The Final War Against Israel
Russia, Iran, Syria. They all threaten Israel today. But their threats are nothing compared to what the Jewish people will face with the Antichrist.
Horrifying pictures of the Holocaust of World War II continue to shock people even today. After 75 years, film footage still reminds us of Satan’s relentless and barbaric attempts to eradicate world Jewry.
Throughout history, demonically inspired, hate-filled fanatics like Haman (see the book of Esther) and Adolf Hitler have attempted to exterminate the Jewish people. Anti-Semites want to remove every vestige of them from history.
Jewish people reflect on their history in sober silence—stunned, shocked, and numbed by the unmitigated brutality their eyes have seen and their minds find difficult to believe. Why? they wonder. Why us?
Only the Bible can answer that question. The Bible teaches of the depravity of the human heart and of Satan’s desire to destroy God’s Chosen People in order to thwart God’s
plans to reestablish His theocratic Kingdom.
Immediately prior to Christ’s return, the worst genocide of the Jewish people will take place. It is known as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), or the Tribulation. Satan will possess a world ruler who is so despicably evil the Bible calls him the Antichrist. Contrary to Jesus, the true Christ who is love, this man will be pure hatred; and through him, Satan will dominate the world and try to annihilate the Jewish people once and for all. But he will fail.
Purpose of the Antichrist
The Antichrist will be a mere pawn in Satan’s hand to carry out his evil agenda—one that began thousands of years ago.
Long before Israel existed, Scripture foretold that Satan would try to cut off the “woman” (Israel) and her “Seed” (the Jewish Messiah; Gen. 3:15). Satan tried to prevent the Messiah’s coming by cutting off Jesus’ lineage through influencing Cain to murder his brother Abel (4:8). When that tactic did not work, he tried to pollute the godly line of Seth (chap. 6); produce a pseudo son of promise in Ishmael (chap. 16); destroy Israel in Egypt (Ex. 1) and in Persia (Est. 3:8–15); devour Jesus at His birth (Mt. 2:16; Rev. 12:4) and later in Nazareth (Lk. 4:28–29); and influence the people to crucify Him (Mt. 27:20–22, 35–50).
But Christ (meaning, “Messiah”) defeated Satan through that very crucifixion (Heb. 2:14). Clearly, Jesus is the “male Child” who will “rule all nations with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:5). Since Satan was unable to destroy the Messiah, he has focused his attack on the woman (Israel) in hopes of preventing Jesus from returning to Earth—which would spell Satan’s defeat.
Satan knows that before the Lord can fulfill the Messianic Kingdom promises He made to Israel, Israel must repent of sin and be reconciled to its Messiah. If Satan could destroy Israel, he could prevent God’s theocratic Kingdom from coming to fruition.
After he is cast out of heaven, Satan will realize his activities are limited and his time is short. Thus he will pour out his unmitigated hatred through the Antichrist and try to annihilate the Jewish people (v. 12).
Persecution by the Antichrist
The prophet Daniel prophesied of the Antichrist’s relationship with Israel during the seven-year Tribulation: “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many [Israelis] for one week [seven years]; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate” (Dan. 9:27).
The signing of the covenant will begin the seven-year period. During the first three and a half years, Israel will continue to worship in a rebuilt Temple while the Antichrist protects it from aggressive invaders.
At the same time, God will raise up two witnesses, dressed in sackcloth, who will prophesy for 1,260 days (Rev. 11:3). Revelation describes them as “two olive trees” and “two lampstands standing before the God of the earth” (v. 4). God will give them a prophetic message through the power of the Holy Spirit, endow them with power to work miracles, and protect them from death until their ministry is completed.
Then the Antichrist will show his true colors and his hatred of Israel by murdering them. But after lying dead in the street for three and a half days, the witnesses will miraculously resurrect and ascend into heaven while their enemies watch (vv. 5–12). This event will take place halfway through the Tribulation. The Antichrist will stop the sacrificial system and begin his savage persecution of the Jewish people (Mt. 24:9–14).
Before His death, Jesus prophesied, “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), . . . there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (vv. 15, 21).
What is the abomination of desolation? It is the pollution of the “holy place” (Holy of Holies). In 167 BC, Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the holy place by erecting an altar to Zeus in the Jewish Temple and sacrificing a pig on it.
Jesus said Daniel’s prophecy of the abomination of desolation will be fulfilled in the middle of the Tribulation in two stages. First, the Antichrist will seize the Temple halfway through the seven-year period and enthrone himself as God (Mt. 24:15; 2 Th. 2:4). Second, an image of the Antichrist will be erected in the Temple, and people will be commanded to worship him as God; refusal to do so will mean instant death (Rev. 13:8, 11–15).
