Help with The Interpretation of Zechariah 14

Discussion in 'OT Prophets' started by Ed Walsh, Sep 14, 2017.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I am really torn over the interpretation of Zechariah chapter 14. Some aspects seem Postmillennial, others (maybe) amillennial, others even Premillennial.

    Right now I think it is speaking of the whole Church age with a Postmillennial flavor.

    If you think you understand the chapter, please give me some bullet points or a paragraph or two on several of the verses.


    from Lang et al.


    A great and at first successful Assault is made upon the Holy City (vers. 1, 2). B. Then God miraculously interposes, grants Escape, and after a mingled Condition of Things gives a final and glorious Deliverance (vers. 3–7). C. A Stream of Salvation pours over the whole Land (vers.8–11). D. The Enemies are chastised (vers. 12–15). E. The Remnant of Them turn to the Lord (vers. 16–19). E. Jerusalem becomes thoroughly Holy (vers. 20, 21).


    This concluding chapter of the Prophet has been very variously interpreted. Calvin, Grotius, and others supposed it to refer to the times of the Maccabees, which for a variety of reasons is scarcely possible. Marckius, following Cyril and Theodoret, applied its opening verses to the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus, and with him agree Lowth, Adam Clarke, and Henderson; but the circumstances here stated do not correspond with the facts of history, nor if they did, could the former part of the chapter be violently sundered from its plain connection with the latter part. The “later criticism” (Hitzig, Knobel, Maurer, Ewald, Bertheau, etc.), refer the passage to the period immediately preceding the Babylonish exile and the catastrophe then threatening Jerusalem; and when reminded of the contrast between the prediction and the facts, appeal to the ethical aim and conditional nature of prophecy as fully accounting for this, But even admitting their principle, it does not apply here, for this chapter has nothing to say of sin and judgment, of repentance and conversion on the part of the covenant people, but only of their dreadful trials and glorious deliverance. Such a prediction, addressed to Judah in the last decennium before the exile, could have exerted no healthful influence, and certainly the glowing statements of the latter part of it have no counterpart in any experience of the restored people. It only remains then either with Wordsworth, Blayney, Newcome, Moore, Cowles, etc., to refer it to a period yet future, or with Hengstenberg, Keil, etc., to suppose that it describes in general terms the whole development of the Church of God from the commencement of the Messianic era to its close. In either case the chapter must be taken as figurative and not literal. The cleaving of the Mount of Olives in two for the purpose of affording escape to fugitives from Jerusalem; the flowing of two perpetual streams from the holy city in opposite directions; the levelling of the whole land in order to exalt the temple-mountain; the yearly pilgrimage of all nations of the earth to Jerusalem; and the renewal of the old sacrifices of the Mosaic ritual; these are plainly symbolical statements, but not therefore by any means unmeaning or useless. The chapter does not stand alone in the Scriptures. Parallels are to be found in Isaiah (65–66), Ezekiel (38–39), and Daniel (12), as well as in the closing book of the New Testament.

    The Prophet begins with the account of an attack made upon the holy city by all nations, who, instead of being destroyed (like Gog and Magog in Ezekial) before getting possession of the holy city, seize and plunder it and carry away half its population, and then are met and thwarted by Jehovah, who provides escape for his people. This feature of escape inclines one to regard the passage as an ideal picture of all the conflicts of the Church with its foes.

    Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., & Chambers, T. W. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Zechariah (pp. 109–110). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  2. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    As with all OT prophecies of the new golden age, we have prophetic foreshortening. Aspects of the prophecy that seem to be true now or in the past are right next to other things that haven't happened yet. It is like seeing a mountain range from far away. The hills that seem to be just as far away as the mountain range become displaced from the mountain range when you get close up. Zechariah is no different. Some aspects have been fulfilled, some are being fulfilled, some have yet to be fulfilled. We live in the already/not yet. I think there is not any necessity for thinking that the whole chapter has to be fulfilled all at the same time.

    For instance, the day of the Lord is the day of judgment. And the judgment against Jerusalem should probably not be interpreted as the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, since that had already happened, and the fighting of the Lord against those nations was not concurrent with it anyway. It seems to fit better with the time of Christ, in which Jerusalem was indeed ravaged, and the Lord, through the church, was fighting against the kingdom of Satan. Verses 16ff have not yet come to pass, except that the Gentiles have partially come into the church. I think you'll find that if you try to squeeze all the events of chapter 14 into one time period, there will be things that don't fit.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  3. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Gary Demar has a fascinating take believing that it refers to the events in the book of Esther. I'll see if I can find it.
  4. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

  5. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    I think that the Scriptures many times have dual/several fulfillments going in regarding prophecy, as there will be an immediate event that fulfills a prophecy, but that also points to a later and greater full fulfillment, such as when Isaiah referred that a young woamn/virgin shall conceive and be a sign, as well as when the bible states out of Egypt called my Son, and was a reference to first Israel, and later on applied to Jesus Himself. Like a dual fulfillment prophetic element going on at times.
  6. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

  7. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks everyone for your help. It's appreciated.

  8. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    My take on it Ed is that it respects the gospel age. The repeated phrase , "in that day" would guide me on it. So in v20, and particularly the last phrase in v21, "in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts." Canaanites were never allowed into the temple and so this must have another meaning, and indeed a prophetic meaning. And it is John who records its fulfilment in 2:16 in the cleansing of the Temple and the driving out of the money changers. "And he said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise." The word for merchant or merchandise, is Canaanite! So it was the Jews who had polluted the temple and desecrated its sacred precincts by holding a market of animals and coinage.
    Buying and selling the coin of human merit. The temple now is the body of Christ, and none but His members participate, no Canaanite allowed.
  9. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    See Chapter 18 "OT Kingdom Prophecies Considered", in Davis, Dean. The High King of Heaven (p. 380).

    In critiquing various millennial views, versus Davis' amillennialism, on Zechariah 12-14, Davis writes:

    Anyone who reads the text objectively, refusing to import millennial presuppositions into it, will see immediately that Zechariah is speaking of the conversion of eschatological Israel, the Last Battle, the Day of the LORD, and the eternal worship of the World to Come. It is completely counterintuitive to think that an oracle so grand— so cosmic— in its scale, should have as its terminus ad quem a temporary millennial reign of the Messiah, rather than the ultimate glories of the perfected Kingdom of God (p. 383).

    Secondly, we have already seen that this oracle gives us one of at least five different OT prophecies of the Last Battle. We have also seen that if we interpret them all literally, it is impossible to reconcile the conflicting data. Therefore, the only viable solution is to affirm, with the NCH {NB: New Covenant Hermeneutic}, that in each such prophecy the Spirit is giving us a symbolic— a typologically veiled— revelation of the final clash between the Church and the World, a clash whose true nature is fully disclosed only in the NT. This approach alone retains the divine inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture (p. 383).

    ...there is the problem of anachronisms. Do we really want to say, for example, that at the end of the present (and very modern) age, the nations of the earth will come up against ethnic Israel riding horses, camels, and donkeys; or that they will bring cattle with them to serve as food (12: 4, 14: 15)? (p.383)

    ...there are theological problems. How is it that in the Millennium— when Christ himself is allegedly seated upon his throne in Jerusalem— that Israel and the nations will revert to observing the Mosaic Law; a Law that, according to the NT, Christ himself fulfilled and rendered obsolete (Mt. 5: 17, Rom. 10: 4, Heb. 8: 13)? In particular, will parents really take it upon themselves to administer Mosaic sanctions by executing the false prophet who sprang from their loins (13: 2-4; Deut. 18: 20, 13: 13)? Will the nations really go up to a physical Jerusalem to join ethnic Israel in observing the Feast of Booths (14: 16)? Will they really bring animal sacrifices to a physical Temple; and will priests really lay those sacrifices upon a physical altar, or boil them in physical cooking pots (14: 20-21)? The mind steeped in NT revelation simply cannot bring itself to assent to such propositions. Instead, it looks immediately and instinctively for NT antitypes; for the NT spiritual realities of which all these mysterious pictures are OT types, shadows, and symbols (pp. 383-384).

    ..what about the bearing of the rest of the book upon the interpretation of this particular oracle? Was there ever an OT prophet whose writing more fully embodied the “apocalyptic” mode of divine revelation than Zechariah? Was there ever a prophet who more consistently edified and encouraged God’s OT people by clothing his great eschatological revelations in vision and symbol? If, as all agree, the first half of Zechariah’s book (Zech. 1-8) is completely devoted to eight mystical visions loaded with Messianic and Kingdom symbolism, is it not likely that the second half of the book (Zech. 9-14), which is devoted to two great prophetic oracles, is loaded with Messianic and Kingdom symbolism, as well? Indeed, since the first half of the book also contains a number of prophecies, and the second half also contains a number of visions, is it not clear that the whole book is apocalyptic through and through, and that we must therefore be interpret it symbolically, rather than literally? We conclude, then, from evidence found both in the OT and the New, that premillennial interpretations of Zechariah 12-14 are fatally flawed, and that our only hope of penetrating to the deep meaning of this great oracle lies in the skillful use of the NCH (p. 384).​

    Davis, citing the RSB:

    As mentioned above, Zechariah’s final oracle is composed of a series of prophetic “snapshots.” The Reformation Study Bible explains it this way:

    Our understanding of the teaching of Zechariah is greatly helped when we recognize that the prophet gives pictures of the future in snapshot fashion, in which the pictures are not placed in any particular sequence. When we read a passage, we see only what is happening in that snapshot, not how it relates to the other snapshots.
    In this helpful observation, the key word is sequence. Yes, the snapshots are related, but thematically, rather than chronologically. We see this vividly in the frequent appearance of the eschatological marker “in that Day.” Through the use of this expression, the Spirit is letting us know that he is now speaking of the two-staged Kingdom of God and Christ (pp. 384-385).

    But through its use he is also letting us know that he is now giving us yet another cameo; yet another fresh miniature portrait of some event or characteristic of life proper to that (particular stage of the) Kingdom. Does the oracle as a whole have any chronological drift or momentum? To be sure. Moreover, once we abandon premillennial literalism and futurism in favor of the NCH, we are able to see it clearly. Broadly speaking, it turns out that the prophecy is much like Ezekiel 36-39: It passes from the Era of Proclamation and Probation (the Kingdom of the Son), through the Last Battle and the Day of the Lord, into the World to Come (the Kingdom of the Father). Nevertheless, even as we bear this overall perspective in mind, we must recognize that each snapshot stands more or less on its own. Yes, its exact place in the total oracle will help us to interpret it; but having received that help, we must look for its essential meaning in the OT symbols themselves, and in the NT truths to which those symbols so mysteriously point (p. 385).​

    Worth the 735 page read ;)
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Edifying Edifying x 1
    • List
  10. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

  11. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    Of possible help:

    Manton, Thomas, Works, xv.414.

    Manton, Thomas, Works, v.381.

    Manton, Thomas, Works, xvii.441.
  12. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for the suggestions. I just finished the sermon on vs. 20 & 21. I have always loved the image of the bells on the horses imprinted with Holiness unto the Lord.

  13. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    An interesting discussion, but it highlights what I've said for a long time: the church, over the last nearly 2,000 years, has teased out the three basic eschatological positions from the same Bible-supplied material. This should generate more humility than is sometimes shown when discussing eschatology and it should lead us to remember the possibility that all three positions, as currently understood, could be wrong, in whole or in part. After all, if one of them is right, then the other two are wrong!

    I think God has given us just enough information in the Bible regarding eschatology to remind us that (1) life, here, is to be lived by faith and (2) only God truly knows what He really has in mind for the end of history. He has not, of course, lied to us in the Scriptures (an impossibility, of course), but how it all gets put together in the end is, quite frankly, none of our business yet (cf. Deuteronomy 29.29).

    So, whatever position you hold, hold it sincerely - but hold it lightly. As I said, we could all be wrong.
  14. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    On the copyright page, interestingly, the publisher placed a notice saying, in effect, "Since the author was not interested in having the book professionally proofread or professionally edited for the most part, any errors appearing in this book are his, not ours."

    Makes me wonder: what sort of author would not want to take advantage of experienced professional proofreaders or editors? Any writer will tell you that a good editor is worth his weight in gold.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page