12 This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 On that day people will be stricken by the Lord with great panic. They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. 15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.
(Zechariah 14:12-15 NIV)
Let’s do a quick review of our context. The events we’re reading and studying are prophecy, set to take place in teh future, at the end of the world as we know it. Judah will be surrounded and captured by a unified force of nations, and two-thirds of the Jewish people killed. Jerusalem will be captured and half of its inhabitants exiled.
Just when it seems like life is over, Jesus shows up. An earthquake shakes the whole world, and the land all around Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives transforms into a valley. Jesus is crowned king of the world, and Jerusalem becomes His throne. The city is secure, never to be overthrown again.
As we step into today’s text, the scene shifts from Jesus’ coronation and glory, to the fate of those who fought against Jerusalem. Verse 12 says that the people who fight against God will be struck with a plague that will affect them physically.
Verse 13 says that the Lord will also strike them mentally as well as physically. A great fear (a panic, sheer terror) will overtake them to the point that they turn on each other and start killing each other.
If we look back in Scriptures, we see God using fear and terror within an enemy’s heart to accomplish His purposes. Judges 7:19-22 tell the story of Gideon’s victory over the Midianites. God took an ordinary farmer named Gideon and used this man for His glory.
God told Gideon to pare down his army to a mere 300 men. Clearly outnumbered by the Midianites, the only way Gideon and his men would win this battle was for the Lord to intervene. God instructed Gideon and his men to carry trumpets and torches covered by clay pots. While the Midianite army was asleep, Gideon and his men surrounded the Midianite camp.
On Gideon’s command, the soldiers threw off the pots covering their torches, raised the torches in the air, and blew the trumpets. As you can imagine, such a commotion in the camp would create great confusion. The Midianite soldiers, roused out of a deep sleep, grabbed their swords and rushed out of their tents. In their confusion and terror, they turned on their fellow soldiers and started killing one another.
And God got the glory for defeating the Midianite army.
Verse 14 says that the remnant of people in Judah will fight in this battle as well. Remember when we studied Zechariah 12:8-9? God said that He would make even the feeblest of Jerusalem’s inhabitants like King David, the mighty warrior. And those able-bodied warriors in Jerusalem? They would be like angels, having supernatural abilities that would defeat any and all enemies.
And what would the result of this battle be?
Victory for the Lord and for His people.
The second half of verse 14 says that the fortunes of those enemies of God will now be given to God’s people. In verse 1 of chapter 14, God has said that Jerusalem’s possessions would be captured by God’s enemies and the plunder divided within Jerusalem’s walls. Now God is saying that they will get all their possessions back, plus all the gold, silver, and clothing of their enemies. The text is clear – not just a few items, but “great quantities” of these treasures. All the wealth of the world comes back to God, who owns it all anyway.
Lastly, the final thing to happen as part of this plague is that the animals of these enemies of God will fall under a similar plague as well. Verse 15 says that all the animals in the enemy’s camp will be affected. If the enemies of God had associated the fear and the plague with that particular location, they might try to run away. But if the animals typically used for fast transportation (horses, mules, camels, and donkeys) were affected by this same plague, they were going nowhere except on foot. And since this plague affects both their body and their eyesight, the people were not going anywhere, period.
In the end, God wins.
Until that day, may we be the light and life of Christ to the hurting and broken world around us, loving God, and loving our neighbors.
As followers of Christ, that’s why we’re here.