THE LAST DAYS OF BABYLON Part 7, THE JUDGMENT

Goodnews Christian Ministry

"He who obeys the commands will come to no harm, and the wise man knows there will be a time of judgment." ---Eccl. 8:5

CHAPTER 31

Michael the Archangel

"At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people;
It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began.
At that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake;
Some shall live forever,
others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace."
Daniel 12:1-3

_____________

As they waited expectantly for the Messiah promised by Moses to appear before them, a tradition arose among the Jews that He would be preceded by the prophet Elijah.

Issuing an oracle in the name of God, the prophet Malachi proclaimed, "Know that I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before my day comes, that great and terrible day. He shall turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the hearts of children towards their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a curse." (Malachi 3:23-24).

The expectation of Elijah changed the Jewish focus. Instead of keying on the Intercessor himself, they began to re-focus on the one who would precede Him and herald His coming.

As the tradition grew, it became a major element in Jewish theology. Liturgically it was incorporated into the celebration of the Passover dinner where, on every Jewish table, an empty cup was always set aside for the prophet Elijah -- in expectation of his impending visit.

Despite the fact that Elijah has already come and gone, this empty cup still stands and waits whenever the Passover Seder is celebrated. Refusing to believe that Elijah made his return in the first century, the Jews still honor the tradition and continue to await his arrival.

That wait will be rewarded.

But not by the one they expect.

Jesus said that Elijah made his appearance in the form of John the Baptist, so that prophecy is done with. (Mt.17:9-13).

But there is another incarnation prophecy in scripture -- and it concerns a heavenly figure even greater than Elijah -- Michael the Archangel.

"At that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who mounts guard over your people." (Dan.12:1).

This prophecy in the Book of Daniel indicates that God intends to raise up on earth, just as He did at the Intercesssor's first appearance, a divine figure to be the harbinger of the Second Coming.

As soon as the Lawless Rebel has died and the final tribulations are drawing to a close, God's most powerful angel will appear in the flesh to lead a small band of Christian refugees from out of the north across the desert toward Jerusalem. (Dan.12:1, Is.16:1).

Fleeing the persecutions, a small group of Christian fugitives will leave Rome, the capitol of Babylon, and begin a winding journey to Jerusalem.

Stated literally, Isaiah's prophecy proclaims the route of flight. Directed by God, the lamb of the ruler of the country will leave Sela (Petra) by way of the desert, purposely wending his way to the mountain of the daughter of Zion. (Is.16:1).

Leading this holy contingent will be Michael the Archangel, the guardian prince of the people of God -- the angel revealed in the Book of Joshua to be the captain of God's army. (Dn.12:1, Jos.5:14).

Greater than Elijah, Michael the Archangel is Elijah's commander.

Scripture indicates that the Rebel will meet his death before Michael appears (Dn.12:1), and by the time Michael reaches Jerusalem and makes his triumphant entrance into that city, the Rebel's entire army will have been destroyed as well:

"At evening all was terror; before morning comes they are no more. Such was the lot of our plunderers, such the fate of our despoilers." (Is.17:14). The 'morning' that Isaiah is talking about is the daylight of the Second Coming -- the brilliant reappearance of Jesus Christ flashing from east to west across the skies.

Michael's expedition will represent the exodus of the Church, freed by the Rebel's proclamation, leaving its long captivity in Babylon and returning in triumph to the Jerusalem it was banished from by the decree of God almost 2000 years ago.

The journey will lead away from Rome (symbol of the Church's dispersion to Babylon) through the eastern deserts, and finally to Jerusalem in Palestine which the holy contingent will approach from the east.

Michael and his small entourage will represent the City of David returning to reunite itself with the city of Jerusalem, finally re-combining the long-divided twin Houses of Israel back into a single entity once again.

With Michael's appearance in Jerusalem, the Jews, so long blind, will suddenly regain their sight and see the Lord of Hosts. Falling to their knees in sorrow and joy, they will repent of their sins in His name.

Instantly, unity between the two houses of Israel will be reestablished.

