Zechariah prophesies that God will transform end-time Israel from a scattered flock into mighty warriors and a majestic warhorse. He envisions an exodus of the lost tribes, who will unite with the Jews to fight alongside Jesus and defeat the Antichrist. God will then empower and equip them to rule with him.
This describes the destruction of all of Israel’s enemies under Jesus’ leadership. There will be massive population growth as Jesus saves the entire nation and brings many back to the land. This has been partially fulfilled since 1948.

In verse 1, Zechariah tells the people to ask the Lord for the late spring rains. In the natural, the spring rains helped Israel's harvests to ripen and brought prosperity. Metaphorically and eschatologically, the winter and spring rains represent Holy Spirit outpourings and spiritual renewal (see Hosea 6:3 and Joel 2:23-32). Zechariah envisions a time when the people of Israel will have been led astray spiritually, and will be following empty lies. The people will be like scattered sheep without a shepherd (v2). Jesus pictured the Jews this way in Matthew 9:36.

In verse 3, God is enraged by the shepherds (Israel's political leaders) and will punish the lead-goats (Israel's religious leaders). The goats appear to be true sheep (believers) but are actually false, and lead the sheep astray so that they follow lies. God promises that he will bless the flock, the house of Judah (the Jews), and transform them into a mighty warhorse. This is a picture of Jesus turning the end-time Jews into a powerful fighting force. Verse 4 says, "From him will come the cornerstone, the wall peg, the battle bow, and every ruler". 'From him' means either 'from the Lord' or 'from Judah'. Either way, it points to Jesus. Jesus is the 'chief cornerstone' who comes from Judah (see Isaiah 28:16, Ephesians 2:20 and 1 Peter 2:6). The cornerstone joined two walls together in unity. In other words, Jesus will unite the Jews. The 'wall peg' or 'tent peg' (NIV) alludes to Jesus restoring the 'fallen tent of David' (Amos 9:11). The 'battle bow' means that Jesus will equip the Jews to fight alongside him against the Antichrist. 'Every ruler' means that he will raise up powerful leaders. This is not the normal word used for 'ruler' but denotes a forceful, dictator-like ruler. The point of this is explained in verse 5. They will become like forceful warriors who will trample Antichrist's armies in the mud, and defeat his cavalry.

In verse 6, Zechariah confirms this strengthening and transformation of end-time Judah (the Jews), but then adds that God will also deliver the 'house of Joseph'. In other words, God will restore all twelve tribes of Israel, including the lost ten tribes. God will bring them back, have compassion on them, and hear them, as though he had never rejected them. The salvation of 'all Israel' is a common theme in biblical end-time prophecy. In verse 7, Zechariah confirms that the Ephraimites (the northern tribes) will rejoice, and will also become like warriors. As the 'cornerstone' Jesus will unite both the Jews and the Ephraimites. God says he will signal for them and gather them, for he has already redeemed them. Many prophecies portray Jesus mustering an end-time army to fight with him against the Antichrist (search tags: Jesus musters an army). Jesus' death on the cross was also to redeem the lost tribes of Israel, along with the Jews and sinners worldwide. In verse 9, God says that even though he scattered them among the nations, in far-off places they will remember him. This implies that God will supernaturally reveal himself to these lost tribes, all around the world, and will bring them back to Israel.

Verse 10 tells us God will bring them back from Egypt and Assyria. After Israel's conquest by Assyria in 722 BC, the ten northern tribes were exiled and resettled. According to 2 Kings 17:5-6 and 1 Chronicles 5:26, they were settled along the River Habor (a tributary of the River Euphrates in Mesopotamia), and among the cities of the Medes (to the east of the River Tigris). After the Babylonian conquest, some Jewish refugees fled to Egypt (Jeremiah 43:7) and it is likely that significant numbers of refugees also fled there at the time of the Assyrian conquest. Although the descendants of Israel's exiles will by now have spread throughout the world, it is likely that they are still most numerous in the regions of Assyria and Egypt. Today, Assyria corresponds to Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. God promises to bring them back and to resettle them in the lands of Gilead and Lebanon because there will not be enough room for them in their own land of Israel. Gilead was the region on the east side of the Jordan, originally settled by the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh. Several prophecies describe an end-time 'highway of holiness' that will be built to facilitate the end-time exodus from Assyria and Egypt (Isaiah 11:16, 19:23, 27:13, 35:8, 62:10, Micah 7:12).

Verse 11 alludes to miracles that God will perform during this end-time exodus. In the original exodus, God led the Israelites through the Red Sea and across the Jordan River. In the end times, God will 'cross the sea of storms and will calm its turbulence…the depths of the Nile will dry up'. When Jesus calmed the storm in Matthew 8:26, it was a sign that Jesus is the Messiah who will deliver Israel in the end times. In verse 11b, the Lord will humble the pride of Assyria (i.e defeat Antichrist and his armies) and 'the domination of Egypt will be no more'. Egypt is one of the nations that Antichrist will conquer (Daniel 11:42), so Jesus and the Jews will defeat Egypt. According to Ezekiel 29, Egypt will lie desolate for forty years, after which it will be restored as an insignificant nation.

In verse 12, God promises to strength the Jews with power and that that they will walk about in his name. This alludes to miracle working power associated with the end-time Holy Spirit outpouring (Joel 2:28-29). 'Walking about' is an idiomatic expression used several times in Zechariah, meaning to patrol and to exercise dominion over the earth (e.g. Zechariah 1:10). In other words, God will empower and equip his people to rule with him.
Places: Judah, Ephraim, Gilead, Jordan, Lebanon, Assyria, Egypt
Symbols: Sheep and goats, Cornerstone, Tent pegs, Battle bow, Warhorses
Tags: Restoration of Israel and Judah, Jesus musters an army, Highway of Holiness, End-time exodus, End-time miracles, Reigning with Christ, Holy Spirit outpouring, Israel plunders her enemies
The Restoration of the True People
1 Ask the Lord for rain in the season of the late spring rains – the Lord who causes thunderstorms – and he will give everyone showers of rain and green growth in the field.
2 For the household gods have spoken wickedness, the soothsayers have seen a lie, and as for the dreamers, they have disclosed emptiness and give comfort in vain. Therefore the people set out like sheep and become scattered because they have no shepherd.
3 I am enraged at the shepherds and will punish the lead-goats.
For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has brought blessing to his flock, the house of Judah, and will transform them into his majestic warhorse.
4 From him will come the cornerstone, the wall peg, the battle bow, and every ruler.
5 And they will be like warriors trampling the mud of the streets in battle. They will fight, for the Lord will be with them, and will defeat the enemy cavalry.
6 “I (says the Lord) will strengthen the kingdom of Judah and deliver the people of Joseph and will bring them back because of my compassion for them. They will be as though I had never rejected them, for I am the Lord their God and therefore I will hear them.
7 The Ephraimites will be like warriors and will rejoice as if they had drunk wine. Their children will see it and rejoice; they will celebrate in the things of the Lord.
8 I will signal for them and gather them, for I have already redeemed them; then they will become as numerous as they were before.
9 Though I scatter them among the nations, they will remember in far-off places – they and their children will survive and return.
10 I will bring them back from Egypt and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them to the lands of Gilead and Lebanon, and there will not be enough room for them.
11 The Lord will cross the sea of storms and will calm its turbulence. The depths of the Nile will dry up, the pride of Assyria will be humbled, and the domination of Egypt will be no more.
12 Thus I will strengthen them by my power, and they will walk about in my name,” says the Lord.