Will Jesus literally Stand on the Mount of Olives and Split it apart?
Zechariah, Chapter 14
By Lorraine Day, M.D.
Who was Zechariah?
Zechariah’s prophetic ministry took place in the postexilic period, the time of the Israelites’ restoration from Babylonian captivity.
Like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Zechariah was not only a prophet, but also a priest. He was born in Babylonia and was among those who returned to Judah in 538 B.C. under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua (his grandfather Iddo is named among the returnees in Neh 12:4). At a later time, when Joiakim was high priest, Zechariah apparently succeeded Iddo as head of that priestly family. Since the grandson succeeded the grandfather, it has been suggested that the father died at an early age.
The chief purpose of Zechariah (and Haggai) was to rebuke the people of Judah and to encourage and motivate them to complete the rebuilding of the temple, though both prophets were clearly interested in spiritual renewal as well.
The theological teaching of the book is related to its Messianic as well as its apocalyptic (end of the eon) and eschatological motifs. (Eschatology is the theological science involved with “the last four things” death, judgment, heaven and hell).
Encouragement is the book’s central theme primarily encouragement to complete the rebuilding of the temple. Various means are used to accomplish this end, and these function as sub-themes. For example, great stress is laid on the coming of the Messiah and the overthrow of all anti-kingdom forces by Him so that God’s rule can be finally and fully established. NIV Intro to book of Zechariah.
Last Warning in the Old Testament
Zechariah and Malachi, the last two books in the Old Testament speak of the severe apostasy among God’s people, they give a warning regarding the unfaithful, they look forward to the coming Messiah, as well as the “coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”
The last two verses of the last book of the Old Testament book, Malachi speak of the Second Coming of Christ, and read as follows:
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the heart-of-fathers upon descendants; that is, (raise) the heart of descendants to the height (i.e., level) of their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” Mal 4:5,6 (Literal translation)
We know there are many passages in the Bible that contain “dual prophecies” prophecies that apply not only to the destruction of literal Jerusalem in AD 70, but also to the destruction prophesied to occur in the whole earth at the time of Jesus’ Second Coming.
One of the most obvious of these Dual prophecies is found in Matthew, Chapter 24.
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple.
The disciples were enchanted with the temple even though “One greater than the temple” (Matt 12:6) was right there with them.
“And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? (specifically, the temple the disciples were referring to) Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
“And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? (when the temple will be destroyed) and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world (literal: age or eon)?
The Dual prophecy is very clear in this passage. The disciples are asking about two prophecies:
1) when will the physical temple in Jerusalem be destroyed, and
2) what will be the sign of the Jesus’ Second Coming and the end of the eon.
Similarly, the prophecy in Zechariah, Chapter 14 is a Dual prophecy that talks not only about things happening to the Israelites in physical Jerusalem, but also what will be happening at the end of the world (literally, “end of the eon”).
Before addressing Zechariah, Chapter 14, let’s look at an overview of the entire book of Zechariah, leading up to its culmination in the final chapter: Chapter 14.
The Eight Visions of Zechariah
The series of eight visions recorded in chs. 1:7 to 6:8 presents a connected prophetic narrative setting forth the purpose of God for the Israelites upon their return from Babylonian captivity and culminating in the coming of Messiah and the establishment of His kingdom. Zechariah was given this series of visions at a time of great discouragement, when it seemed that the enemies of God’s people were about to bring the work of restoration to a complete halt. These messages were designed to encourage the returned exiles and to inspire them to go forward in faith with their appointed task.
The first vision (ch1:7-17) reveals God’s plan for Israel is at a standstill. The heathen nations of earth are “at ease,” but God announces His purpose to restore the Temple as His “house” and to “choose Jerusalem” as the agency through which His purpose for the salvation of mankind shall be accomplished.
The second vision (ch 1:18-21) pictures the damage Israel as a nation has suffered as the result of captivity and proclaims God’s intention to repair ALL the damage that has been done.
The third vision (ch 2:1-13) assures the Israelites of the divine presence and blessing in the work of restoration and in the accomplishment of Israel’s mission to the world.
