Zechariah 2022 Bible Study (Return to Me)

Zechariah 14, Victorious


On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37–39 ESV)

We have looking at the prophecies of Zechariah to see amazing pictures of what God was going to accomplish for his people when Christ came. In the last two chapters we saw that when the shepherd was struck, God would be coming through Christ to strengthen his people, transform his people, forgive his people, and answer his people. The cross of Jesus was to be the moment that cut people to the heart, mourning over their sins and changing their lives for the Lord. Zechariah 14 continues these pictures, revealing what God is going to do when Christ comes to the earth. We noted in the last lesson that we keep reading this phrase, “In that day.” “In that day” is referring to the arrival of Jesus on the earth and what would be accomplished when Jesus gave his life for the world. The repetition of the phrase, “In that day” continues in chapter 14, pointing to this same period of time, showing us what God was doing when Christ came into the world and gave his life on the cross, then rose from the dead.

Before we can get into this chapter, it is important to remember that Zechariah’s prophecy are full of imagery. God likes to use vivid imagery to reveal his glory. For example, in the prior chapter the prophet proclaimed, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd… Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Zechariah 13:7). People were not wandering around looking for an actual shepherd in a meadow, killed by a sword, and all the sheep running away. It was a picture. It was vivid imagery to depict that Jesus would function as our shepherd, but would be killed, and his disciples would desert him (cf. Matthew 26:31).

We are in a world right now that lacks some of that imagination. People rather just get to the point in 280 characters or less. So please read these symbolic pictures as pointing to the great works God will do. You are not supposed to get stuck on a particular detail but soak in the whole image as it is painted before your eyes. There are a myriad of images presented in Zechariah 14. But we are going to consolidate these into three big pictures and notice those myriad of images within the framework of these three big pictures.

Victorious Exodus (14:1-7)

The first big picture can be summarized as a victorious exodus. We are introduced to another picture of the world powers and peoples standing against the people of God (14:1-2). We saw a similar visual in chapter 12. But as the world attacks and persecutes God’s people, the Lord will fight those nations. The picture is that of the exodus when God had to fight Egypt on behalf of his people to set them free. Such is the picture here. In verse 4 we are told that the Mount of Olives will be split in two so that the people will be able to escape, as pictured in verse 5. We are not there yet but you will notice that there are plagues sent by God in verses 12-15 causing a great panic. Through the plagues in Egypt, God created a great panic in the land, split the Red Sea in two, and the people crossed to their freedom. Now we have a picture of God causing a great panic by sending a plague on those who attack God’s people. The people need to be set free from physical Jerusalem. So the Mount of Olives which is just to the east of the city is split in two so that the people of God can escape to their freedom. This is all victory language in this section. Verses 6-7 picture this constant day, like in the days of Joshua where the sunlight held so that the people of Israel could finish with victory.

I want us to love the picture of verse 4 with the Lord standing on the Mount of Olives in victory. We can read about Jesus’ arrest taking place on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30). But the victory image is found in the book of Acts. In Acts 1 after Jesus gives his final instructions to his disciples, Jesus ascends into heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12). All of these pictures reveal to us that we are part of the great exodus from sin because God is with us and fighting for us. When Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” he accomplished the victory. This ties into the second big picture found in verses 8-15.

Victorious Reign (14:8-15)

The very next picture begins with the Lord as the king over all the earth (14:9). This is also what was symbolized when Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives. Listen to what the prophet Daniel says happened when Jesus ascended.

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13–14 ESV)

As I noted earlier in the lesson, this section continues this great exodus imagery as you are reading about plagues falling on those who are enemies of God’s people. Jesus obtains the victory through his death and resurrection. He then ascends to heaven to take his rightful place on the throne as ruler over all creation. Or we can use Jesus’ own words after his resurrection.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18 ESV)

But I want us to see what the reign of Jesus is accomplishing for us and for the world. Look at Zechariah 14:8. The prophet says on that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem. Listen to the visual. Living waters are going to flow equally to the eastern sea and to the western sea. There is a complete covering of the earth with these living waters. Notice that the living waters do not diminish. They will continue in the summer and in the winter. The idea here is how we experience wet seasons and dry seasons. Our winter time is our dry season when it hardly rains. The picture here is that the living waters will flow in all directions over the earth and never diminish or recede. We began the lesson with a reading from John 7. Let’s look at what Jesus said in John 7.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37–39 ESV)

