Eschatology Studies (33)

It is written:

Ezekiel 38:5-Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet;

Persia is one of the ancient names for the country of Iran. Interestingly enough, there are other Scriptures which directly reference Iran.

Jeremiah 49:34-39-34 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, 35 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, The foremost of their might. 36 Against Elam I will bring the four winds From the four quarters of heaven, And scatter them toward all those winds; There shall be no nations where the outcasts of Elam will not go. 37 For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies And before those who seek their life. I will bring disaster upon them, My fierce anger,’ says the LORD; ‘And I will send the sword after them Until I have consumed them. 38 I will set My throne in Elam, And will destroy from there the king and the princes,’ says the LORD. 39 ‘But it shall come to pass in the latter days: I will bring back the captives of Elam,’ says the LORD.”

Elam is an ancient name for Iran (as is Persia).

“Elam was an important state in southwestern Iran from the third millennium BC to the appearance of the Persian Empire and beyond. Less well-known than its neighbours in Mesopotamia, Anatolia, the Levant or Egypt, it was nonetheless a region of extraordinary cultural vitality….All too often we take for granted the identity and ethnicity of the archaeological and historical cultures which we study, without considering whether discrepancies exist between our definitions and the self-definitions of the peoples being studied. In the case of Elam, it is now clear that we are dealing with a notion imposed by Mesopotamian scribes, not one which had any basis in indigenous notions of ethnic and linguistic self-definition. Diverse groups in southwestern Iran were subsumed under this foreign label, but at a certain point the label was adopted for it clearly served a purpose in a different context of self-definition. Elam is both a name and a concept. How these changed through time will be explored in the chapters which follow.” (D.T. Potts, The Archaeology Of Elam: Formation And Transformation Of An Ancient Iranian State, 1, 12 (Kindle Edition); Cambridge World Archaeology)

Throughout the Old Testament, Elam/Persia/Iran had a varied and diverse background.

“Elam was an ancient center of civilization, two hundred miles east of Babylon in what would be the southwest part of modern Iran. It was conquered by the Assyrians under Ashurbanapal, ca. 640 B.C. but regained its independence with Assyria’s collapse. It joined forces with Nabopolassar to destroy Nineveh in 612 B.C. The Babylonian Chronicle seems to indicate there was a conflict between Nebuchadnezzar and Elam, 596–594. In 539 the Elamites helped overthrow the Babylonian Empire. 49:34 The message given to Jeremiah against the Elamites is dated as “early in the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah.”47 Most scholars equate the phrase with the accession year of Zedekiah, 597, but it could have been several years later, perhaps 594. It seems unusual that Jeremiah would announce judgment on a people so remote from Judah with no actual contact with Judah; however, Jeremiah was a prophet to the nations (1:10). Perhaps Elam was included as a reminder of the sovereignty of God over all nations. God as the avenger is more prominent in the judgment message against Elam than in the other judgment oracles in chap. 49 (notice the frequent use of “I”). 49:35–38 The Elamites were famed as bowmen, but that major source of their military power would be broken (cf. Isa 22:6; Hos 1:4–5). Ammon depended on Molech and its riches (49:3–4). Edom depended on wisdom and its inaccessible location (49:7,16). Damascus depended on its fame (49:25). Kedar depended on its remoteness (49:31) and Elam on its bow, but all of them failed. The fate of those nations is a solemn reminder that dependence on human resources rather than on God will always fail (see 9:23–24).” (F.B. Huey, Jr., The New American Commentary: An Exegetical And Theological Exposition Of Holy Scripture-Volume 16-Jeremiah & Lamentations, 406-407 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group)

Now, this prophecy in Jeremiah is similar to the one in Ezekiel because it takes place during the Christian Age. Jeremiah says these events will take place during the “latter days,” which is a phrase used throughout that Book to reference the Christian dispensation.

Jeremiah 23:20-The anger of the LORD will not turn back Until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly.

Jeremiah 30:24-The fierce anger of the LORD will not return until He has done it, And until He has performed the intents of His heart. In the latter days you will consider it.

Jeremiah 48:47-“Yet I will bring back the captives of Moab In the latter days,” says the LORD. Thus far is the judgment of Moab.

