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Zechariah

Zechariah 14 Commentary Verses 12-21

Zechariah 14 Commentary Verses 12-21
Explaining the Book of Zechariah

 
 
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Let’s turn one last time to the book of Zechariah. We’ll finish the 14th chapter of this book today.

Last time we studied the first 11 verses of chapter 14. We see there that God was foretelling the destruction of all the nations who will attack Jerusalem at the end of the Great Tribulation, the foretelling of a unique day at that time in terms of the day being like night and vice cersa, we were told of living waters coming from Jerusalem in the ensuing Millennial reign of Christ, at that time the land will literally be flattened even as Jerusalem is physically elevated, and so Jerusalem will be safely inhabited.

And that leads us to what we’ll be studying today – verses 12-21 of chapter 14. So, let’s read those verses and then study the details.

{Read Zec 14:12-21…}

Zechariah 14 Commentary Plague of the Nations

So, the Lord describes the plague with which he’s going to strike the nations who at the end of the Great Tribulation come up against Jerusalem to attack it – and who by this point have actually already conquered it.

KJV Zechariah 14:12 ¶ {And this/Now this/But this/This} {shall be/will be} the {plague/nature of the plague} {wherewith/with which} the LORD will {smite/strike} all the {people/peoples/nations} {that/who} have {fought/gone to war} against Jerusalem;

Their flesh {shall/will} {consume away/rot/decay} while they {stand/are still standing} {upon/on} their feet,

{and their/their} eyes {shall consume away/will rot/will rot away} in their {holes/sockets},

and their tongue {shall consume away/will rot/will dissolve} in their mouth.

So, there is this initial rotting of tissue that will occur. And usually you might expect flesh to rot on people after they die. But in this case, the people are still standing as this will happen, which is very unusual.

And you would think that this kind of plague would be absolutely fatal and kill everyone instantly. And yet, verse 13 goes on to describe some who will survive that plague. And for those that do survive, God will send confusion to them so that they end up attacking each other.

13 {And it shall come to pass in/It will come about in/On} that day, {that a great tumult/that a great panic/there will be great confusion/men will be stricken with great panic} {from/by} the LORD {shall be among/will fall on/among} them;

{and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour,/ and they will seize one another’s hand,/they will seize each other/Each man will seize the hand of another,}

{and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour./and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another./and attack one another violently./and they will attack each other.}

So, maybe not everyone who attacks Jerusalem at the end of the Great Tribulation will get the flesh-rotting effects of the plague that the Lord mentioned in verse 12 and so, these people in verse 13 are those who did not receive that plague and are thus stronger and still able to fight against each other.

In fact, I think that that has to be the case somehow – that not everyone is subject to the plague of verse 12. Because there will be some of these Gentile nations who enter into the Millennial Kingdom of Christ and I assume that their flesh is intact – at least intact enough to survive and to continue living. So, it seems to me that the plague of verse 12 is perhaps not going to affect each individual but is rather going to effect a great many of the enemy combatants of the nations – though not all of them.

Well, in the end when Jesus returns to deliver the Jews, we’ve seen so far that he is going to send a very strange flesh-eating plague, and a great deal of those who haven’t been finished-off by that will be thrown into confusion and will end up fighting each other instead of the Jews.

And so, with all of that going on, the Jews at the end of the Tribulation will have no problem defending themselves and even advancing on their Gentiles attackers. And not only will they be able to fight-off their attackers, but they’re even going to be able to take the possessions of those nations.

14 {And Judah also/Judah also/Moreover, Judah/Judah, too} {shall/will} fight at Jerusalem;

{and the/the} wealth of all the {heathen round about/surrounding nations} {shall be gathered together/will be gathered/will be gathered up/will be collected},

gold, and silver, and {apparel/garments/clothing}, in great {abundance/quantities}.

So, even though earlier in this chapter we heard about the plunder taken from the Jews, now the focus is on the fact that the aggressive attacking nations – their plunder will be taken and given to the Jews when Jesus returns.

And to end this small section from verse 12 to verse 15 that has been focused on the plague that will befall the nations and their subsequent confusion and defeat at the hands of the Jews, the Lord wants to reemphasize that he is indeed going to be sending that plague that he mentioned at the beginning of this section back in verse 12.

15 {And so shall be the plague/So also like this plague will be the plague/This is the kind of plague that will devastate/A similar plague will strike} {of/on} {the horse/horses}, {of the mule/the mule/mules}, {of the camel/the camel/camels}, {and of the ass/the donkey/donkeys}, and {of all the beasts/all the cattle/all the other animals/all the animals} {that shall be in these tents,/in those camps} {as this plague/(blank)}.

So, the flesh-rotting effects of this plague and the resulting confusion that the Lord will send – these things are not just going to effect humans. According to verse 15 that we just read, even the animals of the attacking nations will experience these things from the Lord.

