It is quite easy to understand why there are many different understandings of this passage, it is difficult, to say the least. We are not saying at all that we are any more qualified to deal with this than are others. But under the leading of the Holy Spirit we are as qualified.
As we look at this, there are two points to keep in mind. A.) The context of both the OT and the NT. B.) The old nation of Israel will never be revived to replace the Church. The Church will never be laid aside. The whole books of Gal. and Heb. are extremely clear on this point.
This is not at all to say that the descendants of the old nation will not be saved. We know better than that. The descendants of the Old Hebrew nation have just as much access to the Covenant-people today as does anyone. But if they are in the end-time Covenant-people, it will be by the call of God to His Son.
No doubt this is one of the more difficult prophecies in Scripture with many different views of it. It would appear to me that Hengstenberg has the closest treatment to what the Scriptures teach. He seems to be truest to the context as he refers regularly to the context.
He points out that "Commentators are for the most part of opinion, that this prophecy is merely a repetition and expansion of chap. xii. 1-9; and many powerful arguments may be adduced in support of this conclusion. A fact of importance presents itself at the very outset, namely, that there is no fixed boundary line, which separates it from the passage referred to." Christology.. vol.2, pg.1156
The next point that is important to me is this question: Is Jerusalem the literal city or the Church? This would seem to establish much in regard to the understanding of this chapter. The overwhelming evidence from within this chapter and book is that it must be referring to the Church, with very few exceptions.
Again, referring to Hengstenberg argument (pg.1157): "Moreover, even here the capture is only partial; according to ver. 2 only half the inhabitants are carried away, the remainder of the people are not cut off from the city. When it is affirmed that "there is not the slightest trace in chap. xii. of the splendid prospects which are here presented to the people of the Lord," the fact is overlooked that it is not a mere recapitulation of chap. xii. that we have before us, but, as a matter of course, an expansion and continuation also. In chap.xii. we find nothing but the victory over the nations; here, on the other hand, we have the glorification of Jerusalem (ver. 10), the healing waters which issue from Jerusalem (ver.8), the reception of the heathen into the kingdom of God, the dominion of the Lord over the whole earth, and so forth. The result at which we arrive, therefore, is that the prophecy does not relate exclusively to the termination of the Church's history, but to the whole of the Messianic era from its commencement till its close."
There are several things which would require that we view this Jerusalem as the Church, or the Kingdom of God on earth. One would be v. 2, all nations. It would be difficult to say the least, to gather all of the literal nations against Israel in Palestine. They wouldn't fit. Others reasons will be obvious as we go along.
Of course, the primary reason is the fact that the NT consistently refers to the Church as the New Israel of God. All of the book of Galatians is extremely clear on this.
Another reason it that no prophetic Scripture will stand alone, nor will any Scripture. This chapter as all chapters, must be taken in the light of all Scripture.
As we look at this passage, it is hard to miss that this is very close to the passage in Ez. 38, 39, in fact, identical in its content. "The prophecy in Ezek. xxxvii. and xxxix., to which appeal has been made, bears throughout an ideal and comprehensive character, and cannot be limited to one particular event at the end of time. Gog and Magog represent the future enemies of the kingdom of God generally...(Heng. Pg. 1157)"
Really, Zech. 14: 1-3 need to be taken together. We will look at these three then come back.
V. 1. Behold a day cometh to the Lord, and thy spoil is divided in the midst of thee.
Ez. 39:13 Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord God.
1. It is a day that He brings to pass, 38:4, etc.
2. It is the day that He shall be glorified in. See Isa. 2:12, 17 and ch. 12.
The day of the Lord would be speaking of the day when the Lord will be exalted and glorified. And what a day that will be.
Notice that the Lord is coming against Jerusalem, the Church, and He is going to spoil her. Thus, "this day brings glory to the Lord, but first it brings calamity or destruction upon Israel; but this calamity will furnish occasion to the Lord to display His divine might and glory, by destroying the enemies of Israel and saving His people. (Keil)
How is He coming? V. 2, For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; He is coming in the form of the heathen nation. No doubt this could not be a reference to Rome coming against Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Mat. 22:7 identifies the armies of Rome that moved in judgment against Jerusalem, as the armies of God; He sent them. And I would like to make it such a reference, because this would allow us to teach and live as though there are no results of not glorifying God as God.
But this will not hold water nor fit into the context of the total of God's word. This kind of a teaching allows a false hope in something that is not according to the well established principles of God's word.
One of the most obvious truths of the Scriptures is that God uses the heathen nations and their armies as His armies to move against His disobedient people. The book of 2 Chronicles, starting about chapter 28, is extremely clear on this. Especially clear is 33:11 and 36:17. This fact is clear throughout all of the prophets.
Another obvious reference that fits extremely well with our study here in Zech. 14, is Jeremiah 25. V. 8-14 we have the Lord sending His servant, Nebuchadrezar the king of Babylon against His people. The Lord, after seventy years comes back and punishes the king of Babylon, and that nation for what they did to His people (27:6).
Even more pointed is Jeremiah 50. There we have God's judgement against the Chaldeans because of their actions against His people. Yes, He sent Babylon against His people, but they were glad and rejoiced as they destroyed His people, v. 11. God didn't judge them for obeying Him and moving against His people, He judged them for the zeal and glee in the destruction. They went 'overboard,' Babylon hath broken his bones, v. 17. (See my handwritten notes back there.)
Zech. 14:2, in this day of the Lord, He is going to gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle;... The wicked, even satan himself, are no more than servants of the Most High God of heaven and earth, Rev. 17:17; 20:8; Ez. 38:3; 39:2; Job 1 & 2.
> (See our hand written notes in Ez.38 & 39. But let's see in passing 38 and 39. The Lord is against Gog and Magog and He is going to judge them. His intention is their complete destruction. How is He going to accomplish this total destruction of Gog and Magog? He causes them to move against His Church (see Isa. 26:20, 21).
In doing this He preforms two purposes:
1. He judges the evil and wickedness in the Church.
2. He then judges the ones who moved against the Church, for moving against His covenant people, as He did Babylon.
The Lord is the One who brings these evil men against His people, so how can He judge them for obeying His command??
Consider this. Evil men are always looking for every chance to move against God's covenant-people. The only reason they don't is because God restrains them, Ps. 76:10. God will remove that restraint, and they move with joy and gladness, just as Babylon did. Thus, when God visits them with His terrible judgement, He is completely righteous. All He did was allow them to go ahead and do what they wanted to do and would have done anyway.
The vision in Daniel, Neb's dream, did not contain another world-wide kingdom after the stone smote the image. Yet, here in Zech., Rev. 17:17; 20:8; Ez. 38:3; 39:2, we see a world-wide effort to move against the Covenant-people of God, and this move brought about by God. This confirmed by Job 1 & 2.
