The February 15, 2013 Watchtower  has just been released.  The third study article introduces a new understanding of Zechariah’s prophecy found in chapter 14 of his book.  Before you read the Watchtower article, read Zechariah chapter 14 in its entirety.  After you’re done, read it again more slowly.  What is it saying to you?  Once you have an idea of that, read the article on page 17 of the Feb. 15, 2013 Watchtower titled, “Stay in Jehovah’s Valley of Protection”.
Please do all the above before reading the rest of this post.

A Word of Caution

The ancient Beroeans learned the good news through one of Jehovah’s key channels of communication in those days, the apostle Paul and those faithful ones who accompanied him.  Of course, Paul had the advantage of coming to these people with works of power, miracles that acted as a means to establish his office as one sent from God to teach, instruct and reveal hidden things.  While not everything he said or wrote was inspired by God, some of his writings did become part of the inspired Scriptures—something no human in our modern era can lay claim to.
Despite such impressive credentials, Paul did not condemn the Beroeans for wanting to check things out for themselves in the inspired writings.  He did not presume to instruct his listeners to believe him solely on the basis of his status as a channel of communication from Jehovah.  He did not suggest that doubting him would be  tantamount to putting God to the test.  No, but in fact he praised them for verifying all things in Scripture, even going so far as to make a comparison with them and others, referring to the Beroeans as “more noble-minded”.  (Acts 17:11)
This isn’t to suggest that they were ‘doubting Thomases’.  They didn’t expect to find error, for in fact, they accepted his teaching with “the greatest eagerness of mind”.

New Light

Likewise, we receive ‘new light’, as we like to call it in Jehovah’s organization, with the greatest eagerness of mind.  Like Paul, those who come to us claiming to be Jehovah’s channel of communication have certain credentials.  Unlike Paul, they do not perform miracles nor have any of their writings ever constituted the inspired Word of God.  It follows therefore that if it was laudable to check out what Paul had to reveal, it should be all the more so with those who would instruct us today.
It is with such an attitude of great eagerness of mind that we should examine the article “Stay in Jehovah’s Valley of Protection”.
On page 18, par. 4, of the Feb. 15, 2013 Watchtower we are introduced to a new idea.  Although Zechariah speaks of “a day coming, belonging to Jehovah”, we are told he is not here referring to Jehovah’s day.  He is referring to Jehovah’s day in other parts of the chapter as this article acknowledges.   However, not here.  Jehovah’s day refers to events surrounding and including Armageddon as one can establish by consulting, among other publications, the Insight book.  (it-1 p.694 “Day of Jehovah”)
It seems obvious from a simple reading of Zechariah that if a day belongs to Jehovah, it can accurately be termed, “Jehovah’s day”.  The way Zechariah has worded his prophecy leads the reader to the apparently obvious conclusion that the other references to “day” in chapter 14 are to the same day introduced in its opening verse.  However, we are instructed that such is not the case.  The day Zechariah is referring to in verse 1 as a day belonging to Jehovah is in fact the Lord’s day or a day belonging to Christ.  This day, we teach, began back in 1914.
So now, let us examine with eagerness of mind the Scriptural evidence that the article provides to support this new light.
Here we come to the major problem which this article presents to the sincere and earnest Bible student.  One wishes to be respectful.  One does not want to sound facetious, nor disapproving.  Yet it is difficult to avoid appearing so while acknowledging the fact that no Scriptural support of any kind is provided for this new teaching, nor any of the others in the article that go along with it.  Zechariah says this prophecy happens in Jehovah’s day.  We say he really means the Lord’s day, but we provide no proof to support our right to change the stated meaning of these words.  We are simply presented with this ‘new light’ as if it were an established fact which we now must accept.
Okay, let’s try to “carefully examine the Scriptures” ourselves to see if “these things are so.”
(Zechariah 14:1, 2) “Look! There is a day coming, belonging to Jehovah, and the spoil of you will certainly be apportioned out in the midst of you. 2 And I shall certainly gather all the nations against Jerusalem for the war; and the city will actually be captured and the houses be pillaged, and the women themselves will be raped. And half of the city must go forth into the exile; but as for the remaining ones of the people, they will not be cut off from the city.
Accepting the premise that Zechariah is speaking here of the Lord’s day and further accepting the teaching that the Lord’s day began in 1914, we are faced with the challenge of explaining how it can be that it is Jehovah himself who causes the nations to wage war on Jerusalem.  He did this before, when he caused the Babylonians to wage war on Jerusalem, and again when he brought the Romans, “the disgusting thing causing desolation”, against the city in 66 and 70 C.E.  In both instance, the then-nations captured the city, pillaged the houses, raped the women, and carried off exiles.
Verse 2 again indicates that Jehovah is using the nations to wage war on Jerusalem.  One would therefore conclude that the symbolic unfaithful Jerusalem is being represented, but again, we diverge from that by saying in paragraph 5 that Zechariah is here referring to the Messianic Kingdom represented by the anointed on earth.  Why would Jehovah be gathering all the nations to war against his anointed?  Would that not be tantamount to a house divided against itself?  (Mt. 12:25)  Since persecution is an evil when practiced upon the righteous, would not Jehovah’s gathering the nations to that purpose contradict his own words at James 1:13?
“Let God be found true though every man be found a liar.”  (Rom. 3:4)  Therefore, we must be wrong in our interpretation about the meaning of Jerusalem.  But let us give the article the benefit of the doubt.  We have yet to review the evidence for this interpretation.  What is it?  Again, it is non-existent.  Again, we are simply expected to believe what we are told.  They make no attempt whatsoever to explain the incongruity this interpretation produces when examined in the light of verse 2’s declaration that Jehovah is the one bringing the war upon the city.  In fact, they make no reference to this fact at all.  It is ignored.
Is there historical evidence that this warring by all the nations even transpired? We say the warring took the form of persecution by the nations on Jehovah’s anointed.  But there was no persecution in 1914.  That only began to occur in 1917. [i]
Why do we claim the City or Jerusalem in this prophecy represents the anointed.  It is true that at times Jerusalem is used symbolically in a positive light, as in the “New Jerusalem” or “the Jerusalem Above”.  However, it is also used in a negative way, as in “the great city which is in a spiritual sense called Sodom and Egypt”. (Rev. 3:12; Gal. 4:26; Rev. 11:8)  How do we know which to apply in any given Scripture.  The Insight book offers the following rule:
It can thus be seen that “Jerusalem” is used in a multiple sense, and the context must in each case be considered to gain correct understanding.  (it-2 p. 49 Jerusalem)
The Governing Body in the Insight book states that the context must be considered in each case.  However, there is no evidence that they have done so here.  Worse, when we ourselves examine the context, it doesn’t fit with this new interpretation, unless we can explain how and why Jehovah would gather all nations to war on his faithful anointed in 1914.
Here is a summary of what other interpretations the article provides.

