The times that I have had the extraordinary blessing of taking in this view I have often imagined who may have stood there and felt the same way. Of course Jesus did (Lk. 19:30-44), but who else? Prophets, kings, disciples, dignitaries and tourists all have looked upon this city from this vantage point. The prophet Zechariah ministered in this great city sometime between 520-489 B. C. and I’m sure that at some point in his ministry he stood here and looked upon a city that lay in ruins and wondered how the Lord was going to put it all back together. While the first 8 chapters of his book focus on historical and contemporary events of the day, a call to repentance, an emphasis on holy living and 8 visions, chapters 9-14 are concerned with two “burdens” or messages for the people that look into the future and the coming of the Messiah in all His glory. For Zechariah those words produced a vast amount of hope.
In the final chapter of his book, Zechariah speaks of the Messiah’s powerful return to Jerusalem. That return is so cataclysmic it completely alters the physical layout of the land. At present a 3-D map of Jerusalem would reveal three parallel hills divided by two valleys and a third valley which runs along the base of the hills. This topography runs vertically, east to west (somewhat like a W with a squared-off bottom). But when the Messiah sets foot on the Mount of Olives upon His return (Zech. 14:4), the force of it splits open the Mount of Olives and produces a new valley which runs horizontally through it. The earthquake will also open up a vast water supply buried deep below Jerusalem and a river will flow out of it in both a north and south direction. While it appears to be an event counter to the natural world, it is all possible as Jerusalem lies within the great Jordanian Rift, a fault-line that is known to have produced sizeable quakes in the past. Some have even been mentioned in Scripture (1 Kin. 19:11; Am. 1:1; Mt. 28:2; Ac. 16:26).
In the midst of this amazing prophesy recorded mostly in the first person from the Lord’s perspective (Zech.14:1-21), Zechariah adds a very personal proclamation in 14:5. We all know how natural catastrophes send people fleeing for shelter. We have seen the aftermath of tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes plastered across the pages of our newspapers and our TV or computer screens, so we can easily picture the inhabitants of Jerusalem fleeing from what seems to be the earth opening up and swallowing the city whole. Zechariah says, in essence, “Pay attention! This is the time The Lord My God is going to come!” and He won’t be alone, a fact also noted by Jesus Himself (Mt. 25:31-46; Mk. 8:38; Lk. 9:26). Natural events of this nature are always associated with God’s judgment and a tool by which He cleanses and restores both His people and the world He created (Gen. 6-8; Num. 16:1-36). But why in the midst of such alarming events would Zechariah use such a personal and possessive title for the Lord?
In the past 100 years there have been many wars and aggressive attacks between nations and people groups, political upheavals and natural disasters. Jerusalem has been at the center of its fair share of turmoil. Zechariah saw a similar situation in his lifetime. And even parts of this prophecy were probably a cause for concern (see 13:7-9; 14:1-2) but Zechariah and those who heard his message were to take comfort in the fact that this was the way the Lord was working out His plan (14:3, 8-11, 16-17). Have recent world events caused you to wonder what is going on? Do the circumstances of this day and age make you think the world as we know it is rapidly drawing to a close? While we will never know the exact day and hour (Zech. 14:6-7; Mk. 13:32) Zechariah’s affirmation, “The Lord my God” will come, should be a confirmation to you that whether we understand it or not, this is all a part of His plan and it ultimately leads to His return (14:5). The question is, will you be ready (Mt. 24:36-43)?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 11/27/2016