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“The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age; looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
I believe it’s important for every one of us this morning to have that vision, the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus the Messiah. Because, what I have to say this morning is very sober and many people would not interpret it as good news. But it’s good news for those who have the blessed hope.
I want to suggest to you that ultimately that’s the only hope that is totally reliable, is the hope of the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe God is ordering events and arranging pressures in the world today that will make us aware we have no other real, valid, certain hope but the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ. This has always been true according to the New Testament but I think as the age comes to a close, God is going to arrange that we will pass through things that will make it very clear to us we have no other hope.
In the previous session my theme was “Glimpses of the Future” taken from the prophetic scriptures, especially as they apply to Israel. I gave you, which I will briefly mention, three glimpses of the future. The first was a period of unique tribulation that will affect the whole earth. Jew first, then Gentile. The second was the sealing of 144,000 young Israelis who become God’s final army to bring the gospel to all nations. And the third was Israel fleeing into the wilderness to be protected there for three and a half years, and then brought back to enter her inheritance from there.
Now we have five more glimpses. It’s going to take the grace of God and your patience for me to go through them, but it will not be complete if I don’t go through them.
The fourth of these glimpses I’ve headed “A Final Attack on Jerusalem.” All the remaining glimpses will be taken from the last three chapters of Zechariah. In Zechariah 12, the first verse says:
“The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel...”
And then verse 2 says:
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.”
The word that’s translated drunkenness is also translated reeling or staggering. In other words, there’s going to be something there like alcohol or drugs that will make people incapable of reasonable action and even steady movement. God is going to do that. He says all the nations around about, the surrounding peoples, will lay siege against Jerusalem.
Now, if you look at the map you’ll see that all the nations around about Israel, without exception, are Arab nations whose primary religion is Islam. That’s no accident. Both God and the devil have arranged it that way. The devil, who is a student of prophecy, has been aware for many centuries that the climax of the age will take place in the land of Israel and will be the reconciliation of the Jewish people with their messiah. And so, in my opinion, he built a kind of wall of enclosure around about that land of nations who by their very religion, Islam, are radically opposed to Israel and God’s purposes for them. So that’s the scenario, God and the devil both had a part in it but God is the one who’s going to have the final answer. So, all the surrounding peoples are Arab peoples and it’s apparently with them that this first final onslaught on Israel and Jerusalem will be initiated.
Then it goes on in the next verse:
“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.”
This is a second stage, it goes beyond the surrounding Arab nations to all nations of the earth. An obvious way for that to be fulfilled would be for the United Nations to take joint action against Israel. This is not difficult to foresee. In my book, The Last Word on the Middle East, which was published in 1982—and I have to say one thing. Ten or eleven years later I don’t need to change a single word in the book because it’s based on Scripture which doesn’t change. I point out that already on the statute books of the United Nations is a decision to make Jerusalem an international city. That has never been rescinded, it’s still there. If the United Nations at any time were to say we’ll enforce that decision by military power, the situation described here would immediately result. So, it’s not a remote dream, it’s a very real possibility.
Incidentally, the United Nations’ headquarters in Israel is located on a hill called the Mount of Evil Counsel. I think that’s no accident.
God says at this point I’m going to intervene. Verse 4:
“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.”
I want to point out something to you. I can’t necessarily explain it but it appears that the military forces that come against Jerusalem will not be mechanized, they will be cavalry and other animals. This is again made more clear in Zechariah 14 where it speaks about a plague that will come upon the horses, the mules and the camels, and their eyes will melt in their sockets.
Now, you can’t make the eyes of a tank melt in its socket. The whole of this passage and other passages, Ezekiel 38 and 39, all seem to indicate that the means of warfare will go back to the stage before mechanized armies. I don’t necessarily have an explanation for that but one possibility is that technology will outsmart itself. Technology will develop a technology that will make the standard contemporary weapons of war useless. Before the Desert Storm warfare, it was announced—I don’t know on whose authority—that the United States had a bomb which if they exploded it would automatically render all electronic equipment useless. That’s all you really would need because every kind of mechanized warfare today depends on electronic equipment. I’m not saying it will happen that way but I am personally convinced it will happen. What will do it, I don’t know.
Another possibility is that the antichrist in order to maintain his power will collect all modern weapons of war and keep them under his control. Because, it says in Revelation 13 the people say, “Who is able to make war against him?” So, he is in some way going to control the primary weapons of warfare.
I’m not saying that either of those explanations are right but I do maintain from the whole of the Scriptures right into this final scene that it will be cavalry and that the camps will have camels and other animals, donkeys, with them. Which is typical of up to 1914, really. My uncle, my mother’s brother, was part of a mechanized Indian cavalry unit and he led a charge at El Afula when Allenby moved in and defeated the Turks. He was wounded at El Afula which is now Afula. So, it’s not far away. We have in our lobby in Fort Lauderdale a photograph of Allenby entering Jerusalem and everybody is on horses, although Allenby entered on foot himself. That’s just something for you to think over and, if you want to, to pray about.
