ZECHARIAH-SERIES NR 13
Theme: Rejoice! Your King is coming!
There is a certain spiritual principle running throughout the Scriptures: The living God brings downfall to the proud, but He saves and helps those who acknowledge their helplessness and trust in His deliverance.
Zechariah 9 illustrates that principle.
But let us take a look at where chapter 9 fits into the whole of this prophetic book.
The book consist of 3 parts: -> Chapters 1-6 = the 8 visions that Zechariah received in the year 520 BC to encourage the Jews, who earlier had returned from Babylonian Exile, to complete the restoration of the temple. 2 -> Chapters 7-8 is the answer from God two years later to the delegation from Bethel. These people came to Jerusalem to enquire whether they should continue with the annual fasts. 3 -> Chapters 9-14 move a further 40 years ahead. Zechariah is now an elderly man. The temple was completed long ago. But Nehemiah has not yet rebuilt the city wall. The nation is still weak and vulnerable, and their neighbours are still hostile towards them. What if the enemy should come and again take them into exile, they fretted. It was these people whom the Holy Spirit encourage and strengthen in chapters 9-14 to anchor their hope in God.
Chapters 9-14 also fall open into two parts:
Chapters 9-11 = Focus on Israel’s coming Messiah – particularly His first coming, and His rejection and suffering that would accompany His first coming.
Chapters 12-14 = The second coming of the Messiah and the final triumph of everyone who belongs to Him and the final reckoning for God’s enemies.
It is so absolutely certain that the content of these chapters came from God himself, because it is totally impossible to imagine that Zechariah could describe the distant future so accurately. We will return to that later in the series.
Today however, we are at chapter 9.
Chapter 9 is also divided into three parts, and each of these parts illustrate only one spiritual principle namely how God will bring downfall to the proud, but He helps and saves those who acknowledge their helplessness and trust in His deliverance. This principle had to encourage and bring hope within the circumstances they found themselves.
Here are the three parts of chapter 9:
FIRSTLY, VERSES 1-8 is a prediction of something that would take place more than 150 years AFTER Zechariah spoke it, namely Alexander the Great’s triumphal procession through the world at that time – how the Lord used Alexander to deal with Israel’s enemies. And that spells the principle of how God brings downfall to the proud but helps and saves those who acknowledge their helplessness, and trust in His deliverance.
SECONDLY, VERSES 9-10 predicts the first coming of the Messiah to the world – something that would happen 5 centuries later. And that spells the principle of how God brings downfall to the proud, but helps and saves those who acknowledge their helplessness, and trust in His deliverance.
THIRDLY, VERSES 11-17 foretells how the Lord will bring all kinds of relief and deliverance to His people in the future, and it also illustrates the principle of how God will bring downfall to the proud but helps and saves those who acknowledge their helplessness, and trust in His deliverance.
Let us just briefly look at the content of each of these three breath-taking future predictions. It is breath-taking because Zechariah was really only the mouthpiece through whom God himself spoke. It is breath-taking because through this we realize that the Lord God is a reality, He exists, He IS. It is breath-taking because from this we know that the Lord controls the future. He not only KNOWS the future, but He also controls it, and EVERYTHING He has foretold, He will also FULFIL to the letter. And that gives us great hope to know that – what He has foretold about the second coming of Christ, the consumation, the last judgment, the new heaven and new earth, as well as the reality of the eternal condemnation – He SHALL fulfil to the last letter. We can be sure of it and be at peace about it.
NOW, LET US LOOK:
NUMBER ONE: FIRSTLY, VERSES 1-8 look almost 2 centuries ahead into the future and sees Alexander the Great and the rising of the Greek Empire that would de-throne the Persian Empire as world ruler. Alexander would become known in history for the speed with which he extended his empire. Amongst others, he moved southward and passed through Palestine and vanquished and subjected all the nations which surrounded Israel and who were their enemies. For example the Syrian capital Damascus. And the Philistine cities. And Tyre and Sidon. These places were centres of blatant idolatry and temptation to God’s people.
But Alexander passed Israel by. History confirms what is promised in verse 8. Alexander peaceably passed Jerusalem. On his return northward from Egypt, he treated the Israelites with friendliness. It was approximately the year 330 BC. In that regard he was an instrument in the hand of God to bring God’s judgment over His people’s enemies, but Jerusalem and the Jews were spared and delivered. Everything happened exactly the way it was foretold in verse 8.
In this Alexander was – unknowingly, but as God wanted – a prefigure of Christ who would eventually vanquish and subject all the enemies of God, but bring deliverance and salvation to God’s people.
Here is once more a perfect example of how God can take anyone into His service – even a pagan and an unbeliever – as was Alexander. The Lord used him though he was perfectly unaware of it. How great is the living God! And think: If God could use a pagan ruler like THAT, how much more will the true Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, not be victorious!
NUMBER TWO: SECONDLY, VERSES 9-10 predicts Messiah’s first coming to the world. With one breath the Holy Spirit jumps from verse 8 to verse 9 another 300 years further into the future and describes the Messiah who will enter the city riding on a donkey. Suddenly he sees Christ’s first coming to the world. Indescribable! He simply jumps 200 years and sees Alexander the Great and then another 300 years into the future and sees with absolute accuracy the first coming of Christ. Undoubtedly the Holy Spirit speaking. He simply takes Zechariah into His service to deliver His Word and we find in these two verses one of the greatest Messianic prophecies in the entire NT.
We know from John 12 and Matthew 21 how the Lord Jesus, a few days before He was crucified, entered into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. While the Jews of that time expected a Messiah in the form of a powerful political saviour that would deliver Israel from Roman oppression. Least of all did they expect a helpless suffering Messiah who would die for the sins of His people. Only after his resurrection did His own disciples understand what He had told them long before about His suffering and death.
