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The True Feast Of Tabernacles
Deep indeed is the darkness with which this chapter opens, but gloriously brilliant the light at the close.
Of all Jerusalem’s sieges in the past, none were more severe than that depicted in the first two verses. They describe conditions which careful students of history admit have never been known in any past destruction of the city, and can only apply to something yet future.
“Behold, the day of Jehovah cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 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” (vers. 1, 2). From east, west, north and south, the armies of the nations will have advanced upon Jerusalem, hating the people and city of God, but mutually hating each other.
Antichrist will be owned by the apostate Jews within the city as the Messiah and King of Judah. But against him the Assyrian, or king of the north, and the king of the south (terms used relative to Palestine), will pour their hordes into the land in one last desperate effort to wrest from this wicked king his brief authority. Behind the Assyrian power will be Gog, the last prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal-undoubtedly the head of the vast Russian empire. Allied with him will apparently be the kings from the sun-rising, or the far east, whose armies will hasten to join him in his assault on Jerusalem.
On the other hand, the Beast, the elected emperor of the confederacy forming the revived Roman Empire, will be the sworn foe of all these hostile powers, and the arm upon which Antichrist will lean. From every part of western and southern Europe he will draw his vast armies, who will be imbued with equal hate against both the faithful remnant of Judah and the Assyrian coalition.
Between these conflicting powers Jerusalem’s position will be a most pitiable one. Unable to maintain the dreadful struggle, the city will be taken, and the horrors of a sack be again undergone.
But when, as it would seem, no power, human or divine, could prevent its total extinction, the Lord shall go forth, staining all His raiment in the blood of the adversaries of His people, fighting as a mighty warrior in the day of battle (ver. 3). Before the eyes of the astonished armies of the world He will appear in glory, and He “shall stand upon the mount of Olives,” from which He ascended to heaven when He had by Himself made purification for sins.
As His feet touch that sacred spot, a great earthquake will rend the mount asunder, which will depart to the east and to the west, opening up a deep valley, through which the remnant of His people shall flee for refuge unto Azal (a spot now unknown), which will be as a Zoar for the faithful residue, when judgment is about to sweep over the scene. Thus will they be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger till the indignation be overcast.
This section closes, if properly punctuated, with the declaration, “Yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.” Here there should be a full stop. Of this earthquake in the days of Uzziah we have no specific record, though it is generally supposed to be the one referred to in Amos 1:1. The reference to it here completes the dramatic account of the siege and the deliverance. A new beginning is made in the last clause of the 5th verse, which introduces an orderly account of the appearing in glory of the Lord Jesus and all His heavenly saints, and the blessed results that follow. “The Lord My God shall come, and all the holy ones with Thee!” Thus shall be ushered in that glorious kingdom which has been so long predicted. Not by the preaching of the gospel and the conversion of the world will this event be brought to pass. Nothing less than the personal presence of the Son of God will ever bring in the Millennium. The holy ones who will come with Him include all the heavenly hosts-angels, and redeemed sinners transformed into glorified saints. 1 Thessalonians 4:0 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 make it plain that ere the time of trouble begins for Israel all the saved of every past dispensation will be caught up to meet their Lord in the air.
“Dead and living, changed and rising,
In the twinkling of an eye.”
They will appear at His judgment-seat, to be rewarded according to the services rendered to Himself while in this scene. Then the Church as the Bride, and all Old Testament saints as the called and chosen guests, will participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb, which is to be celebrated in the Father’s house. After the happy-nuptial rites, the Lord Jesus, accompanied by all His holy ones, will descend to take His earthly kingdom, and to deliver the remnant of Israel and Judah from their cruel and blasphemous adversaries.
This will take place on “one day which shall be known to Jehovah,” a day which no human method of computation can determine. The exact meaning of verses 6 and 7 has puzzled the most scholarly; but this much seems clear, that it shall be a day diverse from every other, beginning in deepest gloom and darkness, but, brightened by the outshining of the Sun of Righteousness, “at evening time it shall be light.” So will the morning without clouds have dawned upon this poor world, where night has held sway so long.
