“…that the Scriptures might be fulfilled…”

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a brother about a course he was taking at a local Christian college.  He mentioned that the professor teaching it believes that all the Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled.

This is a common viewpoint.

In its introduction to Matthew, The Reformation Study Bible  says, “[Matthew’s] citations are not presented as isolated predictions and fulfillments, but as proof of the fulfillment of ALL the expectations of the Old Testament,” p.1360, (emphasis added).

Elsewhere, we’ve referred to the church bulletin insert which said that Ezekiel 40-48 were “fulfilled in Jesus.”

I’m sorry, but I cannot agree.

Jesus did indeed fulfill many prophecies during His first coming.  Matthew himself lists 19 such prophecies by text and two others with a general reference to “the prophets.”  It seems to me, therefore, that these prophecies clearly demonstrate that prophecy must be fulfilled “literally” [and, yes, I know how some folks view that word!] and not just “spiritually”.

For example, looking at Ezekiel, in our Bibles there are 9 chapters with some 270 verses of extensive and exact detail, even down to a priest’s haircut and whom he may or may not marry.

Keep in mind that Ezekiel was a priest and would not have dared to come up with something like this on his own.  Besides, God instructed him to “look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here that I might show them to you.  Declare to the house of Israel everything you see,” Ezekiel 40:4.

To say that his writings can be lightly dismissed because of the the fact that one or two words which Ezekiel used were also used by the Lord Jesus of Himself seems to me to be going too far.

We grant that there are some difficult things to understand in these chapters.  For example, some are troubled, even offended, by the references to various sacrifices, believing they deny the final sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.  I freely admit that I don’t understand them myself.  However, without meaning in the least to be irreverent or flippant, I expect that, since God told Ezekiel to write them down, He will take care of it.

I have no doubt that, when all is said and done and this world is over and regardless of our views of prophecy, we will all discover that we didn’t have everything “figured out”.

There were many prophets in Israel.  It wasn’t to be taken for granted, though, that they all spoke for God, even if they said or thought that they did.  If Israel were to ask how they could tell which were true prophets and which were false prophets, God gave them two simple tests.  These tests still work.

The first test is found in Deuteronomy 13:1-5, where God gave this instruction to Israel,

If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods,’…you shall not listen to the words of that prophet….for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul.  But that prophet or dreamer of dreams shall be put to death….  So shall you put away the evil from among you.” 

Even though New Testament believers do not have the right or the authority to kill false prophets, still the lesson is clear, all messages must be faithful to and judged by the Word of God.

The second test is in Deuteronomy 18:21, 22,

“And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ – when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

In other words, the thing prophesied has to happen!

I don’t believe that Israel would have accepted the idea that a prophecy could be fulfilled “spiritually.”  They were told certain things would happen and they expected those very things to happen.  Now, it’s true that they didn’t always understand everything that would be involved, any more than we do today.  And there might even be a “spiritual” element involved.  Still, there was a definite thing or things expected.

For example –

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah:  ‘In those days and at that time, I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgement and righteousness in the earth.  IN THOSE DAYS JUDAH WILL BE SAVED, AND JERUSALEM WILL DWELL SAFELY.  AND THIS IS THE NAME BY WHICH SHE WILL BE CALLED:  THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’  For thus says the LORD:  “David shall never lack of man to sit on the throne of Israel; nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually,” Jeremiah 33:14-18 (emphasis added)..

God said He would keep His promise to Israel and Judah.  To say that this was fulfilled during the return from Babylon or that it’s fulfilled in “the church” and the Lord Jesus is sitting on David’s throne in heaven is to miss the point of the prophecy.  Jerusalem hasn’t dwelt “safely” since its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar and certainly not after the return from Babylon.  Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi testify to that!  She still doesn’t!  Judah isn’t “saved.”  Jerusalem is still called Jerusalem, there being nothing “righteous” about her, since she is in part inhabited by those who call the Cross “a monstrous falsehood.”.

There are many other OT portions we could look at.

Zechariah 14 is one of them.  Read it.  When has the Lord returned, there have been catastrophic geological changes to the planet and a moral and spiritual revolution taken place so that everyone who is left of all the nations…shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles”?  To say that some of this refers to the “eternal state” as the Reformation Study Bible does is to ignore the plagues and punishment Zechariah describes.  How would they even be necessary?

Jeremiah 33 and Zechariah 14 certainly tie in with Ezekiel 40-48.

The Church is unknown in the Old Testament.  It didn’t come about because Israel rejected her Messiah and so God instituted “Plan B.”  The Cross was part of God’s eternal purpose, Ephesians 3:11.  Israel’s rejection of the Lord Jesus was part of it.  It doesn’t say much for our view of God if we believe He had to go to Plan B.  I don’t know about you, but if God had to do that with me, He’d be way beyond “B.”  No, no.  The Church is “Part B,” if you will.  But that probably is another whole post.

To deny even the possibility of a “literal” fulfillment seems to me to cast doubt on the truthfulness of God’s Word.  If He didn’t mean what He said, then why did He say it?Why didn’t He say what He did mean?  And what else in His Word can we not trust?  So, it seems to me that there’s a lot more involved than just fussing over some marginal issue.

The few words of this post won’t lay the discussion to rest, by any means.  I just hope it might give some food for thought.

The Scripture must be fulfilled!

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What’s Ahead for Israel?

The fighting in Gaza has captured a great deal of coverage in the world’s media.  I have no idea how the current fighting will be resolved, but I am interested in the fact that the “truces” are being “timed” – so many hours or days.  I don’t want to make any rash statements, but perhaps – perhaps – this is the beginning of what will culminate in a 7-year treaty between Israel and her enemies.

Daniel 9:27 speaks of an individual who will “confirm a covenant” with Israel for seven years.  The word “confirm” may mean the confirmation of an already existing treaty, or it may mean the making of a new one.  It’s uncertain.  But there is coming a definite treaty.  How do we know it’s Israel?  Because this whole message from Gabriel to Daniel is about “your people and your holy city,” that is, Israel and Jerusalem.  How do we know that “a week” refers to 7 years?  Because the first 69 weeks refer to years and to historical events (historical to us, that is.  They were still future to Daniel).  It makes no sense whatever to say that the first 69 weeks are actual years, but the last week is just some indeterminate period of time.  Finally, who is this individual?  Nobody knows.

Anyway, however the current situation in Israel plays out, it isn’t the final act of her history.  Zechariah 14 gives us details on that.

Zechariah 14:1, 2 refer to a terrible battle in which Jerusalem will be captured and looted and the women subjected to terrible atrocities.  Many of the inhabitants will be taken captive.

It seems to me that this will cover an extensive period of time, perhaps three and a half years, or the last half of the seven years.  It will be a terrible time.  The talking heads on TV will have a great deal to say about the fact that “the Jewish problem” has finally been solved.  Learned discussions will take place on how much better off the world is now that Israel has been defeated.  I’m sure there will be parades and wild celebration, if not world wide, then certainly in Arab countries.  The thorn in their side will finally have been pulled!  Of course, this is all speculation, but I’m sure these future events in the Middle East will generate as much coverage as the current ones are making.

However, whatever happens, this will not be the end of the story.  Vs. 3 and 4 tell of the sudden return of the Lord Jesus to the Mount of Olives, where He will fight against those nations.  Now it could be that very little time elapses between the seeming final destruction of Jerusalem and Israel and the return of the Lord, though we have treated it otherwise.  It certainly is possible, though the preceding verses do seem to allow for a lapse of time.  Regardless, the Lord will return to Israel and that will be the end of the conflict.  Verses 12-15 describe the plague which will befall those fighting against Israel.  Some have thought this refers to the destruction of an atomic explosion.  Since God doesn’t tell us, we can’t know, just that it will happen.  Further, there will be great panic among these forces, so that they will begin to fight each other.

