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Bible Study: The Book of Zechariah

The Book Of Zechariah

Genesis, Psalms, and Isaiah are the most quoted books in the NT, which, considering their length and crucial contents, is not surprising. Most would be amazed to learn that Zechariah, with only fourteen chapters, is quoted about forty times in the NT. Doubtless this is due especially to the fact that the book is so Messianic, certainly the most Christ-centered of the Minor Prophets.

Zechariah’s fascinating symbolic visions, plus his messages and revelations, all enhance the importance and interest of this post-exilic book, and make it somewhat more close in tone to the NT Book of Revelation.

There are about thirty men in the OT named Zechariah (Jehovah remembers), the same name as the NT (Greek) Zacharias and English Zachary. This prophet and priest was born probably in Babylon during the exile. Nehemiah mentions his arrival at Jerusalem (12:4, 16) and Ezra mentions his ministry (5:1; 6:14). Zechariah took over the short public ministry of the older Haggai to encourage the remnant. Zechariah started his prophecies in 520 B.C., the same year that Haggai ministered, but he continued for at least three years.

Zechariah was the son of Berechiah (the Lord has blessed). Like Haggai, he was a prophet to the people of Judah who had returned to the land after the captivity. He joined with Haggai in encouraging them to rebuild the temple (Ezra 5:1). Zechariah’s prophecy began half-way between Haggai’s second and third messages.

In a series of eight visions, using highly symbolic language, he predicted the overthrow of Gentile world powers; the judgment of apostate Jews because of their rejection of Christ; the cleansing, restoration, and glory of a remnant; and the future prosperity of Jerusalem. The first five visions are messages of grace; the last three, of judgment. Zechariah’s notable prophecies concerning the Messiah foretell His entry into Jerusalem (9:9); His betrayal for thirty pieces of silver (11:12, 13); His death as the stricken Shepherd (13:7); His coming again to the Mount of Olives (14:4); and His Millennial Reign as High Priest and King (14:9).

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PART 1

Chapter 1

EXHORTATION TO REPENTANCE AND OBEDIENCE, AND WARNING TO PROFIT FROM MISTAKES OF FATHERS (1:1–6)
The first six verses are introductory. They convey a message from the LORD through Zechariah the son of Berechiah to the people, urging them to return to the Lord. Verse 3 strikes the keynote of the book: “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Return to Me,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD of hosts.” He urges the people to profit from the mistakes of their fathers, who refused to listen to the former prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea. Judgment overtook the people, as the Lord had warned, and then they realized that the LORD was dealing with them because of their evil ways.

SERIES OF VISIONS, DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO REBUILD THE TEMPLE
Zechariah begins his book with a prophetic panorama from his own time to the Millennial Kingdom.

A. Man Riding on a Red Horse (1:7–17)
Meaning: God is displeased with the Gentiles who are at rest while His people suffer. He will punish the nations and restore His people.

In the first vision, the Lord is seen (man on the red horse, compare “the Angel of the LORD,” v. 11) with His agents (probably angels) who patrol the earth on red, sorrel, and white horses. The myrtle trees in the hollow or low place represent Israel under Gentile subjugation. When the prophet asks the meaning of the riders, an interpreting angel promises to explain, but the Lord (the man standing among the myrtle trees) answers that their function is to patrol the earth. The patrols report to the Lord that all the earth is quietly at rest, probably meaning that the Gentile nations, especially Babylon, are at ease while God’s people are being oppressed.

The Angel of the LORD intercedes to the LORD of hosts for Jerusalem and Judah, which have been desolate for seventy years. Given an encouraging reply, the interpreting angel tells the prophet to proclaim that God will intervene for His people. The nations had angered God by their cruelty to Judah. God would return to Jerusalem, and the temple would be rebuilt. The surveyor’s line here speaks of reconstruction whereas in 2 Kings 21:13, it signifies destruction. The prophet should tell the people that God will prosper the cities of Judah, comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem.

