Zechariah 12:10-14

10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 11 On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, 13 the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, 14 and all the rest of the clans and their wives.
(Zechariah 12:10-14 NIV)

Today we continue with our study of chapter 12.  Remember that chapters 12 through 14 are talking about events that will take place in the future (both for Zechariah and for us).  These events are around the time of Jesus’ second coming.

In verses 1 – 9, Zechariah describes all the nations descending on the tiny country of Israel, with the city of Jerusalem being the center of their target.  Despite the enemy nations’ efforts, the Lord steps in to save and protect helpless Judah and Jerusalem.

As we begin today’s text, the focus shifts from the physical salvation of God’s people from their enemies to the spiritual salvation of God’s people.

The Lord goes from images of being a warrior (verses 4, 8, and 9) to images of a compassionate Father (verse 10).  The Lord will pour out His grace and mercy on His people, as they will suddenly realize that the very One that their ancient forefathers had killed is, in fact, Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah!

We might think that realizing that Jesus is Messiah would be a cause for rejoicing and great celebration.  Instead, this realization that Jesus is Messiah sets off nationwide mourning and repentance.  The Lord describes this deep lament as if a family had lost their first-born and only son (v. 10).  In their minds, they are asking how they as a people could have been so blind as to not see that Jesus was Messiah?  And the fact that their forefathers had put Him to death was inconceivable.

This is no small thing, like feeling sad for a day and moving on.  Verse 11 describes this as a major call to repentance and mourning that is compared to the deep loss that the nation felt when King Josiah was killed (2 Kings 23:29).

Verses 12 – 14 call out the fact that each family will mourn by itself, and the women and men will mourn separately.  In our modern culture, this probably sounds a little strange, doesn’t it?  In the ancient Jewish culture of Zechariah’s day, this separation by families and by gender within each family showed the genuineness of the mourning and repentance.  The men did not repent because of the sorrow of the women, or vice versa.  One family did not repent because of another family’s sorrow.  This was a deep calling from the Lord Himself to each person in each household.

Remember, too, that in ancient Jewish culture, professional mourners were often hired when someone died.   These “professionals” were really hypocrites who could turn on the waterworks of tears and sounds of pitiful wailings on command without feeling any genuine remorse or loss.  Granted, they had a purpose in Jewish culture, to publicly express the loss of the family.  In verses 12 – 14, there are no paid professionals, only broken hearts within each and every individual.

And to this brokenness, God pours out His grace and mercy, to comfort them (v. 10).

Dear friend, have you realized through these passages that Jesus is really who He said He was – the Messiah, the Savior of the world?  The Apostle Paul said, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 NIV).

If you have made this commitment today, may you also receive God’s grace and comfort as He promised.  Tell someone about your commitment to Christ, and experience the peace that comes from your new-found relationship with Him.

Blessings,
~kevin

Zechariah 12:1-9

12 A prophecy: The word of the Lord concerning Israel.

The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares: “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,” declares the Lord. “I will keep a watchful eye over Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations.Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the Lord Almighty is their God.’

“On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume all the surrounding peoples right and left, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.

“The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah. On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.
(Zechariah 12:1-9 NIV)

Chapter 12 begins the last section of the book of Zechariah.  Taking a quick summary of our last few times together, we saw the Lord walk through the timeline of Zechariah’s day, then jump to Jesus’ time on earth, then fast forward right past us to the end of the world when Jesus will come again (Zechariah 10:10 through 11:17).  Chapters 12 through 14 are now focused on the events that will occur during those end times.

Zechariah begins by announcing what we’re about to hear – a prophecy – the word of the Lord concerning Israel (v. 1a).

The Lord begins by reminding everyone that He was the One that stretched out the great canvas of the heavens and painted the stars and galaxies in place, that He was the One that built the foundations of the earth we inhabit, and He was the One that formed the very spirit of humanity within each person.

So why does the Lord begin like this?  To remind His people (and us) that He can care for His own regardless of what the enemies of God will throw at Him.  If God can do something as big as creating the heavens and the earth, and something so very small as forming a spirit within each person, then surely He can defend His people.

Verse 2 starts with Jerusalem and the region of Judah surrounding Jerusalem as an irritant to all the nations around them.  Just as the Lord made Jerusalem and Judah drink the cup of His wrath during the height of their willful disobedience (Jeremiah 25:17-18), now the surrounding nations have to drink that same cup of God’s wrath because of their unbelief and harshness toward God and His people (Jeremiah 25:19-26).

