ZECHARIAH 9:1 – 11:17 and REVELATION 20:1–15
There is a key given in these early verses in seeing how the Lord can deal with our enemies. It is to look to the Lord and to rest the matter in His hands. The Word of the Lord is being spoken here against Tyre. Tyre should have been completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. It will be left to Alexander the Great to finish the job. Tyre at one time was once a friend to Israel at the time of David and Solomon. Tyre was very rich but in the end their riches could not save them. They became enemies as Israel began to slide more into idolatry. Once again we need to learn to rest in God when it comes to those who oppose us. We often resort to natural means and weapons when God may have other ways to deal with them. We can frustrate the purposes of God by employing our mind in what to do (vs 1-4).
The Philistines and several of their cities are addressed in verses 5-7. It is clear that there can never be peace between the Philistines (modern day Palestinians) and Israel. It does make reference to Ekron which was one of the Philistine strongholds one day coming under the rule of Judah in the millennium. They are likened to the Jebusites which ended up being the last stronghold taken before David assumed Zion. The people who are in Ekron will end up worshipping the Lord in the millennium.
There is a reference to the Lord in verse 9 as He enters into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday just prior to the Cross. This verse can be linked with Math 21:5. He first comes into Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey but in Revelation he will return triumphantly on a white horse as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Jesus first came as a Lamb but will return as a King. The lamb speaks of the priestly aspect of Christ. As mentioned previously there is a strong emphasis on Jesus as King without consideration of the lamb. It will be the priests that will reign with the Lord in the Millennium (Rev 20:6).
The time gap between verse 9 and 10 is about 2000 years which is similar to the time gap between Dan 9:26-27. It is important to have an understanding of Bible history so that right perspective can be given to a verse. It is clear that verse 9 speaks of the Lord coming into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday but verse 10 has yet to be fulfilled. There are similarities in the two arrivals of Christ but there are key differences as well. John the Baptist introduced Christ as the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29, 35) and He died upon the cross as the Lamb of God. Jesus was always King but He sought to acquaint His people with His priestly qualities. They were not looking for a Lamb but for their perception of a king.
There is a beautiful promise that will be fulfilled at the time of the millennium but it is also a promise that the church can appropriate today. There is the exhortation for those who are in a prison type experience to turn to the Lord. The term “Prisoner of Hope” is a beautiful promise that God gives to those who feel like all is lost. When the Lord rose from the dead it says He released those who were in captivity. It is a picture of a greater release that will take place at the time of the 2nd coming.
In verses 13-17 there are references made to Greece that are both historical and futuristic. It is interesting to note that Alexander the Great was actually sympathetic to the Jews due to their humbling themselves before the Greeks. This is referenced in verse 13. The following verses speak of a time when God will move against the Greece which did happen in measure during the Maccabean revolt. In the last days Greece will align with nations that will move against Israel. This can be seen today as nations are beginning to come into that last day alignment in preparation for the battle at Armageddon. The first horse of the Apocalypse will help to separate nations into sheep and goat categories (Rev 6:2-3).
The chapter closes with the Lord speaking of His Goodness. It is an interesting closing after considering the warring nations that will gather at Armageddon. God desires that we learn to taste and see that He is all together Goodness. This means being incapable of doing evil while always looking out for the best interest of others. We do not have to wait for the millennium to know Him in this way; it is available to those who hear and respond to His voice today.
The Word of the Lord is for the people of God to ask of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain. This suggests that there is a timing with God when it comes to revival. It is critical that we can discern the times and seasons of the Lord. The prophet Isaiah speaks to this point as well.
Isa 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Israel missed their season at the time of the Lord’s visitation (Luke 19:41, 44). This would not be the first time and it is a lesson we need to learn. There was the time when God spoke for them to enter the Promised Land (Num 13:27). It was an opportunity that was provided them but they failed to appropriate it with the exception of Joshua and Caleb who discerned. We must know the times ad seasons of the Lord (1 Chr 12:32).
In verses 2 and 3 we see an indictment upon the leadership. A church or an organization can only go as far as those who are leading. Are we hearing and being led by what the Spirit is speaking or tending to flow with what is popular? The question that must be asked and answered is where are we leading our people to? These verses can be linked to Ezekiel 34 where you have a contrast between the two types of shepherds. The one who is self-serving is void of giving direction and leadership as opposed to the one who always has the interests of the flock at heart.
In verses 4-6 we see the quality of true forgiveness. The Lord is going to receive back His own (Israel) as though he never cast them off in the first place. Yes, Israel had sinned and sinned greatly but as a result of the judgments and estrangement that resulted there comes a time of total restoration. This is the message of true forgiveness that can be gleaned from these passages. It is the ability to receive back one who may have offended without ever bringing the matter up again. True forgiveness is rooted in forgetfulness and if we can carry this truth with us it will aid greatly in our ability to lead in a ministry or in a home.
Ephraim was a perpetual backslider but will one day become a mighty man. His redemption is expressed in Hosea 14 and it is a promise that will find fulfillment in the millennium. The Lord goes on to speak further of Israel’s future return and restoration will be seen in its fullness during the millennium. These promises are also for the church. The Lord speaks of a glory and multiplying of blessing that has never been seen before.
