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Joel 2:30-32 And I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, when the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes. And it shall come to pass that all who call upon the name of Yahweh shall be delivered; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as Yahweh has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom Yahweh calls.
Contrary to the fond expectations of both Jews and Christians, Jerusalem,
and the modern state of Israel, will be blasted from the face of the earth.
This event will be brought by Great Babylon, the Great Harlot of the nations.
In turn she will receive God's judgment.
The images invoked by the Joel passage are awesome. The sun turning to darkness, and the moon looking like blood, denote cataclysmic events. Until the year 1960, with the advent of nuclear missiles, and sufficient numbers of warheads, the possibility of humankind creating such earth-shaking events was not in the conceptual range of theologians, material scientists, or social engineers. Prior to that decade explanation of this passage, and similar passages elsewhere in the Bible, was based on purely fanciful imagination. Now reality strikes home.
Carl Sagan was one of our most eloquent and brilliant scientists. He collaborated with a group of other scientists to estimate the damage to our planet from a nuclear war. In an article entitled "The Nuclear Winter," published in Parade Magazine, Oct 30, 1983, Sagan described the results of their calculations. They believed enough dust and debris would be lifted into the atmosphere to screen sunlight from the surface of the earth. They estimated that the sunlight would be reduced sufficiently to freeze all living things upon the planet, even for a
small nuclear exchange. Their
results were based on models drawn from astronomical observation of the
planet Mars, not strictly applicable to the earth's atmosphere. But those
scientists invoked the same images of clouds and thick darkness. They concluded
that if those days are not shortened, if a nuclear exchange is not severely
limited, no human being will survive. The sun will indeed be darkened.
The moon will look like it has turned to blood. And the stars will not
Jesus stated the same extremity of earth destruction:
Matt 24:21-22 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
Is anyone foolish enough to not understand? Can such vivid statements
escape any intelligent person?
Faith in the current social system, and confidence in the present world
order, prevents most individuals from coming to grips with such dramatic
pronouncements of judgment, of doom, and of terror. But that faith and
that confidence is about to be broken in a great spiritual judgment now
coming down upon us.
A few, here and there, will recognize the significance of such warnings
and will take appropriate action. They will be the ones whom Yahweh calls.
In order to provide enhanced understanding I shall tabulate statements from the Bible which show the nature of the coming material judgment. I shall limit my discussion. We no longer have time for academic debates or philosophical dissertations. Each individual must decide for himself.
Isa 29:5-6 In an instant, suddenly, you will be visited by Yahweh of hosts, with thunder and with earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.
Isa 5:30 And if one look to the land, behold, darkness and distress. And the light is darkened by its clouds.
God asked his messengers to declare the judgment. Those messengers came
in days of old, and they come today. How many will heed?
Joel 2:1-2 Blow the trumpet in Zion! Sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of Yahweh is coming, it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness.
Isa 28:22 Now therefore do not scoff, lest your bonds be made strong. I have heard a decree of destruction from Yahweh God of hosts upon the whole land.
Isa 28:19 From the time that it goes forth it will take you; for morning by morning it will pass through, by day and by night. It will be sheer terror to understand the message.
How many, indeed, will heed? Certainly not those who have their hearts and their hopes centered in the secular and godless systems of this present world.
Isa 24:6 Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left.
Jeremiah 25 also describes the global nature of the coming judgment.
30: You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them: "Yahweh will roar from on high, and from his holy habitation utter his voice; he will roar mightily against his fold, and shout, like those who tread grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.31: "The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for Yahweh has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, says Yahweh."32: Thus says Yahweh of hosts: "Behold, evil is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth!"33: And those slain by Yahweh on that day shall extend from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground.
God spoke to his people, those who will choose for him, those who will
make the correct decisions, those who will have the courage to act in the
face of great tribulation.
Jer 30:11 For I am with you to save you, says Yahweh; I will make a full end of all the nations among whom I scattered you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will chasten you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.
Time and time again God spoke to us. But how many truly turned their
hearts to him?
Isa 10:22 For though your people Israel be like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness.
The statement is directed to all of spiritual Israel, not merely the
Jer 30:11 For I am with you to save you, says Yahweh; I will make a full end of all the nations among whom I scattered you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will chasten you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.
Isa 13:6-16 Wail, for the day of Yahweh is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! Therefore all hands will be feeble, and every man's heart will melt, and they will be dismayed. Pangs and agony will seize them; they will be in anguish like a woman in travail. They will look aghast at one another; their faces will be aflame. Behold, the day of Yahweh comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, and lay low the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make men more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of Yahweh of hosts in the day of his fierce anger. And like a hunted gazelle, or like sheep with none to gather them, every man will turn to his own people, and every man will flee to his own land. Whoever is found will be thrust through, and whoever is caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed in pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished.