B. Four Horns and Four Craftsmen (1:18–21)
Meaning: Destruction of four Gentile world empires.

The complete fulfillment of this second vision is still future. The four horns are identified as the four nations which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem—in other words, the four Gentile world empires: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The four craftsmen are not identified, but they are obviously agencies raised up by God to destroy the Gentile powers which had scattered Judah. The general truth is clearly brought out that every evil power that rises up against the people of God will eventually be overthrown and judged.

C. Man with a Measuring Line Chapter 2
Meaning: Future prosperity, repopulation, and security of Jerusalem.

The third vision reveals a man with a measuring line. When the prophet asked him where he was going, he answered that he was going to measure the site of Jerusalem, that is, where the city would be rebuilt. The interpreting angel met another angel who told him to assure the young man (either Zechariah or the man with the measuring line) that Jerusalem would yet be thickly populated, and that it would not need walls because the LORD would protect it. This refers ultimately, of course, to Jerusalem during the Millennial Reign of Christ.
The Jewish captives remaining in exile are summoned to return to Jerusalem from the land of the north. (Though Babylon is northeast of Jerusalem, yet the captives would come via the route of the fertile crescent and thus enter Israel from the north.) This will also have a fulfillment “after glory” has been revealed and established, that is, after the Second Coming of Christ. God will punish the enemies of His people because the latter are what he describes as “the apple of His eye”, (literally, the pupil of the eye). Singing will break out when Christ comes to the millennial temple, and Gentile nations will join themselves to Him in that day. The term the Holy Land for Israel is used only here in the entire Bible.  All flesh is commanded to be silent while the LORD rouses Himself to punish the nations.

D. Joshua the High Priest Chapter 3
Meaning: The priesthood, representative of the nation, cleansed and restored.

Joshua the high priest, clothed in filthy garments, pictures the priesthood as representative of Israel. Satan (Heb. for adversary) accuses Israel of being unfit to carry out its priestly function. God answers Satan that He has plucked the nation as a brand from the fire, i.e., the captivity. The Angel promises that the nation will be cleansed and invested with rich robes. At Zechariah’s request, a clean turban is placed on Joshua’s head, and he is invested while the Angel of the LORD stands by. If the people are faithful and obedient to the Lord, they will rule God’s house, and have charge of His courts, and have the right of access among those standing there. Joshua and his fellow-priests were a wondrous sign (“men wondered at,” that is, men that are for a sign).

In verse 8 Christ is spoken of as “My Servant the BRANCH”; in verse 9 He is referred to under the figure of an engraved stone (Dan. 2:34-35). Some have suggested that “the Branch” applies to the First Advent, the stone to the Second. The chapter closes with a deservedly famous glimpse of the peaceful nature of pastoral life in the Millennium: “In that day,” says the LORD of hosts, “everyone will invite his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree.”

E. The Golden Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees Chapter 4
Meaning: Israel, God’s lightbearer, will rebuild the temple by the Spirit of God (pictured by the oil).

The fifth vision describes a lampstand of solid gold with two olive trees beside it. It seems that the golden lampstand had a base with a stem coming up out of it. At the top of the stem was a bowl which served as a reservoir for oil. Reaching upward out of the stem were seven pipes with seven small oil-burning lamps on top of each. On either side of the golden lampstand was an olive tree, apparently supplying oil directly to the bowl of the golden stand, and then through the pipes from the bowl to the seven lamps.
An interesting part of this vision is that it may refer to both the future Transfiguration of the Lord in the New Testament, as well as helping to identify the 2 witnesses seen in the Book of the Revelation, as follows:

Verse 14 states that the 2 olive trees are “These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.”

Revelation 11:4 says that the 2 witnesses are: “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.”

At the Transfiguration (in Matthew 17:1-3), when Jesus is “glorified”, there are 2 historic OT figures who “stand with Him”, as follows: “1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.”

In any case, the more immediate meaning of the vision is that, in spite of mountainous opposition, the temple would be completed and would bring forth exclamations of “Grace, grace!” to its beauty. Those who have despised the day of small things, that is, those who mocked the possibility of God’s doing some great thing, would see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel, that is, would see the day when Zerubbabel would finish the structure.

The seven lamps are the seven eyes of the LORD, signifying His watchful care over the rebuilding and over the whole earth.

