Trying to locate where the gathering of Israel will be on the Day of the Lord is notoriously difficult, and I will do well not to be absolute in my study. Ezekiel 20:35 says “I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples (or nations)”, but we are not given any explicit reference where that wilderness might be. So are there any other scriptures which do give an actual place name, or at least a connection with somewhere that we might more readily identify? Well, our key passage in Zechariah 14 does say that the valley of the mountains will reach to Azal, and that those in Jerusalem will take this route as they flee. But this is still not enough, first because the location of Azal is disputed, and secondly, even though the flight of the refugees from Jerusalem will take this route, doesn’t mean that this is where they finish their journey. So where else might we look? We are searching for a scripture that locates Jesus upon the earth with His people during the time of the gathering, that gives an indication of where that location may be. Well, how about the prophet Micah.
Mic 2:12-13 NKJV – 12 “I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold (Bozrah), Like a flock in the midst of their pasture; They shall make a loud noise because of [so many] people. 13 The one who breaks open will come up before them; They will break out, Pass through the gate, And go out by it; Their king will pass before them, With the LORD at their head.”
I love this text, and yes it does tick several boxes. It is a reference to the gathering of the remnant of Israel, and it does place the Lord amongst His people. “Their King will pass before them”, Micah writes, “the Lord at their head.” So this passage does qualify as fitting the time of the gathering with the Lord amongst His people. It does fit into our Second Exodus narrative. But what of location? Does this verse have a geographical reference that can help us identify where the gathering will be? Well, as I previously mentioned I will not state this as absolute or doctrinal, but as my belief and understanding when letting scripture interpret scripture, I believe there is enough to give a good indication of where the Lord will gather His people, and there is a clue to right here in this text found in Micah. It’s well buried under the translation process, but if you go back to the original Hebrew, the phrase ‘sheep of the fold’ Mic 2:12 actually uses the word “botsrah”, which although does mean sheepfold, it is also used to mean the place Bozrah which was a chief city of the ancient kingdom of Edom the homeland of Jacob’s brother Esau. Here’s the translation in the King James Version Mic 2:12 [KJV] I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.
Scholars suggest that this Bozrah is in the mountain district of Petra about 20 miles south east of the Dead Sea in the Land of Jordan today. Now that is interesting because there are other scriptures that refer to Edom and its capital Bozrah in the end times. The story of Israel and Edom goes right back to the story of Jacob and Esau. There had always been rivalry between them, then over many generations the two brothers became the kingdoms of Israel and Edom, but the enmity between them continued. That’s why when Israel having been delivered out of Egypt and now travelling through the wilderness on their way to Canaan, were heavily opposed and denied entry by the Edomites to pass through their territory. Numbers 20:14-21 gives the account. It wasn’t until after forty years of wandering around in the wilderness that Israel was finally permitted to pass through Edom territory Deut 2:2-8. Could it be that there is unfinished business with Edom? Certainly the prophets suggest this. Even though the actual geo-political kingdom of Edom was destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th century BC, there is a sense in which the spirit of hostility towards Israel personified by Esau and Edom continues in the nations today.
By the rivers of Babylon, the psalmist laments over Zion, and writes in Ps 137:7 [ESV2011] Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!” What judgement there shall be indeed against those nations who shall seek the demise of Jerusalem and of Israel in the days to come. Will the Lord not deal with them like He did the Edomites of old? There are fascinating parallels here. Sadly, we don’t have time to go into them all now, but how about this one? That whilst Israel was refused entry into Edom during the first exodus, it will be Bozrah in Edom, that is the Lord’s choice location to gather the remnant of Israel during the second Exodus. I believe this is the place in the wilderness referred to in Rev 12 where the woman will find refuge away from the dragon for three and a half years. Edom is already prophesied as a place that will escape the Anti-Christ. Daniel 11:41. Those fleeing from Jerusalem on the Day of the Lord, will be gathered together with those who had gone before at the start of the great tribulation in Bozrah, as the sheepfold of the Lord. The nations that will seek Israel’s demise and surround Jerusalem, will not succeed to complete her annihilation. What do we think those nations will do when they see the flight of those in Jerusalem join those already assembled in the wilderness? Having just witnessed the very return of the Lord Jesus Christ, will they now finally repent, and seek mercy at His feet? I don’t think so! Did Pharaoh relent on his campaign against Israel, even after the waters of the Red Sea had been piled high on both sides to form a passage of escape right through the middle? Did Pharaoh then surmise that he was no match for the wrath of God? No. Instead, blinded by his own pride, his hardened heart and his hatred for God and His people, Pharaoh pursued the escaping Hebrew nation with his mighty chariots and horsemen right down through the middle of the parted Red Sea. The very place of God’s deliverance becomes the place of destruction for those who oppose the Deliverer. In the same way, neither will those nations who have set themselves against Israel relent in their pursuit of her, and so the demise and fall of the nations will begin in the wilderness of the peoples. This war will reach its climax during the Armageddon campaign, but it begins here in Edom. Here’s what Isaiah writes:
Isa 63:1-6 [ESV2011] Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.” 2 Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? 3 “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. 4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come. 5 I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. 6 I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”
This intriguing passage in Isaiah 63, not only specifically mentions Bozrah as the place of great bloodshed, but also it reveals that this day of carnage is the day of wrath, and of treading the winepress. It is described as the day of vengeance and the year of redemption. With these details we are able to accurately place this passage during the time of the Lord upon the earth when He comes in the days of wrath which begin on the day of the Lord. Which begins the Second Exodus.