What does the Bible say about the future of Turkey?


As was explained in our previous Q&A, the Turkish people can be identified today as belonging to the descendants of biblical Esau or Edom. Additional biblical references to modern Turkey are Teman (descendant of Esau), Idumea, Bozrah (ancient capital of Esau) and Seir (compare Joshua 24:4).

In this and a subsequent Q&A, we will show that many Scriptures reveal that modern Esau—Turkey—will be severely punished in the end time. Some of the Scriptures are more general in nature, while others are very specific. Some passages give us reasons for modern Esau’s destruction and defeat in a coming war. Some Scriptures imply that God will directly and supernaturally destroy Edom before and at Christ’s return, while other Scriptures show that God will also act through other nations. Some passages seem to indicate, at first sight, that Esau will be totally annihilated; that there won’t be any survivors; and that the country of Esau will become a wasteland for all eternity; but upon further scrutiny, other passages suggest otherwise, and we know that the Bible cannot and does not contradict itself. Finally, the role of modern Israel and Judah towards Edom will be explored.

Let us first focus on passages in the Bible, which describe the judgment of Edom in general terms.

Psalm 60:8; 108:9 show that modern Esau will be punished in the end time. God says twice that He will cast His shoe over Edom. Wesley’s Notes states that this is a proverbial expression to indicate slavery, while Albert Barnes’ Notes’ on the Bible says: “It is supposed that there is allusion in the expression ‘I will cast out my shoe,’ to the custom, when transferring a possession, of throwing down a shoe on the ground as a symbol of occupancy… The idea is, that he [God] would take possession of it, or would make it his own.”

Further general references to God’s future punishment of “[spiritually] uncircumcised” Edom can be found in Jeremiah 9:25-26; 25:15, 21; and 48:21-24. Another Scripture, Lamentations 4:21-22, describes the punishment of the “daughter” of Edom, at the time of the captivity of the “daughter” of Zion (“daughter” signifies here in prophetic terms the end-time descendants of ancient Edom and Zion). Note also the general description of the destruction of Edom’s kings and princes in war in Ezekiel 32:29. Further, Malachi 1:4 says that God will throw down what Edom has built, and that God has indignation against the people of Edom “forever,” calling Edom “the Territory of Wickedness.” Note, however, that the word “forever” does not need to mean, “for all eternity,” but that it could refer to a certain period of time, until the circumstances change (see our Q&A, describing the biblical meaning of the word “forever,”). Circumstances will change dramatically when Jesus Christ rules over this earth during the Millennium.

A vague reference to the “night” of punishment of Seir (Edom) is also found in Isaiah 21:11-12.

In addition, the Bible includes very specific references to the punishment of modern Edom.

In Isaiah 34:5-6, we read that God’s bloody sword will come down on Edom, the people of God’s curse, for judgment, and that God has a sacrifice of a great slaughter in Bozrah and the land of Edom. The time setting is very clearly identified as being in the future, when Christ returns, compare Isaiah 34:8, speaking of the “day of the LORD’s vengeance” and the “year of recompense for the cause of Zion.” As mentioned before, the term “day of the LORD” applies ALWAYS to a future time, beginning about one year prior to Christ’s return.

God’s punishment of Edom is also described in Isaiah 63:1-6. It says there that God Himself has punished Edom “alone” (verse 3); that “from the peoples no one was with” Him (same verse); that there “was no one to help” (verse 5); and that therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him (same verse). The meaning is, Christ will act without the help of any supportive human armies which would see the need for Edom’s punishment. Even though some nations will fight against Edom (see below), they won’t do so because they want to do God’s Will, but they will act because of ulterior selfish motives (An interesting parallel passage as to motive may be Isaiah 10:5-7. God will use the modern King of Assyria to punish the modern houses of Israel and Judah. However, that king will not understand or consider that he is a tool in God’s hands, but he will act because it is in his heart to destroy many nations).

In addition, the time setting in Isaiah 63 is the day of God’s anger and fury, as well as the day of His vengeance and the year of His redeemed (verse 4)—that is, a future time when God’s enemies will be destroyed and His people will be redeemed. When Christ returns, He will indeed act “alone” against His human enemies, without the “help” of human allies.

A possible parallel Scripture of God’s punishment of Edom and His coming from Seir and Bozrah can be found in Habakkuk 3:3. The prophet asks God in the context of the revival of His work in the midst of the years to remember mercy in wrath (verse 2). It is interesting that we read in Deuteronomy 33:2 that at the time of Moses, God came from Seir (Edom) “with ten thousands of saints” to declare His Law. Note that the word “saint” means “holy” and can refer both to angels and men. When God declared His Law to ancient Israel, He was accompanied by angels (“saints”). It is possible that the passage in Deuteronomy 33:2 is also a reference to Christ’s second coming, when He descends with His disciples (the “saints”) to the Mount of Olives (compare Jude 14-15; Zechariah 14:3-5). Christ will punish Edom at that time, and coming from Seir or Bozrah, He will continue to declare His Law and execute judgment on all ungodly people (compare again Jude 15).

