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Place Of Safety

Some have asked me what I think about the Place of Safety. I have always said that I didn't know for sure. Some openly do not support a place of safety. Other Churches of God not only believe in a place of safety, but believe very fervently that Petra is the place. It has always been my gut feel that Petra was the place, although in recent years I have wondered about that. Some people who have been there, however, claim Petra could never be the place. So far, I have not had the opportunity to visit Petra, so I can't comment on that from first hand experience.

Today I want to provide you with some scriptures about the Place of Safety - including some which seem to describe Petra - so you can draw your own conclusions. The scriptures I'm going to give you are in no particular order, but all seem to relate to a place of safety.

From what dangers do we need a place of safety? The media today gives us a plethora of potential dangers: Persecution from the government via FBI and other files; personal attack from political eccentrics; IRS, BATF and other law enforcement agency abuses; violation of our constitutional freedoms; retaliation against the Christian right; loss of sovereignty to the UN; economic and political antagonism by the European Union; Islamic terrorist attacks; a resurgent Russia; Iranian, Pakistani, and North Korean nuclear threats; loss of American influence in the western Pacific; personal ID cards and implants; collapse of the dollar; depression; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The list seems endless. But are these the dangers from which people will be safely protected? Maybe so.

One of the best-known references to a place of safety is in Revelation 7. As we will see, there are many others. Let's read Revelation 7.

(Rev 7 NKJV) After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. {2} Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, {3} saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." {4} And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed: {5} of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; {6} of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; {7} of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed; {8} of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph [considered to be the tribe of Ephraim] twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed. {9} After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, {10} and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" [Not binitarianism, is it?] {11} All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, {12} saying: "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen." {13} Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" {14} And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. {15} "Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. {16} "They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; {17} "for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

So these obtain forgiveness, became guiltless, and come out of the great tribulation. But do all the Saints, over and above the 144,000 who were sealed, need to go through the great tribulation? And what is the great tribulation? The 6th chapter of Revelation describes the first six seals of what seem to be phases of the great tribulation. Let's look at them and their corresponding verses from the Olivet prophesy of Mat. 24: The first seal is false religions including false so-called Christian religions. Satan's deception of mankind starts the series and permeates it all.

(Rev 6:1-2 NKJV) Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, "Come and see." {2} And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. [The target seems to be deceived religious leaders.]

We see a description of that in Matthew 24:4-5. Hold your place in Rev. 6.

(Mat 24:4-5 NKJV) And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. {5} "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.

The second seal is war. People begin to kill others who have different values. Hold on to Mat.24.

(Rev 6:3-4 NKJV) When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come and see." {4} Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.

We also see a description of that in Matthew 24:6.

(Mat 24:6 NKJV) "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

The third seal is famine. God punishes nations by giving them adverse weather. Back to Rev 6.

(Rev 6:5-6 NKJV) When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come and see." So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. {6} And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius [a Roman coin], and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine."

We also read of famines in Matthew 24:7.

(Mat 24:7 NKJV) "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

The fourth seal is disease or pestilence. Back to Rev 6.

(Rev 6:7-8 NKJV) When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come and see." {8} So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades [the grave] followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.

This could even be the result of bio-weapons. This is also included in Matthew 24:7 which we read.

The fifth seal is martyrdom. A martyr is one who willingly dies or suffers for a belief.

(Rev 6:9-11 NKJV) When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. {10} And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" {11} Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

Saints will continue to be martyred until a certain predetermined number has been reached. We also read of this martyrdom in Matthew 24:9-12.

(Mat 24:9-12 NKJV) "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation [affliction and persecution by mankind] and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. {10} "And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. {11} "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. {12} "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. [Hatred will increase.]

The sixth seal, Rev 6:12-17, is regarding heavenly signs and great earthquakes.

(Rev 6:12-17 NKJV) I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. {13} And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. {14} Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. {15} And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, {16} and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! {17} "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" [Not the soft, gentle Lord Jesus some proclaim, is He?]

Let's look at Luke 21:25 for the parallel to what we just read.