In the following verses, Zechariah 12:4–9, God says at this point, “I’m going to join the battle.” He says in verse 5:
“The governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength, and the Lord of hosts their God. In that day, I the Lord will make the governors of Judah like a fire pan in the wood pile and like a fiery torch in the sheaves. They shall devour all the surrounding peoples [that’s the Arabs] on the right hand and on the left.”
Now in the Bible, right hand and left are taken from somebody entering the temple from the east. The right hand is the north, the left hand is the south.
“But Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, Jerusalem.”
Then it says:
“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.”
That’s the Jewish people not resident in Jerusalem.
“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, 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.”
When God seeks to destroy, He accomplishes His purpose. God says, “I am going to intervene personally at this point in the battle.”
I believe the climax is described in Zechariah 14. But in the meanwhile, in the intervening words, there are a number of other glimpses of the future. I want to take those before we go on to the final scene in Zechariah 14.
The next glimpse of the future is an exciting one, it excites me. I’ve headed it “The Supernatural Revelation of Messiah.” It’s contained in one verse, Zechariah 12:10:
“I the Lord will pour on the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplications...”
And bear in mind that you cannot supplicate unless God gives you the grace. Grace has to come first. At this point God will give His people the grace to call upon Him, call out to Him for mercy and for His intervention.
Then it says and this is one of the most critical scriptures concerning the identity of the Messiah:
“They [the Jewish people] will look on me whom they have pierced...”
Me is the Lord.
“...they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
So in that amazing statement God says, “They have pierced me in the person of Jesus the Messiah.” And for 2,000 years most of them have not mourned, they have not realized what they did. But at that point of revelation they will suddenly realize what they have done.
The revelation will come only by the Holy Spirit. Bear in mind that nobody but the Holy Spirit can reveal Jesus as He is.
When Peter said to Him, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus answered, “Flesh and has not revealed this but my Father in heaven.” By implication, through the Holy Spirit. None of us here this morning who know the identity of Jesus know it from any other source primarily but the Holy Spirit. I think if you have experienced salvation and you think back, you will realize that the Holy Spirit was the first agent of the godhead who contacted you. If you were like me, I sensed the dealings of the Holy Spirit for several weeks before I met Jesus. I did not know what was happening to me.
This is rather comical, if I may just say it rather briefly. I was a soldier in the British Army and I was there reading my Bible beautifully as a philosopher studying a work of philosophy. One of the chaplains said, “We’re going to have a special service at Whitsun,” which is Pentecost. I didn’t actually know it was at that time. He said, “I want you to read a passage from the second chapter of Acts,” which is the description of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I was pretty arrogant in those days and I thought I really know how to read this. I’ll rehearse this and get it right, I’ll pause at the right place and so on and so forth. Well, it was a disaster because when I stood up to read something happened to my breathing and I couldn’t speak more than three words without pausing to gasp for breath. I mean, it was ridiculous! But you know what was happening to me, the Holy Spirit. I wasn’t converted, I didn’t know Jesus but the Holy Spirit had come on my case.
It’s always interesting to see God deal with the Jewish people, even today in Israel, because I say God is sneaking up on their blind side. They don’t know what’s happening to them but the Holy Spirit is dealing with them and He is the one who is going to reveal Yeshua.
Following on after this there’s a description of a mourning, a universal mourning of all the Jewish people. It says:
“In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem like the mourning of Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo...”
That was when King Josiah was killed in battle and Israel saw that they’d lost their last real hope of a godly king and a prosperous future.
The land shall mourn. Every family by itself, the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves. The family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves. The family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves. The family of Shimmei [that’s Simeon] and their wives by themselves. All the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves.”
Notice husbands and wives for this period were separated so that there would be no normal conjugal relationships between them. I’m not an expert in Jewish customs by any means but there is a practice amongst the Jewish people familiar I’m sure to many of you who are Jewish, called the shivah. After a member of a family has died, for one week the family remain at home, they take their shoes off, they put mattresses on the floor and they sit on the mattresses. All the friends and the other relatives come and offer them condolence. So, this is the official period of mourning. The men will not shave. I see this as a nationwide shivah that will last one week. The nation will go into mourning because it never mourned for Jesus before this.
I read a fascinating story of a young girl, I think she was about 14, a Jewish girl who was the only member of her family in Germany that escaped the Holocaust. The title of the book was Chosen, Selected to Live. By an extraordinary series of coincidences she ended up in the home of a Presbyterian minister in Holland. They had there a children’s Bible. She’d never seen the New Testament but she started to read it and got into the New Testament and got into the life of Jesus. Immediately she saw this is our Messiah. But then she got to His death and she was heartbroken, she had a shivah, she went into mourning for seven days. Then she read on and discovered He was resurrected. That’s a wonderful discovery. I wonder if you’ve all made that discovery. Jesus is alive today. Amen!
So, that’s the picture of the supernatural revelation of Messiah and the ensuing mourning.
The next picture I’ve called “The Cleansing of the Land.” We don’t know exactly how all these are going to interrelate in time. And, the Bible I don’t think gives a definite indication. But in Zechariah 13:1–5 it says this:
“In that day [that’s the day of the revelation of Messiah] a fountain shall be open for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”
Uncleanness is the word used for a woman when she has her periods, the man is not allowed to approach her. So, in a sense it speaks of something that has separated the Jewish people from their God.