Therefore, when Jesus entered the city riding on a donkey, He gave a public demonstration of who He truly was and what He came to do. He would be the humble and suffering Messiah/Anointed as Zechariah and Isaiah foretold. Kings and soldiers ride horses, not donkeys. Alexander the Great and all the rulers of Tyre and Sidon and Damascus and the Philistines – everyone mentioned in the previous verses – rode horses and were power-hungry. But a donkey? A donkey was a pack-animal in times of peace. People of humble status may ride donkeys, not conquerors and fighters and rulers. Jesus was despised by the leaders and rulers of His day. He came to bear burdens. His people’s burden of sin. He saves those who acknowledge how helpless they are and place their hope in Him for deliverance. Because He is King. And the conqueror. And He is righteous. The human eye sees Him as a loser. But from God’s perspective He is exactly the opposite. But it is not the person who is proudly riding a horse that can see that. It is the person who realizes and acknowledges how weak and powerlessly he/she is bound in sin, who will place his hope upon this Messiah.
And yet HE shall bring powerful victory. He will destroy chariots and war-horses and break the battle-bow and arrow. He shall govern NATIONS and bring PEACE and reign from sea to sea – to the ends of the earth. That is what verse 10 says.
What is it that is so suddenly happening here in verse 10? In verse 9 the Saviour is riding on a donkey. In verse 10 He is reigning to the ends of the earth.
Well, in verse 10 another jump of thousands of years is made into the future, and Zechariah sees the second coming of Christ. The end of the centuries. The official appearance of the King – on the clouds of heaven.
Then all the nations of the earth will know and realize WHO this humble Man on the donkey really is! In this one verse the entire New Testament teaching concerning the second coming of Christ is summed up in a nutshell.
What verse 9 foretold was literally fulfilled by Jesus’s first coming to the world. Why would verse 10 not also be literally fulfilled? At this moment it is not yet fulfilled, but it is next on the heavenly calendar.
NUMBER THREE: THIRDLY, VERSES 11-17 foretell how the Lord will bring about all manner of relief and deliverance for His people in the future.
A good many things are said here of how the Lord’s people will eventually be in the winning team and how He will contend for them – the message of Revelation in a nutshell. The living God will bring downfall to the proud but He saves and helps those who acknowledge their helplessness, and trust in His deliverance.
It is very difficult to point out the historical events where these particular predictions were fulfilled in detail.
Some scholars are of the opinion that it was fulfilled in the period between OT and NT – the so-called intertestamental period – and specifically the year 167 BC when the Maccabees defeated the Greeks. It is a good possibility. The only problem is that Scripture does not specifically say so.
What is important to US though, is to see the spiritual truths of these verses and claim them for ourselves. Because we CAN claim it – even though we are not Jewish. Even though we do not belong to that ethnic nation. The NT is very clear about the fact that the NT-Church is now the Israel of God. The fulfilment of many of these OT-prophecies takes place in the NT church of Christ. And particularly at the second coming of Christ – the GREAT and final triumph of God over all His enemies to which the book Revelation so clearly testifies.
I will put TWO faith-truths before you:
ONE: About Christian-believers there are several things that are true – only because God says it and promises it:
The Lord’s people have hope. True and real hope. Yes, our experience is that we are prisoners of many things. But the Lord compensates for the losses. Accompanied by Godly ASSURANCE. You are not only delivered, but you will be compensated for what you have lost – if not now, then in heaven.
In addition, Christ-believers are not only conquerors together with Christ, but the Lord often uses the believers THEMSELVES as His weapons with which He is victorious. As a fighter uses his sword, so the Lord uses His church.
When storms threaten, the Lord God arrives on the scene above His church, His redeemed people. To bring deliverance and to protect. The way David slayed the giant. Because you see: His people are His sheep. And He is the Shepherd. The way HE regards them is that they are sparkling precious gems in a crown.
THESE THINGS are what is true about the people of God – from the divine perspective. If you are a true Christian-believer, you can believe that it is the LORD who spoke it and that you are included.
TWO: On WHAT basis are all the things mentioned above – this new identity of the Christian – true? How can these things be? Is it because the Christian person is so smart? Because he/she is so spiritual? Is there something INSIDE THE BELIEVER that causes God to like him/her? No!
The answer sits in verse 11:
The reason why spiritual prisoners have hope and will be delivered, is because God remains infallibly faithful to His covenant of sacrificial blood with Abraham (Genesis 15). When God saves, it is based on the innocent sacrifice who died in the place of those who deserve to die. It is NOT based on any merit that sits in the guilty. Nothing. None. Also not faith-trust. It is not faith-trust that makes God to like the believer. God likes only ONE THING. The price His Son paid at Calvary. Place your faith-trust upon HIM and you will experience God’s deliverance.
We must keep in mind that the New Covenant wherein the NT church share (since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost) IS the Abrahamic-covenant – the fulfilled Abrahamic-covenant. The blood shed at the cutting of the Abrahamic-covenant in Genesis 15 was a prefigure of the blood to be shed at Calvary! It is based upon that BLOOD that God free prisoners – verse 11. The blood of the cross delivered God’s people – everyone who would ever come to faith.
Just listen to two Apostolic pronouncements in this connection: One by Peter and one by Paul:
1 PETER 2:24 > He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness: by His wounds you have been healed.
COLOSSIANS 2:14 > God forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations that was against us: took it away, nailing it to the cross.
Truly – the blood of the New Covenant IS the firm base of every Christian-believer‘s deliverance from prison.
Translated by Marthie Wilson