JERUSALEM: THE “BURDENSOME STONE”
This article is being written after President George Bush’s visit to Israel and several Arab nations in an effort to broker some kind of “peace settlement” for the region. This visit was made in the end-game of the Bush presidency, and it part of an effort to create some kind of legacy for the Bush Presidency. Any Mideast settlement will have to include an agreement about the city of Jerusalem which has long been a flashpoint in Mideast politics. This article will examine Jerusalem’s role in latter-day prophecy, but first it will consider the current geopolitical situation involving Jerusalem so biblical prophecies about the city can be understood in their proper context.
There is nothing wrong in trying to seek peace in the Mideast. That goal is both a desirable international goal and an elusive, quixotic quest. Obstacles to achieving a peace settlement in the Mideast are massive. President Bush is obviously pressured by oil-rich Arab nations who have growing influence over the decisions of any American President due to their power to withhold loans from the insatiable American debt markets, dump T-bonds on the open market or demand that the oil market be priced in euros instead of dollars. To motivate the Arab nations to accept depreciating US dollars for oil exports, President Bush has to give the Arabs some kind of “quid pro quo” in return. What could that be?
The “quid pro quo” that Arab oil nations are demanding of President Bush appears to be the creation of a Palestinian State in an Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Indeed, given President Bush’s recent pro-Palestinian stance, Arab nations may have already given an ultimatum to Bush that he must create a Palestinian state in order to keep the oil markets priced in US dollars. Implementing this goal would require unprecedented pressure by President Bush on the Israelis to yield their longstanding territorial and security interests. This American pressure will be characterized in public pronouncements as “making hard choices for peace.” However, huge obstacles remain.
One obstacle is the fact that Israelis are justifiably skeptical of any more “land for peace” proposals. Israel has withdrawn in stages from many chunks of territory while gaining precious little “peace.” Looking at recent history with a cold eye, one could observe that Israeli security interests are inversely-proportional to the amount of land it surrenders. When Israel withdrew from South Lebanon, it reaped the Hezbollah missile barrage of 2006 and it now lives under the threat of renewed missile barrages at any time. When Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, it reaped not peace, but additional missile barrages from Hamas and other Palestinian groups. The numerous missile attacks raining down on the Israeli city of Sderot and other locations from Palestinian Gaza are a stark witness to the heretofore futility of “making deals” with the Palestinians.
Another obstacle to any Mideast settlement is the fact that (as this article is being written) the leaders of both Israel (Olmert) and the Palestinians (Abbas) are in very weak political positions. If either leader makes any major concessions, their respective governments could collapse quickly. Indeed, the Palestinians have no real “government” to negotiate in their behalf. Abbas cannot bind anything in behalf of the Palestinians in any “deal.” His Fatah faction barely controls the West Bank and it has no control over the region of Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. There can be no real peace deal without the consent of Hezbollah and Hamas, but those groups are not part of the peace negotiations and they are committed to the destruction of Israel itself! This overriding fact makes the current round of negotiations almost a charade because Olmert doesn’t represent the majority view of Israeli citizens and Abbas doesn’t speak for many Palestinians. Now let’s consider the biggest obstacle of all: the city of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is at the heart of all potential “deals” in the Mideast, and it is likely the most intractable problem of all. The Israelis took control of Jerusalem in 1967, and it is at the very heart and soul of Jewish identity and ethos. If Olmert decided to give away portions of Jerusalem in a peace deal, his government could fall immediately. If an Israeli government tried to entirely surrender the “West Bank” regions of Samaria and Judea, the same thing could happen. The issue is just as intractable on the Arab side. Any Arab leader who acknowledges Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem could well pay for such action with their lives. The assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who made peace with Israel, acts as a powerful historical precedent for Arab leaders to consider.