Their purpose in uniting? To destroy the nations which are against God. Thus, there is a world-wide uniting of the nations. The purpose of the uniting is to remove all vestige of God from society, and establish a government totally apart from the Lord. In doing this, they have no choice but to move against the Church. The law-word of God, and the people who represent Him are the ones who stand in their way of paradise on earth through man-made laws. The ones who love God and keep His commandments are the ones who must stand against any attempts to remove God's laws from society.
Thus, we see that there is a one-world movement after the coming of the Stone, to establish a one-world government against God. But, in spite of what is apparent and what these wicked men think, they are part of the Kingdom and purpose of the Stone cut our without hands, King Jesus. They are part of His Kingdom, working to do His bidding to further His cause.
The purpose they are accomplishing in God's plan?? Their own destruction as God judges them for moving against the Church.
As we saw, this movement is necessary in God's plan to purify the Church. By it being a world-wide movement against God, the covenant-people have no place to run to. All nations are involved in this move against God. Thus, they have no place to flee to, except 2 Chron. 7:14, in spit of the fact that they don't believe that the law of God is a valid requirement any longer.
As Hengstenberg pointed out, this is a continuing process since the time of Christ. Is the current world-wide move against all vestige of Christianity the last one before all nations submit to the King? Only the Lord knows.
From what we hear in the Latin Countries and elsewhere, the gospel is having the effect that it used to have in America. Is God moving His presence to these Countries because of the unbelief of the American Christians? Only He knows. From the activity around us (the environment movement, see message 4/25/90), it appears that the one-worlders are allowing the spread of the gospel for their purpose; to deceive the Western Christians into a state of ease to further their one-world goals.
We do know for sure that the Lord, in His good time, will gather all nations against His people. This must be a world-wide effort to establish a one-world government.)<
God gathers all nations against His covenant-people, the Church, and they spoil her. How do they do this? Do they actually do all of the things listed in v. 2? I think we can look at our nation's history for the past 300 years or so and see how this can be accomplished.
Everything that the church has gained has been turned over
to the wicked.
a.) This nation was beyond any doubt, a Christian nation in its foundation. Because Christians have grown indifferent, it has been turned over to the ungodly.
b.) The schools were decidedly Christian, both the lower and upper grades. All education was carried on by the Church, then the state saw the need for control in this area if they were going to remove the Christian foundation of this country. The Church let them have this area.
c.) This includes the colleges, Yale, Harvard. These were Puritan schools to train young men to serve God and preach the gospel. Again, as Christians slept, the wicked spoiled these schools.
d.) Many times throughout history, the wicked have cast a covetous eye at the physical properties of the church, then took them.
These are only a few examples of all areas of life. The arts, science, math, history, occupation, media, entertainment, agriculture, any area we can name. All of these areas which used to be carried on according to the word of God are now overwhelmingly in the hands of the enemy.
An interesting thought. Ze. 14:2 ..and the women ravished. As the Church as a whole has turned from the OT standard of holiness, not only is society falling apart, but the family is falling apart. Adultery is common place, the children are rebellious, and fathers refuse to take their responsibility.
But this is not restricted to the US church. Darby striped the gospel of its power and exported his brand of the gospel into all the world. The major areas where he sent it and took it have fallen to Communism. Those nations that should and could have been taken for Christ were turned over to the wicked.
Thus, we see that the new Jerusalem has been spoiled many times over and we cannot say that this has been done apart from the purpose and knowledge of the Lord.
V. 2 and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. There has always been a remnant of the Church which has remained true and faithful. I have found it surprising where some of them are. There seems to be many in the Presbyterian church. They are in the Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist, and all of the churches which profess to use the Word of God as their guide. There are even some Baptist.
The book of Zechariah takes place after the people returned from captivity. Thus, v. 2 cannot be referring to Babylon's move against Jerusalem. The next event would have been the judgement by God with Rome, but Rome did not leave one person in the city. Rome completely raised it, even plowing the place where the walls had been with a yoke of oxen. Those they didn't kill were sold as slaves or taken back to Rome.
Therefore, the leaving of the residue of the people that were not . cut off from the city would have to refer to another time, the time of the new city of Jerusalem, the Church.
Since the time of Christ the heathens have been at war against
the city of God, both from the inside and from the outside. This
appears to be the final conflict, and corresponds to Ezekiel 38,
39. This day is referred to here as :
V. 3 his day of conflict, and day of the battle. This is an obvious reference to Isaiah 26:20, 21.
Let's look at Isaiah for a moment. The Lord instructs His people to enter into their chambers, shut the doors, hid thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpass. Then the Lord gives the reason, v.21. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
The Lord is coming against the ungodly for their wickedness. There is no promise here of any kind of supernatural deliverance by God. Rather He gives them the steps to take to make preparation for the terrible judgement that He is bringing. Notice what the preparation is, v. 20.
Probably the best treatment of this passage is Keil, vol. 7, pg.452,3. "Whilst the judgment of wrath is going forth, and until it shall have passed by and on the fact itself, the people of God are to continue in the solitude of prayer (Matt. vi. 6, cf. Ps. xxvii. 5, xxxi. 21). They can do so, for the judgment by which they get rid of their foes is the act of Jehovah alone; and they are to do so because only he who is hidden in God by prayer can escape the wrath. The judgment only lasts a little while (ch. x. 24, 25, liv. 7, 8, cf. Ps. xxx. 6), a short time which is shortened for the elect's sake. ... The nation is thought of as feminine in this particular instance (cf. ch. liv. 7,8); because Jehovah, its avenger and protector, is acting on its behalf, whilst in a purely passive attitude it hides itself in Him. Just as Noah, behind whom Jehovah shut the door of the ark, was hidden in the ark whilst the water-floods of the judgment poured down without, so should the church be shut off from the world without in its life of prayer, because a judgment of jehovah was at hand. "He goeth out of His place"(verbatim the same as in Mic.i. 3), i.e. not out of His own divine life, as it rests within Himself, but out of the sphere of the manifested glory in which He presents Himself to the spirits. He goeth forth thence equipped for judgment, to visit the iniquity of the inhabitant of the earth upon him (the singular used collectively), and more especially their blood-guiltiness. The prohibition of murder was given to the sons of Noah, and therefore was one of the stipulations of "the covenant of old" (ch. xxiv. 5)...."
The references that he gives makes this place of safety more than just prayer, Matt. vi. 6, cf. Ps. xxvii. 5, xxxi. 21. This place of safety involves both a drawing near to Him in obedience to His law-word and prayer. Our safety and protection is in His law.
