When the oppression on Israel begins, those Jews who hold to the orthodoxy of the Mosaic law and the Messianic promise, will have nothing to do with the false Messiah worship the beast establishes. A large body of these faithful Jews will then flee Judea to hide in the wilderness mountains of Edom, Moab and Ammon. Here, as God's chosen people they will be protected during this time of oppression.

Revelation 12.6
And the woman fled into the wilderness
where she had a place prepared by God
so that she might be nourished for 1260 days.


Revelation 12 backs up in the chronological progression of the book and picks up from the "mid-point" of the week with the events that will occur as a result of the war in heaven which kicks Satan down to the earth. John's vision is the "present" from his perspective but the subject of the vision is the persecution from Satan during the 2nd half of the week - or more specifically, during the great tribulation.
In order to understand who the participants are in this vision, a little history lesson is needed. The history lesson is included within the vision and sets the stage for understanding exactly what is going on and who is involved as the events unfold.

In verse one we are introduced to the "woman" who is clearly identified as Israel through the symbolism of the "sun, moon and 12 stars" which is taken from Genesis 37:9-10; and through the fact that this woman "gave birth to a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron."

Since it is without question that Jesus Christ as the only one who will "rule all the nations with a rod of iron," . . .

Psalm 2:9
Thou shalt shepherd them with a rod of iron,
Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware.

Revelation 2:27
as I also have received {authority} from My Father;

Revelation 19:15
And from His mouth comes a sharp sword,
so that with it He may smite the nations;
and He will rule them with a rod of iron;
and He treads the wine press
of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

. . .we have further "proof positive" that the woman in view at this chapter must indeed be the race of Hebrews or Jews as they later came to be designated.

Once this identification of "The Son" is made, it is then obvious that the woman is the Jewish race (not Mary). In the context of the land of Palestine today, it is the nation of Israel. Accordingly, the child going up to the throne of God is the ascension and session of Jesus to the right hand of the throne of God. Furthermore, we are able to identify the "historical" events symbolized in verses 1-5 as taking place prior to the ascension of Jesus and see in those verses the general attack on the Jewish race throughout its history. Then it is quite simple to understand that it is the Jewish race, and those in the land of Israel specifically, who will come under the great attack from Satan when he is kicked down to the earth.
Thus, when that event takes place and the great persecution begins upon the "devout" ones of Israel, many of them will be encouraged and guided into the wilderness where they will be protected by God until the Day of the LORD arrival of Jesus interrupts the beast's aggression. Not all the Jews in Israel will escape. Some will actually stay and embrace beast worship. Many will be unable to leave and have to go into hiding to avoid the sword of the beast.


Jesus, in His prophetic discourse on Olivet, actually gave warning to the Christians  living in Judea as well as anyone else who might be in the area that they should flee when they see the "the abomination standing in the holy place."
Matthew 24:16-21,

"then let THOSE who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall."

It is imperative to recognize that this is a general warning addressed to the Christians "who are in Judea." Jesus was teaching the disciples as the founders of the church and through them, was teaching all Christians who would read the written account recorded by the disciples.  But of course, any Gentiles and any of the Jewish race who are in the area should also take warning and get out. These "others" will hear of this warning through the evangelistic activity of the church or by simply picking up a Bible and reading it.

There will be a large group of Jews in Judah who choose to flee, and there will be divine protection provided for them for the entire period of the last half of the 70th week (3 1/2 years). This place in the wilderness is probably just East of Judah in the areas of Moab and Ammon.
Revelation 12:14-16,

"And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, (Israel) in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth."

However, in a Palestinian context, there will be a major campaign to try to get the people in hiding to come out of their refuge.
For both Christians and Jews, the claim that the Christ (Messiah) is here or there, will be a very tempting "carrot on a stick." Jesus warned about this as recorded at Matthew 24.23-26.

Then if anyone says to you, "Behold, here is the Christ, or there," don't believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead. if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. Therefore, if they say to you, "Behold, He is in the wilderness," don't go, or "Behold, He is in the inner rooms," don't believe it.

The Jews who are secure in the wilderness refuge will also be tempted by these claims. And although protected in their sanctuary, there seems to be nothing stopping them from leaving. These Jews will also come under verbal abuse by the people of Moab and Ammon, taunting and reviling, probably trying to goad them to come out of their refuge before it is safe to do so. We see this in Zephaniah whose messages are given in a day-of-the-LORD context.
Verse 2:8
"I have heard the taunting of Moab and the revilings of the sons of Ammon with which they have taunted my people and become arrogant against their territory."