(Luke 21:25-26 NKJV) "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; {26} "men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.

The seventh seal, described in Revelation 8 and 9, describes the horrible times for those alive at the time of Christ's punishment of mankind. But Revelation 7:3 tells us that the 144,000 selected descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel will be protected from the seventh seal. We won't go into the details of the seventh seal here but you should read Rev. 8 and 9 for yourself to see what horrible conditions Godfearing people remaining alive at that time are to be protected from.

Let me ask you a question: How many of these seals are occurring now? Do we have false religions? Even some false Christian religions have been occurring since the first century. Have we had wars? They have occurred forever. Have we had famine? They are common after and during wars and are occurring today. Have we had disease epidemics? How about smallpox and Aids? Have we had martyrdom? Yes, in the middle ages, during the Holocaust, even today in east Africa and elsewhere. We read and hear discrimination and blame targeted toward Christian Conservatives, Evangelicals, and other people who totally believe the word of God, for openly disagreeing with the unbiblical plans of worldly leaders. All of the prophesied troubles of the first five seals and their corresponding prophesies of Matthew 24 and Luke 21 have already occurred but are now occurring at an accelerating pace. How much time is left before the sixth seal opens?

(Mat 24:16 NKJV) "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

"Mountains", G3735, comes from the Greek word "oros" and means any elevation from the plain, hence, it can also mean "hills".

This has already happened once. In 70 AD when the temple was about to be destroyed, the Christian community moved out of Jerusalem and went to Pella for their safety. Where is Pella? It is about 65 miles north of Jerusalem, about eight miles southeast of Bet-Shean or Scythopolis (the Roman name), across the Jordan River in what is now the country of Jordan. This exodus from Jerusalem and the lack of support from these Christians for armed resistance against Rome was one of the major causes of the schism between Judaism and Christianity which continues to this day. Incidently, from pictures of Pella that I have seen, it is hilly but not an area of solid rock. How did these Christians know where to go? Was their choice to go to a location so close to the major Roman city of Scythopolis the result of some kind of logic that they had more to fear from the Jews than the Romans? Pella was close to the Jordan River, where they could obtain both water and fish, so perhaps that influenced their decision. We only know that they apparently complied with Mat 24:16. It must be pointed out, though, that most of Israel, including Jerusalem, is hilly. My point in all this is that the decision to go to Pella for their place of safety may have been God-directed, but may also have been a purely logical human decision.

So where are we today? We could be at the very time for the Saints to be protected. So that brings us to the question, where will the place of safety be? As I said earlier, many think the place of safety for the Saints will be in Petra. Let's look at many scriptures which may support that.

Petra is located in what is now the country of Jordan. It is in a dry, mountainous area about half way down and just east of the high Negev desert between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. In Biblical times it was in the general area of Edom. You might remember that Edom was the northern part of what is now Jordan was Ammon, the central part was Moab, and the southern part, which apparently included all of the Negev, including what is now the Gulf city of Eilat.

Petra is often shown on TV. It is characterized by its building fronts carved into solid rock walls and the very narrow gorge which provides access to it. Today it is an important tourist attraction for Jordan. I have not heard of any terrorism in this area.

Several religious organizations recognize Petra as the Place of Safety and it is reported that some have even stored food in Petra's many caves in anticipation of going there. I tend to doubt that report because I think the local inhabitants would take the food as fast as it's stored in the caves.

What does the Bible have to say about Petra and/or the Place of Safety? Here's some scriptures:

(Rev 12:13-17) When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. {14} The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. {15} Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. {16} But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. {17} Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

In prophesy, a woman is usually a church; and water is often people. The dragon is, of course, Satan. A time, times and half a time is considered as three and a half years - the same time as Christ spent in His ministry before He was cut off. It also reflects the time the two witnesses preach in Jerusalem and is assumed by some to be the time Christ will teach His people before He returns to earth. Are we watching world events and obeying God's commandments?.

(Luke 21:28) When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

When these things begin, it's close.