“It shall be in that day, says the Lord of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.”
The land will be purged in one day of three things: idolatry, the occult and false prophets. I would like to say if that were to happen in Israel today, you would hardly recognize the resulting land or people because it is so full of idolatry, the occult and false prophets.
I’ve heard Christians pray for the land to be cleansed. But, God says it won’t happen until a certain day and it will all happen at once.
Some of the things that happen to Israel have parallels in the church. I wonder what would happen to the church if it were purged of idolatry, the occult and false prophets. There’d be a lot of empty seats in some churches.
We’re going on to the next little glimpse which I call “The Wounded Shepherd.” This is a very moving passage. I’m not Jewish, as I’ve said, but when I get into these passages I become so totally identified with the Jewish people that I think I go through some of their spiritual experiences. We come to Zechariah 13:6. There’s an unknown person here and some of your Bibles are divided that attaches that to the previous verses. I think that’s a mistake. I think verse 6 introduces verse 7 and following. It says in verse 6:
“Someone will say to him [and we don’t know who him is yet], What are these wounds in your hands?”
Now again, there’s a whole lot of different translations. Without going into the problems of the Hebrew, some say the wounds between your arms, et cetera. But I believe myself that these wounds in your hands is probably the right translation. The Jewish people are now confronted by someone who has the scars of wounds in His hands. They say, “What are those wounds?” This is such a beautiful answer if you believe it’s Yeshua.
“He will answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”
But the key thing is the word friends. It doesn’t mean those whom I love, it means those who love me. So it’s as if Jesus is saying after 19 centuries of alienation, “I know you really love me. You really are my people.” To me that’s intensely touching. The grace of the Lord Jesus. He doesn’t accuse, He doesn’t condemn, He just says everything is all right now.
Then we come to the picture of the wounded shepherd which I believe is the outworking of this. We have this scripture in verse 7:
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd [it’s God who’s speaking], against the man who is my companion, says the Lord of hosts. Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. Then I will turn my hand upon the little ones.”
That passage is quoted twice in Matthew 26. If you’re in Zechariah 13, keep your finger there but turn with me, if you can, to Matthew 26. Jesus Himself quotes these words in verse 31, just at the end of the Last Supper. Matthew 26:31:
“Then Jesus said to them his disciples, All of you will be made to stumble because of me this night, for it is written, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
So that striking of the shepherd refers to Jesus. But, notice it’s God who strikes the shepherd. It was not an accident, it was not merely the malice and wickedness of man; it was God’s prearranged plan for our salvation.
And then in Matthew 26:56 it says after the arrest of Jesus:
“But all this was done that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.”
I want to point out to you the tremendous authority of the scriptures of the prophets. Everything in Jesus’ life happened that the prophetic scriptures might be fulfilled. From His birth to His death to His resurrection, Jesus is the perfect pattern of submission to the authority of scripture. Everything He did He did to fulfill the prophetic scriptures. I hope that will give some of you a new attitude toward the prophetic scriptures because, unfortunately, the majority of the contemporary church are almost totally ignorant of the prophetic scriptures. As I said earlier in this series, they are a light in a dark place provided by God. If you don’t avail yourself of the light you’ll be in the dark when you should be in the light.
Now we’ll go back to Zechariah 13 and consider a little bit more the implication of those words.
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd [God’s shepherd], the man who is my companion.”
That’s an amazing statement. There is a man who’s God’s companion. A man who enjoys permanent, intimate fellowship with God. There’s only one man who answers to that description, Jesus the Messiah.
I’d like to take you back just for a moment to another passage in Zechariah 6. This is one of the most clear predictions of the messiahship of Jesus anywhere in the scriptures. I’m going to read from verse 11 through verse 13. This is a scene after the remnant had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, and were rebuilding the temple, and the high priesthood had been restored. The returning exiles had brought with them a considerable quantity of gold and silver, and God instructed that this gold and silver were to be made into crowns to be worn. Then He said in verse 11:
“Take the silver and gold and make an elaborate crown...”
But the Hebrew actually says make crowns, plural.
“...and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Josedech the High Priest.”
Joshua is the same name as Jesus. Joshua, Yeshua. He is here as high priest a type of the Lord Jesus.
“And then speak to him saying, Thus says the Lord of hosts...”
I’ll read these verses and then comment on them.
“...behold the man...”
And remember, those were the words with which Pilate introduced Jesus to the crowd, “Behold the man.”
“Behold the man whose name is The Branch. From his place he shall branch out and he shall build the temple of the Lord. Yes, he shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule on his throne. So he shall be a priest on his throne and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”
Now there are seven successive statements there, each of which apply uniquely to Jesus. First of all, He’s the man whose name is “The Branch.” “The Branch” is one of the scriptural titles of Messiah used several times. He is the an who is “The Branch.”
