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Zechariah 9:1-17: Judgment and Salvation Print E-mail
Zechariah
Sunday, 11 April 2010

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In competition you normally have a winner and a loser.  Someone prevails while the other is defeated.  There are those who want to do away with such distinctions since they see them as harmful.  They claim: ‘Everyone is a winner.  Nobody is a loser.’  This is especially true when you start talking about life in general.  ‘We are all winners in the game of life,’ some claim.  ‘Everybody is alright and everything will turn out alright.  We will all win in the end.’  Yet, we all know that such optimism is a farce.  It is difficult to convince the poor and needy that they are all ‘winners.’  There is a divide and even though the world may not understand how to truly recognize it, we all still know that it is there.

The Bible teaches us how to actually recognize the divide.  Of course, it does not use the more crass division of ‘winners and losers,’ but it does divide the world into two distinct categories.  In the prophets in particular, we see the division between those who will be judged by God and those who will be saved by God.  As we noted above, the world may recognize the distinctions, but apart from the Word of God, we cannot truly understand the difference between those who ‘win’ and those who ‘lose.’  We need the Word for the divide to be clear.

The second half of Zechariah (9-14) deals repeatedly with the themes of judgment and salvation.  Again like the other prophets, these two themes are presented side by side.  In chapter 9 we are told of those who will be judged and those who will be saved.  Zechariah, who is possibly writing later in his life and looking more to the future than in the first eight chapters, delivers a message of judgment and a message of salvation in chapter 9.  For our purposes this morning, I want to consider each of these messages by asking three questions of them both: who is judged/saved, how does the Lord judge/save, and why does the Lord judge/save?  Let’s begin with the message of judgment in verses 1-8.

The Message of Judgment:

Zechariah mentions many cities in the first few verses of chapter 9.  It seems that he is starting in the North and making his way South through the land of Palestine.  In verses 1-4 he mentions the cities of Hadrach (which is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible), Damascus, Hamath, Tyre and Sidon.  All of these are cities in the North.  In verses 5-8 he mentions the cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod, which are all cities of Philistia and in the South.  What can we say about all of these cities?  It seems that they are representative of the enemies of Israel.  As we saw in the first couple of night visions, the Lord wants His people to know that judgment is coming for their enemies.  These cities will face God’s judgment as Israel’s enemies.

How exactly will the Lord bring about this judgment?  Well we are not told explicitly in what manner this judgment will take place, but we can say that the judgment will be just and severe.  The Lord makes it plain that nothing has escaped His eye.  Look at verse 1.  He has seen what these peoples have done and He will judge them accordingly.  They are only receiving what they deserve.  And we are told that the judgment they deserve will be severe.  Zechariah describes God’s judgment of Tyre in verse 4.  Look at that verse with me.  Going on, he describes the judgment that will fall on the Philistine cities in verses 5-6.  Look at those. 

As always, the judgment of the Lord is not to be taken lightly.  These are not descriptions of anything that we would ever want to face.  And in fact, a partial fulfillment of these judgments was just this severe.  In 333 b.c., Alexander the Great marched in the direction described in these verses.  As he did, he captured these cities along the way.  The story of his defeat of Tyre is well-known.  Thus, in one sense this prophecy has been fulfilled and the judgment these cities faced was indeed severe.  Yet, as with most prophecies, it points to a greater fulfillment when all of God’s enemies will be judged justly and severely.

So then, why did the Lord judge these cities?  We are given at least two reasons in the text.  First, they were judged because of their sins.  These cities were full of pride.  Look at how Tyre is described in verses 2-3.  Look at what the Lord says concerning the Philistine cities in verse 6.  The Lord is going to judge them for their sin of pride.  Not only that, but He is also going to judge them for their sin of idolatry.  This is what is being described in verse 7.  Look at that with me.  Zechariah is graphically describing the pagan ritual of eating animals blood and all.  This was part of their worship of their gods.  Yet, God is going to put a stop to such practices through His judgment.  Thus, He judges them for their sin. 

Second, He judges them for the protection of His people.  Here is where we see the clear connection between judgment and salvation.  Look at verse 8.  At least part of the reason for God’s judgment is to care for His people.  He will be their guard and none of these cities shall be a threat to His people again.  Of course, this once again looks to the future when God will ultimately set up His kingdom upon the earth.  In that day His people shall rest secure.  All of this leads us to verses 9-17 and the message of salvation.

