The sufferings of Jerusalem. (1-7) Encouraging prospects, and the destruction of her enemies. (8-15) The holiness of the latter days. (16-21)
Verses 1-7 The Lord Jesus often stood upon the Mount of Olives when on earth. He ascended from thence to heaven, and then desolations and distresses came upon the Jewish nation. Such is the view taken of this figuratively; but many consider it as a notice of events yet unfulfilled, and that it relates to troubles of which we cannot now form a full idea. Every believer, being related to God as his God, may triumph in the expectation of Christ's coming in power, and speak of it with pleasure. During a long season, the state of the church would be deformed by sin; there would be a mixture of truth and error, of happiness and misery. Such is the experience of God's people, a mingled state of grace and corruption. But, when the season is at the worst, and most unpromising, the Lord will turn darkness into light; deliverance comes when God's people have done looking for it.
Verses 8-15 Some consider that the progress of the gospel, beginning from Jerusalem, is referred to by the living waters flowing from that city. Neither shall the gospel and means of grace, nor the graces of the Spirit wrought in the hearts of believers by those means, ever fail, by reason either of the heat of persecution, or storms of temptation, or the blasts of any other affliction. Tremendous judgments appear to be foretold, to be sent upon those who should oppose the settlement of the Jews in their own land. How far they are to be understood literally, events alone can determine. The furious rage and malice which stir up men against each other, are faint shadows of the enmity which reigns among those who have perished in their sins. Even the inferior creatures often suffer for the sin of man, and in his plagues. Thus God will show his displeasure against sin.
Verses 16-21 As it is impossible for all nations literally to come to Jerusalem once a year, to keep a feast, it is evident that a figurative meaning must here be applied. Gospel worship is represented by the keeping of the feast of tabernacles. Every day of a Christian's life is a day of the feast of tabernacles; every Lord's day especially is the great day of the feast; therefore every day let us worship the Lord of hosts, and keep every Lord's day with peculiar solemnity. It is just for God to withhold the blessings of grace from those who do not attend the means of grace. It is a sin that is its own punishment; those who forsake the duty, forfeit the privilege of communion with God. A time of complete peace and purity of the church will arrive. Men will carry on their common affairs, and their sacred services, upon the same holy principles of faith, love and obedience. Real holiness shall be more diffused, because there shall be a more plentiful pouring forth of the Spirit of holiness than ever before. There shall be holiness even in common things. Every action and every enjoyment of the believer, should be so regulated according to the will of God, that it may be directed to his glory. Our whole lives should be as one constant sacrifice, or act of devotion; no selfish motive should prevail in any of our actions. But how far is the Christian church from this state of purity! Other times, however, are at hand, and the Lord will reform and enlarge his church, as he has promised. Yet in heaven alone will perfect holiness and happiness be found.
Zechariah 14:1-21 . LAST STRUGGLE WITH THE HOSTILE WORLD POWERS: MESSIAH-JEHOVAH SAVES JERUSALEM AND DESTROYS THE FOE, OF WHOM THE REMNANT TURNS TO THE LORD REIGNING AT JERUSALEM.
1. day of the Lord--in which He shall vindicate His justice by punishing the wicked and then saving His elect people ( Joel 2:31 , 3:14 , Malachi 4:1 Malachi 4:5 ).
thy spoil . . . divided in the midst of thee--by the foe; secure of victory, they shall not divide the spoil taken from thee in their camp outside, but "in the midst" of the city itself.
2. gather all nations, &c.--The prophecy seems literal (compare Joel 3:2 ). If Antichrist be the leader of the nations, it seems inconsistent with the statement that he will at this time be sitting in the temple as God at Jerusalem ( 2 Thessalonians 2:4 ); thus Antichrist outside would be made to besiege Antichrist within the city. But difficulties do not set aside revelations: the event will clear up seeming difficulties. Compare the complicated movements, Daniel 11:1-45 .
half . . . the residue--In Zechariah 13:8 Zechariah 13:9 , it is "two-thirds" that perish, and "the third" escapes. There, however, it is "in all the land"; here it is "half of the city." Two-thirds of the "whole people" perish, one-third survives. One-half of the citizens are led captive, the residue are not cut off. Perhaps, too, we ought to translate, "a (not 'the') residue."
