The Prophet Zechariah
Zechariah is the great prophet of the restoration, and, as stated in the introduction to Haggai, was contemporary with him. The prophecies in both books are dated. These are as follows:
- In the sixth month of Darius's second year: Haggai 1
- In the seventh month of the same year: Haggai 2
- In the eighth month, the same year: Zechariah 1
- In the ninth month, the same year: Haggai 2
- In the eleventh month, the same year: Zechariah 1-6
- In the fourth year of Darius, ninth month: Zechariah 7-14
Zechariah is named in Ezra 5:1 and 6:14; he was of priestly descent, which we learn by consulting Nehemiah 12:4, 16. His name means "Jehovah remembers." He was the son of Berechiah, which means "Jehovah will bless;" and his grandfather's name was Iddo; Iddo means "the appointed time." These are significant names; one might say the great prophetic message of Zechariah is given in these three names in a nutshell. For the covenant-keeping God remembers His people, which the visions and messages of Zechariah show. When He remembers them He will bless them, but it will be at the appointed time, and the appointed time has not yet come, hence the greater part of Zechariah remains unfulfilled.
He was born in Babylon, and when he returned to the land of his fathers he was a child. In his vision he is addressed as a young man, so that he was quite young when called into the responsible position of a prophet. As to the historical setting of his prophecies, it is the same as Haggai's, and we refer the reader to what we have said there.
According to ancient sources he lived to be a very old man, and was buried alongside of Haggai in Jerusalem; but this cannot be verified. Jewish tradition says that he was a member of the great synagogue, and took an active part in providing for the liturgical service of the new temple. The Septuagint version of the Old Testament ascribes to him the composition of Psalms 137 and 138, and to Haggai and Zachariah Psalms 145-148; and the same do other versions like the Peshito and the Vulgate. Some expositors have been so superficial in their statements that they identified him with the Zechariah who was slain by Joash of Judah, between the temple and the altar, as mentioned in 2 Chronicles 24:20-23.
His Great Message
Zechariah in his message does not rebuke the people on account of their slackness in building the house of the Lord, as we learned Haggai did, though his great prophecies were given to encourage the remnant in their work. The horizon of Zechariah's visions and prophecies is far more extended than the horizon of the other minor prophets. He covers the entire future of Israel and leads onward from his days to the time when Messiah comes to Jerusalem, when His own received Him not. He pictures the condition of the nation after the rejection of Christ, and then leads up to the time of His return and the happy results which follow the repentance of the remnant, when they shall look upon Him whom they pierced.
The Gentile world-powers, as prophetically announced in Daniel's great visions, are seen by him as domineering over Jerusalem; and how the Lord will finally deal with these powers. The last siege of Jerusalem, and what is connected with that siege, the tribulation, the deliverance by the visible coming of the Lord, and the resultant kingdom, concludes his book. It is indeed a complete prophetic history of Israel and the times of the Gentiles from the captivity to the end of these times. His book has rightly been called by the same name as the last book of the Bible, the Apocalypse--an unveiling. And there are certain features which identify Zechariah in some measure with the book of Revelation. Zechariah may well be placed alongside of Isaiah and Daniel.
The Messianic Predictions in Zechariah
Zechariah has more to say about Christ, His person, His work and His glory than all the other minor prophets combined. We mention here the more direct predictions found in the book; there are others, which will be pointed out in the annotations.
I. He speaks of Christ as "the Branch." This is one of the names of our Lord revealed to Isaiah and Jeremiah (Isa. 4:2; Jer. 23:5). Zechariah speaks of Him twice under this title, in chapters 3 and 4.
II. A great prediction concerning Christ is found in the sixth chapter, when the prophet is commanded to order the crowning of the high-priest, symbolical of our Lord, who is the crowned King-Priest.
III. In chapter 9:9-10 we have the familiar passage quoted in the New Testament concerning Christ's entrance into Jerusalem. In this passage the first and the second coming of our Lord are blended together.
IV. He speaks of Him as the Shepherd, and the price of His betrayal, the thirty pieces of silver, also quoted in the New Testament. Chapter 11:12, 13 and Matt. 27:9, 10.
V. Another great Messianic prophecy is recorded in chapter 12:10. Here His death on the cross is predicted, and that He is the pierced One, on whom they shall look, on account of whom they shall yet mourn. (See John 19, and Revelation 1.)
VI. Still another prophecy relating to the sufferings of Christ is chapter 13:7. The sword is to awake against the Man, who is the fellow of God; that sword is to smite Him.
VII. Finally, we mention the passage in the last chapter, where the prophet describes Him as coming for the salvation of His waiting people, and that His feet in that day shall stand on the Mount of Olives. It is He who was seen last standing on the Mount of Olives, with the promise of His return "in like manner."
As stated before, these passages are the prominent ones, but not by any means all the predictions concerning Israel's Messiah.
There is an interesting Jewish work on Zechariah, the Yalkut of Zechariah. It gives interesting comment on his prophecies. The great teacher Abarbanel confessed his inability to interpret these visions. How could he with his denials that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ? And the much honored Jewish exegete, Solomon Ben Jarchi, declared "his prophecy is very abstruse, for it contains visions resembling dreams, which want interpreting; and we shall never be able to discover the true interpretation until the teacher of righteousness arrives."
That teacher, the Holy spirit, has come. He guides us now into all truth; He makes plain things to come, as revealed in the prophetic Word. By comparing Scripture with Scripture, and avoiding the "private interpretation" against which Peter warns (2 Peter 1) we understand the visions, which two of the greatest Hebrew scholars and teachers declared unexplainable.
The Division of Zechariah
For a correct understanding of the book, the correct divisions must be first of all ascertained. We give, therefore, first the scope of the book. After an introduction comprising the first six verses of the first chapter, we have the record of his great night-visions.
1. The Vision of the Man upon the Red Horse Among the Myrtles (1:7-17)
2. The Four Horns and the Four Smiths (1:18-21)
3. The Man with the Measuring Line (Chapter 2)
4. The Vision concerning the Cleansing of the High-Priest (Chapter 3)
5. The Vision of the Candlestick with the Two Olive Trees (Chapter 4)
6. The Vision of the Flying Roll (5:1-4)
7. The Woman in the Ephah (5:5-11)
8. The Vision of the Four Chariots (6:1-8)
Some have made ten visions out of it instead of eight; there is no need for that. The vision which they divided is the one in chapter 1:18-21. But this is one vision; and so is the vision in chapter 4. After these visions had been given the young prophet was commanded to make crowns of silver and gold and crown the high-priest. It was a great symbolical action, foretelling Him, who wore on earth the crown of thorns, and who will be crowned with many crowns when the night is gone and the day breaks.
This is the first section of the book. The second section is contained in chapters 7 and 8. It is a kind of parenthesis. Questions concerning certain fasts had been asked by the prophet; they were answered by the Lord and their interesting answers are recorded in these two chapters.
The third section is contained in chapters 9-14; it is the most majestic part of the book. It is arranged in two parts, each beginning with the phrase "The Burden of the Word of the Lord." The first burden is chapter 9:1 and the second is chapter 12:1. It reveals in a remarkable manner the future of Jerusalem, so intensely interesting to every true believer in our significant times. We follow this threefold division in our analysis and annotations.
Analysis and Annotations
1. THE NIGHT VISIONS
1. The introduction (1:1-6)
2. The first night vision (1:7-17)
3. The second night vision (1:18-21)
The first utterance of Zechariah concerns the past. "The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers." They were a disobedient, stiff-necked people. The pre-exilic prophets had called them to repentance, but they did not hearken. Then he gives the message to turn to the Lord, with the promise that He will turn to them; they should not be like their fathers. And their fathers, where were they? They had passed away like the disobedient ones in the wilderness; God's judgment and displeasure had overtaken them and they perished.
After this opening message with its call to return, delivered probably before the assembled congregation, the prophet received his great night-visions. These were not mere dreams, but the things he describes passed before him in divine vision. He beheld them in one night. They were not only given in one night, but just as one followed the other with out interval, so are they closely connected, giving progressively coming events. There is, of course, to a certain extent in some of these visions the message of hope for the Jewish remnant of that day, but the visions concern the future, and can only be understood in the light of other prophecies concerning the end of the age and the glorious future of Israel and Jerusalem. To apply them to the Church produces the greatest possible confusion. We shall see how these visions concern the Gentiles first and the overthrow of the world-powers, followed by the blessings and glory promised to Israel, which all will be given to the nation in the day when Gentile dominion ceases forever. When the visions end, the morning comes after that memorable night of revelation, the command to crown the high-priest is given.
Without quoting the text in full we give the interpretation of each vision. He beheld an army of riders upon different colored horses, led by a man riding a red horse, who is the center of the vision. There is an interpreting heavenly messenger, to whom the prophet turns to find out who the riders are. They do not represent the Persians, as some expositors have stated; they are angels. It is the man upon the red horse who speaks. "These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth." The riders upon the horses give their report to the man in the middle. "Behold, all the earth sitteth still and is at rest."
Who is the rider upon the red horse? He is called the "Angel of the LORD." There is no question but that the rider and the Angel of the LORD are the same person. And the Angel of the LORD in the Old Testament is an uncreated Being; He is the Son of God in His pre-incarnation glory. There are three very good reasons for this interpretation. 1. The color red identifies him with our Lord. He is the Lamb of God who shed His blood in redemption; He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5) who will arise in judgment upon the nation in the coming days of vengeance and trample His enemies under foot (Isa. 63). 2. He is the Leader as well as the Center of the heavenly hosts; they are subject unto Him; all things are in His hands. 3. He makes intercession, which marks Him as the one who is the intercessor before God in behalf of His people. Our larger exposition of Zechariah quotes the Jewish interpretation (Studies in Zechariah, pp. 11-12).