The prophet did not mean that each would find security in their own
land, or among their own people. He meant that each shall flee according
to the dictates of his heart, and that they shall share with one another
in these decisions.
Ezek 6:7-11 And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and you shall know that I am Yahweh.Yet I will leave some of you alive. When you have among the nations some who escape the sword, and when you are scattered through the countries, then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, when I have broken their wanton heart which has departed from me, and blinded their eyes which turn wantonly after their idols; and they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils which they have committed, for all their abominations.And they shall know that I am Yahweh; I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.
Circulating widely among many Christian groups today is a popular belief
that Jerusalem will be safe from harm in the coming tribulations. This
belief is based largely on the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39. Closer
examination of biblical prophecy shows that this view is in error and that
Jerusalem and the modern state of Israel will be destroyed.
In Chapter 25 Jeremiah gave the word which came to him concerning the
people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Yahweh said he would
take all the families of the north, including Nebuchadnezzar, the king
of Babylon, and bring them against the land of Judah and against all the
nations round about. They would be utterly destroyed; God would make them
an astonishment, a hissing, and a desolation. They were to serve the king
of Babylon seventy years. At the end of seventy years the king of Babylon
and that nation would also be punished. Many nations and great kings would
make slaves even of them and they would become an everlasting waste.
This passage has received close attention by countless scholars and
biblical students. Most everyone believes it refers to the Babylonian captivity
of the sixth century BC. This belief is based on several factors:
1) The context of events in the days of Jeremiah leads to such conclusion.
It is natural to assume that Jeremiah was speaking to his people about
their coming destruction.
2) The mention of King Nebuchadnezzar is specific for Jeremiah's day.
3) The seventy years have always been understood to mean the period
of Babylonian captivity. The tradition is strong; it goes back to Old Testament
writers: Zechariah 1:12, II Chron 36:21, Daniel 9:2. The seventy years
is an important criterion for establishing the time of the prophecy.
4) Babylon was later conquered by Cyrus the Great, king of Persia. In
this manner the king and Babylon were punished.
More careful thought shows serious difficulties with this view.
1) What did Jeremiah mean by "all the families of the north?" This phrase
parallels that of Gen 10:5, the families of the nations from which the
coastlands people spread, recognized as the vast country north of Palestine
in Asia Minor and Europe. Most commentators understand Jeremiah's "families"
as political subunits of ancient Babylon, ethnic tribes who contributed
military forces to the attacking armies of Nebuchadnezzar. II Kings 24:2
lists "bands of the Chaldees," "bands of the Syrians," "bands of the Moabites,"
and "bands of the children of Ammon," although only the Chaldeans and Syrians
would be from the north. However, if the phrase refers to the coastlands
of the far north the passage takes on a far different cast. Jeremiah may
have intended something other than an immediate warning to his people.
The historical view would be merely an attempt to fit the prophecy into
a contemporary context, although Jeremiah actually used that context as
a framework in which to conceal God's word for future revelation.
2) The exact dates of the seventy-year period have always been subject
to debate. Historically we know that Nebuchadnezzar defeated Necho, Pharaoh
of Egypt, in 606 BC. According to Jeremiah 52:28-30 Nebuchadnezzar carried
away captives from Judah three different times, coinciding with the surrender
of Jehoiachin in 597, the suppression of Zedekiah's revolt and the destruction
of Jerusalem in 587, and the reprisals for Gedaliah's assassination in
582. Gobryas, one of Nebuchadnezzar's generals, revolted in 546, gave his
allegiance to Cyrus the Great, and marched unopposed into the city of Babylon
in 539. He handed rulership to Cyrus a fortnight later. The following year
Cyrus issued the edict which permitted the Jews to return to their homeland.
The first group to return began reconstruction of the temple, which was
completed in 515. The wall of the city was completed about 439 BC under
Nehemiah. These various dates provide great latitude in assigning the 70
years. For example:
a) From the defeat of Egypt in 606 to the edict of Cyrus in 538, 68
years. This period would mark the era of Babylonian empire.
b) From the surrender of Jehoiachin in 597 to the edict of Cyrus in
538, 59 years, short of the 70 years, but understood symbolically.
c) From the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 to the edict of Cyrus in
538, 49 years, but again understood symbolically.
d) From the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 to the rebuilding of the
temple in 515, 72 years. This period would mark the loss of the temple
until its restoration.
From this list we see that we can assign the seventy years arbitrarily.
The statement in 25:11 that these nations shall serve the king of Babylon
seventy years might follow a) or d) above. Unfortunately, Judah was in
forced bondage only 59 years. Furthermore, the destruction of Babylon as
predicted by Jeremiah did not take place; Babylon was not destroyed. The
conquest by Cyrus the Great was a peaceful one. The phrase "many nations
and great kings" in 25:14 suffers from similar literal faults. Were Persia
and Cyrus the Great "many nations and great kings?"
