We will kill more than a billion people in the first four verses, but there’s also a blessing that cannot come without this horrifying event.
Zechariah 12 and 13 are a single vision. Whoever broke this vision into two chapters, was very foolish to do so. And, putting that artificial break in the middle made it harder to see Zechariah 14 as a second vision that is separate from the first, a prophecy that will be fulfilled long after 12 and 13. The first vision begins with an attack upon Jerusalem and the region of Judah. It continues with their repentance and the acceptance of Jesus as their savior.
We’ve already talked about the second vision in chapter 14, where we see the fall of Jerusalem to army of the Antichrist. And, we have already describe why and how that army is connected to the Man of Lawlessness.
So, let’s begin with Zechariah 12.
Unfortunately, like so much of this effort to understand the timing of Jacob’s return, this chapter has numerous translation errors. Worse, these are very basic errors that no expert in Hebrew should make, which leaves me wondering about the competence (or laziness) of Bible translators.
How is it possible that anyone would hire translators with such an awful understanding of Hebrew?
Here are the first three verses of the best translation that I could find:
1 The burden of the word of the Lord upon Israel, saith the Lord, which spread the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth, and formed the spirit of man within him.
2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of poison unto all the people round about: and also with Judah will he be in the siege against Jerusalem.
3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem an heavy stone for all people: all that lift it up, shall be torn, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
– Zechariah 12:1-3 (GNV)
TRANSLATION NOTE: For verse two, most translations say ‘cup of trembling’ (KJV) or ‘cup of reeling’ (ASV). However, the 1599 Geneva Bible actually gets it right. The word is ‘poison‘ (רעל, pronounced: rah-ahl), and it also means ‘venom’ or ‘toxin’. Yes, a poison, venom or toxin can give you symptoms of ‘drunkenness’ or make you ‘reel’, but translators should stick to the original word and not corrupt our interpretation of the Bible with bad wording.
In verse three, the words, ‘lift it up‘ is עמסיה (pronounced: ohm-sey-ha), and it means ‘burden’ or ‘load’. If you want to load something onto a truck, you use a cognate of that word: עומס. The idea is that they want to carry it or even control it.
Also in verse three, there is a lesser issue. The word ‘against‘ is עליה (pronounced: ah-leh-yah). It means to go up to. Yes, in the context of the verse, it means ‘against’, but translators should not be making these kinds of decisions for us. It’s less egregious in its error, but it’s still a misrepresentation of the word.
GOD’S LOVE OF ZION
When God talks about Israel, His primary focus is Jerusalem. Zion. It’s why it is entirely appropriate to call anyone who is pro-Israel, a Zionist. You simply do not have an ‘Israel’ without a ‘Zion’. Zion – Jerusalem – is the center and focus of Israel. It’s the center and focus of God. And, THAT is why I say that God is a Zionist:
God Is A Zionist
And, if God is a Zionist, you should be one, too. He will one day rule from Zion, and He has made it abundantly clear that the tiny patch of ground where King David’s city stood, is more important than any other place on Earth.
In fact, God says in verses two and three that He will claw apart anyone and everyone that causes trouble for Jerusalem and for Israel. If you mess with Zion, God will crush you. You will be damaged so thoroughly, that you will deeply regret ever thinking even negative thoughts about the Jewish ownership of Jerusalem.
THE SOLAR EMP
And, in this next verse we see the Solar EMP that happens to those nations that come against Jerusalem:
4 In that day,” says the Lord, “I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.
– Zechariah 12:4 (NKJV)
Now, think carefully about what this means. Horses will be confused and blind. Riders – humans – will be driven mad. Most will think of this as something supernatural, and I’m sure that it will seem like that. But, we have scientific evidence that this really should be considered a natural phenomena from a single event – even though it is caused by God directly.
Ezekiel’s Fire – The Biggest Solar Flare in World History
I’ve already mentioned some of the reasons why this is a superflare or micronova. Getting into all the details would require a book to explain it properly, which is why I wrote Ezekiel’s Fire. So, I’m going to avoid talking about most of the reasons for why this points directly to a massive solar event. It is more important to talk about the effects. And, let’s start doing that by considering a more literal interpretation of this passage.
ARE THESE REALLY HORSES?
Let’s assume that God really is talking about horses.
How is it that horses could be struck with confusion or even blindness?
