The heavenly city under siege
The land of Canaan promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a type of something greater, the permanent inheritance of those who believe in Christ. The New Testament refers to this inheritance as a heavenly promised land, a “better country.” [Hebrews 11:16] The promised land represents the spiritual inheritance of the saints.
The apostle Paul identified the earthly city of Jerusalem with Hagar, the bondwoman who was cast out of Abraham’s house, and with Sinai, and was in bondage, he said, while “Jerusalem which is above is free.” [Galatians 4:24-26] The heavenly city is identified with Sarah.
The earthly city was destroyed in 70 AD. The New Testament shows the earthly Jerusalem was a shadow or type, and the substance or reality that it represented is the heavenly city of the saints, the church which God is building in the present age. Jerusalem was raised up, when Jesus ascended to heaven, as Isaiah foretold. [Isaiah 2:1-3] Paul said, believers are raised up together, and sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. [Ephesians 2:6]
Rivers of living waters flow from the heavenly Jerusalem, and from the temple, which heal the places where they flow; “every thing shall live whither the river cometh.” [Zechariah 14:8; Ezekiel 47:9] The metaphor of rivers depicts the gospel going forth from the church.
In Zechariah 12, a siege is described, which is “against Judah and against Jerusalem.” [vs. 2] All the people of the earth gather together against it. [vs. 3] This corresponds to the saying of Jesus, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” [Luke 21:24] Since the time of the apostles, the church of God has been in a state of siege. Gentiles have dominated, and trodden down the saints, and their flawed doctrines have obscured the gospel.
In Revelation 20:8-9, John says that deceived people from all parts of the earth come against the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. The threat is spiritual in nature. Paul said, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12] The deceived people described as the hordes of Gog and Magog are devoured by fire from heaven.
Zechariah 2 says God will be a wall of fire to his saints, [vs. 5] and will dwell in their midst; [vs. 10] Zechariah 12 says he will smite the horses with astonishment, and blindness, [vs. 4] and will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; [vs. 8] he will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. [vs. 9] Horses in the prophecy may be symbolic of people who lack understanding. [Psalm 32:9]
In Zechariah 14, God fights against the nations who invade Jerusalem, who take people captive, and divide the spoil. [vs. 3] He smites the invaders with a plague; “Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.” [vs. 12] Horses, mules, asses and camels are affected too. [vs. 15] The plague, I suggest, is spiritual. Eyes represent spiritual understanding. The psalmist said, “Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not.” [Psalm 69:23]
Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
Similarly the tongue represents their speech. They cannot come up with a sensible answer.
The invaders fight each other. [vs. 13] This corresponds to Ezekiel 38:21; “And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord God: every man’s sword shall be against his brother.”
Ezekiel 38:22 says, “And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.”
In Revelation 16:16, God gathers the armies of the nations at Armageddon. They are slain with a sword from the mouth of Christ. [Revelation 19:21] The sword is God’s word; a spiritual sword is used against spiritual foes. In Revelation 20:9, “fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
Those who have faith in God are secure, as mount Zion, “which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.” [Psalm 125:1] Hebrews 12:22 says: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.”
The prophet Joel said, “But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.” [Joel 3:20] Jesus said, “for salvation is of the Jews.” [John 4:22]
Zechariah 12 says, “the house of David shall be as God;” God said he will “pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications.” [vs. 8] The tabernacle of David is identified with the church by James, in Acts 15:16. A fountain will be opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. [13:1] The fountain alludes to the Spirit of God.
Ezekiel said the scattered sheep of Israel will be brought back to their land. [Ezekiel 34:13] Jesus identified himself as the shepherd of the sheep. [John 10:11]
The Israel of God is the church; Gentile believers are “grafted in.” But those Jews who do not believe in Jesus are branches broken off from their tree. Paul said, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.” [Romans 9:6]