This vision teaches that spiritual power was necessary for the restoration, just as the previous vision taught that cleansing was necessary.

PART 2

Chapter 5

The first 2 visions of this chapter the subject of 2 different interpretations, based on the translation of one word verses 5-11. The first, more commonly accepted interpretation is spiritual, and relates to the scroll and the “woman” representing a spiritual judgment on crime and idolatry. The second interpretation, coming to be held by more and more modern Messianic scholars, relates to an actual and physical judgment taking place in the form of a nuclear weapon being launched.

In either case, the main point is that judgment WILL fall, and it will be under God’s control and for the purpose of working out HIS plan for His people.

The Flying Scroll (5:1-4)

Meaning: The curse of God pronounced against perjury and theft in the land.

The vision of the flying scroll is the first in a series of three having to do with administration and judgment. The scroll measured thirty feet long by fifteen feet wide. Interestingly enough, these dimensions (if you count the width as being wingtip to wingtip) are approximately the same as certain types of short-range or cruise missile that exist now.
It pronounced a curse on every thief and every perjurer. As part of this curse, the very house of the ones who stole or who swore falsely would be destroyed, both timber and stones. Sins against man (theft) and sins against God (false swearing) will be dealt with at that time.

The Woman (or Fire) in a Basket (5:5–11)
Meaning: Idolatry and mercenary religion removed from the land to its ancient home base in Babylon.
The seventh vision shows a woman (common translation), or a fire (also a valid translation) in a basket (Heb. ephah).
800. אֶשָּׁה eshshâh, esh-shaw’; fem. of 784; fire:— fire.
801. אִשָּׁה ishshâh, ish-shaw’; the same as 800, but used in a liturgical sense; prop. a burnt-offering; but occasionally of any sacrifice:— (offering, sacrifice), (made) by fire.
802. אִשָּׁה ishshâh, ish-shaw’; fem. of 376 or 582; irreg. plur.

The ephah was the largest unit of measure used in business, somewhat like a bushel basket.

In the spiritual interpretation, the woman is the personification of “Wickedness.” In the land, the lead cover was kept on the ephah, meaning that wickedness was restricted. But two other women flew with the ephah to Shinar (Babylon). This seems to signify the removal of idolatrous and mercenary religion from Israel to its base in Babylon where it originated. Such a removal would, of course, be preparatory to the judgment of Babylon and to the setting up of the kingdom. Israel was cleansed of idolatry after the Babylonian captivity, but it will embrace a worse form of idolatry in the future when it worships the Antichrist as God.

In the physical interpretation, the word is translated as “fire”, particularly as the fire of a burnt offering, or a “consuming fire”. If you picture the scroll as a missile, carrying a consuming fire that must be restricted in a covered lead container, being “fired” at Shinar (Babylon, or modern day Iran), you begin to see how the changing of one word, from “woman” to “fire” can change meaning of the vision.

Chapter 6

The Four Chariots (6:1–8)
Meaning: God’s patrols indicate Israel’s enemies have been put down.

Zechariah next sees four sets of horses and chariots coming out from between two mountains of bronze. The horses are red, black, white, and dappled or grisled—all strong steeds. The interpreting angel identifies the four sets of horses and chariots as the four spirits of heaven, God’s agents to bring the Gentile world into subjection to the Messiah. The black horses go to the north, and the dappled ones, to the south. These two directions in the prophetic Scriptures are commonly associated with enemies of Israel (for example, King of the North and King of the South). The white horses go forth after the black ones and apparently the red horses patrol in undesignated areas.

The interpreting angel points out that the horses which went toward the north country had given rest to His Spirit. This may imply the destruction of the northern army (Babylon, see the above vision in the physical interpretation) which was a constant source of danger to the land of Israel. Taking the vision as a whole, it seems to indicate the destruction of Israel’s enemies by messengers of the Lord. Once again, this is an event that will precede Christ’s kingdom on earth.

JOSHUA CROWNED AS HIGH PRIEST (6:9–15)
Meaning: A picture of Christ coming as King and High Priest, the ideal combination of church and state.

Now that the visions of judgment are ended, a highly symbolic act takes place. Zechariah was commanded to get gold and silver from three of the returned exiles—from Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah—and to make an elaborate crown for Joshua the high priest, in the house of Josiah. Ordinarily, a crown is made for a ruler, not for a high priest. But this action points forward to the coming of Christ as King and Priest. He is spoken of in verse 12 as the BRANCH who will build the millennial temple, bear royal honor, and sit and rule on His throne. David Baron notes: Surely it is in keeping with the Royal Priesthood of Messiah, that the Hebrew word used here (for temple) means both palace and sanctuary. As King He has entered into His palace, and as Priest into His sanctuary.

The crown was to be kept in the temple as a memorial. Helem is the same as Heldai and Hen is Joshua. The restoration of dispersed Israel and the fulfillment of the Messianic promise are set before the people as an encouragement to obedience.

JEWS FROM BETHEL INQUIRE CONCERNING CONTINUANCE OF FAST Chapter’s 7 & 8

The Question Concerning the Fast (7:1–3)
Chapters 7 and 8 form a division by themselves, dealing with the subject of fasting. A delegation from Bethel came to inquire if they should continue to fast on the anniversary of the fall of Jerusalem. They had been doing this for over seventy years.

First Message (7:4–7)
Meaning: The fasts were their idea, not God’s. The Lord wants reality, not just ritual.

The answer to the above question is given in four distinct messages (7:4–7; 7:8–14; 8:1–17; 8:18–23). In the first, God reminds them that the fast in both the fifth and seventh months had been instituted by themselves, not by Him. Both their fasting and their feasting were for themselves, not for God. Before the destruction of Jerusalem, the former prophets had warned the people that God wants righteousness and reality rather than ritual.

Second Message (7:8–14)
Meaning: Judgment had come upon the people because they had refused to practice justice, righteousness, and mercy.

In the second message, God explains why judgment came upon the nation. He had called the people to practice justice, mercy, and compassion. But they refused to heed. Notice the results of their disobedience: divine wrath; unanswered prayer; scattering of the people among the nations; desolation of the land. In other words, the fast about which they were inquiring was a result of their own sinfulness and disobedience.

Third Message (8:1–17)
Meaning: The Lord will yet pour out His blessings on Judah.

The third message to the delegation from Bethel promises future blessing to Judah. Great wrath will go out against the enemies of Judah (v. 2). Jerusalem will be restored and called “the City of Truth,” its streets transformed into a playground for boys and girls and a social center for old folks.

8:6–8 If this seemed marvelous to the numerically tiny remnant, was it therefore so hard for God to do? He is the One who will bring back the exiles and dwell in their midst as their God.

While these verses had an immediate application to the people in Zechariah’s time, their complete fulfillment awaits our Lord’s Second Advent.

The people who had been hearing the encouragements of Haggai and Zechariah were exhorted to continue building. Before they started work on the temple, there had been widespread unemployment, and violence stalked the streets. But now God promises them peace and prosperity, and they would be a blessing to the Gentiles instead of a curse.
Just as surely as God had promised calamity to His people in the day of their disobedience, so now He purposes to do good to them. In view of that, they are exhorted to live truthfully, justly, and peacefully, avoiding the things that the LORD hates (thinking evil against one’s neighbor and loving a false oath—dishonesty).

Fourth Message (8:18–23)
Meaning: Israel’s fasts will be turned to feasts, and Jerusalem will be the world center of worship.

As an encouragement to the delegation from Bethel, the Lord promises that the mournful fasts would be turned into seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. The fast of the tenth month mourned the siege of Jerusalem (2 Kgs. 25:1); the fourth month marked its capture (2 Kgs. 25:3); the fifth month, its destruction (2 Kgs. 25:8–10); the seventh month, the murder of Gedaliah (2 Kgs. 25:25).

The closing verses of the chapter picture many Gentile peoples and strong nations flocking to Jerusalem from all over the world to seek the LORD of hosts. In that day, the Jews will be the channel of blessing to the world. Notice the frequent use of the expression “Thus says the LORD” or “Thus says the LORD of hosts” in this chapter: vv. 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 14, 19, 20, 23.`

PART 3

THE FIRST PROPHECY, EMPHASIZING MESSIAH’S FIRST ADVENT Chapters 9 – 11

The remaining chapters contain two prophecies. The first, in chapters 9–11, emphasizes the First Advent of the Messiah, while the second one, chapters 12–14, looks forward to Christ’s glorious appearing at the Second Coming.