Probably as a result of the great earthquake, predicted in verses 4 and 5, will be the phenomena of verse 8. According to the word of the Lord given in Ezekiel 47:1-12 and Joel 3:18, living waters shall go out from Jerusalem-a perennial stream of refreshment, dividing into two parts, half going toward the eastern sea and half toward the western. Of spiritual blessing likewise does this speak, for it sets before us also that river of God’s pleasure, the Holy Spirit’s testimony to the glories of Christ, which will be as a stream of life and joy to the saved nations.
Remarkable physical changes will take place in Palestine. The valleys exalted, and mountains leveled, the country will become as a great tableland from Geba on the north to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem. This sacred city will be inhabited in security, and her day of trembling be forever past, for the Lord shall be King over all the earth, and be everywhere owned as the one Jehovah, and His name one (vers. 9-11).
The nations who will have shown no mercy to Jerusalem will be dealt with in judgment without mercy, a plague consuming their flesh, and internecine strife, or civil feud, causing them to destroy each other. Satan himself was an anarchist in the beginning. His kingdom is a kingdom of anarchy, knowing neither love nor pity (vers. 12, 13).
Judah will become as the battle-axe of the Lord in that day of His power, victorious over every foe, and enriched by the spoil of those who would fain have spoiled them. Retributive justice will thus be visited on all oppressors when righteousness shall no longer suffer, but reign triumphant over every adversary (vers. 14, 15).
Then shall the last joyful feast of the Levitical calendar be actually reached (that of the tabernacles), which was to be observed after the ingathering for a full week, culminating in the holy convocation of the eighth day-looking on to eternity (Leviticus 23:33-43). The sowing, and the long period of waiting for the harvest, over, the reaping time will have come, when joy and praise will fill every heart and songs of thanksgiving be upon every lip.
Nor shall Israel keep her feast« alone, but all the nations that are left for the kingdom shall go up from year to year to Jerusalem, there to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to join with His people (they themselves being numbered among them) in celebrating the glorious ingathering, as they dwell in booths of verdure, as of old it was written in the Book. It will be a sweet and lovely ending after centuries, yea, millenniums, of bitter strife and bloody warfare, when the noise of battle shall be no more heard, national hatreds shall be done away, and the era of peace on earth and God’s good pleasure in men shall have in very deed arrived.
If, as seems to be intimated in verses 17 to 19, at the beginning, there be any dissentients who shall dare to refuse to wend their way to the city of the great King to worship before Him, immediate judgment shall fall upon them. The heavens will be closed so that their lands will be parched for lack of rain; that they may know that the time when God is directly governing the world shall have at last arrived. If the family of Egypt go not up, who depend not on rain, but on the yearly inundation of the Nile for the fertilization and maturing of their crops, then a special visitation shall be theirs, a plague “wherewith the Lord shall smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.”
In this age men may defy God and seem to prosper. In that, which is so soon to come, godliness and prosperity will be linked together. It will be the dispensation of the fulness of the seasons, when all things shall be headed up in Christ, and every knee must bow to Him-when men will no longer walk by faith, as now, but by the sight of their eyes, beholding on every hand the evidences of direct divine intervention in human affairs.
The last two verses form a fitting climax to the chapter and the book. “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. 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 seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts.” No longer will a distinction be made between sacred and secular; but men will have learned that anything worth doing at all should be done for the glory of God. The articles for temple service (used in the rebuilt temple of Ezekiel 40:0 to 48) will be sacred to Jehovah. But so will also be every vessel used by the house-wife in Jerusalem and in Judah; while the very bells upon the horses will tinkle His praises. This is the lovely ideal the Holy Ghost portrays for Christians living in the present age; as it is written, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him” (Colossians 3:16, Colossians 3:17). And, again, we are told, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). He who thus has God’s glory ever before Him, even in the smallest details of life, will anticipate the Millennium, and already enter into what shall by-and-by be true of restored Israel under the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There will be no drudgery then, no mere working for reward, for the Canaanite will have ceased out of the land in that day. Undoubtedly the name refers to the ancient enemy who ever contested Israel’s possession of the promised inheritance; but it bears the meaning of “trafficker,” or “bargainer,” to whom, in Hosea 12:7, we have seen the sons of Jacob are compared. When ill feeling between Abraham and Lot was so narrowly averted through the generosity of the former, it is significantly stated that “the Canaanite… dwelt then in the land” (Genesis 13:7). When all strife and bitterness shall be done away in Abraham’s redeemed seed, the Canaanite will have passed out of the scene for all time to come.
