By Edward Dennett
At the close of the preceding chapter the end of God's ways has been reached in respect of Judah — restored, as she has been, to relationship with Jehovah her God. And thus, as another has said, "the effect of the staff being broken, which united Judah and Israel, is here realized. The prophet speaks only of Judah, of the people who in the land were guilty of rejecting the Messiah, and who will suffer the consequence of so doing in the land during the last days, the mass of them at that time joining themselves to antichrist." It is on this very account that Judah will have to endure the "fire" spoken of in the previous verses, and through which only a third part will be preserved, and, as thus preserved, will be brought into blessing through their recognition and acceptance of Messiah, who appears in glory. Israel will yet have to wait, but only for a season; and then Judah and Israel will once more be united under one King, the true Son of David.
Chapter 14 gives the details, to speak generally, of the result for the nations of the coming of Jehovah as the Messiah (see verses 9-16); but, when more closely examined, it is seen to fall into two parts, the first of which closes with "Uzziah king of Judah" in the fifth verse. From that point the prophet returns and describes the coming of Jehovah with His saints, and in so doing "takes up the subject of the relationship of Jehovah with the whole earth," showing that His coming for the succour and blessing of His ancient people is but the occasion for the perennial flowing forth of "living waters" to the ends of the earth.
The chapter opens abruptly with the solemn proclamation, "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee." (v. 1) The "day of the Lord" has a fixed significance in the prophets, and is ever connected with judgment; as, for example, in Isaiah, "The day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one, that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up." (Isa. 2:12. Cp. Joel 2; 2 Peter 3:10) And the context shows that it has this meaning here, that it is the day when Jehovah will appear for judgment upon His enemies, and for the deliverance of those who have waited for Him. (Isa. 25) The "spoil" spoken of is probably the spoil taken from the nations (see verse 14), which the prophet says shall be divided in the midst of Jerusalem. In one sentence therefore, before he gives the details, the full result is placed before the reader — the full result of the assembling of the nations against Jerusalem. They will come to despoil it, but they shall be spoiled; and the people who were on the very eve of destruction shall divide the spoil of their enemies.
But before this end is reached, there will be terrible experiences. "For," says Jehovah "I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city." (v. 2.) In Zech. 12 mention is also made, as we have seen, of the siege of Jerusalem, but there in reference rather to the effect upon the peoples who besiege her. Here we have the revelation that at first, before Jehovah appears, the enemy will triumph and capture the city. Jehovah permits this for the punishment of the apostates of Judah under the influence of the antichrist. Isaiah thus speaks, "Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it." (Isa. 28:14-18; see also Isa. 8 - 10)1 The scripture makes it also plain that Jehovah will suffer Jerusalem to be taken before He intervenes. Micah may allude to the same thing when he says, "This man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men." (v. 5.)
It is in this way that God will teach Judah and Jerusalem that it is an evil and bitter thing to have rejected Christ, to have forsaken the living God; for now in their extremity, if they should call, there will be none to answer. Allying themselves with the enemy of Jehovah and identifying themselves with his idolatries, they must now pass through these days of vengeance. "And" according to this word of the Lord, "the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity." No city in the world has undergone such frightful sieges. Jeremiah has signalized the sorrows of its capture by Nebuchadnezzar in his Lamentations, and a description of the horrors of the siege by the Romans has been preserved in the pages of Josephus; and, as we gather from this scripture, the sorrows of this chosen city are not yet ended. Does the reader enquire for the reason? The answer is found in the lament of our blessed Lord Himself: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matt. 23:37.) And since that day Jerusalem has added to all her sins in crucifying her Lord; and she will aggravate her guilt yet more by receiving him who will deny both the Father and the Son.