These two areas will also come under direct judgment from God because of this arrogant abuse of God's people. Verses 2:9-10

Therefore, as I live,” declares the Lord of hosts, The God of Israel,
“Surely Moab will be like Sodom
And the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah—
A place possessed by nettles and salt pits,
And a perpetual desolation.
The remnant of My people will plunder them
And the remainder of My nation will inherit them.”
This they will have in return for their pride, because they have taunted and become arrogant against the people of the Lord of hosts.


There will also be a specific group of Jews who will be seeking refuge in the wilderness area of Edom located south of Judah.
But the Edomites, who will be faithful beast worshippers, will aggressively search these Jews out and deceive them to come out of hiding, just to turn them over to the sword of the beast.
It is because of this attack by the Edomites that there land will come under special judgment during the Day of the LORD.

Ezekiel 35:1-15 gives us some very unique specifics:
Verse 2, "set your face against Mount Seir,"
Verse 15, "and all of Edom."
Verse 5
"Because you have delivered the sons of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, at the time of the punishment OF THE END. . ."

In Obadiah we see the promised judgment on the Edomites and a specific warning to individuals NOT to be among the ones who participate in this campaign of greed and deception.
Verse 1, "concerning Edom."
Verses 9-14
"Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman, In order that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter. Because of violence to your brother Jacob, You will be covered {with} shame, And you will be cut off forever. On the day that you stood aloof, On the day that strangers carried off his wealth, And foreigners entered his gate And cast lots for Jerusalem - You too were as one of them. Do not gloat over your brother's day, The day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah In the day of their destruction; Yes, do not boast In the day of distress. Do not enter the gate of My people In the day of their disaster. Yes, you, do not gloat over their calamity in the day of their disaster. And do not loot their wealth in the day of their disaster. And do not stand at the fork of the road To cut down their fugitives; And do not imprison their survivors In the day of their distress."


It is also imperative to keep distinct the Jewish resisters, who flee to the wilderness sanctuary, and the Christians identified as those "who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus." Revelation 12:17.
The Christians are designated as "the rest of her offspring" because all Christians are the "brethren" of Jesus (Heb. 2:10-11), and thus symbolically are also the offspring of the woman; the Jewish race.


There will also be many Christians and Jews scattered all throughout the world who will come under the attack of the beast to the extent that he has reached those particular geographical locations.
It is true that he will have authority "over every tribe and people and tongue and nation (Rev. 13:7)," but his administration of that authority will take time to complete. In fact, he won't actually succeed in reaching the whole world because the divine decree of God will cut short his reign several months after it begins. Mat. 24:21-22.


Now we must back up again. When orthodox Israel flees there will be left in the land a vast majority of Jews who accept the beast as the promised messiah and fall right in step with him. We saw this earlier at Daniel 11:34b,

"and many will join with them in hypocrisy."

Some believe that this "national apostasy" of Israel is what Paul had in mind at 2 Thessalonians 2:3, which says that THE apostasy must occur before the Day of the LORD arrives.

It seems that this apostasy would be a specific historical event that would mark the beginning of the week and portend the arrival of the Day of the Lord at the proper time. Marv Rosenthal gives detailed support for this view in The Prewrath Rapture of the Church, chapter 15. He summarizes it on pages 206-207 as follows.

"The apostasy, then, to which Paul referred (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), will involve Israel, not the church. It will commence when many within the nation sign a covenant with the Antichrist (unknown to them, a covenant with death) at the beginning of that seventieth week. The apostasy will encompass a total abandonment of falling away from renewed covenant relationship (the seventieth week) and from the God of their forefathers and the promised Messiah. They will embrace a counterfeit religion (humanism) and a counterfeit Messiah (the Antichrist) who offers a counterfeit peace and solution to the Middle East dilemma."


However, there is another, more viable option for THE apostasy and that is what Jesus described at Matthew 24:9-12. A specific and historical "falling away" of Christians from the faith because of a massive worldwide hatred and persecution launched against the church in direct connection with the oppressive reign of the beast. As I have already demonstrated, Matthew 24:9, "Then they will deliver up to tribulation," refers to the very oppression initiated by the beast at the midpoint of the 70th week, which is "great" in intensity (Matthew 24:21) and directed against "the elect" (Matthew 24:22); "the saints" (Revelation 13:7); the church (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7); those "who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 12:17).

