15 For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many.
17 They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord.
Of course, no human conception of the Second Coming of Jesus can do justice to the reality. We don’t know all the details. Yesterday, in v. 14, we saw that the hand of the Lord will be known toward His servants, but His indignation (righteous anger) will be felt by His enemies. This is no light thing. That verse refers to the battle of Armageddon when God will defend and deliver Jerusalem and destroy Israel’s enemies.
Then, v. 15 for today amplifies the picture. Jesus will come in flaming fire (Ezek. 38:1-21). His chariots will be the same as those which came for Elijah (II Kings 2:11) and appeared to protect Elijah. Angels will accompany Christ to earth, and while some of the armies of heaven will ride horses (Rev. 19:14), others will use chariots (Zech. 6:1-8).
The Lord will contend with man not only by fire, but by the sword. He will destroy multitudes at Armageddon (Joel 3:12). All the vast armies of the nations under Antichrist at Armegeddon, except a sixth part, will be destroyed (Ezek. 39:2). They are called many here, and multitudes, multitudes in Joel 3:14.
Verse 17 returns to the subject of Israel’s sins. God refers in particular to idolatry in the gardens with their asherah, or totem-pole, a type of the idol called a tree here. Such centers of idolatry were in the midst of wooded places or sacred groves and high places. The idea here is that, in the future fulfillment of this, people will seek to be sanctified and ceremonially purified through swine and mouse sacrifices to idols–things which are both unclean and forbidden to be used as food or sacrifice (Lev. 11:7, 41-42).