Zechariah 14:3
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
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Zechariah 14:3. Then shall the Lord — After he hath sufficiently punished Jerusalem and the rest of the Jewish nations; go forth — Out of his holy place, as a warrior prepared for battle. This is spoken after the manner of men; and fight against those nations — Which had taken and destroyed Jerusalem, and oppressed his people. As when he fought in the day of battle — As in those days when he evidently fought for his people. The meaning is, that in after times God would discomfit and destroy the posterity of these nations, namely, the Roman idolaters and those under their empire; that when he had made use of them as a scourge to his people, he would execute his judgments upon them, as when he fought against the enemies of his church formerly, the Egyptians, Canaanites, and others. Observe here, reader, the instruments of God’s wrath will themselves be made the objects of it; for it will come to their turn to drink of the cup of trembling; and whom God fights against, he will be sure to overcome. It is observable that the Roman empire never flourished after the destruction of Jerusalem as it had done before; but God evidently fought against it, and against all the nations under its dominion, or in alliance with it, till at last it was subverted and destroyed, its richest cities taken and plundered, and its various provinces ravaged by the Goths and Vandals, and other barbarous invaders.

Zechariah 14:4-5, And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, &c. — It is very difficult to say to what time this prediction refers, or what is its precise meaning. Commentators are not at all agreed on the subject. Some think the passage refers to the time immediately subsequent to the destruction of Jerusalem, foretold in Zechariah 14:1-2, and that it is to be understood figuratively, namely, 1st, That by the Lord’s standing before Jerusalem on the east, is meant, his drawing peculiarly near to his church and people, here, as frequently elsewhere, signified by Jerusalem; and that he would be at hand to succour and save them; and would give success to, and be manifested in, the gospel preached by his apostles, who received their commission on that mount before Christ’s ascension. 2d, That by the cleaving of the mount of Olives in the midst, toward the east and toward the west, so as to make a very great valley, is meant the removing of the ceremonial law, which was like an aspiring mountain, or partition wall, between the Jews and Gentiles, and a great obstruction to the conversion of the latter, and their entrance into the church of God: but that, by the destruction of Jerusalem, this mountain should be made to cleave, as it were, in the midst, this partition wall be broken down, and God’s church, the spiritual Jerusalem, made of easy access to the Gentiles. Thus the way of the Lord would be prepared, every mountain and hill brought low, and a plain and pleasant valley, or open way of communication, be found in the place of them: see Isaiah 40:4. 3d, That by the valley of the mountains, is meant the gospel church, to which, as a place of refuge, many of the Jews should flee, as people fled formerly from before the earthquake here mentioned, and should hasten into it together with the Gentiles. 4th, That by this valley reaching to Azal, or, to the separate place, as the word signifies, is signified that the privileges of the church should not be limited, as formerly, to any particular nation, or people, but should be extended to all those who, in obedience to the call of God, should come out from the world, separate themselves from sinners, devote themselves to God, and become his peculiar people. And, 5th, That by the Lord’s coming, and all his saints with him, is signified the spiritual coming and extension of his kingdom, whereby a multitude of converts, both of Jewish and Gentile extraction, should be made, who, through faith working by love, should become saints, or holy persons. This, in substance, seems to be Henry’s view of the passage, as it is that of many others.

Lowth, on the other hand, interprets it literally, as follows: His feet shall stand upon the mount of Olives — “The glory of the Lord, that is, the Shechinah, or symbol of God’s presence, when it departed from the city and temple, settled itself upon the mount of Olives, Ezekiel 11:23; so when God shall return to Jerusalem, [that is, to Jerusalem rebuilt and inhabited by the converted Jews restored to their own land, at the beginning of the millennium,] and make it the seat of his presence again, it [the Shechinah] shall return by the same way it departed, Ezekiel 43:2. We may add, that when our Lord ascended from the mourn of Olives, the angels told his disciples, he should come again in like manner, that is, in a visible and glorious appearance, at the same place, Acts 1:11-12. And the mount of Olives shall cleave, &c. — By an earthquake, such as was in the time of King Uzziah: see Amos 1:1. The middle of mount Olivet shall cleave asunder, and sink into a deep valley, so as to leave the two points, or tops of the hill, north and south, still standing. For mount Olivet, as we learn from Maundrell, had three tops, or eminences; one on the north side, another on the south, and a third in the middle, from whence Christ ascended, and where the Christians in after times erected a cross, in memory of his ascension there. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains — When ye see the mount of Olives cleave asunder, ye shall flee toward the valley for fear. The margin reads, The valley of my mountains, which may be understood of Zion and Moriah; but the Chaldee and LXX. read, The valley of my mountains shall be filled up; for the valley of the mountains shall join even to Azal, it shall even be filled up, as it was by the earthquake in the days of Uzziah. Josephus writes, (Ant. Jud., lib. 9. cap. 10,) ‘That before the city, at a place called Ερρωγη, [or the cleft,] one half of the mountain, on the western side, was broken off, and having rolled four furlongs toward the eastern mountain, stopped, so that the roads were choked up, and the king’s gardens.’ And the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints [or holy ones] with thee — Or with him, as the Chaldee and LXX. read.” “The words,” Lowth adds, “are a description of Christ’s coming to judgment, attended with all the holy angels, as the writers of the New Testament express it, the word קדשׁים, translated saints, often signifying angels: see Deuteronomy 33:2; so the word saints seems to be used 1 Thessalonians 3:13; and St. Jdg 1:14, quoting the prophecy of Enoch, says, The Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, or holy ones: a place exactly parallel with this of the text.”

