International Convention Szczyrk, 2016
Evening Discussion on the prophecy of Zechariah, Chapters 12-14
Language of the Discussion: English (all participants of the panel comment only in this language)
Moderator: Daniel Kaleta
USA – Richard Doctor
1. Do Chapters 12, 13, 14 in the Book of Zechariah describe one sequence of prophetic events? If so, then how does Chapter 13 fit in this sequence?
Does this prophecy refer to the
literal nation of
The time frame of the prophetic
Zech. 12:5-7 – how should we
understand the divisions into the princes (clans) of Judah, the inhabitants of
The outpouring of the spirit in
Zech. 12:10-14 – what does it mean, and how will it be
fulfilled? What is the meaning of each family weeping by itself? Does „all the
families that remain” (Zech. 12:14 or 13) mean the remaining tribes of
6. The interpretation of chapter 13 – how should we understand the cleansing from sins of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and of the house of David (Zech. 13:1), the removal of false prophets (Zech. 13:2-6) and the division of the land into three parts (Zech. 13:8-9)?
are we to understand the time of the Messiah’s Kingdom (Zech. 14:9-21)? Will it
be an earthly kingdom with its capital in
Piotr Krajcer (Poland)
1. Chapters 12 through 14 of Zechariah include the scenario of establishing the Messiah’s Kingdom on the earth.
The first step involves gathering the Jews in their land and making Jerusalem a burdensome stone for the world. In the final step all the nations accept the new order.
Chapter 13 shows the fall of idolatry, false ideologies and deceptive behaviors which have deceived people for centuries. It is no accident that it’s happening among Jews, since they used to live amongst all the nations and thus came in contact with all the ideologies and took them on, sometimes even developing them. God wants to discard the extreme ones, while keeping and expanding those needed in the Messianic Kingdom.
2. This prophecy refers especially to the nation of Israel. The proof is in its words – 12:6: Jerusalem will remain intact in her place – NIV.
Although it’s true that we can interpret Jerusalem as the symbol of the city of peace, or, based on Revelation 21:2 as New Jerusalem, this description of Jerusalem as “intact in her place” leaves no doubt that it points to the physical location, where Jerusalem has existed continually for 3000 years. So, the context of this verse – that is chapter 12 – should also be placed in the literal land of Israel.
Parts of this prophecy can also be interpreted in reference to other nations, based on the rule from Romans 2:9-10:
“Tribulation and anguish, on the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; glory, honour, and peace to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.”
3. If we say this prophecy is about literal Israel, it’s hard not to notice that in the 20th century, within our times, Jerusalem has truly become a burdensome stone to all the nations.
One proof is the number of resolutions by the United Nations Security Council in regards to this tiny portion of our planet. As Prime Minister Netanyahu said reproachfully to the United Nations Secretary, the Human Rights Council has issued more resolutions condemning Israel, than against all other countries combined. Since the very beginning, Jerusalem’s status has remained the focal point of the conflict, precluding any peace agreements.
We can also see that the natural Jerusalem has already taken its position: it has become Israel’s capital. We expect the same to happen with spiritual Jerusalem, but it still belongs to the future, just like the outpouring of the spirit and all events afterwards.
4. The tents of Judah. After the Babylonian captivity, Israel living in their land consisted basically of three tribes: Judah, Benjamin and a part of Levi; the remaining ones had not returned from the captivity in Assyria. In many languages the word “Jew” originates from the tribe of Judah (e.g. German “Jude”). We can assume, then, that the tents of Judah signify all the Jews, and the princes are their leaders. This thought is found in Volume One, page 294.
Inhabitants of Jerusalem. After the return from Babylon, Jerusalem was inhabited by the representatives of all those who came back. Nehemiah 11:1 states: “And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities.”
We can conclude, then, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem symbolize today all those who – mindful of the promises – came back and now live in the Holy Land. We find this thought in the Expanded Biblical Comments. Just like in Nehemiah’s time, nowadays the inhabitants of Jerusalem comprise about 10 percent of Israel’s entire Jewish population.
The House of David signifies King David’s descendants. It would be hard to find the literal offspring of King David among today’s Jews, so we need to interpret it symbolically.
Jesus was considered a descendant of David, because his father, Joseph, came from the house of David (Luke 1:27). Matthew 9:27 reads: “Son of David, have mercy on us”, and Matthew 21:15: “Hosanna to the son of David”.
Jesus’ right to the house of David is mentioned in Isaiah 22:22 and Revelation 3:7: “These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.”
The house of David would represent Jesus’ spiritual children – after all, He did not have any natural ones. Zechariah 12:10 speaks about outpouring of the spirit of grace and supplications upon the house of David. Such interpretation of the house of David seems to exclude Christians, as they are already under the influence of the spirit. It may point, however, to those Jews who will recognize Jesus, described today as Messianic Jews.
