“In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, ‘HOLY TO THE LORD.’ And the cooking pots in the Lord’s house will be like the bowls before the altar. Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day.” -Zech. 14.20-21
I believe that this rather obscure passage at the close of Zechariah’s prophecy is charged with more meaning and significance than most of us have been able to recognize. I wonder how many believers in our day have really considered it.
Out of those who have spent time in Zechariah, many have seen these two verses as an unfitting finale to the drama, cataclysm, and splendor of this magnificent book. Indeed, when the Lord began to highlight these verses to my heart some time ago, I was amazed to see that I too had flown through them over the years without giving them ample attention.
We need a newfound consciousness of how “pregnant” each passage of Scripture is. We are too often flying through the Words of God, and that is not the way to approach the holy things which have been given from Heaven. This little inconspicuous passage is one such “holy thing”, and it needs to be approached with “rejoicing and trembling.” (Ps. 2.11)
David Baron (1855-1926), a Jewish believer in Jesus who was a remarkable theologian, gave us these words in his masterpiece on Zechariah:
In the last two verses we reach the glorious goal and climax of vision and prophecy. God’s original purpose in the calling and election of Israel- ‘Ye shall be unto Me a Kingdom of priests, an holy nation’- shall at last be realized; the aim and purpose of the whole law,- namely, that His people might learn the meaning of holiness and become holy because Jehovah their God is holy; but to which, so long as they were in bondage to the law, they could not attain, shall at last be fulfilled when they are brought into a condition of grace, and when God shall put His law into their inward parts and write it on their hearts.
Then the world shall witness for the first time the glorious spectacle of a whole nation, and every individual member of it, wholly consecrated to Jehovah, and an earthly capital which shall truly answer to its name, ‘The Holy City,’ because it shall in many ways be the earthly counterpart and reflection of the glory of the New Jerusalem, which will come down out of heaven from God. (Baron, Zechariah: A Commentary On His Visions & Prophecies; pp. 530-531)
This whole statement from Baron is fascinating, but my heart is hung up on the first sentence:
“In the last two verses we reach the glorious goal and climax of vision and prophecy.”
The “glorious goal and climax of vision and prophecy”? What is it about the “bells of the horses” being inscribed, the cooking pots in the Lord’s house, and the other cooking pots in Jerusalem and Judah that causes the prophet to take notice?
I have said that when we think about that which is holy we are not likely to think upon utensils and accessories from a kitchen. When asked, “What constitutes the ‘holy things’?”, we may respond in reference to the realities of fasting and prayer, the wonders of the Scriptures, or the calling of the saints to bring light to the nations through witness. But bells on horses? Pots and pans? What is the prophet communicating here? How can mere pots and pans evoke a sense of the holiness of God?!
Perhaps our rapid-fire association of everything holy with religious practices, even God-given practices, is a statement that we have not yet come to realize the glory that lies in the most subtle, unexpected, and seemingly unspiritual of places. Jerusalem, at the end of the age, is the picture of a people, a land, and all that is within them coming into the high and glorious plane of consecration unto the living God.
AN IMMEDIATE HARVEST OR A LIFELONG CONSECRATION?
Any believer with a jealousy for bearing fruit would rejoice in the receiving of a notable harvest. A brother with a heart for evangelism would surely jump at the opportunity to preach to a crowd of 10,000 souls who were all wanting to hear about the Gospel. A sister with a vision for calling the church to fasting and prayer would surely be thrilled if she was asked to lead one of the major events of our day, when thousands were gathered to fast and cry out for revival. A brother with a heart for intensive study in theology would certainly see it as a gift from heaven if 5,000 volumes were dropped into his office with no charge to his account. Any believer who is hungry to see the power of God demonstrated in the earth would not wince when receiving a word that through his hands would come thousands of miracles and healings.
All of us value the receiving of a “harvest” in whatever form that takes. But there is something about this passage in Zechariah 14 that raises a question about the potential unreality of our consecration to the Lord, and it has everything to do with how we are viewing those things in our lives that appear to be mundane, common, or even despised by men.
Years ago, when speaking about true consecration unto God, Amy Carmichael wrote that the believer who abides in true holiness “cleanses in brightness all that he touches.” There is a crucial revelation in this. The believer who comes into a union with God that produces a living holiness affects that which he touches, even down to the most practical and common of issues. Whether laying hands on a sick child for healing, or filling the sink with soap water to do the dishes for his wife, everything has become holy. Whether lifting his hands to worship the Lord during a fast, or changing the diaper of his baby in the middle of the night, everything has become holy. Whether proclaiming the Word in a large gathering of the saints, or helping his child with homework, everything has become holy. He “cleanses in brightness all that he touches.” Indeed, to him, the pots and the pans have even become holy, for he has learned to abide in the presence of Christ. He has recognized the light of the Son of God in the “land” of his life. Everything is charged with the weight of glory, and the light of His countenance.
Zechariah 12 through 14 comprises one of the most intense eschatological portions in all of the Scriptures. In it we stumble upon glimpses into the battle for Jerusalem, the time of Jacob’s trouble, the judgment of the nations, the salvation of the remnant of Israel, the return of Christ, and the glories of the millennial Kingdom and the New Jerusalem. It is a concentrated revelation, in three short chapters, of many of the things that will transpire at the end of this age. It’s absolutely riveting to meditate on. Have you considered it?
Yet this shocking, almost pulsating passage of Scripture is capped off by a few verses speaking of the consecration of bells on horses, pots in the house of the Lord, and pots in the homes of Judah’s residents. Baron says these verses are the “glorious goal and climax of vision and prophecy” themselves. Not merely the climax of Zechariah’s book, but the climax of vision and prophecy altogether!