One observation seems needful to be made here: if the visible and personal coming of Christ be intended in these verses, it certainly cannot be his coming to raise the dead and judge the world in righteousness, because that view of the passage would not, by any means, be consistent with what is said in the two next verses concerning the continually increasing light of knowledge, holiness, and happiness in the gospel church, till, at length, at evening time it shall be quite light: but it must rather be understood of his coming to introduce, establish, and perfect his millennial reign, believed in and expected generally in the first Christian church. The reader will consider these different interpretations, and will of course adopt that which he thinks the most probable.14:1-7 The Lord Jesus often stood upon the Mount of Olives when on earth. He ascended from thence to heaven, and then desolations and distresses came upon the Jewish nation. Such is the view taken of this figuratively; but many consider it as a notice of events yet unfulfilled, and that it relates to troubles of which we cannot now form a full idea. Every believer, being related to God as his God, may triumph in the expectation of Christ's coming in power, and speak of it with pleasure. During a long season, the state of the church would be deformed by sin; there would be a mixture of truth and error, of happiness and misery. Such is the experience of God's people, a mingled state of grace and corruption. But, when the season is at the worst, and most unpromising, the Lord will turn darkness into light; deliverance comes when God's people have done looking for it.The Lord shall go forth and shall fight - Jerome: "Is to be taken like that in Habakkuk, 'Thou wentest forth for the salvation of Thy people, for salvation with Thine Anointed" Habakkuk 3:13, and in Micah, 'For behold, the Lord cometh forth out of His place, and will come down and will tread upon the high places of the earth, and the mountains shall be molten under Him, and the valleys shall be cleft" Micah 1:3-4; and Isaiah also, "The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man; He shall stir up jealousy like a man of war; He shall cry; He shall prevail over His enemies" Isaiah 42:13. "God is said to 'go forth,' when by some wondrous deed He declares His Presence - His Deity is, as it were, laid up, so long as He holds Himself in, and does not by any token show His power. But He 'goes forth,' and bursts forth, when He exercises some judgment, and worketh some new work, which striketh terror." God then will "go forth out of His place," when He is constrained to break through His quietness and gentleness and clemency, for the amendment of sinners. He who elsewhere speaketh through the prophet, 'I, the Lord, change not' Malachi 3:6, and to whom it is said, 'Thou art the same' Psalm 102:28, and in the Epistle of James, 'With whom is no change' James 1:17, now 'goeth forth' and fighteth 'as in the day of battle,' when He overwhelmed Pharaoh in the Red sea; and 'fought for Israel.'" "The Lord shall fight for you," became the watchword of Moses Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30; Deuteronomy 13:22; Deuteronomy 20:4 and the warrior Joshua in his old age (Joshua 23:10; compare Joshua 10:14, Joshua 10:42; Joshua 23:3), after his life's experience Joshua 10:14, Joshua 10:42; Joshua 23:3, and Nehemiah. "Be not afraid by reason of this great multitude" Nehemiah 4:20, said Jahaziel, son of Zachariah, when the "Spirit of the Lord came upon" him; "for the battle is not your's, but God's" 2 Chronicles 20:15.

As He fought in the day of battle - Osorius: "All wars are so disposed by the power of God, that every victory is to be referred to His counsel and will. But this is not seen so clearly, when people, elate and confident, try to transfer to themselves all or the greater part of the glory of war. Then may the war be eminently said to be the Lord's, when no one drew sword, as it is written, "The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace" Exodus 14:14. Of all God's wars, in which human insolence could claim no part of the glory, none was more wondrous than that, in which Pharaoh and his army were sunk in the deep. "The Lord," said Moses Exodus 15:3, "is a man of war: the Lord is His Name." "That day of battle" was the image of one much greater. In that, Pharaoh's army was sunk in the deep; in this, the power of evil, in Hell: in that, what could in some measure be conquered by human strength, was subdued; in this, a tyranny unconquerable; in that, a short-lived liberty was set up; the liberty brought by Christ through subdual of the enemy, is eternal. As then the image yields to the truth, earthly goods to heavenly, things perishable to eternal, so the glory of that ancient victory sinks to nothing under the greatness of the latter."

3. Then—In Jerusalem's extremity.

as … in … day of battle—as when Jehovah fought for Israel against the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Ex 14:14; 15:3). As He then made a way through the divided sea, so will He now divide in two "the Mount of Olives" (Zec 14:4).

