I recently was asked by a good friend if I could give a full running commentary of Zechariah chapter 14. Knowing that this chapter did not occur in a vacuum, I decided to read the entire book. I have since then read this book about 8 times through and I am still learning a great deal as I go. In addition I have read all of Ezra, much of Nehemiah and a great deal of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai, Matthew, John and Revelation. All having texts that have a bearing on Zechariah. I am not sure I am at a place where I am prepared to give a very good running commentary of chapter 14 like my friend asked. But this study is the result of my investigation. I may in the future do a verse by verse commentary on the 14th chapter of Zechariah, but for now I hope this sets the context and explains why I view this amazing chapter as I do.
The little book of Zechariah is found near the end of the Old Testament scriptures. It is between the small book of Haggai and the last book of the Old Testament Malachi. Zechariah wrote during a time in history that the prophet Daniel described as “troublous times”, Dan 9:25. Zechariah wrote in what is known as the “post-exilic” time; after the return of Judah from Babylonian captivity. This is confirmed by Ezra as he was rebuilding the temple when he gave credit to both Haggai and Zechariah for being the prophets that encouraged the people and kept the building moving forward in the midst of persecution.
“Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.“ Ezra 5:1-2
“And the elders of the Jews builded,and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo.And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.” Ezra 6:14
Here we see the primary purpose of Zechariah’s prophecy was to encourage the continuation and completion of the re-building of the temple in Jerusalem.
“Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.” Zechariah 1:16
“And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.” Zechariah 5:11
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.“Zechariah 8:9
The book is divided into two main parts; the first part is dedicated to the eight visions that God sent to Zechariah. The second part is given over to the prophetic foreshadowing of Messiah. While the visions are fascinating and bear directly on the coming messiah, I will only touch upon them in this article as they have that direct bearing in revealing Jesus Christ.
What I mainly want to look at in this short study are the seven Messianic prophecies that were clearly fulfilled by Jesus Christ at his coming.
We find the first prophecy in chapter 2 verses 5-12 where we have the promise that God himself would dwell among His people.
“For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her. Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD. Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon. For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.” Zechariah 2:5-12
Here we see that God “Will be the glory in the midst of her.” (v5). “I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD”. (v10). “and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee.” (v11).
Zechariah is careful to give us a clue as to when this would occur. He tells us that the dwelling of God among his people would coincide with the time that “many nations shall be joined to the LORD IN THAT DAY.” (v11). Here is the first of 22 mentions of the phrase “In That Day” or “On That Day”. This phrase is a key to the understanding of the latter chapters of this book. But here we have the first mention of this phrase to give us the time of when Messiah would dwell among his people.
We know that Jesus came in the first century, and that after his death burial and resurrection, the Apostles starting at Pentecost began to preach the gospel. “At Jerusalem THAT DAY were dwelling Jews (Devout men) from every nation under heaven. Acts 2:4 In verses 9-11 it mentions 16 of these nations. We know that later in the book of Acts both Peter and Paul continued broadening the proclamation of the gospel to many many more nations. This is the fulfilling of Zechariah’s promise that “Many nations would be joined to the LORD”.
At Pentecost, they had clearly entered the time of “In That Day”. This must be kept in mind as we study the latter portions of Zechariah.
“Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.” Zechariah 3:8
Here in the third chapter, Zechariah makes a reference to the “Branch”. This is the second clear prophetic reference to the Messiah
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a BRANCH shall grow out of his roots:” Isaiah 11:1
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous BRANCH, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” Jeremiah 23:5
“In those days, and at that time, will I cause the BRANCH of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.” Jeremiah 33:15
Taken together with Zechariah 6:12, it is clear that “The Branch” is a reference to Jesus Christ. Zechariah being familiar with Isaiah and Jeremiah, I am sure is using the picture of “The Branch” consistently with their use as well. In Isaiah we have “The Branch” described as that which would come out of the line of Jesse. Jesse being the line through which David; Israel’s King would come. Jeremiah ties “The Branch” to David as well. In Zechariah 6:12-13 we have new information revealed about this “Branch”. He is the one who would ultimately build the Temple of the LORD.
“And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Zechariah 6:12-13
It is interesting that in seeking to put a time frame on the fulfillment of the prophecy of “The Branch”, Isaiah is most helpful. Amazingly enough, Isaiah uses that familiar term, “In That Day” to give us a very good clue as to when “The Branch” would show up and accomplish these prophetic tasks.
“And IN THAT DAY there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass “IN THAT DAY”, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” Isaiah 11:10-11
We see that in Isaiah it will be “In That Day” of the Gentiles coming and seeking the Lord. This again happened in the first century and continues to this current modern day. The second “In That Day” that Isaiah gives us is about the restoration of recovery of the remnant of his people Israel. He then goes on to name those of Israel who were scattered to foreign lands. The lands are listed in verse 11 and are strangely reminiscent of those nations that we saw gathered in Jerusalem on “The Day of Pentecost”. Then in Romans, Paul, adds another confirmation of this timing of “The Branch”. When he quotes directly from Isaiah 11 to show that the first century Gentile conversions were legitimate and part of the fulfillment of that specific prophecy.
“And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.”Romans 15:12
So the two mentions of “The Branch” in Zechariah have been fulfilled in the first century.
