Petra in the news! Could Petra be the place in the wilderness where Christians are protected during the Great Tribulation?
Siiq passage to Petra (Carlalexanderlukas)
A reader sent me a link to the following today:
10 June 2016
A huge monument has been discovered buried under the sands at the Petra World Heritage site in southern Jordan.
Archaeologists used satellite images, drone photography and ground surveys to locate the find, according to the study published in the American Schools of Oriental Research.
The large platform is about as long as an Olympic swimming pool and twice as wide.
Researchers say it is unlike any other structure at the ancient site.
The study, by Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and Christopher Tuttle, executive director of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, describes the find as “hiding in plain sight”.
Petra dates back to the fourth century BC, when it was founded by the Nabataean civilization, who inhabited parts of what is now Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
Surface pottery suggests the platform was built in the mid-second century BC, when Petra was at its peak.
It is thought the structure may have had a ceremonial purpose. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-36498234
Petra has long held prophetic interest for Christians.
The Bible tells of a place in the wilderness where some Christians are subject to protection (Revelation 12:14-16). Many have wondered if this could be Petra in Jordan.
Here is some information from the old Radio Church of God, published in 1962 This is PETRA! by the late Dr. Hoeh:
Let’s open our Bibles to see why Petra has puzzled scholars and Bible students for centuries.
The true Church of God is pictured in Revelation 12. It is symbolized by a woman-the bride of Christ. But it is a persecuted woman-a Church hated by the world. According to verse 6 the Church fled the first time from her persecutors for 1260 years – during the Middle Ages. But verse 14 unveils another flight of the Church-in the very last days. This time the duration is only 3y2 years! “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle”-supernatural deliverance-“that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time”–3 1/2 years.
This prophecy has never been understood by the world because the world cannot understand to whom this prophecy refers. It does not recognize who are the true Church. It sees only the false churches, described in Revelation 17.
But consider now the special time of this prophecy about protection in a mysterious wilderness. Notice exactly which period in the history of God’s Church the escape shall occur. Turn to Revelation 3:7-13. This is addressed to the Philadelphia Era of God’s Church -the Church before whom Christ opens the door to preach His gospel around the world (verse 8). Because this Church has kept Gods word, Jesus promises: “I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation”-the time of trial–“which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth’ (verse 10). Here is a world-wide terror to come upon all nations. This is not for the slow-moving past. It is a prophecy for the pulsating present the last days of human history–just before God intervenes to set up His Kingdom to bring peace at last.
Here is a prophecy for this generation- at the very time God’s Church is preaching and publishing the Gospel of the Kingdom of God world-wide. This prophecy is about us!
But how will Jesus keep us from the coming trial and persecution? We just read the answer from Revelation 12! There is a place of safety, in a wilderness, for the people of God.
But where is that wilderness?
That is the mystery that has puzzled so many for so long! God has kept it a mystery so the world would not know. He has even kept it hidden from God’s Church in the past so His people would have their minds on their work! It is only those who are having a part in the work of God-who have their minds on the Kingdom of God, not some physical place of protection–who will escape. That escape cannot be planned for in advance. It is a supernatural escape!
Remember, if the Christians in Jerusalem in apostolic days had quit their work and prematurely escaped to Pella before A.D. 69, they would have been destroyed by the Roman armies who devastated the city. It was only those who completed the work of God who reached safety in A.D. 69 after the Romans destroyed Pella!
That is why God has veiled the exact place of escape from human eyes all these years. But as the days draw closer to the time of the end, the light of prophecy shines ever more clearly! When the moment comes that we need to know where that place of safety is, Christ will make it known. Meanwhile we need to keep our eyes open and our minds yielded-drinking in the implications of prophecy for this Church today! But where does Petra fit in all this?
An Old Testament Prophecy
Turn to Isaiah 42:l0-13. Here is a prophecy for today-a time of divine intervention, verse 14. Now read verse 11 from the Jewish Publication Society translation according to the original inspired Hebrew:
“Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit”–the descendants of Kedar are the Bedouin Arabs who dwell throughout the Middle East in black tents. Here we have a wilderness located in the Arab world! But continue reading: “Let the inhabitants of Sela exult. Let them shout from the top of the mountains.” The inhabitants of Sela? Who are they? And where is Sela? (In the King James Version the word for Sela is translated “rock.”)
Any Bible student knows that Sela is the Hebrew name of Petra! Sela means Rock–in Hebrew; Petra means Rock in Greek! But Sela or Petra is fundamentally uninhabited today, save for a few dozen wandering Bedouin. These are not the inhabitants in this verse, for notice verse 12: “Let them’’–the inhabitants of Petra or Sela–“give glory unto the Lord”–the Bedouin do not know God, they are Mohammedan–“and declare His praise in the islands.”
