Bible prophecy, commentary, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 14:12

3/24/15

Rot

(12) Continuing with the judgment theme against the wicked, the Lord will punish with a plague those who have fought against Jerusalem. Their flesh will rot where they stand, their eyes in their holes, and their tongues in their mouths. The LXX says that their flesh and tongues will dissolve and their eyes will flow out of their holes. However, this rotting away will take some time as becomes clear in the following verses.

This rotting away, maqaq, is the explicit consequence of breaking the covenant, according to Lev 26:39. And the cause of this rotting of their flesh was their sins. Ps 38:5, Ezek 4:17, 24:23, 33:10 also connect rotting flesh with sin. Such rotting away is probably synonymous with the wasting diseases and sickness that Deut 28 lists among the curses for failure to keep the covenant. Two examples of this punishment came upon Jehoram (2 Chr 21:15-19) and Herod Antipas (Acts 12:23). It likely also sheds some light on the cryptic phrase “their worm shall not die” in Isa 66:24 and Mark 9:48, which is connected to the death of the wicked at the end and also with Satan’s end in Isa 14:11. Isa 51:8 also says that worms will devour the wicked.

The first of the seven angels who pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth pours out a plague of terrible sores upon the wicked. The parallels here are intriguing, particularly when seen in the light of the promise in Lev 26:16-28 that if after the first curses the people still refused to obey the Lord, then He would punish them seven times more for their sins.

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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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A Simple Guide to Paul's EpistlesYou Can Understand the Book of Revelation

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Bible prophecy, commentary, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 12:1-2

2/27/15

(1) Chapters 9-11 were the first “burden” of the word of the Lord. Chapters 12-14 are the second “burden.” So we should expect to see a distinct shift in the subject material.

The Lord describes Himself with three creative characteristics here. He is the one who stretches out heavens, who founds earth, and forms the spirit of man within him. This description parallels Isa 42:5; 44:24; and 45:12, 18 precisely and echoes many other instances to some degree. God’s creative power is one of His qualifications for being God. He and no other can create ex nihilo (from nothing). This prophecy is going to present a picture of the Second Coming of Christ and perhaps even some post-millennial material in which God reverses His creation of the earth. In the final plagues described in Revelation the earth is deconstructed step by step in reverse order of Creation in the beginning. This is done in preparation for executive judgment and eventual re-creation of the heavens and the earth.

(2) This prophecy was still being given to Zechariah’s people who were to be rebuilding Jerusalem. Therefore, even though there is a lot of eschatological material here we must also remember that the prophecies were relevant to the people of that day as well. God still intended for Jerusalem and Israel to fulfill His plan for them on earth. So these prophecies could have literally come true for Israel even back then. But since the people did not remain faithful to God then the prophecies must find their ultimate fulfillment in the future.

God promised to make Jerusalem a “cup of reeling” that caused the people around them to reel. Isa 51:17, 22 and Jer 25:15, 17 parallel this when God promised to take the cup of reeling from them and force their enemies to drink it instead. Jer 51:7 connects the cup specifically with Babylon, which in turn helps to connect this prediction with Revelation (Rev 14:10, 16:19, 17:2, 18:6).

God would fight for Jerusalem and Judah and when the enemies of God’s people surrounded their city, as Gog and Magog do to the New Jerusalem in Rev 20:8-9. As often happen in prophetic material the Second Coming and post-millennial events are depicted as happening together. So what we may well be seeing here, since this was a conditional prophecy for OT Israel, is a depiction of Satan’s attack on the New Jerusalem following the Second Coming and the millennium.

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Bible prophecy, commentary, judgment, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 11:9-10

2/22/15

(9) The basis on which the shepherd agreed to lead the sheep was their covenant relationship. But since they were not getting along the shepherd said to the sheep that he would not be their shepherd. As it turns out they were not keeping up their part of the covenant relationship. So Zechariah, as he acted out this parable, said the the people, “What is to die, let it die, and what is to disappear, let it disappear; and let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.” Thus would be fulfilled the prophets’ predictions and that of Jesus Himself in Matt 21:43 and 23:38. This cadenced formula appears in a few different prophetic instances , each with different words (e.g. Jer 15:2-3, 43:11, Rev 22:11). In each case it is a sentence of doom given prophetically as an ultimatum to the unfaithful. In other words, eventually this would be the sentence passed down in judgment.

Eating each other

In Deut 28:53-56 as part of the curses of the covenant was the threat of such starvation that the people would become cannibalistic. This would actually be a judgment of God that would result from God withdrawing His presence from them as their protector and shepherd. The prophets later threatened the fulfillment of this curse (Isa 9:19-21, Jer 19:9, Ezek 5:10). And it did happen when Babylon besieged Jerusalem and later again when Rome did.

