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Zechariah 14 and the Coming of Christ

By Gary DeMar
President - American Vision
www.americanvision.org

Gary DeMar Study Archive | Norman Geisler and "This Generation" | Norman Geisler, "You," & "Zechariah the Son of Berechiah" | Biblical Minimalism and the "History of Preterism" | Thomas Ice and the Time Texts | Will the Real Anti-Prophets Please Stand Up? | Time's Puff Piece: The Devil is in the Details | Dispensationalism : Being Left Behind | Zechariah 14 and the Coming of Christ | Defending the Indefensible | No Fear of the Text | The Passing Away of Heaven and Earth | Who or what is the Antichrist | Rapture Fever: Why Dispensationalism is Paralyzed | Identifying Antichrist | On Thin Ice | Using the Bible to Interpret the Bible | DeMar Articles

In the premillennial view of Bible prophecy, the events depicted in Zechariah 14 are most often interpreted as depicting the second coming of Christ when Jesus will descend from heaven and stand on the Mount of Olives and from there set up His millennial kingdom. The chronology outlined in Zechariah, however, does not fit this scenario. Events actually begin in chapter thirteen where it is prophesied that the Shepherd, Jesus, will be struck and the sheep will be scattered (Zech. 13:7). This was fulfilled when Jesus says, "'You will all fall away, because it is written, "I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP SHALL BE SCATTERED"'" (Mark 14:27).

What follows describes events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. God will act as Judge of Jerusalem and its inhabitants. As the king, He will send "his armies" and destroy "those murderers, and set their city on fire" (Matt. 22:7).

For I will gather all the nations [the Roman armies] against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered [Matt. 24:17], the women ravished [Luke 17:35], and half the city exiled [Matt. 24:16], but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city" (Zech. 14:2).

This happened when the Roman armies, made up of soldiers from the nations it conquered, went to war against Jerusalem. Rome was an empire consisting of all the known nations of the world (see Luke 2:1). The Roman Empire "extended roughly two thousand miles from Scotland south to the headwaters of the Nile and about three thousand miles from the Pillars of Hercules eastward to the sands of Persia. Its citizens and subject peoples numbered perhaps eighty million."1 Rome was raised up, like Assyria, to be the "rod of [His] anger" (Isa. 10:5). "So completely shall the city be taken that the enemy shall sit down in the midst of her to divide the spoil. All nations (2), generally speaking were represented in the invading army, for Rome was the mistress of many lands."2 Thomas Scott, using supporting references from older commentators and cross references to other biblical books, writes that Zechariah is describing the events surrounding Jerusalem's destruction in A.D. 70.

The time when the Romans marched their armies, composed of many nations, to besiege Jerusalem, was "the day of the Lord" Jesus, on which he came to "destroy those that would not that he should reign over them" [Matt. 22:1­10; 24:3, 23­35; Luke 19:11­27, 41­44]. When the Romans had taken the city, all the outrages were committed, and the miseries endured, which are here predicted [Luke 21:20­24]. A very large proportion of the inhabitants were destroyed, or taken captives, and sold for slaves; and multitudes were driven away to be pursued by various perils and miseries: numbers also, having been converted to Christianity, became citizens of "the heavenly Jerusalem" and thus were "not cut off from the city" of God [Gal 4:21­31; Heb. 12:22­25].3

Forcing these series of descriptive judgment to leap over the historical realities of Jerusalem's destruction in A.D. 70 so as to fit a future judgment scenario is contrived and unnecessary.

Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle (14:3).

After using Rome as His rod to smite Jerusalem, God turns on Rome in judgment. Once again, Assyria is the model: "I send it against a godless nation and commission it against the people of My fury to capture booty and to seize plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets . . . . So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will say, 'I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness'" (Isa. 10:5­6, 12­13). "It is significant that the decline of the Roman Empire dates from the fall of Jerusalem."4 Thomas Scott concurs: "It is also observable, that the Romans after having been thus made the executioners of divine vengeance on the Jewish nation, never prospered as they had done before; but the Lord evidently fought against them, and all the nations which composed their overgrown empire; till at last it was subverted, and their fairest cities and provinces were ravaged by barbarous invaders."5

And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south (Zech. 14:4).

