Toward the end of the Book of Isaiah, he writes a word, cloaked in mystery yet laden with promise –
“So shall they fear The name of the LORD from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.” – Isa. 59:19
In the verses before this, we see why “they shall fear the Lord” as He puts on garments of “vengeance for clothing” and fully repays His adversaries for their deeds. They fear Him from the west and His glory is seen from the east, in other words, all the earth shall witness His coming with vengeance. Yet this fearful display will be seen as salvation and righteousness at the same time. What can these verses mean?
I would like to offer an explanation. A key is in the phrase “When the enemy comes in like a flood.” To explain this we have to go to the Book of Revelation, chapter 12. Here we see a heavenly vision of a woman clothed with the Sun and the Moon under her feet, having a crown of 12 stars. This is clearly a picture of the nation of Israel. She is about to have a Man child and the Devil is standing before her to kill Him but, He is caught up to heaven before the Devil can kill Him. So, the Devil goes after the Woman but, she is given two wings of a great eagle to carry her into the wilderness where she is nourished for 3½ years. So, the serpent (the Devil) “spewed water out of his mouth like a flood” after the woman that he might carry her away in the flood. Later in Revelation the waters are described as “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.” But the earth helped the Woman by swallowing up the flood.
This passage is explaining an end-time scenario which takes place during the last 3½ years just after the Devil looses his war in the heavens and is thrown down to the earth. Satan has lost his place in the heavenlies but, he still has a chance to defeat God if he can just keep the nation of Israel from accepting Jesus, the Son of Man, as their Messiah, thus proving the word of God false, which says –
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
Therefore He shall give them up, Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; Then the remnant of His brethren Shall return to the children of Israel. And He shall stand and feed His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; And they shall abide, For now He shall be great To the ends of the earth; And this One shall be peace.” – Micah 5:2-5
Jesus is meant to be Ruler in Israel but, because they rejected Him, they were broken off like an olive branch that didn’t bear fruit and have been “given up” for almost 2000 years, but, Paul writes that they shall be grafted back in to the root, which is Jesus. The time of their grafting back in is at hand, and the Devil knows it, so he attempts to destroy Israel before they can accept Jesus as the Messiah.
So, Israel is driven into the wilderness by Satan in his attempt to destroy her. But, where is this wilderness? Again we turn to the prophet Micah for the answer –
“I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, (Heb. Bozrah) Like a flock in the midst of their pasture; They shall make a loud noise because of so many people. The one who breaks open will come up before them; They will break out, Pass through the gate, And go out by it; Their king will pass before them, With the LORD at their head.” – Micah 2:12, 13
They will be gathered in the Sheepfolds of Bozrah which is located in Edom, south of the Dead Sea. This is the same ‘wilderness’ they traveled through when fleeing the Egyptians under Moses. There God will protect them for 3½ years from the wrath of the Devil and his Antichrist. Here traditionally the shepherds would close in their sheep for the night in rock pens and come in the morning to break open the rock enclosures and lead the sheep out to their pastures. All the remnant of Israel will closed in for their safety. They will go in as Jacob but, they will come out as Israel, which means Prince with God.
The prophet Isaiah also has much to say about this closing act of the age.
“For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; Indeed it shall come down on Edom, And on the people of My curse, for judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, It is made overflowing with fatness, With the blood of lambs and goats, With the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah, And a great slaughter in the land of Edom. … For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance, The year of recompense for the cause of Zion.” – Isa. 34:5-8
“Who is this who comes from Edom, With dyed garments from Bozrah, This One who is glorious in His apparel, Traveling in the greatness of His strength?— “I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, And from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, And trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, And I have stained all My robes.” For the day of vengeance is in My heart, And the year of My redeemed has come.” – Isa. 63:1-4
In the Book of Revelation as this age closes, John sees heaven opened and the Lord comes out riding on a white horse –
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” – Rev. 19:11-16
As Jesus rides to meet the Antichrist and his armies gathered at Armageddon, He has already been to Bozrah to deliver His people Israel for His garments are dipped in blood. And so, the armies of heaven includes those Israelites and the Church for they are clothed in linen, white and clean which represents the righteousness of the saints (Rev. 19:8).
One thing I forgot to mention. Come back with me to Revelation chapter 12. When Israel escapes into the wilderness and the Devil can no longer reach her, in his rage he turns on those who have benefited from the historical testimony given out of Israel – those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” – Rev. 12:17
Today, we call that group of people – Christians. Yes, we too will face the wrath of the Devil and his Antichrist but, if we endure to the end, we also will be rescued by the rapture. so, I say Maranatha – come Lord Jesus!
Maranatha ( 1 Corinthians 16:22 ) consists of two Aramean words, Maran’athah, meaning, “our Lord comes,” or is “coming.” If the latter interpretation is adopted, the meaning of the phrase is, “Our Lord is coming, and he will judge those who have set him at nought.”