The symbolism of this journey is immense -- it will signify the end of the Babylonian exile and the final consummation of the ingathering.

It is only at this point -- at the very end of civilization -- that the Jerusalem of Palestine will become the focal point for return. For it is here that God has decreed the Last Judgment to occur, and all mankind will be called to attend.

That is why Jerusalem's rebirth in our century is so significant. The time for all these things is obviously close at hand.

The wrath that proceeds this event will have been so intense that very little faith will still exist on earth in these last moments. "But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?" (Lk.18:8).

Just as darkness came upon the Jews two thousand years ago when they rejected the Sonlight that God had sent to them, so it will be with the world after they revolt and reject Jesus and His words.

Everything will be reversed. The pagans will go blind and the Jews will regain their sight.

This darkness will represent a time of great spiritual famine for the world because during the night of the beast, the Son of God, vilified, persecuted and bitterly condemned, will have virtually disappeared from the world's view:

"They will stagger from sea to sea, wander from north to east, seeking the word of God and fail to find it". (Amos 8:12). At this point the harvest of the pagans will be over and the conversion of the Jews will be at hand.

In Jerusalem a group of Jews will be preparing themselves in the true holiness of the scriptures, unaware that Jesus and Michael are about to appear before them.

There is a little-known prophecy in the Book of Chronicles which describes some of what will occur here at the time of the end. This prophecy concerns two Israelite leaders and it shows that the Jewish nation will be divided into two separate factions as the End approaches.

The leaders of these two factions are represented in the Book of Chronicles by Ahab of Israel and Jehoshaphat of Judea. (2 Chron.15-20).

These two kings illustrate the two political philosophies that will hold sway in Israel during the last days.

Ahab represents a future Israeli leader who will reject the spirit of true religion and choose to pursue a militant and worldly course much like the one which has been popularly embraced by many in Israel today.

Jehoshaphat, on the other hand, images Ahab's polar opposite -- a benevolent leader to come who will encourage the peaceful and compassionate righteousness commanded by scripture.

In the end, the outcome defined in the pages of the Book of Chronicles will be repeated.

The militant group will perish in battle while those who follow the peaceful directives of Jehoshaphat will have their eyes opened to see Jesus when He returns in glory.

From the beginning, the Hebrew religion has always revolved around the Word of God.

Not only did the Ten Commandments form the spiritual heart of the Hebrew scriptures, they were materially palpable as well, residing in a carved acacia box called the 'Ark of the Covenant' which the Israelite priests kept secure in the holiest part of their temple.

When the Ark of the Covenant disappeared at the time of the destruction of Solomon's temple 600 years before Christ was born, the stone tablets which were housed inside it, and on which the Ten Commandements were written, disappeared as well.

With the sudden disappearance of the Ark, and the commandments it housed, a new focal point for worship had to be found.

Facing the prospect of an empty temple with no 'Word of God' at its center, the Jewish priesthood raised up a replacement structure for worship in its place. It included a liturgy steeped in the outward manifestations of religion.

The temple itself became the focus of God, not the commandments for which it was built. Blood sacrifice came to dominate the theology. (Jer.7:22-23).

The prophets considered this substitute liturgy a kind of idolatry -- the pursuit of a false divinity of man-made altars and human traditions. (Amos 5:21-27; Is.1:11-20).

Adding His voice to those of the prophets, Jesus also preached against this change, and He accused the leaders who had shunted Israel away from the commandments of "shutting up the kingdom of heaven in men's faces, neither going in themselves nor allowing others to go in who want to". (Mat.23:13-14).

Kindness, mercy and the forgiveness of enemies were not values heavily embraced by this leadership.

By substituting an obsession for buildings and the artifacts which surrounded them, these leaders had downgraded the importance of the words of God and led all the people astray.

The God that Jesus introduced us to was just the opposite of the material traditions created by the Sadducees and Pharisee's. Completely spiritual, there was nothing material about Him. He was not represented by temple buildings or walls, but by behavior.

