In this chapter we endeavour to piece together the word of the prophets bearing on the situation described in the third chapter of Habakkuk: Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, for salvation with thine anointed, thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger.
When all the scriptures are assembled together, it is quite a complex picture, and it is unlikely that one can be entirely correct in describing the sequence of events. Is it unwise therefore to try? The answer is no, for three reasons. First, it is only in the systematic thinking on these scriptures, and placing them in relation one to the other, that the pattern becomes clearer; the attempting is the only way to reach some degree of success. Secondly, the precise sequence is not so important; what is so valuable is to realise that quite a time must be occupied by Christ and the saints before the visible mighty events of the destroying of the enemy at Jerusalem; this means that the resurrection is near. Thirdly, the more we are able to see what happens to the various nations of Egypt, Jordan, Arabia, at this future time, the more we shall be able to discern the movement of events at the present time, under the controlling hand of providence. So we invite the reader to the following study.
The picture of this future time can be laid out under four heads:
1. The situation in the land today.
2. The coming the invasion of the land.
3. The distress of Israel
4. Israels deliverance
1. The Situation in the Land Today
There is to be a remarkable condition of peace existing in the land just before Gog thinks the evil thought to go up to the land of unwalled villages; to them that are at rest, that dwell safely.
Since the original edition of this booklet in 1970 the scene before us in 1993 in the Middle East has changed enormously. Arab nations have modernised and developed their status and economies; Israel has been faced with the cost of absorbing millions of refugees from Russia and other countries; the U.S.Israel special relationship has continued to develop with Israel as an important repair depot for the U.S. Mediterranean fleet, and also as a co-operator in U.S. technical research; the Likud government has been replaced by a Labour government willing to exchange land for peace (national security permitting); U.S. Middle East peace talks have progressed, even if at a slow pace; the U.S. is more concerned to defend the Middle East oil supplies because her own national resources are limited.
Surely this is a very different scene from the one when the first edition was written. It makes us aware how God has been advancing his plans, and how much nearer we are to the coming of Christ. We must keep our lamps filled with oil and waiting as faithful watchmen.
The return of Christ may be some years into the future. We may need patience and steadfastness, or more likely, he will call us to the judgment seat soon, but not revealed to the world.
As we explain in Milestones 1992 the work of Ezekiel 38 verse 7 has hardly begun. Gog has yet to fulfil the words Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. It will take years for Russia to be re-vitalised and become strong again, and this is essential.
Also Ezekiel chapter 38 has other features that have not yet matured. Israel has not become prosperous, as verses 12-13 indicate: To take a spoil, and to take a prey...the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods...to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil.
Further, Israel has yet to arrive at that state expressed by verse 11at rest...all of them dwelling without walls and having neither bars nor gates. This describes a time of peace, giving Gog an opportunity to conceive a mischievous purpose (margin).
Our position is like that of the disciples during the last forty years of Judahs Commonwealth. Jesus told them that much had to happen, and the disciples were warned they must endure to the end to be saved.
Our situation in 1993 is covered by the 6th vial of Revelation chapter 16. Brethren have watched prophecy fulfilling over many years: the drying up of the River Euphrates; frog-like spirits from the French Revolution emanating from the mouth of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet; the gathering of the kings of the earth to the war of the great day of God Almighty.
And now the warning faces us: Behold I come as a thief (v. 15).
Then follows the gathering of the nations into the land of Israel for ArmageddonArmageddon, the sign word for all that the prophets have spoken concerning the divine judgments to be poured out by the glorified saints in the Controversy of Zion.
Whatever the means, Israel comes to a time of peace and rest. This allows the prosperity described in Ezekiel chapter 38 to develop. More important, it allows the Elijah mission to carry out the necessary instruction of Israel to fulfill Malachi 4:6, Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgements. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth (land) with a curse. Under this instruction Israel begins to develop a fear of God, and a faith in his promises and the coming of Messiah .
This development of faith in Israel is a prime factor in the Gathering to Armageddon of the European nations. There is indignation of the christian nations against the Jews, and the Controversy of Zion comes to a head; so that the nations come against Israel, not only to take a spoil, but as a religious crusade. Probably Britain co-operates with Israel in bringing about the prosperity. One of the factors affecting the British government to an interest in Israel could well be the return of those Christadelphians to Britain rejected at the Judgement seat. This would be an extremely powerful witness that Christ is actually in the earth.
2. The Coming Invasion of the Land
The invasion of the land and the taking of Jerusalem is a topic well-known to all of us as referred to in Ezekiel chapter 38 and Daniel chapter 11. Ezekiel indicates that Persia, Ethiopia and Libya are in the northern confederacy, but not Egypt. Before the central thrust a movement into Egypt secures the western flank; (see map next page). Egypt is taken (Daniel 11:42), and then the final attack that leads to the planting of the tabernacles of his palace in the holy mountain. But the drive beyond Jerusalem is halted, Edom and Moab, modern Jordan, escape (Daniel 11:41). Any challenge from the occupying and supporting power of Tarshish and her associates has not been successful. It is at this time when the enemy is actually in Jerusalem, that Yahweh arises for the salvation of his people. But at this point of crisis, Israel is in great distress because of the success of the enemy.
