AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH –
OCTOBER 24, 2004
MERCY, MEEKNESS, MAJESTY and MIGHT
Zechariah 9 -10
I THE ADEQUATE ACCURACY RE-ASSURES PRECISE FAITH
The zeal of the Lord of Hosts to rebuild Jerusalem was clear, so that just as He had sought in judgment to demolish, now having punished, He seeks in mercy to restore (8:13-14): indeed, just as they became like a curse to the nations, now they are to be a blessing.
As to those nations that had been proud, even arrogant, however, these were not to escape their own judgment. Let us follow them as noted in Zechariah 9. As to Damascus: when the time came, this city, a centre of Persian rule at the time, was treacherously surrendered to Alexander the Great, its Governor bringing the treasure of the Persian king, Darius, to the attacking Greek general, Parmenion. This came after the Greek victory over Persia in 333 B.C.. This was a large item, since Darius’ treasure had been lodged in Damascus, with many nobles and members of Darius’ household.
Humbled now was Damascus’ menacing power over Israel. Indeed, Isaiah foretold its earlier fall, as imminent (Isaiah 7), and it had fallen then to Assyria, though Israel’s foolish king Ahab had failed to believe. So was the menace manacled! first by one Empire, then by another! Similarly Sidon surrendered to Alexander in 332 B.C.. As to Tyre, its dismantling is history: they fled to the island and then Alexander used the mainland city’s ruins to make a causeway to destroy them on their island! The Philistines for their part, we read, on the onset of Alexander lost their distinctive features as a race! Gaza did resist Alexander, only to be stormed after a two month siege (Zech. 9:5), and so was indeed 'very sorrowful'.
All these items were precisely fulfilled. We must always realise that if there had been one hair's breadth of error, the claim to be God's word would go, just as would Christ's claim to be the Saviour, had any one of HIS words fallen to the ground, whether in healing or predicting. On the contrary, people have risen and fallen, and the very ground of history has changed according to His word to this day. Now we find Europe is gaining power, as the EU, much larger in population now than the USA, as was prescribed in Daniel 7, for the end of the Age.
II The FIRST COMING of the MESSIAH is SAVOUR of the SECOND!
It is now as it was then. Indeed, in the later days of the Jewish Maccabees (Zech. 9:11-17 dwells on this), a whole mini-empire became Jewish, gobbling up many of the surrounding places like locusts. But who is this - "He who remains shall be for our God!" (Zech. 9:7).
In view of Zech. 9:9, where you see as if on a vast TV screen, the Messiah, "your King ... having salvation", indeed "coming to you" and "riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey", it is clear who is the One who does in fact remain in all these passings of empires and civilisations, peoples and powers. Alexander died in his early thirties, his empire carved up and conquered by Rome in due course: it is the LORD Himself who remains past all these pulsations of earthly powers. The 9:9 reference could be put in such a context because He actually comes into their midst, the new, the different, the wholly diverse and divergent power, the King to accept without equivocation, and yet ... Humble ? on an ass's ... colt! Yes, but add this too, "having salvation".
Meekness having salvation! To this we return in Chs. 11-13, where these attributes become most clear, as already they are in the whole biblical context of course, because of Psalm 22, Isaiah 50-55 and allied parts of the word of God, the Bible. Let us examine these for a little now, considering the excruciating suffering which the Lord in human flesh bore, even He who remains and is for our God! and ponder the fact that in the pardon of sin there is COST!
What follows ? If your hard work buys a house, do you use a strong crow-bar to smash the premises ? If then Christ's hard work buys your place before God, "In My Father's house are many mansions", do you treat it carelessly ? do you join it with the worship of those who depart from the word of God and make their own god ? or with sensual seductions ? or mental aberrations ? or do you rather devote what He has saved, to the service and worship of God!
Look at Isaiah 50: "The Lord GOD opened My ear, and I was not rebellious, Nor did I turn away. I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard. I did not hide my face from shame and spitting." If you are His, could you turn your face from shame in witnessing of the truth of Jesus Christ, when He faced it, though the sin was not even His own, in seeking for you, and indeed paying for you ?
"He," we learn, "shall speak peace to the nations" (Z. 9:10). How different from Alexander who spoke war! What peace Christ spoke - COME TO ME...and I WILL GIVE YOUR REST. Focussed on His own people, He yet became a light to the Gentiles, as foretold in Isaiah 49:6. When a light is very bright, you cannot hide it, for that is the nature of light. Further, of Him is forecast not only this meek riding on an ass’s colt, but majesty: "His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth" (Z. 9:10). This is in obvious comparison and contrast to Israel’s territory, for here there is NO LIMIT! ALL is to be His.