Which islands? The islands which Israel inhabits–Isaiah 41:1 and 8. God is certainly not going to use a few uneducated, ignorant Mohammedan Bedouin to declare His glory in the islands and coastlands of Northwestern Europe -where Israel is today! This prophecy resurrection and the return of Christ in power and glory. Christ is going to use His servants–now immortal in the Kingdom of God–to proclaim His intervention and the establishment of His Kingdom over all the earth. He is going to use the very ones whom He is now using to proclaim His message. Then they will finally heed!
Isn’t this prophecy a clear indication that the place of safety for the people of God who are now doing the work of God–and broadcasting to the islands and coastlands of Northwestern Europe–is in an Arabian wilderness, where the Bedouin dwell and is probably at Sela, or Petra?
20 years after this writing apparently Mr. Armstrong felt that many misconstrued this, so he then wrote,
Incidentally, I know many of you seem to have your hearts set on going very soon to Petra as “the place of safety” during the soon-coming Great Tribulation. Well, GET YOUR MINDS OFF PETRA. Brethren, I HAVE NEVER said that Petra definitely is the place of protection where God will take us. I HOPE IT IS NOT! One reason it could be the place is that it is a place NOBODY ELSE WOULD WANT TO GO. It would be the most UNpleasant, UNcomfortable, miserable place you could go! There is nothing to be desired there. But, just in case, God HAS miraculously given me very gracious favor in the eyes of King Hussein and also his brother, the Crown Prince. They are very friendly to me personally (Letter, July 16, 1982).
Carnally speaking, Petra is not a place many would pick (cf. 10 safest nations to be in during World War III? Has WWIII begun?). But God may have chosen it or at least somewhere relatively near or like it.
It covers information such as:
The Bible teaches that a portion of the Christians will be protected in a wilderness area during the Great Tribulation. Might this place be Petra in Jordan? Which places do the Bible show can and cannot be the place of safety? Is the idea of Christians fleeing to an area with caves during the reign of the Beast and Antichrist an old one or a modern invention? Which Christians get this protection and which do not? Will those who do not go be subject to persecution? Do Catholic prophecies warn against this biblical place of protection?
As far as Petra goes there are several clues in the Bible that suggests Petra or a place similar to it. But part of this is based upon where the place of protection is not.
Some Clues about Where the Place Isn’t
Although some have suggested that the Bible gives no clue about where the place of safety will be, this is inaccurate. First notice that apparently some of God’s people will apparently be in the area of Judea and Jerusalem around this time:
5 Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say:
“Blow the trumpet in the land;
Cry, ‘Gather together,’
And say, ‘Assemble yourselves,
And let us go into the fortified cities.’
6 Set up the standard toward Zion.
Take refuge! Do not delay!
For I will bring disaster from the north,
And great destruction.” (Jeremiah 4:5-6)
The above passage is suggesting that there will be a time that will come that those in Judea and Jerusalem will have to flee into a place of defense. This is consistent with what Jesus told His followers to do in Matthew 24 :15-16 when they see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel (which happens right after the sacrifices, which have not yet started, have been stopped). And Jeremiah is basically warning that disaster will come from the north–in this case apparently the King of the North. And this may be because some of God’s people have fled to Judea/Jerusalem in order to escape from some of the persecutions from this northern power (for more information on WHEN to flee, please see the article Who is the King of the North?).
In Luke 21:20-21, Jesus confirmed the concept that some of His people would be in the same area and would need to flee:
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.
It thus appears that the place of safety is not in Jerusalem or Judea.
Since the Bible also warns that God’s people should flee Babylon and go out of Chaldea (Jeremiah 50:8;51:6,44-45; Zechariah 2:7; Revelation 18:4), Babylon and Chaldea apparently are not the places either.
Notice the following,
“Flee from the land of the north”, says the LORD…Up Zion! Escape you that dwell with the daughter of Babylon (Zechariah 2:6,7).
This not only suggests that the place may not be in a northern land, but that some Christians will have need to flee from the land of the north.
Since the Bible seem to forecast near total destruction to the islands of the world (Revelation 6:12-14; 16:17-21), no island seems to be a likely place (more information can be found in the article Islands and Bible Prophecy).
More Information About the Place
“He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, He who despises the gain of oppressions, Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, And shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure” (Isaiah 33:15-16)…”Assemble yourselves and come; Draw near together, You who have escaped from the nations” (Isaiah 45:20).
Isaiah thus indicates this place will be a fortress of rocks for those that escape from the nations (note: the escaping from the nations suggests that groups with origins in CGI, such as ICG and CEM, are in error for teaching that God intends to protect people where they are).
It is also of interest to note that those that escape will be assembled–they are not lone independents–this is also consistent with Zephaniah 2:1-3
Gather yourselves together, yes gather together, O undesirable nation, Before the decree is issued, Or the day passes like chaff, Before the day of the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you, Before the day of the LORD’s anger comes upon you! Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger.
