“The Place of Safety” doctrine, as seen in Scripture


This will merely be a short survey of passages in the Bible that appear to support the saints of the Philadelphia era of the church going to a “place of safety” during the great tribulation and Day of the Lord.  These passages, just like the passages that appear to support a pre-tribulation rapture of saints, are sketchy, few and scattered.  While the few passages that promise protection are very firm and solid, the ones that would appear to support protection either in a “place of safety” or by way of a rapture to heaven are very sketchy, and their meanings could be taken in a number of ways that do not necessarily support the doctrine people intend them to.  We have just read through two sermons that support and somewhat explain the rapture.  Now we will take a look at the passages in the Bible that would appear to support the saints going to a “place of safety.”  Passages taken from the King James Version except where stated otherwise.


Isaiah 42:11-12, “Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.  Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands.”  Time setting could be established by adjacent verses 13-15, “The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.  I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now I will cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once.  I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools…”  Most definitely Day of the Lord prophecy here.  So verses 11-12 could apply to this time, when the Lord is coming down from the clouds.  But those singing, if that is so, are humans that have taken refuge in Petra , the rock—perhaps Moabites, Jordanians, along with the saints.  But at this time, if the saints have dwelt in Petra for three and a half years, they have already risen in the 1st resurrection to immortality spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:49-54 and I Thessalonians 4:13-17, as Jesus, the Lord in this passage is returning, verse 16, “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight…”  At the point of verse 16, Jesus has returned and is regathering his scattered people.  Revelation 19 shows the immortal saints are with him.  Turn next to Jeremiah 48:28.

          Jeremiah 48:28, “O ye that dwell in Moab leave the cities, and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the side of the holes mouth.”  Halley places this whole chapter that deals with Moab in the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s captivity of Judah .  But verse 27 is talking of Israel in context with Moab , and Israel is gone, taken and deported over 100 years previously by Assyria .  So could this be future?  Could be.  Moab lived in the area of modern-day Jordan .  People often don’t move (unless deported by another larger power), so some of the Jordanians are descendants of the Moabites, children of Lot through his two daughters.  Next, how are we going to go, if it is really true that we are going to a place of safety, say Petra ?  Turn next to Revelation 12:14.

          But let’s get this in context.  This chapter is about a church, although some think it is about a nation, the nation of Israel .  But in context with Revelation 13, I would say it is about a church, since Revelation 13 is about the apostate church, a false church, it would stand to reason that Revelation 12 is about the true church.  It is also about Satan and his rebellion, which first started eons ago.  Let’s just read Revelation 12:1-17, so we take this all in context.  “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered” (verses 1-2).  This could be the church in the wilderness, giving birth to Jesus, Yeshua, or as some interpret it, it could be Israel .  But for this study we will interpret it as being the church in the wilderness, which turns into the church itself after Pentecost 31-32 AD.  Next verse looks at Satan, and then looks back in time to what he did with one third of the angels.  “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads [i.e. Satan is the same dragon that inspires the empires described in Revelation 13 along with it’s false church who rides this beast empire.  She is described, this false church, as being a harlot.  Why?  She rules over and make political deals with civil governments.]  And his tail [and this is looking back eons of time, before the creation of man] drew a third part of the stars [stars is Bible symbolism for angels] of heaven, and cast them down to earth: and the dragon stood before the woman [now we’re looking at the time of Yeshua’s birth] which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born” (verses 3-4).  Satan did try to destroy Jesus at the time of his birth, through Herod, who slew all the babies two years old and under in the environs of Bethlehem and surrounding towns.  “And she brought forth a man child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: [cf. Zechariah 14:9; Isaiah 11:1-6] and her child was caught up unto God [cf. Acts 1:9], and to his throne.  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” (verses 5-6).  There are two interpretations for this timing.  The woman, the church, goes into a wilderness, flees the area of Jerusalem .  These are prophetic days in this interpretation, a day for a year, equaling 1260 years.  From the time of the fall of the Roman Empire and it’s healing under Justinian (554AD) add 1260 and you have the year 1814, when the Holy Roman Empire under Napoleon was defeated.  Some think, this is when the church, the true church of Jesus comes out of hiding, with all the reformations and genuine revivals taking place.  The other interpretation is to take this literally as representing literal days, which added up equal three and a half years, describing the church going into a wilderness to be protected just before this war in heaven which is just about to be described in the next few verses`.  It could represent both and still be accurate.  When the apostate church came on the scene backed up by the Holy Roman Empire starting in 554 AD, the real church, composed of real Christians were in a kind of wilderness, in hiding.  A day for a year principle for a prophetic year was that a day equals a prophetic year.  A prophetic year equals 360 of these days, totally 1260 actual years for three and a half prophetic years.  Either way, this verse could be referring to both the church being in a 1260 year wilderness from 554 AD to 1814 AD when the Holy Roman Empire ended with Napoleon’s defeat, and it could also represent the church going into a wilderness place of safety for three and a half literal years, starting just before Satan and his demons get thrown back to earth in what must be his second futile attempt to throw God off his throne in heaven.  Don’t forget, this is about what “place of safety” pre-millennialists believe.  This camp falls into the category of Classic or Historic Pre-Millennialists, who have been around since the early church.

