The prophet Zechariah was a partner of the prophet Haggai. Ezra 5:1-2 pictures the two standing shoulder to shoulder, encouraging the people to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and to rebuild their faith in the Lord. The pair of prophets served together, but the record of their prophecies (the books of the Bible that bear their name) are quite different. In fact, Zechariah stands out in the section of Scripture called the Minor Prophets as the most apocalyptic (dealing with end times, the Second Coming, etc.) and the most Messianic (prophesying about the first and second advents of the Messiah, Jesus Christ).
To Zechariah’s original listeners, the Jews who were struggling to reestablish their spiritual and national identity, his message was motivational. The prophet encouraged them to rebuild God’s house and to cleanse their own houses and their own lives from sin. The first eight chapters of the book focus God’s promise to judge Judah’s enemies and the holiness God required of Judah’s citizens. The remainder of the book inspired hope for the future. Zechariah presented images of the Messiah who would come to save His people and set up His kingdom on earth, centered in the very city they were rebuilding: Jerusalem. Through the prophet, God was giving the recently-conquered Jews a far-reaching image of future glory. Zechariah predicted details about the Messiah that would not be fulfilled for 500 years. These prophetic details are confirmed in the four Gospels, including Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a colt (see 9:9, Matthew 21:1-11) and the fact that Jesus was “pierced”, a reference to His crucifixion (see 12:10).
While Zechariah looked forward to the first advent of the Messiah, we look back on it. We can read the record of Scripture and know that Jesus came the first time as a suffering servant, a gentle shepherd, and the sacrifice for our sins. But we see the second advent of the Messiah (the Second Coming of Christ) from the same perspective as Zechariah — we look forward to that day. This book helps us to think through the implications of the imminent return of Christ and the hope we have as His church.
Here in chapter 14, Zechariah takes us to the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem, and to a future day when Jesus will return to that very place. It was on the Mount of Olives that Jesus had taught His disciples about the end times, and it was from that spot that Jesus ascended into heaven with a promise that He would someday descend there (see Acts 1:9-12). This chapter describes that return.
I am no expert on prophecy, but I have tried to search the Scriptures to understand a rough timeline of the events that comprise the Day of the Lord. As I understand it, Zechariah chapter 14 fits in at the very end of what Jesus called the “Great Tribulation” (see Matthew 24:21). Verses 2-3 seem to refer to the time when the Antichrist and his armies gather to attack Israel and the Battle of Armageddon ensues (see Revelation 16:16). Revelation chapter 19 predicts Jesus will return with the saints (that’s you and me!) and easily win the battle.
Then Jesus will appear on the Mount of Olives, which will give an amazing geological welcome to its Creator, splitting in half to simultaneously create a new valley, a new port, and a new climate for Jerusalem (v.4, 8). Jesus will enter Jerusalem and set up His Kingdom on earth, concluding the Day of the Lord and ushering in the Millennial Reign of Christ (v.9). Zechariah indicates that Jerusalem will be a center for worship for all God’s people, a place of utter holiness in the presence of our conquering King (v.16-21). I plan to be there! How about you?