Zechariah’s Puzzle

Zechariah’s Puzzle
Vol: 168 Issue: 26 Saturday, September 26, 2015

A nuclear Iran is the most dangerous enemy Israel has ever faced in her four thousand years of existence.

A nuclear strike ordered by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would almost certainly be met with a massive Israeli counterstrike, but Iran is a huge country. Vast expanses are sparsely populated and much of it shielded by mountains.

Ahmadinejad is betting his country could survive a single counterstrike. Tiny coastal Israel would not survive to strike a second time. Ahmadinejad believes it is his religious duty to destroy Israel, even at the risk of starting a nuclear war.

He believes Allah has tasked him with bringing about the return of the 12th Imam, Islam’s messianic figure. Ahmadinejad believes that once he starts a global war, the 12th Imam, or Mahdi, will return and lead Islam in a global conquest of the infidel world.

Ahmadinejad will not be deterred by American naval forces in the Persian Gulf. Nor will he be deterred by the risk of a nuclear response from Israel.

Ahmadinejad sees himself as Islam’s ultimate suicide bomber strapped with Islam’s ultimate suicide bomb. Ahmadinejad also shares the Muslim conviction that Jerusalem is the third holiest place in Islam.

So the most likely target of an Iranian attack would be Tel Aviv, on Israel’s coast, preserving Jerusalem as a prize for the Mahdi.

The Book of Zechariah dates from the early 5th century and is centered around Jerusalem. The majority of his prophecies are concerned with the future of Jerusalem, from the rebuilding of the Temple to the First Advent of the Messiah and through to His Second Coming at the end of the age.

Assessment:

Zechariah Chapter 13 addresses the First Advent of the Messiah, His rejection, and His betrayal.

“And one shall say unto Him, What are these wounds in thine Hands? Then He shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends. ” (Zechariah 13:6)

Modern Israel could make the same lament. As the war with radical Islam goes on, more and more nations are reconsidering the price demanded of them for their continued support of the Jewish state.

At the UN, diplomats eagerly await another opportunity to distance themselves from Israel to appease their own militant Islamic populations back home. Even a war-weary US is slowly backing away from its former policy of unhesitating support for Israel.

The Iran Study Group recommended meeting with Israel’s enemies to discuss trading parts of Israel for parts of Iraq. It recommended Israel be excluded so negotiations wouldn’t be hampered by Israeli objections. And it is being considered as a viable option.

The US-backed land-for-peace initiative resulted in Oslo War that has already deeply wounded Israel.

Zechariah’s Messianic prophecy continues,

“Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.” (Zechariah 13:7)

The Shepherd, of course, is Jesus. Jesus came first to ‘redeem the lost sheep of Israel.’ When Jesus sent the Twelve on their first missionary journey, He told them not to go to Samaria, or to the Gentiles, but instead, He commanded:

“But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:6)

“But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)

The lost sheep rejected the Shepherd, and a generation later, were themselves scattered by the Romans into a two thousand year exile. The Shepherd was smitten, and the lost sheep of Israel scattered, fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy to the letter. After that, the prophet predicted, God will return His attention to His lost sheep.

The next two verses of Zechariah weave it all together into a cohesive pattern: The burden of Damascus. The absence of Israel’s neighbors from Ezekiel’s enemies list. The Ahmadinejad nuclear factor. The missing alliances.

And, like the burden of Damascus, it is a yet future event. It is a bone-chilling scenario to consider, given the present circumstances in the Middle East.

“And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on My Name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is My people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.” (Zechariah 13:8-9)

Ahmadinejad is confident his nation could survive an Israeli nuclear strike and he is probably right. Indeed, Ezekiel’s List says that he is right, since Persia is on his list.

Syria, on the other hand, would not — and Ezekiel omits Syria from the Gog-Magog Alliance.

A nuclear strike against Damascus would certainly turn it into the ruinous heap envisioned by Isaiah, which would explain Syria’s absence from Ezekiel’s List.

Ahmadinejad’s religious ideology demands the destruction of the Jewish State. But Jerusalem’s status as Islam’s third holiest shrine ensures Jerusalem would not be targeted.

On the other hand, Tel Aviv is forty miles east of Jerusalem. Protected by distance and the mountains, Jerusalem would mostly probably survive a nuclear strike on Tel Aviv.

While Jerusalem is Israel’s most ancient and most religious city, Tel Aviv is its newest and most secular. Two thirds of Israel’s total population live within a few miles of Tel Aviv. The remaining third, including most of Israel’s religious Jews, live closer to Jerusalem and the West Bank.

An Iranian nuclear strike on Tel Aviv would therefore cut off two thirds of Israel’s population in a single strike. The surviving third therefore would consist mostly of religious Jews in and around Jerusalem.

Zechariah predicted the sudden ‘cutting off’ of two thirds of Israel, specifically noting the surviving third would be brought “through the fire”, emerging as “His people”.

Ezekiel predicted the restoration of Israel in stages; first as bone, sinew and skin, but “there was no breath in them.” (Ezekiel 37:8)

After Israel’s restoration, Ezekiel predicted that, from the four winds “breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.” (37:9-10)

The first stage of Israel’s restoration was the ingathering. It began with the First Zionist Congress in 1897 and the rush of early Jewish emigration to the Holy Land.

The second stage took place with Israel’s declaration of Independence and the five wars that left Israel in possession of one of the most powerful military machines in the world.

The third stage, Ezekiel says, is when God shall “put My Spirit in you. . .” after which:

“Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. (37:14a, 23)

Zechariah’s prophecy seems to indicate that final stage takes place following the destruction of secular Israel and the preservation of Israel’s religious community.

As I said, it is a chilling scenario. But no more chilling than the prospects now already facing Israel. But it is hard to imagine the current scenario unfolding any other way.

Admittedly, this a morbidly gloomy and admittedly speculative report. And there are no doubt some who think it pretty callous. But I am only quoting the prophet, not inventing the prophecy.

And I am anything but callous about the horror it portends. And I didn’t invent the horror, either. That is in the process of being invented by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

One needn’t consult Zechariah to arrive at the identical conclusions in the event that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is successful in his quest for the Bomb.

A nuclear strike on Tel Aviv would affect two thirds of Israel’s population. It is a fact that it would affect Israel’s mainly secular population. It is equally true that the surviving third would include the majority of Israel’s religious community.

Ahmadinejad’s war is unlikely to bring about his dreamed-of Islamic victory, however. A more likely consequence will be a global backlash against Islamic militancy and new resolve fordevelop a global government to prevent its re-emergence.

Iran would survive, without its nuclear program, more dependent than ever on its alliance with Russia.

What remains of Israel will be centered around Jerusalem, and it seems likely that the survivors of the world’s first nuclear sneak attack will enjoy some period of global patronage, similar to the outpouring of sympathy it received in the years immediately following the Holocaust.

The new Israel, centered around Jerusalem’s religious community, would have no need of a wall, and would enjoy some measure of peace and global sympathy for their situation.

Ezekiel’s Gog-Magog scenario calls for a land of unwalled villages, dwelling in apparent peace and safety, under the protection of the Western world. We aren’t there yet.

But Zechariah’s scenario would get us there in a blinding flash of light.

As I said, this is speculative. But Bible prophecy can be likened to assembling a jig-saw puzzle. As more pieces fall into place, the picture begins to get clearer and the puzzle pieces get easier to figure out.

Zechariah’s Scenario may well provide the next missing piece.

Originally Published: December 22, 2006

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