When? Who? What? – context Before we interpret a prophecy we need to know what it is referring to – set the context. “In that day” – what is that day? – Jerusalem exalted, the highest mountain, nations streaming to it, submitting to God’s law, walking in His way, peace, end of weapons of war. This has never been fulfilled, this is not the return from Babylonian exile – this is, as it says in (v.1) “in the last days” When Jesus is seated on His throne. Who is the King on the throne? – Jesus! Verses 1-4 spoke of the nations coming to Jerusalem, now it is talking about the regathering of the scattered – who is it referring to? – To the nation of Israel. What is it talking about? The coming millennial rule of Jesus from Mount Zion, when the Kingdom is restored to Israel and Israel to her Messiah.
- A strong Kingdom out of the rejected [v.6, 7] When Brian builds a house he wants it to be strong, so he starts with the best material - if you use defective material the integrity of the whole structure is compromised, no matter how well you build. But with God it is different. Hallelujah! He takes the weak, the poor, the rejected, the failures, the nobodies – you and me, and makes something strong, good, and perfect! Praise God! (2 Corinthians 4:6,7 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves). “The lame” (v.6,7) – seems to be emphasized – what is the significance – the nations are seeking Jesus’ ways so that they may walk in His paths – but the lame are incapable of walking. (v.1-4) has talked about the nations coming – the Gentiles – but this is talking about the Jews, about Israel. They are weak, outcast, rejected. It is יהוה Himself who has afflicted her. They are incapable of walking in יהוה‘s ways – He has to restore them, remove the veil from their eyes so that they can see Jesus, the Messiah. The scattered are regathered – out of these יהוה makes a remnant. Jesus will reign over them in Zion forever. The Kingdom will be restored to them. יהוה also declares the establishment of His Kingdom - the regathering of His people whom He scattered and exiled in judgement. "I will gather ..." "I will assemble ..." - יהוה Himself will intervene and act on His people’s behalf. It is יהוה Him self’s doing! Hallelujah! This is not man’s idea or operation. All the weak, the poor He will gather – it is to the nobodies, that He will give help - not to the mighty, important and proud. The ones He gathers to Himself are the ones everyone else rejects - the lame, the outcasts, the poor, the afflicted - the HUMBLE (cf. 1 Peter 5:5-7 God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.). It was יהוה Himself who afflicted them; it is יהוה who will make them a remnant. Now He will have mercy on them and regather them to Himself, to the land, to be His people in His Kingdom. Hallelujah! יהוה Himself will do this, for He has declared it. - יהוה will restore His people to their land and there personally rule over them as King in His Messianic Kingdom. It is out of the dregs, the outcasts that יהוה will make a nation - the people the world discards and gives up on. Out of these hopeless cases, these handicapped, יהוה will make a mighty nation - then all will know that it is יהוה’s doing! All the glory goes to Him - for these people had no strength in themselves. יהוה will take a weak and crippled remnant and make them into a mighty nation. Has He not done this with His church? - made a people, a glorious temple out of the outcasts and sinners? יהוה will be King! Hallelujah! He will reign from Mount Zion, His holy hill. His Kingdom reign is FOREVER - it will know no end! Hallelujah! (cf. v.5; Daniel 7:13* Behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.) All glory be to the Eternal King! Do you feel your weakness, frailty, failure, do you despair that God can do anything with you? This is the very material He uses to build His Kingdom! Hallelujah! You may have fallen but יהוה restores.