3. The Distress of Israel
The distress of Israel at this time is expressed in four different ways. There is a terrible slaughter of the Jews, amounting perhaps to two million or more. Zechariah says: And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die, but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried (chapter 13:8). These who are saved in this time of trial are those who already had responded to the instruction of Elijah, and have faith to come through the refining process.
Then there is another portion of Jews taken captive. Zechariah says: half of the city (Jerusalem) shall go into captivity. Also, Joel Chapter 3 speaks of the children of Judah and the children of Jerusalem being sold unto the Grecians. This took place after A.D. 70 and there may be a similar happening at this time. It would seem that Jews are taken captive into Egypt, where they cry unto Yahweh because of the oppressors (Isa. 19:20), and are saved. We shall consider the situation of Egypt in greater detail in a moment.
Thirdly, in addition to those who are killed and taken captive, Jews flee into Moab from the oppressor: Take counsel, execute judgment, make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; bewray not him that wandereth. Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land. And in mercy shall the throne be established: he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David (Isaiah 16:3-5). Whether these outcasts are part of the third who are ultimately saved is not clear.
In addition to the escape into Moab, the Jews are scattered generally into the wilderness of the south. Isaiah refers to this in several chapters, particularly chapter 41: When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them,...I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land springs of water. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel (vs. 17, 14).
Such is the unhappy state of the Jews at this time. All their many years of effort in the land is brought to ruins. Isaiah thus describes their work of re-building, and its spoiling by the invader: Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of they strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shall set it with strange slips: In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and desperate sorrow (Isa. 17:10). The prophet then describes the rushing of the nations like the rushing of many waters against the land in the eventide trouble. This is the time of Jacobs trouble; but Jeremiah says he shall be saved out of it (Jer. 30:7). In addition to the blackness in the land, the Jews held in Europe and all the land of the enemy will also be in great distress, because of the intense anti-semitism.
4. Israels Deliverance
Just as the invasion of the land by the Gogian confederacy involves several steps with the climax of the taking of Jerusalem, so the steps taken by Christ for the deliverance of Israel will also have a variety of preliminary steps reaching a climax in his saving of those who remain in Jerusalem, and the decisive destruction of the vast assembled armies by the powers of Nature in earthquake, hail, rain, fire and brimstone, brought to bear against the enemy. Our interest now is in this detail of the movements of Christ and the saints, leading up to this saving of Jerusalem.
The Outline of Christs Military Strategy
The movement of the Christ body from Sinai is shown on our map opposite by three darker arrows: east, west and north. This is the pattern indicated by piecing together the word of the prophets and it is also a pattern that is militarily sound. The flanks must first be secured before the main central thrust forward. In Habakkuk, before he marches through the land and threshes the heathen, Cushan (Ethiopia?) and Midian are describing as feeling his power (chapter 3:7). Other prophets involve Arabia and Egypt at an early stage. So the pattern appears to be the establishing of a broad base by extending on the east to Midian and Arabia, and on the west to Ethiopia and Egypt. This accomplished, there is the movement northward to Mount Seir: Yahweh came from Sinai, and rose from Seir unto them, he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints (Deut. 33:2). He meets the invading northern armies at Bozrah; For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the Lord is filled with blood...for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea (Isa. 34:5-6). Then from Bozrah north and west to Jerusalem, to the second great overthrow around the city: Assemble yourselves, and come all ye heathen, and gather yourselves round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down O Yahweh. Let the heathen be awakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat... (Joel 3:12). Finally, after the deliverance of Jerusalem, I will call for a sword against him throughout all my holy mountains: every mans sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood... (Ezek. 38:21-22). This is the unfolding strategy of Christs warfare in the land. We must arrange the information of the prophets in some logical sequence.
In filling out the outline just given, we shall become conscious of so many scriptures that have to be fulfilled, that unless we have Jesus starting in the south and working northward to Jerusalem, we are left with these scriptures on our hands, unfulfilled. That is to say, if according to the new view Jesus arrives from heaven at the mount of Olives, delivers the city, the nation repents and mourns, as in Zechariah chapter 12, there is no occasion for the fulfilment of these scriptures referring to events south of Jerusalem when Israel is in distress. This is powerful indirect evidence that Christ and the saints do come up from Sinai.
The events at Jerusalem, and to some extent the events at Bozrah have been considered in a previous booklet. We are now concerned with events happening before the overthrow at Jerusalem. It will help to make the picture clear if we deal with these events under four distinct headings.
(a) Arabia Subdued
(b) Rivers in the Desert
(c) The Highway to Zion
(d) The Smiting and Healing of Egypt
Arabia Subdued: Isaiah Chapter 42
In chapter 42 of Isaiah there is a sequence of events that shows that the people of Arabia give praise to God before Israel is saved. This chapter is part of a series, starting at chapter 40, in which the main theme is Jesus, the Holy One and redeemer of Israel, saving Israel in the time of their distress.
