The compilation of this Daniel’s Commentary was an attempt to conduct a verse-by-verse exegesis of this inspired Book. The primary objective was to spiritually enrich my soul. As an SDA, I was immersed in the SDA interpretation of the Book of Daniel and Revelation. Since leaving Seventh-day Adventism, I wanted to relook at the Book of Daniel from a fresh perspective. The result is this commentary. Now I want to share this commentary with anyone who is passionate about deep diving into God’s word.
Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying (Ezekiel 38:1 NASB 1995)
This oracle is given to Ezekiel, and its contents are covered in both chapter 38 and 39.
“Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him (Ezekiel 38:2)
Son of man. Son of man here probably is meant to contrast between the human condition of Ezekiel and the transcendent majesty of God. This contrasts with the usage of “Son of man” in Daniel 7:13-14, which appear to be Messianic.
Set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Ezekiel is commanded to orient himself toward Gog, who is presented as a person, from the land of Magog. The people of Magog are direct descendants of Japheth, one of three sons of Noah (Genesis 10:1-2). Gog rules over more than one people (Tubal and Meshech), who are also descendants from the fifth and sixth sons of Japheth (1 Chronicles 1:5). Hence, Ezekiel likely has in view the peoples to the far north of the land of Israel (in modern day terms, the land area appears to be modern-day Turkey). Because the Hebrew term rosh (“chief”) in verse 1 sounds similar to the name Russia, some believe that Ezekiel 38 predicts modern Russia’s rise and influence. However, the context suggests that everyone in Ezekiel’s day would have been familiar with these nations (Ezek. 38:17), so there is no reason to assume that the nations listed in Ezekiel 38 are actually the geographical equivalent of modern nations.2
And prophesy against him. Ezekiel is to foretell Gog’s ruin and destruction.
But who is Gog? Various names have been suggested, such as Cambyses, king of Persia, Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, Gyges, a Lydian king, among others, as possible historical fulfillments for Gog, though it is uncertain if these identities are the best fits. Dispensationalists interpret Gog as a future ruler from a coalition of nations, including Russia, Turkey, Iran, Sudan, and Libya (Algeria/Tunisia), who comes against modern day Israel near the midpoint of a supposed Tribulation.
However, there appears to be another ruler who fits the description of Gog. He is Haman, who attempted to annihilate the Jews in the book of Esther (Esther 3:12-14). Since Gog is identified as a “chief prince”, Gog may be a fitting description of Haman, who was not the king of Persia, but rather was a high-ranking official or perhaps, 2nd in charge over 127 provinces of the Persian Empire (Esther 1:1; Esther 3:13). Moreover, in Esther 3:1 and 9:24, Haman is referred to as an “Agagite.” He was a descendant of Agag, who was the king of Amalekites. The term “Agag” and “Gog” appear similar at face value, and they are equated in the Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Numbers 24:7 LXX reads, “There shall come a man out of [Israel’s] seed, and he shall rule over many nations. The kingdom of Gog shall be exalted, and his kingdom shall be increased”. In fact, some Septuagint manuscripts say that Haman was a “Gogite,” instead of an “Agagite,” at Esther 3:1 and Esther 9:24 (Lewis B. Paton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Esther, page 194).Clearly, there is an ancient connection between the titles of “Agag” and “Gog”. Moreover, “Gog” could well have been used as a title for the kings of the Amalekites, much like how “Pharaoh” was a title for the kings of Egypt.
[How could we explain Gog’s relationship with Japhethic territories, if he is a descendant of Amalekites? The Amalekites may not be the descendants of Amalek, the grandson of Esau (also known as Edomites) (Gen. 36:12,16) since it appears that the Amalekites were already a major force to contend with in the days of Abraham (Gen. 14:7). Furthermore, the Amalekites who were under God’s curse in Exodus and following were said to be the “first (tyvar) of the nations” (Numb. 24:20). If they are identified with Magog, this may makes sense].
Is there further evidence that Haman is Gog from the context of chapter 38 and 39? Continuing from next verse.
This is what the Lord God says: “Behold, I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal (Ezekiel 38:3)
Ezekiel was to announce that Yahweh was opposed to Gog, implication being that God is declaring war against Gog, whose evil scheme is to annihilate God’s people.
So I will turn you around and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them magnificently dressed, a great contingent with shield and buckler, all of them wielding swords (Ezekiel 38:4)
The Lord would reverse the fortunes of this ruler, take him under His control, and bring him and his vast, impressive army and power he exercises over them out into the open. Putting hooks in his jaws pictures control that Gog would not be able to resist, emphasizing God is the one who is orchestrating this battle. Gog’s arsenal is said to be armed with swords, clubs, spears, and bows and arrows, and they invade by riding horses while carrying shields. These descriptions could not apply to a future war in our modern day or future time, but rather it appears that the prophet has ancient war in mind. Usually, dispensationalist assert that “bows and arrows,” “clubs,” “spears,” and “swords” really refer to machine guns, rifles, pistols, etc., but this spiritualization or allegorizing of the text undermines the fundamental premise of their position, which is that this text must be interpreted literally. In the Book of Esther, we are told that Haman had command over “all the king’s provinces to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day” (Esther 3:12,14).
Persia, Cush, and Put with them, all of them with buckler and helmet; Gomer with all its troops; Beth-togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all its troops—many peoples with you (Ezekiel 38:5-6)
Gog is not alone. Ezekiel foresaw a day when Meshech and Tubal would also join with two other northern powers—Gomer and Beth-togarmah (all these northern powers are descendants of Japheth)—and this four would form an alliance with Cush (Ethiopia), Put (Libya), and Persia, which were three powers to the far south or southeast of the Promised Land. The sevenfold makeup of the enemy coalition suggests totality of the threat of evil that would rise up against the people of God. Haman fits Gog here as well, as Meshech, Tubal, Magog, Togarmah, and Gomar were all nations within the Persian Empire, which he had control over during the time of Esther (Esther 3:12-14).3
“Be ready, and be prepared, you and all your contingents that are assembled around you, and be a guard for them (Ezekiel 38:7)
Gog is admonished to get ready with his alliances. Guard and guide them, but it would be all in vain. Hence, the implication is Gog, be ready for your downfall!