The next statement is “from His place He shall branch out.” That really is a very challenging pattern. The only place from which you can really branch out is your appointed place in God. Jesus took His place in the city of Nazareth as a member of humble carpenter’s home. But from that place He branched out. Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to know until you find your place you never will branch out. Jesus is the perfect pattern.
The next statement is “He shall build the temple of the Lord.” The temple which is His body, the church. “Yes, he shall build the temple of the Lord.” That’s so important that it’s stated twice.
The next statement, number four, “He shall bear the glory.” The Hebrew word for glory is cavord which is directly related to the word for weight or heaviness. Glory is a weight and Jesus is the only one strong enough to bear the weight of the glory. Woe to you and me if we ever try to bear the glory, it will crush us. It has crushed not a few servants of God who took the glory for themselves. Jesus is the only one who can bear the glory.
The next statement, number five, “He shall sit and rule on His throne.” So He’s going to be a king.
The next statement, number six, “So He shall be a priest on His throne.” In Him are united kingship and priesthood. This is contrary to all the Old Testament provisions because the priesthood came from the tribe of Levi, the kingship came from the tribe of Judah. They were never united. Any king that tried to serve as a priest incurred God’s wrath. It happened to Saul and it happened to Uzziah. But in Him kingship and priesthood are united.
And the final statement is “The counsel of peace shall be between them both.” In my margin it explains them both as the two offices of priest and king. Personally, I see it differently. I think them both, the Father and the Son. He’s going to share His Father’s throne and there will be perfect harmony and understanding between the two of them. That’s just my view.
But at any rate, there are seven successive statements about the Messiah. The first statement starts with the words the man who’s name is “The Branch.”
Now we go back to Zechariah 13 and this picture of the smitten shepherd. And as I’ve pointed out already, the Father says:
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, the man who is my companion.”
The man who shares perfect fellowship eternally with me. There’s no other man to whom that title could ever be given. This is in Zechariah 6, it’s one of the most vivid complete pictures of the Messiah.
We’re going on in Zechariah 13, verses 8–9. I have pondered a long while as to the correct application of these verses and I’ll offer you my conclusion. But, it could be that I’m wrong. So, I’m not insisting that anybody agree with me, it’s difficult to know. It says in verse 8:
“And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the Lord, that two thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one third shall be left in it.”
I’ve pondered to whether that is past or future. Does it apply to Israel still in the land today that two thirds will be cut off, one third will live? My conclusion is because of the context that it refers to the period of 70 AD. As a result of the rejection of the Messiah, Israel came under the judgment of God and in 70 AD the Roman armies invaded the land, captured and destroyed Jerusalem and killed an innumerable number of Jewish people and carried the rest off as slaves. I have tried to investigate and I think two thirds is probably an accurate estimate of the number who perished. God says there’s going to be one third left.
And then He says in verse 9:
“I will bring the one third through the fire, will 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, This is may people, and each one will say, The Lord is my God.”
This is the preserved remnant that we’ve talked about, this is the remnant that will ultimately be reconciled with God through Jesus.
But, it hasn’t happened yet. What is God doing? Precisely what He said. He’s taking them through the fire, refining them as silver is refined and testing them as gold is tested. In Isaiah 48, God describes this process. Verses 9–11:
“For my name’s sake I will defer my anger, and for my praise I will restrain it from you so that I do not cut you off.”
This is the preserved remnant. And then He says this:
“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”
That has been the process of God’s dealing for 19 centuries. Always refining and testing. And then He says:
“For my own sake I will do it. For how should my name be profaned and I will not give my glory to another.”
So God says, “In the end Israel will be for my glory.” No matter how long it takes, no matter what they have to go through, the ultimate purpose is a people for God’s glory.
We come to the final glimpse which I’ve entitled “The Consummation of the Battle.” It appears that the battle began in Zechariah 12. Then there were various other things that were interposed, but in Zechariah 14 we come to the consummation of the battle. I’m going to read verses 1 and 2. These words are addressed to Jerusalem. The “you” there is Jerusalem.
“Behold, the day of the Lord is coming and your spoil [or your plunder] will be divided in your midst.”
Let me say before I go any further, God is going to let it come to the absolute last moment before He intervenes. I believe there’s a purpose in it. God is waiting for total desperation, for total unreserved commitment to Him. He’s bringing Israel to the point where they will say, “If God doesn’t intervene, we have no hope.”
You see, God has intervened in the Six Day War. But alas, Israel took the credit for themselves. So it always has been that God is saying, “I’m going to bring you to a place where if I don’t intervene you have no other hope. I’m going to bring you to a place of desperation.” As I was meditating on this I thought to myself that’s salvation. There’s no other way to be saved. Whoever you are, Jew or Gentile, you are a lost, cursed, hell deserving sinner. Your end is ultimate eternal banishment from the presence of God. There’s only one escape, it’s through Jesus.
You see, we’ve brought salvation down to walk forward in a church and say a little prayer and sign a card. That’s really a misunderstanding of salvation. Salvation comes out of desperation. “Lord, if you don’t save me, I’m lost! I have no other hope. I’m a lost soul, Jesus, unless you have mercy on me.”
