Worship in Jerusalem
“If the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which the Lord afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths” (v. 18).- Zechariah 14:10–21
Today’s study brings us to the end of our study of Zechariah, the prophet of the late sixth century BC whom God sent to encourage the rebuilding of the temple and a return to faithfulness. To a community suffering the conditions of exile even though they were back in the Promised Land, Zechariah brought a message of hope that the Lord had not abandoned His people and that they should show their commitment to Him by completing the work on God’s house (chap. 1–2). Though exilic conditions continued, Zechariah told the people that the Lord had not abandoned His promise to send the Messiah—the Davidic priest-king—and cleanse the land of unrighteousness (chap. 3–6). Receiving this blessing, however, depended on the people trusting the Lord and believing His promise to defeat their enemies and restore all things. The community of post-exilic Judah, however, would largely reject its Lord, which would not invalidate the Creator’s work of salvation but rather guarantee that only a remnant of Judah would enjoy it at first. In time, however, a great number of Jews who rejected the one true Shepherd to follow false shepherds would see the error of their ways and mourn over the Lord whom they had pierced (7:1–14:9).
Zechariah 14:10–21 concludes the prophet’s vision about the final battle between God and His enemies. As we saw yesterday, he employs vivid symbols to depict the spiritual realities of what the Lord will achieve. We see this in verses 10–11, where Zechariah speaks of upheaval that fully refashions the land of Judea, flattening the summits of mountains. Just as Ezekiel’s vision of an enormous temple that transforms the land should not be taken in a woodenly literal fashion (Ezek. 40–48), neither should we take Zechariah to mean a change that makes the land wholly unrecognizable. His image is one of stability and security. Resting on flat land, on a plain high in the air, on the high ground that gives military advantage, Jerusalem will be fully secure and no enemy will be able to invade it.
The prophet also reveals that the nations who survive the final battle going up to celebrate the Feast of Booths (Zech. 14:12–21). During the Feast of Booths, the Jews remembered the wilderness wanderings when they lived a nomadic existence, moving from place to place and setting up booths or tents (Lev. 23:33–42). While in the desert, the people had to rely on the Lord alone for provision. Zechariah is saying that on that final day, the Jews will rely on Yahweh alone, having cast away all other deities and self-trust.
When Christ returns to consummate history, there will be no one left who tries to rely on his own efforts or foreign gods for redemption. Even those who are finally cast into hell will be forced to acknowledge that He alone is Lord and that He alone can save. Today, as we trust in Jesus alone for salvation, we join this group that will worship the Lord for eternity, content in His provision. Let us seek Him alone to meet all of our needs now and forever.
Passages for Further Study
2 Timothy 4:18