International entities have tried to broker some kind of settlement which would make Jerusalem an “international city” administered by the UN (which is unacceptable to the Israelis) or the Vatican (which is unacceptable to Moslem nations). Many American Presidents have made efforts to find a permanent peace solution. Some have made incremental progress, but no permanent peace solution has been found. The EU periodically tries to find a solution to the “problem of Jerusalem.” The UN also sometimes tries, but its member groups are so passionately anti-Israeli that the Israelis cannot trust a UN solution. There is also the diplomatic “quartet,” composed of the USA, the EU, the UN and Russia, which has also tried to find (or some would say “impose”) a settlement on the region via various “roadmap” efforts. All efforts at a Mideast peace solution founder on the shoals of the status of Jerusalem. This was prophesied, about 2500 years ago, to occur in our modern times. Let’s now look at the subject of Jerusalem through biblical eyes.
There are many prophesies in the Bible which describe a unique period of time called “the latter days,” the “time of the end,” the “Day of the Lord,” etc. There are many prophesies about the conditions and events which will occur in this prophesied time, and anyone can objectively look at world conditions and see that these prophesies have come to pass. Indeed, the Creator God who authored the Bible bluntly challenges everyone in Isaiah 41:21-26 to look at his ability to fulfill biblical prophecies as prima facie proof that he not only exists, but also that the Bible is his inspired Word. Some “latter-day” biblical prophecies could only be fulfilled (or even literally understood) in a high-tech society. This key prophetic time is called “the latter days” because it will occur at the very end of the time allotted for mankind to govern itself upon the earth, and immediately prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and his millennial reign (in Christian terms) or the Messianic Age (in Jewish terms).
All key biblical prophecies about latter day conditions have either been fulfilled or they are being fulfilled in our modern world. God’s challenge in Isaiah 41 has been sustained for those who have the interest to check out the evidence for themselves. If you wish to see a detailed examination of these prophesies, please read the article “Are We Living in the Biblical Latter Days?” available at www.stevenmcollins.com. The evolutionary atheists and agnostics who claim there is no God are wrong. It is not even difficult to prove them wrong. When it is realized that biblical prophecies, which are known to date from very ancient times, are being fulfilled simultaneously in a detailed manner in our modern world, it is time to take the Bible far more seriously. In that vein, let’s examine specific biblical prophecies about the status of Jerusalem in the latter days.
The book of Zechariah was written about 2500 years ago, and chapters 12-14 often use the phrase “in that day” as a short-hand version of the longer phrase “the day of the Lord.” Zechariah 12:2-3 offers this prophecy about Jerusalem at the end of our age:
“Behold I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all people round
about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against
Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for
all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though
all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” [King James
This is a remarkably accurate description of Jerusalem’s role in both recent history and modern geopolitics. Many nations and international entities have tried, without success, to “solve” the problem of Jerusalem. Zechariah’s prophecy that Jerusalem would become a “burdensome stone” for “all people” has come to pass. The secularized leaders of the western world cannot grasp that for people with fervent religious beliefs, compromise on Jerusalem is not an option. The Israelis/Jews control Jerusalem, so they are the “immoveable object” which will not yield sovereignty over the city. The Islamic demands to control the city of Jerusalem are an “irresistible force” which seeks to control the city. Both the Jews and Moslems are fervent in their beliefs that they should control the city of Jerusalem. Does the Bible state God’s will on the matter? Yes, it does.
Zephaniah 2:1 begins a prophecy which will be fulfilled in “the day of the Lord’s anger” (another apocalyptic expression for the latter days). After verses 4-5 pronounce a divine curse on the region of the old Philistine people (now the Palestinian region of Gaza), verse 7 prophesies that “the remnant of Judah” shall live in the “coast” of the old Promised Land and it adds the city of Ashkelon will be within the territory of Judah. This prophecy was fulfilled in 1948 (and its aftermath) when the Jewish state of Israel was born. As the British Mandate area of Palestine was being divided, the coastal region was part of the Jewish state, just as Zephaniah 2:7 prophesied. The Jewish nation began as a coastal region which extended northward into Galilee and southward to the Red Sea.
The prophecy of Zephaniah 2 refers to the Jewish people in the end-times as “the remnant of Judah.” This was a very appropriate term for the Jewish people as they were, indeed, a mere “remnant” of the Jewish population which had lived in Europe prior to the Holocaust of World War II. This prophecy states unmistakably that it is “God’s Will” that there will be a Jewish nation in the old Promised Land in the latter days of our age. The term “Jew” is simply a phonetic shortening of the word “Judah.” Anyone who doubts this fact can see abundant evidence that modern Jews are the Israelite tribe of Judah in my article, “Four Reasons the Jews are Judah,” available for free at this website.