Next verses 7-12 describe a war in heaven between Satan, his demons and God (with his angels).  Talk about a star-wars, this would be it.  It could have had a previous episode when Satan drew a third of the angels and cast them down to earth, described in verse 4.  Jesus did say he say Satan fall like lightning to the earth in Luke 10:18.  So it would appear, this is round two.  Let’s read it. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out unto the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.  And they overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.  Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.  Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!  For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (verses 7-12). 


  “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.  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.  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.  Flood in prophetic terminology often refers to a conquering or invading army, so Satan apparently throws an army after the fleeing church.  This would be part of the army of the Beast power.  [For the Classic pre-millennial interpretation of who that Beast power is, click on http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming_4.htm .]  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  (Verses 13-16).  Now picture this, a conquering motorized, mechanized army, say like the German Panzers of WWII, charging down on a fleeing helpless group of men, women and children.  Then suddenly the earth opens up in a giant fizzier, just like it did for Korah and his family during the time of Moses, and swallows the whole charging mechanized army and then slams shut like nothing happened.  No matter who these people are, whether Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua, like the Dispensational interpretation says that are, or the whole Philadelphia era of the Christian church, like the Classic pre-millennialists say, this is going to be a spectacular event.  Let’s continue, and see what happens to another group of Christians who are not so fortunate, and then we’ll go back to Revelation 3 to see these two groups of Christians defined by Jesus.  Verse 17, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” 

