the Messiah. Seven plus 62 gives us 69 weeks or 483 years to the Messiah. "From the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince, are seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks. The street and the moat shall be built again even in troublous times" (v. 25 JND).
And then in verse 26 we read, still quoting from the Darby translation: "And after the sixty-two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with an overflow, and unto the end, war, — the desolations determined." Two things are especially noted here. First, the Messiah would be cut off and have nothing — no kingdom. This was fulfilled at the cross. Second, the city, Jerusalem, would be destroyed by the people of "the prince that shall come." "The prince that shall come" is the last dictator of the revived Roman Empire, but his people, the Romans, destroyed Jerusalem under Titus in A.D. 70.
And then comes the last or seventieth week, which is yet future, in the 27th verse: "And he (the Roman prince that shall come) shall confirm a covenant with the many (of the Jews) for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease (these are the sacrifices that the Jews will offer in the temple soon to be rebuilt at Jerusalem), and because of the protection of abominations (the image of the Roman Beast, Rev. 13:14-15), there shall be a desolator (the King of the North, called also the Assyrian, Isa. 10:5-6), even until that the consumption and what is determined shall be poured out upon the desolate" (JND).
Thus this last week yet future, which will begin with a covenant confirmed between the head of the revived Roman Empire and the Jews in Palestine, is divided into two equal periods of 3.5 years each. During the last 3.5 years "the consumption and what is determined" is poured out upon the city. Isaiah also mentions this "consumption determined" (see Isa. 26:20-21; 28:22), and Christ, referring to this same thing, calls it the "Great Tribulation" (see Matt. 24:15-21).
You will notice that between the sixty-ninth week and the seventieth week yet future there is a long space of time not reckoned. It is during this time of God's suspended dealings with Israel that the Church comes in. After the crucifixion of Christ by the Jews God sets them aside for the time being as His people, and reckons instead the believers in the crucified and risen Christ from both Jews and Gentiles as His people — called to be the bride of the risen and glorified Christ. When this bride is completed, then Christ will come for her, and present her to Himself in the heavens (John 14:1-3; Eph. 5:27; 1 Thess. 4:16-17, etc.). After that God will turn again to His ancient people and begin His special dealings with them to purify them in the furnace of affliction under His chastening hand preparatory to the thousand-year reign of Christ. These special dealings with Israel just before Christ comes to reign take place during this week of Daniel's seventy weeks and especially during the last half of it, commonly known as the Great Tribulation.
The King of the North
In our last study we saw from Daniel 9:27 that the Jews in their final apostasy under their false Messiah, the Antichrist, will take refuge under the wings of the Roman Beast. They will set up an abominable image of this Roman dictator in their temple that they will soon build at Jerusalem, and they will worship it and the dragon. They will put their trust in the military power of the Roman Beast for protection. Because of this, God in judgment upon them brings against them "as the rod of his anger" (Isa. 10:5) "a desolator" from the North, who heads a mighty invading army.
We will now look at a number of prophecies about this "desolator."
In Daniel 8 the ram (vs. 3-7) represents the Medo-Persian empire and the he-goat, Alexander the Great, "the king of Greece" (vv. 5-8, 21). At his death his kingdom was divided into four kingdoms. Out of the country that one of these kingdoms to the north of Palestine had dominion over, there will arise "in the last end of the indignation" "when the transgressors are come to the full" a "king of fierce countenance" and "he shall destroy the mighty and holy people (the Jews), and shall also stand up against the Prince of princes" (Christ at His coming as Lord of lords and King of kings). This brings to a climax his God-defying career and calls down immediate judgment upon him; "he shall be broken without hands" (see vv. 19-25).
