Zechariah Chapter Fourteen
Mountain Moving Experiences
Chapter fourteen presents pictures of such extraordinary events connected with the coming of the Messiah that if they are to be taken to be fulfilled literally then they are future events. All pre-millennial interpreters insist on the literalness of these predicted events, which they therefore connect with the second coming because nothing has as yet happened nearly so extraordinary as Mt. Olivet splitting in half with part moving to the north and part to the south producing a great valley in which those who flee the Gentile enemy can hide while God fights for them and wins the final battle.
Before attempting to comment on these admittedly difficult passages I would like to set the stage for making a spiritual application to some hyperbolic predictions.
In the following passage from Acts of Apostles, already partially noted in an earlier chapter, the apostles were wrestling with the problem of whether the Gentiles needed to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. After a great deal of argument both for and against the idea, Peter told of the conversion of Cornelius and his companions, reminding his hearers that God had chosen him to open the door of faith to the Gentiles and how while preaching to them: "God, which knows the hearts, bore them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as he did to us."
(Acts 15:8) This physical demonstration indicated that God "put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." (Acts 15:9) And in that case "we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." (Acts 15:12) This was followed by a repetition of reporting the news that had precipitated the discussion, when "Barnabas and Paul, [were] declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them." (Acts 15:13) The conclusion is obvious. The Gentiles do not need to keep the Law of Moses. The Gospel transcends Moses and this situation is the fulfillment of the prophecies that the Gentiles would build the Temple of God together with the Jews. So says James following Paul and Barnabas' report. "James answered, saying, Men and brothers, listen to me; (Acts 15:14) Simeon [Peter] has declared how God at the first [in Cornelius' house] did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (Acts 15:15) And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, [then James quotes Amos 9:11,12.] "After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins of it, and I will set it up, (Acts 15:17) That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, says the Lord, who does all these things. (Acts 15:18) Known to God are all his works from the beginning of the world. (Acts 15:19) Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God."
There can be no doubt that James would view other "call of the Gentile" passages in the same light. He said, "and to this agree the words of the prophets." Even though he quotes only one prophet he says the "words [or sayings] of the prophets" plural. This must mean that passages that view the future Messianic age and describe its blessings with rhetorical exaggeration of physical blessings are to be applied spiritually as James did in Acts 15. This hyperbole of description is nowhere better illustrated than in the Amos passage which James says is fulfilled by the Gentiles being called to join the church of Christ to enjoy the boundless spiritual blessings in the church, the true Israel of God.
9:11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches of it; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: 9:12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, says the LORD that does this. [This much quoted by James and what follows is part of the same prediction describing the associated blessings.] 9:13 Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that sows seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. 9:14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 9:15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, says the LORD your God.
Hills melting and the brooks running with grape juice are hyperboles, that is, rhetorical exaggeration to emphasize the extent of blessings to look forward to. Thus there is to be expected a spiritual fulfillment of this passage; the waste cities being inhabited, planting vineyards and gardens after being returned from captivity would have spiritual application to blessings in the church. James the Lord's brother would have told us the passage means the Gentiles were released and brought back from the captivity of sin to live in the promised Beulah land of corn and wine which some former song writer understood correctly that "We've reached."
This fourteenth chapter of Zechariah should not be forced into a futurist's scheme of interpretation until there is at least an attempt to harmonize it with the method of understanding given the approval of divine inspiration by James the brother of Jesus!
Concerning the figures to follow, we might first ask whether on not such things as predicted might have already been fulfilled in Jesus' first coming which was, after all, in the future and after the "Golden Age" which Zechariah foresaw. Such things have already been encountered in the prophecy earlier but from chapter Twelve onward are embellished with more astonishing clarity.
