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MESSIAH IN ZECHARIAH
FLAME OF FIRE
PART I, Chs. 1-10
(Part II, Chs. 11-14 is Ch. 8)
Many commentators have written on Zechariah. It is not the purpose here to imitate them.
The need, apologetically, is to provide a little more backdrop, background, texture of continuity as a surround, environment for some of the many references made on this site to this prophet's words from the Lord. This will help the depth of perception and hence and adequacy and accuracy of realisation, as the prophetic word is applied.
If the Messiah, the Christ, is the TOWER of the flock, the STRONGHOLD in Zechariah's words, then Zechariah as a prophecy is like a flame of fire about one of the levels, spurting forth with individual flames of particular prophecies, surrounding the tower with a glory of revelation.
Let us then to the book, to follow briefly the relevant movements for our purpose.
we proceed, reference may be made for an Appendix, in which will appear
some of the particular expositions throughout the site, so that this may
be conveniently at hand. There will be no attempt to be exhaustive, and
for those interested in pursuing this aspect further, there is are the
Biblical indexes both for the Trilogy
and the Rest.
THRUSTS OF FLAME
Zechariah appears as a prophet of exhortation, ennobling and inciting, illuminating and exalting the Lord, in the midst of the restoration of Jerusalem, following the Babylonian exile of 70 years and the return of many to rebuild.
His message roves from immediate environment, to distant scenes; from current restoration to its point, in the Messiah, the very figure behind the temple and the stone of foundation which none can destroy, though a thousand temples should come and go; and yet it is He who is the precisely depicted One on whom the whole symbol of the temple worship depended (Isaiah 22:23, 4:6, 32:1-4, 52-53, 66:1-4, Psalm 40:1ff., Zechariah 3:9, 13:1). The theme in this prophet moves to the power of the Messiah, the suffering, the betrayal, the price, the peace of the Messiah, and is altogether one of the most instructive, detailed and remarkable prophecies to be found in the Bible.
At first, in Ch. 1, he exhorts and reminds the people of the fruits of past rebellion as a nation, especially on the part of those whose reward was the destruction of Jerusalem. It is not here the intention to follow minutely all that comes, but to seize with some sense of the structure, what relates to the Messiah. Hence we merely note the imagery of the horses, the discovery of a more settled domain for the people. The angelic proclamation arrives, showing that the Lord is "zealous for Jerusalem" and that compared with the zest for the quest of the restoration of His people in His service, His former anger was but a little. For the nations who wallowed in Jerusalem's devastation however, his anger is NOT a little! (1:15).
Reconstruction work in Jerusalem is wrought, then, and despite discipline, the line continues. Jerusalem is to proceed.
Using imagery of horns of conquest, the Lord shows that that as Jerusalem was smashed by such horns, so craftsmen are at work ON the horns, to subdue the spirit of conquest and arrogance. Jerusalem is subject of divine discipline, now fulfilled, and not game for every sportsman. Despite the protracted delay in recognising thier own Messiah, the position is not essentially different today, except in this, that the repentance to come complicates the vulnerability of Jerusalem, though it does not remove its mandate to exist, for Israel, being called to this (Zech. 12:1-6, Isaiah 2, Micah 4, cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4).
Zechariah 2, we see a passage very reminiscent of Revelation 11, and find
a concept of measurement, of fitness and restoration, so that abundance
will once again be found in Jerusalem, and more to our present purpose,
that the Lord "will be a wall of fire all
around her", indeed that He "will
be the glory in the midst." This indwelling,
intimacy, glory in the midst is a clear occasion for reference to the Messiah
in due course, and continues throughout the book, as the history of the
world is exposed in several facets.
"Up, up! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon. For thus says the LORD of hosts: 'He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.' "
Now the LORD has come in person, by the power of His Spirit, to disenable the juggernaut complex that was used to sack Jerusalem earlier, and no less to remove the overweening arrogance of those who, pagan, and used to humble the erring people, Israel, are to be shown this: that they are but men! In the end, the LORD ALONE will have glory (Isaiah 2:16-17).
Thus the Lord has come to deliver His people, overturning the hostile forces of enmity and evil, ultimately in Satanic mode, as Zechariah 3:1 reveals, soon after this exhibition of divine desire and activity for the people's deliverance, following such elemental tuition of his misled people, of Israel. This double expression of deity, Sent and Sender in perfect harmony and concourse, naturally is highly relevant to our quest of the Messiah in Zechariah. Here is the very exhibition before incarnation of the nature of the expression of God in His divine Servant, who though equal with God (being the LORD, who is GOD as in Isaiah 45), is yet delighted to serve, to save, to deliver and to come to do it. There is no Saviour but God (Isaiah 43), and here He is, come in person to save.
