The Wilderness Experience of the Tribulation Period
What is so profoundly significant about the Exodus Generation? They were saved (1 Cor. 10:1-2), they were rebellious (1 Cor. 10:5-12), and they became a generation of general reprobates who were appointed to die in the Wilderness (specifically speaking, the 600,000 men of war from every tribe except Levi; Num. 14:22-35, Ps. 95:7-11, Heb. 3:1-4:11) – and, thereby, through the operation of God’s Glory in the Wilderness, Church Purity was restored! Or, to quote Ezekiel’s phraseology used to describe this instance – thereby, through the pleading of God in the Wilderness of the Land of Egypt, the Lord purged out from among them all rebels (Ezek. 20:38)!
“As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the Wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the Wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” - Ezek. 20:33-38
The significance of the Wilderness Experience cannot be understood properly except it be studied from the beginning to the end. For, as we have duly noted so far, through the Exodus Generation the LORD in truth and in righteousness so that thenceforth it stands as an example to all generations. Therefore, to long for the Wilderness Experience is to long for ! My reader, look carefully at the following verses that convey the operation of the Glory of God amidst the Church in the Wilderness.
A Devouring Fire Slaying Men: Leviticus 9:23-10:3 --- “the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people…and there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me, and before all the people I will be glorified…”
The Smiting of Leprosy: Numbers 12:4-10 --- “the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the Tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth…And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and He departed. And the cloud departed from off the Tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous…”
The Death Sentence for 600,000 Church Members: Numbers 14:10-35 --- “all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the Tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses…I will smite them with pestilence… [their] carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness”
Earth-Swallowing and Fire-Devouring Judgments upon Hundreds: Numbers 16:19-40, 42 --- “Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the Tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation… [so to] consume them… [and later] the ground clave asunder that was under them: and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods…they perished from among the congregation…and there came out a fire from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense…”
A Tempestuous Plague Whirling About an Angry God Slaying Thousands: Numbers 16:42-50 --- “they looked toward the Tabernacle of the congregation: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared…And Moses said unto Aaron…there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun…now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred…”
A Miracle of Provision and Mercy: Numbers 20:2-13 --- “they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron…and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them…and Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also…”
The Glory of the LORD was the central reason for the Church and the central focus of the Church (Exodus 16:7, 16:10, 24:10, 24:16, 40:34, 40:38, Leviticus 9:6, 1 Kings 8:10-11, 2 Chron. 6:41-7:3, Ezekiel 11:22-25), but when were defied and meanwhile the Church Officers didn’t do judgment to restore Church Purity, the Glory of the LORD was an insurmountable problem for the backsliders of the Church (Leviticus 9:23-10:3, Numbers 12:4-10, 14:10-35, 16:19-40, 16:42-50, 20:2-13). A pure God demanded and pure Church; a holy God demanded a holy People; a moral God demanded a moral People, otherwise the rules of their relationship were made void so that a terrifyingly dangerous estrangement ensued (see “”). “Judgment must begin at the House of God” (1 Pet. 4:17). This means real-time JUDGMENT upon the Church that will be accomplished in this life, not the next! The reasons for this should be obvious, my reader. Immorality must be judged by the Moral One!
Through the Exodus Generation we understand both the Wilderness Experience and its effect upon the people who experience the operation of God’s Glory therein, the Church. The Wilderness is not what’s important. Rather, what God did to “the Church in the Wilderness” is of importance (Acts 7:38). The Wilderness alone, without the Church, is of no value or significance. However, in the Wilderness, the LORD met with, dwelt among, and taught the people to the Glory of God. What’s methodical about the relationship is that there are inexcusable rules of conduct that must be kept, without which the relationship is impossible. Hereby, through the ordained methods, the Glory of God would and the people of God, the Church (“And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commanded that ye should do: and the Glory of the LORD shall appear unto you.” – Lev. 9:6). Also, because the Exodus Generation and their Wilderness Experience is the chosen generation through whom God authored and exemplified the methods of holy matrimony in the God-to-man relationship, the Exodus Generation is (Jer. 2:1-2). However, passing the threshold of the River Jordan into the Promised Land we see a cessation of the Glory of God in operation via the Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night (see “”). Notably, also, God’s sudden and to restore Church Purity via divine plague became far more infrequent. Something very special and peculiar happened among the Church in the Wilderness! Speaking of this peculiarity, the Lord said to the Tribulation Jews: “Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the Wilderness of the Land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezek. 20:36).
Despite this peculiarity, though, one must understand the transition period from the Wilderness to the Civilization of the Promised Land; I say this because, what was disallowed by divine plague in the Wilderness should have been disallowed by Church Officers for the enforcement of the Law in the Civilization. You see, God gave the Law to the people in the Wilderness. Then, by God’s own power He executed the rules of the Law amidst uprisings of rebellion and the like. Hence, after the threshold of Jordan was crossed, God expected the Law to be upheld and kept by the Israelites (“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” – Micah 6:8). He had thoroughly proven to the people that the Ark was the seat of the Glory of God, even though the Pillar of Fire and the Pillar of Cloud was no longer visibly present; in other words, THE GLORY OF ISRAEL WAS STILL THERE - GOD HIMSELF! Therefore, the people had all the means to successfully execute the Law amidst the people via (“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.” – Ps. 80:1). God instituted a Law to be upheld by , a Church Law that was exemplified and upheld by God and then committed to the people… or else. Or else what?
When because of corruption among Church Officers amidst generational backslidings and then, contrary to the Exodus Generation’s Wilderness Experience, the Glory of God didn’t suddenly and shockingly manifest to enforce the unexecuted judgment to abate the growing influence of wickedness, the people were confounded. In wonder and amazement, they inquired of God, saying, “Will the Lord cast off for ever? And will He be favourable no more?”, and such like things (Ps. 77:5-12). God delivered His people over to the assigned chastisements outlined in Leviticus Ch. 26, this is true (and these punishments were suddenly manifest accordingly), but the sheer power and unstoppable authority that was expressed and asserted in the Wilderness when a tumult of backsliding was underway did not happen any longer in the Church of the Civilization (not until the Tribulation Period!). My reader, look with wide-open eyes upon the peculiar pronouncement, “Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the Wilderness of the Land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezek. 20:36). This is the assertion of unstoppable authority unto the restoration of Church Purity! So, as judgment lingered and God didn’t arise to the judgment in the generations following the Exodus Generation, thereby from generation to generation. This, in turn, allowed for the perversion of the righteous standards that were definitively set forth in , the Church in the Wilderness. This allowed the people to invent relative and compromised standards of righteousness that tolerated Church Impurity, and the people believed that God’s judgment wouldn’t . This being the case, most people forgot about the operation of the Glory of God that once flourished of old in the Wilderness! Meanwhile, however, don’t forget this! A small remnant can be heard praying and crying out to God,
“We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work Thou didst in their days, in the times of old” - Psalm 44:1
“I remember the days of old” – Psalm 143:5
“I remember Thy judgments of old” – Psalm 119:49-53
“Look Thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as Thou usest to do unto those that love thy name” – Psalm 119:132
“Turn Thou us unto Thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old” - Lam 5:21
“Have respect unto the Covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty. O let not the oppressed return ashamed: let the poor and needy praise thy name. Arise, O God, plead Thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily. Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually.” – Ps. 74:20-23
“Turn Thyself again... heal the breaches” – Psalm 60
“Will He reserve His anger for ever? Will He keep it to the end?” - Jer. 3:4-5
Hence, by Ezekiel’s time, the Glory of God departed from the Temple! I say again, the Glory of God departed from the Church! And, what is worse is that the people didn’t even recognize it (see “”)! They became utterly hardened in sin and confident in the modernized Judaism that had developed over time. Long ago, “Judaism” departed from the old paths and ancient truths that defined her from the beginning. God’s wife turned adulterous and worse: HARLOTRY! Understandably so, therefore, God departed from the “Judaism” that had departed from Him. “Judaism” redefined itself. “Judaism” was without Jehovah, so they didn’t notice when He left! Even so it shall be, and is, for the “Christianity” that is without Christ! The late Leonard Ravenhill made mention of this atrocity by giving reference to a confession made by the modernized pastors of this generation. "He said, 'I want to tell you that if God withdrew the Holy Spirit from my church today, it would function tomorrow the same way we wouldn't even know He'd gone...'". GOD HAVE MERCY! This commonplace confession bears witness of a Christianity without Christ! The Glory of God has departed from the 21st century Church in the Gentile Church Age!
