Through the years it has been a particular concern of me to address issues that I thought were significant in the evangelical world, just kind of rose above the normal issues in the normal battles of ministry. A book like Charismatic Chaos or Strange Fire address the massive charismatic movement, that had made a large and inordinate mark on evangelicalism and confused a lot of people; and I wanted to address that, and the Lord had allowed me to do that. In fact, there are actually three books dealing with that.
And then, perhaps, a book that you would know, the book called The Gospel According to Jesus addresses the issue of, Is Jesus Lord?, and must you believe that to be saved?—the lordship controversy, as it was called. And that was a huge issue because there was bad theology being pumped out of a seminary that was populating the faculties of most Bible colleges and Bible institutes across America; and it was everywhere, and I felt I needed to address that.
Followed it up with The Gospel According to the Apostles. And then when pragmatism came along, I felt like I needed to address that.
And there have been other issues like that through the years that we’ve tried to tackle, issues that transcend just the normal and were rather epic issues for evangelical pastors in particular. And it’s been a joy to do that, and it’s been a joy to see the impact of the Word of God when truth is brought to bear against error. Error crumbles under the power of the truth; it’s crushed under the power of the truth.
We went after the pragmatic movement, and we still are tackling that—a book I wrote some years ago called Ashamed of the Gospel.
But there have been those opportunities, and I’m so grateful for them. But there’s one issue that remains. And I don’t know how much time the Lord is going to give me, but I want to make one last effort on this particular issue. It is of constant concern to me. It is a crucial truth for the redeemed. It is a crucial truth for the entire world. And the Bible is precise and clear and powerful and hopeful in dealing with this truth. But strangely, it is treated with a measure of indifference. I’ll give you an illustration.
Last week I received a book on my desk from somebody I love and wonderful teacher of God’s Word, a book on the Second Coming, a book on the Second Coming. Immediately I went to the Scripture index in the back of the book, and there were passages of Scripture from many places in the New Testament and a few in the Old Testament. There was not one single reference from the book of Zechariah, and I thought, “How can you do that? How can you write an eschatology without having mastered the book of Zechariah?”
And it struck me that even though I’ve written books on the Second Coming, and commentaries on Revelation, and commentaries on Matthew and the Olivet discourse, and commentary on 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians and every New Testament text, it is a continual burden to me, a continual discouragement that the Reformed movement, so popular in being precise about sound doctrine, has been indifferent toward that doctrine. How can you do that? How can you think that God spoke clearly about everything but the end—that it doesn’t matter? It’s almost a badge of academic nobility not to have a view.
Of all the categories of systematic theology, eschatology is the one where there is no settled orthodoxy. We go down the line with theology, and at some point it’s so common, even with very dear friends of mine through the years, to say, “Well, he might be able to teach at our seminary, but his eschatology is not biblical.” The consummation of God’s redemptive history is treated with indifference. People just punt, or they change their views. For some, it seems like a defection to take literally what Scripture says. And it says a lot, and it’s crystal clear.
Let me encourage you. Do not announce your eschatology until you have mastered Zechariah; then you have a right to it. It is, of all the books in the Old Testament, the most complete revelation of the end times. The Lord Jesus is the theme of the book. He is revealed in literal details—the details of His life, the details of His death, and the details of His Second Coming. Listen as I summarize for you. And again, not so much a sermon as a call to give due to the revelation of Zechariah.
The book of Zechariah reverberates with the presence of the Messiah. The prophet, for example, discussed the preincarnate work of Christ to advance God’s plan for Israel. The prophet discussed the intercession for the nation Israel. Zechariah 4 told Christ’s first coming in humility, His rejection, His betrayal for thirty pieces of silver, His ultimate crucifixion, His death for the sins of His people. Zechariah prophesied Christ’s second coming as the glorious King who will gather His people, conquer Israel’s foes, cleanse His elect, build the Temple, stand victorious on the Mount of Olives, reign supreme and receive worship from all the earth’s inhabitants. And there’s no equivocation and no lack of clarity in those prophecies in Zechariah. Zechariah also revealed the Messiah as the true and Good Shepherd, in contrast to Israel’s corrupt leaders, the false shepherds. And while the true Shepherd cares for His own, the false shepherds devour and betray their people.
