Description
This chapter pronounces woe to the Antichrist. The Antichrist breaks his peace treaty, the ambassadors of peace are dismayed, and sinners in Jerusalem are terrified. But when Jesus arises, he delivers Jerusalem, and establishes his kingdom in Zion.
Commentary
This chapter pronounces woe to the Antichrist. The Antichrist breaks his peace treaty, the envoys of peace are dismayed, and sinners in Jerusalem are terrified. But when Jesus arises, he consumes his enemies with fire, delivers Jerusalem, and establishes his kingdom in Zion.

In verse 1, the Antichrist is described as a destroyer and a traitor, but will end up being betrayed and destroyed. Habakkuk 2:16 expresses a similar sentiment. We know from Daniel 11:42 that he conquers many nations, of which several are listed including Israel, Egypt, Lybia and Cush (Sudan). Habakkuk 2:17 also speaks of his violence again Lebanon. It is likely that his conquests will be extremely destructive. Who will he betray? Daniel 9:27 tells us he will confirm a covenant with many for seven years, but break it after three and a half. So he will betray the many nations, including Israel, with which he signed a peace treaty. Here in verses 7 to 8 we are told, "…the envoys of peace weep bitterly….The treaty is broken, its witnesses are despised, no-one is respected". Another victim of his betrayal is likely to be Saudi Arabia. It is likely that it is Saudi Arabia that reunites the Sunni muslim world in order to restore the Islamic empire, for in Revelation 17-18, it is Saudi Arabia that is portrayed as riding the beast. According to Daniel 7:24, the beast empire is reformed as a coalition of ten rulers, but the Antichrist then arises as an eleventh ruler who takes over and deposes three of the original ones. Given Islamic expectations of the end-times, it is likely that the Antichrist will be recognised by the Islamic world as their Mahdi and Caliph, but that he will need Saudi Arabia's recognition for that to happen. However, Revelation 17:16 says, "The ten horns that you saw, and the beast – these will hate the prostitute and make her desolate and naked. They will consume her flesh and burn her up with fire" (NET). This suggests that the Antichrist and his beast empire will betray Saudi Arabia, even though it was Saudi Arabia that facilitated his rise to power. It is likely that Antichrist will give Iran the go-ahead to attack Saudi (see Isaiah 13 and 21, and Jeremiah 50-51).

Verse 2 is Israel's desperate prayer, "Lord, be merciful to us! We wait for you. Give us strength each morning! Deliver us when distress comes." Jeremiah 30:7 expresses a similar sentiment, "Alas, what a terrible time of trouble it is! There has never been any like it. It is a time of trouble for the descendants of Jacob, but some of them will be rescued out of it." So Israel's time of greatest trouble will lead to her salvation.

Verse 3 tells us the nations will scatter when they hear a loud noise as God springs into action. This is Jesus, come to do battle, and he uses his voice as a weapon. The plunder which Antichrist's armies have amassed will disappear as though locusts are swarming over it (v4). It is like in Jeremiah 30:16, "But all who destroyed you will be destroyed. All your enemies will go into exile. Those who plundered you will be plundered. I will cause those who pillaged you to be pillaged." This locust-like, but nevertheless human army that despoils Antichrist's armies, could be the same army as in Joel 2:1-11. Some of the details in that passage suggest it could be an army of resurrected and raptured believers. The same is true of the armies of heaven that accompany Jesus to the battle of Armageddon in Revelation 19:14.

Verses 5 assures us the Lord (Jesus) will be exalted (victorious), and he will fill Zion (Jerusalem) with justice and fairness. Jesus will be Israel's constant source of stability (see Matthew 21:42), and an abundant source of safety and wisdom to those who fear him (v6). To fear the Lord means to trust and obey him with repentant hearts.

Verses 7 to 9 are a flash-back to an earlier scene where Antichrist has invaded Israel and also Lebanon. Habakkuk 2:17 confirms that Antichrist will invade Lebanon, and in Ezekiel 28 Antichrist is called 'the ruler of Tyre'. The highways are empty in verse 8 because everyone is hiding indoors and dares not go outside - it is a picture of war. Lebanon's forests shrivel up and her fertile lands turn to desert.

