Feb 20, 2012

Theological Implications of Zechariah 14

Michael J. VlachBy Dr. Michael J. Vlach
Theological Studies

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In my two previous blogs I summarized Zechariah 14. Now I want to highlight some key theological implications of this chapter.

First, Zechariah 14 affirms that there is a coming kingdom upon the earth. Verse 9 explicitly states—“And the LORD will be king over all the earth.” God will rule over the planet He created. Eugene Merrill is correct that, “The God who led His people through spatial, temporal history will recreate the cosmos in those same categories. This is why a literal hermeneutic is essential in the absence of compelling evidence otherwise.” [1]

Second, Zechariah 14 affirms that the kingdom follows tribulation. The kingdom comes following the siege and deliverance of Jerusalem.

Third, Zechariah 14 affirms the future significance of Jerusalem and the people of Israel. Jerusalem is not only delivered by the Lord, it appears to operate as the capital city of the Lord’s kingdom. Jesus himself predicted that a day was coming when Gentile domination over Jerusalem would come to an end (see Luke 21:24).

Fourth, the coming kingdom has universal implications. The kingdom does not just involve Israel—it involves all the nations. The Messiah will be “king over all the earth.” The concept of God’s blessings being mediated through Israel to the Gentiles is affirmed once again (see Gen 12:2-3).

Fifth, Zechariah 14 affirms that there will be an intermediate kingdom that is distinct from the present age and the final eternal state. Wayne Grudem states the issue well:

Here again the description (Zech 14:5–17) does not fit the present age, for the Lord is King over all the earth in this situation. But it does not fit the eternal state either, because of the disobedience and rebellion against the Lord that is clearly present. [2]
These conditions of Zechariah 14 can only occur in an intermediate kingdom between the present age and the eternal state. While people from all nations are being saved in the church age, the nations themselves do not obey our Lord (see Psalm 2). In fact, they persecute those who belong to the Lord. In the coming kingdom Jesus will rule the nations while He is physically present on earth. The nations will obey and submit to His rule, but as Zechariah 14 points out, whenever a nation does not act as they should there is punishment. On the other hand, in the eternal state there will be absolutely no disobedience on the part of the nations. The picture of the nations in the eternal state is only positive. The kings of the nations bring their contributions to the New Jerusalem (see Rev 21:24) and the leaves of the tree of life are said to be for the healing of the nations (see Rev 22:2).

To compare:
  • Present Age: Jesus is in Heaven and the nations do not yet submit to Jesus as King.
  • Millennial Kingdom: Jesus rules the nations on earth and punishes those nations that do not act as they should.
  • Eternal State: The nations act exactly as they should with no need of punishment.

[1] Merril Eugene H. Merrill, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago Moody Press, 1994), 357.
[2] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 1129.