[Note: This author is a pre-Tribulation rapture believer, and this article reflects that view.]
Zechariah 14:1-11 can be a difficult passage of Scripture. Most think it is referring to the last battle, most commonly referred to as Armegeddon1, when Christ comes back to save Israel at the end of the Tribulation, destroys the armies of the world, and has the Antichrist and False prophet thrown into the lake of fire. And, in fact, most of the passage is just that.
Yet, there are parts of the passage that might be puzzling to the Bible student as there seems to be absent correlating information when compared to other Scripture.
This article will attempt to resolve any possible confusions while breaking down the passage into sections with commentary to each. In doing so, it is imperative that the reader understand that Bible prophecy is most often never linear. That is, more often than not, one passage of Scripture can contain many differing elements, including times, places, and actors.
My go-to way of showing how this works is Isaiah 61:1-2 that addresses both comings of Christ, separated by 2,000 years in just two verses:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.” (Emphasis mine to show the Second Coming reference in the two verses.)
“Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city “ (Zechariah 14:1-2).
This is the difficult part of the passage as, at first glance, it doesn’t seem to fit with any other passages of Scripture. This can’t be the last battle when Christ comes back to destroy the Antichrist at the end of the Tribulation for one important reason.
There will be no Jews living in the city of Jerusalem at that battle, because Antichrist will have killed every Israelite he can lay hands on after he desecrates the Temple in the Abomination of Desolation (Daniel 9:27). The Jews that do escape will flee into the mountains (which Jesus commanded them to do in Matthew 24:15-21), which most believe will be the ancient city of Petra located in modern-day Jordan and was once in the territory of Edom (Revelation 12:6).
I believe the key phrase in this translation that needs clarification is “and half of the city shall go forth into captivity….” So, let’s take a look at the Hebrew and see if we can glean anything about this.
“Into captivity” is the Hebrew word “bag·gō·w·lāh,” a derivative of “golah,” the feminine of “galah,” and its definition is “exile or exiles.” This, to me, seems to be the key as the definition of “exile” is: The state or a period of forced absence from one’s country or home; the state or a period of voluntary absence from one’s country or home.
The Complete Jewish Bible renders Zechariah 14:1-2:
“Look, a day is coming for Adonai when your plunder, [Yerushalayim], will be divided right there within you. For I will gather all the nations against Yerushalayim for war. The city will be taken, the houses will be rifled, the women will be raped, and half the city will go into exile; but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.”
“Exile” is most certainly the appropriate translation to the verse. An exile doesn’t have to mean that they are taken by force to another country. It can very well mean that these people are able to flee to a safe harbor as exiles when this attack happens, which would certainly fit the narrative of what happens after the Abomination of Desolation.
In Matthew 24:15-22, Jesus describes the event this way:
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”
A perfect fit.
Some may ask, “How is that ‘all nations’ will be coming against Jerusalem, when it appears that only Antichrist, and whoever his forces will be, are attacking the city?”
I suggest that the Antichrist’s military wing will be the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces (or whatever they may call these troops in that day) that will represent all the nations of the earth.
An interesting note, that many might not be aware of, is that the United Nations has, in the recent past, wanted to transfer its headquarters from NYC to Babylon, Iraq2, which is where I believe the Antichrist’s headquarters will be.
[Two articles I have written outline this plausible scenario: A Combined Interpretive Scenario of Revelation 17 & 18 https://www.raptureready.com/2020/08/05/a-combined-interpretive-scenario-of-revelation-17-18-by-mark-a-becker/ or https://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=204830 and Zechariah 5:5-11 – Homecoming: Babel Returns Home https://www.raptureready.com/2020/08/19/zechariah-55-11-homecoming-babel-returns-home-by-mark-a-becker/ or https://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=205436 ]
One can be certain that in Jerusalem at the beginning of the siege, when “the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished,” will see many Jews killed in the process.
Of those that aren’t killed, “half of the city shall go forth into captivity [exile], and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” This tells me that those Jews going into exile will be fleeing to what most believe will be Petra when God will supernaturally protect them for the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation:
“And the woman [Israel] 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” (Revelation 12:6).
The “residue of the people” that remains in the city can be none other than the Arabs, and other people of differing nationalities, that reside in Jerusalem along with the Antichrist’s UN forces who have probably been stationed there for the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation enforcing the “covenant” treaty that started the seven-year Tribulation (Daniel 9:27). The very same “peacekeeping” forces, representing the nations, that do the plundering, raping, and killing.
Three and one-half years later, at the end of the Tribulation, those same nations of the world, that were represented in Antichrist’s siege of Jerusalem at the Abomination of Desolation, will send their own armies to the valley of Jehoshaphat to battle the returning Messiah, Jesus Christ:
“Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord. Let the heathen [nations] be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen [nations] round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:11-14).
Which brings us back to Zechariah:
“Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (Zechariah 14:3-5).
This is Zechariah’s vision of the Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. The people in Jerusalem will not “flee” for any reason other than the earthquake that results in the Lord’s landing on the Mount of Olives. These people most certainly won’t be the Jews, as they are in Petra, unless they have been following the Lord back to Jerusalem as His campaign progresses (which fits in very nicely with Zechariah 14:14).
The Bozrah Connection
When the Lord comes back, the armies of Antichrist and the world will be stationed to the south-east of Jerusalem in the Valley of Jehoshaphat and will wrap around the Salt Sea moving east to the ancient city of Bozrah.
The first map is showing where these armies will, more than likely, be stationed with Sela Petra or Mt. Seir and Bozrah:
(To view these maps, please click here: https://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=205594 )
In other maps, I noticed that the ancient city of Petra is a little farther south of Bozrah. The second map helps to show this distinction.
Either way, the mountain range where the Jews will flee is relatively close to Bozrah in either direction. This would help explain why the Lord will begin His campaign in Bozrah and work His way toward Jerusalem at His Second Coming.
The Israelis, who have been supernaturally protected in the Petra/Mt. Seir mountain range of ancient Edom, will be in dire straits as it appears the armies of the earth are not only waiting to do battle against the Lord when He comes to Jerusalem, but are simultaneously advancing to where the remnant of Judah is.
Isaiah put it this way:
“Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.” – Isaiah 63:1-4
Even though the Lord will have His angelic host and the armies of His church with Him, He alone will be “tread[ing] them in [His] anger.” The imagery of the Lord having “trodden the winepress” brings one to Revelation’s imagery:
“And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” – Revelation 14:18-20
Then comes a rather mysterious passage.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.” – Zechariah 14:6-7
The imagery here reminds me of what it must look like after all of God’s wrath has been poured out onto the earth. This description also seems to infer the transition from a war-torn and sinned judged world into the renewed and regenerated environment that Christ’s Kingdom must enjoy for 1,000 years.
Once it is over and the Lord has judged the nations, this “one day which shall be known to the Lord,” where “at evening time it shall be light,” will be the beginning of the Lord’s Millennial reign!
“And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one. All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses. And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.” – Zechariah 14:8-11
Thus begins the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. These verses of Zechariah speak of “living waters [that] shall go out from Jerusalem.” These are the same waters Ezekiel saw when describing the Millennial temple, and what a joyous day that will be!
“Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side. And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river. Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.” – Ezekiel 47:1-9
“Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” – Revelation 22:20b
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
- See The Meaning of “Armeged[d]on” by Jeff Van Hatten for an excellent article on this topic at: https://www.raptureready.com/2020/07/23/the-meaning-of-armageddon-by-jeff-van-hatten/
- Is the rebirth of Babylon a Biblical Truth? Is the Rebirth of Babylon a Biblical Truth?