In the fourth vision (ch 3:1-10) God assures His people that He will interpose to protect them from their archenemy, Satan, and will pardon their sins, which have heretofore afforded Satan an opportunity to interfere with the accomplishment of God’s will for them as His people.
The fifth vision (ch 4:1-14) sets forth the means by which the restoration of Jerusalem and the transformation of character are to be accomplished “by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (v.6).
The sixth vision (ch 4:1-4) presents the process by which sin is to be ferreted out from among God’s people.
The seventh vision (ch 5:5-11) pictures the complete and final removal of sin from among the chosen nation.
The eighth vision (ch 6:1-8) represents God supervising the affairs of earth for the accomplishment of His divine purpose as set forth in the preceding visions, and thus assuring Israel of success in their mission.
Following the eighth vision the prophet presents an inspired picture of the coming of Messiah, “a priest upon his throne” (ch.6:13), and the ingathering of the nations of earth to the true God (v. 15). All this as set forth in chs. 1:7 to 6:15 will surely come to pass if Israel diligently obeys the voice of the Lord (ch 6:15). (Deut 28:1,14). SDA Commentary
“Your Body is the Temple. . .”
In the Old Testament there was a physical temple in which God’s presence dwelt. In the New Testament, Jesus tells us our “body is the temple.” Once we know the Lord better than we know any human being on earth, He will put His character, disposition and nature in us and we then become the spiritual temple in which God’s presence dwells.
What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of God’s Spirit (Breath) of Holiness which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit (breath), which are God’s.” 1 Cor 6:19,20
These eight visions of Zechariah are a dual prophecy, first detailing God’s intentions for the Israelites in their rebuilding of the temple (where God’s presence would dwell) after the first temple was destroyed and they were taken captive by Babylon. And second, these visions are a prophecy of how God eventually will “rebuild” the temple of our hearts, and He will dwell in us.
Spiritual fulfillment of the Eight Visions of Zechariah
We are all captives of sin, just as the Israelites were captives in Babylon. God has announced through His word that His purpose is to Restore every person He has ever created as His own personal “temple” in which to dwell.
The second vision pictures the damage each individual has suffered as the result of being a captive of sin, and God’s intention to repair ALL the damage that has been done in every one of His children.
The third vision assures every person created that God’s divine presence and blessing in the work of restoration of the entire human race will be accomplished.
God assures every person He has created that He will interpose to protect them from their archenemy, Satan, and will pardon their sins, with the final accomplishment of God’s will to be the “Savior of ALL mankind.” 1 Tim 4:10
God sets forth the means by which He will accomplish the restoration of all those He has created and the transformation of the character of each person “by My spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (v. 6).
The sixth vision presents the process by which sin is to be ferreted out from everyone God has created.
The seventh vision pictures the complete and final removal of sin from among all those God has created: Universal Restoration.
The eighth vision represents God supervising the affairs of everyone individually on earth for the accomplishment of His divine purpose as set forth in the preceding visions.
Following the eighth vision, the prophet presents an inspired picture of the coming of Messiah and the ingathering of ALL the nations (ALL the unbelievers) of earth to the true God: Universal Restoration.
Mixture of physical and spiritual fulfillments
The interpretation of many of the Old Testament passages concerning the ultimate day of the Lord is difficult at times because of the mixture of physical and spiritual fulfillments that they contain. The destruction of the land of Israel and Jerusalem that these passages speak of ultimately refers to the destruction and desolation of the Israelite nation that took place in AD 70.
The passages that tell us that nothing unholy (Is. 4:3; Zech 14:21) nor any alien (Joel 3:17) would enter Jerusalem after this time is not talking about a ban on sinners and foreigners in the physical city of Jerusalem in some future millennial kingdom; it is talking about the New Jerusalem. It is the New Jerusalem bride (Rev 21:9-10) nothing unholy would be able to enter at this time. Only those in the Lamb’s Book of Life are part of her.
“And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations (the unbelievers who are now - - - believers) into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Rev 21:27).
Zechariah, Chapter 14, points exclusively to the ultimate day of the Lord.
