The Division of Jerusalem and Zechariah 14

There is a modern fulfillment of Bible prophecy that I think is often overlooked, as described in Zechariah 14:2. I believe it was seen in Jordan’s invasion of Israel in 1948, along with the other surrounding Arab nations. Many Bible prophecy teachers probably still view this as a yet-future event, but the events described in verse 2 actually occurred in 1948–49. Furthermore, verse 3 describes very well the military victories that Israel has experienced since that time. Let’s take a look…

2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. 3 Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. 4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. 5 You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!

Zechariah 14:2–5 (NASB)

In 1948, just days after Israel declared its independence, they were invaded by Egypt from the South, Jordan on the East, and both Syria and Lebanon in the North. However, arguably the fiercest battle in the Israeli War of Independence was fought over Jerusalem with Jordan. At the end of it, the armistice line divided the city in half between the Old City and the New City. When the Jewish Quarter in the Old City fell, many were killed, others were taken into Jordanian captivity, and the rest were deported to the New City. Their homes were pillaged and set ablaze, and the synagogues were destroyed.1 And as one might expect, some of the women taken captive were also ravaged.2 Consequently, the actual events that historically happened can be directly compared with the biblical account. And when we do that, it’s very difficult to ignore the precision of the prediction.

Next, since Israel’s founding as a nation, I think you could make a very strong argument that God has clearly been fighting for them, as described in verse 3. This has been evidenced by Israel’s survival in the War of Independence and in all of the wars since that time, most notably the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, where the odds were certainly not in their favor.3 Therefore, we should consider the possibility that these particular events have already been fulfilled in modern history and that we are living in the days between verses 3 and 4 because the events from verse 4 (Jesus standing on the Mount of Olives and it splitting in two) on are obviously still to come. The phrase “in that day” in verse 4 can sound as though it is talking about the very same day as verses 2 and 3, but the reference could easily be applied to the final of a series wars that are the subject of verse 3. In either case, it seems unlikely that everything happens in just one day, so the reference is best understood as taking place at that general time, rather than everything taking place in twenty-four hours. Therefore, since the city really was divided in half, for the first time in Jerusalem’s 4,000-year history, I think it is reasonable to conclude that 1948–49 already saw the fulfillment of that portion of the prophecy, and we can pretty confidently affirm that verse 2 has been fulfilled and that verse 3 is in progress.

Then, as you think about the fact that we are living in the days when the words of Zechariah about the Last Days are starting to be fulfilled, which were prophesied around 2,500 years ago, I hope you are getting ready to meet the King who will someday soon fulfill verses 4 and 5…

The exact timing of the events in verses 4 and 5 with respect to the vision of John the Apostle in the book of Revelation and Jesus’ Olivet Discourse is still somewhat of a mystery, but they are undoubtedly a part of the events described as the Day of the Lord and the Great Tribulation.

1 Teddy Kollek and Moshe Pearlman, Jerusalem: A History of Forty Centuries (New York: Random House, 1968), 250–52.
2 Shimon Re’em, Female Prisoners of War in Israel’s War of Independence (Haifa: National Midrasha for Underground and Zionism Studies, 2010).

3 Against All Odds: Israel Survives, American Trademark Pictures, Release date: ‎ November 22, 2011, Questar, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsN5bqVzX34

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