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The Messiah in Zechariah
As we move now to the last four chapters of Zechariah, there is a sense of the sheer power of the Tower which is Christ, whose Spirit inspired the prophets of old, giving them vision. We learn that as they quested for understanding of the time, He was showing them that it was not for them, but for another generation that they wrote concerning the sufferings and subsequent glory of the Christ; and indeed, it has been to the whole Christian generation (cf. Psalm 22:31), far down the chute of time, that these things would apply (I Peter 1:9-11),
What then is to be found in these particular chapters of Zechariah ? ...
it is all there.
It is a privilege of a high
order to look at this topic in these closing chapters of Zechariah, so please
join me in the delight. It has the liberty of the vast waves of the sea, the
stability of the rocks on which they hurl themselves, the reality of the
oceanic scene as one regards it, and the spray of refreshment upon the face,
naked to the heavens, looking on what He has done ... but in this case, as
written BEFORE He did it!
THE DIVINE CONCENTRATE OF THE EVANGEL,
THE CORE OF THE BEAUTY
In Zechariah 11, we come to a new vignette, in one sense, for it is a sudden transfer from future blessing (Zech. -12) to the intervening agony. In another aspect, it is an intensification of what was shown in Zech. 10:2-3, before the predicted intervention with divine shepherding skills, to protect and deliver the people of the Lord.
To what, then, do we soon listen in Ch. 11 ? It is to this.
"There is a sound of wailing shepherds," we read (11:3). "Their glory is in ruins!"
Indeed, "the pride of
With tragic disgust, the divine
word indicates that to
Dismissing the bonds of sustenance, breaking the Staffs, the shepherd implements, of Beauty and Bonds, He breaks the broken, and does not heal the breaches. The full force of the covenantal sanctions now come into play. We recall at such a moment the momentous words of Jeremiah in : "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their means, and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end of it ?" It seems a pity here that for some unknown reason the NKJV omits "of it". There is part of the incomparable flavour of the matter. It is not merely a reference to coming to an end of yourself at the end of your foolish way. It is far more. It is coming to an end of a way which has no continuance: it faces a precipice, and the momentum is ready to carry the people over it.
This syndrome is by no means finished!
But what has led to such an extraordinary finality ? Immediately after announcing this breach (v. 11), the Lord evidently images a virtual conversation. It is as if He is addressing some of these intriguing and corrupt leaders, as the passage of history comes to its most pivotal phase. "If," He is depicted as saying (in effect, in spirit, to the point),
"...'if it seems agreeable to you, give Me My wages; and if not, refrain.'
"So they weighed out for My wages, thirty pieces of silver."
It proceeds to describe a hand-picked, dynamic disciple of evil, for the new 'shepherd' in the midst of their desolatory decadence is now revealed to our eyes (-16).
"Throw it to the potter" here has a double reference. First, it appears that "the potter", some meaningful, some famed, clear, topical or previously announced party is to be the recipient of the 'wages'.
Let us look
then, first to the POTTER, and secondly to the WAGES in understanding the
purport of this passage of the prophet's writings" Zechariah .
1) "Cast it to the potter!" Where might such a notable and indeed famous illustration be found in the word of God, especially not too far from the events of Zechariah ? It is in fact, in Jeremiah 18-19 that these considerations are aptly met. There is reference, first, to some nearby potter in
, whose work in making a product, is related to the Lord's in making man or nation: his pottery creations are made comparable to the Lord's work on the heart and life of man whom He has made. Jerusalem
This is then followed by the taking of a pot from the hand of the potter, in presence of the elders, and breaking it in their sight: and this is presented, this practical imagery is wrought in the midst of a message on the coming breaking of
. "I will make this city desolate, and a hissing" - 19:8. It is hence a potent and evocative symbol: the potter, the pottery, the smashing. Jerusalem
As we shall see, the potter reference is moreover both in Jeremiah and in Zechariah used in similar ways, concerning successive events of a similar kind. While the latter is more crucial, the former gives the basis for its meaning. It is an escalating disaster, cumulative and catastrophic in the end of it. The first, we see, is the loss of the city (Jeremiah); the second is their loss of their King (Zechariah), and all that this implies! Savaging the Saviour is not a wise movement of the human spirit, popular though it be to this day, in the heart now, as in the hearth of the land, then (cf. Hebrews 10:29ff., II Peter 2:1ff.).
Before however this first tragic result is announced in Jeremiah 19, there is in the preceding chapter the appeal:
- "Behold, I am fashioning a disaster, and devising a plan against you. Return now every one form his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good" - .
The preceding text emphasises this, that God is ready to divert His anger, to anoint His people, to pardon, if only the people will turn from their evil. It is in Ch. 19 (as often in Jeremiah before this) that the essence of the evil is unfolded:
- "Will a man leave the snow water of
, which comes from the rock of the Lebanon
field ? Will the cold flowing waters be forsake for strange waters ?
- Because My people have forgotten Me, they have burned incense to worthless idols, and they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in pathways and not on a highway, to make their land desolate and a perpetual hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished..." - 18:14-16.
Nor is this all. The apostrophe to
starts in Jer. 18:13: "Ask now among the Gentiles, who has heard of such things ? " It then itemises the above indictment! Israel
Certainly this is a famous, a dramatic, an inescapable part of the recent heritage of the nation, flashing verbally, prophetically incisive and historically portentous, now by the time of Zechariah, wholly fulfilled!
The first result of our excavation, then, is this. The casting to "the potter" means, from the parallel, that there is a denial of the faith, of the LORD Himself which on other grounds in the Zechariah context, we have already noted to be the case. It is the denial of His own incarnate Person, the rejection of His amazing and oft-predicted coming to earth as the Messiah, using the line of David and the tribe of Judah for the human format (as in Isaiah 11). It is the denial of their King (cf. Zech. 9:9, 12:10).
This meaning in Jeremiah, and the contextual force in Zech. 11 are thus identical, confirmatory each of the other.
It appears that we should find a further intimation: that as Jeremiah (32) is given order from the LORD to buy a field, despite the imminent invasion of Jerusalem and Judah, one predicted to bring destruction, and indeed lodges the title deed of his purchased land in an earthen vessel, so this is an index to the fact that Jerusalem is to be restored to Israel, but ONLY AFTER DESTRUCTION. This of course is clearly depicted in Jeremiah in direct, literal terms, which is correlative attestation - as in Jeremiah 31:15ff., and indeed in Ezekiel, an adjoining prophet historically, dealing with parallel points very frequently, and with the same assurance (cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 1, SMR Appendix A).
This series of interlocking references thus produces the brilliantly subtle, but spiritually plain result, elsewhere depicted in so many ways.
Thus, the casting of the price of the Messiah to the potter, predicted in Zechariah 11, gains its necessary meaning from the Jeremiah incident, with the potter, linked through the purchase concept, to Jeremiah's own buying of an apparently hopeless investment in a field, in a city, yes even in Jerusalem. This city, by his own prophetic word about to be destroyed and invaded, evokes firstly, but not only, the coming destruction of
at the predicted epoch likewise, even that in which the covenant broken in the sale of the King, Himself as in Zech. 11:12-13, pierced (Zech. 12:10). Jerusalem
Exposed and vulnerable, they are lost: void of their covenanted king, they first endure the fruits of their exposure.
The Jeremiah reference is crucial testimony, because of this facet, to the fact that the purpose of casting it to the potter, in Zech. 11, is at once a redemptive payment (the land was in fact redeemed by the prophet) and a devastating attestation of the coming judgment. Indeed, in view of its historical and explanatory context, this verse in Zechariah MEANS casting it for the field, which is the only purchase for which a price is required in this Jeremiah context, associated with punitive destruction and eventual hope.
It is this which the potter case symbolises so expressly. Hence in Matthew 27:9-10, the primary force of the Jeremiah references is ground for the use of this name as source, since without it nothing to the point of purchase is explained in the case; but the Zechariah reference, though similar in much to the citation, is not so in the crucial point of the word 'field'.
In Matthew’s context, it is merely ancillary in force. It is thus THROUGH Jeremiah that the here relevant point comes, even though it is also in Zechariah that the application is made.
Thus, as in Jeremiah, so in Matthew, the reference is to the payment for the field being made, whereas in Zechariah, there is a casting of the money. Without Jeremiah, the potter reference is left in mid-air; through him only does it gain meaning. In that meaning, there are thus two elements. In Zech. 11, the potter element evokes the destruction coming and the hope residual, as in Jeremiah, and the payment evokes the allied Jeremiah attestation, wrought in purchase of a field.
Without both of these aspects, there is no meaning to the rendering of money at all. With them, all is clear, and accounted for.
As in mathematics, so in literature where symbolism is involved, you have to search out the defining criteria, and then make application.
Matthew is stressing the payment aspect, Zechariah for his part, having prophetically provided the amount and the sense of disgust in the casting. It is the payment however which is Matthew's concern, and it is terms of this allusion that he makes his reference.
In Sum, to the issue of Matthew, then: The prophecy in view for Matthew is hence attributed as coming through him who lists it, namely Jeremiah. If its detail is filled in by another who is not named by Matthew, its point is provided by the one cited. Were it named, then the point might be lost in the detail. It is moreover literally true that it came through Jeremiah, relative to the point at issue. He and he alone specified the point of the payment. Its further particularisation is not his topic here.
There is however more to be gained from this signal series of prophecies.
Indeed we shall soon see to what a magnificence of spiritual magnitude Matthew’s mode of citation leads us! (cf. Romans 11). It is like a road of access to a highway.
Jeremiah 18:3-7, at the very outset of the episode with the potter, depicts the potter having a marred product, and then remaking it. Cannot the Lord do so with a marred
, comes the dramatic query! This, in the context of the chapter of Jeremiah, leads on to a spiritual appeal to the people, before the devastation proceeds. It appeared that they would insist on being broken, but God would insist on their being restored! So it was, and so their provocation proceeded "till there was no remedy" (II Chronicles 36:16). Israel
Thus the potter is the expression both of disaster and hope, and the field is the expression of assurance and faith, trusting that to follow the devastation, is the restoration. How would Jeremiah actually bring himself to PAY for a plot in a city about to be removed from Jewish control, a devastation about to ruin the very point of population, and at that, for some 70 years as predicted (Jeremiah 25)! However the Lord was as sure of the coming destruction as of the later restoration. So in Zechariah, the use of potter and field not only evokes Jeremiah, but the joint illustration which each bring, of judgment followed by hope, of loss followed by redemption.
In parallel, in the very tragic enactment of these things in the context of the Messiah, there is also an implicit appeal, which has continued through the centuries, and to this day. It is judgment or salvation; the former certain, except for the latter. What is a series of challenges for a time, then becomes a certainty IN its time, the destruction of this world, the judgment of its unrepenting denizens and the restoration of a millenium earth, followed by the utter reconstruction, a new heavens and a new earth.
The parallel proceeds. As a few came with Ezra to rebuild, so a remnant only will go there for a city suitable, which has foundations, whose builder and founder is God!
