We have already seen the nation of Israel born in one day, as foretold by Isaiah, and an end to the trampling of Jerusalem by the Gentiles at its divinely appointed time. We have also seen heaven and earth shaken, at least in a metaphorical sense, foretold 2,520 years earlier by the prophet Haggai.1 And we have seen Gentile shepherds raised, to shepherd the land of Nimrod, as foretold by Micah.2
Isaiah writes: “You are my God, YHWH. I will exalt you, I will praise your name, for you perform marvels! Counsels of old are faithfulness, truth. For you turn a city into a mound, a fortress town into a ruin, the tower of foreigners a city that will never be rebuilt. Therefore a strong people will glorify you, the city of terrifying nations will fear you.” 3
Earlier we spoke of Daniel who wrote, in the final prophecy given to him, “Happy is the one who waits in expectation, and arrives at 1,335 days.” 4 But now, Isaiah speaks as if those waiting have been rewarded for their patience, and says to trust in YHWH, the Eternal Rock:
“The person being supported, you will preserve in perfect peace, for that one trusts in you. Trust in YHWH forever, for in Yah YHWH is the Eternal Rock. For he brings down those dwelling on high, the impregnable city. He will certainly bring her down to the earth. He will cast her to the dust.
The foot will trample her, the feet of the humble one, the footsteps of the downtrodden. The path of the righteous one is level. The Level One, you will weigh the course of the righteous one. Indeed, the path of your judgments, YHWH, we have waited in expectation of you, for your name and your remembrance is the yearning of our soul.” 5
Now, Zechariah, at the start of the building of the second Temple, saw many things in vision that may also be related to the last days. He saw a vision of a golden lampstand or menorah, with a bowl or globe on top of it, and two olive trees next to it.
This vision may have influenced the design of the seal or emblem of the state of Israel. It shows a menorah, based on the depiction of a menorah on the Arch of Titus constructed by the Romans, surrounded by an olive branch on either side. However, the bowl or globe that sits on top is missing.
The angel said, “Not by might, and not by power, but instead, by my spirit, says YHWH of hosts. Who are you, the great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, to a level plain. And he will bring forth the headstone with tumults, ‘Grace, grace to it!’” 6
And again: “For who has despised the day of small things? For they will rejoice, and will see the stone, the plumb line, in the hand of Zerubbabel,” 7 whose name means “seed of Babel.”
This is similar to the king of Babylon’s dream, where he saw a stone cut out not by hands, one that strikes the image and becomes a mountain. However, in Zechariah’s vision, a mountain is leveled and the headstone is brought forth, which as well as alluding to the Temple, may also be a reference to the coming of YHWH's anointed one, the ultimate “headstone,” who becomes YHWH’s “grace.”
It is also similar to language spoken against Babylon by Jeremiah. “Look at you, the destroying mountain, says YHWH, the one destroying all the earth. And I will stretch out my hand upon you, and I will roll you from the crags, and I will make you a burnt waste of a mountain. And they will not take from you a stone for a corner, or a stone for foundations. But you will be desolate forever, says YHWH.” 8
YHWH has also spoken of turning his hand against the rivers, especially the Nile and Euphrates. “And YHWH will destroy the tongue of the sea of Egypt, and he will wave his hand over the River in the anger of his spirit, and he will strike it into seven streams, for treading in sandals. And there will be a highway for the remnant of his people who are left from Assyria, just as there was for Israel in the day he came up out of the land of Egypt.” 9
And again: “In that day, YHWH will beat out from the flowing River to the waters of Egypt, and you, you will be gathered one by one, sons of Israel. And in that day it will be that a great trumpet will be blown, and they will come, the ones perishing in the land of Assyria, and the ones expelled in the land of Egypt, and they will worship YHWH in the holy mountain in Jerusalem.” 10
And Zechariah confirms this: “And he will pass through the sea with distress, and he will strike the waves of the sea, and all the depths of the river will dry up. And the pride of Assyria will be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt will depart. And I will give power to them by YHWH, and they will walk in his name, says YHWH.” 11
YHWH has also spoken of the fall of a great city with hail. “Look! My Lord has a mighty and strong one. As a storm of hail and a destroying horror, as a storm of abundant flooding waters, he casts to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride of the drunken ones of Ephraim will be trampled underfoot. And it becomes a fading flower, the stately beauty of that which is on the head of the fertile valley, like the first fruit before summer, which he sees and discerns her, while she is in his palm he eats her up.” 12 And again: “It will hail, and descend on the forest, and the city will be brought down to the low place.” 13
Elsewhere, the city is cryptically called “Babylon The Great,” whose fine fruit departs. She is judged “in one hour,” and her plagues come “in one day,” of which city YHWH says, “Come out of her, my people, so that you do not take part in her sins, and so that you do not receive of her plagues. For her sins have piled up even to heaven, and God has remembered her injustices.” 14
Her description is similar to ancient Tyre, a wealthy trading and maritime city, whose downfall was sudden and terrible, and caused kings to shudder and merchants to whistle. She is similar to ancient Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, described as a prostitute who sold nations through her prostitution, and families by her sorceries.