This same king is called the "King of the North" in Daniel 11:40-45, which we will now turn to, as there we get more details about him. Daniel 11 gives a detailed prophecy of the wars between the kings of two of the monarchies that arose out of the Grecian Empire after the death of Alexander the Great. One was Egypt to the south of Palestine and the other was to the north. Verses 1 to 34 have already been fulfilled. Verses 21 to 32 present prophecy about that notoriously wicked king of the North, Antiochus Epiphanes (B.C. 175 to B.C. 165), who defiled the temple of the Jews. Verses 32 to 34 are a general prophecy of the Maccabees who lived during a portion of the period between Malachi and the birth of Christ. And verse 35 speaks in general terms of the persecution of the remnant that begins then but carries us on to "the time of the end." The whole period of this present dispensation, in which God is calling out a people from Jews and Gentiles to be the heavenly bride of Christ and to reign with Him in His coming glory, is passed over in silence. As we have seen before, the whole Church period from Pentecost to the Rapture of the believers comes in as a parenthetical period of time not reckoned in connection with Israel, because during the Church dispensation God's relation with Israel is temporarily suspended to be resumed only after the Rapture.
Then verses 36 to 39 suddenly introduce the willful king of the Jews who shall be at the time of the end after the Rapture of the church. This is the false Messiah, the Antichrist, who will be the dictator of the Jews in Palestine as we have seen in one of our previous studies.
Verses 40 to 45 are a prophecy of "the King of the North" at the time of the end. This King of the North in Daniel 11:40-45 is the same as "the king of fierce countenance" in Daniel 8:23-25 who destroys "the holy people" and stands up against the "Prince of princes." Let us read these verses: "And at the time of the end shall the king of the South (Egypt) push at him (the willful king of the Jews at Jerusalem, the Antichrist): and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships: and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land (Palestine), 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 (they join in league with him, see Ps. 83:6-7). He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps" (Dan. 11:40-43). This forcefully describes the devastating invasion of the King of the North in the days of the Antichrist. At the head of a mighty northern confederacy, he sweeps down through Palestine, lays waste the whole land and goes on into Egypt and conquers it. Then while still in Egypt, "tidings out of the East and out of the North shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many, and he shall plant the tabernacles (tents) of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain (that is, at Jerusalem, but the Darby Translation reads "between the sea and the mountain of holy beauty," which would place his camp between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean); yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him" (vv. 44, 45).
Now turn back to chapter 8, verses 23 to 25, and see how what the prophet says there of this same "King of the North" agrees fully with this. "And in the latter time of their kingdom, when transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power (that is, he is backed by another great power, which is no doubt Russia. As we see, in a later invasion by Russia all these northern countries are in league with her, Ezek. 38:5-6): and he shall destroy wonderfully and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. (The Jews, though apostate at this time, are holy by calling and will be purified in the furnace of these awful afflictions). And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand (there is no principle of justice here); and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many; he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes (Christ), but he shall be broken without hands."
Christ comes in His glory with His armies of glorified saints and the holy angels to destroy the Beast of Rome and his armies gathered in the north of Palestine at Armageddon (see Rev. 16:14-16; 17:14; 19:11-21). And the King of the North, who has by then returned from Egypt to Palestine, will also stand up against Christ, but will be destroyed without human aid.
In Psalms 74, 79 and 83 we have a prophecy of the prayers of the godly Jewish remnant during the time of this great invasion by the "King of the North." From these Psalms we learn that the temple will be burnt (Ps. 74:7-8) and Jerusalem laid in heaps and the whole land of Palestine laid waste (Ps. 79:1, 7). How marvelously all this is in perfect harmony with what we saw in our former study of Daniel 9:27. "There shall be a desolator even until that the consumption and what is determined shall be poured out upon the desolate" (9:27, JND).
Zechariah 14:2 tells of this same event. Isaiah speaks of this even in Isaiah 8:5-10; 10:5-34; 14:24-25; 30:30-33, etc. In Isaiah's prophecies and in the Psalms and some of the Minor Prophets this "King of the North" who heads this great invading army is called "the Assyrian," because in the days of their prophesying Assyria had dominion over all these northern countries. And then too the kings of Assyria in their bitter invasions against Israel in the past are a type of the leader of this anti-Semitic invasion at the time of the end. These prophecies about the Assyrian in Isaiah have had in a small way a partial fulfillment in the invasions of the past, but their real purport points forward to the time of the end to this invading "King of the North," who is the last representative of the old Assyrian against Israel.
