The siege of Jerusalem

October 26, 2011

Many of the prophets spoke of a great conflict in the day of the Lord. This conflict is not a war between nations of the earth, but one that is spiritual in nature.  In Joel 2, a great multitude is described, in the context of an account of a plague of locusts. The army is “a great people and strong;” it is unique; nothing like it has happened before, or will happen again. Furthermore, verse 11 says, “And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great.” Later, the spirit of God is poured out upon all flesh. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” [Joel 2:28]

Other prophecies also describe invasions, and great conflicts, that occur during the day of the Lord. These various prophecies depict the events of Joel’s prophecy under different metaphors. Because the army in Joel’s prophecy is unique, the other prophecies must correspond. In several of these prophecies, Jerusalem is involved, and is the focus of an invasion involving all nations. Zechariah included all the people of the earth in the siege against Jerusalem. [Zechariah 12:3]

Isaiah said that Jerusalem, and mount Zion, would be raised up, and “all nations shall flow unto it.” Many people will come to “the mountain of the Lord,” seeking to learn his ways. [Isaiah 2:1-3] Isaiah said the mountain of the Lord’s house would be established in the tops of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, which was fulfilled in the first century, in a spiritual fashion, as the name Jerusalem is applied to the church, which consists of those whose names are written in heaven. Jerusalem has been raised up to heaven. [Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22] When Jesus ascended to heaven, Jerusalem was raised up. The throne of David is established in heaven.

Paul taught that the things of God are spiritual, and he contrasted man’s wisdom with the things that are taught by the Spirit, which the natural man cannot receive. He said the holy Spirit teaches us to “compare spiritual things with spiritual.” [1 Corinthians 2:12-14]

Since Jerusalem was raised up, conflicts that involve the saints are spiritual in nature. The prophecies referring to them have to be interpreted. The locations and times mentioned in the various prophecies have to be understood in a spiritual manner rather than literally, since earthly locations, and times, can’t apply to spiritual things, unless interpreted spiritually. Thus, Jerusalem is a label that applies to the church, the heavenly city, and labels such as Babylon, Egypt, Sodom, and Edom or Idumea have a spiritual meaning. In Revelation 11:8, “the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” refers to the world, as Jesus was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem. [Hebrews 13:12] But many scholars fail to correctly interpret the symbolism.

Earth days, earth months, and earth years do not determine the times that apply to the heavenly Jerusalem, and in Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks, the last half-week applies to the heavenly city, rather than the earthly one. The dimensions of the wall of the city in Revelation 21:17 are said to be given in units of cubits with an angelic character. That is, they must be non-literal ones.

The table below lists prophecies about end time battles and invasions, which taken together, describe the holy city involved in a siege of a spiritual nature. Those who interpret these prophecies carnally, in terms of wars between nations of the world and the earthly Jerusalem, have to invoke many separate battles with various outcomes, at several different locations; the warring parties have to be mounted on vast numbers of horses; they must be armed in a primitive fashion with spears, clubs, bows and arrows, shields and bucklers. They are embarrassed by the presence of the wall separating the Jewish territory from the West Bank. Expositors promoting such views are among the deceived armies who assault the camp of the saints.

Reference & Location Time Description
Isaiah 34; the land of Idumea the day of the LORD’s vengeance; the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion God’s indignation upon the nations, and the perpetual desolation of the land of Idumea
Ezekiel 38-39; a land without walls, with neither bars nor gates; the mountains of Israel in the latter days invasion of Gog and Magog
Joel 2; Zion, and the land of Israel the day of the Lord a great people and a strong; a unique event
Joel 3; the valley of Jehoshaphat the day of the Lord God pleads with all flesh for Israel
Zechariah 12-14; Jerusalem the day of the Lord all nations participate in a siege of Jerusalem
Luke 21:24; Jerusalem till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled Jerusalem trodden down by Gentiles
Revelation 9:16; Euphrates 200 million horsemen slay one third of men
Revelation 11:1-2; the temple, Jerusalem 42 months Gentiles occupy the outer court of the temple, and trample the holy city
Revelation 16:12-16; Euphrates, the whole world, Armageddon the great day of God Almighty deceived people gather at Armageddon
Revelation 20:8-9; the whole earth when the thousand years have expired deceived people come against the camp of the saints, and the beloved city