Zechariah and the Apocalypse, part 2

The first article of this series demonstrated that Zechariah 14 has traditionally and correctly been applied to the A.D. 70 coming of the Lord. We also examined the correlation of Zechariah 14 and the Olivet Discourse showing that Zechariah 14:7 destroys any argument for a divided chapter in Matthew 24.

My purpose here is to show that Zechariah also parallels the Apocalypse. With this connection established certain things will be apparent.

If Zechariah 14 is predictive of the A.D. 70 parousia of Jesus and the attendant blessings, then if Zechariah is parallel to the Apocalypse, Revelation must speak of the same things.

If Zechariah and Revelation are parallel the idea that the fall of Jerusalem was an insignificant event with no eternal spiritual ramifications must be abandoned.

Carrington says that besides Ezekiel, Zechariah has influenced the book of Revelation the most and that "It is important therefore, to realize, that it [Revelation, DKP] speaks of the destruction of this Jerusalem and a vengeance upon its inhabitants; it looks forward to the glory of a New Jerusalem under the house of David, and the gentiles coming to worship there." The tsble below will help us to see that Zechariah does indeed play an integral role in the thought of the Apocalypse.


Zechariah Revelation
Coming of the Lord with His Saints, 14:5 Coming of the Lord with His Saints 14:14f; 19:11f
Earthquake at the Day of the Lord, 14:4-5 Earthquake at the Day of the Lord, 6:12-17; 11:13; 16
Earthquake and Coming of the Lord at siege of Jerusalem, 14:1-5 Earthquake and Coming of the Lord at judgment of city "where the Lord was crucified" 11:8-13
Time of light, 14:7 Time of light, 21:23
River of living waters, 14:8 River of life, 22:1
The Lord shall be King over the earth, 14:9 The Lord is King of the earth, 11:15; 19:16; 22:3
Exaltation of Zion, 14:10 Exaltation of Zion, 14, 21
No more curse, curse removed, 14:11 No more curse, curse removed, 22:3
Nations coming to New Jerusalem with their wealth, 14:14 Nations coming to New Jerusalem with their wealth, 21:24
Nations observing Feast of Tabernacles, 14:16-20 Nations observing Feast of Tabernacles, 7:9-17* (vs. 17 also has the fountain of living waters)

Other comparisons could be drawn from Zechariah 10-13 but these from chapter 14 show that Revelation is in fact heavily dependent upon the post-exilic prophet. John is repeating Zechariah’s predictions about the Messiah and his work.

Fulfillment When?
The chronological framework for the fulfillment of the respective prophecies needs to be emphasized. Not one time was Zechariah told that his vision was "about to begin to be fulfilled" or was "at hand" or must "shortly come to pass." He was not told "there shall be no more delay"; he was not told that the coming of the Lord against Jerusalem was to be in his generation.

On the other hand, John was told repeatedly that fulfillment of his vision was imminent. It was "at hand"; it "must shortly come to pass"; there would be no more. The time for the judgment of the city Babylon/Jerusalem was at hand. How is it possible to ignore the contrast between Zechariah’s day and John’s?

Modern interpreters agree that John was repeating Zechariah’s predictions yet claim they have not been fulfilled. To what purpose then did John receive his vision? Zechariah wrote 500 years before John and was told the fulfillment was not imminent. John was told the events were imminent. Have they not yet occurred after almost two millennia? Was John to simply repeat Zechariah’s prophecies and tell his audience that the vision would still not be fulfilled for 2,000 years?

It has been four times longer from John to the present than from Zechariah to John. Zechariah did not say his predictions were imminent; John was told they were to be fulfilled shortly. There is something intrinsically wrong with any view that extends the fulfillment of Zechariah/ Revelation into our future.

This contrast in temporal context between the Old Covenant prophets and the New, is extremely significant for proper interpretation of scripture. There are other New Covenant passages that present this contrast.

Then Versus Now
In Romans 16:25-26 Paul said the mystery of God that had been hidden was now revealed in Christ. Paul’s contrast between "then" and "now" is important. His "then" was the time of the Old Covenant prophets. His "now" is his generation, the time of the revelation, maturation, and perfection of God’s scheme of redemption, cf. Romans 3:24f.