Next let’s turn to Revelation 3:7-21 to see the last two era’s of the Christian church described.  There were seven literal churches, but as we shall see in these verses, it’s talking about Day of the Lord scenario in verse 10, so these are prophetic descriptions of the seven church era’s or periods that would run consecutively from the first Church of God in Jerusalem right up to the 2nd coming of Jesus, Yeshua.  These last two church era’s, unlike the others, run side by side and not consecutively.  One escapes the tribulation (World War III) and the Day of the Lord, and one does not escape.  I believe Pastor Mark may be correct in his identification of just who the Laodocia era church may be composed of.  Time will tell, as usual with all prophecy.  Let’s start with the Philadelphia era of the Church, as this one is the one promised protection from God’s (and Satan’s) wrath.  Revelation 3:7-13, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth: I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou has a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”—We are becoming a nation, and a world that is denying the name of Jesus.  To mention his name in public is politically incorrect.   God’s name and the name of Jesus are being taken off of public buildings, as are crosses, and copies of the Ten Commandments.  We are a church that does not deny the name of Jesus (Yeshua for our Messianic Jewish brethren).  We also adhere to his word, the Bible, taking it as the infallible word of God in its original language (which, by the way isn’t King James Version English, but Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek).  “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.”—Now here is where it gets important.  This is Jesus’ reward for our not denying his word or name, verse 10.  This is a concrete promise of protection, regardless of whether one chooses to believe that protection is via a rapture to heaven, or going to a place of safety.  This is one promise both groups of pre-millennials can take to the bank.  Verses 10-13, “Because thou has kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.  Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.  [this would indicate, right from the mouth of Jesus, that a believer can lose his crown, Hmmm.]  Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Now for Laodicea , the era that goes into the tribulation and dies in it.  Not a comforting thought, leading one to want to seriously check out what one believes and where one fellowships.  And it’s not being a matter of being part of a Classic or Dispensational pre-millennial church or denomination that makes the distinction.  An attitude is described here which identifies this group of Christians.  Pastor Martin may have identified them properly.  But the literal definition that appears on the surface is this attitude is defining fair-weather Christians, Christians in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, but doesn’t lead (cf. Romans 8:16).  If what Jesus means here is more all encompassing than just meaning the “name it, claim it group”, then this is truly frightening, because it means there are Laodicean Christians in every church, luke-warm Christians.  Maybe Jesus meant both.  I won’t get dogmatic on it.  But these next verses should make one stop and give serious thought about where one fellowships as a believer in Jesus or Yeshua.  Make sure it’s a spiritually alive group, one on fire for Jesus—and not one of these “name it, claim it” groups like Kenneth Copeland’s or Hagen ’s either.  This stuff is truly scary, it’s a serious warning from Jesus.  We live right now in the time period occupied by both the Philadelphia and Laodicea era’s of God’s Church.  Jesus also described in Matthew 25:1-12 the parable of the Ten Virgins or bride’s maids, five of whom took enough oil for their lamps and five who didn’t.  Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit.  Having enough oil in “one’s lamp” means being filled with God’s Holy Spirit, literally on fire for the Lord.  These bride’s maids are waiting for the Bride Groom, i.e. their waiting for the return of Jesus Christ.  There are two groups being defined here, just as in Revelation 3:7-21.  But first let’s read what Jesus says about this other group of Christians living side-by-side with the Philadelphia ear Christians.  Revelation 3:14-21, “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Let’s read Matthew 25:1-13 now.  Matthew 25:1-13, “‘At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.  The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.  The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom!  Come out to meet him!’  Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’  ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you.  Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’  But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived.  The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet.  And the door was shut.  Later the others also came.  ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said.  ‘Open the door for us!’  But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’  Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (NIV).  And the King James has for verse 13, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”  So this parable is about those who would be living in the end-times just before the 2nd coming of Jesus.  This passage is also one the Dispensationals point to showing that we’ll be in heaven at the wedding feast of the Lamb, whilst all the other “bride’s maids”, the other five virgins, are left behind.  But regardless, whether we put our own special interpretations on these verses or not, it doesn’t change the main message of them—buy oil, and oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit—and do it now, or else you won’t be ready.  Now we all know you can’t buy the Holy Spirit, but you can become filled with him, by drawing close to God in prayer, Bible study and yes, fasting, and then by following the Spirit’s lead in your life.  Now let’s look at a few more passages that would appear to mention “a place of safety”.  Turn to Isaiah 33.

Isaiah 33:13-17, “Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might.  The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surrounded the hypocrites.  Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?  who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?  [that sounds like a description of the Lord.  cf. Revelation 1:13-16]  He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;  He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.  Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.”  The King James Version here calls their place of defense “munitions of rocks”, another term for Petra , from the Hebrew “strongholds of Sela”.  Sela is another name for Petra , the Rose-red Rock City of Petra .  “Munitions” = Hebrew Metsad, or castle, or fort.  Stronghold, castle or fort of rock, literally.  Notice also that those who are to be kept safely in this stronghold of rock will have their food and water supplies provided for them, perhaps supernaturally.  Remember how the children of Israel were provided with Manna for forty years.  But more importantly, this prophecy identifies those who take refuge in the munitions of rocks—“he that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil.”  That is describing an active believer in Jesus Christ, Yeshua haMeshiach, not a lukewarm believer.  And if believers take refuge here, it isn’t just for a few Messianic Jewish believers who happen to be in Israel when the beast power overtakes Israel and the Middle East .  It doesn’t say that here.  It’s talking about righteous people.  And the context in verse 19 places this right within that timeframe, “Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand” [German perhaps?]  This is referring directly to the conquering armies that have overtake the Middle East, Israel and Jerusalem .  Why would God take one group of believers, the Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus) and put them in “a place of safety, Petra ” and rapture all the other Christians up to heaven, leaving one branch of the body of Christ, Messiah on the earth, while he raptured up the other half to heaven to have the wedding feast?  Isn’t that discrimination to the max?  Haven’t the Jews been put through enough discrimination?  Jesus wouldn’t do that!  Either all believers are “raptured” to heaven during the tribulation and Day of the Lord, or they dwell safely in “a place of safety,” one or the other, not both.  And the Messianic believers all believe they’re going to “a place of safety”, i.e. Petra .  I’m neutral on the subject.  I’m just going to do my best to make sure my lamp has plenty of reserve oil, and see which interpretation shakes out.  Turn next to Isaiah 16.

