Zechariah 2. The Messiah Will Dwell in Jerusalem

The following vision deals with God’s future blessings on restored Israel:

The surveyor with a measuring line (2:1-13)

The divine judgement on the Gentile nations, as revealed in the previous vision, will be followed by God’s enlarging and protecting Jerusalem. The restoration and expansion of the city in Zechariah’s time was promised, and, more specifically, its end-time growth after the Messiah’s kingdom has been revealed. Aspects which are specifically emphasised are the city’s future expansion in measurement, the size of its population, its great wealth, its spiritual revival and its safety.

To us, Christians, prophecies such as these are also very significant as they glorify God and describe the final victory and establishment of His kingdom. When we read these messages we don’t’ envy Israel or Jerusalem, as the focus is not on Israel but on God and His glory. Jerusalem is the city chosen by God to put His name there forever (1 Kings 9:3; 11:36). He chose the Israeli people to reveal His salvation through them and their promised Messiah to the entire world (Isa. 9:6-7; 49:5-6; John 4:22; Rom. 9:4-5), and to entrust His word to them (Rom. 3:1-2). With a view to the profound significance of these facts to the entire humanity, Zechariah said: “Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation” (2:13).

The man with the measuring line is without any doubt the same one as the rider on the red horse in the first vision, which is the pre-incarnate Messiah who appeared as the Angel of the Lord in some of these visions. He came to survey Jerusalem to determine its size, wealth and spiritual state as He has great plans for this city (2:11). His message was first addressed to the young man, Zechariah, (2:4), then to Israel (2:6-12), and finally to all mankind (2:13).

Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the multitude of people in it (2:4). This prophecy was not fulfilled in the time of Zechariah nor during the years immediately following his ministry; consequently, it applies to the Messianic era when great and wonderful things will happen in Jerusalem.

The city will overflow its boundaries because of divine blessing and become an open city without walls. Because of God’s presence, it will need no fortification or protection. He will be a wall of fire all around the city, and the glory in her midst (2:5). This promise looks forward to the Lord’s personal presence through the Messiah during His millennial kingdom on earth. Ezekiel saw the future return of the divine glory to the temple (Ezek. 43:2-5), but Zechariah was granted a vision of the glory extending to the entire city (2:5) and also to the whole land (2:12; cf. 14:20-21).

Ezekiel’s description of the glory of the Lord in the temple in Jerusalem is quite remarkable and further adds to the vision of Zechariah: “Afterwards he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces towards the east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory… The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. Then I heard Him speaking to me from the temple… and He said to me, Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever. No more shall the house of Israel defile My holy Name, they nor their kings” (Ezek. 43:1-7).

In the light of the prosperity and blessings that were promised to Jerusalem, and also in the light of the judgements that were proclaimed about the fall of Babylon, the Jews who were still in exile were admonished to return to Jerusalem where they would live peacefully: “Up, up! Flee from the land of the north! … Up, Zion! Escape you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon” (2:6-7). Babylon has indeed fallen two years later, but the restored Babylon will finally fall when the Messiah comes (Rev. 18). Israelites who dwell in Babylon will again be evacuated shortly before Babylon’s fall: “Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues… With violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found any more” (Rev. 18:4,21). The restoration of the Jews to their own land in Zechariah’s time was only a prelude to the great, end-time restoration of Israel to their land, which will be accompanied by great hostility from the surrounding nations.

Isaiah elaborated as follows on the final gathering of Israel: “It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elam and Shinar, from Hamath and the islands of the sea. He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isa. 11:11-12; cf. Jer. 23:3-8).

In Zechariah 2:8-9, the messenger who is sent out by the Lord refers to the Messiah, the one who is also described as the Angel of the Lord: “For thus says the LORD of hosts: He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.” From this portion in the Old Testament we clearly see that the first Person in the Triune Godhead, The LORD of hosts, addresses the second Person, the Messiah, who is His Messenger (cf. John 20:21). We also read about the third Person in Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings” (Isa. 61:1).

