By Gerald Flurry
Great leaders like Winston Churchill and Douglas MacArthur have made statements about how we must solve the problem of nuclear power if we are to survive. Jesus Christ also prophesied that there would be serious nu-clear problems in this end time, that it would get so bad that no flesh would live unless He intervened and personally stopped it.
Jesus Christ made a promise to His very elect that He would protect them from this terrible crisis, this holocaust, if they would heed His Word and do what He said.
A Vision From the Wilderness
If you knew God’s people were to be in a place of safety, what would you think they would be doing? God has a great plan wherever He has His people, and He always has a tremendous Work for them to do. This place of safety will not be an exception.
During the Great Tribulation, many people will be hopeless, suffering as never before—and they’re going to need hope. God has a plan to give them this hope, certainly when He begins the Millennium, but also, even during the Tribulation. God has a vision for this world, and the people in the place of safety during the Tribulation will be developing this vision like it has never been developed before on this earth. It will cause the whole world to look and see how to build and beautify this earth—to make it blossom as a rose. This will all begin while God has His people in a place of safety.
“And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God” (Revelation 12:6). The Church has a place in the wilderness that will be prepared by God Himself. God can’t lie. If He makes a promise, He’ll fulfill it. If He tells you there is going to be a nuclear holocaust that would destroy every man, woman and child if He didn’t stop it, you can stake your life on His word. Notice verse 12: “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!” Woe to thewhole earth. Revelation 3:10 states, “I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent” (verse 14). God says He will nourish His people; He will protect them and work with them. All this has been prepared by God, because there will be a work. There is always a work with God and His people. People can scoff if they want, and a lot of people certainly do. But they are scoffing at Jesus Christ!
Praise in the Islands
One thing we know about the place of safety just from reading Revelation is that it’s in the wilderness. Isaiah was written so we could understand this book in these latter days (Isaiah 30:8). Notice this prophecy:
“Let the wilderness of the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar does inhabit let the inhabitants of therock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands” (Isaiah 42:11-12). Kedar refers to the Bedouin Arabs. “Rock” in the Hebrew is Sela, meaning a great rocky fortress. Sela translated into Greek is Petra.
This passage in Isaiah goes on to talk about the return of Christ. There is a chronology here. God says there is going to be a work going on in this great rocky fortress—this place of safety. His people are in a wilderness where there are Bedouin Arabs. The inhabitants of this rocky fortress are going to give glory to God. This means they know the true God; that’s why they are there. They trusted the true God to take them there, and they are singing and shouting to Him.
In this place of safety, this great rocky fortress, God’s people “declare his praise in the islands.” There certainly are no islands in the wilderness areas of the Middle East—especially in the area of Jordan. So there’s some kind of a work going on from the wilderness, something more than just what the two witnesses are doing during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11:3-12). God has a message and these people are declaring it, probably via satellite and other technological means. A powerful Work will be done somehow.
There will be a famine of the word of God in the nations of Israel (Amos 8:11). But prophecies in Daniel and Revelation show that the Beast power has iron mixed with miry clay, or Israel mixed with Gentiles. There should be no doubt that God would want to warn those people of Israel first of all, and then also the Gentiles, of what lies in store for them.
Isaiah 41:1 mentions “islands” as well. Verse 8 shows that they are Israel—those islands in northwestern Eu-rope, essentially the democratic parts of Europe; after all, there are 12 nations of Israel. God is undoubtedly going to warn those people through His very elect even at that time because they need to be warned. The European power needs to be warned too, because they will be destroyed by the powers out of the north and the east—the Russians and Chinese (Daniel 11:44).
Just think: a great many more people are going to be listening to the message because of the intense problems—worse than ever before on this earth in all of man’s history. That is what Christ says; if people want to scoff at that, let them scoff. But virtually every time Christ talks about the worst time of suffering, in the same context He talks about a little group of people going to a place of safety. Nobody is going to stop these prophecies from being fulfilled.