3) The list of conquered nations does not correspond exactly with the
historical record. Jeremiah gave the following:
a) Jerusalem and the cities of Judah,
e) Lebanon (Tyre, Sidon),
The New Babylonian empire consisted of those lands which today are Iraq,
Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. It also included the conquests of
Egypt, Cilicia in Asia Minor, (south Turkey), and Elam, (western Iran).
But Nebuchadnezzar did not conquer Media, nor "all the kings of the north
and the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth" unless we again
understand Jeremiah symbolically assuming that he intended to portray great
4) Most importantly, the passage is strikingly cosmic: it does not seem
suited to conditions, nor limited to the geography, of the ancient Near
In considering all the families of the north, the seventy years, and
the list of nations we must ask if God's holy prophet was taking liberty
with the facts? Or is it possible Jeremiah was not speaking of the events
of his day but used those events as a context for prophecies of the far
future? Is it possible the name Nebuchadnezzar was symbolic for a different
ruler to come at some later time in world history? Was the name Babylon
also symbolic of a nation to appear at the end of the age? Is the seventy
years true more by tradition than by actual fact? Is there another period
of seventy years that specifies a time of great planetary crisis? Does
the punishment come as part of a great planetary judgment?
Indeed, the passage plainly indicates the cosmic nature of the events.
Jer 25:15-17 Thus Yahweh, the God of Israel, said to me: "Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword which I am sending among them."
Jer 25:27-32 Then you shall say to them, "Thus says Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel. Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I am sending among you." And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, "Thus says Yahweh of hosts: You must drink! For behold, I begin to work evil at the city which is called by my name, and shall you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, says Yahweh of hosts."
The words in Jeremiah are definitely not historical.
Yahweh will roar from on high; he will utter his voice from his holy
habitation. He will give a shout as one who treads grapes.
God begins to work evil at the city which is called by his name. Will
the nations go unpunished?
The noise will resound to the ends of the earth.
God has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment
with all flesh.
Evil will go forth from nation to nation.
A great tempest is stirring from the ends of the earth.
The slain shall be from one end of the earth to the other. They shall
not be lamented, nor gathered, nor buried; they shall be as dung upon the
Can anyone fail to grasp the cosmic sense of this prophecy? What would
cause the slain, literally, to be from one end of the earth to the other?
Why will they remain unlamented and unburied?
God is bringing a worldwide judgment. He is using Jerusalem, modern
Israel, and the nations round about as vehicles for his action. Jeremiah's
prophecy was indeed for the future with the events of his day serving as
a context for the presentation of that future forecast. God could use that
context because of the parallels to our own day. For more than seventy
years Jerusalem and Judea have been subservient to modern Babylon and the
"families of the north."
The symbolic specification of seventy years should not be a literal
criteria to determine our acceptance of the truth of Jeremiah's warnings.
Without the economic and political support of the "western" nations contemporary
Judea could not have survived. Since the Balfour declaration in 1917 the
Jews have been subject to the will of those nations, including England
and especially the United States. Now the end of her time has come.
A passage in Daniel shows also that modern Israel will be destroyed.
Dan 12:7 The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven; and I heard him swear by him who lives for ever that it would be for a time, two times, and half a time; and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be accomplished.
The "holy people" are understood by many as the modern Jews living in Palestine. When their shattering comes to an end all these things will be accomplished. God's great punishment of the nations will then be finished.
Many preachers and many Rabbis teach that Jerusalem will be safe from
harm. They prophesy to the illusions of all those who believe that God
will not bring such judgment.
Much of that false prophecy is based on dark understanding of the range
of God's vision and confusion of different episodes of God's distant plans
for this world. God did, indeed, say that Jerusalem would be turned into
a jewel in his crown, but not modern Jerusalem. A city of great beauty
will be rebuilt but that day is in the future. Such promises will not be
fulfilled in the days of this wicked and perverse generation. As stated
Dan 11:13-14 For the king of the north shall again raise a multitude, greater than the former; and at the end-of-age years he shall come on with a great army and abundant supplies. In those times many shall rise against the king of the south; and the men of violence among your own people shall lift themselves up in order to fulfil the vision; but they shall fail.
Jerusalem and the modern state of Israel is filled with violence.
One group contests against another, Jew against Arab, Arab against Jew, and Jew against Jew. Murder and bloodshed and enmity rule the hearts of those people. Does anyone really believe they will escape judgment?
How many leaders and kings and princes and Rabbis and prophets tell
their people that all shall be well with them?