How could human beings be struck with madness by such a powerful solar flare?
Over the years, those who pay attention to solar flare activity have noticed that big solar flares tend to correspond with outbreaks of psychosis. And, if there was a really, Really, REALLY big solar flare or micronova, we could safely assume that there would be an even larger outbreak of psychotic events – i.e., madness.
Would horses be struck with confusion?
Well, I would assume that horses could get confused, in the same way that humans were struck mad. But, blindness is another thing altogether.
Are these horses really being struck blind?
Or, maybe we should ask this question:
Are these really horses?
I strongly doubt it. Very strongly. And, you would to, if you realized how bad things would need to be if these were really horses. It would mean that our civilization will collapse to a level that we would no longer use cars, trucks or motorcycles. It would mean that tractors no longer exist, and that we would need go back to the kind of agriculture that we haven’t seen in 200 years.
If these really were horses, medical care, entertainment, news media, education and education would only exist at an early 19th century level. There would be no electricity. There would be little running water – if any. Big cities would collapse. Governments would shrink and fracture. Diseases would sweep through our societies. The suffering would be terrible.
If these really were horses, we would not only lose the resources to create and maintain the machines and tools that our current civilization needs. We would also lose the knowledge of how to create those machines.
It would be a lot like the Dark Ages that Europe went through after the fall of the Roman Empire. That’s how bad the situation will be, if Zechariah is talking about real, honest-to-goodness horses. And, the thought of all that is even more horrifying to me, than the sudden calamity that I believe that we will experience.
So, if these really are horses that Zechariah is talking about, get ready for many billions to die. More will die from this collapse of civilization, than would die from Ezekiel’s Fire.
No matter how you interpret this, death and destruction is coming for at least a billion people.
At a minimum.
Again, God uses metaphors in prophecy. A quick read of the Book of Daniel would quickly demonstrate that our Lord does this routinely. So, let’s look at the thought that the reference to horses is metaphorical. And, let’s start by talking about WHY God would use metaphor.
WHY REFER TO HORSES?
So, why did God refer to horses?
People at the time of Zechariah could not have imagined any other form of transportation. Therefore, God referred to horses because that was what Zechariah – and everyone else living before the 1800s – could understand.
Imagine the confusion if God had described people riding inside wheeled, metal and glass boxes run by a powerful black goo that came from deep underground. It would be incomprehensible.
Which might be the point. God told Daniel to seal up the vision, and it has truly been sealed – since very few seem able to understand it.
The bottom line is that we are forced to accept the fact that the mention of horses here as almost surely metaphorical. If it isn’t, we are in so much trouble that I can barely comprehend how bad the world will be.
WHY THE REFERENCE TO BLINDNESS
So, if the mention of horses is symbolic…
…what does it mean to strike them with blindness?
Let’s think a bit about what the Lord is trying to say to us here. When you strike a horse with blindness, you aren’t killing the horse. However, you would be keeping it from ever doing anything useful.
Think of it this way. A blind horse won’t start. It won’t go anywhere on its own. Everything on the outside will appear fine, except that the horse just won’t work.
You turn the ignition and nothing happens. Everything looks okay, except for the fact that the car/tank/truck won’t go.
Do we have any examples of something like this?
THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE – EMP
In the 1960s, the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon at extremely high altitude. When they did this, they found that the starters were burnt out in all the cars within a certain radius around the test site. The same kind of thing happened when America detonated a nuclear bomb at high altitude over the Pacific Ocean. We call this phenomenon a nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse, or a nuclear EMP.
An EMP can come in many different forms. It can be man-made, caused by a nuclear weapon detonated at high altitude. It could be a short-range weapon, used to knock out nearby electronics. Or, it could come in the form of a massive solar event like Ezekiel’s Fire:
And I will send a fire on Magog, and on them that dwell securely in the isles; and they shall know that I am Jehovah.
– Ezekiel 39:6 ASV
When Ezekiel’s Fire comes, your horses – planes, trains and automobiles – will go blind. They won’t start. They will cease to operate. They will look fine on the outside, but God will have turned them into useless hunks of metal and plastic that will quietly sit in your driveway or on your street – immobile. Forever.