In His first coming, Zechariah points out the Good Shepherd will rebuke and destroy the false shepherds; namely, what He did—the priests, the elders, and the scribes of Israel. Because Israel rejected the true Shepherd, the nation will one day fall to a false shepherd that we know later as Antichrist. But the Messiah will return to overcome and destroy him, saving His flock physically and spiritually so they become beautiful in the land as a testament to His love as the Good Shepherd.
Another messianic gem in the book of Zechariah is that we meet the Priest-King. No Israelite could assume these two offices, according to 2 Chronicles 26. The Old Testament anticipated the coming of One, however, in the order of Melchizedek who would be a Priest-King. He would bring together the two offices into one; Zechariah speaks of this several times. He will redeem His people as their Priest and reign over them as their King. He will bring reconciliation between God and man and establish perfect peace, and sovereignly rule in righteousness over the whole earth.
Zechariah prophesied all the way to the kingdom of Christ, the millennial kingdom of Christ. Zechariah reveals that this kingdom will be earthly, and it will be climactic. Jerusalem and the temple will be rebuilt, God’s glory will return to dwell in the midst of the city, and God will be a wall of fire around it; and when the Messiah establishes this earthly kingdom, Jerusalem will be known as the city of truth.
“At that time,” says Zechariah, the Messiah will cleanse His people. He will call Israel, “My people,” and Israel will respond, “Yahweh is my God.” Populated initially only with redeemed Israelites, the kingdom will be governed by competent leaders and priests who will lead God’s people in true worship.
Along with righteous Israel, regenerate Gentiles will enter the kingdom and worship the Lord. They will gather in Israel at least once a year during that kingdom to celebrate specifically the Feast of Booths. Messiah’s reign will command world peace as Jews and Gentiles join together to worship the Lord. The millennial kingdom will be part of a renewed creation, “new light,” says Zechariah, a new typography. The Lord will reproduce a kind of Edenic rest, so that both death and the curse on creation are severely curtailed.
Jerusalem would be filled with people, old and young, living in peace and security. Things that currently seem mundane or even unclean will become holy to the Lord. At the center of that millennial kingdom will be the ultimate king, the Lord Jesus Christ. The kingdom will begin with His inauguration as the world celebrates His accomplishments through redemptive history. He will be the only king over the whole earth, and all people will bring Him worship. That’s a summation of the eschatology of Zechariah. This is especially targeted at the remnant.
Listen to Zechariah chapter 8, verses 11 to 15: “‘But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days,’ declares the Lord of hosts. ‘For there will be peace for the seed: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce and the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things. It will come about that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you that you may become a blessing.’” Is there anything unclear about that last statement? “‘I will save you [O house of Judah and house of Israel] that you may become a blessing. Do not fear; let your hands be strong.’ For thus says the Lord of hosts,” verse 14,“‘Just as I purposed to do harm to you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath’”—which occurred literally and historically—“says the Lord of hosts, ‘and I have not relented, so I have again purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear!’”
This is typical of what Zechariah prophesies with regard to the future. It has to do with a literal Israel, true salvation, the restoration of Jerusalem, the elevation of Jerusalem, the alteration of the planet, and peace and security. You might say that Zechariah’s visions are an amillennialist’s nightmare, because that is the case.
Now the way that I think we can understand this—and I don’t want to belabor the point—but the way that I think we can understand this is, the final epic in human history is called, chapter 14, verse 1, the day for the Lord, the day for the Lord. “Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you.” And then verse 9 of that chapter, “And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His named the only one.”
The final epic of human history is the day for the Lord. You’re familiar with the Day of the Lord, which speaks of the judgment aspect of the final end. But this is different. This is not the Day of the Lord, this is the day for the Lord. The Day of the Lord is punishment and judgment; the day for the Lord is salvation and blessing. It encompasses the others, of course.