This is Israel’s hope: the possession of the land pledged to their fathers, under the sway of Him whom David called,
“A righteous Ruler over men,
A Ruler in the fear of God!”
even our adorable Lord Jesus Christ; when in His own times He shall show, who is that blessed and only Potentate, King of kings, and Lord of lords. Ours is a higher and holier portion, even to be the Bride of Him who is then to reign. We look to heaven, not to earth, for our inheritance, from whence we expect that very soon now “the Lord Himself shall descend … with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Thus the two callings are clearly distinguished in Scripture. Israel is the wife of Jehovah, now divorced because of her sin, but to be brought back to Himself in grace and made to dwell in her former land in the day when the kingdom is displayed. The Church of the present dispensation is the Bride of the Lamb, whose nuptial hour is drawing near, and who will be one with her Redeemer throughout all the ages to come. Old Testament saints, and tribulation saints who are taken away by death ere the kingdom is set up, will be, as was John the Baptizer, friends of the Bridegroom, “called” to the marriage-supper of the Lamb, to participate in their Lord’s rejoicing, and able also to share in Jehovah’s joy when the earthly Bride shall return to His arms of love and compassion. In heaven their position will be analogous to that of the spared of the nations on earth, who will rejoice with Israel when they see the place she will have in the millennial kingdom. Thus are there various companies and varied glories in heaven and upon earth; but when the authority of the Lord Jesus is owned in both spheres, and every enemy has been banished and rendered powerless, all redeemed creation will delight to ascribe blessing and honor and glory and power to our God and to the Lamb that was slain, world without end. Amen.
30 The whole question is pretty thoroughly examined in the work referred to, pp. 150-159, a volume which I am glad to take this opportunity of commending to any troubled with doubts as to the full inspiration of Holy Scripture. (It may be had from my Publishers.)
31 Some suppose the other horses to be riderless, and see in this a significant picture of the restless energy of Gentile dominion; but this involves speaking horses, a figure, it seems to me, grotesque and unimplied here.
32 I suppose most are aware of the foolish Mormon conceit which makes this young man to be Joseph Smith, the pseudo-prophet, and the angel to be Moroni, who reveals to him the golden plates of the book of Mormon!
The most casual reading of the passage will make clear that it has no reference to a Zion in America, but is intimately connected with what has gone before, and follows after, as to Jerusalem in the land of Palestine.
33 I do not enter into this in detail here, as I have already done so in commenting on Jeremiah, chapters fifty and fifty-one. The interested reader may consult “The Weeping Prophet: Notes on Jeremiah and the Lamentations.” Same author and publishers.
34 Some read, “the red;” see R.V., margin. Others translate this word, “the strong.”
35 I have thought that possibly commentators in general are wrong in applying “the fast of the seventh month” to the lesser fast commemorating the murder of Gedaliah, and that it really refers to the great fast of the day of atonement. In that case the prophet would be showing that whether directly appointed by God in His Word, or added by pious consent, no observance was acceptable apart from reality. But as the Jews themselves apply the passage as in the text, I have left it at that.
36 Jew is but a contraction of Judah, which means “praise.” Note how the apostle interprets the name in Romans 2:28, Romans 2:29.
37 In verse 11 read, “He shall pass through the sea of affliction,” as in R. V.,-not “with affliction,” as the A. V. has it.
38 I do not consider it needful to go into the question of the reference to Jeremy the prophet in Matthew 27:9. Many theories have been suggested. The day will declare it.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Zechariah 14". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34