In Zechariah 2:10ff., we see exhortation to sing, rejoicing in heart, for the time is to come when it will be true of the Lord that
Thus, in Zephaniah, we read:
"The LORD will be awesome to them.There too, we find with emphasis, is one God with one people from all quarters, not merely Israel, the God of whom Jeremiah declares in 17:19:
For He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth.
People shall worship Him., each one from his place, indeed all the shores of the nations."
a man make gods for himself,
Which are not gods?"
This is shortly made to appear.
In Zechariah 3, we see a yet more enveloping thrust of flame.
Joshua, high priest, is shown with Satan, the spiritual adversary, nearby to oppose him. Naturally that evil and desperate spirit would have enormous interest in investing the work and contesting the place of the Tower of the Flock (see Preface), in His structural restoration of Jerusalem, that city of symbols, to full vitality and strength. He would prefer to pre-occupy the people, and to devastate the work.
Churchill it appears, thought of bombing the new Russian atomic facilities around 1948, and if PM might have done so; and how much more would the Satan want to destroy the testimony of faith and the fruit of joy in the Lord!
Joshua, representative of Jerusalem as well as a personal being, is referred to as a "brand plucked from the fire" (Zech. 3:2). Indeed, there was something near to total consumption of the people and the worship when discipline was commanded and Babylon did the job; but God intervened, and as we have noted in the last chapter, placed tremendous emphasis on the DETAIL of the matter, and its limits, in the forecast even by name, of the King Cyrus, who would return those people to their land from Babylon, so that the temple could be rebuilt.
He even determined that ht exile would last 70 years, and said so (Jeremiah 25).
Thus, Joshua is seen symbolically clad in filthy garments, bearing as high priest the appearance of the people, and the order is given, in the face of Satan's efforts to denigrate, to debase, to exploit, to insult, to secure ruin again, to maximise the presence of punishment for sin and minimise the expression of divine mercy, to change those filthy vestments. This done, the LORD exclaims,
"See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes."Vested in beauty, reminiscent of the garments symbolising godliness of yore in the temple enactments and ways (Exodus 28ff.), Joshua is now seen and challenged:
"If you will walk in My ways,Soon we realise that Joshua High Priest is in this mime, symbolic of the Messiah. The degradation is removed so that the beauty may appear; and while the former is his own, the latter is indicative of the Judge of Israel to come (Micah 5:1-3), whose going are from everlasting. Nor are we left in any doubt.
And if you will keep My command,
Then you shall also judge My house,
And likewise have charge of My courts:
I will give you places to walk
Among those who stand here."
It is important to note these developments, since for our purpose, they are close to our quarry, the Messiah. This however is a quarry needing no excavation, and a pursuit needing little effort. He appears at once. Hear, the LORD exclaims, Joshua and retinue, for these things are a "wondrous sign". In what way is this so ?
What one is noted ? Why that one on whom are to be carved the sins, or in stone format, engraved the iniquities. In ONE day, not over the years of progressive temple offerings, is the sin of the land, of those engrafted into Him, to be removed. It is to be wrought by one "before", in authority over the High Priest (as in Hebrews 74-10), one who is outside the mere temple symbolism, as a person is outside his photograph.
This is the substance of the symbol, the referent of the figure, the Messiah, since ONLY the sinless can bear sin, as in all temple symbolism, 'perfection', a beast without blemish, is required to absorb the sin, the sacrifices being symbolical in this, of the purity required. Inferior beasts are regarded as a ghastly derogation of duty (Malachi 1:7-8, Leviticus 22:21-23).
Again, ONLY God is the Saviour (Isaiah 43:8-11), so that herein Zech. 3:9 is God, sent and sufficient as Saviour, as Isaiah notes it in 40:10, "Behold your God!" It is He who takes the lambs in His arms, as Isaiah there depicts prophetically (as was fulfilled by Jesus the Christ).
Here then, at this point in Zechariah, is God the sent, now seen in sacrificial form, and, quite simply, incarnate as man, hence the 'branch' (cf. Isaiah 11:1ff.).
We now come to Zechariah 4 where there is an intimate and rather intricate scene of lamps and trees. The emphasis passes momentarily from the Messiah to the Spirit of the living God. Hence it may not appear entirely germane to our task, yet, since it is intimately related, it will be accorded a brief word. Further, within this undoubted emphasis in Ch. 4, there is the intimate correlation with the Messiah Himself.
is a progression in these things, which requires awareness, if we are to
see the centrepieces of our study, in context.