Jerusalem’s enemies want to harm the city and its people, either individually or by joining forces with others that have set their hearts to do so.  However, the Lord says that the nations that seek to harm Jerusalem will only harm themselves (v. 3).

Verses 4 – 7 describe what will happen to those who try to harm Jerusalem and its inhabitants.  God’s protection stretches out to the inhabitants of the Judean region surrounding the city of Jerusalem as well as the city itself.

Verse 8 tells us that God will empower His people to fight against the enemies of God.  Even the weakest of the Jewish people will fight like the mighty warrior-king David.  The Jewish warriors will fight way above their training and physical strength as if they were angels fighting for the Lord.

And what is the fate of those nations that come against Jerusalem?  The Lord says that He will ultimately destroy them in the end (v. 9).  Remember that this is a prophecy set in the future, even for us.

Isn’t it great to know that we know the outcome of the world, and God is victorious against all evil and will one day serve justice on those who fight against Him?

May we fight valiantly for truth and justice, and know that the Lord goes ahead of us and fights the battles against evil and unrighteousness for us and with us.

Blessings,
~kevin

Zechariah 11:4-17

This is what the Lord my God says: “Shepherd the flock marked for slaughter. Their buyers slaughter them and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, ‘Praise the Lord, I am rich!’ Their own shepherds do not spare them. For I will no longer have pity on the people of the land,” declares the Lord. “I will give everyone into the hands of their neighbors and their king. They will devastate the land, and I will not rescue anyone from their hands.”

So I shepherded the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one Favor and the other Union, and I shepherded the flock. In one month I got rid of the three shepherds.

The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them and said, “I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.”

10 Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11 It was revoked on that day, and so the oppressed of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the Lord.

12 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

13 And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.

14 Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the family bond between Judah and Israel.

15 Then the Lord said to me, “Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. 16 For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hooves.

17 “Woe to the worthless shepherd,
    who deserts the flock!
May the sword strike his arm and his right eye!
    May his arm be completely withered,
    his right eye totally blinded!”

(Zechariah 11:4-17 NIV)

Before we continue our study of chapter 11, let’s “connect the dots” from our last few studies to help set the context for today’s passage.  This is a very complex passage, so please bear with me as we work through the text.  If you have questions or are unclear, don’t understand something, feel free to reach out – I will do my best to find an answer.

In our last study (11:1-3), we saw this as the transition between Chapter 10 verses 10-12 and Chapter 11 verses 4-17.  Zechariah 10:10-12 addressed the nations that persecuted the Jewish people during their exile; Assyria (including Babylon) and Egypt were named, but any nation that participated was implied.

Zechariah 11:1-3 looked backward to 10:10-12, using metaphors familiar to those living in the trans-Jordan region.  This passage also looked forward, as we mentioned, to the time of Jesus, when the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed again and Temple would be destroyed again.

As we begin today’s text, we see the Lord instructing Zechariah to take on the metaphorical role of a shepherd to a flock of sheep.   The sheep were a metaphor for the nation of Israel, and the shepherd was a metaphor for the Great Shepherd to come, Messiah (Jesus).

Now that Zechariah had his assignment, what happened?   Verse 5 says that the sheep are owned by someone else; in this case, the “owners” referred to here are commonly thought to be the Romans who would eventually take over Israel and would rule throughout the time of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth.

So how were the Romans, as the owners, treating their “flock”?  Remember that the primary value of the sheep was for their wool, not their meat.  Verse 5 says that the owners (the Romans) would only be interested in selling the sheep as meat to make a profit.  In fact, the word “them” (referring to the sheep being slaughtered) is feminine.  This means that the female sheep (ewes) meant for breeding and producing offspring were being killed and eaten.  This was not a sustainable practice – the herd would be eaten and dwindle to nothing over time.

Verse 5 also makes three condemning remarks about this practice of slaughtering the sheep and destroying the flock:

  • there was no accountability for the Romans and their predatory actions
  • the other shepherds (the Jewish religious and cultural leaders) did absolutely nothing to stop the slaughter
  • they gave God credit for becoming rich (this was their own greed, not God’s goodness that made them rich in this case)

When Jesus was on earth, He addressed greed and not caring for those who needed help.  In one situation, Jesus asked what good it would be for someone to gain the whole world if they had to forfeit their own soul to obtain it (Matthew 16:26).  Jesus compares the unmatched value of a person’s soul against the fleeting lie of wealth, possessions, and power, and finds that there is no comparison.  The value of a soul wins every time.

