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Future Warfare and Final Victory


See, a day is coming for the L ord, when the plunder taken from you will be divided in your midst. 2For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses looted and the women raped; half the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3Then the L ord will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. 4On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which 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 withdraw northward, and the other half southward. 5And you shall flee by the valley of the L ord’s mountain, for the valley between the mountains shall reach to Azal; and you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the L ord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

6 On that day there shall not be either cold or frost. 7And there shall be continuous day (it is known to the L ord), not day and not night, for at evening time there shall be light.

8 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.

9 And the L ord will become king over all the earth; on that day the L ord will be one and his name one.

10 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 wine presses. 11And it shall be inhabited, for never again shall it be doomed to destruction; Jerusalem shall abide in security.

12 This shall be the plague with which the L ord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh shall rot while they are still on their feet; their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths. 13On that day a great panic from the L ord shall fall on them, so that each will seize the hand of a neighbor, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other; 14even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected—gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. 15And a plague like this plague shall fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, the donkeys, and whatever animals may be in those camps.

16 Then all who survive of the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the L ord of hosts, and to keep the festival of booths. 17If any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the L ord of hosts, there will be no rain upon them. 18And if the family of Egypt do not go up and present themselves, then on them shall come the plague that the L ord inflicts on the nations that do not go up to keep the festival of booths. 19Such shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to keep the festival of booths.

20 On that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the L ord.” And the cooking pots in the house of the L ord shall be as holy as the bowls in front of the altar; 21and every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the L ord of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and use them to boil the flesh of the sacrifice. And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the L ord of hosts on that day.

Zechariah here amplifies the favor of God, — that he will go forth openly, and avowedly carry on war against all the enemies of Jerusalem. It was not indeed a small mitigation of their evils, that a part of the Church would be saved. But the Prophet declares here what is still far better, — that when God afflicted his Church, and suffered it to be violently assailed by enemies, he would become at length the avenger of all the wrongs they might have done. We know how we are wounded and tried, when God gives loose reins to the ungodly, and when they grow wanton in their wickedness and triumph, insult God, and almost spit as it were at the very clouds. When therefore the ungodly thus petulantly exult, and God in the meantime hides himself and is still, it is difficult to wait patiently for the issue. Hence the Prophet promises that God will become the avenger, after having allowed his Church to be for a time chastised by ungodly and wicked enemies.

Go forth, he says, shall Jehovah. We know the meaning of this metaphorical expression. The Prophets sometimes extend the phrase, “Go forth shall God from his holy place,” as though they said — that the Jews would find by experience that God’s name is not invoked in vain in his temple, and that it has not been said in vain, that God is seated between the cherubim. But the Prophet seems here to speak of God generally, as going forth armed from his recesses to resist the enemies of his Church. Go forth then shall God; for he had for a time concealed his power. In a like manner, we know that God hides his face from us when he brings us no help, and when we also think that we are neglected by him. As then God, as long as he hides his power, seems to be without power, hence the Prophet says here, Go forth shall Jehovah, and he will fight against these nations

By these words he intimates, that there is no reason for the faithful to envy their enemies, even when all things go on prosperously with them; for they will at length find that they cannot injure the Church without God undertaking its cause, according to what he has promised,

“I will be an enemy to thine enemies.” (Exodus 23:22.)

But as this is a thing difficult to be believed, he calls to mind ancient history, —

As in the day, he says, in which he fought in the day of battle. Some confine this part to the passage through the Red Sea; but I think that Zechariah includes all the instances which God had given to the Jews to prove that they were the objects of his care. God then, not only once, not at one time, nor in one manner, had put forth his power, that the Jews might plainly see that they became conquerors through his aid. This is what Zechariah means. He in effect says, “Both you and your fathers have long ago found that God is wont to fight for his Church; for he has honored you with innumerable victories; you have been often overwhelmed with despair, and his favor unexpectedly shone upon you, and delivered you beyond all that you hoped for: you had often to contend with the strongest enemies; they were put to flight, even when ye were wholly unequal to them in number, and yet God bestowed upon you easy victories. Since then God has so often and in such divers ways cast down your enemies, why should you not hope for the same aid still from him?”

We hence see why the Prophet now refers to the ancient battles of God, even that he might by facts confirm the Jews in their hope, and that they might not doubt but that God was endued with power sufficiently strong to subdue all the ungodly, for he loses none.

And he adds, in the day of battle, even when there is need of help from heaven. He indeed calls it the day of engagement or contest, for so the word קרב, koreb, properly means. When therefore it was necessary for God to engage with enemies, then his power appeared: “There is hence no reason for you hereafter to doubt, but that he will still prevail against your enemies.” We know that this mode of speaking is frequently and commonly used by the Prophets, that is, when they adduce examples of God’s favor and power, by which he has proved that there is in him alone sufficient help for the deliverance of his Church.

It behaves us now to apply to ourselves what is here said, for Zechariah did not only speak for the men of his age, or for those of the next generation, but he intended to furnish the Church with confidence till the end of the world, so that the faithful might not faint under any trials. Whenever then the ungodly prevail, and no hope shines on us, let us remember how often and by what various means God has wonderfully delivered his Church as it were from death; for it was not his purpose only once to help and aid his own people, but also to animate us, that we at this day may not despond, when we endure evils with which the fathers formerly struggled. He then adds —

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