Amos mentioned a literal earthquake that occurred during the reign of King Uzziah (Azariah) of Judah. Zechariah 14:5 refers back to this earthquake, so verse 1 is important for verifying that a future literal earthquake will take place at the end of the present age.
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With natural Israel, the “former rain” refers to their earlier period of favor. Israel had prophets, the Law, the Tabernacle, the Temple of Solomon, etc. The early rain ended with the Diaspora, the great gulf fixed between the Jews and God, as shown in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Now the dry bones (Ezekiel 37) are beginning to come together. Sinews (organizations) are attached to the bones, and flesh has even appeared on the body state of Israel. However, from God’s standpoint, the breath of life has not yet entered Israel.
Not until Jacob’s Trouble will that happen—when the nation of Israel will stand on its feet in a real way. When God fights for Israel as He did in days of old, that will be like an awakening from the dead (Zech. 14:3). There will be a mighty shaking and a resurrection, as it were, both figuratively and literally (the Ancient Worthies).
Verse 5 is like saying to the Holy Remnant that the hopeless condition both the ten- and the two-tribe kingdoms were in necessitated the Lord’s turning His face from Israel for a long period of time so that they would get the lesson. In the past, through the prophets, God warned of the sinful condition, but Ephraim and Judah turned a deaf ear to the need for repentance. God “cut … [them] in pieces with the prophets” (NIV). It is as if at this end of the age, God is explaining about the warnings given to the ten- and the two-tribe kingdoms before they got so corrupt, and then, when they were in an unfit condition, what the necessary steps of repentance were. Because the warnings were ignored, judgment was necessary. Hewing the nation by the mouth of the prophets sounds like Jeremiah’s ministry.
For those of you who are not familiar with today’s most prevalent prophetic news pervading the Christian and Jewish scholarly communities, you should study Ezekiel 38 and 39, with the understanding that it alludes to a nuclear equipped Russian – Iranian led confederacy, which forms to invade the nation of Israel in the end times.
This was a day of vengeance, not the day of vengeance. For now, we will just say that a time frame of 3 1/2 years leads up to Jacob’s Trouble. Therefore, the antitype is the end time of the Gospel Age but not the final battle. A lot of events will take place before Gog and Magog come down.
Elijah must have had a very magnetic, forceful personality. He started his mission by going to King Ahab and reprimanding him to his face with the boldness and courage that were instilled by the Lord. Now he spoke to the widow. His manner of speaking was convincing and persuasive, and she believed him. According to the King James margin, for a “full year,” they ate of the flour and the oil that kept replenishing. Therefore, Elijah was at the brook Cherith for at least two years, and then he was in Zarephath for another year.
“We [Jeremiah and Obadiah] have heard a rumour [confidential information] from the LORD.” God originated this information, and He let certain individuals know what He intended to do. Then the trusted individuals, such as Obadiah, transmitted the information to the public. Such confidential information should make us bestir ourselves to righteousness.
The full fulfillment of this chapter will occur when the Holy Remnant is delivered out of Jacob’s Trouble. The clue for this statement is, “Thou shalt call them [the blessings and the cursings] to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee.” The reference cannot be to the Babylonian captivity because the Jews were not scattered among all nations at that time.
At that time, the survivors, the Jews comprising the Holy Remnant, will obey God’s voice and return to Him with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength according to all that Moses commanded more than 3,000 years ago. Specifically, the reference is to the second regathering, which will take place after Jacob’s Trouble. They will return not only to the land but also to the God of Israel. The severity of the trouble will be needed for them to return with this fullness.