Jeremiah 49:39-But it shall come to pass in the latter days: I will bring back the captives of Elam,’ says the LORD.”

See also: Ezekiel 38:8, 16; Daniel 2:28; 10:14; Hosea 3:5; Micah 4:1).

Now, when did the last days begin?

The Apostle Peter quotes from Joel 2 and declares:


Notice that the last days were beginning when Peter was preaching there on Pentecost.


Hebrews 1:1-2-1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

Throughout the New Testament, we see that the phrase “last days” has reference to the entire Christian Age and Dispensation. This is made especially clear in Paul’s Epistle to Timothy and Peter’s Epistle to the brethren of the dispersion. For example, in describing certain types of people who will be present during the “last days,” Paul then tells Timothy to stay away from such individuals (2 Timothy 3:5). Obviously, in order for Timothy to be turning away from people who would be present in the last days, then Timothy would have to be living during the last days for this to happen! Indeed, the Greek of this passage is even more clear regarding the subject:

“Although Paul speaks of these “last days” (v. 1) with future tense verbs (vv. 1, 9), this is a future in which Timothy is already involved, since the passage is applied to him in his present situation (note the second person singular present tense imperatives in vv. 1 and 5) and since the activity of the false teachers is depicted as already occurring (in the present tense verb forms in vv. 6-8)….eaxataL; ilµeeaLc,** “last days,” is used here as elsewhere in the NT (Acts 2:17; Jas. 5:3; 2 Pet. 3:3; cf. Heb. 1:2; cf. further iv voteeotg xa.Leois in 1 Tim. 4:1 and the discussion there) to refer to the time of the Messiah, that last period of days before the final messianic action takes place. The concept and language are taken over from the OT (cf. Acts 2:17, quoting Joel 3:1; cf. further Is. 2:2). Here, as in 1 Jn. 2:18, where eaxati wea is used, the phrase does not designate some yet-to-come period of days. Rather, Paul is reminding Timothy that the Christian community is living in the “last days,” and, because that is true, he must come to grips with what characterizes those “days.” (George W. Knight III, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Pastoral Epistles, 7187-7196 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)

The prophecy of Jeremiah also suggests that the events herein described have begun to be fulfilled in our day and age.

“Allow me to draw out several key points from this passage: Verse 39 tells us that these events are going to happen in “the last days.” The passage tells us that God will scatter the people of Iran all over the earth (verse 36). This actually happened during the Iranian Revolution in 1979. For the first time in history, Iranians were scattered all over the globe. Today, an estimated five million Iranians live outside their home country. God says he is going to “break” the current structure of Iran (verse 35). God says he will “shatter Elam [Iran] before their enemies” (verse 37). God says he will bring his “fierce anger” against the leaders of Iran (verse 37). God says, “I will send out the sword after them until I have consumed them” (verse 37). God says he will “destroy” Iran’s “king and princes” (verse 38). Despite all this terrible judgment, God specifically promises to “set My throne in Elam”—that is, be the God and King of the people of Iran (verse 38). God also promises to “restore the fortunes of Elam” (verse 39)….That may be the case. I, however, lean more toward the view held by many Iranian Christians who believe that God means he will bless the people of Iran spiritually. In some ways, this has already begun. In 1979, there were only about five hundred known Shia Muslim converts to Christianity in all of Iran. Today, all the Iranian Christian leaders I have interviewed (more than forty) say there are more than one million Shia converts to Christianity in Iran. Iranian followers of Jesus Christ believe that as we get closer to the second coming of Christ, God is going to pour out his love and forgiveness and his Holy Spirit on the people of Iran in an even more dramatic way, opening the eyes and hearts of even more Muslims and helping them to see clearly that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world and that only through faith in him can they know and experience God’s love and plan for their lives. They also believe that Iran will soon become a “sending country,” a base camp, as it were, from which thousands—perhaps tens of thousands—of Iranian followers of Christ will fan out throughout the epicenter, preaching the gospel, making disciples, and planting churches in the last days.” (Joel Rosenberg, Israel At War: Inside The Nuclear Showdown With Iran, (1203-1222 (Kindle Edition); Tyndale House Publishers)

The events of Ezekiel 38 and 39 regarding Persia/Elam/Iran add up perfectly.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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