And most of all, she is like ancient Babylon for her proud and arrogant heart. She resided on many waters, and made all the nations drink the wine from her cup. Just as ancient Babylon was charged with the blood of the slain of all the earth, so is Babylon The Great. Her waters are dried up, and like ancient Babylon, she is desolated forever.
Her identity is veiled, a mystery, and her description is somewhat ambiguous. For that reason she has been interpreted in many ways through the ages, which has even had an impact on those times; and this may have been in line with the will of YHWH, to allow for the refinement of those who worship him.
For example, Babylon The Great is described as sitting on seven mountains; and for that reason, early readers would have connected it with Rome, known from ancient times as “the city of the seven hills.” Later on, in what is called the Middle Ages, many interpreted it not just as that city, but also as the religious authority that resided there. As a result, they launched a reformation that still echoes down to this day.
But it may be that her true identity was veiled until the time of the end. For while Rome was the most prominent city in the time when the vision was given, it is not the case in these later days, although it is still the seat of the religious authority that rules over a large body of Christians.
It could be that the prophet Zechariah gives us further insights into these matters. In vision, he sees a flying scroll, an ephah basket, and a disk of lead. Now, the flying scroll is about 30 feet by 15 feet in size, so it is clearly not an ordinary scroll. If rolled up it would resemble a missile, in that it flies, and it destroys the house of the one it enters.
At the same time, it is a curse that YHWH sends out, and it enters into the house of the thief and the one swearing falsely in his name. Whether this is talking about houses in general, or one particular House, the account does not say. The scroll has the same dimensions as the porch of the first Temple, the true House of God, perhaps indicating the nature of the curse, or its target.15
Zechariah then sees an even more unusual vision. He sees an ephah, which was a container used to hold and measure out dry food such as flour, going forth:
“And I said, ‘what is it?’ And he said, ‘This is the ephah going forth.’ And he said, ‘This is their eye in all the earth.’ And look! A disk of lead was lifted up, and this one woman sitting in the midst of the ephah. And he said, ‘This one is The Wickedness.’ And he thrust her into the midst of the ephah, and he thrust a stone of the lead over its mouth.
And I lifted up my eyes, and I saw, and look! Two women going forth, and wind was in their wings, and they had wings like the wings of the stork, and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heavens.
And I said to the messenger, the one speaking with me, ‘Where are they taking the ephah?’ And he said to me, ‘To build for her a house in the land of Shinar; and it will be established and set there upon her base.’” 16
Now, prophecy can be very efficient, and convey multiple meanings and ideas in a few verses. We have already said that the flying scroll resembles a missile, so we could also say that this ephah resembles a satellite, or a vehicle for carrying into space. It is their “eye in all the earth” perhaps in the sense of being used to watch over the earth, just as the seven lamps in Zechariah’s earlier vision were identified as the eyes of YHWH.
As a flying disk, we could also say it is an “unidentified flying object,” but here it is identified for us by the angel as “The Wickedness,” so we can avoid being deceived.
The ephah is taken to Shinar, “to build for her a house” there, and is “set there upon her base.” This is the second mention of a “house,” which may be related to, or even the same as, the “house” that the flying scroll enters.
Shinar is the ancient land of Babylon. But through the prophets that came before Zechariah, YHWH had already condemned Babylon to destruction, never to be rebuilt, so this vision is perhaps about the greater Babylon and her founding.
