Some Old Testament prophecies seem to have been fulfilled in a literal manner, but others clearly have to be interpreted. Why are some literal, and others not? In prophecy, things of a spiritual nature are represented by symbols.
Here are some prophecies of Zechariah that are said to have been literally fulfilled by Jesus.
One of the symbolic meanings attached to mountains in prophecy is connected the fact that the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. In many prophecies the mountains are symbolic of blessings, promises, and revelations of God. The Genesis account of the flood connects mountains with rest. After the flood men tried to build “a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.” The progressive revelation of God’s plan in prophecy focuses on mountains, especially mount Zion, and a city, Jerusalem, which were raised up to heaven in a spiritual sense. These contrast with the tower of Babel, a kind of man-made mountain, and the city of Babylon. In the table below, references to mountains are listed, and the possible symbolic meanings attached to them in prophecy are noted.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Four things are brought together in the prophecy: good tidings, mountains, the feet of the messenger, and the fact that God reigns. The meaning of good tidings was identified by Paul, who applied the scripture to those preaching the Gospel. [Rom. 10:15-16]
In a comment on my recent post on Jack Kelley’s supernatural insight, dispensationalist Jerry Shugart claims that the comments of James in Acts 15:15-18 about Christ rebuilding the tabernacle of David refers to events that will occur only after the second coming. That notion is incorrect. James obviously applied the prophecy of Amos 9:11 to Christ building his church in the present age, and identified the tabernacle of David with the church. He said the prophecy refers to the Gentiles who were being brought into God’s family. The meaning of the passage was explained by J. A. Alexander as follows:
The essential meaning of the passage, therefore, is that the restoration of the kingdom of David was to be connected with the spiritual conquest of the Gentiles.
Lyn Leahz posted an article on Idealists, Preterists, And Futurists written by dispensationalist Jack Kelley. In the article Kelley expressed his opinions on the comments by James in Acts 15:13-18 on a prophecy found in Amos 9:11, about the tabernacle of David. James applied the prophecy to the church.
The following is a lecture by Charles Henry H. Wright given at the University of Oxford, England in 1878, in which he presents a commentary on the prophecy of Zechariah 6:9-15. Wright applied the prophecy to Jesus Christ, who is described in the New Testament as both High Priest and King.