Mike Vlach and the nature of the kingdom of Christ
In the second of his three posts on Zechariah 14, titled Zechariah 14:10-21 and the Nature of the Coming Kingdom, Mike Vlach focused upon the significance of verse 9, which says the Lord will be king over all the earth. He reasoned that because the prophecy described the nations coming to Jerusalem to keep the feast of tabernacles, the period to which the prophecy applies, when the Lord is king over the earth, must be during a future millennial age. He concluded:
In sum, this section reveals that the Lord will reign from Jerusalem over the nations. The nations must show their allegiance by observing the Feast of Booths. Those nations that do not obey the Lord will experience negative consequences, including the withholding of blessings.
In verses 6-7, the light is neither clear, nor dark. Any attempt to apply the prophecy of this chapter to a future millennial age is thwarted by what is said about light.
Paul said in Colossians 1:12-13, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.”
For Paul, Christians are in Christ’s kingdom now. And it is a kingdom characterized by light, in contrast to darkness. Without the gospel, men remain in gross darkness, and spiritual ignorance. But the gospel is imperfectly understood by many and so the present age is described as “neither light nor dark.”
Zechariah’s prophecy refers to spiritual rather than natural or literal light. The light means understanding of the gospel, and believing God’s word. A condition of “neither light nor dark” could depict an abundance of information, along with much speculation, but little certainty or conviction, which would apply to the spiritual condition of many Christians today.
There is a great variety of opinion on the meaning of Zechariah’s prophecy, including the views of Vlach considered here. The apostle Peter said:
2 Peter 1:19
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
In this verse, prophecy is depicted as a light in a dark place, and Peter implies Christians are in darkness, awaiting the dawn. In other scriptures, some saints shine as stars; [Daniel 12:1] others inherit “everlasting shame and contempt.”
Zechariah 14:1 puts the time of the prophecy in the day of the Lord, which is also the setting of Joel 2, where in verses 1-2, the prophet says: “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.”
The scene is cloudy, and there is “thick darkness,” or spiritual confusion. Today there is lots of technological knowledge, but little real spiritual understanding. Vlach’s comments seem to contribute to the confusion, by misinterpreting Zechariah’s prophecy. Zechariah says, “but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light,” referring to the end of the age.
Prophecies will be understood at the “time of the end.” Daniel was told, “Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.” [Daniel 8:7] Also in the twelfth chapter:
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Jeremiah said, “… in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.” [Jeremiah 23:20]
Similarly in Habakkuk 2:3, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie:…”
In his parable of the tares, Jesus said, at the end of the world, when the tares are removed from among the wheat, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” [Matthew 13:43]
All those scriptures, and others not cited here, point to a time of spiritual enlightenment for the saints at the end of the age.
Zechariah 14:8 says, “living waters shall go out from Jerusalem,” which applies to the church in the present age, as the living waters represent the message of the gospel preached by the apostles and by the saints of all ages of the church. Living waters flowing from Jerusalem is a metaphor. The waters represent the beneficial, healing effects of the gospel going forth from the church to the world.
Jesus said, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” [John 7:38] In the following verse this is interpreted: “(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”
The Spirit was given in the days following the crucifixion, and so that is when the living waters began to flow. The rivers of Zechariah 14:9 are not literal rivers. They go forth from the church, throughout the whole of the present age. “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.”
Summer and winter are no doubt metaphorical. Jesus spoke of summer, in his parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24:32-33. In verses 20-21 he said, “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day. For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Summer is the season of growth, and when fruit may be produced, but winter is the season that follows the harvest. To have to flee in the winter implies one has missed out on the harvest and was “left behind.” But the promise in Zechariah 14:9 says that there will be a spiritual river of life flowing from Jerusalem during the winter, or during the judgment, as well as in summer, which is the present age. Jesus exhorted us to pray that we will not need to flee in the winter. We need to be ready when the time of the harvest comes.
The above discussion of the partial light, and the living waters flowing from Jerusalem, puts the time of the fulfillment of Zechariah 14 in the present age, not a future seven year tribulation, followed by a millennium, as Vlach suggests. This is also indicated by the plague that affects those who fight at Jerusalem.
The plague is spiritual; the flesh, eyes, and tongue are affected. The tongue represents speech; the enemies of the saints say foolish things. The eyes represent spiritual understanding. They are blind to the great spiritual truths, such as the fact that Christ has all authority and power, and is reigning over the Israel of God upon the throne of David. Only by coming to Christ, can dispensationalists get their eyes opened so that they can understand. Their flesh “shall consume away while they stand upon their feet,” Zechariah wrote. [vs 12] Feet represent the direction one is headed in life. “I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.” [Psalm 119:101] “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” [Psalm 119:105] The spiritual health of many is impaired, because they have only a partial understanding of the gospel.
The feast of tabernacles mentioned in the prophecy has a spiritual meaning. Dwelling in tents, as the Israelites did after the exodus from Egypt, when they dwelt in the wilderness, pictures the temporal nature of human life. The gospel promises believers a more permanent tabernacle, as Paul said: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” [2 Corinthians 5:1]