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The book takes on a different character from this chapter on. No more dates are mentioned and no more night visions take place. Probably Zechariah is no longer the young man of the previous chapters, but an older man. He has seen the rise of the Greek empire. That is what he mentions in this chapter (Zechariah 9:13). A mention of it does not fit in any of the previous sections. The prophecies that follow now are different from those of the previous chapters. He says nothing more about certain circumstances or events of his life and also nothing about temple building.
Zechariah 1-8 mainly relates to the time in which Zechariah lives, although not exclusively. Its purpose is to encourage the rebuilders of the temple. Israel is still under Medo-Persian rule. In those chapters only occasional things have been said about future events, although they can be referred to in applications.
Zechariah 9-14 deals almost exclusively with the future. Eighteen times the expression ‘in that day’ appears in these chapters, the stereotype indication for the end time. The theme is the coming of the Messiah and the judgment and blessing that goes with it.
Zechariah 9-10 is about the Greek dominion and Zechariah 11 is about the Roman dominion. These three chapters form a whole, introduced by ‘burden’. Zechariah 12-14 is about the last days of Israel’s national history.
A Burden for Heathen Cities
“A burden” is “the word of the LORD” imposed on the prophet as a burden (Zechariah 9:1). It contains the thought of an impending prediction of approaching judgment. Zechariah 9:1-Joshua : deal with the cities of heathen peoples. God will judge them. He has His eye upon them, but not here as a blessing. [Dutch and Darby Translation translate: “The LORD has an eye upon men, and upon all the tribes of Israel”.] These cities have been conquered by Babylon and will soon be destroyed again. They characterize the principles of the world. They are rival cities that all want to influence the world stage in their own way. The only city spared in this chapter is Jerusalem.
“The land of Chadrach” is only mentioned here in the Bible. Because “Damascus” is then mentioned, it is possible that Chadrach is another name for Syria. The mentioned cities will be conquered and destroyed by Alexander the Great. This happened in 332 BC. It seems that with this a first fulfillment of this prophecy has taken place.
However, it is not Alexander who rules the world, but God. God rules the history of the world and sees all nations (Proverbs 15:3). According to what He sees, He acts. He judges or spares. When judgment comes, His eyes are like a flame of fire (Revelation 1:14). He judges the nations as well as “all the tribes of Israel.
“Hamath”, which borders Syria, will also be judged (Zechariah 9:2). In Hamath a large number of officers from Judea were killed by Nebuzaradan, after they were taken as prisoners from Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:18-Ecclesiastes :). This cold-blooded murder has not been forgotten.
“Tyre and Sidon” are also judged. The highly praised wisdom of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:3) will not save the city. Nor will its wealth accumulated in a fortress benefit (Zechariah 9:3). She built the fortress for “herself” and not for God. She relies on that and not on God. What she sees as her strength, on which she trusts, has brought her to a greater fall.
With a “behold”, the prophet turns his gaze away from the haughty Tyre to focus it on what the Lord, Adonai, is about to do (Zechariah 9:4). Tyre will experience the power of God. “The Lord” will dispossess the city. He will do so after seven months of siege by Alexander the Great, who is but a means in His hand. Alexander has reduced the city to ashes.
This act of the Lord with Tyre will cause fear and trembling in the cities of the Philistines (Zechariah 9:5). They have seen the incredible, the fall of Tyre, which means there will be no escape from judgment for them either (cf. Isaiah 23:5). “see and be afraid” in Hebrew is a play on words, tere and tira. Four of the five known cities of the Philistines are mentioned. The fifth city, Gath, is not mentioned, probably because that city has lost all meaning.
The population of the Philistine Asdod will be replaced by a mongrel race (Zechariah 9:6). It is Alexander’s policy to mix the conquered peoples with each other.
Conversion of the Philistines
Here Zechariah predicts the conversion of the Philistines. First, God takes away everything that prevents them from becoming a part of His people. With this, every work of God begins in conversion. By “their detestable things” are meant their idolatrous sacrifices. They are eaten with blood and all. Both things are forbidden by God (Acts 15:20; Acts 15:29; Exodus 20:3; Genesis 9:4).
People from the cities mentioned above can join God’s people (2 Samuel 24:18-Lamentations :; 1 Chronicles 21:18). This is a remnant of the nations. So there is a remnant of the Philistines that remains for God. They will, as it were, merge into Judah and Israel and even take up prominent positions in them (“clan” can also translated with “chief”). The Jebusites are the original inhabitants of Jerusalem. When the land is conquered, they will continue to live among the Israelites (Joshua 15:63).
God Watches Over His House
This verse contrasts with the previous verses, in which the judgment of the surrounding peoples is announced. God places Himself around His house and city like a guard, like a fiery wall (Zechariah 2:5). Alexander the Great has always left the city alone during his travels back and forth through the land. Jerusalem never came under his dominion. The city did deserve that, but God’s grace spared Jerusalem the subjugation.
