“Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it.”[Zechariah 12:2-3]
If there is one word that best encapsulates the nature of the Day of the LORD, it is the word Convergence. The Day of the LORD will be that monumental point in time when everything in heaven and on earth converges in unimaginable climatic finality. It as if all the collective forces of the entire universe — visible and invisible — will be accelerating from every possible direction and will collide at the very same place and time.
Of course once the dust clears, there will be One standing above all — His name is Jesus. It will be His day and His day alone.
We may not know precisely when everything will converge in the end, but we at least will know when the end is near and when the return of Jesus is close at hand, even at the very gates [Mark 13:29]. Although it is not for us to know the exact time … we do know the place.
The Scriptures unequivocally are clear that the Day of the LORD will converge in one pre-determined place on earth — Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is the spiritual epicenter of the world and the unique geographical location on earth where God Almighty has chosen to place His name and laid special claim [see 1 Kings 11:36]. Therefore, it should be no surprise that on that Day all the collective forces of evil will gather and lay siege to the holy city Jerusalem.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. Thus says the LORD: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts, the holy mountain.”[Zechariah 8:2-3]
Jerusalem — A Cup of Staggering
The Middle East provides the original historical context of the Biblical narrative, which simply means that all of the events and accounts in the holy Scriptures occurred within the Middle East. Nestled in the heart of the Middle East in the Promised Land — Israel — and more specifically the city of Jerusalem. Therefore, all that originally began in Israel and the Middle East also will inevitably end there.
The prophet Zechariah provides some of the most interesting details about the Day of the LORD and the fate of Jerusalem in the last days. The LORD describes the scene in Zechariah 12, saying that on that Day the peoples immediately surrounding Jerusalem will converge in a drunken rage to lay siege to the city, not to mention “all the nations of the earth” [Zechariah 12:3].
This last day invasion of Israel and siege of Jerusalem is emphasized by the prophets, Apostles, and Jesus Himself, and their testimony overwhelmingly agrees. This may not be the first time in history that hostile armies have laid siege to Jerusalem, but it most certainly will be the last.
The horrific, historical accounts of the destruction of Jerusalem both in 586 B.C. and again in 70 A.D. were but typological shadows of the final invasion in the last days. As we will see, the testimony of the Biblical prophets all point us to the final siege of Jerusalem at the end of the age, culminating with the Day of the LORD.
The Beast and His Armies
“And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.”[Revelation 16:13-16]
Biblical eschatology is complex and enigmatic to say the least. When reading the prophetic passages describing the siege of Jerusalem and the final battle of Armageddon, however, one thing is clear. An evil tyrant king — aka the Antichrist — will emerge on the world stage in the last days and successfully will unite the kings of the earth and their armies to invade the Holy Land and lay siege to Jerusalem.
Now when it comes to the identity and end-time exploits of the Antichrist, or Beast, there is no shortage of differing interpretations and proposed scenarios. Elements of timing and geography are challenging, yet with careful study we can at least put the pieces of the prophetic puzzle together and begin to form a picture of the Beast and his kingdom.
The prophetic writings of Daniel and Ezekiel lay the groundwork for the beast imagery and provide a composite overlay of the collective territories that most likely will be aligned with the Beast in the last days.
For instance, I firmly am convinced that the Antichrist will rule a Middle Eastern kingdom — NOT a revived Roman Empire. For a deeper study on this, I encourage you to read Joel Richardson’s free online book, Mideast Beast, which is one of the most comprehensive Biblical explanations of why the Antichrist must emerge from and rule over a predominately Middle Eastern kingdom.
Again, apocalyptic literature uses mysterious symbols like “beasts” and “statues” and “horns” to describe the kingdoms and kings who will be aligned with the Antichrist in the last days. Although the scope of this post will not attempt to parse the intricacies of apocalyptic symbolism etc… I will at least provide some basic facts that help provide context for those surrounding nations involved in the final siege of Jerusalem.
- The Antichrist is foreshadowed by many ruthless historical figures, such as Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus Epiphanes, Haman, etc…
- Other Old Testament titles for the Antichrist include the Assyrian, Gog, the cruel master, the king of the north, and the “little horn”
- The Antichrist will emerge from obscurity (little horn) and gradually will gain influence and power through intrigue, political diplomacy and deceptive schemes.
- As the Beast grows in popularity and political power in the Middle East, the Bible says that he will begin forming strategic alliances and launching military campaigns throughout the region. Some will resist at first (i.e. Egypt) but eventually the Beast will become an irresistible force.