The reason for the kingship of Jesus and his conquering is so that life can be offered to the world. Jesus saying that he has all authority on heaven and on earth should not be intimidating to us. Rather, it is to generate thanksgiving in us. He has conquered evil. He has conquered sin. He has conquered all enemies and will continue to conquer all enemies. He has conquered Satan. Everything that stood against us and kept us from having life has been conquered. Jesus has authority over that. Jesus has authority over everything so that nothing can hold you back from enjoying life with him. Living waters are flowing in all directions over the earth, never drying up or diminishing because Jesus has achieved a victory for us.

Notice the timing given for when this took place. Jesus says in John 7:39 that this would happen when Jesus was glorified. The Gospel of John constantly points to the glorification of Jesus as when he dies on the cross and raises from the dead. This is what Zechariah 14 has been pointing to also. On the day the Lord conquers, he will be king over the whole earth, he will causing living waters to flow through the earth, and he will bring security to his people because he has dealt with their enemies (14:11-15), just like he did against Egypt in the exodus.

Before we go to the final picture and the finale of this book, I want for us to think about all that has been painted for us. God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ so he could be your immovable rock. He did this so he could make you like David. He did this so that you can be led in life like Israel was led by the angel of the Lord in the wilderness. He did this so you would look upon him and be moved with repentant sorrow. He did this so you would seek his mercy and grace. He did this so you could experience a fountain of forgiveness poured out on you, washing your sins away. He did this to remove those idols and worthless shepherds from your life. He did this so that you would be refined rather than destroyed by life’s trials. He did this so that when you call, he can answer you. He did this so you would say that the Lord is YOUR God and that you would hear in your ears and in your heart that you are his people. He has planted his feet on the Mount of Olives, opening a way of escape so that you can access rivers of living waters. What do you think the final picture would be about us? Look at verses 16-21 of Zechariah 14.

Victorious Worship (14:16-21)

Everyone is going to go up and worship the King (14:16). The Feast of Booths was a week long festival where the people took the time to thank God for his abundant grace in providing a good harvest (cf. Deuteronomy 16:15) and to remember how they lived in tents after being rescued from Egypt’s slavery (cf. Leviticus 23:42-43). So you see that we are maintaining the exodus imagery throughout this chapter and even ending with it. Notice the plague imagery also continues here in verses 17-19. The whole exodus happened because God had called for his people to go into the wilderness to worship and Egypt refused to let them go (Exodus 3:18). People are going to see all that God has done through the cross which will cause the people to want to come and worship him.

This is what worship is all about. I think about when I was growing up in the pews and how often preachers would use the scriptures to tell people how they are supposed to go to church. You are commanded to go to church. You are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. But I want us to see how God approaches us with worship. We should want to come to worship because of everything God has done for us. Worship is not supposed to some compulsory activity that we have to do. God is not looking for people who feel like they have to worship. Rather, worship is a celebration to the Lord as we praise Jesus and offer thanks for all that he has done for us, as detailed in these last few chapters of Zechariah. His victory is our reason for worship.

This is what leads to our transformation. Notice the picture in verse 20. Everyone and everything in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord. This picture includes us. We are to be holy to the Lord because of what God has done for us. This is what Peter proclaimed.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14–16 ESV)

What God has done transforms us to be worshiping people and holy people. We now will say no to our desires and yes to the Lord because he has rescued us, opened the fountain of living waters for us, and see that he has conquered everything that stood against us. The authority of Jesus has been used to cleanse us. Do not go back into the filth. The fountain of mercy was opened and living waters are flowing to you. Do not go back to the empty and worthless way of living. God is making everything holy just as he is holy. All who belong to him must also be holy. If you want to drink from the living waters, you need to live in a way that honors what Jesus has done for you. Jesus has brought about a victorious exodus and established his victorious reign so that we would worship him and walk worthy of the calling to which we have been called.

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