Copyright © 2002, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2016, 2022 Philadelphia Church of God
In the past, we believed the Great Tribulation would begin when America, Britain and Judah were attacked militarily. Yet Ezekiel 4 describes the Tribulation as actually beginning with an economic siege against these nations. One third of the people inside that siege against Israel will die! That equates to more than 100 million people in the U.S. and more than 21 million in Britain, plus some of the Commonwealth nations.
The siege is primarily against the house of Israel, but as this prophecy goes on to show, the Jewish state in the Middle East will also experience a shorter siege.
The Great Tribulation begins immediately after we conclude the watchman work and go to a place of safety. Chapter 4 discusses the siege and the Tribulation.
Notice what God commanded His Prophet Ezekiel to do: “Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel [primarily America and Britain] upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 4:4-5).
God is getting very detailed and specific here. He doesn’t want people to suffer any more than they have to in order to realize they don’t know the way to peace apart from God’s law. The Tribulation starts with an economic siege, and this siege will last exactly 390 days—about 13 months!
Verses 6-8 specifically address the house of Judah—the Jewish nation—not the house of Israel, or America and Britain: “And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year. Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it. And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege.”
The main prophecy here is that the much longer siege happens against the United States and Britain. I’m sure the worst of the siege is against the U.S. because it is the superpower. While the siege against America and Britain lasts 13 months, the siege against the Jews will last only 40 days.
The siege against the Jews will begin 350 days after the siege against America and Britain has begun. Both sieges end at the same time, when all three nations are invaded militarily. Hosea 5:5 says that America, Britain and Judah will fall together. That is referring to the military attack!
The story flow continues into Ezekiel 5, where the three successive parts of Israel’s destruction are discussed.
When fire begins to burn the cities, that concludes the siege. The siege will keep intensifying until the cities burn with fire. It concludes with the economy being absolutely destroyed, and with a lot of burning, race wars and other forms of societal meltdown.
A lot of mind-splitting terror is about to grip this land! This is building even now—you can see it!
When the siege ends, then comes the attack, so the situation gets far worse. The siege of these three nations leads to an attack that will leave cities without inhabitant!
America is weak and bitterly divided already. This makes it extremely vulnerable for a foreign power to lay siege to it. With the threat of terrorism and racial hatred, it is easy to see how the siege will lead to a third of Americans dying. One third of the British peoples will die at the same time. The siege of Judah will end at the same time, but it begins later and is much shorter. One third of the Jewish nation will also die.
This devastating military attack of Hosea 5:5 will occur 13 months after the German-led European Union forms an alliance with the nations of Asia to besiege the Anglo-Saxon nations. This military attack will come from the revived Holy Roman Empire!
This siege is also prophesied in the book of Deuteronomy. And this prophecy also indicates that the siege is part of the Tribulation.
Deuteronomy 28 is the “blessings and curses” chapter. In it, God promises many wonderful blessings if the nations of Israel would obey Him. “[T]he Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth,” it says, “and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow” (verses 1 and 12). Is America experiencing this blessing today? This nation is more than $30 trillion in debt! That figure keeps soaring, and the government is not even trying to control it! Where will it end? In massive destruction.
The nations of Israel were once married to God! He is going to hold them accountable for that! We and our ancestors should have taught God’s way to the Gentiles, who never had a history with God. But we rebelled and disobeyed.
The curses that God promised for that disobedience are described beginning in verse 15. In verse 20, God prophesied “cursing, vexation, and rebuke” in everything we set our hands to do. “[T]hou shalt not prosper,” He says in verse 29.
When you look at this list of curses, you can relate them to the events described in Ezekiel 5.
By the time you get to Deuteronomy 28:34—“So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see”—it is talking about the effects of the siege! God says that seeing this happen will make you mad—it will drive you crazy!
“The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low” (verse 43). Is that happening before our eyes?
For many years, Mr. Armstrong said the siege prophesied in verse 52 symbolized America’s economy being battered by foreign competition. “And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates ….” The target here has to be the nations of Israel—not Judah. Who has those gates? America and Britain have or had the gates, and we are going to be besieged in all of them. We have already virtually lost control of all of them. This is a prophecy for this end time.
The Holy Roman Empire, along with the kings of the east (the Asian nations), will cause economic problems and bring on destruction in many ways “until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee” (verse 52). The real pressure is coming from without. “In all thy gates” refers to a trade war.
Why do these nations even have all this prosperity? God gave these gates, cities, power and wealth to the modern house of Israel! Not to the Gentiles, but to Israel! But now He is taking it back because of our ingratitude and rebellion!
Look at the conditions that this siege will cause: “And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body …” (verse 53). Verse 55 adds that “thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.” Verses 56-57 describe the horrible cannibalism people who are suffering inside this siege will commit.
This is the same siege that Ezekiel 4 and 5 describe.
Notice Deuteronomy 29:14-15: “Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; But with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day.” That means us—the modern descendants of the nation that covenanted with God! It especially applies to those of us living in the latter days.
Moses also warned, “For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 31:29).