In the first part of this 42nd chapter, the redemptive work of his first coming is set out: Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth. I Yahweh have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house (vs. 1, 6, 7). One aspect of prisoners coming out of the prison house is the resurrection (see Zech. 9:11). Another aspect of bringing prisoners out of the prison house is the salvation of the nation of Israel. Israel under the hand of their enemies is described in verse 22 of this chapter: But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all snared in holes and they are hid in prison houses. Their deliverance is expressed in these words: Yahweh shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies... And I will bring the blind (a reference back to v. 7to open the blind eyes) by a way they knew not...I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them (vs. 13-16).
Now, the point for giving this detail is to direct attention to verses 9 to 12 describing some events before Yahweh roars forth and leads the blind to safety. Taking verse 7 prisoners out of the prison house as a figure for the resurrection, verse 8 tells us that the time has at last come for God to make himself known in his holiness. My glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images (as Greek and Latin Catholicism has done for centuries). Then verse 9Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I will tell you of them. And what is the first of the new things? Verse 10Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein: the isles and the inhabitants thereof. This is possibly a reference to the conversion of Britain at this early stage, so that when the bride, the Queen, is brought to the King (Psalm 45) the daughter of Tyre is there with a gift of tribute. Then verse 11Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock (Arabia Petra) sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Nebaioth was the firstborn son of Ishmael, and Kedar was his second son. We are told in Genesis 25:6, 18 that Abraham sent Ishmael, and his sons by Keturah, and their families, away into the east country. These descendants of Abraham are the occupants of the extensive region which we call Saudi Arabia. So Kedar belongs to this region. The other name mentioned in this passage, Arabia Petra, is the mountainous region of the Sinai Peninsula and the region lying between the Gulf of Elath and the Dead Sea. So, in clear terms, Isaiah tells us that this large region of the south, and the Arabs (the true Arabs as the descendants from Abraham) are brought into subjection to Christ before Israel is delivered. They are obedient and enlightened; they sing praise to Yahweh. This is not so surprising, for they are the children of Abraham, though not in the line of the promised seed. And from a military and geographical angle it is very reasonable that Christ should first deal with the people near to his encampment at Sinai.
There is a suggestion of this early obedience of the wilderness people in Psalm 72: He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River unto the ends of the earth. They of the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea,. all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. Here the people dwelling in the wilderness are the first to be mentioned as under his rule.
In addition to Isaiah 43:10-11, and Psalm 72:8-16, we include in this picture verse 7 of Habakkuks prayer. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction : and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. This is the first verse of the detail in the prophecy, and from this we understand that these two peoples are the first to come under the power of Christ. Midian was a son of Abraham by Keturah, and his descendants occupied the region north of Mount Sinai, and around the Elanitic Gulf. So they represent the people nearest to the encampment of the saints in Sinai. Cushan is usually taken as Ethiopia, and no doubt Ethiopia is a region reached by the children of Cush in their migration from Babel. But the Bible identification of Cush leads us to South Arabia rather than Ethiopia. 1 Chronicles 1:8 and Genesis 10:6 tell us: And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan. Although maps vary somewhat in the placings of these names, all agree in placing them in south Arabia. Havilah to Shur is the region occupied by the sons of Ishmael, and this places Havilah in Arabia. So it is probable that Midian and Cushan in Habakkuk take us to the east of Sinai, to Arabia; though the inclusion of Abyssinia to the west cannot be ruled out.
One other scripture may be mentioned as supporting this early work of Christ in Arabia. It is Isaiah 21:11-15; The burden of Dumah. One calleth unto me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, the morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: turn ye come. The burden upon Arabia. In the forest of Arabia shall ye lodge, (J.T. dwell) O ye travelling companies of Dedanites. Unto him that was thirsty they brought water (bring ye water, margin); the inhabitants of the land of Tema did meet the fugitives with their bread. For they fled away from the swords, from the drawn sword and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war (R.V.). The 21st chapter in Isaiah is not easy to understand. The passage quoted follows a description of the fall of Babylon. This was in the first place the work of Cyrus the Persian, and the whirlwinds of the south sweeping through (verse 1), was a figure for those from Elam coming against Babylon. But in the latter-day overthrow of Babylon the Great, Christ and the saints will be whirlwinds of the South, entering into Israel, and overthrowing the Babylonian Image on the mountains of Israel in their onward career to destroy the European Babylon. As to the verses quoted we have no Biblical knowledge of their having a past fulfilment, and it is probable they belong to the future. The region of their fulfilment is in the South of the land. This is clear from the names. In addition to Arabia and Seir, there is Dumah and Tema, who were sons of Ishmael, and Dedan a son of Keturah. All the sons of Abraham went into this south-east country apart from Isaac.