Accompanying the Lord’s return will be great geological changes.  We would call them catastrophes.  There will be an enormous earthquake, resulting in a very large valley, v. 4.  In addition, a very large portion of the land will be turned into a plain, v. 10.  This will make room for the things described in Ezekiel 40-48.  One of the arguments against a “literal” understanding of those chapters has been the fact that there’s not enough room in Israel for them.  The changes associated with the return of our Lord will take care of that.

Another such change will be living waters flowing from Jerusalem, half toward to Mediterranean and half toward the eastern sea, (the Red Sea?).  Ezekiel 47:1-6 adds to the description of these waters.

The geological changes from the earthquake will undoubtedly affect more than just Israel, though the immediate effects of it extend only to Azal, wherever that is.  The rift itself, which is seen in the Jordan valley, extends 3000 miles into Africa.  Whenever that goes, kind of like the San Andreas fault in California, there will undoubtedly be widespread effects.

But there will also be heavenly effects, which seem to continue beyond just the immediate return of the Lord, v. 6, 7.  We really have no idea what this will be, having nothing in our experience to compare with it.  Perhaps a similar thing happened in Joshua 10:12, 13.

There will be one thing with which we are familiar: there will still be summer and winter, v. 8.

Zechariah 16-21 describe what will happen when the LORD shall be King over all the earth, v. 9.  Mostly it describes worship, which will be mandatory, and refusal will be punished.  The Reformation Study Bible says that these verses refer to “the final state,” or eternity.  If that’s so, then why is there a need for “punishment” and “plague”?  There won’t be any rebellion in eternity.  Heaven will be filled with those who love and serve the Lord and Hell will be filled with those who don’t and won’t.

I know that there’s a lot of discussion about “the kingdom,” and what it is.  Many believe that it’s just the rule of the Lord Jesus in the hearts of His people.  While there is that part of it, Scripture says that “the Lord will King over all the earth,” v. 9.  This is more than the providential rule with which He governs this present world, or the “rule” over His people, which is imperfectly carried out,  at best.  “Imperfect,” not because of Him, but because of us.  When the Lord rules as Scripture says He must and will, there will be no doubt about it.

I just can’t understand why anyone would think it would be such a terrible thing for the Lord actually to “rule” from Jerusalem, or anywhere else on this planet.  Doesn’t the Scripture say that a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom, Psalm 45:5?  Isn’t it a great insult to Him to imply that His rule on this planet would be anything but “righteous”?

Zechariah isn’t the only one who mention the reign of our Lord.  Revelation 19:11-16 also describes His return.  V. 15 says, Out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.  And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. 

Of course, part of the difficulty in interpreting Revelation is it’s use of symbols.  It’s obvious that there won’t really be a sword sticking out our Lord’s mouth, but, at the same time, the gist of the prophecy is plain.  He will come in victory and swift judgment against His enemies.  The interesting part is where “He Himself will rule them [the nations, not His people, not the Church, – the nations] with a rod of iron.”  The word translated “rule” is interesting.  It means “to shepherd,” and is also used in John 10 of our Lord’s care of His people.

He will “shepherd” the nations.  Zechariah 14:16-21 tells us something of that “shepherding.”  This is a far cry from the Reformed view that the Lord will come back, there will be the final judgment, and then He will usher in eternity.

There is one final statement in Zechariah 14:21, the last statement in the book:  In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts. 

What in the world is that all about?

I’m afraid the answer will have to wait until our next post.

The Gospel According to Job

Wait!

What?

Job?

Gospel!?

Job’s about bad stuff!  No way! …

Way!

There does seem to be a negative attitude toward this book.  Possibly that’s because those who are against it have never really read it.  And, I suppose, that might be understandable.  It’s a difficult book to get your mind around.

Just lately, I’ve read comments that the book puts God in a bad light.  Others say that it teaches that God isn’t sovereign, after all.  One blogger recently went so far as to say that he believes that the sovereignty of God is the greatest trick that Satan has ever put over on Christians (!)  Needless to say, I don’t agree with that statement!  Nor, I think, does Scripture.

Now it’s true that Job and his friends didn’t have “the Gospel” as we understand it, but they knew a great deal more about spiritual things than they generally get credit for. That’s due in part to a popular teaching in fundamentalist Christianity that between the Fall of man and the giving of the Law at Sinai, men and women were left to the guidance of their own consciences.  There was no revelation from God.  They were on their own.

That’s not true.

While we for the most part don’t have actual records of what might have transpired, there are enough incidental references to show that there was an abundant revelation from God between the times of Adam and Moses.  To quote just one example among many, in Genesis 26:5, God said of Abraham that he “obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”  What’s He talking about if there was no revelation before the Law?  Abraham lived a long time before Sinai.

Job also lived a long time before Moses and Sinai.  There’s no mention of Israel or Moses or the Ten Commandments.  There’s no priesthood – Job himself offered sacrifices on behalf of his children and later for his friends.  He knew spiritual truth, cf. Job 1:1.  How could he “fear God” if he didn’t know anything about Him?

Even Job’s “friends” knew spiritual truths.

1.  They knew that man is sinful. 

In Job 25:4-6, Bildad said, “How then can man be righteous before God?  Or how can he be pure who is born of woman?  If even the moon does not shine, and the stars are not pure in His sight, how much less man, who is a maggot, and a son of man, who is a worm?”

I remember hearing a radio preacher railing against such “worm theology.”  He didn’t like it at all!  After all, man is pretty good – made in God’s image.  There must be some spark of divinity, some trace of goodness, in man that just needs to be fanned a little to become a bright flame and show what man really is.

And I imagine most of us “aren’t so bad;” we can find someone we think is worse than we are.

The problem is those three words, “righteous before God.”

Paul put it like this:  There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God, Romans 3:10, 11.

Habakkuk describes God like this:  He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness, Habakkuk 1:13.  He just couldn’t understand how such a holy God could use the vile Chaldeans to judge Israel for their sin.

In contrast to the holiness of God, Eliphaz described man like this:  “What is man, that he could be pure?  And he who is born of woman, that he could be righteous?  If God puts no trust in His saints, and the heavens are not pure in His sight, how much less man, who is abominable and filthy, who drinks iniquity like water!”  Job 15:14-16.

They knew the truth that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23.

2.  Job knew man couldn’t “fix” the problem. 

Job said, “Truly I know it is so, but how can a man be righteous before God?  If one wished to contend with Him, he could not answer Him one time out of a thousand,”  Job 9:2, 3.

There’s no way that we could ever really account for what we’ve done with the lives God has given us.  At our best, we’re still not good in the sight of God.

3.  Job knew they needed a mediator, a “go-between.” 

Job said, “For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together.  Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both,” Job 9:12, 13.  

Job may not have known directly of the Lord Jesus, but he knew the need for Him. Further than that, though –

4.  Job knew he had a Redeemer. 

He said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth,” Job 19:25.

We don’t know how much Job knew of “salvation,” but he said in 13:16, “He [God] also shall be my salvation.”  Every sacrifice spoke of Him and of Christ’s victory over sin, death and Satan, cf. Hebrews 2:14, 15.  He knew enough.

5.  Job knew of the resurrection. 

Continuing the thought in #4, Job said, And after my skin is destroyed, I know that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:26, 27.

“How my heart yearns within me!”

Job could teach us a thing or two, couldn’t he?

6.  Job knew of the coming of Christ.

Again, we don’t know exactly what Job knew, but he knew that his Redeemer would stand at last on the earth, v. 25.  While this may refer to Christ’s first coming, we believe it has more reference to His second coming – which wouldn’t have happened without the first coming.  The first time, Jesus came to be ignored, rejected and murdered, though He did so willingly.  The second time – ah, that will be a different story! Zechariah 14 describes that coming more fully.  There will be no doubt who He is, no escaping Him.

