V. The Gentiles in the Messianic Kingdom
A. General Characteristics
The Gentiles who survive the Judgment of the Gentiles for their treatment of Israel are the ones who will enter and populate the Gentile nations in the Millennium. These are the sheep Gentiles who, because of their faith shown by their pro-Semitism, will be able to participate in and populate the Kingdom.
Much has already been said about the place of the Gentiles in the Kingdom in the previous chapters relating to the government, the Church, and Israel in the Kingdom. This chapter will be concerned with those passages that deal exclusively with the place of the Gentiles in the Kingdom, as a good number of passages in the Major and Minor Prophets speak to this point.
Of the Major Prophets, Isaiah is the key. In Isaiah 11:10, the Messiah will be the center of Gentile attraction.
According to Isaiah 14:1-2, they will be possessed and be the servants of the people of Israel.
While on one hand the Gentiles will be subject to the King Messiah, they will also receive justice from the King in Isaiah 42:1.
At that time, in a special way, the Messiah will become the light to the Gentiles, according to Isaiah 49:5-7. The calling of the Messiah is not only on behalf of Israel to regather the scattered nation (v. 5a), but also to be the light and the salvation to the Gentiles (v. 6b). So at the time of the final restoration of Israel, the Messiah will be manifested in the most complete sense as the light to the Gentiles, and all the kings of the Gentiles will worship Him (v. 7).
A more extensive passage is Isaiah 56:1-8. At the time of the setting up of the Kingdom, there may be some feeling among the sheep Gentiles that, because of the exalted position of Israel, the Gentiles will be excluded from receiving the benefits of Millennial Temple worship (vv. 1-3). But this will not be the case, for the Temple ministry will be open to all Gentiles who are rightly related to the King. Under no circumstances will they be excluded either because they are Gentiles or because they are mutilated (vv. 4-5). It is then and only then that the House of God will be called truly a house of prayer for all nations (vv. 6-7). When will that be? At the time of Israel’s final regathering (v. 8).
That the Gentiles are to have a place in the Millennial Temple worship is also taught in Isaiah 66:18-24. The Shekinah Glory, which will be especially manifested in the Kingdom, will be seen by many of the Gentiles (v. 18), and those who do see it will set off to travel among the Gentiles who have not seen it to tell them of it (v. 19). At the same time, Gentiles will be used to conduct the Jews back into the Land of Israel (v. 20a), and they will be brought to the Mountain of Jehovah’s House in order to worship (v. 20b). Furthermore, from among these Gentiles, God will choose some to serve as priests in the Temple (v. 21). Not only is Israel the eternal nation, but the faithful among the Gentiles will also be eternal (v. 22), and they will have a place of worship in the Temple for the Sabbath and new moon offerings (v. 23). As for the unfaithful among the Gentiles, their dead bodies and the suffering of their souls will be visible throughout the Kingdom (v. 24), illustrating for one thousand years God’s grace to the faithful and His severity to the lost.
Besides these general characteristics, there are some specific elements that need to be dealt with.
B. The Obligation
Of the various feasts and celebrations and festival offerings of the Millennium mentioned by Ezekiel, there is one feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, that will be obligatory for all Gentile nations according to Zechariah 14:16-19.
All the Gentile nations that will populate the Kingdom will be obligated to send a delegation to Jerusalem in order to worship the King at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (v. 16). It may be at this time that the Gentiles will pay their obligatory tribute to the King (Is. 60:11). Though the Gentile observation of the Feast of Tabernacles will be mandatory, not every nation will necessarily be willing to obey. Therefore, if at any time a nation should fail to send a delegation, the rains will be withheld from them for that year (v. 17). As an example of the punishment, Zechariah mentions the case of Egypt (vv. 18-19). Should Egypt fail to send a delegation, there will be no rain for Egypt. Using Egypt as an illustration of a reluctant nation to keep the Feast of Tabernacles is especially significant, for originally the Feast of Tabernacles was inaugurated as part of a memorial festival of the deliverance of Israel from the Egyptian Bondage. But regardless of what nation may fail to obey this mandate, the punishment will be the same for all.
C. The Arab States
Another specific area the Scriptures deal with is the Arab states. In determining the place of the Arab states in the Kingdom, it should be viewed from the backdrop of the Arabs’ perpetual hatred against the Jews. Two principles will be used to determine the future of the individual Arab states: first is the history of their anti-Semitism; second is how closely these individual Arab states are related by blood to Israel. Ultimately, peace will come between Israel and the various Arab states, but it will come in one of three forms: First, by means of occupation; second, by means of destruction; or third, by means of conversion. It is necessary to deal with the various Arab states individually to get a clearer picture.