Zechariah 14 Commentary Nations’ Worship the Lord

But the Lord doesn’t want us to get the wrong impression. You can read verses 12-15 and imagine that absolutely everyone besides the Jews will be killed when Jesus returns. And that’s simply not the case. In fact, according to verses 16-19, there will be a number of people from the nations that live through Jesus’ return and will be required to return to Jerusalem every year to worship Jesus Christ.

16 ¶ {And it shall come to pass, that/Then it will come about that/Then} {every one that is left/any who are left/all who survive/the survivors} {of/from} all the nations {which came against/that went against/that came to attack/that have attached} Jerusalem {shall even/will} go up {from year to year/annually/year after year} to worship the King, the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty}, and to {keep/celebrate/observe} the feast of tabernacles.

Let’s just note to begin who the nations are going to go up to Jerusalem to worship. They are going to worship the Lord of Hosts. Yahweh who commands armies. Jehovah.

And what position will the Lord of Hosts hold on this earth at this point in earth’s history? He will be the King.

And who do we know will be the King in the Millennial Kingdom? Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the king of the Millennial Kingdom and Jesus Christ is therefore the Lord of Hosts who will receive worship by Jews and Gentiles forever.

Now, the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Temporary Shelters was to be held every year. During that time the people were supposed to make these booths or temporary shelters made of branches and other materials like that.

The feast lasted seven days and then on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly. No work was to be performed on these eight days. And every male Israelite was required to come.

The significance of this festival seems to have been to remind the Israelites that they had wandered in the wilderness for forty years and that during that time of chastisement from the Lord they were perfectly provided for – that even in judgement God showed them mercy.

Now, historically, the Jews had not been very good about keeping this festival. They observed it during Moses and Joshua’s times. And then it was really not until Solomon reigned about 500 years later that Solomon kept this ordinance. And yet, it seems like the people didn’t wholeheartedly follow Solomon in this practice until the time of Nehemiah when the Jews returned from Babylon.

So, the Jews’ – God’s people’s – keeping of this ordinance has been very spotty.

But that’s not going to be the case when Jesus returns. Not only will all the Jews be celebrating this festival. The Gentiles who survive Jesus’s return will also participate in this event.

17 {And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth/And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up/But if any of the nations anywhere on earth refuse to go up/If any of the people of the earth do not go up} {unto/to} Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty}, {even upon them shall be no rain/there will be no rain on them/they will get no rain/they will have no rain}.

So, it’s interesting to note that this passage allows for the possibility that some in the Millennium will disobey Jesus. Your perception might be that in the Millennium when Jesus is physically reigning on the earth that no one will disobey. Or if they do disobey then there will be immediate death for them.

But this verse teaches us that there will possibly be some nations or people – probably a while after the great battle of Armageddon, I would imagine – and they’re not going to obey Jesus perfectly.

So, there is the possibility of sin and outward disobedience in the Millennium.

However, we also noted in verse 17 that there will be immediate and robust retribution for that sin and disobedience. But the punishment for every sin is not going to be death in the Millennium. Rather, it’s a guarantee that rain will not fall on those who do not go up to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

Currently, the way that God operates in this regard is found in what we call Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In these days, to whom does God send rain?

God sends rain on the just and on the unjust. If you obey, he tends to send rain on you. If you disobey you generally get the same treatment.

But in the Millennium, rain will be directly tied to one’s obedience. There will be resurrected saints like you and me and it will be impossible for us to sin. But there will also be those who survive the battle of Armageddon and they’ll have children and so on – and those folks will still be able to sin and disobey. And if they do, no rain.

And of course, no rain means no crops. And it means no grass. And no cattle. And no trees. And no fruit. And on and on.

So, the people of the Millennium will have great encouragement to obey the Lord and to go up to Jerusalem yearly and worship his Son.

And as we’ve seen before, sometimes the Lord is really wanting to make sure that we don’t somehow spiritualize or treat as metaphorical some statement that he makes in terms of a future promise that seems impossible to come to pass in our minds.

Like when the Lord says that there will be great mourning in Israel over the Jews’ treatment of their Messiah whom they pierced. And then it went on in great detail about all of these different families and how they and their wives separately will all mourn. God really wants us to know that that will actually happen.

A similar thing happens with this threat of withholding rain from those who don’t celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. They really will not get rain. And God makes that abundantly clear as he continues to focus on that theme in verse 18.

18 {And if/If} the {family of Egypt/Egyptians} {go not up, and come not,/does not go up or enter/will not do so/do not go up and take part} {that have no rain;/then no rain will fall on them/they will get no rain/they will have no rain}

{there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite/it will be the plague with which the LORD smites/instead there will be the kind of plague which the LORD inflicts on/The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on} {the heathen/the nations/any nations} {that/who} {come not up/do not go up} to {keep/celebrate} the {feast/Feast} of {tabernacles/Booths}.

So, that verse is saying one of two things. First, depending on how it’s translated, the lack of rain will be a plague to the people who don’t obey Jesus. Second, it could be saying that in addition to the lack of rain, the Lord will send that plague that he mentioned earlier in this passage about the flesh rotting on people and such.