Jer 4:9-10 In that day, says Yahweh, courage shall fail both king and princes; the priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded." Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD, surely thou hast utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem," saying, "It shall be well with you"; whereas the sword has reached their very life.
Again and again God told us how he felt about those who prophesy falsely, and those who turned to their idols the hope of secular nations, the pride of godless institutions, and material power. Those were the stumbling blocks of iniquity, that men should stumble and fall, and not be found. Refer to the passages from Jeremiah and Ezekiel on the facing page.
|NOTE: August 15, 2005: I included no discussion here on the "False Prophets" who will come out of the Devil's Cadre. See my other works.|
The cosmic scenes of Jeremiah and Daniel find parallel in remarks Jesus
made about the end of the age and events to unfold in Jerusalem and in
Judea, Matthew 24. (See also Mark 13 and Luke 21.) In Matt 24:15 Jesus
spoke of an abomination of desolation; it will bring a great tribulation.
In 24:19 he exclaims over those who will be with child and those who
nurse. Affliction associated with this great tribulation will be especially
severe on pregnant women and nursing mothers. When people see the abomination
of desolation standing in the holy place, (Jerusalem? Judea?), then those
living there should flee to the mountains. They should hurry; they should
not worry about their personal possessions nor about extra clothing. They
should quickly leave. They should also hope that their flight is not in
winter; without proper shelter or protection they may suffer and die from
(A warning not to flee on the Sabbath makes no sense. Under grave danger
of death we would not be concerned about Sabbath travel. Witness modern
Jewish and Christian Sabbath travel. Was the phrase inserted by an early
editor who wished all to observe strict Jewish laws on Sabbath travel?)
If Judea is to be safe from harm why did Jesus give this warning?
Luke 21:20-26 But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Jer 23:16-32 Thus says Yahweh of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes; they speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of Yahweh. They say continually to those who despise the word of Yahweh, 'It shall be well with you'; and to every one who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, 'No evil shall come upon you.' "For who among them has stood in the council of Yahweh to perceive and to hear his word, or who has given heed to his word and listened? Behold, the storm of Yahweh! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of Yahweh will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his mind. In the latter days you will understand it clearly. "I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. "Am I a God at hand," says Yahweh, "and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?" says Yahweh. "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" says Yahweh. "I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, 'I have dreamed, I have dreamed!' How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams which they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Ba'al? Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat?" says Yahweh. "Is not my word like fire," says Yahweh, "and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets," says Yahweh," who steal my words from one another. "Behold, I am against the prophets," says Yahweh, "who use their tongues and say, 'Says Yahweh.' "Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams," says Yahweh, "and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them; so they do not profit this people at all," says Yahweh.
Ezek 14:6-21 And the word of Yahweh came to me: "Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says Yahweh GOD: Repent and turn away from your idols; turn away your faces from all your abominations. For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to inquire for himself of me I Yahweh will answer him myself. I will set my face against that man, I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people and you shall know that I am Yahweh. "And if the prophet be deceived and speak a word, I, Yahweh, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. "And they shall bear their punishment the punishment of the prophet and the punishment of the inquirer shall be alike that the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, nor defile themselves any more with all their transgressions, but that they may be my people and I may be their God," says Yahweh GOD. "And the word of Yahweh came to me: "Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it, and break its staff of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, says Yahweh GOD. If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they ravage it, and it be made desolate, so that no man may pass through because of the beasts; even if these three men were in it, as I live, says Yahweh GOD, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters; they alone would be delivered, but the land would be desolate. "Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Let a sword go through the land; and I cut off from it man and beast; though these three men were in it, as I live," says Yahweh GOD, "they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they alone would be delivered." "Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my wrath upon it with blood, to cut off from it man and beast; even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live," says Yahweh GOD, "they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness." For thus says Yahweh GOD: "How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four sore acts of judgment, sword, famine, evil beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast . . .!"
Although some may feel Jesus was warning of the coming destruction by
Roman armies the context is clearly the end of the age.
Furthermore, who is he warning? Hardly unbelievers; they would not heed
such warnings. The warnings must be for all who truly believe in God. Are
they Christian Gentiles? Are they Jews? Are they both? Who are God's chosen
people, his elect?
It is crucially important to understand that these repeated warnings in prophecy, both in the Old Testament and in the New, show that no one is saved from the tribulation of fire in a so-called mysterious Rapture. Although some New Testament passages might indicate a miraculous escape it is a false hope. Interpretation of prophecy as a means of avoiding life-and-death decisions is in direct contradiction to these exhortations by Jesus. Such false prophecy is a perversion of truth.
If God's people are saved in a Rapture why is Jesus concerned about
We could devise different ingenious explanations. For example, his elect
are enraptured away but they do not want the earth to be completely destroyed;
they want it to be saved; they do not want to see all flesh perish. For
the sake of those who must remain on the planet he shortens the days, even
though the elect are taken away. Or perhaps these elect are converted Jews
who remain on the planet but who need protection from complete annihilation.