7.  Job expressed extraordinary faith in God. 

In 13:15, he said, “THOUGH HE SLAY ME, yet will I trust Him.” (emphasis added!)  What a contrast to much of today’s thought, where “health and wealth” are expected as ordinary consequences of faith.  I recently heard one of these false prophets say that because Moses lived to be 120 without his natural vigor decreasing and Caleb, though 85, was as ready and able to conquer his enemies as he had been at 45, that that was what the Holy Ghost wanted for you – this speaker’s audience.

Tell that to the dear sister in her mid 70s who has suffered lifelong with lupus and who was recently diagnosed with ALS.  She has become paralyzed and needs around the clock care.  A joy to know, a faithful witness for God – paralyzed and unable to do for herself.  Or tell that to Joni Eareckson Tada, paralyzed from the shoulders down and for 30 + years confined to a wheelchair.

Some dismiss this as a “lack of faith.”

Away with such thoughts!!

It takes a great deal more “faith” to be a Job or a Joni or a Julie (not her name) than it does when the sun shines and all goes as we think it should!

After all, Job had already rebuked his wife when she told him to “curse God and die,” when he said, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” Job 1:10.

We’re more than ready to “accept the good;” the “adversity” – not so much.

It amazes me that one of the greatest “confessions of faith” in Scripture is found in the Old Testament.  Another such confession is in Habakkuk 3:17, 18.

8.  Job received witness from God. 

A lot of people sneer at Job, saying he accused God falsely.  I wonder how they – or we – would do under similar circumstances.  We’re more likely be like his wife than him, I’m afraid.

When rebuking his three friends, God said to them, “My wrath is aroused against you… for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.  Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job will pray for you.  For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as my servant Job has,” Job 42:7, 8.

God “accepted” him.  What else needs to be said?

9.  Job stands as God’s object lesson.

Job stands as proof that there are those who serve God for Himself, not for what they can get out of Him!  While it’s true that Job received double what he had lost, he didn’t know that going through everything.

The End of Days

For some reason, my wife and I like disaster movies.  This is not to be confused with movies which are a disaster.  Or maybe it’s just me,and she puts up with it.  She does that, – a lot.  If there’s a DVD with background information on how it’s done, so much the better. I’m fascinated by the “hows” of the disaster scenes.  My comment to my wife is often, “I wonder how they did that.”  One of my favorites along that line is “Dante’s Peak.”  Even knowing how they do the dam rupturing or the highway collapsing and seeing how they “shoot it,” especially since there’s no such highway near the town where they shot the movie, it’s amazing to me that, knowing all that, you cannot tell it in the movie.  It looks real.  Another thing that amazes me is the amount of work it must take to build the stuff they destroy in the movie, especially if they have to shoot the scene several times.  Along this line, think “Lord of the Rings” or “Matrix”.  I know a lot of it’s computer graphics, but a lot of it isn’t.

What brings up this post was a movie we watched recently about “Armageddon.”  It was a Christian film purporting to show what is going to happen at “the end of days.”  One of the actors used that expression in explaining what was going on.  I didn’t think the movie was very realistic, either as to photography or plot.

There is a lot of discussion among Christians, sometimes rather heated, about what is going to happen in the future.  This includes a lot of discussion about the Scriptures which talk about the future.  Some says it’s all just symbolic, that we shouldn’t look for anything  “real” to happen.  I don’t agree.  Now, I don’t think we have the ability to imagine what is going to happen when this wicked world finally runs into the end of God’s patience, and He begins to give us the “tangible evidence” of His existence that rationalists and unbelievers are always asking for.  We certainly can’t picture it on film.  Our Lord Himself told us that unless those days were shortened, humanity would be destroyed (Matthew 24:22).