It also has a prophetic meaning. Later the city was conquered again by the Romans, in 70 AD. The times of the Gentiles did not end with that. There will be another siege of Jerusalem. Then the Lord Jesus will come and deliver the city. In the future, God will also protect the city. The fulfillment of this we read in Zechariah 9:9-2 Samuel :.
God sees it and perceives it (cf. Zechariah 9:1). He follows the movements of the enemy, nothing escapes His all-seeing eyes. This means that His people may know themselves to be perfectly safe. This awareness may also give us rest.
While the heathen world falls under the judgment of destruction and the remnant of the heathen are converted to the living God, God will protect His home. He will cause His King to appear in Jerusalem, Who will establish His kingdom of peace all over the earth.
Behold, Your King Is Coming to You
This verse has already been fulfilled, but Zechariah 9:10 has not yet been fulfilled. These two verses link the first coming and the second coming of Christ. This often happens in the prophecy. There is joy at the coming of the King (Zechariah 9:9) and the establishment of His kingdom (Zechariah 9:10), at the foundation of peace and the fact of peace. The prophet sees, as it were, two mountain peaks, but not the valley between them (Micah 5:1-Leviticus :; Isaiah 9:1-Joshua :; Isaiah 11:1-2 Samuel :). The valley is the period in which the mystery of the church is revealed and that is not the subject of the prophets.
In the “daughter of Zion” we see grace. In the “daughter of Jerusalem” we see the faithful remnant. There is “a remnant according to [God’s] gracious choice” (Romans 11:5). The prophet directs their eye to the coming of the “King” who comes to them. He is a just King, He acts according to justice. He is also endowed with salvation, He is a Savior. If He should act with them according to the law, they should all be judged. That is why it is so impressive that He is also Savior. He has suffered as the Just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18). Therefore, there is grace and on that basis a remnant.
The fact that He is “just” does not only mean that He is Someone Who does justice or has righteous attributes, by which He fulfils the will of Yahweh in every respect. He is also Someone Who is inspired by righteousness. He is completely characterized by it and maintains in His government this first virtue of a ruler (Psalms 45:7; Isaiah 11:1-Numbers :; Jeremiah 3:5-Joshua :; Jeremiah 33:15-Nehemiah :).
But how is He coming? “Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey”. It marks the humility and poverty of the Messiah. It describes someone who is familiar with suffering and misery and who lives in externally insignificant circumstances. It means the whole of the humble, wretched and suffering condition as described in detail by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53:1-2 Kings :).
What such a person has been through makes him sensitive to the situation of others. He can empathize with that. It is someone who has the power to escape his miserable circumstances, but does not use that power. This is the Lord Jesus. That is why He can say to us: “Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).
And then a King coming on a donkey! A king should come on a horse. This will also happen at His second coming, when He appears in power and majesty (Revelation 19:11-Nehemiah :). But at His first coming, He comes on a colt “on which no one yet has ever sat” (Luke 19:30). Without being tamed, the animal carries Him completely willingly. The youthfulness of the animal is emphasized by the addition of “the foal of a donkey”.
He is a King in humiliation, Who comes to die on a cross. This is how He comes to His people. Thus the prophet passes from Alexander the Great to the true Great King. That He will come this way is seen only by those who are taught by God. In Him the glory that has returned from the temple to heaven (Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 9:3Ezekiel 10:3-Numbers :; Ezekiel 10:18-Psalms :Ezekiel 11:22-Isaiah :) comes again in the midst of His people.
Regarding the spiritual meaning of the donkeys and their service, the following can be considered.
1. In the donkey, an unclean animal, we can see a picture of the people of Israel who are unclean because of their sins.
2. In the foal of a donkey we can see a picture of the remnant of Israel, which should actually have been killed, but was redeemed by the Lamb (Exodus 13:13). This makes it suitable to carry the Lord to Jerusalem.
3. The fact that the foal has never carried anyone means that the Lord Jesus must take the first place in all things. Similarly, He was born of a woman with whom no man has had sexual intercourse and He is buried in a tomb in which no one has ever been buried before.
The Reign of the Prince of Peace
Here we see the Lord Jesus come to earth for the second time. He has come with the clouds of heaven, in power and majesty, to exterminate the enemies of His people in order to deliver His people and give them peace. He not only gives peace to His people, but He brings peace all over the earth. The realm of peace begins.
“Ephraim” refers to the former realm of the ten tribes. “Jerusalem” is mentioned as the capital of the kingdom of Judah. Under the Messiah, the two kingdoms, still divided today, will be reunited (Isaiah 11:13).
Because of the destruction of their military power, “the chariots”, the wars will end (Psalms 46:9). Also the horses, the war horses, will be taken away by God (Micah 5:9), as well as the battle “bow”. All instruments of war will be gone.
This King will also “speak peace to the nations”. This is done not by commanding peace through His authoritative word, but by bringing war among the nations to an end (Micah 4:3). He will speak words of peace that will put an end to disputes and promote the well-being of the nations (cf. Esther 10:3).