A remnant will not be cut off from the city; and the next verse tells us of Jehovah's mighty intervention: "Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle." Whether the Lord appears immediately, or whether indeed this event is subsequent upon the capture of the city, is not evident. The fact is stated, and care must be exercised not to go beyond the fact, that the Lord goes forth against His enemies and the enemies of His people. It is possible that allusion to the same event may be made by Isaiah, when he says, "A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense to His enemies." And again, "For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many." (Isa. 66:6, 15, 16; compare Joel 3:9-17, and Rev. 16:13-14.) In such a manner Jehovah will render recompense to His enemies; for He will gird His sword upon His thigh, and His arrows will be sharp in the heart of the king's enemies, whereby the people fall under Him, and then the nations of the World will have to learn what Pharaoh learnt at the Red Sea — the irresistible might of Him against whom they have dared to set themselves in battle array. "The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters." (Exodus 15:9-10)2
In the next verse we have one of the most remarkable predictions to be found in the prophetic scriptures: "And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley, and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south." (v. 4.) It was from the mount of Olives, as the reader will remember, that our Lord ascended up to heaven (Acts 1:12), and, after a cloud had received Him out of the sight of the disciples, and while they were still wistfully gazing after their departed Lord, two angels said to them, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11) No words could be more precise or state more definitely that Jesus Himself should return to the earth, and that in a visible manner; and now we learn from Zechariah that He shall return to the very spot whence He ascended, and that the very same feet that once trod Olivet, in company with His disciples, shall once again stand in the same place. No ingenuity whatever can explain away the simple words, "His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives,"3 and in this way, as another has pointed out, "Jehovah identifies Himself, so to speak, with the meek and lowly Jesus formerly on the earth, in order that the identity of the Saviour and Jehovah should be clearly acknowledged."
But when Jehovah thus comes, in the person of the Messiah, He comes with power and great glory; the earth will acknowledge the presence of her rightful Lord, and thus the mountain, on which He will stand, cleaves in the midst. As we read indeed in the psalm, "The earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because He was wroth" (Psalm 18:7), so will it be again on this eventful day. The effect will be that a great valley will be formed by half of the mountain removing toward the north, and half toward the south, running east and west, its western end being immediately opposite to the eastern side of the city of Jerusalem, and its eastern end terminating, it would seem, at Azal.4 Isaiah cries, "Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence." (Isa. 64:1-3.) So will it also be in this day of which Zechariah speaks, and the wonders flowing from the presence of Jehovah will strike terror into the hearts of the beholders, for they will flee as they fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah.5
The prophet does not pursue this aspect of his subject. Jehovah has come, and His feet stand upon the mount of Olives, and He has thus renewed His relationship with Judah, or at least the remnant, of whom the disciples (who saw their Lord ascend, and who received the promise of seeing Him return) were the representatives. He now recommences (the second part of the chapter beginning at this point) with the coming of the Lord. He says, as if addressing Jehovah "And the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee." (v. 5.) The introduction of the saints as accompanying, or forming the cortège of Jehovah is an additional feature; and the instructed reader will see in this a remarkable confirmation of what he has learnt of the Lord's coming from the New Testament. Here, as it is His return to Israel, it is His public manifestation — when every eye shall see Him, and when, therefore, as Zechariah states, the saints shall come with Him. If, however, the glorified saints return with Christ, they must have been caught up to be with Him previously; and this is what the New Testament scriptures teach. Thus, in 1 Thess. 4, we learn that when the Lord descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, both the sleeping and the living saints will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so will be ever with the Lord. Here there is no question of any being caught up; the Lord comes to His own on the earth for their succour and temporal salvation. This shows the difference between the hope of the Church and the hope of Israel. Believers now wait daily to be caught up to meet Christ, and hence, afterwards, "when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (Col. 3:4), whereas the believing remnant, in the day of which the prophet speaks, will await the coming of the Messiah in glory, as described in this chapter. The confusion of the Lord's coming for the Church with His coming with His saints in glory for the restoration and blessing of Israel on the earth has been the source of continual perplexity in the interpretation of the word of God.6
The character of the day in which Jehovah comes with His saints is next given: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: but it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light." (vv. 6, 7.) The translation of the sixth verse is doubtful, and many suggested alterations have been made.7 But the meaning is tolerably apparent, and may be given in another's words: "It shall not be a day of mingled light and darkness, but a day appointed by Jehovah a day characterized by His intervention and mighty presence, and that could not be characterised by the ordinary vicissitudes of night and day; but, at the moment when the total darkness of night might be expected, there should be light." For in truth it will be the day of Jehovah, and will therefore have its own character, and one that will be so manifestly outside of all ordinary days as to arrest the attention of all beholders.