I think it’s best to see this as the Lord saying that the rain is the plague on these people. The flesh-rotting plague was for those who were attacking Jerusalem at the end of the Great Tribulation. And then on into the Millennium the Lord will send another plague to those who disobey – but it won’t involve flesh rotting – it will involve rain not falling, which is a little more merciful than that first plague.

Well, again, once more the Lord emphasizes that – seriously – he really is going to withhold the rain from these nations in the Millennium if they don’t come up to Jerusalem and worship Jesus Christ as they celebrate that feast.

19 This {shall/will} be the punishment of Egypt, and {the punishment of/of} all {nations/the nations} {that/who} {come not/do not go} up to {keep/celebrate} the {feast/Feast} of {tabernacles/Booths}.

So, what’s interesting about this whole reality of immediate retribution against sinners in the Millennium is that this is so different than what we experience today – and really – what has been experienced by all people since the fall of Adam.

Think of the premise of the book of Job. Remember the way in which both Job and his friends were thinking that God works in this world. According to them, God works this way – he punishes disobedience and rewards righteousness. And he does this pretty much immediately.

But is that the way that this life works right now? Or, I should say, is that how God works in this world right now? No. That’s one of the main teachings of the book of Job. The Retribution Principle as it’s called does not work in this life. Sometimes or many times, sinners do well, and righteous people suffer and they’re poor and they’re afflicted.

But the glorious reality of the Millennium is that finally the Retribution Principle will in fact work. God will bless good and curse evil. He will immediately punish wickedness and reward righteousness.

Now, we all hate the Prosperity Gospel – or we should – which is the teaching that you can have “your best life now” as Joel Osteen puts it – or that if you’re godly in whatever way those teachers would define that term, then you’ll be blessed materially. And we hate that teaching because it’s totally false in this life.

But you know what? The basic principles behind the Prosperity Gospel are actually going to be true in the Millennium. You do good in the Millennium – you get good. And you do wrong when Jesus is reigning on the earth – and it will affect you right away.

Zechariah 14 Commentary Total Devotion of Everything to the Lord

And that’s not the only thing that will be so different when Jesus comes to rule this world. In fact, the last two verses of this entire book of prophecy focuses on how in the Millennium everything will be entirely devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ.

20 ¶ {In/On} that day {shall there be upon the bells of the horses,/there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses/the bells of the horses will bear the inscription} {HOLINESS/ “HOLY} {UNTO/TO} THE {LORD;/LORD”}

and the {pots/cooking pots} in the LORD’S {house/temple} {shall/will} be {like/as holy as} the {bowls/sacred bowls} {before/in front of} the altar.

So what does this mean? It means that everything – whether you’re talking about animals or about dishes – everything in the Millennium will be holy. It will be set apart to the Lord – set apart for the Lord’s service and pleasure.

Bells on horses and pots – everything will be rightly related to the Lord. And as we’ve seen, if anything isn’t rightly related to the Lord, there will be swift consequences that will hopefully have the effect of turning those people or things back to a right relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

And the Lord repeats this promise in verse 21.

21 {Yea, every/Every} {pot/cooking pot} in Jerusalem and in Judah {i.e., not just in the Lord’s House or the Temple…} {shall/will} {be/become} {holiness/holy} {unto/to/in the sight of} the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty}:

{and/so that} all {they that sacrifice/who offer sacrifices} {shall/may} come and take {of them,/some of the pots} {and/to} {seethe therein/boil their sacrifices in them/cook in them}:

So, as the nations and Jews come yearly to worship the Lord Jesus Christ they will have these bowls to boil their sacrifices in – and they’ll all be ceremonially clean. Further, they’ll be holy and set apart for the Lord’s use.

No more sordidness. No more stuff over which the Lord rules which will be set against him. No – everything will be his – as it truly is in reality. For so long, God has been patiently enduring all the things that he’s created being against him and at odds with him.

But there’s a day coming when everything will be set apart for him.

And the Lord ends this book with this related statement that can be a bit puzzling at first…

and in that day there shall be no {more/longer} {the/a} Canaanite in the house of the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty}.

And the point here is not to say that the Lord is going to exclude the Canaanites from his temple. Remember the context – everything will be the Lord’s. Therefore, what this passage is saying is that any Canaanite that survives the battle of Armageddon – really, anyone from any nations – will be one of God’s people. There won’t be Jews vs. Canaanites. They will all be holy to the Lord – all God’s people.

And so that’s how this book ends – with a reminder that eventually everything will belong to the Lord. Everything will be set apart for him.

And for those of us who know this coming king, Jesus Christ, you need to ask yourself if you’re wholly the Lord’s right now? Everything in this world will some day belong to Jesus and be set apart for his use. Are you today belonging to Jesus? Are you set apart for his use?

This is basically the purpose for the whole Great Tribulation. It’s to get everything to the point where it belongs to Jesus Christ. Once more, do you belong to Jesus Christ? Have you willingly received him? And are you living for him? Is your life his?

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