The third messianic prophecy that Zechariah mentions is one that we remember every year on “Palm Sunday”.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Zechariah 9:9
This prophecy is so widely agreed upon that I will not spend a great deal of time to show that this passage came to pass in fulfillment when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt. It is one of the most widely documented prophecies of Messiah, as it appears in all four of the gospels. There is no real doubt that this had a first century fulfillment.
The fourth prophecy of the Messiah deals with the one who betrayed him (Judas).
“And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prized at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.” Zechariah 11:13
Here again there is little doubt or debate about the fulfillment of this passage during the week of our Lord’s “Passion”. Judas is clearly identified as the one who carried out this infamous prophetic task.
“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” Matthew 26:14-15
“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.” Matthew 27:3-10
Take note in the surrounding passages that once again these events are in the context of “In That Day”
As we progress through the book of Zechariah we find the fifth great Messianic Prophecy in chapter 12 verse 10.
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Zechariah 12:10
This passage again is not something we have to struggle to find the New Testament fulfillment. If we read in the gospel of John we find that “the Apostle whom Jesus loved” is very clear about how this passage was fulfilled. Like the previous two it also is fulfilled during the week of the “Lord’s Passion”, even at the cross itself. Like the previous two there really is no textual reason to doubt its fulfillment; why? well let’s look at what John said about this passage and see.
“But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.” John 19:34-37
Here in John’s account of the crucifixion he comes right out and says that the piercing of the Lord’s side is an event that was done “…that the scripture should be fulfilled” If this is not the fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10, then somebody please write me and tell me exactly what Old Testament passage was fulfilled here?
Funny thing about this is that Zechariah 12:10 is surrounded by verse 9 and verse 11, both of which identify the time of this piercing as “On That Day”. Wow, this is getting easier as we go.
The sixth prophetic voice from Zechariah is just at the beginning of Chapter 13.
“In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” Zechariah 13:1
A fountain opened up for sin and uncleanness. This speaks of the sin sacrifice of Christ at the cross for me and for you. To the women at the well this is what Jesus promised would come.
“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14
And again on the last day of the feast of Tabernacles Jesus cried out to all who could hear in John chapter 7.
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” John 7:37-39
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:” Revelation 22:1-3
In this passage we see that same fountain opened up and it is said in this passage that there are leaves from a tree for healing, and that there would be no more curse, sounds a lot like the resolution of the “sin and uncleanness” of Zechariah 13:1.
Notice again that Zechariah 13:1 begins with the words “On That Day”. Do you see a repetitive theme here?
The seventh declaration of Messianic activity is the “smiting of the shepherd” and the “scattering of the sheep”.
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.” Zechariah 13:7
This like most of these is a messianic prophecy that is fulfilled in the Passion Week of our Lord and Christ, Jesus.
“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” Matthew 26:31
Here Jesus himself is quoting this passage and applying it to himself, that kind of makes it easy to see that this is the direct fulfillment of Zechariah 13:7
So Zechariah is filled with fascinating visions (8 of them) which I will endeavor to publish a study on each one of them sometime in the future.
The book has seven very clear prophetic references of Jesus as the Messiah, all of which were fulfilled in the first century. Then the book has some very difficult and challenging prophecies in chapter 14. These prophetic words are very often what many people consider future things. The standing on mount Olivet, the mountain splitting in two, an earthquake and other apocalyptic, ominous sounding events. One event in chapter fourteen that I think is a key to understanding the timing of the prophecies of this cryptic chapter is found in verse 8
“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.” Zechariah 14:8
Here in 14:8 we have the same living waters that we mentioned from John 4, John 7 and Rev 22 (see above about a fountain being opened up for sin and uncleanness). The reference in John chapter 7 when Jesus invited all to come and to drink, he prefaced by saying…”as the scripture hath said”. Jesus is quoting an Old Testament passage; where if not here in Zechariah was Jesus referring to? Clearly this living water flowing from Jerusalem is not to be taken in a literal sense. There will be no concrete fountain, with pipes, pumps and spigots. Nor will there be a literal flow of H2O (water) from this fountain. “How can I say that”? you ask. I am not the one who actually said it. Actually it was John the Apostle in that very same passage of John 7. In the last verse of that section (verse39) john said…
“But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Here by divine inspiration we have a clear explanation that Jesus intended the water to represent a greater spiritual truth, the indwelling Spirit of God that would come on “The Day of Pentecost”. So we too must view Zechariah 14:8 as having been fulfilled; not literally, but completely and utterly fulfilled nonetheless on “The Day of Pentecost” — “On That Day”. This makes the rest of Zechariah chapter 14 fairly simple to understand. Eight times in that chapter the phrase; “On That Day” is used. Clearly all the other prophecies of the book of Zechariah are as well set apart by this time statement; “On That Day”. With this in mind, how can we justify placing the “On That Day” events outside of “That Day”? And since John and Jesus both interpreted Isaiah 14 as spiritual and not literal, how then can we insist that our literal interpretation is somehow superior?
I will readily admit that some of the apocalyptic language of Zechariah 14 is hard to grasp, I in no way claim to have a corner on the market of interpretation of this difficult passage. But I believe that seeing the already fulfilled, spiritual completion of so many of the prophecies of that book, all occurring “In or On That Day”. we must give in to the words and the meaning of the actual text of the scripture and admit that none of the prophecy of Zechariah is remaining for our future, but is and has all been fulfilled “In That Day”.