Our attention is now directed to another consequence of Jehovah's coming. "And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be." (v. 8.) That is, living waters shall flow out to the Dead Sea on the one side, and to the Great, or the Mediterranean Sea on the other, and neither the heat of summer nor the cold of winter shall interrupt the perennial flood. Two things must be carefully noted: the time when this shall occur, and the meaning of the living waters. We learn from Ezekiel (47) that these waters will not flow forth until after the rebuilding of the temple, and after the glory of God has returned to His dwelling-place in the midst of His people. This fact will supply the reader with a needed caution. He will learn from it that he cannot define the order of events at the Lord's appearing from any one of the prophets, that therefore it is only by the study and comparison of all he will be able to trace the footsteps of the Lord in that day. We thus find that Zechariah passes from the coming of Jehovah over a number of intervening events, to the issuing forth of the living waters "from under," as we gather from Ezekiel, "the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under, from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar." (Ezek. 47:1-8; cp. Rev. 22:1) The very term used, "living waters," will, in consonance with its employment in other scriptures, explain its meaning. In the gospel of John the Lord speaks of the living water which He would give (John 4), and we learn from the same Gospel that He used the words as a figure of the Holy Spirit, "which they that believe on Him should receive" (John 7:39); and hence we know that the living water in John is an emblem of the Holy Ghost as the power of life — life eternal. Ezekiel also, who speaks of the same river of water as we find in Zechariah, says, "And it shall come to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live … and everything shall live whither the river cometh." (Ezek. 47:9.) There is thus again the quickening and life-giving power seen in the waters — the waters that carry life with them wherever they flow.
In the light then of these scriptures the significance of the passage in Zechariah is at once apprehended. The living waters flow out from Jerusalem — Jerusalem which is now the city of the Great King, and more exactly, as we find in Ezekiel, from the temple which is the dwelling-place and throne of Jehovah as the Messiah. (Compare Psalm 46) We gather, therefore, the blessed truth, that streams of life-giving power and blessing will flow out, unhinderedly and perpetually, to all the world from His throne, as the result of His righteous sway. It will be thus a universal dispensation of blessing as flowing from His government and rule. And yet there will be exceptions to the universality of the blessing; for, as we read in Ezekiel, "The miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed." (Ezek. 47:11) Even the dispensation of a righteous government will not be perfect. Flesh will remain flesh, and many will be found, who, only yielding a "feigned obedience," will in their hearts refuse the proffered blessing. Alas! such is man — even in the presence of the display of Jehovah's power, grace, and glory. Perfection, perfection within and without, will be only found in the heavenly city, and in the eternal state. But while there will be some barren places, some unyielding hearts, during the thousand years, Jerusalem will be, in some sense, a representation of the Jerusalem above — the city celestial; for John says, "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." (Rev. 22:1) The city below has therefore its correspondency with the city above, being, as it will be, the forecourt, or vestibule, to that where "there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever."8 (Rev. 22:3-5.)