- The Beast will form a military coalition of 10 kings, according to Revelation 17, which may or may not be in addition to his previous alliances.
- With the help of the false prophet and demonic deception, the Beast also will convince the kings from the east to join him for the final battle for Jerusalem.
- Armageddon — of the Valley of Megiddo — is the wide-open plain in northern Israel where the Antichrist and his hoards will gather for battle, but the intensity of the battle will actually take place in and around Jerusalem.
The 4 Beasts of Daniel — A Composite Kingdom
“As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings.”[Daniel 7:23-24]
“And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”[Revelation 17:12-14]
Although I cannot be certain about the entire complexion of this end-time alliance of nations, the Bible does at least provide some clues and also some specific names that help fill in the blanks. The kingdom of Antichrist will consist of 10 kings/kingdoms, who eventually will relinquish all authority to the Beast.
Beginning with the 4 beasts in the book of Daniel (Daniel 2 & 7), I believe that the prophet received a composite picture of the end-times empire of the Antichrist. The beast kingdoms in Daniel’s visions were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Javan (Ancient Greece/Macedonia) and then a fourth terrifying beast unlike all the others — which I believe describes the revived Islamic Caliphate/Ottoman Empire.
These 4 “beasts” create a composite of the historical territories that were conquered and ruled by these successive kingdoms. In short, all of these ancient kingdoms are included in what is modern-day Middle East. Territories like Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Northern Africa immediately come into view. Again, these are the same modern territories that encompass Israel.
It is worth noting that all of these nations today are overwhelmingly Muslim majority nations. The maps below provide a visual representation of what the Mid East Beast kingdom could be.
Gog, of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal
“Therefore, son of man, prophesy, and say to Gog, Thus says the Lord GOD: On that day when my people Israel are dwelling securely, will you not know it? You will come from your place out of the uttermost parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great host, a mighty army. You will come up against my people Israel, like a cloud covering the land. In the latter days I will bring you against my land, that the nations may know me, when through you, O Gog, I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.”[Ezekiel 38:14-16]
The next context clue we discover is in the book of Ezekiel, and it involves the last-days invasion of Israel at the direction of Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Again, the Antichrist is in full view here. Gog is a clear description of the end-times Beast, leading his hordes of evil armies against Israel.
Fortunately, Ezekiel provides historical geographic locations that can easily be linked to modern-day nations in the Middle East, further building the composite picture of the end-times kingdom of the Antichrist.
“Persia, Cush, and Put are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all his hordes; Beth-togarmah from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes—many peoples are with you.”[Ezekiel 38:5-6]
Any preliminary study of the ancient world will show that Magog, Meschech, Tubal, Gomer and Beth-togarmah all refer to modern-day Turkey/eastern Greece — or what was known as Asia Minor in Biblical days. See the map below.
Persia is modern-day Iran. Cush represents modern day Sudan, while Put represents modern-day Libya. Again, this brings Northern Africa into view.
The Kings from the East
“The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east.”[Revelatin 16:12]
The final piece of the Armageddon puzzle refers to the kings from the east, which potentially could include armies from Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, and possibly China. Although we can’t be sure, I believe Islam will be the ultimate unifying factor in this massive assembly of armies.
The final invasion of Israel and the siege of Jerusalem will be led by the Antichrist (Gog, the Beast) and will involve a massive Middle Eastern army from the surrounding nations. This assembly of hostile armies will most certainly include Israel’s closet neighbors like Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria [Psalm 83], but also will involve the predominantly Muslim nations of the greater Middle East and Northern Africa.
The Scriptures are filled with depictions of this final battle for Jerusalem and also of the subsequent outpouring of wrath on the nations by King Jesus Himself. I would like to leave you with a sample of these prophetic passages that describe this fateful battle on the Day of the LORD.
Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations,
and gather yourselves there.
Bring down your warriors, O LORD.
Let the nations stir themselves up
and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
for there I will sit to judge
all the surrounding nations.
Put in the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe.
Go in, tread,
for the winepress is full.
The vats overflow,
for their evil is great.
Multitudes, multitudes,[Joel 3:11-15]
in the valley of decision!
For the day of the LORD is near
in the valley of decision.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
“Therefore wait for me,” declares the LORD, “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed.”[Zephaniah 3:8]
“For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.“[Zechariah 14:2-3]
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.”[Luke 21:20-22]
“And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.”[Revelation 19:19-21]