We have all been in that place where we have read a text numerous times only to confess our ignorance of the passage’s meaning. This semester my project is to present a paper to Dr. Peter Gentry on Zechariah 14:1-11, a notably difficult text. It is never a good sign when theologians such a Martin Luther abruptly conclude their commentary right before your passage. Though he did go on to compose another commentary on Zechariah that handles the text, he began his discussion of chapter 14 with the caveat, “Here, in this chapter, I give up. For I am not sure what the prophet is talking about.”
The difficulty of the passage is aggravated not only by several text-critical problems, but also in identifying historical realities. In a 2002 article, Al Wolters points to seven major interpretations that have been set forward for Zechariah 14, ranging from a historical fulfillment in the Maccabean era (ie. Ephraem Syrus) to a entirely future fulfillment (ie. standard Dispensational view). Some have also argued that the genre of Zechariah does not necessitate a fulfillment in time and space, but can be understood as a progressive spiritual reality in the church age.
Over the next several posts I hope to present some of my conclusion on the text, as well as implications for preaching and teaching Zechariah.