What About Zechariah 14?
Zechariah chapter 14 clearly connects the feast of Tabernacles with the prophesied kingdom of Christ, and how living waters would only be in Jerusalem, and all the people would have to go there. Obviously, this is not saying that literally every believer in the world has to go to the middle east and visit Jerusalem every year
. That's not how the gospel works. There are many theologians who have misunderstood the prophecy of Zechariah 14, and are confused concerning the feast of Tabernacles mentioned there. This is somewhat understandable, because Zechariah chapter 14 is one of the most difficult chapters in the Bible. When we read there about the coming of Christ, when living waters would go out from Jerusalem, and the Lord is King over the whole earth, many look at this as something future
. But this is speaking of Christ's first advent, and it was fulfilled at the cross
. He is the Living water and He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. That's all accomplished. But because there are some verses which are (even to some seasoned veterans of scripture) quite difficult to understand, many theologians have concluded that this has to be a future event. Nevertheless, the fact is, Jerusalem "is" dwelling safely Now, because the Jerusalem that is in view there is not a literal city
, but the city spoken of in Isaiah chapter 40 where it says, "Comfort ye Jerusalem, thy warfare is accomplished." That's not a physical or literal holy city in the middle east, that is the body of believers
. And it's not talking about a literal earthly warfare there, it's talking about spiritual warfare finished
. In other words, the saints are comforted and made safe in this city, when they drink of the living waters of Christ and make peace with God
. That is when their warfare with Him is accomplished or finished. It has nothing to do with literal battles in Jerusalem. And because many theologians do not fully understand how God uses metaphors to paint spiritual pictures, they often go off in the wrong direction looking for truth
. The Prince of peace is Him who has brought that peace and safety to Jerusalem. Not to a literal city, but to a spiritual city
. When false prophets claim peace and safety for literal cities, they prophesy lies
. For there is neither peace nor safety in earthly cities, earthly kingdoms, earthly treaties or covenants. Only in the true Holy City of God is there true peace and true safety.
The camp of the saints is now the beloved Holy City that dwells safely because Christ has bound Satan, and delivered them from his house of bondage. And this is the peace that the Prince of Peace brought to comfort the city. Zechariah 14 in like manner uses symbolic language to demonstrate spiritual truths. This is the manner in which God hides mysteries in his word.
God metaphorically calls His people Lamps, Branches, Fishermen, Olive Trees, Stones, etc. This is to show some characteristic or aspect of these things in them. So why
should anyone be taken back when God metaphorically call His people them Jerusalem (The holy city) and Israel (the holy nation)? For in this Israel alone will saints "dwell in safely." These things have nothing to do with the literal land/nation Israel. It's a Covenant with an Israel far superior
to any plot of land, genealogical line, or political nation. Christ confirmed a Covenant of Grace, not of race
. And it's a Covenant securing an inheritance far more secure
than any handful of dirt in the middle east. It's a kingdom that is far more precious and eternal than any worldly kingdom or reign on earth could ever be
. It's the peace and security of a people who are dwelling with God. The nation of Israel was used as the type, and thus was a figure of this. Time will not allow us to give many proofs of this, but could if needed.
I was asked this week concerning these verses that are in Zechariah 14~so let us consider some.
Zechariah 14:18~"And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles."
Zechariah chapter 14 is a whole study in itself (too much to get into here), but briefly, this plague was the curse that came upon the children of Israel because of their rejection of Christ. They are spiritually the families of Egypt
( See Revelation 11:8
) who remain in bondage, and if they do not come to Christ (come up to Jerusalem) to keep the feast of Tabernacles, they shall not receive the rain. In other words, those who fail to get to Jerusalem to partake in the feast of Tabernacles will have no rain. For from Jerusalem is the "only place" to find these living waters
The Jews who rejected Christ were blinded (in part), and that is what Zechariah means when he declares that their eyes consume away in their holes. That is spiritual language
denoting that they will lose their sight, or that they have "no eyes" with which to see. It's not a prophecy foretelling a time when people's eyes will "physically" disappear from their sockets, but it prophesies they will spiritually
not have eyes. And indeed, I am amazed that so many theologians actually think that all of this is literal. So much so that they are incredulous that anyone would even suggest that God speaks metaphorically there. They react "as if" such an idea is foreign to the Bible, (it IS to them) when in fact it is "normative." Zechariah is a prophecy that the elect could be comforted because their warfare with God was accomplished, because Christ has brought peace and safety. This occurred at the cross.
