The book of Zechariah is, as most of the prophetic books, amazingly eschatological, especially Zechariah 14. Dispensationalists like to boast that preterists have no answers for the issues set forth in Zechariah, and particularly Zechariah 14. This is a specious and false claim and this brief study will demonstrate this.
One of the most interesting and significant studies within Zechariah is the term “in that day.” Appearing some seventeen times, this term almost invariably refers to Jesus’ work and his generation. To this writer’s knowledge not one reference to “in that day” extends beyond Jesus’ generation. I encourage the reader to investigate this fascinating study.
Zechariah 14 is especially significant to the study of eschatology. Our intent is to examine, although necessarily briefly, some of the vital themes in this chapter and show the correlation specifically to the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation.
Zechariah 14 And The Commentators
There has always been widespread belief that Zechariah 14 predicted the AD 70 parousia of Jesus. From early Christian times the church fathers applied this chapter to Jerusalem’s demise. Take note of some of those sources:
Eusebius, called the father of church history, says Zechariah 14 predicted, “the final siege of the people by the Romans, through which the whole Jewish race has become subject to their enemies” (Proof of the Gospel, Vol. I, (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1981)98.
The Second Coming Bible says Cyril and Theophylact held the view (William Beiderwolf, Baker, 1972)304).
Hengstenberg also cites Jerome and “several others, particularly of the fathers” who applied this chapter “to the captivity by the Romans.” ( E. W. Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, Kregel, 1970)381).
Merrill Unger, the millennial writer, acknowledged that Zechariah’s prophecy was applied to AD 70 by “many early writers.” (Merrill F. Unger, Zechariah: Prophet of Messiah’s Glory, Zondervan, 1974)238-239).
The respected Methodist scholar Adam Clarke said, “This appears to be a prediction of that war in which Jerusalem was finally destroyed and the Jews scattered over the face of the earth.” (Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. IV, Abingdon)794).
Milton Terry in his Biblical Apocalyptics, says Zechariah spoke of the AD 70 coming of the Lord. (Biblical Apocalyptics, Baker, 1988)166f).
In more modern times this view has not fallen out of favor. Gentry, in the modern apology for post-millennialism, has an excellent discussion advocating the AD 70 application of Zechariah 14. (He Shall Have Dominion, Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, Tx., 1992)468-472). See my Who Is This Babylon?, for more on the connections between Zechariah 14 and how the early church applied it.
Some have, naturally, attempted to counter the application of Zechariah’s prophecy to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Attempts have been made to apply the prophecy to the Maccabean period or to a yet future time, the latter being the millennial posit. The millennialist rejects the AD 70 application because of his insistence on a literal interpretation of scripture regardless of how the New Covenant scriptures apply them. Unger is a good example of this. See also Keil and Delitzsch. But long ago Eusebius responded to such views:
“Neither in the time of the Macedonians from Alexander onwards, not even if you include the reign of Augustus, was anything similar to the words of the prophet fulfilled. For when in those days did the Lord, Whom the prophet speaks of as divine, come among men and many nations know him and confess Him the only God, and take refuge in Him and be to Him a people? Or when in the times of the Macedonians or Persians did the king who was foretold come, sitting upon an ass and a young colt? When did He come and utterly destroy the royal array of the Jewish nation, here called Ephraim, and of Jerusalem itself, called chariots and horses, and conquer the army of the Jews?” (Eusebius, Proof, BK. VIII, chapt. 4, p. 144). (Is it not significant that Eusebius recognized that in the fall of Jerusalem, Jesus came? DKP)
Clearly, Zechariah 14 has a strong tradition of application to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. But we do not have to take the words of uninspired men to come to this conclusion– and of course, church history and the creeds are not determinative of truth. We have the Bible itself as a divine commentary on Zechariah 14.
ZECHARIAH 14 AND THE OLIVET DISCOURSE
When one does a comparative study of the Olivet Discourse and Zechariah 14 the parallels become very impressive indeed.
Zechariah 14 Olivet Discourse
Siege of Jerusalem, vs. 1-2 — Siege of Jerusalem, Mt. 24:2f
Day of the Lord, vs. 1, 5 — Coming of the Son of Man, 24:30-31
Coming with his holy ones, vs. 5 — Coming with his angels, 24:31
Jews led away captive into the nations, vs. 2 Jews led away captive into the nations, Luke 21:24
Flight from judgment, vs. 5 — Flight from judgment, vs. 15f
Day known only to the Lord, vs. 7 — Day known only to the Lord, vs. 36
The parallel between the passages can hardly be doubted. In the next installment of our examination of Zechariah 14 we will show the incredible implications of the connection between Zechariah 14 and the Olivet Discourse, so stay tuned!