But let us return to our immediate context in Zechariah. If in Ch. 11 we see these portents and predictions, in Ch. 12 we see the specialised repentance of heart for many in
, at a season of desperate warfare and enormous pressure for that nation. Israel
Soon, now in history, as then in prophetic sequence, it will be fulfilled in a restoration of heart and spirit to many of this straying people in their own land (Zech. ), for
shall be inhabited again in her own place - Jerusalem
" (12:6). Jerusalem
Many heeded the call to repent at that time of the Messiah the Prince on this earth, Jesus the Christ, so that whereas the city was lost, destroyed indeed, the souls were then won, even as thousands of Jewish people started the Christian Church as a populous body. Then the city as such rejected Christ to its devastation; but in the prediction of Zech. 12, the city is sustained, the people repent in a major thrust, and they look with mourning on what they - or their nation - had done.
In this, it is so spiritually important that there be a vast repentance, severing spiritually from the former folly of the city, of
, in killing its king. It is here that not devastation and destruction, but deliverance and the glory of the Lord comes, even in Person, even to Jerusalem, even the Mount of Olives, even to rule (Zech. 14:5, Psalm 2), as formerly to suffer redemptively for all who are to come. Jerusalem
If then even in the very teeth of judgment impending on the city, many came in Christ's day, there is to be another ending. As the Age comes to its conclusion, now in the midst of martial trials and invasive thrust, many more will come as predicted, and the Lord will then in His time, come in glory, to rule in the sustained city: and in what fiery contrast is it now to the first, the day of its visitation (Luke 19:42ff.); for now, the scene figured is of repentance. This end is glorious; this scene is majestic. Here is the return of the Lord, once smitten, to rule. That is the message of Zech. 12 and 14.
Let us however look back to Zechariah's day, and see the scope of his prophecy!
The rejection of the Messiah to come, is predicted, even as the Jews of that day were rebuilding the ruined city; predicted likewise were the assaults on the Jerusalem to be at the end of the Age (i.e. just before the Lord comes back, in the flesh, as in Zech. 14:5, and Matthew 24 and Acts 1). The repentance for that rejection is predicted, and it is predicted to be NEAR the END of the AGE of the Messiah.
It is all predicted, all being fulfilled, little being now left of this profound case study in mercy and judgment, magnificent offer and miserable rejection. The rest of the world has imitated
in much; but the mercy continues to one, to all, for the time being, as it continued for a little in the days of Jeremiah. Then, for the city, the end came. Then, in our day, for the world, the end comes (as in Matthew 24:12,22 cf. Romans 11). Israel
was lost then, so when the end comes, will the world face its own ruin, which is daily drawing closer, like a torpedo on target for a ship, leaving an impressive wake of signalled events as predicted (Cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). This time, in the end, it will be the setting of the whole world which is lost, as Jerusalem was then; and just as Jerusalem was nevertheless then restored, after its 70 years, so will be the world in the form of a new heavens and a new earth, when the old is very certainly, very physically destroyed (II Peter 3, Isaiah 51:6). Jerusalem
But the world ? What is that ? and
, it is a significant city within it. Soon, both will be gone, and a new heavens and earth, fitting for the Messiah, His munificent divine gift to the people of God from all races, will proceed (II Peter 3). It seemed odd for Jeremiah to buy his field then, in view of the doom; but it was not only symbolic, but justified on their restoration. So to many, it seems odd to receive the redemption in Christ (though it is HE who has paid, yet they jib at the realisation of being purchased cf. I Corinthians 6:20). It is however both necessary and wise. It is HE who continues, and HIS will which is done, and HIS creation which is restored, and in HIM is mercy and peace, and HIS is the glory and the praise. His is truth, mercy and grace. Jerusalem
Let us now, having noted this end of the matter, return to our immediate occupation in Zechariah 11-12. Just as the death of the Messiah was ... wrought, so His resurrection was indeed the 'first fruits', the expression of the mercies to follow. Thus, in perfect harmony, in Zech. 14, after all the treachery and the piercing which was the mode of His death, we find Him vitally exuberant in strength, His very feet coming to rest on Mt Zion, the triumph imparting to the follies of the past, the sombre realities of just and due sovereignty, which however, while fatal to the enduringly wicked, is blessed and benignant to all who seek Him (Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Psalm 2).
Thus hope shines in the midst of horror, and the field aspect in the prophecy in emphatic depiction in Matthew, is likewise an annunciation of expectation when the horrors are past; for did not the Lord restore Jerusalem, and will He not have pity on His people again; and indeed, even restore Jerusalem again (Luke 21:24) in its time. The detail of THAT saga is intriguing and delightful - see SMR Appendix A, and The Biblical Workman
1, *3 and Ch. 3 *1. Ch.
Yes, and in the interim, what a burdensome stone this city of destruction has become. As it was predicted to be ready for destruction in Christ’s day (Luke 19:42ff.), so is the very antipodes of expectation, as His return draws near. For now, it is predicted to become not a nonentity, but an intolerable trouble to the harassing Gentiles! This is the very opposite of the days of Christ, and the result is the very opposite, not His departure to glory, but His return from it!
Glory has the last word in God’s works, for He IS glorious. If He is left for ever, then this is not glorious, but with Him, the end is glory. And who insists on severance ? who would have His loss, as if this were gain, to lose what is the source and the splendour, the truth and the righteousness, in order not to repent, and to enshrine oneself in the coffin of carnality, of mind, spirit, body, self-assured, or victimised by folly.
Nothing is hopeless when the Lord is there, however; and it is precisely the mood, the psychological and indeed spiritual mode of hopelessness which, being the enemy of faith, is the wolf at their throats, intolerable to God, lethal to themselves (Jeremiah 2:25).
- "There is no hope! " they said,
- "No, for I have loved aliens and after them I will go";
- "Yet you say, 'Because I am innocent, surely His anger shall turn from me.' Behold I will plead My case against you..."
Who will remould what is perfect (cf. Isaiah 42:18-20) ... "who is blind as he who is perfect" ? And what perfection is this which aborts both itself and the facts.
It is however not uncommon: it was thus then, it is thus now. So the money is cast to the potter. The wages to stifle redemption add to the cause of conflagration and subtract from the provision of comfort.
Zechariah summarises and particularises. The base however is Jeremiah, from whom the issue arises, as source and signaller. The case is a profound parallel to the Gentile present, for it is now they also who make a present of His presence, and setting at nought His presents, present themselves to themselves for their own world, which is passing now, as was Jerusalem then.
So much for the first of the aspects of "cast it to the potter". The second is far more important, though the former has implications which give it an importance of its own.
2) "A Princely Price they set on Me!"
Second, it is clear in Zechariah's prophecy, that someone is going to treat the LORD in some exploit for which 'wages' might seem fitting, hence treat the Messiah, who alone could conceivably be in such a position, as a human amongst others (as in Zech. 6:12ff.), with a financial form of contempt. With a profound laser like beam of light in the darkness, it is made manifest that there is so vast a disparity between that for which 'wages' are to be paid, and the amount paid, that it is a sublime insult. Conceived in blindness, it is executed with folly and received by the Lord as a mountain of vileness lodged in an abyss of faithlessness so great that the one and the other are in consent with death. The covenant is broken (Zech. 11:10-11).
The 'wages', this financial format for betrayal, for derogation, that He might be despised and rejected of men to the uttermost (as in Isaiah 53:3), these constitute is as keen an edge as could conceivably have been placed on derogation of deity, a cachination of corruption, against His Person, His work and His witness. It is Majesty apprised by the market, blind with its greed, self-righteousness and indifference, ablaze with dark light, an horrendous inferno, like creeping lava.
Thus in Zech. 11:7-14, the sardonism reaches to irony, and the irony to wrath so carefully controlled that it is as an operation is in play, the words slicing through the obesity of dead hearts, lipo-suction at work with vehemence. The words are designed, it seems sure, to awaken if it were possible, the dead to what they do; and now of course, it is to what they have done. Perhaps some of this will be effective at that great predicted time when what they sold will be mourned, and what they pierced will be repented of (as in Zech. 12:10ff.).
National solidarity continues in the failure to recognise the Saviour, and it continues in the people theocratically committed to His reception (Deuteronomy 18:15-18). That the Gentiles mimic the action in the degradation of once great churches at this day, does not mitigate what was done, or minimise the need for repentance. To this Zechariah comes in the next Chapter, the twelfth.
But for what particular act is the Lord to be given these appalling wages, so presumptuous in concept, so spiritually illiterate in performance, so empty in mockery ? It is of course the work of the Good Shepherd, in contrast to that of the false ones, for is it not written in 11:7, "so I fed them", and has not Zechariah already shown us, as we saw in Ch. 7, in comparison with Ezekiel 34, as seen in Ch. 6, above (cf. Zech. 9:16-10:3), that this was to be!
This 'feeding' which incorporates all they really need, and hence the atonement, as in Zech. 3:9, reflected in 12:10, is nothing less than the output given, the effort made on the part of the Messiah, in bearing the sin, and coming as man, as 'the Branch' to do so, so vividly expressed in Zechariah 3:9, 6:12ff. and 13:1.
FOR THAT, the price is 30 pieces of silver ? It is like offering 2 cents for Manhattan Island, only infinitely worse: for that will God, but as to God, He remains (cf. Zech. 9:7); and that is imperfect, but His perfection is unsullied.
At once obvious is all the reticulation of ridicule in Zech. 11:10-15, noted above. At once, the ground for sudden, absolute severance of the covenant, is apparent.
- They have lost the blood cover since they are covered with blood, the very blood of the atonement which was despised (shown in 13:1), and which is nevertheless NECESSARY.
This does not remove God's unconditional commitment to the entire scope of prediction of
, since His work is something that He has said, and will do, as also noted in Ch. 6 above: but it does mean that there is no thread left of deliverance from sin, pardon by blood. They hung in their arrogance and sin, by a thread; that thread is now severed by the crucifixion, a robust act of rebellion, most adequate for the purpose! The ONLY blood now relevant (as in Isaiah 53, 66), is HIS OWN. It is this which has been contemptuously treated. And indeed, has He not been subjected to scheming political and religious cunning, the height of provocation and the depth of deviousness, to GET RID OF HIM. Israel
Such scheming was apparent in priestly dealings at the end of the Maccabean period, and this continued till its outcome in intense and intensive corruption placed Christ on the gallows instead of the throne.
In what sense however, one may ask, are the 30 pieces, associated with His predicted betrayal (concerning which see Joyful Jottings 25, for the Old Testament prophecies outside the present one), or in what sense is this a wage ? for Him ... In fact, in tracing out the way in which this is fulfilled, we observe in the Gospels that Judas was the 'treasurer' for the disciples in the service of the Lord. He kept the bag and stole from it.
Thus when he took yet more funds relative to his 'group', a payment of 'goods' which included Jesus, while receiving his name and place from Him, there is a sense in which Judas is receiving more formal funds. The treasurer notes the increment in financial resources for his clan. Very good. In an audit, he might indicate that the special character of their leader led to this extra payment, on the part of those willing to pay for action relative to Him, so that it appears in the accounts as a financial credit.