And as I was going through Zechariah, I found a phrase that captivated me; it’s a simple phrase. The phrase is “in that day,” “in that day.” So you always know where you are in Zechariah.
By the way, Isaiah uses that phrase twenty times. Hosea uses it. Joel uses it. Amos uses it. Zephaniah uses it. In chapters 1 to 11 of Zechariah it appears three times. In Zechariah 12 to 14 it appears twenty times, and it appears all through the fourteenth chapter: in that day, in that day, in that day. There’s never any mystery about the time of these events.
As you examine that phrase—and oh, by the way, look at the end of Zechariah. Look at the last three words in the last verse of the last chapter. What does it say? Just in case you get lost, it all applies “in that day.” As we examine that phrase, a true eschatology becomes clear, and this has no Old Testament equal in the scope of the revelation with regard to the Second Coming.
Zechariah places considerable evidence, as I noted, on the first coming of Messiah: His humble entry on a donkey—that’s in Zechariah. His rejection by the nation—that’s in Zechariah. His betrayal for thirty pieces of silver—that’s in Zechariah. The subsequent judgment of God on unbelieving Israel. Chapters 12 through 14 then shift and look at His second coming. And the details of that are to be understood in the same literal way that you understood the prophecies with regard to His first coming.
Christ’s second coming will feature His arrival, His arrival on the Mount of Olives. So amazing things will occur there. He will establish His earthly kingdom, fulfill His promises to the nation Israel, promises given through the patriarchs and David and the prophets. Then you come to the final three chapters, 12, 13, and 14, and no Old Testament book, no section of a book is the equal of this text in terms of the scope and the detail of the revelation of Christ. Remarkable truths.
What we learn from Zechariah is in the end there will be the rise of a world confederacy and a global army that will come against God’s chosen nation, Israel. By the power of God, Israel will win a stunning victory over those enemies, followed by the glorious appearing of the Messiah, the spiritual transformation of the Jewish people through the power of the Holy Spirit. And Zechariah looks at these features from different angles and magnifying the work of Messiah. Christ will return, rescue His people, regenerate them, punish the wicked, set up His kingdom, and celebrate His triumph with a great feast.
There’s no way you can spiritualize these. There’s no way you can allegorize these. They’re not presented with that option; that’s why this is an amillennialist’s nightmare. Trying to make all of that mean something else is a fool’s task.
So let’s start back in chapter 12. That was just to shape what we’re going to look at. Back in chapter 12, verses 1 through 3: “The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel.” We’re talking about the nation. “Thus declares the Lord who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him.” This is the Creator speaking. “‘Behold, I’m going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.’” What does that mean? “All the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” It all means what it means.
Jerusalem will be “a cup [of] reeling.” What is that? The word “cup” has to do with a large basin, that is to say, a large target, if you will, for global assault. And when attacked by the global army, they will drink deeply, but they will drink deeply of divine wrath. They will literally have their senses taken over as if they were inebriated by divine wrath. They will stagger, unable to accomplish their intended mission, unable to defend themselves against God’s judgment. And when they try to overpower Jerusalem, they will find Jerusalem as “a heavy stone,” literally “a crushing stone,” and they will be, it says, “severely injured.”
What is this force that comes against Jerusalem? “All the nations of the earth,” “all the nations of the earth”—global army. They come from the west, according to Daniel; they come from Spain in the west, according to Ezekiel. Ezekiel says they come from the north. Daniel says they come from the south. Daniel says they come from the east. It’s an army, according to Revelation 9, that has two hundred million soldiers; and they come to the plain of Megiddo, but the battle stretches completely across the nation Israel. It is true that they are assembled by Satan, but verse 2 says God is the real gatherer of this force.
And then we read in verses 4 and 5, “In that day”—there’s that phrase, “in that day.” What day? The day when the global army comes against Jerusalem. “‘In that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will strike every horse with bewilderment and his rider with madness. But I will watch over the house of Judah, while I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, “A strong support for us are the inhabitants of Jerusalem through the Lord of hosts, their God.”’” “Horse” obviously symbolizes military might, power, weapons. They become completely ineffective and useless. Whatever machinery this global force has is rendered inoperative, and “madness” takes over. That madness is the same term used in 2 Kings 9 to speak of Jehu riding like a maniac in his chariot.
