How and Why the Imagery of Zechariah 14 Intentionally Mirrors Genesis 1:1-10

How and Why the Imagery of Zechariah 14 Intentionally Mirrors Genesis 1:1-10:  The Symbolism of Zechariah 14 has a Unifying Theme depicting the Establishment of Israel’s Sovereignty over Greece and the Reestablishment of the Law in the Imagery of the Creation of the Earth in Genesis 1:1-10.

The language of Zechariah 14 may seem random and bazaar. However, there is nothing random about the symbolism in this chapter. In Zechariah 14 there is a unifying theme that is certainly present but easily missed: The symbolism of Zechariah 14 depicts the establishment of Israel’s sovereignty over Greece and the reestablishment of the practice of the Law in the image of the creation of heaven and earth according to Genesis 1. In other words, Zechariah 14 is a creation account depicting the reinstitution of the Law and the subsequent establishment of a new sovereign kingdom, Israel, in the imagery of Genesis 1. See Zechariah 14 Fulfilled in the Maccabean Wars: A Preterist Commentary.

In Genesis 1:2 the preformed earth begins as a formless water world.  Below we will explain how Zechariah 14:2, 4-5 is Biblically linked to the primordial water-world state of the earth in Genesis 1:2.  In the earth’s preformed state, Genesis 1:2 says that all was dark.  This primordial darkness is depicted in Zechariah 14:6 in a miraculous darkness: “On that day there will be no light[.]” Then at the start of creation, the Spirit of God hovers over the surface of the waters in Genesis 1:2.  In the commentary below we will show that when the Spirit of God hovered over the waters in Genesis 1:2 that this was the first recorded incident in the Bible in which God had come on the clouds as he does in Zechariah 14:5.  As his first act of creation, God created light in Genesis 1:3.  An allusion to the creation of light is mentioned in Zechariah 14:7: “When evening comes, there will be light.”  This miraculous light in Zechariah 14:7 that shines in the darkness of the evening mirrors the creation of light that shone in the primordial darkness in Genesis 1:3.  In Genesis 1:9-10 God parts the waters below heaven to create the earth by allowing dry land to surface.  The separation or parting of the waters is depicted in Zechariah 14:8-10.  The creation account of Zechariah 14 ends with the parting of the waters to create the new earth which is the new sovereign Israel of Zechariah 14:10 which had reinstituted the practice of the Law three years after the Temple had been seized by the Greeks and desecrated.

The earth was formless and void in Genesis 1.  In Jeremiah 4:23-26, Jeremiah describes the state of Israel after the war with Babylon in similar terms to link the destruction of Israel after the war with Babylon in the sixth century B.C. to the precreation state of the earth in Genesis 1 thereby poetically implying that heaven and earth were destroyed after this war.

According to Genesis1:2 at the start of creation, “[t]he earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep . . .”

Genesis 1:2:Now the Earth was Formless and Empty, Darkness was over the Surface of the Deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the Waters.”

In Zechariah 14:2 there is a subtle Biblical link between this verse and the water-world or flooded state of the earth before its creation in Genesis 1:2.  According to Zechariah 14:2 God “will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it.”  Though Zechariah does not depict this foreign assault as a metaphorical flood, the Bible often uses flood imagery to represent foreign conquest like that mentioned in v.2.  This flood imagery along with its implicit meaning signifying conquest by foreign armies is found in Isaiah 8:7-8, Daniel 11:10, Daniel 11:40, Nahum 1:8 and Joel 2:9.[1]

Similar water-world or flood imagery and its implicit message of foreign conquest is also a major theme throughout the Book of Revelation.  In Revelation 17:15 an angel tells John that the waters in which the whore of Babylon sits represents foreign nations: “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.”  In Revelation 17:3 and 9, the whore of Babylon sits on the beast and seven hills respectively.  Rome is the beast and the city on seven hills.  Therefore, the waters representing foreign nations in which the woman sits represents the Roman Empire.  Thus it is not surprising that throughout the Book of Revelation earth is used to represent Israel and the sea or waters, Gentile Rome.  This earth and water imagery indirectly portrays the foreign conquest of Israel, the earth, by Rome, the sea, as a metaphorical flood. Similarly, the gathering of all the nations to fight against Jerusalem during the Maccabean Wars of the second century B.C. in Zechariah 14:2 is the metaphorical flooded or water-world state of the primordial earth. This “flood” represents the conquest of the Israel, the earth, by the Seleucids, the sea, as a return to the primordial water-world state of the world before its creation in Genesis 1:1-2.

