Zechariah 14 (New International Version)
The LORD Comes and Reigns
1A day of the LORD is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls. 2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. 3 Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.
The Mount of Olives is actually a series of four hills, two of them directly east of the Temple Mount, rising up from the Kidron Valley. Here is located the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus, in fervent prayer, counted the cost before he went to the cross. Here also is where Jesus said farewell to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. The picture above is facing west, looking across the Kidron Valley to the walls of the temple area; directly below the Dome of the Rock, note the Golden Gate / Eastern Gate, inaccessible and blocked shut. Jews associate this gate with the coming of the Messiah. Muslims believe the final judgment will occur here. Christians remember Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and look forward to his return in great glory!
5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
6 On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. 7 It will be a unique day—a day known only to the LORD—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light.
Revelation 21:23-25 (English Standard Version)
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.
8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.
Today, the bare shores of the Dead Sea are dotted with ruins: Herod’s desert palace of Masada where the Romans battled the last of the Jewish Zealots after Jerusalem fell, only to find upon their “victory” that the Zealots had opted for suicide rather than Roman captivity; Qumran, the ancient religious Essene commune near which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found; and the shattered homes of the old Beit HaArava kibbutz, where in the 1940s Zionist pioneers tried to create a life for themselves and their children on land no one else wanted.
Thirty years ago the Dead Sea, one of the world’s saltiest lakes, had two basins — a deep northern one and a shallow southern one. But by the mid-1980s, the southern basin had dried up, leaving a large area of salt flats. Now the northern basin is drying up as well.
The Dead Sea is obviously shrinking, falling a yard in depth every year. The Dead Sea relies on the fresh water of the Jordan River as its source. But that once-wide Biblical river, where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, is now just a contaminated trickle. Israel, Jordan and Syria siphon off 95 percent of the water for drinking and for irrigation. Over the past century, the water’s surface has dropped 80 feet; in the last two decades, the Dead Sea has shrunk by a third. As the Dead Sea’s water disappears, it creates large sinkholes that make it dangerous even to approach the sea in certain spots.
Romans 8:22 (English Standard Version)
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.
10 The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up high from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses, and will remain in its place. 11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.
12 This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.
This “plague” reminds me of the descriptions I have read of the victims of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima.
13 On that day people will be stricken by the LORD with great panic. They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. 15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.
16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.
20 On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. 21 Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty.
In the Old Testament, holiness is expressed in strict separation—what was clean was to be separated from what was unclean. Remember reading Leviticus?! In the New Testament however, the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ brought a new emphasis and understanding to what is holy. Jesus himself associated with the first-century scum of the earth, one could say. And Paul gives these instructions: “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world . . . ” (1 Corinthians 5:9-10)
Holiness now is not to be rigorously distinct from common life, but woven throughout our lives in every aspect.
“God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship . . . that take place in the kitchen and workplace and on the streets” (Hebrews 13:16).” . . . but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY” (1 Peter 1:15, 16). Moral purity is not separate, not distinct from what is “common” or “secular.” We are called to live HOLY lives within the world in every regard.
Chris Tomlin sings “Holy Is the Lord.”