Harry Whittaker
The Time Of The End

13) “Then Shall The Lord Go Forth”

Zechariah 14

The last chapter of Zechariah has many powerful details of the consummation of the Lord’s work among His people, some of which are by no means easy to understand. Nor is it altogether clear how this prophecy is to be pieced together chronologically.

It begins with a successful attack on Jerusalem by “all nations.” Clearly this phrase is not to be taken literally. It puts too big a strain on the imagination to picture the Fiji Islanders and the Eskimos, the pygmies of Africa and the Communist Chinese, all combining together in a savage onslaught on the city

Some have sought a way out of the difficulty by calling in the United Nations. But even then a solution to the problem is still far away, for the aim of any such activity by that effete hypocritical organization is to separate combatants by means of a peace-keeping task force. But these attackers in Zechariah ravage and spoil without mercy.

As soon as the Bible idiom of “all nations round about Israel” (compare 1 Chronicles 14: 17, 2 Chronicles 32: 23; Ezekiel 32: 12) is recognized, the difficulty ceases to exist. These, as in so many other prophecies already considered, are the Arab enemies of Israel who will never rest content until they have ground their Jewish neighbours into the dust. These Arab invaders may be confidently depended on to rifle houses and ravish women. In the third Arab-Israeli war a Jewish citizen stated in a newspaper article that if the Arabs had won he would have shot his own wife and family and then

himself. “There would have been another Masada.” This, at least, shews what the Jews expect when they lose the struggle against these inveterate foes.

That they will lose is plainly intimated in one Scripture after another. “The city shall be taken ... half the city shall go forth into captivity.” This must mean slavery for a big proportion of the population, as Joel 3 and Isaiah 19 have already been seen to require.


“Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” In the time of crisis and despair, and because Israel turn in their helplessness to the God of their fathers, deliverance will come in a way to amaze the world. How the Lord will fight is explicitly stated: “And it shall come to pass in that day that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour” (v. 13).

The great plague with which these enemies will be smitten is described in language which makes the blood run cold: “Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth” (v. 12). All kinds of suggestions have been made as to how this might come about. Bubonic plague, the deadly incurable aftermath of nuclear radiation such as is caused by hydrogen bombs, some hitherto unused secret weapon of germ or chemical warfare perfected by the back-room scientists — many guesses of this sort have been ventilated. One thing seems to be clear: the words indicate an escalation of the attack on Jerusalem into war on a massive scale involving much more than the tiny Holy Land.

At such a time the Messiah himself will appear. It was promised by the angels “he shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Since he went away in a cloud of divine glory (Acts 1: 9), it may be confidently expected that he will be manifested accompanied by that same Shekinah majesty. This is implied in Zechariah: “and the Lord my God shall come and all the saints with thee.” Here the “saints” or “holy ones” coming with (and not to) the Messiah are the angels (see Matthew 24: 31, 1 Thessalonians 4: 16; Jude 14)[16] Also, the Messiah will return to the same place from which he ascended: “his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.”


At that time this Mount of Olives will be split in two by a mighty earthquake (v. 4), which will create a great valley running east and west. It is only in recent times that geologists have discovered the existence of a great geological east-west fault in the structure of the Mount of Olives. It is as though ages ago the Almighty prepared the ground for the vast changes soon to take place.

The result will be a formation similar to that, which already exists at Shechem (Nablus), where mount Ebal and mount Gerizim flank a deep east west valley. It was here where Joshua assembled the people of Israel with the ark, the symbol of God’s presence, in the midst, to hear recited the blessings and the cursings which would come upon them (Joshua 8: 33, 34). Apparently, then, the mount of Olives will be prepared that it might be the scene of a similar declaration of the divine will concerning the saints in Christ. They will be assembled in the divine presence of a more glorious Jesus-Joshua, and set either on his right hand to hear the wondrous invitation: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom,” or to be thrust away to the left: “Depart from me ye cursed.”[17]

At the time of the earthquake men will flee “as from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah” — fleeing “from before the terror of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (Isaiah 2: 19—a passage based initially on the experience of Uzziah’s earthquake, but appropriated in the New Testament to describe the terror of the coming of Christ: 2 Thessalonians 1: 19; Revelation 6: 16).

This “valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azel,” a place no one can identify. Perhaps once again the allusion is not geographical but spiritual intended to recall Azazel, the scapegoat, which, with sin laid upon it, was for utter dismissal (see RVm in Leviticus 16: 8) from the presence of the Lord.

Thus, with both the unworthy in the ecclesia of Christ and the wicked among the nations purged out, the kingdom of Messiah will come in with glory and righteousness: “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one,” that is, “the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.”


The prophecy is rounded off with two vivid pictures of the transformations brought by Messiah’s reign. “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left, of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.”

That which in ancient days was a unique combination of national holiday, Bible School, and re-dedication for the people of Israel, will be extended to take in all the nations of the world. The feast will be held all the year round, members of all the diverse peoples going up to the Holy City in rotation, for instruction and guidance in the ways of God (Isaiah 19: 23-25).

The phrase: “every one that is left of all the nations” is ominous. The implication is unmistakable that a big proportion of the world’s teeming millions, now presenting such a problem to scientists and world planners, will not survive to see the wonders of the coming age.[18] But for those whom the grace of God preserves there will be opportunities of blessing past imagining.

Yet, such is human nature, even under the benign conditions which Christ’s reign will bring, some stubbornness and recalcitrance is bound to happen. Those unwilling to be integrated in the divine family of nations will find themselves without rain: and in particular Egypt, if rebellious, will be visited once again with the plague which broke the spirit of that nation in the days of Moses. Jeremiah indicates that where there is persistent stubbornness, the plague will not stop at the firstborn: “And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The Lord liveth ... then shall they be built in the midst of my people (here is a true UNO, built round and in Israel, the people of God’s choice; see also Isaiah 2: 3). But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 12: 16, 17).

In contrast to this picture of intransigence, so characteristic of human nature, is another of Jerusalem and its people utterly transformed in character: “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holy to the Lord.” The very bridles which have been bathed in blood (Revelation 14: 10) will now be as holy in the work of the city of peace as the garments of the High Priest (Exodus 28: 33, 36). “And the (earthenware) pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the (golden) bowls before the altar.” Here is further symbolism too instructive to be neglected. Those who are earthen vessels filled with the treasure of the Lord’s message (2 Corinthians 4: 7) will themselves become as valuable and permanent in God’s service as the treasure itself.

“And there shall no more be the Canaanite in the house of the Lord.” Not only is this an assurance that the centuries-long Moslem sway over the holy city shall be swept away for ever, but also it is an indirect but yet emphatic way of insisting that the promises God made to Abraham will be finally and completely fulfilled. For, when ‘‘Abram passed through the land ... the Canaanite was then in the land;” but when “the Lord made covenant with Abram,” he promised: “Unto thy seed have I given this land ... Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaims, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, Jebusites” (Genesis 12: 6 and 15: 18-21). Abraham himself will see it fulfilled.

[16] It has to be remembered that in Scripture the word “saints” may describe three separate groups of people:
  1. the angels, God’s holy messengers;
  2. Israel, God’s holy nation
  3. those sanctified in Christ, God’s holy remnant.
[17] Each occurrence of the word has to be judged on its merits, in the light of the context. ~ Compare the way in which the travail of Jesus in the garden on the mount of Olives led to men being set on his right hand and his left, blessing and cursing, blessed and cursed.
[18] On this question see also Jeremiah 25: 33, 44: 14, 27; Isaiah 24: 5, 6; 66: 16, 19; Matthew 24: 22.

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