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Zechariah and the Messiah by Rabbi Baruch

The previous article discussed Israel’s mourning of the Messiah when He returned to deliver Israel from all the nations which attacked Jerusalem. There is something very important about this mourning which reveals a vital clue concerning the identity of Messiah. Zechariah 12:11 says,

On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be great as the mourning of Hadad-Rimmon in the valley of Megidon (Megiddo).”

What is the significance of this verse? The Talmud says in Messeket Moed Kattan 28b that two events are alluded to by this verse. The first is the death of Ahab at the hand of whom the Gamara calls Hadad-Rimmon (see I Kings 22) and the second is the death of Josiah, who was slain in the valley of Megiddo (see II Chronicles 35). What is important about this citation from the Talmud is that both references refer to two men, Ahab and Josiah who both made a tragic mistake which cost them their lives. Why does the Talmud place this verse with this interpretation within the context of Messiah coming? In order to show that Israel not recognizing Messiah, when He came the first time, was also a tragic error. Now when Messiah returns and Israel sees His wounds they will recognize His identity and will mourn His death which was not done by the nation when He laid down His life to make redemption on Passover nearly 2,000 years ago.

It is also most significant that in the book of Revelation that Megiddo (Armageddon) is mentioned as the place where Messiah will fight those who wish to attack Jerusalem in the last days. It is this battle for Jerusalem which is the subject of the first few verses of Zechariah 14. This chapter makes it very clear that every nation in the world will turn against the Jewish people and move to attack Jerusalem.

I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem for war and half of the city will be taken and the houses will be plundered and the women raped and half the city will go into exile, but the remainder of the people will not be cut off from the city.” Zech. 14:2

Even though Rambam says it is the work/role of Messiah ben David to fight this war Zechariah says it will be the L-rd Himself that will defend Israel.

And the L-rd will go out and will fight those nations as He wages war in the day of battle.” Zech. 14:3

The next verse speaks of His feet standing on the Mount of Olives. It is from this verse that one learns that when Messiah returns to Jerusalem He will come in the clouds of heaven and land on the Mount of Olives. Why does the text seem to go back
and forth one time speaking of the L-rd and the next time speaking of the Messiah? In order to show that G-d did indeed visit His people and redeem them in the person of Messiah Yeshua. When Messiah’s feet shall touch the Mount of Olives it will cause a cataclysmic event.

And His feet will stand on that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is east of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives will split half to the east and half to the west; a very great valley (will appear) and the mountain will be removed towards the north and towards the south.” Zech. 14:4

The purpose of this great valley is twofold. One is, verse 2 tells us, that half the residents of Jerusalem will go into exile and therefore this valley will provide an exit for them. In the book of Revelations we are told that during a time of persecution of the Jewish people in the last days that Jews will flee to the wilderness for safety to a place that the L-rd had prepared for them (see Rev. 12:6). Second reason is that Ezekiel the Prophet tells us that water will flow from under the Temple in the last
days towards the east and make its way to the Dead Sea at a place called En Gedi (see Ezk. 47). Scholars see the Mountain of Olives being split and the valley which will be created as providing the way for the water to flow to the Dead Sea. It is most interesting that if the water flows straight it would enter the Dead Sea at En Gedi and fulfill Ezekiel’s prophecy perfectly.

The next two verses speak about the uniqueness of this time.

And it shall come about on that day the light will not be clear or thick. It shall be a unique day, it shall be known (only) to the L-rd; not day and not night, and it shall come about in the evening- there will be light.” Zech. 14:6-7

What is the prophet trying to reveal with these verses? Simply that the presence of G-d will be returning to earth in a manner that will reflect the holiness that was present during creation. In verse 6 there is an emphasis on the concept of light. It is clear that the light that will be present is not ordinary light. In verse 7 the phrase “a unique day” is found. In the Hebrew it reads “one day”. This is the same expression that appears in Genesis 1:5 (the first day of creation) and in this section the main issue was light. The fact that the text says that this day is only known to the L-rd may be a reference to the time before man was created. Finally the reader is told that in the evening, the time when the sun sets that there will be light. This piece of information informs the reader that the sun is not the source of light to which this passage is referring. What then is the source of this light? G-d Himself.

Zechariah is showing that with the coming of Messiah the world will be returning to the former status when the presence of G-d was in this world in a unique way, the way G-d was in the world prior to the fall of man. In other words, Messiah’s coming will bring a restoration not just to the house of Israel, but to the entire world.

