Meredith G. Kline, “Evangel of the Messianic Avenger”
[part 2] Kerux 7:3 (Dec. 1992): 39-61.

II. Kerygma–Christ: Commander of the Gentiles

It is still the Angel-Measurer speaking in Zechariah 2:6-13 (10-17). His words, however, are no longer being relayed to the “young man,” Zechariah, but are now directed to the people of Zion (vv. 6-11 [10-15]) and to all the world (vv. 12, 13 [16,17]). God’s people are addressed as “daughter of Zion” (v. 10 [14])15 and viewed as in captivity with the “daughter of Babylon” (v. 7 [11]).

To this audience the messianic Angel presents an interpretation and application of the message of the foregoing imagery. In vv. 6-11 (10-15) application in imperative form (call to action) precedes interpretation, the latter functioning not just as explanation of the symbolism but as motivation for obeying the command. By the repeating of this hortatory pattern these verses are structured into two subsections, vv.6-9 (10-13) and vv. 10, 11 (14, 15), with imperatives in vv. 6, 7 (10, 11) and v. 10a (14a) and explanation-motivation in vv. 8, 9 (12, 13) and vv. 10b, 11 (14b, 15).16 An important third element in this pattern is the concluding statement of (messianic) validation (see vv. 9c, 11c [13c, 15c]). In the final section of the kerygma (vv. 12,13 [16, 17]), the imperative (v. 13a [17a]) is again followed by a ki-clause of motivation, but is preceded by a summation (v. 12 [16]).

From the kerygmatic exposition of the imagery it appears that the perfecting of the cosmic temple-city by the messianic Measurer would follow upon a redemptive warfare involving both the dispossession of the world powers for the enrichment of God’s kingdom (vv. 6-9 [10-13]) and, paradoxically, a gracious work of conversion, a gathering of multitudes of Gentiles into the community of salvation (vv. 10, 11 [14, 15]). Christ, the kerux, heralds here his coming world-wide victory over the enemy and issues beforehand his efficacious altar call to his own, afar off, to come home. It will be the completion of this universal mission that authenticates his claim to be the Servant-Lord sent by the Lord God of hosts.

A. Conquest of the Nations. Continuing the typological idiom of the imagery section, the kerygma pictures the covenant people of the messianic age as Israelites still in the land of Babylon, anticipating deliverance. Old Testament prophets portray Israel’s return from captivity as a second exodus and agreeably these two typological events, exodus and restoration, are blended in the Angel’s prophetic representations of new covenant history.

The opening directive of the first subsection (vv. 6-9 [10-13]) is expressed in a double imperative: “flee from the land of the north” (v. 6a [10a]) . . . “to Zion escape” (v. 7a [11a]).17 Leave Babylon, head home to Jerusalem. Get out of the oppressive world center and get back to the center of God’s kingdom. This had also been the prophetic command of Isaiah: “Go forth from Babylon, flee from the Chaldeans” (48:20) . . . “Depart, depart, go out from there” (52:11).18 Jeremiah picked up the refrain in his oracle against Babylon: “Flee out of the midst of Babylon” (50:8; 51:6a) . . .”be not cut off in her iniquity, for it is the time of Yahweh’s vengeance” (51:6b).

Between the two imperatives a motivation clause is inserted: “For I am spreading you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, says Yahweh” (v. 6b [10b]). Expounding the promise inherent in the image of an unbounded Jerusalem, the Lord assures those he commands to return, that their future back at Zion is one of blessing, of expansion in every direction. This enticing prospect of Jerusalem’s coming fullness is amplified in the following motivation clauses, all of which hark back to the basic symbol of vv. 4, 5 (8, 9).

While return to Zion is encouraged by appeal to its promised prosperity, flight from Babylon, as from Sodom (Gen. 19:12ff.), is urged on the grounds of its impending doom (vv. 8, 9 [12, 13]). The two are closely related: Jerusalem’s prosperity would be achieved through the plundering of Babylon.20 The first and third motivation clauses in vv. 8, 9 (12, 13) announce Messiah’s mission of judgment against the offending world powers. The middle clause affirms afresh the Lord’s intense love for his oppressed people. Vision three thus restates the theme of messianic vengeance introduced in vision one and developed as the main point of vision two.

The motivation clause in v. 8a (12a) presents the Angel’s announcement of his mission to the nations that plundered the covenant people. It begins with ‘achar kabod, a problematic phrase, especially for those who regard this mission as Zechariah’s, not Messiah’s. There are two particularly cogent options. One is to translate “after glory,” in the sense “in quest of glory.”21 The glory to be won could be the wealth of the nations (cf. Hag. 2:6-9) or the honor of God’s name, secured through the display of his sovereignty in the avenging of his people. In favor of this interpretation, the nature of the mission as an avenging judgment is the main emphasis in the adjoining clauses, especially in v. 9 (13).