The message of salvation:

Who is the Lord going to save?  I think the best answer we give from the text is that He is going to save His covenant people.  In verses 9-10, the Lord speaks of what He is going to do for Israel.  Yet, notice how they are described in verse 11.  They are those who have a blood covenant with God.  This likely refers back to the covenant with Abraham that was cut with blood (see Genesis 15).  God was going to be faithful to the people of His covenant.  He was going to set them free from their enemies and give them victory over them (v. 12-13).  He was going to save them.

Yet, how was the Lord going to save His people?  We are given a clear answer in verses 9-10.  Look at those with me.  The Lord is going to send a King to save His people.  But this will not be just any king.  No, this King will be righteous and having salvation.  He will be a king who is humble and mounted on a donkey.  Normally kings in Zechariah’s day would be riding a horse, which symbolized his military prowess.  But not this king.  He was going to establish peace for His people.  He is going to defeat all their enemies and protect them (see v. 14-15).  No longer would they need to trust in the war horse or the battle bow, for he shall speak peace to the nations and his rule shall be from sea to sea.  This King was going to be righteous and just.  His victory would be so complete that wars would eventually cease.  His reign would extend over the whole earth.  Who is this King?  Who is this One who will save God’s people?  He is none other than Jesus of Nazareth. 

Jesus came and lived in righteousness.  He was humble and mounted on a donkey as He entered Jerusalem (see Matthew 21:1-11 and Luke 19:28-40).  He established peace for His people (see Ephesians 2:14-18).  He crushed the enemies of God’s people at Calvary and established a new covenant with His own blood.  As His gospel is preached to the nations, His reign is extending over all of the earth.  And one Day it will be realized in all of its fullness.  Zechariah tells us that God is going to save His people by sending them King Jesus hundred of years before He is born in Bethlehem.

Why will the Lord do this?  Why will He rescue a people?  And for us sitting on this side of the cross, we could ask: why will the Lord crush His own Son to save a people?  I think one answer we could give is that the Lord had made a covenant with Israel and was determined to establish a new covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31ff).  He will do this because of the blood of my covenant with you.  And yet, that still does not fully answer the ‘why’ question.  I mean, why would God be so determined to establish and keep His covenant of blood with a people?  We see an answer in verses 16-17.  Look at those with me.  God’s covenant people are compared to the jewels of a crown that shall shine on his land.  What does this comparison communicate?  God’s people that He has saved will be for His glory.  They shall shine out His mercy and grace and power and love and justice.  As Zechariah says: For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!  God will save a people because He is great and good.  These people and their salvation will proclaim His glorious beauty.

As we meditate on these two messages, it is hard not to see that their will be winners and losers.  Yet, the winners will not be the prideful and the arrogant.  They will not be the ones who have all of the ‘great’ accomplishments.  They will not be like the ‘winners’ in this world.  No, the winners will be those who have stopped trusting in themselves (their war horses and battle bows).  They will be the people who have looked to the King for their deliverance.  They will be the ones who by God’s grace have been brought into covenant with Him.  So then, how we respond to these messages?

First, we must be certain that we are among God’s covenant people.  Every passage on judgment in the Bible is a warning.  Zechariah’s message here is no exception.  God will judge all of His enemies.  The New Testament tells us of a Day that is coming will God will justly judge all men.  And make no mistake about it, the judgment will be unbelievably severe, namely the eternal wrath of God in Hell.  Thus, turn from your sins and trust in Christ.  Christ the King came and died in our place to establish a new covenant with all of those who would turn from their sins and believe in Him.  Do not delay.  Be certain that you are a part of His people.

Second, we must be glad in God’s glorious salvation.  As I have said before, I love it when the Bible commands us to rejoice greatly and shout aloud.  This is what Zechariah told the people in his day to do.  And they only knew the promise of a King.  We know His Name.  We know what He has done for us.  We know of His death for our sins.  We know that the grave could not hold Him.  Yet, we too have a promise from Him concerning the future.  There is one enemy that still remains to be defeated: death.  He has promised to return and crush that enemy forever.  Likewise, He will give us complete victory and complete peace on that Day.  He will bring in the nations and His reign will extend over all.  O Church, rejoice in King Jesus, shout aloud for your Savior, for He has come and He is coming, righteous and having salvation is he.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Saturday, 24 April 2010 )

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