There is an Old Testament chapter which gives a clear and graphic description, without “symbolism,” of what’s going to happen at “the end of days.”  That chapter is Zechariah 14.  I’ll ask you to read it before continuing in this post.  Thanks.  All references, unless otherwise identified, are from the NKJV.  

There are two main sections to the chapter.

1. The destruction of Jerusalem and the return of the LORD, vs. 1-15

2.  The description of the post-return world, vs. 16-20.

The destruction of Jerusalem and the return of the Lord, vs. 1-15.

1.  The destruction of Jerusalem, vs. 1-2.

Jerusalem has probably been fought over more than any other city in history.  Over and over again she has been surrounded by her foes.  Many of them have been temporarily successful in defeating her.  Zechariah prophesies a time when it will seem that, finally, Jerusalem has met her end.

The movie mentioned above showed Jerusalem with plumes of smoke rising here and there from the city.  I think the scene will be more like pictures I remember from WWII showing the bombed-out cities of Germany after her defeat.  There was nothing left.  What little that might be left in Jerusalem will be looted, terrible atrocities will be committed against the women, and those citizens who are left will be carted off “into captivity.”

Zechariah mentions that “half the city will go into captivity.”  I’m not sure exactly what this means.  There are those in our time who want to divide Jerusalem into two.  Perhaps this will have happened, and the “half” of the city that’s destroyed is the “Jewish” section.  In any event, it will be a terrible and terrifying time, and Israel will seem to be “down for the count,” much to the joy of her enemies.  “Peace and safety” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:3) will be said finally to have arrived in the Middle East.  The cause of all the troubles has been defeated.

However, like in the old western movies where the cavalry comes swooping in at the last minute, trumpets blaring, to rescue whoever is in trouble, something will happen.  This brings us to

2.  The return of the Lord, v. 3.

Many Christians have this idea of “gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” or of “sweet Jesus.”  This isn’t the description given by Zechariah.  While it’s true that we receive grace and truth in abundance from our Lord, John 1:14, 16, it is also true that today is the day of salvation, 2 Corinthians 6:2.  The time of which Zechariah prophesies are part of what is called the great day of His wrath, Revelation 6:17; Psalm 110:5, 6.  Jesus is going to return  in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Thessalonians 1:8.  [For a little more on this, look at our post on “Sticks”.]

In passing, it is the LORD Who is said “go forth” and Whose “feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” [Olivet].  Yet, in the New Testament, it is Jesus Whose feet will stand on that mountain, Luke 24:50, 51; Acts 1:9-11.  Bethany, Luke 24:50, is on the side of Mt. Olivet away from Jerusalem.  This is just one of many seemingly coincidental proofs of the deity of the Lord Jesus.

3. Environmental and social changes, vs.4-10.

We can’t even begin to picture the devastation when our Lord comes back to claim what is His.

a.  The Mount of Olives will split in two, making a very large valley, v. 4.

The geologic fault lying under the Jordan River goes all the way into the middle of Africa, about three thousand miles.  If that is involved in this, it will be “a very large valley indeed”!  However, Zechariah does place a limit to it, “Azal,” mentioned only here.  So, we’re not sure of the length of this “valley.”  Regardless, this won’t be some little tremor that rattles a few dishes and then is over.  Isaiah 2:19,21 speaks of a time when the LORD arises to shake the earth mightily.  This in the context of what happens in Revelation 6:15-17.

To go along with this, v. 10 says, All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem.  This is a distance of about 35 miles (if this is “En-Rimmon” on the map I consulted).  It seems to me that this would make room for the things spoken of in Ezekiel 40-48.  One of the many complaints against that portion of Scripture is that there isn’t enough room.  Who knows what other geologic changes in the land might accompany vs. 4 and 10?

b.  There will be one day neither day nor night, vs. 6, 7.

I can’t even begin to explain this.  We are so used to day and night, sunrise and sunset – the orderly progression of time.  This will be something outside our experience, but known to the LORD.  That’s enough for me.

c.  Living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, v.8.