Gentile Nations Will Be Judged (9:1–8)
Here in chapter 9, God’s judgment is first pronounced against Syria (v. 1-2a), Tyre and Sidon (v. 2b–4), and Philistia (v. 5–7). Tyre was proud of its riches and its fortress city, but the LORD would cast her into the sea. The Philistine cities would be dismayed to see the fall of Tyre; they thought it was impregnable. The Philistines themselves would be cleansed from idolatry, and they would dwell as a clan in Israel. Ekron would be like the Jebusites in the sense that they would live among the people of Israel as loyal, peaceful citizens.

Foreign invaders would no longer threaten the temple or the people. Actually, verses 1–8 had a partial fulfillment when these Gentile powers were conquered by Alexander the Great (see reference to Greece in v. 13).

First Coming of Messiah to Zion (9:9)

God’s people are next encouraged by the promise of the coming of the Messiah (King). Verse 9 describes His First Coming, in lowly grace, on a donkey. Both Matthew, the most Jewish of the four Gospels, and John, the most universal, quote this verse as referring to the so-called “Triumphal Entry” of our Lord into Jerusalem.

Disarmament and Universal Peace at the Second Coming of Christ (9:10)

Verse 10, however, looks forward to His Second Advent, when He will come in power and great glory. Weapons of war will be abolished, and Christ will reign “from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah is quoting Ps. 72:8).

Return of Captives to Jerusalem from Exile (9:11-12)

“The blood of your covenant” refers to the blood by which a covenant was sealed. This expression could refer to the covenant of the law (Ex. 24:8), the covenant guaranteeing the land to Israel (Deut. 30:1–10), the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:4–17), or the general covenantal relationship of Israel with Jehovah.

Israel’s captives will be set free from the waterless pit of foreign countries and returned to the stronghold, which may mean Jerusalem, Palestine, or God Himself.
Triumph of All Israel over Greece (9:13)

Judah and Israel (Ephraim) will be conquering nations in that day, subduing Greece. This prophecy was partially fulfilled in the War of the Maccabees, 175–163 B.C. It also anticipates the final restoration of Israel from worldwide dispersion.

Intervention of Jehovah to Protect His People (9:14–17)

We have a vivid description of what amounts to a “holy war”:
Not only will God’s victors drink full of the blood of their vanquished enemies and be like the sacrificial bowls filled with blood to be sprinkled upon the sides of the altar and its horns, but they shall come through gory triumph bespattered with blood like the corners of the altar.

Chapter 10

People Exhorted to Ask for Rain from the Lord, Not from Idols (10:1-2)
The people are exhorted to ask the LORD for rain and not to pray to worthless idols. Idolatry causes people to wander like sheep without a shepherd.

God Will Punish the Leaders of Judah, Raise Up the Messiah, and Give Victory to the People (10:3–5)

God’s anger is kindled against the shepherds and leaders (goatherds) for leading the people astray. The LORD will visit the flock of Judah and transform it into a war horse.
Many commentators interpret verse 4 as a promise of the Messiah. Coming out of Judah, He would be the chief cornerstone, the tent peg, the battle bow, and the ruler. In any case, the men of Judah will gloriously triumph over their enemies.

Israel and Judah Will Be Regathered and Restored (10:6–12)
Verses 6–12 predict the regathering of both Israel (Joseph) and Judah from worldwide dispersion. Israel (Ephraim) will be like a mighty warrior.
The Lord will whistle for His people and gather them back into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, from Egypt and from Assyria where He had sown or scattered them. The nations that formerly enslaved them will be punished, and Judah and Israel will glory in the name of the Lord. The “He” in verse 11 is the LORD.

Chapter 11

Unfaithful Rulers Will Be Punished (11:1–3)

Chapter 11 deals with the rejection of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and also with the rise of the Antichrist.

