On Easter Sunday we saw the terrible tragedy that befell Christian worshippers in Sri Lanka. It is a graphic reminder that we who believe in the Lord Jesus, to a greater or lesser degree in this life, will be persecuted as our Lord Jesus the Messiah was persecuted. (John 15:18-21) As the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus the Messiah gets nearer this persecution of the saints globally will increase in frequency and in intensity. In this world the people of God are at war with Satan. The conflict we see in the natural and physical realm is indicative of the war going on in the unseen spiritual realm between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, between the Kingdom of Light and the kingdom of darkness.
We see this conflict revealed when Daniel’s prayer for Israel was hindered for 21 days by a very powerful principality in the unseen spiritual realm. This principality was over Persia (Iran) and the context was the last days. (Daniel 10:12-14) The Messiah and Michael were engaged in a fight with this principality. After this principality one would come who had authority over Greece. (Daniel 10:20-21) It is interesting that the Hebrew word used for Greece is the word “Ionia” which was located in Modern day Turkey and historically was part of Alexander the Great’s Middle-eastern Empire. In the last days Israel will be engaged in a war with Iran and Turkey.
This battle going on in the unseen heavenly realm depicted in Daniel was out of time as we know it down here on earth because the past, the present and the future do not exist separately in that realm but all run together. It is much like when you dream. One minute you can see in the present and then the next second see into the past and even see things in the future that have not as yet happened. In a dream they all run together. Now this end-time battle is not only related to Israel but also by inclusion and extension the Church being a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, not separate from it, as replacement theology teaches. Satan has a two pronged attack and targets Jews and Christians, “the People of the Book” as they are called by Islam. It is also a battle being waged between the teaching of the Bible with the teaching of the Koran.
Persecution of Jews and Christians will become more intense and frequent much like labour pains as the Lord Jesus’ Second Coming draws closer. When a pregnant woman’s labour pains are coming one upon another you know that the baby’s birth is imminent. So when we see the ‘birth pain’ of savage and brutal persecution of the saints such as the tragedy that has happened in Sri Lanka happening worldwide, we know that the birth of God’s physical Kingdom on earth is about to be inaugurated by the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. When He comes back Islam will be destroyed from the face of the earth. God Himself will do this. He will avenge His elect saints and their blood that have been crying out day and night to Him from under the altar of martyrdom. (Revelation 6:9-10)
The prophet Ezekiel writes…“Thus says the LORD GOD, “Because Edom has acted against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has incurred grievous guilt, and avenged themselves upon them,” therefore thus says the LORD GOD, “I will also stretch out My hand against Edom and cut off man and beast from it. And I will lay it waste; from Teman even to Dedan they will fall by the sword. “I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel. Therefore, they will act in Edom according to My anger and according to My wrath; thus they will know My vengeance,” declares the LORD GOD.” (Ezekiel 25:12-14)
Teman and Dedan were originally located in the Saudi Arabia Peninsula the heart of the Muslim world. They are an extension of Edom located in Southern Jordan. We are also told that the oil reserves underground in Saudi Arabia will burn.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah…“For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a time of retribution for Edom’s hostility against Zion. Her streams will be turned to tar, and her soil to sulphur; her land will become a blazing pitch (oil). It will not be quenched—day or night. Its smoke will ascend forever. From generation to generation it will lie desolate; no one will ever pass through it again. (Isaiah 34:8-10)
Isaiah also tells us that the Messiah will come up from Edom with His robes stained in the blood of his enemies and the winepress of God’s wrath is mentioned. (Isaiah 63:1-3) This same battle described in Isaiah 63 is seen in revelation chapter 19 and the winepress of the wrath of God is also mentioned in Revelation chapter 19 making it the one and the same battle. Also in this battle the Messiah’s garments are stained red with the blood of his enemies. (Revelation 19:13) We see the beast and the false prophet captured and cast alive into the lake of fire and their armies destroyed. (Revelation 19:19-21) The beast and the false prophet are Islamic because the Messiah is fighting in Edom. The armies of Islam will be annihilated at the command of the Rider on the White Horse. (Revelation 19:11-21)
Also in Joel; chapter 3 the winepress of God’s wrath is also mentioned in relation to the armies of the Antichrist attacking Jerusalem. (Joel 3:13) Then in Revelation chapter 14 two harvests are described. One is a harvest of mercy, a gathering of the elect saints and the other is a harvest of wrath and again the winepress of God’s wrath is mentioned. (Revelation 14:14-20) God’s vengeance is coming upon Islam! We cannot escape the reality that the saints are being persecuted by the beast empire of Islam and that this persecution will increase as the Day of the LORD approaches. It will come to its apex for three and a half years. (Daniel 7:25; 12:7) (Revelation 13:5-7) During this time a faithful believing Jewish remnant in Israel will be protected. (Revelation 12:1-6)
However, for the sake of His elect saints and for the salvation of Israel’s complete national and spiritual restoration God will send the Lord Jesus back to earth again as God cuts short the last three and a half years of this present age to save the world from annihilating itself. (Matthew 24:21-22) Yes the beast empire of the Antichrist and the false prophet will persecute the saints but only up to a point and then the thrones of God’s judgement will be set in place, the sentence passed, and the fiery wrath of the Lamb poured out upon all of the enemies of God’s people.
As the apostle Paul writes… “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10)
Let’s be honest, how much worse can the persecution of faithful believers get during the Time of Great Tribulation to come, than we see now? It will become more widespread but no more brutal and savage than what we see today. Let’s be encouraged as bond-slaves of the Lord Jesus in that there is a day fixed in heaven when God will judge His and our enemies by the resurrected man He has appointed for this task, our Lord Jesus the Messiah. (Acts 17:31) Once the thrones of God’s judgement are set in place and the Ancient of Days sits as the Supreme Judge of the universe the antichrist and his beast empire and false prophet will appear before the bar of God for sentencing to the eternal flames forever. (Daniel 7:8-11; 15-27) (Revelation 19: 20) After this the time will come for the saints to inherit and possess the Kingdom of God on earth and they will possess it forever-yes forever and ever. (Daniel 7:18, 22, 27)