Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 181 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Zechariah 14 today and our focus is on the last days – specifically, the great and terrible day of the Lord. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Pathum Thani, Thailand, Auckland, New Zealand, New South Wales, Australia, Gujarat, India, Northwest South Africa, Parts unknown, Philippines, Cincinnati, Ohio, Salinas, California, Terre Haute, Indiana and Traverse City, Michigan. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Back to the Old Testament today, and our passage is a bit of a doozy. In it, Zechariah the prophet is enabled to see an eschatological vision of the future when Israel is restored and completely focused on worshipping God wholeheartedly. Indeed, all of the nations of the world are also worshipping God in this vision – He is the only Lord of the earth after the events of Zechariah 14. Sounds great, but there will be much turmoil before that happens, because Zechariah tells us that a great battle is coming in which many of the armies of the world line up and seek to utterly destroy Jerusalem. God Himself fights for Jerusalem, however, and will win a tremendous victory. Let’s read the chapter, but I will warn you that it is a bit difficult to understand. Never fear, however, as we have a great biblical scholar to help us make sense of the passage.
Wow! So Zechariah sees this day belonging to the Lord which will initially lead to great trouble for the people of Jerusalem: the city will be captured, houses will be looted and unspeakable things done to the people, but God directly intervenes, along with His holy ones, and routs the invading armies. Is this day great for Jerusalem or terrible? It is a good question, and the biblical answer is BOTH. Consider Joel 2:
I will display wonders
in the heavens and on the earth:
blood, fire, and columns of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.
32 Then everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved,
for there will be an escape
for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
as the Lord promised,
among the survivors the Lord calls. Joel 2:30-32
When I taught in college classes, I often shared with students in our New Testament class that “Great and terrible” was the greatest and most accurate description of what the Bible has to say about the end times. So, what exactly is Zechariah seeing here? Let’s turn to pastor and author Bryan R. Gregory to help us see what the text is saying.
The battle commences when the Lord gathers all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against the city. In Zechariah 12, the nations were gathering against Jerusalem, and God defended her. But in this climactic oracle a shift of emphasis occurs. Now it is not the nations who are gathering against the city on their own initiative, it is God who is bringing the nations against Jerusalem and the results are much graver….The situation is similar to Jeremiah’s oracle against Jerusalem and Zedekiah (Jer. 21:3–7). There the Lord declared his intention to use the Babylonian army as his weapon of attack against a sinful Jerusalem (cf. also Ezek. 38:19–23; 39:10). Similarly, when the day of the Lord arrives, the Lord brings judgment on the city for its sin—a judgment described in graphic terms. Nevertheless, the ultimate intent is not to annihilate Jerusalem but to purge it and to refine a remnant, just as in Zechariah 12:1–13:9.
Afterward, the Lord will turn his attention to the attacking nations, fighting against them (and for his people) as in the day of battle. When the Lord appears, he will stand on the Mount of Olives to the east of Jerusalem. This is not an incidental point. When the Lord departed from the temple at the beginning of the exile, he left the city and stood on the Mount of Olives (Ezek. 11:23). And his return was to be from the same eastern direction (Ezek. 43:1–3). Thus, the expectation of the Lord’s return led the people to look in the same direction: east toward the Mount of Olives.
When the Lord plants his feet on the mountain, it will split in two from east to west, forming a large valley in the middle. Then half of the mountain will move northward and the other half will move southward, providing an easy pathway of movement. First, the people can use the valley as an escape route out of Jerusalem to flee just as they did when the earthquake hit during the eighth century reign of King Uzziah (cf. Amos 1:1).4 Second, the valley will provide an open alley for the Lord to come, flanked by his heavenly entourage of holy ones, in royal procession to Zion…Suddenly the battle scene is interrupted to portray briefly the transformation that will ultimately result from the Lord’s return to Zion. The change in mood from verses 1–5 to verses 6–11 is dramatic. The day of battle will be like a day of darkness and doom before giving way to a new day of ceaseless light (cf. Isa. 60:1–6, 19–20). On that day, there will be no daytime light or nighttime frost. The daytime will be continuous such that even in the evening there will be light. The disruption to the normal cycles of day and night is significant. In God’s promise to Noah, he had promised that the normal rhythms of seasons and days would not cease for as long as the earth endures (Gen. 8:22). To claim that the eschatological battle would produce a time of continuous daytime without frost was to declare that this vision is the long-awaited goal of history. And when it arrives, the promise to Noah will no longer need to be in effect since all things will purified and renewed. “Floodwaters will be replaced by living waters.” This vision of living waters streaming out to the nations is the continuation of a theme within the book of Zechariah (13:1) but also outside it. In Ezekiel’s powerful vision of the renewed temple (Ezek. 47:1–12), he saw water coming out from under the threshold. The streams continued to build until such an enormous volume of refreshing, life-giving water was flowing out of the temple that it turned the Dead Sea into a fresh water lake teeming with marine life. Zechariah 14 develops this theme, but intensifies it by envisioning the living water flowing out not just from the Temple but from the whole city of Jerusalem and not just to the east but to the west as well. Half of the water flows east to the Dead Sea; half flows west to the Mediterranean Sea. And it never stops. In both summer and winter, living water continues to gush out of the city.
So it will be with the advent of the Lord. His defeat of evil will bring about his unchallenged supremacy as King over all the earth. He will be recognized universally as the only true God, and his name will be revered as the only name (cf. Deut. 4:33–35; 6:4). Just as copious streams will engulf a place of death, like the Dead Sea, and transform it into a wellspring of life, so the advent of the Great King will overwhelm all his enemies and turn a world held in the deadly grip of evil into a place of new life.
Bryan R. Gregory, Longing for God in an Age of Discouragement: The Gospel according to Zechariah, ed. Tremper Longman III, The Gospel according to the Old Testament (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2010), 207–208.
Bible Memory verses for the month of June: Daniel 6:23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to take Daniel out of the den. When Daniel was brought up from the den, he was found to be unharmed, for he trusted in his God.
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