The disk of lead seals the ephah, and may also itself be describing a seal, like that used by countries, states and cities. For example, the Great Seal of the United States is known throughout the earth as having an eye, lifted up over a base, namely a pyramid.
Individual cities and states have their own unique seals as well, with their own distinctive symbols. For example, the seal of the state of New York has two caped women, representing Liberty and Justice. The foot of “Liberty” tramples upon a crown, and “Justice” holds a pair of scales for weighing, and a sword. Underneath them is the Latin motto, “Excelsior,” meaning “Ever Upward.” They stand between a shield, which contains a mountain, a river and ships, and with what looks like a lid being lifted up. Around the seal is a rope.
But the seal for the city of New York is altogether different. It has two men, one a colonist with a plumb line in his right hand, a device used to create a vertical or level line, similar to what Zerubbabel would have in his hand; and a Jacob’s staff over his right shoulder, used for measuring heights and angles. The other is a man native to Manhattan, with a bow. They both hold up a shield containing the sails of a windmill, along with beavers and flour barrels, representing the importance of flour to the early city.
Now, while Isaiah appears to have been writing about ancient Babylon when he says, “the treacherous one is being treacherous, and the one devastating is devastating,” 17 YHWH may have had a greater “Babylon” in mind, for her outcome is the same:
“Woe to the one destroying, but you have not been destroyed, and the one being treacherous, but have not had treachery done to you. When you come to the end of your destruction, you will be destroyed. At the culmination of your treachery, they will be treacherous to you.” 18
YHWH has also foretold that the nations will be deceived into gathering against Jerusalem. It will be a time of anger and fear among the nations, and also a time of great deception and confusion, just as it was in the “time of the end” by the hand of the Romans. But YHWH has forewarned you of this through his prophets of old, and also through the words of his anointed one; for YHWH’s anointed one, his arrow, would be “like the lightning” before he comes on the clouds.
It would be “a day of trouble and trampling and perplexity by my Lord YHWH of hosts in the valley of vision. A breaking of the wall, and a crying to the mountain.” 19 The vision does not specify which wall would be broken, to cause people to cry to the mountain. And again: “Woe, the uproar of many peoples, like the roaring of seas they are in uproar; and the tumult of nations, like the tumult of mighty waters they are in tumult.” 20
YHWH has said that he would turn his sword against the “dragon, the fugitive serpent.” 21 This one would contend with YHWH’s vineyard, Jacob, and cause it to be sent away. “By measure, by sending her away, you contend with her. He removes her by his stiff wind, in the day of the east wind.” 22
But YHWH uses this to remove Jacob’s sin. “So in this way the iniquity of Jacob will be atoned for, and this will be the full fruit to take away his sin in its place: all the stones of the altar will be as stones of chalk that have been shattered, and the sacred poles and pagan incense altars will arise no more.” 23
Zechariah has also confirmed this, by foretelling that Jerusalem would be captured one more time, and that half of Jerusalem will go into exile, and half will remain in the city, so that one in every two men would be taken.24 But then, “a great trumpet will be blown, and they will come, the ones perishing in the land of Assyria, and the ones expelled in the land of Egypt, and they will worship YHWH in the holy mountain in Jerusalem.” 25
Then YHWH will go out to war against the nations that come against Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, creating a valley between the two sides of the mountain. Then the remaining ones in the city will flee into it, and YHWH and his holy ones will come, and this will become known as the day of YHWH.26
Now, many of the prophets have described the final outcome of the ones who come against Jerusalem in those days. Zechariah says that their flesh will rot away while they are still standing. Ezekiel calls it the war of Gog of the land of Magog, with YHWH bringing hail, fire and sulfur on him and his troops.
Joel calls it the judgment in the valley of Jehoshaphat, and says that the winepress is full. Isaiah calls it the day of vengeance of YHWH, and the year of repayments for the cause of Zion, and calls the whole Gentile army “Edom.”
YHWH does this so he can glorify his name: “And I will magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. And they will know that I am YHWH.” 27
But YHWH also speaks words of comfort to those of his people who may be afraid during those days. “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the knees that are faltering. Say to the ones fearful of heart, ‘Be strong, and do not fear. Look! Your God will come with vengeance. God will come with retribution. He will come, and he will save you.’
