Book of Zechariah Chapter 14 Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
The Day Of The Lord
Do you see the future? You're likely as blind to the future as everybody else, but even if you happen to be some kind of prophet, you only see a narrow part of what will happen and may not understand what it means. God, on the other hand, sees it all and does understand. He has intimate knowledge of every facet of your future, mine, and everybody else's. He is aware of each sunny day that will come and all the storms that will enter our lives. Chapter 14 is a look at the future, especially as to the nation Israel, revealed in advance, viewed by Almighty God...and emphasizing the events that lead up to what is called the "Millennium."
Can you perceive color? Some humans cannot, and it's true of most animals. Can you see at all? Most of us don't fully appreciate what we have been given...until we lose it, and then comes the angry cry: "How could this happen to ME?" On the other hand, there is an indescribable JOY in those who have lost it all, and then somehow got it back. Verse 1 is a promise for the future: "Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you." This is especially a promise to Israel, but it is also a pledge to all who have faith in the Lord: Here on earth, everything is going to be lost, if not in this life, then certainly when we die, but don't lose hope. Trust in the Lord, for God intends more for us than we could ever imagine. Do you remember that Jesus kept on breaking five loaves of bread and two fish into pieces and fed thousands of men, women and children? (Matthew 14:17-21). Eternity will be like that...a little will be more than enough. And it's true right now—have faith—He is the Supplier of your need.
The prophet Zechariah's words were spoken to a people whose parents had seen the destruction of Jerusalem by an invading Babylonian army, and they would have been unsettled to learn it was to happen again. Was it to be in their lifetimes? (No wonder God's prophets were so unpopular). Verse 2 shouts the words, "For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city." It did happen just that way in 70 AD. Proud Jewish leaders felt triumph in the death of Jesus Christ, but in less than a generation, everything they had and were—was destroyed by the legions of Rome. The suggestion of these verses, however, is that it will happen again, toward the end of the "Great Tribulation."
Note the progression, however, from that verse into Verse 3—"Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle." He very openly is the God who gathers the nations against Jerusalem, ending in its defeat, but then He will fight against those very same attackers. As a last resort, God will allow great trouble into our lives, with the intention that our self-righteousness and pride will be done away—replaced by the faith, hope and love we were always meant to have. Remember that our enemies had a choice when God called them to come and fight us, and so God will fight against THEIR self-righteousness and pride, just as He does with you and me.
Notice that "nature" does the bidding of God. He can whistle and bring forth an earthquake or an asteroid, anytime he wants. The fact that relatively few such events occur in most generations is because of His mercy. But here in Verse 4 is a big earthquake indeed: "In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south." The interesting effect of this earthquake will be to open a large, flat valley to the east, creating a way for advancing armies from Arabian and Persian lands.
Verse 5—"You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!" Interestingly, something like this did happen during the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Jewish believers in the Lord Jesus Christ remembered His words in Matthew 24:16, "Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." The Romans under General Titus inexplicably pulled back from the walls of Jerusalem for a short time, and God's people fled to safety. "Azel" can mean "near to," indicating that the new valley would reach the outskirts of Jerusalem. "Uzziah" became king of Judah in 792 BC, when he was 16. An earthquake in relation to him is mentioned in Amos 1:1. It seems likely from the context that the earthquake and the creation of a new valley to the east is actually an event at the end of the "Great Tribulation," a time yet in the future.
It will be a strange, ethereal day, in which (Verses 6-7), "...there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. For it will be a unique day which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light." God is in charge of our earth and the universe, to an extent that would astound us, if we even remotely began to understand. In the afternoon when Jesus was on the cross, "there was darkness over all the land...the earth quaked and the rocks were split (at His death)...and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many" (Matthew 27:45-53). Describing the "New Jerusalem" in our future, John the Apostle breathlessly exclaimed, "the city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light" (Revelation 21:2, 23). God is in control of everything, and He is all we need.
God gives us words greater than we are, and no doubt Zechariah was amazed as he said in Verse 8, "in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter.
