An Amillennial Interpretation of Zechariah 14 (2 of 8)

by | Feb 28, 2019 | Eschatology

Post #2 “Zechariah 14:1–5: The Lord’s Coming to Jerusalem,” Part 1

Post 1

            The opening verses of chapter 14 portray the final conflict between the nations and the holy city. This conflict culminates in the sudden arrival of the Lord God and his heavenly hosts.

1 Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him![1]

Verse 2 puts this final conflict into proper perspective: the Lord himself “will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle.” This time when God gathers his enemies against his people “for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (Rev. 16:14) is prophesied in several places throughout scripture (cf. Ezek. 38:1–23; 39:1–6; Joel 3:2; Rev. 16:12–16; 19:19; 20:8–9). Here we must focus on the unique picture which Zechariah paints of this event.

The nations gather and battle against Jerusalem, and they are initially successful. They capture the city, loot the houses, rape the women, and even succeed in carrying away captive half the inhabitants. Still, the other half of the city’s people will not be killed or exiled. Why? The Lord himself will appear on the scene and catch the nations in their heinous act of desecration; and when God arrives, he will descend in full battle array. When he touches down on the earth right outside the walls of Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives will split to form a valley, a way of escape for the beleaguered inhabitants of the city. John MacKay explains verse 2 this way: “The message is that the future of the church will involve a time when it will be surrounded by its enemies and seemingly overwhelmed by them…. Under the metaphor of the pillaging of an ancient city, the church is presented as suffering grievously at the hands of her enemies, and yet there has been a remnant left.”[2]

The reference to the Mount of Olives should remind us of Ezekiel’s words, written a generation before Zechariah’s time. MacKay makes the connection when discussing verse 4:

‘His feet’ indicates a theophany, perhaps one where the presence of God causes the earth to shake (Ps. 68:8; 97:4; Micah 1:3–4; Nahum 1:3, 5). The addition ‘east of Jerusalem’ – which was scarcely needed to locate this well-known hill – links this vision with that granted to Ezekiel when the Lord’s glory left Jerusalem and ‘stopped above the mountain east of it’ (Ezek. 11:23). The Lord whose visible presence with his people had then ceased now returns in power, as was similarly forecast in Ezekiel 43:2. It is not of course to some reconstructed city that he comes, but to the New Jerusalem which is the reality symbolised in these visions. It is the city that bears the name ‘the Lord is there’ (Ezek. 48:35).[3]

Dean Davis further opines, “Verse 4 pictures the LORD creating an unexpected way of escape for his people; verse 5 pictures them using it…. Quite intentionally, the imagery used here reminds us of Israel’s miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:1ff).”[4]

            But what about the details of the earthquake and Azel, and should we expect the Lord Jesus to descend upon the literal hill called the Mount of Olives? These questions will be answered in the next post.

[1] All scripture quotations are taken from the nasb Updated Edition of 1995.

[2] Ibid., 303–304.

[3] Ibid., 305. Cf. also Andrew E. Hill, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, ed. David G. Firth, vol. 28 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 261.

[4] Dean Davis, The High King of Heaven: Discovering the Master Keys to the Great End Time Debate (Enumclaw, WA: Redemption Press, 2014), 397. Cf. also Barry G. Webb, The Message of Zechariah, The Bible Speaks Today, ed. J. A. Motyer (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 179.

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