Man-made worship concentrates on material things and that is why it is the basis of everything liturgical. But the worship God actually wants from us, and for which He rewards with eternal life, are the spiritual acts of our heart -- the mercy, compassion, kindness and love that we show to one another.

This is the worship that determines the fate of our soul.

That is why God said "I want mercy, not sacrifice."

It is this statement by Jesus that defined the hidden division in the House of Israel -- the division that split it into two groups as far as God is concerned -- one faithful to God's message of righteousness and the other buried in the material traditions of the Law.

"That day, man will look to his creator and his eyes will turn to the Holy One of Israel. He will no longer look after the altars, his own handiwork, nor gaze at what his hands have made: the sacred poles and the solar pillars." (Is.17:7-8).

The term 'solar pillars' implies reverence to the sun and for this reason symbolically represents the worship of all things material. The sun, as a star, is the source of all material life. Thus it gives life to everything that is 'of the earth' or man-made.

The division of the Jews in Israel in the last days will not be between those who support Christianity and those who do not; rather it will hinge between those Jews who are militant and follow the angry and violent ways of this world, and those who exhibit the kind of desire for peace and mercy that God sent Jesus to search for in human beings.

Just as He has with Christians, Jesus will embrace those Jews who have returned to the compassionate and ethical framework of the Bible.

The Jews that Michael will approach at the end will not yet be Christian, but they will be spiritually ethical because they will have looked beyond the traditions of their religion and structured themselves in its faith -- in the behavior of God's Commandments.

They will love their neighbors and have a deep yearning for peace.

The division that distinguishes these two groups is evident in Israel even today. The candle-light peace demonstration that backdropped the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin early in November 1995 is starkly contrasted by the militant zeal of those who replaced him.

Having been eye-witnesses to all the chaos and catastrophe destined to occur as a result of the zealous militancy that is to envelop Palestine and the rest of the world in the last days, many Jewish citizens will understand that the only way they can fight the forces that confront them will be to do just what the Bible says to do-- put their complete trust in God, not in weapons of war.

The followers of Ahab in the Chronicles prophecy represent a contingent of Jews whose intent will be to save Jerusalem through their own militant initiative; and the followers of Jehoshaphat those Jews who forego this temptation and hold fast to the ethics of the Bible, praying for salvation and trusting instead in God's power to save them in fulfillment of scripture's promise.

As we have shown, a framework for these two coalitions in Israel already exists. And for a brief time, the peace advocates actually reigned there; but assassination robbed them of leadership and a majority in Israel voted back into power those whose trust lies in machine guns, not olive branches.

But it is the latter who will remain alive to welcome Michael when he comes to the city.

Both 'Ahab' and 'Jehoshaphat; are symbolic names. The name 'Jehoshaphat' means 'God judges' and is symbolic of the last day -- the day of Judgment.

It is this name 'Jehoshaphat' which the prophet Joel gave to the valley in which the last Judgment of God is to take place: "I am going to gather all the nations and take them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and there I intend to put them on trial for all they have done to Israel, my people and my heritage." (Joel 4:2).

The name, therefore, is strongly associated with both Judgment and with the last days.

Pointing to events which are still unfolding in our own time, the Book of Chronicles states that the prophet Azariah spoke to Jehoshaphat's father, Asa, and told him:

"Listen to me, Asa, and all you of Judah and Benjamin (the two tribes which today form modern Israel) "God is with you so long as you are with him. When you seek him he lets you find him; when you desert him, he deserts you."

"Many a day Israel will spend without a faithful God, without priest to teach, and without law; but in their distress they will return to the Lord, the God of Israel; they will seek him, and he will let them find him."
(2 Chron.15:1-3).

In this prophecy, the Holy Spirit was preparing Judea for its long isolation apart from God -- the 2000 year separation which would come to pass because the leaders of Jerusalem had rejected the Righteous Priesthood of God's only Son.

The Jews lost their right to administer the office of the priesthood over the House of Israel soon after Jesus was crucified. The Roman forces came into Jerusalem and destroyed both the temple and the altar.