God Will Be King over All." Ezekiel had a similar vision from a slightly different perspective: "there was water flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east..." (Ezekiel 47:1). And John noticed the original source of that "water," flowing as it does "from the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Revelation 22:1). You'll likely recall the statement of Jesus to the woman at the well that He "would have given (her) living water...springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:10-14).
Verse 9 establishes when these events will occur by stating, "And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one." Now, the Lord IS our King, and He always was, but He will be seen and acknowledged by everyone on earth only during the time of what is called the "Millennium." This verse marks the conclusion of the "Great Tribulation" when "the devil"...(is) bound...for a thousand years" (Revelation 20:1-2). The word "millennium" is Latin for "1,000 years," a literal time in the future when "the Lord (Jesus Christ) will be king over all the earth...and His name the only one."
Verse 10 describes both a change in geography and an adjustment in attitude: "All the land will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; but Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site from Benjamin’s Gate as far as the place of the First Gate to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s wine presses." John the Baptist, who emerged before the public appearances of the Lord Jesus Christ, quoted Isaiah 40:3-5 in defining his own ministry: "...Prepare the way of the Lord. Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill brought low; and the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God" (Luke 3:4-6). The "mountain(s) and Hill(s)" are pride-filled people who think too highly of themselves and need to be brought lower. The "valley(s)" represent those cast-down people who think they are too unworthy to be accepted by the Lord. The "crooked" and "rough" are out-and-out sinners. ALL need to repent, to change, which has been a ministry through the centuries, preparing many for the Lord.
Note Verse 11—"People will live in it, and there will no longer be a curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security." The "curse" on mankind is seen in Genesis 3, taking three forms that surround us today: 1) Death, the merciful act of ending a sinful life. 2) Especially for women, the emotional and physical pain of childbirth and the raising of children; along with subordination to the husband. 3) Trouble in our work, summed up by the words, "If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong." Zechariah 14:11 states, "There will no longer be a curse," which will certainly be true in eternity, and seems to have an unfolding in the Millennium as well.
Verses 3-4 indicate that a war is coming to eliminate those who will not trust in the Lord. He will ultimately end their lives, as seen in Verses 12-15—"Now this will be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth. It will come about in that day that a great panic from the Lord will fall on them; and they will seize one another’s hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another. Judah also will fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered, gold and silver and garments in great abundance. So also like this plague will be the plague on the horse, the mule, the camel, the donkey and all the cattle that will be in those camps." This war at the end of the Millennial period is very interesting: "When the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations...and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them" (Revelation 20:7-9). Some have said, "If only I could see God, then I would believe," but God the Son will be seen as He rules humanity in Person for 1000 years. Outwardly people will respond, but as soon as He leaves they will rebel. Outward obedience is important but infinitely less than inward faith, which is why God selected grace through faith as the means of our salvation.
You might wonder, why doesn't the Lord just stamp out evil people right now and get it over with? The substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross can turn evil people into good, as seen in 2 Peter 3:9—"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise...but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." When the last person who will be saved, is saved, then the end will come. Notice in Verse 16 that some "are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem..." Such people are described in places like Revelation 7:9, as "a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands...crying out...Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb" (Revelation 7:9-10).
The good works, the keeping of the Law, which has been impossible for sinful humanity, will become effortless in eternity, though imperfection in outward actions will still be seen during the Millennium's outward observances, as in Verses 16-21: "Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, 'HOLY TO THE LORD.' And the cooking pots in the Lord’s house will be like the bowls before the altar. Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day." The penalties in these verses suggest it is the Millennium because in eternity our lapses in thought and action will be gone. "...We are children of God, and...we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). Our Lord is without sin, and we have the blessed promise that we will be, too.
O Father, so much in life and eternity is hard to understand. Thank You for the understanding You do give, and best of all, I surrender my heart and life to You, trusting in Your Son. I praise Your Holy Name. In Jesus Name. Amen.