Interestingly, in explicit fulfillment of Zechariah 14:2, 2 Maccabees 8:9 says that the Seleucid army that attacked the Maccabees during the Maccabean Wars consisted of Gentiles from “all the nations”: “Then Ptolemy [governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia] promptly appointed Nicanor son of Patroclus, one of the king’s chief Friends, and sent him, in command of no fewer than twenty thousand Gentiles of all the nations, to wipe out the whole race of Judea [emphasis mine].”[2]

At the start of creation, “the Spirit of God hovers over the waters.”  This motif in which the Spirit of God hovers over the waters in Genesis 1:2 is the first recorded incidence in the Bible in which the Spirit of God had come on the clouds.  Psalm 104 is a restatement of the steps of creation laid out in Genesis 1.  While mentioning the presence of God during the creation process, Psalm 104 does not quote Genesis 1:2 by saying that the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.  Instead, Psalm 104:3 indicates that the Spirit of God came on the clouds when he hovered over the waters in Genesis 1:2: “He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind [emphasis mine].”  Here the Psalmist implies the fact that during the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1, God literally came on the clouds of heaven.

dark storm clouds

The darkening of the heavenly lights by thick cloud cover in conjunction with the destruction of a city implies that God had come on the clouds in judgment.

The clouds upon which the Spirit of God rides in Genesis 1:2 is formed by the separation or evaporation of the waters in Genesis 1:6-8.  The resultant cloud cover formed by the separation or evaporation of the waters below from the waters above becomes the clouds that serve as God’s chariot.  This motif is not unique to Psalm 104 and Genesis 1, it is found in several places in the Old Testament.  It is also found in the New Testament where it is applied to the parousia or the second coming of Christ in Matthew 24:30 and several other places in the New Testament.

The coming of the Lord on the clouds of heaven is referred to in Zechariah 14:5: “Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.” The second century B.C. fulfillment of this event appears to be mentioned in 2 Maccabees 5:2-3. Here a mass-vision of an angelic army was seen in the sky over Jerusalem at the start of the Maccabean Wars. This army of angels in the sky as it is recorded in 2 Maccabees is seemingly identical or nearly identical to historical descriptions of the initial aspect of the Parousia or second coming. According to Tacitus and Josephus a mass-vision of a similar angelic army was also reported in the sky over Israel at the start of the Jewish War.[3] See Jesus, the Son of Man, was LITERALLY Seen in the Clouds in A.D. 66.

During the parousia or second coming, Jesus was said to come on the clouds in judgment. In Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God hovered over the waters during the creation of heaven and earth. Similarly, the second coming marks the creation of a new heaven and earth foretold in 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1. Therefore, when Jesus came on the clouds of heaven during his second coming, this appearance was a recapitulation of Genesis 1:2-8 when the Spirit of God came on the clouds at the start of the creation.   The same message of a new heaven and earth is implicit in Zechariah 14 with the coming of the Lord during the Maccabean Wars of the second century B.C. mentioned in Zechariah 14:5. Here the Lord also comes on the clouds of heaven at the start of a new heaven and earth at the reinstitution of the Law during the reconsecration of the Temple in 164 B.C. and the subsequent establishment of a new sovereign Israel shortly thereafter.

If Genesis 1:2 when the Spirit of God hovers over the waters and the coming of the Lord on the clouds of heaven in Zechariah 14:5 are analogous events, how did the Lord move over waters in Zechariah 14:5? According to Genesis 1 the earth was in a flooded state before its creation. As stated above, floods are often used in the Bible to symbolize conquest by foreign armies according to Isaiah 8:7-8, Daniel 11:10, Daniel 11:40, Nahum 1:8 and Joel 2:9. Furthermore, in the Old and New Testaments whenever God or the Son of God was said to come on the clouds that often meant that the Lord was going to come in conquest upon a rebellious nation in the midst of a foreign army as is exemplified in Nahum 1:3.[4]  Therefore, when God moved over the waters during his coming in Zechariah 14:5 at the time of the Maccabean Wars, these waters represent the Greek Army and its dominion over Israel in the second century B.C at the start of the Maccabean Wars. In other words, this foreign empire symbolized by flood waters (Daniel 11:10, 40, Nahum 1:8 and Joel 2:9) which ruled over Israel, the earth, prior to the Maccabean Wars represents the precreation water-world of Genesis 1.