This situation of peace is therefore not limited to Israel. The kingdom of peace that Christ will establish will be “from sea to sea And from the River to the ends of the earth” (Psalms 72:8; Genesis 15:18; Exodus 23:31). The Euphrates is the easternmost border of the land of Israel.
The Blood of the Covenant
The situation described in the previous verses is still future. Jerusalem is not liberated yet. There is no real independence yet. Jerusalem will be a pit in which there is no water. It is reminiscent of the history of the God-fearing Joseph, whose first prison is also a pit without water (Genesis 37:24; cf. Jeremiah 38:6; Isaiah 29:4). In that prison will be a miserable and poor remnant (Zephaniah 3:12; Isaiah 29:1-Ruth :) that will be redeemed by the LORD.
The basis for this liberation is “the blood of the covenant”, which is the blood of the new covenant, the blood of Christ. The “prisoners” are the prisoners of Zion. In the time of Zechariah they are those who are still in Babylon. But we may think especially of the end time. When we think of what Babylon spiritually represents as a pit without water, it is a picture of a religion of the flesh, where the Spirit, the living water, is lacking.
In Exodus 24 there is also talk of covenant blood, but that blood speaks a threatening language (Exodus 24:3-Ruth :). If they do not keep the covenant, God will do to them as He does to the animals and kill them. It is the blood of judgment. However, God does not accept the people on the basis of the blood of the old covenant, but on the basis of the blood of the new covenant, which is the blood of Christ. The Lord Jesus spoke about this at the institution of the Supper (Matthew 26:27-Hosea :).
This is another group of prisoners. In Zechariah 9:11 the prisoners are the remnant in Jerusalem. Here in Zechariah 9:12 the prisoners are the scattered among the nations. The pit of Zechariah 9:11 has been changed into “the stronghold” in Zechariah 9:12. The different groups of prisoners do have the same solid ground to hope for and that is the blood of the new covenant. The prisoners scattered all over the earth will return to Jerusalem.
The LORD calls for them to come and proclaims “this very day” as a motivating additional promise that He “will restore double” to them. The double compensation here is not that of Isaiah 40, but that of Isaiah 61, where they receive double blessing after all the suffering they have endured (Isaiah 61:7; Isaiah 40:2; cf. Job 42:10). The double reward that the LORD will give His people will consist of the fact that He frees them from exile and slavery and makes them an independent nation, and that He makes them the head of the nations.
For the fight against the surrounding nations God also uses Judah and Ephraim, the two and the ten tribes. Judah is like a bow, Ephraim is like the arrow, and together they form one tool against the enemies. “Greece” or the Greek-Macedonian empire is the representation of the power of the empires with which Israel will later come into contact.
The Lord Jesus Appears
Here we find the coming of the LORD, that is the Lord Jesus, in glory. This is in contrast to Zechariah 9:9, where it is about His first coming, in humiliation. He appears at His return. Then the kingdom is established as it is written in Zechariah 9:10. His coming is accompanied by lightning, trumpeting and storms.
Yahweh appears “over them”, that is, from heaven. He appears as a war hero to fight for them. His arrow shoots out like lightning (Habakkuk 3:11). He goes forth at the head of His people. By blowing the trumpet, He gives the signal to fight. He attacks the enemy with the terribly devastating violence of the “storm winds of the south”. Storm winds coming from the south are the fiercest storms because they come from the Arabian desert, which borders Canaan in the south (Isaiah 21:1).
The LORD does not only fight for His people. In battle He is also a shield for them against the weapons of the enemy. That is why they are able to exterminate their enemies and to eat their flesh and drink their blood like tearing lions, that is to say, to take their lives away from them and feast on the spoils. In the picture that Zechariah uses here, he may have thought of something Balaam said about God’s people (Numbers 23:24).
Salvation, Comeliness and Beauty
The LORD appears (Zechariah 9:14), protects (Zechariah 9:15) and saves (Zechariah 9:16). This salvation will not be undone again. It is a perfect and lasting salvation. It concerns “the flock of His people”. That tells His people that He is their Shepherd.
The animals in that flock are as “the stones of a crown”, like the stones on a king’s crown. The sheep of the Messiah serve as decoration on His crown. When the Messiah rules, they give His reign an extra sparkle. They reflect His glory in His land. Through their victory over all the powers of the world, Israel has come to the highest glory. This glory is only due to Him who first fought for them on the cross. There He paid for their sins. That is the basis for His fight against their enemies from whom they are forever redeemed. That is also the basis for the brilliance that now radiates from them.
Greater than the comeliness of the sheep is the comeliness of the Shepherd [“theirs” is literally “his” i.e. the Messiah]. Greater than the beauty of the people is the beauty of the Shepherd. What joy will fulfill His heart when the whole plan of God with His people is fulfilled. Then He will “exult over” them “with joy” and “be quiet in His love” (Zephaniah 3:17).
Young men will no longer die in battle, but will generously enjoy the proceeds of the land. Young women will no longer fear the fate of a future husband, but will know plenty of joy.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Zechariah 9". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany