As we saw in the first article on Zechariah 14 the prophet predicted the “day of the Lord.” Most people assume the “coming of the Lord” language must refer to some yet future event. Deaver addresses this assumption while commenting on Matthew 24:29-31: “It is commonly assumed that the vivid descriptives used in verses 29 and 30 relate to the Lord’s final coming and the end of the world. However, such an assumption is entirely without warrant. The Lord employs apocalyptic terminology with which the disciples would be completely familiar. It is imperative that we be familiar with the same kind of terminology which is employed in the Old Testament.” (Roy Deaver, Premillennialism: Matthew Chapters 24 and 25 Do Not Teach It, Getwell church of Christ, Memphis, 1977)14).
This is well stated but certainly raises the question as to why we should not apply this principle to passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4; 2 Thessalonians 1; 3 Peter 3; Revelation 21-22, etc–in fact every passage predictive of the Lord’s parousia! This is especially challenging since all New Testament eschatological predictions spring from the Old Testament! If the Old Testament was apocalyptic/spiritual in its predictions of eschatology then upon what principle does one “literalize” that language when it is quoted in the New Testament?
Zechariah 14 And The Day Known Only To The Lord
Beiderwolf says the phrase “known to the Lord” in Zechariah 14:7 implies that it was known to Him alone. (Second Coming Bible,305).
The Pulpit Commentary (W. J. Deane, Vol. 14, Eerdmans, 157) and Pusey (The Minor Prophets, Baker, 1979, Vol. II, p. 451) concur that verse 7 means that the Day of the Lord was known only by God.
The International Critical Commentary also cross references Matthew 24:36 and Zechariah 14:7. (W. C. Allen, International Critical Commentary, T & T Clark, 1957, p. 260).
The New English Bible renders the verse, “whose coming is known only to the Lord.” My Open Study Bible gives Matthew 24:36 as a cross-reference for Zechariah 14:7.
Zechariah 14, The Day Known To The Lord, and the Olivet Discourse
One of the traditional and fundamental arguments for a division of the Olivet Discourse is that in Matthew 24:4-35 Jesus had told his disciples, “precisely when the destruction of Jerusalem would be: during their lifetime and they could read the signs of the approaching army so closely that they could escape it. But of His coming, no one knows when it will be–neither man, nor angels, nor Jesus himself. Only the Father knows, vs. 36.” (Stafford North, Armageddon When? Oklahoma Christian College, Oklahoma City, Ok., 1982, p. 48). Oklahoma Christian College is now Oklahoma University of the Science and Arts.
Kik also argues that in Matthew 24:15f Jesus gave signs whereby the disciples could discern the approaching disaster and says that if the parousia was synonymous with that event then Jesus could not say the day and hour was unknown (Marcellus Kik, Matthew XXIV, Presbyterian and Reformed Press, 1948)148.
These arguments fail on several accounts. First Jesus, in giving the signs simply told his disciples that by watching the signs they could know when his coming was at hand. He did not tell them they could know the day or hour. Second, Jesus positively said the fall of Jerusalem, which would be his coming, would be in that generation but that prediction did not inform his disciples “precisely” when the fall of Jerusalem would occur.
Now since Zechariah 14 and Matthew 24 predicted the same event, the coming of the Lord in the judgment of Jerusalem, and since Zechariah 14 said that “day” was known only to the Lord, it is therefore prima facie evident that Jesus could have meant the same thing in Matthew 24:36. This means that Matthew 24:36 disappears as the “Continental Divide” of the Olivet Discourse! This means that the entire discourse speaks solely of Christ’s coming at the end of the Old Covenant World of Israel in AD 70!
The Argument From Zechariah 14
We would construct our argument thusly:
Zechariah said the day of the Lord was known only to the Lord (Zechariah 14:7).
Jesus said the day of the Lord was known only to the Lord (Matthew 24:36).
But the day of the Lord in Zechariah that was known only to the Lord, was the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Zechariah 14:1-5).
Therefore the day of the Lord- The Day known only to the Lord, in Matthew 24:36 was the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
There are very few ways to counter the force of the argument presented above.
A.) Disprove the parallel between Zechariah 14:7 and Matthew 24:36. But a computer concordance search reveals that there are only two verses in the entire Bible that speak of a day known only to the Lord, Zechariah 14:7 and Matthew 24:36. Unless one can prove that in Matthew 24 Jesus was speaking of another day of the Lord known only to the Lord then the connection between the verses is established. But if Matthew 24:36 is dependent upon Zechariah then since Zechariah is predictive of the AD 70 parousia, then Matthew 24:36 cannot be used to divide the Olivet Discourse into two subjects. Matthew 24:36 must refer to the AD 70 coming of the Lord.
Now since Zechariah 14 speaks of the AD 70 parousia of the Lord and says it was known only to the Lord, it is patently false to argue that Jesus in Matthew 24 was saying his disciples could know the day. It is equally manifest that since Zechariah 14 said the AD 70 parousia was known only to the Lord that Jesus could say the same thing in Matthew 24:36. One simply cannot admit that Zechariah 14 predicted the AD 70 epiphany and then insist that while Zechariah 14:7 and Matthew 24:36 say the same thing about the Day of the Lord being known only to the Lord, that Matthew must refer to an end of time event! Zechariah 14:7 proves beyond doubt that Jesus, in Matthew 24:36, could say the day and hour of the fall of Jerusalem was known only to his father!
B.) Prove that there were/are two different days of the Lord related to judgment on Israel–during the Messianic reign–which would result in the establishment of the fountain for the cleansing of Israel’s sin and the Sovereignty of Jehovah! This is what Zechariah 14 predicted (14:8f). Jesus also associated the coming of redemption and the kingdom with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Luke 21:28-32).
C.) Demonstrate that since/if Matthew 24:36 divides the Olivet Discourse into a discussion of the fall of Jerusalem and an “end of time” that Zechariah does as well. The argument is that Matthew 24:36 is the great dividing verse of the Discourse. The trouble is that no one has proven that this verse actually divides the Discourse! The evidence is just not there!
If Zechariah 14:7 and Matthew 24:36 are parallel then Zechariah 14:7 must be a Continental Divide of Zechariah 14. To my knowledge this argument has never been suggested. But if Zechariah 14:7 and Matthew 24:36 are parallel, and if Zechariah 14:1-6 speak of the fall of Jerusalem in AD7 0, and if verse 7 does not divide the chapter into a discussion of AD 70 and the “end of time,” then since Matthew 24:4-34 discusses the AD 70 event and verse 36 is parallel to Zechariah, then it cannot be argued that verse 36 divides the chapter into two subjects.
Zechariah 14 therefore becomes a devastating argument for the unity of the Olivet Discourse.
If it is admitted for one moment that Zechariah 14:7 applies to the AD 70 coming of the Lord–and it can hardly be denied–then the AD 70 event was a day known only to the Lord. If it is admitted that Matthew 24:36 and Zechariah 14:7 are parallel, then one cannot argue in Matthew 24 that the AD 70 event was a day known whereas a yet future event was/is unknown. This destroys forever the very foundation of the argument for a divided Olivet Discourse.
See my book, Who Is This Babylon? for a lengthy discussion of the significance of Zechariah 14.
Ensuing articles will investigate further the riches of Zechariah 14. Stay tuned.