So what happens?  The Lord says He is fed up with trying to protect and provide for His people.  If the Jewish religious and cultural leaders don’t care, why should He?  From a human perspective, Zechariah’s job as a shepherd is doomed a failure before he starts.

In verse 7, Zechariah is speaking again.  He obeys the Lord’s directions in verse 4 and shepherds the flock, even though he knows they are doomed for slaughter and someone’s dinner plate.  Zechariah makes special note that he cares for the oppressed of the flock (the sick and injured).

Doesn’t this sound familiar?  When Jesus publicly announced His ministry and purpose that day in the Temple, remember what He said?  He would give hope, freedom, sight, and favor to those who needed it most (Luke 4:17-19).

Zechariah also said he carried two staffs (shepherd’s crooks):  One he named Favor, and the other one he named Union.  These two staffs represented two of God’s many attributes.   The first staff, Favor (also translated Beauty) represented God’s grace, His gentle leadership by example and by design and intent.  The second staff, Union, represented the harmony and “one-ness” of those who peacefully dwell under the shepherd who leads with Favor (grace).

In verse 8, the shepherd deals with three bad under-shepherds in a month.  This is a very hard verse to understand, and there is much conjecture about who or what these “shepherds” might have represented in both Zechariah’s day and in Jesus’ day.  By dealing with these problem shepherds, the shepherd is also rejected by the other under-shepherds.  Again, this is a metaphor and most scholars believe that this symbolism ultimately points to Jesus as the Great Shepherd (Jesus) being rejected by the Jewish religious and cultural rulers of His day.

In verses 9 – 14, Zechariah now switches metaphorical roles and takes on the role of the “bad” shepherds mentioned in verse 5.  He tells the sheep they are on their own, and he does not care what happens to them, even if they die or are killed and eaten.  He breaks the Favor (grace) staff in front of the people.   By breaking this staff, Zechariah symbolically broke his promise to continue on in his shepherding job that normally paid about 10 pieces of silver a year and signs himself on as a slave that normally paid about 30 pieces of silver a year (v. 12).  He was looking out for himself and himself only.  After Zechariah is paid his slave’s wages, the Lord tells him to throw the payment to the potter in the Temple (v. 13).  Zechariah then cuts up the second staff (Union), which represented the reuniting of Israel and Judah (v. 14).

Obviously, this points to the prophecy of Judas Iscariot’s actions (Matthew 26:14-16 and Matthew 27:1-10).  These symbolic actions of the bad shepherd also point to the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish religious and cultural rulers, and for their selfish actions that completely ignored the needs of the Jewish people, as Jesus pointed out in Luke 11:46.

In verses 15-17, the Lord instructs Zechariah to continue to act as a foolish shepherd.  This metaphor is of another shepherd, an imposter, that the people will follow in place of the rejected shepherd (Jesus).  This imposter will not care for the sheep, but will in fact prey upon them and devour them.

Jesus reiterated His rejection by the Jews and their acceptance of another leader in John 5:43.  In Zechariah’s prophecy and in Jesus’ prediction, they both pointed to a future time when Satan will lead many astray in the end times.

The Lord closes this chapter and section by giving a short poem (v. 17) that describes the punishment and demise of the foolish shepherd (Satan) in the final ending of the story.  With a withered arm and a blind eye, the false shepherd will no longer be able to attack or even take aim against the flock.  God is the victor, and ultimately shepherds His people with Favor and Union (grace and unity).

May we shepherd well (care for) those around us, even if we are rejected or hurt for attempting to do so.

And may we look forward to God’s righteous rule one day, when all will be well.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Blessings,

~kevin

Zechariah 11:1-3

11 Open your doors, Lebanon,
    so that fire may devour your cedars!
Wail, you juniper, for the cedar has fallen;
    the stately trees are ruined!
Wail, oaks of Bashan;
    the dense forest has been cut down!
Listen to the wail of the shepherds;
    their rich pastures are destroyed!
Listen to the roar of the lions;
    the lush thicket of the Jordan is ruined!
(Zechariah 11:1-3 NIV)

Looking back to chapter 10, we see the Lord reminding His people of their total dependence on Him, and not on good luck charms, fortune tellers, or any others who claim to know or see the future.  God will gather His people that are scattered to the far reaches of the earth; He will bless them and protect them.  God will also declare war on the nations that oppressed His people while they were in exile.  As we noted last time, this promise was for the short term (in their lifetime), in the mid-term (in the life of Jesus), and in the long term (for eternity).