The weapons aren’t going to work, the soldiers aren’t going to be coherent; but the Lord will watch over Judah. He’ll shut the eyes of the enemy with “blindness,” but He will watch over Judah. “The clans of Judah,” regiments of Israel’s army, the clans are aware of “Yahweh of hosts,” and wonderfully they have Yahweh of hosts on their hearts. I love what it says in verse 5: “The clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘A strong support . . . [is] the Lord of hosts.’” God’s deliverance is so powerful that it compels not only the enemies to be crushed, but it overpowers Israel’s unbelief.
Look at verses 6 and 7: “In that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among sheaves, so they will consume on the right hand and on the left all the surrounding peoples, while the inhabitants of Jerusalem again dwell on their own sites in Jerusalem. The Lord also will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem will not be magnified above Judah.”
What that is saying is the Lord gives the population of Jerusalem triumph over a global army; and not only does Jerusalem become the protective property of God, but His protection stretches across all the land of Judah. And the Jewish people ignite their enemies on fire “like a fire pot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume on the right and on the left.”
This global force will be destroyed by fire; everyone will be consumed. In fact, Ezekiel 39 says the carnage will be so massive that it will take seven months to bury the bodies. Jerusalem will be safe. God will save Israel. That’s an inescapable truth.
Starting with the common people, but extending beyond the common people, He will save “the tents of Judah,” the common people, but also “the glory of the house of David,” and Jerusalem will be secure. Look at verses 8 and 9: “In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them. And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
This is exactly what Scripture says is going to happen in the future: A global force amassed against Israel attacks and is itself destroyed because “the Lord [defends] the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” And I love the comparison: “One who is [normally] feeble among them in that day will be like David.” Remember, it was said, “Saul killed his thousands and David”—what?—“his ten thousands.” The “feeble . . . will be like David,” and those who are strong like David “will be like God, like the angel of the Lord.” Can you imagine human beings who could slay 185,000 Assyrians?
And then in verse 10, the salvation promise comes to Israel. I love this: “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” It’ll be like the “great mourning in Jerusalem.” It will be like “the mourning at Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo,” a town in Megiddo where King Josiah, the last good king, was slain by the Egyptian army, recorded in 2 Chronicles 35; and there was massive mourning over his death. You want to be that kind of mourning.
You say, “Wait a minute; they’ve just had a massive triumph. Shouldn’t there be a celebration?” No, because whatever they may have believed in the past about Yahweh is now dramatically altered because God will choose in that generation to “pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem”— everybody from the common people to the most elite—“the Spirit of grace and of supplication. They will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
Think about it. The Jews of that generation are going to realize that all the previous generations of Jews, going back to Christ, are in hell. When you try to evangelize people who are Jewish, the thing they cling to is not intellectual, it’s familial, it’s family: “If I believe what you say, I sentence my ancestors to perdition.” When that dawns on them—and I think what they’re going to say is basically Isaiah 53. The awareness is going to come, “He was wounded for our transgression, bruised for our iniquities, smitten for our peace. We thought He was nothing; we thought He was nobody.” The generations and generations of unbelieving Jews will produce the reality of sadness that will be hard to even comprehend. Jewish people are very, very strong in their family connections.
When that day comes there’s a salvation of Israel—the work of the Holy Spirit, the work of divine grace. God pursues and God pours out; He drenches them with His Holy Spirit. Ezekiel 39:24 puts it this way: “According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I dealt with them, and I hid My face from them.” It’s going to go from God hiding Himself to God drenching them with His Holy Spirit.
Listen to what Isaiah 11 says about that day; and here’s that same phrase: “In that day”—the day of the salvation of Israel—“the nations will resort to the root of Jesse.” It won’t just be Israel, it’ll be “the nations.” “The root of Jesse . . . will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious.” So you not only have the future salvation of Israel, but the salvation of the nations.
