Monday of Advent 1: The Mount of Olives

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Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives…

We brought up yesterday that the Mount of Olives was a place of messianic expectation. By Jesus beginning His grand entry at the Mount of Olives, He was making a statement (as He was by selecting a donkey, which we’ll investigate next devotion). He was fulfilling the prophecy from Zechariah 14.

Here are selections from the prophecy, with brief commentary:

Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

The day of the Lord is not a specific, single day. It’s what St. Paul was referring to when he wrote, “Behold, now is the day of salvation.” What is the day of the Lord? It’s Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost, every Sunday following, every communion, every day of repentance on the part of believers, the return of Christ. It’s the one day of Christ’s salvation administered in time through the ministry of the Gospel.

So, the “nations” battling against Jerusalem has multiple fulfillments, including Roman in 70 AD but still including the antithetical secular nations of today. In every age the Lord will have His remnant. The idea of a “remnant” is a reoccurring prophetic theme. They shall not be cut off from the city, from the Church.

This sets up Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem, and we can see how. The great spiritual battle about to occur centers on earthly personages like Jesus, of course, unfaithful Jews like Caiaphas, and a representative of the “nations” in Pontius Pilate. The sheep will scatter (a prophecy from Zechariah 13 fulfilled when the disciples – and all Israel, so to speak – scattered at Jesus’ arrest), but Jesus will gather His remnant.

Then the LORD will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.

Jesus had come to the Mount of Olives before, but He sat down there. Perhaps it was with some apprehensive expectation that the disciples saw Jesus ascend the Mount of Olives, only to sit down, but still they were moved to ask Him about the end times. His sitting there put them in that sort of mind. This is the set up for Jesus’ great teaching on the last days. It’s like a coach going over a game plan on the field of play the day before the big game.

But on Palm Sunday, we have what appears tdo be the big event. Jesus is fighting against the nations, and it begins on the Mount of Olives. Consider, already at His trial Jesus told Pilate, “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” And following His death and resurrection, Christ has most certainly overpowered several mighty nations, from Rome to modern communism, and ultimately western secularism. But it was not earthly weapons, rather the Gospel which has done so.

The splitting of the mountain is interesting, alluding perhaps to the splitting of the rocks leading to the resurrection of saints, or to the tearing of the curtain in the temple, or even to the splitting of Christ’s side, from which the waters flowed.

And in that day it shall be – That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, Half of them toward the eastern sea And half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur. And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be “The LORD is one,” And His name one.

The living water flowing from Jerusalem, from the temple, was fulfilled with Christ’s giving of His Holy Spirit in the waters flowing from His side. On Pentecost, from Jerusalem, the Spirit given out at His death came down and was administered by the apostles through baptism, and the calling of the Lord’s name. For, as Peter preached, Jesus is “King over all the earth,” or in his words, “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.”

Those words culminated in the waters of baptism, a baptism in the “one” name of the Lord, the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This is a loaded prophecy that ties in much from the Gospel, and explains why Jesus began the most holy week ever on the Mount of Olives. That’s where the battle began.


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