Barns' identified this passage as being for the Jews still in Babylon before it was taken by the Meeds and Persians. That fall was extremely quick, overnight. Here (Barns' says) the prophet is warning the Jews to remain inside as the fight for Babylon takes place, because it will be over very quickly.
No doubt we have more than one meaning here. One way would be to make physical preparation for the judgment coming and be careful about getting involved. The other was would be that as we see the judgement coming, draw closer to the Lord, for our safety is in His law-word.
Back to Zechariah 14:3.
The Lord is going forth to fight against the nations which have spoiled the Church. He is the One Who will fight against the wicked, and if the redeemed want to remain safe it this terrible time, they had better separate from the wicked and hide.
"The Lord gathers all nations together to war against Jerusalem, and gives up the city into their power, that they may conquer it, and let loose all their barbarity upon it, plundering the houses and ravishing the women. (Keil)" Now the Lord provides a way for His people to flee from the city as He moves against it. If they remain in the city, they will be destroyed just as sure as were the ones who remained in Jerusalem when Rome came against Jerusalem.
Thus, as we see the wicked making their plans to overrun the Church, we have the assurance that the Lord is in complete control and the wicked are only planing their own destruction.
Where can the hide? We see in v. 4 that the Lord provides the place.
Keeping in mind our introduction to this chapter, we move on.
V. 4. The Lord has moved all of the heathen nations to come against Jerusalem to battle. They take the city, then in v. 3, the Lord makes His move against all the heathen nations to their destruction.
The mount of Olives. This would have been significant to the ones of Zechariah's time. This Mount stood before and above the city and afforded the most uninterrupted view of the whole city. Not only that, but it presented a very formidable obstacle for those who sought to flee from the city. David had to climb this obstacle when he fled the city, 1 Sam. 15:20.
Thus we have the Lord moving against all of the nations who have taken the city. While the Lord stands upon the Mount of Olives directing the attack upon His enemies, the mount of olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west. This cleaving creates a great valley which runs east and west.
NOTICE THE PURPOSE OF THIS CLEAVING! The Mount cleaves so the Covenant-people can flee out of the city to safety as the Lord moves in to destroy all the nations. If they don't take advantage of this chance to flee, they will be destroyed with the wicked.
I have heard teachings on this passage about this cleaving, but most of the teachers fail to mention that the purpose of this cleaving is to provide a way of escape for His people to get away from the wrath of God against the heathens who have taken the city. This passage would appear to be a reference to Ez. 38:19, 20.
I think that an excellent application of this is that God's people had better remove from the antichrist institutions of the wicked. Institutions such as the government education system that is against Christ, 'religious organizations' such as apostate churches and even mission boards, financial systems which operate on antichrist principles, and the list could go on and on. The application is obvious, all of these areas that are against the Lord and His Christ are slated for destruction, and the Child of God who remains in them will face the same destruction as the heathens who are in them.
"[T]he whole account is figurative, and that the fundamental idea, the rescue of believers and the destruction of their enemies, is clothed in drapery borrowed from the local circumstances of Jerusalem. Hengs. pg.1160"
V. 5. The mountains are better called My mountains. They are the Lord's mountains, Keil. The Lord created that way of escape for His people, the newly created valley, and the people who are still in Jerusalem flee into it.
This valley goes all the way to Azal. "The valley, therefore, is to extend as far as a place which will actually afford to the fugitives, what its name promises, the cessation of danger, because, when once they have reached it, they are beyond the range of the judaical punishments of God. Hengs."
The earthquake. God is moving against the heathens which have taken the city and were acting like heathens. When the valley opens, the ones left in the city flee through the valley to escape the wrath which God is pouring out against the pagans in the city.
Earthquakes and shakings has always been a sign of God's wrath against sin, Heb. 12:27,28. Here it would appear that the quake and shaking that the Lord is using against the heathens is also used for the safety and protection of His people.
God uses the wrath which the heathens have against Himself (shown against His people) to move against His people, to purify them. That anger which they had against the Lord and His Christ is now judged to their destruction. The wrath of God against the heathen is now turned for good for His people, their safety in the world-wide judgment.
It almost reminds me of the situation in Esther. The wrath of the heathen was turned into the safety and protection for the people of God.
All the saints with thee. Saints [6918 BDB-872] here means sacred, holy; ... c. angel, Ps89:6.8; Jb5:1,15:15; Zc14:5; Dn8:13. Both Keil and Hengs. use Deut. 33:2 as a proof text that the reference here is restricted to holy angels, but BDB doesn't list Deut. under the same point (c.) as Zech. 14:5.
The NT proof text that this coming doesn't include men (saints) is listed (by Keil, Hengs.) as Mt. 25:31 (see Mk. 8:38; Rev. 19:14). The return of the Lord in the final judgment there is with the holy angels with him, which does not include the saved and departed. Both make the point, as does CHS and Barnes in their commentaries on the book of Matthew, that the Lord's words in Mt. are a prophetic look at His second coming with His angels at the final judgment. There are no men with Him.
"In the last clause of ver. 5 the object of the coming of the Lord is indicated. He has not only gone forth to fight against the enemy in Jerusalem, and deliver His people; but He comes with His holy angels, to perfect His kingdom by means of the judgment, and to glorify Jerusalem. This coming is not materially different from His going out to war (ver.3); it is not another or second coming, but simply a visible manifestation. For this coming believers wait, because it brings them redemption (Lk.xxi.28).." Keil
With this we see that Keil identifies this coming in v.5 as the visible final return of Christ in His final judgment. Far be it from me to doubt this great scholar, but to me this doesn't fit the context. There is one reason that this doesn't right here in his statement. He compares this coming in judgement with the going to war in v. 3.
If we say that the going to war in v. 3 is a literal war,
then we must say the city is the literal Jerusalem in v. 2, and
Keil himself says that v. 2 isn't a reference to the Romans coming
against Jerusalem. If v. 4 is literal, v.3 must also be. If v.
3 is literal, v.2 must be also, and that would require a reestablishing
of the old nation, which Keil stands against consistently. He
makes vs. 1-3 spiritual, then makes this a literal coming. At
this point, as I look over his notes, he doesn't appear to be
consistent in his thought.
We will see as we go along.
Now, this coming in Zech. 14:5. To say the least this could be a great source of speculation, so let me speculate a little here also.
It appears from the context that Zach. 14:5 can not be referring to the absolute end of time, when the earth will melt with a fervent heat, 2 Pe.3:10. As we follow the context on through in chapter 14, we see that there are still wicked men on the earth who refuse to worship the Lord at Jerusalem, v.17. Rev. 22:15 has the same indication. How does it all fit?? I would say that only the Lord can fit it all together.
