Home > Book of Zechariah > All nations in Zechariah 14

All nations in Zechariah 14

January 22, 2011

In the New Testament, Jerusalem is the name applied to the heavenly city, representing the church. When Paul said, “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all,” in Galatians 4:26, he identified the Jerusalem with the church. In Ephesians 2:20, Paul referred to the church as God’s temple, having the apostles and prophets as its foundation.

Since Jesus ascended to heaven, and inherited the throne of David, the Jerusalem where he reigns, and to which prophecy applies, is the church. It was raised up, as Isaiah foretold. [Isaiah 2:1-3]

Consider Zechariah’s prophecy about Jerusalem, in Zechariah 14:1: [NIV]

A day of the LORD is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls.

What possessions of the saints are divided up by the nations? The holy scriptures are one of them. Understanding and interpreting scripture is another. The scriptures are divided between the invaders. Some divide them into two piles, one called “genuine,” the other “spurious.” Others divide them into two categories, one “for us Christians,” and the other, “for Jews.” The prophecy applies to spiritual things.

Individuals, publishers, and tens of thousands of religious groups claim possession of things that belong to the church.

Some dispensationalists claim that only a select few of Paul’s writings, approved by them, are meant for us; the rest of the New Testament, even including the teachings of Jesus in the sermon on the Mount, are for the Jews! Others reject the entire Bible, saying it is only “opinions of men.”

I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. — Zechariah 14:2

The church is divided into tens of thousands of denominations. Many Christians are captive to flawed beliefs, and interpretations. Some are snared in cults and sects. Paul compared Christians following false teachers to Eve being seduced by the serpent. [2 Corinthians 11:3]

Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. — Zechariah 14:3-5

Another possession of the saints is the light provided by prophecy, which has also been divided up. The dispensationalists say most prophecy, including the Olivet Discourse of Jesus, applies to a future seven-year tribulation, and does not apply to the church in the present age. The preterists say that no, those prophecies apply to the first-century Jews!

These opposing views of prophecy are represented in Zechariah 14:4 by the mount of Olives being split in two. The mount of Olives represents the prophecy Jesus gave his disciples when he stood on the mountain, from where he viewed the temple. No doubt the authors of the synoptic gospels had Zechariah’s prophecy in mind, when they mentioned the location where Jesus gave his prophecies. The disciples probably had Zechariah’s prophecy in mind too, when they questioned Jesus about when his kingdom would come.

In Zechariah’s prophecy, the half of the mount of Olives that moves north, I suggest, represents preterism. The half that moves to the south, dispensationalism. They remove the prophecies of Jesus from their proper place, and from their application in time. Those doctrines both say none of his prophecy was meant for Christians in the present age! But Jesus described things that would happen during the age of the church.

The great valley Zechariah described in the midst of the mount of Olives is metaphorical. The mount of Olives is a long ridge of hills, east of Jerusalem, but it is not a great obstacle, for anyone wishing to walk across it, to get to the other side. The formation of a valley by an earthquake would be unnecessary for that.

An earthquake would make the area tectonically unstable. No one in the area, in his right mind, would flee towards the epicenter of such violent earth movements! Clearly, Zechariah’s prophecy does not refer to literal earth movements. But it shows that interpretations that claim prophecy does not apply to the church in the present age are among the spiritual enemies of Christ! And so Zechariah says, flee from them. Apply the prophecies to the church, in the present age.

The apostle Peter said prophecy is “a light in a dark place;” this means it is intended for Christians now. He said:

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: — 2 Peter 1:19

Paul said:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. — Ephesians 6:10-12

Why did he say that we wrestle against spiritual wickedness in high places? Does this allude to the warfare within the church? That is what Zechariah’s prophecy describes, under the figure of all nations invading Jerusalem.

What are “rulers of the darkness of this world”? In Revelation 12, John describes angels in heaven in a great war. The angels of Michael war against the angels of the dragon. Perhaps this is the spiritual wrestling that Paul referred to.

No doubt “the rulers of darkness” are among the nations that Zechariah described invading Jerusalem. It is the heavenly city, where Jesus reigns, not the earthly one. The prophecy is not about possession of earthly territory, but spiritual. Understanding the scriptures, and prophecy, is one of the promises included in the “better country.” [Hebrews 11:16]