The report of the angelic hosts was that the earth sitteth still and is at rest. The nations were at rest, in the state of prosperity; but His people is in trouble, the land of promise under Gentile rule and dominion. While the cities of the nations were increased and had plenty, the city of the King was under the hoof of the Gentiles; His people suffered. Such is the condition of things throughout the time of the Gentiles. In our comment, written in 1899 we made the following remarks:
"Prosperity, universal prosperity, and with it universal peace, is the cry at the close of another century, and will be more so as we advance towards the end of this age. Civilization, world conquest, commercial extension, and a universal peace, seem to be the leading thoughts among the nations of our times. Truly it is realized by some that our boasted civilization, liberty and prosperity, is nothing but a smoldering volcano which may burst open at any moment and make an end of all boasting; but the majority of the people even in Christendom are sadly deluding themselves with idle dreams. And what of God's thoughts and His eternal purposes? What of His oath-bound covenant promises? They are being misinterpreted, set aside and forgotten. Thus it will continue till the climax is reached, so clearly foretold in the Second Psalm."
This forecast has come true; the great war has come and gone and now the age is rapidly approaching its predicted end.
Then follows in the vision the intercessory cry of the Angel of the LORD. It concerns in the first place the indignation of the seventy years. But that dispersion is the prophetic type of their greater dispersion. What was true then concerning the nations and the state of Jerusalem, is true of the present and future. The nations helped forward their affliction by hating the Jew. The great sin of the nations is Anti-semitism, which is the result of not believing the Word of God. The hatred of the Gentiles will culminate in the end of the age in coming against the partially restored nation, as we shall learn at the close of our prophecy. Then the assurance is given that the Lord in His jealousy will remember His people and Jerusalem will be chosen and Zion comforted.
He saw next four powerful horns, the emblems of the powerful Gentile nations who have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. The four horns are the same four world-powers announced in Nebuchadnezzar's dream and in Daniel's vision (Daniel 2, and 7). They are symbolized by the locusts in their four stages (Joel 1). Four smiths appear in the vision to fray them and to cast them out. The vision teaches two facts: first, the horns will be broken and cast down; and in the second place, God has for every power which has sinned against His people a corresponding instrument, to overcome and to break into pieces.
1. The man with the measuring line (2:1-2)
2. The message of the third night vision (2:3-9)
3. The glorious kingdom (2:10-12)
The third night vision is one of the coming glory. The number three stands in the Word of God for resurrection, life from the dead. Thus in Hosea, concerning Israel, "After two days Thou wilt revive us, and on the third day Thou wilt raise us up" (Hosea 6:2). In this third vision Zechariah sees the glorious restoration of Israel, which has been the burden of so many prophecies, and the glory which is connected with that restoration. In this night vision Zechariah hears of a restoration and of a glory which has never yet been fulfilled in the history of God's people. Those teachers of the Word who see in Zechariah's night visions nothing but fulfilled prophecy, cannot answer certain questions satisfactorily, and their only refuge must be a spiritualizing of this restoration. Another thought before we take up this third vision. The vision of restoration comes after the enemies of Israel have been cast down. That prophecy might be fulfilled; prophecy about a believing, suffering Jewish remnant; prophecy concerning Jacob's trouble, etc., a mock restoration, generally termed a restoration in unbelief, is to take place. There can be no doubt whatever that we are privileged to see the beginning of this restoration of part of the Jewish nation to the land of the fathers in unbelief. It is one of the signs of the nearness of that event for which the Church hopes, prays and waits: "our gathering together unto Him." The world and the lukewarm Christian do not see it, but he who loves the Word and lives in the Word, has eyes to see and a hearing ear, and knows what is soon coming. The true restoration, however, will only come as it is seen so clearly in these night visions after the enemies have been overcome, the horns cast down, the image smashed--in other words, after the Lord has come.
First stands the man with the measuring line. He is to bear witness to the coming enlargement of Jerusalem. Similar visions where measuring takes place are found in Ezekiel 41, where the future temple is measured, and in Revelation 11 a reed is given to John to measure the temple of God, which is the temple erected by the Jews in unbelief during the tribulation period. Here it is the measuring of the city.
The angel who had talked with Zechariah was met by another angel. He brings the message to Zechariah, who is addressed as "this young man." The coming restoration and enlargement of Jerusalem is announced. The city is to be inhabited as villages, which denotes the peace and safety which Jerusalem will enjoy in the day of her true restoration. It will be the temptation for the enemy, Gog and Magog, to invade the land. (See Ezek. 38, and 39.) The invasion of Gog and Magog in Revelation 20 is after the millennium; the one in Ezekiel is in the beginning of the millennium [i.e., end of the tribulation. Ed.]. Then Zechariah hears in the message that the Lord will be Himself a wall of fire unto Jerusalem; He will be the glory in the midst of her. Glory and defence are combined, they always go together (Isa. 4). This was not the case in the restored Jerusalem after the captivity. It is altogether future. What a glory it will be when every eye sees Him, when His visible glory will be once more established in the land, from which its knowledge spreads over the earth till it covers all, like the waters cover the deep! (Habakkuk 2:14). Then they are summoned to return from the land of the North. Millions of Jews are living and suffering in the great land of the north, Russia. In that day they will return to the old homeland. They will escape out of the clutches of Babylon, the final Babylon. He calls the believing remnant the "apple of His eye." He will guard and keep them.
The singing times have come (Zeph. 3). Zion rejoices for He dwells in their midst (Isa. 12). Then the nations are joined to the Lord in that day, not to the Church, for the true Church is in glory, but they will be joined to Israel in the kingdom. The third vision closes with an exhortation similar to the one in Habakkuk 2. All flesh is to be silent before the Lord. Now is the time when God is silent. The flesh speaks now, for it is man's day. But our God shall come and not keep silent (Psa. 60). Then all the flesh, with its fruits, will have to be silent before Him in that day.
1. The fourth night vision (3:1-5)
2. The message of the vision (3:6-10)
The fourth vision is like the first and second, closely connected with the foregoing one. It gives the crowning event of Israel's restoration. The prophet recognizes in the figure, which is seen by him, Joshua the high priest, who is standing before the angel of the Lord, while at his right hand stands Satan to oppose him. Joshua was not clothed with his clean, priestly robes, but he wears filthy garments. Jehovah rebukes Satan and terms Jerusalem a brand plucked from the fire. After the accuser is rebuked, the filthy garments of the high-priest are removed, his iniquity is forgiven, and he is clothed with festal raiment. The prophet is so carried away with the vision that he asks that a clean mitre is to be put upon his head. And now, after the high-priest is thus clothed, the Angel of the Lord charges him with an important message: If thou wilt walk in My ways and keep My charge, thou shalt judge My house and also keep My courts. I will give thee access among those standing here, etc. The servant--the branch--is promised, and the stone which is laid before Joshua is to have seven eyes. The iniquity of this land is to be removed in one day, and the vision closes with the peaceful scene, every man inviting his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.
The high-priest Joshua in this vision stands as a type of the sinful nation and her priestly calling. Like Joshua in filthy garments, the nation is unclean and defiled. Yet in spite of his filthy garments Joshua was still the high-priest. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance; Israel, in the purposes of God, is still the priest. In the vision Satan is seen, true to his name, the accuser.
He is the enemy of Israel. He has tried in the past to hurt and to destroy the nation of destiny. He knows the purposes of God concerning Israel better than many a learned doctor of divinity, and therefore, he has opposed that people and opposes them still. His opposition has been mostly through nations. How much could be said on this topic! The end of this age will reveal the enemy of Israel, the adversary, as never before in the history of the world. There is to be war in heaven; Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred, and his angels, and they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast down, the old Serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the Deceiver of the whole world, he was cast down to the earth and his angels were cast down with him (Rev. 12:7-9). His wrath will be directed against Israel and Jerusalem. It is the time of which Daniel spoke. "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of Thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time (Dan. 12:1)." Once more Satan will try to destroy the people, but the Lord shall rebuke him. Israel will be again, as so often before, like a brand plucked out of the fire. So it has been in the past. Way back when Israel was in Egypt and God was about to send the deliverer, He called Moses from out of the burning bush--Israel's true type, burning, but never consumed. Oh, how the fire of persecution and adversity has been raging, but again and again the hand of God snatched the burning brand out of the fire at the right moment. The Lord who hath chosen Jerusalem will rebuke Satan. This has not yet come. The coming Lord will commission an angel out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he will lay hold on the dragon--the old serpent which is the Devil and Satan--and bind him for a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss and shut it and seal it over him (Rev. 20:1, 2). Then follows the cleansing of Israel and the new charge, all so clearly given in this vision.
The filthy garments are removed by those that stand before the angel of the Lord. The iniquity is taken away, and in place of the filthy garments there is the rich apparel and the fair mitre upon the head. How blessedly all this is waiting for its fulfillment in Israel's regeneration! When He appears after the times of overturning, He whose right it is, His people Israel will be found by Him in true penitence, acknowledging their offence. It will be a national repentance, a mourning on account of Him, which Zechariah describes in detail in the twelfth chapter.
Israel was disobedient and did not keep the first charge. It is now repeated, and gives Israel's future calling after their cleansing. It will be threefold. 1. Judging in the house of the LORD, and from there ruling and judging nations, for Israel will be the head of the nations. The Church will then not be on earth, but occupy her glorious place in the new Jerusalem above the earth. 2. Israel will keep His courts. That is, Israel will attend to the millennial temple, which will become the house of prayer for all nations, which all the former temples were not. 3. Israel will have places to walk amongst those who stand by, that is, among the nations, in priestly ministry. The saved remnant will then be "men which are a wonder," the miracles of His grace and power. Then the servant, the Branch is announced; a definite Messianic prediction. The stone engraven, with seven eyes upon it, must also mean the redeemed nation, the foundation of the kingdom, filled with His Spirit, for we read in connection with it, "I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day." A picture of the conditions of peace and prosperity in the kingdom concludes the fourth night vision.
