A Look at the Battles of Armageddon and Gog & Magog

Many people believe the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:12-21; 19:11-21) and the battle of Gog and Magog (Revelation 20:7-10) are one and the same, or that they are two parts of the same war. Adding to the confusion is that there are two different battles of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39 & Revelation 20). Added to this, many debate whether the battle in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is one or two battles.

The Bible speaks of the battle of Gog and Magog two different times- Ezekiel 38-39; and Revelation 20. Are these battles one and the same, or are they different battles? Where does the battle of Armageddon fall in all of this?

To quickly clarify, the battle of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38 occurs before the Great Tribulation. The battle of Armageddon occurs at the end of the Great Tribulation and at the beginning of the millennium. The battle of Gog and Magog of Revelation 20 occurs at the end of the millennium. So, we actually have three battles- one at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, one at the beginning of the millennium, and one at the end of the millennium.

THE FIRST BATTLE OF GOG AND MAGOG

There is great debate and disagreement as to whether the battle of Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 39 is the same as Ezekiel 38, or if it belongs to either of the other two battles. We will leave it alone, for now, as it does not add an additional battle of Gog and Magog, and coupling it with the wrong battle only adds confusion.

The identity of Gog, and Magog, is subject to much debate, but they appear to simply be an allusion to the evil enemies of God’s children. In Ezekiel 38, Magog means “land of Gog” and is one of several nations which will gather forces against God’s people. Revelation 20:8 identifies Gog and Magog as “the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth”. In truth, the identity of Gog and Magog is probably of little significance, and trying to identify a specific nation tends to cause confusion. We should rather focus on the battle itself.

While it is Satan that deceives the nations, and gathers them together for battle (Ezekiel 38:8-9), it is God who orchestrates the events in order to rid the world of evil(Ezekiel 38:4, 23). In this first battle of Gog and Magog, the enemies of God will be destroyed by war, disease, and “great hailstones, fire, and brimstone” (Ezekiel 38:21-22).

This first battle of Gog and Magog occurs some time after a rebirth of the nation of Israel (Ezekiel 38:8; Zechariah 10:8-10). The battle takes place after a time of relative peace (Ezekiel 38:14), and before the Great Tribulation (Revelation 12:12-17; Zechariah 14). It also occurs before the Wrath of God (Ezekiel 38:18). and some time before the millennial reign of Jesus (Ezekiel 38:16, 23).

THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON

The Battle of Armageddon is an end-times battle between the forces of the Satan and the forces of Jesus, after His return. The Antichrist and False Prophet will gather forces together (Revelation 16:13-14) to a place called Armageddon, which means “Mount of Meddigo” (Revelation 16:16). This location apparently refers to the valley of Jezreel, east of Meddigo in northern Israel. Joel calls this place the Valley of Jehosaphat, and the Valley of Decision (Joel 3:12-14).

The battle of Armageddon will occur some time after the return of Jesus, which will be after the seven trumpets of Revelation (Revelation 11:15-19), and before the pouring out of the seven bowls of God’s wrath (Revelation 14:1-10). The battle will occur specifically after the sixth bowl (Revelation 16:12-16). The pouring of the sixth bowl dries up the great river Euphrates, to make way for the “kings of the East”. Most rapture beliefs place the rapture before the battle of Armageddon (see- A Comparison of the Pre-trib, Mid-trib, Pre-wrath, and Post-trib Rapture Views).

The Battle of Armageddon will be the Antichrist’s (but not Satan’s) final attack against Jesus (Revelation 19:17-21), after He begins to reign from Zion (Joel 3:16; Zephaniah 3:14-20). The enemies of God will be destroyed by a great earthquake and great hailstones (Revelation 16:16-21), and by the “sword” of Jesus, and their bodies eaten by birds (Revelation 19:17-21).

THE SECOND BATTLE OF GOG AND MAGOG

This battle Gog and Magog clearly takes place at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:1-8). This battle will be Satan’s final attack against Jesus. Gog and Magog are identified as “the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth” (Revelation 20:8). The enemies of God will be devoured by fire from heaven (Revelation 20:9).

IN CONCLUSION-

Specifically, we have a battle of Gog and Magog before the Great Tribulation (Ezekiel 38). The battle of Armageddon occurs at the end of the Great Tribulation, and just before the millennium (Revelation 16:13-14; 19:17-21). Then, we have a second battle of Gog and Magog at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:1-10).

