Is a second Jewish Holocaust coming? I know, it sounds absolutely absurd that the world or God would let that happen again. But that's exactly the face value meaning of an overlooked part of Isaiah's prophecy of the end of Damascus. How could a good God allow this? What good can come of this? Read on for the answers that work for me to all these questions...
Next: Damascus Gone
For almost two decades, I've been teaching that the next major prophetic event is the removal of Syria's capital, Damascus, mainly because of Isaiah's still unfulfilled prophecy against the world's widely believed oldest continuously inhabited city:
Isaiah 17:1 (NIV) — 1 A prophecy against Damascus: “See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins.
I believe that this prophecy and its parallel in Psalm 83 describe the outcome of a nuclear Middle East war between Israel and the surrounding Arab/Persian nations. Israel wins and is finally able to reclaim authority over the Temple Mount and rebuild the Temple, just as end time prophecy requires. As well, it sets up for the prophecy of the saints to be gathered in Israel for protection from Wormwood despite Israel's longstanding policy of rejecting residency/immigration for Christians or non-Jews.
(If you're not convinced this war is coming next, see my previous article on the Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83 war.)
However, in all that time, like most of my peers, I've been neglecting an equally important part of Isaiah 17 that describes the outcome of the war on Israel's side of the border with Syria:
Isaiah 17:3-6 (NIV) — 3 The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim [northern Israel], .... 4 “In that day the glory of Jacob will fade; the fat of his body will waste away. 5 It will be as when reapers harvest the standing grain, gathering the grain in their arms— as when someone gleans heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim. 6 Yet some gleanings will remain, as when an olive tree is beaten, leaving two or three olives on the topmost branches, four or five on the fruitful boughs,” declares the LORD, the God of Israel. .
When you study what it's saying, it sounds like a Pyrrhic victory over Syria and Jordan ("the cities of Aroer" - Isa 17:2), and the rest (see the previous article). In three different figures, a major population reduction of "Jacob" (Israel's name before God changed it) is described: an "emaciated body", a "harvested field," a harvested "olive tree with only a few berries left at the top."
If one did not know any better, it reads as if only a minority of Israel's population will remain after this war that ends Damascus. With around nine million in Israel today, that's suggesting that, at best, a few million will remain after the war! Could millions of Jews be exterminated...again?
An Israeli Holocaust? "Inconceivable!"
All this time until now, I have accepted that Israel was going to have serious causalities from the war. Yet I avoided accepting the plain reading of the passage above suggesting that most of Israel will perish.
How did I miss this? In short (my wife hates it when I refer to this), "cognitive dissonance." I could not receive the idea that, after the European Jewish population was decimated in the 1940's Holocaust from around 9M to 3M, God would let another extermination of most Jews happen again, in their homeland that was given largely on the basis to prevent another holocaust! Plus, with how the Jews are so vigilant to maintain awareness with sayings like "never forget" and "never again," surely they would see this coming and had the military strength and wisdom to preempt any such plans. Frankly, another holocaust defies imagination; certainly mine and many others.
At last, in rereading the whole Bible last year, I could finally no longer deny Isaiah 17's statements about Israeli losses. This serves as another example of the truism I often state that when we learn that our interpretation of a Bible passage was wrong, often it is because we did not take it literally enough. We do this frequently when what it literally says is too radical or shocking to accept presently. This is the explanation for why the disciples never believed and often rejected Jesus' warnings that he must die (rather than become king and liberator of Israel from the Romans as they hoped and expected). It was too crazy-sounding to be literal.
For this prophecy, the word Holocaust may fit especially well given how in Greek it literally denotes a complete burnt sacrifice. (Jews prefer the word Shoah/שׁוֹאָה or "destruction" because they do not see any sacrificial context to the Holocaust.) Since the Israeli casualties described in Isaiah 17 are so bad and the Arabs and Persians (Iran) have been pursuing nuclear parity with Israel for years, I can only imagine that the Israelis die by an Arab/Muslim/Persian nuclear attack. This also perfectly explains why Israel nukes Damascus, Jordan and other enemy nations.
"No Way, Tim! That Can't Be..."
