A Question I Was Asked:

What is the Best Understanding of Zechariah 14:4?

How do you understand Zech. 14:4? My 'dispensational' friends would insist that when Christ comes again a 2nd time, He will come down placing his feet onto the mount of Olives and that as verse 9 suggests, He will reign from Jerusalem over all the earth during the 'millennium'. They compare this with Acts 1:11, where the two men in white tell the disciples that Jesus will come back in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. According to verse 12, the disciples were on the mount called Olivet (Olives).
Zech. 14 is in general a difficult passage to understand from an amillennial, mainly preterist, point of view.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Thanks for an interesting question, but I don't think it is necessarily difficult to answer from an amillienial point of view (I am partial preterist), the thing to do is keep out all presuppositions. Okay, let us look at this:

On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. (Zechariah 14:4).

The subject here is God's final complete victory over the evil upon earth and His universal reign. This ties up with the time when God will dramatically intervene in the affairs of the world when the Church itself is about to be destroyed but for God's intervention (Revelation 11). Colourful language is employed because this is written in the apocalyptic style. The first few verses of Zechariah 14 might give the impression that this speaks of Jerualem being devastated as it was in AD 70. See this:

1. A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls. 2. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. (Zechariah 14:1-2).

But not "all nations" were involved in AD 70, or could the ruling Roman Empire of that period said to be representative of 'all nations'? Quite possibly. But from verse 3 the narrative is almost certainly referring to a future time, the time of Christ's return in glory and power.

5....Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. 6. On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. 7. It will be a unique day - a day known only to the Lord - with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. 8. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. 9. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name. (5b-9, same chapter).

So this speaks of the time of our Lord's return to earth and ties up quite well with many verses in Revelation, including much of Revelation 11. Now there is no doubt that literalists of the Dispensational and Adventist type have caused much confusion in their handling of some of these prophecies and apocalyptic writings, especially in their foolish setting out of point-by-point time schedules of "the events soon to come," nevertheless, we should not emasculate what will undoubtedly be perilous times upon our planet.

Does Zechariah 14:4 tie up with Acts 1:11?

9. After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11).

Okay, this is again referring to Christ returning in power, but nothing here teaches a "millenium" in which Christ will set up a government upon this earth for just 1,000 years, with thousands of men and women continuing to live (apparently) normal flesh and blood existences, and with another "second coming" to occur at the conclusion of this 1,000 years. No, taking all of Scripture into account, this surely speaks of Christ returning and reclaiming this earth from the influence of evil - at the end of human time. At that future time the saints (those finally redeemed from the earth) will have access to both earth and heaven. Jerusalem is important because of its symbolism. Some have been too quick to read all sorts of things into these prophecies which are not there. At that future time all rebellion against God will have been put down. The earth will be purified by fire which will obviously not harm the saints of God:

By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgement and destruction of the ungodly. (2 Peter 3:7).

26. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." 27. The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken - that is, created things - so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29. for our "God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:26-29).

Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1).

But - it might be asked - does this not leave us with further questions? Of course it does and that will remain the case since we are currently only seeing through a glass darkly:

8. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10. but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:8-12).

The danger is in thinking we have all knowledge when it comes to prophecy - none of us do, but far too many have pretended to have.

Robin A. Brace. April 16th, 2016.