As we open chapter 11, the mood changes.  Gone are the happy moments of victory; now God describes the results of His declaration of war on those that oppress God’s people.

These three verses use familiar landmarks and features in and around the trans-Jordan area as bold imagery and metaphors for what will happen.

In Zechariah’s current timeframe, the references to Lebanon are about the cedar trees, the largest trees known to that region.  The size of the trees reflected their pride and the amount of shade (area) they covered (the size of the nation).  One could easily make the correlation with the great Assyrian nation.

The reference to the cypress and oak trees reflects the smaller size of those trees with respect to the cedars of Lebanon.  One could correlate those smaller trees with smaller nations like Egypt, etc.  The point here is that if the largest trees (nations) are being brought down, the smaller trees (nations) should be fearful and understand they are not immune from the Lord’s judgment as well.

The shepherds’ wails are the cries of the kings that have lost their flock (their glory, the people they rule over).

The lions’ roars are the deposed kings that are forced out of their kingdoms when their home is ruined, just as the lions in the trans-Jordan area are forced out of their lairs among the thickets along the Jordan River when the river overflows its banks.

This prophecy also points forward (from the vantage point of Zechariah) to the time of Jesus, when the Temple would be destroyed and the gates of Jerusalem burned again because of the rejection of Messiah (Jesus).  The religious leaders will be deposed, without a flock (people to rule over), and without a home (the Temple).  All this happens because of their pride and arrogance when they reject Jesus as Messiah.

May we walk with the Lord in humility and in faith (Micah 6:8).

Blessings,
~kevin

Zechariah 10:1-12

10 Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
    it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms.
He gives showers of rain to all people,
    and plants of the field to everyone.
The idols speak deceitfully,
    diviners see visions that lie;
they tell dreams that are false,
    they give comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wander like sheep
    oppressed for lack of a shepherd.

“My anger burns against the shepherds,
    and I will punish the leaders;
for the Lord Almighty will care
    for his flock, the people of Judah,
    and make them like a proud horse in battle.
From Judah will come the cornerstone,
    from him the tent peg,
from him the battle bow,
    from him every ruler.
Together they will be like warriors in battle
    trampling their enemy into the mud of the streets.
They will fight because the Lord is with them,
    and they will put the enemy horsemen to shame.

“I will strengthen Judah
    and save the tribes of Joseph.
I will restore them
    because I have compassion on them.
They will be as though
    I had not rejected them,
for I am the Lord their God
    and I will answer them.
The Ephraimites will become like warriors,
    and their hearts will be glad as with wine.
Their children will see it and be joyful;
    their hearts will rejoice in the Lord.
I will signal for them
    and gather them in.
Surely I will redeem them;
    they will be as numerous as before.
Though I scatter them among the peoples,
    yet in distant lands they will remember me.
They and their children will survive,
    and they will return.
10 I will bring them back from Egypt
    and gather them from Assyria.
I will bring them to Gilead and Lebanon,
    and there will not be room enough for them.
11 They will pass through the sea of trouble;
    the surging sea will be subdued
    and all the depths of the Nile will dry up.
Assyria’s pride will be brought down
    and Egypt’s scepter will pass away.
12 I will strengthen them in the Lord
    and in his name they will live securely,”
declares the Lord.
(Zechariah 10:1-12 NIV)

To summarize chapter 9, we saw the Lord promising to intervene on behalf of His people, conquering its foes, bringing peace to the region, defending them from their enemies, and causing them to flourish again.  From our vantage point in history, we see that the Lord made this promise in the short term (in their lifetime), in the mid-term (in the life of Jesus), and in the long term (for eternity).

As we begin chapter 10, the Lord reminds His people to be dependent on Him for rain that causes their crops to grow and provides them food (v. 1).

The Lord also speaks against the remaining false religious practices of the Jewish people.  Gone are the Baal worship and Ashteroth poles and other cultic practices that caused their exile and God’s judgment against them.  But some smaller forms of false worship were still in existence.  This included idols (teraphim – household gods – objects used as good luck charms), diviners (fortune tellers), and dreamers (those who supposedly had the ability to interpret dreams, but were making up stories for profit).

