Historicists loathe speculating on unfulfilled prophecy. When we do, we are almost always off. Then again, so is everyone else. (this is a very small comfort)
There is little telling of how prophecies will play out exactly until they are actually written up in the newspapers and then in the history books. The experience of past speculation is that it tends to be far too literal for the fulfillment. We seem to forget to apply all the symbolic language of the fulfilled prophecies. We speculate on a too literal understanding. The fulfilled prophecies are there to be our guides. We are suppose to learn from them. But unfortunately, we never seem to quite learn this lesson, but rather bumble off into vain speculation.
Can you imagine coming up with an accurate picture of the Messiah’s life: hometown of Nazareth, birthplace of Bethlehem, and “coming out” of Egypt? How about being born a servant, and yet born to be a king? How about dying, yet not undergoing decay? Once Messiah came and walked the earth, it all became plain and simple. And in case one didn’t get it the Gospel writers quoted the old prophecies, and explained the fulfillment.
The big question is, is this last oracle of Zechariah unfulfilled prophecy?
There are three schools of thought and they all must resolve who or what is Jerusalem.
- Is it the literal Jerusalem, the capital city of Judah in ancient times?
- Is it modern Jerusalem, the capital of present day Israel?
- Is it gospel Jerusalem the New Jerusalem above which is the spiritual mother of all believers [Gal 4:24-25]?
Those who believe that this prophecy is about the historical Jerusalem, have the advantage that the standard hermeneutical rule for prophecy, which is that the next historical event fulfills the prophecy. They believe that the sack of Jerusalem in chapter 12:1-9, is the historical sack by Antiochus Epiphanies in 167 B.C. That chapters 12:10- 13:9 is roughly about the life of Messiah and His sacrifice. That chapter 14 is the sack of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. They make Messiah descending on the mount of Olives, as the Gospel going out to the nations no longer being inhibited by the Temple.
Those who say it is modern Jerusalem have the advantage that current events certainly look like Jerusalem is a cup of reeling. If it is modern Jerusalem, then we should expect the city to be sacked two more times. Those that hold this view teach that the anti-christ and his 10 nations will sack the city sometime in the near future. Chapters 12:10- 13:9 are meant to explain to the modern nation of Israel coming to salvation that has come from the Messiah they had previously rejected. The battle of chapter 14 is said to correspond to the yet future battle of Gog and Magog. [Ezek. 38 and Rev 20]. Messiah’s feet on the Mount of Olives, is made to be the New Jerusalem descending in triumph. (See Also: The Hoax of a One World Government)
Those who say it is gospel Jerusalem believe that the first sack is the persecution of the Church by both the Jews and the Roman Empire, culminating in the great tribulation between 303 – 313, after which Constantine made Christianity the state religion. Chapter 13 is salvation being unfettered and free to spread though out the Empire. Chapter 14 becomes the INQUISITION, They have Messiah on the mount of Olives as the Reformation.
We are going to follow the oracle as a whole, Chapter 12, 13 and 14 as if a “running” narrative. The important pauses give us a clue as to what actions stand together, which for the most part are similar to the chapter designations. The oracle reads as a narrative; there is none of the symbolic imagery as we have seen in previous chapters; certainly no colored horses patrolling for the LORD, no horns, no scrolls or any of the usual things that are is symbolic prophecy.
Chapter 12:1-9 appears to be the sack of the city in 167 B.C.
The chapter closes with a future “day” in which the Lord pours out His spirit on the house of David, to be able to recognize the Messiah.
Chapters 12:10- 13:9 appears to be about the cleansing of sin through the Messiah, his being cutoff as the shepherd, and the scattering of the sheep. This occurred during AD 30-70.
Chapter 14 appears to be future to us. Certainly the sheep were scattered in 70 AD, as is prophesied in the end of Chapter 13. Yet to be fulfilled, the LORD is to call them “my people” as opposed to Hosea’s “not my people”. When this happens, Israel will say, “ The LORD is my God”. The present nation of Israel is not following the LORD. So we are waiting and looking for “In that day”. He will stop a siege against Jerusalem by subduing the nations that come against her, and take His throne as King over all the earth in Jerusalem.