“Behold the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem (those who claim to be Christians); 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.” Zech 14:1,2 cf. Matt 24:36-44
It was at this time that God would come and deliver His true people, the remnant (Zech 14:3-11). If God is talking about delivering physical Jerusalem in Zechariah 14, He was tragically late, as the city had been plundered and its inhabitants (as well as most of the land of Israel, cf. Zech 13:8,9) desolated. All that was left in physical Jerusalem was a remnant of raped women (v. 2).
It was not physical Jerusalem that would be delivered at this time (at AD 70) but the New Jerusalem bride, a meek and humble people that would no longer have unclean people in her from this time on (Zech 14:20,21; c. Rev 21:27). Consistent with this, Paul said the New Jerusalem and her children would receive their inheritance at the time that Old Jerusalem and her children were cast out (Gal 4:24-31).
We are told in Galatians 4:22-26:
For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid (Hagar), the other by a freewoman (Sarah).
“But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh (Abraham did NOT have faith when Ishmael was conceived) but he of the freewoman was by promise (Abraham DID have faith when Isaac was conceived).
“Which things are symbolic (an allegory); for these are the two covenants (testaments); the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar.
“For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and is of the same rank as Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. (They are in bondage because they have no faith, just as they had no faith at Mt. Sinai when God wanted to put His Spirit in their hearts (His character and disposition). God wanted to “write the law on their hearts” (Heb 8:6-11) but they wanted to be led by “man” Moses rather than to be led directly by God.
(And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” Ex 20:19)
“But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”
The New Jerusalem (“Jerusalem which is above” = the true believers) is no longer in bondage because they have faith in God, and God leads them directly, not through a human agency.
Zechariah goes on in Chapter 14 to say that after physical Jerusalem (those who have no faith) was thoroughly defeated God would come and fight for His people (true believers).
3 Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
Many religious denominations interpret this text literally, looking forward to the millennium when they believe Jesus will return to reign on the earth for a thousand years. They believe Jesus will stand on the Mount of Olives literally and it will cleave in two, and that the righteous of the earth will flee into the literal valley (vs. 5) caused by the cleft in the mountain.
However, it is absurd to believe that all the righteous in the world could fit into the confines of that valley. Indeed, this whole passage must be interpreted spiritually.
In addition, Jesus Himself warned us that He would NOT come back to physically be on the earth at the Second Coming.
“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
“Behold, I have told you before.
“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers (hidden rooms as in Freemasonry); believe it not.” Matt 24:23-26
God’s Second Coming will be seen by the whole population of the earth. It will not be secret. Every eye shall see Him!
“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matt 24:27
“Behold He cometh with clouds (of angels); and every eye shall see Him, and they also that pierced Him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen. (So let it be.)” Rev 1:7
We will be caught up to “meet Him in the air.”
“Then we that are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thess 4:17
Make his path straight
In the time of the Israelites, when a King was traveling, there were servants who went before him to level the often bumpy road to “make his path straight.” John the Baptist used the same phrase in preparing the way for Jesus to start His ministry (John 1:23).
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain (smooth).
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isa 40:3-5
“He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord as said the prophet Isaiah.” John 1:23
“And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed. Heb 12:13
“Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.: Psa 5:8
“I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.” Isa 45:2
Jerusalem was built on hills. People from other areas of Israel “went UP” to Jerusalem. And the Mt. of Olives was even higher. Jesus symbolically “stands” on the Mt. of Olives where He can “see” and evaluate those who claim to be “Jerusalem” (believers). He then separates the true believers from those who have no faith.
Also symbolized is the leveling of the Mt. of Olives which separated the Israelites from the nations (heathen). By separating the mountain and creating a broad valley, Jesus was “breaking down the middle wall of partition” between the arrogant Israelites and the heathen to whom the Israelites were supposed to bring the salvation of the Lord, but, instead, chose to keep it to themselves.
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
“For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us. . .
And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby
“And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
“For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Eph 2:13-19
5 And he shall flee to the valley of my mountains; when He shall touch the valley of the mountains to the place He separated; yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints (literal = holy ones = angels) with thee.