In many ways, the Wilderness Doctrine (the return of the Glory of God) is elaborated upon and enunciated in reference to the reviving of God’s Glory amidst a fallen and backslidden Church (otherwise God would have used the normal means of Church Officers to co-labor in the operation of Glory in and ). Hence, my reader, observe the newly enunciated descriptions of the newly revived operation of Glory in the Tribulation Period (what God was doing by Himself and alone, no man working with Him) by reviewing Hosea’s Doctrine of the Wilderness in comparison to Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s.
The Doctrine of the Wilderness According to Hosea
My reader, what do you think about when you read the verse, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her [Israel], and bring her into the Wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her” (Hos. 2:14)? This Wilderness experience sounds delightful, doesn’t it? It certainly doesn’t sound like a Tribulation Period of unspeakable suffering, right? Indeed. It is for this reason that most people never reconcile Hosea 2:14 with Hosea 2:3-4 and Hosea 2:15.
“Lest I strip her [Israel] naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a Wilderness, and set her like a Dry Land, and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.”
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her [Israel], and bring her into the Wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the Valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”
Contextually, Hosea 2:14 and Hosea 2:3 are talking about the same Wilderness experience. This means that the merciless stripping and slaying of Israel in the Wilderness whereby the children of whoredoms do perish (setting her as in the day she was born), according to Hosea 2:3-4, is the exact same experience wherein the Lord allures Israel into the Wilderness and speaks comfortably to her insomuch that she sings in the Wilderness (as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came out of the Land of Egypt), according to Hosea 2:14-15. Hosea testified that, indeed, Israel would be given vineyards and she would see the fulfillment of all she hoped for and sung about in the Wilderness! So, how does a seemingly hopeless pronouncement of a Wilderness Tribulation (Hos. 2:3-4) become the very means of hope, comfort, and singing? The same way the seemingly hopeless pronouncement, “Thou shalt surely die” (Ezek. 33:14), leads once-born and backslidden evildoers to repent and as a result they inherit the promise, “He shall surely live” (Ezek. 33:15-16). Only an undeserving escapee of a divine and Inescapable Manhunt knows the rejoicing that sovereign mercy allows when the promise is fulfilled, “He shall surely live!” Even so, Ezekiel’s prophesying has been and will continue to be a detailed commentary on how the Manslaying Wilderness, the Tribulation (Hos. 2:3-4), was the backslidden Churches’ only “door of hope” as Hosea testified (Hos. 2:14-15). Ezekiel’s prophesying on the subject has been informatively unrivaled up to the time of the reception of Jeremiah 30:1-31:40 by the Prophet Jeremiah. Therefore, to those who have ears to hear, it is an indisputably clear how “the Valley of Achor” (the slaughtering of the troublers of the Church) is Israel and Judah’s only hope of salvation (Hos. 2:3-4, 14-15, Amos 9:8-10 & Ezek. 3:17-21, 18:1-32, 33:1-20)! Nevertheless, according to the providence of God, Ezekiel will wax all the more exact and complementary to expound the mysteries that unveil the Glory of God in the Tribulation Period in the coming days (from the 6th year of the reign of Zedekiah onward).
the Wilderness – Hosea 2:3, 14
The Wilderness experience is explicitly cited in reference to God’s dealing with Judah in Ezekiel 19:12-14 via parabolic language (East Wind: Ezek. 17:10, Land Desolate: Ezek. 15:8) and in Ezekiel 20:35-38 via an interpretation of the parable.