The rest of Isaiah 11 says, “Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” What do you think that means? It means He will gather the dispersed from the four corners of the earth.
Verse 16, “There will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant of His people who will be left, just as there was for Israel in the day that they came up out of the land of Egypt.” Isaiah loves that highway picture. He makes four references to the fact that God is going to make a highway that goes directly toward Messiah.
So what is “the Spirit of grace”? We know what that is: God’s divine grace. But what is the Spirit “of supplication”? That’s repentance. That’s repentance. All of Israel repents. In describing Israel’s future salvation, the Lord identified every layer of society: the royal line of David through Solomon, the non-royal line of David through Nathan, the priestly line, the non-priestly line (Shimeites), and every other Jewish family. This is what Paul’s summing up in Romans 11:26: “So all Israel will be saved.”
And then you come to chapter 13 and verse 1. Romans 11:26, “All Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.’” But notice in Zechariah—this is where I need my Bible—this is not to be missed. Zechariah 13:1, “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity.” How incredibly wonderful. That’s the salvation of Israel.
Ezekiel writes about it, doesn’t he? Listen to Ezekiel 36, verse 25, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.” That is the layout of sovereign salvation, isn’t it: “I will, I will, I will.” This is a true salvation. The elements of it match the New Covenant promise of Jeremiah 31; on that day the Lord by His Spirit will bring salvation, saving grace, and repentance, and cleanse His people.
Verse 2 says, “‘It will come about in that day’”—there’s the phrase again—“declares the Lord of hosts, ‘that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land.’” Israel’s salvation produces cleansing. God will eliminate the sin of idolatry. God will eliminate false religion. No marks of pagan religion will remain. When this happens, pagan worship will not exist. Pagan worship will not exist in the kingdom of Christ.
And then Zechariah says some things that are, really, a hypothetical approach, but he makes his point very well. Look at verses 3 through 6: “If anyone still prophesies,” that would indicate a false prophet, after the Lord has removed the idols and all false religion, “if anyone”—hypothetically—“still prophesies, then his father and mother who gave birth to him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you have spoken falsely in the name of the Lord’; and his father and mother who gave birth to him will pierce him through when he prophesies.” When the Lord says there’ll be no false prophets, it comes down to the fact that if there were one, it would be such a serious violation of the character of the kingdom that the parents would execute even their own son, were he a false prophet.
“It will come about in that day that the prophets will each be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies, and they will not put on a hairy robe”—which prophets wore—“in order to deceive; but he will say, ‘I am not a prophet; I am a [farmer]’”—“‘I’m a tiller of the ground, for a man sold me as a slave in my youth.’ And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will say, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’” I’m a victim; I was kidnapped; I was forced into this. No, there won’t be any false prophets; that will be banished.
Verse 7, Zechariah 13, “‘Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man, My Associate,’ declares the Lord. ‘Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; and I will turn My hand against the little ones. It will come about in all the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘that two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, “They are My people,” and they will say, “The Lord is my God.”’”
What is that all about? Salvation of Israel requires a sacrifice. In fact, it requires the death of the Shepherd. “Awake, My sword, against My Shepherd, against the man [who is]—another way to translate “Associate”—“My Companion.” And that is the Lord speaking: “declares the Lord of hosts.” Go ahead, “strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; and I’ll turn My hand against the little ones.” It’s going to be costly for those who struck the Shepherd—you might say, “the man, My Associate,” the God-man, Jesus Christ.
When the Messiah was killed, sheep were to be scattered. At times in the nation’s history, the death of Israel’s king caused people to flee. We see that in 1 Kings 22, and 2 Chronicles as well. And the Lord prophesied that the flock of Israel would be scattered as a result of Christ’s death, that He would particularly turn His hand against the little ones, against individuals who were, you might say, powerless. What is that? I think He means the remnant. The enemy will be punished, but the remnant will be purged.
Jesus said, didn’t He, before His crucifixion, that, “You’re going to be persecuted. They’re going to put you to death. They’re going to put you in prison.” Following Christ’s death and resurrection, God dispersed the entire nation of Israel in judgment for their unbelief; and scattered with them went the remnant. And what did the remnant do? They spread the Word all over the world; and through their suffering they were purified.