The first three verses may be a literal description of the destruction wrought in the forests of Israel (Lebanon), both in the highlands and in the lowlands. The shepherds howl because the pastures along the Jordan are ruined and their sheep have nothing to eat. Some think this points forward to the devastation of the land by the Romans in A.D. 70.

Messiah Becomes True Shepherd of the Flock (11:4–8a)

The LORD instructs Zechariah to assume the role of a shepherd whose flock is doomed to slaughter. In this, Zechariah is a type of the Lord Jesus. The sheep (the Jewish remnant) have been cruelly exploited by their previous shepherds (rulers). God has determined to deliver the wicked inhabitants of the land into the hands of the Roman emperor whom they will acknowledge as their king (John 19:15).

In carrying out the role of shepherd, Zechariah took two staffs—grace (Beauty) and union (Bonds). They represent God’s desire to show grace to His people, and to unite Judah and Israel. Zechariah had to dismiss three false shepherds, generally taken to refer to the three offices of king, priest and prophet, in order to do his work.
Messiah Is Rejected by His People (11:8b–14)

When the people reject the shepherd, he leaves them to their fate. Zechariah then breaks the first staff (Beauty) in two, annulling the covenant that restrained the Gentiles from oppressing God’s people. Only the poor of the flock understood what God was doing and why.
When Zechariah asks for his wages, they give him thirty pieces of silver—the redemption price of a slave who has been gored by an ox. This payment is cast to the potter, a prophecy of what Judas would do after his betrayal of the Lord.

Then Zechariah cuts in two his other staff, (Bonds), indicating that the brotherhood between Judah and Israel was broken, and that there would be disunity and internal strife among the Jews.

God Delivers Them over to the Idol Shepherd (Antichrist) (11:15–17)
Because Israel rejected the Good Shepherd, they would be given a false shepherd. Zechariah acts this out by taking the implements of a worthless shepherd. This points to the future Antichrist, who will not care for the sheep but will rob and slay them.

PART 4

THE SECOND ORACLE OR BURDEN, EMPHASIZING MESSIAH’S SECOND ADVENT Chapter’s 12-14

Jerusalem Will Be a Source of Trouble to the Nations (12:1–3)

Here the Gentile nations are seen marching against Jerusalem in a future day. All who trouble the city will be greatly troubled. They will hurt themselves in trying to lift this very heavy millstone.

The Lord Will Destroy the Enemies of Judah (12:4)

In that day God will strike the invaders, both horse and rider, with madness and panic.

The Jews Will Acknowledge God as Their Strength (12:5)
The governors of Judah outside of Jerusalem shall say in their heart that the inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength from the LORD.

Outlying Judah Will Devour Its Enemies and Will Be First to Gain the Victory (12:6–9)
In that day, the governors of Judah will be like a devouring fire, burning everything they touch. Victory will come first to the inhabitants of outlying Judah so that the men of Jerusalem will not be exalted above them. The inhabitants of Jerusalem will be protected and strengthened, and the invading Gentile nations will be destroyed.

The Nation Will Mourn Over Its Rejection of the Messiah (12:10–14)
The people will mourn bitterly when they look on the Messiah whom they had pierced. “Then they shall look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son” (v. 10b). Notice “on Me.” The One whom they pierced was the Lord Jesus Christ, Jehovah. Mourning for an only son was the deepest form of sorrow for an Israelite. Concerning “the mourning at Hadad Rimmon” (v. 11), see 2 Chronicles 35:20–24. The mourners will include the royal family, the prophets (Nathan), the priests (Levi), the teachers (Shimei), and the people. Some think that Shimei should be Simeon, who, with Levi, was cruel to the men of Shechem (Gen. 34:25). Notice the repetition of the words by themselves (vv. 12–14); true confession requires us to be alone with God.

Provision Will Be Made for Cleansing from Sin (13:1)
The first verse of chapter 13 is closely connected with the preceding chapter. After the people of Judah and Israel have been brought to the place of repentance for their rejection of the Messiah, then will follow a great national day of atonement. The fountain for cleansing was opened at Calvary, but Israel nationally will not enter into the good of it until the Second Advent.

