Zechariah 12 is a prophecy of the future deliverance of Judah/Israel from the Antichrist’s forces when they attack Judah and Jerusalem during the end days of the Day of the Lord. Zechariah 14 foretells the eventual outcome of the battle: “The city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, but the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city” (Zechariah 14:2).
However, it will be a very costly victory for the Antichrist, as he will lose many men in this battle. Zechariah 12 describes how the Lord will intervene by empowering the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah/Israel with His Holy Spirit giving them supernatural strength and fighting ability, as he did in the days of old with Samson, Shamgar, and David and his fighting men (as described in 2 Samuel 23:8-39).
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.
“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. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the Lord of hosts, their God. 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.
“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. 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. It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:1-9).
Jesus will not return to save the remnant elect until the Jewish people call on Him as their Messiah to save them. “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face: in their affliction, they will seek me early” (Hosea 5:15).
When Jesus returns to the earth on the Feast of Trumpets, he will go first to Bozrah/Petra Jordan and destroy the Antichrist’s forces that are gathered there to kill the Jews who are taking refuge there. He will fight them all the way back to Jerusalem and then save the remnant Jews that are still living there. I believe this will happen on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), 1260 days after the abomination of desolation.
“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. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo” (Zechariah 12:10-11).
It is thought that the mourning at Hadad Rimmon is referring to King Josiah who was killed in battle at the plains of Megiddo. He was greatly mourned by his people, as he was a righteous and beloved king of Judah.
Jesus’ triumphal entry on Palm Sunday before his crucifixion on Passover is discussed in John 12. “The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! The King of Israel!” (John 12:12-13). This is the fulfillment of the 69th “seven” of Daniel’s prophecy found in Daniel 9:25.
“And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat on it; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, your King comes, sitting on an ass’s colt. These things his disciples didn’t understand at first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him” (John 12:14-16). Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Although Jesus gave many signs that he was the Jewish Messiah by performing healings and miracles, the majority of the people and religious rulers of Israel did not believe he was their Anointed One. John said:
“But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, ‘Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?'” (John 12:37-38). John was quoting from Isaiah 53:1 here. This amazing prophecy in Isaiah, which was made over six centuries before Jesus’ time, is called “the sin-bearing Messiah” as it describes the torture and crucifixion of Jesus for the sins of mankind.
Here is how Isaiah finishes this prophecy (of 12 verses) in verse 12: “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
John quoted Isaiah again, “Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Isaiah when he saw his glory and spoke of him” (John 12:29-31).
Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord (and His Seraphim) in the year King Uzziah died. This amazing encounter is recorded in Isaiah 6. The Lord asked Isaiah who He should send to prophesy to the people. Isaiah said, “‘ Here am I; send me.’ And He said, “Go, and tell this people, ‘Hear you indeed, but understand not; and see you indeed, but perceive not.’ Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed” (Isaiah 6:8-10).
The Jews of both generations were similar in their unbelief of the Lord’s word through His prophets. They all had eye, ear, and heart problems.
The Old Testament members of the Lord’s Hall of Faith are discussed in Hebrews 11. The last verse in chapter 11 says, “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” This is the promise of the heavenly inheritance of the New Jerusalem.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). The cloud of witnesses is the Old Testament members of the Hall of Faith described in Hebrews 11.
Hebrews 12:18-24 compares the “gathering” of the children of Israel unto the LORD at Mount Sinai to the gathering of the saints unto the LORD at Mount Zion (New Jerusalem) after the Rapture. Because of their unbelief, the children of Israel had to continue their journey in the wilderness for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land. Because of their faith, the Church of Jesus Christ will go directly to the Promised Land of Heaven and the New Jerusalem after their translation at the Rapture. The Mt. Sinai experience with the LORD was terrifying, while the Mt. Zion experience will be joyful beyond comprehension. “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” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Mt. Sinai: “For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow. And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.) (Hebrews 12:18-21).
Mt. Zion: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24). The spirits of just men made perfect are the Old Testament “cloud of witnesses” who have not yet received their translated heavenly bodies.
Here is the best advice you will ever get! “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:25-26;28-29).
Revelation 12:1 takes place after the two witnesses (with supernatural abilities) of Revelation 11:3 are killed, resurrected (after three-and-a-half days), and ascend to heaven in a cloud. Immediately after their ascension, the seventh angel sounds the seventh trumpet judgment. This is approximately at the mid-point of the seven-year Tribulation, known as the Great Tribulation. Revelation 12:1-5 is a depiction of events that have happened on the earth and in heaven in the past, and which will lead up to events in the future end times (verses 6-17).
“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth” (Revelation 12:1-2). This woman is an allusion to Israel by way of Joseph’s dream in which he saw the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing down to him (Genesis 37:9). The sun represents Jacob (Israel), the moon represents Rachel, the eleven stars represents Joseph’s brothers. Of course, Joseph would be the twelfth star. Mary, representing Israel, would eventually give birth to Jesus, the Messiah.
“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron” (Revelation 12:3-5). In these verses, John is comparing Satan to a great, fiery red dragon. The seven heads and ten horns represent the final form of the Gentile World Empire (prophesied in Daniel 7:7), now shown to be under Satan’s control and authority.