The Book of Zechariah- chapter 9

1 The burden of the word of the Lord in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the Lord.

While chapters 1-8 centered mostly on the historical rebuilding of the temple, with hints of the millennial period, chapters 9-14 refer almost exclusively to the first and second comings of the messiah, with hints of historical fulfillments. The change in style, here, lead many skeptics to claim that the rest of this book was written by someone else. Yet, if we ignore the chapter and verse divisions, which were inserted by translators, it is clear that this is simply a continuation of the previous verses.

A “burden” is a prophetic oracle that includes a message of divine judgment.

“Hadrach and Damascus” appears to refer to Assyria, from which modern-day Syria has an interwoven descent (see also- Isaiah 17:1-3). We should note that the Antichrist is called the Assyrian, in Micah 5:1-5.

2 And Hamath also shall border thereby; Tyrus, and Zidon, though it be very wise.

3 And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets.

4 Behold, the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire.

Since Tyre and Sidon appear to have already faced partial judgment in the time of Zechariah, and it would be many years later that they would be destroyed by Alexander the Great, skeptics try to claim this prophecy must have been written by someone else in another time.

These verses, however, appear to be an eschatological reference to the messiah making his enemies his footstool (Hebrews 10:10-13). Joel 3 specifically mentions the judgment of Tyre and Sidon concerning the second coming of Jesus. The two cities, as well as Syria, are north of Israel.

5 Ashkelon shall see it, and fear; Gaza also shall see it, and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.

6 And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.

Four of the five cities of the Philistines are listed here. Apparently, Gath had already been destroyed. Many commentators believe this prophecy refers to the Babylonian conquest, which again leads skeptics to claim that this was written by someone other than Zechariah. But, most commentators believe it was also fulfilled later by the conquests of Alexander the Great. Some also see a fulfillment in the Maccabean revolt. We should note that Jeremiah 25:20 mentions the exact same four cities, and while Jeremiah 25:1-14 does speak of the Babylonian conquest, Jeremiah 25 also has an end-times application. Jeremiah 25:15-38 clearly speaks of the end times, and verse 26 speaks of judgment of all the nations of the world. We also see an eschatological application to this prophecy in Joel 3.

7 And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth: but he that remaineth, even he, shall be for our God, and he shall be as a governor in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite.

Whether historical or eschatological, this speaks of God’s judgment, and the conversion of a remnant of unbelievers.

8 And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes.

Commentators apply this verse to various historical eras, and ignore the words “no oppressor shall pass through them any more”. Most agree that “mine house” does not refer to the Temple, but to Israel. In the eschatological application, this verse may parallel Joel 3:16-17, which speaks of the millennial reign of Jesus.

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

All four gospels clearly tie this verse to the triumphant entry of Jesus (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19). There are no historical figures that it can be tied to.

The phrases “daughter of Zion” and “daughter of Jerusalem” are used several times in the Bible, and usually linked to end-times prophecy. It appears this is a reference to the last-days Jews.

Contrary to a common misunderstanding, there is only one donkey mentioned here. The second reference signifies that it was a never-ridden foal. While Matthew’s account does mention the mother of the foal, as she apparently followed along, it conveys the same message as the other three gospels- that the foal was young and had never been ridden.

10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.

Verse 9 refers to the first coming of Jesus, and verse 10 refers to the second coming of Jesus, with the Church age sandwiched between. Isaiah 2:4 says, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.

It appears that this verse is speaking to the daughter of Zion and of Jerusalem, of verse 9, rather than to the heathen of verse 10. In either case, this is a messianic prophecy concerning the first or second coming of Jesus, or both. (See also- Isaiah 24:17-23, 42:1-7; Luke 4:18; Revelation 19:11-12:6)

12 Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;

While this, and the following verses, offer hints at historical fulfillment, they clearly have an eschatological application.

Isaiah 61:7 makes almost the exact same promise, and the first 1 ½ verses of Isaiah 61 were read by Jesus as a proclamation of His coming as the messiah (Luke 4:16-21). But Jesus stopped reading in mid-verse, before the words “and the day of vengeance of our God”. It appears that verses 2b-7 refer to the last days Wrath of God and the millennium.