3. Then--In Jerusalem's extremity.
as . . . in . . . day of battle--as when Jehovah fought for Israel against the Egyptians at the Red Sea ( Exodus 14:14 , 15:3 ). As He then made a way through the divided sea, so will He now divide in two "the Mount of Olives" ( Zechariah 14:4 ).
4. The object of the cleaving of the mount in two by a fissure or valley (a prolongation of the valley of Jehoshaphat, and extending from Jerusalem on the west towards Jordan, eastward) is to open a way of escape to the besieged (compare Joel 3:12 Joel 3:14 ). Half the divided mount is thereby forced northward, half southward; the valley running between. The place of His departure at His ascension shall be the place of His return: and the "manner" of His return also shall be similar ( Acts 1:11 ). He shall probably "come from the east" ( Matthew 24:27 ). He so made His triumphal entry into the city from the Mount of Olives from the east ( Matthew 21:1-10 ). This was the scene of His agony: so it shall be the scene of His glory. Compare Ezekiel 11:23 , with Ezekiel 43:2 , "from the way of the east.
5. ye shall flee to the valley--rather "through the valley," as in 2 Samuel 2:29 . The valley made by the cleaving asunder of the Mount of Olives ( Zechariah 14:4 ) is designed to be their way of escape, not their place of refuge [MAURER]. JEROME is on the side of English Version. If it be translated so, it will mean, Ye shall flee "to" the valley, not to hide there, but as the passage through which an escape may be effected. The same divinely sent earthquake which swallows up the foe, opens out a way of escape to God's people. The earthquake in Uzziah's days is mentioned ( Amos 1:1 ) as a recognized epoch in Jewish history. Compare also Isaiah 6:1 : perhaps the same year that Jehovah held His heavenly court and gave commission to Isaiah for the Jews, an earthquake in the physical world, as often happens ( Matthew 24:7 ), marked momentous movements in the unseen spiritual world.
of the mountains--rather, "of My mountains," namely, Zion and Moriah, peculiarly sacred to Jehovah [MOORE]. Or, the mountains formed by My cleaving Olivet into two [MAURER].
Azal--the name of a place near a gate east of the city. The Hebrew means "adjoining" [HENDERSON]. Others give the meaning, "departed," "ceased." The valley reaches up to the city gates, so as to enable the fleeing citizens to betake themselves immediately to it on leaving the city.
Lord my God . . . with thee--The mention of the "Lord my God" leads the prophet to pass suddenly to a direct address to Jehovah. It is as if "lifting up his head" ( Luke 21:28 ), he suddenly sees in vision the Lord coming, and joyfully exclaims, "All the saints with Thee!" So Isaiah 25:9 .
