ZECHARIAH 14: DIVINE INTERVENTION
If I look around at the world I live in, I have two choices. I can ignore it – after all, I’m in the top 1% of the top 10% of the world’s population. I’m one of the “lucky” ones at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Most of the news falls into all the things that are going wrong in the bottom two basic levels of life on Planet Earth. If you’re interested in gossip, you’ll catch the hearsay from the third layer of human experience, thanks to Hello magazine!
My second choice is to grapple with it. I can look around, as Zechariah did, take note, then seek information from the Creator of it all as to why things are as they are and what on earth He plans to do about it. For one thing, much of the world today operates, as Zechariah did in today’s chapter, crying out for any sort of divine intervention at the very basic levels of life. And, over the years, I’ve noticed that those on the upper-echelons may look down and scoff at the existence of a divine being, much less seek help from a Creator God.
Yet HIStory has shown, time and again, that it’s those struggling at the bottom of the ladder who seem to gladly accept what He’s offering.[a] In teaching His followers how to pray (how to interact with and ask things from the Creator God), Jesus first “ask” was, “…Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”[b]
So, in a string of breadcrumbs over the last few days, today’s chapter foresees a day when the Lord God Almighty intervenes to put all things right, and His “King-dom” will come over all nations. [v9]
Looking now at Zechariah’s vision and, apart from a scary v2 (that warns of how bad things will get before divine intervention becomes absolutely necessary), the overall theme of his book is encouragement – even when life is turned upside down. His predictions foresee mid-term events that have already happened i.e. Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians with half the people taken and half left, just as Zechariah predicted. [v2] And, over ⅓ of the world’s population today will say that the Lord has already stood on the Mount of Olives. [v4] But why is this chapter, written 25+ centuries ago, at all relevant to me and my life today?
Like all prophecy/predictions in the Creator God’s epic storyline, today’s chapter is about long-range events in His Global Masterplan that are still to come. So, while Jerusalem was sacked in Zechariah’s mid-term prediction, there’s still a long-range element to the Creator God’s words: “…I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle…” Unless you take in all the nationalities of the foot soldiers in the Babylonian army, one can only say that Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and then the Romans in AD70.
The fact that all nations are involved in this event, points to a Day of Calamity[c] still in our future. If a future event, then Zechariah’s prediction of dramatic and decisive divine intervention fits in with what John (a friend of Jesus) also saw in the future, and wrote about in his Book of Revelation.[d]
“Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle.” [v3]
That prayer that Jesus’ Followers have been praying continually these past 2,000 years, for example, will finally be answered. His King-dom will come so that His Will, will finally be done on earth as it is in Heaven. [v4-5] Although the Creator God has always been Lord over the Creation that He has made, He’ll be seen to be King over the whole earth during a time when there’ll be no doubt at all as to who is Lord and what is His name. [v9]
Now if all that sounds intriguing, you may begin to wonder what ‘lord’ is coming and how can we be sure the one who comes (or says that he has arrived) is the right one. Zechariah gave a mid-term clue when he picked up on predictions given by the ancient prophet Isaiah two centuries earlier. Zechariah wrote this in Chapter 12 and 13 of his book:
“…they will look on ME, the one they have pierced…” and they’ll mourn as if over an only child, a first-born son. [Zechariah 12:10] They are also going to “strike the shepherd…” “the man who is close to Me…” “Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered…” [Zechariah 13:7]
The fact that the Creator God is saying that they will piece Him (using the pronoun for Himself) yet connects the mourning of the people to an only child, a first-born son (clearly a human that could be pierced by other humans) is hugely significant. This event happened when Yeshua (Jesus) was pierced, just as the ancient prophet Isaiah predicted, and His disciples scattered when He died.[e] But if that appears to be debateable, Zechariah gives clues that bring in physical changes to the landscape.
The Mount of Olives will split in two and a valley will open up that people will use to flee the area. [v4] There’ll be no light and yet no cold or frost – totally weird! It’s a unique day (i.e. never been experienced before) without daytime or night time. [v6-7] A river will form as a result of the land shift – probably from the Gihon spring. [v8] The land around Jerusalem will become like the desert land of the Arabah (probably flat), while Jerusalem will be raised up. [v10]
Zechariah’s predictions help me a lot when it comes to navigating the myriad of religious claims out there (and to understand what the Creator God is really up to), because they include physical changes to the region around Jerusalem that clearly haven’t happened yet. Without these landscape-altering changes, for example, any king who comes now won’t be the one that Zechariah is talking about – even if he manages to get himself into a position of being ‘lord over the whole world’.
But, like all earthquakes [v5], a divine intervention could happen suddenly and without warning.[f] And, if it’s a Day yet to come, then it could come in my lifetime. The problem with divine intervention, especially when the Creator God is involved, it’s not a human response. We tend to slap people on the wrist and hope they’ll be better next time. We don’t have a proper/lasting solution to bad behavior. We tend to break the relationship and walk away when it gets too bad. If we can find evidence that is beyond reasonable doubt, we put people in prison – but then let them out on parole, whether their victims agree or not.
The Creator God works differently. He gives ample warning in many varying way. He’s ensured that His Handbook has been written, miraculously preserved for millenniums, translated into every language on earth, and easily available to everyone who are without excuse. He has then set on the road ahead of us, what has now become the Day of the Lord and, on that day, the axe will fall. Zechariah explains, in horrible yet very clear detail, what will happen to all nations who have refused, time and again, to heed their Maker’s warnings. [v12-15]
This gruesome prediction, that seems more like a scene from a Sci-Fi movie, isn’t the hopes and dreams cooked up by a horribly tyrannical God. This is the clear consequences that everyone has a chance of escaping from now, just as our Maker said through the prophet Joel:
“The Day of the Lord is indeed great and very awesome, who can endure it? ‘Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘Return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning; rend your heart and not your garments.’ Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.” [Joel 2:11b-13]
It’s likely that Zechariah’s vision of our future [v16-19] will last 1,000 years.[g] And here again, Father God is trying to reveal His heart for those He created in His own image to be like Him. During this time, only one religious festival will remain of all the Jewish feasts or the festivals of any other world religion. The Creator God has chosen the Feast of Tabernacles that all people everywhere will need to respect and take part in, in the future. So why would He be interested in this particular festival?
The Feast of Tabernacles (or Feast of Booths) began as a result of the Creator God collecting for Himself a Holy Nation – the start of His adopted family. When the children of Israel first left Egypt (after centuries in slavery and exile from the place that the Creator had promised for them) they slept in tents. Each year, the Israelites celebrated their transition from slavery to their permanent home by living in temporary shelters for the duration of the festival.
The prophet Isaiah once said that the Creator spreads out the heavens like a tent to dwell in.[h] But it’s the temporary nature of pilgrims on a journey, between a horrible past and a blessed and permanent future, that makes this festival important for us. Even after the devastation of Zechariah’s prophecy, our Lord God and Maker wants to annually remind us of one thing: we’re His family but we’re still on a journey and not yet in our permanent home.
If any nation refuses to commemorate this festival during this future season of divine governance, then it’s as if they’re wilfully rejecting the essence of the story – the Creator God’s Global Masterplan from the beginning – a plan that’s been in progress from the time He clothed them and sent them away[i], right through to the moment we enter our everlasting home.[j]
As Zechariah’s vision fades, he notices two truly wonderful outcomes as a direct result of the Creator God’s divine intervention in human history, and both have a “YES, finally”, “breathe a sigh of relief” and “this is permanent” feel attached to them…
Finally, there’ll come a Day when there’s no longer any merchants in the House of the Lord Almighty. [v21] In other words, never again will anyone degrade Father God by making a money-making-racket out of His salvation plan for the world. And, in that Day – or “season”, since a day is like 1,000 years and 1,000 years like a day to the Lord[k] – not only is our Maker not degraded, but His people and even their cooking pots will be upgraded and inscribed with the words “Holy to the Lord”! Yeah! ….May there be no more delay!
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[a] Luke 14:16-24
[b] Matthew 6:5-15
[c] Habakkuk 3:16
[d] Revelation 20:7-9
[e] John 19:34 and Matthew 26:31
[f] Micah 1:18b
[g] Revelation 20:1-3
[h] Isaiah 40:22
[i] Genesis 3:21-24
[j] Revelation 21:1-22:5
[k] 2 Peter 3:8