The Messiah is Described In Previous Chapters:
1. He is to be a priest king. 2. He is to be named the branch, that is the Hebrew "Notser" or the Nazarene. 3. He is to appear as king riding into Jerusalem on a young male colt of an ass. 4. He is to build the Temple of God. 5. He is to bring the Gentiles to the Temple. 6. He will be of the family of David. 7. He is to be struck by God. 8. He is a member of God's own social group. 9. He would be priced at 30 pieces of silver which would be thrown down in the Temple and ultimately become the property of a potter. 10. God would break his covenant with his people at the same time as the 30 pieces of silver. 11. God will destroy all nations when he pours out the spirit of grace and supplication. 12. The destruction of the nations is coincident with looking on him "whom they have pierced." 13. They will mourn for the pierced one. 14. The mourning in the valley of Megiddo is for the one who is pierced. 15. In that day there is a fountain opened for cleansing of sin. 16. When the shepherd is smitten, who is the hero of God's social group, the majority of the nation will be lost and a remnant pass through a refining process of afflictions.
Clearly most prophetic passages in the first eight chapters of Zechariah can either be seen to be fulfilled in the rebuilding of the Temple or historical events from Zerubbabel to the Macabbees. Also portions of the first eight chapters and much of chapters nine through thirteen contain such mystical fragments as outlined in the last paragraph relating to the Messiah and can be seen to be marvelously fulfilled in the first coming of Jesus and the resulting spread of the Gospel through the preaching of the apostles. Should we not at least give the opportunity of viewing chapter fourteen in this same light of consistency?
That is not to say that God could not reveal eschatological events at the close of the age related to the Messiah which would result naturally from the unfolding of history reacting to the Man of Destiny! If such events are in the final chapter let us be open to see and wait for them. However, it is because the futurists have become so vocal about making this a last-days' chapter to be fulfilled literally and excluding any attempt to harmonize the prophecies with the rest of the book that we lengthily suggest a reasonable approach to interpretation. Worse than that, they suspect Christians of unbelief because they will not accept their views without hesitation or question.
To them it is a literal event to look forward to. Mt. Olive will literally split in two and we saved will run into the resultant valley; God will fight and after slaughter and disaster things will be better for 1000 years after which?? Well, according to them Satan makes a come-back. I think there is good reason for another look.
All the more reason to move with caution--not indifference, not avoidance, not uncertainty, not with pseudo-intellectualism, not with doubt, nor cynicism--but with caution.
Let us look first at this chapter in the same way. It is obviously all future to Zechariah's time. Is it future to us? Are there elements in it that can be applied to the first coming of Jesus as the other prophets have? Let us list those first.
1. The day of the Lord comes. Applied to Jesus' first coming many times. 2. Did Jesus stand on Mt Olive? 3. Did he do anything on Mt Olive that produced a haven for those in fear? 4. Was there any day in Jesus' life when it was dark during the day, not black dark, but not light either? 5. And then became light toward evening? 6. Did that day produce an earthquake? 7. Did that day produce a more powerful spiritual earthquake the effects of which have been felt in every century? 8. Did the earthshaking event produce a haven from fear for the remnant? 9. Did living waters come forth when Jesus went through that dark earthshaking day? Are not the living waters (as in Ezekiel) a picture of a spiritual blessing like those in Amos 9:11-15? Are living waters clearly a part of the Christian life beginning with the first coming of Jesus? 10. Is making rocky craggy areas habitable like the spiritual blessings promised in physical hyperbole in other prophetic passages? 11. Are other prophets' use of the figure of making steep places a plain fulfilled in the Gospel age? 12. Is there spiritual application in the church age of the figure of gathering the riches of the Gentiles into Jerusalem?
Can all of these rhetorical questions be answered, "Yes"?
If all of the above can be a picture of the first coming of Jesus (and some of which must be, i.e. living water,) and most of the other passages can be seen as rhetorical exaggeration using figures familiar to the ones addressed, to picture a future age of spiritual blessing, then might not the splitting of Mt. Olive be such a hyperbolical exaggeration of the power God expends to produce a haven of safety while he fights the "battle of Jehoshaphat" where the slain of the Lord are many? It being understood that I myself am one of those slain and at the same time I am one of the fearful in the new valley of Olivet.