Peace will come between Israel and Lebanon by means of occupation. This is not so much explicitly stated by Scripture as it is derived from certain facts contained in the Scriptures. As stated in the previous chapter, Ezekiel 47:13-48:29 gives the boundaries of the nation of Israel in the Messianic Kingdom. The tracing of the northern boundary will show that Israel will encompass all of modern-day Lebanon. From this fact, it can be deduced that in the Kingdom, Israel will occupy and possess all of Lebanon, and it will be settled by some of the northern Jewish tribes. Lebanon was always part of the Promised Land, but it was the part that Israel never possessed. In the Messianic Kingdom, there will be no nation called Lebanon, but it will be part of Millennial Israel. Peace will come between Israel and Lebanon by means of occupation.
Modern Jordan comprises the ancient countries of Edom, Moab and Ammon. Since God does not have the same future for each individual segment of Jordan, they will need to be studied individually.
a. Edom : Southern Jordan
It is Edom, or southern Jordan in particular, that the prophets were concerned about. Several passages disclose that peace will come between Israel and southern Jordan by mean of destruction: Ezekiel 35:6-9; Jeremiah 49:7-13; 19-20; Obadiah 5-9; 17-21; Ezekiel 25:12-14.
Edom, or present-day southern Jordan, is to suffer desolation, and the destruction of all descendants of Esau will come by means of the people of Israel. Only via total destruction will peace come between Israel and southern Jordan. As with Lebanon, there will not be a nation called Edom in the Messianic Kingdom.
b. Moab: Central Jordan
As for Moab, present-day central Jordan, it, too, will suffer destruction (Jer. 48:1-46), but it will not be total. Those who survive will come to repentance and a remnant of Moab will return, according to Jeremiah 48:47.
Peace will come between Israel and central Jordan by means of a partial destruction that will lead to a national salvation of Moab. Thus, there will be a saved nation called Moab in the Messianic Kingdom.
c. Ammon: Northern Jordan
Concerning Ammon, or modern northern Jordan, it will also suffer a partial destruction and become a possession of Israel, in Jeremiah 49:1-2.
As with Moab, it will not be a total destruction and those who survive will turn to the Lord for a remnant of Ammon will also be found in the Kingdom, according to Jeremiah 49:6.
Thus, peace comes between Israel and northern Jordan by means of a partial destruction, followed by conversion, and there will be a saved nation called Ammon in the Kingdom.
To summarize, peace will come between Israel and the three parts of Jordan by means of destruction, but not all to the same degree. In the case of Edom or southern Jordan, the destruction will be total, and there will not be a nation of Edom in the Kingdom. The Edomites are descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, and so Israel and Edom were the closest blood relationship. In the cases of Moab or central Jordan and Ammon or northern Jordan, the destruction will be partial. There will be a Moab and an Ammon in the Kingdom, with both subservient to Israel. Both these nations are descendants of Lot, the nephew of Abraham and, thus, more distantly related by blood.
Peace will come between Israel and Egypt initially by means of destruction and later by means of conversion. A comprehensive story of Egypt’s future is given in Isaiah 19:1-22. In verses 1-10, the Prophet Isaiah described the punishment of Egypt because of her sins. Egypt will be characterized by civil war, desolation, and famine. In verses 1115, the prophet stated that the root cause of Egypt’s devastation is her leaders who have led Egypt astray. Under the dictatorships of Farouk, Nasser and Sadat, Egypt went to war against Israel on four occasions, resulting in heavy losses for Egypt and wrecking its economy. Out of all this, there developed a fear in Egypt of Israel, as prophesied in Isaiah 19:16-17.
Never in ancient history has this been true; Egyptian forces passed through the Land of Israel freely, even in the days of Solomon. Only since 1948, and especially since the Six Day War, have the Egyptian forces evidenced the fear portrayed in this passage. There has been a fear and dread in Egypt of Israel ever since that time. With Egypt’s having lost four wars against Israel with heavy casualties, the fear is deeply rooted. Prophetically, today is still the period of Isaiah 19:16-17.
But eventually peace will come between Israel and Egypt. Initially, the peace is a political one, when the Hebrew language will be spoken in Egypt by five cities, according to Isaiah 19:18. In Isaiah’s day, the language of Canaan was the Hebrew language. Exactly how this prophecy will be fulfilled remains to be seen.
