Pastor Aaron Preaching
Barber - Beth Divorce
Text – Zechariah 14:16-21
So here we are in the end of Zechariah. We looked at about half of it last week, which was largely the battle for earth, and my major goal today was to look at the result of the battle, but after looking at it some more, I think it will benefit us to go back over some basic things from the battle.
Let's do some context beforehand, when was Zechariah written? 522-518 BC. How much of Zechariah has already taken place? About 12/14ths of it, chapters 1-12 were mostly prophecy for Christ's first coming, which he fulfilled perfectly, give me a few prophecies he fulfilled to the letter from chapters 1-12. Humble and riding on a donkey; priest and king; blood of the covenant poured out; the removal of sin in a single day; good shepherd; sold for 30 pieces of silver; pierced; etc. Chapter 13 we remember is about sanctification, either progressive within the church or perfect in Heaven. And now, how much of Chapter 14 has occurred already? Very little if any. It may be that the regaining of Jerusalem in 1967 was a fulfillment for verse 1, but until the rest of this prophecy happens I don't think we can say for sure, because this is certainly a prophecy bundle and I believe it will happen exceedingly literally, so we don't want to tear little chunks off it, but rather look at it as a whole.
When do you think the end is going to happen? This afternoon? May? 2012? I don't believe this can happen anytime soon, there are several major events that have to happen, world peace under an Antichrist has to happen, a temple has to be built in Jerusalem, and the Antichrist has to declare himself to be God and then betray Israel before the end can come. The earliest this can happen is probably 10 years, or it could be a lot longer. Knowing that the end is near, but not within the next five minutes should cause us to live how? With urgency, but purpose, seeking to bring others into the kingdom and live lives that honor Christ.
I think before we begin, it would behoove us to reread the entire chapter to give ourselves a good context of what is going on.
Zechariah 14:1-21 Behold, a day is coming for the LORD, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one. The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft on its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. And it shall be inhabited, for there shall never again be a decree of utter destruction. Jerusalem shall dwell in security. And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. And on that day a great panic from the LORD shall fall on them, so that each will seize the hand of another, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other. Even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. And a plague like this plague shall fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, the donkeys, and whatever beasts may be in those camps. Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which the LORD afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "Holy to the LORD." And the pots in the house of the LORD shall be as the bowls before the altar. And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.
Just briefly I want to go over the first battle in this passage, where Jerusalem is sacked, all hope is lost, and at the last minute Christ returns, stepping onto the Mount of Olives, splitting it in two, and providing salvation for a whole bunch of Jews who will be converted at that exact moment. Christ goes out to war, and he goes violently, but this is not the battle of Armageddon, the final battle. We know it's not the battle of Armageddon for one very simple purpose, any guesses? Armageddon is the name of a place, and this battle is not fought there, it is fought at Jerusalem.
Christ is going to establish Jerusalem in peace before he will make a complete end of his enemies. At this point he radically changes the landscape of Israel,
vv.8-10 On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one. The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft on its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. And it shall be inhabited, for there shall never again be a decree of utter destruction. Jerusalem shall dwell in security.
Jerusalem, which is on a little hill called Zion which is on a mountain range, will suddenly be the tallest thing in Israel, like it is on a pedestal. The measurements here show us that this is not a vision, but a real event with real dimensions and something we should look for a literal fulfillment of.
The water flowing from the temple in Jerusalem is explained much better in Ezekiel 47, though the fact that Zechariah describes it makes us think it will also be literal; though in Ezekiel 47 it certainly has a spiritual factor to it as well.
Ezekiel 47:1-12 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side. Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?" Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing."
What happens here is set in peace time, probably after the final battle, though we see that the waters start flowing before the end in Zechariah. Ezekiel looks at this new stream that starts right at the door of the temple, which takes several Messianic prophecies and squishes them together, that Christ is the temple, he is the source of Living Water, the fountain opened, and the door. This little stream, which has been seen by more than one theologian to represent salvation, starts as a trickle, but as it flows for miles and time it gets deeper and deeper and deeper, and it ultimately flows to the Dead Sea, overflows it, and then flows into the gulf of Aqaba and then ultimately into the whole world, making it all new.
Do you guys know why the oceans are salty? Over about 4,000 years of rivers flowing into the sea, salt and other minerals have been deposited and have increased the salinity like crazy. This river from Jerusalem, instead of contributing to the salinity, actually reverses the effects and turns the water sweet; it's clearly a miracle, and God restoring the entire world.
