Monday, 20 May 2013
The King is Coming (Zech. 9)
This chapter begins with a series of prophecies predicting the downfall of several of the nations that surrounded Israel. Their disappearance would be effected by other nations, primarily by the Grecian empire that defeated the Persian empire. Yet behind these events was the hand of God. This is a reminder of his sovereignty.
Those nations would disappear and, unlike the people of Israel, there would be no recovery for them. The gods they worshipped had no ability to deliver them, nor did they have a long-term purpose for them. In contrast, the God of Israel, while having punished his people with exile, had a gracious purpose for them and eventually they were restored.
At some stage in the future, the King of Israel would come. It would be a time of great rejoicing. Paradoxically, although he would be an all-powerful king, he would be marked by great humility. He would arrive in the capital city riding on a donkey. This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus rode into Jerusalem shortly before he was arrested.
Zechariah predicts that the outcome of the king's arrival would be universal authority for him. The prophet does not specify here how that ascent would happen. But we know that the road to universal power included the pain of the cross and the descent into the grave for Jesus. We also know that, three days later, he rose from the dead and forty days afterwards ascended to the throne in heaven. If the crowds had reason to shout when he rode into Jerusalem, we have more reasons to shout about him now that he has reached the heights of power.
In poetic language, the prophet then says that the followers of the King will enjoy spiritual protection, provision and other blessings (there may an initial reference here to the Maccabees, who resisted the Grecian empire). Yet the prediction goes beyond that time and describes the days when the Messiah reigns, which is the period between Jesus' ascension and his return. So if we have eyes to see it, we can see ourselves and our congregations in Zechariah 9.