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Verse 3

Zechariah 14:3. Then shall the Lord After he hath sufficiently punished Jerusalem and the rest of the Jewish nations; go forth Out of his holy place, as a warrior prepared for battle. This is spoken after the manner of men; and fight against those nations Which had taken and destroyed Jerusalem, and oppressed his people. As when he fought in the day of battle As in those days when he evidently fought for his people. The meaning is, that in after times God would discomfit and destroy the posterity of these nations, namely, the Roman idolaters and those under their empire; that when he had made use of them as a scourge to his people, he would execute his judgments upon them, as when he fought against the enemies of his church formerly, the Egyptians, Canaanites, and others. Observe here, reader, the instruments of God’s wrath will themselves be made the objects of it; for it will come to their turn to drink of the cup of trembling; and whom God fights against, he will be sure to overcome. It is observable that the Roman empire never flourished after the destruction of Jerusalem as it had done before; but God evidently fought against it, and against all the nations under its dominion, or in alliance with it, till at last it was subverted and destroyed, its richest cities taken and plundered, and its various provinces ravaged by the Goths and Vandals, and other barbarous invaders.

Zechariah 14:4-5 , And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, &c. It is very difficult to say to what time this prediction refers, or what is its precise meaning. Commentators are not at all agreed on the subject. Some think the passage refers to the time immediately subsequent to the destruction of Jerusalem, foretold in Zechariah 14:1-2, and that it is to be understood figuratively, namely, 1st, That by the Lord’s standing before Jerusalem on the east, is meant, his drawing peculiarly near to his church and people, here, as frequently elsewhere, signified by Jerusalem; and that he would be at hand to succour and save them; and would give success to, and be manifested in, the gospel preached by his apostles, who received their commission on that mount before Christ’s ascension. 2d, That by the cleaving of the mount of Olives in the midst, toward the east and toward the west, so as to make a very great valley, is meant the removing of the ceremonial law, which was like an aspiring mountain, or partition wall, between the Jews and Gentiles, and a great obstruction to the conversion of the latter, and their entrance into the church of God: but that, by the destruction of Jerusalem, this mountain should be made to cleave, as it were, in the midst, this partition wall be broken down, and God’s church, the spiritual Jerusalem, made of easy access to the Gentiles. Thus the way of the Lord would be prepared, every mountain and hill brought low, and a plain and pleasant valley, or open way of communication, be found in the place of them: see Isaiah 40:4. 3d, That by the valley of the mountains, is meant the gospel church, to which, as a place of refuge, many of the Jews should flee, as people fled formerly from before the earthquake here mentioned, and should hasten into it together with the Gentiles. 4th, That by this valley reaching to Azal, or, to the separate place, as the word signifies, is signified that the privileges of the church should not be limited, as formerly, to any particular nation, or people, but should be extended to all those who, in obedience to the call of God, should come out from the world, separate themselves from sinners, devote themselves to God, and become his peculiar people. And, 5th, That by the Lord’s coming, and all his saints with him, is signified the spiritual coming and extension of his kingdom, whereby a multitude of converts, both of Jewish and Gentile extraction, should be made, who, through faith working by love, should become saints, or holy persons. This, in substance, seems to be Henry’s view of the passage, as it is that of many others.

Lowth, on the other hand, interprets it literally, as follows: His feet shall stand upon the mount of Olives “The glory of the Lord, that is, the Shechinah, or symbol of God’s presence, when it departed from the city and temple, settled itself upon the mount of Olives, Ezekiel 11:23; so when God shall return to Jerusalem, [that is, to Jerusalem rebuilt and inhabited by the converted Jews restored to their own land, at the beginning of the millennium,] and make it the seat of his presence again, it [the Shechinah] shall return by the same way it departed, Ezekiel 43:2. We may add, that when our Lord ascended from the mourn of Olives, the angels told his disciples, he should come again in like manner, that is, in a visible and glorious appearance, at the same place, Acts 1:11-12. And the mount of Olives shall cleave, &c. By an earthquake, such as was in the time of King Uzziah: see Amos 1:1. The middle of mount Olivet shall cleave asunder, and sink into a deep valley, so as to leave the two points, or tops of the hill, north and south, still standing. For mount Olivet, as we learn from Maundrell, had three tops, or eminences; one on the north side, another on the south, and a third in the middle, from whence Christ ascended, and where the Christians in after times erected a cross, in memory of his ascension there. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains When ye see the mount of Olives cleave asunder, ye shall flee toward the valley for fear. The margin reads, The valley of my mountains, which may be understood of Zion and Moriah; but the Chaldee and LXX. read, The valley of my mountains shall be filled up; for the valley of the mountains shall join even to Azal, it shall even be filled up, as it was by the earthquake in the days of Uzziah. Josephus writes, ( Ant. Jud., lib. 9. cap. 10,) ‘That before the city, at a place called Ερρωγη , [or the cleft,] one half of the mountain, on the western side, was broken off, and having rolled four furlongs toward the eastern mountain, stopped, so that the roads were choked up, and the king’s gardens.’ And the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints [or holy ones ] with thee Or with him, as the Chaldee and LXX. read.” “The words,” Lowth adds, “are a description of Christ’s coming to judgment, attended with all the holy angels, as the writers of the New Testament express it, the word קדשׁים , translated saints, often signifying angels: see Deuteronomy 33:2; so the word saints seems to be used 1 Thessalonians 3:13; and St. Judges 1:14, quoting the prophecy of Enoch, says, The Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, or holy ones: a place exactly parallel with this of the text.”

One observation seems needful to be made here: if the visible and personal coming of Christ be intended in these verses, it certainly cannot be his coming to raise the dead and judge the world in righteousness, because that view of the passage would not, by any means, be consistent with what is said in the two next verses concerning the continually increasing light of knowledge, holiness, and happiness in the gospel church, till, at length, at evening time it shall be quite light: but it must rather be understood of his coming to introduce, establish, and perfect his millennial reign, believed in and expected generally in the first Christian church. The reader will consider these different interpretations, and will of course adopt that which he thinks the most probable.

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