5. The outpouring of the spirit needs to be linked to Joel 2:28. Interestingly, the spirit will be poured out upon the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The tribe of Judah is not mentioned. With our earlier assumptions, it would mean that at the beginning the spirit will be poured out only upon the Jews in Israel.
The interpretation of the individual mourning groups depends on the identification of the families. It’s easy to understand the house of David and that of Levi, but Nathan and Shimei are more difficult. Some commentators say Nathan is the prophet Nathan from 2 Samuel 7:2, 4, 14; others claim it is the son of David from 2 Samuel 5:14: “These be the names of those that were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shammua, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon.”
Shimei poses an even bigger problem. Rashi comments that it is David’s first son by Bathshua [1 Chronicles 3:5]; others point to Levi’s grandson (Exodus 6:17) or to Shimei from the house of Saul, who cursed David in 2 Samuel 16:5.
Weeping in separate groups may mean weeping for different reasons and in different ways – just like there are tears of joy and tears caused by sadness.
Some, like the house of David – Messianic Jews – and the house of Nathan - prophets – are crying for joy, seeing the long-awaited Messiah. Others – the house of Levi – are the spiritual leaders; the house of Shimei from the line of Saul and the tribe of Benjamin would represent those who persecuted Jesus and His followers. Their bitter weeping and heart condition will resemble those of another Benjaminite, who long ago saw the Messiah on the way to Damascus.
The expression „all other families” probably does not refer to the remaining 10 tribes, scattered during the Assyrian captivity. Only two verses would confirm that they represent all the nations: Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7.
Also, the prophecy itself speaks about it in Zechariah 14:17, 18: “Whoso 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. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that [have] no [rain]; there shall be the plague”.
These verses use the same Hebrew word mishpachah (Strong’s #4940).
6. Again, it’s interesting that the cleansing from sins will only apply to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Volume Four, page 625 explains it well: “While Israelites in various stages of unbelief will be gathered back to Palestine under divine favor, according to promise, yet none shall be in any degree reckoned as a part, or even as supporters of, or associated with the earthly phase of the Kingdom, except as they shall first recognize Christ Jesus as the Son of God, the only Redeemer and Deliverer for Israel and the world.”
Chapter 13 explains the removal of false ideologies, represented by false prophets and unclean spirits.
Splitting the earth in three parts most likely does not refer to people, either, but rather to their ideologies. Today one third of people is comprised of orthodox believers and other far-right nationalists, whose ideology is much different from that of the Messiah’s Kingdom. The second part includes the views held by atheists, secular Jews, liberals etc., and there is no place for them in the Kingdom, either.
These extreme views, today popularly called right-wing and left-wing, will then become totally disgraced in the eyes of all people, and thus slain. We can expect, however, that the third part – the center – carries ideas which after cleansing and trying like silver and gold will be developed in the Kingdom. Among these ideas are probably being an example for the world, assisting other nations, desert reclamation and others, which we already see in Israel today.
7. I think it is difficult for us to imagine the exact scenario of these events. They are described in many prophecies, which repeatedly mention the gathering of all nations against Israel (Joel 2:2, Ezekiel 38:2-8, Micah 5:4). Joel 2:12-18 suggests that those who pray for deliverance, will survive. Perhaps the desolation and destruction are meant for those who will not trust in God, but – just like we see it today – will attempt to defend themselves with their own weapons.
8. Zechariah mentions keeping the feast of tabernacles. According to Ezekiel, The Passover will also be celebrated in the future (Ezekiel 45:21). Although both prophets describe offering sacrifices, I don’t think they will consist of actual animals or food; rather – as Peter says in his first epistle 2:5 – they will be spiritual sacrifices.
I wouldn’t exclude the possibility of going up to Jerusalem, but I don’t think there will be celebrations with millions of pilgrims gathering, like nowadays in Mecca.
The significance of these feasts will be spiritual, and just like we don’t go to Jerusalem on the 14th of Nisan, although our Lord did so, in the future people will not be obligated to go there to celebrate. It will be important for them, however, to offer spiritual sacrifices and submit to the legislation of the new Kingdom, with its capital in Jerusalem.
David Tel-Tsur (Israel)
GENERAL QUESTION 1 ZECH. 12, 13, 14
The last sections, Chapters 12-14, with all their blaze of color, are enclosed within a common framework: Jerusalem of Our Day
In the two chapters, 12 and 14, we read a
description of the great war in the Last Days. In
their essence, the chapters are not so varied, but actually chapter 13
separates them and focuses on the lot of the remaining Gentiles of that time.