- Restoration [v.8] – “The former kingdom will come” – it will be restored to Israel. Israel was once a kingdom with David on the throne. His greater Son will take up the throne and the dynasty of David will be restored. Jesus will reign from Zion. “You, the tower of the flock" – shepherds built a raised platform to watch the flock from – the watchtower speaks of the intercessor/prophet. It possibly refers to Mount Zion, the holy hill or to Jesus - the One who stood watch over His people, guarding their security. The word “hill” is “Ophel” and means “pride”. The pride of the daughter of Zion is Jerusalem. The hill of the daughter of Zion is the temple mount - the Ophel - the hill from which King David reigned. From there his greater Son, Jesus will reign - the government will be upon His shoulders (cf. Isaiah 9:6,7) - the former dominion, the Davidic kingdom will be restored (cf. Amos 9:11“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old). Jerusalem will be the capital of the whole world forever, with יהוה ruling from there. From His tower the Good Shepherd will watch over the peoples. Zion is emphasized (6x); the mountain of יהוה (3x); and Jerusalem (2x) – There will be a Kingdom of Israel again - Jesus will rule from Jerusalem, from His holy mountain. יהוה restores! You may have lost what you once had, that which is the LORD’s intention for you – יהוה is a God of restoration – who returns that which was taken away and it seems that it is impossible to regain – there will be a restoration of all things (Acts 3:19-22* Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Messiah appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you.) Restoration is wonderful but the process of bringing it about is painful – as anyone whose marriage has been restored will tell you. Bringing something new to birth involves pain.
Bringing to birth out of desperation [v.9,10] - God’s people are mourning their misfortune, יהוה having afflicted them – He exiled them to Babylon, they no longer have any king – this happened, but Jews are still in Babylon, the humanistic world system that places man and his ability as god. Jews are the foremost of humanists, the world religion that is in utter opposition to יהוה. But there is no cause for their grief - for their King has come to rescue them. They have the King in their midst, the wonderful Counsellor (cf. Isaiah 9:6). Counsel hasn’t perished - there is no reason to be in distress and cry out. If only they would trust in their Messiah, their King who has already come. But before that day when He rules, Israel would indeed cry out - she would writhe in agony like one with labour pains or one giving birth - Israel would experience terrible distress and pain - but with the promise of the pain bringing forth something wonderful to birth. יהוה Himself would be her Redeemer. He Himself would pay the ransom and redeem her from the hand of her enemies. Jesus has redeemed us from the hands of our enemies. He Himself has paid the ransom price. Bless and praise His wonderful Name! יהוה our Redeemer! Hallelujah! Bringing to birth is painful. יהוה regathers her, rescues her, but you have to be rescued from something – dire trouble is coming to Israel. Israel goes through the mill first – all nations will be gathered against Jerusalem – it looks like she will be utterly destroyed but Jesus intervenes! Hallelujah! (Zechariah 12:1-10 Thus declares יהוה who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him, Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it. In that day,” declares יהוה, “I will strike every horse with bewilderment and his rider with madness. But I will watch over the house of Judah, while I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘A strong support for us are the inhabitants of Jerusalem through יהוה of armies, their God.’ In that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among sheaves, so they will consume on the right hand and on the left all the surrounding peoples, while the inhabitants of Jerusalem again dwell on their own sites in Jerusalem. יהוה also will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem will not be magnified above Judah. In that day יהוה will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of יהוה before them. And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. Zechariah 14 Behold day is coming for יהוה when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then יהוה will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. And יהוה will be king over all the earth; in that day יהוה will be the only one, and His name the only one. Jerusalem will dwell in security. Now this will be the plague with which יהוה will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth. It will come about in that day that a great panic from יהוה 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. 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, יהוה of armies.) Israel will be saved but only when all are against her and destruction seems imminent. At that point יהוה Himself intervenes. Giving birth is painful (Matthew 24:8 speaks of: all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. John 16:21 Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.) - are you going through painful and difficult circumstances? God may very well be using them to bring His glorious purposes to birth. We need to come to that place of desperation, come to an end of ourselves – that is the point where God intervenes in power!
- יהוה’s purpose [v.11-13] For יהוה has a purpose in this pain, He is accomplishing His plan. All gather against Jerusalem – * Jerusalem will go into exile, but יהוה Himself will redeem her, rescue her and bring her back to the land where He Himself will rule over her and all the nations The nations that come to Jesus in (v.1-4) are the remnant of the nations that gathered against her to destroy Jerusalem – but they were destroyed and only a remnant was left. Jerusalem had been shamed, the object of derision of the nations. Everyone was against her. This pictures the time before the end when all nations gather against Jerusalem to destroy her. Their desire is to see her put to shame, defile her - to gloat over her downfall (cf. Zech 12:2-9; 14:2-11). Jerusalem is to be holy but the world wants to defile that which is holy.