After the British Palestine Mandate region was divided into Jewish and Arab sectors in 1948, few expected the Jewish state to survive the onslaught of several Arab armies. However, the Jewish War of Independence resulted in a miraculous victory for the incredibly outnumbered and outgunned Israelis. Their victory was foreordained by God as Zephaniah 2 prophesied that the Jews would have a nation in the Old Promised Land in the latter days. The outgunned Jews did not fight alone as God’s decree was on their side. In the decades since that time, several wars were fought in which the Israelis conquered portions of surrounding Arab and Moslem nations. They took control of the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the “West Bank” region of old Judea and Samaria from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria and a portion of South Lebanon from Lebanon. Was this expansion of the Israeli nation also prophesied by the Bible? Yes, it was.
Genesis 49 contains prophesies about the characteristics or heritage of each of the tribes of Israel in “the latter days.” This prophecy confirms that all the tribes must be present among the nations in the latter days as all the tribes except Simeon and Levi have prophecies applicable to individual nations (Genesis 49:7 states that Simeon and Levi will be scattered among the nations of the other tribes). God inspired Genesis 49’s prophecy millennia ago to assist believers in locating all the tribes of Israel in the latter days. This article will only address the prophecy about the tribe of Judah in the latter days (prophecies about all the tribes are examined in detail in my book, Israel’s Tribes Today).
Genesis 49:9 prophesied that Judah, in the latter days, would be a “lion’s whelp.” A “lion’s whelp” is a “lion cub.” In other words, Judah will have the characteristics of a lion, but it will be like a “small” and “young” lion. This biblical symbolism perfectly fits modern realities. The Jewish Israeli nation is both a “small” and a “young” nation, but it has fought wars with the aggressive nature of a lion. Verse 8 prophesies that Judah’s “hand will be in the neck of [its] enemies.” Modern Judah (the Israelis) has, indeed, had its enemies “by the throat” in a number of wars in recent history (1956, 1967, 1973). Verse 8 also prophesies that the other tribes would “praise” Judah in the latter days. The people in the western world admired the military prowess of the upstart Israeli nation, and this admiration grew especially strong after the Israeli’s daring raid to rescue kidnapped Jews in Entebbe, Uganda. Many admired the expertly-conducted Jewish aerial attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor in Baghdad in 1981 [see the book, Raid on the Sun, by Roger Claire for a detailed account of that raid].
The prophecy of Genesis 49 confirmed that the Israeli nation in the latter-days would be a small, young nation whose aggressive nature in victorious wars would attract the admiration of many people in the nations of its brother tribes of Israel. In this prophecy, we can see the Israeli victories in 1956, 1967 and 1973 were divinely fore-ordained. Another prophecy in Zechariah 12:6 adds additional confirmation on this very point.
Zechariah 12:6 states: “In that day will I make the governors of Judah like a hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place...[Emphasis added].” This prophecy states that in the latter days (“in that day…”), Judah (the Israelis) will “devour” people and regions on both sides of the Israeli nation. This was fulfilled when the Israelis conquered the Sinai Peninsula (from Egypt “on the left hand” of Israel as one looks at a map) and conquered the West Bank from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria (on the “right hand” of Israel as one looks at a map). Again, these victories and land seizures by Israel in its wars were prophesied millennia ago in the Bible to occur in our latter-day period of time. Notice also the prophetic phrase “Jerusalem will be inhabited again in her own place.” Jerusalem was always the capital of the ancient kingdom of Judah. This prophecy indicates that Jerusalem would again become the capital of the latter-day nation of Judah. This was fulfilled in 1967 when Israeli forces conquered the historic portions of the city of Jerusalem, and later made it the capital of the modern Israeli nation.