the Sword – Amos 9:8-10
The Devouring Sword experience is explicitly cited in reference to God’s dealing with Judah all throughout the prophesying of both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but as a qualification in reference to those who will survive the Sword Ezekiel 12:14-16 and Ezekiel 17:21 are explicit, and this is the same message echoed by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:2 (a timely clarification of Ezekiel 21:1-7).
the Fire – Amos 2:5, 5:6
The Devouring Fire experience is explicitly cited in reference to God’s dealing with Judah in Ezekiel 15:1-8, 19:14, 20:46-49, & 22:17-22 via parabolic language, and Ezekiel 21:1-7 (speaking of the sword) is an interpretation to the parabolic language in general but above all its interpretation clarifies the parable spoken in Ezekiel 20:46-49.
What is the Wilderness experience? It is the same as the Devouring Sword and Fire of God. All three are terms used to describe the overarching Tribulation experience via the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities. Now, it is important to note that there are other uses for the word Wilderness which relate to and branch off from the primary Wilderness experience (the Tribulation) wherein God would save both Israel and Judah. These variant uses of the word describe the suffering and woe that extend from the overarching operation of salvation via the Wilderness. For example, through the Babylonian Captivity the Kingdom of Judah and the City of Jerusalem would become an actual Wilderness, literally speaking (Jer. 4:23-26, 22:6, 51:43); and, also, the False Prophets turned the Kingdom of Judah, the Church (God’s “Vineyard” and “Pleasant Portion”), into a Wilderness, spiritually speaking (Jer. 12:10, Amos 8:11-13), but neither of these two uses of the term depict the overarching operation that God called the Wilderness in so many other places.
In the 7th year of the reign of Zedekiah (approximately one year from this point in time) Ezekiel will deliver a very pointed and clarifying message pertaining to the Wilderness doctrine in Ezekiel 20:1-49 (see “Wilderness” in Ezek. 20:35-36). From the latter half of the 6th year of Zedekiah’s reign and onward the message is increasingly consistent and intentionally clarifying! Even so, Ezekiel 18:1-32, Jeremiah 30:1-31:40, Hosea 2:3-15, and Ezekiel 20:1-21:7 are profoundly complementary and vitally connected one to another, and of course Ezekiel speaks of the destroying, purifying, and salvific Wilderness of the Tribulation Period as one which is like “the Wilderness of the Land of Egypt” (Ezek. 20:36). This point, and the Exodus Generation in general, has and will continue to be ideologically foundational to comprehending the Tribulation Period because they were the generation that God took into the Wilderness at the first – and therein, in the Wilderness, they became for every generation thereafter. No doubt, this is why the Exodus Generation was repeatedly referenced by the Tribulation Prophets of Israel who prophesied of the Assyrian Captivity (Hos. 2:3-15, 9:10, 11:1-4, 13:1, 4-6; Amos 2:9-12, 3:1-2, 5:21-27). No doubt, this is why the Exodus Generation will be the primary subject whereby Ezekiel will definitively establish the doctrine of the Wilderness in the Tribulation Period of Judah via the Babylonian Captivity in Ezekiel 20:1-21:7, just as Hosea did for Israel (Hos. 2:3-15). Very specifically, though, this means that the stripping of Judah and the reducing of her status to the time when she was born (which was, namely, her Wilderness experience when she came out of the Land of Egypt according to Hosea 2:3-15) was an inspired reference-point for further elaboration. Ezekiel, a student of Hosea’s prophecies, was inspired to elaborate the details of the operation and thus we see several chapters dedicated to what was briefly mentioned by Hosea (the destructive / salvific Wilderness experience is cited in reference to God’s dealing with Judah in Ezek. 16:7, 37-39, 20:35-38). Therefore, and moreover, just as Israel was an adulteress and a harlot in the sight of God (as seen in Hosea 1:2-3, 3:1-3 [Hos. 4:15-19 appeals to Judah]), Judah was likewise depicted in Ezekiel Ch. 16 & 23.
