A Donkey & A Mountain // The Literal Second Coming

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One of the wonders of God displaying His glory in the face of His Son is that He revealed to His prophets everything that would unfold before it happened.[1] The descendants of Adam always knew there would be One to crush the head of the serpent because God promised He would send such a one.[2] The Jewish people knew this Messiah would come through the lineage of Abraham,[3] be born of a virgin in Bethlehem,[4] and rule in Israel[5] from the throne of His father David forever.[6] They knew this because the prophets told them.

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul laid out what he considered was of “first importance” in regards to the good news.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

To Paul, it was of utmost significance that the events of Jesus’ life were predicted long before they happened and were fulfilled exactly as the prophets described. This was the litmus test for the authenticity of Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God.

There is debate, especially among the Jewish people, about whether Jesus was the Messiah promised by God in Scripture, but we know for certain that He is. Peter said He is.[7] Phillip said He is.[8] Jesus said He is—by raising Him from the dead, God the Father testified that He is![9]

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”[10]

“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.”[11]

Now there are reasons why the Jewish people have, by and large, rejected Jesus as the prophesied Messiah. One reason is the temporary and partial hardening that God has put on them until the full number of Gentiles are saved.[12] Another reason, however, is that they focused their attention on one chapter of Zechariah’s prophecy, but ignored or misinterpreted another. 

They built an expectation that the Messiah would come in glory and might, split the Mount of Olives in two, and personally make war against their enemies.[13] He will come in that way the second time. Their hopes were deflated, however, as their eyes fell on a carpenter from Nazareth riding a lowly donkey. [14] Inconsistent interpretation of the prophet’s words caused them to miss the clear prediction that Jesus would first come humbly to take away sin and then come a second time to make war. Because of that, they rejected Jesus as their promised Messiah.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”[15]

Zechariah predicted that Jesus would come to Jerusalem humble and riding on a donkey. Five centuries later, that’s exactly how He entered the city!

“The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!”[16]

Zechariah predicted that Jesus will come again to Jerusalem, split the Mount of Olives, and personally fight against Israel’s enemies. Many centuries later, that’s exactly how He will enter the city!

“Behold, a day is coming for the Lord…Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when He fights on a day of battle. On that day His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward.”[17]

Within the Church today, there is a similar interpretation issue concerning prophecy. There are those who seem only to accept biblical prophecy if it’s already happened. Meaning, they accept that Zechariah 9:9 is about Jesus literally riding a donkey into Jerusalem because they have to. Because it happened. But they do not accept that Zechariah 14:1-4 is about Jesus literally splitting the Mount of Olives in two as He returns to fight Israel’s enemies in person.

The problem with this inconsistent interpretation of Scripture is providing a reason for the sudden change from a literal expectation to an allegorical one. Either the prophet decided to change his method of prophecy or the person reading it decided to arbitrarily change his method of interpretation. The former is untrue, and the latter is a huge mistake. Unfortunately for the Gentile Christian holding this view, they aren't able to blame their mistake on a partial hardening from God. They have to own the fact that the only reason for their inconsistency is error on their part.

Jesus riding a donkey happened just the way Zechariah said it would. Jesus splitting the Mount of Olives will happen just the way Zechariah said it would. The reason we can have full assurance that it will happen this way is because every prophecy that has been fulfilled so far has been accomplished exactly as the prophets prophesied it. God does nothing without revealing it to His prophets, and He does not make a promise only to not fulfill it.

“For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”[18]

“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it?”[19]


Jordan Scott lives in a Muslim-majority country with his wife and two children, where he serves as Director of Community Development and the Emmaus Intensive. He can be reached by email at jordan@faimission.org.


[1] Amos 3:7
[2] Genesis 3:15
[3] Genesis 12:3
[4] Isaiah 7:14
[5] Micah 5:2
[6] 2 Samuel 7:16
[7] 1 Peter 1:10-12
[8] Acts 8:32-35
[9] Luke 24:27; Acts 2:22-36
[10] Luke 24:27
[11] Acts 2:30-32
[12] Romans 11:25 
[13] Zechariah 14:1-4
[14] Zechariah 9:9
[15] Zechariah 9:9
[16] John 12:12-16
[17] Zechariah 14:1-4 
[18] Amos 3:7
[19] Numbers 23:19