Here is a bit of chronological confusion that I've always had which I can't give you an exact answer, but I think I can give you a reasonable answer, and I will guarantee you that there is no error in the Bible, these prophecies will happen exactly the way they are written, I just don't know in what order. The issue is that this earth is set to be destroyed by fire, but clearly before that happens we have this fountain starting which will make everything on earth new... Here is how I think it reconciles, that Jerusalem here is protected from final destruction, the salvation began before the end of the world, we definitely see it spiritually in Christ beginning in AD30 on Calvary's cross, and here near the end from Jerusalem with the river of life. So this River starts before the end of the world, but I also believe it is the means by which the world will be renewed. Ultimately we need to wait to see it happen before we'll understand this end time prophecy perfectly.
So, there is this great battle for Jerusalem, and Christ wins without a doubt. His enemies are so terrified they grab each other by the hands, and at the same time fight among themselves. There is great bloodshed and Zechariah describes it in graphic detail saying that skin, eyes, and tongues will rot out of bodies while they still stand. What was one way this can happen? A nuclear explosion. I won't be the least bit surprised if there is massive nuclear warfare at this time, let's look at two other passages that say as much:
Joel 2:30-32 And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.
More than a few theologians have seen this and said that it definitely could refer to the explosion of a nuclear weapon. As a stand-alone verse we wouldn't say that, but coupled with Zechariah and Ezekiel, I think we can with some confidence say these are pillars of nuclear fallout. Go home and read Isaiah 63 for a good picture of the bloodshed, where blood flows for 200 miles, in some places as deep as a horse's bridle, unfortunately we don't have time to read it now, but the death toll will be amazing, the bodies of the dead will block major travel routes, and not just graves, but valleys, will be dug to bury the dead, and it will take seven months.
Ezekiel 39:11-16 On that day I will give to Gog a place for burial in Israel, the Valley of the Travelers, east of the sea. It will block the travelers, for there Gog and all his multitude will be buried. It will be called the Valley of Hamon-gog. For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land. All the people of the land will bury them, and it will bring them renown on the day that I show my glory, declares the Lord GOD. They will set apart men to travel through the land regularly and bury those travelers remaining on the face of the land, so as to cleanse it. At the end of seven months they will make their search. And when these travel through the land and anyone sees a human bone, then he shall set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon-gog. (Hamonah is also the name of the city.) Thus shall they cleanse the land.
Besides the massive scale of the dead, we also see something interesting that your average person isn't capable of burying the bodies, they just mark them and then go on their way. This is definitely partly because touching a dead body can defile a Jew, but they would know they may encounter dead bodies so they would be prepared. The more telling fact, I think, is that it is not safe to touch these bodies, if this indeed points to a nuclear war, is that the bodies would be radioactive and not safe to touch.
Now, we've gotta get moving, we're not even to verse 16 yet. The enemy regroups, masses on the plain at Megiddo, or Armageddon, and prepares to invade Jerusalem again. This is the craziest thing about the battle for me. I don't know if these people have never read a Bible, or what, but it seems like if you've just seen the God of the Universe wipe out a massive army, descending from Heaven, you should surrender. But they come with full force. One of the reasons is because they are deceived by Satan, and definitely at least some of them will be demon possessed. I want to take just a brief tangent to talk about this sort of thing. Part of their blindness is because God has hardened their hearts and darkened their understanding. So does that mean God can make you sin? No, James 1 very clearly says he does not. But what he can do is like if me and you were walking through a really dark cave, and I have the flashlight and you keep insulting me and punching me and making fun of my flashlight, I can turn off the flashlight and leave you on your way to walk into walls, trip over things, and fall into chasms.
But on the other hand, can Satan make you sin? Yes, we see that he is the tempter and the destroyer, he can very easily help you into sin, and people that are demon possessed often sin in the Bible seemingly against their will. Jarod Laughner, the kid that shot all of those people in Arizona, is heavily into the occult, and it seems from all of the accounts that he is demon possessed, based on many of the things he said, like making threats towards people he didn't know, getting angry when people didn't understand his conspiracy theories, and feeling like he had found secrets that others were missing, and especially hurting a lot of people he didn't even know. Not all mental issues are demonic, but I think it's wrong to say that most aren't. I mean if somebody gets a major brain injury that doesn't mean they are demon possessed. I don't think demons can get in by getting bopped on the head. The major ways are through occult practices, massive drug and alcohol use, and through extremely traumatic psychological abuse. Whether or not sins which are orchestrated mostly by demon activity will be held to someone's account is unclear, but they will still have plenty of sins to answer to on their own. I bring this up also partly because of the new movie, The Rite, which is about Roman Catholic superstition, shows religious people getting possessed. If you are genuinely a follower of Christ, then his Spirit dwells in you, and Psalm 5:4 says very clearly that God cannot dwell with evil. The only way to see a demon cast out is to see the Holy Spirit move into a person.