The Prophet Daniel shows us what will happen to the brief Euro-Asian alliance: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south [a radical Islamic Middle Eastern power, led by Iran] push at him: and the king of the north [a revived European Holy Roman Empire, led by Germany] shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many” (Daniel 11:40-44).
The king of the north—the Holy Roman emperor—will hear troubling news from the east and north. These tidings come after the king of the south has been destroyed. They come from the Asian axis! The Holy Roman emperor will be disturbed about what the Russians and Chinese are doing.
Before this, when the Tribulation began, this emperor was cooperating with the Russians and the Chinese to besiege the Anglo-Saxon nations economically. But perhaps he hears rumors that the Asian axis is planning to invade North America and conquer it for its own.
Regardless of what the exact tidings are, the Bible is clear that it will be the Holy Roman Empire that single-handedly invades North America. And this passage is clear that these tidings will provoke the emperor to go forth with great fury to destroy!
This is the big picture! This is what will happen at the end of the 390-day siege. Europe and Asia will work together to economically besiege America, but their alliance will fall apart once the revived Roman Empire conquers America, Britain and Judah.
Back in World War ii, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan worked together to conquer the world. After the war ended, however, historians found that each empire had plans to go to war with the other after the Allies were defeated. Let’s not be naive: This is the way it has always been with these powers. That is why, in biblical terminology, the “times of the Gentiles” is so horrific!
This is what we have to be concerned about! Two empires are building right now that are out to conquer the world!
In Ezekiel’s prophecy, two other specific groups are given special attention. “Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts” (Ezekiel 5:3). A “few in number” are hidden in God’s skirts and are protected. The word skirts could be translated wings. This is referring to the fact that God will protect His very elect from the Great Tribulation.
There is still another group. “Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel” (verse 4). This group is God’s Laodicean Church that must be punished in the Tribulation. These same prophecies are found in many other Bible scriptures.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations” (verses 8-9). God is going to do “that which I have not done.” This prophecy is also found in several other scriptures (Matthew 24:21; Daniel 12:1; Jeremiah 30:7). God is going to punish Israel as no nation has ever been punished!
Surely this ought to sober and humble anyone—especially God’s own people!
“Behold I, even I, am against thee.” This statement should strike terror in people! God puts special emphasis on the statement—“Behold I, even I, am against thee.” We should read that with deep concentration; God is against the nations of Israel! They are not up against mere foreign armies. These nations have made the omnipotent God into an enemy! There is no defeating Him! They will lose in a spectacular way because God is bringing them down.
There is no hope that we will escape the Great Tribulation if this statement doesn’t shake us!
“Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds” (Ezekiel 5:10). That is horrifying. It must wake us up! How can anyone fail to carefully examine his or her religious views after reading such frightening prophecies?
“Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord God; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity” (verse 11). The expression detestable things would be better translated detestable practices. The sanctuary is speaking of the most holy place in God’s temple, or Church. Remember, the time setting is just before the Tribulation, and somebody has defiled God’s sanctuary!
This is not referring to the world, because the world’s “sanctuary” has always been defiled! This verse is referring to God’s own Church, which at one time was undefiled! Then it became defiled!
Who in this very end time has defiled God’s holy place? This is referring specifically to the Laodiceans—people who knew God and turned away from Him. There is no other logical explanation.
The suffering, death and destruction will be beyond anything imaginable, because God is very angry with us. “Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the Lord have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them. Moreover I will make thee waste, and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by. So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about thee, when I shall execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I the Lord have spoken it” (Ezekiel 5:13-15).
This is how bad it will get! The U.S. economy has helped to fuel the world’s economy. When it collapses, it will deeply affect the whole world.
“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them” (Ezekiel 6:1-2). We are told to “prophesy against” Israel. The Laodiceans have failed to do that. The pcg must not fail.
“In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished” (verse 6). The cities were not laid waste in ancient Israel. This is referring to a modern-day nuclear attack!
This is the severity of punishment it will take to turn Israel to God! (verse 7).
“Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries. And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations” (verses 8-9). God says this rebellion includes His people who “departed from me.” This world has never known God, so it could not depart from God. This expression can only apply to God’s own Church.
The last third of Israel will be taken captive and made slaves around the world. In their captivity, these slaves will tell their captors about the prophecies of the pcg! The Gentiles will learn about God from their slaves! (e.g. Psalm 137; Zechariah 10:9; Revelation 12:11; you can read more about this in “By the Waters of Babylon,” available at pcg.church/articles/4419). So we see that even Israel’s slavery will serve God’s Work.
There is a big lesson Israel and the world must learn. “And they shall know that I am the Lord, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them” (verse 10). The people of Israel will be punished. Then they shall know all the prophecies of Mr. Armstrong and the pcg were not in “vain”! These warning prophecies have been written and spoken because they were inspired by God. The words of Mr. Armstrong and the pcg are from the great God, who doesn’t speak words in vain! People either listen or pay a terrifying price!
Then “they shall know that I am the Lord.”Continue Reading: Chapter 6: Ezekiel Exposes Satan