The 14th chapter of Zechariah begins with what appears to be an unmitigated disaster.
“Behold, a day of Adonai is coming when your plunder will be divided in your midst. I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to wage war. The city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women ravished. Half of the city will be exiled but the remainder of the people will not be cut off from the city.” (chapter 14:1-2, TLV).
Notice that this is a “day of Adonai”. This concept, so common in Scripture, famously in Joel but occurring throughout God’s Word, refers to the Lord’s delegating times and seasons during people and nations having freedom of operation within certain boundaries; when the boundaries are crossed or the allotted time expires, God acts cataclysmically. This explains the rise and fall of great nations and empires in history. The allotments to Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Nazi Germany, Great Britain, etcetera, merely ended with “days of the Lord”.
Similarly, the passage we deal with today covers one of these cases. A fair question would be, is this “day of the Lord” for Israel or the nations? I believe it is for all of the above. The nations who have shown no kindness toward Israel and have perpetrated so many unspeakable crimes against her, besides not recognizing her special status with God, are brought out to receive their comeuppance. However, sadly, our people, Israel, have consistently trusted in human, rather than Divine resources for survival, and Adonai here acts to demonstrate the sinister motivations of these “friends”, as well as the complete inadequacy of these resources.
Countering this reliance on the arm of man, in verse 3 God steps to the plate. “Then Adonai will go forth and fight against those nations as He fights in a day of battle. 4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which lies to the east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a huge valley. Half of the mountain will move toward the north and half of it toward the south. 5 Then you will flee through My mountain valley because the mountain valley will reach to Azel. Yes, you will flee like you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then Adonai my God will come and all the kedoshim (holy ones) with Him.
Here God intervenes directly. He steps onto the Mount of Olives, splitting it into two parts and creating a huge valley for the flight path for the remaining Jerusalemites. This reminds me of the remarkable deliverance from Egypt. There, He split the Red Sea; here, he splits the mountain. No presence, object, or force is immune to His Power. He repeats some things, but will change details at His Will and discretion. He will do whatever He chooses to rescue His beloved people. And, after this Divine, Armageddonish strike, He appears with His holy ones- The Second Coming?
Before closing this segment, we need to point out that the reference to “Adonai” here clearly is to Messiah. Jewish thought reflects this as well. Those of you who have traveled to Jerusalem have seen Jewish graves all around the Mount of Olives. These dear ones have recognized that this passage refers to the coming of Messiah and have arranged to be buried there in order to greet Him at His appearance, even though He is called “Adonai”. The Arabs also have built cemeteries across the valley in front of the Golden Gate, knowing that the Messiah is the High Priest after the order of Melchizadek, and, since priests are defiled by dead bodies, hoping to thus keep Him away. Foolish, huh?
Messiah’s deliverance of His people is coming. We thus need to reach as many for Yeshua as He empowers us to reach!
Jeffrey A. Adler
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler is on the Board of HaShomer and also Rabbi of Sha’arey Yeshua in Indianapolis, IN.