Zechariah is not an easy book for a lot of people to read; It is one of the most apocalyptic texts in the Old Testament (after Daniel), which really just takes the challenges of prophetic literature and dials them up to 11. Let’s take a look at some of the images found in this final chapter of Zechariah.
Behold, a day is coming for the Lord, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle…
The chapter begins with a “Day of the Lord” reference. Like “D-Day” when talking about the second world war, the Day of the Lord is a title for the time of a great invasion, a the decisive turning point in the great spiritual war. We understand this in two parts: first, the Cross, and second, the return of Christ. There are many moments in history that serve as pictures for these moments of ultimate spiritual importance, such as the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, the desecration of the Temple by the Greeks, the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans… yet all these serve merely as pictures of the greater judgment that takes place when Christ was crucified and when Christ will return again.
It is an error of certain Protestant sects to mis-read Old Testament prophetic literature, especially the apocalyptic writings, without Christ in mind. What follows in this chapter, to finish the book, is not a visual prediction of future events, but a prototype or foreshadowing of judgment day when Christ returns to Earth to consumate his kingdom forever. Don’t try to figure out what’s going to happen to the geography of Palestinian mountains and valleys in verses 4 & 5, but rather, focus on the fact that “the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him” at the end of the age.
“There shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light,” (14:6), because Christ himself is the light of the world.
“On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem,” (14:7) just as Jesus promised of the Holy Spirit in John 4:14 and especially 7:37-39.
“And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance.” (14:14) Think of texts like Isaiah 60, which also depict the nations bringing their wealth to Jerusalem to honor the Lord. These are pictures, not of earthly nations paying homage to the earthly nation of Israel, but of gentile believers turning to worship the God of Israel – Jesus. So don’t get carried away with the images of wars and horrible plagues and panics; those are exactly what sin is. Only the victory of the returning Christ will bring all the terrors of sin to an end in this world; the epic apocalyptic style just makes spiritual reality more vivid.
Similarly, we aren’t literally going to go to Jerusalem “year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths” (14:16), for that holy day has been and subsumed under the New Pentecost – the gift of the Holy Spirit. No longer must we celebrate the days of the Exodus when our forefathers dwelt in booths (or tents) and received the Word of God on tablets of stone; rather we now celebrate the greater present reality that we ourselves are dwellings of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). That’s why in Revelation, the end-times city image doesn’t have a temple building at all (Revelation 12:2).
Thanks be to God!