It is this passage that dispensationalists use to support their view that Jesus will touch down on planet earth and set up His millennial kingdom. Numerous times in the Bible we read of Jehovah "coming down" to meet with His people. In most instances His coming is one of judgment; in no case was He physically present. Notice how many times God's coming is associated with mountains.

"And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. . . . Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech" (Gen. 11:5, 7).

"So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey. . . (Ex. 3:8).

"Then Thou didst come down on Mount Sinai, and didst speak with them from heaven. . . (Neh. 9:13a).

"Bow Thy heavens, O LORD, and come down; touch the mountains, that they may smoke" (Psalm 144:5).

"For thus says the LORD to me, 'As the lion or the young lion growls over his prey, against which a band of shepherds is called out, will not be terrified at their voice, nor disturbed at their noise, so will the LORD of hosts come down to wage war on Mount Zion and on its hill'" (Isa. 31:4).

"Oh, that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Thy presence­" (Isa. 64:1).

"When Thou didst awesome things which we did not expect, Thou didst come down, the mountains quaked at Thy presence" (Isa. 64:3).

In Micah 1:3 we are told that God "is coming forth from His place" to "come down and tread on the high places of the earth." How is this descriptive language different from the Lord standing on the Mount of Olives with the result that it will split? Micah says "the mountains will melt under Him, and the valleys will be split, like wax before the fire, like water poured down a steep place" (1:4). "It was not uncommon for prophets to use figurative expressions about the Lord 'coming' down, mountains trembling, being scattered, and hills bowing (Hab. 3:6, 10); mountains flowing down at his presence (Isaiah 64:1, 3); or mountains and hills singing and the trees clapping their hands (Isaiah 55:12)."6

What is the Bible trying to teach us with this descriptive language of the Mount of Olives "split in its middle"? The earliest Christian writers applied Zechariah 14:4 to the work of Christ in His day. Tertullian (A.D. 145­220) wrote: "'But at night He went out to the Mount of Olives.' For thus had Zechariah pointed out: 'And His feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives' [Zech. xiv. 4]."7 Tertullian was alluding to the fact that the Olivet prophecy set the stage for the judgment-coming of Christ that would once for all break down the Jewish/Gentile division. Matthew Henry explains the theology behind the prophecy:

The partition-wall between Jew and Gentiles shall be taken away. The mountains about Jerusalem, and particularly this, signified it to be an enclosure, and that it stood in the way of those who would approach to it. Between the Gentiles and Jerusalem this mountain of Bether, of division, stood, Cant. ii. 17. But by the destruction of Jerusalem this mountain shall be made to cleave in the midst, and so the Jewish pale shall be taken down, and the church laid in common with the Gentiles, who were made one with the Jews by the breaking down of this middle wall of partition, Eph. ii. 14.8

You will notice that there is no mention of a thousand year reign. Yet, we are told that "the LORD will be king over all the earth" (14:9). So what is new about this language? "For the LORD Most High is to be feared, a great King over all the earth. He subdues peoples under us, and nations under our feet" (Psalm 47:2, 3). This is exactly what happened with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Paul told the Roman Christians that "the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Rom. 16:20). The church's adversary (Satan) were those Jews who rejected Jesus as the Messiah and persecuted His Bride, the church (see John 16:2). Jesus calls them a "synagogue of Satan" (Rev. 3:9).


NOTES

1. Otto Friedrich, The End of the World: A History (New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1982), 28.

2. G. N. M. Collins, "Zechariah," The New Bible Commentary, F. Davidson, ed., 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1954), 761.

3. Thomas Scott, The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, According to the Authorised Version; with Explanatory notes, Practical Observations, and Copious Marginal References, 3 vols. (New York: Collins and Hannay, 1832), 2:955

4. Collins, "Zechariah," 761.

5. Scott, The Holy Bible, etc., 956.

6. Ralph Woodrow, His Truth is Marching On: Advanced Studies on Prophecy in the Light of History (Riverside, CA: Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, 1977), 110.

7. "Tertullian Against Marcion," Book 4, chapter XL, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 3:417.

8. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, 6 vols. (New York: Fleming H. Revell, n.d.), 4:1468.

What do YOU think ?

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Date:
21 Apr 2004
Time:
16:32:31

Comments

coming down, is not the same as standing which seams to indicate to me he is standing on the mount in a physical sense.


Date:
30 Sep 2004
Time:
09:16:09

Comments

Great examples of the use of figurative language by the prophets. I wonder if the same people that are looking for the Mt.Olives to be physically split by a hundred foot tall Jesus realize that the river flowing out of the rebuilt temple (Eze 47)will prevent anyone from getting inside it! ;)


Date:
02 Oct 2004
Time:
18:47:33

Comments

Good article. Helps me alot. And I love Gary DeMar's writings.


Date:
16 Nov 2004
Time:
18:16:06

Comments

Garbage, fit for the Valley of Gehenna! When King Messiah, Jesus Christ, literally returns to the Mount of Olives - JUST LIKE THE ANGELS PROMISED HE WOULD - He'll liberate Jerusalem from its EU Gentile occupation and put everybody back in their proper place. Check out Beyond Babylon: Europe's Rise and Fall http://www.pushhamburger.com/david.htm


Date:
25 Jan 2005
Time:
08:08:28

Comments

THANK YOU ITS SO MUCH EASIER TO UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURES WHEN WE ARE TAUGHT TO THINK FOR OURSELVES THE SCRIPTURES WERE WRITTEN FOR THE COMMON MAN NOT THE RELIGIOUS SCHOLARS ITS NOT MAN THAT TEACHES US THESE THINGS BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO TEACHES TRUTH IT SAYS YOU OF NEED NO MAN TEACH YOU BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT


Date:
27 Feb 2005
Time:
19:30:20

Comments

It does not explain the great valley which appears in the middle of the Mount of Olives. A rumor I have heard, there is a physical fault line in the rock of the Mount of Olives, and it could rupture anytime. I'm currently looking for proof, I need an ordinance survey map of the area. Best Regards Graham footloosetwo@hotmail.com


Date: 14 May 2005
Time: 09:54:12

Comments:

What about Zech 14:16-19? Who are the people that should observe the Feast of Booths in order to get rainfall, if all this transpired pre 70 A.D.? I have profited much from Gary DeMar's writings, and I would consider myself a partial preterist to a degree, but then again there are many details that seem to be a stretch for a totally exclusive pre 70 A.D. time period. Could there not be a millennium after a Second Coming of Jesus (still in the future), but still be a coming of Jesus in judgment upon Jerusalem 70 A.D.?


Date: 22 Oct 2005
Time: 13:06:19

Comments:

You should not try to interpret the bible as wholly figurative. Some things are literal concerning future events. The bible is in no way written in chronological order. The interpretation is based on study with the aide of the Holy Spirit and the manifestation of times and seasons. Hence, the amazement of Jews at the understanding of scripture in Jesus is not wholly academic. Mark 1:22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. Mark 1:27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. It was not based on scholarly achievement but on keen insight given by the Holy Spirit. Peter declares this, 2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.
2Pe 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. If understanding of scripture is so obvious or systematic as you are showing with the Mount of Olives, we would not need God to show us things that are hidden. We would just wait and let things evolve. No, God has hidden wonderful things from the seemingly prudent and has disclosed them to babes. See Deut. 29:29, Mt. 11:25. The middle wall of partition is not broken at the Mount of Olives but at the cross. Its at the cross that barriers are destroyed. Walls between man and the way to the Father of spirits is reconciled through the death of Jesus Christ. Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; I for one believe in the physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth. I believe He will descend on the Mount of Olives causing a massive earthquake. I believe He will sit on a physical throne of David. Peace. John Anderson, aptjohn@msn.com


Date: 26 Aug 2006
Time: 19:52:58

Comments:

One of the purposes for an actual split of the Mountain of Olives is to create a rift valley for the believing remnant of Israel to flee to the Jordanian wilderness. The Lord will do this at the midpoint of the 70th week. The world will not see Him when He creates this way of escape for those who will see the abomination of desolation on the mount. This is a future event and it has never happened in the past. What nonsense to believe otherwise.


Date: 25 Sep 2006
Time: 14:28:41

Comments:

So incredibly awesome. Wish some more church fathers on this issue, but Tertullian will suffice.  thanks and peace, Carla


Date: 03 Nov 2006
Time: 08:53:59

Comments:

This understanding of Zechariah 14:4 is difficult at the least. The language doesn't appear at first glance to be figurative, and the splitting of the Mount of Olives isn't described as a way to make a road for the gentiles to come in, but rather a path for the Jews to flee. Also, verse 5 talks about the Lord God coming with His holy ones. In verse 6 we have a light that lights during the night, without a need for a sun, which sounds like the descriptions of the eternal state in Revelation 21. Understand that I hold to an eclectic view but favor a preterist interpretation if it fits, because I believe that correct hermeneutics demands we understand what the human author meant, and his original audience would have understood.


Date: 20 Feb 2007
Time: 08:57:08

Comments:

It is refreshing to find honest and accurate commentary on this important subject - almost nonexistant on the Internet.


Date: 26 Apr 2007
Time: 09:33:31

Comments:

Very, very good explanation, with excellent use of allowing the bible to interpret itself. The reference to Micah 1:4 drove the whole argument home! It's so refreshing to see so many depart from the folly of juggling and jumbling of scripture in the diSpENSATIONALIST camp. It's a wonder people do not believe Jesus is actually a lamb with 7 eyes and 7 horns now in glory, since they miss obvious figurative language. Zech 14 mentions the rivers of living water, as well. That should be enough to indicate it is figurative, since Jesus distinctly interpreted that picture as the Holy Spirit.


Date: 11 Jun 2009
Time: 19:59:28

Your Comments:

Okay, so why does the article not mention that the Jews were banned from Judea by the Romans, and when did the institution of the yearly pilgrimage from all nations, with failure to do so resulting in God preventing rain for those nations dependent upon it, along with the rotting away, while standing, of the eyes, flesh and tongue(which seems like an apt description of the result of being in the vicinity of a nuclear detonation, although I am not stating conclusively that I believe this to be the meaning)?


Date: 10 Dec 2009
Time: 01:15:05

Your Comments:

let's be careful not to get too focused on what we read in ENGLISH. "in that day" could include a more broader term such as "in the days of the messiah", So it wouldn't have to literally be on the same day he stands on the mountain, but rather a reference to the timeframe of the "days" that he will be preaching from the mount. or it could be that regardless if he is "standing" or "coming down" the point is that HE WILL BE PRESENT, with no obligation to be either physical or spiritual. after all, do we physically see him every time "TWO OR MORE ARE GATHERED IN HIS NAME"? the clues from surrounding verses in zechariah due point conclusively to Jesus' day(s), i.e.;john the baptist being "Elijah for who was to come". and i believe the holy spirit gives us all common sense to be able to see this without having a private interpretation.
anyone here ever heard of Noel Woodruffe w/Elijah Centre or read his book, "The Present Reformation of the Church"? it seems like there are these 2 major paradigm shifts that the church needs in order to manifest the reality of the kingdom of God. 1)recovering a true apostolic leadership and 2)rediscovering the fulfillment of end times prophecy. i would love to see Gary DeMar and Noel Woodruffe get together.
 