Both 12 and 14 describe war overtaking
So then, if Chapters 12, 13 and 14 are written
in chronological sequence, chapter 13 explains the difference between the two
wars. In Chapter 12, God is saving
GENERAL QUESTION 2 ZECHARIAH
I believe and understand this prophecy to
refer to the literal nation of
GENERAL QUESTION 3 ZECH. 12:2-14:16 – TIMELINE
We are as yet on the time line begun in
Chapter 12, where
Almost all the nations covet
Yes, the fulfillment of the prophecy already has begun, starting from the time of Heb. 1:1. It seems that we are just somewhere near to the end of Chapter 13, perhaps already at the beginning of Chapter 14.
May Yeshua come soon!!! AMEN
SPECIFIC QUESTION 4 ZECH. 12-5-7
The “governors” of
SPECIFIC QUESTION 5 ZECH. 12:10-14
Here there is an expression of unity with the
people. They are all going to act together.
The contrast between the outlying provinces and the
What is the meaning of “pouring out the spirit” (Zech. 12:10-14)? How will it be fulfilled?
I see no connection here to Joel 2:28 (nor to Acts 2:16-38 or 3:1). Here we find a spirit of grace and pleading. As in Jer. 3:21, there is weeping and pleading. As in Num. 6:25, the word “grace” here is better understood as ‘pardon’. The people are going to pray and beg forgiveness. It will be a special moment, with the return of Yeshua HaMashiach, the son of Yosef, the one they rejected. It will be a moment of “grace and pleading”, a great cry of repentance of the people. (Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:30; Is. 11:2-5; Ezek. 11:19-21; Jer. 32:39-41; Jer. 31: 31-33; Ezek. 36:26-27).
SPECIFIC QUESTION 6 ZECH. 13:2-61; 13:1; 13:8-9
In Chapter 13, Zechariah is talking about the
purification of Judea and
Maybe we are already in those days spoken of in Jer. 23:13-27 and Ezek. 13:3, 22:28.
The other process is really a refining trial:
This is true for all sectors of the people, those in the City as well as those
at the palace of the King. At this
stage, it is not the King-Messiah that is promised in this prophecy, but a new
covenant for all of the people. The refining process is not only negative, a
calamity, but has a positive function in creating a new people. Following the “trial by fire” intended to
separate those who are just from the wicked, there
comes the renewal of the connection between
SPECIFIC QUESTION 7 ZECH. 14:1-3
It is so hard to imagine what will befall the
City of “THE DAY OF THE LORD”’ – Zech. 14:1-3 (Ezek. 9:6-7:1-13 and more). It
reminds me of pictures of what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust; I can
just imagine the scenes. As He calls the heathen nations to battle against
Then God Himself will go forth into battle
against the nations who are oppressing His chosen people. (verse
3). He will fight as only He, the Man of
War, the One God, can fight (Ex 15:3; Josh. 10:14,42, 23-3; Judg. 4:15, I Sam.
7:10; II K. 3:9-27; I Chron. 14:9, 20:15).
God will be fighting on behalf of His own people ONLY, the people of
a similar miracle that He will perform in that Day (verses 4-5). In these verses there is a description of sudden and horrific cataclysm, a seismic phenomenon splitting mountains that will change the earth’s surface: The hills will melt before His feet. The clear reference to the place where God stands (symbolically) impart a realistic dimension which forms a strong impression of a not so distant, not so imaginary war….. May God help us all.
SPECIFIC QUESTION 8 ZECH. 14:9-21
The prophecy here (as in Daniel 9) relates to
Messiah and the Kingdom Age and it includes (in Daniel’s 70th week)
the beginning of Sorrows, the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord and
different events that take place – the Seals, Trumpets and Bowls, Judgments,
and more. After the Day of the Lord, the
Messianic Kingdom will begin, LITERALLY, with its center in the Holy City of
Jerusalem under the leadership of Yeshua HaMashiach. All humanity will be
organized into nations (peoples), each one living in its own land. The Jews
shall live in their own land, the Land given by God within the borders of the
No doubt!!! All people are going to keep the main Feast (Holy Days), especially Succoth – the Feast of Tabernacles (Col. 7:16-17, Zech. 8: 22-23 / 14:9; Isaiah 2:2-4). The Feast of Succoth is relevant even today (Zech. 14:16-18, 14:20-21). True, not everyone realizes it, but this is the least they can do for now until they can celebrate it in the Kingdom of the Messiah (Is. 56:3-7).