13 When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.

While this may have a partial fulfillment in the Maccabean revolt, we should focus on the context, which refers to the Day of the Lord. (See- Revelation 19:11-21)

Judah and Ephraim refers to a restored nation of Israel, with all 12 tribes. Chapter 10 gives more details on this end-times event.

14 And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.

This concerns the Wrath of God, during the Day of the Lord (Zechariah 14:3-5; Joel 1-3; Zephaniah 1:2-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3).

15 The Lord of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar.

When the Day of the Lord and the Wrath of God begin, Jesus will return to earth, with the armies of heaven, and conquer the Antichrist and his beast-kingdom (Revelation 19:11-21). Whether or not Christians actually accompany Jesus in battle, we will be in our resurrected, incorruptible, eternal bodies which no weapon can harm (1 Corinthians 15:42-57). These verses, therefore, focus on the surviving Jews.

The wrath of God is actually the first segment of the Day of the Lord, which is much longer than one day. Specifically, the Day of the Lord begins with the wrath of God, and ends at the end of the millennium (2 Peter 3:8; PS 90:4; Joel 3:14-21; Obadiah 1:15-21; Zechariah 14; Isaiah 34:8; 61:2; 63:4).

16 And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.

This is speaking of God rescuing the Jews from the Antichrist and beast-kingdom (Revelation 12; Jeremiah 30:4-11; Joel 3:16-17).

17 For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.

This is speaking of the peace and prosperity of the millennium (Amos 9:13-15; Joel 3:18).

The Book of Zechariah- chapter 8

8 Again the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying,

This is a continuation of the previous chapter. But, while the previous chapter was almost entirely historical, this chapter has eschatological applications concerning the millennium. In the previous chapter, God warned the people against following the sinful ways of their forefathers. In this chapter, God urges them through promises of blessings.

2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.

As in verses 1:14-16, God’s jealousy and anger could be directed to Israel as an unfaithful wife (Isaiah 54:6), or to her oppressors who violated her, or both.

3 Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain.

On the historical level, now that God’s unfaithful wife has returned, He has returned to dwell with her (Zechariah 1:16). After the captivity, Israel as a nation, never again sought idolatry. On the eschatological level, this refers to the latter day conversion of the Jews (Romans 11:25-27), and the millennial reign of Christ (Revelation 20:1-6).

4 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.

5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.

In the Babylonian conquest, as in every war, the elderly and the children were the most vulnerable victims. The common presence of them, therefore, is a sign of peace. This is also a reference to the future millennial peace (Isaiah 65:20-22).

6 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts.

Or, if it seems impossible to you, should it seem impossible to me? God is suggesting that their lack of faith has no grounds. Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37, 18:27; Jeremiah 32:17, 27). There are ten of these “Thus saith the Lord of hosts” in this chapter, showing the message is from God and not from Zechariah.

7 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;

Whether historical or eschatological, God will gather the scattered Jews “from the rising of the sun, to the setting of the same” (Malachi 1:11). Isaiah 43:5-6 says, “Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth”.

8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.

They were already supposed to be God’s people, but they had rejected a covenant relationship with Him. They would be His people when the relationship is restored (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 11:20; Leviticus 26).

9 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.

The foundation of the temple was laid two years before this prophecy was given, so the prophets would be Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra 5:1-2), and possibly Malachi and others.

10 For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour.

11 But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the Lord of hosts.

Before they began to rebuild the temple, they had unemployment, fear, external oppression, and internal division. But now, God will bless and protect them. Haggai 1:6 says, “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.”

12 For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

Whether historical or millennial, the faithful remnant would enjoy the blessings of God (Amos 9:13-15).

13 And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.

The mention of both the house of Judah and the house of Israel suggests that this must refer to the millennial period, since only the house of Judah was historically restored.

14 For thus saith the Lord of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the Lord of hosts, and I repented not:

God did not repent of judgment, because the people did not repent of unfaithfulness. Blessings and curses hinge on faithfulness.

15 So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.

Notice that God says, “in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah”. That the house of Israel is not mentioned appears to reaffirm that verse 13 referred to the millennial period.

16 These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:

17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord.

God gives the same message He gave to their forefathers in verses 7:9-10, and the same message He has given us- love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).

18 And the word of the Lord of hosts came unto me, saying,

19 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.