While the Spirit of God moved over the waters, there was “darkness over the surface of the deep” according to Genesis 1:2. This primordial darkness is referenced in Zechariah 14:6: “In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle.”[5]  The fact that the luminaries; the sun, moon and stars; do not give their light in Zechariah 14:6 points to Genesis 1:1-2 in which there was darkness before God created light in Genesis 1:3 and the luminaries in Genesis 1:14-19. Then in Zechariah 14:7, Zechariah says, “It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the LORD.” The fact that Zechariah says that the day without light is a unique day without daytime or nighttime is a poignant allusion to the precreation state of heaven and earth in Genesis 1:1-2 in which before the creation of light and the first day, all was dark. This darkness before creation is the “unique day, without daytime or nighttime” in which there is “no light [and] the luminaries …dwindle” pointing to the state of the earth in Genesis 1:1-2 before light, the sun, moon and stars had been made.

The darkness of Zechariah 14:6 in which the sun, moon and stars are not visible which mirrors the darkness of Genesis 1:2 is also an omen pointing to the presence of the Glory Cloud, the quintessential sign of the coming of the Lord on the clouds of heaven. According to Genesis 1:2 amidst the darkness mentioned in this verse, the spirit of God is said to move over the waters. Remember that Psalm 104:3 says that when God moved over the waters in Genesis 1:2, He had come on the clouds of heaven. The clouds upon which the Lord rides when he comes in judgment or while in the act of creation is called the Glory Cloud.

What is the Glory Cloud? According to 2 Samuel 22:8-15, Isaiah 66:15-16, Psalm 18:6-16, Psalm 50:3, Psalm 97:1-5, Psalm 144:5, Exodus 40:34-38, Leviticus 16:2 and Ezekiel 1:4, the presence of God is often marked by dark clouds and fire. This cloud with fire marking the presence of God is called the Glory Cloud. During the coming of the Lord on the Glory Cloud the sun, moon and stars are darkened as is implied in Joel 2:10-11:

Before them [an invading army] the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine.  The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it [emphasis mine]?

According to Ezekiel 32:7-9, the darkening of these luminaries is accomplished by the blanketing effect of the presence of the Glory Cloud overhead:

When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will trouble the hearts of many peoples when I bring about your destruction among the nations, among lands you have not known [emphasis mine].

Here one can see how the darkness of Zechariah 14:6 in which the sun, moon and stars are not visible which mirrors the darkness of Genesis 1:2 is a direct result of the darkening of the sun, moon and stars by the blanketing effect of the thick cloud cover of the Glory Cloud which signifies the coming of the Lord on the clouds of heaven mentioned in Zechariah 14:5.

let there be light

Genesis 1:3: “And God said, “Let there be Light[!]”

Zechariah 14:7 then goes on to say, “When evening comes, there will be light.”  The fact that light emerges miraculously in the darkness of the evening points to the first step of creation mentioned in the following verse in Genesis, Genesis 1:3: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

Genesis 1:9: “And God said, ‘Let the Water under the Sky be gathered to One Place, and let Dry Ground Appear.”

Having explained how foreign conquest is frequently depicted in flood imagery and that this motif symbolizes a return to the primordial water-world state of the earth before its creation in Genesis 1:1-2, let us now take a look at the splitting of the Mt. of Olives in Zechariah 14:4 and its relationship to Genesis 1. Mountain is a term often used in the Bible to represent a kingdom. There are many examples of this implicit meaning found in Scripture of which Psalms 2:6, Psalms 48:1, Isaiah 66:20, Jeremiah 51:25, and Joel 3:17 are a few examples. Furthermore, as explained above waters or sea are also terms used in the Bible to represent a nation, nations or a kingdom or kingdoms. Thus, sea, waters and mountain or mountains are virtually synonymous Biblical symbols. Therefore, the parting or splitting of the Mt. of Olives and the parting of the Red Sea each signifies the same symbolic message. These two miracles point to the creation of a new earth by way of the separation of the waters in Genesis 1:9-10. In Genesis 1:9-10 the waters under heaven were parted or separated to allow dry land, the earth, to appear. It was the parting or separation of the waters in these verses that ultimately created or exposed the earth. In the same way that the parting of the Red Sea miraculously symbolized the creation of a new covenant and a new sovereign Israel soon to be occupied by the former Hebrew slaves from Egypt, the splitting of the Mt. of Olives also represents the creation of a new earth.   This new earth is the new sovereign Israel who overthrew their Greek overlords during the Maccabean Wars and reestablished the practice of the Law after the Temple was seized and desecrated by the Greeks at the start of this war.

parting of sea

According to Exodus 14:22 the parting of the Red Sea and the passage of the saints through the Mt. of Olives may have appeared surprisingly similar to the parties involved.

Having explained how the parting of the Red Sea and the splitting of the Mount of Olives both symbolize the separation of the waters in Genesis 1:9-10, it is interesting to note that the parting of the Red Sea and the passage of the saints through the Mt. of Olives may have even appeared surprisingly similar to the parties involved. According to Exodus 14:22 when the Israelites passed through the Red Sea on dry land there was a “wall of water on their right and on their left.” Similarly, when the Jews of Jerusalem passed through the Mt. of Olives half of the mountain would have formed a wall to their right and half would have also formed a wall to their left.