1. The fifth night vision (4:1-10)
2. The questions of the prophet answered (4:11-14)
There was a rest for the prophet between the fourth and fifth night vision. He had fallen into a deep sleep. He may have been overcome by the grand and important visions, and is now awakened by the angel with the question, "What seest thou?" The new vision is a very striking one. A golden candlestick appears before the seer. An oil receiver is seen on top, from which the oil flows to the seven lamps of the candlestick through seven pipes. Two olive trees stand alongside of the candlestick and hang their fruit-laden branches over the golden bowl, filling it with oil, which flows through the seven pipes into the seven lamps. The question of the prophet, "What are these, my lord?" is answered by the angel with this statement, "This is the word of Jehovah to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might and not by power but by My Spirit, saith the LORD of Hosts. Who art thou, Oh great mountain, before Zerubbabel? Be a plain! He shall bring forth the top stone with shoutings of grace, grace unto it.... The hands of Zerubbabel who have laid the foundation shall also finish it, and they shall rejoice and see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel--even the seven. The eyes of the LORD shall run to and fro through the entire earth."
The Church in the New Testament is typified by a candlestick. The oil is the emblem of the Holy Spirit. But this is not in view in this vision.
We call attention to the fact that the vision is one which speaks of perfection, completion, fullness. The perfect and divine number seven is found three times in the vision, seven lamps, seven pipes and seven eyes. The seven lamps are united to one stem, this is union, and above it, is a golden bowl. The Spirit conquers, and not power or might does it, but His power. The great mountain becomes a plain. The top stone is brought forth and crowns the building which is finished by Zerubbabel. Shoutings, "Grace, grace, unto it," are heard, and the seven eyes run to and fro through the whole earth. It is a vision of fullness and accomplishment. The candlestick shines and sheds its glorious light, its pure gold glitters and reflects the light of the seven lamps. The bowl is filled with oil, and the two olive trees give a continual supply. The high mountain removed, the temple finished, joy and victory abound. The candlestick in the vision is exactly like the one in the tabernacle, only the two olive trees are something new. The candlestick in the tabernacle represents Christ, the light of the world, and is likewise a type of the Jewish theocracy. Theocracy, the government of this earth by the immediate direction of God, is once to be established, and when it is, it will be like a bright and glorious candlestick shedding light and dispersing the darkness. We think the Yalkut on Zechariah (a Hebrew commentary), is not so very far out of the way when it says, "the golden candlestick is Israel." It seems to us very clear that the vision represents the Jewish theocracy restored, Israel in their glorious inheritance as the light of the world.
The prophet asks two questions concerning the two olive trees and the branches which gave the oil through the golden pipe. The two olive trees, filled with the supply of the Spirit, are in all probability the two witnesses of Revelation 11. Their testimony is given during the second half of the last seven years of the times of the Gentiles, Daniel's seventieth week (Dan. 9). It is the time of the great tribulation and these two witnesses stand in close relation with the establishment of the kingdom. See annotations on Revelation.
1. The sixth vision (5:1-4)
2. The seventh vision (5:5-11)
The three remaining night visions are of a different character. The first visions the prophet had were visions of comfort for Jerusalem and the dispersed nation, the overthrow of Babylon and all their enemies, divine forgiveness and the theocracy restored. Now follow the last three visions, and these are visions of judgment. Judgment precedes Israel's restoration, and is very prominently connected with it.
The sixth night vision is the one of the flying roll. The prophet's eyes seem to have been closed after the fifth vision, for we read, "And I lifted up my eyes again." The flying roll he sees is twenty cubits long and ten cubits broad. The interpreting angel tells the prophet that it is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole land; for every one that stealeth shall be cut off on this side according to it, and every one that sweareth shall be cut off on that side according to it. The LORD of hosts has brought it forth and it is to enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth by His Name to a falsehood, and it shall lodge in the midst of His house and consume it, both its wood and its stone.
That this vision means judgment is evident at the first glance. Ezekiel had a similar vision. "And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe (Ezek. 2:9, 10)." Ezekiel was to eat that book. This reminds us at once of the books in Revelation (chapters 5 and 10), which are likewise connected with God's judgments in the earth. The flying roll is written on both sides, signifying the two tables of stone, the law of God. Stealing and swearing falsely are mentioned because the one is found on the one side of the two tables of stone, and the other on the other side. However, it is no longer "Thou shalt not," but on the flying roll are written the curses, the awful curses against the transgressors of God's law which are now about to be put into execution. The curse is found in its awful details, as it refers to an apostate people in Deuteronomy 27 and 28. The roll is of immense size, and on it are the dread curses of an angry God. The vision must have been one of exceeding great terror. Imagine a roll, probably illumined at night with fire, moving over the heavens, and on it the curses of an eternal God--wherever it moves its awful message is seen; nothing is hid from its awe-inspiring presence. It reminds one of the fiery handwriting on the wall in the king's palace. Surely such an awful judgment is coming by and by, when our God will keep silence no longer. One of the sublimest judgment Psalms, the Fiftieth, mentions something similar to this flying roll. "When thou sawest a thief then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speaketh against thy brother, thou slanderest thine own mother's son. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself. but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes" (Psalm 50:18-21). The flying roll stands undoubtedly in connection with wickedness, theft, and false swearing, as it is found in so many forms in unbelieving Israel, but it finds also a large application in the judgment of wickedness throughout the earth in the glorious day of His appearing.
The angel commands the prophet to lift up his eyes to behold another startling vision. What are the leading figures in the vision? An ephah--which is a Jewish measure standing here for commerce. The eyes of all the land (or earth) are upon it. Commercialism is very prominent in Revelation in connection with the full measure of wickedness, the climax of ungodliness. In Revelation 18 merchants are mentioned who have grown rich through the abundance of her delicacies. Then the merchants are seen weeping, for no man buys their merchandise any more. And then a long list follows, including all the articles of modern commerce. Compare this with the awful description of the last times in James 5. Rich men are commanded to weep and howl, for miseries are come upon them. They heaped treasure together for the last days, and it was a heaping together by fraud, dishonesty in keeping back the hire of the laborers. They lived in pleasure (luxuriously) and were wanton. Indeed, here is that burning question of the day, capital and labor, and its final outcome, misery and judgment upon commercialism, riches heaped up, and all in wickedness. In Habakkuk 2:12 the woe of judgment of that coming glory of the Lord is pronounced upon him that buildeth a town with blood and established a city by iniquity! The people are seen laboring for the fire and wearying themselves for vanity. Luxuries increase, riches, etc., are mentioned in the second and third chapters of Isaiah, chapters of judgment. Other passages could be quoted, but these are sufficient for our purpose. They show us that the climax of wickedness as it is in the earth when judgment will come, and Israel's time commences once more, will be connected with commerce, riches and luxuries. The ephah points to this.
In the second place let us notice that in the midst of the ephah there is seen a woman. She is called wickedness. The Hebrew word wickedness is translated by the Septuagint with "anomia". We find that the Holy Spirit uses the same word in 2 Thess. 2:8, and then shall be revealed in the wicked one (anomia) whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the Spirit of His mouth. The woman in the ephah personifies wickedness. She has surrounded herself with the ephah and sits in the midst of it. Have we not here the great whore having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication? Undoubtedly. This woman is the type of evil and wickedness in its highest form. Let us glance at that wonderful description of that woman in Revelation. She is the great whore sitting upon many waters. She sits upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman is arrayed in purple and scarlet decked with gold, precious stones and pearls. Upon her forehead is seen her name, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations in the earth. She is drunk with the blood of the saints. The woman in the ephah represents the same great whore, Babylon the Great. This becomes at once clear when we take into consideration that the woman in the ephah is carried swiftly away an a house is built for her in the land of Shinar, and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base. Now the land of Shinar is Babylonia. But while in Revelation 17 the mystical Babylon is seen, in the eighteenth chapter there is another Babylon, the final great political-commercial world system; it is still future, not very far away, for we see that the trend of modern events is towards such a combination. The vision of the ephah and the woman evidently sealed up in it may denote the overthrow and judgment of the final Babylon.
1. The eighth vision (6:1-8)
2. The crowning of Joshua, the High-Priest (6:9-15)
The last vision is the vision of the four chariots. We notice the similarity with the first night-vision. The visions opened with the hosts of heaven upon red, speckled, and white horses. It was a vision of judgment for the Gentiles and a vision of comfort to Israel. In this last vision the chariots of judgment are seen sweeping over the earth. It seems to denote judgment in its final accomplishment. The riders of the first vision may be termed the beginning of God's dealing with the nations, but the chariots put the divine judgment decrees into operation.
The riders halted in a valley amidst a myrtle grove, but the chariots rush forth to execute their terrible work from between two mountains of brass. These mountains mean undoubtedly Mount Moriah and the Mount of Olives. They rush through the Valley of Jehoshaphat. The brass is mentioned to denote the firmness and stability of these mountains, which shall never be moved. We do not think that in the four chariots there is an allusion to the four world-powers. The judgment of them is now come. The stone is falling and smiting the image at its feet and pulverizing it, putting it completely out of existence. The chariots are God's powers, agencies for judgment in the earth, which will pass swiftly along, shown by the fast running chariots. In Rev. 6 the seven seals are opened, and there go forth the four terrible riders upon white, red, black, and pale horses. The riders in the Apocalypse are the riders which go through the earth during the great tribulation, but in the eighth night vision of Zechariah we see the chariots of God's wrath. The vision falls in the time when the heaven opens and He appears riding upon a white horse, His name Faithful and True, coming in righteousness to judge and to make war. Wonderful vision of Him who is clothed with a vesture dipped in blood! He is followed by the armies of heaven upon white horses, all clothed in fine linen white and clean. "And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations, and He shall rule them with a rod of iron, and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God" (Rev. 19).
