Zechariah 14 – 15 July 2012
This will be my last sermon on the book of Zechariah.
I trust you have been helped by the series so far.
Now, chapter 14 is not an easy chapter.
And it contains a lot of prophetic language.
Many people think that Zechariah 14 is referring to physical wars and cosmic events in the end times.
And they use this passage to justify their belief that Jesus will come again and reign on earth for 1,000 years.
Now, I don’t believe that Zechariah 14 should be taken literally in this manner.
And there are 2 key reasons why I say this:
1) First, Jesus said in John 18:36 that His kingdom is not of this world.
If His kingdom is of this world, His servants would fight physical wars.
But instead, His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom where He reigns as king to all who submit to Him.
Hence, old testament prophesies such as Zechariah 14 should be understood for their spiritual meaning.
2) Secondly, the apostles interpreted old testament prophesies as prophesies concerning Christ and His Church.
Remember what the Peter said during the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the Church in Acts 2?
He quoted Joel 2:31 “…the sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.”
He did not interpret what Joel said to be some cosmic event that will take place.
Instead he said that Joel was referring to the Pentecost where the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Church in Acts 2.
That should give us an idea of how the prophets should be understood when we read what they wrote.
Now, I am going to try and make it very easy for us to understand Zechariah 14.
We shall ask 3 questions which should give you a good idea of what this chapter is all about:
1. Question 1 – What will it be like for the Church in the days ahead?
You will find the answers to this question in verses 1-11.
2. Question 2 – What will it be like in hell?
You will find the answers to this question in verses 12-15.
3. Question 3 – What will it be like in heaven?
You will find the answers to this question in verses 16-21.
1. What will it be like for the Church in the days ahead? (verses 1-11)
Verse 1 “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst.”
Verse 2 “ For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”
Please remember that whenever the prophets spoke about Jerusalem, they were generally referring to the Christian Church.
So, these verses are not talking about a mega-war that will take place in the middle- east.
This passage is about the Christian Church.
Ever since Jesus ascended to heaven, the Church has grown and will continue to grow.
And God continues to call His elect into His Church even till the end of time.
These verses are telling us that as the Church grows and the gospel is preached, evil in the world will grow in tandem.
And the evil forces will unite and create great opposition against the Church.
That’s why verse 2 says “…all the nations will battle against Jerusalem”.
Remember, this is not referring to a physical war.
We are talking about an intense spiritual war that will the Church will encounter.
It will be so severe that even, as it were, the very existence of the Church may be challenged.
That’s why verse 2 says..”the city shall be taken, the houses rifled and the women ravished.”
How does this manifest itself in reality?
What it means is that worldly doctrines and practices will creep into the Church.
2 Tim 3:1-5:
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power….”
Temptations of the world will result in people in the Church having little interest in Christian doctrines.
Instead, there will be lots of interest in entertainment.
People will come into the Church to seek entertainment or perhaps, to show of their talent.
Aren’t we already seeing this today?
There are many preachers who preach what we call a “prosperity gospel”.
“Come to Jesus and you will be rich and free from all kinds of trouble”, they say.
And instead of seeking God, people seek after signs, miracles and wonders.
And we see Churches being governed by management structures and committees instead of elders and deacons.
And we see musical bands in Churches, drama presentations and other performances.
Are these not against the regulative principle in the worship of god – that “what is not commanded is forbidden”?
Yet a great number of people in the Church will be swayed by the appeal of these practices just as the prophet says – “…Half of the city shall go into captivity…”
It shall be so terrible that you may not even be able to recognise the witness of the Church any more.
“…But the remnant shall not be cut off from the city.”
There will always be a few whom God has kept, who will not succumb to the seduction of these practices.
And as evil takes its toll on the Church and it appears as if all is lost, when everyone least expects it, Jesus Christ will return suddenly.
Verse 3 – “Then the Lord will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle.”
And verse 4 makes mention about “The mount of olives”.
That was the place on earth where Jesus ascended to heaven.
And the angels in Acts 1:11 reminded the disciples that Jesus will return in the same manner as He ascended to heaven.
Look at the last part of verse 5 “Thus the LORD my God will come, And all the saints with you.”
This is the return of Jesus Christ to judge the world.
And He comes will come with all the Christians who have passed on before us.
Everything will happen so quickly and suddenly as we transition into the end of time.
It will happen suddenly “like a thief in the night” when you least expect it – 1 Thes 5:2.
It will happen “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” – 1 Cor 15:52
And when that happens, V6 – “…there will be no light; The lights will diminish.”
Neither will there be “day nor night” – v7 because the glory of God will be the source of light.
And our existence will be transformed into an awareness of the new Jerusalem referred to in Revelation 21 & 22.
“And… living waters will flow from Jerusalem” – verse 8.
Living waters – that Jesus spoke about in John 4.
There will be an endless supply of “living water flowing from this new Jerusalem” .
V9 – “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth.”