(10) The shepherd took one of the two staffs, the one named Beauty, Favor, or Grace and cut it in two (LXX: cast it away). This action signified God breaking or nullifying his covenant with His people. It is interesting that when Jesus’ disciples were discussing the beauty of the temple that Jesus mentioned the day that it would be destroyed (Luke 21:5-6). Underlying this discussion must have been this passage in Zechariah. But there would be another chance. Ezek 16:59-61 tells of how the people broke the covenant and how God would establish an everlasting covenant with them. Thus the author of Hebrews put a great deal of emphasis on the necessity of abiding by the terms of this covenant.

It seems likely that the time that Moses found the people worship the golden calf was a similar situation. They had already broken the terms of the covenant by being unfaithful to God so Moses broke the stones of the Ten Commandments (Exod 32:19). Failure to abide by the terms of the old covenant later resulted in Israel going into exile. Later it resulted in the rejection of Israel as God’s chosen people and the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD. And again at the end of time it will result in God’s final judgments upon the earth. Those who refuse to abide by the new covenant (relationship with Jesus Christ) will suffer the consequences. They will be allowed to be separate, which naturally results in their death.

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Bible prophecy, Minor prophets, old testament, zechariah

Zech 9:10-11

1/7/15

(10) And when He comes He will cut off (LXX: destroy) the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem, and He would cut off the battle bow. Ephraim represents the ten northern tribes of Israel and Jerusalem the two southern tribes. Mic 5:10 prophesied the same thing concerning Israel. Why would God destroy Israel’s defenses? Because the weapons we fight with are different (2 Cor 10:4-5). God had forbidden Israel to keep horses and chariots (e.g. Josh 11:6) because they would rely on them as the source of their strength rather than relying on God.

God had and still has an entirely different plan for His kingdom. His kingdom will be one of peace. This was what God had intended for Israel from the beginning and they got a glimpse of it under Solomon (1 Chr 22:9). Had Solomon and his sons after him continued to walk in the ways of the Lord this prophecy would have been realized long ago. But with the coming of the Messiah it was realized and will reach its full fulfillment at the Second Coming.

At the cross Satan was finished as ruler of this world and when Jesus comes again the final remnants of the controversy between He and Satan will come to an end and God will rule from sea to sea (the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, Ex 23:31) and from the River to the ends of the earth. The River is a reference to the Euphrates, which the LXX includes in Ex 23:31. These were figurative language for the entire earth.

God’s reign of peace and safety is constant theme in the Bible as is His desire that His people live in peace not just with enemies of other nations but with each other as well. Peace is the fruit of life in the kingdom of God. When we do not live at peace with each other then we make it apparent that we are keeping at least one foot in the kingdom of Satan.

(11) The blood of God’s covenant with His people refers back to most clearly to Ex 24:8, when Moses sprinkled blood on the people after writing down “all the Lord’s words and laws” and the people promised to obey all God commanded. But the context is much bigger than this one scene. From the beginning of sin God made a covenant with Adam (Gen 3:15) when God promised to send the Messiah. The Messiah was the one who would make the new covenant with His people (e.g. 1 Cor 11:25, Heb 12:24), which, in keeping with the peace theme, was His command to love one another (Jn 13:34). This was the essence of the new covenant predicted even in the OT (Jer 31:31). From the beginning God’s covenant was misunderstood by God’s people (Heb 8:8) because their adherance was only external. But the covenant was never designed to work that way. God’s plan from the beginning was that love would pour from the hearts of His people. Their mere obedience was never the important part of the covenant. It was their obedience rooted in love for God and fellow man that was and still is important (Deut 6:5, 10:12, 11:13, etc.)

When we live in that kind of covenant relationship with God then He promises to set the prisoners free from the waterless pit. Two stories, Joseph being thrown into a waterless pit (Gen 37:24) and Jeremiah being put into a waterless well (Jer 38:6) spring immediately to mind in such a context. In both cases they were faithful to God and were honored for that. This was an explicit work the Messiah would do, setting the prisoners free (Is 42:7, 49:9, 61:1, Lk 4:18).

Waterless Pit

Perhaps the fact that the pit is waterless is a symbol of the unjustice of what is happening to them. Water is often a symbol of God’s judgment or at least of troubles allowed by God. For instance, the flood was God’s judgment on the earth, the Red Sea was God’s judgment on the Egyptians, David often compared waters to trouble (2 Sam 5:20, 22:17, Ps 29:3, 32:6, 69:1, etc), Job speaks of waters of God’s wrath (Job 20:28), and more. So perhaps the picture is of God rescuing His faithful people from persecution that specifically is not a judgment from God but the work of their enemies.

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A Simple Guide to Paul's EpistlesYou Can Understand the Book of Revelation

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