Glory in Our Midst (Kline)

Kline, Meredith.  Glory in Our Midst: A Biblical-Theological Reading of Zechariah’s Night Visions. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2001.

This isn’t a technical commentary or even a popular verse-by-verse one.  It is more of a structural reading of Zechariah’s night visions.  It also functions as theological meditations, though I am not sure Kline would have seen it that way.  In many ways Kline’s scholarship has held up quite well in Middle Eastern studies (more on that below).

Before beginning on the focus of the book, I am going to analyze, or at least mention, the appendix where Kline gives the structure of Zechariah’s night visions. One should note that there are some lacunae in this review. Part of that is because I didn’t see all the chiasms matching up. Maybe they did, but without some visual picture it is hard to see. Kline argues that “the book of Zechariah is a diptych with 6:9-15 as its primary hinge…and that the main part of each side panel of this diptych is itself a diptych formation with 3:10 and 11:1-17 respectively” (Kline 241). In chiastic form it would look something like this:

Overall structure:

A (1:10ff) World Mission of the Lord of Hosts
B (Visions 2) Focus on holy land/remove unholy elements
C (Vision 3) Focus on divine presence/theocracy
C’ (Vision 5) Focus on Divine presence/theocracy
B’ (Vision 6) Focus on holy land/remove unholy elements
A’ (6:7ff) World Mission of the Lord of Hosts

Diptych 1

A
B (2:1-14)
C (2:5-17) Divine summons to return
D  (3:1-10)
A’
B’
C’

Diptych 2

A
B (10:1-14)
C (10:5-12) Divine summons to return
D (11:1-17)
A’
B’
C’

The real value in the book is Kline’s keen attention to thematic elements that are often lost in discussions on eschatology.  First, The Deep.  The Deep is the chaotic danger to Yahweh’s creation. It first appears as the unstructured chaos.  As revelation progresses, it becomes an active antagonist. It later became a synonym for Sheol (Pss. 18:4ff; 69:1, 2, 14, 15). Indeed, “the deep represented the world power which had subjugated Israel and terminated the Davidic dynasty” (31).

Following his discussion of the myrtle trees (Yahweh’s people?), Kline states, “The actual character of the process of redemptive eschatology is such that heaven breaks into the history of this world beforehand, particularly in the reality of the Spirit, re-creatively fashioning God’s people in the image of his glory (20).

The Mount of Assembly

Armageddon isn’t a specific location.  It is the war for Yahweh’s assembly. It is Har Mo’ed, Yahweh’s enthronement mountain. At the end of time, Antichrist, the Gog-warrior, comes from Zaphon, “the heights of the North,” “to attack Zion, the true mountain of divine assembly” (49).

Along these lines, Kline gives a fascinating discussion of ziggurats and altars.  A ziggurat represented a mountain.  It was “the cosmic mountain, the axis or access between heaven and earth” (61).

Cool point: the Hebrew for the riders who are going to destroy evil is “Harashim.”  Kline calls them dragon-slayers (63).

Building the Temple-City

Yahweh’s temple-city is a metapolis.  It is the Beyond-City of eternity. It doesn’t need walls because God’s fiery presence fills the eternal city to its unwalled limits (76).  Building this temple is a covenantal, royal task (149ff).  Kline outlines some covenantal language and structures:

  1. Matt. 28:18-20.  Covenantal pronouncement; has elements of presence, authority, and continuation.

Judicial Sanctions

Consistent with the covenantal language is Kline’s connection of baptism and judgment waters, particularly as they destroy the Egyptian army (109).

Imagers

Our image is one of ethical purity, dominion, and eschatological luminosity (114).  The latter is our receiving an investiture from Yahweh as he re-creates us in his Glory-Spirit.  Moreover as imagers, we bear God’s Name (Rev. 22:4).

The Spirit and the Church

We are the Menorah (Rev. 1:20). We are the ectype of God’s archetypal temple.