The second attractive possibility is to translate “with (the) Glory,”22 signifying that the Angel would be accompanied in his mission by the theophanic Presence, the Glory-Spirit. Favoring this view is the fact that kabod had just been used in the imagery of v. 5b (9b) for the Glory-Presence in the midst of God’s people.23 This would be another allusion to exodus history, for in the mediatorial intercession of Moses after the golden calf episode (Exod. 32:34-33:23) the precise issue was whether Israel was to be led to Canaan by the messianic Angel alone or by the Angel attended by the Glory-cloud.24 Theophany in the form of the Angel alone had been characteristic of the patriarchal age, but the coming of the typological age of judgment at the exodus was marked by Parousia-Presence. God heeded Moses’ plea and his Glory accompanied his Angel on his mission to plunder the nations of Canaan. In Zechariah 2:8 (12) the Angel would then be giving assurance that his announced eschatological mission against the nations would be a Parousia event, a coming in the glory of the Father and all his holy angels.25 And when, as the incarnate Messiah, he was about to move beyond his earthly state of humiliation, he, like Moses, prayed for an investment with the Glory-Spirit appropriate to the new stage of exaltation he was entering in the heavenly day of the Lord. “Father, the hour is come . . . glorify thou me with thine own self, with the Glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:1, 5).26

The ki-clause in Zechariah 2:8b (12b) might be taken as directly supporting the command to return from Babylon (v. 7a [11a]) by assuring God’s people that they were precious to him (“the apple of his eye”) so that they might confidently anticipate his blessings back at Zion. The point would then be the same as in the motivation clause in v. 6b (10b). Suggesting this direct relation to v. 7a (11a) is the resonance of bebabath (v. 8b [12b]) with bath-babel (v. 7a [11a]) and the irony thus highlighted: “the daughter of” his (God’s) eye (v. 8b [12b])–the daughter of Zion (v. 10 [14])–is dwelling with “the daughter of Babylon” (v. 7a [11a]).27 Alternatively, v. 8b (12b) could relate immediately to v. 8a (12a), explaining God’s determination to visit retribution on the nations: the people against whom they had shown malice were precious to him. Indeed, since Israel belonged to God as his personal possession, the nations that dominated her were challenging God’s claims on her service.28 By reinforcing the motivation of v. 8a (12a), v. 8b (12b) would still be supporting, but indirectly, the imperatives of vv. 6a and 7a (10a and 11a).

Again in the motivation clause of v. 9a (13a) the disaster threatening Babylon is the consideration urged for obeying the double command of vv. 6a, 7a (10a, 11a) to flee from there. Messiah’s mission against the world powers would resemble the ancient judgment on Egypt. It would result in a complete reversal, the plunderers becoming a spoil to their former servants, just as the Egyptians were despoiled by their Hebrew slaves (Exod. 3:22; 12:36). Messiah would effect this defeat by brandishing his hand over these nations, an action reminiscent of the stretching forth of God’s hand and the lifting up of Moses’ hand over Egypt. Like Zechariah 2:9 (13), Exodus 3 combines these two features: commissioning Moses, God declares that he will send forth his hand and smite Egypt with wonders (v. 20) and that Israel in leaving will despoil the Egyptians (vv. 21, 22).

Isaiah, in oracles against Egypt and Babylon, describes God’s destroying judgment as a shaking of his hand over them (Isa. 11:15; 13:2; 19:16; cf. Job 31:21). He clearly alludes to the lifting of the hand of God and of Moses over the sea at the exodus (Isa. 11:15) and under the figure of the typological history of the exodus from Egypt and the return from captivity, Isaiah, like Zechariah, was prophesying of a messianic, eschatological judgment.29

What we have found in the first subsection of the kerygma is that the Measurer himself is central in the exposition of the imagery. That the Messiah and his mission is the main theme of the vision becomes even more evident when we notice how each kerygmatic subsection (vv. 6-9 [10-13] and vv. 11, 12 [15, 16]) concludes by pointing to the prophesied events in Zion and the world as validation of the divine sponsorship of that mission. But before dealing with the validation motif in vv. 9c and 11c (13c and 15c), we will examine the second subsection, its imperative (v. 10a [14a]) and its motivation (vv. 10b, 11a [14b, 15a]). We will find that it discloses a new aspect of Messiah’s mission, a surprising development not suggested by the first subsection (at least, not at first glance),30 yet essential to explain the image of Jerusalem expanded to unprecedented dimensions, beyond containment.

B. Conversion of the Gentiles. “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion” (Zech. 2:10a [14a]). The directive that introduces the second division of the kerygma (vv. 10, 11 [14, 15]) is the perfect prelude for the glad tidings that follow in the motivation section.31 “Lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of you” (v. 10b [14b]; cf. 11b [15b]). With this promise the messianic Angel puts into words what was expressed symbolically in the first vision by the imagery of the rider on the red horse in the midst of the myrtles (1:8; cf. 1:16a). He heralds the Christmas evangel, good news for all people (cf. Luke 2:10). “Joy to the world! The Lord is come . . . Let men their songs employ.”

Centered between the two assurances that the coming Lord “will dwell in the midst of you” is the disclosure of a distinctive new aspect of Jerusalem’s restoration prospects. “Many nations will join themselves to Yahweh in that day and will be my people” (2:11a [15a]). The last clause is the covenantal formula used by Jeremiah when prophesying of the new covenant (31:33; 32:38). Also, the verb lawah (“join”) is used elsewhere for covenantal alliance.32 Reminiscent of Psalm 2, Psalm 83 pictures the nations taking counsel and entering into covenant together against God and his people (vv. 2-5 [3-6]), and Assyria’s participation in this covenantal coalition is denoted by lawah (v. 8 [9]). In Jeremiah 50:5, lawah refers to the union of God’s people with him “in an everlasting covenant.” Of most interest for Zechariah 2:11a [15a]) is Isaiah’s use of lawah for foreigners attaching themselves to Israel (14:1) and to the Lord (56:3,6). Alternative terminology is taking hold of God’s covenant (56:4,6); keeping the Sabbath, the covenant sign (56:2,4,6); and receiving the everlasting name (56:5) that belongs to those in the new and everlasting covenant (55:3, 13).

