In the 4th chapter of this prophet there is a vivid description of the fearful afflictions which shall come upon the inhabitants of Palestine. Doubtless, what is there said received a tragic fulfillment in the past. But like most, if not all prophecy, this one will receive a later and final accomplishment. There are several statements found in it which indicate that it treats of the End-time. The plainest of these is found in the closing verse, where we read, |For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her which bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion.| It is the |birth-pangs| of Matt.24:8 (see Greek) which is in view. The sore trials which Israel shall then undergo are tragically depicted: |Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities. Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction. The Lion is come up from his thicket, and the Destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant| (vv.5-7). The Destroyer of the Gentiles now turns to vent his fiendish malignity upon the holy land. Destruction is in his heart. Terrible shall be his onslaught: |Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled| (v.13). Fearful will be the devastations his fury shall accomplish: |The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein| (v.29).
In 6:26, 27 there is a remarkable statement made concerning the Antichrist: |O daughter of My people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the Spoiler (Destroyer, as in 4:7) shall suddenly come upon us.| This Spoiler is the Destroyer of the Gentiles. But it is what follows in the next verse which is so striking: |I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among My people, that thou mayest know and try their way.| Here we learn that, after all, the Antichrist is but a tool in the hands of Jehovah. It is He who sets him in the midst of Israel to |try| them. A parallel statement is found in Isa.10:5, 6, where the Lord says of the Assyrian |I will send him against a hypocritical nation.| It reminds us very much of what we read concerning Pharaoh in Rom.9:17. He was |raised up| by God to accomplish His purpose. Even so shall it be with this one whom Pharaoh foreshadowed. He shall be an instrument in God's hand to chastise recreant Israel.
Chap.15 contains brief allusions to the Antichrist. In v.8 we have a statement similar to what was before us in the last passage. Speaking to Israel God says, |I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a Spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city.| It is the Lord, then, (behind Satan) who brings this Spoiler against them. After His purpose has been accomplished, after the Antichrist has done what (unknown to himself) God had appointed, we read how that the Lord assures His people, |I will deliver thee out of the hand of the Wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the Terrible| (v.21). Thus will God demonstrate His supremacy over the Son of Perdition.
25:38 takes us back a little and notices the awful desolation which the Antichrist brings upon the land of Israel: |He hath forsaken his covert, as the lion: for their land is desolate because of the fierceness of the Oppressor, and because of his fierce anger.|