Thursday, October 12, 2017

Zechariah's Vision Of The King. Day 26, War In The End Times/God's Miraculous Deliverance

We concluded Chapter 11 with a look at the wicked shepherd. By Zechariah's day, all twelve tribes of Israel had experienced the oppression of wicked shepherds, both from within and from without the kingdom. Israel and Judah both suffered under several wicked kings. Both nations endured false prophets and priests who were only out for their own gain. Both nations were defeated by pagan kings and taken captive to foreign lands. But Zechariah also looked far into the future and saw the most wicked shepherd of all: the Antichrist. Today he looks far into the future again and foresees a war that will be centered on Jerusalem in the last days. He also sees God's amazing deliverance of His people.

"A prophecy: The word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares:" (Zechariah 12:1) The Speaker of this prophecy introduces Himself. He is the maker of heaven and earth. He is the creator of all mankind. He is the giver of life and breath. His word can be trusted. When God makes a promise, it's as good as done.

"I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem." (Zechariah 12:2) Jerusalem is the most fought over "cup" in the world. The peoples surrounding Israel desire to seize this cup from Jewish hands and drink it down to the dregs. But it won't be a cup of blessing to anyone who dares to drink it; it will be a curse. In our study of the book of Zechariah, we previously looked at God's promise to Abraham and to the nation that would spring from him, "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse." (Genesis 12:3a) Woe to the nation who oppresses Israel! Fighting against Israel is the same as fighting against God.

Next we begin a series of prophetic statements about things that will occur "on that day". In the Scriptures this usually indicates apocalyptic prophecy. "On that day" is generally associated with the end times and with "the day of the Lord". The Lord says, "On that day, when all the nations of the earth have gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves." (Zechariah 12:3) This likely refers to what is known as the Battle of Armageddon from Revelation 16. This is when the wicked shepherd known as the Antichrist becomes the leading political figure in the world and the heads of many nations ally themselves with him to make war against the nation of Israel. In our own times there is a great deal of hatred in the world for the nation of Israel. She is surrounded by enemies who would love to wipe her from the face of the earth, but the Lord promises to make her capital city of Jerusalem "an immovable rock". This is not only for her own sake, but for the sake of all the nations, because God will keep His promise to Abraham that "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you". (Genesis 12:3b) Why are all peoples blessed through Abraham? Because there will be those from every nation who believe on the name of Israel's King and Messiah, the Seed of Abraham, the Lord Jesus Christ.

"'On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,' declares the Lord. 'I will keep a watchful eye over Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations. Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, 'The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the Lord Almighty is their God.'" (Zechariah 12:4-5) At the time of this great war, the Lord will frustrate the plans of the battle strategists. He will sabotage the military equipment of the enemies of Israel. As in the days of old, God will supernaturally deliver His people. God alone has been His people's protector. Israel has survived because of God's protective hand on her, which is why the clans of Judah will attribute the strength of the people of Jerusalem to the Lord Almighty. He is Israel's sword and shield; He always has been.

"On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume all the surrounding peoples right and left, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place." (Zechariah 12:6) The Lord previously vowed to be "a wall of fire" around Jerusalem and to be "its glory within". (Zechariah 2:5) The fire is a metaphor for the power of God as He fights for Israel. When He speaks of this fire devouring the enemies but leaving Jerusalem safe and unharmed, I am reminded of the comforting words of Psalm 91, "A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked." (Psalm 91:7-8)

"The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem's inhabitants may not be greater than those of Judah." (Zechariah 12:7) The word translated here as "dwellings" would be better rendered as "tents". It indicates impermanent and movable abodes. Those living in tents may represent the poor of the land or those who have been scattered and oppressed. As we learned earlier in the week, the Good Shepherd particularly cares for the "oppressed of the flock". (Zechariah 11:7) The Good Shepherd, as opposed to the wicked shepherd, cares for the lost, seeks the young, heals the injured, and feeds the flock. (Zechariah 11:16) When we studied the book of Proverbs we learned that King Solomon had an especially soft heart toward the poor and the oppressed. A greater King than Solomon, the Lord Jesus Christ, displayed deep compassion for the poor and the oppressed. He even made the statement that, "The good news is preached to the poor" (Matthew 11:5b) because in His time many great religious orators and famous philosophers charged a fee to hear them speak, whereas Jesus made the gospel free to anyone willing to listen. God has deep compassion on the poor and needy, on the oppressed, and on the ones who have no defender.

"On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem." (Zechariah 12:8-9) David was known as a mighty warrior who had slain "his tens of thousands". (1 Samuel 18:7) In the day of the Lord even the weakest person in the nation will be mighty like David. In the day of the Lord the house of David will be like God, for the King sitting on David's throne will be God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has always been the glory of Israel, spiritually speaking, but in that day He will literally become the "glory within her" as He promised through the prophet Zechariah. The glory within her will be the One sitting on the throne, who is crowned with many crowns, whose name is Faithful and True, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

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