Incorporation of the Gentiles into God’s covenantal people is a recurring theme in Zechariah. He indicates, moreover, that their status is to be one of full participation, including cultic privilege. As noted above, the picture of many nations joined to the covenant community (2:11a [15a]) is surrounded by the doubled promise: “And I will dwell in the midst of you.”33 At the close of the passage which forms the central spine of the overall diptych structure of the book (6:9-15), an episode symbolic of Messiah’s royal-priestly coronation, the prospect emerges of those far off coming and sharing in the building of the temple (v. 15). Likewise, the introduction to the second half of the diptych (7:1-8:23) concludes with a prophecy that the Gentiles will take hold of the skirts34 of the covenant people, saying, “We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (8:23). Taking hold of the hem of the garment was a sign of submission to authority. For Gentiles to grasp the tasseled skirts of Jews was to join in the acknowledgement of Yahweh’s sovereignty signified by that sartorial symbol. It was to take hold of God’s covenant, like those whom Isaiah described as being joined to the Lord and his people (Isa. 56:4,6). This symbolic convention is reflected in the Gospel episodes of individuals touching the border of the garment of Jesus, the true Jew and the Lord, combined in one (cf. Matt. 9:20, 21; 14:36). Though not involving Gentiles, these instances embodied religious confession of the Lord such as Zechariah had envisioned.

Elsewhere Zechariah foretells the conversion of Philistines, who will become as chieftains in Judah (9:7). On a broader scale, he foresees a remnant out of all nations coming to Jerusalem to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, and to observe the Feast of Tabernacles (14:16). This was in the tradition of Isaiah’s assurance to foreigners who were joined to the Lord that they were to be welcomed into the heart of the service of sacrifice and prayer on God’s holy mountain (Isa. 56:6-8). They would see God’s Glory and be admitted into the priesthood of his house (Isa. 66:21). God’s purpose to make known the gospel unto the nations for the obedience of faith had indeed been revealed by the scriptures of the prophets (Rom. 16:26).

Another aspect of Isaiah’s large contribution to Zechariah 2 is the connection he makes between the themes of the conquest of the Gentiles and their conversion. In his treatment of Gentiles joining Israel, the first stage finds these former strangers from the covenant assisting in the restoration of God’s people, being joined unto them, but as servants. They, the captors and oppressors, are taken captive and are now ruled over (Isa. 14:1-3; cf. 60:4-14). Then in Isaiah’s later resumption of the theme, this joining of foreigners to the house of Jacob becomes a religious joining unto Israel’s God, a gathering into the full fellowship of covenant life and divine service (Isa. 56:3-8).

Gentile conversion is also related to Gentile conquest in the passages where Isaiah provides background for the Zechariah 2:9 (13) imagery of God’s brandishing his hand over the nations. In Isaiah 11 the new exodus symbolism of the spoiling of the former oppressor and the drying of the waters by God’s shaking his hand (vv.11-16) is connected to the prophecy of the nations seeking unto the messianic “root of Jesse” (v. 10). And in Isaiah 19 the shaking of Yahweh’s hand over the Egyptians in judgment (v. 16) leads to their knowing him and erecting an altar to worship him with sacrifice and oblation (vv. 19-21). Egypt, smitten by the Lord, returns unto him and is healed (v. 22). Indeed, in that day the Assyrians join the Egyptians in the worship of Yahweh (v. 23). “In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria” (v. 24), the Gentiles sharing with the Jews in their identification with the Lord and reception of his triune blessing: “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands [cf. Isa. 43:7], and Israel mine inheritance” (v. 25). A remarkable disclosure given beforehand in prophetic Scripture of the church in which the Gentiles in the flesh, once far off from God, are brought near in the blood of Christ, who creates of Jews and Gentiles one new man (Eph. 2:11ff.).

Zechariah’s third vision contains the same association of ideas as these Isaianic passages. Thus in Zechariah 2:11 (15) the conversion of the Gentiles emerges unexpectedly as a consequence of the conquest of the enemy powers. Likewise in Zechariah 9 the conversion of Philistines (v. 7) occurs in the context of a holy war campaign that dispossesses the ungodly nations occupying God’s land. And in Zechariah 14 the overcoming of the universal gathering against Jerusalem is the background of the prophecy of a new gathering at Jerusalem, this one of converts out of all the vanquished nations, come to worship the Lord (v. 16).

It is particularly the act of the spoiling of the aggressor nations by their former servants (Zech. 2:8, 9 [12,13]) that provides the basis for the idea of converts being won from the ranks of the enemy. In Zechariah 2:9 (13) the spoiling of the nations is a dispossessing of them in terms of their worldly wealth and glory. It is not the same as the wresting of converts from them referred to in Zechariah 2:11 (15). The latter is a second kind of spoiling, an act of salvation. Those who move from the world’s side to the Lord’s side as a consequence of the messianic Angel’s mission of judgment on the nations (v. 8 [12]) are to be viewed as having been captives of the enemy power, a prey that had been seized and is now set free. This spoiling of the nations is a redeeming of the nations.