You see, I’ve said God’s dealings with Israel in a way are a pattern for His dealings with other people. God is steering Israel, though they don’t know it, to this moment of total desperation where they have no other hope, there’s nothing else they can rely on, there’s nothing of which they can boast but the mercy of God.
In verse 2 of Zechariah 14 He goes on:
“For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem...”
And it’s important to see that it’s God who is gathering the nations. They may not know it but those of us who are believers, we need to understand it, God is in this, it’s His plan, it’s His purpose. He revealed it something like 2,400 years before it was due to happen.
“For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem. The city shall be taken, the houses plundered and the women raped.”
That’s a picture of Middle East warfare, that’s the way it is. As I said earlier in this series, my first wife and I were in Jerusalem during what’s called in Hebrew the Matzor, the siege of Jerusalem by the Arab armies in 1948. The civil leaders of the Jewish people said to mothers, “Have a revolver loaded and keep one bullet for your daughter and one for yourself, but don’t fall alive into the hands of the Arabs.” That’s realism. It’s the way war is conducted. The same thing is happening right now in what used to be Yugoslavia. The Bible is a very frank book, it doesn’t mince words and it doesn’t make pretty pictures.
“Half of the city shall go into captivity but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off.”
God is going to let them come as near to total destruction as they could be without actually experiencing it.
Let me read a passage from Isaiah 31:4–5. There’s a lot of different verses in Isaiah that look forward to this time, they’re scattered up and down through Isaiah. Isaiah 31:4–5 says this:
“For thus the Lord has spoken to me, As a lion roars and a young lion over his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is summoned against him he will not be afraid of their voice, nor be disturbed by their noise, so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion and for its hill. Like birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it. Passing over, He will preserve it.”
There is the personal intervention of the Lord to rescue Jerusalem.
Now you turn back to Zechariah 14:3, it says:
“Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as He fights in the day of battle.”
In other words, I think as He fought in the battles of the Old Testament.
“And in that day, His feet [the Lord’s feet] will stand on the Mount of Olives which faces Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west, making a very large valley. Half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through my mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azer. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, King of Judah. Thus the Lord my God will come and all the saints [or holy ones] with you.”
So there’s a very vivid description. If you’re familiar with the topography, let me say there’s no way this prophecy could ever be fulfilled in any other situation or circumstance. Either it’s going to happen this way or it’s a false prophecy, there’s no third possibility. It happened I spent my last year of military service in a military hospital on the Mount of Olives called the Augusta Victoria Building. Those of you who’ve been there will probably remember it, it’s one of the three towers that mark the total length of the Mount of Olives. And interestingly enough, no one is allowed to go up the tower because in 1923 there was an earthquake and the tower was cracked. So, this is an earthquake area. As I see it, there’s a little dip between the two sections of the Mount of Olives to the south and to the north, there’s a little saddle. I was about 200 yards away from that saddle. I believe that’s probably where the mountain will divide, half will move toward the south and half toward the north, and a very great valley will be formed.
For me this is so vivid because it’s exactly the topography of the place. Like everything else in the Bible, it’s meticulously accurate.
Then it says apparently the Jewish people will flee through this valley and it reminds them of the earthquake in the days of Uzziah. So the implication is there’ll be an earthquake which will split the mountain. The cause of the earthquake will be the Lord descending and putting His feet on the mountain. When His feet touch the mountain it will split in two.
Then it says at the end of verse 5:
“The Lord my God will come and all the saints with you.”
That’s the NKJ translation but the Hebrew is not quite so specific, it says the holy people. Primarily it refers to angels. It can also refer to the saints on earth. But one thing is clear, Jesus is coming with a lot of angels. He’s coming with a triple glory, it says this in Luke 9. In His own glory, the Father’s glory and the glory of the holy angels. I pointed out the word glory means the manifest presence of God. I am staggered to consider what it will be like when the glory of the Father, the glory of the Son and the glory of the angels is all manifested at one time.
Then it says in Isaiah 24 the sun will be ashamed and the moon will be embarrassed because their light will be so feeble by comparison with the glory that is revealed. Amen.
Let’s tie this in with certain scriptures. Did I read Isaiah 30:18–19? Let’s go back and see. Going backwards and forwards like this can be a little confusing. No, I didn’t. Isaiah 30:18–19, I believe, is a prophetic preview of this scene. He’s talking to Israel.
“Therefore the Lord will wait that He may be gracious to you...”
It’s important for everybody to remember if the Lord keeps you waiting it’s in order to be gracious to you. Don’t give up, don’t get impatient, don’t despair; it’s going to be the occasion for Him to be gracious.
“...and therefore He will be exalted that He may have mercy on you.”
God is exalted but His purpose is to show mercy.
“For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who wait for Him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem. You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry. When He hears it, He will answer you.”
Do you know what God is waiting for? The sound of the cry. That word cry in Hebrew is the meaning of a desperate cry for help. When you come to the point of absolute desperation and you recognize that you have no other hope and you cry, God’s waiting for that.
I think there’s a lesson here because God sometimes brings you and me to the point of desperation. He’s waiting to hear our cry. He recognizes the cry of desperation. It touches Him as nothing else will do.
