Zechariah was the most prolific of the three postexilic prophets, and wrote during the reign of King Darius of Persia in the sixth century BC. This beautiful and poetic book provides an overview of events from the time of Christ until the millennium, and confirms and reinforces both biblical prophecy and secular history. In particular, Zechariah 10–14 provides an amazing prophetic history of Israel from the time of Christ until the kingdom age; Zechariah 12 describes the end-times period, and in particular the conflict between Israel and the nations surrounding her:
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (Zechariah 12:2–3).
The timeline for verse 2 is when “all the people round about” shall besiege Israel; in context, this refers to the battle at the beginning of the end times when the Arab nations surrounding Israel attempt to invade her and are met with nuclear retaliation. Ezekiel 28:26 and Zechariah 12:6 also speak of this time when God will execute judgments upon all those that despised them “round about.” The timeline in verse 3 is “in that day” when “all the people of the earth” will be gathered against Israel and will be “cut in pieces”; in context, this refers to the battle of Armageddon when, in fact, they will be cut into pieces and served to the birds of the air.
The judgment against the nations is different in each case: a “cup of trembling” in verse 2 refers to regional nuclear war, whereas a “burdensome stone” in verse 3 refers to the direct judgment by the Lord himself at Armageddon. Therefore, the timeline for our text passage is the forty-year end-times period.
During this time, Israel will become so powerful that she will destroy all the nations which are gathered against her: “In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:6). We saw in previous chapters how this verse applied to the military strength of the Israeli Defense Forces at the beginning of the end times. Note carefully that the phrase “all the people round about” refers back to verse 2.
Zechariah 12:4 and 14:13 both describe a strange kind of mental illness that results in enemy troops attacking each other. This most likely refers to God’s judgment against Russia, as recorded in Ezekiel 38:21: “And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord God: every man’s sword shall be against his brother.” Since the phrase “in that day” in Zechariah 12–14 frequently refers both to the end-times period and the millennium, it must include both these periods and, therefore, have a length of 1,040 years.
“In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness” (Zechariah 12:4).
“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” (Zechariah 14:13).
The Bible describes three major battles against Israel in the end times: the invasion by surrounding Arab nations at the beginning of this period which Zechariah 12:6 and 14:14 record; the Ezekiel 38 Russian invasion, which Zechariah 12:4 and 14:13 also seem to refer to; and the battle of Armageddon, which Zechariah 12:3 and 14:12 recount. At the end of the first war, Israel will be in possession of the nations which formerly surrounded her, and all their wealth: “gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.” At the end of the second, Israel will burn Russian weapons and armaments for energy for seven years (Ezekiel 39:9). Finally, after the battle of Armageddon, Israel will say, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39).
“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 14:14).”
Zechariah 14:12 apparently describes how the Lord will defeat the armies of the beast at Armageddon: Their flesh and soft tissues will be “consumed” down to their skeleton while they yet stand on their feet; Zechariah 12:3 indicates that their bodies will be cut in pieces or minced, and “with whirlwinds” (Zechariah 9:14). This judgment applies to both men and beasts of burden (Zechariah 14:15; Revelation 19:18), and afterward all the fowls of heaven will be filled with their flesh at “the supper of the great God” (Revelation 19:17, 21). Note carefully that it’s the Lord himself who executes this judgment upon “all the people that have fought against Jerusalem,” which in the context of Zechariah 14:1–5, refers to the battle of Armageddon.
“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).
When the Lord appears at Armageddon, his Word will appear physically as “a great whirlwind” (Jeremiah 25:32) “of devouring fire” (Isaiah 29:6; 30:30). The parallel passage in Jeremiah 25 also indicates that this judgment will occur all over the earth simultaneously: “…a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground” (Jeremiah 25:32-33).
Thus, there will be a great slaughter of the Antichrist’s forces worldwide—and also all who have the mark of the beast—and the birds of the air will feast on their flesh at “the supper of the great God” (Revelation 19:17). They all apparently will be cut into bite-sized pieces (for fowls) and cooked to perfection—I suppose for birds, that means “rare.”
At the beginning of the end times, Israel defeats invading forces, probably using their own military power (“and they shall devour all the people round about”), but after the rapture, God begins to intervene directly in human affairs. The subsequent defeat of Russia as described in Ezekiel 38–39 is entirely miraculous. Israel doesn’t lift a finger to win this battle—it’s all done by the Lord, to the intent that “the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward” (Ezekiel 39:22). Finally, at the battle of Armageddon, the enemy troops “shall be cut in pieces” by the Lord himself; Revelation 14:20 says that, in places, the blood will be so deep that it will reach “even unto the horse bridles.”