Just as bad will be the elimination of electricity networks across the globe. Everything electrical that was not directly destroyed by this EMP, will cease to work, because all the gigantic, custom-built transformers at every power station will be destroyed. This means that water will stop being distributed to buildings and homes.
In just a few days after this event, vast numbers of people will die – if they do not have access to free-standing, drinkable water. And, that’s due to the fact that electric water pumps are the number one way that water is distributed throughout the developed world, and even the less-developed world. A billion people could die of thirst, when Ezekiel’s Fire strikes.
There might be places in the world where the effects of such a solar EMP would be reduced. Some have said that countries near the earth’s equator will suffer fewer effects than those farther north or south. This is due to the nature of Geomagnetically Induced Current (GIC), which is weaker near the equator, during solar storms. However, Ezekiel’s Fire will be so tremendous that it’s hard to think of any place that would truly be safe.
Whatever your location, you need to ask yourself this question:
Can you survive without electricity, running water and transportation?
If you can’t, then you had better start working on an alternative. You can live three days without water and thirty days without food.
Think about it.
THE GENERALS AND JERUSALEM
So, we’ve killed more than a billion people in just the first four verses of Zechariah 12. Let’s look at the next two verses:
5 And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the Lord of hosts, their God.’ 6 In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place—Jerusalem.
– Zechariah 12:5-6 (NKJV)
TRANSLATION NOTE: The word for ‘governor’ in that verse is actually ‘general’ or ‘military leader’ – אלוף (pronounced: ah-loof). It actually comes from the word אלף (pronounced: eh-lef), meaning thousand – the implication being that a general in ancient times was a leader of a thousand soldiers. But, NOT a governor. Why the translators chose ‘governor’ is a mystery.
Verses five and six mean that the Israeli military, called the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), will be fighting in the countryside around Jerusalem, and south of Jerusalem. The Palestinians will be attempting to kill the Jews, and the IDF will be doing its best to defend the settlements like Gush Etzion, Efrat, Har Adar, Giv’at Ze’ev, Ma’ale Adumim and a host of others.
Including the Jerusalem neighborhood that I lived in for years – Gilo.
At the same time, Israel will be attacked from the north, by the forces of Gog and Magog. And, just as in 1967, the only soldiers defending Jerusalem itself will be reserve units, made up of Jerusalem residents. When it says ‘the inhabitants of Jerusalem’ in verse five, it means that the situation will be so bad that everyone will be issued some kind of weapon and asked to defend the city. When we get to chapter 13 of Zechariah, we’ll see that it will be a desperate time in which two thirds of everyone in the land of Israel will die. Most will die from the earthquake (Isaiah 30), but at least some will die in the fighting.
Furthermore, I am dismayed by the reference to the ‘generals of Judah’ and not the ‘generals of Israel’. If so much of the IDF has been destroyed that only ‘Southern Command’ survives as an organized force… well …that’s bad. Really bad.
But, the next verse injects a bitter and ironic point:
7 “The Lord will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah.
– Zechariah 12:7 (NKJV)
God hates pride with a passion, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem have a history of incredible hubris. God is going to make sure that Jerusalem cannot claim the glory that she does not deserve.
I really wish that we human beings were not so awful. But, we are, and it’s a very sad thing.
THE OPPOSITE OF THE DEFEAT OF THE ANTICHRIST
Now, notice a striking difference between verse seven and the result of the Battle of Armageddon. We’ve already looked at Zechariah 14, so consider this:
In Zechariah 14, Jerusalem becomes the center of the world.
In Zechariah 12:7, God makes sure that Jerusalem is NOT.
In Zechariah 14, God saves Jerusalem first.
In Zechariah 12:7, Jerusalem is saved LAST.
That’s a HUGE difference, but we aren’t done yet. This next verse is where we see the average citizen engaged in fighting:
8 In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the Lord before them.
– Zechariah 12:8 (NKJV)
This is where some might want to jump in and say that Jesus returns with His armies and defends Jerusalem. But, that’s not what Zechariah says here. This verse clearly says that God will give strength to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and that these inhabitants will fight and overcome their enemies.
In Zechariah 14, we see the opposite – with Jesus standing on the Mount of Olives and splitting it in two. We will also see the armies of heaven in that chapter. But, we see none of that here, and it would be wrong to inject Zechariah 14 into this verse.
In Zechariah 14, Jerusalem is conquered, the women raped and half the city flees into exile.