We also find a rather lengthy description of God’s judgment on Edom in Jeremiah 49:7-22. God declares very specifically that Bozrah will become a desolation, a waste or ruin, and a curse, and that its cities will be perpetual wastes (verse 13). We also read that nations will fight against Edom (verse 14), that Edom will become small among nations (verse 15)—that is, it will not cease to exist–and that no one shall remain there, as “in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah” (verse 18). This will happen “in that day” (verse 22), when God will “come up and fly like the eagle, and spread His wings over Bozrah” (same verse). At the same time, we read in verse 11 that God tells Edom to leave their “fatherless children”; that God will preserve them alive; and that Edom’s “widows” should trust in Him.

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible says: “As with Moab… and Ammon…, so there is mercy for Edom. The widows shall be protected, and in the orphans of Edom the nation shall once again revive.” Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible agrees, stating: “Even the widows and orphans of Esau, who escape the general destruction, shall be taken care of by the Lord.” Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible implies that God might be speaking ironically, and that no Edomite would survive, but this does not seem to be the meaning here.

The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary says: “Thy fatherless and widows must rest their hope in God alone, as none of the adult males shall be left alive, so desperate will be the affairs of Edom. The verse also, besides this threat, implies a promise of mercy to Esau in God’s good time, as there was to Moab and Ammon…; the extinction of the adult males is the prominent idea.” The Geneva Study Bible concurs, saying: “The destruction will be so great that there will be none left to take care of the widows and the fatherless.” But some Edomites will survive, as we will see in more detail, and Edom will not remain a wasteland like Sodom for all eternity.

How will Edom’s punishment unfold?

Psalm 83:6 tells us about a future confederacy of nations against “Israel.” This confederacy will consist of Edom (including Amalek, one of Edom’s grandsons) and other Middle Eastern nations, as well as modern Assyria (Germany) and the revived Babylonian system (“Tyre”). Goal of that confederacy is to cut off Israel, so that “the name of Israel may be remembered no more” (verse 4). A reference to that conspiracy is alluded to in Amos 1:6, 9 where we read that “Gaza” and “Tyre” will be punished because they “took captive the whole captivity to deliver them up to Edom” and because “they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom.”

The reference to the “captivity” is to the enslavement of the modern descendants of the house of Judah and perhaps some from the modern house of Israel. In addition to bringing about slavery, we are specifically told in Amos 1:11 (among many other places) that Esau will pursue his brother (Israel) with the sword and cast off all pity, keeping his wrath against Jacob forever.

In fact, we read in Obadiah 11-14 that Edom was as one of them who carried captive the forces of Israel, and who gazed on or gloated over the day of his brother’s calamity in the day of his captivity; that Edom rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; and that they entered the gate of God’s people in the day of their calamity and laid hands on their substance. We even read that Edom stood at the crossroads to cut off those among them who escaped and delivered those up who remained in the day of distress (verse 14), or, as the Menge Bible puts it, at the time of the Great Tribulation.

As will be discussed in the next Q&A, Edom’s conduct during that time is a major reason WHY God will pour out His wrath over Edom. A parallel Scripture of Edom’s appalling conduct towards his brother can also be found in Ezekiel 35:5. God says that He will make Esau (Mount Seir) desolate, as the inheritance of the house of Israel had become desolate before (verse 15)—but Israel’s desolation will end, and so will Edom’s—and God states in Ezekiel 36:5 that Esau plundered God’s country and occupied it as a possession for them.

However, the Bible tells us that God will allow a change of the configuration of the conspiracy mentioned above. We find that Edom’s allies, and especially Assyria and the entire Babylonian system, will turn against Edom. Obadiah 6-7 says:

“Oh, how Esau shall be searched out! How his hidden treasures shall be sought after [including those which they robbed from Israel and Judah, when they laid hands on their substance]! All the men in your confederacy Shall force you to the border [the meaning is, “they will expel you,” compare the Soncino commentary; or “make you captives,” compare Barnes’ Notes on the Bible and Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible], The men at peace with you Shall deceive you and prevail against you, Those who eat your bread shall lay a trap for you [or, wound you].” The words for “lay a trap” or “wound you” mean, “both a wound and a plaster; they pretended to lay a plaster to heal, but made a wound; or made the wound worse” (compare Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible).

In Obadiah 8-9, God makes clear that this will happen “in that day”—that is, after the Great Tribulation and during the Day of the Lord—and that God will inspire the former allies of Edom to act in this way. It is as if God Himself will do it, because we read in verse 8 that God says: “Will I not in that day… even destroy the wise men from Edom… then your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that everyone from the mountains of Esau May be cut off by slaughter.”

This passage will be discussed, in greater detail, in the next Q&A.

Finally, we read in Daniel 11:41 that the king of Assyria—the final king of the North—will at first NOT conquer Edom, but other Scriptures show us that he will later turn against Edom. This reminds us also of Psalm 60:8; 108:9 (quoted above), which indicate as well a future defeat in war and captivity for the people of Edom.

(To be continued)

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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