Date: 01 May 2010
Time: 22:18:26

Your Comments:

I think this article has a better explanation for the Mount of Olives splitting in half. http://zechariahfourteenfive.wordpress.com

 


Date: 30 Jun 2010
Time: 09:13:29

Your Comments:

Explain the plagues in Zechariah 14:12-15. That is what really has me baffled. While reading Zechariah 14, I do find myself asking if this prophecy has already been fulfilled. But, there are many other questions besides the apparent decent of Christ onto the Mt. of Olives.

I think you touched only on a very small portion of the book of Zechariah, chapter 14. There are still many questions regarding when this is or was to take place, the most curious being Zechariah 14:12-15.

Thanks!


Date: 14 Oct 2010
Time: 08:01:58

Your Comments:

Excellent exposition!

The bible is replete with figurative language from the beginning to the end. Lacking this obvious fact causes many to stumble through the bible expecting a simple and easy discovery of truth.

The prophetic OT books, Jesus teachings in the gospels, the NT epistles etc. ALL teach in figurative language.

It takes spiritual life to understand spiritual truth, natural men will always stumble at biblical truth:

1Co 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught:
1Co 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: ...
1Co 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
1Co 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
1Co 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
1Co 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
1Co 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1Co 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
1Co 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Keep up the beautiful work!

Solid study is hard work and feeding the sheep to maturity (so as to discern between truth and error) is a Spiritual gift. Eph. 4:14


Date: 13 Jan 2011
Time: 18:20:44

Your Comments:

I read an article on a site that made the events clear to me. The article was called "Will you Deny Him". It made the end very clear: http://howlongolord.com/?p=235


Date: 14 Oct 2010
Time: 08:01:58

Your Comments:

Excellent exposition!

The bible is replete with figurative language from the beginning to the end. Lacking this obvious fact causes many to stumble through the bible expecting a simple and easy discovery of truth.

The prophetic OT books, Jesus teachings in the gospels, the NT epistles etc. ALL teach in figurative language.

It takes spiritual life to understand spiritual truth, natural men will always stumble at biblical truth:

1Co 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught:
1Co 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: ...
1Co 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
1Co 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
1Co 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
1Co 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
1Co 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1Co 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
1Co 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Keep up the beautiful work!

Solid study is hard work and feeding the sheep to maturity (so as to discern between truth and error) is a Spiritual gift. Eph. 4:14


Date: 26 Oct 2012
Time: 20:56:23

Your Comments:

For those who were asking questions about the Jews being banned from Judea in AD 70, it is instructive to learn that the Jews were not dispersed from the land at that time. While a number were exiled, the great majority continued to live in Judea until the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 AD. In fact, sufficient numbers of Jews continued to live in the land until the time of the Samaritan revolt in about the 6th century.
 


Date: 18 Aug 2012
Time: 11:32:46

Your Comments:

I agree with Mr. Demar 100%. Scripture interprets scripture. The bible needs to be read in the manor it was meant to be read. The answers are right there in plain sight but people who seek a futurist view have a need for everything to happen in the future. Is beyond the realm of possibility that the popular way isnt always the right way. Perhaps the futurist teachers have gotten it wrong all these years. But to admit you were wrong kills book sales and profiting.
 


Date: 13 Jan 2011
Time: 18:20:44

Your Comments:

I read an article on a site that made the events clear to me. The article was called "Will you Deny Him". It made the end very clear: http://howlongolord.com/?p=235

 


Date: 14 Oct 2010
Time: 08:01:58

Your Comments:

Excellent exposition!

The bible is replete with figurative language from the beginning to the end. Lacking this obvious fact causes many to stumble through the bible expecting a simple and easy discovery of truth.

The prophetic OT books, Jesus teachings in the gospels, the NT epistles etc. ALL teach in figurative language.

It takes spiritual life to understand spiritual truth, natural men will always stumble at biblical truth:

1Co 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught:
1Co 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: ...
1Co 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
1Co 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
1Co 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
1Co 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
1Co 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1Co 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
1Co 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Keep up the beautiful work!

Solid study is hard work and feeding the sheep to maturity (so as to discern between truth and error) is a Spiritual gift. Eph. 4:14
 


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