PMW 2021-037 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In Zechariah’s great prophecy we read one verse that is used by dispensational literalists to overthrow the prophet’s postmillennial hope. That verse reads:
“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.” (Zech 14:14)
ZECHARIAH ESCHATOLOGICAL DEBATE
Zechariah has been called “the most messianic, the most truly apocalyptic and eschatological of all the writings of the Old Testament” (ISBE1, 4:3136.) And surely it is. But Zechariah is greatly misunderstood in dispensationalism. Dispensationalists hold that Zechariah 14 undermines non-dispensational views such as postmillennialism. I will summarize the view from Dallas Seminary’s Bible Knowledge Commentary and then give a brief postmillennial interpretation of the passage.
That dispensationalists believe this prophecy undermines postmillennialism is evident in the following comment:
“Zechariah 14 progresses from the initial plundering of Jerusalem near the end of the future Tribulation, through the catastrophic judgment on the Gentile armies at Messiah’s Second Advent and the establishment of His millennial reign, to a description of the worship in Jerusalem during the Millennium. The fact that these events have not yet occurred points to a premillennial return of Christ, that is, His return before the Millennium.”
THE DISPENSATIONAL VIEW
Dispensationalists apply verse 1 to a great tribulation still in our future, which introduces the earthly millennial reign of Christ and comprises “the day of the Lord.” They see this verse as portraying the “military intervention of the Messiah,” with verse 4 detailing its accomplishment as the Lord descends upon the Mount of Olives (BKC 1:1570). Then he will establish his political kingdom over the earth, accompanied by “changes in illumination, climate, and topography which God will bring on Jerusalem, Palestine, and no doubt the whole earth during the Millennium” (1:1570). All of this arises from a literalistic reading of verses 6–11.
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond
(ed. by Darrell Bock)
Presents three views on the millennium: progressive dispensationalist, amillennialist, and reconstructionist postmillennialist viewpoints. Includes separate responses to each view. Ken Gentry provides the postmillennial contribution.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Zechariah 14:12–15 supposedly is a “parenthetical flashback” describing “the second phase of the invasion of Jerusalem by the confederated Gentile armies.” After this, “the survivors from all the nations will worship annually in Jerusalem. ‘The survivors’ are not the Jewish remnant. . . [but are those] from nonmilitary personnel of those nations whose armies were destroyed by Messiah” (BKC 1:1570, 1571).
Verses 16–17 speak of “a newly instituted worldwide religious order embracing both Jews and Gentiles” that will be established and “will center in Jerusalem and will incorporate some features identical with or similar to certain aspects of Old Testament worship.” Thus, “worshiping annually in Jerusalem will be necessary for the people to enjoy the fertility of crops” (BKC 1:1570, 1571).
This entire dispensational scheme is wholly out of accord with the flow of redemptive history, so much so that it has been called an “evangelical heresy” by Meredith G. Kline. Indeed, “A. A. Hodge, B. B. Warfield, and J. G Machen . . . were outspoken opponents of dispensationalism, which they considered close to heresy.” Non-premillennial evangelicals vigorously denounce this interpretation. As redemptive history progresses to “the last days” (Isa 2:2–4; 1Co 10:11; Heb 9:26), which Christ institutes in the first century as the “fullness of time” (Mk 1:14–15; Gal 4:4; Heb 1:1–2), the entire temple order and sacrificial system is forever done away with (Mt 24:1–34; Heb 8:13; Rev 11). Accompanying the physical temple’s removal, divine worship is forever de-centralized and universalized (Jn 4:21–23; Mt 28:18–20). In addition, God merges the redeemed of all nations into one kingdom without ethnic distinction (Ro 11:13–24; Eph 2:12–21; Gal 6:12–16; Rev 7:9–10). This very much contradicts dispensationalism’s reversing the divine economy back to an old covenant-like order, complete with the elevating of the Jewish race over all peoples
Four Views on the Book of Revelation
(ed. by Marvin Pate)
Helpful presentation of four approaches to Revelation. Ken Gentry writes the chapter on the preterist approach to Revelation, which provides a 50 page survey of Revelation .
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Of course, a major problem with the dispensational viewpoint here in Zechariah 14 is it’s a priori interpretive literalism. The postmillennialist would interpret the passage in a much different light. The whole passage — as often with prophecy — is a mingling of literal and figurative prophetic allusions, as we shall see. In my next posting.