Zechariah 14:16~"And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against JERUSALEM shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be, that whosoever will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, even upon them Shall be No Rain."
Those who came up to warfare against Jerusalem were all the unsaved. This remnant who are left are those that was born of God. For them, their "warfare" accomplished or finished (Isaiah 40:2
) because Christ has paid for their sins. The saved now spiritually go up to worship this King and keep the law of the feast of Tabernacles (a wonderful study of its own!). Christ is that King of kings and Lord of hosts that Zechariah says we annually go up to in the Holy City (as was the everlasting law required in Leviticus). For some theologians to actually think God would re-institute a "literal or physical" ceremonial Old Testament law that was fulfilled in the death of Christ, is quite a reckless eschatology
. Saints from every nation (when we become saved) are coming up to the Holy City and keeping the feast of Tabernacles. They don't come up to a literal mountain in Israel, or an earthly city Jerusalem, or to a literal Temple made with hands. But in Christ they've come
to a City whose builder and maker is God and wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Hebrews 12:22-24~ "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
Praise be to God! This is the Holy City Jerusalem that the children of God have come unto, not a geographical location in the middle east
. In this heavenly city we keep the feast of Tabernacles for ever, as required by law. We are tabernacling in Christ
, who has brought fulfillment. The children of God are the families of the earth
whom Zechariah says worship Him, and call Him king of all the earth. Being the true spiritual Israel of God, they are those who have been delivered from bondage, and are keeping the feast. The unbelievers (those not confirmed by the blood of the New Covenant with Israel) are the ones who do not come up to that Holy City and who do not keep the feast of Tabernacles. And the reason, of course, is that they are still spiritually children of Egypt who were not brought out of the land of bondage. They're still there. They don't serve this king of Kings, they serve their master in the house of bondage. And their servitude is slavery to sin (John 8:33-34
). Their judgement for sin is that they shall have no rain
Isaiah 5:6-7~ "And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry."
No rain is symbolism of the judgement of God upon Israel. And this is precisely what God did to Israel when He left their house desolate by His death on the cross.
Micah 5:7~"And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men."
The remnant or
believers of Israel are those who will water the earth as the rain from God. Jesus Himself said, out of their bellies shall flow rivers of living waters. i.e., they receive the rain of salvation and they go forth and teaching others as showers upon the grass. But Zechariah is fulfilled in that, "on these who won't come up to the Holy City, there shall be no rain." There will be no showers of Blessings, the cleansing rain, and no living waters which Christ poured upon all those who go up to worship the King.
Psalms 68:9~"Thou O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst Confirm Thine inheritance, when it was weary."
The "Confirming of the Covenant" one week is with living waters rained down upon the saints. Those who don't keep the week of the feast of Tabernacles shall not
receive this rain. They have no part in the confirmation
of the inheritance accomplished by Christ, wherein there is the rain for the Children of God. Again, this is demonstrating that the Lord's people are those keeping the feast of Tabernacles in Christ. This is the week Daniel 9 said Messiah would confirm. It is the covenant week He strengthened in His own Blood at the cross (Gal. 3:17, Hebrews 9:17)
. It's the entire New Covenant period from Christ's feast of sowing in the field, to the end of world harvest and the gathering out of the field. It's from our deliverance from bondage, to our entrance into the promised land when we receive our inheritance.
1st Peter 1:3-7~"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"
As we saw in Zechariah, it is in Christ that we greatly rejoice in keeping the feast of Tabernacles on our way to the promised inheritance. This is why we greatly rejoice and go up to the Holy City and keep the feast of Tabernacles. Tabernacles is the only feast that God gave specific instructions to His people to rejoice at. For we are as a city whose warfare is ended, and whose iniquity has been pardoned. A City made Holy by the descending of Christ to sanctify it and make it the Holy place. A City that dwells so safely and securely that the gates of Hell cannot ever prevail over it. For this is the Holy city that shall remain forever.