In the modern world, Israeli governments have been giving back the chunks of land which they conquered from the surrounding nations that had intended to “drive them into the sea.” The prophetic scriptures do not mention any return of these lands to the defeated nations, but neither do they forbid it. This begs the question: Have Israeli governments been taking actions which are contrary to the spirit, if not the letter, of these prophecies? Time will tell, but there are prophecies which reveal that the Israeli nation and the city of Jerusalem will experience great peril at the end of our age during a climactic World War III.
No matter how the current “peace process” unfolds, Jerusalem will remain a “burdensome stone” for the nations until the end of this age. It is possible that a regional “Peace Agreement” may be signed which temporarily will seem to resolve issues involving the city of Jerusalem, but what could make such an agreement happen? International efforts to develop a peace agreement seem always to want the Israelis to make substantial concessions. What could possibly cause the Israeli right-wing parties in the Knesset to consent to any agreement which would cede part of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians for the “Al Quds” capital of a new Palestinian nation? Perhaps an agreement which permitted the Jews to build a new Temple on that location could make it happen. Any such agreement would likely require the Temple Mount region to be placed under some kind of international jurisdiction. This may or may not happen, but there are prophecies which indicate a Temple site must dedicated or under construction in the latter days.
Daniel 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11 all refer to the stoppage of daily sacrifices and the placement or setting up of some kind of “abomination” that “makes desolate” at the very end of our age. In Matthew 24:15, Jesus Christ cited these very scriptures in Daniel in prophesying that an “abomination of desolation” would “stand in the holy place,” and that this event would signal the imminent end of the age. The offering of daily sacrifices has to begin at some future point in order for them to be “stopped” in a future blasphemous action. There has to be a “Holy Place” in order for an “abomination of desolation” to be placed there at the end of our age. Unless one wants to adopt the very minimalist position that these prophecies simply refer to the physical terrain of the ancient Holy Place in Solomon’s or Herod’s Temples, there will have to be a new “Holy Place” built in which a blasphemous image can be placed.
These prophecies argue that a physical Third Temple needs to be built or at least be under construction at the end of our age. It is not necessary that a Temple be completed for sacrifices to begin. Ezra 6:17 records that burnt offerings and sacrifices were made at the time that an ancient Temple site was first “dedicated,” not at the time the work was completed. If this is a precedent for a modern event, daily sacrifices could be offered at a Temple site as soon as a formal dedication ceremony was made at the site. There is a Jewish Temple Institute in Jerusalem which has already prepared many utensils, objects and items of priestly attire for use in a new Temple so sacrifices could begin quickly if a Temple site was made possible in a wide-ranging peace agreement.
Whatever agreement may be made to allow the dedication or construction of a new Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the prophecies of Daniel 9:27, 11:31 and 12: 11 as well as Matthew 24:15 all argue that some globally-powerful entity will renege on that agreement and stop work on the Temple, stop the daily sacrifices and place or stand some kind of blasphemous object, image or person in the “Holy Place” of that Temple site. Matthew 24:15-21 prophesies that this blasphemous event will signal that terrible warfare is so imminent that any believers are warned to get out of that region with utmost haste if they are in the region of Jerusalem when this event occurs. Luke 21:20-23’s account adds that Jerusalem will be “compassed by armies” just prior to the placement of this blasphemous thing which will be a “desolation” in the eyes of God.
It is my view that the placement of the “abomination of desolation” in a Holy Place in Jerusalem will not occur until after the slaying of the Two Witnesses in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:7-8). Because the Two Witnesses will have displayed superior power to any world religious system or leaders for a period of time prior to their deaths, no entity or religious system would have the ability or credibility to take such a blasphemous action until the Two Witnesses are slain and their divinely-delegated power is removed from the world geopolitical situation. Their bodies will lie unburied in the city of Jerusalem for three and one-half days (Revelation 11:7-10) as their slayers celebrate and refuse to allow their bodies to be buried. The Two Witnesses will surely have publicized to the world the prophecy of Revelation 11:9-11 that they will be resurrected to life after three and one-half days. Knowing this and having no faith in a real Creator God, the world ruling system will likely forbid anyone to bury their bodies to prove to the world that they were not “divinely-sent prophets” when they do not rise to life after that period of time. However, Revelation 11:11-13 prophesies that the Two Witnesses will be resurrected after three and one-half days, shocking and terrifying the entire world whose population will likely be watching their bodies on live web-cams. This prophecy also states that the Two Witnesses will be taken up into heaven as the world watches in shocked amazement, and the city of Jerusalem will suffer a terrible earthquake which will kill 7000 people.
