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3. The reign of Messiah ch. 14
"The cosmic, eschatological sweep of this last portion . . . is almost without compare in the prophetic literature of the OT for the richness of its imagery, the authority of its pronouncements, and the majestic exaltation of the God of Israel who will be worshiped as the God of all the earth." [Note: Merrill, p. 341.]
The Lord announced through His prophet that a day was coming, for His benefit primarily, when the nations that had plundered Israel victoriously would divide their spoil among themselves in Jerusalem. This would be the Lords’ day in which He would do His will, in contrast to man’s day in which man conducts his affairs without divine interference.
"The day of the Lord in prophetic literature designates any time when Yahweh steps into the arena of human events to effect his purposes." [Note: McComiskey, p. 1227.]
The final deliverance of Israel and the return of Messiah 14:1-8
The Lord would gather all the nations against Jerusalem to fight against her (cf. Revelation 16:16-21, Armageddon). They would capture the city, plunder the houses, and rape the women. Half of the Jewish residents would depart as exiles, but the other half would remain. This would be one-half of the portion of the one-third of the Jewish population that would be in Jerusalem that had not died during the Tribulation (Zechariah 13:8). This has never yet happened.
"The only [?] explanation is that this is an ideological conflict to remove a non-co-operative element that blocked the way to an international world order." [Note: Baldwin, p. 200.]
"This eschatological verse alone-with its statement that ’the city will be captured’-is sufficient to refute the notion popular in certain circles that ’the times of the Gentiles’ (Luke 21:24) were fulfilled as of the rebirth of the modern state of Israel. According to Lucan theology, after ’the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled,’ Jerusalem will be trampled on no more. Since Zechariah 14:2 clearly indicates that Jerusalem will be ’trampled on’ again in the future, the ’times of the Gentiles’ would seem to extend to the Messiah’s second advent, when those ’times’ will be replaced by the final, universal, everlasting kingdom of Daniel 2:35; Daniel 2:44-45." [Note: Barker, p. 689.]
Yahweh would then take the role of the divine warrior and fight for His people Israel (cf. Zechariah 1:3; Zechariah 9; Zechariah 10:4-5; Zechariah 12:1-9). He had done this previously in the Exodus and on numerous other occasions (cf. Exodus 14:13-14; Joshua 10:14; Joshua 23:3; Judges 4:15; 2 Chronicles 20:15).
"In their quest for world peace, some denominations have removed the ’militant songs’ from their hymnals, so that a new generation is growing up knowing nothing about ’fighting the good fight of faith’ or worshiping a Savior who will one day meet the nations of the world in battle (Revelation 19:11-21)." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 471.]
"The actual order of events in this day peculiarly the Lord’s is: (1) the nations assembled to war against Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2); (2) the city captured and plundered, etc. (Zechariah 14:2); (3) the spoil of the city divided within its walls (Zechariah 14:1); (4) the Lord’s intervention (Zechariah 14:3)." [Note: Unger, p. 245.]
In that day Yahweh’s feet, in the person of Messiah (cf. Acts 1:9-12; Revelation 19:11-16), would stand on the Mount of Olives to the east of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 1:11). This is the only place in the Old Testament where this name for this mountain appears (cf. 2 Samuel 15:30; Ezekiel 11:23). Since people were east oriented in ancient times, Zechariah described this mountain as in front of Jerusalem. The Lord would split this mountain in two (with an earthquake, Zechariah 14:5) so half of it would fall away to the north and the other half to the south leaving a large east-west valley down the middle (cf. Revelation 16:18-19). The earthquake will accompany Antichrist’s invasion of Israel (cf. Daniel 7:8; Revelation 19:20).
"Words cannot express more plainly the personal, visible, bodily, literal return of the Lord Jesus Christ in power." [Note: Feinberg, "Zechariah," p. 910.]
The Israelites would flee for safety through this valley with mountains on either side (cf. 2 Samuel 15:16; 2 Samuel 15:30; 2 Kings 25:4; Ezekiel 11:22-25). Compare the Israelites’ flight through the Red Sea during the Exodus. The valley would reach as far as Azel (lit. be joined to, or be at the side of, near; cf. Micah 1:11), a site presently unknown but obviously some distance east of Jerusalem. They would flee as they did during the great earthquake that happened during King Uzziah’s reign over Judah (cf. Amos 1:1). [Note: See Josephus, Antiquities of . . ., 9:10:4.] Then the Lord would come with all His holy ones with Him, namely, Christians in heaven and angels (cf. Psalms 89:5; Psalms 89:7; Matthew 25:31; Colossians 1:4; Colossians 1:12; Colossians 1:26-27; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Judges 1:14; Revelation 19:11-16). Zechariah expressed his own relationship with the Lord, his faith in Him, and his wonder at this revelation by referring to Him personally: "O my God."
In that day the luminaries will dwindle (lit. congeal) and there will be a reduction of light on the earth (cf. Joel 3:15-17; Amos 5:18).