In studying these prophecies, while they do give us a marvelously complete outline of events that are soon to transpire, our main object should be to grasp their moral character. Every form of wickedness and defiance against God and His Christ and injustice against His chosen people comes to a head in these events. And how wonderful is the wisdom of God in dealing with each actor in this wicked drama. He patiently bears with them and overrules in His sovereign disposal of all things so that their wicked designs upon His people become His means of chastening and purifying them and breaking down their rebellion. And then in due time, when their wickedness and arrogant defiance against Himself comes to its full, He visits them in righteous judgment, but in such a way as to glorify Christ. For as we see, for example, in this wicked King of the North, he "prospers" (Dan. 8:24) in his wicked course; for God is allowing it for the chastisement of His own people, until he stands up against Christ, "the Prince of princes"; and then he is overthrown by an irretrievable judgment that brings a righteous retribution upon himself and worldwide glory to Christ, the mighty Victor.
Then another point should impress us forcibly in the study of prophecy. That is, how God from the beginning knows every detail of the future movements of man, both individual and collective, even when his actions are prompted solely by his own wicked designs and inspired of Satan. And not only does He know of men's future movements, but He has so full and complete control over them that He will use them for the furthering of His own purposes to manifest and to break down every form of wickedness and pride of man and to exalt Christ. How our hearts should be filled with wonder and worship before such an all-wise and almighty God. And not only so, but knowing ourselves to be the objects of His love it should also give us a settled peace of heart now in whatever circumstances come up to try us. We know that He is in complete control of them and is using them in His designs of grace towards us for our good. If some injustice is done against us by a wicked person, it is allowed of God to bring out the graces of Christ in us just as the enmity of man always brought out the grace that was in Christ.
What a peace it gives to ever abide in the consciousness that we and all that concerns us are in His mighty hands. So we can boldly say with peace and quietness in our hearts in whatever circumstances we are in: "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
An Outline of Coming Events
In comparing the passages that have been before us, we get a clear outline of events that will take place during the last three and one-half years that close this world's history before the reign of Christ. We will now sketch briefly this outline:
Palestine will become the center of the last world conflict. The Jews, returned to Palestine, will enter a league with the head of the revived Roman Empire composed of the ten united kingdoms of Europe (Dan. 9:27; Isa. 28:14-18; Rev. 13:12). They rely upon his military power to protect them against the anti-Semitism of a strong confederacy formed by the countries to the north of Palestine. Russia will be backing up this anti-Semitic confederacy.
When the Jews under their false Messiah enter into league with the Beast of Rome and set up his image in their temple to be worshiped, then God allows the anti-Semitic spirit of this northern confederacy to head up in a mighty invasion into Palestine (Zech. 14:2; Dan. 8:23-25; 11:40-45; Ps. 74; 79; 83). He uses them as the "rod of his anger" against His rebellious people to break them down because of their apostasy; but at the same time the ruthless, God-defying character of this invasion brings in turn, after He will have used it to perform His work of judgment upon the Jews and Jerusalem, God's judgment upon them to their destruction. (See Isa. 10:5-34, which describes an invasion which had a partial fulfillment in the past under Sennacherib. The prophecy goes far beyond that however, to this invasion we are considering at the time of the end, of which the old Assyrian invasion is a type.)
This invading army then swoops down from the north upon Palestine, but also has Egypt as its goal (Dan. 11:41-43). It lays Palestine waste and goes on down into Egypt and conquers it. Then suddenly, disturbing tidings will come to its leader out of the northeast that cause him to turn back (Dan. 11:44-45). What are these tidings? Prophecy does not state it, though other prophecies may lead us to a very probable inference. The revived Roman Empire of Europe, because of its league with the Jews in Palestine, enters with vast armies into Palestine and comes to Armageddon (the valley of Megiddo to the north of Jerusalem).
The coming of the Roman army would cut off this northern army from its base, but in Revelation 17:14 and 19:19 we learn that underneath it has for its real purpose to make war against the Lamb who will come from heaven with His armies of glorified saints and the holy angels (Rev. 19:11-21; Matt. 24:30; 25:31). But, you say, how do they know Christ is coming at this moment? Well, Satan knows the prophetic Scriptures and we must not forget that the false Messiah in Jerusalem and the Roman Beast in Rome are in full league with the dragon and are his instruments. Also Revelation 16:13-14 shows us that this European army is gathered together by demon-inspired propaganda.