Idols and False Prophets Will Be Banished (13:2–6)
The land will be purged of idols, and false prophets and unclean spirits will be banished. These verses also apparently describe the wrath which will come upon false prophets in the day of Israel’s restoration. If a man falsely poses as a prophet, his own parents will threaten him and stab him. Men will not lightly claim to be prophets if they are not truly sent by God but will rather identify themselves as farmers, or whatever occupation they actually hold. If a false prophet has been stabbed or if he has wounds which were self-inflicted as part of the cultic practices of the false prophets, he will not give the real reason when asked about them. Rather, he will give some ambiguous answer, such as, “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”

Messiah Will Be Slain and Israel Scattered (13:7)
Verse 7 starts a section that all believing Bible students consider messianic. Jehovah orders His sword to awake against the Lord Jesus. The Shepherd was struck at Calvary, and the Jewish sheep have been scattered ever since.

A Remnant of the Nation Will Return to the Lord (13:8-9)
Because of their rejection of the Lord Jesus, two-thirds of the nation will die during the Great Tribulation, yet a remnant of one-third will be preserved. This remnant will be refined like silver and gold. They will acknowledge God, and He will acknowledge them as “My people.”

Gentiles Will Gather Against Jerusalem (14:1-2)
The day of the LORD here refers to the final siege of Jerusalem by the nations. The invading armies will divide the spoil they have taken inside the city. Half of the people will be taken into captivity and the other half will remain.

The Lord Himself Will Intervene (14:3–5)
Then the LORD Himself will come to the Mount of Olives. The Mount will be split in two, half to the north and half to the south, with a very large valley between. “Thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You.” Commentator Merrill Unger explains: “To demonstrate his ecstasy, the seer passes from indirect to direct address, a phenomenon often met with in animated Hebrew style.”

Cosmic Changes in Weather and in Illumination (14:6-7)
The precise meaning of this passage is so obscure that many modern versions (such as Moffatt, RSV, NEB, NIV) have adapted one or more of the ancient translations, which convey the idea “that all extremes of temperature will cease.” Baldwin gives as an alternative translation of the last clause of verse 6 in the Hebrew text, “’the splendid ones (stars), congeal,’ that is, lose their brightness.”

The general meaning of the text is clear: the changes predicted will be cosmic in scope.

River of Living Water (14:8)
Living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half to the Dead Sea (eastern sea) and half to the Mediterranean (the western sea) in all seasons.

Christ Will Reign as King (14:9)
The LORD shall be King over all the earth and He shall be acknowledged as the only true God.

Geographical Changes in the Land (14:10)
All the land shall be turned into a plain, with Jerusalem elevated above the rest.

Jerusalem Inhabited and Secure (14:11)
Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited, and the people who dwell in it will no longer be under the threat of enemy invasion and utter destruction.

Plague and Panic Will Afflict the Gentile Foes (14:12–15)
Chronologically these verses belong with 14:3, which describes Christ conquering the enemies of Israel. These enemies will be struck with a terrible death of either a disease type or, as some modern commentators believe, the effect of radiation weapons such as nuclear warheads—“their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths.” There will be a great panic from the LORD. Rural Judah will assist in the defense of Jerusalem, and the spoil shall be great.

Gentile Survivors Will Worship at Jerusalem Or Be Under Penalty of the Plague (14:16–19)
Surviving Gentile nations will come to Jerusalem annually to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Why Tabernacles? It is the birthday of the King (Jesus); also, it is symbolic of God’s provision (all things come from His hands), and reminds the world of their dependence upon God. Those refusing to come and worship will suffer drought. Egypt is mentioned specifically as one of the countries that will have no rain if they are disobedient.

Even Common Utensils and Objects Will Be Sacred to the Lord, and Merchants Will Not Trade in the House of the Lord (14:20–21)

In that day everything will be “HOLINESS TO THE LORD.” There will be no difference between “secular” and “sacred.” Even the bells on the horses and the common pots in Jerusalem and Judah will be sacred! The Canaanite—a derisive term for a huckster or an unclean person—will be banished from the temple, the house of the LORD of hosts.