Jesus also said the abomination of desolation will be a sign for Jewish people to flee from the Antichrist’s rule in Jerusalem. He instructed the Judeans to flee to the mountains and said those on their housetops and in the fields should not return home. He warned of the hardships pregnant and nursing mothers will face during that time and instructed them to pray their flight will not be on the Sabbath or during the winter (Mt. 24:16–22).
During winter in Israel, rain and flash floods make travel extremely difficult; and on the Sabbath, public transportation is not available, so many will be trapped in Jerusalem.
The last three and a half years of the Tribulation will run its full course, but it will be shortened in the sense that it will not extend any longer. For if it lasted longer, not even the elect Jewish believers would survive (v. 22).
Once Satan is cast from heaven, he will devote his full attention to annihilating every trace of the woman (Israel) who produced the male child (Jesus Christ; Rev. 12:9, 13). But God will place His hand on Israel, providing a way for the nation to survive: “But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” (v. 14).
Some people interpret this passage to mean a massive airlift will fly Jewish people to safety, similar to the May 1991 Operation Solomon, when El Al Israel Airline flew 14,400 Ethiopian Jews to safety in Israel within 36 hours. However, Scripture also uses the term eagles’ wings to describe ancient Israel’s flight from Egypt (Ex. 19:4). The phrase simply indicates Israel’s flight to safety will be swift and supernatural.
Since Scripture doesn’t identify the location of “the wilderness” where God will protect and nourish this remnant (Rev. 12:14), many believe it will be in Edom, an area that will remain unaffected by the Antichrist’s wrathful destruction (Dan. 11:41). Edom is a good possibility because Christ will come to Edom on His return to take vengeance on it and deliver a remnant of Jewish believers (Isa. 63:1–6).
Satan, in his last effort to annihilate Israel, will spew “water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman” to destroy her (Rev. 12:15). But God will deliver Israel by sending an earthquake to swallow the flood (v. 16).
The text indicates the water will be like a flood, making it difficult to tell if the flood should be interpreted literally or figuratively. While Israel has been spared from water twice—at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:13–31) and at the Jordan River (Josh. 3)—this flood probably refers to Satan dispatching a huge army to destroy the fleeing Jews near the midpoint of the Tribulation.
Satan’s anger will intensify as he realizes he is unable to destroy Israel, causing him “to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17). This remnant will be the 144,000 Jewish people who will become believers during the Tribulation (7:4–8).
These believers will be scattered worldwide to testify of their faith in Jesus the Messiah, and other Jewish people will be saved through their preaching. They will be victorious over the Antichrist’s attempt to destroy them (14:1–5).
Although the Antichrist will be unable to exterminate Israel, two thirds of the Jewish population will be killed during the Tribulation (Zech. 13:8). Satan’s final attempt to destroy Israel will take place at the Battle of Armageddon in the Valley of Megiddo, when all the nations of the world will come against Israel. The Jewish people will be on the brink of annihilation when Messiah Jesus, in all His glory, will descend from heaven at His Second Coming to defeat Satan, destroy his forces, and save Israel (cf. Joel 3:9–16; Rev. 16:14, 16; 19:11–19).
Jesus will consume the Antichrist with “the breath of His mouth and destroy [him] with the brightness of His coming” (2 Th. 2:8; cf. Rev. 19:11–16).
Protection by the Archangel
Scripture describes the archangel Michael as “the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your [Daniel’s] people [Israel]” (Dan. 12:1; cf. Jude 9).
Throughout history, Michael has fought against Satan to protect the Jewish people (Dan. 10:13). Scripture reveals he will also fight against the Antichrist in the future to protect Israel from the Gentile nations bent on its annihilation (Rev. 12:7).
God will supernaturally intervene during the Tribulation to preserve a remnant of one third of the Jewish population (Jer. 30:7, 11; 31:35–37; Mt. 24:22; Rev. 12:6). Not only will these people survive, but they will come to salvation in their Messiah (Zech. 12:10; Rom. 11:26–31). They will enter the Millennial Kingdom to enjoy life with Jesus the Son of David, who will sit on the throne of King David of Israel in Jerusalem for 1,000 years. Afterward, the eternal state will begin.
Today Satan’s strategy to spread anti-Semitism is like a wound that never heals. Like the prophets of old, we must warn Israel and the world of their impending travail and stand in solidarity with the Jewish people as they approach the birth pains of the Tribulation. And, like the prophets of old, we must tell the comforting message that there is hope and victory in Jesus, the Messiah who loves them.