If we follow the thematic trail of Messiah’s redemptive spoiling of the nations on into the New Testament, we come in a straight course to the Lord’s binding of the dragon, deceiver of the nations, in Revelation 20. The place to pick up this trail is Isaiah 49:24,25.

Isaiah 49 abounds in parallels to Zechariah’s third vision. The voice of Messiah, the Servant of the Lord, breaks through as the speaker (vv. 1ff.). God’s people experience an exodus-like homecoming (vv. 9-12), which calls for song and rejoicing (v. 13). Zion’s citizenry will so increase as to burst through the old bounds (vv. 19, 20). These new children of Jerusalem will come from the Gentile nations (vv. 21,22; cf. v. 12), for the Servant will be a light to the Gentiles and God’s salvation to the ends of the earth (v. 6). Hence, the influx of the Gentiles will validate the claims of the servant Lord to be the God of Jacob and his Savior (vv. 23,26). But of most immediate interest is the coupling of the conquest and conversion of the nations, and particularly the promise that in Zion’s warfare, God, the warrior-champion of his people,35 will take away the captive prey of the terrible adversary (vv. 24, 25).

Isaiah 49:24,25 is translated by Jesus into a saying about himself and Satan (Matt. 12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 11:21,22). Rephrased, the question, “Shall the prey be taken from the strong?” (Isa. 49:24) becomes, “How can one enter the house of the strong man and spoil his goods?” (Matt. 12:29). And God’s answer, asserting that he would himself contend with the strong man and take away his prey (Isa. 49:25), becomes in Jesus’ saying a declaration that a stronger warrior will overcome the strong man, take away his armor (Luke 11:21,22), bind him, then enter his house, seize his goods and divide the spoil. According to the context, Satan is the strong man and Jesus is the stronger warrior who spoils the prince of demons by rescuing the demon-possessed from his domination.36

These messianic acts of deliverance, wrought by the Spirit-finger of God, heralded the arrival of the kingdom (Matt. 12:28; Luke 11:20). They were a harbinger of the penetration of Christ’s saving power into all the dark domain of the deceiver of the heathen world. By the gospel the stronger One would take the prey from the terrible foe, bringing former victims of his deception out of all the Gentile nations as converts to serve the triune God of truth. As the stronger One declared at the critical hour of his confrontation with the strong enemy: “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself” (John 12:31,32).

Revelation 20:1-3 restates the saying of Jesus in apocalyptic style. Here, the messianic Angel from heaven (v. 1), the stronger One, binds the dragon, the strong man, for a thousand years (v. 2). Imprisoned in the abyss, Satan can no longer confine the light of the community of faith within the bounds of Israel, deluding all the other nations with his lie (v. 3). The thousand years are great-commission-fulfilling times. All through the millennium the stronger One is rescuing as a prey from the dragon multitudes of converts out of every nation, tribe, people, and tongue (cf. Rev. 7:9). Delivered from the devil’s darkness and deception, drawn as disciples unto the Light of the world, they become lampstand churches, martyr-witnesses faithful unto death. Beheaded for the testimony of Jesus they are received into the heavenly ministry of the martyrs as priest-kings with Christ before the throne of God (Rev. 20:4-6). So complete is the triumph of the stronger One over the draconic foe, he who has the power of death, that dying, for the Christian martyr-witnesses, is transformed into a “first resurrection,” an entrance into a sabbatical resting (cf. Rev. 14:13) and reigning with their Savior-Victor. In that blessed state they continue during the millennial time of the “the great tribulation” for the church on earth (cf. Rev. 7:14), waiting until the full complement of their company is attained (cf. Rev. 6:11), eager for the day when that pleroma of the seed of Abraham from all the nations, Christ’s battle spoils, will be displayed to the glory of God as the fullness of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:24-26).

Jesus’ saying, particularly in its Lucan form, connects Isaiah 49:24, 25 (and Zechariah 2) with Revelation 20:1ff. Light is thus thrown forward from Isaiah and Luke on Revelation 20 showing that the binding of the dragon is to be understood in terms of Christ’s delivering souls as a prey from Satan’s power. The millennium is revealed as the present church age of world-wide gospel testimony and ingathering, an age for exercising all patience through the tribulation of the times (cf. Rev. 1:9; 2:2,3,19; 3:10; 13:10; 14:12). Light is also thrown back from Luke 11:21,22 and Revelation 20 on Isaiah 49 and Zechariah 2. Aware that Satan is the ultimate enemy of God and man standing behind the world powers, we can more readily understand the paradoxical prophetic portrayal of the nations both as enemies to be conquered by the divine warrior (for they often act as agents of the Enemy) and as captives held by Satan but set free and united as converts to Zion by the stronger One, sent with the Glory-Spirit.37

From our later vantage point in redemptive history we perceive that the soteric spoiling of the nations transpires first. The elect remnant who constitute the pleroma of the Gentiles are gathered in during the present church age. Afterward, the nations, spoiled of the elect and now identified with antichrist, the son of perdition, are spoiled of their earthly heritage in the judgment of the last day. It is through this process of the twofold spoiling of the nations, first of their people and then of their property, that Jerusalem becomes enlarged to cosmic horizons (Zech. 2:4 [8]).