The angel interprets to the prophet that the chariots are the four spirits of the heavens which go forth from standing before the Lord of the earth. These agencies for wrath were with God, standing before Him, the Lord of all the earth, but now at His command they descend to scatter death and destruction. They go forth in sets, and the north country and south country both so prominent in the prophetic word are mentioned. The bay horses, however, are not confined to one direction, they go through the entire earth. At last in the judgment of the land of the north the spirit is caused to rest. The overthrow of the enemies of Israel is complete and the spirit is quieted. How long may the wrath last and for how long may the chariots do their deadly work? Perhaps longer than we think. The millennial reign of Christ, as foreshadowed in the bloody rule of David, followed by the peaceful reign of Solomon, may teach us lessons in this direction. The night visions have ended. They may be termed the Apocalypse of Zechariah. Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelation go together in a wonderful harmony and explain each other. Alas! that just these three parts of the Bible should be so little studied and so little understood.
The memorable night with its great visions was gone. The first streaks of the morning heralded the coming dawn. Then the Word of the Lord came to the young prophet commanding him to make crowns of silver and gold and crown Joshua, the High-Priest.
Some consider this to be the ninth vision of the prophet. It is, however, the word of the Lord which comes to the prophet. There can be no doubt but the command was actually carried out and Cheldai (robust), Tobiah (God's goodness), and Jedaiah (God knows), gave their silver and gold, and crowns were made out of it and placed upon the head of Joshua the high-priest. But the action had a much deeper meaning. It was a highly typical one. It must have astonished Joshua and the people to hear such a command, for the royal crown did not belong to the high-priest but to the descendant of David. He must have understood that the whole command had a symbolical bearing. Joshua hears it from the Word of the Lord that another person is only typified by him, "Behold the man whose name is the Branch." It is this man the Branch who will be a priest upon the throne. This, of course, is our Lord Jesus Christ. The name of the high-priest Joshua is in itself very significant, for the meaning is, God is salvation, Saviour, Jesus. Pontius Pilate was fulfilling prophecy when he stood there leading out Jesus of Nazareth before that tumultuous multitude, and when he said "Behold the man." If the assembled Jews had known the Scriptures they would have recognized the phrase. But how did He then come forth? He wore a crown of thorns upon His meek and loving brow, and the people gazed into the blood-stained face of the Lamb of God now ready to be placed upon the altar and slain. But once again it will sound forth, "Behold the man," for when He appears it will be after He has gathered His saints, and then He will come as the Son of Man in the heavens, and the sign of the Son of Man will be seen there. He will be crowned again, too, but not with the crown of suffering and shame, but with the crowns of glory. Thus He is seen in Revelation 19:12 as wearing many crowns.
He comes to build the temple of Jehovah, bearing majesty, sitting and ruling upon His throne. He is now the builder of the spiritual temple, which is composed of living stones (Eph. 2:21, 1 Peter 2:5). But when He comes again there will be the building of another temple. It is now no longer His Father's throne but His own, upon which He is a priest as well. The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords has now taken possession of His inheritance. The times of overturning are over and He whose right it is has come. There is a very instructive thought in the fact that the persons of the exile, as mentioned above, were to bring the silver and the gold out of which the crowns were to be made. The time will come when the whole exiled nation, so long scattered and peeled, though even in dispersion, the richest nation of the earth, will bring their silver and gold, their glory and their all and lay it at the feet of the King.
II. QUESTIONS CONCERNING CERTAIN FASTS
1. The question (7:1-3)
2. The reproof (7:4-7)
3. The lessons of the past (7:8-14)
Nearly two years had passed since Zechariah's great visions, and during that time the people had been obedient to the vision and built the house. Soon the ancient worship was to be resumed. A question arose in the minds of the people concerning certain Jewish days of fasting. The principal day was the day set apart in memory of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. It was kept on the ninth day of the fifth month (the ninth of Ab, still kept by the Jews). The question came to the prophet through two men who bear foreign names--Sherezer (Prince of the Treasury) and Regemelech (the official of the king). The question was, "Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these many years?" They had wept in Babylon on that day (Psalm 137).
The word of the Lord comes now to the prophet. The message is for all the people and for the priests. The two fasts are mentioned. The one in the fifth month as already stated was the one in remembrance of the destruction of the city. The fast of the seventh month was kept on the anniversary of the murder of Gedaliah at Mizpah (Jeremiah 41). But why did they keep these fast days? Why do they keep these days indeed still? The Lord asks, "Is it unto Me, unto Me?" No, it was not for the honor and glory of God, but their own selfish interests were at the bottom of it. Indeed God had never asked them to fast. These institutions were man-made, and highly displeasing to Jehovah. And is it not so now, not alone with the Jews but with Christendom? oh, the man-made institutions and outward observances which only dishonor God and are for the selfish interests of the people! The eating and drinking, the fast being over, was not unto the Lord, but unto themselves. It was obedience the Lord required. Had they listened to the words spoken by the prophets they would not have been in captivity, there would have been no need for a solemn fast. Unbelief was at the bottom of it all, and so it is still with the nation in dispersion.
Here are moral lessons and instructions. They were to execute true judgment, show mercy and compassion, oppress not the widow nor the fatherless, the poor or the stranger. These were His demands in the past, but their fathers did not listen, and as a result the judgment of the Lord came upon them and they were scattered with a whirlwind. History has repeated itself. What happened in the past happened again.
1. The restoration announced (8:1-3)
2. The peace of Jerusalem (8:4-5)
3. The return to the land (8:6-8)
4. The blessing of the land and the people (8:9-23)
The answer is now given to the question, and it is an answer which none of the petitioners expected. The answer is closely linked with the third night vision in chapter 2, for here is an enlarged prophecy concerning the restoration of Jerusalem. Jehovah was jealous for Jerusalem. The wrath fell upon the Gentiles and He poured out His fury upon them (which of course is future). When that has taken place He returns unto Zion and establishes His dwelling place in the midst of His people. Then Jerusalem is no longer trodden down by the Gentiles. Her name is a new name, "the City of Truth." How different from the other names she bore in her humiliation! She was called an unclean woman (Lam. 1:8, 17); a harlot and a murderer (Isa. 1:21); Sodom and Egypt (Rev. 11).
The misery of Jerusalem was great while under judgment. All will be changed "in that day." The city will have peace and prosperity and be largely inhabited. Hence there will be no more need to weep over her past fate and desolation, for greater glory has come.
They all return to the land. In the second chapter the north country was mentioned (Russia); and their return announced. Here the east and the west are named, the far east, India, China, Japan; and the West, the European countries and America.
What a contrast with the former days of judgment and dispersion and misery! For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast.... Little fruit was had from the ground; there was nothing for man and beast.... Neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in on account of the affliction.... There was no rest, no peace, but uncertainty and affliction. Those that went out from the land had no peace, and they that came into the land found no peace. The curse said, No rest for the sole of their feet, and how literally it has been fulfilled. Again the people seek a resting place in the land without their God and their Saviour, all in the confidence of the flesh. They will succeed in their restoration plans only to find themselves at last in greater difficulties and facing worse afflictions than ever before. Then every one will be against his neighbor (verse 10). Money spent by the millions in building channels for irrigation, planting of trees and vines, building railroads, etc. (just what modern Zionism proposes and has undertaken to do), may succeed in transforming the land in spots into a fruitful garden, but the time of Jacob's trouble will sweep that all away. The Lord will be gracious to the very land in the day of His manifestation. There will be a time of peace, the vine will give her fruit, the ground her increase, the heavens their dew.
The curse will then be changed into a blessing and the remnant will be a holy people. Fast days become feast days; national calamities of the past are forgotten, and in the place of weeping there is praise and worship. The songs of praise with which the book of Psalms closes will undoubtedly then be sung by the restored nation. This great restoration chapter closes with a vision of the conversion of the whole world (verses 20-23). The nations are seeking the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem to pray before Him. Then the Jew will no longer be a dishonored person among the Gentiles, but they will be the messengers of the King among the nations; and they will gladly take hold of the skirt of the Jew to be taken by him to Jerusalem.
III. THE TWO PROPHETIC BURDENS--THE GREAT PROPHECIES OF THE FUTURE
I. The First Burden (9-11)
1. The burden of the land of Hadrach (9:1-8)
2. Zion's King of Peace (9:9-12)
3. The near-event of the invasion by Antiochus Ephiphanes (9:13-17)
The final section of Zechariah is of still greater interest. The Deliverer, King Messiah, is revealed in this section as suffering, rejected, pierced, slain. The great finale leads us up to the great conflict and final siege of Jerusalem. We do not enter into the inventions of criticism, which claim that these great prophecies are less authentic than the first part of Zechariah.
The land of Hadrach against which the first burden in chapter 9 commences cannot be correctly located. Its closer connection with Damascus and Hamath shows that the land of Hadrach must have been a province of the Syrian kingdom then in existence. The Phoenician Cities Tyre and Sidon are next, and then mention is made of four Philistine cities. Against these, Syria, Phoenicia and the cities of the Philistines a great calamity and overthrow is prophesied by Zechariah. They are conquered by the hosts of an enemy, and the rich treasures of Tyre are heaped together in the streets--silver as the dust and gold as the mire--the bulwarks are smitten, and she herself consumed by fire. From there the conquest goes on rapidly to the Philistinian cities, and the King of Gaza perishes. The question arises, What conquest and calamity is this? Is it accomplished or is it still future? History records one great conqueror who rapidly overthrew the countries and cities mentioned in this burden. Alexander the Great and his expedition so successfully carried on is undoubtedly meant here. All students of the prophetic Scriptures know how prominently he likewise stands out in the book of Daniel. The young monarch, after the battle of Issus, besieged and quickly captured Damascus. Sidon was easily taken, but Tyre resisted him some seven months and was burned to the ground. Gaza and the other cities came next. Thus the burden of the word of Jehovah as uttered here by Zechariah was literally fulfilled in the Syrian conquest of Alexander the Great. However, history tells us that the armies of the youthful monarch passed by Jerusalem a number of times without doing harm to the city. This is remarkable, and in accord with the prophecy of Zechariah, for we read in the eighth verse, "And I will encamp against mine house, against the army, against him that passes through and returns, and no oppressor shall come over them any more, for now I have seen it with mine eyes."