After the resurrection of the Two Witnesses, a “great tribulation” will occur which would end all life on earth if the war was not stopped by divine intervention (Matthew 24:22). This has to be the same climactic time prophesied in Daniel 12:1. Daniel 11:40-45 describes an alliance of a final world political leader who is called “the king of the north.” This final king of the north power will “plant the tabernacles of his palace…in the glorious holy mountain” (Daniel 11:45) just before his rule and kingdom collapse when his forces and domain are attacked from the “north and the east” in a surprise attack which launches World War III (Daniel 11:44).
The book of Revelation uses different imagery for this final world political leader. It calls him the “beast” and adds that he will work closely with a false religious figure called the “false prophet” (Revelation 13:4-7, 16:10-14, 17:12, 19:20, etc.). The final blasphemous political leader will be the political head of the system called “Babylon the Great” in Revelation 18. The false prophet, called “the image of the beast” in Revelation 13:11-15, will have the power to do “great wonders” and “miracles” to deceive many people. II Thessalonians 2:93-11 addresses this same time and it states there will be a “man of sin” who has a “coming” of his own which will be “after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” This false prophet will be energized by occult power, but this account also indicates that some of the “wonders” will be “lying wonders” or “pseudo-wonders” (the Greek word translated “lying” is “pseudos”)
In our age, mankind can create all kinds of believable imagery which seems real but is not. Those dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park movies seemed awfully real as did the orcs and trolls of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Hollywood is getting very good as creating “miraculous” events which are not actually real. The fact that the prophecy of II Thessalonians warns that some “miracles” will be of a “lying” or deceitful nature argues that some of the false prophet’s wonders will be high-tech “smoke and mirrors” events. Perhaps the “Second Coming of Jesus Christ” will be “staged” via holographic projectors and lasers to confer credibility on an imposter “Messiah.” Given the prophecy of Zechariah 14:4, any faked “coming” of a false Messiah would have to be staged in or by Jerusalem. Daniel 11:44-45 indicates a final world ruler will set up his “tabernacles” in a “glorious holy mountain.” What location on earth is considered “holy” to more religions than the city of Jerusalem?
Perhaps a holographic “Jesus” will descend from heaven and appear to land in the desert just outside the city of Jerusalem. Why did the real Jesus Christ warn in Matthew 24:23-27 that “false christs” and “false wonders” will result in many people thinking he has landed in “the desert” unless some elaborate deception will try to simulate such an event? In our modern high-tech world, such an event could be orchestrated to depict a fake “Jesus” descending from the heavens and affirming the rule of the beast and false prophet from a “secret chamber” in “the desert.” I’m not predicting this has to be the way these prophecies will be fulfilled, but offer them as an example of how they could be fulfilled in out modern high-tech world.