In Zechariah 12:8, the inhabitants of Jerusalem successfully defend the city, with even the weakest being so incredibly strong that they will slay all their enemies, just like David did.
In Zechariah 14, Jerusalem is rescued by God Himself.
In Zechariah 12:8, God gives the inhabitants of Jerusalem the supernatural strength and ability to defend themselves.
These are profound differences that we should NOT ignore. Gog and Magog is clearly NOT the time of the Antichrist. You could argue that God waits until Jerusalem is conquered before giving the citizens of Jerusalem the power to fight back, but that’s not how Zechariah and Ezekiel describe this event.
Gog And Magog Appear
And, the next verse shows us Gog and Magog:
9 It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
When Gog and Magog come down, their purpose will be to capture Jerusalem.
Why can I be so confident that this is the coming of Gog and Magog?
Because the same thing happens in this chapter, that happens in Ezekiel 39 – specifically, this verse:
So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward.
Salvation Through Faith
And, the last five verses of Zechariah 12 are just a more detailed retelling of what Ezekiel 39:22 says:
10 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. 11 In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.
TRANSLATION NOTE: The word for ‘look’ is הביט (pronounced: hee-beet), and it’s not the same as ‘see’ רואה (pronounced: roh-eh). The word ‘look’ (הביט) would be more accurately translated as ‘regard’ or ‘consider’. It’s a seeing from the heart, not the eyes. The word for ‘see’ (רואה) is about the eyes, and you don’t find that here.
Later, in Zechariah 14, the Lord will be visible. They will see Him with their eyes. In this chapter, God is pouring out his Holy Spirit upon them. Seeing with the eyes and regarding via the Holy Spirit are two very different things. Yet, that doesn’t stop false teachers from claiming that they are the same thing.
What is happening here, in Zechariah 12, is salvation through faith. Most of you should know the following passage:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
– Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
I could quote verse after verse about salvation coming through faith in Jesus Christ. If there was any other way, God would have told us. And, it is clear to me that salvation through faith and the indwelling – and baptism – of the Holy Spirit is what is happening here.
In Zechariah 12:10-14, we see the realization that the one that they had been rejecting for 2000 years, was (and is) the Messiah that they were looking for. The veil on their heart that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 3:16 will be torn away, and they will see the truth clearly – as you and I see it.
When you and I came to Christ, it was a deeply personal moment in time. We asked God to forgive us of our sins and accept us as His children. We turned from sinful ways and embraced the salvation that can only come through Jesus Christ. We accepted the perfect gift of Jesus and entered into the kingdom of God.
The Israelis will do the same thing.
But, that acceptance will bring with it a crushing realization that all of their culture… all of their yearning and learning was in rebellion to God. They will discover that their rabbis and sages were worse than just wrong. They will realize that their great teachers had deceived and blinded them. And, they will understand that their proud deceptions sent all their ancestors into the eternal suffering and condemnation of Hell.
This will be a crushing realization. But, their days of mourning will be only for a moment, as their joy in the Lord overflows. To paraphrase Charles Dickens in the Tale of Two Cities:
It will be the best of times.
It will be the worst of times.
Those of use who survive that moment will be glad that we did, but it will be a very, very hard time. In fact, I believe that it will be the most difficult period of time since the Great Flood.
And, this vision given to Zechariah continues into chapter 13.
(Remember that the chapter divisions were NOT inspired by God.)
In chapter 13 God reinforces the idea that the children of Jacob will be saved from their sins in the exact same way that we have been saved from ours. Just as each of us turned from our wicked ways and accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior – THROUGH FAITH – they too will do the same. And, some very important points are made in this chapter that will help us understand that chapter 14 is very different.
THE SALVATION OF ISRAEL CONTINUES
Here’s the first verse of Zechariah 13:
1 “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.
– Zechariah 13:1 (NKJV)
When you see words like ‘in that day’ in the first verse of a chapter, it’s clear that this chapter is the continuation of the previous chapter. It means that we are still speaking of the prophecy started in chapter 12.
But, how long is the ‘day’ in the phrase ‘in that day’?
Those of you who have been reading your Bible for long enough know the answer to that.
…’that day’ could last for YEARS!