Zechariah 10 contains a description of Israel being regathered as a nation after worldwide dispersion and their growth into a powerful nation. Zechariah says that God will first disperse Israel (which happened starting with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD) and then gather them back, “And I will sow them among the people: and they shall remember me in far countries; and they shall live with their children, and turn again” (Zechariah 10:9). Israel then becomes “as mighty men, which tread down their enemies” and shall fight and confound their enemies in battle (Zechariah 10:5).
Zechariah then describes Israel passing through a sea of trouble which God subdues: “And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea”; and then describes the Nile River drying up and the fall of Iraq (“Assyria”) and Egypt as nations: “and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away” (Zechariah 10:11). This seems to refer to the war at the beginning of the end times when the Aswan Dam and Egypt are destroyed with nuclear weapons, and Iraq is invaded by a coalition of nations from the north.
Zechariah 11 describes the destruction of Israel following their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah, and their subsequent two-thousand-year dispersion. The princes, priests, and people are symbolized by trees of Lebanon in verses 1–2 and the city of Jerusalem as a fortified forest (“the forest of the vintage”). Their leaders are seen as “howling” and their princes (“young lions”) as “roaring” because Jerusalem is destroyed.
“Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down. There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled” (Zechariah 11:1-3).
This prophecy looks forward to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, and the subsequent dispersion of the Jews from Israel in 135 AD following the Roman decree that Jews could no longer remain in the land.
Verses 12–13 of this chapter contain an amazing prophecy of the thirty pieces of silver paid to betray Jesus and the use of this money to buy a potter’s field. After this, God broke the covenant of protection (the staff called “Beauty,” meaning “grace”) that he had made with the nations not to harm Israel while they served him; then he broke the unity of Israel (“mine other staff, even Bands”) and dispersed them through the nations.
“And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the Lord. And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord. Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel” (Zechariah 11:10-14).
After this, Israel is called “the flock of the slaughter,” because they had indeed been slaughtered—in the overthrow of Jerusalem in 70 AD under General Titus which razed the city and the temple to the ground; the Roman conquest of Israel in 135 AD under Emperor Hadrian which killed more than 500,000 Jews, after which they dispersed worldwide and were taken as slaves by the Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans; their general persecution during the Middle Ages and torture by the Catholics during the Inquisition; and finally, when more than six million died in the Holocaust under Hitler. Even during this dispersion, God had not forgotten his people, and continued to preserve them.
“And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me” (Zechariah 11:7-8).
We see in verse 7 that God still has his two staffs, Beauty (“grace”) and Bands (“unity”) by which he preserved his people (“fed the flock”) during their dispersion. God also “cut off” (killed) three leaders (“three shepherds”) during this time, in a single month. The most notorious leader to have persecuted the Jews during their dispersion is without a doubt Adolf Hitler, who died on April 30, 1945. Two other world leaders also died this same month: Mussolini (April 28, 1945) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (April 12, 1945). Taken in the proper context of the Diaspora, it seems reasonable to conclude that Zechariah is referring to these three men.
After the Holocaust the Jews said “never again,” and Israel became a nation in 1948. Many prophets in the Old Testament predicted this return of the Jews after their worldwide dispersion, even before Israel was taken captive the first time by the Babylonians (e.g., in Isaiah). Hosea 6 predicts that the time between the dispersion and the 1,000-year millennial reign of Christ will be about two thousand years, given the equation that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years” (2 Peter 3:8).
“Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight” (Hosea 6:1-2).
Assuming the dispersion began with the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 AD, that would put the return of Christ about 2070 (“after two days”). Subtracting forty years, this means the end-times period should begin about 2030. This would give drought and famine conditions in the Mideast time to develop (“For the waters of Nimrim [Wadi Numeira in Jordan] shall be desolate: for the hay is withered away, the grass faileth, there is no green thing”; Isaiah 15:6), and the flow of the Nile to be reduced to a trickle, following completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in 2017: “And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up. And they shall turn the rivers far away [GERD]; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither” (Isaiah 19:5-6).
In addition, a prolonged economic depression starting in the late 2010s would greatly exacerbate social unrest to the point of war. Of course, the end times could begin before 2030, especially if a year is taken to be a prophetic year of 360 days.
Zechariah 13 says that two-thirds of Israel will die during the tribulation, but that God will bring the remaining one-third “through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried.” When Jesus returns at the end of the tribulation, Israel will finally recognize that he is their Messiah and “shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son” (Zechariah 12:10). Zechariah indicates that there will a period of mourning, with “every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart” (Zechariah 12:12). Jesus previously told them while he was on earth, “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39).
We’ll cover more about Zechariah in Part 2 of this series, including the remarkable geomorphology of the restored earth, the huge dimensions of Jerusalem and free air transportation in the millennium (without a ticket!). So don’t miss Part 2!
I provide more details of this and many other end-times prophecies in my recently published book, END TIMES DAWNING: Get Ready! (available from www.endtimesrecord.com). Please read it! Also, if you would, please like my Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/endtimesrecord.
Yours in Christ,