But this prophetic burden leads us up also to the final days, for we read here the promise that "no oppressor shall come over them any more." This brings it in connection with the final coming deliverance of Israel, and the final destructive visitation upon their enemies.
A great prophecy follows. The true King of Israel comes here before us in His humiliation, and coming exaltation.
Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion, Shout aloud, daughter of Jerusalem; Behold thy king cometh to thee, Just and having salvation; Meek and riding upon an ass, Even upon a colt, the she-ass's foal; And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, And the horse from Jerusalem, And the battle bow shall be cut off, And He shall speak peace unto the nations, And His dominion shall be from sea to sea, And from the river to the ends of the earth. As for thee also, for the sake of thy covenant blood, I send forth thy prisoners from the waterless pit, Return to the stronghold--Prisoners of hope Even today I declare I will render double unto thee.
This stands in contrast to the Grecian conqueror, and it needs no proofs that the coming King whom Zechariah beholds is the King Messiah. The Jews acknowledge it as such. One of the greatest Jewish commentators (Rashi) says: It is impossible to interpret it of any other than King Messiah. An interesting fable is based upon this prophecy, and well known among orthodox Jews. Rabbi Eliezer says, commenting on the words lowly and riding upon an ass, "This is the ass, the foal of that she-ass which was created in the twilight. This is the ass which Abraham our father saddled for the binding Of Isaac his son. This is the ass upon which Moses our teacher rode when He came to Egypt, as it is said, And he made them ride upon the ass (Exodus 4:20). This is the ass upon which the Son of David shall ride." Other interesting quotations could be given from Jewish writings, but this is sufficient to show that the Jews believe it to be a Messianic prophecy. And what blindness that they do not see Him who is the Messiah; but is not the so-called "higher criticism" existing today in Christendom being taught in churches and schools, and that there are no Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, much greater blindness? Alas! so it is, and the outcome can be nothing else in the end than the denial of the divinity of our Lord, or Unitarianism.
Every reader of the New Testament knows that this prophecy is quoted in the Gospels. In the Gospel of Matthew we read (chapter 21:5): "All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell the daughter of Sion, Behold thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, upon a colt the foal of an ass." The context shows a great multitude crying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. But soon the cry is changed unto, This is Jesus the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee. Notice the Holy Spirit quoting from Zechariah leaves out the sentence, "He is just, having salvation." This is not an error, but it is the divine right of the Spirit who gave the prophecies in olden times to apply them correctly in the New Testament. In the Gospel of Mark in the eleventh chapter there is likewise the description of Christ's entry into Jerusalem, but Zechariah is not quoted. The same is true of the account given by Luke, chapter 19, and here He is mentioned as the King that cometh in the name of Jehovah, peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. In the fourth Gospel, chapter 12:15, the account of His coming to Jerusalem is much shorter than in the other Gospels. It says there, "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, thy King cometh, sitting upon an ass's colt." We see from this that the four Gospels give each an account of the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem; two of them quote from Zechariah and the other two do not. The quotations themselves are different from the prophecy in Zechariah 9 in two respects. The first words, Rejoice greatly, are not at all used. In Matthew it is, Tell the daughter of Zion, and in John, Fear not, daughter of Zion. The sentence, "He is just and having salvation", is left out in both.
A superficial exposition of the Word claims that Zechariah's prophecy was fulfilled in the event recorded by the Gospels. As far as His entry into Jerusalem is concerned, riding upon the colt the foal of an ass (and note in Matthew it is shown that both the colt and the ass are brought to Him. He could ride, of course, only upon one, but the she-ass had to go along in fulfillment of prophecy), and the way He came, meekly, in this respect the prophecy was fulfilled. This entry of the Son of Man into Jerusalem was His formal presentation to Jerusalem as its King, but, as stated above, the Messianic cry of welcome, Blessed is He, soon changed into, Jesus the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee, and that again in the final cry of rejection, Crucify Him, crucify Him! There was no salvation for Israel then, and no kingdom for Him, hence no rejoicing is mentioned in the quotations.
It is His second coming to Jerusalem as the Son of Man in His glory which will bring the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9-11. True, the colt, the she ass's foal, will not be the animal He rides, but He will come upon a white horse followed by the armies of heaven. He comes then truly for Jerusalem, fulfilling the prophecy, "Just is He having salvation" (marginal reading, victory). There will be again the welcome cry of the one hundred eighteenth Psalm, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of Jehovah," preceded by the plea, "Hosanna, save now."
The tenth and eleventh verses show clearly that the prophecy is yet to be fulfilled and can be only fulfilled in the coming of the Son of Man in His glory. One of the reasons why modern Judaism rejects Jesus of Nazareth, and does not believe Him to be the promised Redeemer, is in this prophecy. Rabbi F. De Sola Mendes, of New York, brings in a little book, "A Hebrew's Reply to the Missionaries," the following argument: "We reject Jesus of Nazareth as our Messiah on account of His deeds. He says of Himself, 'Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth; I came not to send peace but a sword,' etc. But we find that our prophets ascribed to the true Messiah quite different actions. Zechariah says (9:10), He shall speak peace to the nations. Jesus says He came to send the sword on the earth; whereas, Isaiah says of the true Messianic time, 'They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more.'"
Of course the Jew is right in expecting the literal fulfillment of this prophecy, and it will be fulfilled when He comes again and the restoration of all things will follow, as spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets.
When He appears again, in like manner as He went into heaven, that is not for His saints but with His saints, there will be peace for Ephraim and for Jerusalem, and the kingdom is then restored to Israel, that is, to the house of Judah and the house of Israel. The chariot, the horse, and the battle-bow will be cut off. Not alone will He bring peace to the covenant people but to the nations. He will speak peace. "And He shall stand, and shall feed His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah His God, and they shall abide; for now shall He be great unto the ends of the earth. And this man shall be our peace" (Micah 5:4, 5). There will be abundance of peace (Psa. 72:7). His dominion will be from sea to sea and to the ends of the earth.
The prisoners of hope to be released, by the blood of the covenant, from the pit wherein there is no water, is the nation whose captivity is now ended. How strange that people should take a passage like this and interpret it as meaning the restitution of the wicked and the ungodly from the pit. There is nothing taught in the Word like that which some people term a larger hope. The restitution (restoration) of all things is not left to the fanciful interpretation of the human mind, but is clearly defined by the Word itself, as spoken by the prophets. In the vision of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37, Israel's complaint is, Our hope is lost. But when He is manifested, who is indeed the Hope of Israel, the prisoners (the captives), will be released and cleansed. "Refrain thy voice from weeping and thine eyes from tears.... there is hope for thy latter end, saith the LORD, and thy children shall come again to their own border" (Jer. 31:17). The exhortation to return to the stronghold follows. Israel will then sing, "He brought me up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings" (Psa. 40:2). Double will be rendered unto them, as promised, "Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins" (Isa. 40:2). "For your shame ye shall have double, and for confusion they shall rejoice in that portion; therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be unto them" (Isa. 41:7).
The scene changes once more. One of Alexander's successors, Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Maccabean victory is the topic of these verses. On this invader see Daniel 8, where he is predicted as the little horn and his abominable work there is fully described. He entered "the pleasant land," the land of Israel. A bitter struggle commenced, for Antiochus tried to exterminate the Jews, and their religion as well. Every observance of the Jewish religion was forbidden, the Sabbath had to be profaned, and unclean food had to be eaten. Idols were set up in the temple. Instead of the Jewish feasts, the feasts of idols, with all their shocking abominations and immoralities, were introduced, and the Jews were forced to join in them. Thousands suffered martyrdom. But all at once a few people stood up against the abominations, the Maccabeans, and in a struggle lasting about twenty-five years, they fought successfully against the enemies.
This terrible visitation of the land and the wonderful victory of the Maccabeans are foretold by the prophet in the closing verses of the ninth chapter. We will quote the passage:
I bend for me Judah and fill the bow with Ephraim, And I will stir up thy sons, Zion, against thy sons, Greece, And make thee like the sword of a mighty man. Jehovah shall be seen over them, And His arrow shall go forth like lightning-- And the Lord Jehovah shall blow the trumpet. He shall go with whirlwinds of the South. The LORD of Hosts shall cover them; They shall devour and tread down slingstones, And they drink and make a noise as from wine, And they shall be filled like bowls, as the corners of the altar. And Jehovah their God saves them in that day, as the flock of His people; For jewels of a crown shall they be, glittering over His land, For how great is His goodness and how great His beauty! Corn shall make the young men flourish, and new wine maidens.
But again we have to remark that this prophecy is only partially fulfilled. The terrible tribulation of the land of Judah when Antiochus Epiphanes invaded the land is but a type of the great tribulation, the time of Jacob's trouble. The remnant of Israel will then be victorious. Thus everything is seen in this chapter in a past fulfillment, but only partial, and in it a future fulfillment, which will be complete.
We cannot leave this chapter without calling attention to the blessed statement:
For jewels of a crown they shall be, glittering over His land.
The slain who suffered martyrdom are meant, and all those who fought for Jehovah's name and honor. May not the statement in Hebrews 11 refer to this time? "Others had trials of mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins: being destitute, afflicted, evil entreated, of whom the world was not worthy, wandering in deserts and in mountains and caves and the holes of the earth" (Heb. 11:36-38).
And all will find a repetition during the coming tribulation. But the time for reward has not yet come. The throne of glory is not yet revealed, and the jewels, the saints made up in a crown, glittering over the land, are not yet seen. But the assurance is given, "They shall be Mine, saith the LORD of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels" (Mal. 3:17).
The first verse of the next chapter is misplaced; it belongs to the close of chapter 9. When the time of blessing comes, the latter rain will fall upon the land and produce the promised fruitfulness.