This is a transition and transformation into the heavenly dimension that is hard to imagine with our current mind.
The important thing you need to know is that it will happen suddenly.
Just like what Jesus said in Matt 24:40 “ Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.”
The exhortation is that we need to be prepared because we won’t know when this will happen.
All that we know now is that signs of the end times can be seen everywhere.
The new Jerusalem will be elevated, “raised up” as we read in verse 10.
And God’s people will dwell safely in it and no destruction will come to it henceforth – verse 11.
And those who are in hell will look upward towards it.
Just like how it was in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luk 16.
The rich man who ended up being tormented in hell looked up and saw Lazarus in heaven.
So back to our question: what will it be like for the church in the days ahead?
The church will continue to grow.
Evil will grow in tandem.
And worldliness will creep into the church.
There will be a great falling away from the faith.
And just when it seems that all is lost, Jesus will come again suddenly
And He will take his people to the new Jerusalem.
But what will happen to those who are against the Church and fought against Jerusalem?
They will be in hell…looking up to the new Jerusalem.
And that brings us to the next section & question – “What will it be like in hell? (verses 12-15)
2. What will it be like in hell? (verses 12-15)
V 12 – “…the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem.”
Those who persecuted and spoke against God and His people will receive the wrath of God upon them.
These people will disintegrate and lose their physical being.
“Their flesh will dissolve while they stand on their feet, Their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, And their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths.” – that’s what verse 12 says.
Have you ever experienced being burnt by something acidic?
This description in verse 12 sounds just like that.
And it will happen to all who oppose the LORD and His people.
It will be a terrible plague.
There will be widespread panic amongst those who are in hell.
Everyone will try to find a friend and hold on to their neighbour – verse 13.
But they will not find any friends.
There are some people who joke about going to hell.
They say “I don’t mind being in hell because many of my friends will probably be there.”
You won’t find any of your friends there.
If your friends are kind to you today, it is because of the common grace that God has left in them for the sustenance of the world.
But in hell, even the little common grace they may have would be stripped from them.
You will be shocked to see the behaviour of any friend you may have known before.
That unbelieving but kind and gentle little boy will not have those graces of kindness & gentleness anymore.
All that you will find is uninhibited sin and evil.
And the worst thing is that there is nowhere to flee.
Some will try to get away on an animal.
But even the horse, the mule, the camel, the donkey, the cattle – v15, all these will be part of this plague.
Hell is a terrible place.
And the full wrath of God is upon that place.
Those of you who have not professed your faith in Jesus Christ, I am quite sure this is not a place you want to go to.
You will have no friends in hell.
This is not something to joke about because hell is real.
And hell is where you will end up the moment your heart stops beating.
…Unless, you turn to Jesus Christ before your heart stops beating.
I urge you to not to delay your profession of faith and baptism.
Do so today.
There is no need to experience hell.
Because Jesus has provided the way for us to get to heaven.
So, let us now see what the scriptures tell us about heaven.
3. What will it be like in heaven? (verses 16-21)
In heaven, there shall be continuous worship and celebration.
The feast of tabernacle (v16) is celebrated by Israel during their harvest time.
It brings them to remember how God brought them out of Egypt, through the wilderness & into Canaan.
And the saints in heaven will constantly be celebrating the feast of Tabernacle and worshipping God.
They are constantly grateful for how God brought them through their earthly wilderness and into this heavenly Canaan.
Now, there will be no unbeliever in heaven.
Whoever does not worship the king or participate in the feast of Tabernacle will not be in heaven – v17 & 18.
And “there shall not be a Canaanite in the house of the LORd of hosts” – v 21
Canaanites are unclean people as far as the ceremonial law is concerned.
And unclean people have no place in heaven.
…Because everyone in heaven is cleansed and clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
All that you will find in heaven is holiness and constant worship.
And even the most mundane items there, as it were, will be pure and holy.
Even little things like “The bells on the horses will be engraved with the words “HOLINESS TO THE LORD”” – v 20.
Even the pots and other crockery will be holy.
Heaven is an eternal city where Christ is the centre and sun.
It is a place where you have no other thought, except that which is holy and pure.
It is a place where you have no other emotion, except that which is godly.
It is a place where every act, every conversation and every action is holy.
There will be no more sin and temptation.
There will be no more tears and pain.
Dear Christians, this will be your eternal home.
Sometimes, all we see when we are on earth are the struggles, the schedules and the sickness.
But the word of God in Zechariah 14 gives us a glimpse of what we can expect in the future.
The purpose is to let our minds be prepared and not have a fearful expectation of what lies ahead.
The purpose is to encourage us that beyond the trial, is our eternal home in glory.
When the Israelites were in Babylonian captivity, God said this to them through Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope”
I trust that Zechariah has given you a hope to work towards.
I trust that you will be convinced that our eternal home in heaven is worth every effort of perseverance in the faith.
May all praise, honour and glory be given to God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us all be encouraged! Amen.