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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
Zechariah 14

 

 


Verses 1-21

WHEN THE DAY of the Lord arrives, there will come the moment of supreme crisis for Jerusalem. God will allow the most determined adversaries to have their way for a brief time. It has ever been thus. When God begins to work, the adversary is stirred to put forth his power to the utmost but only to find his efforts over-ruled for ultimate good. Thus it was on that occasion that stands out above all else, as is recorded in Acts 4:26-28. The actions of the adversary only help to accomplish what God had determined from the outset. How great a comfort is this fact for us today.

The final siege of Jerusalem, that verse Zechariah 14:2 indicates, we believe to be that which is predicted in the latter part of Daniel 11:1-45, as the act of 'the king of the north'. In that chapter, verses 36-39, we have at the time of the end, the king, who will do according to his own will, exalting him. self, and magnifying himself above every god, and not regarding 'the God of his fathers', whom we regard as being identical with the 'idol shepherd', and with the second 'beast' of Revelation 13:1-18. Against this king, as Daniel reveals, will be found both 'the king of the south' and the king of the north', and it is the latter who will 'go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many'; and who will finally plant his palace, 'in the glorious holy mountain'. And Daniel's terse summary of the result is, 'yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him'.

The two 'beasts' of Revelation are not antagonistic, but acting in concert. The attack of Gog, of the land of Magog, predicted in Ezekiel 38:1-23; Ezekiel 39:1-29, is against the land of Palestine generally, and not specially Jerusalem, when the land has been brought back from the sword; so these great actors of the last days cannot well be identified with what we have before us here. This leaves the king of the north, who is called the Assyrian in Isaiah's prophecy, as the one, whose attack will fulfil verse Zechariah 14:2 of our chapter, though all nations will be involved in the tremendous happenings of those days. It will be, as Zechariah 12:1-14 has told us, 'a burdensome stone for all nations'.

No city, we are told, has been besieged so many times as Jerusalem, and here we learn that this one, the last, will be up to a point a complete success; and then, just before all is complete, the attacker will come to his end and none shall help him. How this will come to pass verse Zechariah 14:3 reveals. Jehovah will suddenly and unexpectedly intervene in power. When He fought against Egypt at the exodus, He swept the whole Egyptian army into death — 'there remained not so much as one of them'. In Hezekiah's day He intervened against Assyria, and 185,000 dead lay upon the earth. What He did of old, He will do again.

But verses Zechariah 14:4-5 furnish us with further details of a very remarkable character. When He thus appears, He will have 'feet', which 'shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives', and He will have 'all the saints' with Him. In the light of the New Testament we recognize with joy that the 'Lord', the 'Lord my God' of our Scripture is none other than our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. His feet left the mount of Olives, when as the earth-rejected One, He ascended to the glory of heaven. On that same spot His feet shall stand, when He returns in power and great glory in judgment upon His foes.

When He does thus come, a great convulsion will break the surface of the earth. We have not heard of Palestine as a land much subject to earthquakes, during recent centuries. There was one in the days of Uzziah, to which our passage refers, and there was another at the moment Jesus died, as recorded in Matthew 27:51. From that time onward has there been another in Jerusalem? — we wonder. At any rate, there is going to be another, as predicted here. An earthquake, when He died the death of the cross, in the most extreme humiliation! An earthquake, when He returns in splendour and majesty! How wonderfully suitable are the ways of our God!

It is quite clear, we think, that the overthrow of the two beasts of Revelation 13:1-18 at Armageddon is something distinct from that which we have before us, though we do not know of any Scripture which makes plain which of the two overthrows precedes the other.

As the result of the earthquake a way of escape is made for the remnant — the godly remnant, as we suppose — in the moment of their extremity. Saints will be delivered on earth, while the heavenly saints will appear in glory with the triumphant Christ. The translation of verses Zechariah 14:6-7 is somewhat obscure, but they evidently emphasize the fact that again, just as it was on the day of the crucifixion there will be atmospheric changes in the heavens as well as the earthquake in the surface of the earth. There will be light at eventide, just when naturally we expect darkness to be falling on the scene.

