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The Importance of Time in Zechariah Chapters 12-14

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Arnold Fruchtenbaum correctly writes, "Our understanding of Zechariah 12-14 can have a significant impact on how we understand other prophetic passages of Scripture." End Times Controversy: The Second Coming Under Attack, p. 251. This is true. We have commented on the importance of time, especially in time prophecies in many of our articles.

In That Day

The key phrase in Zechariah's "Little Apocalypse" (unveiling of the end times) is "in that day". This term means the eschatological day of the Lord. It is the same word used in the title of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse. Commonly we refer to this time as the second coming of Christ, or the Day of Judgment.

It follows the same pattern of the term "day of the Lord" as used in many O.T. passages regarding the doom prophesied upon nations.

There are three times Bible expositors cite for the events that fulfill "in that day" of Zechariah. Some choose the Roman period (A.D. 70). Others choose the Holocaust? Others claim the day is yet future.

Israel's Last Days

Zechariah message prophetically outlines the fate of Israel's last days. This is is not to be confused with the settler state of Israel of modern time. Contrary to popular opinion, the prophetic nature of the settler state is myth. See the historical data on the origin of the modern state of Israel.

Watch the 1961 Speech by Benjamin H. Freedman, 1890-May 1984
1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSo_s7v7EVw
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J259ZW8co8Y
3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJgX60Mfn10

When we speak of Israel, we are speaking of the ancient covenant people of the Bible. God's covenant with them ended in A.D. 70 when Rome destroyed Jerusalem. Therefore, they are not to be confused with the modern state for reasons found in the videos above and in the Scriptures. Please educate yourself on these points; otherwise you may not fully appreciate what we write and why.

When the Bible speaks of the last days, it encompasses the final days of the Mosaic covenant. This covenant continued from Sinai about 1491 B.C. until A.D. 70. The last days were being fulfilled during the ministry of Christ even before his death, (Heb. 1:1-2; 1 Pet. 1:20). In fact, he was put to death in the end of the age (Heb. 9:26). This refers to the Jewish age or period of the Law (Gal. 4:4) under which he lived. It was coming to an end during the writings of the Apostles, (1 Pet. 4:7; 17; Heb. 8:13).

The Great Tribulation

For Fruchtenbaum, the time of the Zechariah 12:1-9 is the great tribulation called the battle of Armageddon. We agree. The text is focused on Judah and Jerusalem. The key to its fulfillment is particularly found in verses 10-14. Several events were to occur that identifies the time:

  • God would destroy all nations who came against Jerusalem to destroy her. (v. 9).
  • He would pour on the house of David and inhabits of Jerusalem the Spirit of Grace and supplication (v. 10a)
  • They (Jerusalem and the inhabitants of Judah) would look on him whom they pierced (v. 10b)
  • They would mourn for him as the people mourned in Egypt and grieve as for a firstborn son. (v. 10c)
  • The mourning would be that of people who experience a great loss in battle (v. 11)
  • The mourning occur in the land of Judah and involved the inhabitants of Judah (vv. 12-14)

The Burden of the Lord Against Israel

A burden is a a message of prophetic doom. It refers to heavy words of grief for the nation or people to whom it is directed. The "burden of Babylon" (Isa. 13:1) was God's judgment against the Babylonians. The burden against Egypt was God's judgment on the Egyptians (Isa. 19:1) See also the burden against Moab (Isa. 15:1) and Damascus (17:1).

In like manner, the burden against Israel is God's judgment against the ancient nation. From this conclusion there is no escape. This presents a seeming difficulty for interpreting the prophecy and one which Christian Zionists Dispensationalists choose to ignore. They only see a blessing of favor for Israel in that God will bring the nations against those who battle against Jerusalem (v. 9). What they do not explain is how God brings a judgment of destruction on Israel at the same time.

Two Jerusalems in End Times Prophecy

The answers lies in the two Jerusalem motif of Bible prophecy. This cannot be ignored. We already have Fruchtenbaum's agreement that the message of Zechariah 12-14 is the same end time of Revelation. In reading Revelation, one can see that God speaks of two Jerusalems.

The first Jerusalem is described as a corrupt city, one which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt where the Lord was crucified. (Rev. 11:8). These are the unbelieving Jews of the Southern Kingdom who rejected the Messiah. Jesus said it could not be that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem (Lk. 13:33).

In the Olivet discourse the Lord warned the nation of what would befall them for rejecting him (Matt. 23:34-37) saying they would murder him, and the prophets (apostles and teachers) he would send them. Their rejection and refusal to repent would bring about the destruction of their house (temple) and religion.