Jer 30:19 And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.
There are future judgements spoken against Assyria (Iraq) in verse 11. This has to be futuristic since Assyria had already been destroyed by the Babylonians at the time of Zechariah’s prophesy. This suggests a reemergence of Iraq as a power that will oppose Israel in the last days. Though there will be many nations that will come in opposition to Israel at the time of Armageddon the Lord gives the promise of strengthening them during this climatic siege. (vs 12)
There are judgments given that refer to Lebanon and Jordan (vs 1-3). The cedars of Lebanon have been a fixture for generations but due to war and its excessive pride and wealth has been brought low. These trees were rare and a source of great income but the nation now is in shambles. It will come under future judgement as well. The same is true for Jordan which once had an abundance of fir trees. Their forests of old have been removed providing no cover for the lion and feeding place for the shepherds. There is an indictment upon the elite class of Jewish leadership as they exploited their own as slaves (vs 4-5). They did not look compassionately upon those who were needy.
The Lord pronounces judgements upon those who were in a position of rule who did not care for the people. They can be likened to the false shepherds of Ezekiel 34. Sadly there is much of this in the church today. There can be an exploitation of the people for the benefit of the few who are in charge. The leadership fails to act or take decisions that serve the interests of the flock. The verses 9-13 are prophetic of the time when Judas betrayed the Lord for 30 pieces of silver. It was here where the Lord broke covenant with Israel; the time when they crucified Him upon the Cross (Math 27:3-10). It is amazing to see how Zechariah was able to prophesy an event that would take place about 500 years later with such accuracy. In spite of God breaking His covenant with Israel due to their crucifying the Messiah, the Lord still speaks of their future restoration (vs 9-13).
The fallout that Israel would later experience as a result of crucifying the Lord would be that of another shepherd who will go by the title of the antichrist. He will epitomize the attributes that Israel conveyed as the false shepherd. They rejected the Good Shepherd and the time will come when God will allow them to follow another shepherd, the antichrist. The Lord even spoke to this effect in John 5:43.
Joh 5:43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
In the end God gives a people over to a people or leader that reflects their own heart. Since the people would not give their heart to the Lord He now answers to their area of uncircumcision. This is a principle that is constantly seen throughout the Word of God. More than ever we need to check our heart and seek to allow the Lord to produce the workings of the New Covenant (Jer 31:33).
We now enter into the next section of the Book of Revelation which address the period of the Millennium. This is the 1000 year section of time that commences immediately after the 2nd coming of Christ. It is here where the Jews will be restored to Christ. The habitation of Christ during the millennium will be at Jerusalem. David will be serving as His prince. In verses 1-3 there is an angel sent by God to bind Satan and to cast him to the bottomless pit. We saw earlier that the beast and false prophet have an early entrance into the Lake of fire where Satan and all others who are separated from God will one day end up. He will be released for a small time at the end of the millennium where he will deceive the wicked nations. This means that there will be rebellion during the millennium. The prophet Zechariah spoke concerning this (Zech 14:16-19). It is also important to know that Satan is completely under the control of God. There will be no demonic activity during the millennium but the tendency for original sin will be existent for those who are born in the millennium.
In verses 4-6 we find that not all of the Christians will reign with Christ in the millennium. This privilege is given to those who are overcomers. The apostle Paul as great a man as he was desired to be a participant in the first resurrection (Phil 3:11). This select group are designated as holy and will receive glorified bodies to reign as both kings and priests with Christ. They will be teachers of righteousness to the nations. The rest of the saved and unsaved will not be resurrected until after the 1000 year reign is over. So then, who are those who would qualify for the first resurrection? What are some of the qualities and characteristics that would distinguish this unique group of believers from the others? Philippians 3:10 helps to provide some clues:
- Knowing God in an intimate way.
- Knowing the power of his resurrection
- Knowing the fellowship of His sufferings
- Being made conformable to His death
- Those who are beheaded for their witness for refusing to take the mark of the beast
- Those called blessed and holy by reason of the abundance of grace (Rom 5:17).
In verses 7-10 the time period is given where Satan will be released to deceive the nations that have rebelled against the rule of Christ. This rebellion against God has many similarities to the war at Armageddon at the time of the 2nd coming. It is hard to believe that there would be rebellion against the Lord during the time of the millennium. It is also hard to believe that there would be such rebellion without Satan around for the majority of the millennium. It goes to show the potential of what works within man. This tendency will be accentuated and brought to its height when Satan is released. He will affirm those in rebellion and lead them to Jerusalem to once again do battle against the Lord. Their doom will come by way of a fire from heaven that will come down upon them. Perhaps it will have similarities to Elijah’s war against the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). One could also put Korah’s rebellion into this mix as an example of heaven’s judgement against the rebels. What will be seen here at the end of the millennium will be on a much larger scale. There are references that help to give further insight into this event (Eze 39:2-7). Once again we see Gog and Magog mentioned as key nations in this plot to war against Christ. This battle will conclude the millennium and the 7000 year period that had been given to man.