Verse 2

‘The city is captured’ – Prominent members of headquarters were imprisoned.

‘The houses are pillaged’ – Injustices and brutality were heaped on the anointed.

‘The women were raped’ – No explanation given.

‘Half the city goes into exile’ – No explanation given.

‘The remaining ones are not cut off from the city’ – The anointed remain loyal.

Verse 3

‘Jehovah wars against those nations’ – Armageddon

Verse 4

‘The mountain splits in two’ – one half represents the sovereignty of Jehovah, the other the Messianic kingdom.

‘The valley is formed’ – Represents divine protection which began in 1919.

In Review

There is more, of course, but let’s look at what we have so far.  Is any scriptural proof offered for any of the foregoing interpretive allegations.  The reader will find none in the article.  Does this interpretation at least make sense and fit with what is actually said in Zechariah chapter 14?  Well, notice that we apply verses 1 and 2 to events that we say took place from 1914 to 1919. Then we acknowledge that verse 3 takes place at Armageddon, but by verse 4 we are back to 1919.  What is it about Zechariah’s prophecy that would lead us to conclude he was jumping around in time this way?
There are other questions that should be addressed.  For instance, Jehovah’s divine protection to ensure that ‘pure worship would never pass away’ has been with Christians since 33 C.E.  What is the basis for concluding the deep valley refers to this type of protection given that there appears to have never been a cessation of it since Jesus walked the earth?
Another question is why would a prophecy intended to reassure Jehovah’s people of his divine protection in a special way symbolized by a deep, sheltered valley only be understood 100 years after the fact?  If this is an assurance—and it certainly appears to be—wouldn’t it make sense for Jehovah to reveal it to us before, or at least, during its fulfillment.  What good does it do us to know this now, other than for academic reasons?

An Alternative

Since the Governing Body has chosen to engage in interpretive speculation here, perhaps we can do likewise.  However, let us try to find an interpretation that explains all the facts as laid down by Zechariah, all the time endeavoring to maintain harmony with the rest of scripture as well as historical events.