If it took me so long to see what I'm finally reporting here, I don't expect you, dear reader, to so easily receive this radical and frankly repulsive idea in short article form. To help, let me address some points for why this idea is not so preposterous as it sounds:
- Concentrated Population - The majority of the global Jewish population is finally concentrated in Israel now (after years of the US having that distinction). Part of Hitler's "Final Solution" process included identifying and transporting Jews across Europe to concentration camps for extermination. That step is gone now. That's sadly ironic given how the main rationale behind the Jewish homeland was to protect the Jews from another holocaust. In fact, the population of Israel is concentrated in the Tel Aviv area, which lies in the kingdom of "Ephraim" (Isa 17:3) north of Judah named as suffering casualties.
- Nuclear Weapons - Because of nuclear weaponry (that Israeli's enemies have been pursuing), a single bomb can instantly kill as many as the Nazi concentration camp system did in five years (1941-1945). I believe Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83 indicate nuclear weapons are used on both sides and that once the Arabs/Iranians have developed their nuclear arsenal, the surprise nuclear attack on Israel will come soon after.
- Continued Antisemitism - As encouraging as it is that the world through the U.N. gave Israel a homeland, the reality remains that hatred of the Jews predominates globally, just as OT prophecy predicted (Dt 28:37). Israel has defended its homeland in three major wars with the Arabs since 1948. The nation continually deals with military aggression and terrorism including rocket attacks from Gaza or the Golan Heights on the Syrian border. In fact, Israelis commonly have an app on their smartphones to alert them of rocket attacks so they can run to their local bomb shelter. This a normal part of Israeli life. (Can you imagine?) Yet Israel is historically condemned in the U.N. and worldwide whenever they respond to these attacks. This handicaps Israel's ability to change the situation of being a punching bag for the Arabs (and Iran) and opens them up for ultimate aggression coming.
- Neighbor Sneak Attack - All of this means that despite Israel's vigilance, Holocaust Remembrance Day, etc., Israel is in an impossible situation. It has enemies on all sides plotting its destruction which are allowed to continue aggression regularly. Israel is set up to fail. Imagine that all your neighbors wanted to kill you by burning your house down and the police did not care and chided you when you reported them or retaliated? You would have little chance of preventing one of them from lobbing a bomb at your home once they learned on YouTube how to construct the bomb and had gathered all the materials. That's the impossible scenario for Israel that allows this new holocaust at the hands of the Arabs.
"Why, God!?" (Justifying God)
The suggestion that God planned the Holocaust(s) as a sacrifice of the Jewish people is certainly grim. Related to it, I found a quote in an article that sums up what is certainly a popular response to this concept:
“I wouldn’t want to know the God who sacrificed these people” — Rabbi Michael Berenbaum, American scholar specializing in the Holocaust
What about you? Does this sour you on God?
Let's be honest. A single holocaust on any nation is already more than any of us can wrap our heads around with "God running the universe." Thinking about Hitler, Nazis and concentration camps can challenge our ability to maintain faith in God. In fact, Jewish and Christian theology went through significant debate, post-Holocaust. The debate can be summed up in the question, "How can people still have any kind of faith in God after the Holocaust?"
So, how do we justify God in this, "maintaining faith" he is just and good?
"Depart From Me, I Never Knew you!" - Jesus
Jesus predicted that he will tell many sincere believers to basically "get lost" instead of welcoming them into the Kingdom. So...who are they and what did they miss or do wrong? In this study, get those answers and the one requirement for salvation Jesus taught (that Christianity misses) so that you can make sure you don't hear these dreaded words yourself!
For starters, the Isaiah 17 text itself comments on why this holocaust happens to Israel:
Isaiah 17:9-11 (NIV) — 9 ...all will be desolation. 10 You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines, 11 though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain.
Israel, God's chosen nation who was ruled by him through Moses for a time and received his oracles (Rom 3:2) has gone on to forget and disregard him. As I have written before, modern Israel is a wicked, mostly secular nation, like pretty much all nations. Even the religious Orthodox/Haredim Jews segment of the nation is wicked by God's standards (Mt 5:20). Tel Aviv, the city I believe will be struck by an Arab/Persian nuclear attack, is full of depravity. Of course, many cities are depraved, however, no other nation received God's revelation (the Bible) that makes them highly accountable for their wickedness, in God's view (Luke 12:47-48). This explains why they deserve judgment.