It is into this context of war that Jesus says in verse 10, "Now I will rise up, …now I will exalt myself". Verses 11 to 12 describe Jesus' terrifying display of fire-power, which literally consumes his enemies and burns them to ashes. Numerous prophecies describe Jesus using fire as a weapon in his end-time battles (search tags: Jesus uses fire). News of this will spread afar, and in Jerusalem, sinful people will ask who can survive such unquenchable fire. Verse 15 answers this question - it is those who live uprightly and do not seek to harm others. They will find safety with Jesus in his mountain strongholds (v16), a reference to millennial Jerusalem, or possibly to the new heavenly Jerusalem. There, they will see King Jesus in all his spendour, and a wide or extensive land that he rules over (v17). Their thoughts will flash back to the terror of the invasion and to the arrogant foreigners that oppressed them during the occupation, but they will see them no more (v18-19). Instead they will look upon Jerusalem as God's peaceful settlement. It will be like a tent that will never be uprooted again (v20). There, Jesus will be our Mighty One (v21) - Jesus is also the Mighty One who delivers Lebanon in Isaiah 10:34. Jerusalem will be a peaceful place of rivers and wide streams that will never be travelled by war ships (v21). For Jesus will be our judge, lawgiver, and king who will deliver us (v22). Instead, merchant ships will unload such abundant plunder, that even the lame would get a share (v23), except that there won't be any lame, for no-one will be ill, and all who live there will be forgiven (v24).
Tags
Places: Israel, Zion, Jerusalem, Zion
Symbols: Locust army
Tags: Antichrist invades Israel, Antichrist invades Lebanon, Israel plunders her enemies, Jesus uses fire, Jesus fights his enemies, Jesus delivers Israel, Israel receives salvation, Zion established, Jesus establishes his kingdom, Jesus as the Mighty One, Locust army, War and Rapture, Antichrist peace treaty, Peace on Earth, River of God, Weapons of Jesus
The Lord Will Restore Zion
33 The destroyer is as good as dead, you who have not been destroyed! The deceitful one is as good as dead, the one whom others have not deceived! When you are through destroying, you will be destroyed; when you finish deceiving, others will deceive you!
2 Lord, be merciful to us! We wait for you. Give us strength each morning! Deliver us when distress comes.
3 The nations run away when they hear a loud noise; the nations scatter when you spring into action!
4 Your plunder disappears as if locusts were eating it; they swarm over it like locusts!
5 The Lord is exalted, indeed, he lives in heaven; he fills Zion with justice and fairness.
6 He is your constant source of stability; he abundantly provides safety and great wisdom; he gives all this to those who fear him.
7 Look, ambassadors cry out in the streets; messengers sent to make peace weep bitterly.
8 Highways are empty, there are no travelers. Treaties are broken, witnesses are despised, human life is treated with disrespect.
9 The land dries up and withers away; the forest of Lebanon shrivels up and decays. Sharon is like the arid rift valley; Bashan and Carmel are parched.
10 “Now I will rise up,” says the Lord. “Now I will exalt myself; now I will magnify myself.
11 You conceive straw, you give birth to chaff; your breath is a fire that destroys you.
12 The nations will be burned to ashes; like thorn bushes that have been cut down, they will be set on fire.
13 You who are far away, listen to what I have done! You who are close by, recognize my strength!”
14 Sinners are afraid in Zion; panic grips the godless. They say, ‘Who among us can coexist with destructive fire? Who among us can coexist with unquenchable fire?’
15 The one who lives uprightly and speaks honestly; the one who refuses to profit from oppressive measures and rejects a bribe; the one who does not plot violent crimes and does not seek to harm others –
16 This is the person who will live in a secure place; he will find safety in the rocky, mountain strongholds; he will have food and a constant supply of water.
17 You will see a king in his splendor; you will see a wide land.
18 Your mind will recall the terror you experienced, and you will ask yourselves, “Where is the scribe? Where is the one who weighs the money? Where is the one who counts the towers?”
19 You will no longer see a defiant people whose language you do not comprehend, whose derisive speech you do not understand.
20 Look at Zion, the city where we hold religious festivals! You will see Jerusalem, a peaceful settlement, a tent that stays put; its stakes will never be pulled up; none of its ropes will snap in two.
21 Instead the Lord will rule there as our mighty king. Rivers and wide streams will flow through it; no war galley will enter; no large ships will sail through.
22 For the Lord, our ruler, the Lord, our commander, the Lord, our king – he will deliver us.
23 Though at this time your ropes are slack, the mast is not secured, and the sail is not unfurled, at that time you will divide up a great quantity of loot; even the lame will drag off plunder.
24 No resident of Zion will say, “I am ill”; the people who live there will have their sin forgiven.
(NET)