The burden of Arabia describes a time when the desert has been changed into a forest, a miraculous transformation (see next section), and the nomads are now dwelling in it; they are subject to Christ, and are willing to care for the outcast Jews, supplying them with bread and water. As we have said, nothing like this is known in the past, and it indicates that these south lands of Arabia have to obey the word of God at a time when Israel is still in distress. The call to those in Arabia to care for the outcasts from the land of Judahthe inhabitants of the land of Tema did meet the fugitives with their breadis similar to the call to latter-day Moab to hide the outcasts (Isaiah 16:3-4), and this indicates that Christs influence at this time covers quite a wide area.
Regarding the meaning of the burden of Dumah, the reader may care to study Bro. C.C. Walker, Ministry of the Prophets, Isaiah chapter 21. Regarding the fall of Babylon earlier in this chapter, Bro. Thomas says that the ass and camel, verse 7, represent the Medes and Persians, respectively, and the lion, of course, Babylon. In verses 3 to 5 the prophet appears to take the part of the king of Babylon in the drama.
Exactly how Arabia is subjugated we are not told. We must keep in mind another party having an influence in this area. Tarshish and her associates are present, and perhaps already partly aware of the unique almighty character of the new power of Sinai. While recognising that the full details of the situation have not been revealed, we return in conclusion to our opening quotation from Isaiah ch. 42, which clearly shows the people of Arabia subject to Christ, and obedient, and giving praise to Yahweh, before the work of leading the blind and saving Israel.
Rivers in the Desert
Associated with this work of Christ in the south and in Arabia, there is a miraculous happening that is a fitting introduction of Christ to the world. The return of Christ to the earth means the return of miracle to the earth after many centuries of God hiding His face. We may think of the overthrow of the Gogian hosts in the land as the first manifestation of divine power. But this does not appear to be so. The first miracle is an act of goodness and blessing: the providing of water in the desert for the outcast Jews in their hour of great distress.
Isaiah Chapter 41
This miracle is brought to our notice in Isaiah chapter 41. The early part of the chapter asserts the abiding care of God for his people, so verses 13-14: For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel. Then verses 17-20 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together; that they may see and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of YAHWEH hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.
Here is something grand, reminding one of the glories of the original creative work of the angels in the beginning. Look at the map (on next page) and see the great area of Sinai and Arabia and imagine this now desolate region miraculously transformed into a land of rivers and fountains, a land of trees and fruit and green grass. And this being done by Christ in the first place to provide water for his distressed people fleeing from the land of Israel. The chapters that follow on from chapter 41 are all in the same vein, speaking about Yahwehs redemption of Israel.
In chapter 43, the theme of water in the desert is repeated: Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert... to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise. so the idea is repeated in this chapter, and is as an assurance that it will come to pass. (Joseph said that repetition was an assurance from godGenesis 41:32).
The happening is so marvellous, and on such a scale, that it is intended to become a world wonder and an inescapable evidence of the power of Christ in the earth. It is so remarkable that it is regarded as replacing past wonders: Remember ye not the former things, behold I will do a new thing (chapter 43:18-19). In the first quotation, from Isaiah chapter 41, men are caused to see, and know, and consider, and understand together. What will they so thoroughly examine and appreciate? That the hand of Yahweh hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it. It is something so vast and wonderful it is quite beyond the powers of men. It is a vindication of the might of the God of Israel. And it is a blessing to mankind. What a wonderful first miracle in the earth when Christ returns.
The seven trees named are all good trees, trees of usefulness and pleasure. In chapter 55 Isaiah returns to the matter and contrasts the good with the evil. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to Yahweh for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. This wonderful happening is so impressive that it remains as an everlasting sign to prove that the God of Israel is in the earth.
The transformation of the wilderness into a paradise applies to the land of Israel as well as to the south lands. So says Isaiah in chapter 51, for the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
When exactly does this marvel take place? Isaiah 30:25 provides a key: And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. It happens (a) in the day of great slaughter, (b) when the towers fall. So the time can be identified from the detail of the events when Christ goes forth against the enemy encamped at Jerusalem. Zechariah 14 says the earthquake occurs when his feet stand upon the mount of Olives. This is when the towers fall; or as Ezekiel 38:20 says: every wall shall fall to the ground. It is a time of gigantic earth movement: the mountains shall be thrown down and the steep places fall (Ezek. 38:20); the land around Jerusalem shall be lifted up, the Mount of Olives shall be cleft in two to provide a very great valley; and living waters shall flow out of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4-8). It is at this time, Isaiah 30:25 tells us, that the rivers and streams will begin to flow. The transformation of the desert will be part of the great physical upheaval. Also it is the day of the great slaughter; the time when the Gogian hosts are destroyed. So there appears to be a swiftly moving crisis in the salvation of Israel. Their land overrun, many dead, many fleeing into the wilderness, the situation hopeless: Christs power is revealed in a fearful earthquake which follows on to provide a miracle of blessing in the desert; and transforms the region ready for that enlargement of the boundaries of Israel when they are settled in their cantons, stretching across the Sinai Peninsula and part of Arabia.