The Exodus Generation references are interpreted in Ezekiel 20:1-21:32 because the Exodus Generation is used as an example of a time when the wrath of God executed the divine sentences of the Law via the operation of the Glory of God manifesting among the people. In other words, this was a time when the Glory of God was in operation for the fulfillment of Church Purity, and the Tribulation Period is likewise. Let it be known to the reader that herein lies the meaning and point of Jeremiah 30:20-31:2 and very specifically Jeremiah 31:2 (“The people which were left of the sword found grace in the Wilderness…”). Remember the details just as Jeremiah told the story, my reader. The bruises and wounds were incurable, meaning that intercession was unable to stop the near annihilation of the people resulting in the end of both Kingdoms and the desolation of both Lands (see “”). This was the unchangeable. In other words, they must be drawn into the Wilderness! However, God promised that – through it! – He would heal the people’s unhealable wounds and restore their health by saving, forgiving, and regathering them into the Land as one Nation under David their King. Therefore, as an interpretation to this, we see that the divine utility of the Tribulation was so that all the wicked persons from among God’s people would be slain and thereby they wouldn’t defile the Church any longer. The fulness of the prophecies that Jeremiah uttered would not come to pass until this intent, the purging of all wicked persons from the Church, was totally accomplished (Jer. 30:20-31:2). Therefore, at last, let us understand the full intent of Jeremiah’s clarification, that those individuals who found grace (through the repentance of their wickedness) are the very same ones who did scarcely escape the sword and thus they were effectually exercised by the Wilderness unto repentance (Jer. 31:2).
A Near Annihilation & the Purging of all Rebels & Transgressors
“And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me: I will bring them forth out of the Country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the Land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” – Ezek. 20:38
As was clearly demonstrated in the earlier scripture citations that bore witness of the Glory of God in the Wilderness executing judgment for the restoration of Church Purity (Leviticus 9:23-10:3, Numbers 12:4-10, 14:10-35, 16:19-40, 16:42-50, 20:2-13), we saw the definitive immediacy of God’s stand-alone-activity to do what needed to be done! Hereby, it is evident that judgment began at the House of God, the Church. Hereby, it is clear that these are peculiar standards of righteousness and holiness that God requires of His people, the Church ().
If the swords which hunted all idolaters to kill (Ex. 32:25-29, 1 Cor. 10:6) were commissioned to pass through the World like they passed through the Church encamped at Sinai, behold! All the ungodly and sinful heathen peoples of the World would perish under the blades of Levites, none remaining!
If “the fire of the LORD” which broke-forth within the Church, all Israelite complainers to burn and consume (Num. 11:1-3, 1 Cor. 10:10), did break-forth upon the World with the same infuriation, behold! The fire of the LORD would drink-up the great deep and devour every nation, tribe, and tongue in existence (Amos 7:4-6)!
If the plague of the LORD which did poison the sustenance of the Church, every lusting Israelite to kill (Num. 11:33-35, 1 Cor. 10:5-6), did also plague the sustenance of the World for every lusting worldling to slay, behold! Carcasses would fill the World with the stench of rotting flesh because none would remain alive to bury their dead! Among the Church, “they buried the people that lusted” (Num. 11:34, 1 Cor. 10:5-6); not so among the World!
All of this is to say, in other words: If every rebel of the World was in the hands of an angry God like as the LORD did execute vengeance upon the rebels of His people first of all (Heb. 10:30-31), then on the day that 600,000 Israelites were reprobated by oath (Num. 14:26-35, Heb. 4:1) the multiplied millions of worldlings that existed in the World would have been wasted! This would mean the end of the World, my reader!
And, again, if every puffed up and proud-speaking worldling did utter their words in the ears of the Living God, by near proximity, I mean (Num. 14:28, 2 Kings 19:28), like as the LORD heard and responded to every proud speech of backsliding Israelites (Num. 16-17), behold! Like the earth swallowed down Korah, Dathan, and Abiram quick into hell, and like a fire did break-forth and consume the 250 princes that did challenge the LORD, every man of the World would be both swallowed and everlastingly burned by the unquenchable fires of hell!