THE LAMPS AND THE CAPSTONE
The lampstand of solid gold mentioned in 4:1, has seven pipes and seven lamps, the fuel supplied by two olive trees. We later learn (4:14) that the trees are "the two anointed ones" adapted by Revelation 11 in the form of the "two witnesses". As Joshua the high priest, and Zerubbabel the prince are the two focussed, and this exceedingly so, in Zech. 3 and 4, it seems certain that they in some way represent what the olive trees designate.
Zechariah 6:12-13, in speaking of the Messiah, the Branch, as bearing the glory and being both prince and priest, a combination completely forbidden in the normal symbolism and ceremonial of the Old Testament, focusses his ultra-symbolic role, the fact that He is beyond symbol, and the Saviour Himself in person: the reality of the glory of God Himself being His, whom nothing exceeds. Thus in Zechariah 4, having found the symbolic reference of Ch. 3 in Joshua - who has the Branch as His source, and the meaning of the symbolism, there - we come to the prince, Zerubbabel, himself now the feature. The two together form the symbolism of the two trees, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth."
Their double powers make as complements, the one to the other, a symbolic index to the Messiah, to be seen in Zech. 6 as noted, and this expressly, just as His sacrificial reality is noted in 3:9 above.
The princely and ecclesiastical powers, jointly, are those representative of the total scope of authority in the kingdom, and they therefore sum this up, though their roles merely symbolise the integrity of the functions in the Messiah, who "shall bear the glory" as in Ch. 6, where "the Branch" is seen with this canopy, pleroma and power. These therefore represent the Messianic basis of the power to be used and required whether in sacrifice and forgiveness as in Zech. 3:9 or in reconstruction, regeneration, deliverance as in Ch. 4.
It is now that we come to the remarkable Messianic reference in Zech. 4:6-7. It is shrouded in the glory of the spiritual emphasis (4:6); but it is still the focus to which we are drawn.
the flow of light and glory from the lamps, coming to reach all who dwell
where the Lord is to be found, we are reminded that it is a spiritual thing
(as in John 6:62-63), and that it is the Lord Himself who is doing it.
"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts".
accordingly, in Zech. 4:6, we are reminded that the use of men is
not the source of the strength, but its face of impact, its point of application.
It is like a lever on a pivot. The lever is not the strength: it is however
used in its application from the hand which holds it! The hand is that
of the Lord Himself, when His work is to be done. There and not elsewhere
comes the spiritual power to implement His spiritual perspective, purpose
The power of the Spirit is moving the lever, and it is not the lever which is to glory in itself (cf. Isaiah 10:15, Psalm 94:9). The "mountain" of difficulty (Zech. 4:7), of work to be done, of obstruction, of positive and negative force to be expended or overcome, this is as nothing when it is the Lord who is working: indeed, it is like a plain, when faith is employed and the power of the SPIRIT OF GOD is operative (Zech. 4:7). With this in view, the capstone is to be brought forth, with shouts of "Grace! grace!"
As in Psalm 118, of course, the symbolism is definable and defined. In 118:22-24, "the stone which the builders rejected" is not referring in that context to any construction of a temple, or to some dispute among builders about stones and construction work with them. It is a matter of triumph, rejoicing and magnificent significance in that psalm, that this rejected "stone" is the very basis! It is the spiritual source, centre and apex. It has all the geometry in its grasp, and all the grace.
Let us meditate for a moment on this Psalm. We have seen in the earlier verses of Psalm 118 (such as 10-17), the pressure exerted upon the righteous, in hostility and hatred, even to death; but the flaming flush of divine energy and power is seen overcoming all this onset. We find that "this is the gate of the LORD, through which the righteous shall enter" (as in John 10:9, the Messiah). The stone rejected, is the One persecuted, whom the Lord delivers in dynamism from the very affront inflicted by the adversary; and it is then that the Messiah is seen, the rejected, but the triumphant, as is normal in many passages (such as Isaiah 53, Psalm 2, 22). HE is the HEAD! His oppression is expression of sin; His exaltation is at the hand of God on high.
The chief cornerstone, in architectural symbolism, it is He on whom all rests (as in Isaiah 28:16 cf. 22:22-23). It is thus He who is the Gate through whom the righteous enter.
This symbolism being clear, it is simple to apply it in Zechariah, as in a mathematical exercise in substituted symbols and values, and to find that it is the Messiah to whom "grace, grace!" is cried, just as He is glorified and justified in the face of aweful vengeance from His persecutors, even death, as in Isaiah 50, and 52:13-53:12. Despite the degradation, there is exaltation, and indeed all the more because of it, and "He shall sprinkle many nations" - Isaiah 52:15, indeed be "a light to the Gentiles" as in Isaiah 49:6.
Hence in Zechariah 4, we see in the very MIDST of the emphasis, past all symbolism, on the Spirit of God as providing a force and power that nothing can overcome, requiring nothing of the worrisome energies of carnal mind or self-exalting flesh to accomplish it, so the Messiah is surrounded by this enormous emphasis on grace. The cries of praise and triumph are more than exclamations: they are "shouts" (cf. Isaiah 24:16).
The cry recorded by Zechariah, is "grace, grace!" It is by grace that He is delivered, it is by grace that He comes (as in Psalm 40:1-3, John 3:16 cf. Joyful Jottings 22), and it is by grace that He is received by anyone who accepts Him, thereby becoming a child of God (as in Isaiah 53:10 cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 10, No. 8). Indeed, the whole operation is from the grace of God, the everlasting kindness of the One whose is mercy, the King of eternity.
The rebuilding of the soul, of the church, of the people of the Lord, it is all of grace. NOT by might, is it to be done; and it is NOT by power, as of papal armies, or phrase-mongering demeaning of the faith in artificial pretences of a unity found only in Him, since He is One and knows all. Not by these means is there grace to be found, but rather in the truth of the Lord, and settled on the cornerstone, the Christ.
God is my Rock, and there is no other rock is the constant message of the Bible, and as to the rock, He is to be found as the Messiah, and there is no other (John 14:6, Acts 4:11-12, Colossians 1:19-22, Ephesians 1:10, Isaiah 43:10-11, 48:16, 52-53, 45:18ff., Psalm 62:1-3, Deuteronomy 32:15,29-31, Isaiah 44:8, I Samuel 2:2, II Samuel 22:32, Isaiah 26:4 with 28:16).
It is on Him as foundation (Isaiah 28:16), that one is to rest and not make haste.
Moving from the Messianic centre to the contemporary activities of his people, Zechariah speaks of the completion of the merely symbolic temple (4:9), and since he has been used as a symbol in his own person, of one aspect of the Messiah, the prince, we find it written that the work of the temple is to be FINISHED at the hand of symbolising Zerubbabel, just as it is to be in ONE DAY (3:9), that the Messiah will finish the whole sacrificial epic of symbolism, by bearing sin for His people in fact, in Himself, in one death, just once (as in Hebrews 9, Isaiah 22:22-23).
Chapter 5 has little to our present purpose, except this, that it focusses on the anti-symbolism, the source of satanic power, or rather its earthly base. This too has a symbolism, 'Babylon' being BOTH a place notorious for religious syncretism and polytheism, and a type of all such follies, as appears in the MYSTERY Babylon in Revelation 17 (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 2 and SMR pp. 946ff.).
There is, in this chapter 5 of Zechariah, predicted to be a building of this kind of Babylon, symbolically expressed but actual enough, the centre of satanic syncretic, squalid confusion of spiritual things*2; just as there is a re-building of the Temple (Zech. 4), typifying the declarative clarity of God in His word, in His salvation for His people, and, as we saw before, in anticipation, of all who come to Him by faith through repentance, as His word exhibits Him to be (cf. Isaiah 55:6).
In Ch. 6 of Zechariah, there is further imagery as the countries in that troubled era are pacified: "those who go to the north country have given rest to My Spirit in the north country." While, then, the climate for building is ripe, there is further expression of the deity, and His mission and gifts for men. The Lord gives instructions that they are to take silver and gold, make an elaborate crown and set it on the head of Joshua, as high priest. In conspicuously obvious symbolism, the high priest in this picture, represents a royal combination: priestly and princely functions alike are his, the latter so evidently added in the crown, specially made for the mime: it represents "the Man whose name is the BRANCH". In other words, a priest is to be king, and a prince is to be priest; and both of these are the Messiah in one.
It is He, we read (Zech. 6:12), who shall build in the temple of the Lord. As the DOOR, He indeed admits the 'components' of that living temple (I Peter 2:9ff.) which is the church of the God of glory. It does not rest in itself, but on Him only. It does not work in its own strength or for its own survival, but in and for Him, by HIS SPIRIT. This all has by now been seen, in the emphasis of Zech. 4. Now we find further, that "from His place, He shall branch out", just as He IS the branch. That is, as an incarnate being, God as man, He not only selects His own, all that the Father gives Him (as in John 6), but branches out through His Spirit, a light to the Gentiles, and has others who are not of the flock of Israel itself, to add to His people. "He shall bear the glory".