This upheaval of the land, this reshaping of the contours of mountains and valleys, this sudden springing forth of rivers in the desert, though a beneficent happening, will nevertheless be a frightening, terrifying experience, requiring faith and trust in God. Psalm 46 speaks of this time: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though mountains shake with the swelling thereof. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early (Hebrew: when the morning appeareth). The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. Yahweh of hosts is with us; the Elohim of Jacob our refuge. As is often the case with the psalmist, the natural happenings are blended with the raging of the enemy. In this terrifying experience of natural catastrophe and the raging of her enemies Israel finds refuge in Yahweh of hosts and the city of God. The saints are the hosts of Yahweh at this time. The previous Psalm has detailed their coming into being. In Psalm 45, the king is about to ride forth against his enemies; the queen is at his right hand; the people of Tyre are there with a gift of tribute. Then follows the Psalm 46 we have quoted, when Israel is saved by her king and his immortal princes. This sequence between Psalm 45 and Psalm 46 is a useful confirmation that the saints are with Christ in all this work in the south of the land, as he comes to deliver his people in distress.
Habakkuk also sees this upheaval of the land, and the rushing of the new-formed rivers. His language is reminiscent of Psalm 77:17-18, describing the marvellous happenings when Israel came out of Egypt. Habakkuk says: Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains saw thee and trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by; the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high (3:9-10).
The Highway to Zion
Another remarkable happening in these south lands which we have to fit in is the setting up of the highway for the redeemed. This is referred to several times in Isaiah, and is associated with the miracle in the desert we have been discussing. We must be on our guard against spiritualising these prophecies of Isaiah, and following the path of orthodoxy who tell us that the WAY of the redeemed is the Church; or as we might put it, the ecclesia. Some spiritual application may be permissible, but let us first get our foundations in the literality of the matter. The idea of a literal highway is clear from Isaiah 19:22-25.
And the Lord shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even unto Yahweh, and he shall be entreated of them, and shall heal them. In that day there shall be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.
So there is to be a highway through these south lands which both connects the two countries of Egypt and Assyria, and also leads to Zion, so that both countries can serve the Lord. It appears to be a permanent WAY which the pilgrims will take in the time of the kingdom. Other prophecies of Isaiah show that it is first set up at the time the people of Israel are in distress in these south lands, and it is for them the Way of the redeemed in their coming to Zion, the city of God, in the time of trouble, as described in Psalm 46.
Isaiah 43:19, at which we have already looked, makes a brief reference to the Way. I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert...to give drink to my people, my chosen. But the fullest account is in Isaiah chapter 35.
Isaiah Chapter 35
In Isaiah Chapter 35 there is a picture, like that in Isaiah chapters 41 and 43, of the desert blossoming, and waters breaking out to succour the needy in their distress. We feel the whole chapter must be quoted:
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.
Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called, The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those; the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there.
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.
How we marvel at the lovingkindness of God in thus caring for his people in the hour of great distress; in giving them water in the desert, and in marking out a highway on which there will be divine protection for the Israelites travelling Zionward. It will be like the Way that existed in olden days in Israel. Thou shalt prepare thee a way, and divide the coast of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither (Deut. 19:2-4). There was this Way marked out for the manslayer to use as he fled to a city of refuge.
Chapter 35 of Isaiah should be read in its context with chapter 34. The second half of chapter 34 is in contrast with chapter 35 and describes the utter desolation of the land of Edom; this has been fulfilled through many centuries. ...and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste. This extreme language does not mean Edom will continue a barren wilderness unendingly. The meaning can be understood by putting alongside rather similar language about the desolation of the land of Israel in past centuries. The whole land thereof is brimstone and salt and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, Deut. 29:23. As the land of Israel is to be restored so is the land of Edom. The desolate land of Edom in Isaiah chapter 34 is part of the wilderness that blossoms as the rose in chapter 35. One ought to read straight on from the end of chapter 34 to chapter 35, to maintain the proper sequence. As the one chapter is literal, so is the other, despite the degree of figure and hyperbole used.
Isaiah chapter 35 is like Psalm 46 in its encouragement and comfort to the fearful. Verse 4 says: God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense and save you. This again links chapter 35 with chapter 34; for the coming with vengeance is the central idea of the first half of chapter 34. It is the vengeance that overthrows the enemy at Bozrah in Edom. For it is the day of Yahwehs vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion (34:8). Putting together the two chapters we have the enemy overthrown at Bozrah; waters springing up in the desert; the desert blossoming as the rose; and there being a WAY for the redeemed to return to Zion with joy. The context shows that the redeemed in the first place are the nation of Israel in dire distress. Yahweh is the Redeemer, and they are the redeemed. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith Yahweh, and thy redeemer the Holy One of Israel...When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none...I will open rivers in high places (Isa. 41:14-18). The exiles as they return from far countries will later use the same highway, as we shall see.