"The meaning is that the loss of light is explained by the congealing of the heavenly bodies, their ’thickening’ as it were to the point that they cannot shine [cf. Exodus 15:8; Job 10:10; Zephaniah 1:12]." [Note: Merrill, p. 351.]
It will evidently be like twilight, neither day nor night (cf. Genesis 1:3-5). Even in the evening there will be more light than usual. It would be a unique day in human history (cf. Jeremiah 30:7). This phenomenon would occur on a day that only Yahweh would know (cf. Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:7).
Other passages also predict cosmic phenomena in the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 13:9-10; Joel 2:31; Joel 3:15; Amos 5:18; Matthew 24:29-30; Revelation 6:12-14; Revelation 8:8-12; Revelation 9:1-18; Revelation 14:14-20; Revelation 16:4; Revelation 16:8-9). Bear in mind that this "day" is an extended period of time, not just a 12-hour or 24-hour period. Here the end of the Tribulation is in view all of which the prophets spoke of as the Day of the Lord along with the Millennium.
Also in that day life-giving water would flow rapidly out of Jerusalem, half of it flowing east into the Dead Sea and half west into the Mediterranean Sea. "Living water" is a metaphor that pictures water as a living thing flowing quickly and sparkling in its constant movement and shifting course (cf. Leviticus 14:5-6; Leviticus 14:50-52; Leviticus 15:13; Numbers 19:17). This water would flow all year round, even in the summer when most streams in Palestine dry up (cf. Psalms 46:4; Joel 3:18). The Israelites divided their year into two seasons instead of four: summer and winter (cf. Genesis 8:22; Psalms 74:17; Isaiah 18:6). [Note: R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions, pp. 189-90.] Probably the water will be literal, but it certainly has symbolic significance as well (cf. Psalms 46:4; Psalms 65:9; Isaiah 8:6; Jeremiah 2:13; Ezekiel 47:1-12; John 4:10-14; John 7:38; Revelation 22:1-2).
"There is no reason to take this [whole description] in any but a literal way, unless one is prepared to deny a literal coming of YHWH as well." [Note: Merrill, pp. 343-44.]
In that day Yahweh would rule over the whole earth. He would be the only king; there would be no others. His name would be number one in the earth; there will be no other so-called gods (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-5). This verse refers to Christ’s millennial kingdom (cf. Psalms 2; Daniel 2:44-45; Daniel 7:27; Matthew 6:9-10).
"Israelites for generations had been singing ’The Lord reigns’ (Psalms 93; Psalms 97; Psalms 99), but it had been a declaration of faith. Once ’that day’ comes He will be seen to be King over His world kingdom." [Note: Baldwin, p. 203.]
"Yahweh’s kingdom will be complete, total, and real on earth as it is in heaven." [Note: Smith, p. 289.]
The security of Israel 14:9-11
The land around Jerusalem would become level whereas Jerusalem itself would be elevated (apparently due to a great earthquake; cf. Isaiah 2:2; Revelation 16:18-19). In view of the place names mentioned, this verse probably refers to the literal city and its topography. Geba stood about six miles north of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:8), and the Rimmon south of Jerusalem stood about 35 miles southwest of it (Joshua 15:32; Nehemiah 11:29). The sites mentioned in Jerusalem were on the east, west, north, and south sides of the city, indicating its totality. [Note: Baldwin, p. 204.]
People would live in millennial Jerusalem. Jerusalem would never again suffer depopulation by being put under the curse (or ban, Heb. herem). Canaanite cities placed under the ban were totally destroyed (Joshua 6:17-18). In other words, the city and those in it would enjoy security because Jerusalem would never again suffer destruction.
The Lord would smite the nations that warred against Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:1-3) with a plague that would cause the people’s flesh to rot off them wherever they might be. They would not be able to see or speak (cf. Isaiah 37:36). One wonders if nuclear warfare may be involved.
The destruction of Israel’s enemies 14:12-15
Chronologically these verses describe what will follow Zechariah 14:3.
Panic would seize them from the Lord in that day, and they would fight one another (cf. Judges 7:22; 1 Samuel 14:15-20; 2 Chronicles 20:23). This would happen near Jerusalem.
The Israelites would also fight their enemies there and would gather much spoil from the people they would defeat. Thus there are three instruments God would use to defeat Israel’s enemies: plague (Zechariah 14:12), themselves (Zechariah 14:13), and the Israelites (Zechariah 14:14).
The plague that the Lord would send on Israel’s enemies (Zechariah 14:12) would also afflict their animals, precluding their escape (cf. Joshua 7:24-25).