This in turn will slowly give way to Egypt’s conversion, in Isaiah 19:19-22. An altar to the God of Israel will be built as a sign and a witness of the power of the God of Israel to save the land of Egypt (vv. 19-20a). Egypt will be greatly oppressed by the forces of the Antichrist and his cohorts (Dan. 11:42-43), but God will save Egypt from the domination of those oppressors (v. 20b). The Egyptians will realize that Allah, the Moslem god, cannot save them, but only Jehovah, the God of Israel. This will lead to a national conversion of Egypt. Egypt will know the Lord and will worship the God of Israel with oblations, sacrifices, and vows (v. 21). The same God Who brought about their destruction will also bring about their regeneration and their healing when they turn in faith to Him (v. 22).
In conjunction with the latter days of the Tribulation and the Campaign of Armageddon, there will be the national conversion of Egypt. In this manner, they will take their place in the ranks of the sheep Gentiles. It should be noted that Egypt will be one of the nations that will move against the Antichrist in Daniel 11:40.
Nevertheless, because of Egypt’s longstanding hatred of Israel, in the outworking of the cursing principle of the Abrahamic Covenant, Egypt will suffer a desolation that will be similar to that of Edom, according to Joel 3:19. The sin of Egypt is the same as that of Edom: mistreatment of the Jews, and so punishment will come. With Edom, it will be total and permanent (desolation and wilderness). But with Egypt, it will be total yet temporary (desolation but not a wilderness). In fact, the desolation of Egypt is to last only for the first forty years of the Kingdom, as recorded in Ezekiel 29:1-16. Ezekiel is commanded to prophesy against Egypt (vv. 1-2) and predict the coming dispersion of the Egyptians from their land (vv. 3-5) because of their long history of mistreatment of Israel (vv. 6-7). The land of Egypt will suffer a period of total desolation (vv. 8-10), which will last for forty years (vv. 11-12a), and the Egyptians will be scattered all over the world like Israel was before her (v. 12b). But after the end of the period of forty years, the Egyptians will be regathered (v. 13) and brought back into their land (v. 14). Though Egypt will become a kingdom again, it will never be a powerful one (v. 15). Nor will Israel ever again be guilty of placing her confidence in Egypt (v. 16), but will trust in the Lord their God. As for the lowly kingdom of Egypt, it will also be required to observe the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech. 14:16-19).
In summary, peace will come between Israel and Egypt by means of conversion. Only when the Egyptians worship the same God as Israel, through Jesus the Messiah, will peace finally come. For the first forty years of the Kingdom, the land of Egypt will be desolate and the Egyptians will be dispersed all over the world. But afterwards, the Egyptians will be regathered, becoming a kingdom again.
4. Assyria: Northern Iraq
Ancient Assyria is today comprised of modern northern Iraq, another implacable Arab enemy of modern Israel. But peace will come between Israel and northern Iraq by means of conversion, according to Isaiah 19:23-25.
Verse 23 describes an economic unit that will encompass Egypt, Israel and Assyria. The famous highway of the ancient world known as the via maris has ceased to function ever since 1948, when Israel became a state. In 1948 Egypt and Syria closed their borders, making the highway inoperable. However, in the Kingdom, when peace will be restored, all borders will be open, and the highway, a symbol of economy, will be restored between these Middle Eastern states. The means by which this will occur is conversion (vv. 24-25). Not only will Egypt undergo a conversion experience, but so will the ancient area of Assyria. Assyria will become a blessing in the earth and will receive a blessing from God. The three former enemies will now have a spiritual unity as well as an economic and political one. God declares Egypt will be my people, Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance. This spiritual unity will be the basis for the other unities.
So peace will come between Israel and Assyria (northern Iraq) by means of conversion. When this happens, there will be economic, political, and religious unity, because they will all worship the same God.
5. Kedar and Hazor: Saudi Arabia
Peace will come between Israel and Saudi Arabia by means of destruction. This is taught in Jeremiah 49:28-33. The passage describes the total devastation of Saudi Arabia by war until the inhabitants are scattered and dispersed all over the world. As for the land itself, Jeremiah 49:33 states that the land of Saudi Arabia will be a perpetual desolation throughout the Kingdom, and the residents will be dispersed everywhere. While Egypt’s desolation and dispersion will only last forty years, for Saudi Arabia it will last for all of the one thousand years.