So what makes the pots and pans holy? It raises questions regarding our modern understanding of holiness. If “holy” is not merely a word we use during worship times, and if “holiness” does not only mean that we refrain from certain movies and styles of dress, what constitutes holiness? This is certainly not a statement of license for those who wish to live morally compromised lives. God has called us to righteousness in all things. There should be no question on that.
I believe that holiness is something that is of the same Spirit as righteousness, but is comprised of a reality that we have scarcely seen or experienced. It is the ultimate condition of separateness. True holiness has rarely been realized and walked in among the saints in our generation, and it has everything to do with the lack of an awareness of the presence of God in the “common” places of our lives.
In Jerusalem, during the millennial reign of Christ, anyone who visits the home of a Jewish family is going to be stricken by the surprise of an entirely different atmosphere. According to this passage, not only are the pots “in the House of Lord” considered valuable and of especial value, but every “cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts.”
At the end of the age, the wisdom of men will be turned on its head. Swords will be beaten into plowshares. Nations will study war no more. The last will be the first and the greatest will be the servant of all. The menial tasks of working and plowing will be transfigured as the bells on the horses are inscribed with the phrase, “HOLY UNTO THE LORD.” The pots in the kitchens of Jewish residents will act like a match that strikes a spiritual fire in the hearts of all those who visit Jerusalem. There will be an overwhelming consciousness in all of Judah that every person within their borders, and every possession that they have been given has become “HOLY UNTO THE LORD.”
What a glorious picture! What a culture shock! What a distinction from the manner in which we typically view our brothers and sisters, our spouses and children, our possessions, our occupations, and our so-called menial tasks. We are accustomed to flinging open the kitchen cabinets, banging and clanking until we find the pot that will best and most conveniently serve our immediate purposes. We often treat other people, even our own family members, with such carelessness and irreverence that one may wonder whether or not we have realized the light and presence of Christ at all. But the saints to whom the “pots and pans” have become holy will emit a heavenly fragrance, a holy value, a Divine disposition, and out of their souls “will flow rivers of living water.”
Our propensity to find value in position, status, or some mode of religious performance is a statement that we have not yet come into this glory. Yet the Lord desires to bring us into it, for this kind of seeing would enable us to engage His heart in communion and worship in the midst of all surroundings. He longs to abide with us, and He will go to great lengths to teach us to live a life that is “hidden with Christ in God”.
What makes the bells and the pots and pans of Zion holy? The pots and pans have become holy because of the presence of Christ in the land, and the fact that its inhabitants are walking in a consciousness of that reality. These pots and pans will not be special because of their brand name or the uniqueness of their design. They will be called holy because they will be permeated with the light of the Son of God who reigns from the holy hill of Zion. He will have planted His feet “on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east,” “and the Lord will be king over all the earth.” (14.4, 9)
The “luminaries will dwindle” (14.6) in comparison to the sending forth of His light and presence in the land. To be in Jerusalem during the millennial reign of Christ is to find yourself in a land and among a people that have been consecrated through and through as “HOLY UNTO THE LORD.” You will be surrounded on every side by a sense of the holiness of God Himself, and the remarkable thing is that the “kind intention” of the Father is to bring us, a mostly Gentile Church, into a walk and consciousness NOW that is not unlike the experience of one who will visit Zion at the end of the age.
Karl Barth, arguably the most well known theologian of the 20th century, was famous for three simple words:
“God is other!”
“Other than what?”, you ask. We need not give further description. He’s simply “other.” There is no god like Him, and every man falls short of His glory and beauty. Everything that He is transcends the best of what we’ve seen in the earth. His righteousness is brighter than our best moral attempts. His humility is not like our self-conscious attempts at meekness. His love is utterly selfless. He’s holy. He’s other.
Most of our ministerial activities are marked by human striving, dependence upon technology, and are more predictable and subjective than they are alive with Divine Glory. Most of us stumble in unbelief over the mundaneness of all that has been set before us in the reality of life. But the saints in our generation who recognize and value the presence of Christ, even in the midst of the menial tasks in their “land” will express a heavenly wisdom that will move Israel to jealousy and constitute an apostolic witness to the nations.
The souls who lay hold of the grace to still their hearts in awe before the abiding Christ, consecrating as “holy” even the “pots and pans” in their lives, are the ones who will drink deeply of His own nature, becoming a house in which He makes His habitation by the Spirit. They will not be dominated by the spirit of this age. The powers and influences of lust, pride, fear, rage, and self-absorption will have no pull on their hearts.
“And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day.”
A Canaanite is not merely an ethnic or nationalistic term in this context. It can also be translated “merchant” or “trader”, and it represents those souls who bring something to the House of the Lord that is not in keeping with His holiness and government. In that Day, the whole nation will be immersed in the Spirit without measure, and the very nature of God Himself will be released in power. It will emanate effortlessly from the elders of Israel and from the smallest of the children. The warm glow of the Ancient of Days Himself will rest on the land. “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of lights…” (Is. 26.19)
The Lord is after the same reality in the Church. He is jealous to have for Himself a people who have recognized and loved His presence in the land, who are not willing to allow anything to come into the house of the Lord that is not in keeping with His wisdom, love, and holiness. He is after a people who are consecrated to Him in the inner-most parts. They will not be religious play-actors. They will not be self-conscious spiritual performers. They will be utterly God-conscious. They will abide in the light of His countenance. To them, even the pots and the pans have become holy.
Their lives will be a glory unto God. They will be called “other”.
“HOLY UNTO THE LORD.”
Can you believe that this is your own high privilege as a child of God?