(verse 36) Be always on the watch, and pray always that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

Pray we will be worthy of escaping these things. Listen to the news. Much news today is very unreliable, very politically oriented. Try to find a reliable news source. I have found that the internet has some good sources. When you find an accurate source, check with it every day or two to stay abreast of the news. What should we watch for and be prepared to do?

(Isa 26:20-21) Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. {21} See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.

It will be time to hide.

(Rev 3:10) Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

If we are patient, Christ will protect and lead us. There is no mention of martyrs here.

(Deu 32:12) The LORD alone led him; no foreign god was with him.

This verse has to be prophetic because when God led Israel out of Egypt, they took their gods with them, at least in their minds. Hold your place in Deu 32 and turn to Acts 7:40:

Saying to Aaron, "Make us gods to go before us; for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what is become of him.

This verse is a quote from Exodus 32.

Back to the prophesy in Deu 32. This time let's begin in verse 7. We'll read verses 7-11.

Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. {8} When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. {9} For the Lord's portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance. {10} In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, {11} like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions.

Notice that we should ask our fathers and elders for direction. The 60s generation in this country has changed all that. We see today an intentional disregard for the wisdom and experience of our elders; a disregard for history. Many of the problems we have today are the result. Remember the old adage: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

In verse 11, the Eagle is synonymous to God. We must be ready to go when God is ready.

(Verse 13) He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields. He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag,

If this refers to the latter day place of safety too, then this is only one of many scriptures that indicate that God is going to care for His people.

(Isa 58:13-14) "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, {14} then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Keeping the Sabbath properly, will enable these people to ride on the high places of the earth. Some Bible scholars interpret this to mean that God will place His people in lofty and inaccessible places where they will be safe from all their enemies. It also implies the giving of great dignity and advancement to His people.

(Isa 16:1-5) Send lambs as tribute to the ruler of the land, from Sela [Sela is another and preferable name for Petra], across the desert, to the mount of the Daughter of Zion. {2} Like fluttering birds pushed from the nest, so are the women of Moab at the fords of the Arnon. {3} "Give us counsel, render a decision. Make your shadow like night-- at high noon. Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees. {4} Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer." The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land. {5} In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it-- one from the house of David-- one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.

God commands Moab to protect these people, as they travel through Moab to Petra, but also while in Petra. Notice the relationship between Petra and the refugees.

As pointed out, Sela in Isa 16:1 is Petra. You can find this referenced in the margin of many Bibles and in Bible dictionaries. Petra is a Greek word meaning 'A rock'. Sela, is its Hebrew equivalent. Petra (Sela) is an ancient city of rock, towering rock. You will find two definitions for Sela. One is H5553, describing a rocky crag. The other is H5554, describing the actual rock city of Petra in Idumaea.

Who are the fugitives or refugees in verses 3 and 4? A fugitive is one who is fleeing from danger. A refugee is one who flees from his own country or home to seek refuge elsewhere from persecution or war or danger. Are these verses describing a place of safety for God's people from the tribulation described in Rev. 8?

(Jer 48:28) Abandon your towns and dwell among the rocks, you who live in Moab. Be like a dove that makes its nest at the mouth of a cave.

Doesn't this describe being able to see what is going on while being able to escape the danger?

(Isa 42:11-13) Let the desert and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops. {12} Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim his praise in the islands. {13} The LORD will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies.

Inhabitants of Petra (Sela) will praise God from the top of the mountains, which constitute the area. Kedar were nomadic Bedouins of Arab extraction who lived and still live throughout this region.

(Isa 33:15-22) He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil-- {16} this is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him. {17} Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar. [Israel?] {18} In your thoughts you will ponder the former terror: "Where is that chief officer? Where is the one who took the revenue? Where is the officer in charge of the towers?" {19} You will see those arrogant people no more, those people of an obscure speech, with their strange, incomprehensible tongue. {20} Look upon Zion, the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved; its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes broken. {21} There the LORD will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. No galley with oars will ride them, no mighty ship will sail them. {22} For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.