Richard Doctor (USA)
1. Zechariah 12-14 does indeed describe one sequence of prophetic events.
we find the deliverance of
· 12:10-14 links this future deliverance to recognizing the Messiah by a faithful part of the Jewish people;
· 13:1 speaks of opening the wonderful fountain of grace and supplication;
· 13:2-6 gives us an insight into the very personal struggle to cut-off the many modern forms of idolatry that separate man from God.
· 13:7-9 speaks of the judgment that begins with the house of God and continues through the uplift of the willing and obedient who come into the New Covenant, we find the “two parts” of the Little Flock and the Great Company have finished their sacrifice. (R3776)
· 14 casts an eye back and gives a rich description of the battle in which the Lord of Host’s power will be revealed; there will be two phases to this kingdom - heavenly and earthly - north and south (D650-655); the stream of blessing will flow from Jerusalem and obedience will be demanded from the gentiles when every impulse shall be “Holiness unto the Lord.”
We recognize that the time sequence also refers back to past events that show part of the divine program already accomplished. For example, “I will smite the shepherd” Zechariah 13:7 is cited in Matthew 26:31, Mark 14:27 see also John 16:32.
2. This prophecy has both a literal and a spiritual application as suggested in Pastor Russell’s earliest comments on Zechariah, “I know not whether He and His saints will appear to them visibly or, be recognized by them [Israel] in their remarkable and…miraculous deliverance from their enemies.” (R26)
Later the Pastor’s thinking was that only the symbolic sense should be our focus; to quote directly from Pastor Russell (D650): …the establishment of the New Jerusalem…as the new government in the earth, will mean the beginning of the restoration of divine favor to Jehovah's footstool, [as] is clearly set forth through the Prophet Zechariah 14:4,5. Jehovah's Feet on the Mount of Olives…[are] the feet of our Lord Jesus, at his second advent: and indeed, those who… assert that it will be the feet of flesh, pierced with the nails of Calvary…[are] not realizing that our Lord gave his human nature, complete and forever…And if the placing and resting of Jehovah's "feet" is symbolic…so, we may be sure, other features connected in the same prophecy are symbolic: the Mount of Olives, its peculiar division, its valley, the flight of the people, the waters of life from Jerusalem (Ezekiel 47:1-9) are all symbolic – pictures of grand spiritual truths.
3. What a rich heritage we have as Bible Students! The sequence of events as set forth by Pastor Russell in 1879 still works and we are between point 3 and 4 (R26). Here are the events:
· The ‘Time of trouble’ such as was not since there was a nation
Jews return to
gathering of great wealth to
battle of the great day of God Almighty’ fought at
· The partial success of the invaders and in the hour of darkness to the Jew the power of Messiah is manifested effecting their deliverance;
· Their recognition of the long waited for Messiah and the cry ‘Lo this is our God, we have waited for Him and He will save us;’
· Their recognition of him as the one …’whom they have pierced’ (Zec 12)
· God will ‘pour upon them the spirit of grace and supplication’ and they shall mourn and be accepted again into fellowship with God.
…These events we expect in about the order mentioned.
Princes (clans, governors) of Judah: R. Rashi
take this text in a positive light, and yet, the battle does not go well—at
first; “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city
shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the
city shall go forth into captivity...” (Zechariah 14:2) It seems as though the political leaders of
the current state of
also shall save the tents of
Relationships of these groups: The political leaders of the current state of Israel (Princes of Judah) find their office now taken by the Ancient Worthies (Micah 5:5) these are assisted by the House of David, and all along with the Tents of Judah and Inhabitants of Jerusalem are in joyful service.
outpouring of the holy Spirit is found in Joel 2:28,
29. (R2504:5, R376:5)
Each family weeping by itself means that recognition of Messiah will be very, very personal. Each family will reflect on the mishneh of pain and suffering
(Zechariah 9:12) “All the families that remain” (Zechariah 12:13,14) has a special application to the Jews only.
Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7 do not speak only of
The willing inhabitants of
We see from Zechariah 13:3 that some false worship and sinful ways will
continue and those closest to these sinners will carry out judgment. However, most will be ashamed of their former
ways (Zechariah 13:4-6). Perhaps the
recovery of these erring ones will employ something similar the “truth
commissions” operating in over 41 countries today. Here in
To understand the division of the land into three parts there needs to be a
link to the smiting the shepherd and scattering the sheep; followed by the
Lord’s protection of the “little ones.” Zechariah appears to directly reference
Isaiah 1:21-26 where the “two parts” are identified as the “dross” and
“tin.” The “dross” would suggest the
secular, worldly-ambitious element of
7. Things go against
Holidays observed: Succoth (Zechariah 14:19); Tisha B’Av and three additional fasts, now as feasts of joy (Zechariah 8:18.) These observances are not symbolic.
Important today: Nisan 14 - Memorial