The remaining former enemies of Israel who would not die would bow to the sovereignty of Yahweh (cf. Zechariah 8:20-23; Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 45:21-24; Isaiah 60:4-14; Ezekiel 40-48; Philippians 2:10). They would be expected to make annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem to worship the one King, Almighty Yahweh (cf. Psalms 24:10; Isaiah 6:5; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 19:16), and to celebrate the feast of Booths. The feast of Booths (or Tabernacles, Ingathering) commemorated the Lord’s provision of agricultural bounty and the Israelites’ redemption from Egyptian slavery. Strangers were welcome to participate in it in Israel’s past history. It also anticipated entrance into the Promised Land and kingdom blessings (Leviticus 23:34-43).
The Apostle Peter evidently concluded that the messianic kingdom had begun when he saw Jesus transfigured (Luke 9:33). He suggested that the disciples make three booths for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. This indicates that the Jews in Jesus’ day associated the feast of Booths with the beginning of Messiah’s kingdom, the same connection that Zechariah made here.
The feast of Booths was the last of the three most important feasts on Israel’s calendar, so it would be an appropriate one for these Gentiles to celebrate in Jerusalem yearly. This feast was a time of grateful rejoicing (Leviticus 23:40; Deuteronomy 16:14-15; Nehemiah 8:17). This may not be the only feast these people will celebrate, but it was the only one Zechariah mentioned, perhaps because it was so climactic. [Note: See de Vaux, pp. 495-502, 506.]
"There are many views as to why choice was made of the Feast of Tabernacles, but the most probable is that, speaking of the joys of the ingathering, it will celebrate the gathering of the nations to the Lord and especially His tabernacling among them [cf. Revelation 7:15-17; Revelation 21:3]." [Note: Feinberg, God Remembers, pp. 260-61.]
The feast of Tabernacles is the only one of Israel’s major feasts that will be unfulfilled until it is celebrated at this time. [Note: Unger, p. 265.]
The worship of the sovereign King 14:16-21
As punishment for not making the pilgrimage to attend this feast, the Lord would withhold (cf. Psalms 2:8-12; Revelation 2:27; Revelation 12:5; Revelation 19:15). This was also a curse for covenant disobedience under the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 28:22-24). For example, if people from Egypt did not go up to Jerusalem, the Lord would withhold rain from Egypt. This would be His punishment on any nation that did not participate (cf. Zechariah 9:11 to Zechariah 10:1). Rain is a figure for spiritual blessing (cf. Ezekiel 34:26), but both literal and spiritual blessing are probably in view here.
"Egypt was an exception among the nations because it depended for water not on rainfall but on the Nile. As Egypt had experienced plagues at the time of the Exodus, and through them had been brought to acknowledge God’s sovereignty, so plague was a fitting symbol of disaster in the new era." [Note: Baldwin, p. 207. Cf. Feinberg, "Zechariah," p. 911.]
"Zechariah portrays the Messiah as the complete and perfect King by applying all six royal functions [of ancient Near Eastern kingship] to him . . . : (1) mediating Servant (Zechariah 3:8); (2) Priest (Zechariah 6:13); (3) Judge (Zechariah 14:16-19); (4) Warrior (Zechariah 10:4; Zechariah 14:3-4); (5) Shepherd (Zechariah 11:8-9; Zechariah 13:7); and (6) ’Peace’-bringing King (Zechariah 3:10; Zechariah 9:9-10)." [Note: Barker, p. 664.]
In that day even the most common things would be as consecrated to God’s glory as the gold plate on the high priest’s turban that previously indicated his consecration (Exodus 28:36). This plate was to remind the Israelites of their holy calling as well. Finally all the people would indeed be consecrated to the Lord and would fulfill their holy calling (cf. Exodus 19:6; Jeremiah 2:3). The ordinary cooking pots in the temple would be as holy as the bowls used to sprinkle the sacrificial blood on the brazen altar had been. Distinctions between sacred and secular will no longer exist since everything will be holy, set apart to God.
In fact, every cooking pot throughout the holy city would be set apart to honor Yahweh Almighty. People would even be able to use them to bring their sacrifices of worship to the Lord. Finally, there would be no more Canaanites in the temple of the Lord of hosts in that day. The Canaanites throughout Israel’s history represented people who were morally and spiritually unclean, reprehensible to Yahweh, and doomed to death (cf. Genesis 9:25; Isaiah 35:8; Ezekiel 43:7; Ezekiel 44:9; Revelation 21:27). Probably that is the significance of the name here, not just the ethnic Canaanites alone. There would be no more people like the Canaanites in the land because all would acknowledge Him as God and King.
"There will be holiness in public life (’the bells of the horses,’ Zechariah 14:20), in religious life (’the cooking pots in the LORD’s house,’ Zechariah 14:20), and in private life (’every pot in Jerusalem and Judah,’ Zechariah 14:21). Even common things become holy when they are used for God’s service. So it is with our lives." [Note: Ibid., p. 697. For a synopsis of the future of Israel, see Louis A. Barbieri Jr., "The Future for Israel in God’s Plan," in Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, pp. 163-79.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Zechariah 14". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany