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Zechariah 14:12-15

Terror from an Angry God

12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. 13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour. 14 And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance. 15 And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.

This passage picks up God's declaration of war from the third verse and gives more detail about how He will fight against His enemies. It will not be the conventional type of warfare that one might expect. His army of angels and saints will not be engaged in a hand to hand combat with the heathen nations. God will fight as He did "in the day of battle."

"This shall be the plague..." This is the slaughter which God will bring upon every nation that gathered against Jerusalem. Their flesh will rot or melt on their bodies while they are standing on their feet. Albert Barnes called them "living corpses." What a gruesome sight it will be! In the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible, the Hebrew root that is rendered as "consumed" is explained, "The pictograph /\/\/\ is a picture of water, the q is a picture of the sun at the horizon representing the gathering or condensing of light. Combined these mean "water condensed". During the summer months water holes begin to dry out and the organic matter that remains begins to rot and stink." The smell of rotting carcases will permeate the air. Men's eyes, those with which they looked despitefully and covetously upon God's chosen, will melt in their sockets and their tongues, full of blasphemy, will rot in their mouths.

Those who oppose our God ought to think twice. The power of One who could create the universe and all that is in it with just a few spoken words is not someone you want to go to war against. Barnes wrote, "Yet what, compared to the horrible inward decay of sin, whereby men 'have a name that they live and are dead?' (Rev 3:1)" What will happen to their bodies is nothing compared to what has already happened to their souls. The rotten stench of death lies within everyone who has not been redeemed by Christ. The scene before us is but the visible manifestation of that which is invisible. God, however, sees it all.

Not all will be consumed in that manner. Others will experience a great tumult from the LORD. The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament calls it "panic terror" or what we commonly call a "panic attack." This, however, is not the fear held by one person but a terror that runs through the whole army. Imagine thousands of paranoid men turning one against the other with their swords raised. The flow of blood will be indescribable, as battle tested friendships are converted into panic stricken, violent contests, ending in the deaths of previously loyal comrades. Those who would survive would forever have to live with what they had done.

This is the way that the LORD fought in the day of battle. Remember the story of Gideon and his small army of only three hundred men going into battle against the Midianites. "And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath." (Judges 7:22 also see 1 Samuel 14:20; 2Chronicles 20:23) No angel nor saint will lift a hand in this battle.

Next, the people of Judah, not just those of the territory but all who are descended from Judah, will turn and fight on the side of Jerusalem. They will gather all the wealth of the heathen nations, that which was taken earlier from Jerusalem and that which belonged to the heathen. There would be no profits for the enemies of the church, but only a total loss.

Finally, all the animals owned by the heathen nations will suffer the same fate as their owners. Their flesh will melt or rot away. They too will be like the living dead. Compare that with God's instructions to Israel in the wilderness, "If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword." (Deuteronomy 13:12-15) Sin pollutes everything it touches, and polluted things must be destroyed.

If you are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, the scenes in this passage should be a great comfort to you. They demonstrate God's willingness to defend His own. But, this should also convince each of us of the urgency to spread the gospel to others. We cannot stand before God and say that we loved our neighbors as ourselves, if we have allowed them to face His wrath without so much as a word of warning from us. We must do more and we must do it quickly, because we do not know when the LORD will come.

Before The Throne:

Thank God for the love that He has shown you by sacrificing His Son so that you can live. Praise Him for His promises to defend His church and to avenge her from her enemies. Think of the horrors that the lost will face. The suffering in the passage we have studied cannot be nearly as horrible as an eternity in hell. Pray for God's guidance to help you get about the urgent work of sharing the gospel with everyone possible. About 79 people die every minute and at least 60 of them do not know Christ. How many of the 113,760 will you try to save today before it is too late? Pray about it.

For Further Study:

** the plague wherewith. Zech 14:3; 12:9; Psa 110:5-6; Isa 34:1-17; 66:15-16; Ezek 38:18-22; 39:4-6, 17-20; Joel 3:1-2; Mic 4:11-13; 5:8-9; 7:16-17; Rev 16:1-21; 19:17-21; ** Their flesh. Lev 26:18, 21, 24, 28; Deut 28:59; 2Chr 21:15, 18-19; Psa 90:11; Acts 12:23; Rev 9:5-6; 16:10-11, 21; 17:16; 18:6-8;

(v.13) ** a great. Zech 12:4; Judg 7:22; 1Sam 14:15-23; 2Chr 20:22-24; Ezek 38:21; Rev 17:12-17;

(v.14) Judah also shall. Zech 10:4-5; 12:5-7; ** and the. 2Kgs 7:6-18; 2Chr 14:13-15; 20:25-27; Isa 23:18; Ezek 39:9-10, 17-20;


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