Will Jerusalem Be Surrounded in the Last Days?

Will Jerusalem be surrounded by the nations of the earth in a future last days? The prophet Zechariah would not think so. Is there prophecy left to be fulfilled in the book of Zechariah? Some believe very strongly that there is, particularly in chapter 14. But I believe that it is very simple to demonstrate that it has ALL been fulfilled and there is no future event where the nations of the earth rise up against Jerusalem... at least not from a promise from Scripture. I am not, on the other hand, saying that modern political Zionist Israel doesn't have its share of issues with surrounding nations. Confusion in this topic, though, is based on modern theology that often interferes with legitimate negotiations for peace in the Middle East.  

Jesus was very explicit that all the prophetic scriptures regarding Israel would be fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70: Luke 21:20-22, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that ALL THINGS which are WRITTEN may be FULFILLED."

I'm In Good Company

The belief that Zechariah was a prophetic picture of Jerusalem in AD70  has been wide spread in history. Eusebius, the earliest church historian (265-340 AD), says it predicted the “final siege of the people by the Romans, through which the whole Jewish race has become subject to their enemies.” (Proof of the Gospel, Vol I, (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1981)

Who is This Babylon points out that The Second Coming Bible says church fathers Cyril and Theophylact applied this chapter of Zechariah to AD70. In fact, respected scholar Adam Clark said, “This appears to be a prediction of that war in which Jerusalem was finally destroyed, and the Jews scattered over the face of the earth.” (Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. IV, (Abington) 794) Many more can be cited such as Merrill Unger, Terry Milton and many present day scholars. 

In fact, the parallels to Jesus’ description of the destruction of the city in AD70 (Mathew 24) to Zechariah 14 are indisputable as Don Preston showed in his article, “Zechariah 14 and the Olivet Discourse”: “When one does a comparative study of the Olivet Discourse and Zechariah 14 the parallels become very impressive indeed.

Zechariah 14      /      Olivet Discourse

  • Siege of Jerusalem (v. 1-2)  /  Siege of Jerusalem (Mt. 24:2f)
  • Day of the Lord (v. 1, 5)  /  Coming of the Son of Man (24:30-31.)
  • Coming with his holy ones (vs. 5)  /  Coming with his angels (24:31).
  • Jews led away captive into the nations (v. 2)  /  Jews led away captive into the nations (Lk 21:24).
  • Flight from judgment (v. 5)  /  Flight from judgment (v. 15f)
  • Day known only to the Lord (v. 7)  /  Day known only to the Lord  (v. 36).

The parallel between the passages can hardly be doubted. Interestingly, dispensationalists admit these connections.”

In That Day is the Key

Without exegeting every single scripture lets just look at the overall idea that helps interpret the difficult passages.

Let's say that I tell you that I'm coming to your house to stay with you in the first week of June. As I emailed you the details, I would continue to say to you, "in that week" we are going to go mountain climbing; "in that week" I look forward to us shopping together; "in that week" I plan to eat with you at a very special authentic Italian restaurant. At no point would you think that I am talking about different periods of time. You would not think that I am coming in one week to mountain climb, but in another week to go shopping, nor a separate week to eat at that restaurant. You would know I am packing a lot into one week. Each thing is different, but all taking place within that time period. 

The same concept holds true in the book of Zechariah. The key to understanding is found in one simple phrase, "in that day." "In that day" throughout the book of Zechariah is the common thread that links all the events together in the same time period in history. It is the glue that binds the obscure passages to the clear passages. Let's examine some of them:

In That Day, People will be Saved:

We must remember that "saved" in the Bible can mean physical or spiritual. It includes healing, deliverance, forgiveness, and wholeness. This can include what Jesus did in his ministry in healing the sick and deliverance of the demonized. It can also mean the salvation of the cross as well as the salvation from the judgment on Jerusalem in AD 70. But as we will see, "in that day" is connected with all those types of "saving".  Zechariah 9:16, "The Lord their God will save them IN THAT DAY, As the flock of His people. For they shall be like the jewels of a crown, Lifted like a banner over His land" 

In That Day He will Defend Jerusalem

Zechariah 12:8-9, "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, like the Angel of the Lord before them. It shall be IN THAT DAY I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem."

We must ask which Jerusalem! The earthly one or the spiritual one? At the time of the generation leading up to AD 70, not only was the degenerated Jewish religion and city filled with people from all the nations (see the Day of Pentecost where there were Jews from every nation). It was these unbelieving Jews that were coming against those of the New Jerusalem, the Jewish believers in Christ. DON'T THINK THAT THEY CAN'T BE CALLED "THE NATIONS" NOW, BECAUSE THEY HAVE BECOME LIKE SODOM, EGYPT AND BABYLON ACCORDING TO JOHN AND PETER.  Not only that, but many of those "Jews" were actually Edomites in that day. 