After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual place of ruins; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them (Ezekiel 38:8)
After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come. The expression “after many days” indicate that what is predicted is yet in the future from the time of Ezekiel and it is synonymous with the “latter years” . The idiom “latter years” do not refer to future end times, but the contextual “end”, which is the prophet’s own “eschatological horizon” which is clarified in the next clause. Gog will come at the latter time from days of Ezekiel. When is that time?
Into the land that is restored from the sword. Gog will come into the land, when it is being recovered from the sword of their enemies. This appears to be a time when Israel started to return to their land after the Babylonian exile.
Whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual place of ruins. People who were once scattered over many nations (due to the Babylonian captivity), are now brought back to the mountains of Israel, which were desolated continually due to enemy sieges. We are told that Gog would come shortly after Israel returned from exile. Since modern Israel does not fit the description of Ezekiel 38, it appears the timeframe of Gog’s invasion is shortly after Israel returned from Babylonian exile in approximately 537 BC during the reign of the Persian Empire.
But its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them. Gog will come at a time when the people are been regathered, and they dwell securely. Some Jews had returned to Jerusalem, though others were still scattered over the 127 provinces of Persia ranging from India to Ethiopia and everywhere else (Esther 8:9). Persian empire was much kinder to the Jews unlike its predecessor, the Babylonian empire, and this fits with the idea of Jews living securely. Moreover, in Esther, the fighting occurs in every province. In Ezekiel, though we see a focus on the land of Israel, but Ezekiel also indicates that “all the nations will see My judgment” (Ezek. 39:21) and God will “send fire upon Magog and those who inhabit the coastlands in safety” (Ezek. 39:6). Hence, both passages portray the fight universally, and not just in the land of Israel.
And you will go up, you will come like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your troops, and many peoples with you. (Ezekiel 38:9)
Gog and his bands shall come like a storm that overspreads the whole land like a cloud, as they come against God’s people. The book of Esther shows that all people in all the land were ready to act on God’s people no sooner the command went forth (Esther 3:14)
‘This is what the Lord God says: “It will come about on that day, that thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil plan (Ezekiel 38:10)
On that day, Gog will entertain a malicious design for the destruction of God’s people. We are told that Haman had an “evil scheme” against Israel (Esther 8:3).
And you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, who live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates (Ezekiel 38:11)
Gog will go up against the people of God at a time they are dwelling safely, i.e., securely and confidently, in a land of un-walled villages, meaning a land of open places, as opposed to fortified cities, i.e., towns without walls, and having neither bars nor gates. In Esther, we learn that there were Jews who were living peacefully in “unwalled towns” (Esther 9:19 KJV) when Haman conspired against them. Hence, the battle of Ezekiel occurs when Jerusalem and the other towns where God’s people were living still had no walls. This rules out an interpretation in the days of the Maccabees or later, since Jerusalem has had walls ever since Nehemiah built them. However, at this point in Esther’s story, no walls have been built. Nehemiah has not yet started that work.
To capture spoils and to seize plunder, to turn your hand against the ruins that are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who live at the center of the world (Ezekiel 38:11)
Gog’s motive is described here, and that is to seize upon the goods and plunder the substance of these people, who live at the center of the world (what may be meant is that the people of God have an exalted position, and are the center of attention, in reference to other nations, which Gog is envious about). Haman’s words suggest this. “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king’s laws..” (Esther 3:8). Moreover, we are told that Haman’s desire was exactly this, to “seize their possessions as plunder” (Esther 3:13).
Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish with all its villages will say to you, ‘Have you come to capture spoils? Have you assembled your contingent to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to capture great spoils?’”’“Therefore prophesy, son of man, and say to Gog, ‘This is what the Lord God says: “On that day when My people Israel are living securely, will you not know it? 15 You will come from your place out of the remote parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding horses, a large assembly and a mighty army; 16 and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It shall come about in the last days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me when I show Myself holy through you before their eyes, Gog.” (Ezekiel 38:12-16)
Sheba, and Dorian, and the merchants of Tarshish were the great trading communities of the South, East, and West respectively (Ezekiel 27:15, 20, 22, 25). All are depicted as following in the wake of Gog. By coming against Israel, who is living securely, and defenseless, Gog, and his well-equipped forces, is taking on Israel’s God; God says it is “My people”, “My land”, that Gog is assaulting. The only reason that Gog and his armies are brought against Israel is that the Lord will demonstrate His greatness and holiness before their eyes, by defeating them. The planned destruction of the Jews is reversed in both in Ezekiel and Esther and judgement comes upon the enemy (Ezek. 39:3; Esther 9:2).
‘This is what the Lord God says: “Are you the one of whom I spoke in former days through My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days for many years that I would bring you against them? (Ezekiel 38:17)
Gog and Magog cannot be a new people or modern day nations, who are unmentioned before the time of Ezekiel because earlier prophets had predicted such an invasion of Israel in a future time under the leadership of Gog. Haman appears to represents the ancient spiritual struggle between Amalekites and Israel (Ex. 17:8-16; Deut. 25:17-19). Hence, if Gog and Magog are Amalekites, then this verse makes more sense. Many prophets spoke of Amalek including Moses (Ex. 17:16), Balaam (Numb. 24:20), Samuel (1 Sam. 15:1-3,17-23), Deborah (Judges 5:14), Gideon (Judges 6-7), an unnamed prophet (Judges 10:11-14), David (1 Sam. 30) and Asaph (Psalm 83). They prophesied of multi-generational warfare in Exodus 17:16; Numb. 14:43; 24:20; Deut. 25:17-19; 1 Sam. 14:48; 15:18.