Not only robbing the Jews of its sacred site to conduct ritual sacrifice, the Roman forces also annihilated the Jewish priesthood as well.

Jesus had prepared the world to understand the meaning of this loss. "I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.'" (Mt.21:38-43).

As we have seen, both the priesthood and the altar of sacrifice immediately reappeared in the services of Christianity, but the Jews could not see this reproduction, steadfastly rejecting the ultimate and divine sacrifice Jesus had made to save the world.

Looking instead for an altar of sacrifice to give the priesthood Mosaic meaning outside of Christ (and failing to find it), the Jews have never been able to bring their priestly office back into service.

While there is some talk of rebuilding an altar and priesthood for Jewish animal sacrifices today, the Rock of Abraham upon which the Torah says the temple must be constructed remains far out of reach.

So these prophecies in the Book of Chronicles detailing the Jewish exile and their separation from God are current. A fact we can see even more clearly as we explore them further.

"When that time comes no grown man will know peace, for many troubles will afflict all the inhabitants of the country. "

"Nation will be shattered by nation, city shattered by city, since God will afflict them with every kind of distress. But for your part, take courage, do not let your hands weaken, for your deeds will be rewarded."
(2 Chron.15:4-7).

Azariah's prophecy shows that this long separation (the 2000-year diaspora) will be repaired at a time of intense world violence -- a time when most of the major cities of the world will have been shattered into ruins on account of it.

After receiving these prophecies, Asa was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat. As we have seen, his is a symbolic name and succession -- one that points to the true restoration of Judah.

According to the Book of Chronicles, While Jehoshaphat and his followers remain in the city in prayer, his militant rival , Ahab, will lead a group of Jews into the Arabian desert to wage war on the enemies that confront Jerusalem, but they will be unsuccessful. They will be annihilated in the battle. (2 Chron.18:12-22).

The prophet Zechariah has confirmed this passage concerning Ahab's defeat in the Book of Chronicles by revealing that one-half of the city will fall into the hands of its enemies in the last battle of Jerusalem, "Half the city will go into captivity..." (Zc.14:2).

The forces loyal to Jehoshaphat, on the other hand, will be spared. "...but the remnant of the people will not be cut off from the city." (Zc.14:2).

Having set his heart on seeking God, the Jehoshaphat of the future will tear down many of the barriers erected in the name of tradition that have stood between his people and God (all the 'sacred poles'). Instead, he will show kindness and mercy to those whom many Jews now consider their enemies. (2 Chron.19:3).

Faithful to his peaceful course, he will appeal not to his army, but to God to protect Judea from the vast horde that will surround Jerusalem during the last days. (2 Chron.20:12).

According to the Book of Chronicles, when those times arrive, a prophet will arise from the people and declare what will happen that day: "Listen all you men of Judah, God says this to you, 'Do not be afraid, do not be daunted by this vast horde; this battle is not yours but God's. March out against them tomorrow, but you will not need to fight them. Take up your position, stand firm, and see what salvation the Lord has in store for you." (2 Chron.20:15-17).

The following morning, "When the men of Judah reached the spot...where they could see the horde massed against them, they found only corpses lying on the ground; no one had escaped." (2 Chron.20:24).

These words presage the events destined to occur in the land of Palestine just before the end -- just before the Jews recognize that Jesus is God.

They show that the battle of Armageddon will be God's alone. Men will not join in the fight.

On that day, when they witness this miracle, the leader of the Jews and all of the people under his command will understand the truth, and it is then that they will recognize that the messenger who is approaching them in the name of the Lord from the Mount of Olives, comes directly from God.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, they will welcome into the city, Michael and his holy entourage as they approach the Golden Gate.

The Jews were made blind because they rejected the Word that God had sent them -- Jesus Christ. Paul said that this blindness was not permanent and only existed for the sake of the world's salvation.

"One section of Israel has become blind, but this will last only until the whole pagan world has entered, and then, after this, the rest of Israel will be saved as well." (Rom.11:25.)