With this in mind, we must have either a literal return of the Lord in v. 5 (premill), or a spiritual return (postmill). If Jerusalem is the literal city in Palestine, then we have a literal return. If Jerusalem is the Church, then we have a spiritual return. And this return would result in a world-wide turning to the Lord before the angel stands up and says that time is no more. IS IT ANY WONDER FOLKS WORK SO HARD AT MAKING JERUSALEM HERE THE REVIVED NATION? It relieves them of a tremendous amount of responsibility and hard work.
It is of note that the prevailing thought in Christendom until the time of J.N.Darby was that the world would be won to Christ BEFORE the literal, visible second coming of the Lord. This thought prevailed in America up until the late 1800's. (See my notes on Darbyism.) D.L. Moody probably did more to change this than any other one man in America.
With the context in mind, as well as the historical background, we must view v. 5 as a spiritual coming. But in doing this, we are not at all down-playing the promise of His physical, literal, visible return as promised in passages such as 2 Cor. 15:23-28, c.f. 2 Pe.3:10; 1 Th.16.
The text that comes to mind is 2 Kgs. 6 where Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and ask Him to open the eyes of his servant. The Lord did and he saw the multitude of the Lord's host around them.
The law is truth, making Christ the incarnate law of God. ---
Another point is that all of (saved and unsaved) those who hate God love death, Pro. 8:36. And when we despise His law, we despise Him. Our attitude toward the Father and toward the Son is shown in our attitude toward His law. Christ is the incarnate covenant-law of God, Isa. 42:6; 49:8. Ps. 119:142 The righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth. The cross reference is Jn. 17:17. But the most obvious parallel verse is Jn. 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
The written law as given to Moses revealed the character of the holy Godhead, the incarnate Christ revealed the character of the holy Godhead. This would make the law which is written in the heart, prophesied in Isa. 51:7; Jer. 31:33, the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
We read in Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:5, that the rule of Christ is with a rod of iron. ISA 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth [The Word if God], and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. (See 1 Pet.3:22.)
One of the more obvious reverences to this rod of chastening against His covenant-people is found in Ps. 89:29-37. The seed of Christ, His people, will face the chastening rod of the loving Father. These verses show that the Lord's rod is even now, in use, and has been sense He has gone to His throne, Eph. 1:21.
There is no Scriptural warrant for putting this rule off until some future day. All that thinking does is allow the ones desiring to live like the devil, live like the devil.
No person to ever live has avoided the results of his sin. Thus, as we have dealt with in depth elsewhere, He right now rules in the heavens over the kingdom of men. The results of the wicked deeds of evil men will catch up sooner or latter.
Here in Zech. 14:5, we have the Lord catching up with those who are against Him. The result of this judgement against the wicked is the exaltation of the righteous, as we will see as we go along in this chapter.
Matthew Henry has an excellent note on this. "Their cause shall be pleaded against their enemies (v.3): Then, when God has made use of these nations as a scourge to his people, he shall go forth and fight against them by his judgments, as when he fought against the enemies of his church formerly in the day of battle, with the Egyptians, Canaanites, and others. Note, The instruments of God's wrath will themselves be made the objects of it;.."
As we read the OT instructions in the principle of righteousness, we find that righteousness in the land is inescapably tied with judgment. [Since this is in a computer, I'll put in a few of the many OT passages which deal with this. They are obvious in their connection with the principle that we are dealing with here in Zech. 14:1-5.]
ISA 5:16 But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment,
and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.
ISA 16:5 And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.
ISA 26:9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
ISA 28:17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
ISA 32:16 Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
ISA 32:17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
ISA 33:5 The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.
ISA 42:6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
ISA 42:21 The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.
ISA 45:8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.
ISA 45:24 Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.
ISA 51:5 My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.
ISA 54:14 In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.
ISA 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
ISA 58:8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.
JER 4:2 And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.
JER 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
JER 33:15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
And these are only a few of the more obvious references to
the necessary connection between judgment and righteousness.
And I must say, as will everyone else, I don't look forward to this judgment against unrighteousness, but it must come in order that righteousness might be exalted. V. 5, the Lord is providing a way of escape for His people to flee from the Lord's judgment against those He has gathered together against His covenant-people, to their own destruction.
V. 6, 7.
"The prophet here depicts the transition from the darkness which accompanies the judgment upon the enemies of the kingdom of God and the birth-pangs of the mew world, to the light which bursts upon this new world (ver.7), as at the first creation, when darkness covered the face to the deep, and afterwards it became light.---" Hengs.
This brings us to v. 6, which needs to be considered with v. 7. These two are dificult, to say the least.
The simpelist way to deal with this passage would be to say that it refers to the visible coming of the Lord to set up His millenial reign. If we say that, we will have to violate the context, not only of this passage, but of many other passages.
There is no doubt that this is a reference to the judgment of the Lord, that day. Amos 8:9; Joel 3:15; Isa. 24:23; 13:10, 11; Ez. 32:7, 8; Mat. 24:29; Rev. 6:12.
There are many examples of this judgment spoken of as darkness.
ISA 60:2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee,
and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
EZE 32:2-10 Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers. Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will therefore spread out my net over thee with a company of many people; and they shall bring thee up in my net. Then will I leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee. And I will lay thy flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with thy height. I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the rivers shall be full of thee. And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD. I will also vex the hearts of many people, when I shall bring thy destruction among the nations, into the countries which thou hast not known. Yea, I will make many people amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid for thee, when I shall brandish my sword before them; and they shall tremble at every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of thy fall.
As we see, it must be viewed in a general sence of judgment. Thus, the heavenly bodies do not literally grow dark. The literal darkening of the heavenly bodies will be when God commands that Time is no more, 1 Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 20:11. (For further treatment of this, see Hengs. CHRISTOLOGY OF THE OT, vol.2, pg.1164, 5; Barns' MINOR PROPHITS II, pg. 451; Keil COMMENTARY, vol.10, pg.406, 7.)
[Speculation on my part. The darkness of judgment brings the sinner to repentance. The result is his comming to the light. This would turn the darkness into light.]
Thus, vs. 6, 7 is a reference to the judgment of God against the heathen's rebellion against God. This judgement will result in the exaltation of the church, and the heathens flowing into her. There are a couple of facts that are certain.
1. The wicked have their antichrist plans for solving the world's problems. (See my messages on Faith [new anti-bigotry law, 5/6/90], Environmentalism, and EARHT DAY.)
2. Those plans will fail, beyond any doubt. They have the judgement of God against them.
3. The indication is that when they do fail on a world-wide scale, the heathens will turn to the Lord, maybe not in salvation, but in service. We serve Him by keeping His commandments.
This outline alone, will fit into the context of Zechariah.
"It is the exalted privilege of the Church, that with her at evening time it always becomes light. Hengs."