C. Validation of Messianic Commission. Each of the first two subsections of the kerygma closes with the assertion: “You will know that Yahweh of hosts has sent me” (vv. 9,11 [13,15]). As shown above, the speaker making this claim is the one speaking in the first person throughout the kerygma, the messianic Angel, the Measurer. What he is going to accomplish among the nations in the power of the divine Glory (cf. vv. 5, 8 [9, 12]) will demonstrate that he is in truth the Messiah sent by God. It will validate his self-identification as the Servant-Branch whom the Lord of hosts brings forth (cf. 3:8).

When the Lord was charging Moses with his role as mediator of the old covenant, Moses raised the question of credentials. God responded that the authentication of his call would be the manifestation of the divine Presence with him and the consequent successful performance of his assignment to deliver the Israelites and establish them in covenant with the Lord. “Surely I will be with you and this shall be the sign unto you that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain” (Exod. 3:12). The great I Am, God of Glory, would accompany Moses (Exod. 3:14-17) and brandish his hand over Egypt (Exod. 3:20) so that Israel would despoil their oppressors (Exod. 3:21, 22) and return from the house of bondage to the house of the Lord in the land of promise (Exod. 3:17). It was this presence of the Glory, executor of redemptive judgment, that Moses subsequently insisted on as the quintessential attestation to his divine commissioning (Exod. 33:14-16).

In Zechariah the theme of the validating of the messianic mission appears in two other passages besides 2:9,11 (13,15). The first is in vision five (4:1-14), which exhibits extensive correspondence to vision three, its matching member in the chiastic structure of the series. Among the parallels are building imagery, with a messianic figure holding a construction line (2:1 [5] and 4:10); promise of the subjugation of the world power (2:8,9 [12,13] and 4:7); and the consummating of the restoration program (2:4,5,12 [8,9,16] and 4:7,8). Like the third vision the fifth appends to the final universal triumph of God’s kingdom the messianic claim: “You will know that Yahweh of hosts has sent me” (4:9).

The validation formula appears again in the crowning episode in Zechariah 6:9-15, following directly on the announcement that Gentiles from afar will take part in the rebuilding of God’s dwelling place (v. 15). Since Messiah, the Branch, is the primary agent in this temple construction (vv. 12,13), the statement that its completion will attest to a divine commissioning clearly refers to Messiah, not Zechariah.

As we have seen, the situation in Zechariah 2 is much the same. Thus in all three passages the evidence that validates messianic identity is the fulfilling of the mission of the Measurer (Zech. 2:1, 2 [5,6]), namely, completion of the temple/city with the divine Glory within and the inclusion of the Gentiles in the fullness of eschatological Jerusalem. Elsewhere in Scripture the universality of God’s work of salvation, particularly the contribution of Gentiles to the glorification of Jerusalem, is cited as the ground for similar validation claims, like: “You will know that I am Yahweh” (Isa. 49:23); “My people will know my name” (Isa. 52:6–a context abounding in parallels to Zechariah 2); and “You will know that I, Yahweh, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (Isa. 60:16). The fact that such analogous phenomena concern claims to deity, not just to prophetic inspiration, corroborates our interpretation of the validation formula in Zechariah 2:9,11 (13,15) as an assertion not of the prophet Zechariah but of the messianic Angel.

When Jesus arrived, sent of the Father, he renewed the evangel-apologetics he had engaged in as the divine Angel of Zechariah’s visions. “The works which the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father has sent me” (John 5:36). The world would know that Jesus was the Christ of God when not only his disciples but all who should believe on him through their word were joined together in one in him, partaking of the glory which the Father gave him (John 17:20-23). When the ascended Jesus breathed out the Spirit, the earnest of that glory, on the Pentecost community, firstfruits of the universal harvest, Peter pointed to this eschatological development as a confirmation of Jesus’ claims. Thereby the house of Israel was to know assuredly that God had made this Jesus whom they crucified both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36; cf. Rom. 1:4). In the mission of Moses, mediator of the old covenant, the accompaniment of the Angel by the Glory-Spirit attested to the mediator’s divine call (cf. Exod. 33:12-17). In the new covenant (the Angel himself now being mediator of the covenant), the validation of the divine commissioning of the covenant mediator is again the presence of the Glory-Spirit–and the resultant extension of the soteric blessings of the kingdom to the Gentile nations.

What John began to do in his Gospel, demonstrating that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, by rehearsing his sign-works (John 20:30,31), the apostle continued to do in the Book of Revelation. The Apocalypse is a covenant witness document of Jesus, the faithful witness, presenting his claims as the covenant Lord, testifying that he is the mighty messianic Angel, who was sent, who came and conquered, and is now invested with the Glory-Spirit, all authority in heaven and earth his. In demonstration thereof the Apocalypse confronts us with an overwhelming assemblage of images of his mighty acts as victor over the dragon and the beasts, judge of the nations, possessor of the keys of death and Hades, divine priest-king who redeems a countless multitude out of all people to enjoy and serve God in the heavenly Zion forever.

The final validation of Jesus as the Christ of God will be the consummating of his mission as the Measurer-Builder (Zech. 2:1,2 [5,6]) in the eschatological descent of the New Jerusalem from heaven, of cosmic dimensions and having the glory of God (Rev. 21:10ff.). In this present age God allows the ungodly to suppress in unrighteousness the knowledge imprinted on their hearts by the self-authenticating witness of the divine revelation in creation and redemptive re-creation. But in that day every knee must bow in acknowledgement that the Lord is God, the Judge of all (Rom. 14:10-12), and every tongue must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:11; cf. Rev. 5:13).38 The validating insignia, always absolutely cogent, will then command cosmic confession.