III THE PRELUDE IS FAMOUS,
as BEFITS the CONSUMMATION TO COME
Even the prelude is striking, to which the prophet next turns – “As for you also …” (Zech. 9:11), proceeding to declare this: “because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit." Thus, having looked ahead to the Messiah, the prophecy dwells on a nearer time to come, the 2nd century B.C., when the Maccabees would sweep in amazing power and with great speed to take over a sizeable section of the Middle East, defeating in particular much in the Syrian sector of the former Greek empire. Thus we read (Zech. 9:12): "Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you." Thus Judah successfully overthrew the Syrian dominion which had become so arrogant that its mad ruler had put an abominable idol in the temple, leading to revolt and then a military power pushing in many directions as Israel sought to keep its freedoms. This, foretold in Zech. 9:13-16, is seen in the books of the Maccabees.
If Israel sought something better than servility, there it was; and it was almost a prelude or trailer to the far greater mission of the Master to come, for the whole earth. Symbolic of Christ’s rule, yet at the same time, it showed the need of His truth and purity by contrast with the later corruption which was to come to Israel before Rome invaded it.
IV THE CORNERSTONE IS WELL HEWN, GRAND SUPPORT
Having shown the Messiah and the striking prelude, Zechariah is now moved to speak of the "latter rain" (10:1), or blessing. In exposing this wonderful time to come, more freely exposed in Zechariah 12, esp. 12:10ff., in that vast drama that draws ever closer, he deals with the delusive and destructive option, idols.
These "speak delusion" and those who offer them "envision lies", "tell false dreams", with a comfort which is mere pretence. Sheep, illicitly wandering without a Shepherd by their rebellion and pride (10:2), are fit prey for such deluders. This is just as today, when the sects roam, as do the New Age, the Organic Evolutionist Magicians, the Communist atheists in their delusions and the Humanist Rulers in their presumption.
As Israel was prone for so long to fall to idols, so now are the Gentiles, and are they better ? Indeed, have the Gentiles not had opportunity to view the errors of the Jews as a REFERENCE POINT and EXAMPLE from the past ? Are they not doubly blind themselves!
Small wonder meanwhile, that God says this, "My anger is kindled against the Shepherds..." (Z. 10:3) - pretenders who merely trouble the flock. How well does Ezekiel expose this in Ezek. 34:4. There you see that the LORD HIMSELF is going to come as the Good Shepherd (34:11ff.), as which Jesus duly identified Himself when He came (John 10). Similarly in Zechariah - for all the prophets tend to dwell on the Messiah - we read this (Z. 10:3): "For the LORD of hosts will visit His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as His royal horse in the battle" (cf. Isaiah 11:1ff., 40:10). “They will be as though I had not cast them aside” (Z. 10:6) – and here is the parallel to Z. 3:9! A new creation is made of those rescued (cf. John 3, II Corinthians 5:17ff., Hebrews 6:18-19).
His royal horse ? This He did when Christ came to Israel, by His Spirit then using the many thousands of converts, many with the apostles, speedily visiting other nations to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. It is as if a horse were sent, not on military mission, but on Royal Charge! (cf. Isaiah 66:18-20). In this last you see the use of Christians among the Jewish people, who bring the knowledge not yet gained, of the Lord of glory to the nations, who themselves yield pastors and preachers, in the lead up to the direct manifestation of the Lord in His deliverance of the nation (66:9ff.) with that vigour, decisiveness and indeed personal action which is seen also in Micah 7, Joel 3, Isaiah 63 and Deuteronomy 32. Made glad in restoration (10:7), they will be sown for a crop abroad.
Yes, He confirms, it is out of Judah that the leadership will come (Zech. 10:4), and this applies of course to the Messiah of as in Zech. 9:6, as foretold to David (II Samuel 23, Psalm 72). God will strengthen Judah, whistling for His scattered children and redeeming them (10:8), and sow them among the peoples, as He did (cf. Acts 12:1ff., Chs.13-17), using such as Paul to bring forth crops from this sowing! Eventually, far scattered Jews will return in masses to their homeland, until it can scarcely contain them (as now – Zech. 10:10ff. Isaiah 49:20).
"So I will strengthen them in the LORD, and they shall walk up and down in His name,' says the LORD" (Zech. 10:12). This reminds us of two things. Firstly, the JEWS were the great CHRISTIANS in the first vast wave of evangelisation in Europe and further afield. Just because the NATION failed, let us never forget our gratitude to those who being converted, constituted with such zeal and sincerity, the early Church. Secondly, if they walked up and down in Christ's name, let us do no less. If it is business, in Christ's name, or marriage, or friendship or profession or finance, things little or great, do ALL in the name of Christ.
"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him," says Paul in Colossians 3:17. Do not let Christ be conceived as your religious toy for idle comfort, for He will never consent; it is He who is your LORD. If you are His at all, He is Lord of all (Luke 6:46ff., 14:27ff.). It is as such that He reveals Himself, to the saved sinner, and in this true relationship there are unsearchable riches of power, wisdom and might. Here too is the love of God, without which you cannot even know Him... for God is love, its seat and very definition (I John 4).