In fact, according to Josephus it was the followers of the various leaders within the natural city of Jerusalem that were bent on its destruction. They resisted any negotiation with Rome. They burned the food supplies promising (as false prophets) that God would provide for them. They persecuted and killed the saints, the prophets and the apostles (Matthew 23). This is why the Apostle Paul considered the "true" Israelites as the ones who believed in Christ. The Lord was defending his TRUE Jews because of the persecution coming from Rome, but primarily from Jerusalem. 

The Angel going before them is reminiscent of the Exodus deliverance. 

In That Day was During the First Century

The next verse is still IN THAT DAY. There can be no change of time periods here. This verse is specifically quoted by John (19:37) as an application to the cross and in Revelation (1:7) as a soon coming (in their day) complete fulfillment when Rome destroyed Jerusalem. When was the Spirit of grace poured out? Acts 2. Zechariah 12:10, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.

 Zechariah 12:11, "IN THAT DAY there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo." 70 AD was also called the Battle of Armageddon by John in Revelation. He is refering to this verse to describe how Rome was going to come against the natural city. There is no such place as Armageddon. That word means mountain of Megiddo. There is no mountain of Megiddo. It is a plain. It was a figure of speech used by John to reference a soon coming war about to be fulfilled in this verse. He joins the idea of the "mountain" which is Jerusalem, together with this verse. 

In That Day Includes Both the Crucifixion and AD 70

Do we believe that the day that the fountain was opened for sin was the crucifixion and resurrection? Yes. There is no way that we can say that Jerusalem doesn't have access to the gospel until Jesus returns. 

Do we realize that Jesus said false prophets would fill the land (Matthew 24) after his death? Yes.

Was Jesus wounded in the "house of his friends"? Yes. All of the "in that day" is the same time period: Zechariah 13:1-6, “IN THAT DAY a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. 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. And it shall be IN THAT DAY that every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies; they will not wear a robe of coarse hair to deceive. But he will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a farmer; for a man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.’ And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’

He continues (7-9)... same "in that day" is the period of history in which Jesus was crucified (Matthew 26:31) and the same exact period of history would be when 2/3 of the ones would be "cut off", i.e, judgment against Jerusalem, AND a remnant would be saved from the destruction. Specifically it would be the remnant that called on his name (Remember Peter, whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved). This is exactly what Jesus was saying in Matthew 24 that when the believing Jews saw Rome approaching they were to flee the city. This is the same "in that Day": 

"Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
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 against the little ones.
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:
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 My people’;
And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

In That Day Describes the Final Destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem

As chapter 14 (1-2) begins we see more specifically what would happen in that day. Notice again that a remnant would be saved (Mathew 24) as they would flee the city: "Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city."

Because the prophet refers to the nations being gathered against Jerusalem, it is wrongly assumed that this means all the nations of the whole earth. What is overlooked is that Rome’s army that was brought against Jerusalem in 66-70AD was made up of people from the various known nations of the day. Everyone considered the Roman Empire the “world” in that day (Luke 2:1), and those armies were made up of people groups, nationalities, of all the various conquered nations under the Roman banner (aprox. 80 million people).

Interestingly enough, when he says some would go into captivity (which is exactly what happened) Jesus warned his generation about this. As was common practice an invading nation would take the best leaders, artisans, teachers, etc into captivity (like Daniel was to Babylon). Jesus said in Matthew 24:40-41, "Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left."

In that day, the believers were not cut off, being stuck within the city. Rather they fled to safety and according to historians not one Christian died. Afterwards, believing Jews re-entered the city after its destruction. 

Gary Demar says, "For I will gather all the nations [the Roman armies] against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered [Matt. 24:17], the women ravished [Luke 17:35], and half the city exiled [Matt. 24:16], but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city” (Zech. 14:2)…The time when the Romans marched their armies, composed of many nations, to besiege Jerusalem, was “the day of the Lord” Jesus, on which he came to “destroy those that would not that he should reign over them” [Matt. 22:1¬10; 24:3, 23¬35; Luke 19:11¬27, 41¬44]. When the Romans had taken the city, all the outrages were committed, and the miseries endured, which are here predicted [Luke 21:20¬24]. A very large proportion of the inhabitants were destroyed, or taken captives, and sold for slaves; and multitudes were driven away to be pursued by various perils and miseries: numbers also, having been converted to Christianity, became citizens of “the heavenly Jerusalem” and thus were “not cut off from the city” of God [Gal 4:21¬31; Heb. 12:22¬25]."

What about his feet splitting the Mount of Olives? I addressed this question in this blog. Check it out for a detailed description of why this has been fulfilled. Again, it is IN THAT DAY... same period of history. This had to happen in the same time period as his crucifixion. Zechariah 14:4, "And IN THAT DAY His 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." This was never intended for them to imagine it as a physical event. 

In Micah 1:3 we are told that God “is COMING FORTH FROM HIS PLACE” to “COME DOWN and TREAD on the HIGH PLACES (mountains) of the earth.” Do you believe God literally physically did this treading with his feet when it was fulfilled by the Babylonian judgment on Jerusalem? How is this descriptive language different from the Lord standing on the Mount of Olives with the result that it will split?

Micah goes on to say “the MOUNTAINS will MELT UNDER HIM, and the valleys WILL BE SPLIT, like wax before the fire, like water poured down a steep place” (1:4). Did they literally split in this case? Did they literally melt? No they were apocalyptic language to describe the activity of God, usually in judgment or deliverance.

When Zechariah says that the Mount of Olives will split, he is also using language similar to the Exodus event where there was a splitting of the Red Sea to deliver them from Egypt. In this case the idea is that in that period of history (AD 30-70) God is making a way of deliverance from the Romans armies and from the persecution of Jerusalem. There was a SPLIT between the literal mountain-Jerusalem and spiritual mountain Jerusalem (Zion- Hebrews 12) when the Jewish believers fled the city while the Jewish unbelieving apostates stayed in there. Talk about a church split! It separated the wheat from the chaff!

Did you know that there was always an intentional prophetic shift from the natural Jerusalem to the spiritual one. The author of Hebrews said that Abraham was looking not for a natural city, but for a city whose builder and maker was God (Hebrews 11:9-10). Paul said as well that the time had come for the "bond woman" Hagar, natural Jerusalem, to be "cast out" (Galatians 4). It is for this reason that Jesus provided a fountain of living water in that period of history and drew from Zechariah in doing so (John 4:10, 7:38). This is the same IN THAT DAY... there is no change of time here: Zechariah 14:8, "And IN THAT DAY it shall be That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, Half of them toward the eastern sea And half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur."

 Zechariah 14:9, "And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. IN THAT DAY it shall be— 'The Lord is one,' And His name one." In that day would be the period of history when the kingdom would come, though it would start as a mustard seed, it would increase in an unending way (Matthew 13).  This is why the prophet Isaiah (9:7) would write, "Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end." It is also why Jesus would say in Matthew 16:27-28 that the coming of the kingdom would be during the lifetime of his disciples and at the time of judgment.  He no longer has a covenant with natural Israel that is "competing" so to speak with the spiritual kingdom. Both Jew and Gentile are formed in one single kingdom in that day, one New Man, one family.

Are these Last Verses Fulfilled? 

The next few verses are ones in which many believe are yet to be fulfilled. While we may not understand (several thousand years later) how each was fulfilled, we must take note of this important truth: This is still using the same language of "in that day", so every single part of the last few verses are in the same period of history as "strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter". It is "in that day", and this is really the most important piece of evidence. TO IGNORE THIS EVIDENCE is to choose a form of interpretation that does violence to the text. 

14:13-14, " It will 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 and garments in great abundance."

Jesus, anticipating the soon coming destruction of the physical city of Jerusalem and knowing how hard it would be for them since they were not to go back to gather their possessions, said to them in Mark 10:29-30, "And Jesus answering said, `Verily I say to you, there is no one who left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or fields, for my sake, and for the good news', who may not receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and fields, with persecutions, and in the age that is coming, life age-during" (YLT)

The following verses of Zechariah 14 must be fulfilled already because it is in the same context of "in that day"!  14:16-19, "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. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does 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. This will be the punishment (sin) of Egypt, and the punishment (sin) of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths."

In other words, this is not a future event, but that which was happening during the time of AD 30- AD 70.  My personal belief is that the shift has happened here (just as Jesus wasn't speaking of a natural fountain of living waters, but a spiritual one). The Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths, was a celebration fulfilled in the truth that God now tabernacles among us. The Jerusalem is the one that the writer of Hebrews said, "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels..."  (Hebrews 12:22) Is Zechariah speaking of the those who came against the natural Jerusalem (the nations within Rome) or is the prophet speaking of the "nations" within Jerusalem (see above)? What I know for certain is that it must take place "in that day" a time past and coinciding with the first century.  

We know this also because we know that the Feast of Booths has been fulfilled. Not only did Jesus say everything written would be fulfilled in the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20-22), BUT he also said in Matthew 5:17-18, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the PROPHETS: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till ALL be fulfilled." If you believe that Zechariah 14 is future, then you must also believe that we are all still under ALL the Law. Not one jot or tittle can pass from the Law or the Prophets until all the prophets are fulfilled. There really is no way around this verse. The Feast of Booths that he describes has been fulfilled or we are all under every single detail of the Law still to this day including stoning sinners and offering sacrifices. 