THAT DAY will only end, when the events described are complete. Days, weeks, months and years could go by, and THAT DAY will not be complete until all has been accomplished. Verse two continues with what will be accomplished:
2 “It shall be in that day,” says the Lord of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.
– Zechariah 13:2 (NKJV)
Wait. God is speaking of idols. We understand about false prophets and unclean spirits…
…but what are these idols?
MODERN IDOLATRY IN JERUSALEM
Years ago, My wife and I had the chance to witness a new Torah scroll being installed in a local synagogue, nearby our apartment. It was remarkably like what happens with an idol in the kind of pagan temple that you find in Taiwan.
As I write this, I am in Taiwan, and we see almost exactly the same kind of procession. When the priests in a local temple in Taiwan decide that it is time for their god or goddess to go on a procession around the neighborhood, that procession looks remarkably like what happens when a new Torah scroll is installed in a synagogue.
Yes, that Torah scroll has the words of God printed on it, but that doesn’t matter. If you worship and bow down to ink and paper, it’s idolatry. It doesn’t matter if that ink and paper is formed into the words of God. It is still idolatry.
There is only one person that we should bow down and worship:
God, and God alone.
Bowing down to ink and paper is a sin, no matter what the words say.
And, there is also an idolatry of the heart. Any kind of worship that is not a worship of God is idolatry. The worship of ANYTHING that is not the truth is idolatry, and that includes Judaism. Okay, that might have shocked a few of you, so let me explain.
WHAT IS PAGAN
Judaism has rejected Christ – which means that all who participate in Judaism have also rejected Christ. And, the rejection of Christ is the definition of what it means to be a pagan. I do not care who you are or what you are, but if you do not believe that Jesus is everything that He said that He is… if you do not believe in everything that the New Testament says that Jesus is… YOU are a pagan. No exceptions.
Let me add that if you worship anything IN ADDITION to Jesus, that means that you are ALSO a pagan. Please understand that this includes the word ‘pray’. If you pray to Mary, you are a pagan. If you pray to Buddha, you are a pagan. If you pray to an ancestor or a rabbi, you are a pagan. If you pray to a saint, or any other dead person, you are a pagan and destined for eternal punishment.
Furthermore, since we are on the subject of idolatry, lots of things can be an idol – if you value that thing, more than God. Wife, family, children, parents, job, money, patriotism, appearance, intelligence and health… all of that… ALL can be idols – if we value any of these things more than we value God.
This means that it’s really easy to become a pagan – even though you go to church every Sunday. It’s so simple to fall into something like this, that we need to be extremely careful that we always, always love God far more than we love anything else. I tell everyone that my wife is the second-best thing that ever happened to me, which gives me an opportunity to talk about the first-best. The far and away first-best. And, I am thankful to be married to someone who also places me a distant second to God.
THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF ISRAEL AFTERWARDS
I was going to skip the next few verses, but then I reconsidered.
Because it identifies the spiritual condition of Israel, after these events. It shows the passion with which the average Israeli will worship God. So, let’s look at verses three through six:
3 It shall come to pass that if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who begot him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, because you have spoken lies in the name of the Lord.’ And his father and mother who begot him shall thrust him through when he prophesies.
4 “And it shall be in that day that every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies; they will not wear a robe of coarse hair to deceive. 5 But he will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a farmer; for a man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.’ 6 And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’
– Zechariah 13:3-6 (NKJV)
TRANSLATION NOTE: When verse three says ‘shall thrust him through‘, the word does not mean thrust a sword or knife in so strongly that it goes out the other side. It just means ‘stab him‘ – דקרהו , (pronounced dah-kar-roo-ho).
In another error, the word ‘arms‘ is actually ‘hands‘. I know that suffering a wound ‘between your hands’ doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s what the Bible actually says. Translators should translate the Bible and leave the interpretation up to the reader.
This will mean that the Children of Israel will love God more than their own children. This will be a gigantic change from the way that Israeli parents raise their children now. Right now, the average child is put on a pedestal. If there’s anything that the average Israeli worships, it’s their children. There is no sacrifice too big, when it comes to their kids.
This created something of a problem for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in the early years of Israel’s founding. Israel’s little darlings had to be straightened out and given a strong dose of discipline, if Israel was to survive. This has placed the IDF in the role of ‘tough parent’. And, there probably isn’t any military in the world that is better at turning pampered, irresponsible brats into mature, trustworthy adults.
