Friday, December 29, 2006

And the Mount of Olives will be split in two...

In the summer of 1998, we spent a week or so in Karuizawa, Japan. We were living in Kobe, and some missionary friends knew of a vacant cabin in their compound. This cabin wouldn't have passed a health inspection by any innkeeper's guild, but it was okay for a week. Anyway, we heard two terrific speakers at the old chapel there. One of them mentioned this verse from today's reading:
On that day his (the Lord’s) feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.
Zechariah 14.4
His point was that this prophecy was as yet unfulfilled, and the fulfillment (how could it be anything but literal, talking about the Mount of Olives?) meant that the literal, physical land of Israel would continue to be important to the Lord.

Well, perhaps that is true, but looking again at this verse, it strikes me that if the Mount of Olives is literal, then "his feet" must also be literal. But since God is a Spirit, he doesn't have feet as such. Therefore the splitting of the Mount of Olives can't very well be literal either.

So what does the verse mean? I think it means that there will be tremendous and terrifying events: earthquakes and the like, geological events. Beyond that I'm not sure. But I don't think our speaker was right to say that this passage was intended to communicate the importance of the geographical Land of Israel in future events.

As for what this means to you and me, I think its point is that there will be Big Trouble in the future, and that it's a good idea not to let ourselves get caught up too much in our own concerns -- which are, let's face it, often of a trivial nature against a backdrop like this. In the face of such cataclysmic events, it behooves us indeed to trust in the Lord and in him only.

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