What is the purpose of the Great Tribulation? Where do those who are in Judea flee? (Matthew 24:16) Which mountains? What is the prophetic role of Ammon, Moab, and Edom (now known collectively as Jordan)? Where does Jesus return? On the Mount of Olives or in Bozrah?
As we read and watch todays media coverage of world events, its not hard to see Zechariahs prophecy being fulfilled in every newscast:
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. - Zechariah 12:2,3
This article will begin an exploration of some of the less familiar prophecies of the End Times, the Tribulation, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. But first, some background history is needed. Where did Ammon, Moab and Edom come from and what are their prophetic destinies? It appears they escape the rule of the coming world leader (commonly known as the Antichrist):
He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. - Daniel 11:41
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is not an ancient kingdom, but rather a European creation of 1946. Prior to World War I, the areas of Ammon, Moab and Edom had previously been populated by unaffiliated Bedouin tribes. During the war, when the British and the Allies were fighting the Germans and the Ottoman Turks, Major T.E. Lawrence organized his widely publicized Arab Revolt. General Allenby was ultimately victorious in the Middle East and so the League of Nations awarded the British a Mandate on April 25, 1920 (which was to endure until May 14, 1948).
In 1921 an aggressive young man named Abdallah, the son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca in Arabia, moved into the land east of the Jordan river with his troops. The British Colonial Secretary recognized Abdallah as the Emir of Trans-Jordan. Abdallah then consolidated control with his British-trained Arab Legion. In 1946, Abdallah was crowned King of Trans-Jordan. (His great-grandson, Abdullah II, has been the current king since 1999).
In 1948 Jordan joined the attack against Israel in its War of Independence and successfully fought the Haganah and held the West Bank. In 1967, however, again joining Egypt in the Six-Day War, they lost it. In 1998, having previously repudiated any rights to the West Bank, Jordan signed a Peace Treaty with Israel at Camp David. (Our government offered King Hussein the waiving of $950 million of debt owed by Jordan, and assistance in modernization of his armed forces, as an incentive for the meeting with Yitzhak Rabin.)
Ammon was the name of the descendants of Benammi, Lots younger son by his daughter, born in a cave near Zoar (Gen 19:38). Regarded as their relatives, the Israelites were commanded to treat them kindly (Deut 2:19). At the time of the Exodus, Israel did not conquer Ammon (Deut 2:19, 37; Judg 11:15). However, the Ammonites were condemned for joining the Moabites in hiring Balaam and were forbidden to enter the congregation of Israel to the 10th generation (Deut 23:3-6). Rabbah Ammon is now Amman, the capital of Jordan.
Moab was the son of Lot by an incestuous union with his eldest daughter (Gen 19:37). Balak, king of Moab, distressed by the Israelite successes, called for the prophet Balaam to curse Israel (Num 22-24; Josh 24:9). As Israel prepared to cross the Jordan, they camped in the plains of Moab (Num 22:1; Josh 3:1).
When Israel sought permission to travel along the Kings Highway, which crossed the plateau, Moab refused (Judg 11:17), but they may have had commercial contact (Deut 2:28-29). Moses was forbidden to attack Moab despite their unfriendliness (Deut 2:9), although the Moabites were henceforth to be excluded from Israel (Deut 23:3-6; Neh 13:1).
In the days of the Judges, Eglon, king of Moab, invaded Israelite lands as far as Jericho and oppressed Israel for 18 years. Ehud the Benjaminite assassinated him (Judg 3:12-30). Elimelech of Bethlehem migrated to Moab and his sons married the Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Ruth later married Boaz and became the ancestress of David (Ruth 4:18-22; Mt 1:5-16).
At the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. some Jews found refuge in Moab, but returned when Gedaliah became governor (Jer 40:11ff). Moab was finally subdued by Nebuchadnezzar (Josephus, Antiquities, 10. 181) and fell successively under the control of the Persians and various Arab groups. The Moabites ceased to have independent existence as a nation, though in post-exilic times they were known as a race (Ezra 9:1; Neh 13:1, 23). Alexander Jannaeus subdued them in the 2nd century B.C. (Josephus, Antiquities, 13. 374).
The archaeological story of Moab is slowly being unraveled: the Moabite stone, a block of black basalt found near Dibon, Jordan, in 1868, bears an inscription in the Moabite language describing a 9th-century B.C. victory of King Mesha of Moab over the Israelites. Its now in the Louvre museum in Paris.
The term Edom denotes either: the name of Esau, given in memory of the red pottage for which he exchanged his birthright (Gen 25:30; 36:1, 8, 19); the Edomites collectively (Num 20:18-21; Amos 1:6, 11; 9:12; Mal 1:4); or the land occupied by Esaus descendants, formerly the land of Seir (Gen 32:3; 36:20-21,30; Num 24:18; Ezek 35:3-5, 10, 12; 36:2, 3, 5).
Modern archaeology has shown that the land was occupied before Esaus time. We conclude that Esaus descendants migrated to that land and in time became the dominant group, incorporating the original Horites and others into their number (Gen 14:6). Joshua allotted the territory of Judah up to the borders of Edom, but did not encroach on their lands (Josh 15:1, 21). Two centuries later King Saul fought the Edomites (1 Sam 14:47), although some of them were in his service (1 Sam 21:7; 22:9, 18). Edom proper fell into Arab hands during the 5th century B.C., and in the 3rd century B.C. was overrun by the Nabataeans. Judas Maccabaeus later subdued them, and John Hyrcanus compelled them to be circumcised and incorporated into the Jewish people (1 Macc 5:65). When the Romans conquered Judea, they appointed Herod, an Edomite (Idumean) as their vassal.
The Prerequisite to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ
The purpose of all history (Mt 23:37) was that God might gather His children together. (Jerusalem is a synecdoche for all of Israel.) Jesus did die for the sins of the world, including the nation of Israel, but His own received Him not (Jn 1:11). This is the tragedy of all history (Mt 23:37b, 38). But there is hope.
Jesus left the nation with a promise: He would one day return; the nation would see Him and say, Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord! (Mt 23:39). Because of disobedience, Israel would be scattered over the world. Their blessings and promises are conditioned upon confessing their iniquity (Lev 26:40-42; Jer 3:11-18). Iniquity (Lev 26:40) is singular and specific. Israel must look unto (not upon as in KJV) Him whom they have pierced (Zech 12:10). Israels offense was the rejection of His Messiahship. Jesus will not come back to the earth until the Jews and Jewish leaders request Him to come back (Mt 23:37-39; Hos 5:15).
Next month, Part 2: The Great Tribulation, the Armageddon Campaign, the Refuge in Edom, and the Second Coming.