To summarize:

The Apostasy of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is referring to something that is specific rather than general (THE apostasy). It is certainly something that the recipients of the letter knew about (verse 2:5) and would be known by the church in general as well by understanding what had been taught orally and in writing (verse 2:15).

The apostles teach of a general decline in moral and spiritual standards that would occur in the latter days, but they are quick to point out that it is already taking place at the time of writing. Furthermore, The apostasy is not referring to a general "condition" of spiritual apathy in the world, but a massive falling away from an established standard. It speaks of Christians turning away from true Christianity.

Jesus taught that during a specific time of tribulation (Matthew 24:9), there would be a great falling away from the truths of Christianity because of an intensity of hatred and persecution unparalleled in history. Matthew 24:9-12.

"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and will kill you and you will be hated by all the nations because of My name. And then many will be caused to stumble (fall away) and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and will deceive many. And because the lawlessness (via the man of lawlessness) is increased, the love of many will grow cold."

According to the words, "therefore" and "for then" at verses 15 and 21 respectively, this will occur after the abomination of desolation is set up in the Jewish Holy Place by the man of lawlessness. This "beast" will mount a massive attack on Christians as described at Revelation 12:17 and 13:7. Furthermore, based on Matthew 24:10, many Christians will reject their claim to Christianity and actually betray others into the hands of the beast (Matthew 24:23-26).

At verse 24, Jesus indicates that the deception of the elect will occur, just as He indicated in verses 10-12.
"For false christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, since it is possible, even the elect."
The IF clause in this verse is a first class condition. That means that the "condition" is seen as either ASSUMED to be true, or UNDERSTOOD to be true. The point here is that the deception of the elect is a very real potential, just as Jesus indicated at verse 4, "See to it that no one misleads you."

The word for apostasy that Paul uses at 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is "apostasia," and means basically the act and/or the condition of standing away from something; a departure from or rejection of something. Paul even suggests for us what this apostasy is at verse 3 by exhorting the believers to "stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether orally or by letter from us (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

The extent of this apostasy is such that Jesus suggests there will be very little practice of true Christianity on the earth when He comes back to take the elect to Himself. Luke 18:7-8

Here, He applies the promise of justice according to divine wisdom and timing to His elect who are afflicted on the earth (2 Thessalonians 1:6).
The promise of justice will be kept when Jesus returns at the Day of the Lord as is indicated at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7.

"For after all, it is only just for God to repay with affliction
those who afflict you, and to give relief to you (and to us as well)
at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of His power in flaming fire."

Thus, "those who endure (remain physically alive) to the end will be delivered (Matthew 10:22 and 24:13).

But, recorded at Luke 18:8, Jesus observes by way of a rhetorical question, "will He find THE faith on the earth?" Faith refers to the function of faith in believers who are relaxed and confident through trusting in the character and plan of God and adhering to the standards of the faith. The issue is not the PRESENCE of believers on the earth, but the presence of believers functioning "in fellowship" with God ("abiding in Him," 1 John 2:28).

This apostasy is also what Paul had in mind at 1 Tim. 4:1, where he uses the verb form of "apostasy" to indicate a departure from those spiritual standards which characterize true Christianity.

At 1 Thessalonians 2:3 we find apostasia, the noun, which is used only one other time in the New Testament at Acts 21:21.

The verb, aphistāmi translated as "fall away," means to take a stand away from something. It can refer to a physical departure from a location or a person; or it can refer to an ideological departure from political or religious viewpoint. In fact, the primary use of the verb is to indicate a "physical" removal from something. It is for this reason that sometimes the argument is made that "apostasy" at 2 Thessalonians 2:3, means "departure" and has in view a physical departure of the saints from the earth via the rapture. However, the meaning and use of a verb is not always the determinative factor for establishing the meaning of a noun that derives from it. Many times a noun develops a specialized meaning based on usage. It seems that just such a case has occurred concerning the noun, apostasia. Every time that it is used in the LXX, it carries the meaning of ideological departure (Joshua 22:22; 2 Chronicles 29:19; 33:19; Ezra 4:19; Jeremiah 2:19). Its only other use in the New Testament (Acts 21:21) indicates an ideological departure. It is therefore, determined by this writer, that the contemporary use of the noun in connection with an immediate context, that certainly recognizes the dangers of "apostasy" for believers (verse 15), that the word, apostasia, was used by Paul to speak of that specific "end times" apostasy which will occur in connection with the revealing of the man of lawlessness and the placement of his image (abomination of desolation) in the Holy Place at the beginning of the tribulation just as Jesus taught at Matthew 24:9-26.