It has already been said that water will stream out from under the Temple and flow eastward to the Dead Sea (Ezk.47). In verse 8 Zechariah seems to also refer to this,

And it shall come about on that day that living water shall go out from Jerusalem; half to the eastern sea (Dead Sea) and half to the western sea- it shall be in summer and in winter.” Zech. 14:8

Ezekiel informs the reader that these waters will bring about three outcomes to all that it comes into contact with, healing, prosperity, and life. The end of Zechariah 14:8 says that this occurrence will be both in the summer and winter. Because rain only falls in the Middle East in the winter, the prophet is saying that there will no longer be seasons like we once knew. In other words there will be a total change in what we know to be normal in nature. The end of Ezekiel chapter 47 supports this by saying that each month trees will bear fruit, hence no more seasons. Once again the message to the reader is that with Messiah’s coming everything will change. Not only does Messiah come, but He will rule as the King over all the earth and bring about a unity and holiness that is reflected in the Name of the L-rd.

And the L-rd shall be King over all the earth on that day the L-rd shall be One and His Name One.” Zechariah 14:9

With the return of the Shekinah Glory to earth through the rule King Messiah, Israel will dwell in safety (see verse 11). Although Israel will turn to G-d and recognize her Redeemer, still many other nations will reject G-d’s plan of salvation and will continue to make war with the Jewish people. In these last days those nations will learn a harsh lesson. This lesson is that those who fight the Jewish people are actually fighting against G-d. HaShem will respond in a devastating manner to such nations.

This shall be the plague which the L-rd will strike upon all the nations which wage war against Jerusalem- and he who is standing on his feet his flesh shall melt and his eyes shall dissolve in their sockets and his tongue shall melt in his mouth.” Zech. 14:12

It is clear from this verse that no army will be able to defend itself from this plague. This is clearly a divine punishment upon those peoples and nations that refuse to acknowledge and accept Israel’s role in the last days. Even though a great number of individuals will die from every nation, there will be a remnant from these nations that come to faith in the Messiah and accept HaShem’s plan of salvation. Notice the change that will occur in these people. Instead of wanting to go up to Jerusalem to wage war, such individuals will want to go up to Jerusalem to worship King Messiah.

And it shall come about that all that is left from those nations that came to Jerusalem (to wage war) shall go up to Jerusalem each year to bow down before the King, the L-rd of Host and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.” Zech 14:16

As we all know, there are many festivals in Judaism. Why is it then that the Feast of Tabernacles is mentioned in this verse rather than some other holiday? The answer is found in the central theme of this holiday: dependence and trust upon the L-rd. Israel’s call as G-d’s chosen people is based in Israel’s call to demonstrate in action dependence and trust in G-d. Finally in the last days and especially in the Millennium Kingdom Israel will take her role of leadership among all the nations in the world and will lead others to follow her example and worship the King of Kings and the L-rd of L-rds.

The following verses make it very clear that no matter what one’s ethnicity or nationality may be, all people must respond to Messiah in the same manner, to trust and depend upon Him solely for one’s redemption and salvation. In one refuses to do so during Messiah’s rule, then G-d will punish him in two ways. First no rain will fall upon him. Rain is seen as a blessing in the Bible, so what verse 17 is saying is that G-d will not bless him. The next verse (18) says that G-d will also place upon such a rebel the very plague that he struck those nations that came up to Jerusalem for war. The chapter ends with examples of how the holiness of G-d will spread from the Temple area to all of Jerusalem and Judea. The last verse says,

“…and there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the L-rd of Hosts on that day.” Zech. 14:21b

This sentence teaches that although Gentiles do not become Jews, faithful Gentiles do become part of Israel. What does this mean? 3,500 years ago there were a group of nations that were opposed to G-d’s plan of bringing the Children of Israel into the land of Canaan. G-d destroyed these people. However during the last days many of the nations will respond to Israel’s leadership and will submit joyfully G-d’s plan in the last days. These nations/peoples will become part of G-d’s family and enjoy the same rights and privileges of the Jewish people who respond to G-d’s plan. In this verse the term “Canaanite” is used in a manner to refer to one who opposes and rebels against the will of G-d. Under Messiah’s rule, no such people will exist, but all (Jew and Gentile alike) will submit to Messiah’s righteous rule and be part of His family.

 

Author: Dr Baruch Korman

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