As mentioned in 7:5, the Jews had created four fasts concerning the overthrow of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. The 10th month fast commemorated the siege of Jerusalem which began on the 10th day of that month (Jeremiah 52:4). The 4th month fast commemorated the taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar on the 9th day of that month (Jeremiah 39:2; 2 Kings 25:3-4). The 5th month fast commemorated the destruction of the temple (Jeremiah 52:12-15). And, the 7th month fast commemorated the murder of the governor Gedaliah (2 Kings 25:25).

Now, God gives a direct answer to their question in 7:3. The people shall continue the fasts, but they should no longer be expressions of self-pity, but celebrations of joy.

20 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities:

This appears to refer to the millennial reign of Jesus (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3).

21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also.

They will not only desire to know the LORD, but desire others to know Him also.

22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.

The key message, here, is a contrast between their present situation and what the future holds. This could have a historical application (Haggai 2:1-9), as well as an eschatological application (Revelation 15:1-4; Isaiah 60).

23 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

Those who adhere to replacement theology (the view that God has cast Judaism aside, and the church has replaced Israel), have a hard time with this verse since it specifically says “Jew”.

During the millennium, a temple will be built, and the Jewish laws observed (Ezekiel 40-48). This could also be referring to the wild olive branch (Christians) being grafted onto the good olive tree (Judaism) (Romans 11:17-27).

Understanding the Biblical Babylon the Great- part 2

The Bible prophesies an end-times city known as “Babylon the Great”, or “the great whore”, which forms an alliance with the beast-kingdom of the Antichrist. This is the second half of our closer look at that great city.

Revelation 18:1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

In Revelation 17, an angel spoke of the judgment of the harlot, and her relationship with the beast. In this chapter, another angel gives details of her judgment. In chapter 17, she is called a harlot, or the great whore. In this chapter, she is called Babylon the great. Both terms refer to the same entity.

2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

This verse speaks of the spiritual descent of Babylon the Great (Revelation 17:5), rather than its physical destruction. As the headquarters of the Antichrist, the city will be literally swarming with demonic activities. It is important to remember that she chose this relationship and, therefore, will be judged for it.

Revelation 14:8 announced a similar proclamation. Revelation 19 seems to put the physical destruction of Babylon after the second coming of Jesus, and specifically, after the seventh bowl.

3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

The angel reminds us that, not only did she pervert her relationship with God, but she led the world in worshiping the beast. 2 Peter 2:1-3 tells us that, in the end-times, because of greed and sensuality, false teachers will lead people down this path.

4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

This appears to be an advance warning, to come out of Babylon the Great, before it has been transformed into the kingdom of the Antichrist. Even if God’s people, living there, were to escape persecution, they would be led away from God and into worship of the beast.

The phrase “my people” may refer to Jews, since the Christians would apparently be raptured before the Wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 5:9), and physical destruction of Babylon. We should note, however, that it is not God who is speaking, because in verse 6 the voice asks God to judge her.

5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.

7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

As the headquarters of the Antichrist, the city will be the religious and political center of the world. This will give a false sense of security to its inhabitants. The belief that she “shall see no sorrow” shows their confidence in the Antichrist. In Revelation 13:4, the world said “Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?”

8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

This speaks of the physical judgment for her spiritual descent. She claimed that she would never see sorrow, but in one day will come death, and mourning, and famine. The judgment is from God, but as we saw in Revelation 17:16, the agent of death is the ten kings of the beast.

9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

These are not the ten kings, which destroy Babylon the Great (Revelation 17:16-17), suddenly having a change of heart. These are other rulers of the earth. In Revelation 6:8, we learn that the kingdom of the Antichrist (with the 10 kings) was one of four world governments. All four will combine to form the global beast-kingdom.

10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

The kings echo the phrase “in one hour”. They are amazed at the swiftness of her destruction. They also acknowledge that this is surely judgment for her sins.

11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

This does not refer to all the merchants of the earth. Verses 12-15 clearly says that it is the merchants who imported luxury items into Babylon. Some commentators believe that all merchants on earth will benefit from the economy of the beast, but there is no scriptural basis for that view.

12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,

13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

This is a list of imported items of luxury, many probably used in temple worship of the beast. Daniel 11:38 says that the Antichrist will honor his god with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. Thyine wood (verse 12) is a type of cedar that was used for making idols, and in construction of temple doors.

During this time, the beast will control the world economy, and no one can buy or sell without having the mark of the beast. Verse 23 states the fact that these merchants also have demonic assistance in their trade.

