a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

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.

The Prophet seems again to be inconsistent with himself; for after having declared that God would be the defender of his people, so as to destroy and consume all people for their sake, he now adds that there would be intestine discords, by which the Jews would wilfully consume one another; while yet there is nothing more improbable than that the people, who live under God’s protection, should so divide themselves into factions, as to perish miserably without any outward enemy. But these things do not ill accord, provided we bear in mind what I have already said — that these things are to be taken in a different sense; for the Prophet at one time warns the faithful of the evils which were impending, lest being shaken by their suddenness, they should despond; at another time he promises them a happy condition, for they would ever be the objects of God’s care. So then we may explain the matter thus — “Though enemies on every side should unite and conspire against you, though they should hasten with great fury and rage to destroy you, and though a vast member at home, and domestic enemies from the bosom of your city, should rise up against you, yet God will prevail against them, and all your enemies shall at length be for your good and benefit.”

This then is the reason why Zechariah blends together what seems to be wholly inconsistent. It was necessary to know both these things — that the faithful might be fully persuaded that God watched over their safety, for it was his purpose to defend the holy city, and to be its perpetual guardian — and then, that they might also be prepared in their minds to bear many trials and troubles, lest they should promise to themselves a joyful state, and thus indulge in carnal security. Having now explained the Prophet’s intention, we must briefly notice the words.

He says that there would be a great tumult from Jehovah among them. This no doubt refers to the Jews; for the Prophet shows that they would be not only exposed to external injuries, but also to another evil — that they would arm themselves against one another, as though they would tear out their own bowels. A tumult, he says, shall be among them, which is the extreme of evils that can happen to a city or people; for no danger is nearer than when they who ought as one man to unite strength and courage to repel an enemy, rage internally against themselves.

But this passage deserves special notice, as here is described to us the condition of the Church, such as it is to be until the end of the world; for though the Prophet speaks here of the intermediate time between the return of the people and the coming of Christ, yet he paints for us a living representation, by which we can see that the Church is never to be free or exempt from this evil — that it cannot drive away or put to flight domestic enemies. And we must also observe, that this tumult, as he says, would be from Jehovah 193193     Literally it is “the tumult of Jehovah,” that is, proceeding from him, occasioned or produced by him. The arrangement of the words would lead us to make such a version as the following—

   13. And it shall be in that day, That there shall be a tumult from Jehovah, Great shall it be among them; And they shall strengthen them; And raised up shall his hand be against his neighbor.

   The two last lines describe the tumult and confusion; some would strengthen the hands of their neighbors, others would raise up their hands against them. The verbs “strengthen,” with no preposition before “hand,” cannot mean to seize or lay hold on in an unfriendly manner. See Isaiah 35:3; Jeremiah 23:14; and see also Isaiah 41:13; Ezekiel 30:25.

   The state of things described here corresponds exactly with the account given by Josephus, and in the books of the Maccabees, of the Jewish nation in those days; they were not only assailed by outward enemies, but also by traitors among themselves. — Ed.
He means that whenever the Church is rent, and sects burst forth, and many hypocrites and ungodly men, who for a time pretend to be God’s true servants, furiously assail true religion — whenever these things arise, the Prophet means that they do not happen by chance, but that they are God’s judgments, in order to prove the faith of his people, and to humble his Church, and also to give to his people a victory and a crown. However this may be, though their own ambition rouses heretics, and all the ungodly, to disturb the Church, and though the devil excites them by his own fans, yet God sits in the chief place, and whatever commotions rage in the Church proceed from him. Hence Paul says that heresies must be, that those who are approved may become manifest. (1 Corinthians 11:19.) Certainly this is not the object of the devil; but Paul shows that it is the high purpose of God, so that he may distinguish by severe trial between his sincere servants and hypocrites; for he not only permits tumults to arise, but even stirs them up. And hence also we learn, that nothing is better than to flee to him when ungodly men race and distort our peace; for he can easily by a nod silence those commotions which he excites.

He adds, Every one shall lay hold on the hand of his companion, and rise up (or perish) shall his hand against the hand of his neighbor. This passage may admit of a twofold meaning. The first is, that every one for the sake of obtaining help will lay hold on the hand of his neighbor, and yet without any advantage, for his own hand would perish, that is, he who sought aid for his friend could not support himself: and this is the meaning given by many interpreters; as though the Prophet had said, that the state of things would be so desperate, that every one would be constrained to seek help from his friend, and yet could not obtain what he desired, for while attempting to lay hold on the hand of his friend, he would find that he could not grasp it. But a different meaning would better correspond with the next verse, — that every one would violently lay hold on the hand of his neighbor, and his hand would rise up against the hand of his neighbor. I think then that this part is added as explanatory, — that when God raised tumults among the Jews, every one would start forward to act violently against his neighbor, and raise up his hand to hurt him: for it follows —

VIEWNAME is study