1. The apostasy of Israel in the last days (10:2-4)
2. The victory over the enemies (10:5-7)
3. Deliverance and restoration (10:8-12)
Idolatry was the great sin of both Judah and Israel. They practiced the occult things of heathendom and worshipped their false gods; they had teraphim used for divination. On account of this the wrath fell upon the former generations, and the Lord's anger was kindled against their leaders, the shepherds, and they were dispersed. We have called attention before to Matthew 12:43-45, the passage in which the Lord Jesus announces that the unbelieving part of the nation will return in the last days to the unclean spirit of idolatry, only in a worse form than before. Many of the unbelievers amongst the Jews in our days turn to the witchery of Christian Science; they adopt also that Satanic system known as Spiritism. But the apostates will go beyond that. They will finally accept the Devil's master production, the man of sin, and worship him (2 Thess. 2; Rev. 13; Dan. 9:27). Then the Lord will punish these goats. At the same time there is a remnant which will stand aside from these future idolatries; they will fear the Lord and not enter into a covenant with the beast (see annotations Daniel 9:27). The second half of the third verse in this chapter belongs to this remnant: "The LORD of hosts visits His flock, the house of Judah, and makes it like His state-horse in the war." He will use them and finally deliver them.
The fourth verse is of much interest. "From him will be the cornerstone, from him the nail, from him the battle-bow, from him every ruler goeth forth at once" (corrected translation). The nail in the oriental house is a large pin, often very beautifully ornamented, and the most costly things are hanged thereupon. "And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house" (Isa. 22:23, 24). The Shemoth rabbah, a Jewish interpretation, says on this verse, "this is King David; as it is said, the stone which the builders rejected is become the chief cornerstone." Some say it is spoken concerning the Lord, that He is the cornerstone and the nail. It refers to Him, no doubt, but what is spoken of Him finds also a fulfillment in restored Israel. Thus Israel is yet to be the cornerstone upon which everything rests in the earth, and the nail upon which hangs the glory.
The great final victory is announced in this section. They shall fight and conquer, for the LORD of hosts is with them as of old. They will be saved out of the time of Jacob's trouble, "For I have mercy upon them; and they shall be as though I had not cast them off; for I am the LORD their God, and I will hear them." Ephraim will be there, the restored ten tribes.
They will be delivered in that day, redeemed and restored. Let us notice that the eleventh verse must be applied to the Lord. He is with them in the sea of affliction, as He was with them in Egypt and went before them in the pillar of cloud.
1. The judgment of the land, the temple and the slaughter of the flock (11:1-6)
2. The true shepherd set aside and rejected (11:7-14)
3. The foolish shepherd (11:15-17)
This chapter presents a dark prophetic picture. We have seen in the preceding chapters the blessings and mercies in store for the Israel of the future. The visions and prophecies have revealed their national and spiritual restoration, the overthrow of their enemies, the destruction of the world-powers, the establishment of the theocracy and the blessings of the kingdom. What precedes this coming glory is now more fully unfolded, and the rejection of the Shepherd of Israel is predicted. The first six verses concern the judgment as the result of that rejection. For a complete exposition see our "Studies in Zechariah," where we also give the interesting Jewish comments on this passage. They apply it mostly to the destruction of the temple.
The correct interpretation is that it includes all the devastation of the land, the burning of the temple, the slaughter of the flock, the spoiling of the shepherds, the Jewish leaders and the complete overthrow of the land and of the people. How awful the fulfillment of the prophecy has been! The Lord's voice, full of tears cried, long after Zechariah's mournful vision, "If thou hadst known, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace, but now they are hid from thine eyes! For the days shall come upon thee that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side. And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee, and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another." The measure was full. After terrible wars amongst themselves, the fire advanced in the direction of Lebanon, in the form of the Roman army full of vengeance, spreading ruin and misery wherever they went, till after a long and dreadful siege Jerusalem fell, the temple was burnt, and over a million human beings were slain. Not one stone was left upon another. Up to now this judgment has been the most appalling, the tribulation then the greatest; but there is another tribulation coming of which the former destruction of Jerusalem is but a faint type, and that tribulation which is even now so close at hand will find a climax in the day of wrath, the day of vengeance of our God. The next verses (4-6) speak of the flock of slaughter and the last attempt divine love made to save the doomed nation.
The prophet acts again symbolically in taking two staves, one called Beauty, the other Bands. Much has been written on this interesting but difficult passage. The first sentence speaks of divine love. The true Shepherd came, the Messiah, and He fed the flock of slaughter, the poor of the flock. He looked on the multitudes and was moved with compassion, for they were scattered, like sheep without a shepherd. The prophet as representing the true Shepherd has two staves. The one is named Beauty; or, as we read in the margin, graciousness. The second one is named Bands. The Shepherd carries a staff to protect and to guide His flock. God's mercy and favor are clearly indicated in these two staves. The first one, Beauty, which is cut asunder first, and that before the wages of the Shepherd, the thirty pieces of silver, are given, stands no doubt for the gracious offer with which the King, preaching the kingdom, came among His people, to His own. He proclaimed that which prophets had spoken before, God's mercy and love, long promised, now to be carried out. He Himself had come to redeem His people and deliver them from their mighty enemies as well as from the false leaders. But the offer, the kingdom preaching, is rejected, the staff, Beauty, is cut asunder, the covenant with the peoples (Amim in Hebrew), His own, is now broken. The kingdom is to be taken away and given to another nation. After the breaking of the staff, Beauty, there comes the giving of the wages, the thirty pieces of silver. The Shepherd who broke the staff is treated like a slave.
The second staff in His hands, Bands, speaks of union, binding together, bringing into fellowship. It typifies the priestly side of the good Shepherd who died for the flock. This staff is broken after the thirty pieces of silver were given for Him, and cast into the temple. They cried, Away with Him! we have no King save Caesar! Crucify Him! His blood be upon us and upon our children! The cross bears the superscription, This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, and from the lips of the rejected King and Shepherd there came the prayer for His people, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. The doom came not at once upon the nation. Once more the love of the Shepherd is preached to the miserable sheep, and the remission of sins offered in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it ends in rejection too; no bringing together into One followed. The foolish shepherd appears next, and after him the good Shepherd will appear again with His two staves, Beauty and Bands, kingdom and mercy, bringing and binding together. He will then be a Priest upon His throne. This interpretation is the most satisfactory one, and in harmony with the entire scope of Zechariah's visions and prophecies.
Who are the three shepherds to be cut off in one month by the Shepherd? The three shepherds are not persons, but they stand for the three classes of rulers which governed Israel, and were in that sense shepherds. We read of these shepherds in Jeremiah 2:8, priests, rulers and prophets. The Lord likewise mentions them in Matthew 16:21, elders, chief priests and scribes. When He came He was indeed weary with them, and denounced their hypocrisies and wickedness. They in turn hated and abhorred Him, and conspired to put Him to death. The Lord Himself cut them off. He pronounced His woes and judgments upon them, but the judgment was not at once carried out. When Jerusalem was taken, their rule came to an end and they were cut off.
But there are mentioned the wretched of the flock that gave heed unto the Shepherd, and they knew that it was the word of Jehovah. These wretched ones are the faithful ones who followed the Shepherd, the small remnant (compare with chapter 13:7). The others who rejected the King and the Shepherd were indeed not fed, but were dying and cut off.
The wages of the good Shepherd, thirty pieces of silver, and these thrown into the house of Jehovah to the potter is to be considered next. Thirty pieces of silver was the price of a slave who had been killed. If the ox gore a manservant or a maidservant, the owner shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver (Exodus 21:32). Oh, what unfathomable love! The Lord from heaven became like a slave. The love He looked for He found not. It was refused to Him, and instead He was insulted, mocked, and treated like a miserable slave. There was one of the twelve who was called Judas Iscariot. He went to the chief priests and said, What are you willing to give me, and I will deliver Him unto you? And they weighed unto him thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:15). The money at the command of Jehovah is thrown away by the prophet with indignation into the house of Jehovah, to the potter. Perhaps the prophet never knew the real significance of his act, but we know it from the New Testament. "Then Judas which betrayed Him, when he saw that He was condemned, repented himself and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I betrayed innocent blood. But they said, What is this to us? See thou to it. And he cast down the pieces of silver into the sanctuary, and departed and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, it is not lawful to put them into the treasury since it is the price of blood. And they took counsel and bought with them the potters' field to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called the field of blood unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah, the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him that was priced, whom certain of the children of Israel did price, and they gave them for the potters' field, as the Lord appointed me" (Matt. 27:3-10). How striking the fulfillment. However, here is a difficulty. In Matthew it is stated that Jeremiah spoke the prophecy, and Zechariah's name is not mentioned at all. How can this be explained?
The prophecy certainly as it was fulfilled was not given by Jeremiah at all, but through Zechariah. There can be no doubt that his name should appear here instead of Jeremiah, but that Jeremiah's name is quoted must have a meaning. Let us notice that it does not say in Matthew 27 that it was written by Jeremiah, but it is stated that it was spoken by Jeremiah. Is there anything in Jeremiah which can be linked with this prophecy? We have indeed in Jeremiah a similar action of the prophet, corresponding to Zechariah 11:13, and which is seen fulfilled in the gospel. Read Jeremiah 18 and 19. The word "Tophet" used there means an unclean place, a burial ground. Jeremiah's name appears in Matthew's Gospel, to call attention to the fact that Jeremiah also spoke of the same event, the rejection of the true Shepherd.
The foolish shepherd is the false Messiah, the man of sin, the son of perdition. The prophet impersonates him likewise. He no longer holds the staves of Beauty and Bands, but has the instrument of the foolish shepherd to wound and to hurt. This false Christ is the opposite from the true Christ. The true Shepherd came to seek, to save, to feed, to heal, and to gather; the false shepherd does the opposite.