Because they recognized Jesus when he first appeared, the pagans are being saved first. And once all the pagans have been saved, the Jews will have their veiled sight restored.

When that happens, Paul said, it will mean the end of the world: "Nothing less than a resurrection from the dead!" (Rom.11:15).

Because the Jews are so focused on re-establishing the promises of Moses in Palestine, it will take a calamitous sequence of events to alter their current persuasion and cause them to realize that there can be no Promised Land in this world.

The Bible details a string of catastrophe's throughout the world during the last days easily violent enough to accomplish this change of perspective.

The activities destined to occur in the Middle East and spread across the world during the reign of the beast will be more devastating than anything that has ever happened in the previous history of the human race.

The world will become a wasteland. By the time Michael reaches the Mount of Olives, skies throughout the world will be covered in darkness; most of the world's cities will lie in smoldering ruins; the Jewish dissidents will have all died in battle; and so too, will have perished the beast and all his legions of armies.

The final contingent of Jews who survive all these events, seeing the continuing bombardments from the heavens that portend the imminent destruction of even the earth itself, will have nothing else on their minds except their rescue by God.

It will be clear to them, just as it is to everyone else in those times that this world is doomed and cannot be saved.

"I will display portents in heaven and on earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the day of God dawns, that great and terrible day. "

"All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved, for on Mount Zion there will be some who have escaped, as God has said, and in Jerusalem some survivors whom the Lord will call."
(Joel 3:4-5).

It is to these survivors -- the faithful Jews led by the Jehoshaphat of the last days -- that Michael the Archangel will be sent by God. When Michael reaches Jerusalem, and is greeted by its citizens, the veil that has hidden Jesus from the Jews will be lifted.

This veil was implaced by the Lord, Himself, when He stood before the temple in Jerusalem 2000 years ago and announced:

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often have I longed to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you refused!"

"So be it, your house will be left to you desolate, for I promise, you shall not see me any more until you say: 'Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord."
(Mt.23:37-39).

This is the proclamation of recognition Jerusalem should have voiced for John the Baptist two thousand years ago, but God has sealed the words and reserved them for John's Commander, Michael, instead.

"Joshua had given the people the following order: 'Do not shout, do not utter even a word; let nothing be heard from you till the day when I say: Raise the war cry. Then you are to shout." (Joshua 6:10)

Seeing Michael and the small Christian group that accompanies him approach Jerusalem from the East, the historic shout will boom out among the inhabitants of the holy city.

Using the words that Christ prophesied, they fall on their knees in worship to God's holy Son as they call out the proclamation that unseals the veil: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" . (Mt.23:39).

This proclamation is the war cry.

It is the fulfillment of the prophecy which Joshua issued at Jericho. (Joshua 6:5-10). "When you hear the sound of the trumpet, the whole people must utter a mighty war cry and the town wall will collapse then and there; then the people can storm the town."

When this war cry is sounded by Jerusalem's inhabitants it will break the solitude of the long Jewish night and bring the wall housing the sealed gate crashing to the ground -- the last wall still standing in Jerusalem. (Joshua 6:20).

"Your arrogant lofty walls he destroys, he overthrows, he flings them in the dust." (Is.25:12).

This occasion in Jerusalem at the end of time is of such momentous importance that the Lord arranged a meeting at Jericho between Michael and Joshua before the battle there to show the world what God intended to instrument in the veils of its symbolism.

"When Joshua was near Jericho, he raised his eyes and saw a man standing there before him grasping a drawn sword. Joshua walked towards him and said to him, 'Are you with us or with our enemies?' The man answered, 'No, I am captain of the army of God, and now I come..." (Joshua 5:13-15).

Only this fragment of that historic meeting survives. But it tells us everything. In the same way that Joshua and his forces were led to victory by God's most powerful heavenly commander, so, too, will be the occasion of the end. That same 'captain of the army of God' is the one called Michael the Archangel, come now in the final moments of earth's history to complete the Jericho prophecy.

