In this chapter we confront some exciting and complex prophecies related to the coming of the Messiah. One of them describes Jesus standing on top of the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and splitting the mountain in two with a great earthquake. Will this be a literal splitting of the mountain in half, or is this cataclysmic prophecy symbolic of some great spiritual shaking?
Well, let’s dig in and see if we can figure some of these prophecies out.
THE DAY OF THE LORD
Zechariah 14:1 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
What is the “day of the LORD”? Most often when you see this phrase it has to do with God coming to judge nations. It means He is coming for war. This is a stern warning to the nations. You had better be on the Lord’s side or you’re going to get it. The LORD is coming for war!
Zechariah 14:2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. There are several schools of thought on the meaning of Jerusalem here. Some believe this to be a reference to the literal city, some believe Jerusalem is a symbol of the church, and others believe Jerusalem and Israel are prophetic names referring to America as the new nation of Israel - One Nation Under God. The reason many don’t take this to be a reference to the Jews and the literal city of Jerusalem is because the Jewish nation rejected Jesus as the Messiah (John 1:11). Thus Jesus told the Jewish leaders that: “The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation brining forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43).
It’s a complex debate, but I tend to go with Jerusalem being either the symbol of the Church or America. But I won’t entirely rule out the idea that literal Jerusalem is to be understood here because the apostle Paul said that: “blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11:24-25).
It’s also interesting to note that in 70 A.D. the Romans put together a multinational army to destroy Jerusalem, but this verse seems to be speaking of a future event - perhaps a time when the whole world will come against the true Church or against the city of Jerusalem. We’ll see.
In a sense, this verse can be applied now as we’re beginning to see Christianity surrounded and assaulted more and more as time goes on. Indeed at this time our churches are being ravished with false doctrines and Christians are being persecuted for standing up for the moral laws of God.
Zechariah 14:3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
The entire book of Joshua records the history of the “wars of the Lord”. This is a time when God fought against the heathen nations that inhabited the land of Canaan. Though Joshua was their leader it was really God who led the Israelites out to those battles. God was their commander in chief (See Joshua 5:14). Even though he was not often seen with physical eyes, he was there.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MOUNT OF OLIVES
Zechariah 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. Wow! Is the mount of Olives really going to split in two? Is this to be taken literally?
First it’s important to know that the mount of Olives played a very significant role during the ministry of Jesus Christ at his first coming. Jesus and his disciples spent a lot of time there. This is the spot where Jesus gave his teachings concerning the end times (Matthew 24), the place where Jesus began his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21), where he was arrested (Matthew 26:30-57), where he may have been crucified (Matthew 27:51-54), where he may have resurrected, and is the place where he ascended into heaven (Acts 1:1-12).
Those who hold onto the literal view believe that since Jesus ascended up to heaven from the mount of Olives that he will also descend upon the that mountain when he comes back at the second advent, and when he does, the mountain will literally be split in two.
Many who view this splitting of the mountain as symbolic believe this prophecy was at least in part fulfilled by Jesus at his first coming. They see Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom from that mountain as a “spiritual” earthquake that shook the pagan world and made a valley of escape for those who were entrapped by sin.
Many with this view believe Jesus was actually crucified on the mount of Olives directly in line of sight with the east gate of the Temple in Jerusalem opposite of the mount of Olives on Mount Zion. If this were true, then when Jesus gave up the spirit and the veil of the Temple was rent from top to bottom when the great earthquake hit (Matthew 27:51), that Jesus was hanging on the cross facing directly into the holy of holies (Hebrews 10:19-20). So instead of being only a prophecy of the second advent this great valley caused by Jesus’ feet touching the mount of Olives would be symbolic of a spiritual valley where believers can escape the wrath of God by the blood atonement of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
Wow! If that’s the case, this prophecy is a vivid picture of Jesus’ saving power towards us and not anything to do with earthly Jerusalem. Or it could be a prophecy with a dual meaning, one for the first coming and one for the second. At least now you have some food for thought.
JESUS OFFERS AN ESCAPE FROM GOD’S WRATH
Zechariah 14:5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. The picture being drawn for us is Jesus opening up an escape route out of Jerusalem directly through the mount of Olives to escape the wrath of God coming upon Jerusalem. Jesus did say, “when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains: and let them which are in the midst of it depart out: and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto” (Luke 21:20-21).
Whatever the meaning, the only we can escape the judgment of God is through the valley Jesus opened up for us by his sacrifice on the cross.
Thus the message could be summed by saying, “CLING TO JESUS AND FLEE FROM YOUR SINS!”