Now who will declare His praise in the islands? The Bedouin Arabs? No. God’s Laodicean Church? Of course not. They are spewed out and will go through the Tribulation because of their rebellion toward God and because they were overthrown in the spiritual wilderness as ancient Israel was physically. They had the truth and then they lost it.
God says, “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honor me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise” (Isaiah 43:19-20). In context, you’ll see this is during a time of great suffering. God is giving drink to His chosen, and He is making the desert blossom as a rose, even before the Millennium.
“But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel” (verse 22). Jacob was Israel’s name before he was converted. “Jacob” is referring to Israelites who have never been converted; “Israel” is referring to God’s own Church—spiritual Israel which grew weary of God. You can’t grow weary of God if you never knew Him.
God is talking about a single wilderness and a single desert, and about “my chosen”—in the context of the rest of Israel, with whom He is not happy. So this cannot be during the Millennium; it must be in a place of safety, where God is going to start a “mini-Millennium.” There will be a message going out from the place of safety, and there will be miracles in that place, and the desert will blossom as a rose. There will be a message of hope to this world which will have very little hope—especially those who will have been victims of the Beast power.
There are three groups of people here—God’s very elect doing His Work; Jacob, or the Israelites who have never really known God; and then, of course, spiritual Israel who grew weary of God. You see, it is the same old story; the Israelites were overthrown in the wilderness, and most of God’s own people have been over-thrown in this end time because they grew weary of God.
But there is a positive side to it: there is a very elect and God is making their habitation like a Millennium. With this, they are giving the world great hope—a physical vision of hope, because that is what the world needs. There is always hope for those people who respond—always. Verse 21 says, “they show forth my praise.” In the Revised Standard Version, it says that they are going to declare God’s glory to people. One Bible dictionary says “declare” means “to speak, to utter words, to narrate; like a military scribe.” So there is a mes-sage involved here. A message and a work has to be done.
Dwelling on High
Isaiah says the ambassadors of peace are going to weep bitterly (Isaiah 33:7). It is in the context of the Great Tribulation, and again, this is an end-time prophecy. “The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”(verse 14). God’s own hypocritical Laodiceans in Zion are going to have to live through the devas-tation of devouring nuclear fire because they grew weary of God. And fifty percent of them are going to lose their eternal lives because they refused to repent.
But there are two different groups here: those who are hypocrites in Zion, and those who did exactly what God said. This very elect group receives a reward. “He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high” (verses 15-16). These righteous people will dwell on high, physically and spiritually.
“His place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure” (verse 16). The Hebrew word for “munitions” means a stronghold, castle or a fort. And Sela (or Petra) is just that. “Munitions of rocks” means strongholds of Sela. And to these people, God says, bread shall be given. This is about supernaturally receiving bread and water from the great God. There is a wilderness where God will provide for His people, and it will serve as a place of safety. Can God do that? Of course. All we have to do is believe Him and be obedient.
Verse 17 completes the picture, and notice this inspiring picture: “Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” On a clear day in Petra you can see Palestine. These people are in an area where they can see the Holy Land. So the place of safety has to be up high, and it has to be where you can see Palestine. It is all so breathtaking and inspiring! These people will experience all of this in that great rocky fortress—and how many of those places are there in the barren Middle East within sight of the Holy Land? Such places are rare, and you can’t find any like Petra. This scripture really does narrow it down.
If men really wanted to know the meaning of these verses and would put them together, they would under-stand. But men really do not want to understand. However, you can put them together, and you can understand this: the place of safety has to be near Palestine. This is not difficult to figure out.
The statement “Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty” is dual. God will be there, maybe in a fiery cloud, which will hover over the place of safety, as it did over the children of Israel as they wandered through the wilderness. Ancient Israel was in Petra, and so was that fiery cloud.
But these scriptures also indicate that Jesus Christ is going to be more personally involved with His people while they are in the place of safety.
Herbert W. Armstrong used to say that the Place of Safety would be an embryo of the World Tomorrow. And it may be more of an embryo than even he realized, because of the work God is going to do in the place of safety which will give the whole world a vision. He is going to use this small group, a very elect, to usher in the wonderful World Tomorrow—a beautiful paradise where all the world and all the deserts will blossom as a rose. There will be hope like this world has never even dreamed. The word paradise doesn’t describe it. It is far more than just a paradise: it’s a glorious vision!
This vision ought to mean so much in this wretched world of suffering, if people would just believe. This is Godtalking! This is the fiery cloud! The God that made rivers flow out of rocks and gave manna to eat. The God that created all of us. And yet man has chosen not to believe Him. Certainly, there is bad news. But look at the good news—at the hope. If only man would see what God wants to do with this world and quit fighting Him and rebellingagainst Him. Even His own people fight against Him! How rebellious! What a great and dreadful wilderness it is when God’s people rebel against Him.
Embryo of the Millennium
There should not be a chapter break to Isaiah 34. Verse 2 shows that this is still in the context of the Tribulation. And notice what God says: “Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear” (verse 1). This is a message for the whole earth: “let the earth hear.” He doesn’t mean just hear the two witnesses. It will be bigger than that. There will be a message emanating from the place of safety to this entire earth. God will continue to do a Work during a time of great slaughter.
We do not set dates, but if you want an idea about the time period, look at Isaiah 34:8. “For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.” Is there a controversy in Zion today, in God’s own Church? What a controversy there is, indeed! It is so bad that God will have to send most of His own people into the Great Tribulation.
Only a little group is going to escape. That group will make the desert blossom as a rose, as it says in chapter 35. That will begin in the place of safety even before the Millennium. God’s people will beautify the earth just as they will in the Millennium. They will do it because they are in subjection to the fiery cloud, that spiritual Rock we must listen to. What a beautiful picture it is!
And again, the embryo of the World Tomorrow will be established in the place of safety. Great joy and abundance will be given in the place of safety, and then the world will have a vision to look upon and inspire them to fill the earth with the same kind of beauty and character. “For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” (Isaiah 51:3). Think about the whole Earth filled with that kind of joy. Of course this has a spiritual application, but it also has a physical application: There will be a Garden of Eden in the place of safety and God’s people will make it that way.
“O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years [crisis years—the time God’s Church is in the place of safety] in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy”(Habakkuk 3:2). God’s wrath will be seen in the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, and we will be telling the world that God has mercy and is about to show His mercy. And we will give them a picture of it—we will tell and showGod’s mercy to them in the place of safety.
“God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Sela. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise” (verse 3). Paran is the wilderness where Petra is located. God comes from here be-cause that is where His people are, in a place of safety. All this is in the context of reviving the Work of God. Wherever God’s people are, wherever the power of God is, wherever that fiery cloud is, God is always reviving His Work. His very elect know this. He is not appearing in Jerusalem at this time; this is before He returns to Jerusalem at His Second Coming. The place of safety, wherever it is, is where God’s Work will be revived!
“And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said, The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them” (Deuteronomy 33:1-2). Seir is the mountain range where Petra is located. And these 10,000 coming from there with Christ are people who learned that God’s law—His Ten Commandments—applied to them, and they heeded the government of God based on that fiery law. They heeded the God who spoke out of that fire as He did to ancient Israel.
Christ will come from Paran. There will be a Work in this mountain range of Seir, and God’s saints will be involved in it. The expression “shine forth from Mount Paran” also means God will shine forth through His Work. After all, these people are declaring His glory. And look at the context of all of this: Christ is appearing in that Place of Safety.
This place of safety is the embryo of the World Tomorrow—it is what the World Tomorrow will be like in character, physical beauty, joy and abundance. And then, following these three and a half years, Christ will re-turn and restore this kind of beauty to the whole earth!