Two things follow as the result of the establishment of Jehovah's throne in Jerusalem: "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one. All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's wine-presses. And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited." (vv. 9-11) The supremacy of Messiah over all the earth is a constant theme with the prophets. David thus speaks, "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. … Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve him." (Ps. 72:8-11.) And in that day idolatry will cease (see Isa. 2:18-22), and the one Lord shall be the true God, and His name, not many, but one; for He will then make good His claim and title as Lord of all the earth. (See Joshua 3:11-13.) Jerusalem, moreover, as the metropolis, will be exalted above all cities, be blessed with overflowing prosperity, and be guarded by divine power; for that we conceive to be the meaning of verses 10, 11. Geba and Rimmon mark the northern and southern boundaries of the kingdom of Judah — "a long mountain chain which is pictured as sinking down into a plain that Jerusalem alone might be exalted." (Compare Isa. 2:1-4.) The abounding prosperity of the city in these days is indicated by the mention of the limits of the city.9 And lastly, as Isaiah also sings, "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise" (Isa. 60:18); for God Himself will be in the midst of her (Psalm 46), so that she will never more be moved.
In the next place the prophet, having traced out the blessed consequences of the advent of Messiah, proceeds to speak of the special judgment which Jehovah will visit upon the nations that have fought against Jerusalem. He says, "And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people" (peoples or nations) "that have fought against Jerusalem. Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth." (v. 12.) It is not definitely stated whether this awful plague will fall upon the nations while in the siege, though it probably will from what follows; it is the fact to which our attention is directed in evidence of the Lord's indignation against those who have fought against His beloved city.10 And be it observed that the plague is of such a character as will compel every beholder to own the punitive hand of God. The most hardened heart of unbelief could not account for such an awful visitation on any other ground than that of a divine stroke of judgment. (Compare Isaiah 37:35-36.)
Moreover, we are told, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour." (v. 13.) A panic, for such is the force of the word "tumult," shall seize upon the nations who will be besieging Jerusalem, like to that which fell upon the Midianites when attacked by Gideon and his three hundred men, or that other which came into the host of the Ammonites, the Moabites, and the Edomites, who were advancing against Judah in the days of Jehosaphat (2 Chr. 20), so that the huge host will melt away, and be mutually destroyed. "And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem, and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold and silver, and apparel, in great abundance." (v. 14; compare 2 Chr. 20:15.) In this way will Jehovah enrich His beloved Judah, hitherto oppressed and persecuted, but now delivered and blessed; and then they will be able to take up in truth the words of one of their psalms, "Thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place." (Psalm 66:10-12.)
From the following verse we learn that even the cattle — the horse, the mule, the camel, and the ass, together with all the beasts "that shall be in these tents" (v. 15) — will be smitten with the same awful plague as that which will destroy their owners. Truly it is a fearful thing to be found identified with the enemies of the Lord, and an impossible thing to escape His arm when He once rises up to judgment.
The remaining verses of the chapter suppose the establishment of Messiah's throne, inasmuch as He is named the King. Jerusalem therefore has been delivered from the hand of her enemies; judgment has been executed upon those that have fought against her; the Redeemer has come to Zion, and has ordered all things in accordance with His own mind in the establishment of His righteous throne. This having been done, Zechariah speaks now of the consequences for the nations. "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the least of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles." (vv. 16-19.) The several points of this ordinance must be touched upon in detail. In the first place, it will be a law in Messiah's kingdom that all nations shall come annually to Jerusalem for worship. Isaiah will probably include this in his larger statement, when he says, "And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come [it is not here said "to Jerusalem"] to worship before me, saith the Lord." (Isa. 66:23.) Zechariah deals only with the anniversary of the feast of tabernacles. And it should be specially observed that this coming up of the nations year by year is not to be a matter of choice or privilege, great as the privilege will be, but they will be put under the obligation and necessity of making this annual journey. Herein is seen again the difference between grace and law, Now at the present time it is the attraction of grace that draws believers to worship their God and Father; but in the kingdom it will be the compulsion of righteousness. Now it is, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10); then it will be, that "the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish" (Isa. 60:12); for when the King commands, His subjects must obey.