The True One rejected, the nation becomes the prey of the foolish shepherds. Poor, blinded Israel! How many wicked shepherds they have had, and how often the prey of wicked leaders. False Messiahs appeared among them again and again to find strong and numerous following. Still the foolish shepherd, the last one, the very embodiment of Satan himself, the accuser, has not yet come. Forerunners there have been many. Herod was one of them, but not that man of sin, the son of perdition who will appear and be worshipped as a God, right before the King of Kings and the true Shepherd of His flock appears to slay that wicked one with the breath of His mouth and the brightness of His coming (2 Thess. 2). The Lord said, I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive (John 5:43). That one who comes in his own name has not yet come, and when at last he is here, it will be for Israel the time of greatest trouble and tribulation for all them that inhabit the earth. During the war interpretation of prophecy went to seed with some who saw in the deluded German Kaiser a fulfillment of this passage, because he had a withered arm. Such foolish inventions are deplorable, for they bring the study of prophecy into disrepute. The third section of our chapter finds its complete fulfillment in the Antichrist, the false Messiah, the beast, the little horn, the leader of the enemy, the false prince of Israel; thus the foolish shepherd is called throughout the prophetic word. The dreadful punishment will be executed upon the foolish shepherd in the day of the Lord's coming with His saints for the salvation of his people Israel.
The eleventh chapter in Zechariah is the darkest in Israel's history. The night began with their apostasy and rejection of the Lord of Glory, their own brother, their loving Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. It ends in darkness greater still under the regime of the foolish shepherd. But the morning cometh after that dark night, and Israel's sun will never set again.
II. The Second Burden of Zechariah (12-14)
1. Jerusalem's conflict and victory (12:1-9)
2. The vision of the pierced One and its results (12:10-14)
The second burden begins with this chapter. It is wholly unfulfilled with the exception of the prophecy at the end of chapter 13 concerning the Shepherd who was smitten. The great future events recorded in these closing chapters of Zechariah are the following: The victory of Jerusalem, the overthrow of the hostile nations from the west (the nations which constitute the revived Roman Empire), the outpouring of the Spirit upon the remnant, the appearing and the vision of the Pierced One, the national repentance, the cleansing of the people, the invasion from the north, the appearing of Christ standing upon the Mount of Olives, the establishment of the kingdom and the glory of Jerusalem. Historically no such gathering of all nations against Jerusalem can be located. It is all prophetic, and so intensely interesting in the days we write, for these things are "about to come to pass."
Behold, I make Jerusalem a cup of reeling To all the nations round about: Upon Judah also shall it be, In the siege against Jerusalem. And it shall come in that day, I make Jerusalem A burdensome stone for all the peoples; All that are burdened with it shall be wounded; All the nations of the earth shall gather against it.
This does not take place till the end of the age is reached, the end which begins after the true Church is taken to glory. Then the nations satanically blinded will form the confederacy which in prophecy is the reconstruction of the Roman Empire, seen in the second chapter of Daniel under the symbol of the two feet and ten toes, and in Daniel 7 under the symbol of the ten horns with the little horn. In Revelation 13 it is the beast with the ten horns. The Jews will have to return first, at least a goodly number of them, and repossess the city.
In 1899 the author wrote as follows: "An exodus of Jews will take place, the land will become theirs, and the well laid plans and schemes of the present time will be carried out. Political combinations will be their chief hopes for success." This anticipated return is now a historic fact as one of the chief results of the great war (WWI). When finally the Jews think that they have reached the goal of their fleshly, unbelieving hopes, their greatest trouble begins. There is yet to appear the beast who makes a covenant with them. But according to Daniel's great prophecy (Dan. 9) the covenant will be broken in the middle of the seventieth week. Then the beast heads the armies of the nations to come up against the land and against Jerusalem (see Rev. 19:19). They will lay siege to the city, but the Lord announces that these nations shall be cut to pieces. It is the time when the stone strikes the feet of the prophetic image in the second chapter of Daniel, the great battle of Armageddon. Verses 4-9 describe that day. Jehovah will smite these nations and all these hostile forces will be overthrown.
Here also is given the order of how the Lord will save the remnant of His people. Those who live in tents outside the city will be saved first; Jerusalem comes next. The purpose is that the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not exalt themselves over the rest of Judah. The house of David in this vision is mentioned five times. We have the glory of the house of David in verse seven, the strength of David and the supremacy of it in verse eight. The spirit of grace and supplication is given to the house of David, and the family of the house of David will mourn. Jews have a tradition which states that the last descendant of the house of David died in Spain centuries ago. There are no genealogies at present to prove that the kingly house of David is extinct or not, but the prophecies like the one we have in consideration, and many others which speak of the prominence of David and the house of David in the day when Jehovah will be manifested, make it very clear that among the wandering sons of Israel there are yet lineal descendants of the house of David. If they do not know it themselves, Jehovah knows it, and they will know it through Him. The feeble ones, literally the stumblers, among His people in that day of manifestation will be like David. What a hero David was! A man of war and strength conquering always and never conquered. And now the stumbler in Israel, the weakest one, will have strength and courage like David. And David shall be as God, as the angel of Jehovah before them.
This is another great Messianic prophecy mentioned in the New Testament. In John 19:37 it is written, after the blessed side of our Lord had been pierced, "And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on Him whom they pierced." It is significant that the Holy Spirit speaking in the preceding verse, "that the Scripture be fulfilled," avoids this well known phrase in the verse we quoted and does not say that the looking on Him has been fulfilled. It was not then fulfilled, nor is it fulfilled during the age of Gospel preaching, but its fulfillment comes in the day which is prophetically described in the verses before us. Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7 refer also to this portion of our chapter.
We do not follow the rationalistic reasonings of the school of criticism on this passage, nor do we mention the many question marks which these modern infidels have put over against this great prophecy. One of the mildest critics, Canon Driver, says: "The passage is, however, one of those which our ignorance of the circumstances of the time makes it impossible to interpret as a whole satisfactorily or completely. As the text stands the speaker must be, of course, Yahweh, and it is, no doubt, true that the Jews had pierced Him metaphorically by their rebellion and ingratitude throughout their history.... 'They pierced Him literally as the crowning act of their contumacy, in the Person of His Son on the cross' (T.T. Perowne; quoted by Driver), but these considerations do not explain the passage here." The New Testament quotations as given above are to any believer sufficient evidence that the Lord Jesus Christ is meant, and therefore explain the passage fully.
What a day it will be when the Spirit of grace and supplication comes upon the remnant of His people, when He appears in the clouds of heaven, when they shall see Him and know Him by the pierced side. The great vision of Saul on the road to Damascus will then be repeated; the young Pharisee saw Him as one "born out of due season." He was in his experience the earnest that the remnant of the nation to which Paul belonged would some day pass through the same experience. (See Studies in Zechariah, pp. 120-125.) A great mourning follows. It will be like the mourning in Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddon (2 Chron. 35:22-27 and 2 Kings 23:29). What a day of repentance it will be when this takes place.
1. The cleansing (13:1)
2. The blessed results of the cleansing (13:2-6)
3. The smitten Shepherd (13:7)
4. Salvation and condemnation (13:8-9)
This verse is misplaced; it belongs to the preceding chapter. It is a prophecy of the cleansing of the repenting portion of God's earthly people. The fountain of cleansing, so beautifully expressed by Cowper:
There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel's veins, And sinners plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains--
was in existence through all the centuries of Israel's long dispersion. But the nation in blindness did not believe. Now all is changed. Their guilt is pardoned; all unrighteousness and iniquity is taken away. The Redeemer has come and turned away ungodliness from Jacob (Rom. 11:26, 27). The prophetic Word is filled with promises concerning this future cleansing of the remnant of the nation (Psa. 103:1-4; Isa. 33:24; Ezek. 39:29; Isa. 59:20, 21; Isa. 45:19).
The cleansing is followed by the cutting off of the names of the idols, so that they will no longer be remembered. The false prophets and the unclean spirits, which had control during the great tribulation will be cast out and forever pass away. We have seen before in the 10th chapter that Israel will return to idolatry in the last days. The unclean spirit of idolatry which was cast out will at last return with seven others and will find the house empty, swept, and garnished. And the evil spirit, with the seven others more evil than himself, will enter in and dwell there, so that the last state of Israel becometh worse than the first. This will happen to this evil generation. This section of the 13th chapter makes it very clear that when the fountain is opened against sin and uncleanness, that idols will have been in the land, and false prophets prophesy there immediately before the manifestation of the Lord from heaven; for how could the names of the idols be cut off from the land if there were none there? Palestine may well be put down now as the great centre of false worship. Greek and Latin crosses are seen on all sides in Jerusalem and other places, while saints, holy houses, and places are worshipped and adored.
On the spot where the LORD'S house stood, there stands today the mosque of the false prophet. All is idolatry. Of course when the Lord returns these false temples will be destroyed, and the Greek and Latin idolatries, as well as Islam, will forever pass out of existence. There will be a purging of the land from these abominations. This may be included in the prophecy here. Still, it is the people of Israel who are especially concerned in the prophecy before us. The land has often been the scene of idol worship, and the people engaged in that which Jehovah despises. It will be so again, only in a much worse form, when false prophets who are inspired by the unclean spirit and demons themselves will be their guides.
We must look to Revelation for a key. It is well known to all students of the prophetic word that all which comes after the third chapter in the last book of the Bible is future still. We are yet in the things which are present. When the Lord has taken the Church to Himself then the great visions, tribulations, wrath, and judgment will be fulfilled. Aside from the scenes in heaven we learn from Revelation the events in the earth during the great tribulation which ends with the wrath from heaven. Now in the 9th chapter and the 20th verse of Revelation we read, And the rest of mankind which were not killed with these plagues repented not of the works of their hands that they should not worship demons and the idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.
Who is the person mentioned in verse six? In Studies in Zechariah we speak of this man as representing the counterfeit Christ, imitating the true Christ. But after more careful consideration we have come to the conclusion that this view is untenable. It is Christ Himself. He is here contrasted with the false prophets. It is the Pierced One. After they look upon Him they will inquire about those wounds in His hands and He will answer them, revealing the story of His rejection. This leads to the prophecy in the next verse.