My first wife Lydia cared for about 70 babies in Israel in the course of 20 years, so she was something of an expert in babies. When she heard a baby cry she always would say, “That’s just naughtiness,” or “It needs help.” She could distinguish. I think the Lord is not going to respond to the cry of naughtiness, He’s only going to respond to the desperate cry for help. He’s waiting.
A lot of us think that we’re waiting. We may be but remember that God is waiting, too. He’s waiting to bring us to that point of absolute desperation.
We’ve already looked at the passage in Isaiah 31 where it says:
“As a lion refuses to be intimidated by the shepherds gathered against it, so the Lord will not be intimidated by all the nations gathered against Jerusalem. He will come down and like birds flying He will deliver it.”
In other words, He’ll come down from heaven above to deliver Jerusalem. Some of you may think this is a little extraordinary but it is remarkable, isn’t it, that more than 2,000 years ago God depicted the whole scene with such vividness. I believe He knew what He was saying and doing.
Let’s look at a passage in Matthew 26 for a moment. This is a scene where Jesus has been arrested and is before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council. And at a certain point the high priest confronts Him and challenges Him, “Are you the Messiah?” You find it in Matthew 26:63 and following.
“But Jesus kept silent, and the high priest answered and said to him, I adjure you by the living God that you tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Now Jesus respected the authority of the high priest even though he was a wicked man. It was only at that point that He clearly declared His identity.
“Jesus said to him, It is as you said.”
In other words, I am the Messiah, the Son of God. But He went on:
“Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of the power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
That was what they condemned Him to death for, because of what He said. The word power in Hebrew is givoorah and it is a word that’s used amongst Orthodox Jews today for the exalted majesty of God in heaven. Jesus said, “I will be sitting at the right hand of Him, of His majesty. I’ll come again on the clouds of heaven.” This is a reference to the prophecy of Daniel that said he saw one like the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.
And then in Acts 1 we have the actual picture of Jesus being taken away. It says in Luke’s gospel this happened at Bethany; that is, on the south end of the Mount of Olives. You’ll remember that as He was standing there talking to His disciples, the last thing He did was to bless them. As He was blessing them He was taken up into heaven. They watched Him until He disappeared in a cloud. Then it said in Acts 1:9 and following:
“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”
They stood there still looking upwards, transfixed. It says:
“While they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel [two angels], who also said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Please note it’s this same Jesus. It’s not a Messianic age, it’s a person, the same person. This same Jesus will come in the same way as you saw Him go. He went in the clouds, He will come back in the clouds. He went from the Mount of Olives, He will come back to the Mount of Olives. That’s the picture.
Now let’s look at some of the consequences. We go back to Zechariah 14:6:
“It shall come to pass in that day that there will be no light. The lights [or the luminaries] will diminish.”
In other words, the sun, the moon and the stars will not give any kind of bright light.
“It shall be one day which is known to the Lord [and known only to Him, incidentally]. Neither day nor night, but at evening time it shall happen that it will be light.”
It will be a unique day such as never has occurred up till now. The NIV translation of that is very vivid.
Now, what are going to be the consequences of Messiah’s return? Many of them. It says:
“In that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea [that’s the Dead Sea] and half of them toward the western sea [that’s the Mediterranean]. It shall be in both summer and winter.”
This is very interesting because in all its history, Jerusalem has never had its own water supply. The first thing that defeating armies did was to cut off the supply of water from out of the city. This happened in 1948 while we were living in Jerusalem. In the middle of the siege the Arabs blew up the water conduit that brought water into Jerusalem. But, in those days the Arabs who are very clever builders in stone, always built a cistern in the basement of every house to which the rain water from winter was channeled. And while we were living, as I described, on the corner of Aaron and King George Avenue, kitty corner across from the King’s Hotel—which wasn’t there then—our water supply was cut off. The Jewish civil authorities sealed everybody’s cistern. Then they took the water out of the cistern, put it in a cart and it was drawn through the city and people were allowed to take just so much water. But, when the cart came to where we were the men driving it refused to come, they said, “It’s too close to the front line, we won’t risk our lives.” So the Jewish authorities did not seal our cistern. We had an abundant supply of water. I suppose that cistern was at least as big as this section of the church over here, bigger, hewn out of stone. Wonderful water, ladies, for washing your hair. Rain water. But, after Messiah comes, Jerusalem for the first time in history will become a source of living water.
That is a little parable, isn’t it? Our lives are like that. Till Jesus comes we’re dependent on external sources but when Messiah comes there’s a fountain of living water within each of us. Amen.
Incidentally, I want to tell you about that poor horse. A shell exploded in the street and killed that horse. Thank God it didn’t kill anybody else but the horse.
We’re going on. You notice it says half of the water will go toward the eastern sea, the Dead Sea, and half toward the western sea, the Mediterranean. In summer and winter, it won’t depend on any fluctuating seasons. They say, and I don’t know whether it’s true, geologists found that there is a vast subterranean source of water under Jerusalem. I don’t know whether this is true but I’ve heard it said many times.