A new and living way shall be opened to the new Jerusalem, both to see it and to come into it. Eventually no one will be left out.
6 And it shall come to pass in that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle.
7 For it will be a unique day which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light.
8 And it shall be in that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
It is the New Jerusalem bride, not physical Jerusalem, which has these waters of life (Zech 14:8 cf. Rev 21:27-22:2)
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. . .Rev 21:9,10. . .
“Then He showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (unbelievers)
9 And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one.
10 All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and shall abide in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses.
11 And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more curse (NASB translation); but Jerusalem shall abide safely.
It is the New Jerusalem in which there would “no longer be a curse”
“And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him. Rev 22:3
12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
“The Lord will smite all the people that have fought against “Jerusalem” Jerusalem: a name used for those who are true followers of Christ.
“Their flesh, eyes and tongue shall consume away.” This can be interpreted literally or spiritually or both. There are now military weapons that can “consume away” a person instantly, so their entire flesh, their eyes, and their tongue are incinerated in a moment.
If it is to be interpreted spiritually, the “flesh” must be destroyed when God’s spirit takes over in a person’s life. The eyes (what he sees and reads) and the tongue (what he speaks) of the non-righteous person must be “destroyed” so he can “see” and “speak” truth. This is what it takes to “destroy the old man of sin.”
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Romans 6: 6
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.
The Truth often turns family and friends against each other
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (the sword of truth). For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Matthew 10:34-36
14 And Judah also shall fight against Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.
Those who claim to be Christians (Judah) but only know “about” Christ rather than knowing Him personally, will call for the death of the True Christians (Jerusalem).
“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but their hearts are far from me, and their fear (reverence) is taught by the precept of men (rather than the wisdom of God).
“therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Isa 29:13,
15 And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.
16 And it shall come to pass, that everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.
18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, upon on whom there is no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
What was the purpose of the Feast of Tabernacles?
The purpose of the Feast of Tabernacles was two-fold. It was a memorial unto Israel’s migration out of Egypt (symbolizing our being saved from sin Egypt, in the Bible, is symbolic for sin) and a celebration of the end of the autumn harvest. The harvest began with the Feast of First Fruits in the Spring.
The “first fruits” symbolizes those who are saved at the Second Coming of Christ. But the full “autumn harvest” symbolizes the situation after the Judgment and the final consummation when ALL will be changed and saved after “reaping what they have sown. (See 1 Cor 15:22-28 when “death will be destroyed (abolished) and God will be ALL in ALL.”
The first reason for the Feast of Tabernacles was to remind Israel how they dwelt in booths as they journeyed from Egypt. God told Moses the reason for the feast. "That your generations may know that I (God) made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt (Lv. 23:43) Symbolic of “delivering a person from sin:" God wanted Israel to remember that He brought them out of Egypt to remind them that He can release them from any state of bondage and chaos.
The second reason for the feast day was to celebrate the end of harvesting the crops (Ex. 23:16; Lv. 23:39; Deu 16:13) for the year. This final harvesting of crops typifies the harvesting of resurrected human souls, in the second resurrection, then the judgment, then the unsaved will reap what they have sown and be changed into God’s image when God will be “ALL in ALL.” (1 Cor 15:28)
Jesus eventually will set up God's Kingdom but NOT on this earth at the Second Coming
"Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills . . . Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. " (Isaiah 2:2-3)
19 This shall be the sin of Egypt, and the sin of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles
20 In that day shall there be upon the bridles of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord: and the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar.
21 Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts.
“There shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts”
By reaping what they have sown during the eon after the Great White Throne Judgment, everyone will learn his need for Jesus Christ to run his life, then:
“Death will be destroyed (abolished there will be NO MORE death everyone will be alive) . . . that God may be ALL in ALL.” 1 Cor 15:22:26,28
Everyone will be alive (there will be “no more death”) and God will be “All in All.”
Universal Restoration: “The peace that passes all understanding.”
“And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:7
God is far greater than we can “ask or think.”
“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above ALL that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Eph 3:20
Jesus came to “save the world” and He WILL accomplish what He came to do!