D. Summation and Summons. God’s promised presence as the Glory in the midst of Jerusalem is climactic in the imagery section (2:5b [9]), and in the kerygma it is this dwelling of the Lord in the midst of his people that is presented as the ultimate purpose of the messianic advent (2:10,11 [14,15]). Agreeably, God’s choice of Jerusalem for his sanctuary-dwelling is the theme of the summation in v. 12 (16). Paired with the election (bachar) of Jerusalem (v. 12c [16c]) is the Lord’s taking of the entire community of Judah as his own inheritance portion (v. 12a [16a]; nahal, the verb, and cheleq, the noun.)39

Zechariah’s thought and terminology go back to the Deuteronomic treaty of the Great King. The divine choice of Jerusalem reflects the frequent Deuteronomic references to the place Yahweh would eventually choose (bachar) as the permanent location of his Glory-Name and central altar (12:5,11, passim). In Deuteronomy 32:9, recalling the Lord’s allotment of national territories, Moses declared that Yahweh’s portion (cheleq) was his people, Jacob was the lot of his inheritance (nahalah). Similarly, Psalm 33:12 and Psalm 47:4[5] (which shares the Zechariah 2 theme of Yahweh’s universal kingship) combine bachar and nahalah in expressing the same idea. And in Exodus 15:17 (cf. 33:3,15; 34:9) God’s inheritance (nahalah) is paralleled by his dwelling place in the midst of his people, the sanctuary his hands establish as the site of his everlasting reign.

The design of the election of Jerusalem is explicitly stated in the phrase, ‘al ’admath haqqodesh (v.12b [16b]). Giving the preposition ‘al its final sense (cf. e.g., Exod. 29:36; Deut. 27:13), I would translate, “for the sanctuary ground.”40 The use of ’adamah (rather than ’erets) speaks against translations like “in the holy land.” It suggests a particular spot of ground that has been sanctified by a divine epiphany. Illustrative are the episodes in Exodus 3:5 and Joshua 5:15, in which the immediate presence of the Angel of the Lord made the place where Moses or Joshua stood holy ground (’admath qodesh in Exod. 3:5). In choosing Jerusalem, God was vouchsafing to it the divine presence (Messiah and Glory-Spirit) that would make it a sacred place; his purpose was to secure it as the site of his temple.41

Deuteronomy 32:43, the closing verse of Moses’ witness song, has been brought into the discussion of Zechariah 2:12 (16) because it contains the term ’admatho, “his [Yahweh’s] land/ground,” seen by some as comparable to Zechariah’s ’admath haqqodesh (understood as the entire promised land). Though the specific parallel seems illusory, the broader contexts of Deuteronomy 32 and Zechariah 2 have much in common and comparison proves illuminating. Shared features include: the use of nahalah and cheleq for God’s heritage (as noted above); the figure of the pupil of the eye for the preciousness of Israel to God (Deut. 32:10; Zech. 2:8 [12]); the formal combination of summons to all the world plus rationale (Deut. 32:43; Zech. 2:12,13 [16,17]); paradoxical prospects for the Gentiles, including both vengeance and redemptive action as occasion to praise God (Deut. 32:26-43; Zech. 2:8,9,11 [12,13,15]).42

Interpretation of the notoriously difficult Deuteronomy 32:43 best begins with recognition that retribution against the enemy nations is the sustained theme in the immediate context (from v. 26 on) and the main point in v. 43 itself. This emphasis is augmented in the longer textual tradition of the verse, variously represented by the LXX and Qumran, which includes “he will requite those who hate him” after “he will render vengeance to his adversaries.”43 Together they form the middle pair of a four cola chiasm (A.B.B.A.), of which the A-members are “he will avenge the blood of his servants” and “he will make atonement for his land (’admatho) and people” (NIV). It becomes evident that this making of an atonement payment for the land must be understood in terms of the law in Numbers 35:33, which requires the making of atonement for land44 stained by innocent blood, crying out for vengeance. Only the shedding of the murderer’s blood would accomplish this atonement. Significantly, Deuteronomy 32:43 is immediately preceded by God’s sworn commitment to exact such gory vengeance against the oppressors of his people (vv. 40-42). The final clause of Deuteronomy 32:43 does not, therefore, speak of making expiation for the sins of God’s people but of avenging their righteous blood. Thereby, God cleanses “the lot of his inheritance” (Deut. 32:9) to serve as his holy dwelling in the midst of Israel–the purpose stated for making atonement for the land in Numbers 35:34 (cf. Deut. 19:10; 21:8).

Given the textual uncertainties in Deuteronomy 32:43 and the awkwardness of “his land, his people” at the close, there is a serious possibility that the ’admatho reflects an original reference to “the blood” (dam)45 of his people. A perfect parallel would then obtain with “he will avenge the blood of his servants.” Numbers 35:33 would still be the legal background but the reference to the blood-stained land would be only implicit.46

It seems then that ’adamah is not used in either Deuteronomy 32:43 or Zechariah 2:12 (16) to denote the promised land. But examination of the Deuteronomy 32:43 context does disclose fundamental correspondences to Zechariah 2 and alerts us to the fact that the promise given in the summation (Zech. 2:12 [16]) assuring the choice of Jerusalem/Judah as sanctuary ground entails the messianic mission of retribution described earlier in the kerygma section (vv. 8,9 [12,13]). If this terrain is to serve as a temple site of the holy One of Israel, expiation must be made for its blood-defilement by avenging its sons against the nations that have attacked and slain them.

