Dispensationalism and the timing of Zechariah 14
In August 2011 Mike Vlach posted a three part series of blogs on Zechariah 14. Part 1 was Zechariah 14 and the Timing of the Kingdom; part 2: Zechariah 14:10-21 and the Nature of the Coming Kingdom; part 3: Theological Implications of Zechariah 14. His concluding comments seem mainly intended to discredit the idea that Christ now reigns as king on the throne of David.
The theological position Vlach defends is dispensationalism, and his posts seem chiefly designed to prop up dispensational dogma, rather than to expound the true meaning of Zechariah’s prophecy. For example, he does not mention the significance of the day of the Lord at all.
The time frame for the events described in Zechariah 14 is the day of the Lord, [vs 1] but Vlach wants to put the events of the prophecy in the future, after the present age, in a future tribulation, and in an alleged and hypothetical millennial age that he believes will follow. He wrote, “These conditions of Zechariah 14 can only occur in an intermediate kingdom between the present age and the eternal state.”
Vlach declares that verse 9, “And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one,” has not happened in history, and so is future.
But Vlach, IMO, has misunderstood, on several counts. He fails to take into account Isaiah 2:2, which says the mountain of the Lord’s house will be raised up, and established in the tops of the mountains. When Jesus ascended to God’s throne, after his resurrection, this was fulfilled. The apostle Peter said he was made “both Lord and Christ.” [Acts 2:36] He said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” By saying he had been made “Christ,” Peter indicated that Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of the OT about the future Messiah who would reign on the throne of David over Israel forever. Those among the Jews who did not believe in him were cut off from Israel. Peter said:
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
The true Israel, then, consists of those who are in Christ, and they are the “Jerusalem which is above.” [Galatians 4:26]
Zechariah’s prophecy applies to this heavenly Jerusalem, which is the church. All nations come against it. It is absurd to say all nations will come against the earthly city.
Vlach is one of those who is captive, as he is obviously chained and shackled to the dogma of dispensationalism. Others are captive to preterism, and to tens of thousands of sects and denominations. These are the nations who come against the saints. The spoil divided in their midst includes prophecies, and their proper interpretation, and promises, and blessings of God to the church.
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
The ravishing of women mentioned in verse 2 may apply in a spiritual sense, such as Paul alludes to in 2 Corinthians 11:2-3, where he wrote: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
For Vlach, and other faculty at TMS where he is a professor, J. N. Darby and his doctrine of dispensationalism appear as “an angel of light.” Paul said of the false teachers: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” [2 Corinthians 11:13-15]
Vlach views the separation of the two halves of the mount of Olives described in Zechariah 14:4 as literal. However, when Jesus stood upon the mount of Olives, during his ministry, he gave the Olivet Discourse to his disciples, as recorded in Matthew 24-25. In prophecy, mountains represent the promises and revelations of God, and the teachings given on them; mount Sinai, for example, represents the mosaic legislation. [Galatians 4:24-25]
The mount of Olives being cleaved, and half moving north, and half moving south, depicts the two opposite interpretations of the Olivet Discourse of Jesus, preterism and dispensationalism, that prevail in the church today. Both views remove the prophecy from its proper application, which is the church in the present age. Preterism applies it to Jews in the first century. Dispensationalism applies it to Jews in a future seven year tribulation. Zechariah 14:5 says “And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains” which means the figurative valley between the displaced sections. Applying prophecy to the church in the present age brings light and truth.
Zechariah says, “and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” [vs 5] This is a wonderful promise. Christ will come, and send his spirit to the saints who follow him, and abandon the flawed teachings of preterism and dispensationalism.
The prophecy of Zechariah 14 applies to the present age, and verse 4 accurately depicts the two schools of interpretation of the Olivet Discourse, as well as other prophecies, by the figure of the mountain being cleaved and the two halves moving in opposite directions. The valley between is called the valley of the mountains because it is a place where we can obtain God’s promises, and become enlightened by an understanding of prophecy.