It is this deeper, fuller, spiritual significance of the feast of Tabernacles that so many theologians miss. It was never just designed to be a simple memorial celebration, but a prophecy that holds a very spiritual meaning of ingathering and of harvest. The prophet Zechariah makes that very clear when His words are compared with scripture and interpreted in "light" of scripture. When our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ came from heaven with living waters to be king, and to reign on the throne of David, He fulfilled Zechariah's prophecy of this
John 4:10,14~"Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water............But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
That is the day that living waters went forth from Jerusalem. By His death and ascension to that throne, we are brought out of bondage, and God tabernacles with us in the wilderness of this world until the time we reach the promised inheritance.
Zechariah 14:8-9~"And it shall be in that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. and the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one."
Ephesians 4:5-6"One Lord and One faith, One baptism, One God and father of All, who is above all and through all, and in you all."
The Prophecy of one lord and one king, and in us all, is thus fulfilled
. The day that living waters went out from Jerusalem has come in the Lord. It's not a future prophecy of keeping a feast of Tabernacles that would deny Christ has already come
, but it's a fulfilled (completed) prophecy
. He is the living water that went out from Jerusalem, half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea, in summer and in winter. This is the beginning of the Messianic age because salvation goes forth in Christ to both Jew and Gentile, and in all seasons. Christ is the water whereby if any man shall drink, He shall have eternal life and never die. Nor shall he ever thirst again.
The feast of Tabernacles is spoken about in John chapter seven. The week of this feast in rejoicing because of God's deliverance ushers in the messianic age, followed by the eighth day (twenty-second of Tishri), which is the greatest day of the feast. This holy convocation (Leviticus 23:36
) on the eighth day "signified" a new day, a new Sabbath day (Sunday) in which our works would end, old things are passed away and made new in Christ (Leviticus 23:35-36; 2nd Corinthians 5:17. etc.
). John tells us of this eighth day.
John 7:37-42~"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?"
The people there in Jerusalem said, "of a truth this is the Prophet." i.e., they thought that this must be the Messiah and the fulfillment of the prophecy of the beginning of the Messianic age. And they were right. When Christ stood in Jerusalem and offered the living water to anyone who would believe on Him, He was declaring on "the last day" of the feast of Tabernacles that he was fulfilling the prophecy of the tabernacle of David. The efficacy would come when the Holy Spirit is poured out at Pentecost, but Christ standing there offering those living waters fulfilled the prophecy. He was illustrating that Israel should look to Him for their salvation and deliverance. For that feast celebrated His body, the tabernacle of David that brought renewal or restoration, and instituted the start of the Messianic age in the millennial reign of Christ.
Note the correlation of the feast of Tabernacles to Christ coming to Jerusalem and declaring that He is the living water. Clearly, this tabernacle is where those living waters from Jerusalem would be found, and it's no coincidence that God says these things exactly on the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles. There is a precise timetable in prophecy that has to be followed. And Christ is hereby illustrating that He is the fulfillment of that prophesy of living waters, He was that tabernacles fulfillment, and He was that true Sabbath of rest, wherein the 7th day Sabbath was merely a shadow pointing to Him.
Colossians 2:16-17~"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:
Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."
This is how the ceremonial celebrations were merely shadows, a dark "form" of the true, but the reality is found in the body of Christ
. The festivals or feasts were teaching instruments until the Christ should come
. But now we have the true in His body. And so to claim that this feast isn't fulfilled yet would mean we should return to observing the ceremonial, looking forward to His coming. That would be blatantly unbiblical. We must remember that the feast of Tabernacles was the institution of the ingathering, the culmination of the prophesies of Christ when the holy city would be the center of Christ's Kingdom on eart
h. It can only point to Christ, the center of the Kingdom and to whom all the nations of the world now come. Zechariah 14:16
talks of the nations coming up to Jerusalem to worship the King, and to keep the feast of Tabernacles. We gentiles come to Jerusalem when we come to Christ.