Christ then appears suddenly when this European army is gathered at Armageddon and destroys it by the brightness of His coming. Though He is accompanied by the armies from heaven, they do not need to fight. A single word from the mouth of the Lord (figured by the sword proceeding out of His mouth) destroys them all (Rev. 19:15-21; 2 Thess. 2:8). What is man "whose breath is in his nostrils" (Isa. 2:22) to stand up in his supposed might against his mighty Creator — Son of man though He is by incarnation, yet always and ever the eternal Son of God, by whom God made the worlds, and without whom was not anything made that was made?
"For by him were all things created… and he is before all things, and by him all things consist" (Heb. 1:2-3; John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17). The King of the North will have by this time turned back with his armies and pitched his camp at Jerusalem between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea (Dan. 11:45, JND). He too will have the audacity to stand up with his army against Christ, but is destroyed also without hand. "He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand" (Dan. 8:25; compare Dan. 11:45 and Isa. 14:24-27).
After the overthrowing of these armies, the Lord will gather together all the scattered remnant of Israel for His thousand-year reign, but before His reign is fully introduced another mighty army comes from the North under Gog to meet its awful doom (see Ezek. 38, Ezek. 39).
Gog and His Army
(Read Ezekiel 38 and Ezek. 39)
These two chapters are composed of three prophecies: the first in Ezek. 38, the second in Ezek. 39:1-16, and the third in Ezek. 39:17-29.
The first is addressed to Gog. It tells of the vastness of his army (vv. 4-9) and the evil motive that prompts his invasion of Palestine (vv. 10, 11), and his signal overthrow by the glorious display of God's power as the God of nature and God over and above all things (vv. 14- 23). By this means God makes Himself known to the nations. He will magnify Himself and sanctify Himself, that is, He will make Himself to be respected and revered, no longer to be mocked or lightly spoken of (vv. 16-23).
In the second section, Ezek. 39:1-16, we get further details. God's judgment does not stop with the overthrow of Gog's vast army, but He will send a fiery judgment throughout all his land and the nations that are associated with him (vv. 5, 6). The result then is given: "and they shall know that I am the Lord" (v. 7). The greatness of Gog's army is brought out by the fact that it will take Israel seven years to use up the wood of his weapons for fuel (vv. 8-10), and it takes all the people of the land seven months to bury the dead (vv. 11-16).
In the third section, Ezek. 39:17-29, the birds and beasts of prey are invited to the slaughter that God makes for them that they may feed to their full upon the flesh of the mighty men and drink the blood of the princes — a fitting judgment indeed upon those who boast in their power, and think to take by might without any respect to justice that which was not theirs by right. Then comes again the glorious result: "And I will set my glory among the heathen (nations) and all the heathen (nations) shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward."
The prophecy in these two chapters is very simple and clear. It plainly points to a mighty invasion by Russia and her allies that meets with complete destruction by God sending earthquake, overflowing rain, hail, fire and brimstone in judgment upon them. God allows it and uses it to make known to all the world that He is God, that Israel is His chosen people, so magnifying Himself and sanctifying Himself in the sight of all the nations. (Read again Ezek. 38:16, 23; 39:7, 13, 21, 28, 29).
But why should God have to make Himself known? Do we not see in Russia today the reason? As a government they are not only denying the existence of God but doing all in their power to blot out all faith in the existence of a Supreme Being. They teach that all things are governed by natural laws and there is no God above nature. So we see how fittingly God will make Himself known to these nations by using the power of nature for their overthrow, but so timed and controlled as to show Himself God above nature and over all of it.
But when does this all take place? And what connection does it have, if any, with the battle of Armageddon, and the "King of the North"? This is a point about which prophetic students have differed much. But we believe a careful study of the subject and comparing this with other prophecies will prove that the invasion of Gog takes place at the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ, sometime after the battle of Armageddon and the destruction of the "King of the North" of Daniel 11:40-45, also spoken of as "the King of fierce countenance" in Daniel 8:23-24.
