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.
(Zechariah 14:16-21 NIV)
Recapping quickly, we know that God is speaking about the future, both for Zechariah and for us. Jesus comes back to earth. He is crowned king of the world and wins the war against the nations that have gathered together against Him.
As we step into today’s text as we end the book of Zechariah, we see the Lord describing the character and nature of the new kingdom He has established.
Verse 16 is a bit confusing at first glance, so let’s step through it. Verse 16 begins with “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem…“. Does this mean that God did not destroy all His enemies with the plague we studied during our last time together? No.
Instead, God is saying that while all nations came together to fight against Him at Jerusalem, not all citizens of those countries participated in the battle. There are many who came to Christ during the tribulation and refused to fight against the Lord. Christ says they are survivors, and He protects them from the plague and ultimate destruction.
So how many survivors will there be? Revelation 7:9-14 is a parallel passage, and states that there was “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language….”. John’s description of the survivors? Too many to count.
So let’s continue with the second half of verse 16. What will these survivors do? Come to Jerusalem year after year and worship God during the Festival of the Tabernacles.
So why the Festival of the Tabernacles? Why not celebrate Jesus’ birth into humanity or His resurrection from the dead? Remember what the Festival of the Tabernacles commemorated: God coming to live among His people while they lived in tents in the desert (Leviticus 23:33-43). God told His people to construct and live in temporary shelters made of branches for seven days, celebrating God’s presence with them. When God repeats His command to observe this festival in Deuteronomy 16:13-17, He says that it is for everyone, not just the Jewish people – including the foreigners (Gentiles) living in the land.
So the celebration continues as Jesus comes back to be king of the world and dwell among His people once again.
Verses 17 – 19 say that this worship is mandatory, not optional. Jesus is king and ruler of the world. Today the worship of God is optional – God gives each person free choice as to whether they worship Him or not. But in that future day, with evil banished, worship is required for all God has done for each person.
God is not picking on Egypt when He talks about the punishment for people that choose not to come to Jerusalem and worship Him. He is simply using them as an example of what will happen if they don’t. God promises to bring about a drought on them if they don’t come for the Festival of the Tabernacles. God uses Egypt as an example because of the natural rain and water provision from the Nile river overflowing its banks each year. If the people thought it would not matter that a drought came and they would have enough water for the year, they are sadly mistaken.
Verses 20-21 end the book with a vivid description of God’s holiness. At this point in history, everything is holy to the Lord… the decorative bells on the horses, the pots and pans used for cooking meals, everything. We often divide our lives into “secular” and “sacred”, into “common” and “holy”, but in that day, there will only be “holy”.
The phrase “Holy to the Lord” was the inscription on the front of the high priest’s turban, signifying that he was special and set apart before the Lord. Now God is saying that everything, even common cooking pots, are just as holy as the special bowls made specifically for service to the Lord in the Temple.
Verse 21 ends with the description of the people as holy. Again, God was not picking on the Canaanites; He is saying that the uncleanness and moral bankruptcy normally associated with the Canaanites is now gone – no person has that designation anymore.
In that day, there will only be one designation. Everything and everyone is holy.
Remember what Ezra said about Zechariah’s ministry? He said that the people were greatly encouraged and prospered because of Zechariah’s and Haggai’s input into their lives.
I trust this study of Zechariah’s book has been as much of an encouragement to you as it has been to me.