Key quote: “The field of history is a courtroom in which God’s people give testimony to his name over against the blasphemies of the idol-worsipers” (138).

Conclusion

This can’t function as one’s primary commentary on Zechariah.  It isn’t an exegetical commentary.  It is valuable, however, in giving the big picture, structure, and biblical theological overview of Zechariah.

Preaching and Teaching the Last Things (Kaiser)

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Kaiser Jr., Walter C. Preaching and Teaching the Last Things: Old Testament Eschatology for the Life of the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.

I can’t imagine preaching or teaching Zechariah or Ezekiel 38-39 without this volume on my desk.  Walter Kaiser starts with the “promise plan of God” and shows how God’s promises to Israel must be that in order to show his fidelity to the church.

Each passage deals with a key text of OT eschatology.  Even if you don’t share Kaiser’s premillennialism, you will likely be dealing with the same texts.  Further, his textual comments are invaluable. Each section also has a homiletical outline, similar to what we saw in his Preaching and Teaching the Old Testament.

A word of caution: Kaiser’s outlines function better for teaching series instead of single sermons.  You won’t be able to preach on Ezekiel 38-39 in one morning.  

Opening Notes

The “latter days” or “day of the Lord’….came to be connected with that group of events and times associated with Yahweh’s coming judgment and deliverance” (Kaiser xiv). Kaiser does briefly treat the NT’s Two-Age doctrine, and while I endorse Kaiser’s premillennialism, I wish he would have interacted with Riddlebarger’s claim that there is no room for a millennial reign in either of the two ages.

The Nation Israel in Old Testament Eschatology

Key argument: God made a unilateral covenant with Abraham and David.  This covenant includes God’s promise to bring Israel back into the land, which Kaiser powerfully develops in his treatment of Zech. 10.

The promise-plan of God is his promise of a Seed, a land, and the gospel (Gen. 12:2-4). Kaiser begins to really develop this in his text on Ezekiel 37, where the “bones” are “the whole house of Israel” (31).  Even more, the “promise made to the church would be without any firm attachment to any past history and to what God had planned to provide for all who believed. If the church had not been rooted in the concrete promises of the calling of a nation and the gift of a land, it too would float in the air without any grounding in the past” (39).

We will now take some time to see his outline of Zech. 10, and in this Kaiser shows us how to do a homiletical outline.

Background note: Zech. 10 speaks of another return to the land. That’s interesting.  This was written after they had returned from Babylon. In other words, there was no NT fulfillment.  

The Third Return of Israel to the Land of Promise

Text: Zech. 10:2-12
Focal Point: Verses 9-10.
Homiletical keyword: Contrasts
Interrogative: What? (What are the contrasts between the corrupted leaders of false shepherds and the good leaders and true shepherds of the people?)
Teaching aim: To show how Israel has suffered not only for her own sin, but from the corrupted leadership she has had in deference to the compassionate leadership God plans to give her in the last days as he brings Israel back to the land of his promise for the third time.

Outline:
1. God is angered by Israel’s corrupted leadership—10:2-3
2. God’s model for a new leadership is his Messiah–10:4-5
3. God will regather Israel Once more in her land—10:6-12.

The Extent of Messiah’s Rule

Ps. 72: Couldn’t have been about Solomon, for he uses future tense (64).

Alexandria vs. Antioch. 

The Antiochene school “established the model of theoria….lining up what happened in the past with an analogous event in the future, so there could be said to be one in meaning, even though they were two distant fulfillments” (65). While there are some difficulties here, it is infinitely superior to allegorical or “spiritual” exegesis, which is no exegesis at all.

Kaiser discusses some interesting, but technical issues with the canonical placement of this psalm, which are beyond the scope here but definitely worth your time (66-67).  In the psalm itself, the psalmists language of “as long as the sun/moon” echo the Davidic covenant (and later the New Covenant of Jeremiah, promised to the House of Israel and Judah).