As the wall falls, the Jews will break into song in celebration of its collapse as they welcome Michael and the small band of Christian refugees who are with him as they approach Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives:

"That day, this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; to guard us he has set wall and rampart about us. Open the gates! let the upright nation come in, she, the faithful one whose mind is steadfast, who keeps the peace because she trusts in you." (Is.26:1-3).

Crashing to the ground, the stones which seal Jerusalem's Golden Gate will fall away amid the sounds of war cry and trumpet blast.

At the collapse of this sealed gate, the Jews will pour through the new opening, chanting the words of the 118th Psalm, their hands filled with olive and palm branches as they line the road to welcome their Guardian Angel as he and his fellow travelers ascend the sacred pathway leading into the city.

Those who are there will hear these words spoken:

"Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting! Hard-pressed, I invoked the Lord, he heard me and came to my relief...The pagans were swarming round me...In the name of the Lord I cut them down;"

" they swarmed round me closer and closer...in the name of the Lord I cut them down...I was pressed, pressed and about to fall, but the Lord came to my help...The Lord is my strength and my song, he has been my saviour..."

"Open the gates of virtue to me, I will come in and give thanks to the Lord...This is the Lord's gateway, through which the virtuous may enter...It was the stone rejected by the builders that proved to be the keystone; this is the Lord's doing and it is wonderful to see."

"This is the day made memorable by the Lord, what immense joy for us! Please Lord, please save us. Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!"
(Ps.118:1-29)

It is not Jesus per se that the Jews will be welcoming here. It is His servant, Michael the Archangel, the messenger appointed by God to herald His coming. The prophecy calls for the Jews to welcome the "one who comes to them in the name of the Lord".

Since Jesus is the Lord, it is not Jesus that this prophecy represents. Instead, it fills the cup meant for Elijah with the wine it has awaited for thousands of years, and, in so doing, it completes the vision. The prophecy heralds the fulfillment of the long and anguished Jewish wait.

Just as God sent Elijah in the form of John the Baptist to herald the first appearance of the Lord on earth, so He will send Michael at the end to proclaim a moment of even greater magnitude -- Christ's Second Coming. (Dn.12:1).

It is important to note here that as this prophecy comes into greater understanding, false prophets will arise and pretend to be its fulfillment. That is why Jesus warned against going out into the desert in search of Him.

Jesus said that as the warfare and violence grow, so, too, will false prophecy, and He warned, "If, then, they say to you, 'Look, he is in the desert', do not go there; or 'Look, he is in some hiding place', do not believe it; because the coming of the Son of Man will be like lightning striking in the east and flashing far into the west." (Mt.24:26).

Going into the desert in the quest of God will be useless. Daniel's scripture clearly shows that God will not even initiate Michael's appearance on earth until after the Rebel is dead and the warfare between the nations has left most of the world completely destroyed. (Dn.12:1).

It would be pointless therefore, to expect to see him before these catastrophic events have been concluded.

With the Jewish blindness at an end, the trumpet of Gabriel will sound, and Michael will call out the command (1 Thes.4:16).

At that instant, Jesus will return in a flash of light that will be seen everywhere in the world by everyone at the same moment, bringing this world to an abrupt and conclusive end. (1 Thes.4:17).

When Jesus comes, his appearance will be instantaneous everywhere on earth at the same time "because the coming of the Son of Man will be like lightning striking in the east and flashing far into the west." (Mt.24:27).

Just as Jesus left the world by being lifted up in a cloud (Acts 1:9), so he will return in a cloud the same way that he left (Acts 1:11). But the clouds on which he returns will be the clouds of heaven . (Mt.24:30).

At that instant the sky will be rolled back before our eyes and we will all be caught up in the air -- those who have died and those who are still alive -- and we will see all the angels and the throne of God just as Daniel described them. (Dan.7:9-10).

"At the trumpet of God the voice of the archangel will call out the command and the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and then those of us who are still alive will be taken up in the clouds together with them, to meet the Lord in the air." (1 Thes.4:16-17).

This, of course, is the true moment of the rapture.


The Last Days of Babylon


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