Bible prophecy, commentary, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 14:5

3/18/15

(5) A vowel point change in the word nastem changes the word from flee to stop up or block (SDA Com). The LXX used the latter rendering of the word while most modern commentators use the former. The verse says that “you will flee,” but who is “you?” It would seem at first that you would refer to those to whom the prophecy was spoken. In that case then this valley creates an escape for the people, enabling them to flee from the nations that have come against them or it becomes a stronghold that protects them. However, you could also refer to the wicked. In verse 3 the Lord will fight against the nations, so you could be speaking to those nations. At the third coming of Christ, according to the description in Revelation 20-22, the holy city will come down (Rev 21:1) out of heaven to rest on a broad plain where the resurrected wicked will surround and attack the city (Rev 20:7-9).

The background of this verse is rooted in the story of the flight of the people before the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah. Amos 1:1 refers to an earthquake around that time, but unfortunately we don’t know this story. Knowing it would surely help us clarify this statement to some degree. Another parallel may be when God descended on Mount Sinai and the mountain quaked violently. Revelation also speaks of earthquakes connected to the end of the world (Rev 6:12, 8:5, 11:13, 16:18-21).

The meaning of the word Atzel is unknown. It seems that it must be a city or region to which the valley would extend. Some have suggested that it could be Wadi Yasol, based on the LXX rendering of the word. This was a tributary of the Kidron (EBC-R).

Then the Lord would come, all His holy ones with Him. These are also the armies of heaven pictured in Rev 19:14 and Enoch spoke of as well (Jude 14). Since it appears we are dealing with the time after the millennium, however, these holy ones would refer also to the people of God who were rescued from earth. We will return with God in that day when He will put a final end to the wicked.

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Bible prophecy, commentary, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 14:3-4

3/17/15

(3) The Lord would fight for Jerusalem on the day of the Lord. It is a day that other prophets connect with the day of His wrath when He will destroy the wicked (Isa 63:1-6, 66:15-16; Dan 2:34-35; Joel 3:2, 9-17; Ezek 30:3, Rev 11:18). The attack of Gog in Ezek 38:18-23 and Rev 20:7-9 in particular seems to parallel this description, which means that this verse has moved beyond the Second Coming to the Third Coming. Such “telescoping” of final events is common, particularly in the OT. In other words, like mountains from a distance look like they are stacked two dimensionally upon each other, so events at the end of time are often dealt with together as though happening at the same time, even though in reality there is distance between the events.

(4) The Mount of Olives is mentioned only here and in one other place in the OT. However, it figures prominently in the NT, particularly in relation to Jesus. It it was predicted that Jesus would come back in the same way that He went, which evidently includes descending upon the same mountain.

On this day of final judgment Christ would come and stand on the Mount of Olives on the east of Jerusalem and the effect would be that the mountain would split down the middle from east to west with half the mountain moving toward the north and the other half toward the south creating a large valley or a plain (verse 10). Again, this is the way the scene would have played out had Jerusalem been faithful to God and lasted until the end of the world. Much of this description will still take place at the end of the millennium with the New Jerusalem, but not in every detail since God’s original plans were foiled by Israel’s disobedience.

The mountain becoming a plain or valley casts back to Zech 4:7 where the mountain would become a plain for Zerubbabel. In the same way Christ will rebuild the earth to the shouts of His people. Mic 1:3-4, Nah 1:5, also Hab 3:6 also predicted the mountains melting, dissolving, and shattering under Him.

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Bible prophecy, commentary, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 14:1-2

3/16/15

(1) This prophecy concerns the second coming of Christ. This day is the day of the Lord spoken of by many Bible prophets (Isa 2:12; 13:6, 9; Joel 2:31; 3:14; Mal 4:5; Rev 16:14 and more) and refers to judgment at the end of the world.

Had Israel followed God’s plans for them this prophecy could likely have been fulfilled long ago. It will still come true in principle for God’s people, though the details may not apply as specifically as they would have had the prophecy been fulfilled for ancient Israel.

In the last chapter the people of Jerusalem would suffer terrible trials after rejecting the Messiah and two thirds of them would disappear while one third would be tested and tried and purified by fire. Now in verse 1 the prophecy promises that this time of testing would not continue forever. Eventually the day would come when their possessions would be divided among them. It is unclear whether their possession are returned and are being divided among themselves or if their possession are taken and divided among their captors. Most translations leave it vague saying that the plunder would be divided in their midst. Either way will work. If the plunder is divided among the victors it is part of the ransacking of the city. If the plunder is divided among the victims then it is a promise of the fact that once God fights for them the time will come when their possessions will be returned to them.

(2) However, before God’s salvation would come to them, the attack on God’s people would be partially successful. This must be part of the purification process spoken of in the last chapter. The nations would gather against God’s people and the city would fall, be looted, the women raped, and half of the city would be exiled. But half of them, presumably those who trust in the Lord, would remain and would not be cut off. In other words, the remnant people of God will remain strong while those who are only superficially connected to God will fall away.

Jesus spoke of this final time of tribulation (e.g. Mark 13:19) and it would be at this time that the abomination that causes desolation would have set itself up as God (Matt 24:15, Mark 13:14). For the sake of the elect, though, Jesus promised that those days would be cut short (Matt 24:22).

However, the nations that arrive for the capture of Jerusalem do not realized that they have been summoned by God for the day of judgment (Zeph 3:8, 19; 12:3; Joel 3:2, 11; Rev 11:18; 16:16).