Furthermore, 10 years later, Paul used the verb aphistemi at 1 Timothy 4:1 to refer to the very same apostasy of the tribulation that he referenced in 2 Thessalonians and that Jesus taught about at Matthew 24.

This is what Paul had in mind at 2Thessalonians 2:3, when he writes that the Day of the LORD will not come until there first comes "the" apostasy and the man of lawlessness is revealed.

It should be pointed out, by the way, that the order Paul gives here is not a chronological order, but simply a "personal preference" order.
The two factors mentioned must occur first. Paul is not stating which of the two comes first. In actuality, as can be demonstrated from the rest of the Bible, it is the rise of the man of lawlessness that occurs first and then believers will begin to fall away.

When this man of lawlessness begins his oppressive reign and begins to "woo" the Jews into his "fold," there will be the need for a huge campaign to get the Jews of the land and of the world to re-embrace the TRUE Messianic promise and the orthodoxy of their heritage before they commit themselves to the religious system that the false prophet will institute via the mark of the beast. For then it will be too late.
The functional believers of the church will have a specific evangelistic impact to the Jews at this time, as related at Matthew 10:23,

"Now whenever they persecute in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish with the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes." (BFT)

For details on this passage: Matthew 10:1-23

In addition, at the time that the man of lawlessness begins his oppressive reign, the 2 witnesses begin their 1260 day testimony in Jerusalem and they will have a world-wide impact. Revelation 11:3-6,

"And I will grant {authority} to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sack cloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies; and if anyone would desire to harm them, in this manner he must be killed. These have the power to shut up the sky, in order that rain may not fall during the days of their prophesying and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they desire."

This ministry of warning and pleading with the nation was prophesied by Malachi as being fulfilled in the return of Elijah the prophet. And the purpose is not so much to get them to believe in Jesus, but to embrace the heritage of the past which was given to them by God when they were delivered from Egypt, ie, the Messianic promise. Malachi 4:6.

"Restore the hearts of the fathers to the children
and the hearts of the children to the fathers - -."

The Jews as a whole still have a veil over their hearts (2 Corinthians 3:15; John 8:43; 9:39-41) and will continue in their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah (hardness of heart) "until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in" at the Day of the Lord when Jesus will rapture out the church (Romans 11:25).

Malachi 3:1-2

"Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?"

Malachi 4:5-6

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.
And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to {their} children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.

It is the ministry of these two witnesses to cultivate the Messianic heritage of the Jews and prepare them to recognize Jesus when He arrives in the clouds of the sky at the Day of the Lord. Thus, God will still have a body of believers on the earth after the day of the LORD arrives and the church is taken out. This body of believers will be from the nation of Israel and will function as the evangelistic agent to the whole world. Those who hold to the Messianic promise will recognize Jesus as the Messiah when He arrives to pour out His wrath on the world. Then they will embrace Him as savior and become representatives of truth for the remainder of the 70th week.
These are the 144,000 of Revelation 7:1-8 and 14:1-5, who are probably scattered throughout the world and will be protected from the judgments of God while functioning as His faithful servants.

This plea and warning was given in prophetic format throughout the old testament in a "Day of the LORD" context.

Joel 2:1,

"Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the Day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near."

Zephaniah 1:7,

"Be silent before the Lord Yahweh! For the day of Yahweh is near; for Yahweh has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests."

Zephaniah 2:1-3,

"Gather yourselves together, yes, gather, O nation without shame, Before the decree takes effect - The day passes like the chaff - Before the burning anger of the LORD comes upon you, Before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you. Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; (religious Israel) Seek righteousness, seek humility. PERHAPS you will be hidden In the day of the LORD'S anger."