The true reality is that Jesus shortens the days because all his people,
his elect, both Christian Gentile and Jew, remain on the planet. Those
who are taken away after the baptism of fire are a small portion; they
will be used in a special program for the future rehabilitation of this
world. God could not bring such future rehabilitation unless the majority
of his people remain here.
I shall not discuss the problems surrounding the concept of a Rapture
in this paper but shall continue with the recognition that God's people,
both Christian Gentiles and Jews, remain on this planet during the great
Jesus' words in Matthew 24 are in full agreement with Joel; the two
passages are perfectly compatible with one another. However, Joel's statement
is broader in scope, not limited to Jewish residents of Judea. "Among the
survivors" are those people called by Yahweh anywhere around the globe.
Jer 31:1-2 "At that time," says Yahweh, "I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people." Thus says Yahweh: "The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest . . ."
His people fled to the wilderness. Afterwards, after the great tribulation,
when he renews the earth, he will bring them back to the promised land.
What did Jesus mean by an abomination of desolation?
Many erudite scholars and false prophets proposed that this was an idol
placed in the temple. The idea is suggested by the phrase "in the holy
place." Many believe the holy place is the temple, not the city of Jerusalem
nor the land of Judea. The concept was based on historical interpretation,
not on future prediction. That historical view went back to the time of
Antiochus Epiphanes and his defilement of the Jerusalem temple when he
attempted to place idols within. The idol was the abomination. This idea
then led to the parallel idea of sacrilege. The sacrilege would be the
idol, the abomination. Modern godless translators then imposed this interpretation
upon the translation, as we find in RSV. The phrase "desolating sacrilege"
became a substitute for "abomination of desolation," thus reducing the
literal significance of the warning by Jesus. This godless view fails to
recognize that the abomination causes desolation, complete and total destruction.
How could an idol or other sacrilege bring such catastrophe? Literally,
in Greek, the phrase is "abomination of desolation." An abomination is
a detestable object or act that is disgusting or revolting. It is hated.
Desolation is exactly that, a complete despoliation or destruction. What
object would bring complete destruction and would be loathed by men?
The remark about pregnant women and nursing mothers helps to identify
the abomination. The remark about shortening the days helps solve this
puzzle. A mystery was kept since the days of Jesus. Information was given
to man but it could not be recognized until now. In the light of social
developments we can understand why. It would have been impossible for anyone
in prior generations to understand what is truly meant by the abomination
of desolation. They could speculate year after year, generation after generation,
and not know. They could devise many ingenious explanations, such as idols,
or the "desolating sacrilege" of Antiochus Epiphanes. But we today, in
the latter part of the twentieth century, can now recognize what Jesus
meant. He described nuclear weapons. He was telling us of a device which
is loathsome, and which can bring complete destruction, a true abomination
of desolation. Those who are in Judea should flee to the mountains because
they will be destroyed if they remain. Those who are with child will experience
woe because atomic radiation will cause abortive births and deformed babies.
Those who give suck will have chemical radioactive levels concentrated
in their milk, causing greater affliction. Even more important, if God
does not take a hand to shorten these days and limit radioactive levels
no human being will survive. But for the sake of his chosen people he will
shorten these days. The passages show that his elect will remain on the
planet. If he did not care for his people he would not provide such warnings.
The abomination of desolation is also mentioned in Dan 11:31 and 12:11.
This is at the time of the end, when those who have understanding will
instruct many, Dan 11:33. Dan 11:31 says they shall "place" or "set up"
the abomination that makes desolate. KJV says they will "pollute the sanctuary
of strength" where RSV says they will "profane the temple and the fortress."
The placing of the abomination will cause defilement of the holy land.
In 12:11 the Hebrew verb does not mean a setting up; it means a using of
the abomination of desolation. Those who are in Judea shall fall by the
edge of the sword and shall be led away captive (shall flee) into all nations.
Jerusalem shall be trod down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles
are fulfilled, Luke 21:24. Jerusalem will not be safe.
The setting up of the abomination of desolation is a most crucial clue
given for our benefit. Since the mid 1970's the state of Israel has possessed
nuclear bombs. Refer to Time Magazine for April 12, 1976, "How Israel Got
the Bomb." This fact was confirmed by former President Jimmy Carter on
the ABC news program, "Close Up: The Fire Unleashed," broadcast the evening
of Thursday, June 6, 1985. This news was leaked earlier to dissuade Arab
nations from attacks upon Israel. Those loathsome objects, those abominations,
now stand in the holy place, in Judea. If God's people among the Jews do
not flee they will be destroyed. God is beginning to work evil at the city
called by his name. As he told us plainly,
Jer 25:7 You have not harkened unto me, says Yahweh, that you might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own harm.
We built those loathsome objects. They are the works of our hands. We
brought this judgment upon ourselves. Nuclear warfare will erupt. The world
will be baptized in fire. If God does not shorten these days no human being
Jesus told us plainly, but how many could understand:
Luke 12:49-51 I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! Do you think I have come to give peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division . . .
For two thousand years people thought Jesus meant a spiritual baptism.
Most modern interpreters still see this passage in that light. But the
words show Jesus did not mean a spiritual baptism; he meant literally that
he came to cast fire on the earth. Would a great baptism in spiritual fire
bring division among the people of the earth? Would he say in the same
breath that he came to give us spiritual fire but no peace? He meant true
literal fire. And how he felt constrained until it was accomplished; he
wanted it over and done with. Refer also to Is 42:14-16.
Many passages in the Bible tell us of the consequences of those abominations.
When the nuclear holocaust is let loose the waters of the earth will
be contaminated with radiation. They will turn to bitter wormwood; many
will die because of the bitterness of the waters.
Jer 9:15 Therefore thus says Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Behold, I will feed this people with wormwood, and give them poisonous water to drink.'
Jer 23:15 Therefore thus says Yahweh of hosts concerning the prophets: 'Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and give them poisoned water to drink; for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone forth into all the land.'
Rev 8:10-11 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the fountains of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died of the water, because it was made bitter.
Radiation causes hair to fall out.
Ezek 7:16-19 And if any survivors escape, they will be on the mountains, like doves of the valleys, all of them moaning, every one over his iniquity. All hands are feeble, and all knees weak as water. They gird themselves in sackcloth, and horror covers them; shame is upon all faces, and baldness upon all heads. They cast their silver into the streets, and their gold is like an unclean thing; their silver and gold are not able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of Yahweh; they cannot satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it. For it was the stumbling block of their iniquity.
Why will they be on the mountains?
Radioactive debris will fill the atmosphere. As it filters down from
the sky it will concentrate in the lower elevations, in the valleys, and
on the plains.
Men and women will be clothed in sackcloth (rags). Who will harvest
cotton and wool? Who will spin and weave? Who will sew and bind? There
will be no factories, no railroads, no highways, no trucks, no warehouses,
no stores. There will be no hospitals, no medical supplies, no doctors
to serve. All will be destroyed.
The pride of men and women will be laid low. How awesome it really is:
Isa 3:18-26 In that day Yahweh will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, the crescents, the pendants, the bracelets, the scarfs, the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, the amulets, the signet rings and nose rings, the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, the handbags, the garments of gauze, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils. Instead of perfume there will be rottenness; instead of a girdle, a rope; instead of well-set hair, baldness; instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth; instead of beauty, shame. Your men shall fall by the sword and your mighty men in battle. And her gates shall lament and mourn; ravaged, she shall sit upon the ground.
The indictment is against Jerusalem and Judea.
Isa 22:12-13 In that day Yahweh GOD of hosts called to weeping and mourning, to baldness and girding with sackcloth . . .
Isa 15:2-3 The daughter of Dibon has gone up to the high places to weep; over Nebo and over Med'eba Moab wails. On every head is baldness, every beard is shorn; in the streets they gird on sackcloth; on the housetops and in the squares every one wails and melts in tears.
Amos 8:10 I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day.
When Jesus was making his way in that last journey the women of Jerusalem
wept over him.
Luke 23:27-30: And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us.'"
Why would they ask for the hills to cover them? Why would they seek
shelter among the mountains?
Shelter in the depth of the earth is the only sure protection against
The daughters of Jerusalem might bewail the crucifixion of Jesus because
of its deep personal pain and hurt, but there was coming upon that city
an event which would far outweigh the affliction of one human mortal.
We might resort to fanciful causes why the descendants of those women
would sincerely wish they had never borne children, or why they would call
on the hills and the mountains to cover them, but there is no need to seek
elusive and mystical causes. There is one simple cause. That cause is nuclear
Jesus did not wish anyone to be in doubt. The future tribulation would
far outweigh any trauma an individual might endure in his day, beyond compare.
In some places John's descriptions are explicit but, again, we have
been blind to them.
Rev 6:12-17 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale; the sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up, and every mountain and island were removed from their place. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the generals and the rich and the strong, and every one, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?"
The image is vivid. A wind strikes a tree and the figs fall to the ground
in a burst of broken fruit here, there, everywhere. In the vision stars
fall from the sky as shaken by the winter gale, and burst into brilliant
light here, there, everywhere. Nuclear bombs are miniature stars. When
they are sent forth they will indeed fall from the sky. And when they strike
they will burst into horrible destruction here, there, and everywhere.