Zec. 14:1 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, and your spoil shall be divided in the midst of you. 14:2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
There follows a number of verses in which the gathering of all nations refers to bringing the Gentiles to God through the Messiah:
(Isa. 2:2) And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
In the last days of the Jewish nation the church or mountain of the Lord's house was established in Jerusalem, on Mt. Zion to be exact. Fifty days after the Lord's resurrection the church was established and fulfilled Isa. 2:2 and like passages. The word of God truly went forth from Jerusalem to the Gentile nations.
(Isa. 66:18) For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.
In this context all nations will see God's glory when Zion brings forth to birth. When the nation of God will be born in an instant the Jews will capture the Gentiles and make priests out of them! This was spiritually fulfilled when the apostles led an army of evangelists to plant the ensign of God's house among the Gentiles. Although these passages are applied by many futurists, and the Jews as well, to the 1948 United Nations charter proclaiming statehood for Israel (the nation born in one day) the present nation of Israel could not possibly be meant, not the least objection being that the word of the Lord is not going forth, and the Gentiles are not being invited to join the nation as one people!
(Joel 2:28) And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: (Joel 3:1) For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,
These passages are fulfilled on the day of Pentecost according to Peter. When he quoted this verse he said, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel!" Back to Zechariah:
Zec. 14:3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
The battle is spiritual as in other prophets; see the following:
(Joel 3:2) I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.
Zec. 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst of it toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
A number of earth-shaking and mountain-moving events took place on Mt. Olivet. On the southwest side Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Across the ridge on the east side to mid mountain he rode on an ass' colt from the south to the north, and then down the mountain and into the city where he looked around on all things and went out again. This event was seen in prophecy in Eze. 44:1-3, and the Golden Gate of the Temple closed with stone and mortar for 1300 years sits and has sat in silent testimony that the Messiah made a triumphal entry into the city. Before the week was out he was dead. The Pharisees had said, "master rebuke your disciples," because of the incongruity of his receiving praise from his disciples as the "son of David" coming in the name of the Lord, and announcing Messiah's kingdom. How foolish he must have looked riding on an ass' colt. They could not believe it was "the triumphal entry," which is what believers call the event. Those who take the view that Jesus' first coming failed in his attempt to establish the kingdom would have difficulty too, with the Pharisees, in seeing this event as triumphal and a mountain-moving experience
. Zec. 14:5 And you shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal; yea, you shall flee, like as you fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with you.
We call the event on Mt. Olive the triumphal entry in which Jesus showed us the haven of humility. Now did Jesus triumph, and did he show that humility is the way to power and might? Or was it as the Pharisees saw it, an unappreciated attempt to caricature what the prophets foretold? It is as though the futurists have adopted the interpretations of the Pharisees, because the great accomplishments of Jesus that have produced world shaking results that have influenced all men through the ages and brought Kings to their knees, are seen as too small to fulfill these prophecies. Of course He triumphed! Of course he split the mountain! His triumphal entry and his ascension into heaven from Olivet has certainly split the mountain which has created a haven for the fearful. The next verse describes the day the mountain moved.
Zec. 14:6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark; 14:7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
This is a certain and literal description of the day that Jesus was crucified when it was dark from noon to three in the afternoon.
Zec. 14:8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
This is a hyperbolic but clear description of the blessings that resulted from that dim day. Living waters flowing in all directions. Ezekiel describes the period when living waters that give life to all will flow out of the Temple mount. Jesus said that we not only would receive living waters but that we would become the source of living waters for others. It is not necessary to be a mystic to see the spiritual application of the associated blessings of the death of the victim of Mt. Calvary.
The passage in Ezekiel must be a companion. Here it is in its entirety.
(Eze. 47:1) Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward; for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. (47:2) Then he brought me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without to the outer gate by the way that looks eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side. (47:3) And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. (47:4) Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. (47:5) Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over; for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. (47:6) And he said unto me, Son of man, have you seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river. (47:7) Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. (47:8) Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea; which being brought forth into the sea, the waters [in the sea] shall be healed. (47:9) And it shall come to pass, that every thing that lives, which moves, wheresoever the rivers shall come, shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come there; for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live where the river comes. (47:10) And it shall come to pass, the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceedingly many. (47:11) But the miry places of it and the marshes of it shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt. (47:12) And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit of it be used up; it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because of their waters that issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit of it shall be for meat, and the leaf of it for medicine.
