by Wendy Wippel
The details of Jesus’ return to rescue His chosen people (unlike those of His return for the church) are given in detail. When? After the tribulation. How? The angels told us; in the same way he went up to heaven (Acts 1:11). Where? According to most Christians, the Mount of Olives. But most Christians are wrong.
The first step in figuring out where Jesus will return is to figure out why He is coming at that particular moment in time in the first place. Fortunately, Isaiah lets us know:
Draw near, O nations, to hear and give attention, O peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that fills it… the Lord is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter.3 … the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood… 5 For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom, upon the people I have devoted to destruction. 8 For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. (Isaiah 62 NKJV)
The Lord is furious with the way the nations have treated Israel, and He is coming to their rescue, specifically, to rescue them from the coalition of all the world’s armies, who, at the end of tribulation, are holding them siege.
Holding them under siege in two places, actually, according to Zechariah:
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. (Zechariah 12:2-3).
The Jews are under siege in both Jerusalem and Judah. Jerusalem is specific, and its meaning obvious. But where, exactly would a siege at Judah be?
Contrary to popular belief among many Christians, God wants us to study and understand prophecy. And the Scriptures, do, in fact, tell us where these Jews are under siege, as well as why.
First the why: Daniel 29 gives us the outline of the 7 years of tribulation: it starts with a treaty that Israel’s leaders make with the antichrist, and it ends with the destruction of the antichrist and his forces. The seven years are divided exactly in half; however, with the Antichrist’s betrayal of the Jews, after facilitating their rebuilding of the temple, he then desecrates it at midpoint by setting up an image in it.
And then gives the image the power to destroy, real-time, anyone that refuses to bow to it.
Which leaves all the Jews who are paying attention and not willing to forsake their Jewish faith in a pickle. A big one, which Jesus describes in Matthew 24:
Therefore, when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’[c] spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
Extreme haste is imperative, ostensibly because whatever form of future technology that enables the image’s power to kill in real time still has limits driven by the area terrain. So the Jews that understand the significance of the event get out of Dodge, and they do so as fast as they can.
That’s the why. So far, so good.
Now to the where. When Jesus warned them to flee to the mountains, what mountains was He talking about?
We know that there is one area that the antichrist fails to take control of;
“but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon.” Daniel 11:41.
Edom, Moab and the prominent people of Ammon being the original inhabitants of the western half of Jordan.
Revelation 12 also tells us that their flight is to the wilderness (away from inhabited areas and roads) which is in the east. .
We also know historically, that the Israelites had a standard place to flee enemy incursions. According to the Josephus, residents of Israel fled to Edom, and its capital, Bozrah, (southeast of the Dead Sea) before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple during the Babylonian invasion of the sixth century BC as well as before the Roman destruction of 70 AD. Now we also know what Jesus’ mission is at that moment—to rescue His people and finally exact vengeance on their enemies.
God’s making a statement when He makes that announcement in Isaiah 62;
“Draw near, O nations, to hear and give attention, O peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that fills it”.
He tells the whole world to listen up. And that message is that He is the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jacob, and He’s about to enact some justice, overdue, on Israel’s enemies.
Enemies who are, at this point, intent on destroying the Jews. Particularly the ones who refuse to worship the antichrist when defiles the holy of holies and announces himself ruler of the entire world. It’s finally time, and the annihilation of Israel’s enemies, so long awaited, begins.
And where does it begin? Edom.
“The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, It is made overflowing with fatness, With the blood of lambs and goats, With the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Edom.” Your fierceness has deceived you, the pride of your heart, o you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill!
(The residents of Edom)
Though you make your nest as high as the eagle, I will bring you down from there, says the Lord. Edom also shall be an astonishment; everyone who goes by it will be astonished and will hiss at all its plagues. Jeremiah 49:16-18
Then God narrows the location down a little more:
The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, It is made overflowing with fatness, With the blood of lambs and goats, With the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah, Isaiah 34:16
The siege is in Bozrah, the capitol city of Edom in the times of the patriarchs.
And then He narrows it down a little more:
“He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure.”
In a fortress of rock. Which, not coincidentally, also contains an historic site recently named #1 among sightseers by USA today and was also recently named as one of the new wonders of the world. Right outside of Bozrah (which means sheepfold) stands the world’s largest and most famous natural sheepfold, a place with a large natural enclosed space and a fairly narrow entrance.
Petra. A large area enclosed by a massive rock bowl with only once sliver of an entrance. Located in the world’s most forbidding terrain and, nominated as a World Heritage site in 2008, cannot, by law, at least, be attacked by air.
It will be placed under siege by the world’s armies. And, rescuing the tents of Judah first, Jesus will return there. Named “the breaker” by Micah, will free his people from the siege:
“The one who breaks open will come up before them; They will break out, Pass through the gate, and go out by it; Their king will pass before them, With the Lord at their head.” Micah 2:13
Isaiah sees this action prophetically:
“Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.’”12 And they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; And you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.
Who is this who comes from Edom, With dyed garments from Bozrah, This One who is glorious in His apparel, Traveling in the greatness of His strength? –I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Isaiah 62:11- 63:1
Which makes the plaintive lament of those, recognizing the folly of the hope Israel put in their false Messiah, are now forced to flee (recorded for us in Psalam 60:9-12), all the more poignant:
“Who will bring me into the strong city? Who will lead me to Edom? Is it not You, O God, who cast us off?… Give us help from trouble, for vain is the help of man. Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.”
Someday. Someday soon.