Through the Old Testament in a Year

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But I will encamp at my temple to guard it against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch.

Now read Zechariah 9 – The coming of Zion's king

Chapter 9 begins with a declaration of judgment on Israel's enemies. Those who seek to do harm to God's people will discover that they will have God to reckon with. When Israel and Judah had turned their backs of God he had sent them away into exile and peoples from other nations had occupied their land. Now that he has brought them back, he will defend them from their enemies. It is now the turn of those enemies, such as the Philistines, to be driven from their land and for it to be occupied by others (v. 6). This section ends with the promise in v. 8:

I will encamp at my temple to guard it against marauding forces.
Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch.

We might be tempted to think that God did not remain faithful to this promise: the Greek empire conquered Jerusalem and desecrated the temple by using it to offer pigs in sacrifice. Later the Roman empire destroyed the second temple in 70 AD. How can God's promise here in Zechariah 9 be reconciled with these facts of history?

The answer is that yet again, the promise points beyond the physical temple rebuilt by Zerubbabel to its fulfilment in the Lord Jesus Christ, as is evident from the verses that follow. Verses 9-13 speak of the arrival of Zion's king, the Messiah. He will come to put an end to warfare and will extend his reign of peace over the entire world of his day: "from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth" (v. 10). This righteous and victorious king will come to his people not in battle dress and riding on a warhorse but "lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey" (v. 9).

These verses were fulfilled by the Lord Jesus when he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on that first Palm Sunday (see Matt 21:4-5). He is the king whose coming was promised in Zechariah 3 and who was symbolised in the crowning of Joshua the high priest in chapter 6. He is the Messiah. He is the one who has defeated the enemies of God and his people not with military might like that of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece or Rome but by his sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection. He is the one who has declared peace to those who are near and those who are far off – he is creating a kingdom of peace that extends to embrace every nation and people. He is the fulfilment of the temple, the place where God dwells among his people.

The latter part of the chapter makes it clear that the victory enjoyed by Zion's king will be a victory shared by his people. The Lord will appear over them and his power will be with them to shield and protect them: "we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Verse 16 declares:

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.

The Lord Jesus did all that was necessary for our salvation when he died for our sins and was raised for our justification. But our risen Saviour is still the Good Shepherd, seeking and saving those who are lost and bringing them home into the embrace of the Father. As the great shepherd of the sheep he is putting together his great flock which Zechariah sees like multiple dots of white sparkling on the hillsides. We, his people are like jewels in his crown. We are those to whom the promise of verse 8 is given; no one will ever snatch us from the pierced hands of our Saviour and the strong grasp of the Father.

Father God, we thank you that all your promises are underwritten for us by the shed blood of your beloved Son, our Saviour. We acknowledge with thanksgiving that, having given your Son for our redemption, you will ensure that nothing again can separate us from your love.

Sourced From Misselbrook Musings