Had not Christ then 'earned' this wage, and was He not paid for His performance, which included the Cross ? This, it is wages.
The satire is contained, and the more piercing for that very reason!
The result, an evil shepherd, is a form, if you want to preserve the irony, of 'congratulation' on their choice, focussing the fruit of their 'wisdom' ( Zech. 1112. cf. I Cor. 1:21-25).
THE ALPINE AZURE,
AND THE CELESTIAL MOVEMENT TO CONSUMMATION
The breach is open, the
wound is sore.
What is to occur when, still unworthy (as in Ezekiel 36:22), the people are brought back from so many lands, never more to roam (37:23ff.) ? Dismissed, they are back. Despoiled, they have been restored to their place. What now ? and what next ?
In Zechariah 12, in other
words, we see the next stage after the ruin, the dispersion and the sanctions
The vast perspective is introduced by a soaring ascription (Zech. 12:1):
"The burden of the word of the LORD against
"Thus says the LORD,
who stretches out the heavens,
lays the foundation of the earth,
and forms the spirit of man within him."
We are, therefore, quite evidently about to be presented with revelation for which that is a suitable introduction. It is rather like being shown telescopic pictures of distances realms of space, before undertaking a voyage to Venus. We are being prepared.
Now we see some of that
unfading faithfulness by which the Lord both fulfils His word to Abraham (cf. Galloping
Events Ch. 4), and His vengeance on
What then is this
revelation to which Zech. 12:1 is the majestic introit ? We find, as we address
this next chapter, the twelfth, that now
The vileness of her
violence against the Messiah, so gravely charged, and with such acuity, in
Zech. 11, has not ceased to exist, nor has it been pardoned as yet, as this
chapter commences. Instead,
What then is the fresh development in Zechariah 12, following 11 ? What new tableau is presented to our fascinated eyes ?
It is this.
On the contrary, she is burdensome, like a heavy stone, an oppressive reality in the midst of the minds and might of her assailants. In fact, not merely is she to be a problem child to the world powers which want to dispose things, as seen in Zech. 12:2-4: she is "a cup of drunkenness" to them! This implies securely that her nature and place, her history and position, all, together with her endeavours and (as in Isaiah 66) sudden restoration, will alike grieve the godless, and upset the exponents of false prophecy. Who are these ? They are the sort noted with contempt by the LORD, in Isaiah 44:24-26, when observing the futility of their promises and premisses, in contrast to the reality of the Lord, who IS the truth, whose word bows to nothing and to none (cf. Isaiah 43:13).
Why then is she not yet broken ? It is of the Lord. There will be yet more and more sophisticated efforts (as the comparison of 'little horn' mark I and 'little horn' mark II implies, expounded in Biblical Blessings Ch. 2, With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Ch. 8); and an establishment is still to be expected in some little distance from the Mediterranean; but she will not be overrun (cf. Daniel 11:45).
Who are those specifically
who are to suffer in this confrontation or shall we add, imbroglio, interview
or concern with
It is all theft of what God
has given to her (and in fact, of what both
EVEN IF "all the nations
of the earth are gathered against it" (Zech. 12:3), still it will be formidable, and not like a
worm for the beak of the early bird, so much as a wound for the arm of the
slayer! (Zech. 12:3). Lie down or die down, say the sensitive nations, the exponents
of new international relations! The Lord does not have it so. Just as the Lord
was a stumblIng block to
There are two lessons available.
1) She can learn, as has been clearly pronounced, though in subtle terms, by Arab power, that there is something WRONG (in their view) with the way she is treating Israel (or rather WAS treating that country, by a measure of support for her afflictions, just as she has given a varying but real measure of support to Taiwan since the 1950's, in the face of her assailant from the mainland). The 'lesson', In other words, is this: Cool the help, reduce the aid, let 'events take their course' as many nations with oil wealth invest her premises and divest her of this and that, if not indeed of all life whatever, if they are able.
That is ONE potential lesson.
2) The other ? It is this. Deal justly with
, recognise terrorism, as Hilary Clinton rightly did in her recent visit to Israel , as terrorism; and add THAT terrorism to the list, if you have a list. Israel
lesson is to be learned by the
Would there be a response
from the celestial site where it matters ? Concerned for the
It would at least appear
that there was such a response, as on
But what of all these
turmoils and embroilments, confusions and effusions, difficulties and troubles,
seeming insolubles and irresolvables in and about
That, it is the nature of prophecy, the very scoop of the universe, unparalleled, in simple fact, without equal, observationally, with no peer, empirically. The world goes on learning its modicum of science, and changes the word of yesterday, today; but the word of God goes on changing in only one thing, the world and its history, its people and its agents, as whatever it says, comes to pass. In terms of scientific method, it is incomparably better, needing neither revision, nor review, and providing only empirical confirmation of its ascription of its words to the possessor of eternal wisdom, knowledge and power.
His name ? The Lord. There is (as a simple matter of historical fact), no other name to equal this one, no other power to compare, and no other performance worthy even of consideration. That, naturally enough, and supernaturally, is precisely what you would expect, and constitutes, apart from the particular, the generic of verification: it is verification in kind, in quality, in calibre, in depth as well as in detail.
What is often forgotten by
the nations, with their notions and potions, lotions and commotions, armaments
and increments, dissipations and situations, is just this, that THE LORD has a
mind and will of His own, and that it is not possible to outwit Him,
outmanoeuvre Him or make Him desist: unless of course you are on a course of
evil, and turn to Him for mercy. This world is not destined to learn that
lesson as we see in Revelation 19:19. It will actually dare to defy Him. So be
it. Some will however learn of Him whose humility is so great that He came "lowly and
on an ass's colt (Zech. 9:9). Among those, are many of
The Lord ? He has His own
counsel, and works ALL THINGS after that counsel. Moreover, He declares the end
from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10 cf. Ephesians ). Thus when He declares in Zech.
12:4 that He will turn the martial assaults on
When therefore Kofi Annan thinks that the 'new' peace initiative from Abdullah of Arabia, as it is euphoniously, indeed euphemistically called, is important, that there must be work and so on, does he consider what it is and what the Lord has said ? Whose word shall stand, that of the Almighty or that of the UN, so appallingly insensitive to the returned, subjected people, of Israel, with their one site, so eroded that even a gangster might be ashamed, by the side of the Islamic world, which wants more, and more ... and gives for armaments for rebellious occupants of some of Israel in their endless terrorism, but not land of their own for their resettlement.
As to that, who needs to be resettled ? Only those who want to take over Israel or part of that pitifully small portion of Palestine accorded in fact to it, to kill, maim and explode themselves on its terraces, pizzerias and among its flowers, flesh flung like dung in indifference to the casualities! Those who want to remain as citizens, with provision for liberty of thought and worship, as the original Balfour Declaration implied, what hinders this ?
What however is this peace
initiative, of Adbullah of Saudi Arabia ? There are two aspects to be
considered here, at the outset.
So: hand over half of
It is the leading, the cutting edge however with which we are concerned, which presents itself as "Arab".
IF: this is done ? if these conditions are met ? If the 'peace plan' is implemented, then ? Why then, provocateurs may be given the red light, so that ambush and escapade, bombing of shopping sites, ruin to young bodies, arming of children and teaching them to fight with guns at 6 or so, on the part of Islamics, this will ... if not cease, at the very least, cease to be a total, overall plan.
What a bargain!
But let us return to Zechariah, with a very different and far more merciful and just divine scenario. The former is as man proposes; the latter as the LORD disposes.
firepan in a woodpile" (Zech. 12:6) are the governors of
But it did not, even this last Gulf War, quench the enemy. This is not the position for this stage, and in vain will you look for it in Zechariah 12. Repentance TO Israel before deliverance FOR Israel is the divine prescription. The Lord does not altogether intervene to prevent the realisation of folly, and the necessity for faith in Himself; but He has for all that as Ch. 9 of SMR depicts, done a very great deal just as prophesied, already, pending that required pivot of intervention (as dramatically exposed in both Ezekiel 38-39 and Micah 7:15ff., as also in Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah 66 (for all of which see Biblical Index). What instead happens, as the burdensome stone continues, and the things, the assaults which make it burdensome continue, it is this: that the long awaited, long delayed and utterly essential REPENTANCE of many in Israel comes.
Meanwhile, the two facets of the crystal continue: the furore and the fighting, and the delay in Israeli repentance, NOT for existing, but for persisting without acknowledging their sin against the Lord, one which not merely causes trouble, but excludes by its disbelief the source of ultimate and adequate resolution. It is God, not man, who has that in His hand. It is His will, not that of man, be it the US or the UN, the Arab 'world' or any other body, which will, as always, prevail, being just and true.
The teeming triumphs have come, in fact, where "one who is feeble" shall be "like David," quite simply because the Lord, like some academic lecturer in science, has desired it to be so (Zech. 12:6-8), and has so directed the practical assistant at his bench. Israel does not yet realise the source of this strength (Zech. 12:8, Psalm 34:15-17). It is blind to Him who is invisible to the blind, but vital to those who see (cf. John 9:39-41); and His works are most visible, in much prescribed, and on many inscribed, even in the heart (Hebrews 8:7-10, 11:27, Jeremiah 31:31-34), just as He predicted also, would be the case, from ancient times, when He predicted the first coming of the Messiah so frequently (as in Jeremiah 23:3ff., Ezekiel 34ff., Psalm 2, 40, 22 - cf. Joyful Jottings 21-25).
uses means. He is able to direct even the anger of man, to His service (Psalm
76:10): He does not make man evil, but He does turn what he is doing, to the
plan. So a bull may decide to charge, but the matador decide to evade, mislead
and bring him to ruin. An imperfect parallel, this, yet it shows the use of
wisdom as well as power, without interference in evil as evil, to make it so,
but only with evil as good! To that may be added, the reward of evil when its
sensation becomes a syndrome that grips (II Thess. 2:11, Proverbs 1).
LESSONS THAT GROW,
AND DO NOT LESSEN (with apologies to Alice)
There ARE lessons to be learnt, and the Lord is a great teacher! He has His own ways, and they do not change (Habakkuk 3:6, Psalm 102, Malachi 3:6). Some of those lessons occurred in the almost farcical feeling of the 1948 overthrow of the multi-national assault on the fledging Israel, really a sprinkling of people among the Arabs, BY Israel. It was as if an infant using judo, threw over a brazen bully, equipped with brass knuckles. As to the 'infant', they even took half of Jerusalem. David ? yes. One as a thousand ? Assuredly. It is as it said; it happened as forecast, to the fact and to the feeling. The only fiction was in the enlarged intentions of the assailant. How 'burdensome' can you get!
In 1967, the heavily endowed Egyptian Air Force was stricken while on ground, the tanks without their support were likewise stricken en route to Israel, and disaster came to the one seeking disaster, ruin to the aspirant to deliver doom to Israel. The Israeli sortie into the desert, and to Elath made military history, a subject of soaring admiration, even amazement. The REST of Jerusalem was taken by "these miserable Jews" this "catastrophe" for Islam.
In 1973, the surprise attack on a Jewish 'holy day' led to near disaster, but reservists called up, and allies at work, led to a restoration so total, that we soon found the Egyptian army surrounded on the far side of the Suez Canal, with Russia diplomatically up in arms, when its other arms in Egyptian hands, had frankly failed. It was to be sure, a decisive moment in history, when man sought to overthrow the scriptures, and found the ink red. One sure way to end in the red ink is to defy the word: defile the heritage of the Lord ? this is pandemic. But the end of it is the red ink, the defilers being defiled (Proverbs 1 and Psalm 2 alike are eloquent on this process).
In 1991, there was the vast armament of Iraq, for long helped in order to circumvent Iran, by foreign power ... and that built-up nation was then assailed by a multinational force, so that this competitor for the 'glorious' position of invader and destroyed of Israel (it DID make it clear that a war was on, and DID attack Israel), felt the burdensome character of the stone, as did the rest.
Now there is this wonderful charismatic, this religiously admirable and ethically profound work of killing kids on the streets on Jerusalem, and arming kids in Palestinian occupied territories. It speaks for itself.
Will the WILL of Israel be
broken ? Will the will of George Bush be activated ? Neither is particularly
apparent. Even an Arab Professor in Germany, on the German radio broadcast in
English, this very day in early 2002, was found to be declaring that this
'peace initiative' from Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was not really an initiative
of that kind. His view: Arabia was under pressure, being given various
privileges of commerce by the USA, and this 'peace plan'
was a response without heart. Be that as it may, it is certainly not with any undue amount of concession. It is like saying to some girl, when a thug assails her: Just have intercourse, and there will be no rape!
Just give half of Jerusalem, and the rest of the lands of course, and mark how the dangers will subside! Scarcely inspired, at least, not by the Lord!
The same German professor interviewed on radio, noted that it was quite essential, and that he as an Arab himself had to say so, that Israel be given assurance of its right to exist.
It is some right, that, is it not ? To exist. It does not inspire with the thought of undue PEACE while existing, or undue commerce, while persisting, or undue equity while insisting, but just the permission to retain protoplasmic Jewish flesh without having large amounts of Palestinian flesh spattered on it in bombs, and the like. It is not sure what MORE would be wanted. It is just the privilege of existence. Suppose someone is kidnapped: then for the whole bank account of the father, this person is given right to exist. There may, of course, be further need to 'take care of' the person; but then, what is it, this life! it may be protested.
So it goes, but it does not come to a halt, this unpacifiable determination to exalt Allah, who is not there (More Marvels ... Ch. 4), by Islamic arms, and to subdue the Jews.
What next ? This: as in Zechariah 12:10, the Jews are to find the ground for their feet, the reason for their millenia of mockery, the site for their restoration, the rock "who begot you", the rock "of his salvation" (Deuteronomy 32:18,15), "from which you were hewn" (Isaiah 51:1), of which the people have become "unmindful" (all precisely as predicted, for the status quo before the Lord's vast, epochal intervention as in 32:36ff.).
That Rock ? : it is in the MESSIAH (Psalm 62:1-3, I Cor. 10:4, Isaiah 28:16). They are to regret with bitter hearts and deep repentance, the piercing of the LORD, yes the Lord, for it is He who is speaking, as shown in Zech. 12:10, and has been speaking in 12:1, 6, 10, in that very context.
It is undesirable to 'pierce' God, even if He does, as He did, come in the flesh.
It is not merely regicide; it is, as to form and format, deicide. It is quite literally, in the flesh as available for human expression of scorn, to kill kindness, and to lacerate mercy. It was however all provided for, as to format, in the scope of the divine plan of salvation, made available to man. Thus, that death, as Christ poured out His soul unto death (Isaiah 53:12), to bring forgiveness to the transgressors and prayed for them as they let His blood drip (53:12), merely was the predicted dawn of the resurrection, which in its day, again as predicted, some 3 days later, proved the most important testimony to power ever made in the history of the universe.
The exquisite irony and felicity alike of this divinely wise plan of salvation used hate to enact the crucifixion, that sacrifice with its redeeming power, and used resurrection to confirm the overthrow of all that man need fear, but only in and through this highly scorned Messiah. Not at all disesteemed by those whom He saved, healed and helped, He was yet not in favour with the ruling junta. This was both foreknown and predicted (Isaiah 49:7, Psalm 22, 2).
What abstractly, might have happened ? All could have been shown servile to sin, if He had not risen; national powers, such as now gather together against Jerusalem could have been able to crow over God, if they had merely retained the body, the corpse soon to be unavailable through resurrection; and while the likelihood of its rising, was too great for any degree of comfort (cf. Matthew 27:62-65), having been announced for a thousand years, and confirmed by the Messiah in person, right to the day of its actual happening! (cf. SMR pp. 931ff., Matthew 17:22-23).
However they did not manage it. Objectively, they could not retain the body. It was as if an enemy Captain had announced a millenium in advance, just what steps he would take, and all the powers on earth could not EVEN THEN, stop him! How puny is the power of man, when all is said, for he neither determines his birth nor his death; and even when he murders, his soul goes marching on both to judgment and to guilt. It never disturbs the plans of God, who uses the follies of men to indicate the glories of God, bringing to judgment, judgment, and to appeal, in His name, mercy.
That, the crucifixion and resurrection triumph over all opposition, is simply past (cf. SMR Ch. 6 and resurrection in Index) . Now we are looking at something beginning to appear rather more like the crucifixion of Israel. What now ?
If Israel as one small nation is given such power as we have been noting, by the word of God, to prevail over vast enemies, how much greater was the power when ONE MAN, the Messiah, simply broke death, and at that, a death following exquisite and prolonged torture so intense, that the butchery scarcely left Him recognisable as a man (as in Isaiah 52:14 cf. 53:4-6,12).
Just as God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3;16, Luke 1:35, I John 4:8-10), so those of Israel, the converted remnant in this amazing, predicted outpouring of the Spirit of God on that people, will mourn for the loss of their slain Messiah, slain by the hands of their own progenitors. Lamenting, they shall mourn as "one grieves for a firstborn". "The land shall mourn" - requiring more than a small arrival of repentance! There is no mere mass phenomenon: it will be personal, dispersed, experienced in heart and in mind, and in reflection; but its people will be very many. So it is prophesied in Zech. 12:11ff..
Now, at this stage of the pouring out on Israel of "the spirit of grace and of supplication", which Zechariah contemplates, has the wheel of history turned; and crushed in spirit and hurt in heart are many of the children of those who grieved the very Spirit of God, and mutilated the Messiah, for seeing their own national and personal plight, these are seen seeking each for himself, herself, the Saviour. The ruin that ruined Jerusalem is now the rejoicing that rejoiced the Christians who believed Christ when He first came. Therefore, there is at this predicted phase, a new unity with the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians.
Thus, in Zechariah 13:1, we find that
Yes, the wheels of history have eyes, for all is under the hand of God, and there is to be seen what had to be seen (cf. Ezekiel 1 and Biblical Blessings Ch. 4).
Following this massive repentance, evangelisation and restoration to the concern and comfort of the Messiah, who died as predicted in the vicinity of A.D. 30 (SMR pp. 886) and has at this stage, being resurrected, come by His Spirit prior to His return in Person, to the weeping of Israel: there is a purging. The idolatries of the contemporaries are abolished (Zech. 13:3-5). There is desire for purging, purity and peace ... with God! at last ... The figments of philosophy, theosophy, and the threadbare theological nostrums, secular digressions from the realities, and theories of force and diplomacies of asininity, these will be scorned. The very 'brilliance' of unbelief including religious unbelief, will be like a polluted rag from septic sores. So it is portrayed by this prophet, in Ch. 13.
It is in the midst of this return of spirit, restoration of heart, insistence on truth, reconciliation with reality, that the consciousness of just how aweful was the atrocity of so treating the Messiah, so disadorning God with their follies, that gleaming in the midst of their hearts will be as it were, a vision. Powerful indeed will be the impetus of the vision, and clear the realisation of the woe wrought. It will be as if one of them actually spoke to Him, while wondering at His suffering and reflecting on the FACT of the Messiah, at His reduction to death on the cross, and that with betrayal of Judas as one cause, and the authorities of the nation, including leading priests, as another. It will be as if one indeed asked Him, interrogating, and enquired a strange thing.
What is this thing that one would say to Him, in spirit, as such a time ? It is this.
As Keil aptly puts it, "the expression 'between the hands' can hardly be understood in any other way than as relating to the palms of the hands and their continuation up the arms". The points of the piercing, as here described, and further in Psalm 22, while the victim was sardonically scrutinised (Psalm 22:12-17, Matthew 27:27-44), would tend to sag, and so to be sites for the tearing of flesh beyond the place of insertion of the wounds, as in crucifixion, by the weight of the body borne by so small a portion of it, on the hands. The term 'scar' is even suggested by Keil.
Thus we look at the vision of Zechariah from the Lord, as portrayed in 13:1 and 13:6, the blood and its means of spilling. The atmosphere is electric. There is now, as we have noted, massive repentance. This is the environment of fact. There is a turning to the Lord in terms of the forsaken Messiah, and there is a grief, at once terrible and agonising, experienced by those who, realising the awful penalties and just results of their pagan scorn of their own Messiah, are in anguish of heart.
It is in this plight, and situation, when peace is beginning now to come as the "fountain" for sin and uncleanness is opened in Jerusalem (which had millenia before, opened His arteries, or veins, or both), that the reflective mode takes over. Looking on this Messiah, meditating, ruminating and realising what has been done, they feel perhaps a sudden pang: HOW did these come ? Is it a rhetorical question ? Perhaps so, but probably not.
It is not likely to be merely an expression of guilt acknowledged, as looking on the obvious and manifest fact, they rehearse the cause in the midst of their deep penitence; though this is equally, almost certainly part of the background of the mood and mode of expression.
It is likely to be a form of address to the Lord, now manifest in their hearts (John 14:21-23), and a mournful empathy is seizing the questioner, as a mother might take a hand of her warrior son, who had been lacerated for the protection of the city, and say, My son, what are these wounds in your hands ? She is lovingly rehearsing, now that he is back and intimate once more, the very specific evidences of all that he has suffered. So here.
But there is more still. There is the immense change of heart which is finding it all but impossible to take in, the fact that the glorious Messiah, the ruler of the nations, the one whose mouth destroys iniquity (as in Isaiah 11's prediction of the restoration of the Messiah from the death as signified in 52-53), COULD even POSSIBLY have suffered so much. Thus the grief swells and expands, resounds and researches the heart, in the midst of a sensitive, massive and epochal repentance. It is as if they are wondering how He could scarcely conceivably be perceived, how understood to have so suffered, who is so great (as in the Christian song, "Amazing Love, How can it be, that Thou my Lord, shouldst die for me!"). Yet did it not come ? COULD it have ever been that any should so treat such a One as this!
Like successive layers in a rock, deposited in swift actions, in days, so in those days layer on layer of grief and interchange occurs, and people come to their senses, spiritually, to their Lord, after some 2 millenia. It has been a long time! There is no dampening through time, for the whole time is growing nearer 4 millenia since Abraham, and 3 and one half since Moses predicted no small amount of these things (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 32); and now history finds it harbour.
We might proceed, but this is enough. It is evocative, provocative, has the deepest of pathos, the tenderest of empathy, the scorching realisation coming in full force into the now converted heart. The whole matte now exposed, as in the disciples of old, it is coming home to the mind, to the texture of thought. Was it not similar, when in the Emmaus road episode, Christ had to say to them, so slow to perceive His resurrection and to understand, comprehend the majesty of love and the wonder of suffering in God's plan of salvation:
The Chapter 12 of Zechariah finishes after this vivid and vital vignette, at the stated time, when a restored Israel suffers in the pangs of contrition, with a divine response, a celestial counterpart to the question just addressed. It is even possible that in view of Luke 24:39, it may for some have a measure of amazement almost (but not quite) amounting to unbelief. WHY DO YOU DOUBT! Yes, it is so. Realisation swamps the soul and astonishment numbs the mind.
This vignette over, the
Lord is seen in Zechariah 13:7ff., revisiting the scene in which such things
happened in the first place, at the time of Calvary itself.
Against the Man who is My Companion,"
Says the LORD of hosts.
And the sheep will be scattered:
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones..."
They had ignored the love of God for His Son, and now in the devastation following the crucifixion which Christ foretold (cf. Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 23:37ff.), would come. Hence not only the Shepherd, the Messiah, but those lambs and younger ones whom He had come to save, to take up into His arms, those weak whom He had come to protect, with honesty and love, unlike the scurrilous selfishness of those false shepherds who inhabited the high religious places: all would be slain. Kill the dog, and the robbers attack. Slay the Messiah and the powers assail. What is left!
Then more boldly over time, we see something of the ENORMOUS proportional removal of Jews from their national assemblage. Only a FRACTION will be left, so appalling is to be the devastation, the loss of life for the Jewish people (Zech. 13:8-9). SO it was to be and so it is (cf. Jeremiah 30 and The Biblical Workman Ch. 1).
From this we turn to "the day of the Lord" in Zechariah 14:1. The end is then scrutinised; and it will occur, just as the first events in this chapter are now over half a century past and wholly fulfilled, precisely as predicted. It always is; it is guaranteed so to be (Isaiah 44:24-26).
Before we proceed, however, to Zech. 14, let us enjoy and reflect on the delicacy, subtlety of irony, depth of exposure, mastery of coverage and the deft supply of detail in this (respectively) 500 or so year in advance prophetic depiction of these singular, indeed unique events, and 2500 year prelude written to cover what in fact are current, contemporary occurrences, and those yet to come.
So does divine power hide its mastery in all the supple delineations of detail, time no barrier, already reflecting on the singularity of epochal events for which history had to wait centuries, structuring understanding long before the things ever came to pass. So does deity teach humanity its place, as in Zech. 12:1 and Amos 4:13, so fulfilling Amos 3:7 while evincing far more broadly, and deeply, the total comprehension of all things by the Author of creation, and the Maker of man, for whom time is just a shute that He has made (Romans 8:38), so that knowledge of the end is easier for Him than is the perception of distance in space to us.
Thus He speaks, and so He has done; so may it be found by simple application to the text (as reflected in Isaiah 48:6-18), where the pathos of human negligence before the love of such majesty is made poignant in the extreme.
"Oh that you had heeded My commandments! Then you peace would have been like a river, and your righreousness like the saves of the sea."
1. Seeing it in Place
It is now time to consider the sequence further.
Thus in Zech. 9, we see devastation on many nations, but in the midst of suffering, the Messiah for Israel, lowly and having salvation, not arrogant and enabling blather and self-esteem! "His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth."
Revealed in Zech. 9:11ff. ("as for you also, through the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit"), is the glory after the earlier suffering of the nation, so conspicuous in Zechariah 7 for example, when there is to be pre-emptive power over evil, long given its time, now up for its due.
This appears merely a coming deliverance, apt for preliminary footage, a testimony of love in the midst of the failings of Israel, a transcript for faith such as happened in the case of the Maccabees (see Daniel prediction of this phase of Jewish history as in Daniel 11:32, in Highway of Holiness Ch. 10).
We are here in the contemporary situation of Zechariah. Back from their disciplinary exile in Babylon, the nation is soon predicted to experience a form of large-scale victory almost incredible to the small people then returned to their devastated city, to rebuild it. This is of course as in Daniel 9:24-27, a matter of the interim before the Messiah, the 70 sevens which are to transpire in terms of the fulfilment of prophecy, the coming of the Prince, the Christ, and the bringing in of righteousness as there defined and depicted expresslly.
Thus seen here in these earlier chapters, is a glimpse of triumph for the people and deliverance for the growing nation. Is it to continue ? Alas not! This depiction of victory is soon followed in Zech. 10 by the Lord's disgust with the corruption of the greatly aided people. As happened with the Maccabees, as may have been noted in our reference to the corrupt shepherds above, there was that appalling subsidence into political and ecclesiastical intrigue, such as is attested in some detail in Highway of Holiness Ch. 8 . This in turn led on to the corrupted priesthood which was so eager to remove the Christ, despite His words, witness, ways, healing, power and grace, attested authenticity and verified veracity: lest the nation suffer for a 'king' unattractive to Caesar, lest the ways of the world being opposed, the desires of the priesthood denuded, they should lose their posts, or even nation.
This survival technology, this rat psychology, so popular to many to this day, of course led to all they feared. They lost not only their posts, their nation but their place in history, unless so gross an outrage be called a place.
Moving however from this concentration on the false shepherds, a decline following the Lord's massive deliverances for His people, at that time still to come, and so contrasted with the Messiah, who not only had salvation, but humility with it, we reach an important fact. What can it be ? It is not difficult to find. Despite all this, there is a coming deliverance to mask, minimise or obscure by its brilliance all that went before. It is the work of the Messiah Himself, to which this prophecy returns like guests each night for dinner, on an ocean liner.
There is here, in Zechariah 10:9, as in 9:9ff., a preliminary indication of a rift, a ruction parallel to Isaiah 11:11. There is coming a dispersion and a restoration, as Isaiah puts it, a second time.
The enquiring mind cannot but be salivating at the expectation of explanation. How and why is this to be ? In Zech. 11 the answer is presented, as seen above, with appalling severity, clad in brevity but expressed with an irony that is all but incandescent! The false shepherds are now contrasted with their prey, the interlopers with their Prince, their filthy rags (as seen symbolically in Joshua's mime in Zech. 3:3ff., a professional as well as a personal touch), and false testimony, their sale of the Messiah indeed in which they were all too involved, leading to the ruptures with God specified earlier in this chapter (11) at that point.
With the menace of a false shepherd to 'replace' the true, Himself slain, we come to the sudden contrast. It is the light of the Lord in the presence of darkness. It is Jerusalem back in place for its terminal travails (Zech. 12). It is the people who had been misled, now replaced in their city, but surrounded with foes, with tension and with trial. As yet unconverted after that long dispersion noted from Moses (Deuteronomy 32, Leviticus 26) as the acme of their discipline for a contusion and confusion of disbelief, in many sustained steps, on the way to the irreversible events of Isaiah 11, 49, and Ezekiel 37, they are brought back to the Lord IN SPIRIT, just as already, they are in physical placement, in their city of old. The two steps have been noted several times on this site, most recently in Part II of Ch. 6 above. It is geographic before religious; political before spiritual; terrestrial before celestial.
Thus back in the LAND (as in Ezekiel 37:7-14, the dry bones re-assembled, which bleached, had lain on the hills of many nations in the dispersion), they now come back to the LORD (the prophecy of Ezekiel providing a second command, after the preliminary national restoration, to bring SPIRIT to their hearts, which then become the focus!). The second step is closely related to the first, in a setting of divine action directed to the declared goal. Zechariah 12 makes it clear that there will be a period of extremity of tension internationally, with many seeking to intervene, or subdue Jerusalem and its people by worldly schemes. This of course is precisely ... NOW! They suffer; the Jews suffer. The SPIRITUAL restoration is next in line, in this account.
Then the eyes being opened, as seen in Zech. 12:10, they repent of the crucifixion, forecast in Psalm 22 a millenium before it happened (Joyful Jottings 25), and now past history for them, and turn in contrition to Christ the Lord. This is an immense feature in their national life as depicted in Zech. 12:10-14.
The evangelical results follow as in 13:1-6.
2. Placing it in Sight
It is now that we come to Zechariah 14, our current interest for this which is a short preliminary survey for the sense of kinaesthesia!
We see once again, as in Zech. 12, the scene in the scenario, where Jerusalem is beset with mentors, infested with minders, but becomes a burdensome stone to these who try to hurl her away. Now however, we observe new data. The scene shifts, as when one presses a hyperlink on a news page, for more detail on some sub-topic; and one finds that Jerusalem is to suffer further molestation in its final phases, just before the Lord Himself, Stricken once, but Sovereign now, returns (Zechariah 14:5 provides further gen on THAT!).
Jerusalem is seen, in the process and turmoils of war, to be DIVIDED INTO TWO, one part only given to the people of the place, the returnees of Israel.
This, which was fulfilled in 1948, when Jerusalem was indeed divided and given half to the Jews, proceeds to a new revelation of the specifics. The Lord in this setting, at His timing (kept quite secret by design, as in Matthew 24:45ff., I Thessalonians 5:1-3, Acts 1), comes again. He revisits this earth, neither distant nor indirect, as when He first came (Acts 1:11), and as at the first he frequently the Mount of Olives, so now He anoints it with His ... feet. The incarnation was a strange and wonderful act (as in Isaiah 28:22 and 29:13-14), and who could have predicted it, but One who knows. God does not despise man, but rather loves him (John 3:16, Colossians 1:19ff.); it is the sin which He detests, just as a doctor might detest pneumonia in his mother.
He acted. Now He acts again, not to save, for all that is finished (Hebrews 8-10, 10:10-14). It is rather to rule that He comes (Psalm 2) and to remove from this earth the long affliction (as in Isaiah 65), which its curse has produced. Vindicated, He more than indicates righteousness; He rules with it before all eyes.
The return as shown in Zechariah concurs with the fact that He first appears, and comes "so", just as they watched His departure, "in a manner like that in which you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). That coming for His own, is outlined in Matthew 24:29ff.. Now, the coming as King exhibited in Zechariah 14, it is still in that mode, in this, that His form is human, His feet come to the earth from beyond it, and He becomes available once more in person, just as He was before the ascension.