God has always used feasts as figures, and instituted ceremonies to demonstrate Christ. When the nation of Israel journeyed in the wilderness from Egypt, God used the figure of a rock to demonstrate Christ. Israel received water from a Rock that was struck. In this, God was painting a spiritual picture that "metaphorically," Christ was that Rock, and it is He that brings was smitten to bring true waters forth for us (by His stripes we are Healed) that we may be sustained in the wilderness (desolate places).
1st Corinthians 10:2-5~"And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness."
The scriptures are replete with correlations between historical Israel and its journey in the wilderness to the promised land, and the Church, who is spiritual Israel, and theirs. The Rock from which water came after it was smitten, "signified" Christ. And so all the theologians who are objecting to God speaking spiritually or taking these scriptures metaphorically, as they are written, are not really hearing what they are reading in scripture. For these things are spiritually discerned. Things which are fulfilled in Christ.
So what manner of man will be siting and waiting for that which has already come? What man will be waiting for the fulfillment of that which has already been fulfilled? The Kingdom of God has come (as Jesus told the Priests and Pharisees), and thus Satan has been cast out by the power of God. The Millennial reign of Christ's kingdom has begun, and He has already set the captives free. Those who have been called and chosen of God have been translated from the power of darkness in Satan's domain, into this Kingdom of Christ. It's not done with smoke and mirrors, it's the unadulterated living Word of God.
Colossians 1:13~"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son."
Who then is looking for a coming reign of Christ and a righteous kingdom that has already come? Who is looking for a future King that we'll serve in this kingdom, when Christ has already established His kingdom and the elect already serve in it? Who is looking for a binding of Satan which "had" to be at the cross, or else none of us could have been set free (Matt. 12:28-29
) from Satan. The fact is, the captivity of Israel has been delivered, Peace has come, Christ does have a kingdom, Israel is safe from her enemies, God has come down to dwell with men, and they do reign with Christ as kings and Priests unto their God. And if that is true, then Israel is keeping the feast of Tabernacles. The one week in the Covenant, which Daniel 9 said Messiah would confirm, is the New Covenant with Israel.
And the unavoidable fact is, Christ has no more feasts left to fulfill. He fulfilled all the feast days by the sacrifice of Himself on the cross. He's not coming back to go to the cross a second time to make sacrifice for Tabernacles, therefore all feasts were fulfilled in His broken body. The historical ceremonies were everlasting laws "looking forward" to the true, which is Christ. So when He came as the antitype, the shadows passed away. He is the true tabernacle that the Olive branch tabernacles that sheltered the Children of Israel prefigured.
Knowing many of these things gives us a better insight into why God uses the phrase "The last day" in scripture only in connection with either the end of the World, or with the feast of Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:18; John 6:39, 6:40, 6:44, 6:54, 7:37, 11:24; 12:48
). Nowhere else in scripture is that phrase ever used. With each spiritual puzzle piece we get a little better understanding of why God uses the feast of Tabernacles as the "end of year" harvest gathering our labors out of the field, and why Christ said in parables, the harvest "is" the end of the world. We can better understand why the resurrection is "the last day," and why the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles God called "the last day, the great day of the feast." We can better understand why when Israel was freed from bondage, they had to spend time in the wilderness as strangers in tabernacles, their temporary homes before they could enter into their inheritance. It was a "type" of our walk in the wilderness in tabernacles before we come into our inheritance, and it was to take place one week. The Word of God is like a gigantic Spiritual picture puzzle and when you have it right, every piece fits perfectly
. There are no pieces left over, nor are you missing any pieces, nor are there pieces that don't fit or conform to the picture.
That's how you know that you have come to truth. When you have harmony and agreement and consistency throughout scripture. On the other hand, inconsistency is the hallmark of error. The Bible is its own interpreter. As Righteous Joseph said, "Do not interpretations belong to God?" indeed they do. Through faith in God's word, comparing scripture with scripture, we can come to receive what God has written and wants us to know. No wresting or twisting scripture is necessary, for the truth is in harmony with the Bible
. The New Covenant period is our walk in tabernacles secured by the burnt sacrifice prefigured in Israel's ceremonial laws. It is only by careful study of the scriptures that we will come to the knowledge of these truths.
How about Ezekiel 40-48? literal or spiritual? What sayest thou? What does God's word support?