We won’t turn there but look in Ezekiel 47, you’ll see that when the temple is rebuilt in its appointed place, living water flows out from Jerusalem to the east, goes down to what’s called the Arabah, and then down to the Dead Sea. And wherever that water comes there is life, an abundance of life. Fishes, fruit, everything. So that’s the eastern flow.
The western flow is not described in Ezekiel but here it says it will flow both ways, east and west.
Going on a little further in Zechariah 1, verse 9:
“And the Lord shall be king over all the earth. In that day it shall be the Lord is one and His name one.”
Does anybody happen to have an NIV here? Could you be kind enough to bring it to me? I appreciate that, you get a little temporary notoriety, you’ll be on the—I’ll give it back to you in just a moment, I just want to read this 9th verse because it’s rather vivid. It says:
“The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord and His name the only name.”
That’s the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. That’s what we were taught to pray for every time we say the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” And don’t forget that’s the supreme objective of God in history. Everything else is directed toward that end. We are not in harmony with God’s purpose if we have any other ultimate goal but the establishment of Jesus Christ on earth. And furthermore, there is no other hope for the earth. The earth will be plunged into ever increasing confusion and disaster and misery. The only hope of humanity is the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth. We are not dreamers, we’re not unrealistic. The people who are dreamers and unrealistic believe that man can solve his own problems and bring peace. They’ve been talking about that for 2,000 years and we’re probably further away from it today than we ever were. So don’t be afraid to declare your confidence that God has the answer. He’s going to establish His kingdom on earth. A lot of talk today about peace and people are being told to pray for peace. But to pray for peace like that is to pray out of ignorance, it’s a deception of Satan. Peace is one of the great cries of the New Age. The Bible makes it crystal clear that there will never be true peace without justice and righteousness. Righteousness is always the preliminary requirement for peace. The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you want peace and joy, it will only come through righteousness. Any attempt to establish peace on earth without righteousness, without justice, is doomed to disappointment.
Going on in Zechariah 14:10–11:
“All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon [south of Jerusalem]. Jerusalem shall be raised up and inhabited in her place from Benjamin’s Gate to the place of the first Gate and the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses.”
I don’t know where all those locations are but it says Jerusalem is going to be raised up and inhabited in her appointed place, and all the land around about will be a plain. In other words, there’s going to be tremendous geological disturbances, and there are many passages in the Bible that indicate that.
I’ll look again, just one verse in Isaiah 2:2:
“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow to it.”
So at this point the hill on which Jerusalem sits will be elevated above all the surrounding hills and there will be an area of plain land around it. But that demands a tremendous kind of geological upheaval. That’s only a small part of what’s going to happen because in Psalm 46 it says the mountains will be carried into the midst of the sea. That’s not that mountain.
You see, frankly, few of us have any concept of the tremendous upheavals which lie ahead for the human race. There’s only one secure place, the Rock of Ages. He will never be carried away. Amen.
Let’s go on for a little while, verses 12–15 of Zechariah 14:
“And this shall be the plague with which the Lord shall strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem. Their flesh shall dissolve where they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths.”
That’s similar to some of the descriptions of what happens when there’s a nuclear explosion. But, I don’t think it’s going to be a nuclear explosion because its results would affect everybody. This is only going to affect the enemies of God and His people.
Let me say a lot of people are concerned about a nuclear war and nuclear weapons—which we have a right to be. Remember, God has His armaments, too. And nuclear weapons are child’s play by comparison with what God has.
“And it shall come to pass in that day that a great panic from the Lord will be among them [that’s the enemies]. Everyone will seize the hand of his neighbor and raise his hand against his neighbor’s hand.”
God will supernaturally turn the enemies of Israel against one another.
“Judah also will fight at Jerusalem, and the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be gathered together: gold, silver and apparel in great abundance.”
The surrounding nations, as I pointed out, are the Arab nations. There’s a great deal of gold and silver being stored up. But ultimately it’s being stored up for Israel. Don’t tell them I said that!
One final statement:
“Such also shall be the plague on the horse and the mule, on the camel and the donkey, and on all the cattle that will be in those camps, so shall this plague be.”
Again, the emphasis is on living creatures, not mechanized armies. So, to me this is consistent. However you explain it, that’s how it will be. Amen.
To be complete I’m going to deal with just one other question. In a way this is a kind of anticlimax but I have a mind that likes completeness, I don’t like to leave things hanging when they don’t need to be hanging.
Many of you are familiar with Ezekiel 38 and 39 which describes an invasion of a coalition of forces into the land of Israel from the north. And until recently everybody was saying that Russia would invade Israel. I’ve always had serious questions about that statement because, at any rate, at the moment the situation is not such as is described. Therefore, my conclusion is that whatever is described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is not what’s described in Zechariah 12–14. You can read the passages for yourself. I say that for the following reasons:
Number one, in the war that comes from the north in Ezekiel 38 and 39, Jerusalem is not the focus or scene of battle.
Number two, Israel is at peace and secure when the invasion takes place. It’s very different from the current situation. I’ve always said to myself there’s no way that this prophecy could be fulfilled at the moment because Israel is anything but secure and at peace.