Zechariah just mentions it, but Ezekiel 47:1-12 give an extensive description of what will happen with these “living waters”

One thing:  there will still be “seasons:” summer and winter. Isaiah 4:6 tells us that there will still be “weather:” storm and rain.

d.  The LORD shall be King over all the earth, v 9.

“The Kingdom” is a debated subject.  Some tell us that it’s only God’s spiritual rule in the hearts of His people.  But “heart religion” is something required throughout the Bible, not  just in the New Testament.  A large segment of Christendom rejects any idea of a “carnal, political, earthly” reign of the Lord Jesus.  I’ve never been able to understand this.  What difference would it make “where” the Lord Jesus sits on David’s throne?  Would He somehow be less “holy…and undefiled” in Jerusalem than He is in Heaven?  This idea seems to me to be a great slander against Him.

This verse is another “coincidental” proof of the deity of Jesus.  Zechariah wrote that Jehovah will be King over all the earth.  Revelation 19 and 20 refer all this to the Lord Jesus.

Many confidently assert that the Lord Jesus is reigning over all the earth, right now.  He is, right now, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”  But where is there, today, at this very moment, as you read this, a single nation which submits to Him as such and seeks to live by His laws?  That can’t even be said of many churches and Christians, churches which deny His Word and have substituted their own agendas for His.  Christians who view Him only as some sort of heavenly Concierge, existing only to fulfill every desire of their “faith”.

The title “King of kings and Lord of lords” is always used in connection with Jesus’ return to this earth, not His absence from it.

When the Lord comes back, there will be no doubt, no argument.  It is often taught that when the Lord Jesus comes back, He will sit in the Judgment and then usher in the new heavens and new earth.  No “millennial” reign is to be expected.  The “1000 years” of Revelation 20 can’t possibly mean an actual length of time, but is only symbolic of the gospel age in which we now live.  However, Revelation 19:15 says that He will strike the nations,…and…rule them with a rod of iron.   The word translated “rule” means “to shepherd.”  It’s the same word used by the Lord in John 10 as He spoke of the Shepherd and His sheep.  Zechariah gives us some examples of this later in the chapter.

e.  Jerusalem will be safely inhabited, v. 10-11.

There’ll no longer be any disputes over who “owns” Jerusalem.  No more rockets fired into her from hostile territory.  No more terror and death.

f.  Israel’s enemies will be judged, vs. 12-15.

Zechariah gives a graphic description of the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem.  Some try to identity this with the result of a nuclear explosion.  Perhaps.  I don’t know.  The “means” of its happening is unimportant.  The fact that it will happen is what is important.  Not forever will humanity thumb its nose at God.  Vs. 13 and 14 indicate something of the battles that will surround Jerusalem in the end.  There is nothing in earth’s history to parallel what will happen then.  Ezekiel 39 tells us that it will take 7 months or more to bury all the bodies and 7 years to clean up the mess left behind.  It will be no minor thing!

The description of the post-return world, v. 16-21.

There’s only one thing emphasized in this section, and that is the worship that will take place after the Lord returns.  A lot of people have great difficulty with the idea of the continuation of some of what seem to be the Old Testament rituals in a time plainly after the end of the gospel age.  Ezekiel 40-48, with its detailed and exact description of a Temple and sacrifices – the grain offering, the sin offering and the trespass offering, 42:13, cf. 45:17, is another such portion.  These Scriptures seems incompatible with the NT teaching of the finished work of redemption wrought by Christ on the Cross.

I’ll admit that I don’t understand all that might be involved in this.  Some have suggested that these sacrifices will simply be memorial in nature, like the Lord’s Supper.  Perhaps.  I don’t know.  Perhaps an analogy may be drawn between the Old and New Testaments.  There are things in the Old Testament which were made clear only in the New Testament.  Perhaps the things which so puzzle us here and now will be made clear during the time of which Zechariah wrote.