Jesus was born through Mary, who was a descendant of Israel and specifically the tribe of Judah. Jesus Christ is destined to rule the nations with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9). The vision is of the nation of Israel just before the birth of the Messiah. Satan brings his demonic host with him, from heaven to the earth, in an attempt to kill the Messiah shortly after his birth. This attempt to destroy the child was the slaughter of the babies of Bethlehem by Herod in Matthew 2:16-18. There was a tremendous amount of demonic activity in the Gospels during the time of Jesus.
“And her Child was caught up to God and His throne” (Revelation 12:5). The wording of this verse is very interesting. Most scholars believe it is referring to Jesus’ ascension into heaven as recorded in Acts 1:9, “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” The English word “taken up” is “epairo” in Greek. However, John uses the same word Paul used for the Rapture (in 1 Thessalonians 4:17), which is “caught up” or “harpazo” in Greek.
This makes me wonder why John used harpazo (caught up or seized forcibly) instead of the more generic word epairo (to raise or lift up). Some scholars see this as a reference or a hint to the Rapture, in which Jesus and His church will be caught up into heaven. However, the woman is not the Church; she is Israel. The Church doesn’t give birth to Jesus. Jesus gives birth to the Church.
After Jesus is caught up to God and His throne, John’s vision moves forward to events that will occur in the Tribulation. The next event is one that takes place in heaven and swiftly moves to the earth. It occurs at the “in the midst” point of the seven-year Tribulation when the Antichrist commits the abomination of desolation in Jerusalem’s new Temple (as prophesied by Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15).
Meanwhile, in heaven: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7-9). At this point, Satan and his fallen angels fight against Michael and the faithful angels. Satan and his forces lose, and they are cast to the earth. They no longer have access to heaven or God’s throne.
“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:10-12).
The inhabitants of heaven are ecstatic after Satan and his demonic angels are ejected from heaven. They consider this as the start of the kingdom of God and His Christ, as Satan will no longer have access to God. There will no longer be any accusations levied against the children of God. Unfortunately, Satan and his evil horde are cast to the earth, and man, are they angry! He knows the Bible and all the prophecies concerning the end times and realizes he only has 1260 days to accomplish his evil agenda.
“Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth” (Revelation 12:13-16).
The Jews in Jerusalem who witness the abomination of desolation by the Antichrist are instructed to flee to the mountains quickly, if not sooner, by Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24:15-22. “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). This is the evil event that begins the Great Tribulation or Jacob’s Trouble.
Just like when Israel was pursued by Pharoah and his Egyptian army during the Exodus, she will be pursued by the Antichrist and his forces at this time. And just like God supernaturally intervened then to save His people, so will He do again in the future. “You stretched out Your right hand; The earth swallowed them” (Exodus 15:12).
As the A.C. sends some of his forces to chase after the Jewish people who are fleeing to Petra, Jordan, the earth will open up and swallow them. The Jews who escape at this time will arrive safely in Petra and will remain there for the duration of the Great Tribulation. “Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (Revelation 12:6).
Another typological example of “a flood” against the children of Israel is found in Daniel 9:26, “And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood.” Of course, this verse is referring to the destruction of the Temple and the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD, as described in Luke 21:20-24.
“And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17). The “rest of her offspring” will include all the Jewish believers among the Jews at that time, as well as the 144,000 Jews of Revelation 7. Matthew writes about these Messianic Jewish believers in Matthew 24:22, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”
Revelation 12 is an allegoric description of Satan’s persecution of the Jews during the approximate mid-point of the seven-year Tribulation. It begins when he is cast down to the earth and indwells the Antichrist, who performs the famous abomination of desolation in the newly built Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. He organizes a worldwide anti-Semitic campaign to try and destroy the Jewish race once and for all, but he will fail because of God’s supernatural intervention. Satan’s hatred of humankind has been going on since time immemorial, ever since he instigated man’s fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. This was when the first prophecy was given by the Lord, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
Part of this prophecy has been fulfilled. Satan’s influence on ungodly men led to Jesus being tortured and crucified. He was attempting to stop Jesus (the “seed of the woman” and the Holy Spirit) from usurping his authority as the current “ruler of this world.” Evidently, Satan didn’t fully comprehend the Lord’s prophecy. Had Satan known Jesus’s death would bring about the new covenant (“For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” – Matthew 26:28), and that Jesus would be resurrected three days later, he wouldn’t have had him killed. “None of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8). Instead of denying Jesus (and the elect) his Kingdom, Satan had only managed to “bruise his heel.”
The second part of this prophecy is yet future but is as sure to come true as the first part. At the beginning of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ on the earth, Satan will be bound and cast alive into the bottomless pit. A seal will be set on him so he can’t deceive the nations anymore for a thousand years. After the thousand years are finished, Satan is released for a little season and will attempt a comeback coup.
“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them” (Revelation 20:7-9).
The Lord will complete the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, given approximately 7000 years ago, by “bruising his (Satan’s) head.” The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 11:31).
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Revelation 22:12-13).
Amen; Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!