The Day of the LORD — Naming the Nations

Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.

[Zechariah 14:3]

The Old Testament prophets often delivered prophecies that were intended to convey dual fulfillments — one near and one far away. Many of the divine judgments declared on Israel’s enemies have been partially fulfilled in history, yet a final fulfillment is yet future. For example, Yahweh announced and fulfilled His promise to judge ancient Babylon, but there remains a future judgment described for “Babylon the great” in Revelation 17-18.

The Day of the LORD is the context for the final judgment of these nations, and this post will demonstrate that the LORD was specific when communicating this climatic judgment through the prophets. God uses historical names of specific nations for a reason. The same general geographical territories that historically have been hostile to Israel remain hostile to this day, which sets the stage for intensifying conflict in and around the Holy Land leading to the Day of the LORD.

The Nations in Isaiah

Isaiah dedicates an entire 10 chapters to the final judgment of the nations in the last days. Interestingly enough, both Israel and Jerusalem are listed among those nations who will suffer divine punishment. As the LORD uses the nations as a rod of His anger during the last invasion of Israel and siege of Jerusalem, He will judge His own people for their idolatry and unbelief. Then the LORD will return to deliver the remnant of believing Israel [see Romans 11:25-26] and will strike down the nations for their own rebellion.

Here is a breakdown of nations from Isaiah.

  • Babylon (13:1-14:23) — modern day Iraq/Syria
  • Assyria (14:24-27) — modern day Syria/Iraq/eastern Turkey
  • Philistines (14:28-32) — modern day Gaza
  • Moab (15-16) — modern day Jordan
  • Syria and Israel (17)
  • Ethiopia (18)
  • Egypt (19-20)
  • Cush (20) — modern day Sudan/Ethiopia
  • Babylon (21:1-10)
  • Edom (21:11-12) — modern day Jordan/Saudi Arabia
  • Arabia (21:13-17) — Saudi Arabia/Yemen
  • Jerusalem (22)
  • Tyre (23) — modern day Lebanon

It should be noted that special interest is again given to the territories of Bozrah and Edom in Isaiah 34 and 63, which are classic Day of the LORD passages. Again, these territories correlate to modern-day Jordan and northwestern Saudi Arabia.

The Nations in Jeremiah

Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.” So I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the LORD sent me drink it:

[Jeremiah 25:15-17]

Jeremiah, like Isaiah is full of divine judgments agains the nations [see Jeremiah 46-51], but chapter 25 provides the most complete list from the weeping prophet. As you can see, there is a great deal of overlap between Isaiah and Jeremiah.

  • Jerusalem and the cities of Judah (25:18)
  • Egypt (25:19)
  • Uz (25:20) — exact location uncertain but likely in proximity to modern day Jordan/Syria/Iraq
  • Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod) (25:20) — modern day Gaza
  • Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon (25:21) — modern day Jordan/northwestern Saudi Arabia
  • Tyre, Sidon, and the coastland across the sea (25:22) — modern day Lebanon and eastern Mediterranean
  • Dedan, Tema, Buz (25:23) — modern day Saudi Arabia
  • Arabia (25:24) — Saudi Arabia
  • Zimri, Elam, and Media (25:25) — modern day Iran
  • All the kings of the north, far and near — the Hebrew word for “north,” —Zaphon — can refer simply to geographical territories north of Israel, such as Turkey, but there is also a connection with spiritual wickedness in high places and the term Zaphon [see Isaiah 14:13, Daniel 11, Ezekiel 38]. This could be a reference to the concentration of all the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places in the last days.
  • All the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth (25:26) — This catch-all phrase shows the scope of influence the Antichrist will have in the last days. Although his government will be centralized in the Middle East, his reach will be in some ways global. [see Revelation 13:5-8]
  • Babylon (25:26) — Again there is special attention given to Babylon, which is the historical archenemy of Israel and seat of satanic power and influence.

The Nations in Ezekiel

Ezekiel is no exception when naming the nations to be judged on the Day of the LORD. The prophet dedicates chapters 25-32 to pronounce judgments on specific nations and also provides one of the most comprehensive descriptions of the Day of the LORD in chapters 38-39.

Consider Ezekiel’s lament of Pharaoh and Egypt to be judged on the Day of LORD in chapter 32.