It will come about on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel,” declares the Lord God, “that My fury will mount up in My anger” (Ezekiel 38:18)
However, when Gog comes against Israel, he is coming not to bring judgement on Israel, but to be judged by God’s wrath.
In My zeal and in My blazing wrath I declare that on that day there will certainly be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals of the field, all the crawling things that crawl on the earth, and all mankind who are on the face of the earth will shake at My presence; and the mountains will be thrown down, the steep pathways will collapse, and every wall will fall to the ground. (Ezekiel 38:19-20)
When God’s zeal and wrath is let loose on the enemies, it will be akin to a mighty earthquake that will cause the earth (land) and its creatures to tremble in His presence. In the Old Testament, earthquakes, mountains being thrown down, and turmoil among the enemy nations when God visits in judgement is not unusual. Such language is often used figuratively to describe the grandeur of the judgement. For instance, Micah speaks of “Mountains melting”, “Valley’s splitting” (Micah 1:4) for events that transpired before the first coming of the Messiah. Isaiah speaks of “every mountain and hill be made low” (Isaiah 40:4) in view of the first coming Messiah. In Isaiah 29:6, God’s visit accompanies thunder, earthquake and great noise, and flame of devouring fire on the enemies of Judah. Hence, it is not required to read this literally, as there is a precedent for interpreting some of these judgements symbolically.
And I will call for a sword against him on all My mountains,” declares the Lord God. “Every man’s sword will be against his brother.With plague and with blood I will enter into judgment with him; and I will rain on him and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and brimstone. (Ezekiel 38:21-22)
The sword, plague (affliction), bloodshed, torrential rain, hailstones, fire and brimstone: These are alsoemblems and symbols of God’s presence, and of the judgments about to be executed on the persecutors (Isaiah 30:30; Psalms 11:6).
So I will prove Myself great, show Myself holy, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord.”’ (Ezekiel 38:23)
God will show His power, and holiness, not just by the destruction of Gog and his coalition, but by the protection of his restored people.
There is more evidence in Ezekiel 38 and 39 to show that Haman does fit the description of Gog. For instance, a) There are an enormous number of dead in both passages. (Ezek. 39:12-16; Esther 9:12-16). b) Both passages show that the Jews were authorized to plunder those who fought against them (Esther 8:11; Ezek. 39:10). c) The sevenmonths wait in Ezekiel 39:12-16 is equivalent to the time from Purim till the Feast of Tabernacles when cleansing waters are made with the ashes of the heifer (Esther 9:26-32). d) Haman’s name appears in Ezekiel’s prophecy as Hamon (39:11,15,16). Again, this slight change in pronunciation (which is common with other names) can be explained by the language differences. The phrase, “the valley of Hamon of Gog” would then be equivalent to Haman of Agag (or “Haman the Agagite”). d) Haman was hanged from the 50-cubit-high gallows (Esther 7:9-10), potentially becoming “food to every kind of predatory bird and beast of the field” (Ezekiel 39:4).3
Our chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse, commentaries on the book of Daniel, Revelation.
Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you (Zechariah 14:1 NASB 1995).
Behold. “Behold” marks calls attention to a newsworthy or unexpected entity.
A day is coming for the Lord. “A day of the Lord” is not necessarily the end of the world, but it can be a reference to Yahweh’s judgement in history such as Babylon’s fall (Isaiah 13:6) or Edom’s fall (Obadiah 1:15), which is said to have occurred in a time called “the day of the Lord”.
When the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. The immediate context suggests that it is Jerusalem who will be plundered, and it is her spoils that would be divided among or in the midst of her.
For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city (Zechariah 14:2)
For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle. Yahweh is depicted as an army general who musters his troops (all the nations) against his enemy (Jerusalem). When Israel rebelled against their King throughout their history, Yahweh turned against them as an enemy, often handing them over to other nations, to discipline them for their disobedience. Some have suggested that this is referring to an event at the second coming. However, there is evidence from the immediate context to see this as pointing to the AD 70 judgment upon Jerusalem. “All the nations” is prophetic hyperbole. The war was conducted by an empire of “nations”, specifically, the Roman imperial forces together with the various client kings who engaged in the Jewish War AD 67–70. Not only the Romans but the lands of Syria, Asia Minor, Palestine, Gaul, Egypt, Britain, and others, and Client kings, such as Antiochus, Agrippa, Sohemus, Malchus, and Alexander, provided auxiliary forces for Rome during the Jewish War.2
The city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled. These images of the destruction of Jerusalem are also drawn from what happened in 586 B.C when the Babylonian army ‘captured’ (lākad) Jerusalem (e.g. Jer. 32:3, 24, 28), ‘plundered’ (šāsas) it (Ps. 89:41; Jer. 30:16) and took ‘into the exile’ (baggôlâ) half of the city (2 Kgs 24:15–16). The rape of women is a common feature of warfare and depicts its horror (Isa. 13:16). D. A. Carson observes that never was “so high a percentage of a great city so thoroughly and painfully exterminated and enslaved as during the Fall of Jerusalem.”2 Josephus writes, “Whereas the war which the Jews made with the Romans hath been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that ever were heard of; both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations..”4.
But the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. This suggests that there will be a remnant that survives this destruction that comes upon the city. In the previous chapter, it was mentioned, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it” (Zechariah 13:8). The “third” appears to be “the rest of the people” who escape the besieged city, and are refined in the process (this is implied by the context). They will become the citizens of the “Jerusalem above” (Galatians 4:26), as that “hour” has come where the people will worship God “neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem . . . but . . . in spirit and truth” (John 4:21–23), as judgement has come upon earthly Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44). Will God protect His remnant?
Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle (Zechariah 14:3)
In Zechariah 14:3–5, the focus shifts. Yahweh is now depicted as a warrior who fights (battles) against his enemy (those nations) who opposes His people (the remnant that survived the destruction of Jerusalem).The language of “The Lord will go forth and fight” is similar to that in Joshua 10:14, 42 and 23:3, where the Lord “fought for Israel.” In Joshua, these references indicated his providential favor in Israel’s victory and deliverance, not his corporeal presence.How would God fight for His remnant during the siege? That appears to be answered in the next verse.
[As for how the Lord fights for His people, we must remember, not only did Yahweh (Ancient of days) judge the Roman Empire (Daniel 7:21-22) who persecuted His people, but it eventually fell in AD 476. Moreover, Messiah’s people went forth like a white horse to conquer and spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond after the destruction of Jerusalem, overcoming many enemies of the gospel].
In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. (Zechariah 14:4)
In that day. “In that day” appears to be still referring to the time around the destruction of Jerusalem.
His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east. Ezekiel shows when God gave up Jerusalem to Babylon in 586 BC, He “stood over the mountain [of Olives]” (Ezekiel 11:23); signifying Yahweh abandoned the city to its enemies. This is in contrast to Him staying inside the city as its protector. As God gave up Jerusalem to Babylonians, Zechariah appears to show that God is giving up the rebuilt Jerusalem to Romans in 70 AD. While “His feet” appears to be a reference to Yahweh (the Father), Messiah Jesus also fulfilled these words, when He officially abandoned Jerusalem, and warned about the temple to coming judgment (Matthew 23:37–38), and thereafter, when He went up to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24:3). Prophecy also mentions God’s feet when His and Israel’s enemies are thwarted and are given success against all odds (Ps 18:9; Isa 60:13; Nah 1:3; Hab 3:5). Some say when Jesus comes again (second coming), He will set his foot on the Mount of Olives. That may or may not be true, but the above verses do not appear to be talking about the second coming of the Messiah but the destruction of Jerusalem.
So that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. The idea of the mountain moving towards the east and toward the west is to indicate formation of a “very great valley” through it, so that people can escape.Moving “mountains” are proverbial expressions to indicate that obstacles and difficulties shall be removed. Such language is common throughout the Old Testament and especially in Zechariah. ‘What are you, you great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain” (Zechariah 4:7). What mountain was literally removed during Zerubbabel’s time? Micah speaks of “Mountains melting”, “Valley’s splitting” (Micah 1:4) for events that transpired before the first coming of the Messiah. Isaiah speaks of “every mountain and hill be made low” (Isaiah 40:4) in view of the first coming Messiah. God removed obstacles represented by mountains so that His people (the remnant or the third) would flee to the east. This is historically what happened. He provided a way of escape.
Dispensationalists and other commentators suggest that these verses must be taken literally. However, Zechariah’s prophetic utterances do not demand that every single expression be taken literally, unless the context demands it. In addition to the above proverbial expressions, notice that: Jerusalem is identified as a “cup” (Zechariah 12:2), and a “stone” (Zechariah 12:3). People are identified as a “firepot” (Zechariah 12:6). A “fountain” is opened in Jerusalem (Zechariah 13:1). A “sword” is referenced to strike the shepherd (Zechariah 13:7), yet we know Jesus was not killed with a sword.
You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! (Zechariah 14:5)
You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel. Because the mountains were moved, a valley has been created for the remnant to flee Jerusalem when God judges it. They ultimately flee to all points of the compass, taking the gospel with them (Zechariah 14:8-9). “It is a remarkable but historical fact that Cestius Gallus, the Roman general, for some unknown reason, retired when they first marched against the city, suspended the siege, ceased the attack and withdrew his armies for an interval of time after the Romans occupied the temple, thus giving every believing Jew the opportunity to obey the Lord’s instruction to flee the city. Josephus the eyewitness, himself an unbeliever, chronicles this fact, and admitted his inability to account for the cessation of the fighting at this time, after a siege had begun”.5 As for Azel, perhaps a place, that was most probably near to Jerusalem; and had its name from that circumstance.
You will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. The remnant would flee as people would do during a great earthquake, such as that which happened during King Uzziah’s reign over Judah (Amos 1:1).
Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him. Once the remnant have fled and gone to safety, then Yahweh “will come” in judgement upon Jerusalem with the holy angels. “Holy ones” could refer to angels (Matt. 25:31; 2 Thess. 1:7) or “spirits of the righteous” in heaven (Hebrews 12:23;1 Thess. 3:13, 4:16-17), however, the meaning here appears to be the coming of the Lord in angelic judgement akin to when He came in judgement against Egypt. “Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt” (Isaiah 19:1). Just like when, “The Lord came from Sinai..and He came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones” (Deut 33:2; Galatians 3:19), an army of angels accompanied His coming in judgement. Hence, Jerusalem’s destruction by Rome is providential destruction by “his armies” (Matthew 22:7).
In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. (Zechariah 14:6)
Isaiah used similar figures of speech to warn of the destruction of a nation such as Babylon. “Behold the day of the Lord cometh…stars of heaven…shall not give their light, the sun shall be darkened….the moon shall not cause her light to shine.” (Isaiah 13:10). Hence, dimming of light is associated with a destruction of a nation, specifically, destruction of Jerusalem which leads to darkness and woe upon Israel (Acts 2:20, 22; Mt 24:29).
