I woke up this morning meditating on these verses in Zech. 14:1,2.
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
My thinking has always been that this capture of the city of Jerusalem takes places immediately before the Lord’s return [“the day of the LORD”]. But it now appears to me that it could be speaking of what actually happens “in the middle of the week.”
- Would not this disaster take place before Antichrist “sets up” the abomination?
- When does Antichrist “enter the beautiful land” and accomplish this taking of the city?
I share full agreement with your observation here, Phil. The prophets quite typically envision the day of the Lord as the climax of a larger crisis that is revealed in Daniel to extend for the entire last half of the 70th week (i.e., the final 3 1/2 years of Dan 7:25; 9:27; 12:7, 11; Rev 11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5). That is why Daniel says, ” and unto the end of the war, desolations are determined ” (Dan 9:26).
This means the war that begins at the time of the abomination continues for 42 months unto its end at ‘the great day of God Almighty’ at Armageddon (Rev 16:12-17). In other words, Armageddon is the climax of the war that began 42 months earlier. A comparison of Dan 11:40-45 with Rev 16:12-17 will show the development of that war from its inception in Dan 11:31 till its end in the destruction of the AC in Dan 11:45.
According to Eze 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26, the Antichrist (definitely him; see Eze 38:17) comes down from the north (Dan 8:9) like a flood (Dan 9:26 with Dan 11:22) at a time of seductive false security for Israel. There is no way that one can put the battle of Eze 38 & 39 at the end of the tribulation. It certainly does end there (Eze 39:22-29, especially Eze 39:8 with Rev 16:17), but that is not where it begins. The Eze 38-39 invasion of Israel begins at a time of false security, which we may reasonably suppose is the result of the false peace covenant that Israel enters into with the Antichrist (Dan 9:27; 11:23). ((Though the language is similar, it is important that the interpreter not confuse the security of Eze 39:8, 11, 14 with the millennial security of the restored nation. Eze 39:26 is clear in showing that Israel’s sins increase during the time of this security. This stands in marked contrast to the continuous and undisturbed security that the prophets speak of as following the coming in of the everlasting righteousness at the day of the Lord — Jer 32:40; Dan 9:24 –.)) (see footnote). Evidently, Eze 38 begins with the invasion that desecrates the temple and starts the 42 months trampling down of Jerusalem and ends at Armageddon. The entire time of desolation is conceived as belonging to a single war (Dan 9:26). That’s what you’re correctly seeing here in Zech 14, Phil. It’s the comprehensive overview of the last war that ends in the day of the Lord.
There is no evidence that the Jews are welcoming the Antichrist, as some teach. He comes with force (Dan 11:31). He prevails militarily and overruns the city. According to Daniel 11:31-45, this begins a conflict that extends into the nations, but is ongoing till its end at Armageddon.
I also very much agree with your statement, ” I cannot imagine Antichrist quietly coming into Jerusalem and setting up the abomination. The security in and around Jerusalem’s old city and their holiest place is impenetrable at this point. An earlier battle of some sort must already have taken place before he sets up the image!” Exactly true. The AC enters suddenly and without warning (1Thes 5:3) at a time of security (Eze 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26; Dan 11:24). He then proceeds to the temple for the desecrating act that marks the beginning of the end. Forty two months later, the war that begins with the Antichrist invasion of Jerusalem ends with his destruction (Dan 11:31, 45; 12:11; 2Thes 2:8; Rev 11:2; 13:5; 19:19-20).
Although Satan’s ‘little season’ of Rev 20 is symbolically identified with Ezekiel’s battle of Gog and Magog, there are marked differences that demonstrate the necessity to distinguish between two similar events that bound the thousand years at both ends. This has confused many interpreters. There are many literal details that could be pointed out that plainly will not fit with a strictly post-millennial fulfillment. I will mention only one that is very clear. The invasion of Eze 38-39 clearly ends with the day of the Lord deliverance of Israel (see Eze 39:22-29). “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward.” But when Satan is released for a little season at the end of the millennium, Israel has known the Lord for a thousand years. Hence, we conclude that Eze 38-39 and Rev 20 describe two symbolically parallel events that are distinct and must not be confounded.
[Followup Question from another reader]
Interesting. Then Ez.38f ends in Armagedon 42 months later, and this victory as described in Ez and Rev. is the day of the Lord. Then the Gog and Magog invasion and the wars of the Antichrist are not two different events, one having to occur before the other. Do you have more teachings on that on your website?
I’ll have to check if there’s more on Ez 38-39 on the website, but I do recall sending an answer on this question to a Jewish brother who just might still have it. I can ask him and forward that on to you. It will probably be a little more detailed than what you saw in that recent exchange. It’s just one more of many such things that merit work I’ve not had opportunity and time to invest in writing a more complete apologetic for that view of those chapters.
There’s a lot out there on those chapters that is way off track. Time and grace permitting, I hope sometime to get to a more complete apologetic on those chapters. I know this: From ch 39, verses, 21-29, one could hardly wish for a more glorious theology of Israel’s day of the Lord redemption, which is shown to come with the end of the hiding of God’s face, which significantly coincides with the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit after a final assault on a newly regathered nation, only “recently” restored from the many generations of the long exile (see Eze 38:8 with Zeph 2:1-2).
This amounts to some powerful evidence against the popular replacement view that the church has now become the “new” Israel and the so-called, “redefined” people of God, with nothing left over for the natural branches except that some might come back into the church at some undefined time and manner. On the contrary, the time is clear (day of the Lord) and the manner is clear (a surviving remnant receives repentance in one day at the sight of the One whom they pierced. With this comes the pouring out of the Spirit and the end of God’s hiding His face from Israel “forever.” Thus begins the millennium). What could be clearer?!
Taken in context with other scriptures from other prophets that show the perfect correlation between the end of the hiding of God’s face with the pouring out of the Spirit at a still future day of the Lord (e.g., Deut 31:17-18; 32:20; Isa 8:17; 32:15; 44:3; 54:8; 59:21; 64:7; Zech 12:10 with Joel 2:28-32 etc.), there is much that needs to be “unpacked” in those chapters. It means that what has come to us already, as first-fruits, will yet faithfully come to them at that time (“in that day”), when “at once,” a nation will be “born in a day” (Isa 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zeph 3:9; 14:7).
Give greetings and love to all my brothers [there], Reggie