Ephesians 3 also contrasts former ages and the apostle’s generation. Paul says that in other ages the mystery of God was not revealed to the prophets "as it is now revealed to the apostles and prophets" Ephesians 3:6f. The time of revelation has to do with the miraculous period, the time of apostles and prophets, not to all subsequent time. This shows that what the Old Testament writers anticipated, what they knew was not for their time, was being fulfilled in the first century generation. That fulfillment was not a protracted and extended thing. God promised to bring his work to a swift consummation, Romans 9:28, "a short work will I perform on the earth."

Three other texts draw a sharp contrast between the foregoing time of prediction and the first century context of fulfillment. In Acts 3:19f Peter speaks of "all the prophets from Samuel forward" who foretold "these days." Peter very plainly was not saying the time had arrived for the Old Testament prophecies to be repeated and another period of extended waiting to occur. He was saying they were in the last days, Acts 2:15f. The prophets had foretold events for the last days, therefore they were living in the days of fulfillment.

Hebrews 11:13-16 says Abraham anticipated a New Creation, a New Heavens and Earth. Abraham and his descendants saw those things far off. For the writer of Hebrews, that New Creation was even then being delivered as the Old Creation was being removed, Hebrews 12:25-28.

Jesus commented on Abraham’s hope: "Abraham longed to see my day, he saw it and was glad" John 8:56. Abraham saw Jesus’ generation "far off"; that was 1900 years. By the way, isn’t it even a little bit significant that God called 1900 years "far off" while commentators tell us time statements mean nothing in the Bible? If time means nothing to God why didn’t God tell Abraham the New Creation was "at hand"?

Jesus’ generation was the anticipated time of arrival for what Abraham was promised — it was "the fullness of time," Galatians 4:4. Otherwise, why would Abraham so anticipate its coming? Why would he desire to see Jesus’ generation if it was not the generation to bring to fruition the things he had seen far off? If the New Creation was not to come in Jesus’ generation and has still not come, then Abraham has waited as long again as he waited for the coming of Jesus’ generation! Was Abraham glad to see Jesus’ generation because he knew it meant he would have to keep on waiting?

Finally, in 1 Peter 1:5-12 the fisherman said the Old Testament
prophets foretold the "salvation of the soul" that would be revealed at the parousia. He said the prophets were told the things they were predicting were not for themselves. That is, they were not to occur in their time. It cannot mean the salvation was not for them, otherwise this would mean the salvation of Jesus would not be for the prophets.

That salvation, to be fully revealed at the parousia, was not for the prophet’s time, yet Peter insists it was being preached "unto us" by means of those inspired by the Spirit. That is his generation. That salvation was "ready to be revealed" vs. 5. "The time for the judgment" had come, verse 17, because "the end of all things has drawn near," verse 7.

Zechariah predicted the salvation of which Peter wrote. He foretold the opening of the fountain for sin, verse 8, the establishment of Jehovah’s sovereignty, verse 9; the exaltation of Zion, vs. 10; and the calling of the Gentiles, verse 16f. Peter says Zechariah and the other prophets knew they foretold things not for their day. But Peter says that salvation was "ready to be revealed."

This contrast between the time of the prophets and the New Covenant writers should not be ignored. The "then" versus "now" is not a timeless contrast. It is not a contrast between one extended period of waiting and another even longer period of waiting initiated by Jesus and the first century writers.

Jesus was not the turning point of history between two extended times of waiting and delay. What the prophets had longed to see and that had been a long time coming was now on the verge of fulfillment: "The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of heaven has drawn near" Mark 1:15. The contrast is between the time of prophecy, of promise, of delay, and the time of fulfillment. That time of fulfillment was the first century generation.

The application therefore, between Zechariah and Revelation is evident. Whereas Zechariah knew that the things he foretold were not for his day, John, in writing the Apocalypse is insistent that the things Zechariah had prophesied were now "at hand"; they "must shortly come to pass"; there would be "no more delay." Any interpretation of Revelation that extends its fulfillment beyond that imminent context is doing grave violence to the contrast between the time of delay and the promise of no more delay.

While this article has only introduced the parallels between Zechariah and Revelation, I felt it important to note the importance of the temporal contrast between the two books. Following articles will examine the parallels more carefully. It will also be seen that Zechariah’s prophecy and its strict framework of the end of Israel has a direct bearing on many New Testament passages normally assigned to the end of the Christian Age.