Now the great men of the earth the kings, the generals, the rich and
the strong, and every one, clerk and supervisor, manager and technician
seek shelter in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They cry out
with fear at the great day of Yahweh.
The people of Switzerland now have nuclear shelters in caves and among
the rocks of the Alpine mountains. The citizens of that country have provided
for every man, woman, and child. The people of Russia and the United States
also built shelters in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.
Scattered throughout the hills of Maryland and Virginia are large man-made caves to be used when nuclear war erupts. They are within easy distance of Presidential and defense centers in Washington, DC. Other large caves and shelters exist in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the center of our national defense commands. The generals have already found shelter in these caves and among the rocks of the mountains. The kings are prepared to run to them at a moments notice. These rich and
strong, certain chosen Senators and Representatives, elected business leaders and managers, their free servants and their slaves all will seek shelter at the threat of nuclear war.
When I first read this passage I was struck by the vivid reality of
John's description. If one were to stand off in space and gaze at the earth
from great distance one could easily witness to nuclear explosions. Those
brilliant bursts would look like miniature stars exploding upon the surface
of the earth. They would fall here, there, and everywhere. What an awesome
sight it truly must have been for John to witness such visions.
Many places we were told of that generation which would seek shelter
among the caves, the rocks, and the mountains.
Hos 10:8 The high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed. Thorn and thistle shall grow up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, "Cover us," and to the hills, "Fall upon us."
Isa 2:19-21 And men shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of Yahweh, and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. In that day men will cast forth their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of Yahweh, and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.
Baptism of the world by fire is stated many places.
Jer 51:58 Thus says Yahweh of hosts: The broad wall of Babylon shall be leveled to the ground and her high gates shall be burned with fire. The peoples labor for nought, and the nations weary themselves only for fire.
Hos 8:14 For Israel has forgotten his Maker, and built palaces; and Judah has multiplied fortified cities; but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour his strongholds.
Amos 2:4-5 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have rejected the law of Yahweh, and have not kept his statutes, but their lies have led them astray, after which their fathers walked. So I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem."
God would not provide these warnings if he did not desire his people
to use the information, to make decisions, and to act for survival.
Isa 45:20-25 "Assemble yourselves and come, draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, Yahweh? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return: 'To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.' "Only in Yahweh, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed, all who were incensed against him. In Yahweh all the offspring of Israel shall triumph and glory."
God brings the judgment but men execute it upon themselves. Could anything
be more merciful? Do men not bring their just deserts?
There will be no food; men and women will eat one another in their great
Isa 49:26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am Yahweh your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
Isa 9:17-21 Therefore Yahweh does not rejoice over their young men, and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows; for every one is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still. For wickedness burns like a fire, it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. Through the wrath of Yahweh of hosts the land is burned, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no man spares his brother. They snatch on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours his neighbor's flesh, Manasseh Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh, and together they are against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.
Jer 19:7-9 And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth. And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at; every one who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its disasters. And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and every one shall eat the flesh of his neighbor in the siege and in the distress, with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.
Lam 2:20-22 Look, O Lord, and see! With whom hast thou dealt thus? Should women eat their offspring, the children of their tender care? Should priest and prophet be slain in the sanctuary of Yahweh? In the dust of the streets lie the young and the old; my maidens and my young men have fallen by the sword; in the day of thy anger thou hast slain them, slaughtering without mercy. Thou didst invite as to the day of an appointed feast my terrors on every side; and on the day of the anger of Yahweh none escaped or survived; those whom I dandled and reared my enemy destroyed.
Even as early as the time of Moses, when the people of Israel showed
their stubbornness and failure to devote themselves to their Maker they
Deut 28:47-57 Because you did not serve Yahweh your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom Yahweh will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and in want of all things; and he will put a yoke of iron upon your neck, until he has destroyed you. Yahweh will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you do not understand, a nation of stern countenance, who shall not regard the person of the old or show favor to the young, and shall eat the offspring of your cattle and the fruit of your ground, until you are destroyed; who also shall not leave you grain, wine, or oil, the increase of your cattle or the young of your flock, until they have caused you to perish. They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which Yahweh your God has given you. And you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom Yahweh your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you. The man who is the most tender and delicately bred among you will grudge food to his brother, to the wife of his bosom, and to the last of the children who remain to him; so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because he has nothing left him, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your towns. The most tender and delicately bred woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot upon the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will grudge to the husband of her bosom, to her son and to her daughter, her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because she will eat them secretly, for want of all things, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns.
Ezek 30:1-3 The word of Yahweh came to me: "Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus says The Lord GOD: 'Wail, 'Alas for the day!' For the day is near, the day of Yahweh is near; it will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations."
