Today Zechariah tells the people who have returned to Judah that their current situation is only temporary. He says the day will come when the Lord will destroy their oppressors and He will bring forth the promised King, the Messiah, who will rule Israel and the nations. Many commentators believe that the destruction of Israel’s enemies from the north occurred under the reign of Alexander the Great, the king of the ancient Greek kingdom. However, the Lord speaks of a coming King who is quite the opposite of the conqueror Alexander the Great. When King Jesus arrives on the scene, he isn’t going to ride into Jerusalem as a conquering general on a stallion. He is going to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey as a King of peace. Zechariah speaks of this triumphal entry -“Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; the battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.’”
Jesus will partly fulfill this prophecy when He triumphantly rides into Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21:1-11). A week later He will be crucified and three days later He will defeat death by His resurrection, providing salvation for those who put their trust in Him. Jesus isn’t coming as the conquering king the Jews are expecting, who would take down the Roman Empire. However, one day He is coming back as the conquering King who will defeat all evil for good. Jesus will fulfill this prophecy during His second coming when the entire world will be under His authority.
Zechariah uses the image of shepherds to describe Judah’s unfaithful leaders. Since the leaders of Judah abused their power, the Lord is going to remove them and provide a new shepherd for His flock. The Lord will have compassion on His people who were once scattered like a sheep without a shepherd – “I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them. They shall be as though I had not cast them aside; for I am the Lord their God, and I will hear them.” The Lord is beginning this process of restoration during the Return Era as the Jews are returning to Judah from exile. However, the restoration will ultimately extend beyond Judah to include Northern Israel which was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC.
Zechariah pretends to be a shepherd tending to a flock doomed to the slaughter, representing how the Lord removed His protection over His people in the past and allowed their enemies to oppress them because of their rebellion. Eventually Zechariah becomes impatient with the flock and the flock begins to detest him, so he resigns from his position as shepherd. Zechariah receives a small payment of thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave, which he rejects by throwing it to a potter who works in the house of the Lord. Then the flock is handed over to worthless shepherds who will not care for them.
Zechariah’s acting as a shepherd is symbolic of what will happen when Jesus Christ arrives on the scene as the Good Shepherd. Jesus will be rejected and betrayed for the pitiful price of thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 27:3-10, John 10:25-27). However, the Lord promises to ultimately judge the worthless shepherds who lead the people astray – “Woe to the worthless shepherd, who leaves the flock! A sword shall be against his arm and against his right eye; his arm shall completely wither, and his right eye shall be totally blinded.”
The remaining chapters in the Book of Zechariah, chapters 12-14, focus on the hope for the house of David and the Lord’s future plans to lead them to repentance and to cleanse them from their sins – “The Lord will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah. In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the Lord before them. It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
The Son of God, Jesus, is coming as the final Sacrifice. His head will be pierced with thorns, His hands and feet will be pierced with nails, and His side will be pierced with a spear. When the people realize that they crucified their Savior, they will mourn which will lead them to repentance. As Charles Spurgeon says, “A great mistake is very common among all classes of men – it is currently believed that we are first of all to mourn for our sins, and then to look by faith to our Lord Jesus Christ. Most persons who have any concern about their souls, but are not as yet enlightened by the Spirit of God, think that there is a degree of tenderness of conscience, and of hatred of sin, which they are to obtain somehow or other, and then they will be permitted and authorized to look to Jesus Christ. Now you will perceive that this is not according to the Scripture, for, according to the text before us men first look upon him whom they have pierced, and then, but not till then, they mourn for their sin.”
The Lord says He is going to strike the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, as the final atoning Sacrifice for the sins of His people; and when He does, the people will scatter. This will be a time of great tribulation and testing where many people will die. However, the end result is the Lord refining His people through the trials where they will be united as one – “They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
The Book of Zechariah ends with a warning that terrible days are ahead for Jerusalem but in the end the Lord will fight for His people. Then all the nations will come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord in the glory of the Messiah’s Kingdom during the millennium; and memorial sacrifices will be made as the people look back on the perfect work of salvation that Jesus Christ completed on the cross and by His resurrection.
Tomorrow there is a dedication to the new temple and we meet a lady named Esther, so keep reading.