Here we have the living waters flowing BOTH directions out of the center of the kingdom of God, Jerusalem.
1. The water flows BOTH DIRECTIONS. Therefore, there must be a common Fountain Head for the water, the Spirit of Christ. John 7:38, 39 explains this as the Spirit of God flowing out of the believer.
2. This "land of Canaan or of Israel is a type of the kingdom of God in the full extent which it will have on the earth in the last days.. Jehovah's kingship does not refer to the kingdom of nature, but to the kingdom of grace,--namely, to the perfect realization of the sovereignty of God, for which the old covenant prepared the way; whereas the old Israel continually rebelled against Jehovah's being King, both by its sin and its idolatry. Keil"
3. "Water, whether coming from the clouds, or contained in springs, brooks, and rivers, is constantly employed as a figurative representation of the blessings of God in their whole compass and fullness, by which the dry and thirsty desert of human need is refreshed. To be forsaken of God, and deprived of his mercies and blessings, is represented as drought. Hengs. 1166" See Is. 30:25; 41:17; 43:20; 48:21; 49:10; 58:11; Ez. 34:26.
4. This water flows from the central point of the Kingdom of God. In the OT, this central point which symbolized His presence, was house of the Lord at Jerusalem, Joel 3:18.
5. The symbolism as carried over into the NT, with the central point being the NEW JERUSALEM, the Church, Heb. 12:22, 23. Rev.22:1 identifies this source as the throne of God and of the Lamb.
6. We have mentioned this several times before, so we will not spend any time on this. Acts 14:17 identifies the Spirit from above as the prophesied rain from above that waters the whole earth.
7. Remember 12:10. There was the prophecy of the outpouring of the spirit of grace upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Now we have this spirit of grace flowing out to cover the whole of the covenant-people and on to the seas.
Some conclusions here. This is a prophecy of the Spirit of grace going forth out of the Church to cover all of the earth. Everywhere there are the covenant-people this water will flow. These waters are the covenant blessings of the Lord upon His people that are made faithful by the Spirit of God.
These blessings are not restricted to any physical location, but cover the earth. These divine blessings also flow from or through His covenant-people (out of the Church, Ps. 36:9) into the seas. The sea speaks of the restless masses of mankind, Dan. 7:2.
The water flows toward the east and the west. This shows that there is no limit to the Divine blessings. If it was north and south, there would be a limit. The east was toward the Dead sea and the west was toward the Mediterranean. Obviously, these living waters toward the Dead sea shows that the Spirit of Life that flows out of the Church brings live to even the most dead of situations.
The Mediterranean sea would have been the sea that Daniel saw the terrible beasts rise from. This shows us that even the most wicked of nations are helpless against the power of the Spirit of Grace and Peace.
Both the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea will be overwhelmed by the living waters that flow out from the NEW JERUSALEM.
In summer... Normally the streams and rivers in Palestine dry up in the summer, Keil. This river will not be effected by the weather in any way.
Here is another point that requires this to be a spiritual river. V. 17 says that those who refuse to worship the King will have their rain withheld. Yet here in v. 8 we are told that this water will not go dry. If this is not viewed as spiritual water, we have a contradiction.
As I am sure that we will see, v. 17 is probably literal rain. This promise has been in effect sense Deuteronomy 28 (v. 24). Solomon identified one of our major problems in Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
With this we see that because it does not stop raining as soon as the law of God is disobeyed, sinful men believe that it is no longer in effect. Thus, Deuteronomy 28 is still in effect, but because it does not take place immediately, sinners think they are escaped. In fact, the farther away in time that the results come, the harder they are to connect with the cause.
V. 17 is in effect today, even though it may not be the fulfillment of the time period of the Lord in giving it. Any nation that does not serve Him (honor Christ as King), even today, will face the lose of rain. Whether it is the lose of the rain spoken of here, I do not know.
Back to in summer... The blessings of the Lord will be consistent, year around.
Hengs. comments are excellent on this verse. "The Lord
is naturally the king of the whole human race; but this relation
was disturbed by the fall, which formed the commencement of a
series of attempts at rebellion, ending in the renunciation of
obedience on the part of nearly all his subjects, who chose to
themselves other lords and kings in heaven and on earth according
to their hearts' desires. The Lord, to whom it would have been
an easy thing to annihilate all his rebellious subjects by one
word of his omnipotence, was prompted by his love to seek, rather,
their voluntary return to obedience. And because the whole race
was not ripe for this, he commenced be restoring the natural relation
between himself and one single people. The execution of his entire
plan, to which the special theocracy had merely been subservient,
commenced with the first coming of Christ. Its final consummation
will coincide with his return in glory, when all his opponents
will either have been subdued by grace so as to become his servants
instead of his foes, or have been exterminated by his punishments
from the midst of his kingdom, which will them embrace the entire
earth." See Psa. 22:27, 28.
"That all the heathen will one day submit to the Lord arises from the fact that he is their rightful and natural king, and that their present attitude towards him is an unnatural one, and therefore cannot last... pg.1167, 8.
Keil says here: "For Canaan, or the land of Israel, is a type of the kingdom of God in the full extent which it will have on the earth in the last days depicted here. Jehovah's kingship does not refer to the kingdom of nature, but to the kingdom of grace,--namely, to the perfect realization of the sovereignty of God, for which the old covenant prepared to way; whereas the old Israel continually rebelled against Jehovah's being King, both by its sin and its idolatry. pg. 407"
Pussy, Barns' Notes: "Such should be the influence of the living water, i.e. of the Spirit of God... He had before prophesied, I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land. The Church being thus cleansed, no other lord or object of worship should be named but Himself. pg. 452"
The Spirit of Grace flows out of the center of the kingdom of God on earth, the Church. It flows to all points, covering the whole earth. As the Spirit of Grace flows out, all nations are subdued to the King. The context (Zech. 14) indicates that the nations are not totally converted, but if they desire the blessings of Deut. 28, they will have to submit to the King. The relationship of Deut. to the obedience of all the nations of earth to the law of God will be so obvious that the nations will have no choice. They will see it.
I do not know if I am looking for this truth as I study, or if it is just so obvious that I cannot miss it. We have covered this many times so we will not again. (I can find this in some past notes.) All I will do here is mention the passages that confirm this.
PSA 110:1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right
hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
MAT 22:44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? (Mk.12:36; Lk. 20:43)
ACT 2:35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
HEB 1:13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
HEB 10:13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
As we can see, this is probably one of the most quoted passages from the OT. There are many other references to this truth throughout Scriptures, such as the one in 1 Cor. 15:24-29. There we have the indication that this righteousness and submission to rightful King of all the earth, must take place before the second coming in glory and power.
ISA 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain:
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the
waters cover the sea.