For it will be a unique day which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light (Zechariah 14:7)
These verses are difficult to translate as the Hebrew is obscure and hence the many variations in the translations. However, it may be a figurative description of the “day of the Lord”, that “unique day” of judgement, which was known only to Yahweh. That unique day may be said to resemble neither “day nor night”, because the lights of heaven, which regulate day and night, have lost their brightness (Zechariah 14:6). But when this day ends (at evening time), there will be light. Perhaps what is meant is that it is a day of darkness for Old Jerusalem. But when the evening comes, it is light for another, the New Jerusalem. Its lights going out for old Jerusalem (the old covenant). Its light dawning on another, the Jerusalem from above (the new covenant) (Hebrews 8:13).
And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter. (Zechariah 14:8)
And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem. “In that day” could again point us to the days beginning with Messiah’s first coming, as these living waters only could have begun to flow because a “fountain” was opened for cleansing people from sin and impurity (Zechariah 13:1). “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of livingwater will flow from within them.” (John 7:38). The Messiah who opened that fountain tells us that the “living waters” will flow from within His people, from “whoever believes”. While it is literally from earthly Jerusalem that salvation began to spread to all the nations and families of the earth. Since these “living waters” can flow from “whoever believes”, then these living waters are flowing from all believers, who have become the representatives of the new and better “heavenly Jerusalem’ ‘ (Galatians 4:26).
Half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter. Living waters will flow worldwide from the east (Dead Sea) and west (Mediterranean), uninterrupted (in summer and in winter) unlike natural streams which dry up in summertime in Israel. Hence, as Jerusalem collapses (Old Covenant) and Christianity (New Covenant) separates from her Jewish constraints, the waters of life begin flowing out freely into all the world. Ultimately, when heavenly Jerusalem descends from heaven in the “new earth”, John also sees living waters or “water of life” continuing to flow from the very throne of God (Revelation 21:5;22:1).
And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one. (Zechariah 14:9)
The Lord’s kingdom overflows Israel’s limited borders so that He becomes the King of all the earth. There is universal acknowledgement of the Lord as the one and only true God, which is the result of living waters doing its work in the hearts of the people. People will recognize His full sovereignty and there will never be rebellion against Him again (the fate of those who rebel against Him appears to be explained in Zechariah 14:12-16). The language of Zechariah 14:9 is similar to the Shema (Deut 6:4), the definitive statement of true religion. This verse appears to find its ultimate fulfillment in the “new earth”, after the first earth has passed away (Revelation 21:4).
All the land will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; but Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site from Benjamin’s Gate as far as the place of the First Gate to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s wine presses (Zechariah 14:10)
The dimensions of the city are those of the eighth-century capital in its prime, with mention of the Benjamin (Jer. 20:2), First and Corner (Jeremiah 31:38) Gates, the Tower of Hananel (Jeremiah 31:38), and the royal winepresses (Jeremiah 39:4). Zechariah speaks of upheaval that fully refashions the land of Judea, flattening the summits of mountains. He uses language in which his original audience will understand. City boundaries paint a picture of Jerusalem as a city entirely safe from the threat of violence. Resting on flat land, on high ground gives military advantage, thus, Jerusalem will be fully secure, and no enemy will be able to invade it.
Moreover, as Jerusalem is elevated, it produces a picture similar to Psalm 48:2; Isaiah 2:2–4, Micah 4:1–3, depicting the elevation of God’s new Jerusalem, from which “living waters” have started to flow universally, to which all nations stream throughout the church age. “And it will come about in the last days That the mountain of the houseoftheLORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, And the peoples will stream to it” (Micah 4:1). Ultimately, the change in landscape appears to point to new Jerusalem which descends into the “new earth” (Rev 21:2).
People will live in it, and there will no longer be a curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security. (Zechariah 14:11)
Zechariah appears to be seeing a time when the first earth has passed away, and “there will no longer be any curse” (Rev 22:3) in the new Jerusalem. People “will dwell in security” in the new creation. In the period after the return from the Exile, many of those who returned preferred to live in the countryside and had to be forced to come to the capital (Neh. 7:4; 11:1–2). But there will be no problem about getting people to live in the capital when the king has returned to it.6
Now this will be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth. (Zechariah 14:12)
Now this will be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem. This verse appears to take us back to a time when people were not living in “security” (verse 11), a time before the “new earth”. “Living waters” attracted nations since Messiah’s first arrival; however, not all people thirsted for this water. Anyone who comes against His people (who belongs to heavenly Jerusalem), will be defeated, and the Lord will strike them with plagues or afflictions. “The plague” may also refer to the “plagues” mentioned in Revelation which are inflicted on the antichristian powers (Revelation 15:1-16:21) before Messiah’s second coming. The dragon appears to be the one who is behind these people, who went to “make war with the rest of her children” (Revelation 12:17), the remnant, the believers, that survived the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Zechariah 13:8;14:2).
Their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth. This sort of language is not unusual in the Old Testament (Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:22; 2 Chronicles 21:15-19). If this is metaphorical, and since the next verse shows that some survive this plague, then, perhaps it may mean that tongues of God’s enemies will rot in the sense that their defiant speech will be silenced. Their united goal will become blurred to their vision, as if their eyes had rotted away. Their physical powers, which emboldened them to make the attack, will waste away.
It will come about in that day that a great panic from the Lord will fall on them; and they will seize one another’s hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another. (Zechariah 14:13)
And for those that do survive the plague, God will send confusion to them so that they end up attacking each other. Hence, the enemies of God’s people will be vanquished through plague (verse 12) or confusion (verse 13). Instances of the latter occur in Israelitish history. (Judges 7:22; 1 Samuel 14:20; 2 Chronicles 20:23).