Verses Zechariah 14:8; Zechariah 14:10 further show that the earthquake will produce other great changes in Palestine, both in the flowing forth of waters and in the formation of a plain with Jerusalem lifted up in the midst of it. This agrees with the predictions in the later chapters of Ezekiel. All will be preparatory for the Jerusalem and temple that is to arise in millennial splendour, when, as verse Zechariah 14:9 says, the Lord will be King over the whole earth. Subsidiary kings there may be, as Isaiah 52:15 seems to indicate; but He is indeed the King of kings. At last the great era of peace will have arrived.

But it will not come to pass without judgment of a very severe kind falling upon the sinful nations, as verses Zechariah 14:12-15 show. The terrible effects of judgment on the bodies of men are given in verse Zechariah 14:12, and these have, in our day, been likened to the effects produced on the survivors after the fall and explosion of an atom bomb. But in addition to this there will be the internecine destruction of which verse Zechariah 14:13 speaks. And further Judah will enter into the conflict, and much wealth will be laid up for the coming day.

We must remember that, though the king of the north may be specially concerned in this attack on Jerusalem, all the nations will be involved as stated in verse Zechariah 14:2, and so these tremendous warlike judgments will be widely felt in all directions, and hence we get in verse Zechariah 14:16 the expression, "every one that is left." We believe that this expression signifies that only a very small proportion of mankind will be left. At the present time many men of foresight are concerned about the very rapid rise in the population of the earth, particularly in nations like China, India and Japan. The over-population that they anticipate half a century ahead may never come to pass if the day of the Lord arrives before that, for their is not only to take place the warrior-judgment here indicated, but also the sessional-judgment of Matthew 25:1-46, when the 'goats' are separated from the 'sheep', and go down to destruction.

Those that are left will year by year come up to Jerusalem to worship and to keep the feast of tabernacles. When that feast was instituted under the law it was typical of the rest of the millennial age, which will then have been established. So it will be observed as a memorial of the fact that what had been typified had now been actually established, and not to observe it would result in punishment.

The two verses that close this prophecy emphasize the holiness that becomes everybody and everything that is brought into contact with God. Holiness, we have been told, becomes His house forever. In the coming age it will be stamped upon the most ordinary and the most humble things, such as bells that jingle round the necks of horses and little bowls that have some part to play in the temple services. It is worthwhile noticing that horses are mentioned here, for we might be inclined to ask, But, will not these marvellous inventions in the matter of transport be further increased and expanded in that day? The answer must be that there is no mention of these inventions in Scripture, but the reverse. In that day, instead of men flying all over the earth in their unsatisfied desires, the picture is rather of a man sitting restfully in contentment under his own vine and fig-tree. The knowledge of God will then be filling the earth, and it is this that really satisfies the heart. God in His holiness will, so to speak have come in; and consequently from the house of the Lord the Canaanite will have been permanently cast out.

These closing words of our prophet might strike us as rather unusual, did we not remember that the continual trouble that menaced the returned remnant of Israel amongst whom Zechariah prophesied was this very matter of marrying Canaanite wives, and even giving some of the Canaanites, related to them by these marriages, a place in the chambers of the rebuilt temple. This thing which had been so great a snare to them, would be gone for ever.

And as we close our meditations on this prophet, let us not forget that a similar tendency has ever been a great snare amongst Christians. What was it that underlay all the disorders that marred the church at Corinth? It comes clearly to light in Paul's second letter to them, when in 2 Corinthians 6:1-18 he felt his 'mouth' was 'open unto you', as he put it. He put his finger upon the real trouble; and it was their 'unequal' yoking with unbelievers. All through the church's history this has been one main source of trouble and dishonour. It is so today, we have sadly to confess.

May God give us all grace and strength to flee from it!

 


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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Zechariah 14:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbh/zechariah-14.html. 1947.

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Thursday, December 3rd, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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