HAB 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
Psa. 45 teaches that it is this Spirit of Grace that subdues the whole earth, not the wrath or any physical war of God. He is the King of Salem, King of Peace. See our notes on Psa. 45.
V. 9. The day is coming when all nations will submit to the rightful King of the whole earth. What a day that will be.
"The dignity of the Church, as a city set upon a hill, which cannot be hid, is symbolized here by the sinking of all around and its own uprising; as in Micah and Isaiah.. Pussy." See Mat. 5:14; Is.2:2; Mic.4:1.
Keep in mind that Zechariah is writing to the returned Jews who are discouraged as they are hard at work rebuilding the city. He is calling on them to look ahead to the coming glory of the NEW JERUSALEM, the Church. This chapter has seen the heathens move against the Church, in apparent victory. The Lord has responded as He moves against them. His judgement against the pagans has caused righteousness to be exalted and His grace to abound.
V. 10 speaks of the Church, under the image of the former glory and beauty of the OT Jerusalem, being exalted to the place of honor and glory.
"The meaning is, that the kingdom of God will rise again in its ancient splendor, after the Lord has exterminated every trace of the misery which it has had to endure. The prophet adheres to the same mode of representation which he adopted before, when he described the calamities endured, under the figure of a conquest of the city. He depicts the future glory, under the image of a restoration of the city to its ancient limits, and, to make the figure more complete, introduces special notices of particular points in the city boundaries. Hengs."
This verse reminds me of Lk. 3:5 (Is.40:1-5). We see that all things were made low before the Lord of glory, that He would be exalted.
The enemies of the Church are subdued by the Spirit of grace,
and the covenant-people dwell in safety.
"The city and its inhabitants will therefore be no more exposed to destruction, but will dwell safely, and have no more hostile attacks to fear (cf. Isa. lxv. 18 sqq. and Rev. xxii.3). Keil"
There shall be no more curse, is the way Hengs. translates this.
"And they shall dwell in it, in peace, going forth from it, neither into captivity, nor in flight; for God should exempt from curse the city which He had chosen, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, and He says of the heavenly Jerusalem, there shall be no more curse. Barns'.
All three, Barns', Keil and Hengs., identify this city with the glorious Church and the New Jerusalem of Rev. 22. The city in Rev. 22 does present some problems that I can not answer and that I have found no good answers to. Just one of those is in v.15 For without are dogs, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. To make this refer to hell and eternal torment will have to stretch it quit a bit. To make this city refer to the promised spiritual heaven will have to say that there are sinners there, and they are kept sperate from the saints by a wall. As long as the saint stays inside the wall, they are safe from the wicked. That is just not what it says.
The apparent meaning to me is this.
21:1-8, the final judgement of all, the separation of the saved from the unsaved with the saved going to their eternal reward, and the lost going to his. Therefore, from 21:9 - 22:21 would be a recap of the events leading up to 21:8. If we do not approach it this way, we will have to say that all of the wicked did not get cast into the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death, because we still have the wicked present outside of the city in 22:15
9-27, another vision of that great city. To fit in the context, this would have to be the Church in the midst of the world, with the Lamb of God at the center. V. 24 tells us that the kings of the earth are still present, with the choice either not to bring or to bring their glory and honour into it, the city. The nations are still in existence and they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
Vs. 26, 27 indicate that there are still wicked men who try to get into its fold. The seems to me that those in this New Jerusalem are still upon this physical earth. Also upon the same earth are sinners, separated from the saints. The sinners have a choice to either bring the glory and honour to the Lamb, or not to bring it to Him. (See comments on v. 17 below. Keil holds that there is no way that we can say there are still heathen left on the earth.)
Zechariah 14:16-19 would fit here, any who will not come to the city, the New Jerusalem, the Church, with this glory and honour, will be deprived of rain, and will be smitten with the plague.
Chapter 22 would also have to fit before 21:8 for some obvious reasons.
1. The nations still need healing, v. 2.
2. What is told to John must shortly be done, v. 6. The Lord even adds, Behold, I come quickly. This would appear to mean that He was going to come quickly. This probably refers to coming to carry out the promised judgment of Mt. 24 (70 A.D.).
3. The Lord tells John, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand, v. 10. The words spoken to John were not for some time of in the distance, but would be fulfilled immediately.
This is in contrast to the instructions given to Daniel, 9:24; 12:4. He was told to seal the words given to him, and they were not fulfilled for 500 years or so.
A large portion of Bible teachers view The Revelation as a sealed book, yet to be fulfilled, even after 2000 years. That just does not fit in with what Daniel was told. His seal was far shorter than is the seal placed on this book be the Darbyites of our day.
4. As we mentioned, the wicked and the unjust are still present, v. 11.
5. Behold, I come quickly. Again, quickly, to me, means quickly, v. 12. He tells these churches that when He comes, His reward will be with Him.
In Matthew we find the Lord delivering a lengthy sermon at the temple. It starts in 21:28, and goes through 23:39. (See my notes on this.) In 21:33-41 we have the parable of the householder, which planted a vineyard. He let it out to the husbandmen, and went into a far country. He sent back for his share of the fruit, which was refused to him. He finally sent his son, which the husbandmen cast out of the vineyard and killed. The result of this murder was the destruction of the wicked husbandmen. The chief priests and the Pharisees knew that the Lord spoke of them, and sought to kill Him.
As the message is followed on through, we find the Lord weeping over the city of Jerusalem because to the destruction which is about to come upon it, 23:34-39. Chapter 24 describes the judgment. 26:64 the Lord tells these same wicked men that they will see Him come in power and judgment.
Thus, the context of Rev.22:12 shows that it is a reference to this coming judgment. It is a warning to the seven churches of what is quickly about to come to pass, and they are not to be caught by surprise by what takes place.
6. During this time period, people can be bared from the city and from the tree of life. The reason for this exclusion is their failure to do his commandments. Doing His commandments is a requirement to enter the city and approach the tree of life, v. 14.
7. The commandments are the law of Moses, because the ones
who are bared are identified as those who violate the law, v.
8. The Lord sent his angel to testify unto John these things so they could immediately be told to the churches that this letter is written to, v. 16. The letter was not sealed, indicating that it was for the immediate future. The Lord was preparing His people for what was very close at hand.
9. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come, And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of live freely, v.17. This is a soul-winning text if there ever was one. Therefore, it MUST take place before the final judgment of 21:8.
If Chapter 22:1-17 takes place after the final judgment, then there would be no one to issue this call to.
Quite obviously, v. 18 on is the concluding part of the book. This would not really require a time frame.
Now, a quick point. Four times from v.1 to verse 17, He mentions how quickly He is coming, and the necessity for these churches to be ready. Then as an added emphasis, He adds it again, v.20. Therefore the emphases of this whole book is on how quickly the terrible judgment spoken of is about to come upon them.