יהוה in absolute control - יהוה’s thoughts are above ours - These nations that gather against Jerusalem think that they decided to go to war against Israel but in fact it was God’s doing – He was behind it, He determined what they would do and He had a purpose in it - יהוה had planned it so long ago. They don’t understand His purpose, His plan, His ways, they don’t know His thoughts. They think that they are gathering to destroy יהוה’s holy city but, in fact, יהוה is gathering the nations in order to destroy those that would destroy His people. He is gathering them so that His people will execute vengeance, retribution on those that for so long have persecuted them. Israel herself will trample those that set out to trample her - in Divine justice and retribution. In their greed and hatred, their eager desire to destroy Jerusalem, יהוה had fooled the nations - their evil heart will cause them to fall straight into the trap that יהוה has set for them. They will be threshed, completely trampled, overrun and cut to pieces. This is the prelude to יהוה establishing His throne in Jerusalem. יהוה is in absolute control – history is a Divine drama that He wrote and directs – the nations carry out His purpose. They think that they are doing their will but God is using it to bring about His own purposes – they are actually doing His will! Hallelujah! (Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.)
the weak will vanquish the strong - יהוה deliberately gathered the nations so that He could judge them and destroy the wicked – thresh them. The weak remnant would pulverize the nations. The nations, the enemies of God’s people will be trapped. They gather to destroy Jerusalem but it is they that will be trampled. Israel won’t have to go out after her enemies, the many nations that have oppressed her - יהוה will bring them to her doorstep - hand them to her on a plate - like grain to be threshed. We don’t thresh our wheat, a machine does – to get at the grain within the kernel, first the outer husk had to be broken, and ripped off – it was chaff, that was blown away in the wind. But before it was winnowed the outer husk was broken by oxen trampling it or pulling a heavy sled with sharp iron teeth in it over the grain. A vivid and bloodthirsty picture of what will happen to the nations that oppose Jesus! And it is weak little Israel that will be His instrument to thresh them. They will receive a thrashing! Now יהוה gives the order for Israel to arise and thresh. For so long she has been trodden under foot and not been given the chance to revenge all that she has borne. But now the order comes from יהוה. She will wreak vengeance for all the wrong and cruelty done to her. She will pulverize many peoples - crushed to fine dust - harsh and cruel punishment, hard and unyielding. Her horn (strength) will be iron (invincible), her hoofs (treading under foot - subjection) will be bronze (judgement). This is not human vengeance, this is something done to יהוה (חרם) - devoted to destruction - just as the irredeemably wicked inhabitants of Canaan were to be - an offering to יהוה. This is יהוה’s justice at work by the hand of His people Israel. It is the weak, the humble that will ultimately triumph. It is the opposite way around to the way the world perceives it.
יהוה receives that which is His These nations had acted wickedly, oppressing and, by injustice, amassing wealth (the capitalist/materialistic society of the West). The world has robbed God! – taken the wealth that is His – He will act to get it back – all the wealth of the nations will return to Jesus and He will use the weak remnant of Israel to accomplish this – use the weak to confound the strong., the poor to get the wealth of the rich. This wealth is יהוה’s! It is not ours – the nations had greedily grabbed it for themselves by whatever means they could. Now it would be returned to its rightful Owner - the Lord of all the earth! Hallelujah! The whole materialistic, capitalistic, mercantile system will be utterly destroyed. Hallelujah! It is opposed to God. The destruction of this greed and material based human system is the prelude to the reign of יהוה (cf. Revelation 18:15 The merchants became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!’ And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’ And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’ Rejoice over her, O heaven and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.” Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer. Your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.” After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.” And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!) God’s Kingdom will come! Praise His Name! Are you part of it? Is this what you are seeking? Are you seeking your own wealth or that the LORD receive all that is rightfully His, which includes your very self?