So peace will come between Israel and Saudi Arabia via destruction.
6. Elam: Persia or Iran
Although Persia or Iran (ancient Elam) is not an Arab state but a Persian one, its future will be examined here because it shares the same religion (Islam) with the Moslem Arabs.
Peace will come between Israel and Iran by means of destruction, according to Jeremiah 49:34-39. In verses 34-38, Jeremiah described the destruction of Elam, with the inhabitants being completely dispersed all over the world. But then verse 39 declares that the destruction of Iran will be partial, and the dispersion will be temporary. Eventually the inhabitants will return and resettle Iran. The future of Iran is similar to that of Egypt, but the length of time they will be in dispersion is not revealed.
So peace will come between Israel and Iran via destruction, dispersion, and then a conversion and a return. There will be a saved nation of Elam (Persia or Iran) in the Kingdom.
D. The Two Desolate Spots of the Kingdom
As has been shown in previous sections, during the Messianic Kingdom the entire world will be fruitful and very productive; the whole earth will be characterized by beauty. Nevertheless, there will be two desolate spots of burning pitch and burning brimstone throughout the period of the Kingdom: Babylon and Edom. (Egypt will be desolate only in the sense of non-habitation, and that for only forty years, Saudi Arabia will be desolate throughout the Kingdom, but also only in the sense of non-habitation).
1. Babylon: Southern Iraq
The first of these two desolate spots will be the former world capital of the Antichrist: Babylon. Several passages make this point, one of which is Isaiah 13:20-22.
The uninhabitable ruins are described as similar to Sodom and Gomorrah in Jeremiah 50:39-40.
Later, Jeremiah emphasized the totality and completeness of Babylon’s desolation in Jeremiah 51:41-43.
Throughout the Kingdom period, no man will even so much as pass by the ruins of Babylon, something that is hardly true today.
Not only is Babylon to be a desolate waste throughout the Kingdom, it will also be a place of continual burning and smoke throughout the Millennium, according to Revelation 19:3.
It is obvious that the animal inhabitants, as we know them, mentioned in Isaiah 13:20-22 and Jeremiah 50:39-40, cannot live in a place of continual burning pitch and brimstone and so there cannot be literal animals. What they actually are is explained by Revelation 18:1-2.
This place of continual burning and smoke will be a place of confinement for many demons during the Kingdom period. It is clear from Revelation nine and other passages that demons have animal-like features, and this is what the animals of the Isaiah and Jeremiah passages actually represent. In fact, the Hebrew word translated as wild goats refers to demons in goat form.
2. Edom: Southern Jordan
The second desolate spot in the Kingdom will be Edom. This is also pointed out by several of the prophets, such as Isaiah 34:8-15. The reason for Edom’s becoming a perpetual desolation is their sins against Israel (v. 8). Like Babylon, it is to become a place of continual burning and smoke (vv. 9-10), inhabited by various foul birds and animals, and characterized by confusion (v. 11). It will be totally uninhabited by men (v. 12) and will be habitable only by the animals mentioned (vv. 13-15). Yet these animals as we know them cannot live in a place of burning pitch and burning brimstone. Two clues in this text show that these are not literal birds and animals. Again, the word translated wild goats actually means “demons in goat form.” The word translated night-monster means “night demons.” Like Babylon, Edom will also be an abode of demons.
Another prophecy, in Jeremiah 49:17-18, puts the emphasis on totality, for no human will inhabit the land of Edom or even pass through it. Like Babylon, the desolation will be similar to that of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The reason for such massive destruction in Edom is amplified by Ezekiel 35:10-15. Because of Edom’s glee over the fall of Israel and Judah, the punishment must come (vv. 10-13). So while the whole earth is beautified and rejoicing, Edom will be a desolation (v. 14). The calamities, which fell on Israel and over which Edom rejoiced, will now fall on Edom in a more severe way (v. 15).
Finally, Joel 3:19 states:
Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
Egypt’s desolation will be limited to only forty years. As for Edom, because of her unique violence against Israel, her desolation will be permanent and last throughout the Kingdom.
Throughout the Millennial Kingdom, while the whole earth is beautified and blossoming as the rose, the two areas of Babylon and Edom will be places of continual burning pitch and burning brimstone. The smoke will rise and be visible for the entire one thousand years. While Satan will be confined in the Abyss, his demons will be confined in Babylon and Edom. These two places will be the abode of demons for the entire Kingdom period.