saints--holy angels escorting the returning King ( Matthew 24:30 Matthew 24:31 , Jude 1:14 ); and redeemed men ( 1 Corinthians 15:23 , 1 Thessalonians 3:13 , 4:14 ). Compare the similar mention of the "saints" and "angels" at His coming on Sinai ( Deuteronomy 32:2 Deuteronomy 32:3 , Acts 7:53 , Galatians 3:19 , Hebrews 2:2 ). Phillips thinks Azal is Ascalon on the Mediterranean. An earthquake beneath Messiah's tread will divide Syria, making from Jerusalem to Azal a valley which will admit the ocean waters from the west to the Dead Sea. The waters will rush down the valley of Arabah, the old bed of the Jordan, clear away the sand-drift of four thousand years, and cause the commerce of Petra and Tyre to center in the holy city. The Dead Sea rising above its shores will overflow by the valley of Edom, completing the straits of Azal into the Red Sea. Thus will be formed the great pool of Jerusalem (compare Zechariah 14:8 , Ezekiel 47:1 , &c. Joel 3:18 ). Euphrates will be the north boundary, and the Red Sea the south. Twenty-five miles north and twenty-five miles south of Jerusalem will form one side of the fifty miles square of the Lord's Holy Oblation ( Ezekiel 48:1-35 ). There are seven spaces of fifty miles each from Jerusalem northward to the Euphrates, and five spaces of fifty miles each southward to the Red Sea. Thus there are thirteen equal distances on the breadth of the future promised land, one for the oblation and twelve for the tribes, according to Ezekiel 48:1-35 . That the Euphrates north, Mediterranean west, the Nile and Red Sea south, are to be the future boundaries of the holy land, which will include Syria and Arabia, is favored by Genesis 15:8 , Exodus 23:31 , Deuteronomy 11:24 , Joshua 1:4 , 1 Kings 4:21 , 2 Chronicles 9:26 , Isaiah 27:12 ; all which was partially realized in Solomon's reign, shall be antitypically so hereafter. The theory, if true, will clear away many difficulties in the way of the literal interpretation of this chapter and Ezekiel 48:1-35 .
6. light . . . not . . . clear . . . dark--JEROME, Chaldee, Syriac, and Septuagint translate, "There shall not be light, but cold and ice"; that is, a day full of horror ( Amos 5:18 ). But the Hebrew for "clear" does not mean "cold," but "precious," "splendid" (compare Job 31:26 ). CALVIN translates, "The light shall not be clear, but dark" (literally, "condensation," that is, thick mist); like a dark day in which you can hardly distinguish between day and night. English Version accords with Zechariah 14:7 : "There shall not be altogether light nor altogether darkness," but an intermediate condition in which sorrows shall be mingled with joys.
7. one day--a day altogether unique, different from all others [MAURER]. Compare "one," that is, unique ( Solomon 6:9 , Jeremiah 30:7 ). Not as HENDERSON explains, "One continuous day, without night" ( Revelation 22:5 , 21:25 ); the millennial period ( Revelation 20:3-7 ).
known to . . . Lord--This truth restrains man's curiosity and teaches us to wait the Lord's own time ( Matthew 24:36 ).
not day, nor night--answering to "not . . . clear nor . . . dark" ( Zechariah 14:6 ); not altogether daylight, yet not the darkness of night.
at evening . . . shall be light--Towards the close of this twilight-like time of calamity, "light" shall spring up ( Psalms 97:11 , 112:4 , Isaiah 30:26 , Isaiah 60:19 Isaiah 60:20 ).
8. living waters--( Ezekiel 47:1 , Joel 3:18 ).
former sea--that is, the front, or east, which Orientalists face in taking the points of the compass; the Dead Sea.
hinder sea--the west or Mediterranean.
summer . . . winter--neither dried up by heat, nor frozen by cold; ever flowing.
9. king over all . . . earth-- Isaiah 54:5 implies that this is to be the consequence of Israel being again recognized by God as His own people ( Daniel 2:44 , Revelation 11:15 ).
one Lord . . . name one--Not that He is not so already, but He shall then be recognized by all unanimously as "One." Now there are "gods many and lords many." Then Jehovah alone shall be worshipped. The manifestation of the unity of the Godhead shall be simultaneous with that of the unity of the Church. Believers are one in spirit already, even as God is one ( Ephesians 4:3-6 ). But externally there are sad divisions. Not until these disappear, shall God reveal fully His unity to the world ( John 17:21 John 17:23 ). Then shall there be "a pure language, that all may call upon the name of the Lord with one consent" ( Zephaniah 3:9 ). The Son too shall at last give up His mediatorial kingdom to the Father, when the purposes for which it was established shall have been accomplished, "that God may be all in all" ( 1 Corinthians 15:24 ).