14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

Although many of the imported items will be used for temple worship of the beast, much of it is simply for selfish desires. Satan’s basic agenda has always been self-worship.

15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,

The merchants, like the kings of the earth in verses 9-10, will stand afar off for fear of her judgment and torment.

16 And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

Again, they speak of her living in extravagant luxury. This is the same description given the harlot in Revelation 17:4.

17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,

The merchants echo the kings in proclaiming the suddenness of her destruction. The shipmasters, etc. are a second group of merchants, and are the third group who respond to the destruction of the city, while standing at a distance.

18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!

19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

The third group also mourns over her, and remarks on the suddenness of her destruction. Like the other two groups, they mourn over the city, and their loss of benefits from her, rather than over the inhabitants.

20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

This is not a continuing dialog of the sailors. Whether it is a voice from heaven, or John’s own words, it is a call to God’s people to rejoice in the fact that she has finally been judged. Revelation 19:1-3 speaks of this rejoicing, in heaven.

21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

These verses mention the everyday life, of the city, from several angles. Life, as they know it, will cease to exist in Babylon (Isaiah 24:7-9).

“For thy merchants were the great men of the earth” literally means, in the Greek, that they were the world’s very greatest men. Their source of power is explained by the text “for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived”.

24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

As the headquarters of the Antichrist, Babylon will be responsible for leading the world in the persecution of Christians and Jews. Revelation 17:6 says she will be drunk with the blood of the saints.

The Book of Zechariah- chapter 7

1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu;

The word of the LORD is given here through revelation, rather than visions. This is about two years after the visions were given to Zechariah. It was also about two years after the beginning of the rebuilding of the temple, and about two years before its completion.

This chapter seems to have very little end-times application, but appears almost entirely historical.

2 When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the Lord,

The word translated “house of God” is Bethel. Commentators disagree on whether Bethel sent men to Jerusalem, or Jerusalem sent men to Bethel, or if “house of God” actually means Jerusalem rather than Bethel. Some translations, like the KJV, just sidestep the issue by using “house of God”.

The men named are unknown, but they have Babylonian names. This may allude to verses 6:14-15 & 8:20-22 which foretell the nations honoring Israel and coming to worship at the temple.

3 And to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the Lord of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?

For over 70 years, they had participated in a fast, during the fifth month, in remembrance of the burning of the temple. Now that the temple was being rebuilt, should they continue to mourn for it?

4 Then came the word of the Lord of hosts unto me, saying,

The question was asked by certain men, but the answer is given to all people. The answer is first given through questions.

5 Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?

The Jews, without God’s direction, had created four fasts concerning the Babylonian conquest of Israel. The one in the fifth month was in commemoration of the burning of the temple (Jeremiah 52:12), the one in the seventh month for the murder of Gedaliah (Jeremiah 41:2). God considered these fasts nothing more than acts of hypocrisy, and self-pity. The people separated themselves from food, but not from sin (Isaiah 58:4-6).

6 And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?

This may refer to them not acknowledging God in their everyday lives. Or it may refer to their burnt offerings, in which they would feast on the offering.

7 Should ye not hear the words which the Lord hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?

Before the Babylonian conquest, when Jerusalem was in prosperity, the prophets called for repentance. (See- Isaiah 1:16-20; 55:6-7; Ezekiel 18:30-32)

8 And the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah, saying,

God will now give Zechariah the same message He gave to the former prophets, their forefathers response to the message, and the judgment applied.

9 Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:

10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

Brotherly love. Show mercy and compassion on others. Defend the helpless. Do not even imagine evil against others (1 John 3:15).

11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.

Referring to the messages given by the former prophets (Ezekiel 3:7; Jeremiah 17:23, 35:15; Nehemiah 9:29; Acts 7:51). The words translated “stopped their ears” declares their choice between giving honor to the message, or considering it too burdensome. This is how Zechariah’s message began in chapter 1- don’t be like your forefathers, turn back to God.

12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.

They hardened their hearts so they could not be influenced by the spirit of God. This echoes the words spoken in Nehemiah 9:29-30.

13 Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts:

Poetic justice. God punished them by letting them have what they wanted.

14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.

This refers to the intensity of the Babylonian captivity. Notice that the Jews laid their land desolate, by their sins. God clearly warned them, in Deuteronomy 28, that this would happen if they turned away from Him.