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The Revelation - Book 6

A study of Revelation 16. This is book 6 of an 8 part book series.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Chapter 12

Jerusalem and Babylon

Most prophecy teachers understand that the battle of Armageddon is to be fought over control of the city of Jerusalem. They connect this battle with Jesus’ end-time prophecies in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 about tribulation and war in Jesus’ warnings to the people of Jerusalem. Luke 21:20-22 is the most specific statement in this regard:

20 But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are in the midst of the city depart, and let not those who are in the country enter the city; 22 because these are days of vengeance, in order that all things that are written may be fulfilled.

Jesus wept over the city, knowing that it would be destroyed. Luke 19:41 says,

41 And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.

Jerusalem means “City of Peace.” Its name reflects its calling to bring peace to the world through the Prince of Peace. Even Solomon was a type of Christ in this regard, for his name means Peaceful. However, the earthly Jerusalem failed to bring peace, for its people and leaders did not know “the things which make for peace.” It then became “the bloody city,” and became “a curse to all the nations of the earth” (Jer. 26:6). See also Isaiah 65:15; Jer. 24:9; 25:18; 44:8, 12, and 22.

In Luke 19:43, 44 Jesus continues His prophecy about Jerusalem,

43 For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, 44 and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.

The church in Jerusalem remembered Jesus’ words when they saw the approaching danger as the Roman army began to subdue the Jewish Revolt (66-73 A.D.). The church left Jerusalem at that time, moving to Pella on the other side of the Jordan River. Bishop Eusebius tells us this in his Ecclesiastical History III, 5,

“Furthermore, the members of the Jerusalem church, by means of an oracle given by revelation to acceptable persons there, were ordered to leave the City before the war began and settle in a town in Peraea called Pella. To Pella those who believed in Christ migrated from Jerusalem.”

Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, after being surrounded by armies, was strikingly fulfilled when Rome began its siege on Passover morning of 70 A.D. This was the 40th anniversary of John’s execution at the hands of King Herod. The city and the temple were destroyed a few months later in the same year. But this was neither the first nor the last destruction of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah’s Prophecy

Jeremiah prophesied of Jerusalem’s destruction 600 years earlier by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. In Jeremiah 19 he was led by the Spirit to compare the city to an old clay jar which, once smashed, could never be remade into a new vessel (Jer. 19:10, 11). It seems that very few prophecy teachers today take Jeremiah seriously or even know what he said.

They are confused by the earlier prophecy in Jer. 18:1-10, where we read of another clay jar that was “spoiled in the hand of the potter, so he remade it into another vessel” (Jer. 18:4). This prophecy, however, was not about Judah and Jerusalem, but about the house of Israel. Judah and Israel were two distinct nations during the time of the Divided Kingdom. Jeremiah pictured each nation by a different jar, one of wet clay that could be remade, the other of hardened clay that could not be repaired once it was broken.

The wet clay was Israel (Jer. 18:6). The hardened clay was Jerusalem and the kings of Judah (Jer. 19:3). The misunderstanding comes when men think that the Jews are Israel, when in fact the English word “Jew” is short for Judah. The Israelites were taken to Assyria and became the so-called “lost tribes of Israel.” The Jews were taken to Babylon, but they were never lost, because they returned seventy years later to the old land.

The prophets never confuse Judah with Israel in their prophecies, for each had a different destiny to fulfill in the divine plan. In this case, the prophet gives great hope for Israel, but gives not one word of hope for Jerusalem.

So when Jeremiah tells us that Jerusalem was to be broken “even as one breaks a potter’s vessel which cannot again be repaired” (Jer. 19:11), we know this applies to the Jews specifically living in Jerusalem or perhaps those under the authority of the Old Covenant. The old earthen jar did not refer to Israel, which had been scattered abroad by the Assyrians, for the House of Israel was to be remade into another vessel.

Such a prophecy is incomprehensible if one thinks that the Jews are Israel. When the Jews named their state Israel in 1948, those who were ignorant of the difference between Israel and Judah were deceived into thinking that this fulfilled the prophecies of the wet clay being remade into another vessel in Jeremiah 18:1-10. This solidified the confusion in the minds of Christians who were unfamiliar with biblical history.

The fact is that the state of Israel is not the remade clay vessel in Jer. 18:4. It does not matter what they named their nation. All that matters is what God said would happen to it. The Zionist state is instead fulfilling the prophecy of the hardened jar in Jer. 19:11. The destruction of Jerusalem in the time of Nebuchadnezzar partially fulfilled the prophecy. If the city had never been rebuilt, then and only then could it be said that the prophecy was completed. However, the city was rebuilt by Nehemiah. Therefore, more remained to be fulfilled.