The Hebrew words translated as Zephaniah means “Yahweh Hides” or “Yahweh Has Hidden” (Holy Bible: Vine’s Expository Reference Edition, p. 826). Notice that a decree is issued, apparently by a church leader–and I believe that the leader will be part of the Continuing Church of God. This would seem to happen after the gospel has been preached enough to the world as a witness (Matthew 24:14), Jewish sacrifices are stopped, and the abomination is set up (Daniel 9:27; 11:31) per Jesus’ statements in Matthew 24:15-16.
It remains my prayer that those who are Philadelphians and are scattered in groups will soon assemble together, before it is too late.
Furthermore, Zephaniah continues by suggesting that the place will not be in Gaza, at the seacoast, nor Canaan, the land of the Philistines,
For Gaza will be forsaken, And Ashkelon desolate; They shall drive out Ashdod at noonday, and Ekron shall be uprooted. Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast; The nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, the land of the Philistines (2:4-5).
According to the commentary at Nelson’s Study Bible on these verses Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ekron are major cities of the Philistines and Cherethites is simply another name for Philistines. The land mentioned is currently primarily occupied by the Palestinians.
Since people are to leave Judea, are not to go to Gaza, nor Canaan, nor to various places in the north, which direction can they go? Well, they cannot go west because the Mediterranean sea is in the way. This would seem to suggest going east, south, or possibly southeast (southwest would take one to Gaza).
Where is the Place?
David wrote, “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5). This may have a dual meaning. It may be referring to the tribulation and may also be referring to an interesting event in David’s life. David was hiding in the woods from Saul (I Samuel 23:19), and “When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told David. Therefore he went down to the rock, and stayed in the wilderness of Maon…So David made haste to get away from Saul…so they called that place the Rock of Escape” (I Samuel 23:25,26,28). The word translated ‘Rock’ is Sela and the word translated as ‘rock’ are derivatives of the same word. Thus there was a Sela of Escape for David.
Jesus taught, “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath” (Matthew 24:20) which is consistent with Revelation 12:14 which clearly states that it is a place to go to, it is in the wilderness, and it is away from the presence of the serpent. The word translated as wilderness, is translated as desert in the NIV. This word is eremos, which Strong’s defines as lonesome, waste, desert, desolate, solitary, wilderness. Thus, it is not protection in our own houses (as some have erroneously suggested), nor is it protection in a large city. It is somewhere in the wilderness.
Petra, the rocky outpost in Jordan has been speculated to be the place. And where is Petra?:
Situated within the harsh desert, Petra’s vitality was dependent upon an intricate hydraulic system fed by a perennial spring. This spring, the Ain Musa (Spring of Moses), is fabled to have been one of the places where Moses struck the rock with his staff to produce water for his wandering people after their flight from Egypt. Not surprisingly, the valley in which Petra is situated, the Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses) is also named after the Biblical patriarch. In addition, Moses’ brother Aaron is believed to be buried atop the Jebel Haroun (Mount of Aaron), a mountain just south of the city. The belief that Aaron was buried so near Petra is especially noteworthy because it played an important role in Petra’s rediscovery by John Burckhardt (Petra: History, Myth, and Earthquakes; Standford.edu website).
In terms of its location from Jerusalem, Petra (Sela on some Bible maps) is mainly south and slightly east of Jerusalem.
Now it is also possible that the actual place could simply be just be near Petra or perhaps the location will be far from it.
Philadelphians and the Wilderness
In the New Testament, while not all Christians are promised physical protection, the Philadelphians are promised to be protected from the Great Tribulation and this place is in the wilderness according to the the Book of Revelation:
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:7-10)
13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:13-17)
Places, such as Petra, are in the wilderness and in a biblically possible location.
Now, because of the fact that Petra is such an important tourist site for Jordan, and because of archaeological considerations, it may not be the place. But it could be or even near the place.
While Petra may not be the place, it is a place to be considered. A YouTube video of interest could be Might Petra be the Place of Safety?
Some items of possibly related interest may include:
Might Petra be the Place of Safety? The Bible teaches that a portion of the Christians will be protected in a wilderness area during the Great Tribulation. Might this place be Petra in Jordan? Which places do the show can and cannot be the place of safety? Is the idea of Christians fleeing to an area with caves during the reign of the Beast and Antichrist an old one or a modern invention? Which Christians get this protection and which do not? Will those who do not go be subject to persecution? Do Catholic prophecies warn against this place of protection?
This is PETRA! This is a 1962 Good News article by the late Dr. Hoeh.
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory.
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2016, 2017, or 2018? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2016 o 2017? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon video: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives. A shorter video is: Can the Great Tribulation Start in 2016?
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots. They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent.