A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord —with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord , and his name the only name. – Zechariah 14:1-9
Wow this the the last passage in Zechariah and it is a doozy. I was tempted to take the “chicken chute” and float right by this one, but sometimes there are hidden wells in unlikely places so here goes. The passage starts out with a pretty bleak picture of a coming day when Jerusalem will be attacked by “all nations” and sacked in a defiling and depressing way, “the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped.” Not a good day for the City of David for sure – Class IV rapid warning.
Half the people will be sent into exile and the other half will be defended by God Himself. Here is where the description and metaphors get confusing and murky. God shows up and “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem”. This is an intriguing geographical reference for sure as there are many scholars who think the Mount of Olives was the locations of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. A discussion or debate about whether this is true or not is outside my expertise and “pay grade” as a scholar so I will leave it for now and assume that it is at least possible that the Mount of Olives was the location. Either way Jesus did walk this region and I am sure at some point His feet did stand on the Mount of Olives.
Then the passage takes a geological turn when it says “the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.” This is a perfect description of what geologists call a pull-apart basin. These result from strike-slip faults like the famous San Andreas fault in California. As the two sides of a strike-slip fault move horizontally past one another a bend in the fault can cause a section of the fault to pull apart creating a basin or low spot. This is the reason one often finds linear lakes along some faults in California. The water is collecting in the pull apart basins. Clearly I should have provided a geogeek warning for this passage :).
On the day that God shows up several interesting and intriguing things happen, in addition to the geological gyrations described above. “Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him”. So God will show up in force with a “heavenly host”, this sounds a lot like the arrival of a little baby that was described by angels to some shepherds near Jerusalem “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:9-12). This declaration was followed by an even greater one by a “heavenly host” when “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:13-14).
Wow! How did we get from women being raped to the arrival of the Messiah in a few short lines. This passage is turbulent and funny water to be sure. But wait…it gets even more confounding and confusing, “On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord —with no distinction between day and night.” The picture this conjures in my head is an eerie twilight time where you cannot tell whether it is the beginning of a long night or a new day to come. Interestingly, this must have been the way the people of Israel felt in the time between the prophets and the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus. The light had seemingly left leaving no distinction between day and night for a time. They must have been left wondering where God went and when He would return.
God then gives a clear indication of what the end of this “twilight time” will look like, “When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem”. This passage just revealed a hidden well for sure. The Living Water will flow out of Jerusalem, He will indeed and His name is Jesus! The end of the “twilight time” the people of Israel are experiencing, and will experience in the future, will end when the Light of the World arrives. Here is the way Jesus described Himself in Gospel of John:
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” – John 8:12
So all those who find themselves in a “twilight time”, where they are not sure if they are approaching a glorious new day or a chilly new night can find hope in the coming living water as it will “flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.” So the new day that God is promising will flow out of Jerusalem in all directions and during all seasons. I take this to mean that at some point in the future God’s grace will extend without borders, barriers, or breaks.
This is confirmed in the last part of this perplexing passage when God says “The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord , and his name the only name.” All those who choose to be saved will be saved by the God who extends His arm to deliver us. This passage has been an amazing preview of the coming confluence for sure. I feel like I have climbed up a mountain and seen where the rivers meet and it is a beautiful site for sure.
Prayer: God thank You for providing this amazing picture of Your coming glory and grace.