Finally, in verses 20-21 it is obvious that this is ancient imagery, not modern, because the CANAANITES DON'T EVEN EXIST ANYMORE! "In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “HOLY TO THE LORD.” And the cooking pots in the LORD’S house will be like the bowls before the altar.  Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in 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 in the house of the LORD of hosts in that day."

Let me quote from "Preterism and Zechariah 12-14”, by Frank Speer as he deals with this verse and summarizes the context:

• The battle described in these chapters is waged on HORSEBACK (12:4) with SWORDS! (13:7) Is that how the COMING 21st century Great Tribulation is to be fought?

• Modern Jews do not and will not live in “TENTS” (12:7)

• Modern Jewish people CAN NO LONGER BE divided by their 12 ancestral tribes (12:6-14) since those tribes have long since been genetically diluted – the Jewish peoples of today simply CANNOT be equated with ancient, biblical Israel.

• The modern Jews do not and will not worship the "many Idols" mentioned in (13:2) – today’s Jews are mostly atheistic.

• There are no modern Jewish “prophets” (13:2) - nor will there be

• (13:4) - Will false Hebrew prophets wearing “HAIRY ROBES” soon appear in modern day Palestine in order to deceive a mass of Jewish peoples!!

• (13:2) "Unclean spirits" were evicted from Palestine by Jesus in the first century (Mt 12:28ff, 8:29 – “before the time?” = i.e. before the time of the end of apostate Judaism 70 AD)

• (13:3) – The modern Jewish peoples do not obey these ancient "Mosaic Laws" (parents killing children for false predictions etc)!

• (13:4-5) - Will “SLAVERY & AGRICULTURE” once again become COMMON PRACTICE for 21st century Palestinians and ALL NATIONS OF THE WORLD??

• Is the modern Palestinian Economy (as well as “ALL THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD” – 14:14) based on GOLD, SILVER, FABRIC, HORSES, MULES, CAMELS, DONKEYS AND CATTLE?? (14:14-15)

• Notice that the “ALL NATIONS” of 14:1 are QUALIFIED later by the “all the SURROUNDING nations” in 14:14. There is no mention here of ALL THE MODERN NATIONS OF THE 21st CENTURY WORLD! These ancient "Middle Eastern nations" surrounding ancient Israel’s were the same constant thorns Israel dealt with thru their entire history!!

• (14:16) Will the modern Jewish peoples, under Messiah, be keeping all of the Old Covenant "feasts" when the N.T. writers (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) clearly state that such things were merely TEMPORARY TYPOLOGICAL TUTORS intended to lead Israel to Christ??

Will Christ then, in the future, lead the “modern Jewish Christians” and ALL THE NATIONS OF THE MODERN WORLD backwards – to those ancient and “rudimentary things” ( Gk: "stoicheion" - Col 2:8, 20; 2 Pet 3:10) that only served to point to Messiah, the cross, the resurrection etc.???

The N.T. writers tell us that a RETURN to the Mosaic Economy (the OLD covenant system) would be to apostatize from Christ and to INVALIDATE the cross of Christ!!

• (14:16) – Will “all the nations” [of the entire modern world] soon be “GOING UP” to the modern city of Jerusalem each year to celebrate the Jewish feasts?? How will we all FIT??

Will ALL THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD soon, SUDDENLY become AGRARIAN BASED in order to begin THE ANNUAL PLANTING AND HARVESTING CYCLE necessary to keep the feast of booths (tabernacles) yearly? Because, if we do not - God is going to bring PLAGUES upon all those wicked nations and destroy their crops by withholding rain on their crops. (14:17-20)

• Is modern Israel under Messiah going to return to bloody ANIMAL SACRIFICES (the NT says that would be nothing short of "blasphemous" - (study the Book of Hebrews). Will they also be cooking these sacrificial animals in ancient cauldrons with sacred inscriptions carved into these utensils (14:21) See the Heb word – “ciyr” = “cooking cauldron”????? NO MODERN STOVES OR OVENS??

• Will the “CANAANITE” peoples (an extinct race of ancient Arabs) somehow re-appear in this 21st century world and soon be meeting side by side with modern Jews in a future rebuilt temple in Jerusalem - only to be 'kicked-out' when Jesus returns (14:21)????

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Header pic: https://mymorningmeditations.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/the-prophet.jpg 

pic of siege of Jerusalem: http://jewishcurrents.org/tag/siege-of-jerusalem

pic of the heavenly Jerusalem:  http://www.manmin.or.kr/english/ManminNews/content.asp?id=1682&cat=cat_01&page=12

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