Judah also will fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered, gold and silver and garments in great abundance. (Zechariah 14:14)
If the enemies of God’s people are not vanquished, then they will be converted. Zechariah, using language that makes sense to his audience, portrays an image of Judeans outside of Jerusalem, meaning the nation at large uniting to defend “Jerusalem”, God’s holy city to them. Of course, because of the finished work of the “pierced” Messiah, Judah, and Jerusalem have now taken “better” meanings. It represents the new “covenant” people, both Jew and Gentile. Old Jerusalem has given way to the better “Jerusalem from above”. It is these gentile nations who attack God’s people that also become part of the “commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians 2:12) and “fellow citizens with the saints and are of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19), and they bring their riches to God’s household, to be used in ministry.
So also like this plague will be the plague on the horse, the mule, the camel, the donkey and all the cattle that will be in those camps (Zechariah 14:15)
Not all enemies, but all their things (possessions) come under judgment should they come against God’s people. The case is illustrated by the example of Achan, whose oxen and sheep and asses were burned, along with himself and his children ( Joshua 7:24).
Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths (Zechariah 14:16)
Those who are converted from the nations that came against Yahweh will worship the King, continually. It must be noted that ‘go up’ still thinks in terms of pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The language of the Old Covenant is being used to communicate to its original readers. But a “new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20) has been enacted by the Messiah for His people, for God is worshiped “neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem . . . but . . . in spirit and truth” (John 4:21–23). The Feast of Booths may have been singled out as it came at the end of the religious calendar and summed up all the worship of Israel (Lev. 23 and Deut. 16.). During this time the people lived in booths constructed out of branches to remind them of how they lived during the period in the Wilderness and how the Lord had guided them at that time (Lev. 23:42–43). The nations in coming to this feast were therefore making the acknowledgment: that it was the Lord who had guided them to where they were. 1 Cor 5:7-8 “Therefore let us celebrate the feasts..with sincerity and truth”. In the days of the Messiah, believers celebrate the feasts in a spiritual way (in sincerity and truth in our lives – all seven days), and since, the Old Covenant holy days are “shadows”, they are no longer obligatory in the New Covenant since reality has come in the person of the Messiah (Colossians 2:16-17).
And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them (Zechariah 14:17).
Rain seems to be mentioned as one of the principal blessings of God, that by which the fruitfulness is produced. It therefore appropriately stands here to represent the whole class of providential favors. It shall be withheld from those who demonstrate faithlessness to Him. See a similar threat, upon Israel, in Deuteronomy 11:16-17.
If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths (Zechariah 14:18-19)
Egypt may be singled out for mention, perhaps because it was the origin of the Hebrew exodus (of which the Feast of Tabernacles was to be a reminder, Lev. 23:43), and in the past it was a nation that ‘had suffered the most from the plagues at God’s hands. If people do not demonstrate true faith, it would suffer again, meaning no rain or blessing will fall on them, instead it will be affliction (plague) just like people in Egypt witnessed.
In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “HOLY TO THE LORD.” And the cooking pots in the Lord’s house will be like the bowls before the altar (Zecheriah 14:20)
In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “HOLY TO THE LORD.” “In that day”, again a reference to days beginning with the Messiah. It is said here that even mundane things like the bells of the horses or cooking pots have holiness as much as the high priest. Horses were unclean animals according to Levitical law, yet in the age that Messiah brings, there will be no such distinction. Every ordinary stuff will be holy. The New Covenant is not concerned with holy days (sabbath days) any more than it is concerned with holy places (see John 4:19-24) or unclean food (Mark 7:19; Rom. 14:1-5, 14, 20; 1 Cor. 8:8; 10:23-27; Col. 2:16, 17; 1 Tim. 4:3-5). To emphasize these questions is to distort the spirituality and ethical concerns of the New Testament (see Matt. 25:31-46; Gal. 5:6). However, the new covenant gives the liberty for believers to consider sacred “one day above another (like the Sabbath), and others to consider “every day alike” (no holy days) (Romans 14:5), for the sake of unity. However, in the new earth, everyone would be mature enough to acknowledge that every little thing is holy to the Lord, and no distinctions exist as it was in the Old Covenant, the age of shadows.
Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day (Zechariah 14:21)
Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts. The mundane things like cooking pots will be holy to the Lord. In the Old Testament, somethings were holy and other things were not. Seventh day was holy, other days were not. In the new order, we do not need to leave any thing that is not devoted to God. Not one day out of seven. All things are set apart for the Lord. Every day, every moment, every penny, every child belongs to God.
All who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. “Sacrifice” has taken a superior meaning in the days of the “pierced” Messiah, for He fulfilled it. For those who are in Messiah, the only acceptable worship is to offer themselves completely to the Lord, as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1). Dispensationalists suggest that literal sacrifices will be reenacted (not for atonement but as a memorial), and the literal feast of Booths in some form will be celebrated, as they press for a literal interpretation of these verses during a temporary Millennial reign of Christ. To reinstate “shadows” of the Old Covenant, even in a diluted form, is to deny the work of the Messiah, who fulfilled all those shadows not just for gentiles, but for all the Jews. It is akin to going back to Judaism, and abandoning Christianity.
And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day. The Hebrew word translated “Canaanite” refers to merchants and traders or to any unclean person, both of whom would defile the temple of God. When Jesus began His ministry and ended it, He found “religious merchants” using God’s house for personal gain (John 2:13–22; Matt. 1521 Zechariah 1421:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–46). The house of prayer for all nations had been turned into a den of thieves for the profit of the Jewish high priest and his family. But the kingdom that Messiah establishes will not be defiled by those who neither know the Lord nor love Him. Nothing “unclean” will enter there (Revelation 21:27). Hence, this verse would find its ultimate fulfillment in the new earth.
Our chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse, commentaries on the book of Daniel, Revelation.
“In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity” (Zechariah 13:1 NASB 1995)
In that day. The phrase ‘that day’ connects this verse with Zechariah 12:3, which we identified as the days of Messiah. Specifically, “that day” refers to the time when the Messiah came as a servant to be pierced or crucified.
A fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The piercing of the Messiah (Zechariah 12:10) appears to have served as the reason for this spiritual “fountain” to be opened up for washing people’s sin and impurity. Hence, the scene at the end of Zechariah 12 of the whole community’s mourning (in repentance) for the “pierced” one shifts in Zechariah 13:1 to one of hope. A ‘fountain’ or ‘spring’ suggests an abundant supply of water (Ps. 36:9; Jer. 2:13), and the language indicates that this fountain will remain continuously open.
For sin and for impurity. “Sin” (ḥaṭṭā’t) is a more general term for human behavior that breaks God’s will (Deut. 9:18). “Impurity” (niddah) is a state that often results from amoral causes (e.g. childbirth or bodily emissions). Both unintentional sin and major impurity required ‘atonement’ through sacrifice, in the Old Covenant. Though there is no direct reference to sacrifice in this verse, the piercing of the Messiah (Zechariah 12:10) serves as the sacrifice for washing sin and impurity of people. Washing occurs as a literary figure of repentance and purification elsewhere in the prophets (Isa. 1:16; Jer. 2:22; Ezek. 16:9). This fits with the images of repentance in Zechariah 12:10–14, and the cleansing water of the new covenant in Ezekiel 36:25.1 Zechariah 13:1 affirms God’s desire to cleanse repentant people. The New Testament clarifies that through Jesus, ‘rivers of living water’ flow to believers (John 7:38).
“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land. (Zechariah 13:2)
That I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered. Idolatry is associated with “impurity” (niddah) (Ezek. 36:17), which resulted in the dispersion of the Jews into exile (Ezekiel 36:16-21). As the previous verse shows, the “fountain” has been opened to cleanse people from such “impurity” (Zechariah 13:1). How would God cleanse people from such impurity? God will “cut off the names of the idols” from among people. The “name” is representative of the idol itself, which will be destroyed. The verb karat, to cut off or banish, is usually the punishment of the idolater, but the implication here appears to be people will banish the idols they serve with the transformation that comes to the community from looking up to the “pierced” one in repentance (Zechariah 12:10). The promise that these idols will “be remembered no more”, describes affection of the true worshiper. To remember is to serve a god, while to forget is to abandon it (Deut. 8:18–20). While it is true that modern Jewish and Gentile believers of Messiah are not often tempted to worship divine images, at the heart of idolatry is the pursuit of one’s agenda apart from reliance on and submission to God (Eph. 5:3–5). God promises to purify people from such idolatry following Messiah’s sacrifice.
And I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land. Not only idols, but also their religious attendants, and promoters, the prophets, will be removed from the land. These false prophets are the focus of the final verses in Zechariah 13:3–6. Whereas God’s Spirit is associated explicitly with true prophecy (Zechariah 7:12), false prophecy is associated with ‘the unclean spirit’.
And if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who gave birth to him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you have spoken falsely in the name of the Lord’; and his father and mother who gave birth to him will pierce him through when he prophesies. (Zechariah 13:3)
The people will be so transformed by God that parents will enact the judgment against their own child. In Deuteronomy 13, there was to be no toleration of false prophecy connected with idolatry, as the people are commanded to put the person to death (Deuteronomy 13:5). In Numbers 25:8, an Israelite man and Midianite women, participating in idolatrous behavior through sexual intercourse, were “pierced” by Phinehas, grandson of Aaron the high priest. People “pierced” God, abandoning him through their idolatry, so now they will cleanse the land of idolatry by piercing their prophets. Zechariah speaks the above words using Old Covenant imagery and law in practice. Under the New Covenant, the idea is that God’s people will not tolerate false prophets, even the family of a false prophet would condemn the false prophet.
Also it will come about in that day that the prophets will each be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies, and they will not put on a hairy robe in order to deceive (Zechariah 13:4)
Those who had been false messengers of God would be ashamed of their message. They will put away the clothing of the prophets (a hairy robe) and earn an honest living, instead of deceiving people.
But he will say, ‘I am not a prophet; I am a tiller of the ground, for a man sold me as a slave in my youth.’ (Zechariah 13:5)
Those who posed as prophets will so fear exposure that they will deny ever having made such a claim. So eager would the false prophet be to hide his false pretense, that he would be willing to say, that he has been employed in farm work, and was sold as a slave from his youth.
And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will say, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’ (Zechariah 13:5-6)
Without the hairy robe to cover his body, the false prophet will expose his “wounds”, though they try to conceal the truth, and pretend that they were wounds he had privately in his father’s family. Many conclude that this refers to wounds connected with illicit religious rites. The cutting of the body is linked to idolatrous practices connected with Baal religion (1 Kings 18:28) and the cult of the dead (Lev. 19:28). Some have argued that the ‘wounds between your hands’ are a reference to the suffering Messiah, however, the wounds their body bore appear to be because of false prophetic activity.
The removal of idolatry and false prophecy portrayed in Zechariah 13:2–6 is a key concern for the people of God in view of Jesus’ death. Worshipping idols is one of the characteristics of ‘pagan’ living (1 Peter 4:3) and is associated with the acts of the ‘flesh’ (Gal. 5:20; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:5). While the judgment by the Old Covenant law on false prophets in the community is no longer directly applicable (i.e. their being put to death), Christians are to be intolerant of false teaching (2 Tim. 3:5; Rev. 2:20). In Revelation, the ‘false prophet’ does the work of the antichrist (16:13; 19:20; cf. 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7). The ‘false prophet’ is ultimately destroyed at Messiah’s second coming.
“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate,” Declares the Lord of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones (Zechariah 13:7)
“Awake, O sword. ‘Awake, O sword’ appears to begin a new oracle (given the vocative noun and imperfect verb with which it begins) but is still thematically connected to what preceded.The sword is a regular metaphor in prophetic literature, an image of death and judgment (Isa. 34:5–6; Ezek. 5:1).