  • Egypt is delivered to the sword; drag her away, and all her multitudes (v. 20)
  • Assyria is there, and all her company, its graves all around it, all of them slain, fallen by the sword (v. 22)
  • Elam (Iran) is there, and all her multitude around her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword (v. 24)
  • Meshech-Tubal (Turkey) is there, and all her multitude, her graves all around it, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword (v. 26)
  • Edom (Jordan) is there, her kings and all her princes, who for all their might are laid with those who are killed by the sword (v. 29)
  • The princes of the north are there, all of them, and all the Sidonians (Lebanon), who have gone down in shame with the slain (v. 30)

Ezekiel also provides details from his description of the judgment of Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal in chapter 38. As I have written in previous posts, Gog is the final end-times Antichrist figure.

  • Meshech, Tubal, Magog, Beth-togarma, Gomer — modern day Turkey/Syria
  • Persia – modern day Iran
  • Cush – modern day Sudan/Ethiopia
  • Put – modern day Libya/Northern Africa

Once again, there is considerable overlap with the nations mentioned by the Biblical prophets. I will share one more passage that hones in on the immediate people groups immediately around Israel. Psalm 83.

The Nations in Psalm 83

Although some interpret Psalm 83 to be some kind of regional conflict that becomes the catalysts for the great tribulation and military campaign of the antichrist, I believe this psalm clearly is referring to the Day of the LORD.

The psalmist describes a conspiracy between nations to destroy God’s people, saying, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more,” and also “Let us take possession for ourselves of the pastures of God.” [Psalm 83:4, 12 ] After listing the names of the nations, the psalmist uses classic Day of the LORD language to invoke God’s judgment of His enemies.

O my God, make them like whirling dust,
like chaff before the wind.
As fire consumes the forest,
as the flame sets the mountains ablaze,
so may you pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your hurricane!
Fill their faces with shame,
that they may seek your name, O LORD.
Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever;
let them perish in disgrace,
that they may know that you alone,
whose name is the LORD,
are the Most High over all the earth.

[Psalm 83:13-18]

Again. We discover another consistent overlap here with perhaps more focus on the immediate surrounding nations. Read Psalm 83:5-8.

  • Tents of Edom (Jordan/northwestern Saudi Arabia)
  • Ishmaelites (Saudis – Ishmael father of the Arabs)
  • Moab (Central Jordan)
  • Hagrites (Hagarenes – Northern Jordan)
  • Gebal (Lebanon)
  • Ammon (N. Jordan)
  • Amalek (Arabia)
  • Philistia (Gaza Strip)
  • Tyre (Lebanon)
  • Asshur, aka Assyria (Syria/Tukey/Iraq)

The Never-Ending Hatred

In closing, it is worth noting that Ezekiel refers to a blind hatred and contempt for Israel as the “never-ending enmity” of God’s enemies. The same spirit of utter disdain for Israel has remain constant in the surrounding nations for centuries, and it seems to be growing stronger each passing year. The spirit of the Antichrist will be what ultimately unifies all of these nations in their common hatred of God’s people, which will lead to the Day of the LORD.

“Thus says the Lord GOD: Because the Philistines acted revengefully and took vengeance with malice of soul to destroy in never-ending enmity, therefore thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I will stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy the rest of the seacoast. I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I lay my vengeance upon them.”

[Ezekiel 25:15-17]

“Because you (Seir/Edom) cherished perpetual enmity and gave over the people of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, at the time of their final punishment, therefore, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; because you did not hate bloodshed, therefore blood shall pursue you.”

[Ezekiel 35:5-6]

3 thoughts on “The Day of the LORD — Naming the Nations

  1. Maurice January 6, 2020 / 11:14 pm

    Well put together posting I have a paper for long time now with some of the Bible names and modern names of places. I had done some Biblical search like your posting. This really interest me because it gives clearer view of what the Bible is saying to us/


    • Marcus Walker Van Every January 7, 2020 / 1:39 am

      Thanks for the feedback and encouragement Maurice! And yes! It’s important to make the connections to the modern day names of these nations so that we can know where to keep watching. Blessings in the Lord!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maurice January 7, 2020 / 2:40 am

        Yes so true. Continue to do these good writings. Blessing to you too.


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