The Eschatology of Zechariah 14 – The Coming of the Lord With His Saints – #8

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zechariah 14Our study of Zechariah 14 and the prediction of the coming of the Lord with His saints has led us to examine several key NT predictions that clearly draw from Zechariah 14. One NT text that is seldom examined in-depth in the study of eschatology is from the fascinating little book of Jude. Be sure to read the entire series on Zechariah and the coming with the saints, beginning here.

Zechariah 14 and the Book of Jude

Jude was written during a time of theological crisis. Jude had wanted to write to his readers about the “common faith, once for all delivered to the saints” (v. 3) but, the appearance of the false teachers necessitated that he address that threat head on. The danger was present, it was real, and it was pressing.

Like Paul does in 1 Corinthians 10, Jude recounts several examples of disobedience by Israel in the past, and the judgments of YHVH against the leaders of those rebellions.

Jude reminds his readers of the predictions made by the Old Covenant prophets and the apostles (v. 14, 17) that scoffers would come in the last days, and be destroyed by the coming of the Lord “with ten thousand of his saints.”   What OT prophecies might he have had in mind? Well, clearly, Zechariah 14 anticipated the coming of the Lord with his saints, in judgment of Jerusalem (i.e. the ungodly). But, we would note both an OT prophecy of the coming of the scoffers in the last days, and, a NT prophecy as well.

Zechariah 14- Jude and Isaiah 28

Isaiah 28:
“Your covenant with death will be annulled, And your agreement with Sheol will not stand; When the overflowing scourge passes through, Then you will be trampled down by it. 19 As often as it goes out it will take you; For morning by morning it will pass over, And by day and by night; It will be a terror just to understand the report.” 20 For the bed is too short to stretch out on, And the covering so narrow that one cannot wrap himself in it. 21 For the Lord will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon— That He may do His work, His awesome work, And bring to pass His act, His unusual act. 22 Now therefore, do not be mockers, Lest your bonds be made strong; For I have heard from the Lord God of hosts, A destruction determined even upon the whole earth.”

Space considerations forbid an extended discussion of this wonderful text but notice the relevant elements:

1.) In verses 16f, the Lord promised to lay the foundation of the Messianic Temple. It would be a living Stone.

2.) YHVH addresses the leaders of Israel who thought they had a covenant with “death” that they would not be touched by it, when the overwhelming flood (cf. Daniel 9:27) came against them. YHVH would show them that when He intended to judge them, their “covenant with death” would be annulled, and they would perish.

3.) YHVH (proleptically) addresses those who would scoff at His work of laying the foundation Stone. He warns them not to be “scoffers” because should they reject the work He was going to do, He would come in judgment.

4.) The judgment He would bring would be as when He “came” at Perazim and in the Valley of Gibeon. See my discussion of the Lord’s coming at Perazim and Gibeon in my The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat.

Study of 2 Peter 3

Here is a brief excerpt from that book, in which I discuss Perazim and Gibeon:

The Day of the Lord that the scoffers would deny would be the time when God destroyed “the whole earth” in a judgment like that of Mount Perazim and the Valley of Gibeon. The question is, how had Jehovah come at Perazim and Gideon? Had He come visibly, literally, bodily? No.

The referent to Perazim and Gibeon goes back to 2 Samuel 5:17f (parallel 1 Chronicles 14:8f). The Philistines had heard that David had been anointed king and decided to rebel. David inquired of the Lord for wisdom and counsel, and was told that Jehovah would go before him and defeat the Philistines. The only “manifestation” of Jehovah was: “when you hear a sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall go out to battle for God has gone out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.” (1 Chronicles 14:15). So, the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees would show David that YHVH was coming, acting as his advance force against the Philistines.

So, the Day of the Lord in Isaiah 28, when Jehovah would destroy “the whole earth” would be like His coming at Perazim. Yet, Perazim was not a time ending, visible, bodily coming of the Lord. The Day of the Lord at Perazim and Gibeon, was a historical Day of the Lord. It patently was not the end of human history.

