“The Mount of Olives shall Cleave in the Midst”
“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (Zechariah 14: 4-5).
The Mount of Olives is situated at the east of Jerusalem, being separated only by the brook Kedron and the valley of Jehoshaphat. Here it was that David (typifying the Lord Jesus) went up barefoot and weeping when he fled from Absalom, just as our Savior went by it when he entered Gethsemane, passing over the same brook of Kedron (2 Samuel 15:22-30; John 18:1; Matthew 26:30-46).
Mount of Corruption
That Mount, so memorable to David, was terribly profaned by his son. When Solomon was old, he loved many strange wives, who led him into idolatry. He built a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, upon that very Mount in the hill that is before Jerusalem. He also erected a high place for Moloch, the abomination of the children of Ammon, upon the Mount of Olives (1 Kings 11:1-7). Solomon so polluted the Mount of Olives with idolatry that it became known as the Mount of Corruption (2 Kings 23:13). Many years later, the good king Josiah (another type of Christ) destroyed those idols and purged the Mount of corruption (2 Kings 23:12-14).
Christ and the Mount
In the light of those historic facts, it is not at all surprising to see so much of our great Savior’s life and ministry connected with the Mount of Olives. This was the place to which he often came; and his disciples often followed him there (Luke 21:37). When the Pharisees sought to kill him, our Savior “went unto the Mount of Olives” to save that poor woman who was an adulteress (John 8:1-11). Our Savior sat down on the Mount of Olives to give us his great Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 and 25. It was in that great discourse that he spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem, his glorious second coming, the parable of the fig tree, the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, the parable of the wise and foolish servants, and the great separation of the sheep and goats in the Day of Judgment. After establishing the Lord’s Supper with his disciples, while Judas went out to betray him, the Lord Jesus and his disciples sung a hymn and “went out into the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30). Then, our blessed Savior went into Gethsemane and from there to Calvary! And forty days after his resurrection, the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:8-12), receiving power over all flesh from his Father to give eternal life to his blood-bought people (John 17:2).
The Mount was called the Mount of Olives, because it was covered with olive trees. Olive oil was used to light the lamps in the tabernacle and in the temple (Exodus 25:31-37; 1 Kings 7:48-50). The priests and kings in Israel were anointed with olive oil (Leviticus 8:12; 1 Samuel 16:13; 1 Kings 1:39). The Good Samaritan in our Lord’s parable poured oil and wine into the man left by the wayside (Luke 10:33-34)). And our Savior was anointed for his burial with Mary’s precious ointment, a spikenard, a perfume of oil (Matthew 26:12-13).
In all these things oil was used to typify God the Holy Spirit, the Anointing and Unction of grace, poured out upon chosen, redeemed sinners by Christ, our ascended King and enthroned Savior, who, standing upon the Mount of Olives as our Redeemer, split the mountain, flooded its valley with grace, and causes his people to flee to the valley of the mountains. There the Lord our God comes with all his saints! Using the figurative language of verses 4 and 5, Zechariah describes the powerful presence of God and his omnipotent grace in the outpouring of his Spirit upon his elect, which was manifestly done at Pentecost (Joel 1:14-15; 2:1-3, 27-32; 3:13-17; Acts 2:16-21).
Zechariah’s language here is to be understood figuratively, because he is telling us that this great day of God’s grace flowing to sinners far exceeds the glory that appeared upon Mount Sinai at the giving of the law, when the mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs (Psalm 114:6). So terrible was that sight that Moses said, “I exceedingly fear and quake” (Hebrews 12:21). The Lord Jesus Christ, our great Josiah, has taken away both the curse of Sinai’s law and the corruptions of his people by his finished work of redemption. By coming to the earth in our nature, obeying all the will of God, dying as our Substitute, and ascending from the Mount, he has split open the mountain where our offenses abounded and created the mighty river of mercy and grace for our souls in “the valley of the mountains!” Where sin abounded grace much more abounds! Let the sweet tidings of grace vibrate through the earth. Because Christ has come and finished his work, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!”
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