Zechariah 14:6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: As children of light, we are never in darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:4).
Zechariah 14:7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. Just like it was when Joshua prayed for the sun to not go down for a whole day, and God listened, so Israel could win the battle against the pagan king, Adonizedek king of Jerusalem (Joshua 10).
Think about that. We have a God who can stop the sun and moon to give us the victory!
RIVERS OF LIVING WATERS = HOLY SPIRIT
Zechariah 14:8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles during his earthly ministry “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive” John 7:37-39).
Could this prophecy of the living waters be symbolic of the holy spirit that flowed through the Apostles in Jerusalem and then out to the world beginning on Pentecost day? (See Acts 2)
Zechariah 14:9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
When Jesus gave his apostles the commandment to teach the gospel to all nations after his resurrection Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). Is Zechariah 14:9 a foretelling of this?
Zechariah 14:10 All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses.
Zechariah 14:11 And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited. These verses are drawing a picture of Jerusalem being filled with people who are living in peace, probably referring spiritually to those dwelling safely in the gospel of Jesus Christ - Heavenly Jerusalem as opposed to earthly Jerusalem (Revelation 21-22).
The writer of Hebrews says, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven” (Hebrews 12:22-23).
Zechariah 14:12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
A stern warning to the nations. Don’t mess with God’s remnant who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12) or you will be obliterated.
Zechariah 14:13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.
God will send confusion and chaos upon those who reject him as their King. How is your life doing?
Zechariah 14:14 And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.
Many of the present day non-believing Jews living in Israel today believe this verse applies to them. They believe God is going to give them the riches of all the nations. I hate to disappoint them, this spoil belongs to the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ - the overcomers (Revelation 2:26), not to non-Christian Jews (Revelation 2:9, 3:9).
Zechariah 14:15 And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague. Again, total obliteration. Even the animals of our enemies are destroyed.
WILL THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES BE ENFORCED WORLDWIDE?
Zechariah 14:16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. Will traveling to the city of Jerusalem for the entire world to observe the feast of tabernacles be mandatory sometime in the future, like during what many people refer to as the millennial reign of Christ? That would be a lot of people! I don’t believe that’s what this is talking about. I believe this verse must be interpreted symbolically, meaning all nations and kings must submit to the rule of our Lord Jesus Christ (Psalms 2).
It’s hard to look at this verse literally because Jesus said, “Believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father…But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:21, 23).
I just have a hard time believing God only “temporarily” seeks spiritual worship rather than physical attendance and that he is going to reinstitute pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles.
In addition, the Apostle Paul says that Jesus blotted out the handwriting of ordinances and nailed them to his cross. He went on further to say, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days. Which are a shadow of things to come: but the body is of Christ” (Colossians 2:14-17).
All of the feast day pilgrimages appear to have culminated in Christ. All nations must be in Christ. Every knee shall bow (Romans 14:11).
Zechariah 14:17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.
Zechariah 14:18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
Zechariah 14:19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. Curses, not blessings will fall on those who reject our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s true today.
COMMON THINGS WILL BE HOLY TO THE LORD
Zechariah 14:20 In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. When the ordinances of the Temple were in place only certain vessels like gold and silver bowls could be used in ceremonial acts of worship. Here it says that the very common things like the pots in the LORD’S house shall be elevated to a place of high importance in worship. Of course we’re not talking about literal clay pots, we’re talking about people!
Remember, the ordinances of Temple worship were nailed to the cross. We no longer follow Temple rituals, we now worship The Father in spirit and truth (John 4:23).
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
We are now the holy vessels of God!
Zechariah 14:21 Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.
The reference to the “Canaanite” here refers to merchants in the Temple. Remember when Jesus went into the Temple and overthrew the tables of the money changers who made God’s house into a house of merchandize rather than a house of prayer for all people? Jesus was cleaning house (Matthew 21:12-13).
Church is not the place to sell merchandize for profit.
In conclusion, I believe many of the prophecies in this chapter and book were fulfilled spiritually during Jesus’ first coming. Like the splitting of Mount Olivet, the continuous day for God’s people, and the plagues brought upon disobedient nations. With that being said, I do not rule out a more literal fulfillment of these prophecies in the future when Jesus comes back. It’s entirely possible that Jesus will literally split Mount Olivet in two when he returns. We’ll see. That would be a pretty simplistic fulfillment of that prophecy. And if there is one thing I’ve learned from studying prophecy, it’s not usually easy to understand, especially for the natural man. That’s why Jesus said, “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).