Very specifically, the Scripture says, “Two parts,” two-thirds, “will be cut off and perish, but the third will be left. And I’ll bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” The scattering of Israel, the diaspora that we talk about, for two-thirds was going to be judgment in the end days. For one-third it was going to be purification.
Titus 2:14 says, He gave Himself “to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works.” The summation of that future purging is going to produce the remnant, the one-third, “the holy seed” of Isaiah 6.
Sobering words. Sobering words. What do they refer to? Well, I think the best way to understand that testing and trying is the Tribulation—widespread slaughter before the kingdom. The Great Tribulation, as it’s called in Matthew 24, the Battle of Armageddon—apparently two-thirds will die, as God removes the rejecters; and the ones that are left, that’s the holy seed. Believers will be purified like silver. “They call on My name, and I answer them: ‘They are My people.’ ‘The Lord is my God.’” So you have the Tribulation, which is a massive time of suffering, as you know, for Israel.
Listen to the words of Ezekiel 22:17 and following: “And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are the dross of silver.’” In other words, they’re useless. “Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Because all of you have become dross, therefore, behold, I’m going to gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into the furnace to blow fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in My anger and in My wrath and I will lay you there and melt you. I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you will be melted in the midst of it. As silver is melted in the furnace, so you will be melted in the midst of it; and you will know that I, the Lord, have poured out My wrath on you.’” For two-thirds, the future is wrath, part of the wrath of the Great Tribulation; but for the remnant, it’s a relationship with God that is reciprocal. So you have there the battle in Jerusalem, the global force defeated, Jerusalem protected, but then Jerusalem refined and all of Israel refined down to the redeemed remnant. That gets us to chapter 14.
Notice how chapter 14 begins: “Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half the city exiled; the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.” There is coming in the future a day for the Lord. He will take spoil and divide it among His people. He will gather, as we already saw, the nations against Jerusalem to battle. “The city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, half the city exiled; the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.” There will be a day that looks like defeat. Probably encompasses that slaughter of two-thirds. Those left are the righteous remnant. The Lord will protect them and bring them into His kingdom; and they are the sheep in the sheep-and-goats judgment of Matthew 25.
Come to verse 3, where Yahweh goes into action: “Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations”—and here we have a reprise on that victory against the global forces—“then the Lord will . . . fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!” His arrival is cataclysmic; it’s cataclysmic.
The enemies think they’ve triumphed, ravaging Jerusalem. God allows that as part of the punishment for the unbelievers in Israel. And then He shows up. Micah 1:3 and 4, “Behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him and the valleys will be split, like wax before the fire, like water poured down a steep place.” This again refers to the dramatic alteration of the planet itself.
In fact, in Revelation 16 you have a look at that same event: “‘Yes, O Lord, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.’ The fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire. Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they didn’t repent so as to give Him glory.”
In the midst of all this chaos, of course, the Captain of the hosts of heaven arrives in majesty and holiness, and inaugurates the day of His redemption. And the drama of that is seen in verses 6 and following: “In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. It will be a unique day which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light. And in that day”—there’s that same phrase—“living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter.”
The alteration of the earth takes place as Christ arrives. Before that, notice that “the luminaries,” the heavenly bodies, go dark; it’s “neither day nor night.” On earth the mountains move, the oceans are displaced, the skies above become dark; and out of the darkness will come the Messiah. And He comes with His saints, 1 Thessalonians 3:13.
So you have to be in awe of the detail, the way this is all laid out. And I’m covering it too fast to, I know, keep up; but I just want you to see this. Three features in the transformed earth. First: new light. According to verse 6, “There will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle.” Out of the darkness will come the blazing glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and His angels and glorified saints to establish His kingdom on earth; and God will light the world in a new way.
A new day, verse 7, “unique,” known only to God, to reveal His glory. His glory will be the constant light. Verse 8, new waters—“living waters,” massive topographic, geological transformation. This will be a new Eden, Genesis 2:10, “Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.” A river flows, a new river created by God in the chasm that’s been created when Jesus touches the Mount of Olives. Massive valley; the Last Adam has restored paradise.