Then the eyes of the blind will be unclosed, and the ears of the deaf will be opened. Then the lame one will leap like the deer, and the tongue of the mute one will sing for joy. For in the wilderness, waters will break forth, and streams in the Arabah. And the burning sand will become a pond, and the thirsty ground springs of water.” 28
YHWH will punish the lofty ones, including the rebel serpent. “And it will be that, in that day, YHWH will give attention to the host of the height in the height, and the kings of the ground upon the ground. And they will be gathered, as prisoners are gathered in a pit, and they will be shut up in a prison; and after many days they will be given attention.” 29
And then, says Zechariah, waters will go forth. “And it will be in that day, that living waters will go forth from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern Sea,” that is, the Dead Sea, “and half of them toward the western Sea,” that is, the Mediterranean Sea.30
Ezekiel confirms this, describing healing waters that flow out from the Temple. “These waters go forth toward the eastern region, and they go down into the Arabah, and they enter into the Sea,” that is, the Dead Sea. “When it enters the Sea, the waters are healed.” 31
And again: “On the bank of the river will grow, on this side and the other side, all kinds of trees for food. Their leaf will not decay, and their fruit will not fail. It will produce fruit each month, because its waters are going forth from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be for food and their leaf for healing.” 32
Now, this is a physical description of things that are described elsewhere in more symbolic terms. For YHWH will fulfill this in a physical sense at its appointed time, but YHWH and his anointed one are already providing living waters metaphorically, just as it is written: “Hey, all you thirsty ones. Come to the waters!” 33
And again: “They will not go hungry, and they will not thirst, and scorching wind and sun will not strike them. For the one showing compassion to them will lead them, and guide them to springs of water.” 34 These waters are already available right now, in a spiritual sense, for any who wish to drink from them.
Then YHWH will abolish death itself. “And in this mountain he will swallow up the faces of the covering, the one covering over all the peoples, and the veil that is spreading over all of the nations. He will swallow up death forever, and my Lord YHWH will wipe away the tear from all faces; and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for YHWH has spoken it.” 35
And there will also be a raising up of the dead. “Your dead will live. A corpse of mine will rise. Awake, and sing for joy, you residents of the dust. For your dew is like the morning dew, and the land will cast out the dead.”36
Now, these words were spoken through men who were YHWH’s prophets, so they are really the promises of YHWH your God, who says to you: “Remember the former things of old. For I am God, and there is no other God, and none like me, telling the end from the beginning; and from times before, the things that have not yet happened.” 37 And again: “I am the First, and I am the Last; and apart from me there is no God.” 38
YHWH, the “First,” asks who else has foretold all these things? “Who has declared from the beginning, that we may know, and from beforehand, that we can say, ‘Right!’ Indeed, there is no one telling. Indeed, there is no one announcing. Indeed, there is no one hearing your sayings.”
But it is almost as if YHWH is writing you a letter, and telling you to pay attention, when he goes on to say:
“The First, to Zion: Look! Look at these things! And to Jerusalem I will give a bearer of good news. But I know, there is no man from among them, and there is no counselor, such that when I ask them, they could give a word of reply.” 39
Elsewhere, he says: “Look! The former things have come to pass, and I am declaring new things. Before they sprout, I announce them to you. Sing to YHWH a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea and all that fills it; the coastlands, and those dwelling in them.” 40
And again: “Pay attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation. For law will go forth from me, and in just a moment, my judgment for a light of peoples. My righteousness is near. My salvation will come forth, and my arms will judge peoples. The coastlands will keep in expectation of me, and for my arm they will wait.”41
The coastlands wait for YHWH’s arm, and the ends of the earth sing a new song, because YHWH’s salvation has already been announced to them. He is already speaking with them as well, as it is written:
“Turn to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by myself - the word has gone forth from my mouth in righteousness, and it will not turn back - that to me every knee will bow; every tongue will swear, yes, by YHWH, to me, saying ‘righteousness and strength to him.’
He will come, and they will be ashamed, all those enraged against him. By YHWH, all the offspring of Israel will be justified, and will praise.” 42