The "King of the North" victoriously invades Palestine and Egypt and then turns back to Palestine and stands up with his army against Christ, "the Prince of princes," who will have just appeared and destroyed the European army at Armageddon; and so in turn he meets his own destruction. But we are told in Daniel 8:24 of this "King of the North" that his power shall be great but not by his own power. That is, there is another power backing him up. This power is Russia, no doubt. Russia, doubtless, will gain a powerful influence over Iraq and surrounding countries — the territory of ancient Assyria.
After the battle of Armageddon and the destruction of the "King of the North," the remnant that will be scattered during the Tribulation will return to the land, and the ten tribes will also return and be united with the two tribes of Judah (see Ezek. 37:16-28). The Lord will set His sanctuary in their midst and will take His place upon His holy hill in Zion (Ps. 2:6; see also Ezek. 37:28; 39:7). The twelve tribes of Israel will be at "rest" in "the land that is brought back from the sword" and "dwelling safely in their towns without walls and having neither bars nor gates" (see Ezek. 38:8-12). Christ's reign will have begun and will have brought prosperity (Ezek. 38:12), but it is not yet universal. Then Gog, the last enemy, comes up, and the awful judgment meted out to him and the countries in league with him makes the Lord's glory to be known and owned world-wide. It magnifies Him and sanctifies Him, so that His name will be set apart from all profanation and be much respected and His rule universally bowed to for one thousand years.
Gog and Magog mentioned in Revelation 20 is not the same as in Ezekiel, but is another army gathered at the close of the millennial reign, when Satan will be loosed for a season and go forth and deceive the nations and gather together from the four quarters of the earth a vast army like unto that of Gog and Magog at the beginning of the Millennium. It is the spiritual counterpart of the Gog of Ezekiel, gathered together in the same spirit of audacious defiance of God as the Gog at the beginning of the millennial reign. The Gog in Ezekiel comes from the north quarters whereas the army in Revelation 20 comes from the four quarters of the earth. They will gather to Jerusalem, but fire falling on them from heaven destroys them (vv. 7-10). That will end earth's history of rebellion against God. The judgment of the great white throne follows with the wicked turned into the lake of fire, and the new heaven and new earth appear — the eternal state is introduced.
There are other prophecies that refer to the invasion of Gog (see Ezek. 38:17). Psalms 20; 46; 83; Isaiah 10:28-34; 14:24-25; 33:1; 66:18-19; and Joel 3:1-2, 9-17 probably all refer to Gog. The "King of the North" of Daniel 11 is referred to in Isaiah and in the Minor Prophets as the Assyrian, since he comes from the territory of the old Assyrian Empire and is characterized by the same bitter enmity against Israel and defiance of God as the kings of old Assyria (see 2 Chr. 32:14-15). But after his destruction Gog, who rules over the country still further north and who was backing up this first invasion, continues the same role of bitter enmity against Israel and open defiance of God. Thus he is also referred to in some of the prophecies as the Assyrian. In a number of these prophecies it is somewhat difficult to say whether they refer to the "King of the North" that God uses as His rod of indignation against the Jews during the Great Tribulation, or to Gog who will back him up and after his destruction will head this last and greatest army from the North (see Joel 2; Micah 5; etc.).
There are two invasions from the North. The first is during the Tribulation under the "King of the North," who heads a league of nations south of Russia but has Russia backing it up. It is at first successful (Dan. 8:24; 9:27; 11:41; Isa. 10:12; 28:18; Zech. 14:1-2, etc.), but finally he and his army meet their doom upon his return out of Egypt by Christ Himself at His appearing with His glorified saints and His holy angels. The second and by far the greatest army ever mustered comes under Gog's leadership into the land of Palestine later, at the beginning of the Millennium. It meets immediate destruction from the Lord who has already come and taken His place in Zion and who protects it.
Read carefully Ezekiel 39:21-29 where the prophet brings out the great moral lesson of all these ways of God in His governmental dealings with Israel. By these means He breaks down all their rebellion and self-will and then pours out His Spirit upon them and so makes them a blessing to all the world, thus fulfilling His promise to Abraham.
"And I will make of thee a great nation, and bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curses thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:2-3).
