Monday, November 19, 2012

Gaza in Prophecy?

An interesting article from about a bible reference about Gaza that could have prophetic implications. This follows this post about resisting evil by not giving it a little chance in your life. This follows this post about "shop till you drop."   For a free magazine subscription or to get this book for free click HERE! or call 1-888-886-8632.

Prophecy Against Judah's Neighbors (Zechariah 9:1-10:1)

Chapters 9-14 of Zechariah contain two undated oracles. They may have been written years after chapters 1-8. Some have suggested a time in the prophet's old age, perhaps later than the Persian conflict with Greece around 480 B.C. since Greece appears in this section as a dominant power—though this is not a requirement, as God well knew that Greece would emerge as such a power. The focus of this section of prophecy is predominantly on the end time, with 18 occurrences of the phrase "in that day." And it is a heavily messianic section, referring to both the first and second comings of the Messiah.

Verses 1-2 of chapter 9 label the first oracle as a message against the land of Hadrach, Damascus, Hamath, Tyre and Sidon (and verses 5-7 add the cities of Philistia). Hadrach was in Syria, "north of Hamath on the Orontes River, southwest of Aleppo" (The Nelson Study Bible, note on verse 1). Verses 3-4 describe destruction to come on Tyre, reminiscent of Ezekiel's prophecies against Tyre in Ezekiel 26-28. As explained in the Bible Reading Program comments on those prophecies, destruction of both ancient Tyre and its end-time counterpart appears to be intended. The greatest ancient destruction of Tyre was accomplished by Alexander the Great—as the unwitting agent of God—when he rebuilt an ancient causeway out to the island fortress, breached its towering walls and set the city ablaze. And this was a forerunner of the destruction God will bring against end-time Tyre—that is, the global power bloc also referred to in prophecy as "Babylon the Great" (see Revelation 18).

Many see Zechariah 9:1-8 as descriptive of Alexander's march down the eastern Mediterranean coastline, as he subdued the Persian territories there. "His successes," commentator Charles Feinberg states, "are recounted in verses 1-7, and verse 8 notes the deliverance of Jerusalem. After the Battle of Issus, Alexander quickly conquered Damascus, Sidon, Tyre (after seven months it was burned), Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron. The course of his victories in 332 BC was from northern Syria south by the valley of the Orontes River to Damascus, then along the Phoenician and Philistine coast" (The Minor Prophets, 1990, p. 314). This was more than a century after Zechariah lived.

Verses 5-6 says, "The king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited. A mixed race ['bastard' in the King James Version here is an inaccurate translation] shall settle in Ashdod." In Alexander's conquest, "Ashkelon lost its population, and Gaza was reduced after a siege of a few months.... Special mention is made by a contemporary of Alexander that the king of Gaza was brought alive to the conqueror after the city was taken; the satrap, or petty 'king' of the city, was bound to a chariot and dragged around the city to his death.... Ashdod was to lose its native population during this invasion, being replaced by a...mongrel people. It was Alexander's policy to mingle different conquered peoples" (p. 316).

Notice that verse 1 mentioned the eyes of all people, especially "all the tribes of Israel" being on the Lord—that is, on Him carrying out His will against these nations. The scattered tribes of Israel, on the northern periphery of the Persian Empire, experienced a measure of liberation through the conquests of Alexander. Yet this could also signify all the Israelites of the end time witnessing the coming of the Lord to deliver them—as described later in the chapter (see verse 14).

Verse 7 describes the removal of unclean and idolatrous practices from the Philistines—and apparently their conversion, as their remnant will be for God. This will be fulfilled at the return of Jesus Christ, demonstrating that the earlier verses in this prophecy are likely dual—applying to both ancient and future times. Ekron, probably representative in verse 7 of all the Philistines who are left, "will be like the Jebusites [the former inhabitants of Jerusalem] in a good sense. When David conquered Jerusalem, he did not destroy the Jebusites; instead, they were absorbed into Judah (e.g., Araunah in 2 Sam 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:18). So it will be with a remnant of the Philistines" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, note on verses 5-7).

Verse 8 further shows the end-time element of this prophecy, as God promises to never again allow a foreign oppressor to tramp through His people's land. Since the time of Alexander, other oppressors have clearly afflicted the people of God. So the prophecy must refer to the time beyond Christ's return.

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