There is, secondly, a twofold object in this universal assemblage. First, to worship the King, the Lord of hosts. The King, as we know, is no other than Jesus of Nazareth, of whom the angel said, when announcing His birth, that the Lord God should give unto Him the throne of His father David (Luke 1); and yet, as the Spirit of God delights to indicate, He is also Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of hosts. He, then, that was once down here as the Root out of a dry ground, with no form nor comeliness to the natural eye, the lowly Nazarene, shall in the coming age, as the exalted and glorified One, as King over all the earth, be the object of the adoration and worship of all nations. In the very contemplation of this time of blessing for this poor weary earth, well might we say with the psalmist, "Blessed be His glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen, and Amen." (Psalm 72:19) In connection with this annual worship there will be also the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Passover and Pentecost, as often observed, have had their antitypical fulfilment in Christianity; but the Feast of Tabernacles still waits for its accomplishment, because it was a figure of millennial joy; and, as held on the eighth day (Lev. 23), it betokened also that this joy will be shared in by the saints in resurrection. It is primarily Israel's feast of joy when they shall have ended their wanderings in the wilderness, and will be in the possession of the land. And, as another has observed, it "took place after the increase of the earth had been gathered in, and as we learn elsewhere … after the vintage also; that is, after separation by judgment, and the final execution of judgment on the earth, when heavenly and earthly saints should be all gathered in;" and when therefore Christ Himself shall be the spring and centre of all the joy, for it will be the time of His manifestation to the world. (John 7) Then, as we read in Psalm 22, "all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee." (v. 27); and all alike, both Israel and the nations, in the rejoicing of that day will gladly own that the King, the Lord of hosts, is the source and means of all the blessing which will fill their hearts to overflowing with adoration and praise.
But, as before shown, it will not be a perfect scene and hence thirdly, there is the proclamation of penalties for those who refuse to yield obedience to the King's laws. Rain will be withheld, with all its consequences of barrenness and famine, from the families of the earth who do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King; and upon the family Egypt, who are not dependent on rain, if they "go not up," there shall be the plague; that is, we apprehend, the pestilence. In such ways will the King vindicate His authority, and punish the transgressors of His laws.
The last two verses bring before us the positive character of holiness that will distinguish the Lord's house and Jerusalem and Judah. "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts." (vv. 20, 21.) Formerly there had been clean things and unclean, holy and unholy, but now all such distinctions shall be abolished, inasmuch as all alike will be holy as separated unto the Lord. Now at length Jehovah's own requirement, "Ye shall be holy; for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44), is met and satisfied, so that even the horses, unclean as they were under the law, have written upon their bells or bridles," Holiness to the Lord."11 The pots in the Lord's house, moreover, should be as holy as the bowls before the altar; and every pot in Jerusalem and Judah should be alike "holiness unto the Lord of hosts," and thus should be used by the worshippers for their sacrifices. The homes of the people shall be in that day as holy as the house of the Lord. In Christianity this is anticipated in another way (see 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor, 6:14-18; Col. 3:17; 1 Peter 1:15-16, etc.); but this will be a universal consecration of all and everything to the Lord here upon the earth. Finally there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord. Jehovah's house had often been profaned by the introduction of such (see Ezekiel 44:6-7); but now, secured and sanctified by the presence and glory of Jehovah Himself, all will be maintained in the holiness suited to Him who has condescended to make it His dwelling-place. Then will be fulfilled the word of the Lord by Ezekiel, "My tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.