So, this is a very big deal. Israeli parents will truly place God first. In every way. And, probably for the first time ever, Israelis will be on the lookout for heresy, and won’t tolerate it when they find it – even if it is in their children.
Now, think about the depth of this change of heart.
Is this something imposed upon them from outside?
By the imposition of Torah, the Law?
No, this is the operation of God, where He takes away the heart of stone, and replaces it with a living heart. This is a spiritual transformation from the inside out. It’s the kind of transformation that you and I have gone through. The verses that describe the Millennium don’t reflect such a transformation.
WHY THIS IS NOT THE MILLENNIUM
During the Millennium righteousness is imposed. Maybe it’s just me, but I get the feeling that people are righteous during the thousand year reign of Christ, because the price for rebellion will be way, way too great. Sin will not be tolerated, and sinners will always suffer punishment.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at how different societies work. And, how they don’t work. And why. And, it has become clear to me – and others – that civilizations fall apart when people realize that they can break the rules and not suffer punishment. And, our experience has been that a civilization peaks after about a century and then begins to fall. Some can limp along a little longer if there isn’t much competition, but overall, humanity has a terrible history of falling apart due to corruption.
We are all irredeemably corrupt, even you and me. And, the only way that we can truly prosper is if God comes and imposes a set of perfect rules, and makes sure that everyone follows them perfectly.
Then, as if to prove the point – after the Millennium is over – God eases up on His control of the most perfect civilization ever, which will quickly fall apart. We really are that stupid. But, we’ve gotten off the topic.
The point that I’m trying to make is that the spiritual condition of Israel following Gog and Magog is different than the aftermath of Armageddon. This isn’t an extremely strong assertion, but it is something for you to consider.
A VERSE ABOUT MESSIAH
The next verse, is one that Jesus quoted:
7 “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
Against the Man who is My Companion,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered;
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.
– Zechariah 13:7 (NKJV)
Jesus quoted Zechariah, here:
31 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:
‘I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
– Matthew 26:31 (NKJV)
Jesus was referring to His arrest and trial, and the scattering of His disciples. Yet, the context seems to be more than just Messiah, because of the rest of Zechariah 13. But, this isn’t the only time that God throws in a Messianic verse that appears in an unusual place.
Just look at Isaiah 7:14-17. That passage talks about the virgin birth of Christ, even though the context is the coming destruction of Israel’s northern kingdom. It seems completely out of place. But, we know that Jesus was born of a virgin, and we know that the northern kingdom was destroyed. So, we shouldn’t stumble over a verse that talks about Messiah, even though that verse appears in an unusual way.
We understand the scattering of the disciples, when Jesus was arrested, and I’m afraid that we can understand this next verse. And, I really don’t want to.
TWO THIRDS OF ISRAEL KILLED – JACOB’S TROUBLE
Verses eight and nine fill me with dread:
8 And it shall come to pass in all the land,”
Says the Lord,
“That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one-third shall be left in it:
9 I will bring the one-third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, ‘This is My people’;
And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ ”
– Zechariah 13:8-9 (NKJV)
The fact that two thirds of Israel will be killed is horrifying.
I know that there are many who claim that this doesn’t mean the physical death of two-thirds of Israel, and I understand why they say that. The thought of two thirds of Israelis dying through violence of earthquake is just too much for many of us to think about. But, the Hebrew speaks for itself.
The Hebrew word for die, in the above passage is יגועו (pronounced: yig-va-oo). It means ‘they will die’. And, the root word is גוע (pronounced: gah-va). It literally means to physically expire. In fact, a variation of that word includes agony in that death. The word does NOT indicate a spiritual death in any way.
Also, those who advocate the ‘spiritual death theory’ aren’t thinking this through. The people of Israel were ALREADY spiritually dead. Someone who was never spiritually alive, cannot spiritually die. You cannot kill someone spiritually until after someone is made spiritually alive. Israel is not spiritually alive today, so to spiritually kill two thirds of Israel is completely impossible. So, please discard this ‘spiritual death’ theory, if you hold it.
But, the physical death of so many… it will be a terrible thing to see.
Accepting the sheer horror of this event is one of the reasons why I finally understood that ‘Jacob’s Trouble’ really is about Gog and Magog and the Return of Jacob. This is the core verse:
Alas! For that day is great,
So that none is like it;
And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble,
But he shall be saved out of it.