The city and temple existed in Jesus’ time, but Jesus spoke of its destruction. Hence, the city was again destroyed in 70 A.D., and perhaps many in that time thought this was the final end of Jerusalem. But it was later rebuilt and exists even today. Therefore, unless we are willing to admit that Jeremiah was a false prophet, we can only conclude that Jerusalem—the state and its government, which they now call Israel—will again be destroyed. But this time the destruction will be so complete that it will never again be rebuilt.

I believe that this final destruction of the earthly Jerusalem is necessary in order to break the blindness upon the church that has made them see Hagar-Jerusalem as their spiritual mother. The bondwoman must be cast out in order that Sarah and her son can inherit the earth. As long as Hagar and her son continues to challenge Sarah and her son for the right to rule as the chosen ones, there will be an ongoing dispute in the divine court. Until this is resolved in the divine court, the Isaac company cannot lay claim to the Kingdom, nor can Sarah—the heavenly Jerusalem—be established as the mother of the inheritors.

The final war called Armageddon cannot feasibly happen apart from the destruction of Jerusalem. The main confusion in the church today lies in their refusal to see that the earthly Jerusalem is Hagar and must be cast out. Christian Zionists are the lawyers for Hagar and Ishmael in the divine court, attempting to convince God to give their clients the Kingdom.

But God has already ruled against them. The problem is that they have refused to accept His ruling and have appealed the case for review, as if God might have made a mistake in His earlier ruling.

These are the evil figs of Jeremiah 24, who are called to bring about utter destruction upon the nation for refusing to comply with the ruling of the divine court. Theoretically, if they would repent and accept the Court’s ruling and submit to the calling and authority of Sarah and Isaac, they could become part of the Kingdom along with all others who place their faith in Jesus Christ, the King. But Jeremiah indicates that their hearts are like hardened clay that can only be broken.

Isaiah’s Prophecy

Isaiah 29:1-6 is another prophecy that relates directly to Armageddon. Isaiah 29:1 begins,

1 Woe, O Ariel, Ariel the city where David once camped! Add year to year, observe your feasts on schedule.

Ariel is a poetic name for Jerusalem, “the city where David once camped.” The name has a double meaning, which Isaiah uses in his prophecy. First, it means “lion of God,” taken from the Hebrew word ariy, or “lion.” Referring to David and his mighty men, it was figuratively a City of Lions, or Heroes.

Secondly, Ariel means “hearth (altar) of God,” from arieyl, which is a variant of the Hebrew word har-el, “mount of God.” (See Strong’s #741 and #2025). The word har, of course, is also in the word Har-Megiddo (i.e., “Armageddon”). This shows the link between Isaiah 29:1 and Rev. 16:16.

As we will see shortly, Jerusalem was supposed to be the lion of God, the place of heroes and victorious conquerors. Again, it was supposed to be the mount of God’s hearth, or altar, in the sense of being the place of sacrifice to God.

However, because Jerusalem, the “City of Peace,” refused to repent, it had become “the bloody city,” a city of violence, says Ezekiel. For this reason, the city itself was to become the sacrifice, a place of burning, even as a burnt offering was completely consumed.

Isaiah 29:2, 3 continues,

2 And I will bring distress to Ariel, and she shall be a city of lamenting and mourning; and she shall be like an Ariel [“hearth of God”] to me. 3 And I will camp against you encircling you, and I will set siegeworks against you, and I will raise up battle towers against you. 4 Then you shall be brought low…

This is not a prophecy of blessing upon Ariel-Jerusalem. It is instead a time of “lamenting and mourning” as God camps against Jerusalem. Notice that in this siege of Jerusalem, God Himself claims credit for leading the siege. In other words, God is on the side of the attackers, or rather, the attackers are on God’s side as He turns the city into “an Ariel,” that is, a hearth, or an altar of sacrifice.

Isaiah 29:5 then speaks of the enemies of the city—not the attackers, but those who occupy the city at the time of the siege. Speaking directly to Ariel, God says,

5 But the multitude of your [Ariel’s] enemies shall become like fine dust, and the multitude of the ruthless ones like the chaff which blows away; and it shall happen instantly, suddenly.

Here is where most people become confused, thinking that God was speaking against His own army that He was leading in the attack against Jerusalem. It is easy to make that assumption, if we do not know the legal definition of God’s enemies that is set forth in the laws of Tribulation in Lev. 26:40-42. Moses said that if Israel became hostile to God and refused to honor their covenant with Him, then God would act with hostility toward Israel.