The Lord also condemned “shepherds” – any false religious person who led God’s people away from God.  In the Hebrew text, God uses the word “he-goats” or male goats in place of our English word “leaders” to insult these leaders, showing that they are not sheep at all, but goats intent on leading God’s people away from Him.

In verse 3b, we see the Lord among His people, promising to guide and deliver them – in direct contrast to the false religious leaders and practices mentioned above.

The Lord then uses word pictures to illustrate His work among His people:

  • war horse – God will transform His people from defenseless victims (sheep) to victorious warriors (war horses)
  • cornerstone – from rejected and discarded building materials to key components in a structure (see Psalm 118:22, Matthew 21:42, and 1 Peter 2:6-8, all pictures of Jesus)
  • tent peg – grounded and secure in the Lord; unmoveable
  • battle bow – victorious
  • every ruler – God will raise up current and future rulers from Judah
  • warriors – mighty men, victorious in battle

All this is because God is with them, not because of their own power or might (v. 5).

In verses 6 – 7, the Lord promises to strengthen both the southern kingdom (Judah) as well as the northern kingdom (tribes of Joseph) and bring them back to the Promised Land.

In verses 8 – 10, the Lord will call His people home from the far corners of the earth that He has scattered them – from Egypt, from Assyria (including Babylon), from Gilead, and from Lebanon.

In verse 11, the Lord promises to go ahead of His people and remove the barriers to their return.  This included physical barriers like seas and rivers as well as enemies like Assyria and Egypt.

In verse 12, God ends this section just as He started it in verse 6 – by promising to strengthen His people in Himself so they will walk in His name.

The Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesian believers to do the same thing – to look to the Lord for their strength:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
(Ephesians 6:10 NIV)

And how did Paul recommend that His people be strong in the Lord? By preparing for battle with the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-20).

May we realize that the spiritual fight is on – every day.

May we prepare well for the battle ahead and depend on the Lord, not our own power.

Blessings,
~kevin

Zechariah 9:11-17

11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
    I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;
    even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
13 I will bend Judah as I bend my bow
    and fill it with Ephraim.
I will rouse your sons, Zion,
    against your sons, Greece,
    and make you like a warrior’s sword.

14 Then the Lord will appear over them;
    his arrow will flash like lightning.
The Sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet;
    he will march in the storms of the south,

15     and the Lord Almighty will shield them.
They will destroy
    and overcome with slingstones.
They will drink and roar as with wine;
    they will be full like a bowl
    used for sprinkling the corners of the altar.
16 The Lord their God will save his people on that day
    as a shepherd saves his flock.
They will sparkle in his land
    like jewels in a crown.
17 How attractive and beautiful they will be!
    Grain will make the young men thrive,
    and new wine the young women.
(Zechariah 9:11-17 NIV)

As we finish up chapter 9 today, we see God intervening on behalf of His people.  Here is an outline that summarizes the chapter:

  • vv. 1-8 – God begins in northern Persia and conquers everything on the way to Jerusalem
  • vv. 9-10 – The king will arrive in Jerusalem among great celebration, bringing peace to the city, to the region, and to the known world
  • vv. 11-17 – God will intervene to defend, protect, and provide for His people

Verse 11 starts with “as for you”, implying that there is an “also” in the statement.  This is a reminder of God’s covenant relationship made with Abraham (Genesis 15:9-21), continued with Moses (Exodus 24:5-8), and now extended to the returning Jewish exiles.

While those words were for the ancient Jewish people, we also see Jesus use this same blood/covenant phrase at the Last Supper (Mark 14:24).  Through Jesus, this “also” is extended to us, as Jesus offered His blood as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

Verse 11 also uses the phrase “waterless pit” to depict the captivity of God’s people.  Remember how Jeremiah’s adversaries threw him into an abandoned cistern to die, and how God stirred up compassion in a servant to speak to the king to rescue Jeremiah so he would not die there (Jeremiah 38:1-13)?  The “waterless pit” (cistern) is used to describe the desert conditions of the Jewish people being held in Babylon and other remote locations. To be prisoners set free showed God’s action on behalf of His people, to deliver them from death to life.  Likewise, Christ’s death and resurrection offers us deliverance from death to life, but we must accept His free gift of life – He will not force it on us.

In verse 12, the Lord shows that the prisoners must respond to God’s offer.  Faith in God and His offer begets (leads to) action.  And what is that action?  Returning to the Promised Land, the “fortress” (walled city) that God Himself protects using a wall of fire around the city (Zechariah 2:5).  God promises a double blessing to those who will step out in faith and obey.  God had promised the double blessing as a compensation for past sorrows (Isaiah 61:7).