Notice the Place of Safety described in verse 16. Notice the military maneuvers described in verse 18. Verse 20-22 certainly describes Christ's Kingdom with its Headquarters in Jerusalem, about 100 air miles from Petra, if that's the place described. Petra is only a few miles east of present day Israel's Negev desert.

(Isa 43:19) See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

The Wadi Musa (if I remember correctly, Musa means Moses), a normally dry creek bed, runs through the Sik, the narrow eastern entrance to Petra, then through the rocky valley of Petra.

(Dan 11:40-45) "At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. {41} He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon [present day Jordan] will be delivered from his hand. {42} He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. {43} He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians [Sudanese? Ethiopians?] in submission. {44} But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. {45} He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.

The leaders of Jordan are in Ammon, the capital city.

(Exo 19:4) You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself.

Notice how God describes His protection of the Israelites when He took them out of Egypt. The parallel to the removal of God's people from a Babylonish, crazed world is obvious.

But Jordan will not escape forever. Notice what Ezekiel has to say about Ammon's final fate:

(Ezek 25) The word of the LORD came to me: {2} "Son of man, set your face against the Ammonites and prophesy against them. {3} Say to them, 'Hear the word of the Sovereign LORD. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you said "Aha!" over my sanctuary when it was desecrated and over the land of Israel when it was laid waste and over the people of Judah when they went into exile, {4} therefore I am going to give you to the people of the East as a possession. They will set up their camps and pitch their tents among you; they will eat your fruit and drink your milk. {5} I will turn Rabbah into a pasture for camels and Ammon into a resting place for sheep. Then you will know that I am the LORD. {6} For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet, rejoicing with all the malice of your heart against the land of Israel, {7} therefore I will stretch out my hand against you and give you as plunder to the nations. I will cut you off from the nations and exterminate you from the countries. I will destroy you, and you will know that I am the LORD.'" {8} "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'Because Moab and Seir [Edom per Gen 36:8] said, "Look, the house of Judah has become like all the other nations," {9} therefore I will expose the flank of Moab, beginning at its frontier towns--Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon and Kiriathaim--the glory of that land. {10} I will give Moab along with the Ammonites to the people of the East as a possession, so that the Ammonites will not be remembered among the nations; {11} and I will inflict punishment on Moab. Then they will know that I am the LORD.'" {12} "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'Because Edom took revenge on the house of Judah and became very guilty by doing so, {13} therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will stretch out my hand against Edom and kill its men and their animals. I will lay it waste, and from Teman to Dedan they will fall by the sword. {14} I will take vengeance on Edom by the hand of my people Israel (apparently not just the Jews), and they will deal with Edom in accordance with my anger and my wrath; they will know my vengeance, declares the Sovereign LORD.'" {15} "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'Because the Philistines [people of the area of Gaza - part of the Palestinian Hamas Administration today] acted in vengeance and took revenge with malice in their hearts, and with ancient hostility sought to destroy Judah, {16} therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am about to stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy those remaining along the coast. [The Cherthites were a clan of Philistines.] {17} I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I take vengeance on them.'"

Keep in mind that it was the chief of the Ammonites that was to be previously protected. The chief of the Ammonites today is King Abdullah II. King Abdullah, a military man, takes a somewhat more cautious approach toward normalization of ties with Israel than did his father, King Hussein.

(2 Pet 3:3-10) First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. {4} They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." [or via evolution they might say today] {5} But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. {6} By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. {7} By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. {8} But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. {9} The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. {10} But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

And what of godly men? They will be protected from the tribulation caused by Satan which we read about in Rev. 6 and the plagues of God which are described in Rev.8 and 9.

(Mal 3:16-18) Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. {17} "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. {18} And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
(Psa 91) He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. {2} I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." {3} Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. {4} He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. {5} You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, {6} nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. {7} A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. {8} You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. {9} If you make the Most High your dwelling-- even the LORD, who is my refuge-- {10} then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. [Not a permanent building] {11} For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; {12} they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. {13} You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. {14} "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. {15} He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. {16} With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Mal 3:17 and Psa 91 promise protection for God's people. But we read in Rev. 6:9-11 and in Mat 24:9-12 that Saints would be and have been martyred. Are these scriptures contradictory? No, because Rev 6 and Mat 24 are describing martyrdoms performed by evil people before they themselves are destroyed in the tribulation described in Rev. 8 and 9. Those servants of God surviving until the tribulation of Rev. 8 will be put in a place of safety as indicated by Rev. 7:3.