10. turned--or, "changed round about": literally, "to make a circuit." The whole hilly land round Jerusalem, which would prevent the free passage of the living waters, shall be changed so as to be "as a (or the) plain" ( Isaiah 40:4 ).
from Geba to Rimmon--Geba ( 2 Kings 23:8 ) in Benjamin, the north border of Judah. Rimmon, in Simeon ( Joshua 15:32 ), the south border of Judah; not the Rimmon northeast of Michmash. "The plain from Geba to Rimmon" (that is, from one boundary to the other) is the Arabah or plain of the Jordan, extending from the Sea of Tiberias to the Elanitic Gulf of the Red Sea.
it shall be lifted up--namely, Jerusalem shall be exalted, the hills all round being lowered ( Micah 4:1 ).
inhabited in her place--( Zechariah 12:6 ).
from Benjamin's gate--leading to the territory of Benjamin. The same as Ephraim's gate, the north boundary of the city ( 2 Kings 14:13 ).
the first gate--west of the city [GROTIUS]. "The place of," &c. implies that the gate itself was then not in existence. "The old gate" ( Nehemiah 3:6 ).
the corner gate--east of the city [GROTIUS]. Or the "corner" joining the north and west parts of the wall [VILLALPANDUS]. GROTIUS thinks "corners" refers to the towers there built (compare Zephaniah 3:6 , Margin).
tower of Hananeel--south of the city, near the sheep gate ( Nehemiah 3:1 , 12:39 , Jeremiah 31:38 ) [GROTIUS].
king's wine-presses--( Solomon 8:11 ). In the interior of the city, at Zion [GROTIUS].
11. no more utter destruction--( Jeremiah 31:40 ). Literally, "no more curse" ( Revelation 22:3 ; compare Malachi 4:6 ), for there will be no more sin. Temporal blessings and spiritual prosperity shall go together in the millennium: long life ( Isaiah 65:20-22 ), peace ( Isaiah 2:4 ), honor ( Isaiah 60:14-16 ), righteous government ( Isaiah 54:14 , 60:18 ). Judgment, as usual, begins at the house of God, but then falls fatally on Antichrist, whereon the Church obtains perfect liberty. The last day will end everything evil ( Romans 8:21 ) [AUBERLEN].
12. Punishment on the foe, the last Antichristian confederacy (Isaiah 59:18,66:24'Ezekiel 38:1-39:29'Revelation 19:17-21'). A living death: the corruption ( Galatians 6:8 ) of death combined in ghastly union with the conscious sensibility of life. Sin will be felt by the sinner in all its loathsomeness, inseparably clinging to him as a festering, putrid body.
13. tumult--consternation ( Zechariah 12:4 , 1 Samuel 14:15 1 Samuel 14:20 ).
lay hold . . . on . . . hand of . . . neighbour--instinctively grasping it, as if thereby to be safer, but in vain [MENOCHIUS]. Rather, in order to assail "his neighbor" [CALVIN], ( Ezekiel 38:21 ). Sin is the cause of all quarrels on earth. It will cause endless quarrels in hell ( james 3:15 james 3:16 ).
14. Judah . . . fight at Jerusalem--namely, against the foe: not against Jerusalem, as MAURER translates in variance with the context. As to the spoil gained from the foe, compare Ezekiel 39:10 Ezekiel 39:17 .
15. The plague shall affect the very beasts belonging to the foe. A typical foretaste of all this befell Antiochus Epiphanes and his host at Jerusalem (I Maccabees 13:49; II Maccabees 9:5).
