Can you explain the fate of the city of Jerusalem at the time of Christ's return, as revealed in the book of Zechariah?


Numerous passages in the book of Zechariah and in other places in the Old and New Testament reveal that the city of Jerusalem will be facing a terrible time of destruction, but that it also will be subsequently blessed beyond human comprehension.

Jesus stated in Luke 21 that Jerusalem will be surrounded by Gentile armies which will make the city “desolate” (verse 20). He added that the city will be “trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (verse 24). We read in Daniel 11:41 that the “king of the North” — a military leader — will “enter the Glorious Land” and “plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain” (verse 45)–apparently establishing the city of Jerusalem as his new headquarters.

Paul adds in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 that the “man of sin” or the “lawless one” — a religious leader — will sit “as God in the temple of God,” claiming to be God. His powers will be given to him by Satan (verse 9). This passage indicates that a physical temple will be built in Jerusalem, and that the “lawless one” will be sitting in that temple. That an end-time temple may be built can also be seen in Zechariah 6:15.

Revelation 11:1-2 seems to confirm that a physical temple will be built in Jerusalem, and that the Gentiles will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months–that is, for three-and-a-half years. They will kill God’s “two witnesses” in Jerusalem–a city which by that time is compared with the city of Sodom (verse 8). But God will resurrect the two witnesses, and an earthquake will strike the city, destroying a tenth part of it, and 7,000 people will die in that earthquake (verse 13).

We also read that sacrifices will be given in Jerusalem until the king of the North, the man of sin and the Gentile armies take them away (Daniel 11:31; 8:9-14).

Joel 3:2, 11-14 reveals that at the time of Jesus Christ’s return, ALL nations–that is, their armies–will move to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, outside Jerusalem, in order to fight there. Revelation 16:14, 16 tells us that they will first assemble at a place called Armageddon–but according to the book of Joel, they will then move towards Jerusalem. At that time, the modern nations of Israel and Judah will have already been defeated in war and have become captives of Gentile powers (Joel 3:1, 6; compare Jeremiah 30:10). The book of Joel informs us further that Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem to fight for it–and THEN “Jerusalem shall be holy” (verse 17). He and His saints will overcome all of God’s enemies, including the king of the North, the man of sin and their armies–their attempt to fight Christ and His saints will be defeated (Revelation 17:14).

With this brief background, let us now focus on what is stated in the book of Zechariah, regarding the end-time fate of Jerusalem.

The LORD or Jesus Christ, the Messiah, tells us that He will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and that His house shall be built in it (Zechariah 1:16). He assures us that Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls–that is, it will be peaceful (2:4). When God dwells in Jerusalem, it shall be called the “City of Truth, The Mountain of the LORD of hosts, The Holy Mountain'” (8:3). Then, “Old men and old women shall again sit In the streets of Jerusalem… The streets of the city Shall be full of boys and girls Playing in its streets…” (8:4-5). The captives of Israel and Judah will be brought back to Jerusalem “from the land of the east and from the land of the west… And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be My people, And I will be their God, In truth and righteousness” (8:7-8).

As the modern nations of Israel and Judah will become a curse among the nations just prior to Christ’s return, so they will become a blessing when Christ saves them (8:13). Christ is determined to do good to Jerusalem in the end (8:15). Then, “many peoples and strong nations Shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem And to pray before the LORD” (8:22). The Jews will be respected at that time–rather than still harboring anti-Semitic feelings, Gentile nations will ask the Jewish people to show them the way to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (8:23).

In Zechariah 9:9-10, we read about Christ’s first AND second coming to Jerusalem. At His first coming, He rode peacefully on a donkey (verse 9). At His second coming, He will also bring peace to the city–by DESTROYING all the weapons of war (verse 10)–and–as we will see–by DESTROYING those who want to destroy the city.

Just prior to His return, Christ will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against it (12:2). Verses 3 and 4 tell us: “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. In that day… I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness… and will strike every horse of the peoples [soldiers] with blindness.”

Verses 8, 9 and 11 continue: “In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem… It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem… In that day there shall be great mourning in Jerusalem…”

When Christ returns to Jerusalem, He will “cut off the names of the idols from the land” and He will “cause the [false] prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land” (13:2). We also read that two-thirds of all the inhabitants of the land of Judah will die, and that the remaining one-third will be refined in fire–that is, they will repent during the “Great Tribulation” and the “Day of the Lord,” and become converted (13:8-9).

The last chapter of the book of Zechariah (chapter 14) gives us, without doubt, the great crescendo or final climax of the fate of the city of Jerusalem–picturing first its terrible future destruction, and then its subsequent glorious destiny.

Note these highlights from chapter 14, which bring into focus, in a coordinated fashion, the various statements quoted in this Q&A pertaining to Jerusalem’s future:

“(1) Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. (2) 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. (3) Then the LORD will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle. (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… (5) Then you shall flee through my mountain valley… 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 with [Him]… (7) It shall be one day Which is known to the LORD [God the Father]…

“(12) And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, Their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, And their tongue shall dissolve in their mouths. (13) It shall come to pass in that day That a great panic from the LORD will be among them. Everyone will… raise his hand against his neighbor’s hand; (14) Judah will also fight at [better: against] Jerusalem [speaking of those Jews who escaped captivity by supporting the Gentile armies, compare Daniel 11:32]… (15) 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 [military] camps. So shall this plague be.”

But Christ also tells us in the 14th chapter of the book of Zechariah what will happen AFTER His return–when He begins to RULE in Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David (compare Luke 1:31-33):

“(8) And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem… (9) And the LORD shall be King over all the earth… (10) Jerusalem shall be raised up and inhabited in her place… (11) The people shall dwell in it; And no longer shall there be utter destruction, But Jerusalem shall be inhabited… (16) And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (17) And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain. (18) If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (19) This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

“(20) In that day ‘HOLINESS TO THE LORD’ shall be engraved on the bells of the horses… (21) Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the LORD of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them. In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite [an unconverted, rebellious person] in the house of the LORD of hosts.”

The entire book of Zechariah, all its visions and prophecies, point at this most important event in the history of man–the return of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He will come to establish the righteous and peaceful Kingdom of God on this war-stricken earth. May God speed THAT day, and let us pray, “Your Kingdom COME,” while making sure that we are coming out of spiritual Babylon, lest we “share in her sins, and lest [we] receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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