Amos 5:14-15,

"Seek good and not evil, that you may live; And
thus may the LORD God of hosts be with you, Just as you have said! Hate evil, love good, And establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of hosts May be gracious to the remnant of Joseph."

These are pleas to return to orthodoxy as represented in the heritage of the Jewish people via the Old Testament scriptures. For those who re-embrace their heritage and resist the beast and his system of worship, there will be deliverance from the judgments of God poured out on the world. But for those who do not return to orthodoxy, when the Day comes, it will be for them, a time of great darkness and judgment.

Amos 5:16-20,

"Therefore, thus says the LORD God of hosts, the Lord, There is wailing in all the plazas, And in all the streets they say, Alas! Alas! They also call the farmer to mourning And professional mourners to lamentation. And in all the vineyards {there is} wailing, Because I shall pass through the midst of you, says the LORD. Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD, For what purpose {will} the day of the LORD {be} to you? It {will be} darkness and not light; As when a man flees from a lion, And a bear meets him, Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall, And a snake bites him. {Will} not the day of the LORD {be} darkness instead of light, Even gloom with no brightness in it?"

This plea is also made at Isaiah 2:1-22.

In v. 2-4, we see the promise of the Messiah's earthly kingdom and the spiritual and material blessings that will take place. But before there can be the kingdom there must be the judgment on the world at the Day of the LORD's wrath.

v. 6-9 describes the condition of the nation in Isaiah's generation but reflects the general attitude of the Israelites during the time of the false covenant with the beast as well.

Verse 5, gives a plea to return to the heritage of the LORD.

"Come House of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD."

Verse 5, is a transition verse from the present crisis in Isaiah's generation to the national crisis in the great tribulation under the oppressive reign of the man of lawlessness.
This then, is a plea for recovery before the Day of the LORD comes. If there is no recovery, then when that Day does arrives, their response will be as at v. 10.

"Enter the rock and hide in the dust from the terror of the LORD and from the splendor of His majesty."

This is the same response recorded at Revelation 6:15-17 when the world is confronted with the Day of the LORD return of Jesus.

Verse 11,
These will be the recipients of the Day of the LORD judgments.

"The proud look of man will be exposed,
And the loftiness of man will be neutralized,
And the LORD alone will be exalted IN THAT DAY."

Verse 12,

"For to the LORD of hosts, there is a day -
against everyone who is proud and lofty
and against everyone who is lifted up.
That he may be exposed and humiliated."

Verse 21,

". . . before the terror of the LORD
and the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble."

And the plea then, to those who have embraced the beast as the promised Messiah (prior to actually taking the mark) is found at verse 22.
(my translation)

"Cease from THE man! (the definite article has significance here) Whose breath is in his nostrils; (he is only a creature) For in what degree and for what purpose should he be regarded as honorable?"

The ministry of the two witnesses will continue from the mid-point of the week, beyond the arrival of the Day of the LORD to the end of the week, 1260 days later.
Then they will be killed by the beast at the end of that 1260 day period and their dead bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for the first 3 1/2 days of the final 30 day period of divine wrath that comes via the bowls of Rev. 15 and 16. (Revelation 11:7-13; Daniel 12:11)

Daniel 12:11 teaches that the abominable effects of the
Beast's attack on the temple will not be ended until 30 days after the end of the 70th week. Even though his "official reign" ends on day 1260, his kingdom will not be completely destroyed until 30 days later at the end of the Armageddon campaign.

After the Day of the LORD arrival of Jesus, there will be
the initial conversion of the 144,000 Israelites, and probably a host of other conversions from among the Gentiles and even other Jews as the days of divine judgment are administered upon the earth. The result of this will be that, as the armies of the world merge into Palestine and around Jerusalem during the Armageddon campaign, there will be 4 major groups of Jewish believers present on the earth.

1. Those outside of Palestine living throughout the world.

2. Those hiding in the mountains of Edom, for many of these will become believers after the Day of the LORD arrival of Jesus.

3. The clans of Judah, fighting outside of Jerusalem. Zechariah 12:6-8

4. The inhabitants of Jerusalem. Zechariah 12:6-8

In addition, there will be a large number of Gentile converts so that after Jesus defeats the armies of the world and Satan at Armageddon, He will be able to establish his earthly kingdom with a large number of believers from all the nations of the world.
Zechariah 14:16-21; Isaiah 11:10; 60:10-22; Matthew 25:31-46


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