I provided an update a week ago on where my study concerning the term “wilderness of the people” in Ezekiel 20:35 stood. I mentioned in that article that I leaned towards the view that the “wilderness of the people” is located somewhere in the nations, but I was not exactly sure about the geographic scope of the “wilderness of the people”.
After a week thinking about the issue, I have come up with a proposed solution which I feel comfortable with. Today I share this proposed solution with you.
I believe Ezekiel 20:35-36 is important to consider when trying to find where the “wilderness of the people” may or may not be located. Ezekiel 20:35-36 compares the experience that the people of Israel will endure during the End Times with the experience their ancestors faced in the wilderness of the land of Egypt.
“(35) And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. (36) Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 20:35-36)
The distinction between “wilderness of the people” in Ezekiel 20:35 and “wilderness of the land of Egypt” in Ezekiel 20:36 suggests that the “wilderness of the people” does not encompass the wilderness of Egypt exclusively (if Ezekiel 20:35 tried to convey the thought that “the wilderness of Egypt” is the only location where the Lord pleads with people face to face it should say “wilderness of Egypt” like in verse 20:36).
I cited Amos 9:9-10 as a key passage to consider in my previous article about Ezekiel 20:35. The verse helped me lean heavily in favor of the idea that the “wilderness of the people” is located somewhere in the nations. Here again is a comparison between Ezekiel 20:35-38 and Amos 9:9-10.
“(35) And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. (36) Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. (37) And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: (38) And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 20:35-38)
“(9) For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. (10) All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.” (Amos 9:9-10)
After thinking about the similarities between Ezekiel 20:35-38 & Amos 9:9-10, the contrast between Ezekiel 20:35 & Ezekiel 20:36, and other passages, I think the “wilderness of the people” is a term that encompasses the locations outside of the land of Israel where the people of Israel will endure a wilderness experience that is akin to the wilderness experience their ancestors experienced following the Exodus.
Two of the several locations which I think are part of the “wilderness of the people” are Egypt and Assyria. Several Bible prophecy verses mention Egypt and Assyria as places where the Lord’s people will be called back from, including the verses below:
- Isaiah 11:11 mentions that those who will be brought back are a “remnant”. This implies that a purge will occur in the places where the Lord’s people will be called back from and those who are brought back are survivors of the purge. Similarly, Isaiah 27:13 notes that those are brought back from Assyria “were ready to perish”
“(11) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea…(16) And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.” (Isaiah 11:11, 16)
“(12) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel. (13) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 27:12-13)
“(10) I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and place shall not be found for them. (11) And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away.” (Zechariah 10:10-11)
“(10) They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. (11) They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD.” (Hosea 11:10-11)
Another major location that the Bible mentions is Babylon. I place the fulfillment of this particular section of Jeremiah 50 during the latter portion of the End Times because verse 50:5 mentions that the Lord’s people will seek to make a perpetual covenant with the Lord.
“(4) In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God. (5) They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. (6) My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace. (7) All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers. (8) Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.” (Jeremiah 50:4-8)
I think the wilderness of the people may actually encompass many locations around the world since the people of Israel will be scattered worldwide. Isaiah 11:11-12 provides a sense of how widespread people will be scattered before they are recovered:
(11) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. (12) And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:11-12)
Regardless of how widespread the wilderness of the people may be (or may not be), the central idea is that the “wilderness of the people” encompasses locations outside of the land of Israel, such as Assyria and Egypt, where the people of Israel will endure a wilderness experience that is akin to the wilderness experience their ancestors experienced following the Exodus.
Wilderness of the People vs. The Wilderness
It is important to recognize that the term “wilderness of the people” only appears in Ezekiel 20:35. The term “wilderness” appears in several places like Revelation 12:6, Revelation 12:14-16, Hosea 2:14-15, and Jeremiah 31:2.
“(6) And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days…(14) And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. (15) And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. (16) And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.” (Revelation 12:6, 14-16)
“(1) At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. (2) Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” (Jeremiah 31:1-2)
“(14) Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. (15) And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. (Hosea 2:14-15)”
I think instances like these refer to a specific area of the Middle East or a part/sub-region of “the wilderness of the people” where people will seek refuge.
I believe Edom, Moab and Ammon (which are in modern day Jordan) are the primary locations which will comprise the wilderness area because Daniel 11:41 suggests that each of these locations will escape an attack by the Antichrist:
“He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.” (Daniel 11:41)
There is probably a good reason why these areas are spared when other places are attacked. I think the main reason is that these areas serve as places where people can find relative safety.
Obadiah 1:12-14 provides a further indication that the general area around Edom is one location where some people will attempt to seek refuge at. Although the passage criticizes Edom’s treatment of the Lord’s people during the time of their distress, the fact that the Edom is in a position to treat the Lord’s people in a harsh manners suggests that the Lord’s people will be nearby Edom.
“(12) But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. (13) Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; (14) Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.” (Obadiah 1:12-14)
Isaiah 16:1-4 provides further indication that the general area around Edom and Moab is where some people will seek refuge at. Verse 16:1 suggests that the wilderness is connected with Sela, which was the capital of Edom. Meanwhile, verse 16:4 contains a call for Moab to allow the Lord’s outcasts to seek refuge from “the face of the spoiler” (likely a reference to the Antichrist).
“(1) Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion. (2) For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon. (3) Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; bewray not him that wandereth. (4) Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land.” (Isaiah 16:1-4)
Although I refer to Edom, Moab, and Ammon as the primary locations that comprise the wilderness area, it does not mean that people won’t seek refuge in other nearby locations. For instance, a reader mentioned that they believe that Paran is a location where people will seek refuge at. I do not rule the possibility that some people may seek refuge in a place like Paran or another location in that general area for the following reasons:
- There is a lot of wilderness area in that part of the Mideast.
- The idea that some people of Israel may spend time in the same areas as their ancestors did following the Exodus is consistent with the idea that people of Israel will endure a wilderness experience that is akin to the experience their ancestors endured following the Exodus.
What I’ve presented is a proposed solution. If you can disprove what I’ve presented please try to do so. It is important for me to catch mistakes before I move on to other areas of study.