Number three, the attackers will not be all nations but a coalition of nations from the north.
And number four, the attackers will be destroyed by a storm of hail and an earthquake, not by the personal intervention of Christ.
So, there are four major differences.
Additionally, Ezekiel 38 and 39 says that it will take seven months to bury the killed soldiers from the north.
Then another very significant feature is that the weapons of the armies that have been defeated and killed will provide Israel with fuel for seven years. If it was tanks and airplanes, you can’t burn tanks and airplanes, they won’t burn. It must be weapons that have a large proportion of wood. Also, for me, the implication is that Israel at that time will not be using electricity nor oil as fuel. I personally believe this follows the return of Christ. It’s in the very early stages of the establishment of His kingdom on earth.
I’ll tell you one thing I believe about the millennium, there’ll be no pollution. Men and women will have ways of getting around and keeping themselves warm that don’t involve pollution.
There’s another description in Revelation 20 of an invasion of Gog and Magog. The invading forces in Ezekiel 38 and 39 are specifically called Gog and Magog. However, my opinion is that Revelation 20 does not refer to Zechariah 12, 13 and 14 for the following reasons:
Revelation 20 focuses on Jerusalem, so it’s not this invasion from the north.
Jerusalem is called the camp of the saints, which it wouldn’t be before that.
The attackers are destroyed by fire from heaven, not by the intervention of Jesus.
This incident is immediately followed by the banishment of Satan and final judgment on all the remaining dead.
So, as far as I’m concerned, Ezekiel 38 and 39 does not describe Zechariah 12–14, does not describe Revelation 20.
So, Brother Prince, come up with an explanation. Well, I’ll simply offer this. In my opinion, the establishment of the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth is not going to happen with a wave of a wand, it’s going to require profound cultural changes amongst all the nations that remain. That’s not going to happen in one minute.
Furthermore, it’s my impression that the resurrected believers will share with Christ in the establishment of His kingdom and we will probably be given a job of training the nations how to live.
There’s no way that all of that could happen in just that, it’s going to take a considerable period of time. If it took a hundred years, that would only be one tenth of the millennium. I’m not trying to estimate how long it will take.
So, to me it seems probable, that’s all I will say, that this invasion in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is one final outburst of anti-Semitism after the establishment of Christ’s reign in Jerusalem. It still has to be extended to the whole earth.
The interesting thing is that the nations which provide the armies for the coalition are basically the areas of the earth which have had the most vivid and persistent anti-Semitism. That is, Eastern Europe, the CIS and some Islamic states. So, I just leave you to ponder that for yourselves.
You see, the future is somewhat more complicated than some people anticipate. But, it’s exciting. There may be times when you feel it’s a little too exciting. I say to Ruth from time to time, “One thing we have to say is our life is not dull.” Sometimes we wonder whether we can stand the pressure but up till now, by the grace of God, we have survived.
I want to close by saying something very serious and very important. I described earlier on in this talk how God will bring Israel to the point of utter desperation where they will see they have no hope but Jesus. All other hope has been done away. I believe that’s how God deals with all of us for salvation. Salvation comes at a moment of desperation when we see that we are lost, hopeless and helpless without the supernatural revelation and intervention of Jesus in our lives. I want to say to you if you have never come to that point I doubt whether you’re saved. You may have an intellectual belief in Jesus, you may be nice, religious; but you’re not saved. And without salvation you are without hope, without Christ, without God. So, if that is your condition here this morning and God has made that clear to you, I want to give you an opportunity to come to the point of desperation. I’m not going to prolong this, I’m not going to make it easy, I’m not going to say every head bowed and every eye closed. I don’t really see why people have to have secrecy when they come to Jesus. So, if there’s anyone here this morning, man or woman, boy or girl, and you say, “Brother Prince, I don’t have that you’ve been talking about. I’ve never come to that point of desperation. Maybe I’ve been religious, I haven’t led too bad a life. But to say I’m saved eternally, I couldn’t say that.”
If you would like prayer and help from the leadership of this church, I’m going to ask you to do something very simple but very significant. I’m going to ask you to stand up and come forward and meet me in front of this pulpit. Don’t wait long. Don’t be afraid of people because in the last day they won’t help you. God bless you, come out. Is there anybody else who’s got enough sense to say, “I need Jesus Christ this morning”? Not at some future time, but this morning. If so, stand up and come forward. I can tell you that the Lord is meeting this lady in a very powerful way. His presence is here this morning. This evening it may not be here. Some other day it may not be here. You need Jesus and you need Him now. Come forward. God bless you. Brother Shelly, there’s another lady come.
I have a feeling there’s a man somewhere. I just have that impression, there’s a man here who’s too chicken to acknowledge that he needs Jesus. I’m pressing you to come. I can’t make you come.
I think the sweetest sight that we can ever see this side of heaven is a sinner weeping before God. There are not enough tears in the church today. There’s a kind of easy, get born again theology which doesn’t deal with the roots of sin.
I still believe there’s a man that needs to come. We’re not going to wait any longer, I’m going to step down but you’ve had your opportunity.