Feb 4, 2012

Zechariah 14 and the Timing of the Kingdom

Michael VlachBy Dr. Michael J. Vlach
Theological Studies

Twitter Facebook RSS Contact Amazon

Zechariah 14 has significant information concerning the kingdom of God, and thus should be a major area of study for those desiring to understand the kingdom. Important for our purposes is verse 9 which states:

And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.

This is an explicit text that the LORD will be king over the entire earth. Thus, we can say there will be an earthly kingdom. At that time no nation will worship its own gods, unlike today, for the Lord will establish His rule and there will be no doubt who the true God is.

With Zechariah 14, we learn much about this earthly kingdom, both in timing and nature from what comes before and after verse 9.

Let us start with verses 1–8 which indicate that the Lord's rule over the earth comes in the context of certain future events.

A Kingdom After Tribulation

Verses 1–8 show that the Lord's reign upon the earth is preceded by a time of calamity upon Jerusalem. Verse 1 indicates that "a day is coming" which puts the events of Zechariah 14 in the future. Verse 2 then predicts a time of turmoil that will befall Jerusalem:

For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.

God says "I will gather" which indicates that what is to take place is in accord with His sovereign plans and initiative.

We also see that "the nations" will be coming "against Jerusalem." Note that "nations" here is plural which means the attack involves several nations, not just one.

The city being attacked is "Jerusalem." This means that the city of Jerusalem has important significance to God. The consequences of this attack upon Jerusalem initially are awful—the city is captured; houses are plundered; women are taken advantage of; and half the city is exiled.

According to verse 3, "the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations." This indicates that the terrible calamity upon Jerusalem is temporary and not permanent. Jerusalem is attacked and wounded, but only for a time. The Lord comes to Jerusalem's defense.

Verse 4 states that the LORD's feet "will stand on the Mount of Olives" in front of Jerusalem on the east side. And the Mount of Olives "will be split in its middle from east to west." Verse 5 declares that the LORD God will come with His holy ones, His heavenly army. Verses 6 and 7 also indicate that there will be cosmic signs. Verse 8 shows that at this time "living waters will flow out of Jerusalem." Half will flow toward the eastern sea and half to the western sea. This will be the case in both summer and winter. Thus, kingdom conditions will bring nourishment and prosperity to the area.

All of these things lead up to the statement in verse 9 that: "And the LORD will be king over all the earth." Thus, various events happen in connection with the Lord's kingdom over the earth:

  • The nations will attack Jerusalem and cause temporary harm to the city.
  • The Lord will fight against these nations who attack Jerusalem.
  • The Lord will return to the Mount of Olives and cause major geographical changes to the area.
  • There will be cosmic signs.
  • Living waters will flow out of Jerusalem.
  • The Lord will be king over the earth.

I understand these events to be literal. As Merrill states, "There is no reason to take this in any but a literal way, unless one is prepared to deny a literal coming of YHWH as well." [1]

Also, these events, individually and collectively have not yet happened in history. Therefore, we should expect a future fulfillment of them.

In sum, Zech 14:1–9 gives us important information concerning the timing of God's kingdom. On a future day, when Jerusalem is under siege by the nations, the Lord himself will defend the city and its inhabitants, returning to the Mount of Olives. Cosmic signs and major topographical changes will take place. At that time, "The Lord will be king over all the earth" (14:9).


[1] Eugene H. Merrill, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 343–44.