Thus, He first removes His elect from throughout the world (as in Matthew 24:30-31), and then comes with them (as in Revelation 19, I Thessalonians 3:13 and 4). Zechariah however is concerned in his express scenario, already of considerable scope and detail, to keep to the theme. It is one of action on this earth. Thus with Jerusalem under duress, with the Lord's people converted in great numbers IN Jerusalem, there is a coming which is quite fatal to the energies of this world, to the efforts to dislodge Israel and to remove from the Book, that delicious emphasis found in Zech. 12:6.
The GOSPEL is construction, not destruction, though its rejection in the end leads to this. As we saw in studying Isaiah 66, it is not a martial thing, not a thing of devastation and leaving broken arrogance strewn in its armoured arrays, devastated by power. That is the outcome, not the income. That is the eternal result, not the longsuffering presentation.
Thus Paul is in perils, in shipwrecks and distresses (I Cor. 4, II Cor. 4 and 6), down but not out, not ruling amidst the slain subjects of the arrogant opposition, itself exposed and deprived of power. Nothing could be further from the facts than that. That was not the way of things with the apostle at all! This, then is not the preaching of the Gospel at which we are looking in Zechariah 14, but the reaching of royalty to His long delayed but now justly executed return. The earth is to savour His sovereignty, and forget its long blasts of confused rhetoric, seeing that the curse was for a cause, the cause was sin, and the sovereignty of God is clean, His fear glorious and His glory gracious (as in Psalm 72). The coming not to judge but to save (John 3:17) is far removed from the eternal indications of the returning to rule, and not to suffer iniquity, making the earth to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2;14).
We must not liberate the word of God from itself, but ourselves from our philosophic pre-occupations. God is not bound by man, but man by the word of God. Whether he rejects it outright, or with sophisticated sophistries, it does not alter what it does. The word of God is effectual. It proceeds as indicated.
Nothing can act to hinder its performance. Let hammers attempt to pulverise it, or blindness to attack it without knowledge: It does not prevent the entire history of 1948 on being one long paean of praise to the precision of the prophecy of the Almighty (as in SMR Ch. 9 in some detail). Nor has it ever prevented the word of God from proceeding on target, like the ultimate in heat seeking missiles; but this one, it can even proceed when the heart is cold!
Long has He waited in love; Israel was given centuries; but the end came (cf. Matthew 24:14). It comes after the Gospel has been preached to all nations. That is the plan. So it goes; it goes as it comes, and as it goes it finishes what it is sent to perform. What in fact does it say of what is also observable ? This (Isaiah 55:6-13):
"Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
" 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord.
'For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
" 'For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
" 'For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. ' ”
Let us however now return to the particularities of Zechariah 14.
Thus we see the military confrontation with restored Israel, in that climate of time which succeeds their restoration to their land, so empathetically emphasised in its wonder and divine faithfulness in Ezekiel 37, one leading to a consummation with the Messiah, so that their restoration is double, in land and in spirit. It is intense, correlative and close, but one follows the other. There is to be no more dismissal, and no more interval. Nothing more is found outside the land. THIS is it.
Accordingly, we come to the divine arrival at Mount Olivet, site of the agony of Gethsemane, and of so much spiritual triumph by the Lord as He communed with His celestial Father (Zechariah 14:3-9). This is quite expressly the millenium where "no longer shall there be utter destruction. But Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited". This is as in Isaiah 65:19-25, the continuum from the work of the Lord in devastating confrontation with the spiritual enemies and earthly forces of take-over for the earth, which was exposed to view in Isaiah 59:15-21, an expressly unfailing word of continuing applicability, stressed in v. 21 cf. Sparkling Life in Christ Ch. 10).
Yes, this is the scenario for the restoration of Israel such that "I will not let you hear the taunts of the nations anymore, nor bear the reproach of the peoples any more, nor shall you cause your nation to stumble anymore" (Ezekiel 36:15). This return is to be one such the mountains of Israel, mute witnesses of the rebelliousness of Israel, "shall not devour men anymore or bereave your nation anymore" (Ezekiel 36:13). The word of God stresses that there had been quite a fame attached to the devastations wrought on the people of Israel, symbolised by the devouring mountains: they are back.
That is over. NO MORE! No gap intervenes, no imagination is intrudable, no regimes are to apply. They are back; they are beleaguered by belligerents; they are delivered in dynamism; they are repentant in weakness; they are visited by the Messiah, yes, even as their city is affronted, and their existence imperiled in their re-assembled multitude, dry bones first, flesh with spirit, second. It is in one place; in all places. It does not change, vary or commute.
It is categorical, the coming of the two prophetic dicta as in Ezekiel 37, the assemblage of Israel back in its land and the obvious necessity that the skeletons be clothed (37:8,11-13), swiftly attended to.
It is neither a symbol of salvation nor a war disguised as militarily devastating, that we are seeing in the return of Israel and the divine intervention (as in Ezekiel 38ff. indeed, and Micah 7:15ff., Joel 3:12ff., Habakkuk 3, Isaiah 66 - see scriptural index). It is a terrestrial PHYSICAL restoration followed by a celestial intervention in which, quite separately, but in close sequence, the divine Redeemer, who did not cavil at coming to the earth, does not cavil at bringing back a people first to the land accorded them, in the very face of the unbelieving enemies, and then to Himself.
Voilà, it is the scenario, the word of God (cf. News 87).
The geological consequences of the coming, expressive of the divine meaning, are exposed in Zech. 14:4-9, and
"the LORD shall be king over all the earth.
In that day it shall be -
The LORD is one,
And His name one."
It is just as in Micah 4, Isaiah 2, Isaiah 66, Habakkuk 3, Micah 7:15ff., Joel 3:12ff., Hosea 13:14-14:9, Daniel 7:26ff., 2:44-45, Ezekiel 37:25ff., Jeremiah 16:19, 23:6-7, Isaiah 11, some of these being expressly for all people, some specialising on the remnant of Israel, those who come to faith in the Messiah: all depicting the earth under His rule, as also Psalm 2, 73, Zephaniah 2:11 - for
Fulfilling His covenants, He yet reaches all with that universality already clear in the Old Testament in such sites, as in Isaiah 19:22-25, 2:4, Psalm 67:3-7, 63:9, 66:3-4, 86:9, 89:22-27, 72:11 and Psalm 2, Revelation 20:3. It is He who shall as shown in these Psalms, allow the evil one to deceive the nations NO MORE, to use Revelation's words, sacrosanct in their utterance, UNTIL the time is up.
That of course implies that he, the Evil One, will deceive SOME MORE WHEN the time comes, as in fact Revelation 20:7 expressly states (cf. Sparkling Life ... Ch. 10). It is only then that the blessed and delightful action comes, when from the throne of judgment, "the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them" (Rev. 20:11).
Meanwhile and at all times, it is with ONE everlasting Gospel as ONE Lord, as seen in Zechariah 14:9,16 that all is done. On Him all history waits, for Him all nations will look, and over all His rule will be carried, both in mercy and in justice (Psalm 72, 2). Nowhere is this more manifest than in Zechariah 14. Covering then its pronouncements, let us proceed.
Passing over the plague*1, already covered in our Appendix at the end of this chapter, an event of great predictive flair or manifest divine power for our contemporary world, as are the pillars of vapour of Joel (Joel 2:30 for which see also SMR pp. 790ff., 903ff., 676ff.), we come to the quite arresting and intriguing use of Old Testament symbolism for New Covenant reality (as in Jeremiah 31:31ff., Ezekiel 16:60ff., Isaiah 52-53, 66:1-3,18-21). This New Covenant ultimacy is expressly revealed for action, following the crucifixion and resurrection, as also indeed the royal return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Using the KEY of principles explicit in the Old Testament for the predicted New Covenant period, we come to interpret the forms and formats of Zechariah 14:16ff., in terms of the realities to which the symbolisms yield for this New Covenant, prophetically depicted to be in force for this period.
The MESSIAH in this death and resurrection IS the New Covenant (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6).
Of this topic, we find extensive treatment in the Appendix below at *2, and in a broader perspective, background from *3. More broadly it can be traced in Barbs, Arrows and Balms 13, 20 and Biblical Blessings Appendix I, It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls ... Ch. 10,Galloping Events Ch. 4.
Animal sacrifices have, at this time, long since been replaced by the pierced Messiah, who in ONE DAY has despatched sin (Zech. 3:9), so that it is quite clear, even internally, that the symbolism of the last chapter at this point, is to be represented as Hebrews puts it in Chs. 8-10, with the substance of Christ, who is explicitly to be "King on earth".
Now in these advanced events, we find from Zech. 14's closing verses, that holiness to the LORD becomes a keystone to the composition, a dominant theme to the earth which shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). Purity is expressed in racial terms, "there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts", for this people of old had not only concretely corrupt, but their cultural backdrop incendiary to Israel, like a fire to a forest.
Zechariah proceeds to relate that 'Holiness to the Lord' will even be engraved on the bells of the horses, so that we see a depiction of intense joy with application at last, to the realities of divinely governed, guided and girded living, throughout the earth. God does not despise it. He made it. He does not decline as being ultra vires or beneath contempt, the coming: He came before, and has in so many ways, places, visions and declarations indited His intention to come and rule, from Psalm 2 onwards, that it is an argument with HIM, not a viewpoint OF Him, which declines to acknowledge this return.
In one sense, this end*4 of Zechariah reminds one of the end of Isaiah (66:23-24), where the domain of hell is seen as if in immediate proximity to the view, but not to the access of the saints. Such matters, clearly understood from the principles applicable (in Isaiah as in 65:17, 51:6), are like the Pilgrim's Progress. Just as we are unable to involve the word of God with our own licence in allegory, especially when it is abortive of the intent of the substance of the context, so we MUST be prepared to see it where an intelligent author, indeed with the acme and source of intelligence, presents material for purvey. NONE is so intelligent as God, nor so free as He!
The mind must be active, and the imagination, in reading the work of another, susceptible and sensitive to direction, without ever intruding. So do we in the fear of God, avoid substituting for the word of God our own traditions, whether intrusive imagination or intrusive lack of response to what the imagination must find in the concrete presentations of KEYS at the point, or elsewhere in the word of God. Like the law - as one prominent lawyer once declared of the law of the land - it must be read as ONE WHOLE.
If this can apply to a land over centuries with many different and diverse lawgivers, much more then to ONE lawgiver who is over all, knows all and has a facility not dreamed of by men, in depicting what He will with just the touch or the index desired, to stimulate thought, increase depth of concentration, or at other times, to relieve distress. He is then also a teacher superb and sublime.
As the word of God says of His wisdom given, "it is all clear to him who understands" (Proverbs 8:8-9), there is no INHERENT and insuperable difficutly, and a major reason for that is this: that there are so many evidences and attestations, which must be given by interpreters as reasons, to prevent arbitrary excursion or arbitrary failures to follow them when the Author Himself makes them!
It is then not the exponent but the exposition that is to the point; and within that, not the flair but the force of what God says throughout His word which is the ultimate, verifiable and adequate constraint.
To interpret, not impose, the reader must be precise, never slacking, substituting a weak and preposterous 'solution' which is easy, for the gen, the data, the textual facts, but adopting the latter and making the result as sure as sensitivity and comparison of scripture can attest, which is to say, very sure. It is only when we impose and add, negate or modify, in the interests of some theory, that accidents happen, some appalling, so that knowledge becomes vanity, and vanity vapid. Nevertheless, it is always in the word of God itself that confidence must be placed, for the best of men are but sinners. What is presented however is ever available for comparison with the word of God.
Thus taken, Zechariah appears as a tower of flame, a dell of grace, a meadow of felicity, a drama of dimensions glorious and triumphant, a word of warning, a witness in truth of truth, a delicious detailing of the Messiah, like a portrait, in many sided depth, and a torrent of grace, as they say to the cornerstone, "Grace, grace!"
"Return to the stronghold you prisoners of hope!" - Zech. 9:12, is a word clothed in the terms of its day, but without variation in its message. The stronghold is the Lord, who never changes, whose Gospel is in essence the same since Abraham (Romans 4 is explicit here), whose Messiah to come (as in Psalm 22) is as precious once as after His arrival, as sure at first as at last and the Tower of Strength (Micah 4:8, Psalm 61:3) to His people whether foreseeing His coming, witnessing His glory or awaiting with eager expectation (Romans 8:23) His return. As Paul says, If we have what we hope for, how do we yet hope ? but now we earnestly await the Return of that King, who first bringing to a Himself, like ripe wheat all His people, then comes with them as in Zechariah 14:5, I Thess. 3:13, to invest the earth.
You cannot shunt the Lord. He comes and goes as it pleases Him; but it is a good pleasure in which He moves, for He IS good, gracious and without iniquity, and "His salvation is near to those who fear Him" (Ps. 85:9), " For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those how call upon You" - Ps. 86:5, and indeed, "everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21), by faith entering the invisible kingdom (Colossians 1:11-12) soon*5 to become most manifest (Psalm 2, 72), but already operative in the hearts and lives of those who are His, by repentance divorcing from the gods and vacuities of carnal, cultural objets d'art among the mental manufactures of man, the pseudo-spiritual surrogates, and finding in Christ, that He is all and in all who are His (Colossian 3:11).
is He who is the fulfilment of the aspirations of the nations, though they be
witless of Him (Haggai 2:7) and the evacuation post for the pollutions for man.
In this case, the notes are in substance,
virtually all (except 1A, 4-5)
a matter of giving related treatments in other works of this author, and making them available for due compilation in thought.
In that sense, it is an Appendix.
The comedy of prima
facie observation here, is parallel to the hardness of heart which WILL not
realise that when the Lord says 'her own place' and 'again' and then adds -
'Jerusalem', it is almost like the promptings of a person in the 'wings' in
some theatre, constantly trying to bring the erring actor to his temporarily
wandering senses: he MEANS Jerusalem, not some fantasy, fiction or allegory.
On Zechariah 14, from SMR pp. 718-719.
We find, as our Age progresses, man marvellously drawn to evil, to defile himself, his life and his conscience, to abort good instincts, aims and self-control, exactly as predicted; to derange his systems with food, drugs, absurd forms of sex and any other irrationality that occurs to the 'liberated' mind. Such is the trend which, so far from arrested, is declaring itself more and more blatantly, as though having a compulsive neurosis on the fulfilment of Matthew 24:11-12 and 11 Timothy 3 and 4.
Not only so. The very technological changes and advances have produced not only the column of vapour predicted by Joel, and confirmed in the deployments of divine power through Peter at Pentecost (Acts 2:19): as a major mark of the advancing phases of the age which proceeds till Christ returns - the A-bomb and the H-bomb obliging the predictive word with hats off, as it were, powerless to proceed except in accord with the word of God. In fact, there is more.
The very disease syndrome covered in Zechariah 14 and, in part, in Revelation, has also made itself manifest. Strength and sickness, brilliance and malady alike are there; and they are here ... with us distinctively, translated accurately into history, now.
This rather startling item of detail, the soaring atomic cloud, is as secure a reference-point to our Age as is the vapour composition: the form and the substance 'clap hands together' in fulfilment. But what of the disease ?
It too is astonishing. The
extended itemisation of Revelation 16:10, found in Zechariah 14:12, was taken
as a syndrome to a medical doctor, an atheist or agnostic. What did he make of
this physical condition predicted for the fearful turmoil, as the phase of this
Age came near to its
end ? ( In Prophecy Phase II, Ch.9 infra, we look in more detail at the location, but this chapter of Zechariah being also that in which Christ re-appears, in a sequence, it is clear it is near the end.)
He confirmed that it fitted well, the description in Zechariah 14, with the atomic radiation syndrome: in the eye, tongue and body wastage pathology noted by the prophet. The leukemia wasting away, and the ulcerated tongue and the serious eye conditions related aptly, he indicated.
We have noted the entire accuracy of Peter and Joel's reference to the vapour cloud famous for our atomic explosions, but what does it say of this prominent disease for the same period ? It is this which is written:
''Their flesh shall consume away while they stand on their feet. And their eyes shall consume away in their sockets. And their tongue shall consume away in their mouth'' (Zechariah 14:12).
This, says Zechariah (14:12), is the plague. Specially prepared for the ultimate assault on Jerusalem, in this Age, it has the appearance of this Age's weapons most markedly upon it.
It is in the theme of the returned Jews fighting off a multinational assault on Jerusalem that this prediction occurs, and of the Jews in turn, repenting of their 'piercing' of the Lord whom they had rejected. That is the overall context in Zechariah 11-14, and to this we will in some detail return in Chapter 9, infra. Zechariah 14 goes on to show that this time is leading up to the return of the Lord, the Messiah crucified and now coming in power and judgment (Zechariah 14:3-4).
Thus, together with the
column of vapour signal reflected from Joel, by Peter in Acts so dramatically
as he characterised the Age and its dénouement, this makes fascinating
newscast. Not enough that it was stated nearly 2000 years ago; more yet, Joel
gave it out for the ravishing of the earth as it would come to approach its
eventual judgment, some 800 years even before that. There is a certain
composure about the word of God; it is what you might expect of a sovereign of
this magnitude, Lord of Lords and the God of creation. Not merely the facts, the
details, the trends are right: the style and manner has an inimitable assurance
which lacks bluster and simply reigns supreme.
From a larger survey in the volume
With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Ch.
also expouding aspects of Zech. 14.
Thus the sacrifices of Zechariah 14, which follow the gospel message and close coverage of the Messiah in this prophet (3:9, where the sins of the people are absolved in one day, 9:6, where the King comes on an ass's colt, 11:10-12:10, where the treachery of His people against Him occurs, and their subsequent repentance in terms of Him whom they pierced is displayed, this and much more): these have nothing to do with the merely preparatory specifics which are included in the Old Covenant. The Messianic blessing is "not according to" this, we are instructed by the Lord, in Jeremiah 31; and its most intimate items are wholly irrelevant now, being fulfilled, as we are shown explicitly.
These Old Covenant-formatted terms of Zechariah 14:16ff. represent in Old Covenant shadows*2, what is to be performed in a New Covenant setting. Hence the principles of the New Covenant in one phase as in another, and in particular with the return of the endlessly governing Prince (Isaiah 9:6) the son of David born of a virgin, are to apply. These principles make the symbolic forms which are used in terms of the Old Covenant setting of Zechariah, to have poignant and intensive force. Yet they require them to be understood in terms of the New Covenant, so that items of the Old do not even come to mind!
Further, like the showbread given to King David by the priest, to cover the leader's emergency, they are to be interpreted as to their significance: indeed the baked "bread" itself disappears, like the altar of Jeremiah 3; and ONLY the meaning now remains. The glory of it is this: THAT meaning now is LESS abstract than before, MORE concrete and utterly personal, moving from Christ, who proceeded from His Father to those of this race who receive Him. In all things, Christ has the pre-eminence, and all things are gathered up in one in Him (Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 1:10); and here is the resting point of all symbol for its nexus. This then is the situation in Zechariah 14.
As earlier noted, the same applies to the end of Isaiah 66, where the SPIRITUAL realities of hell are depicted as if they were occurring on earth, and as if people went to some physical place to observe them. We all use symbols of former times, or other things to represent something with vital force and impact at times; it is part of the value of having capacity both imagination and for symbolic thought within our construction as in the image of God.
In these places, the principles securely in place, we are to understand the teaching implicit in the patterns, and not to imagine that God has become divided in mind: but rather this, that if we do not accept it, we are "foolish and slow in heart", as Christ indicated when He chided His disciples. And for what did He chide them? for not seeing His place in its regal and overall setting, commanding and commandeering all else, in the suffering phase as likewise in the phase of His glory.
Thus, to revert to the text of Zechariah 14, even the pots "shall be holiness to the Lord", just as the "walls" predicted for Isaiah 60's presentation of Jerusalem, are t be "salvation" and its gates "praise"! It is no part of holiness to be obtuse to what is so written that to fail to understand is to be embroiled in the ludicrous, and to understand is to be deepened in the fundamental realities God reveals so often, in so many ways and with such final authority. Now at last, the "shadows" of material emblems are replaced with the spiritual substance itself (cf. Hebrews 10:1-13), as soon again, will the structure itself (Isaiah 65:17, when God shakes the unshakeable and demonstrates His magnificence with prodigious directness, in Christ - Revelation 5:12-13).
As Hebrews 8 tells us of
the Old Covenant, it is fading away, obsolete.
Sparkling Life in Jesus Christ, Ch. 10.
First however a word about the relationship of this *3 note, to *2 above, and to our theme in this Chapter.
This is complementary to *2 above, in that the KEY noted is applicable every time that some generic principle is given in the Bible, such as the New Covenant, announced in the Old, pronounced in the new Testament. When the criteria of this covenant are known from the scriptures which concentrate on these, it is mere confusion NOT to apply these to any symbols that may be presented FOR the New Covenant. Imagery has to be interpreted, forms and modes of speech discerned, so that the principles required are used to open the door of understanding to find the interpretation therefore compelled. It is a very joyous experience, like completing the last hard parts of a jig-saw puzzle, for it does all fit together, and what was old imagery, becomes in the direction of Biblically required principles, expressly stated in the text, new understanding.
Indeed, the Lord is to govern the nations on earth righteously, and "Your enemies will submit themselves to You" (66:3), so that "all the earth shall worship You". Sin is not absent, merely the devilish dash of its dynamic; further, the wonder of the way of righteousness is demarcated with a distinctness of wonder, past all confusion, abuse or decline. Indeed, many may give feigned acceptance in this millenium specified by Revelation, with criteria paralleled in its unique and defined state as shown in Rev. 20:3. We know that because at the end of the time, there is to be a revolt, an uprising.
When the TIME IS PAST and the devil is given liberty, the devilish heart is no more abased, the rebellious no more conform, and now it is demonstrated specifically that it is not environment (for He has redeemed the poor as in Psalm 73 and been tender and just) that counts in the count-down to heaven or hell; it is grace, it is salvation, it is knowing the Lord IN YOUR HEART, by His cleansing regenerative dynamic and personal presence.
· Here the dynamic of Psalm 2 is seen in its TIME setting, and the characteristics of the references in the preceding paragraph, have their alone anchorage in the periods specified in the Bible.
· Thus chronology and criteria are wedded in harmony, while justice and truth are fulfilled, prophecy finds it place, and the 'interpretations', the dizzied declamations, the intolerable inequations, which make
· millenium = NO millenium,
· carnage = unbelief, and
· overthrowing power removing the deceptive capacity of the devil =
the prominent works of the god of this world, in all their contrived muzzlings of the simple demands of the word of God,
· become mere chatter in the dark.
It is not that it need be anything directly to do simply with an instructed individual, except perhaps the inventor of some of these meddlesome myths. They have become 'schools' which invite people to become 'followers' and in which there are wars and corners and fights, and hype! It is very horrible, and it is very divisive, but it is entirely unscriptural. Thus, one must, of course, make it entirely clear that this is in no sense a personally oriented comment on anyone who, caught in any erroneous interpretation, happens to hold it in such a field. It is rather addressed to the misleading dynamic which tends to ensnare people, and to this itself. It is what Christ called a ‘leaven’, as to type.
One no more wishes to 'condemn' those who may have caught such a toxic dose, than those who suffer from influenza. This said, however, one is without the slightest codification, compelled and constrained to say these things about the quality of the illicit thing itself!
Again, to be sure, there are dispensational horrors which are probably far worse (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 3 esp. pp. 35ff. and 45ff. incl. *2). These, for example, omit the key which turns the door of interpretation, the clearly defined biblical principles which, like a map, allow the unfading certainties of what are the markers of the track of understanding. Ignoring the standing guidelines, many have failed to realise that orders are orders, and human principles of interpretation from philosophy, must give way to explicit statement from God as to what He is about, will insist upon and where He is going. This relates to what happens in the millenium.
The trackless wastes of covenantal confusion, as if God had forgotten the lines which He Himself has drawn, or meant symbols to signify something other than what He has laid down with all the emphasis of heaven itself, become a place of prey for the unwary. However, as Justin Martyr so beautifully stressed, the Christ is the new law and the new covenant, and as Ignatius put it, the charters ARE Jesus Christ: in Him the symbols in vast numbers coalesce and have their completion (Hebrews 10:1ff., 7:25-28). His messianic presence is dominant and not merely prominent, the pith of the presentation, the acme of the acuity, the flame of the fire which like some vast solar flare, has reached out to illumine and to warn all.
Moreover, there are insistences that II Peter 3:8-9, is dealing with admittedly eschatological criteria, and these therefore are here far from irrelevant. They may apply assuredly, though this could not be proved. Though some indeed might wish to insist that this word of Peter is so wedded to this end period that to ignore it here is to be silent where God has not been so, and to ignore what God has divulged, and there is ground for some sympathy in such a position: yet such a position, though appealing, has no sure mandate. It merely prevents our ‘knowing’ the length.
Thus, one does not know the chronological length of the Revelation millenium for the very simple reason that the highly pertinent II Peter 3:8-9 in this whole context of the longsuffering of the Lord and the end, may well be a pointer. Since it may not be one, specifically however for the immediately following phase, though it bids fair to be an index, we simply DO NOT KNOW. There is scriptural ground for RESERVATION on the topic. We know the actual duration may be far short of a thousand years, though it is certain to be adequate for all pronounced to be done in this.
Symbolical in extent , or unsymbolical, however, the point is but trivial, unless more be asserted in God’s name, than can be proved from the Bible. That in itself, is never trivial! (Proverbs 30:6, SMR Appendix D, and the earlier chapters of this volume). We simply announce that the length is not known, but as in other matters in symbolism in this work, where the key is apparent, the substance is there, and it will last as long as GOD MAKES IT TAKE to fulfil all He has said concerning this exhibition of His justice and mercy.
To the last jot and tittle, Christ declared, all the law and the prophets will be fulfilled. You do not fulfil an earth flowing with righteousness under the just and merciful rule of God, in all nations, one where the wicked are dashed, by having one in which these criteria disappear. You do not fulfil the word of God by excising Revelation 20. You do not have the knowledge of the glory of the Lord cover the earth, and the righteous unmolested when the righteous are systematically murdered, goods rifled and powers of satanic dynamic flourish like giant weeds, covering the deserts of desolation PREDICTED to reach their climax at His return, coming somewhat earlier in order to prevent the earth becoming WHOLLY UNINHABITABLE.
Thin does not mean fat, nor fat thin.
You do not avoid the context by dismissing it to some sanctuary invented by your own mind.
You continue with the word of God, neither adding nor subtracting, interpreting what is there, not disenchanted from some philosophy, deciding it really is better put away, like some 19th century relative who is not fit for society, and so is placed in a country mental asylum. It is man not God who is in mental danger; it is the word of man and not of God which is to be put away.
As to God, His glorious justice and righteous word is undivorceable, intractable, retroactive in judgment on this world, bringing its deeds of the past to contemporary exposure, just as was the case with the Jewish nation of Jesus' own day, when He said:
· "Fill up then the measure of your fathers' guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers. How can you escape the condemnation of hell ? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,
· "THAT ON YOU MAY COME ALL THE RIGHTEOUS BLOOD SHED ON THE EARTH, FROM THE BLOOD OF RIGHTEOUS ABEL TO THE BLOOD OF ZECHARIAH... assuredly, I tell you, all these things will come on this generation."
As the evil is purged, so the entry of light is urged. Sparkling, it embraces the truth, the truth embraces it, they luminesce in unison. They make manifest each and all of the appointed avenues expressive of the glory of the Lord.
As the evil is purged, so the entry of light is urged. For this millenium, then, you go not to heaven, to hell, or to Mars, and further, neither to fiction nor to fantasy for the place where His righteousness will erupt in glory, teem in wonder, be brilliant with force and strength, to govern all nations, and tender in compassion from the Redeemer, to heal all wounds: no, for all this in its defined ensemble of substance, is statedly on this earth.
It was not in Jupiter, in some fabrication of the human mind, in a scalloped work of the mind of man that Christ was to come. He was to born on this earth; and it was not in some purée of thought that His crucifixion was to occur, moving this to the garden of Eden perhaps, or to some other place.
Not at all! It was in Jerusalem, on this earth.
Redemption cost the earth and the earth will behold the majesty of the Lord, nor will He neglect any, for ...
"with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth:
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked...
the nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole,
and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain" (Isaiah 11:4ff.).
You observe this ? Then let us hear about the site, and the REASON for these events as dictated by the lip of the Lord:
· "FOR THE EARTH SHALL BE FULL OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD AS THE WATERS COVER THE SEA."
What however of that glorious entry into heaven itself ? Does the book say it all ? It proceeds indeed to instruct us on this topic. Already the saints have long gone to their Redeemer in heaven, who came before the final abolition of evil (I Thessalonians 4, II Thess. 2:7-8,Matthew 24:22,29-31, Rev. 19:8ff. as above), and drew them apart, His elect from the four winds*2, to His side. It is with them that He comes (I Thess. 3:13, Zech. 14:5, Rev; 19:14, Luke 21:25-28 with Rev. 1:7 cf. Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ Ch. 5); for there is no more pain, and the works are finished. It is not part of salvation, that God desires to vindicate glory, indicate righteousness and exhibit the majesty of its tang on the earth, past the desecrations and denudations of those wilful and wiley. It is however part of His announced plan. Wiser than God is the one who wishes to snip here, and cut there, to add this or ignore that ? Far from it. It is well to be instructed and learn, from His book, without alien aid.
The ministry ? This is an aid which does not rule the truth, but is there for helping joy, not dominion over faith.
Wise is he, is she who receives what according to Biblical specifications is given from those who help, and yet finds in the Lord alone the help which for the helpless is ever overwhelmingly strong, incalculably pure, marvellously kind.
If you do not know all things (I Cor. 13), at least always know this, that the word of God is truth, and blessed is he, is she who abides in it (John 15:7).
There are alas, woes of waywardness in interpretation, in which the possibility of metaphor or allegory becomes the advance of anything that appeals. This is to be deprecated severely.
Thus the depiction, certainly to be opened by the New Covenant Key as described above, of The LORD as King over all the earth (Zech. 14:9, with many parallels such as adduced earlier in this chapter) does not mean that He will NOT be King over all the earth. That is contradiction, not interpretation. There is no key to remove a kingdom from Christ, or its site from His purvey!
Again, the discipline on nations which seek apostasy from this King (already protrayed in another facet in Psalm 2) does not imply that there will be none (cf. Isaiah 11). The emphasis on holiness at the end, does not imply that there will be an amorphous, non-descript civilisation; for to interpret is not to obliterate. Holiness is not symbolical, however symbolically it may be expressed. Dominion is not a quiddity, in whatever form it be set. The earth is not heaven, and war is not in heaven, however the mind may like to wander. Short-circuiting the manifest, multiple, multi-contextual and diversely presented attestation of these things in many prophets, in the interests of some sort of philosophically preferred simplicity, making simplistic the announcements of the actual Sovereign, helps nothing but confusion, forwards nothing but philosophy and is a tradition making light of the word of God, whatever the intention may be.
Error is error whether Johnny or the king, should make it. The textual attestation does not vary because this or that party failed in this or some similar point. What is written, the contexts in which it is multiplied, the forms and formats in which it appears, from the poetic to the practical, the political to the spiritual, merely amplify its certainty. They do nothing to make the millenium cancellable by the stroke of a pen. It is precisely the same with the post-millenium confusion. NEVER has this world shown such an arrest of Satanic DECEIT among the nations, as would fulfil the small part of it! Further, in Revelation 20, there is ONLY ONE PLACE where the millenium is put. It is after Christ returns, just as in Zechariah 14.
Much requires the most assiduous consideration, meditation and spiritual illumination; but as to these things, they are not in the aura of light too intense to be helpful. They are written for our instruction. It is well to be careful in adding, with whatever good intention, even to the ingredients of the millenial period, including its duration, or attempting to make any term equipped with scriptural key, of a generic kind, to lack it.
For the sequence, see Answers to Questions Ch. 5. "Near" is the word of Christ for what is depicted, uniquely, as the current contemporary situation, relative to His coming (Luke 21:24ff.). This aspect is shown in detail in the reference here given.
As to the onset of the regime of the man of sin, the antichrist, the last squirmings of the dying powers of evil, facing their come-uppance from their spiritual darkness, into the blazing light of Christ (II Thess. 1:6-8, 2:8, Revelation 19:19ff.), this is considered in SMR pp. 505-516, and readers are recommended, if interested in this part of the pattern, this touch in the tartan, to follow this hyperlink to that topic and field. It is not without its fascination, and it is wise to seek understanding in all things.
(See also, Millenium in Index for The Rest.)