This study is a continuation from Zechariah 12: 1-14 Is it Yahweh who is pierced? and Zechariah 13:1-9 Who is the shepherd who is struck?. Let’s look at Zechariah 14.
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 living water 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 house of the LORD 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.
- This generation will not pass away (Matthew 24:1-51)
- Ezekiel 38:1-23 Who is Gog and Magog?
- Zechariah 14:1-21 – Is it about the earthly Jerusalem or New Jerusalem
- Zechariah 13:1-9 Who is the shepherd who is struck?
- Zechariah 12:1-14 – Is it Yahweh who is pierced?
- Micah 5:1-15 – Will the Messiah come from Bethlehem?
- Isaiah 9:1-7 Is the child about the Messiah or Hezekiah?
- Isaiah 7:14: Is it really about Jesus or someone else?
- Isaiah 53:1-12: Israel or Messiah?
- Challenges in embracing Dispensational Theology
Adapted & Referenced