Ezekiel's vision of the restored Temple is one that sees all the future stages and forms of the Temple from his point of view. He lived while the Temple, Jerusalem itself, and Judea were in ruins. The nation was dead. The vision of the valley of dry bones showed that the nation would be restored, which happened on time. He then previewed the future events relative to the Temple. He accurately foresaw the physical rebuilding under Zerubbabel and Joshua in chapter 40 to 42. Then in 43 he previewed the return of the "Skekinah" to that Temple. And in 44 he saw the results of the visit of Jesus to the Temple at his triumphal entry. In the above passage he prefigures the preaching of the gospel to all nations when the Temple had become the church of Christ beginning and having its source at Jerusalem. The portion of Ezekiel relating to the division of the inheritance from the Temple is future and sees the heavenly Temple when earth is abandoned for the new Jerusalem.
Zechariah's vision of the Temple must be seen in the same way. The living waters issuing forth from Jerusalem is the preaching of the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth, the associated events, and results of which follow.
Zec. 14:9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
This obviously reaches beyond a restoration of the people to the land since the king is to be over the whole united earth. This has to refer to King Jesus. Jesus is king now and has been since his enthronement following the resurrection.
Zec. 14:10 All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses.
This area south of Jerusalem has been and still is a wilderness and not inhabited because it is so wild and full of rocks and crags. Many prophetic passages speak of the Gospel age as making the rough places plain, and the mountains and steep places taken away, as we have shown in Amos 9, which show a time of God's provision for freedom, ease of movement and of a peaceful existence.
Zec. 14:11 And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
The church age is meant, and not literal Palestinian Jerusalem.
Zec. 14:12 And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
The agony of envy and jealousy, causes rage for those who refuse to accept the will of God.
Zec. 14:13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbor, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor.
Jesus said he came to bring a sword. A man's foes would be they of his own household.
Zec. 14:14 And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.
"Judah shall also fight at Jerusalem." The Hebrew idiom can mean either in Jerusalem or as seen in chapter 12:2 in a different idiom "against Jerusalem."
The possession of the riches of the Gentiles has been noticed many times already as being a part of the Messianic age related to the David prophecies
. Zec. 14:15 And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.
This plague is to be compared to verse 12.
Zec. 14:16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
See the notes on Zec. 6:15 for a fuller explanation of the spiritual fulfillment of passages like that above and those that follow to the end of the chapter. These Messianic passages which indicate the Gentiles will keep Jewish customs can only be fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah who has brought the Gentiles to adopt the Jewish God, moral values, and religious traditions. They can not be fulfilled literally but have been and will continue to be fulfilled through the call of the Gentiles in to the church of Christ which is the restored Israel of God. There are blessings promised to the Gentiles who accept God's invitation to be a part of Israel and those who reject the invitation lose out on blessings and live in a deprived condition.
A literal fulfillment would include riding horses, being a part of armed warfare, offering animal sacrifices in a physical Temple, boiling the sacrificed flesh in sanctified pots and Gentiles becoming Levites and Mosaic priests, which is a contradiction of the Law of Moses if it is to be fulfilled literally. Besides this, a literal fulfillment includes the necessity of being present in Jerusalem to perform the duties. Also included is the necessity of every one of the saved keeping the feast of tabernacles as a condition of receiving the blessings of God. These passages are not to be taken literally, but are to be understood just as other companion verses already explained and interpreted by those who had divine inspiration. They are to be applied in a spiritual way to the first coming of Jesus. They do indicate the necessity to find and maintain a doctrinal purity of both internal and external marks of the new covenant of the Messianic kingdom. The following verses must be seen in this light:
Zec. 14:17 And it shall be, that whoever will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 14:18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not,that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 14:19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 14:20 In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. 14:21 Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and boil in them: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.
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