For the Love of God, Volume 2/December 22
From Gospel Translations
2 Chronicles 26; Revelation 13; Zechariah 9; John 12
ZECHARIAH 9—14 CONSTITUTES A second and distinctive part of the book. With their apocalyptic images and colorful metaphors, these chapters include many units hard to understand. Usually, however, the main line of thought is clear enough. Zechariah 9 can be divided into three sections:
(1) The first is “an oracle” (9:1-8). The peculiar word used suggests something of compulsion: this oracle is a “burden” to the prophet, and he cannot keep it in. In the past, most of Israel’s enemies have come from the north. In this oracle, however, it is Yahweh himself who advances on the Promised Land from the north. The sequence of cities mentioned establishes the geography: he will conquer all the cities down the coast and come to his own house (9:8) and defend his own people. The ultimate hope of God’s people resides in something more dramatic than the return from exile that they have already experienced. It resides in the supreme visitation of Almighty God.
(2) The second section depicts the arrival of the king (9:9-10). These verses are steeped in allusions to earlier Old Testament passages—to the figure pictured in Genesis 49:10-11, to the kingly deeds of Micah 5:10, to the extent of his kingdom in Psalm 72:8, and so forth. The figure, in short, is messianic, yet the preceding verses depict Yahweh himself coming to rescue his people. Thus in some respects the passage is akin to Isaiah 9:1ff.: there, too, a prophet looks forward to a Davidic king, yet one who is called “the mighty God.” Matthew 21:5 and John 12:15 allude to this passage in their respective accounts of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Neither of them refers to verse 10, for both of these evangelists are aware that only a partial fulfillment has taken place in their day. Unqualified disarmament and unqualified peace among the nations (9:10) await the consummation. In this sort of partial quotation of an Old Testament text they follow the example of the Lord Jesus, who for exactly the same reason—that is, because the final judgment still lies in the future—cites certain parts of Old Testament passages and not others (cf. Matt. 11:2-19, and meditation for July 1).
(3) God still speaks, and he gives all the reasons for rejoicing (9:11-17). He himself will come and free the prisoners, for his covenantal faithfulness has been sealed in blood—not only in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 15:9-11) but in its extension in the Mosaic covenant (Ex. 24:8), and supremely in the blood of the new covenant that was shed on a hill outside Jerusalem (see Mark 14:24).