Zechariah gives us one final prophecy of the Day of the Lord. He paints a picture of Jerusalem, exalted among the nations. God will fight for his people and destroy their enemies. God will show up. His rule will be clear among humans – and also in the heavens and the earth.
A few things stood out to me as I read Zechariah 14.
The Mount of Olives is where God will make his appearance to his people. The Mount of Olives is a hill east of Jerusalem. Zechariah makes it an important place for Israel. This is where God will stand “on that day.”
If you recall from our reading of Matthew, Jesus went out and sat on the Mount of Olives and told his disciples about some of the things that would happen in the future. See Matthew 24. After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, he ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives. You might remember the disciples asking Jesus, “Lord will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). I wonder whether the disciples had Zechariah 14 in mind as they stood there with Jesus on the Mount of Olives. After Jesus ascended into heaven, a couple of angels appeared and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11-12). Again, go back and read Matthew 24:29-31 and compare it to Zechariah 14.
Another thing that caught my attention about the last chapter of Zechariah was the cosmic nature of the coming of God. There would be no light or cold or frost. There would be “neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.” I imagine there will be some other source of light – God himself as he dwells with his people. And there will be “living waters” flowing out of Jerusalem. These things fulfill numerous biblical prophecies. See Isaiah 60:19-20; Revelation 21:22-25; Joel 3:18; Ezekiel 47:1-12; and Revelation 22:1-5.
On one of Jesus’ trips to Jerusalem during his earthly ministry, he attended the Feast of Booths. This is a feast where the Israelites put up tents or temporary shelters for seven days, presumably to spend the week in them, as a reminder of how they lived after God brought them out of slavery in Egypt. The Feast of Booths is a time of thanksgiving. The people show gratitude for God for his deliverance of them, and they thank him for his providing for them year in and year out.
When Jesus attended the Feast of Booths, he stood up on the last day and said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'” (John 7:37-38). I think it’s safe to say this “living water” on Jesus’ mind is the same kind of “living water” Zechariah had in mind.
Over all, the picture Zechariah paints in verses 6-8 is one of God’s light- and life-giving presence with his people.
There is more to be said about the Feast of Booths from Zechariah 14. It was one of three annual feasts where the Israelites were supposed to show up in Jerusalem for worship. And it appears the Feast of Booths is the one feast that will continue into the future for all of God’s people.
“Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.” Even after Jesus fully restores the kingdom of God on earth, people will celebrate the Feast of Booths.
I think about the Israelites remembering their wilderness wanderings – the time between their deliverance from slavery in Egypt and their entrance into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. They lived all those years in tents. And once they were in the Promised Land, God made sure they took time out each year to remember that period in their history – so they never would forget their deliverance from slavery.
And I think about us as Christians. Some day we will remember our own “wilderness wanderings” – the time (now!) between our deliverance from sin and death and our entrance into the new heaven and new earth that God has promised to create. We are living all these years in our “tents.” The apostle Paul said as much, and I doubt the language he used was coincidental (2 Corinthians 5:1-10). And once Jesus returns and we enter into the new “Promised Land,” I suppose we will take time out regularly to remember this period in our history – so that we never forget our salvation.
Think about your concept of “heaven” – when everything is made right again, when we are living with God and there is no more suffering or pain. Think also about what your resurrected body (your new and eternal tent) will be like. Think about stopping every now and then – each year in heaven? – to remember these days on earth, as we lived in these “tents.”
“On that day,” what will you remember? We might remember all the ways our bodies broke down – the trips to the dentist and the aching joints. We might remember the heartache and the longing we had. Certainly, we’ll see much of what we thought was permanent was only temporary. Certainly, we’ll see the effects of sin in the form of sickness and decay. And certainly, we’ll be driven to thanksgiving. We will be free from all of that.
Think about these things today. You may find yourself getting thankful even now.
Tomorrow, we dive into the book of Esther.