A Study of Zechariah 14:12-21 :: by Mark A. Becker

[Note: This author is a pre-Tribulation rapture believer, and this article reflects that view.]


This is the completion of a two-part study on Zechariah chapter 14. The first article, A Study of Zechariah 14:1-11, can be found here https://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=205594 or https://www.raptureready.com/2020/09/11/a-study-of-zechariah-141-11-by-mark-a-becker/ and should be read first for continuity.

As I like to do, we will be examining a segment of the passage, one at a time and in sequence, and offer a commentary with additional Scripture, when applicable, for each.

The Study

And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth” (Zechariah 14:12).

This verse has fascinated Christians for 2,000 years, with little to no earthy explanation until the nuclear age. But, in my opinion, the nuclear explanation doesn’t seem to be the answer to this vivid description cited by Zechariah. The answer, as always, should be found in the Scriptures themselves.

We know that this event is the Second Coming of Jesus to Jerusalem, so it isn’t nuclear weaponry that is destroying the armies that have come against the Holy City to fight the Lord; it’s the Lord and His Word:

“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).

“And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army… And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:1921).

No nuclear exchange here, just the sword of the Word out of the Lord’s mouth; the same Word that created all will be the same Word that destroys His enemies at His return.

So, what is really happening here, and are there Scriptural passages that help to clarify what this imagery is describing? I believe there is:

“…the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10b).

Peter, in this passage, is telling us what will happen to the earth and the heavens when the Lord prepares to recreate the new heavens and the new earth. Scientifically, this appears to be the releasing of the atom.

The atom, the building block of all matter, has a proton and a neutron that should repel from each other, but they don’t. When I was young the “substance” that held the atom together was unknown, as it is today, and was referred to as “atomic glue.” Today, it is known as “strong force,” and science has no idea what this “force” is. But we do! Jesus Christ, Himself:

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). (Emphasis mine).

The Greek word for “consist” is “sunistanó” with the following definitions: to place together, to set in the same place, to bring or band together; to put together (i.e. unite parts into one whole), to cohere, hold together.

When Christ comes back to earth to fight Antichrist and the world’s remaining armies, He appears to release the atoms within the bodies of these demonically inspired hordes by the Word of His mouth, and this description in Zechariah 14:12 seems to tell us what this will look like.

We do know that there will be flesh and blood left of the bodies the Lord destroys, because “all the fowls [will] be filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19:21).

The Greek word for “consume” in Zechariah 14:12, as in “Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth,” is “maqaq” and means: to decay, rot, fester, pine away.

There will be some flesh left over for the fowls of the air, so it doesn’t appear be a total release of every atom within their bodies, but just enough of a release to have the desired results.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour. And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance” (Zechariah 14:13-14).

The people left in the city of Jerusalem – the Arabs and those of other nationalities residing in the city after the expulsion of the Jews three and one-half years earlier – will begin to fight against each other.

Simultaneously, the Jews that have been following the Lord back to Jerusalem from Petra (and any others that might have been hiding out in Judea) will fight against the foreigners in the city and take back the plunder those people had stolen from them in that same event after the Abomination of Desolation.

They will also plunder the remaining armies of the world who were defeated by the Lord in His campaign that had begun at Bozrah and ended in Jerusalem.

The above events that had happened to Jerusalem in conjunction with the Antichrist’s Abomination of Desolation three and one-half years earlier, and Christ’s Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation, are described in Zechariah 14:1-5 which is detailed in my first article along other pertinent Scripture and commentary.

“And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague” (Zechariah 14:15).

This “plague” is, evidently, the same plague cited in verse 12 and has the same effect on the animals that have been in the “tents” of the world’s invading armies. These armies seem to have no option but to rely on animals for transportation, as the destruction from God’s wrath during the Tribulation has decimated most of the world’s resources, weaponry, and technology.

This is an example of what I cite often in my articles: that future prophecy has a tendency to weave back and forth many different themes, times, places, and events; albeit, this is a rather simple example being only separated by two verses and still within context. But I would like to take a moment and share a few thoughts on this weaving of near and far prophecy within God’s Word with the reader.

The explanation as to why God does this within His Word, I believe, can be found in the reasoning Jesus gave as to why He, Himself, used parables:

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matthew 13:10-13).

Paul, with seemingly the same theme in mind, explained to Timothy:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

It appears that the Lord wants only His people, with the guiding of the Holy Spirit, to be able to understand and “rightly divide [His] Word of truth.” It isn’t for the unbelieving world, as the world knows Him not, nor the spiritual wisdom of God.

“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:5-14).

What favor we have from God, that He has given us His Spirit to know the mysteries of God, and to be able to rightly divide and comprehend His Holy Word!

Back to Zechariah detailing additional revelations of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom:

And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.

“And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16-19).

The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, will be a mandatory worldwide feast to celebrate. This really isn’t surprising, as most agree that the fall feast of Tabernacles is symbolic of the Lord’s Second Coming to set up His promised Messianic Kingdom and fulfill His covenantal promises to His beloved people, Israel. He will be “tabernacling” with His people as well as the nations of the world.

Those who willingly refuse to come to Jerusalem – those nations whose people defy this requirement – will receive the plague of drought.

It’s hard to imagine that any nation or people would do this, but because it is mentioned, it seems to imply that it will happen. Being as the nation of Egypt is singled out, one could reasonably presume that they will at least once rebel against this command.

“In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness Unto The Lord; and the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 14:20-21).

Finally, the promises to Israel will become a reality as all in the Holy City will be Holy, and the sacrifices to the Lord will be worthy and pure.

The Messiah will usher in His Kingdom and give to Israel her land that God had always promised to them, and “there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts” to deceive God’s people with idolatry and paganism. Israel will finally have all the land allotted to them, that they failed to take for themselves at God’s command, and it will be glorious.

Many have struggled with the fact that animal sacrifices will play a key role in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom, as those ancient sacrifices were a picture of the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:10), the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18) on behalf of man’s sins. But in a nearly perfect environment, there needs to be something to remind mankind (those living in the flesh in the Kingdom) that there was an infinite price paid for mankind’s redemption. And these sacrifices will be that visual aid provided in that perfect environment under the leadership of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

This is the amazing Millennial Kingdom of Christ we so eagerly await and look forward to, but for now we are privileged to at least get a glimpse of this Kingdom when we read…

“… [t]he wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6-9).

Oh, what an amazingly glorious time that will be!

Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!