Against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate,” Declares the Lord of hosts. This verse contains the final ‘shepherd’ reference in Zechariah and brings together the various strands concerning leadership (shepherds) that have been woven through the book of Zechariah to this point. Zechariah 10:3 expresses God’s anger against shepherds. Zechariah 10:17 envisions seriousinjury against the shepherd, and here (Zechariah 13:7), it advocates striking afatalblow against the shepherd.
The sword is instructed to “strike” the Shepherd, who is called “my shepherd” and “My Associate”. Both phrases use the possessive pronoun “my,” emphasizing the close association between the Lord and this shepherd who is struck by the sword. The ancient Hebrew word for My Associate is used in Leviticus 6:2 and 18:20 to mean a “near neighbor.” My Associate describes someone who is more than a friend of the LORD; someone who “dwells side by side with the LORD, His equal.”3 While “my shepherd” could be used of God’s shepherds in general, “My associate” seems to render the reference definite, meaning a specific shepherd may be meant. As for the image of the sword, because it is connected with God’s judgment, this Shepherd is apparently someone who is struck as a result of some offense. However, if there is such a close relationship between the shepherd and Yahweh, and Yahweh commands his death – then could it be that the shepherd suffers not for his own sins, but for the sins of others? Could it be that this shepherd is not a wayward shepherd?
If this verse is approached in isolation, it is not clear who the shepherd might be. It may appear that this is talking about Israel’s wayward leadership (given previous references to God’s anger against Shepherds, and reference to false prophets in Zechariah 13:2-6). Some have identified this Shepherd with the Zadokite priesthood because of the connection to idolatry in Zechariah 10:1–3. However, if this verse is read as an integral part of the book of Zechariah, then the referent should be found in what has gone before. Given the expectation of a future Davidic king to this point in Zechariah, including “My Servant the Branch” in Zechariah 3:8;6:12, the coming “king” of Zechariah 9:9, the “Cornerstone” of Zechariah 10:4 and the one who is “pierced” in Zechariah 12:10, it is entirely fitting to identify the “My Associate” as this future king and Messiah.
Several apocalyptic midrashim dating from the early to late first millennium AD cite Zechariah 13:9 in connection with the death of Messiah ben Joseph. This is not the victorious Messiah ben David, as per Jewish tradition, but the second Messiah figure who dies in a battle against Gog and Magog. When and how this second Messiah figure developed within Judaism is unclear. At the least, this shows that ancient Jewish scholars understood the concept of a future Messiah king who suffers and dies, and hence applying Zechariah 13:9 to Messiah is not a case of Christian eisegesis.
The New Testament uses Zechariah 13:7 to interpret the death of Christ and its effect on the disciples (Matt. 26:31; Mark 14:27; cf. John 16:32). A difficulty can arise if the “shepherd” in Zechariah 13:7 is a reference to wayward leadership, which would be like placing Jesus into the role of inappropriate leadership that led Israel astray. However, this does not cause difficulty for Christian interpreters as the New Testament presents Jesus assuming the role of the covenant leader of the community, leading as a good shepherd (John 10:11) before taking on himself their sins and redeeming the community and its leadership. He is the good shepherd of Zechariah 11:4–16, rejected by his people in favor of a bad shepherd, taking the punishment of the bad shepherd in order to achieve the transformation expected throughout chapters 9–14 of Zechariah – which is the creation of a restored, united, and victorious “true Israel” as the center of God’s rule over the cosmos.
“Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones. Because of the loss of the shepherd, the flock will be scattered. This scattering leaves the “little ones” (Jer. 49:20; 50:45) open to discipline. The discipline comes from God, who turns his hand against them, a phrase used elsewhere to refer to his judgment (Ps. 81:14; Isa. 1:25; Ezek. 38:12; Amos 1:8). This indicates that God will discipline the flock (“little ones”) in order to purify them, which is described in Zechariah 13:8–9.
Jesus quoted the above phrase from Zechariah 13:7 in Matthew 26:31 as a reference to the scattering of His disciples during His arrest and suffering. The timing of the quote is also significant as it comes just after the Last Supper, where Jesus explains that his death will be for the forgiveness of sins and the establishment of the new covenant (Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20). Jesus’ designation of his followers as ‘little ones’ (Matt. 10:42; 18:6, 10, 14; Mark 9:42) also appears to be against the backdrop of Zechariah 13:7.
“It will come about in all the land,” Declares the Lord, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. (Zechariah 13:8)
The majority of the flock will be eliminated from the outset as two-thirds “will be struck down and perish.” The third survives but then undergoes further discipline. In context, ‘the land’ (hā’āreṣ) is best conceived as the region in which God’s people dwell (specifically the land of Israel), rather than the whole earth (Zechariah 12:12).
“And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” (Zechariah 13:9)
This verse reveals the result of the refining process in verse 8. The smiting of the Shepherd scattered the sheep, but the good Shepherd would turn his hand graciously to the lowly and insignificant (“the little ones”) to refine and gather them as the remnant. That the Lord calls them “my people” and the people identify the Lord as “my God” is covenant language expressing a reconciled relationship. Jeremiah 31:33 uses this language to speak of the ‘new covenant’ and it is natural to associate Zechariah’s hope with this. Dispensationalists believe these verses refer to a future 7-year tribulation. However, the context of the previous verses and language of a “new covenant” (Hebrews 8:13) suggests that we may be looking at the early days following Jesus’ resurrection, and the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. We cannot be certain unless we review Zechariah 14 to see if the biblical language leads us to such an immediate fulfillment.
Our chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse, commentaries on the book of Daniel, Revelation.