When the Lord Jesus comes He will fully vanquish His enemies, He will save the remnant of Israel and the nations, He will establish His kingdom on earth, He will rule from Jerusalem, the saints will rule with Him, and all the world will worship Him. Isaiah 4 says in verse 2, “In that day the Branch of the Lord”—there’s that same phrase again—“in that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel.” They’re going to be kind of the crown jewel in the kingdom. “It will come about that he who is left in Zion, remains in Jerusalem, will be called holy—everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem”—“everyone.” “When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning.” The aftermath is the Lord cleans everything up.
Then you come to verse 9, “And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.” That’s what Psalm 2 is talking about, by the way. That’s the day when the Father fulfills Psalm 2, verse 8: “‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’
“Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence, rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!”
Revelation gives us in chapter 11 a glimpse of this: “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’ And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your slaves the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.’
“And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.” But that’s the moment when God takes over and Christ reigns.
The words of verse 9, “And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.” One religion: the worship of Yahweh and the Son. Finally, one; one religion.
Jerusalem will be changed. “The land will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem”—just showing the distance—“Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site,” and then the features that are given there, really, are the features that basically lay out the landscape of Jerusalem at its largest, back in the eighth century. There’ll be a population explosion. Verse 11 says, “There will no longer be a curse”—no judgment—“Jerusalem [dwells] in security” in the kingdom.
In verses 12 to 15—again we’re back to that—one more look at judgment; I won’t go through that, verses 12 to 15. But it all culminates in what we read in Revelation 19; listen to this. This is another look at the triumphant arrival of Christ: “I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, Almighty.”
When He arrives, you have universal worship. Just hurrying to an end, verses 16 to 19: “Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. It will be that whichever of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.” One religion, and you’d better show up. “This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths”—which indicates to us that even in the kingdom, people will be born who are unconverted and rebellious. But this is that time when God highly exalts His Son, gives Him a name above every name; and every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess.
The people who don’t worship, what happens to them in the kingdom? Verses 12 to 14, “This will be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, their tongue will rot in their mouth. It’ll come about in that day that a great panic from the Lord will fall on them; and they will seize one another’s hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another. Judah also will fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered, gold and silver, garments in great abundance.” Any rebellion brings about devastating judgment, any rebellion.
But on the other hand, if you look at verses 20 and 21, “In that day”—again—“there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, ‘Holy to the Lord’”—because everything, even the most mundane thing, the apparatus that was on the horse, “the cooking pots in the Lord’s house will be like the bowls before the altar. Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite”—meaning a rebel—“in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day.” Comprehensive holiness. Comprehensive holiness.
The hope and the majesty of Messiah’s coming kingdom is one of Scripture’s most glorious themes. And we’ve looked at what Zechariah says about it, and he means exactly what he says, and there’s no reason to change that. Somebody might say, “Well, where’s the Rapture?” There’s no Rapture anywhere in any Day of the Lord text. There’s no Rapture in any Old Testament eschatological passage of Scripture. Why? Because the Rapture is not seen anywhere in the Old Testament. If it were part of the Second Coming, if they were one and the same, you would see it there; but it’s not. That’s why Paul calls it a mystery, because it wasn’t revealed, which means it’s a separate event.
Why is it important for us to get this right? Because it’s important to give honor to the Lord. All His Word matters. The better your people understand this, the more likely they are to live in light of 1 John chapter 3: Whoever has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.
We need to live in the light of the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ. We need to worship Him the way He’s worshiped Revelation 5. We need to learn from Peter that these are sanctifying realities. Don’t cheat your people out of this. And be faithful to the Word of God.
Father, seal these things to our hearts. This has been a lot; but Lord, it’s been a meager effort to place Your Word—really without explanation, just in its simple clarity—in our hearts to make us strong where so many have been weak, so that we can know the truth of the end of the story, because in the end of the story lies Your full glory. We want that glory known and seen. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
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