The redeemed coming to Zion and the highway are before us again in Isaiah chapter 62 and 63: Go through , go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold Yahweh hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold thy salvation cometh; behold his reward is with him, and his work (recompense) before him. And they shall call them, the holy people, The redeemed of Yahweh: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken. Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save (Isa. 62:10-12; 63:1). We note the mention of the highway again here, for returning Israel to follow. Although a metaphorical sense can be given to this highwayJesus becomes the Way, the Truth, and the Life to Israel, and they must walk in this Way in faith to be savedsuch metaphorical interpretation does not remove the literal. The nation of Israel is literally saved, from literal enemies, and literally returns to Zion on a literal highway through the beautiful wilderness.
The great Deliverer is seen coming from Edom. This confirms the time when the highway is set up; it is when Jesus comes up from the South and from Edom; and it is when Israel becomes the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, and Jerusalem is no longer a city forsaken (62:12). The time is also described as the time of vengeance: For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come (63:4). How closely parallel is the whole section here in Isaiah chapters 62 and 63 with Isaiah chapters 34 and 35, which we have already considered.
The mighty Saviour seen coming from Edom is a symbolic man; no one believes Jesus will have his clothes actually covered with the blood of his enemies. As a symbolic figure it represents Jesus and his brethren, the One Body of Christ. This is the Yahweh Name of Isaiah chapter 30 coming from far to destroy the latter day Assyrian at Jerusalem after the initial clash at Bozrah.
The Returning Exiles Use this Egypto-Assyrian Highway
This remarkable highway through the green, well-watered desertbrought into being at the time of the physical transformation of the land of Israel and the south is also used by the returning exiles from Gentile lands. So Jeremiah 31:8-9, tells us: Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame (hear the echo of Isaiah chapter 35), the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return hither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first born...For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion... So we picture the exiles returning from the lands of the gentiles walking on the WAY to Zion, and looking on the wonder of the transformed desert.
Isaiah Chapter 11
Isaiah also speaks of these returning exiles in chapter 11. The whole chapter should be read. The root of Jesse becomes an ensign for the people and the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the isles of the sea. These were the countries of the original dispersion, and they become representative of the countries of the present dispersion. In this Jubilee return to their land, they use the highway we have been referring to. And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian Sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the River (the Euphrates: c/p Jer. 2:18) and shall smite it into seven streams, and make men go over dryshod. And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt (v. 16). Again Isaiah 27:13 says: And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown (the trumpet for the jubilee returnLev. 25:8), and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship Yahweh in the holy mount at Jerusalem. The outcasts must be those who were in the land of Israel, and either fled or were taken away captive; the others are those held by the enemy in the land of their sojourn.
The impression gained from several scriptures is that Egypt and Assyria become the collecting points for the returning exiles, and they then return on the Highway to Zion. This is particularly clear from Zechariah 10:9-11.
I will sow them among the people: and they shall remember me in far countries; and shall live with their children, and turn again. I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them again into the land of Gilead and Lebanon (part of the Promised Land); and place shall not be found for them. And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea (so as to pass over on dry land) and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away. Although they have been in far countries, they are seen coming from Egypt and Assyria. Whether the deeps of the river dried up refers to the Nile or the Euphrates is not certain, but this passage seems closely parallel with Isaiah 11:15, where there is recorded the miracle of drying up the tongue of the Egyptian Sea and the River so that Israel may return to Zion. These miracles are probably part of the making of the highway out of Egypt into Assyria, as so clearly stated in Isaiah chapter 19.
We have allowed ourselves to digress, and move forward in time beyond the situation when Christ first intervenes in the affairs of the land of Israel and the south; this was in order to see the full picture of the HIGHWAY to Zion. This highway will probably be used by the pilgrims in the time of the kingdom. We return now to the particular time of Christ and the saints coming from the south, and we have to attempt to fit Egypt into this picture.
The Smiting and Healing of Egypt
There is much written by the prophets on Egypt, but it is not easy to fit together the prophecies. Much that is written appears to have been fulfilled in the invasions of Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar. We refer to the prophecies of Jeremiah, chapters 44-46, and Ezekiel chapters 29-32. Bro. W.H. Boultons book The Prophecy of Ezekiel, chapter 7, may be consulted for a brief account of the historical fulfilment of the prophecies on Egypt. Our interest is in the happenings in Egypt at the Time of the End. The prophecy in Isaiah chapter 19 appears to give the most consecutive account that goes forward into the future, and we will base our consideration of Egypt on this chapter.
The chapter opens with Yahweh riding on a swift cloud into Egypt; and as a result, The Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them. This was a prophecy of the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar. Ezekiel chapters 29 to 32 fill out the detail. Ezekiel 29:1-15 will be seen to be closely parallel with Isaiah 19:1-15. As to Yahwehs cloud, God says in Ezekiel chapter 30:24, I will strengthen the arms of the King of Babylon, and put my sword in his hand. In this way the king of Babylon was Yahwehs cloud in which he rode into Egypt. There was a forty years captivity for Egypt, and then the Egyptians returned to their land, as prophesied in Ezekiel 29:11. From this time they have been a nation of little consequence among the nations; as Isaiah 19:14 says: The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit. Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush may do. Ezekiel 29:15 is parallel, It shall be the basest of the kingdoms neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.
