Zechariah 14: The Coming of the Lord with His Saints #3
Does Zechariah 14 Support Covenant Eschatology, Or Refute It?
Don K. Preston D. Div.
Our last article advanced a list of ten parallels between Zechariah 14 and the book of Revelation. The points of comparison are not minor but major elements pertaining to God’s Scheme of Redemption. In this and pursuant articles we wish to develop in some detail the significance of these parallels.
Zechariah predicted the coming of the Lord with all his saints (14:5). Pusey claimed: “Whenever the Scriptures say that the saints and angels come with Christ, it is always speaking of His Second Coming” (E. B. Pusey, Pusey on the Old Testament, The Minor Prophets, A Commentary, Baker, Vol. II. 1979)450). He is surely correct. The trouble for Pusey and all futurists however, is that Zechariah has placed that coming in direct association with the fall of Jerusalem. See my Who Is This Babylon? for more on this.
How is it possible to divorce the day of the Lord in verse 1 from the coming in verse 5? There is no division in the chapter. Only theological bias constrains the suggestion that while the Romans did fulfill Jesus’ prediction of the siege of Jerusalem “At the end of the age preceding the second coming of Christ, Jerusalem will be in a similar situation” (John Walvoord, Major Bible Prophecies: 37 Crucial Prophecies that Affect You Today, Zondervan, 1991).
The concept of the Lord coming with his saints is a common Old Covenant theme and is the source for the New Covenant predictions. In fact, “`All the essential details’ of New Testament portrayals of the Parousia `are found in Old Testament descriptions of the coming theophany'” (F. F. Bruce, citing Glasson in Word Biblical Commentary, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1982, p. 73). Minear says “As one recalls Old Testament passages like these (Joel, Isaiah, etc., DKP) one is forced to conclude that every essential feature of the New Testament prophecies were an echo of these. No Christian prophet tried to explain the meaning of these references to solar disasters, a fact that suggests that the audience was expected to understand the language” (Paul S. Minear, New Testament Apocalyptic, Abingdon, 1981, p. 52-53.
In Deuteronomy 33:2 we are told that at Sinai the Lord came with “ten thousand of his saints”. Did Jehovah literally come with ten thousand saints? Not according to the historical record. But Jehovah manifested Himself in majesty and glory on the Mount and therefore He is said to have come. This metaphorical language is the “lingua franca” of passages speaking of epiphanies of the Lord.
Fairbairn, although inconsistent with his own conclusions, stated the case beautifully. After considering the metaphoric usage of Old Testament passages predicting the coming of the Lord he concluded:
“So that, as regards the Lord’s presence and coming, the real and the visible are by no means to be regarded as interchangeable; and it is only from the accompanying circumstances and conditions that we can determine, in regard to any predicted manifestation of Himself, whether it is to be patent to the senses of men, or concealed from their view. Such are the conclusions from a consideration of what is written of it in the Old Testament Scripture. And the presumption is, as we have already indicated, that it may not be materially different when we pass from the Old to the New (Patrick Fairbairn, Prophecy: Its Distinctive Nature, Its Special Function, Baker, 1976)440f).
This Old Testament background is the fountain from whence flows the New Testament predictions of the parousia of Jesus. If the New Testament writers constantly quote from Old Testament metaphoric language upon what hermeneutical principle does one make the New Testament prophecies predictive of a literal, physical coming of the Lord? See my book We Shall Meet Him In The Air, the Wedding of the King of kings, for a discussion of the nature of apocalyptic language.
Now if Zechariah 14:5 predicted the AD 70 coming of Jesus with his saints in judgment of the Old Covenant World of Israel, and if Zechariah 14:5 serves as the basis for the New Testament predictions of the coming of the Lord with his saints, then it must be true that the New Testament predictions of the coming of the Lord with his saints must refer to the AD 70 coming of Jesus. This view is amply supported by an examination of the New Testament texts predicting the coming of the Lord with his saints. We will examine those texts in our next installment.