Then, after that he hath sufficiently punished Jerusalem and the rest of the Jews,

shall the Lord go forth, out of his holy place, (spoken after the manner of men,) as a warrior prepared for battle.

Fight against those nations, which had sacked Jerusalem, and oppressed his people.

As when he fought in the day of battle; as in any of those days past, when God fought for his people and gave them great victories. Then shall the Lord go forth,.... Out of his place in heaven, either in person, or by the display of his power; that is, the Lord Jesus Christ; whose name is called the Word of God, and is the King of kings, and Lord of lords, described as a mighty warrior, Revelation 19:11, &c.:

and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle: the Targum adds, "at the Red Sea"; when the Lord fought for, Israel against the Egyptians, Exodus 14:25 and afterwards against the Canaanites, when they entered the land of Canaan under Joshua: thus Christ shall judge, and make war in righteousness, and overcome those that shall make war with him; and with the sharp sword that goeth out of his mouth shall smite nations, and with a rod of iron rule them, and break them to shivers, Revelation 14:14 see also Ezekiel 38:21.

Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he {b} fought in the day of battle.

(b) As your fathers and you have had experience both at the Red Sea, and at all other times.

3. in the day of battle] Some, as Calvin, refer this generally to God’s manifold interpositions on behalf of His people, throughout the course of their history; but it is better to confine it to the first great typical interposition, when the word of command was, “Jehovah shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace”; and even the enemy was fain to confess, “Jehovah fighteth for them against the Egyptians,” Exodus 14:14; Exodus 14:25; comp. Habakkuk 3:15. A comparison may perhaps be suggested between the dividing of the Red Sea (Psalm 136:13), and of the Mount of Olives as here predicted.Verses 3-7. - § 6. Then the Lord himself comes to her help, great convulsions of nature accompanying his presence. Verse 3. - Shall go forth. God is said to "go forth" when he manifests his power by delivering his people and punishing their enemies (comp. Isaiah 26:21; Isaiah 42:13; Micah 1:3). As when he fought in the day of battle. The Hebrew is in general terms, "as when he fighteth in a day of battle," or, "slaughter;" Septuagint, καθὼς ἡμέρα παρατάξεως αὐτοῦ ἐν ἡμέρα πολέμου, "as a day of his battle in a day of war;" Vulgate, sicut praeliatus est in die certaminis. There is nothing in the text to confine the reference to any one special interposition; it refers rather to the general course of God's providence in defending his people, though, doubtless, the prophet has in his mind the crowning act of mercy at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13, 14, 25), which is so often referred to as a typical deliverance (comp. Isaiah 11:11; Jeremiah 16:14; Jeremiah 23:8; Habakkuk 3:15; and above, Zechariah 10:11). "And Jehovah will take possession of Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will yet choose Jerusalem. Zechariah 2:13. Be still, all flesh, before Jehovah; for He has risen up out of His holy habitation." The first hemistich of Zechariah 2:12 rests upon Deuteronomy 32:9, where Israel, as the chosen nation, is called the chēleq and nachălâh of Jehovah. This appointment of Israel to be the possession of Jehovah will become perfect truth and reality in the future, through the coming of the Lord. Yehūdâh is Judah as delivered, i.e., the remnant of the whole of the covenant nation. This remnant, after being gathered out of Babel, will dwell upon holy ground, or in a holy land, as the possession of the Lord. The holy land is the land of Jehovah (Hosea 9:3); but this is not to be set down without reserve as identical with Palestine. On the contrary, every place where Jehovah may be is holy ground (cf. Exodus 3:5); so that even Palestine is only holy when the Lord dwells there. And we must not limit the idea of the holy land in this passage to Palestine, because the idea of the people of God will be so expanded by the addition of nation nations, that it will not have room enough within the limits of Palestine; and according to Deuteronomy 32:4, even Jerusalem will no longer be a city with limited boundaries. The holy land reaches just as far as the nations, which have become the people of Jehovah by attaching themselves to Judah, spread themselves out over the surface of the earth. The words "choose Jerusalem again" round off the promise, just as in Zechariah 1:17; but in Zechariah 2:13 the admonition is added, to wait in reverential silence for the coming of the Lord to judgment, after Habakkuk 2:20; and the reason assigned is, that the judgment will soon begin. נעור, niphal of עוּר (compare Ewald, 140, a; Ges. 72, Anm. 9), to wake up, or rise up from His rest (cf. Psalm 44:24). מעון קדשׁו, the holy habitation of God, is heaven, as in Deuteronomy 26:15; Jeremiah 25:30. The judgment upon the heathen world-power began to burst in a very short time. When Babylon revolted against the king of Persia, under the reign of Darius, a great massacre took place within the city after its re-capture, and its walls were destroyed, so that the city could not rise again to its ancient grandeur and importance. Compare with this the remark made in the comm. on Haggai, concerning the overthrow of the Persian empire and those which followed it. We have already shown, what a groundless hypothesis the opinion is, that the fulfilment was interrupted in consequence of Israel's guilt; and that as the result of this, the completion of it has been deferred for centuries, or even thousands of years.
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