Pay close attention to God’s instruction to Ezekiel about what he was to write.  In Ezekiel 40:4, Ezekiel was told, “Son of man, look with your eyes, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you.”  Then in 44:3, And the LORD said to me, “Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes and hear with your ears all that I say to you concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD and all its laws.”  In other words, I don’t think a casual dismissal of these things because we can’t understand them, or because we might think they’ve all been “fulfilled in Jesus,” as one school of thought teaches, is appropriate.  Without any desire to be flippant or irreverent, these things are God’s problem, if I may put it that way, since He inspired both Ezekiel and Zechariah to write them down, and then He preserved them so that they have come down to us and we can read them.  It’s up to Him as to their fulfillment.

Returning to Zechariah, some have taught that the section from vs. 16-20 “picture the universal blessing that God will bestow in the final state” (Reformation Study Bible, note on Zechariah 14:16-20, p. 1341).  If this is true, then what do the ideas of refusal to worship and the punishment of such refusal mean? – in a perfect, sinless eternity?  And if the “kingdom” is simply “Christ’s rule in the hearts of His people,” then what does He “rule them with a rod of iron,” Revelation 19:15, mean?  Who are the “them”?

Does all this really matter?  We’re told that “prophecy” isn’t really about “the fundamentals of the faith,” that a belief about prophecy isn’t necessary for a person to be saved.  And that’s true.  Believers in all different views of prophecy will be in heaven, and believers of all views of prophecy will be in hell.  So…

why all the fuss?  Simply this.  It is the Word of God.  The prophetic portions of Scripture involve a large percentage of its content.  It was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  It is important.

Now, I don’t agree with those who spend all their time there.  There are some who, every time someone important sneezes in the Middle East, they rush to the Scripture to see what’s being fulfilled.  Ministries are built on this.  Neither do I agree with the “popularization” of it in movies and books which can’t possibly portray what will happen.

But we should know something about what the Bible says about the future because that where we’re all headed.  Cf. 2 Peter 3:11.

As I read over this post, I see places where much more could be said.  For anyone who might be interested in a thorough and excellent treatment of the subject, I highly recommend Alva J. McClain’s “The Greatness of the Kingdom.”  I’ve made no attempt to make an “exact” chronology of prophecy.  I’m not sure that’s entirely possibly.  People get into trouble when they try to fit all the details of Scripture into where they think they should go.  I expect when all is said and done that all the “schools of prophetic thought” will discover they were wrong in some areas.  This leads me to the final thought of Zechariah 14.

In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD.

This seems to be a strange ending to the thoughts of worship and holiness that precede it.  Well, who were the Canaanites?  They were the original inhabitants of the land of promise, who, because of their sin and depravity, were to be destroyed in judgment.  Some escaped this judgment through deceit, – the Gibeonites, Joshua 9, and others simply because Israel was disobedient.  The point is that there will be people who won’t be included in the blessings Zechariah wrote about.

Our Lord agreed.  In Matthew 7:21-23, He said, Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in Your name?  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  This should be a sobering thought.  Some who have been active in “serving the Lord” will be excluded from eternal blessing.  But why?  Read the statement over again.  It’s all about “them:” “what WE have done.”  Nothing about what the Lord has done.

Oh, listen.  There are many who will be astonished beyond words at their being rejected by the Lord.  Jesus mentioned “the will of My Father in heaven.”  What is that “will”?  Listen to our Lord in John 6:40, “…this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life….”  Don’t mistake that “may” as being uncertain.  It speaks of purpose.  And don’t believe that one actually has to “see” the Son, as in some vision.  We see Him by faith.  Him, and Him alone, as the Savior of our souls.  It isn’t Christ and the Church, Christ and baptism, …and the Sabbath, …and good works, … and keeping the Law, and….  The list goes on and on.  Some of these may have their place, AFTER the Lord alone has saved us, but never in order to get Him to save us.

Oh, that none who read these words may be among that group on that sad day.