This covers Egypt in the past; and we move on to the next verse in Isaiah chapter 19:16: In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the Lord of hosts, which he shaketh over it. The phrase in that day is important. It is frequently introduced into Isaiahs prophecies, and defines the special day that is coming for Israel. The phrase continues to be used to the end of this chapter, showing that it is all to do with the day of Israels redemption. It occurs in verses 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, and 24. so we would expect these verses to be outlining future events in Egypt. The general picture is quite clear: and the Lord shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the Lord, and he shall be entreated of them (v. 22). The situation is Egypt crying to Yahweh because of the oppressors: following this Egypt is smitten, and then healed. The oppressor will be the King of the North and his confederates who appear to occupy Egypt at the critical time of their taking Jerusalem. The cry will come not only from the Egyptians but from the outcasts of Judah who are there, either as captives (Isaiah 51:14), or having fled there. The Christ community coming up from the south smites Egypt in dealing with the Power holding Egypt, and then there is salvation for those who are released by the conqueror. They shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. The chapter ends with the highway being made for those who go to worship in Jerusalem. We set this out suggestively, with some uncertainty.
The Redeemed Coming Out of Egypt
Despite some uncertainty as to the changes of the occupying forces of Egypt in the time of the end, there are several scriptures that make it clear that there will be a coming out of Egypt by Israel, similar to their coming out under Moses.
Isaiah Chapter 51
Isaiah chapter 51 is one of these scriptures. The chapter encourages the faithful, who fear the power of the enemy, to trust in God in the time of their distress. And then the prophet calls on Yahweh to arise: Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O arm of the Lord, awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab (Egypt), and wounded the dragon? Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads (vs. 9-11). This is not describing the first coming out of Egypt, because they did not then come to Zion; nor were they returning. So here is a description of their second coming out of Egypt. The idea is emphasised by a repetition a few verses farther on in the chapter. The captive exile hasteth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail. But I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: YAHWEH of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people (vs.14-16). Planting the heavens is the glorification of the saints, laying the foundations of the earth is redeeming the nation of Israel:and in this process the sea is divided in the saving of the captive exiles. The Song of Moses, which commemorated their escape from Egypt under the hand of Moses, includes an element of prophecy of this second happening. The last verse of the Song reads: Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. Yahweh shall reign for ever and ever (Exodus 15:17). In the time of Moses and Joshua this was not fulfilled; God did not then establish his Sanctuary in Zion, nor reign for ever. Notice the similarity between planting them in the mountain of thine inheritance, and Isaiah 51:16 that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.
Another place where this coming out of Egypt a second time is referred to is in Psalm 68. After referring to the saints coming in from Sinai to the sanctuary (verse 17see page 11), and the escape from death, i.e. resurrection (verse 20) verses 21 and 22 read: But God shall wound the head of his enemies and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses. The Lord said, I will bring thee again from Bashan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea; that thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies.
Psalm 66:1-7 likewise is clearly looking forward to this coming again out of Egypt. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:...All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing unto thy name. Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing unto the children of men. He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him. He ruleth by his power for ever... This is a future event, when all nations come to fear God because of his mighty deeds.
Finally, there is a passage in Zechariah, chapter 10, which we have quoted earlier giving the RSV rendering: I will bring them home (those who have fled from the land of Judah, or have been taken captive) from the land of Egypt...they shall pass through the sea of Egypt, and the waves of the sea shall be smitten. This is similar to Isaiah 11:15, previously quoted, which says the tongue of the Egyptian Sea shall be utterly destroyed when Israel returns. This suggests that the miracle is not only a parting of the sea for them to pass over, but that the sea is permanently dried up in preparation for the new situation of the highway out of Egypt.
There are a few other scriptures but the ones given are plain enough for us to know that there is to be a second coming out of Egypt. When will this be? We have suggested that during all the time that Israel is returning from the nations after Armageddon, they will gather into Egypt and Assyria, and then come to Zion. But the scriptures we have been quoting seem to refer to a more precise occasion of deliverance and miraculous happening. This we think will take place when Christ and his brethren come up from the South on their way to deliver Jerusalem. Our map on page 24 shows darkened arrows, east, west, and north. The implication of the passages of scripture we have been quoting is that many Israelites are in distress in the land of Egypt, oppressed by the Northern invader there, along with the Egyptians, and as Isaiah chapter 19:20 says, they cry to Yahweh and he sends them the Deliverer, Jesus and his Mighty Ones.