This phrase "The Day of Yahweh" is found nearly two dozen times in
the Old Testament prophets. It is found only in the Old Testament prophets.
It denotes a time of world judgment.
I quoted a few of those passages in previous illustration. The literal
significance, as illustrated in the Ezekiel passage, is not hidden from
our eyes. It is a time of doom for the nations.
Scholars, theologians, and biblical students struggled with these passages for more than two thousand years. More reverential persons recognized the judgments that were pronounced. The truths of the passages, even though the technicalities may not have been understood, were preserved in devout Jewish and Christian tradition during that long period. Only modern godless minds deny the significance.
Time and again God spoke to us, but we were blind to his warnings. How
many times did he speak? How many times did we reject his teachings? If
only we had harkened to his words!
Isa 5:26-30 He will raise a signal for a nation afar off, and whistle for it from the ends of the earth; and lo, swiftly, speedily it comes! None is weary, none stumbles, none slumbers or sleeps, not a waistcloth is loose, not a sandal-thong broken; their arrows are sharp, all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs seem like flint, and their wheels like the whirlwind. Their roaring is like a lion, like young lions
they roar; they growl and seize their prey, they carry it off, and none can rescue. They will growl over it on that day, like the roaring of the sea. And if one look to the land, behold, darkness and distress; and the light is darkened by its clouds.
The nation that brings the destruction of Jerusalem will not be a near
neighbor. It will be one that is literally at the ends of the earth, across
the globe. Her weapons of destruction are trimmed to sleek perfection.
Not a waistcloth is loose, not a sandal-thong broken. The roar of their
rocket blasts will be like the young lion, with great thundering noise.
And the nuclear explosions will truly be the roaring of young lions, devouring
flesh and stone alike.
Now judgment comes. Now comes the end of the nations who denied God. Now comes a renewal of the earth. Now God will transform it. Now comes a miracle of creation, to bring this worn and torn planet back from millennia of degradation and woe.
Zech 5:1-4 Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a flying scroll! And he said to me, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a flying scroll; its length is twenty cubits, and its breadth ten cubits." Then he said to me, "This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land; for every one who steals shall be cut off henceforth according to it, and every one who swears falsely shall be cut off henceforth according to it. I will send it forth, says Yahweh of hosts, and it shall enter the house of the thief, and the house of him who swears falsely by my name; and it shall abide in his house and consume it, both timber and stones."
Time and again we were warned. Ten by twenty cubits, eighteen by thirty-six feet, is roughly the size of a nuclear missile.
|Joel 2:1-11 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of Yahweh is coming, it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations. Fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but after them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them. Their appearance is like the appearance of horses, and like war horses they run. As with the rumbling of chariots, they leap on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, like a powerful army drawn||up for battle. Before them peoples are in anguish, all faces grow pale. Like warriors they charge, like soldiers they scale the wall. They march each on his way, they do not swerve from their paths. They do not jostle one another, each marches in his path; they burst through the weapons and are not halted. They leap upon the city, they run upon the walls; they climb up into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. Yahweh utters his voice before his army, for his host is exceedingly great; he that executes his word is powerful. For the day of Yahweh is great and very terrible; who can endure it?|
I reserved discussion of this passage to the end of this letter because
of its technical complexity. It has received extraordinary attention from
biblical scholars and students through the centuries. As I stated earlier,
prior to the year 1960 correct recognition of this passage would have been
impossible, simply because the reality did not then exist. As with the
Abomination of Desolation, mankind could not penetrate the words of the
prophecies. Only now, with world circumstances, and with technological
developments, are we able to discern the significance of these descriptions.
Through the generations this passage has been invariably understood
as a description of locusts and the destruction they bring. This view was
conditioned by verse 4 in Chapter 1. This verse, and that of 2:25, are
the only places in Joel where the word "locust" occurs.
Why did Joel use the word "locusts" if the descriptions are of modern
Would the passage have made sense to the ancients if familiar imagery had not been used? Would the descriptions be nonsense unless cast in a reasonable context? If the passage did not have a rational setting would it have been ignored by the
ancients and, hence, neglected and lost? While the descriptions are vivid, a context fitting to the thought of the ancients was necessary.
The same conditions held for all following generations. A vehicle suitable
to the thought of the ages was necessary to hold sense to the passage.
How could Joel use the imagery of locusts? What parallels exist with
1. They are militant in purpose.
2. They fly.
3. They come in swarms.
4. They bring widespread destruction.
5. Nothing can halt them.
In order to draw out the parallels, to demonstrate that the imagery of locusts is inadequate to these descriptions, and to show that they are a remarkable description of modern nuclear missiles I shall provide a table which illustrates the points. Quotations for the traditional view are from J. A. Thompson and N. F. Langford in The Interpreters Bible, Vol VI, The Book of Joel.