Notice that Jude says he is reminding his readers of the OT prophecies of the coming of the Lord against the scoffers who would deny YHVH’s work of salvation. Interestingly, Isaiah 28 is one of only a very, very few OT prophecies of the coming of the Lord against the scoffers who would deny the Messianic work!

What is important of course is that Jude does more than simply reiterate those prophecies, he is saying that what had been predicted was unfolding before their eyes! The very men foretold by prophets of old were in their midst! Jude was not looking far off into the distant future. He was alarmed at what was happening among his flock, and was convinced that what was happening had been prophesied by the prophets of old.

Those prophets had stated that in “the last days” before the parousia of the Lord “with ten thousands of His saints” (v.14) immoral mockers would come. Jude says these men were present! This is prophecy and fulfillment.

The urgency and imminence of Jude simply cannot be ignored by a student of scripture. His entire message is that what had been foretold was now occurring. The coming of the Lord with his saints was therefore at hand. And there is no other coming of the Lord with his saints that better fits the bill than the AD 70 coming of Jesus Christ.

Now, if the prophecy of Zechariah 14 about the coming of the Lord with his saints, lies behind Jude, then we have powerful evidence that Jude believed that Zechariah 14 was being fulfilled, and was about to be consummated, in his day. And notice the parallels between Isaiah 28 and Zechariah 14.

Both Isaiah and Zechariah 14 posited that coming of the Lord at the time of the Kingdom– when the Lord’s Messiah would build the Temple (Isaiah 28), and when the King would sit on the throne (Zechariah 14)– which is a Temple motif.

Both Isaiah and Zechariah 14 anticipated and predicted the coming of Lord in a “historical” parousia– not in an “end of time” bodily, physical coming of the Lord. Isaiah specifically says that coming of the Lord would be like previous comings of the Lord, and Zechariah 14 posits it at the coming against Jerusalem.

Both Isaiah and Zechariah 14 clearly placed the coming of the Lord at the time of, and focused on the judgment of Old Covenant Israel / Jerusalem.

We could examine Jude more closely, but suffice it to say that the scoffers and apostates with whom Jude is dealing were Jewish scoffers and apostates. Some were former members of the body, but were now apostates, but, to be sure, they were now denying the work of Christ, and the Lord was about to come in judgment against them.

It is clearly outside the context of the urgency of Jude’s little letter to suggest, as does Moo, that Jude was referring to the entirety of the Christian age as the last days, and that therefore, the appearance of the scoffers were simply part of the “periodic appearance of scoffers.” (Douglas Moo, The NIV Application Commentary, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1996)282. This kind of “generalization” of the text nullifies the incredible sense of imminence, urgency, and the specific application of the former prophecies to what was happening right then, and right there.

Jude undoubtedly thought that what he and his audience was experiencing was the direct fulfillment of both the OT prophecies of the last days, and the apostolic warnings of the last days (more on the apostolic side of this in the next installment). There is no “far off” perspective in Jude!

So, Jude contains another of those important prophecies of the coming of the Lord with his saints, just as Zechariah 14 foretold. He reminded his audience that the OT prophets had foretold exactly what was happening in their midst, with the appearance of the “last days scoffers.” This could only mean that the Day of the Lord, in judgment of those scoffers, was near.

Side Bar: Much speculation has been generated about why Jude quotes  Enoch. We cannot solve that mystery except to say that Enoch had said what was true; Jude quoted a true statement. I think it is entirely possible that there had been an oral prophecy by Enoch, passed down orally through history, that the author of Enoch incorporated into his work. Thus, the prophecy of Enoch, recorded in the written work we know as Enoch, was true. That does not mean that every word in that book was true. It simply means that he was aware of the ancient oral prophecy, and utilized it in his work. What is interesting is that Enoch predicted that the Lord’s coming would be in the 70th generation from Adam. (The Book of Enoch, Translated by R. H. Charles, SPCK, 1993, X:12-13, p. 38). What generation would that be? It was Jesus’ generation, Luke 3!

More to come!