In the End Christ Will Reign
We live in the ‘in between’. The age in which we currently live is one foreign to the Old Testament. Even Zechariah prophesies of Christ’s crucifixion (13:7) and then skips our Age. H e then predicts the Tribulation, Second Coming, and the Millennial Kingdom of Revelation 20:1-10. The end of the world did not happen on May 21. But it will end. Before that, though, God’s plan includes the establishment of His universal and eternal kingdom. Here at long last, all the purposes for which God had elected, redeemed, and preserved His people will come to pass. When Israel has finally fulfilled her covenant mandate as priests drawing all nations to her God, then her mission is over and the course of human history will end. So the stage is set for this kingdom ‘when the spoil taken from her—the land of Israel—will be divided among the Jews’ v 1. Here is how it will happen.
GOD ALLOWS THE NATIONS TO RANSACK JERUSALEM 1-2
The People get their land back 1 It is normative that triumph comes through tribulation. Like the grain of wheat that unless it falls into the earth and dies remains alone. So, too, the Day of the Lord comes in the context of struggle and conflict for Gods people. This will be the ultimate result but not until they pay a price for its return.
Jerusalem under siege 2 The city falls to the enemy and then is ransacked. The city is captured, her houses plundered, the women raped, and half the population exiled while some will not be cut off and deported or killed. This savage attack will bring the city to her knees. This refers to a great tribulation of God’s people—one that precedes God’s cataclysmic intervention and deliverance. Old Testament prophets speak in a unified voice of this event (Amos 9; Joel 1-2; Jeremiah 30:7-11; Daniel 12:1) and Jesus (Matthew 24-25) and John (Revelation 19-20). The day of the Lord will include the defeat and ransacking of Jerusalem and the deportation of half of her population.
LESSON: We learn that the peace of God is brought about by war not negotiation. The point of this tribulation is to purify His people so they can be delivered to fulfill her mission to draw all nations to her God. The process includes exposing sin, repentance and confession, deliverance and restoration. God uses tribulation in our own lives to purify us as well. Sometimes the suffering is tremendous.
DELIVERANCE COINCIDES WITH GOD’S TRIUMPHANT COMING 3-8
God fights 3 The day of tribulation will be followed by the triumphant ‘going forth’ of God to do battle. God will employ the same tactics and strategy and motivation as before when He declared holy war with the nations on behalf of his people (Egypt at red sea; Joshua entering the land).
God leads 4 God apparently proceeds from Jerusalem leading his people across the Kidron Valley up to the Mt of Olives—the same route He took when he reluctantly exiled himself from the nation and His glory returned to heaven (Eze 10-11). With the invading armies spilling into and surrounding Jerusalem through the valleys in the north and the south preventing any escape in those directions, when all seems lost God leads to people out and like Moses at the Red Sea splits the Mt. of Olives with by treading upon it. The splitting creates a new valley east- to west as the mountain moves northward and southward.
Urgency to flee 5 The Jews will flee form the devastation and invasion. This egress provides a quick way of escape with no time to waste. Zechariah compares this urgency of flight to escaping the earthquake in King Uzziah’s reign, which Amos refers to in 1:1. Then Zechariah sees the Lord and his celestial army coming as Jerusalem in evacuated, her remnant safe, to destroy these hostile nations.
Cosmic Phenomena 6-8 This battle will include celestial changes. First, the luminaries will dwindle or congeal and thicken so they cannot shine and the sunlight will dwindle into darkness v 6. Second, That day will no longer be divided up in to the usual cycles. Instead it is reversed—in the evening, when darkness is expected there will be daylight v 7. Third, then begins the kingdom with flowing water out of Jerusalem with half toward the Mediterranean Sea and half toward the Dead Sea in both summer and winter. The imagery is of refreshment in the presence of God as He rules and restores His people. John describes this in Rev 22:1-5 seeing a river flowing from God’s throne, a river lined with the Tree of life.
LESSON: The battle belongs to the Lord not us. He will bring the victory not me. God’s plan for us includes eternal refreshment in His presence as we live in the eternal kingdom.
JERUSALEM IS ELEVATED AS THE CENTER OF GOD’S REIGN 9-11
First, God will be King over all the earth—the only God—His name the only name v 9. Second, All the land will be changed in to a plain but Jerusalem rises as a single mountain in its midst towering over it v 10. Geba is the northernmost and Rimmon the southernmost boundary of Judah. Third, there is no more curse with Jerusalem living in peace and safety. The people living there will never again need to fear God’s wrath or that or that of the nations around them.
GOD DEFEATS AND RANSACKS HOSTILE NATIONS 12-15
Plague and panic 12-13 We return to one more glimpse of the battle as God administers a literal blow and smites these nations attacking both man (12) and animal (15) disintegrating the very animals the armies depended upon. This is a horrible plague or pestilence completely disabling them. The flesh and eyes rotting seems instantaneous. This coincides with extreme panic among the warring nations who in madness lash out at each other destroying one another v 13 cp to (1 Sam 5:9).
Ransack and booty 14 Flustering the enemy God then leads Judah into the battlefield where they complete the victory gathering and carrying enormous wealth of the nations back to Jerusalem as spoils of war. It’s described as gold and silver and garments in great abundance.
LESSON: God uses talionic justice—poetic justice where a sin is repaid with appropriate and often mocking punishment. Adam sins with his mouth and through food (Gen 3:6); he is punished by having to work the land for food (Gen 3:17-19). Jacob deceives his father (Gen 27); he is punished by being deceived by his uncle (Gen 29-31) and by his own sons (Gen 37). Israel does not believe God can defeat their enemies in Canaan and they say “If only we had stayed in the desert” (Num 14:1-4); God then allows that generation to die in the desert (Num 14:20-23). Be careful how you treat others.
JERUSALEM BECOMES THE CENTER OF WORLDWIDE PILGRIMAGE 14-21
Pay homage 16-19 All the nations reduced to being vassals by God will not come and bow before Him rendering symbols of submission to Him. This pilgrimage is during the Feast of Tabernacles celebrating God’s provision in the wilderness extending to the Day of Atonement gathering in solemn assembly in mourning and repentance. This was a specific time of humility and worship. This feast will be used to bring tribute to God recognizing He provides. Failing to do so will invite talionic justice as God withholds the rain so there is no abundance and be punished by plague and direct divine judgment.
Everything is holy 20-21 Everything, including the horse, the bowls, and the cooking pots, all will holy to God as holy containers for sacrifice. The mundane and the profane will take on holy significance. This is the purpose of creation to begin with and holiness will be achieved by destroying Satan’s worldly system and network! All will be purified and sacred with all welcome (Canaanites).
LESSON: The purpose of creation is to reflect the holiness of God—a separation form the world and sin. This Kingdom is designed to reflect that holiness and it will be adhered to under threat of severe punishment by God’s governing authority. Worship consists of those things designated by God nit created by us. In any age the worship of God in separation from the sin of the world or in us is paramount. The worship of God by praise, thanksgiving, prayer, singing, studying and applying His commands, fellowship, and the Lord’s supper should be as frequent as necessary to keep us pursuing holiness and the knowledge of God in our lives. The holiness of God is essential to our lives.