This certainly is Christ, whose rejection, more than His rejection by His own, is here revealed. It is the same as in Isaiah 53, the suffering One, who is a man, and called My Fellow, the fellow of Jehovah of Hosts, Jehovah Himself, who speaks here, and what does He speak? The sword is to work against His Shepherd and against His own Fellow. The blessed mystery of the atonement is thus brought out. Indeed it is the heart of the Gospel here. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have life eternal." The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all. It speaks of Him, the forsaken One, the Son of God, forsaken in the hour of His agony, the sword upon Him and against Him. In the New Testament we find the passage quoted in the Gospel of Matthew, 26th chapter and 31st verse: "Then saith Jesus unto them, all ye shall be offended because of Me this night; for it is written, I will smite the Shepherd and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad."
There is a very misleading idea among many students of prophecy as if the statement of Romans 1:26, "all Israel shall be saved," meant that all the Jews will receive the blessing and the glory on that coming day of salvation. Some of the evil systems, like the Russell cult (International Bible Student Association), go so far as to teach that there will be a resurrection of all the ungodly Jews of past generations for a second chance. This passage silences these unscriptural theories. The promise of restoration and glory belongs to the godly, the believing and repenting remnant. The mass of Jews, who call themselves "Reform Jews," who in reality are infidels, because they deny the Word of God and have completely discarded the faith in a coming Messiah, will be cut off. The third part (the remnant) only will be saved.
1. The last conflict and the manifestation of the Lord (14:1-5)
2. The complete salvation (14:6-11)
3. The punishment of the enemies (14:12-15)
4. The conversion of the world (14:16-19)
5. The holiness of Jerusalem (14:20-21)
Post-millennialism has tried to find some explanation of this chapter, but has failed. The common view that the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70 A.D. is the burden of this prophecy is ridiculous. We read that "all nations will be gathered against Jerusalem." Is this true of the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus? It was only one nation. Did the Lord then go forth and fight against the Romans? No! He used the Romans in judgment. Did His feet stand at that time upon the Mount of Olives? Did He come and all the saints with Him? Were the results of the year 70 the results predicted in the rest of this chapter? Any intelligent Christian must see how foolish it is to interpret this passage as having seen its fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem.
Nor is it true that previous sieges have fulfilled this chapter. Ptolemy Soter took Jerusalem about 315 B.C.; Antiochus the Great took the city in 203 B.C.; the Egyptian Scopus in 199 B.C.; Antiochus Epiphanes in 170 B.C. There were other sieges besides. But none of these sieges is predicted here. It is future.
What siege then is it? Some premillennial expositors have a very convenient way of calling everything "the battle of Armageddon" and claim that the twelfth and the fourteenth chapters predict one and the same event. But this is erroneous. It is not the beast, the head of the ten kingdoms, the Roman revived Empire. The details of prophecy concerning the last events can only be understood by distinguishing between the leaders of opposition. There is the beast, the political head of the western nations, the little horn of Daniel 7. He is in league with the second beast, coming out of the earth, with two horns like a lamb (Rev. 13). This is the false Christ, the man of sin, who is also called in Revelation the false prophet. He has his seat in Jerusalem, where he poses as Israel's Messiah-King and is worshipped as such. Then there is another, the king of the north, typified by the Assyrian, the great invader whom Ezekiel also describes. This king of the north is the sworn enemy of the one who is in Jerusalem, that is the false Messiah; they hate each other. The king of the north heads the confederacy of nations from the East, Russia, Persia, Gomer and different Asiatic nations. Then Jerusalem is finally attacked by these nations. It is this final attack which is described in this chapter (see Joel 2). But then the Lord goes forth, and fights against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle (Exodus 14; 2 Chronicles 20:15-17). He manifests His kingly power and glory in the defense of His city and His people. His feet stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, the place so well known in His earthly life, the place from which He departed to go back to the Father. A great physical upheaval takes place, for the mountain splits in the center, toward the east and west, forming a great valley between. The earthquake mentioned is the same to which Amos refers (Amos 1:1). All this has never been; it is future, and the details of it will probably only be understood at the time of its fulfillment. The valley will be the avenue of escape, and the divided Olivet mountain will be ever after a witness to the literal fulfillment of God's Word.
"And Jehovah my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee." Different manuscripts and versions have instead of "with Thee"--"with Him." But the difficulty is cleared up when we consider that it is the Seer who addresses Jehovah, whose feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives. Zechariah bursts out in speaking to Him, "And Jehovah my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee." What a glorious manifestation it will be when He is present and all His holy angels with Him!
Verses six and seven have been rendered in different ways, and have been differently interpreted.
And it shall come to pass in that day That the light shall not be with brightness and with gloom, And the day shall be one. It shall be known unto Jehovah. Not day and not night. And at evening time there shall be light.
We believe that this passage means the physical phenomena in nature which are always connected with the day of the Lord (Amos 5:18; 8:9; Joel 2:31; Matt. 24:30, and other passages). Changes will then occur which will mean that the present order of day and night are superseded by another order, so that when the evening time comes it will be light. That day will Just be one day of light and glory. The glory light will probably be shining throughout the thousand years, and cover the earth as the waters cover the deep.
From verse eight we learn that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem (Ezek. 47). This must be interpreted as a literal fact, and likewise as a symbol of the great spiritual blessings. "From the holy city go forth westward and eastward the waters which are destined to heal the long miseries of a world groaning under Satan's thralldom, themselves the effect and symbol of the rich blessing which Jehovah then diffuses far and wide, and this above all the changes ordinary in nature; in summer and in winter it shall be. Drought and frost will not affect them; neither will the obstruction of the hilly ground toward the west; the waters shall flow as steadily toward the great sea on the west as to the Dead Sea on the east." The Lord Jesus Christ, Jehovah, then shall be King over all the earth; and His Name shall be one. His throne is established over the earth and He rules the nations in righteousness. In that day of His glorious manifestation His Name will be revealed as the One who on earth declared "I and the Father are One"; He will be known as the One Lord and God, and worshipped as such. All idolatry is at an end and the abominations connected with it are abolished. Confusion is forever ended (Zeph. 3:9).
Other physical changes in the land are indicated in verse ten, and from verse eleven we learn that there shall be no more curse and that Jerusalem shall dwell safely.
This is the description of the dreadful punishment which will befall the enemies in that day. It is to be read in connection with the third verse, the Lord fighting against those nations, and the punishment will be upon them when He appears. Thus it is seen in Revelation 19. He appears, and after His appearing there is the scene of punishment of the enemies. "And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice to all the birds that fly in midheaven, Come and be gathered unto the great supper of God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses and them that sit thereon, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond and small and great" (Rev. 19:17, 18).
"And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against Me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh" (Isa. 66:24).
It is clear from this passage that some nations, or representatives of nations, will be left of those who came against Jerusalem. They, with all the other nations of the world, will then know the Lord and worship Him. The temple will then stand in Jerusalem as the house of glory and a house of prayer for all nations. There will be a perfect worship, grand and glorious, and it will not be confined to Israel, but the nations will join it. We may learn perhaps from this verse that the Lord will leave every year once His place on His throne over the earth and come down to Jerusalem and show Himself in His glory before the worshipping multitudes in the earth, as He is seen in the New Jerusalem above. The occasion is the feast of tabernacles. It is the millennial feast. It is a feast kept in remembrance of Israel's journey through the wilderness for forty years and all their subsequent wanderings. It stands also for the ingathering of the full harvest. It is a feast of joy, praise, and thanksgiving. The Jews keep it to the present day, though few know the full meaning of it. Every year when it comes again they read this 14th chapter of Zechariah. It is strange indeed. What a glorious feast that will be, kept there in Jerusalem, when the fullness at last has come! The fullness of the Gentiles has been gathered in, and is in the New Jerusalem; the fullness of Israel has come in the earth, and their receiving has been life from the dead, and Gentiles know the glory of the Lord. Some find a difficulty here in the fact that it is stated that the nations, the residue of men, are to come up to Jerusalem, and the difficulty is that it will be impossible for all of them to do that. It is not at all necessary that every individual must go up to Jerusalem once in a year. Perhaps every nation will send representatives to the feast of tabernacles, and they come in the name of the different nations and bring their presents. This seems to be indicated in the visit of the wise men from the East, who came to Bethlehem to worship the new-born King (Matthew 2). They brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. In Isaiah 60:6 we read of the coming of the Gentiles to Jerusalem when the Lord has come again. They shall come from Sheba; they shall bring gold and frankincense (the myrrh is left out here, for it speaks of suffering), and shall proclaim the praises of the Lord. As the wise men who came to Bethlehem were representatives of nations, so during the Millennium the nations will send delegations to the feast of tabernacles. What a scene that must be! How crowded Jerusalem will be by those from Greenland and from the interior of Africa, from India and the islands of the sea, as well as from the nations which composed the Roman empire. The ends of the earth have seen the salvation of God, and now their praise is heard in the city and mingling with the psalms sung by His own redeemed people.
On the other hand verses 17-19 acquaint us with the fact that even during the coming age of the kingdom-glory there will be disobedience among the nations, which will be fully demonstrated at the close of the Millennium, when a final revolt takes place.
The most holy person in Israel, the high-priest, carried the inscription, "Holiness to Jehovah" around his mitre, but now even the little bells of the horses bear that inscription. In that temple which stands during the Millennium, sacrifices will be brought, but there will be no difference in the vessels which are used in Jerusalem, the meanest and smallest will be holy. In one word, all will be holy, all will be consecrated to Jehovah. What a perfect service that will be of the people which are then, in truth, a holy people. Application can be made of this to believers now. Surely everything the saint has, and his whole life, must be thus consecrated to Jehovah, to the Lord. No Canaanite will be there, nothing unclean. The Vulgate translates the word Canaanite with merchant. It stands, however, for everything that is unclean and an abomination. The city will be completely purged from it.
And of the New Jerusalem it is written, "There shall in no wise enter into it any thing unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie, but only they that are written in the Lamb's book of life.... Without are the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie" (Rev. 21:27 and 22:15).