Mount of Olives and Gethsemane.  1890-1900.  Photochrome Print

Above is a photograph of the Mt. of Olives [1890-1900]. Notice the similarities in appearance between the division of this mountain and the image of the parting of the Red Sea depicted above it.

Another reference to the separation of the waters under heaven in Genesis 1:9-10 is found in Zechariah 14:8. In this verse water flows out of Jerusalem “half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea[.]” Similar to the creation of the earth in Genesis 1:9-10 and Psalm 104:1-4, Jerusalem, the metaphorical earth, is depicted rising out of the primordial sea causing the waters of the sea to separate and run down each side of the exposed surface of the rising earth. This picture of Jerusalem, the earth, rising up out of the sea is depicted in Zechariah 14:10: “But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, 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 [emphasis mine].” The fact that Jerusalem is “raised up” shows that the new earth now has mountains and valleys again and is no longer a flat, formless water world lacking topography as it was in Genesis 1:2 when the preformed earth was “without form and void[.]”

As stated above, the creation account laid out in Genesis 1 is retold in Psalm 104. The introductory steps of creation laid out in Genesis 1:1-8 including the spirit of God hovering over the waters with the clouds as his chariot is repeated in Psalm 104:1-4. Then vs. 5-9 describe the creation of the earth by the separation of the waters under heaven:

He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; The waters were standing above the mountains. At Your rebuke they fled, At the sound of Your thunder they hurried away. The mountains rose; the valleys sank down To the place which You established for them. You set a boundary that they [the waters] may not pass over, So that they will not return to cover the earth [emphasis mine].[6]

Notice that in v. 8 the mountains are said to rise amidst the separation of the waters in vs. 5-9. This rising of the mountains is depicted in Zechariah 14:10 in which Jerusalem, the Lord’s holy mountain, is raised up. The earth was “without form and void” in Genesis 1:2 because it was a water world lacking the mountains and valleys of dry land before the separation of the waters in Genesis 1:6-10. In Zechariah 14:8-10 the creation of the new earth, the new Jerusalem, mentioned in Zechariah 14:10 is metaphorically portrayed as if it were a volcanic island rising out of the sea causing the waters of the sea to separate and run down the island slopes as the dry land emerges above the ocean’s surface.[7]

 

The separation of the waters in Genesis 1:9-10 depicts the earth rising out of the primordial sea like a volcanic island which causes the waters of the sea to separate and run down each side of the exposed surface as it rises over the surface of the water.

The separation of the waters in Genesis 1:9-10 depicts the earth rising out of the primordial sea like a volcanic island which causes the waters of the sea to separate and run down each side of the exposed surface as it rises over the surface of the water.

 

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For more compelling evidence of an old earth through sound Biblical exegesis see the following articles 1) The Earth is More than 6000 Years Old:  How Young Earth Creationists have Misinterpreted the Bible 2) Why Isaiah 65:20 and Related Verses Imply that Physical Death Preceded the Fall of Man 3) Understanding the Garden of Eden and the Fall from an Old Earth Perspective 4) How and Why the Imagery of Zechariah 14 Intentionally Mirrors Genesis 1:1-10 5) The Cycles of Creation and Destruction in the Bible are Reflected in Prehistory.

Interested in PRETERIST ESCHATOLOGY or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse?  It DID happen just like the Bible says!  If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE.  The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!


[1] In Joel 2:9 an invading army is pictured breaking through a city like a tidal wave: “They rush upon the city; they run along the wall.  They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows.”

[2] NRSV.

[3] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3; Tacitus The Histories 5.13.

[4] See also Ezekiel 30 and Joel 2.

[5] NASB.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Notice that at the establishment of the new Jerusalem predicted in Revelation 21 and 22 which was fulfilled after the Jewish War with Rome almost two hundred years after the Maccabean Wars there is no longer any sea (Revelation 21:1). As explained in the commentary on Revelation 21, the fact that there is no longer any sea again points to the creation of a new earth after war by the separation of the waters and the resulting creation of dry land by way of the retreating or separation of the waters.

How the Imagery of Zechariah 14 Intentionally Mirrors Genesis 1: Conclusion

In the essay above we have shown how the symbolism of Zechariah 14 was intentionally chosen to depict the destruction of Israel during the Jewish War and the subsequent establishment of the New Jerusalem in the image of the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1

How the Imagery of Zechariah 14 Intentionally Mirrors Genesis 1

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