So all of that to say, the nations come against Christ to make war with him, let's let Revelation sum up what happens next, two short verses:
Revelation 20:9-10 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
It's almost anticlimactic if it didn't show the massive power of Christ. Satan has amassed his greatest army ever, I believe he genuinely believes he has a chance to win, this battle, if between men, could literally rage for months; and boom, with a Word, the enemies of Christ are consumed.
The battle is over, Christ has won. That brings us to my favorite verse in all of Zechariah 14.
v.16 Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.
All survivors will recognize that God is the King of the earth, and they celebrate a very specific feast, it is called the Feast of Booths, or probably a better title is Feast of Tabernacles. This feast commemorates a time when God lived with the Israelites in the desert when Moses had led them out of captivity from Egypt. This was a very important feast because it reminded the Jews that God was with them and dwelt with them and cared for them and would be their Saviour. Basically what this feast was was the Jews would built little tents in their front yards or on their flat roofs or in the center of town, and live in them for a week, both to remind themselves of God's provisions, and to remember that ultimately they must dwell with him if they would live. So that brings us to the greatest verse in all of scripture, if you only memorize one verse in your entire life, you need to memorize this verse, it is the summation of the whole Old Testament,
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus Christ, God himself, tabernacled among us, he built a tent out of flesh and came and lived in it. So this feast of Tabernacles that we will celebrate for eternity is not us living in tents in our back yards, no, it is so much more grand, it is us recognizing that Jesus Christ is God with us, he is the Word Incarnate, the gracious God, the True God, the full weight of glory of the Father, and that we have put on his righteousness and his Spirit dwells in us and makes us holy. Anyone who rejects this Christ as the true Tabernacle will be rejected,
vv.17-19 And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which the LORD afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths.
The language here is very prophetic, it's something the Jews would have understood without knowing exactly how Christ would save them, so it relates it in language they would understand giving allegiance to a sovereign conquering king. What is missing from this passage is any idea that the decision is reversible; if a nation changes its mind there is no chance of blessing after they have rejected the Conquering King.
Look at the language of the curses, there will be no rain, we can very clearly see Hell described in this passage, look at one description of Hell in Luke 16:
Luke 16:24 And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.'
And there is a final nail in the coffin for anyone who thinks they will find blessing somewhere else, like Egypt doesn't really need rain because they have the Nile River, so God adds pain to the lack of moisture. The other curse is a plague for punishment, it doesn't take much to see this described in the endless torment and wailing of Hell. We could say these are the people who say, "I don't need Christ, I'm good enough," or "Mohammed will save me," or "Mary will save me," or, "my suffering in purgatory will save me," or even, "My ceasing to exist will end my torment." No, there is no other Saviour than Christ, and God knows how to keep them in eternal punishment, as it says in 2 Peter 2.
So all who recognize Christ as God in the flesh, and who honor him as such, will be saved and receive blessing after blessing after blessing, but those who will not recognize him will face an endless punishment because their sin against a Sovereign and Infinite King will require an infinite retribution.
vv.20-21 And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "Holy to the LORD." And the pots in the house of the LORD shall be as the bowls before the altar. And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.
These verses describe Heaven, where everything is totally holy. The smallest ornaments will be holy, there will be no need for Priests, which is where, "Holy to the Lord" used to be found, because there will be no need for atonement for sins, both because the atonement has been perfectly completed by Christ, AND because there will be no sin to atone for. Everything down to your coffee cups will be holy, as if they had been cleansed in the temple. And we will forever offer a sacrifice of praise to God for our salvation, partaking in the blessings forever and ever.
And the book of Zechariah concludes with a great little phrase, that there will never again be a sinner in Heaven ever again.
So, questions, comments?
Your application is that God knows the end from the beginning, he has prepared beforehand a path for you to walk in, so walk it with boldness, knowing that if God is for you, no one can stand in the way of his purposes. Preach the word, call people to trust in Christ, the only God who has wounds, the only God who died to save his greatest enemies, and the true and Living King.