Zechariah 1:1-21; Revelation 12:1-17;
Psalm 140:1-13; Proverbs 30:17
Zechariah receives a call from the Lord for the nation of Israel to return to Him. They have been in captivity because of the Lord's anger at their sin, but now He is calling for repentance and return.
In the first vision, Zechariah is talking to the angel of the Lord. From our past studies we know that "the" angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Christ. Zechariah sees a man on a red horse standing among the myrtle trees. Behind him are riders on red, mottled, and white horses, each with its own rider. The riders on these horses report to the angel of the Lord that they have patrolled the earth and it is at peace. The angel prays to the Lord wondering after the seventy years of captivity when will God's mercy be shown to Jerusalem and Judah. God gives comforting words to the angel about Jerusalem. After this, the angel tells Zechariah to shout this message:
- God's love for Jerusalem and Mt. Zion is passionate and strong.
- God is angry with the Gentile nations who are enjoying peace and security.
- The Gentile nations have punished the nation of Israel too much.
- He will return to show mercy to Jerusalem.
- His Temple will be rebuilt.
- Jerusalem will be reconstructed.
- Israel will overflow with prosperity and the Lord will comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem as His own.
The second vision is four animal horns. Zechariah asks the Lord what these are. The angel tells him that these are the world powers that will scatter Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. We know from prior reading in Daniel 7:24 and Revelation 17:12 that a horn represents a gentile ruler. These four horns are the four Gentile kingdoms that conquer the world, punish the Jews, and scatter them across the earth. The kingdoms are Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Remember that the Roman empire was not defeated, but broke up and will reassemble in the end times.
These visions should teach us that God is not through with the nation of Israel. Although the Church age is dominant at this time, when God speaks of Jerusalem, Israel, and Judah in prophecy, he means Jerusalem, Israel, and Judah. He does not mean the Church. God will fulfill His promises to Israel and to the Church. One does not exclude the other.
John is given a vision of great significance. God is unfolding the story of the Great Tribulation in layers. After the seven seals are opened, we go deeper into the story with the seven trumpets. Now, as we get to the seventh trumpet blast, we meet seven personalities that flesh out the story. During this interlude, we will meet some personalities who will be on earth during the Great Tribulation and who are key characters in God's story. There will be seven personalities, which follow the pattern of sevens throughout the book of Revelation. Notice that Daniel was also given a pattern of sevens in his prophecy about the end times. This follows the pattern of sevens that is given at the front of the Bible in Genesis with the creation account unfolding the creation of the earth in seven days. God is consistent. Seven is His number of completion.
The Woman- Israel
The Red Dragon- Satan
John sees a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his head. He drags one third of the stars to earth. He stands before the woman as she is about to give birth and wants to devour the baby as soon as it is born. We see here that Satan is great in that he has great power given to him by God on earth. He is associated with the color red because he is a murderer and he is the reason that death came into this world. He is a dragon because he has a vicious nature. He is an enemy of mankind. The seven heads represent that he is wise. Remember that Ezekiel 28:2 tells us that he was full of wisdom, perfect in beauty before his rebellion against God. The ten horns represent the ten gentile rulers of the revived Roman Empire that will be subject to Satan in his final effort to rule this world. The seven crowns are on the horns, not the heads in the vision. This is delegated authority to those rulers during Satan's attempt to rule the world. The one third of the stars that are thrown to earth represent the significant rebellion that occurred in heaven when Satan rebelled and one third of the angels followed this brilliant creature (Daniel 8:10, Jude 6). Satan waits and hates the Man Child to whom the woman will give birth. Satan knows Genesis 3:15. It is promised this Child will bring Satan's demise.
The Child Of the Woman- Jesus Christ
The Archangel- Michael
Now, we learn of a war that occurs in heaven. If you recall from the book of Job, Satan is allowed to come before the presence of God and interact with God and receive permission to affect human beings on earth. We also see Satan before God in Zechariah 3:1-2, and Satan requests to sift Peter in Luke 22:31. The book of Jude tells us that Michael is an archangel. We learn in the book of Daniel chapter 12:1 that Michael is assigned to protect Israel. We see that Michael is in charge of an army of angels, who fight against Satan and his army of fallen angels/demons. And now we learn that Michael is the angel who will throw Satan out of heaven. Satan's days are numbered in this epic tale. We see that his demise begins with being thrown out of the presence of God. He does not go lightly. There is a grand war over this. Jesus refers to this event in Luke 10:18, "And he said unto them, I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven." The names of this red dragon are the Devil, which means "accuser", Satan which means "adversary" and the Old Serpent, which is a reference to his role in the Garden of Eden. He has been around a long time and is much smarter than you and me. He is also called "he that deceiveth the whole world." This will be very true during the Great Tribulation period.
Now, we have the martyred Old Testament saints and the tribulation saints in heaven rejoicing that Satan has been cast out of heaven. This is the group that was under the altar at the beginning of John's vision asking God to avenge their deaths and bring justice to the martyred. This is the beginning of the end for the old dragon. Here is what they rejoice about:
- The Accuser has been thrown down to earth.
- He accused our brothers and our sisters before God day and night.
- They have defeated him through the blood of the Lamb and with their testimony.
- They were not afraid to die.
- Rejoice in heaven.
- Terror will come to the earth and sea.
- The Devil has come down to you and his time is short.
Now we have the Dragon is on earth with no access to God. Satan comes to earth in the form of the Antichrist and pursues the nation of Israel. The remnant, who truly believe in Christ from the nation of Israel, are given wings to fly from this persecution in the wilderness, where she is given protection and cared for for three and a half years. Please notice how this imagery hearkens back to Israel being delivered out of Egypt from Pharaoh's hands by Moses and taken into the wilderness, where they were fed by God with manna from heaven for a time. These images are purposeful.
The Remnant of Israel- 144,000
The dragon attempts to drown the woman with a flood of water. The earth opens its mouth and swallows the river that gushed forth from the dragon. We do not know what this may mean. The Israelites were saved through the Nile River and also God parted the Jordan River for them to enter the Promised Land. This could be a literal flood of water or it could represent a flood of armies that swarm the nation of Israel in the end. The dragon/Satan is angry at the woman/Israel and declares war against those of her children who keep God's commandments and confess that they belong to Jesus. This would be the 144,000 witnesses we met before the seventh seal was broken. These Jewish believers will evangelize the world during the Great Tribulation period. We see that Satan is not pleased with these sealed individuals.
What a story! What an epic tale. These things will happen in the future. God is telling us in advance. It is the living, breathing truth.
Picture the tribulation saints speaking this psalm.
Oh, to avoid being proud...
What are you noticing as you read?