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Bible prophecy, commentary, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 13:9

3/15/15

(9) The third that would remain in Jerusalem would be brought through fire, not in order to destroy them but in order to purify them. Fire, in such a case is symbolic for the trials and tribulations they would face. Ps 66:10-13 describes such refining as God bringing His people in a net, laying oppressive burdens on them, and making men ride over their heads. Isa 48:10 says that God tests us in the furnace of affliction. Such difficulties serve much the same purpose that fire serves in refining silver or gold. Peter warned us not to be surprised at such testing because God uses it to good purpose (1 Pet 4:12-13).

As a result the people would recognize their need of God as their fortress and strength and they would call to him. And God promised to answer them saying that they are His people. And the people would respond that the Lord is their God. As Joel 2:32 says, anyone who does call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Over and over again in the Scriptures this scenario is played out with the same outcome. God allows trials to test His people, these trials do in fact get our attention. If we respond by returning to the Lord and being obedient to Him, then the relationship has been saved. We become His and He becomes ours. And then God is able once again to protect us as He has wanted to do all along.

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Bible prophecy, commentary, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 13:8

3/14/15

(8) Then it would happen that two parts in it, which refers to two thirds of the scattered flock, would be cut off and die. Ezek 5:2-4, 12 has interesting parallels to this verse. Ezekiel was told to shave his hair and divide it into three piles. One pile he was to place in the middle of his model of the city of Jerusalem to be burned, one pile he was to strike with a sword around the city, and one third he was to scatter to the wind. Zechariah prophesied the same scenario. Two thirds would be cut off and die and on third would be left in the city to be tried by fire (verse 9). Zech 11:9 also has the thirds in it because some would die, some would be annihilated, and some would live to eat each other, as happened in the sieges of Jerusalem. Thus would be fulfilled what Dan 9:27 predicted. The Anointed One would be cut off in the middle of the week and the abomination that causes desolation would come to destroy.

It is also likely that there are eschatological connotations as well because in Rev 8:7-12 we see thirds of the earth being destroyed by the judgments of God. Also in Rev 16:19 Babylon, the counterpart to Jerusalem, splits into thirds when it is destroyed.

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Bible prophecy, commentary, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 13:7

3/11/15

(7) Whichever way verse 6 should go, verse 7 definitely applies to the Messiah since Jesus quoted this prophecy concerning Himself in Matt 26:31. And it casts back to Zech 11:4 where He was told to pasture the flock doomed to slaughter. Now the time of slaughter has come, first for the Shepherd and then for the flock. The call came from the Lord of Hosts for the sword to awake against the Shepherd/His fellow citizen. It was God’s will that Christ die for the flock (Isa 53:10). And when the Shepherd was stricken the sheep would be scattered. This was fulfilled when the disciples all forsook Jesus and also after the martyrdom of Stephen when the Christians were scattered by persecution.

The result is that the Lord would put His hand upon the little ones in a negative sense. There is some evidence cited in NIDOTTE that the word tzo’ar actually refers to shepherd and not little ones. This suggestion is strengthened by the fact that the LXX translated the word as shepherds. It also translated the singular shepherd as plural, which, taken alone without Jesus’ reference to the prophecy, would either rule out the connection to the Messiah or expand the prophecy to include more than just the Messiah. That the prophecy could include more than the Messiah on other prophetic levels is not an unreasonable possibility because one of the curses of unfaithfulness to God is that His people would lack leadership (e.g. Isa 3:6) and thus would be scattered. And again, it was not just the Shepherd that was to be stricken (Isa 53:4-5) but the whole flock, including the faithless shepherds, that were doomed to slaughter (Zech 11:4). According to Ezek 34:5 they would be scattered for lack of a shepherd and thus would become food for the wild beasts.

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Bible prophecy, commentary, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 13:6

(6) Some suggest that perhaps verse 6 is better grouped with the following verses rather than the preceding verses. In that case it would be Jesus who received the wounds from His friends, which would tie in with verse 1 since the fountain is an allusion to Jesus’ pierced side at His crucifixion. The problem with this explanation, though, is that the verse seems to go better with the preceding verses, which is about false prophets. Since Jesus was a true prophet how can verse 6 refer to Him? Also, no NT author refers to this prophecy in defense of Christ’s messiahship, which seems significant.

Another explanation of the meaning of the verse is that it refers to false prophets and might have its roots in practices like those mentioned in 1 Kgs 18:28. It was, evidently, the practice of false prophets to cut themselves as a part of their idolatrous worship. In that case the former false prophet who is trying to distance himself from his former practices is asked about the scars between his hands, which may refer to his back (RSV) or chest (NRSV). He replies that they are wounds that he received in the house of those who love me. That answer, however, gives immediate rise to another question then. Why would his friends do this? Perhaps verse 3 is the best answer to that question. His parent’s pierced him through for his false practices, which may not have resulted in his death.

One more possibility is something of a medium between the two former ideas. Rather than referring just to Christ or just to false prophets, perhaps the pericope is referring to both. At the time of Jesus Israel had no prominant false prophets. The people were trying to be very consciencious and faithful to God, albeit legalistically. Therefore, anyone who claimed to be a prophet was immediately suspect. In other words, the environment was not conducive to false prophets the way it had been in the times before the exile. Thus, the Pharisees and religious leaders vigorously opposed not only anyone tempted to false prophecy but also true prophets like John the Bapstist and Jesus Himself. False and true were abused together.

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