The Glorious Thousand Year Reign of Christ
"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" (Rev. 20:1-3).
What a blessing for the earth when Satan, that great deceiver of the nations, will be confined to the bottomless pit that he should deceive the nations no more during the thousand year long reign of Christ.
Some may ask, Why was not Satan bound before?
When Christ came, He was stronger than Satan and showed His strength by chasing the demons and delivering their victims from their power (Mt. 12:28-29). He had power to bind the strong man (Satan), but the world would not have it. They preferred the power of Satan to Christ and cast Him out.
But God had a deeper purpose to accomplish, so Christ went voluntarily to the cross to make propitiation by His blood and obtain eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:12). And now that the work of propitiation is accomplished, God is beseeching men through the gospel to be reconciled to Himself (2 Cor. 5:20). This is what characterizes this dispensation. He is beseeching man and seeking to win his heart by love. Outward force will never win the heart.
The world, hardened by its rejection of God's love in Christ, is fast being given over to Satan's power, and under his leadership it will soon head up in full and open revolt against God and against His Christ, as prophesied in Psalm 2: "The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed (Christ) saying, Let us break their bands asunder and cast their cords from us." This is a challenge against God by a world that has rejected His love in Christ and sets up its power in direct opposition to Him and His purpose that His Christ shall reign. Grace having been rejected, the only thing left for God is to meet this challenge with His judgments and overthrow them by His power and set up the reign of Christ. This present dispensation where God pleads in grace is thus followed by one of power, which meets and breaks the power of a Satan-controlled world and binds its prince, the devil, confining him to the bottomless pit during the thousand years of Christ's reign of righteousness and peace over all the earth.
Christ appears then when He comes with His glorified saints and His holy angels as King of kings and Lord of lords treading the winepress of the "fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Rev. 19:15-16; 2 Thess. 1:7-8; Matt. 16:27).
"He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon His head; and He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; to the islands (or continents), He will repay recompense. So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun" (Isa. 59:17, 19).
Thus He executes just judgment on the wicked, crushes their Satan-inspired and God-defying rebellion, confines Satan and his host of demons to the bottomless pit, and sets up His glorious reign of peace and health, prosperity and joy such as the world has never known.
"Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness… Then, judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever" (Isa. 32:1, 16, 17).
The curse is removed so that the ground brings forth abundantly and there will be righteous distribution of all. Under His righteous scepter there will be no taking advantage of one another. Where unrighteousness breaks out it will be judged immediately (Ps. 101:8, JND). Because evil is kept down by immediate judgment there will be peace and quietness and freedom from fear and anxiety. "And every man shall sit under his vine and fig tree; and none shall make them afraid" (Micah 4:4). "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose… and the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isa. 35:1-10). "And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying… as the days of a tree are the days of my people and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands" (Isa. 65:19-22). Death shall be no more, except as a judgment on some outbreaking sin. A man's life will be as a tree, and many trees are more than a thousand years old. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9).
Not only will Israel be abundantly blessed under Christ's righteous scepter, but all the nations of the earth shall share in this blessing. "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and His rest shall be glorious" (Isa. 11:10).
"O clap your hands, all ye people, shout unto God with the voice of triumph. … Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth: sing praises with understanding. God reigns over the heathen (nations)" (Ps. 47:1, 6-8). "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations: and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2:2-4).
"Many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts at Jerusalem and to pray before the Lord" (Zech 8:22).
Then shall the temple described in Ezekiel 40-48 be built at Jerusalem and become the center of worship of all nations. The sacrifices will be offered as a memorial of Christ and a reminder that all the peace, plenty and earthly blessings they are enjoying are the fruit of Christ's unique sacrifice on the cross. From this all blessings earthly and heavenly flow. All things in heaven and earth will be gathered together under Him as the supreme Head. "According to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself for the administration of the fulness of time to head up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth" (Eph. 1:9-10 JND).