All of this happening before Rev. 21:8. If we do not place Rev. 21:9 through at least Rev.22:17 before Rev. 21:8, and the final judgement, we have a real mess on our hands. What will we do with verses like 21:27; 22:2, 11 and 15? This is the only way that it will fit together without totally destroying the meaning of these passages.
Of course, one way is to make different dispensations, but again, this destroys the context.
Some OT passages that would confirm the above order of events.
Micah 4:1-13 fits in here, and explains it more in detail. In fact, the OT is full of this prophecy. Another one is found in Amos 9:11-15.
Joel 2:25 talks about the restoration of Zion and its rebuilding. V. 28 clearly says that it is the reference to the gospel age of the Church, Acts 2:16-21. This rebuilding of Mt. Zion, the NEW JERUSALEM is the work of the Holy Spirit of God.
When this will be and what events will lead up to this day, only the Lord knows. We do know that apparently, it will be a very trying time going up to this point where all nations serve the rightful King of the whole earth.
V.11, the judgment is over, the people of God purified, the heathen judged, now peace and safety for the covenant people.
"The prophet, having first depicted the judgment on the house of God, had contented himself with a slight indication of the destruction which the Lord was about to bring upon the enemies of his house, who were the instruments, and at the same time the objects, also, of his punitive justice (vers. 3-5). From this he had proceeded at once to the subject which was most attractive to his heart, viz., the blessings to be bestowed in the mercy of God upon the purified Church. Hengs."
"Again, upon the restoration of His people follows the destruction of His enemies. Barnes'"
Here we have the Lord of Hosts smiting all who had moved against His covenant-people. This verse speaks of physical judgment against them. This physical judgment turns them into the living dead. No doubt this will be the most horrible of deaths. (Compare Isa.66:24; Mi.4:11; Ps. 12:3; Isa.36:15,18; 37:3,4,17,23,29. What a horrible inward decay of sin, Rev.3:1. See Barnes', Hengs., and Keil on this.)
This verse shows us that this movement by God against those who have fought against His kingdom will be a supernatural move. This will not be a common "fever or disease, but by a plague from God. Barnes'" The Lord will smite all the nations, and there will be no question where the deliverance came from. It will be unmistakably the Lord's doings.
Not only will terrible disease overtake the enemies of God, but here we see that the Lord will send great confusion among them. There are more OT examples of this than we could count. Just one would be Gideon and the Mideanites.
The purpose of these wicked nations had been a common hatred against the kingdom of God. All of their united effort had been directed against God and His covenant-people (Ps.2). As we saw previously, this uniting had been permitted by God in order to purify His people. Now God's purpose is to send confusion among them.
We see a tremendous gathering of all the nations today, against God. Mainly, this seems to be under the umbrella of the UN. Yet here we have the heathen God-haters turning against one another, to devour each other.
"Discord in the enemy's own camp is one of the principal means employed by God for the assistance of his Church. Hengs."
This also shows us the need to pray that God will send confusion and discord among the enemies of His kingdom.
When and how will the Lord do this? We only know that He will when His time is right. As we see over and over, when this is accomplished, there will be no doubt who did it, the Lord.
Judah also shall fight.. The Lord is accomplishing this destruction, and all of the covenant-people join in this battle against the anti-christ crowd. 2Cor. 6:1; 3:5-9; 1Cor.3:9; 15:10; Phil. 2:12.
And the wealth... As the Lord destroys the ones who have been against Him, the people of God move in and take the wealth that they had accumulated to use against God.
Pusey's comments on this are far too good to overlook. "Whatever the world had taken in their war against the Church shall be abundantly repaid. All the heathen had combined to plunder Jerusalem; the wealth of all the heathen shall be gathered to requite them. "As Isaiah says, The nations, converted to Christ, brought all their wealth to the Church, whence he congratulates the Church, saying, "Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breasts of kings-For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver; [60:16] under which he typically understands, "wisdom, philosophy, eloquence, learning, and all the other arts and sciences, liberal and mechanical, wherewith the heathen shall be adorned, who are converted to the faith. So shall the gifts of nature be perfected by the gifts of grace, and they shall defend the Church who erstwhile attacked it." Barns', pg.455"
BEAUTIFUL! Everything that the heathen has taken from the godly is returned to them. Think of the educational institutions: Harvard, Yale, &c; think of the sciences, industry, music, arts; everything we can name will fit here.
When the Lord is ready, it will all be reclaimed for Him. Notice though, this will NOT be handed to the kingdom of God without a fight, v. 14. The covenant-people are going to have to WORK at reclaiming these areas, and the Lord is going to cause their work to prosper, probably like it never has before.
The passage that comes to mind is Ez. 39:8-10. It takes seven years there for the people of God to reclaim the areas that has been given to the enemies of God.
See my notes in Exo 11 about God delivering the wealth of Egypt to the Church.
"We have here an amplification of the crime and the punishment. They have rendered themselves so guilty, that even their possessions are defiled and fall under the divine ban. The description given here is based upon the same idea, as that which lies at the foundation of the Mosaic laws with reference to the ban. When the whole city had committed the crime of idolatry, not only the inhabitants, but the animals also, were put to death... Hengs. pg.1175" See Deut. 13:15.
The reclamation takes many (7) years. Everything that is a symbol of their idolatry must be destroyed. All of the possessions of the heathen which represent their attempts to overthrow the kingdom of God, even though turned over to the Church, must be completely destroyed.
Their corrupted institutions, such as their educational establishments, will have to be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up.
But, REMEMBER, all of this is being accomplished in accord within the principle of Phil. 3:13, GOD WORKING THROUGH HIS PEOPLE, as well as through nature. This is in the next verse.
V. 16. (Keil heads vs. 16-19. Conversion of the heathen.)
The Lord has judged the heathens who He has used to purify His covenant-people. In this judgment He did not destroy them all, and the indication here in the rest of this Book is that a great many, but not all, are saved.
This verse gives us a figurative representation of the future worship of King Jesus. Zechariah is showing us these things in the only way he knows how, the nations coming to Jerusalem to worship. A major reason this must be figurative is the gathering of all nations inside Jerusalem. It would be beyond reason to think that all nations could gather inside that city.
Pusey refers to Lk. 21:24 here. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. This appears to fit.
There are many views of that passage, to say the least. Barns',
in his notes on Luke, gives us a summery of the major views:
Some would view it as a reference to the terrible destruction by Rome, and the rebuilding by Emperor Adrian. Others see it as a reference to the end of the world when all Gentiles should be converted, thereby ceasing to be Gentiles by becoming Christians, meaning that it should always be desolate. Still others see this as a reference to the millennium, when Christ reigns personally on the earth, and that the Jews would return and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. This is the opinion of the Jews and many Christians.