Isaiah locates the avenging of the martyr-saints at their resurrection triumph over death and the final defeat of Satan. He describes the earth as defiled since the Fall by innocent blood and groaning under death’s corruption (Isa. 24:4,5; cf. Rom. 8:19ff.). But at last Yahweh will come forth to punish the inhabitants of the earth (Isa. 26:21a) and to destroy Leviathan, possessor of the power of death, persecutor of the saints, accuser of the brethren (Isa. 27:1). Then the earth/netherworld will no more cover over her slain, but disclose their blood, long crying for vindication (Isa. 26:21b; cf. Gen. 4:10; Rev. 6:10; 16:16; 19:2). All this is prophesied anew in the Book of Revelation: the judgment of the bestial world-city and the devil, the resurrection, and the clearing of the cosmos of death and Hades (Rev. 19:11-20:15). And here, as in Zechariah’s third vision, this work of divine avenging is the immediate prelude to the establishment of the holy temple-city, New Jerusalem, sanctified by the triune Presence, the tabernacle where God dwells with men (Rev. 21:1ff.).

To his summation (Zech. 2:12 [16]) the divine Angel adds a concluding summons to all mankind (v. 13 [17]). The kerygma had begun with Messiah issuing his evangel-command to those far off (v. 6 [10]; cf. Isa. 49:1ff.). It was a call to escape back to the altar/temple of God at Zion (v. 7 [11]). Gospel invitation is an altar call; it creates an altar-centripetal movement. In the new covenant age evangelistic advance finds the witnessing church expanding in a centrifugal mission out from the site of the old earthly altar, out to the nations of the Gentiles. But this centrifugal propulsion of the testimony of Jesus to the ends of the earth still triggers an altar-centripetal gathering, not however back to earthly Jerusalem and its obsolete altar but to the true altar in heavenly Jerusalem. In the universal summons of Zechariah 2:13 (17) Christ, the kerux, provides a model for his church in fulfilling its great commission as he centers the rapt reverence of the Gentiles on the parousia-Presence, the Glory of the Zion above.

The messianic Angel announces imminent divine action (v. 13b [17b]), a decisive intervention ending the delay that had prompted his earlier plea of “How long?” (cf. Zech. 1:12). He heralds the advent of the Lord, appearing from his heavenly throne (cf. Deut. 26:15; Hab. 2:20a; Ps. 11:4), his zeal stirred up like a man of war to do battle against his enemies (cf. Isa 42:13; 51:9; Judg. 5:12).

So, hush! Silence all flesh (Zech. 2:13a [17a]). The summons sounds and the kings of the earth shut their mouths, speechless, awe-struck before the exalted Servant (Isa 52:15b). His mission is authenticated as divine, for they, Gentiles deceived by the devil, now hear and understand what had been unheard-of, what the prince of darkness had kept from them, the gospel tidings of peace with God through the sacrifice and intercession of this amazing Servant. He has come and overcome Beelzebub. He has rescued the prey from many nations. He has been exalted and his claim to be Christ, sent forth by the lord of hosts, has been validated (Isa 52:13-53:12).

Hush! Silence all flesh before Yahweh. The day of the Lord is at hand (cf. Hab. 2:20b; Zeph 1:7; Rev. 8:1). “This is the day in which the Lord is up and doing; let us be glad and rejoice in him” (Ps. 118:24; cf. Mal. 3:17; 4:3 [3:21]).


* This is a continuation of an article begun in Kerux 7:2 (September 1992), pp. 15-25.

15. Even if the genitive is regarded as appositional (i.e., “maiden Zion”) the city represents its occupants.

16. The latter are all introduced by ki, “for,” or “for lo I” (v. 9a [13a] and v. 10b [14b]).

17. Accusative defining place whither may be placed first for emphasis, especially with imperatives. This adverbial rather than vocative rendering of Zion achieves the syntactic pairing suggested by the phonic correspondence of tsaphon (north) and tsiyyon (Zion).

18. He too pictured the departure in exodus terms as an act of redemption, with God’s Presence before and behind as protector and provider, guiding through the wilderness, bringing forth water from the rock (cf. 48:21; 52:12).

19. If the verb paras is given its less frequent sense of scatter, the clause becomes an insipid parenthesis referring to God’s past dispersing of the Israelites to account for the fact they are now in Babylon. It would then differ from the other ki-clauses, all of which point to present circumstances or future prospects as reasons for compliance with the imperatives.

20. In Noah’s oracle in Genesis 9 there is a correlation between the curse on Canaan (v. 25) and the blessings on Shem and Japheth (vv. 26,27). This is indicated by the repetition of the curse after each blessing. Dispossession of Canaan is the other side of Israel’s taking possession. Cf. Isa. 54:3.

21. Cf. the use of ’achar in Gen. 37:17; Ezek. 33:31; Hos. 2:5 [6]; Job. 39:8.

22. The meaning “with, in the company of” for ’achar attested in Hebrew and Ugaritic.

23. The motivation clause of v. 8 (12) would thus fit the pattern of the others in developing the implications of the introductory imagery.