1) All these Scriptures refer either to the Assyrian or the confederacy of the nations against Jerusalem, and not to the antichrist. The reader will remember that it has already been pointed out that there will be a siege by the beast (head of the western empire) and the false prophet (the antichrist) and another subsequently by the Assyrian. Which of these two sieges Zechariah speaks of it is difficult to decide; but for the help of the reader we recall a principle before laid down. Before God had written the sentence, "Lo-ammi" (not-my-people), on Judah and Israel, the Assyrian was always the enemy in view; and hence the antichrist is not found in the pre-captivity prophets as a rule. During the interval, after the disowning of His people, and before Jehovah brings them back again into relationship with Himself, their enemy is antichrist. Inasmuch therefore as the capture of Jerusalem in our chapter precedes the appearance of Jehovah for its deliverance, it would almost seem that it must be the first of the two sieges intended. But it is evident from the latter part of the chapter that Jerusalem is finally and completely delivered, and made the religious metropolis of the whole earth, which now acknowledges the undisputed sway of the Messiah. It is possible therefore that both sieges are found in this chapter — the first in verse 2; and the second, or a reference to it, in verse 12. This, however, is not certain; and it must always be remembered that in the prophetic perspective the features of more than one event may be blended, and hence that the description may cover both. The fulfilment will make all plain, and the godly remnant of that day will behold with wonder that the details of what they will be passing through have been depicted for their guidance and sustenance. While, however, it is impossible to dogmatize on this subject, it is yet certain that the events here foretold will all be connected with, and have their accomplishment in, the appearing of the Messiah in glory, in order to succour His people and to establish His kingdom. For all exhaustive examination of the subject of "the Assyrian" the reader is referred to Part xiii. of Notes and Comments on Scripture, by J. N. Darby.
2) It would almost seem from Rev. 19, in connection with other scriptures, that the beast (the head of the Western or Roman Empire) and the kings of the earth will be gathered together against Jerusalem on the eve of the appearing of Christ with His "armies" from heaven, and that when He appears, and descends to the earth, the beast in his impious rage turns, with the kings of the earth and their armies, to make war against Him that sat on the horse (Christ) and His army (the saints in glory). But whether the scene in Zechariah is identical with that in Rev. 19 is not certain; but if not, both are connected with the appearing of Christ in glory, with no long interval between, and, on the one hand, with the deliverance of His people, and, on the other, with the judgment of His foes.
3) Nor can their importance as to the nature of the fulfilment of prophecy be exaggerated. The writer once, in conversation with one who maintained that all prophecy must be spiritually explained, enquired what was the spiritual significance of the above, and the answer was frankly given that it was impossible to tell. On rejoining that the passage meant what is said, he replied, "If that is contended for I have nothing to say, though I do not understand it."
4) Nothing is now known of the locality of Azal, but it will doubtless reappear in the last days.
5) There is no other reference in the Scriptures to this notable earthquake. It is said by scientists that Judea does not lie within the region of earthquakes. God, however, is sovereign, and natural laws are but His servants, and hence we find that there were also earthquakes both at the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ. If they were otherwise of rare occurrence, so much the more loudly, would they attest the mighty power of God. It is the fatal defect of men of science that, in searching for the laws that govern any class of phenomena, they lose sight of the Creator and rest in second causes.
6) The reader who may desire further light on this subject may; consult The Blessed Hope, by the writer of this book.
7) In the Revised Version it stands, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be with brightness and with gloom." J. N. D., in his French version renders, "Et il arrivera, en ce jour-là, qu'il n'y aura pas de lumière, les luminaries seront obscurcis."
8) Compare the description of the earthly city as found in Isaiah 60:19-20.}
9) It is difficult to identify the gates mentioned, though many plausible conjectures are offered. The Jews in this future day will doubtless delight to see the exact fulfilment of the prophetic word; for us the general idea alone is of importance.
10) The reader may learn the difference between God's actings in grace at the present time and His ways in righteousness in the age to come, by the contrast between the Lord's dealings with Saul of Tarsus, who persecuted His saints, and His judgment upon these nations who shall have fought against Jerusalem. The former He converted, the latter He will destroy.
11) It is very interesting to observe in this connection that the Lord Jesus, and the armies that follow Him out of heaven, are represented in the Apocalypse as riding on white horses, white because a symbol of perfect purity. (Ezek. 37:27-28.)