Christ shall be the King of heaven and earth, but He will not reign in person on the earth. There will be a prince of the house of David representing Him on earth at Jerusalem while the heavenly saints will be associated with Christ in His administration of the kingdom from heaven. In Revelation 21:10; 22:2 we have the description of the heavenly Jerusalem, which is a figurative description of the heavenly bride of the Lamb during the millennial reign. Revelation 21:1-8 gives the eternal state where the New Jerusalem comes down to the new earth. Verses 9 to chapter 22:2 are a sort of appendix that gives the description of the city during the millennial reign. "And the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it: (not literal light, but spiritual: compare Isa. 2:1-4 quoted above) and the kings of the earth do bring their glory into it (to it, JND)… and they shall bring the honor and glory of the nations into it" (to it, JND) (Rev. 21:24-26). No doubt there is a literal city of the redeemed, but the description is clearly typical of the moral glory of the bride of Christ in her association with Christ in the administration of His kingdom. The kings recognize and bow to the authority of the heavenly administration. They do not go up into heaven and enter the city as the KJV translation might imply.
Final revolt under Satan
The judgment of the Great White Throne
The new heavens and the new earth
"And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are (see Rev. 19:20), and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev. 20:7-10).
In Ezekiel 38 and 39 we read of an invasion that takes place under Gog at the beginning of the Millennium. But the one spoken of in these verses in Revelation 20 is a different one. It takes place after the Millennium and is immediately followed by the judgment day at the Great White Throne.
It is, indeed, astonishing to many that Christ's reign will end in an open revolt against Him. And some may say, why release the devil and let him go forth to deceive the nations again?
God's ways are ways of infinite wisdom, and it does not become us with our limited intelligence to question them. However, a reverent inquiry into God's ways, not to call them in question but to learn from them, will well repay us and will cause us to exclaim with the apostle: "O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! … For of him and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen" (Rom. 11:33-36).
Millions of children will be born and grow up during the Millennium who will have never been subjected to any test of faithfulness to Christ. The release of Satan will put them to a test whether, after many years of enjoying the blessings and peace under Christ's righteous scepter, their hearts are really attached to Him. Alas, many will manifest that their hearts love evil rather than good by turning to Satan. Sad indeed, but such is ever the evil tendency of man's heart. Man has constantly, since the fall, preferred evil to good, and in every dispensation has lost the special blessings promised, by turning to evil. And so also the Millennium will end by an open revolt against Christ. And all is ruined by man.
But as ever God manifests His supreme goodness by rising above the evil and brings in something better. "The heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up" (2 Peter 3:10). And in their place God will make a new heaven and a new earth, and God Himself will dwell with man. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there by any more pain; for the former things are passed away. And he that overcomes shall inherit all these things (see Rev. 21:1-8). "And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 12:11).
It is all the glorious result of the sufferings of Christ on the cross (Col. 1:20), and of God's grace that, in virtue of the cross, triumphs over evil and brings man into His own eternal bliss, "and the Lamb is all the light thereof" (Rev. 21:23).
Now, beloved fellow believer, why has God given us all this prophecy of what is soon to take place? Surely, not simply as information to satisfy our curiosity or man's natural hunger to know what the future holds in store for the world; but that we, having our eyes open as to the final outcome of all the world movements of today, might not be deceived thereby or let our hearts be taken up with them, but be kept clear from them. For God clearly warns us in His prophetic Word that underneath all the world movements of our day there is a mighty, hidden force at work having but one objective, however diverse in outward appearance or pretense the movement may be: namely, to marshal all the world forces together in a God-defying attack upon Christ, whom they once crucified and whose grace and love they have spurned.
Oh, beloved believer, let us be warned and keep our garments unspotted from this corrupt world. Be not deceived, whether hidden or open, underneath, Christ is directly or indirectly the point of attack in every world movement of today. Let us stand firm for Him and for the honor and glory of His Name. Let us witness for Him for the little while that remains before He comes to rapture us to Himself. This world will then be left to its doom under Satan's power. But we shall be with Him and shall share His glory when He comes as the mighty Victor to crush all the power of the enemy and the world's rebellion and set up His glorious reign of peace and righteousness. We will no doubt find it harder and harder to bear witness for Christ in a world of increasing hatred and open attack against Him, but be sure that every time we bear witness to Christ it ascends to God as a sweet fragrance of Christ that He will not fail to reward even though the world despises and rejects it.