The Day of the Lord and the Beginning of the Nations’ Struggle Against Israel

The day of the Lord is never conceived as a 24 hour period, but rather a length of time associated with the Second Advent (75). This period is marked off by Daniel as a time of “seventy weeks.”

The Arrival of the day of the Lord: Joel 2:28-3:21

Kaiser does connect on one level “the last days” with the events at Pentecost (Acts 2:17). “The outpouring was an initial fulfillment of those ‘last days’” (79).  However, the Pentecostal events cannot be equated with “that great and dreadful day of the Lord” (82). The same language was used by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, so unless we want to go full preterist and say Pentecost fulfilled the Olivet Discourse, we have to allow for a future referent.

Key argument: two events in history and eschatology are interrelated: Israel’s return to the land and the Lord’s second advent (82).

Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39)

Homiletical Analysis

Text: Ezekiel 38:1-39:21
Title: “Gog and Magog’s War Against Israel”
Focal point: Ezek. 38:16
Homiletical keyword: predictions
Interrogative: What? (What are the predictions of what God is going to do as he puts a huge stop to the otherwise steady stream of attacks on the nation of Israel over the course of history?)
Teaching aim: To demonstrate that God, for his own name’s sake, will sensationally rescue Israel when all other sources of help fail.

Outline:

  1. Our God will soundly defeat Gog and his Allies–38:1-23
    1. The Allies of Gog–38:1-6
    2. The Purpose and motives of Gog’s War–38:7-13
    3. The advances of Gog–38:14-16
    4. The judgment on Gog–38:17-23
  2. Our God will easily dispose of Gog–39:1-29
    1. The slaughter of Gog–39:1-29
    2. The loot taken from Gog–39:9-10
    3. The burial of Gog–39:11-16
    4. The display of the glory of God–39:17-29

Who is Gog?

Kaiser initially avoids identifying Rosh as Russia, saying, correctly, that its identity must remain open (91).

The 70 Weeks of Daniel

This section is hard. It might even be a lexical nightmare.  Here goes nothing. Here is the problem, while the “seventy sevens,” understood as years, makes sense, do we divide the sevens into two sections or three?   Do the six purposes “run only up to Christ’s first coming or do they run up to his second coming” (106)?

NASB: “seven weeks and sixty two weeks.”

Kaiser, however, divides it into three parts, understanding there to be a Hebrew athnak accent mark from the Masoretes (107).

“Verse 25 mentions a segment of seven sevens/weeks and another segment of sixty-two sevens/weeks.  The sixty two sevens is mentioned again in verse 26; verse 27 speaks of one seven/week along with a middle to that [one] seven” (108).

It might not matter too much for any particular eschatological system.  Unless you are a heretical preterist, everyone posits some “gap” in it.

The Battle of Armageddon

Kaiser suggests that Zech. 12 and 14 refer to the same event.  I’m not so sure. Moving on, if we allegorize Zech 14 to refer to “the church,” which refers back to the same entity in 13:8, then we have to posit that at the end ⅔ of the church will be annihilated (134).  Best to take it in a normal sense.

Preparing for God’s Glorious Consummation of History at Armageddon

Text: Zech. 14:1-21
Focal Point: Verse 19
Homiletical keyword: Events
Interrogative: What? (What events will God use to conclude human history?)
Teaching aim: To show that the battle of Armageddon is earth’s final attempt to overthrow the kingdom of God and the people of God, as set forth in the promise-plan of God

Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, volume 1

Brown, Michael L. Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus vol. 1.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

This volume introduces Michael L. Brown’s larger project of Jewish evangelism.  Working through these objections is a neat exercise for Christians, as you get to use your Old Testament knowledge in ways you didn’t expect.

Remind them that the rabbinic traditions which they follow aren’t any older than Christianity.  That means the debate is over who is the best expression of the Jewish tradition: Yeshua Messiah or the rabbis?