16. every one . . . left--( Isaiah 66:19 Isaiah 66:23 ). God will conquer all the foes of the Church, Some He will destroy; others He will bring into willing subjection.
from year to year--literally, "from the sufficiency of a year in a year."
feast of tabernacles--The other two great yearly feasts, passover and pentecost, are not specified, because, their antitypes having come, the types are done away with. But the feast of tabernacles will be commemorative of the Jews' sojourn, not merely forty years in the wilderness, but for almost two thousand years of their dispersion. So it was kept on their return from the Babylonian dispersion ( Nehemiah 8:14-17 ). It was the feast on which Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem ( Matthew 21:8 ); a pledge of His return to His capital to reign (compare Leviticus 23:34 Leviticus 23:39 Leviticus 23:40 Leviticus 23:42 , Revelation 7:9 , 21:3 ). A feast of peculiar joy ( Psalms 118:15 , Hosea 12:9 ). The feast on which Jesus gave the invitation to the living waters of salvation ("Hosanna," save us now, was the cry, Matthew 21:9 ; compare Psalms 118:25 Psalms 118:26 ) ( John 7:2 John 7:37 ). To the Gentiles, too, it will be significant of perfected salvation after past wanderings in a moral wilderness, as it originally commemorated the ingathering of the harvest. The seedtime of tears shall then have issued in the harvest of joy [MOORE]. "All the nations" could not possibly in person go up to the feast, but they may do so by representatives.
17. no rain--including every calamity which usually follows in the East from want of rain, namely, scarcity of provisions, famine, pestilence, &c. Rain is the symbol also of God's favor ( Hosea 6:3 ). That there shall be unconverted men under the millennium appears from the outbreak of God and Magog at the end of it ( Revelation 20:7-9 ); but they, like Satan their master, shall be restrained during the thousand years. Note, too, from this verse that the Gentiles shall come up to Jerusalem, rather than the Jews go as missionaries to the Gentiles ( Isaiah 2:2 , Micah 5:7 ). However, Isaiah 66:19 may imply the converse.
18. if . . . Egypt go not up--specified as Israel's ancient foe. If Egypt go not up, and so there be no rain on them (a judgment which Egypt would condemn, as depending on the Nile's overflow, not on rain), there shall be the plague . . . . Because the guilty are not affected by one judgment, let them not think to escape, for God has other judgments which shall plague them. MAURER translates, "If Egypt go not up, upon them also there shall be none" (no rain). Psalms 105:32 mentions "rain" in Egypt. But it is not their main source of fertility.
19. punishment--literally, "sin"; that is, "punishment for sin."
20. shall there be upon the bells--namely, this inscription, "Holiness to the Lord," the same as was on the miter of the high priest ( Exodus 28:36 ). This implies that all things, even the most common, shall be sacred to Jehovah, and not merely the things which under the law had peculiar sanctity attached to them. The "bells" were metal plates hanging from the necks of horses and camels as ornaments, which tinkled (as the Hebrew root means) by striking against each other. Bells attached to horses are found represented on the walls of Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik.
pots . . . like . . . bowls--the vessels used for boiling, for receiving ashes, &c., shall be as holy as the bowls used for catching the blood of the sacrificial victims 1 Samuel 2:14 ). The priesthood of Christ will be explained more fully both by the Mosaic types and by the New Testament in that temple of which Ezekiel speaks. Then the Song of Solomon, now obscure, will be understood, for the marriage feast of the Lamb will be celebrated in heaven ( Revelation 19:1-21 ), and on earth it will be a Solomonic period, peaceful, glorious, and nuptial. There will be no king but a prince; the sabbatic period of the judges will return, but not with the Old Testament, but New Testament glory ( Isaiah 1:26 , Ezekiel 45:1-25 ) [ROOS].
21. every pot--even in private houses, as in the temple, shall be deemed holy, so universal shall be the consecration of all things and persons to Jehovah.
take of them--as readily as they would take of the pots of the temple itself, whatever number they wanted for sacrifice.
no . . . Canaanite--no unclean or ungodly person ( Isaiah 35:8 , 52:1 , Joel 3:17 ). Compare as to the final state subsequent to the millennium, Revelation 21:27 , 22:15 . MAURER not so well translates "merchant" here, as in Proverbs 31:24 . If a man would have the beginnings of heaven, it must be by absolute consecration of everything to God on earth. Let his life be a liturgy, a holy service of acted worship [MOORE].