 Isaiah himself confirms this later in Isaiah 63:10, saying,

10 But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore, He turned Himself to become their enemy. He fought against them.

When Israel or Judah fights against God and remains hostile toward the One sent by God, then God becomes “their enemy” and fights against them! This is what is happening in Isaiah 29:3. God and Jerusalem are hostile to one another and are pictured as “enemies.” God has raised up His armies to fight against Jerusalem, and He is the One leading the armies as they lay siege to Jerusalem that is inhabited by God’s enemies.

Jesus’ Prophecies of the Siege

Isaiah’s prophecy is explained further in Jesus’ parable in Matt. 22:7, where God lays siege to Jerusalem because the people rejected His invitation to His Son’s wedding feast.

7 But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire.

The parable says nothing of murder, but we know that they had murdered the prophets already and would soon do the same to Jesus Himself. While this parable was primarily a prophecy about God’s Roman army that was conscripted to destroy Jerusalem in 70 A.D., it sets forth the same scene from Isaiah 29 and in Jer. 19:11, regarding the final destruction of Jerusalem.

Nuclear War?

Isaiah 29:6 continues,

6 From the Lord of hosts you [Jerusalem] will be punished with thunder and earthquake and loud noise, with whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire.

Most people—by assuming that the “enemies” are non-Jews attacking Jerusalem—teach that God will turn and destroy His own army during the siege. But that is ludicrous, in light of verse 4, where God tells Jerusalem, “you shall be brought low… and your speech shall whisper from the dust.”

This is not a scene where Jerusalem comes out victorious. It is a scene of destruction. Further, the description of this destruction probably indicates a nuclear war, with people becoming “like fine dust” and “chaff which blows away.” This happens “instantly, suddenly” (vs. 5) and “with thunder and earthquake and loud noise, with whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire” (vs. 6).

What better way could a prophet from that time describe a nuclear explosion? And does this not also describe the scene in Matt. 22:7, where God “set their city on fire”?

Like a Dream

Only after describing the city’s destruction does God then turn His attention to His army that He raised up to lay siege to Jerusalem. Isaiah 29:7 says,

7 And the multitude of all the nations who wage war against Ariel, even all who wage war against her and her stronghold, and who distress her, shall be like a dream, a vision of the night.

Take note that God had already stated in verse 2, “I will bring distress to Ariel.” In verse 3 God says, “I will camp against you.” So it is understood that the nations waging war against Ariel are being led by God Himself. Hence, He does not destroy these “nations who wage war against Ariel.” But neither does He reward them.

Strangely enough, His words seem almost anticlimactic. It will only be “like a dream.” In what way? Isaiah 29:8 says,

8 And it will be as when a hungry man dreams—and behold, he is eating; but when he awakens, his hunger is not satisfied, or as when a thirsty man dreams—and behold, he is drinking, but when he awakens, behold, he is faint, and his thirst is not quenched. Thus the multitude of all the nations shall be, who wage war against Mount Zion.

In other words, these armies whom God has raised up to “wage war against Ariel” have been motivated by “hunger” and “thirst” in some way. Insofar as the Muslim nations are concerned, they are hungry to obtain the land for themselves and to push the Israelis into the sea. But their “dream” will not be fulfilled, for when they awake, they will still be hungry and thirsty.

Because of the utter destruction—which I believe is nuclear—no one will get the land. There will be too much radiation from the fallout for anyone to live there. In that way, Jer. 19:11 will be fulfilled. When the city is destroyed as an old earthen vessel that cannot be repaired, and when the land becomes “like Tophet,” which means “burning” (Jer. 19:12), it will not be habitable for anyone.

And so, the armies that God raises up in His siege of Jerusalem are motivated by the desire to own and inhabit the land. This is their “dream.” But when they awake, they will still be hungry and thirsty. If they had known that Jerusalem is Hagar, and that Hagar cannot be the mother of the Kingdom, they might have understood that the earthly Jerusalem must be cast out in favor of the heavenly Jerusalem, which is the true City of Peace.

This destruction of Jerusalem, I believe, will coincide with the overthrow of Babylon, because the citizens, sons, and supporters of the earthly Jerusalem—being carnal, rebellious, and hostile to Jesus Christ—“shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman” (Gal. 4:30). When Jerusalem is destroyed, then everyone will have no choice but to accept the divine verdict.

The fate of Jerusalem is bound up in the fate of Babylon.