While the nations (including Judah) were disarmed (v. 10), God was not (v. 13).  The Lord depicts Judah (the southern tribe) as His bow, and Ephraim (Israel, the northern tribe) as His arrows, signifying that both were necessary to accomplish His purposes (you need both the bow and the arrows to have and use the weapon).

The Lord uses stormy weather (lightning, thunder, winds, v. 14) to portray His conquering march through the nations (vv. 1-8).  There will be bloodshed of the enemies, and the Lord will protect and defend His people (v. 15).

God uses an analogy of a king’s crown to describe His love for His people.  God’s “crown” is His promised land for His people, and the “jewels” in that crown are God’s people, sparkling as precious gems throughout the land (v. 16).

Finally, God paints a picture of the hope, blessing, and bounty He is about to provide to His people.  He describes a place where there is peace in the land, where the harvest is good, and young men and women flourish (v. 17).

May we remember that we are beautiful and precious in God’s sight!  As followers of Jesus, God sees us redeemed and whole through the lens of Christ, not as sinful, wicked people, as His enemies.  Our acceptance and confession of Christ as Savior and Lord has taken away our condemnation and given us new life in Christ.

If you have never taken that step of faith today, do you see yourself as a prisoner dying of spiritual thirst, longing to be set free from the waterless cistern of life?  Do you see God’s offer of salvation awaiting you, a free gift?

If you see yourself as that prisoner, what is holding you back from accepting His gracious offer?  Are you willing to take that step of faith today, to take Him up on his offer to rescue you from your hopelessness of sin and despair?  Only Christ can take us out of that pit leading to death and give us new life.

Blessings,
~kevin

Zechariah 9:9-10

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
    and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
    and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
    His rule will extend from sea to sea
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
(Zechariah 9:9-10 NIV)

As we opened the prophecy of chapter 9 last time, we saw the Lord take back His territory for His people.  Just as Jerusalem’s conquerers had come from the north, so the Lord will start in the northernmost parts of the Persian kingdom and conquer everything in His path until He reaches Jerusalem.

In today’s passage, we see God bringing celebration and joy, protection and peace.  Similar to the previous passage, the timeframes are more general in nature; more of a description of an end result rather than a specific event.  That being said, scholars normally associate today’s verses with the reign of King David, who was the model of Messiah to come.

Verse 9 begins with a call to celebration and joy in Judah and Jerusalem.  In the Hebrew language, cities and regions were always referred to in the feminine noun form; hence, the use of the “daughter” references.  The Lord could have just spoken the names of the city and region; instead, He uses the term “daughter” to also signify the restored covenant family relationship that He has with them.  The former days of the “wild child” of Judah described in Jeremiah are now replaced with a loving, restored relationship.

Remembering back to Zechariah 2:10, the Lord called His people to rejoice because God had made a promise to come live among His people once again.  Today’s passage is a call to rejoice and celebrate His eagerly anticipated arrival.

The focus now turns from the people to the king (v. 9b).  He comes humbly, bringing justice (righteousness) and salvation (victory).  This was clearly something God had done, not something the king was able to do on his own.  The reference to riding on a donkey points to peace and humility.  Again, this refers to both King David (2 Samuel 16:2) as well as Jesus’ triumphal entry (Matthew 21:5, John 12:15).

Verse 10 speaks of events that will take place upon the king’s arrival.  The first three lines of verse 10 refer to global disarmament, both of the northern kingdom of Israel (referred to as Ephraim), and the southern kingdom of Israel (referred to as Jerusalem).  The breaking of the battle bow is a reference to mutually agreed-to peace between adversaries.

The last three lines of verse 10 indicate that the king will speak peace to the nations.  Also, Israel’s God-ordained original geographic borders will be restored (Exodus 23:31).  King Solomon (King David’s son and heir to his throne) asked the Lord for these same geographic boundaries in Psalm 72:8.

May we remember that we can have peace with God through Jesus (Romans 5:1) in this life as well as the life to come.

May we also remember that while Jesus came in humility, riding on a donkey, giving His life as a ransom for our, He is also coming back one day to rule in peace and righteousness.

Today, may we look forward to that day when Christ returns with anticipation, celebration, and joy.

Blessings,
~kevin