He goes on to say that this refers to the time when the gospel will prevail world-wide, and the city of Jerusalem, like all cities, submits to King Jesus. Until this time, the heathen (Gentiles) have dominion over Jerusalem as they do all cities.
To me this is what appears. I have not been able to find this thought anywhere, but to me it holds up best under the context of the total of scripture.
The consistent thought since Christ is that Jerusalem is the Church. This is all through the NT, with Paul especially strong on this. (See notes in this study.) The commentators on the OT also see all references to Jerusalem after Christ as the Church. To remain consistent with this thought, we will have to say that the reference in Luke is also a reference to the Church. The context also requires that we say that the true Jew (Covenant-people) is by faith in the Covenant-promise, Jesus. Therefore, there are only two people in history, Jew and Gentile. The Jews being anyone who has placed their trust in the finished work of Christ, and the Gentile the ones who have refused this faith.
The Lord, in Mt. 5:13, tells us that the people of God who do not keep the law of God, will be trodden under foot of men. The people of God make up the Church of God. Thus, as the people of God (Jews, the Covenant-people) ignore the law of God, the Church is trodden under foot of the Gentiles, trodden down of the Gentiles. How long will this take place? Until God's time is right, and He sees fit to call the Gentile nations unto Himself. Of course, as Barns says, then they will no longer be Gentiles. Also, until He sees fit to open the eyes of His people to return to His law.
But until God sees fit to fulfill the prophecies such as the one here in Zechariah 14, the Church (the New Jerusalem) will be trodden down by the heathen nations. When His time is right, and His purpose accomplished, He will cause the Church to take the dominion which it was meant to have. It is the Lord which will cause the Gentiles to flow into the Church, and this will be accomplished by His Spirit of grace working in the heart of the heathens.
This view would easily fit in the context of Romans 11:24-27.
Why did the Prophet chose the feast of tabernacles as the feast that is to be kept? Lev. 23:33- tells us that this feast is a feast of thanksgiving for the deliverance form Egypt, protection of His people in the wilderness, and their possession of the land of Canaan. 1 Cor. 10:11 shows us that all of these things that happened to Israel were for our instruction.
"It will not be kept outwardly, but spiritually, like the Sabbath in heb. 4:9, and the Passover in 1 Cor. 5:7,8. In the feast of tabernacles, just as in the other two great festivals, not only were the blessings of God in history commemorated, but also the blessings of God in nature. It was a feast of thanksgiving for the completion of the harvest. It is possible that the prophet may also have this view of the festival on his mind, and may regard the feast of tabernacles as a feast of thanksgiving for the rich gifts of mercy, bestowed upon the new citizens of the kingdom of God. Hengs."
"This feast will be kept by the heathen who have come to believe in the living God, to thank the Lord for His grace, that He has brought them out of the wanderings of this life into the blessedness of His kingdom of peace. Keil"
Thus, we see that this feast represents the thanksgiving by those of the redeemed out of the nations who were at one time dedicated to the total destruction of the covenant-people of God. As we can see in the context, this is after the world-wide revolt and rebellion is put down by the Lord.
We need to also keep in mind that the context requires that Jerusalem be the Church, not a literal city.
[See v. 11 above. I am no scholar by any stretch of the imagination. Keil says "Moreover, we must not infer from the way in which this is carried out in vers. 17-19, that at the time of the completion of the kingdom of God there will still be heathen, who will abstain from the worship of the true God; but the thought is simply this: there will then be no more room for heathenism within the sphere of the kingdom of God." pg.413. I am giving what fits best for me within the context.]
Hengs. holds that there are still heathen on this earth. "The thought, that the Lord will not then leave the heathen to themselves, as he does now, but will require of them the fulfillment of their duties towards him, is expressed by the prophet thus: all, who do not join the procession to Jerusalem, will by visited with one of the punishments denounced in the law against those who transgress it, and one which was frequently carried out in history, for example in the case of Ahab, namely the want of rain."
Here we see the result of the failure of the nations to worship
and serve the Creator, the withholding of rain.
The rain here can be seen as either literal or spiritual.
First, spiritual. Rain represents the blessings of God, including His grace showered down on men, Acts 14:17. Failure to serve the King will result in missed blessings, Hos. 10:12
At times it represents the judgement of God against sinners, that righteousness might prevail, Isa. 45:8,9.
Next, we have the literal rain. Deut. 28-32 clearly tells
us that God withholds rain from the nations that ignore His law.
Ps. 107:34 is kind of a strange verse. The Lord turns the fruitful
place into barrenness because of the wickedness of the inhabitants.
This indicates that all of the earth was a fruitful place at one
time, and any bareness and wilderness that we see now is a result
35 Then we have the other end, He turns the dry ground into watersprings for the righteous.
The conclusion to this is that when righteousness covers the earth, the earth will blossom like a rose. The people who ignore the King and fail to serve Him, will be turned into a desert.
Either the spiritual or the literal rain will fit early within the context here in Zech.
All nations are expected (and will) to serve the Lord. There are no exceptions, nor is there any place to hide. If the rain can find them, they are included.
Even Egypt, probably the most desolate of all the places that Israel was familiar with, will have this choice. They can worship, serve and glorify God as God and have the promised rain, or they can ignore Him and have no more than a desert. Even though the land is not dependant on rain, but on the Nile, that mighty river will not protect them.
Num. 32:33 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out. Sin and punishment are inseparability connected. In this day the patience of the Lord will not be as it is today. And I must say, if He were not so patient with the sinner, individuals and nations, there would be a lot less ungodliness.
Here in v. 19, the results of the refusal to serve the Lord is sure and swift.
V. 20, 21.
In that day 1 Cor. 10:31 will be completely fulfilled. Everything will be exalted to one purpose, the glory of God and to advance His kingdom on earth (shall be like the bowls before the altar).
The Canaanite speaks of the members of the covenant-people of God who are Canaanites at heart. The outward actions are proper and holy, but the heart is as corrupt as the Canaanites. This was one of the problems that Zechariah was dealing with, those who were in the religious game for their own benefit. In that day the Spirit of God will take care of this problem, and He alone can deal in the heart.
"Thus does our prophecy close with a prospect of the completion of the kingdom of God in glory. All believing commentators are agreed that the final fulfillment of vers. 20 and 21 lies before us in Rev. 21:27 and 22:15, and that even ch. 22 neither refers to the Chaldaean catastrophe nor to the Maccabaean wars, but to the Messianic times, however they may differ from one another in relation to the historical events which the prophecy foretels. Keil"
Keil and Hengs. go into great detail in the conclusion of this Book. If I teach this, I need to read it.