This is addressing Moab , who in modern times is the nation of Jordan, the Jordanians.  Petra is in the southwest corner of Jordan , about fifty miles, as the crow flies, from Jerusalem .  God prophecied some instructions for the Jordanian leaders during the tribulation.  [For an interesting  study of Isaiah that puts all this in context turn to my color-coded commentary version of the book of Isaiah at http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/isaiah/isaiah5.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/isaiah/isaiah8.htm .]  Isaiah 16:1-5, “Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land, from Sela [margin: Sela Hebrew Petra ] to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion .  For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird is cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon.  Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of noonday; hide the outcasts; bewray [KJV: betray] not him that wandereth.  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.  And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.”  Now let’s put this in context.  According to the Classic interpretation, these are instructions to the government in Moab , i.e. the Jordanian government, to send the “lamb of tribute” from them to the current ruler of the whole Middle East, who is ruling from Jerusalem .  This would be so that peaceful relations between Jordan and this “ruler” will continue, for this ruler is none other than the ruler of the Beast empire, along with the false prophet.  It is also instructing the Jordanians not to give away the location of “the Lord’s outcasts”.  Some Jordanian people themselves are fleeing to the wilderness and Petra region out of fear.  God instructs them through Isaiah to not betray those living in Petra , or their whereabouts, by making their presence as shadows in the noonday.  He specifically instructs them, “Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab .”  It is for this reason that Jordan is the only country in end-time Old Testament prophecy that is not mentioned as being conquered by the Beast power, not in one prophecy—not until the eastern hordes sweep through at the very end, and even then they miss Petra due to it’s horseshoe construction with it’s open end facing Jerusalem and away from the east.  Verse 4b speaks of the overthrow of the beast and then verse 5 goes on and speaks of the time when Jesus has already established his throne in Jerusalem, overthrowing the beast person and false prophet (cf. Revelation 19:20).  The way some interpret Jeremiah 48:1-25 is that the eastern hordes wipe out Jordan at Arnon on their way to take on the Europeans who are headquartered in Jerusalem .   A remnant of Jordanians described in here escapes at the Arnon (a stream running into the Dead Sea ).  The fleeing Moabites (Jordanians) are told not to betray where they (God’s outcasts) are.  Their flight is not to reveal where God’s own outcasts are.  Their movements are to be as invisible as if it were in the black of night (cf. Jeremiah 48:28).  So it appears Jordan escapes most of the warfare in WWIII because God has chosen this land to be a place of safety for his people.  That is how the Classic or Historic pre-millennial interpretation goes (non-Dispensational, or non-rapture). 

Again, I have merely tried to give an honest presentation of the other view.  Both views or interpretations are based on the solid Bible promise of protection from the tribulation and Day of the Lord for God’s Philadelphia era church.  Where opinions and interpretations diverge is after that solid promise given in Revelation 3:10 and Romans 5:9, just to name two.  That is where things get fuzzy.  As you can see, there are not too many passages that describe this “place of safety”, just as there are not too many that clearly describe the “rapture”.  In my opinion, neither interpretation beyond the solid promise of protection, has enough clear Scripture to back it up as a solid Bible doctrine one can get dogmatic about.  Getting dogmatic will only lead to severe disappointment for those holding the “wrong” interpretation.  The case of William Miller trying to get real dogmatic in his prediction of the date of Jesus’ return led to huge disillusionment which led to the virtual breakup of his denominational group.  There are plenty of prophecies that we can get dogmatic about.  These are not the ones, though, and I caution those people and pastor that do get too dogmatic, that they are endangering their flocks, should they be proved wrong.  2,000 years of Christians and Messianic believers have lived and died, many as martyrs.  Jesus doesn’t think much of those who go whole hog into preaching about how we can save our butts, and making it a major doctrinal teaching.  That’s my view, for what’s it’s worth.  To me, there’s a lot of other folks that need “saving”, and then maybe he’ll think about saving our butts.  That’s the attitude he’s looking for.  And I’m open to his saving us either way he choose to do it, it doesn’t matter to me.  Honest.  I don’t care. 


the editor