Upon the execution of such standards of righteous judgment, the Church cried out: “Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish” (Num. 17:12)! But it wasn’t true, my reader. They lived. At the enforcement of judgment which begins with the Church (“judgment must begin at the House of God” – 1 Pet. 4:17), indeed, a small remnant was and is spared alive, but when this judgment is enforced upon the World none live! The aforementioned historical events wherein the LORD executed judgment within the Church do illustrate this, certainly, but the LORD did fashion an exemplary judgment upon the Church, firstly, and a turnaround judgment upon the World, secondarily, which serve as a paramount example above all others. What was this judgment upon the Church? It was the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities – the Wilderness Experience!
As far as Old Testament is concerned (since the days of Noah), the wrath of God was never so invigorated in all of Church History except at these two points and the 70-year period that ensued. Forerunning these two judgments, the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities, the hottest infuriation of wrath was threatened on at least 4 separate occasions (Ex. 32:7-10, Num. 14:11-12, 16:21-22, 45). Remember, the significance of these almost annihilations was detailed by the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 20:1-32, and for good cause. For, a detailed study of Israel’s close encounters with the wrath of God as it pursued a total annihilation of them, and then, finally, when the Captivities came upon them, did reveal The Doctrine of Election in Sovereign Mercy granted undeservedly to the Church (“And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have wrought with you for my name's sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.” – Ezek. 20:44, Isa. 1:9, Neh. 9:31, Lam. 3:22; for exhaustive proof of this, see: “”, “”, and “”). This progression of wrath is very important because, even though GOD sincerely attempted and justly pursued a total annihilation of Israel, the Church, He could not do it! God repented. It was written,
“For the LORD shall judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants, when He seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.” – Deut. 32:36
“For the Day of vengeance is in Mine heart…therefore He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them.” – Isaiah 63:4, 10 [Heb. 10:30-31]
Even though Israel’s wickedness infuriated justice to require a total annihilation of them, wrath was restrained! And in the process of executing a near annihilation of the Church, firstly, through the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities (using “the World” to judge the Church), the LORD accomplished a secondary turnaround judgment upon the World which executed a total annihilation! That judgment which was first attempted upon the Church, and restrained, was afterward executed upon the World without restraint! This is the essence of what Peter recalls, by saying, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the House of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear” (1 Pet. 4:17-18)? The question is rhetorically asked because Biblical Church History has already given an exhaustive and indisputable answer (for more information, see: “”). So, where did the ungodly and sinful Assyrians and Babylonians appear at last? Speaking of this, Jeremiah prophesied in the 6th year of the reign of Zedekiah, saying: “For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished” (Jer. 30:11).
You see, before the regathering there needed to be a scattering. Before the restoration there needed to be a tribulation; and this tribulation was a purifying, refining, and annihilating fire. The objects of annihilation were proven thus through the fires of tribulation in that they didn’t out-live the fires; therefore, they were unredeemable men. The objects of refinement were proven thus through the fire of tribulation in that they out-lived the fires; therefore, they were redeemable men. And the two categories of men, the Evil Figs and the Good Figs, were segregated by the sovereign selection of God in their various appointments of circumstance and situation, suffering and tribulation, ending in life or death. All this, for a 70-year period. Despite the long duration of time passing, the meticulous design was steadfast and God’s intimate oversight was impeccable. It was a hand-selected and hand-made tribulation conducted by God. The hands of Omnipotent Sovereignty searched, tried, and proved every man, woman, and child for the 70-year period, to the end: the regathered Church would be entirely clean (Isa. 52:1, Zech. 14:21, Ezek. 36:29, 33), without defilement (Ezek. 11:18, 37:23, 43:7), utterly loyal (Ezek. 14:11), and without idols (Zech. 13:2, Ezek. 20:37-42, 36:25, Hos. 14:8), thence to live forever in the Holy Land (Amos 9:11-15, Jer. 31:40)!