– Jeremiah 30:7 (NKJV)
I’ll discuss Jeremiah 30, much later.There is literally no other way to look at this. This really is talking about the time of the coming of Gog and Magog. It cannot be any other time.
A BITTERSWEET PROPHECY
This death and destruction, coupled with spiritual salvation, is a bittersweet note for Zechariah 13 to end on. All the survivors of this great tragedy, in Israel, will accept Jesus a their Lord and Savior, but it will also mean a tremendous amount of terrible difficulty and suffering.
As it says in the verse, there will be a refining process, and it should be clear that it will be very, very hard. In fact, I am sure that many will wish that they HAD died, instead of going through what will come after.
Many of you have experienced moments in time when you wished that you had died, instead of surviving. The time is coming in which it will be Israel’s turn. And, I hate the thought of it, but this is the will of God. And He really knows that this is the best way. So, we must accept this as necessary – and prepare for it, if we can.
Comparing Zechariah 14
Now, contrast what we have seen in Zechariah 12 and 13 with what we have already seen, in Zechariah 14.
Do they match?
Zechariah 12 and 13 are a direct match with Ezekiel 38 and 39. Those two chapters directly link the salvation of the Children of Jacob with the attack on Israel and Jerusalem. There’s no doubt about that. Israel receives the same kind of spiritual salvation that you and I received.
But, which battle is this?
NOT THE ARMY OF THE ANTICHRIST
Unfortunately, people have spent a lot of time trying to make 12 and 13 about the coming of the Antichrist – when he captures Jerusalem the first time. The biggest reason why this cannot be true is that the attack on Jerusalem fails to succeed. Vehicles are neutralized. The generals of Israel ‘burn up’ those around Jerusalem. And then… the Lord fights for Israel.
If the Lord fights for you, you win. Period.
We could argue over the other details in Zechariah 12 and 13, but there’s just no way that those two chapters could be describing the capture of Jerusalem by the Antichrist.
NOT ARMAGEDDON, EITHER
We would need to ignore all the other passages that talk about this moment in time, to say that chapters 12 and 13 were about the final battle before the Millennium.
I struggled with Zechariah 14 for a long time, partly because the translators did such a bad job of rendering the Hebrew into English. But, once God finally opened my eyes, there can be no question about what chapter 14 is talking about.
Zechariah 14 is clearly about Armageddon.
Just as clearly, Zechariah 12 and 13 are NOT.
Remember that army of Gog and Magog represents just one part of the nations of the world. But, in Zechariah 14, God says that ALL of them are brought down against Jerusalem. Not some. All.
Notice also that there is no mention of anything like a Millennium in chapters 12 and 13. There are none of the utterly fantastic events that occur in chapter 14. Also, Jerusalem is captured in Zechariah 14. Jerusalem is not captured in 12 and 13.
In fact, let me repeat a bit of what I said earlier:
In Zechariah 14, Jerusalem becomes the center of the world.
In Zechariah 12, God makes sure that Jerusalem is NOT.
In Zechariah 14, God saves Jerusalem first.
In Zechariah 12, Jerusalem comes second.
In Zechariah 14, Jerusalem is conquered, the women raped and half the city goes into exile
In Zechariah 12, the inhabitants of Jerusalem successfully defend the city, with even the weakest being so incredibly strong that they will slay all their enemies, just like David did. In fact, the weakest woman could slay the strongest soldiers with just a few smooth stones and a sling.
In Zechariah 14, Jerusalem is rescued by God Himself.
In Zechariah 12, God gives the inhabitants of Jerusalem the supernatural strength and ability to defend themselves.
In Zechariah 14, God PHYSICALLY saves Jerusalem and Israel.
In Zechariah 12 and 13, God SPIRITUALLY saves them. And, there’s no description in chapter 14 of Israel finally returning to God. They will have been following Christ, already. After all, there’s a reason why the people of Jerusalem are fleeing the Antichrist.
There are real, tangible differences between Zechariah 14 and the two chapters that come just before it. Furthermore, it should be completely clear that…
…Ezekiel 12 and 13 cannot be about the army of the Antichrist that captures Jerusalem.
It’s just not possible.
This brings us to the next core chapter that we need to discuss, Isaiah 30.
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