Holocaust #2 Put In God's Perspective
Israel's wickedness, despite being the only nation to hear God's voice and receive his instruction is one point that puts Holocaust #2 in perspective that may help you resist feeling the need to indict God in this matter. Here are some other points to consider:
- Life is 100% Fatal: It's easy to forget that everyone killed in the execution of God's plan would have died anyway. The Egyptians who God drowned at the Red Sea would still all be dead, even if he had mercy on them and simply blocked them following Israel across.
- Wormwood: For most of those who die in Isaiah 17's fulfillment, it will only shave a few years off their life before Wormwood comes and brings about their death.
- Silver Linings: The 1940's Holocaust resulted in a major blessing, the creation of the modern State of Israel. In God's system, we can expect the same for this holocaust, including, but not limited to the ability to finally build the Third Temple.
- The 2nd Resurrection: Above all, just as life is temporary, death is temporary because of the resurrections God has in his grand plan. In the first resurrection, the righteous come up (in glorified bodies) to reign with Christ during the Millennium. In the second resurrection 1000 years later, the wicked come up in physical bodies (again) to redo their lives, this time without Satan's deception and with Christ's instruction on the truth. Put another way, death today is effectively just a "skip/fast-forward" button from this confusing time of frankly mostly suffering under Satan's rule to a veritable utopia under Christ's rule. (Then why don't we all just commit suicide now? Because those who persevere and overcome in this time receive a great reward including being made priestly kings under Christ when he comes.)
- Later Exaltation: In the Millennium, Israel will be greatly honored by hosting the seat of God's government (Isa 2:3). They will still be the priests of God's temple and teachers of mankind (Zec 8:23). In God's workings with man, anyone greatly exalted first gets humbled and purified through testing and trials (Heb 12:6). Except in Solomon's case, and look at what happened to him. When Israel is exalted, they will understand the trials God put them through to prepare them.
I know for some, none of the rationalizations above will provide any comfort to them because they cannot help react emotionally, with their heart and not with their heads. I've heard in counseling, for example, how some just cannot get over the tragic death of children or other loved ones, despite knowing about the second resurrection. They can only think of how they will be without them for 1000 years until their resurrection comes. This can take time to get over but have the promise that God will comfort us all to take away sorrow and tears (Rev 21:4).
The Israel Immigration Problem Solved?
A side effect of finally accepting Isaiah's description of an Israeli Holocaust could be at last a solid resolution to another bothersome "prophecy problem." Bible prophecy says that God's few saints in the end times are called to Jerusalem/Mt.Zion/Judea for protection from the "beginning of sorrows"/Wormwood.
But, as discussed in my previous article, this is another prophecy that is hard to accept literally in the face of reality. For decades the Ministry of the Interior of Israel has blocked non-Jews or Jews who are Christian from becoming citizens or perpetual residents of Israel. They say it's the land of the Jews, not Christians or anyone else. Thus, it's hard to take Joel 2:32 literally that all saints (whether Gentile or Jew) are called to live in the Jerusalem area. Especially when you're talking about hundreds of thousands wanting to live together in a special place with protection.
In that article, I proposed that the carnage in Israel from the Isaiah 17 war had to be the reason this policy is reversed. I could only imagine that the casualties had to be pretty bad for this to function. So now when you're accepting the result to be like another holocaust reducing Israel to a fraction of its current population, the explanation seems more obvious. There will be millions of dead bodies to clean up and broken infrastructure to repair. Israel will be desperate for immigrants to come in to replace those lost. Even coming to work and contribute to the economy without being a dedicated aid worker might be worth opening the flood gates to Gentiles and even Christians. (If this sounds like what all those Hebrew Roots and "Ephraimite" folks who have always wanted to move to Israel have been waiting for, think again as the conditions will make them drop that dream finally.)
But what do I know? I've never heard of a situation like this before. I only know that drastic times call for drastic measures. One way or another, Joel 2:32 will be fulfilled by Elijah (Joel 2:32=Mal 4:5) calling the saints to the Jerusalem area despite that being the worst nightmare of the anti-Christian Jews in Israel today.
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Tim is the author of this site (since 1999) and the book Know the Future that explains Revelation literally at last--including the key event of Wormwood (Rev 6-8). To read more from Tim and not miss a single new article, sign up for his free newsletter above.