As he journeyed to the city, he wept over it and because they knew not the time of their visitation (judgment) a few decades later, (Lk. 19:41-44). After the chief priests and the people condemned Jesus to death, the women of Jerusalem wept for him. He told them not to weep for him but for themselves and their own children who would die in the siege against the city and its inhabitants, (Lk. 23:28-31).

The armies who would gather against Jerusalem, would gather against he people who rejected their Messiah. This Rome did, as God used them to punish the ancient people of Israel, (Lk. 21:20-22). This history is recorded in Josephus and other historians of the era.

Two Jerusalems in the Epistles

Galatians 4:21-31, mentions two Jerusalems. The first, patterned after Hagar, who was in bondage (slaves to sin) with her children. Her sons (Ishmael), persecuted the church. She is called the "Jerusalem which now is and is in bondage with her children".

The second Jerusalem in the text is represented by Sarah, the mother of Isaac, represented by Christians, Jews and Gentiles in the one body of Christ. Paul, a Jew belonged to this remnant from the nation. They are called the "Jerusalem which is above" or the "heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22-23). This corresponds to the heavenly Jerusalem of Rev. 21:1, 10).

They are the believers, i.e. those from among the nation of Israel who were born again, accepted Jesus Christ and who were added to the church. (Jn 3:3-5, Acts 2). They are the remnant from among the nation which later included Gentiles (Acts 10).

Recipients of Grace

The believers (remnant from Israel) would become as a cup of drunkeness to the nations who sought to destroy them. The unbelieving Jews who gathered against the church would be as drunk men, stumbling and falling as they attempted to defeat the church.

These believers would become as a heavy stone that would cut any nation in pieces who came to destroy it or carry it off into captivity. Their hands would be lacerated by it demonstrating the impossibility of defeating and subduing them. It signals the end of the times of the Gentiles ability to oppress the people of God through human shackles. As Paul said, the word of God is not bound, (2 Tim. 2:9). Not even Hades could prevail against the church (the remnant, Matt. 16:18; Rev. 1:18).

The governors of Judah are the faithful shepherds, evangelists and teachers of the remnant church (heavenly Jerusalem). They devour like a fire pan filled with hot glowing red coals poured out on a dry field of straw, through the truthfulness of their teaching, their sound logical arguments based on Scripture and the personal integrity of their lives through God's divine care.

The Spirit of Grace (the Holy Spirit who brought the grace of the gospel) was poured out on the believing Jews (first at Pentecost, then again upon Gentiles at the household of Cornelius. Other believers received the Holy Spirit through obedience and through the laying on the Apostles' hands (Mk. 16:16-17; Acts 8:18; Gal. 3:3, 5). It may also refer to Christ as God's grace given to mankind (Tit. 2:11)

The reference to saving the believing remnant first is the same message of 1 Peter 4:17 who speaks of this judgment. "For the time has come that the judgment must begin at the house of God, and if it begins with us first, where shall the sinner and the ungodly appear?"

Saving the tents of Judah specifically refers to the "camp" of the saints which Gog and Magog sought to destroy in the last days battle. (Rev. 20:8). They are deceived by Satan, their father who mislead them into national pride. They were defeated and destroyed.

Recipients of Wrath

Wrath was poured out on unbelievers from the nation. It is they who suffered the great tribulation, (Matt. 24:21). It is they who mourned after they pierced Christ, (Matt. 24:30). They said of Christ, 'Let his blood be upon us and upon our children'. Many of them lost their firstborns sons and suffered defeat to the Roman armies, a coalition of many nations gathered against Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Their land would mourn as for the loss of a firstborn. This mourning is specifically that of the Southern kingdom. The families here are tribes ("phule") of Israel". They are families of house of David, i.e. Judah and Jerusalem.

They would suffer defeat and harm for obstruction of God's justice and wrath.This is God's destruction of Gog and Magog who came up against the camp of the saints but who were quickly and solidly defeated. (Rev. 20:7-8)

Summary

The message of Zechariah 12 is a message of the "burden of Israel". It is God's punishment of the ancient nation for their crucifixion of Christ and subsequent persecution of the Apostolic church. The punishment of Israel in the last days of the Mosaic age is called the "Day of the Lord" or and equals "in that day" in Zechariah 12-14.

The modern settler state of Israel cannot be forced upon this text as it does violence to the historical setting. The people involved were the house of David and their families identifying them as the inhabitants of Judah and historically, the people who murdered Christ in the first century.

The faithful remnant received the Spirit of Grace and blessings of God's care and protection. The unbelieving nation received the wrath of God. Fruchtenbaum's premise and conclusions are incorrect to assign the entire chapter to the modern settler state.

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