I Thessalonians 2:4 prophesies that an exceedingly arrogant and evil leader will “oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped ; so that he, as God, sits in the temple of God showing himself that he is God.” Such a false leader is the kind of person who would “stop the daily sacrifice” and “stand” in the Holy Place of a Jewish Temple that has been built or is being built. Obviously, this event would have to occur in Jerusalem. When this person stands (or some blasphemous image is placed) in the Holy Place and this evil leader proclaims himself to “be God,” the abomination of desolation will have occurred. Massive warfare will follow quickly in the wake of this event. This is the time that Jesus warned people living in the region of Jerusalem to flee quickly (Matthew 24:16-22), and he warned those not in this region to stay away from it (Luke 21:21)
Daniel 11:44-45 prophesies the domain of this final blasphemous leader (called the last “king of the north”) will then be attacked from the east and north after which the “end of the age comes” (Daniel 12:1-2). Do we know from other biblical prophesies the nature of these attacks from the east and north? Yes. Ezekiel 38 (see verses 6 and 15) and Joel 2 (see verse 20) prophesy that a climactic attack from out of the north will occur in which the modern nations of Russia, China, Iran and their allies will attack the nations of the latter-day ten tribes of Israel (the USA, many NATO nations, and their allies), after which the end of the age occurs (Ezekiel 39:8). Revelation 16:12-17 foretells of a great invasion force coming from the east out of Asia westward across the Euphrates River resulting in the battle of Armageddon (the “battle of that great day of God Almighty”) after which the end of the age occurs (Revelation 12:17). What is the target of an Asian army attacking westward from the Euphrates River? Zechariah 14:1 discusses the battle “on the day of the Lord,” when many nations send armies to attack Jerusalem. These will be the armies out of Asia which crossed the Euphrates River heading westward. Not only will Jerusalem be attacked because of its religious significance, but it will also be attacked because the alliance led by Gog and Magog is attacking the international capital city of the king of the north/beast/false prophet (Daniel 11:44-45, II Thessalonians 2:4). Zechariah 12 also describes this same age-ending battle, and it states in verse 7 that God will “save the tents [habitations] of Judah first…”, and this makes sense as the Israelis have no hinterland in which to retreat or survive like such modern nations as the USA, Canada, Australia, etc. The Israelis will be living right at the epicenter of the final war of this age, and they will need rescuing “first.” Zechariah 14:1-4 confirms this prophecy.
In this age-ending war, Jerusalem will be in the process of falling to the invaders (Zechariah 14:2) when Divine intervention occurs. Zechariah 14:3-4 describes the real arrival of the Messiah/the return of Jesus Christ. His feet will literally stand on the Mount of Olives at the epicenter of a global war which is about to destroy all life on earth (Matthew 24:21-22). Zechariah 14:14 states that “Judah is also fighting” in this war over the region of Jerusalem. What does it mean “also?” Judah is not the only combatant defending Jerusalem. God’s heavenly army arrives to be sure, but the armies of the “king of the north/the beast” are also fighting at this location.
Zechariah 14:12 prophesies that all those “who fought against Jerusalem” will have their flesh consume off them before they even have time to fall over. In other words, their tissues will melt off their bones as they stand. There will be an incomprehensively-large number of bones to bury after many million of people die in this manner. Ezekiel 38’s prophesy is about another theater of World War III, but the same fate befalls the enemies of the house of Israel as well. They will also be reduced to bones, and it will take seven months for full-time work details to gather and bury them all (Ezekiel 39:12-17).
Modern mankind knows what kinds of weaponry melts flesh off bones before people can fall over. It happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It will happen again on a massive scale at the end of this age. Apparently, the western alliance of all the tribes of Israel, the western nations and their world allies (including the Israelis) will unleash so many weapons of mass destruction upon the Russian- and Chinese-led alliance that humanity itself will near extinction. The initial attack of the Russian- and Chinese-led alliance will not succeed in destroying the arsenals of the king of the north/Beast power. Daniel 11:44 prophesies that when the final king of the north realizes he has been double-crossed by attackers from the east and north, he sends his armies to “go forth with great fury, to destroy and utterly sweep away many.” This language confirms that he will have many weapons at his disposal even after he is attacked.
On odd thing will apparently occur as this battle is raging. Revelation 19:11-21 gives another perspective on the return of Jesus Christ at the head of his heavenly armies. It states that when he arrives, the “beast” and “false prophet” command their armies to fight the heavenly armies of the Creator God. Verse 19 states that the armies of “the beast” and the “kings of the earth” jointly fight the returning Jesus Christ and his army. This indicates that all the armies on the earth that were fighting each other may join forces to fight Jesus Christ’s heavenly army. The human armies may possibly be duped into thinking they are fighting “invaders from outer space,” but perhaps it will simply be that they will refuse to yield power over the nations to divine authority. Whatever the motive for that decision, it will be quickly lethal. The human armies fighting Jesus Christ’s army will be quickly annihilated and God will invite the birds and beasts of the earth to eat the flesh of the fallen bodies (Revelation 19:17-18). Verse 20 prophesies that the beast and false prophet will be executed as one of Jesus Christ’s first acts as the new king of the earth. Ezekiel 38-39 is a parallel prophecy as it also has the Creator arriving as the decisive combatant in the middle of a climactic world war (Ezekiel 38:20), after which he invites the birds and beasts to eat the flesh of the fallen bodies (Ezekiel 39:17-20).