Habakkuk Chapter 3:7-8
The sequence of events in Habakkuk chapter 3 confirms this. First, Midian and Cush receive attention, verse 7, as already considered in the conquest of Arabia; then the next verse: Was Yahweh displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was they wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation? Then later in the chapter he marches through the land (of Israel), and threshes the heathen in anger (verse 12). So this is reasonably clear that before he enters the land of Israel, he is involved in crossing the sea riding upon thine horses and thy chariots for salvation, i.e. the cherubic One Body coming out of Egypt as the Saviour and the Great One of Isaiah 19:20. So in the epoch when Arabia is conquered, we also expect the taking of Egypt out of the hand of the Northerner, and this to take place on the way to Bozrah and Jerusalem. This is in harmony with good military strategy, as our map (page 24) shows, to establish a broad base for operations before a direct strike at the front line of the enemy.
Jerusalem and After
Coming up from the south and from Egypt, Christ first meets the armies that have invaded the land at Bozrah. After this mighty overthrowTheir slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcasses, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood (Isaiah 34:3)the Christ body comes to Jerusalem and the events of Ezekiel 38:19-23, Joel 3:9-15, etc. will be fulfilled. Following the catastrophe at Jerusalem, the warfare extends throughout the land: And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my holy mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every mans sword shall be against his brother (Ezekiel 38:21). Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am Yahweh.
Having set up his throne in Jerusalem, the conquest of the world has still to be accomplished. First there is a proclamation to all nations: Fear God and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters (Rev. 14:6-7). This is met by defiance from Europe, and the beast and the kings of the earth make war with the Lamb and those that are with him (Rev. 17:14; 19:19; Psa. 2:1-3). The Lamb and his faithful followers go forth as the Rainbowed Angel of Revelation Chapter 10, with his face as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire....And he cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth. In the ensuing warfare Israel is the goodly warhorse and the bow and arrow (Zechariah 9:13-14; 10:3-7). This is the time when Israel shall do valiantly (Num. 24:18).
This extended work of subduing the world to the rule of Christ is a large subject, and includes the fall of Babylon the Great, and the restoration of all Israel to the land of their fathers. This we have considered in the booklet Babylon & Jerusalem.
This has been a long chapter, bringing to the notice of the reader many passages of scripture that fill out The Way to Jerusalem from Sinai. There are other scriptures, not quite so clear, but relevant, which we have not brought forward. We hope that a picture has been formed in the readers mind of such detail of happening in the south lands before Jerusalem is redeemed out of the hand of the enemy; that he sees the inadequacy and inappropriateness of the idea of the arrival of Jesus at the Mount of Olives from heaven with the angels, the immediate taking of Jerusalem and sitting on the throne of glory with the sudden repentance of Israel: and after all this the resurrection and judgment of the saints. Such a sequence leaves all, or nearly all, the scriptures we have been examining on our hands unfulfilled. As we showed in chapters one and two, it is clear that Christ moves first from Sinai with his saints, and it is the work of the saints, not the angels, to deal with Israels enemies. Quite a lot has to happen in these south lands in the process of taking the land of Israel out of the hand of the enemy. Not the least wonderful is the work of making the desert blossom as the rose, with rivers and springs of water in all the land of Israel, Sinai and Edom, preparing for the time when Israel will occupy this region in their cantonal inheritances; and through this now beautiful region, occupied by subject peoples, there is the WAY for the redeemed that the returning exiles may come to Zion.
Bro. Thomas and the Conquest of Arabia
Those who are acquainted with Bro. Thomas account of these events in Eureka, Volumes 2 and 3, will have noticed that a slightly different presentation has been given. Bro. Thomas pictures the conquest and physical transformation of Arabia as having taken place before the Gogian host comes down on the land. He saw this visible manifestation of Christs power in the south as one of the influences gathering the nations to Armageddon. In this present writing we have put the miraculous happening of the desert being transformed a little later, because we think scripture requires it. The great happening is when the towers fall, in the day of the great slaughter (Isa. 30:25), which is after Gog has successfully overrun the land and taken Jerusalem. The time is after the Jews have fled into the desert, and Christ miraculously provides water for the needy. Assuming this miracle takes place at the time Arabia and the south lands are conquered, then this conquest is after the movement of Gog upon the land of Israel, and not before.
If Arabia is conquered by Christ before Gog comes down, as Bro. Thomas proposes, then it can hardly be immediately before he comes down, because the land is dwelling at peace when he comes; and one cannot see war in Arabia at the time Israel is dwelling safely and at rest. So we should have to assume Christ has made visibly manifest his power in Arabia before the time of the land dwelling at rest. This does not seem very likely. Habakkuk shows a continuous forward movement of events once the Holy One shines forth from Paran. There is no place for an interval of peace between Kedar and Cushan feeling his power, and his marching through the land in anger.
In saying there is a continuous movement of events, we do not mean to say everything happens suddenly. The development of Christs movements in the south can occupy months and perhaps years. The movements to and fro in Europe in the last war show how long campaigns take to work out. In this period we are concerned with, Britain and other nations are responding to the presence of Christ, and all this takes time.