The Problem of Interpretation.  The key question is not whether Christianity or Judaism is true.  The key question is which is the biblical faith: the rabbis or Yeshua (Brown 1.7)? 

The first section dealt with general objections to Yeshua.  None were formidable. These are the standard CNN/NPR objections.  In section 2 Brown deals with more scholarly opponents.

Why isn’t there peace on Earth? The OT Messianic prophecies point to worldwide peace.   This is a more sophisticated objection than we might think at first. It’s a devastating criticism of amillennialism. The objection is not saying that “We Jews expect a David-like conqueror.”  No, the OT messianic promises point to “the glory of God covering the earth.” 

Brown responds that Messiah must bring purification before peace, judgment before justice (2.1).  The peace that Messiah brings happens at the end of the age (Isaiah 2; Zech. 14). See Hagg. 2:6-9.  See also Daniel 9:24-27.

Daniel 9 is an important chapter for End Times Bible Prophecy, but it also provides an important point here.  Brown notes that “Final atonement for Israel’s sin must be made before the second temple was destroyed.”

If Yeshua is the Messiah, why have wars and famines increased (2.2)?  We’ve already dealt with the faulty premise of the question, as explained in 2.1.  Messiah does not bring in a universal, unqualified peace.

Zechariah’s Sequence of Messiah’s Return

The trumpet will sound; Messiah returns, then Day of Atonement.  Yahweh will protect the City (Zech. 14:1-5), and these nations afterwards will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.  Here is the exciting part: this is laid out in the Jewish calendar: Passover, Firstfruits (Yeshua’s rising from the dead), Shavu’ot/Pentecost [Gap in Time] we are now waiting on the eschatological Feast of Tabernacles following the rescue of Jerusalem.

 

Review: Zechariah (Klein, NAC)

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Klein, George.  Zechariah NAC.  Nashville, TN: Holman.  2005.

Klein does afford a place to a physical Israel in the future (Klein 67).  He notes that “the Church and Israel both participate in God’s eschatological promises, but neither will disappear in the end times” (67).  However, he rejects the idea that there are two parallel covenants today. Israel cannot be a metaphor for the church since there is no compelling literary or theological evidence in Zechariah to see it as such.

This is a fine, albeit limited scholarly commentary.  Klein interacts with the Hebrew text and occasionally the syntax.  There is a tendency for it to be “word studies,” but that is usually kept in check.

I only have one real disagreement and that is at the end of the book. He says “The biblical text gives no quarter to polytheism or even henotheism….Any other so-called deity is a non-god that possesses no power whatsoever” (376).  That statement is misleading. Of course, polytheism is out, since the “gods” are not on an even level. But what about henotheism? The problem there is that henotheism usually presupposes an evolutionary worldview, which is out of the question.  But the bible isn’t using the word “elohim” in the same sense that Klein is. An elohim is a spirit being of the unseen world. Yahwen is an elohim, but not all elohim are Yahweh. In any case, the Bible does say that elohim are real and they do have authority in some limited sense (Dt 32:8; Psalm 82; NT archons, principalities, etc).

Chapter 3

Great discussion on the identity of ha-Shatan.  Klein correctly argues that it isn’t the Satan figure of the New Testament.  The lexical argument, almost universally agreed among Hebraists, is that when x is preceded by the definite article, it is a common noun, not a proper name (135).  There are some rare exceptions. He also links it to the figure in Job 1-2. In any case, the passage makes no attempt to identify the figure, whose position is secondary to the flow of the narrative, anyway.

Chapter 6

Klein correctly recognizes that “Tsaphon” symbolizes something like cosmic evil (186).  Klein: “Mount Zaphon had a long association with Baal worship and functioned as the sacred mountain of Baal-Hadad in Canaanite mythology” (cf. CTA 3.3.10-28).