You can learn more about God's Holy Name (verse 14) by reading or listening to our website sermon "Whom Do We Worship?".

We've mentioned that God selects His own, but let's now look at some more scriptural examples of that.

(Rev 3:9-10) I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. {10} Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

(Isa 43:1-13) But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. {2} When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. {3} For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. {4} Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. {5} Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. {6} I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth-- {7} everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." {8} Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. {9} All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of them foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, "It is true." {10} "You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. {11} I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. {12} I have revealed and saved and proclaimed-- I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "that I am God. {13} Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?"

Some say this refers to the Jews returning to Israel. But these verses sound more like God gathering His saints from around the world. Can this be anything else but the journey to the place of safety and away from the tribulation described in Rev. 8?

(Ezek 20:33-36) As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will rule over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. {34} I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered--with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. {35} I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you. {36} As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign LORD.

God shall gather his people from all the earth. We have all heard that the Saints will be judged before they are resurrected. Verse 35 says He will take his people into the desert and judge them. If we don't go into the desert, what then?

Now let's look at some scriptures which refer to how the Saints are or were chosen:

(Luke 17:26-30) "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. {27} People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. {28} "It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. {29} But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. {30} "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

On the day that God's elect leave, or are put in a place of safety, the nations will be destroyed.

(2 Cor 6:16-18) What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." {17} "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing [Lev 11], and I will receive you." {18} "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

We must not pollute ourselves with the religions and ways of this world if we want God to receive us. We have the potential to become sons and daughters of God the Father.

(Rev 3:12) Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.

If the churches of Rev 2 and 3 are church eras, God's Saints have got to be the Philadelphia Church era. But I guess I would have to ask, "Are church eras limited in time?" Were there no Saints in the first hundred years of Christianity?

(Eph 1:4-6) For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love {5} he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- {6} to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Yes, He chose us before He created the world. Now let's read how King David realized this too.

(Psa 71) In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. {2} Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. {3} Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. {4} Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men. {5} For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. {6} From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you. {7} I have become like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. {8} My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long. {9} Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. {10} For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. {11} They say, "God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him." {12} Be not far from me, O God; come quickly, O my God, to help me. {13} May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace. {14} But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. {15} My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. {16} I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. {17} Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. {18} Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. {19} Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, you who have done great things. Who, O God, is like you? {20} Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. {21} You will increase my honor and comfort me once again. {22} I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. {23} My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you-- I, whom you have redeemed. {24} My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion.

David speaks here of his trust in God as a refuge and his resurrection from the dead to become King of Israel again.

(Isa 43:18-21) "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. {19} See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. {20} The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, {21} the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.

We will forget the old world and establish a new society beginning in the Place of Safety.

(Luke 21:34) "Be careful, lest your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.

Don't get carried away with the pleasures and cares of this world and not be ready for the final days of this world.

(Verse 36) Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."
(Mat 24:20) Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.

Pray for escape.

Well, there you have it. I can't positively say whether God's people are going to go to Petra for their safety of the plagues of Rev. 8, or to somewhere else. To avoid persecution we may simply stay in our homes unknown and therefore hidden from the world around us. But, my impression is that at least one place of safety from the tribulation of Rev. 8 will be in Petra. There's just too much scripture which describes or names Petra. As you review these scriptures, particularly those referring to the rocks, you might ask yourself, "how many rocks do I have in my back yard?" I suppose it is possible that the place of safety from persecution could be in our own house but how about a place of safety from the tribulation of Rev. 8 and 9? We might need a lot more than our house and yard. The important thing for all of us is staying so close to God that He doesn't leave us out when He's deciding who is to be protected and where it is to be done. And as we read earlier, keep the Sabbath and respect God's name appropriately.

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
23 June 2012
Copyright 2012, Wayne Bedwell

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