In this vision of Zechariah, the Angel of the Lord is sent to punish the Babylonian oppressors of Israel. This prophecy will find its final fulfilment in the Second Coming of Christ when He will utterly crush the enemies of Israel and Jerusalem (14:3,12-13). The restored Babylonian empire of the end-time (Rev. 18), as well as the Babylonian alliance of false religions (Rev. 17), will also be destroyed by divine judgements during the coming day of the Lord. When this mighty King, the Messiah, comes again the second time, He will not be the humble Servant who laid down His life for the salvation of sinners. This time, He will come in power in glory to destroy His enemies and to glorify His own people. Zechariah describes Him in His full Deity when he says: “In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives… Thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You” (14:4-5).

It will be a day of great rejoicing in Israel: “Sing and rejoice, o daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst, says the LORD” (2:10). The remnant of Israel will all accept the Messiah (12:10), be cleansed from their unrighteousness (13:1), and be overjoyed when He restores the throne of David in Jerusalem: “In mercy the throne will be established; and One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness” (Isa. 16:5; cf. Acts 15:16-17).

At the Second Coming of Christ, the remnant of the nations will also be saved and all serve the Messiah who will reign from Jerusalem (Matt. 24:29-30). They will mourn for Him like the remnant of Israel will be mourning when they are reconciled to Him (12:10). These nations will then also belong to the Messiah and serve Him: “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you” (2:11; cf. 8:21-22).

Jerusalem will be the hub of world affairs during the millennial reign of the Messiah (2:12). Apart from being the capital of Israel, Jerusalem will be the capital of the entire world during the millennium. Isaiah says: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:2-4; cf. 24:23).

What a profound future expectation to Israel and the nations! “Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation” (2:13). This concluding verse of chapter 2 is rendered as follows by the Living Bible: “Be silent, all mankind, before the Lord, for He has come to earth from heaven, from His holy home.”

We should clearly realise that the future glory which has been promised to the saved remnant of Israel, as well as saved persons from all nations, will only be enjoyed by a minority of mankind. Most people in Israel and among the nations are wicked and unrepentant. Even in “good” times, God was not pleased with most of the Israelites and judged them because of their sin and unbelief (1 Cor. 10:5). Zechariah confirms the fact that most of them will perish during the coming tribulation (13:8). The same applies to the Gentiles, among whom few will find their way through the narrow gate that leads to heaven (Matt. 7:13-14).

The key verse in Zechariah 2 is the following: “And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem” (2:12). There is not even the slightest possibility that this promise can be spiritualised and applied to the church. The spiritual restoration of the remnant of Israel as a nation will occur in the Holy Land, which was given to the founding fathers of Israel as an eternal possession (Gen. 13:14-15; 26:3; 28:13). For this wonderful promise to be fulfilled, Israel must be restored to their land in the last days prior to the Second Coming of the Messiah. The return of the Jews to their ancient land has already reached the stage where 5,5 million of the 13 million Jews in the world are back in their land. They equal the number of Jews in the USA and will soon be the largest concentration of Jews anywhere in the world. That will render legitimacy to the decisions they take and the covenants that they may conclude on behalf of world Jewry.

Zechariah graphically describes the national mourning of Israel following the coming of the Messiah (12:10-14), resulting in a holy people living in a holy land (13:1-2; 14:20-21). Jerusalem, the centre of the religious and political life of the Jews, will be sanctified as the base of their future theocratic government. The Lord will again choose Jerusalem, and bestow upon it much more glory than was the case during the reign of Solomon:

“Awake, awake! Put on your strength, o Zion; put on your beautiful garments, o Jerusalem, holy city!” (Isa. 52:1). “The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising… The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you The City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel… Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise” (Isa. 60:3,14,18).

The future glory of Jerusalem stands in stark contrast to the downtrodden state of this city during the times of the Gentiles. The Lord Jesus said: “Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). Saved Gentiles should have no part in the trampling and despising of this city. We should know that this city is destined to be the focal point of the Messiah’s millennial kingdom. During that time, the saved Israel and the saved members of the nations will proclaim: “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the sides of the north, the city of the Great King” Ps. 48:1-2).

Zechariah says: “Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to pray before the LORD” (8:22). “They shall go up [to Jerusalem] from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (14:16).

Are you looking forward to this wonderful future of Israel, Jerusalem and the entire Holy Land? If so, you have an obligation to provoke Israel to jealousy by the way in which you serve the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through the Messiah, Jesus (Rom. 11:11). Also pray for their return to their own land, and for God’s special protection and blessing upon Jerusalem. The psalmist says: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may they prosper who love you” (Ps. 122:6).