24. See the discussion in my Images of the Spirit (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), pp. 71-75.

25. In Isaiah 48:16, in the context of judgment on Babylon (v. 14), is the statement (evidently to be attributed to the Son of God): “the Lord Yahweh has sent me and his Spirit.” In Psalm 73:24 ‘achar kabod modifies “you will take me (into heaven).” Some translate “with glory.” Other options are “with (the) Glory” or “afterwards (by your) Glory.”

26. Note also the associated theme of validation of mission in John 17:22, 23, as in Zechariah 2:9 (13).

27. On “daughter (bath) of the eye,” see Ps. 17:8; Lam. 2:18; cf. Deut. 32:10. This reading of bebabath assumes either a doubling of the preposition or a diminutive doubling of the noun. It may also be read “gate” of his eye. In that case, bath-babel would be understood as “the daughter of Gate-of-god” (Babel, according to the common etymology). Perhaps a double pun is intended.

28. This would be the same emphasis found in the oracle in vision one. See the comments in Kerux 6:2 (September, 1991), p. 30.

29. Hand (yad) is a designation for the Glory-cloud and it is paralleled in these passages by other such designations–”Spirit” (Isa. 11:15) and “banner” (Isa. 13:2). In Zechariah 2:8, 9a (12, 13a) the fact that the “hand” of v. 9a (13a) stands in a corresponding position to the kabod of v. 8a (12a) in the chiastic arrangement of the three clauses argues for the translation of ’achar kabod as “with the Glory.”

30. Actually, the deliverance of God’s people from exile, which is involved in the judgment on the nations, is to be understood of all who are in a far off, Lo-Ammi condition, Gentiles as well as Jews. The new element in vv. 10, 11 (14, 15), the conversion of the Gentiles, is thus discernible in vv. 6-9 (10-13).

31. Announcing the same hope of the coming of the Savior-King to speak peace to the nations, Zechariah 9:9ff. similarly begins: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion.”

32. Leah puns on lawah in naming Levi, expressing the hope that her husband will now be joined to her (Gen. 29:34). Does this reflect on the marriage relationship as a covenant? A similar word play is found in the Lord’s promise to Aaron that the Levites will be joined to him to keep the charge of the sanctuary (Num. 18:2,4).

33. Some arbitrarily apply this promise to Israelites only. They see it as a restrictive qualification on Gentile participation that betrays the author’s failure to attain fully to the new covenant concept of universalism. The root prophecy, Noah’s oracle, is similarly misinterpreted by those who identify the subject of “he will dwell in the tents of Shem” (Gen. 9:27) as God rather than Japheth, thus making the passage say that while Japheth would have worldly blessings, God’s covenantal presence would belong to Shem exclusively.

34. In Num. 15:38, 39 and Deut. 22:12 the term kanaph, “skirt,” is used for the border of the garment to which tassels with a blue strand were to be affixed as a reminder of the covenant stipulations of the Lord.

35. Cf. also the imagery of God’s lifting up his hand and military banner unto the nations (v. 22).

36. In Isaiah 53:12, dividing the spoil is a feature of the exaltation of the Servant of the Lord as a reward for the redemptive suffering whereby he sprinkles many nations (Isa. 52:15).

37. Significantly, Satan, latent in the world powers in Zechariah’s third vision, appears in the immediately following vision as the Adversary, whom the Angel of the Lord overcomes, so saving the elect from his power.

38. Isaiah 45:23, cited by Paul in Romans 14:11 and Philippians 2:11, is set at the conclusion of an on-the-offensive apologetics challenging the folly of the idolaters. The Lord simply points to his self-revelation in his work of creation and his words of prophetic predisclosure as the incontrovertible manifestation of himself as God, sole sovereign of space and time. As in Zechariah 2, this validation of divine claim comes in connection with a universal summons to salvation (Isa 45:22). Biblical apologetics has an evangelistic thrust; it is a function of the church’s witness to the name of the Creator-Savior-Consummator.

39. Zechariah’s first three visions form a unit. Visions two and three develop the two main themes introduced in vision one, with vision two emphasizing retribution against the nations and vision three the restoration of Jerusalem and return of the Glory. In rounding out the triad, vision three echoes several features of the opening vision, including the coupling of the choice of Jerusalem and the favoring of the cities of Judah (cf. 1:12, 17 and 2:12 [16]).

40. V. 12b (16b) might be taken with v. 12a (16a), but a better balance is gained if it is construed with v. 12c (16c), the opening waw of which is then emphatic with postposition of the verb. Possibly v. 12b (16b) pertains to both the a and c parts of the verse.

41. If v. 12b (16b) goes with the selection of Judah in v. 12a (16a), the sanctuary concept is extended beyond the temple in Jerusalem. Similarly, Zechariah 14:20,21.

42. The same combination appears in Ps. 47:1ff. See the quotation of Deuteronomy 32:43a in Romans 15:10.

43. Another addition found after the first clause in LXX and Qumran, and providing a parallel to it, is adopted in the quotation in Hebrews 1:6.

44. Used here is ’erets, which at times refers to soil (cf., e.g., Deut. 11:6; 12:16; 29:22).

45. Cf. Accadian adammatu, “dark blood.”

46. In Numbers 35:33 the making of atonement is “for the blood” (laddam) as well as for the land (la’arets).