Chapter 7

Real Justice (8-14). “Zechariah places “true justice’ in an emphatic position, preceding the verb, in order to stress its importance” (221).  Justice isn’t an abstract term. It stresses the character of the Lord of the Covenant. Klein’s language is stronger: “Hence, the Bible ascribes ‘loyalty’ to a person, never to a concept. Theologically, the word hesed conveys the very ‘essence of the covenant relationship’” (221). Down with scholastic wrangling! We are dealing with the Lord of the Covenant.

Chapter 9

While there are good insights here, he misses the opportunity to fully exploit the battle between Zion and Greece.  Most commentators point to the oddity that Zechariah wrote this long before Alexander the Great, which means either it can only have some vague spiritual application, or it is a later addition.  Both, obviously, are unacceptable.

While this predated Greece’s military rise, the Greek worldview was already on the stage and fully at odds with God. On the next page Klein rightly notes the anti-Ba’al language (coming from the South as a counter to the North), but he could have extended the analysis further by noting that Zeus = Ba’al.

Chapter 11

Lebanon is linked with Bashan (315).  See Isaiah 2.13; Jer. 22.20; Ezek. 27.5-6.

Chapter 14

Klein argues persuasively that the events in chapter 14 must be future.

  1. (1) Numerous statements in chapter 14 have no equivalent in history (398).
    1. “God will gather all nations against Jerusalem” (v2)
    2. It will be a unique day known to the Lord (7)
    3. Yahweh will be king over the whole earth” (9)
    4. The survivors from all the nations that attacked Jerusalem will go up to worship (16)
  2. (2) The seven-fold reverberation of the eschatological formula “on that day” (bayyom-hahu) (4, 6, 8, 9, 13, 20, 21) also makes the eschatological outlook certain.

Klein does mention the connection between Yahweh’s (Jesus’s) feet landing on the Mount of Olives at the Second Coming and the earthquake that it creates (whose sole purpose is to allow the survivors time to escape). He notes textual connections with Exodus 14-15 and Ezekiel 38:19-23, which judgment will include a “great earthquake.”

Argues that the holy ones (kol-kadoshim) refers to some kind of heavenly council (407).

 

Chiasms in Zechariah

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From George Klein’s commentary (NAC) on Zechariah.

A. Vision 1: The man on a red horse (1.7-17).
             B. Vision 2: Four horns and four craftsmen (1.18-21).
                        C. Vision 3: The Surveyor (2.1-13).
                                    D. Vision 4: The cleansing of the high priest (3.1-10).
                                    D’ Vision 5: The lampstand and the two olive trees (4.1-4).
                         C’ Vision 6: The flying scroll (5.1-4).
            B’ Vision 7: The woman in the basket (5.5-11).
A’ Vision 8. The Four chariots (6.1-8).

A question about fasting

A. Embassy with question about fasting (7.13)
B. God’s answer concerning fasting (7.4-6).
C. Ancestor’s misconduct (7.7-12a).
D. Judgment against the ancestors (7.12b-14).
E. Exhortation (8.9-13)
D’ Salvation in the present and future (8.1-8, 14-15).
C’ The Community’s Conduct (8.16-17)
B’ God’s edict concerning fasting (8.18-19)
A’ Embassy to seek the Lord (8.20-23)

Chiasm of 9-14

A.  Judgment and salvation of surrounding nations (9:1-8).
            B. Introduction to the King (9.9-10).
                         C. Israel’s battle and ultimate victory (9.11-10.1)
                                       D. Idolatry and Judgment (10.2-3a)
                         C’ Israel’s battle and victory (10.3b-11.3).
             B’ The People reject the shepherds (11.4-17)
                         C” Israel’s battle and victory (12.1-9).
             B” Yahweh’s servant pierced; mourning and purification (12.10-13.1)
                                      D” Idolatry and judgment (13.2-6).
              B”’ Shepherd struck; judgment, purification, and return to God (13.7-9).
                         C”’ Israel’s battle and victory (14.1-9).
A’ Judgment and salvation of all nations (14.16-21).