Zechariah: Holy to the Lord

Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.

Zechariah 14:16

Jerusalem is likely a figurative type of the church (cf. Heb. 12:22-23).  Thus, Zechariah was promising great doom for those who would oppose the church (14:12-15).  He speaks of “the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem,” describing flesh, eyes, and tongues rotting even “while they are still standing on their feet” (v. 12) as well as a similar plague falling upon the animals which belong to them (v. 15).  He also foresees “a great panic from the Lord” coming upon them, causing them to fight amongst themselves (v. 13).  All of this is clearly figurative language used to describe the hell waiting for the enemies of God’s kingdom as well as the terrible consequences which sin brings in this life.

Christians are often figuratively spoken of as “Jews” since they are God’s chosen people under the new covenant (cf. Rom. 2:28-29; Gal. 6:16; James 1:1; Lk. 22:30).  Therefore, “Judah will fight at Jerusalem” (v. 14a) could refer to Christians in the church fighting the spiritual war against her opponents (cf. 2 Cor. 10:4ff; Eph. 6:10-18; Jude 3; 1 Tim. 6:12a).  They will be victorious in the end as they are ushered into eternity with God, as figuratively described by the prophet when he writes that “the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance” (v. 14b; cf. Matt. 5:5; Ps. 37:11).

Verse 16 is likely speaking of those who had originally opposed the church only to later convert to Christianity, such as Paul (Acts 9:1-28; 22:4-21; 26:9-23).  He had persecuted the church but repented after Jesus appeared to him and was baptized into Christ.  After that, he “worship(ed) the King, the Lord of hosts” for the rest of his life.  The “Feast of Booths,” booths being tabernacles or tents, was observed under the old covenant as a time of joy and gratitude as Israelites celebrated how their time in the wilderness had ended and God had allowed them to dwell in the Promised Land (Lev. 23:34-43).  This is likely a figurative way of prophesying how those who had been lost and enemies of the church but now are followers of Jesus have similar reason to rejoice.  God’s grace had brought them out of the wilderness of sin and now they are in the “Promised Land,” citizens of his Son’s kingdom with eternal life as their destiny.

Verses 17-19 figuratively speak of the enemies of the church who do not penitently obey the gospel and would therefore not participate in the celebration symbolized by the Feast of Booths.  Zechariah probably associates them with “Egypt” because, as opponents of Christianity, they are spiritually enslaved to sin just as Old Testament Israel was enslaved in Egypt.  “There will be no rain on them” is likely a figurative way of promising that they will not receive the blessing of eternal life (cf. John 4:10-14).

 Verses 20-21 end the book by speaking symbolically of how Christians will be holy in all aspects of their lives.  They put bells on the harnesses of horses to announce their arrival back then.  Under Moses’ law, “Holy to the Lord” was engraved on the gold plate of the High Priest’s turban to indicate that he was set apart to serve God (Ex. 28:36-38).  Under Christ’s law, all saints are priests and are holy (1 Pet. 2:5) and would “announce” themselves to be so through their holy manner of life (cf. Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12).  This would apply to all Christians, no matter their station in life or ethnicity, and all are needed for God’s work (cf. 14:20b-21a).  Because a “Canaanite” was associated with sin and uncleanness (cf. Ezek. 16:3; 44:9), Zechariah was foreseeing that there would be nothing of the sort in the church – “the house of the Lord of hosts” (1 Tim. 3:15) – because Christians would walk in the light (1 John 1:6-9; cf. Matt. 13:40-43).

With this our study of Zechariah ends.  I pray it has been beneficial for you.

— Jon

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