These last three chapters are Second Zechariah’s second oracle, describing the completion of God’s plan from the beginning, from before the creation of the world. When God gave God’s people the seven feasts described in Exodus, they were each prophetic of God’s plan of salvation. So far, four of those feasts have been fulfilled in Christ, and chapters 12-14 reflect the fulfillment to come of the last three feasts.
The Seven Feasts
Feast #1, Passover
Passover essentially entailed the sacrifice of a perfect lamb, after having loved and cared for that lamb for three days in one’s home. The night of the Passover, there was to be a feast commemorating the first Passover when God’s people, enslaved Hebrews, painted the blood of the first Passover lambs on the lintels of their doorways so that the angel of death would pass over that house.
This Feast was fulfilled when the Lamb of God was sacrificed on the cross for the sins of the world.
You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.1 Peter 1:18-19 (NRSV)
Feast #2, Feast of Unleavened Bread—
This feast, to be held in conjunction with Passover, involved the purging of all yeast from the house and eating unleavened bread.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is fulfilled in the sanctification of every believer.
Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.1 Corinthians 5:7 (NRSV)
Feast #3, Firstfruits—
Those of Jewish faith would present the first of the crops and the herds to God.
Firstfruits was fulfilled when Jesus rose from the dead and became the firstborn of the resurrection to come.
He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.Colossians 1:18 (NRSV)
Feast #4, Feast of Weeks, also called Pentecost—
Celebrated seven weeks after Passover, this was Thanksgiving for the first harvest and the reading of the law given at Mt. Sinai.
Feast of Weeks was fulfilled when God sent the Holy Spirit to write God’s law on the hearts of all believers.
I will put my laws in their minds,Hebrews 8:10, quoting Jeremiah 31:33 (NRSV)
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Feast #5, Feast of Trumpets—
During this feast, trumpets are blown commemorating the gathering of Israel to the promised land.
This feast is yet to be fulfilled in the resurrection of the saints upon Christ’s return!
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord,
—that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.
—For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call
—and with the sound of God’s trumpet,
—will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
—Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 (NRSV)
Feast #6, Day of Atonement—
The Day of Atonement remains the single most solemn and sacred day on the Jewish calendar. A day of repentance and forgiveness, it is the only feast in which God asked that the people fast, and to refrain from all pleasure for the entire time period.
This feast is partially fulfilled in all believers who have gratefully received the gift of atonement through Jesus, with a more specific fulfillment of all Israel to come!
So Christ, having been offered -once- to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.Hebrews 9:28 (NRSV)
Feast #7, Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles—
This feast was a favorite among the people of antiquity, for it involved a harvest celebration remembering the days in the wilderness. It was the most joyful holy day with feasting and music, and living for seven days in makeshift huts, scattered across the countryside and in the streets of the city, made of flowering boughs, sheaves of grain, and vines.
This feast is yet to be fulfilled when all nations shall be brought together under the righteous rule of Christ!
For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.”Romans 14:11, quoting Isaiah 45:23 (NRSV)
An Overview of the Final Prophecies.
There are three main ways to view this second oracle.
- These events occurred shortly after Jesus’ death and resurrection, as described in Acts of the Apostles, and those recorded by ancient historians.
- The prophet was describing the expansion of Christianity up to our day.
- These prophecies pertain to events still future to us.
Many Christian thinkers believe Zechariah was writing symbolically of the church, not of the nation Israel, and have spiritualized these prophecies, basing their views on solid Biblical scholarship. There is no reason to be dogmatic, even the famous theologian Martin Luther was stumped by the 14th chapter.
Others, because Zechariah was so specific about repeatedly naming Jerusalem and Judah, have taken a simpler, more straightforward view that Zechariah was prophesying about the literal nation of Israel, concerning actual events yet to happen.
Even among theologians who teach this last view, there is still speculation about sequence and timing.
Basic Elements of the Third Interpretation
Meeting in the Air
Somewhere in the first part of what is referred to as the last days, Jesus will gather up all believers to meet Him in the air.
Signal of the Trumpet Blast
The Apostle Paul wrote Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout, there will be the sound of trumpets, and all the saints will be caught up together.
Those sounds are very similar to Moses’ description of God’s presence and summoning up to Mount Sinai.
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled.
Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God.
They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently.
As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder.
When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.Exodus 19:16-20 (NRSV)
When that trumpet sounds, according to Paul, the dead will rise up, then those who are still alive will also rise.
Every believer, both those risen from the dead and those still alive who rise, will be changed in the twinkling of an eye.
Paul’s depiction in his first letter to the Thessalonians is often called The Rapture, the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets. Many Christians tend to feel Christ’s return is not that imminent because certain events have not occurred.
Yet Jesus Himself left the timing of His return purposely ambiguous in order that we would be in a continuous state of watchfulness and expectancy, of anticipation. To not live in this way is to not live by the spirit of Christ’s command to watch and wait.
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[h] but only the Father.
“Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day[i] your Lord is coming.”Matthew 24:36, 42 (NRSV)
There will be a Time of Trouble
Often referred to as The Tribulation, it will conclude with a worldwide war, the battle of Armageddon, (where Zechariah chapter 12 begins).
Christ Will Reign for a Thousand Years
Mentioned only once in the entire Bible, in the Book of Revelation, this era will be inaugurated at the conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon, and is described in Zechariah chapter 14.