As an aside, notice how often “Judah” and “Jerusalem” are mentioned together throughout Zechariah 12 and again in Zechariah 14:14. There is no doubt that the Israelis/Jews are “Judah.” They are living in the Promised Land at the end of our age exactly where God said they would be in his prophecy in Zephaniah 2:7.
After this global conflagration is over, Jesus Christ will rule all nations on the planet for 1000 years in the real “new age” which will follow our current one (Revelation 20:4). Daniel 2:44 prophesied about the divine age which will follow the end of our current age. Daniel 7:18-27 prophesy that this future kingdom will be given “to the saints of the Most High.” Jude 14 prophesies that the saints will number at least in the “tens of thousands.” Revelation 7:4-14 is even more expansive. It prophesies that there will be 144,000 from the tribes of Israel who are saved through “the great tribulation” along with “a great multitude…of all nations, kindreds and people and tongues...which no man could number.” This reveals the saved saints who will reign with Christ could number in the millions. Since this is the number of the saints who come through “the great tribulation,” it apparently does not include the “dead in Christ” who will be resurrected at his coming who died long before the great tribulation occurred (I Corinthians 15:51-53, I Thessalonians 4:13-17).
Jesus Christ will rule for a thousand years and will assign rulership roles
to all his saints who will also rule in those positions for 1000 years. Some specific assignments are already known. Ancient King David will be resurrected to rule over all the reunited tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 37:15-28) and the Twelve Apostles will each rule a single tribe of Israel under King David (Luke 22:29-30). Many saints will be appointed to govern cities all over the earth (Matthew 25:14-30), but this same passage also warns that those saints who let their “talents” stagnate will be excluded from rulership positions.
Zechariah 14:16-19 prophesy that the city of Jerusalem will be the world capital in the millennial/messianic age. It also prophesies that the feast of tabernacles” will be a mandatory observance for all nations on earth. This prophecy notes that Egypt will not want to keep this festival. Egypt is a leading Islamic nation and will only keep a “Jewish” Holy Day if it is compelled to do so. It will be compelled to do so by God, as it will have “no rain” until it keeps the feast of tabernacles. This prophesy shows God’s mercy, however. It does not say that recalcitrant nations will be “zapped” for initially refusing to keep the feast of tabernacles. Such nations will have the necessities of life withheld until they change their minds. Then God will welcome them into the fold. Hebrews 13:8 relates that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” He lived his entire human life in a Torah-observant manner so it should not be surprising that when he returns he will rule in a Torah-observant manner. The Feast of Tabernacles is one of the annual Holy Days commanded in Leviticus 23 (part of the Torah). In Luke 22:13-23, Jesus told his disciples how much he had looked forward to observing “The Passover” with them and that he would do so again in “the kingdom of God.” The Ten Commadments will be the governing Constitution for all nations in the millennium.
Isaiah 2:1-4 prophesies that “the law will go forth from Zion (Jerusalem)” and that “many people” will come to Jerusalem to learn the correct laws of life. It prophesies that war will be outlawed and that the Messiah will “judge among the nations.” Every nation will have its borders drawn by God at the beginning of the millennium/Messianic Age and all matters of dispute will be settled by Jesus Christ and his subordinate saints who will be assigned firm rulership over their jurisdictions (Revelation 2:26-27). Jesus Christ will be, literally, the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16).
Jerusalem is now a “burdensome stone” for all nations and it will remain one till the end of this age. It will be at the epicenter of World War III at the end of this age. It will witness the coming of both a false Messiah and the True One. It will become an international capital city in the millennium from which judgment, peace and prosperity will flow to all nations. Jerusalem has an honored past, but an even greater future ahead of it.