(Zechariah 14:1) . . .“Look! There is a day coming, belonging to Jehovah. . .

(Zechariah 14:3) 3 “And Jehovah will certainly go forth and war against those nations as in the day of his warring, in the day of fight.

(Zechariah 14:4) . . .And his feet will actually stand in that day upon the mountain of the olive trees,. . .

(Zechariah 14:6-9) 6 “And it must occur in that day [that] there will prove to be no precious light—things will be congealed. 7 And it must become one day that is known as belonging to Jehovah. It will not be day, neither will it be night; and it must occur [that] at evening time it will become light. 8 And it must occur in that day [that] living waters will go forth from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. In summer and in winter it will occur. 9 And Jehovah must become king over all the earth. In that day Jehovah will prove to be one, and his name one.

(Zechariah 14:13) . . .And it must occur in that day [that] confusion from Jehovah will become widespread among them; . . .

(Zechariah 14:20, 21) 20 “In that day there will prove to be upon the bells of the horse ‘Holiness belongs to Jehovah!’ And the widemouthed cooking pots in the house of Jehovah must become like the bowls before the altar. 21 And every widemouthed cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah must become something holy belonging to Jehovah of armies, and all those who are sacrificing must come in and take from them and must do boiling in them. And there will no more prove to be a Ca?naan·ite in the house of Jehovah of armies in that day.”

(Zechariah 14:20, 21) 20 “In that day there will prove to be upon the bells of the horse ‘Holiness belongs to Jehovah!’ And the widemouthed cooking pots in the house of Jehovah must become like the bowls before the altar. 21 And every widemouthed cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah must become something holy belonging to Jehovah of armies, and all those who are sacrificing must come in and take from them and must do boiling in them. And there will no more prove to be a Ca?naan·ite in the house of Jehovah of armies in that day.”

It is clear from these many references to “day” that Zechariah is referring to one day, the day that belongs to Jehovah, ergo, “Jehovah’s day”.  The events pertain to Armageddon and what follows.  Jehovah’s day did not begin in 1914, 1919 or any other year during the 20th century.  It has yet to occur.
Zechariah 14:2 says that it is Jehovah who gathers the nations against Jerusalem for the war.  This has happened before.  On every occasion it has happened, Jehovah has used the nations to punish his apostate people, not his faithful ones. Notably, we have two occasions in mind.  The first is when He used Babylon to punish Jerusalem and the second time, when he brought the Romans against the city in the first century.  In both instances, events matched with what Zechariah describes in verse 2.  The city was captured, the houses were pillaged and the women were raped, and survivors were carried off into exile, while faithful ones were preserved.
Of course, all faithful ones like Jeremiah, Daniel, and the first century Jewish Christians still experienced hardships, but they did receive Jehovah’s protection.
What fits with this in our day?  Certainly not any events that occurred at the start of the 20th century. In fact, historically, nothing fits.  However, prophetically, we await the attack on Babylon the Great of which apostate Christendom is the major part.  Apostate Jerusalem is used to prefigure Christendom (apostate Christianity).  Apparently, the only thing that fits with Zechariah’s words is the future attack by all the nations on those who like the ancient Jews in Jesus’ day claim to be worshiping the true God, but who are in fact opposing him and his sovereignty.  The future attack on false Christianity by the nations instigated by Jehovah fits the bill, does it not?
Like those two previous attacks, this one will endanger faithful Christians as well, so Jehovah will have to provide some special protect for such ones.  Mt. 24:22 talks about him cutting short those days so that some flesh will be saved.  Zechariah 14:2b speaks of “the remaining ones of the people” who “will not be cut off from the city.”

In Conclusion

It has been said, and rightly so, that a prophecy can only be understood during or after its fulfillment.  If our published interpretation doesn’t explain all the facts of the 14th chapter of Zechariah 100 years after the fact, it is not likely to be the correct interpretation.  What we have suggested above may very well be wrong as well.  Our proposed understanding has yet to be fulfilled, so we must wait and see. However, it does seem to explain all the verses so that there are  no loose ends, and it does fit with the historical evidence, and most important, this understanding does not cast Jehovah in the role of persecutor of his own faithful witnesses.

[i] March 1, 1925 Watchtower article “Birth of the Nation” he stated:  “ 19 … Be it noted here that from 1874 until 1918 there was little, if any, persecution of those of Zion; that beginning with the Jewish year 1918, to wit, the latter part of 1917 our time, the great suffering came upon the anointed ones, Zion.”

Meleti Vivlon

Articles by Meleti Vivlon.
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