The whole Messianic glory, in its regal and priestly functions, is then designated for a far future time, after the prophecy which was some half millenium before the incarnation of the Lord (Zech. 6:15), thus attesting the harmony in placing this prediction in the genre of Psalm 22:31 and 102:18.
What then do we learn here of the Messiah, in contrast to either priest or prince in the Jewish establishment of Zechariah's time. Here what was anathema before Christ, becomes the particular parade of His glory. We recall what happened to Uzziah when he presumed to function in the priestly office! (II Chronicles 26:16ff.). He became a leper to the day of his death!
The Branch, the Messiah, covenanted king through the line of Jesse, He whose throne is that of God, who is addressed as God, He is as far beyond the littleness of symbolism as a drawing is below its fulfilment in concrete; and further: for the drawing at least is sketched in one medium, and the building made in another, correlative, but the Messiah is eternal, whereas the temple and the priests have all had a beginning (Micah 5:1-3, Isaiah 48:16, Psalm 2). As such Messiah is to be trusted, and blessed are they who trusted in Him, whilst to trust in mere man is a disease of the soul (Jeremiah 17). As Saviour, similarly, the Messiah occupies the position which is that of God alone (Isaiah 43:10-11).
The ceremony in mime, therefore, in Zechariah 6, is the contrast and at the same time, the consummation of the symbolism in the ceremonial system. THEY are limited; He is not. NOTHING is to be denied Him, in glory and power, in function and place. Though life is to be denied Him (Zech. 3:9), when He becomes a sacrifice for sin, nevertheless, He retains the glory, and arising from the dead (Psalm 16, Isaiah 26:9, Psalm 22), He overcomes the liabilities with the virtue of perfection. His building continues, and He sits and rules upon the throne. Thus, amazingly, just as Hosea 13:14 shows God coming to redeem man from the death due to sin, God Himself, and Isaiah 52-53 the manner of it, so Zechariah implies it; for the sacrifice must die, but this Messiah, He is never overthrown, but continues His rule without limit or stay.
This then is the entire REALITY which the office of priest, high priest, and king depict: as to the Messiah, it is His by nature. He bears it in this, indeed He bears the glory (6:13), in that it is not merely a matter of a representation for a representative, but a reality for God the Sent! He does for His part, no longer depict it, as did those who continued over the centuries in such office; He does it. He is not pictured; He is it. He does not repeat it, "in one day" He finishes it, and it is done. On that Friday, it was indeed but a day! So does all scripture confirm itself, like the ground under your feet, after a jet ride, each step making clear that you are now soundly based.
He shall, quite explicitly, both rule on the throne and act as priest in His royalty, being all in one, and one to all (cf. Colossians 3:11 - "Christ is all and in all"). PEACE will be the rule in His varied and glorious offices (Zech. 6:13b), in His inherent integrity and eternal deity: so that all is well in His hands (as in Psalm 72!). So do we glide from the suffering to the glory, and so do we find the glorious One who fulfils in one, many things (as in Isaiah 22:22-23).
Is this blessing of many parts, then, for all ? is this peace, is this salvation, is this pardon for all ?
This, we read, is to be the situation for all who diligently seek Him, whether of Israel or in the fields where the Messiah is "branching out"! It is not a birthright for an Israeli to know and have such things; it is the birthright of those who diligently seek Him, who find Him, to whom His grace is borne, so that they cry from the heart, Grace! grace! to the capstone. So is it to be found in 6:15. In this temple, those who are afar off do not build without licence, from the Messiah, and those whose hearts do not know Him, may find the environment, but not the inner one, the millenial rule, but not the perennial peace. Many, afflicted with traditionalism, as in Hebrews 4, in the interim before His return, must labour to enter into their rest. They need to find the place of the Messiah and repose faith in it, in Him, and so will they build in the temple of the Lord.
This vast canvas of colour and consummation however is left by the prophet in Ch. 7 for more immediately pressing practicalities.
Thus in Chapter 7, he reminds the people of the recalcitrance, the flint-heartedness of their forefathers, requiring a spiritual more than a merely physical fast, a reality of seeking and a sincerity of spirituality. Before the wonder of Ch. 6, the contrast with their Messiah, the Christ makes the shadow of sin the more conspicuous!
In Zechariah 8, we find the Lord's determination to rebuild the desolate, and restore the broken city, for Zechariah is prophesying, exhorting, encouraging the present, the contemporary generation, as well as testifying "not to themselves, but to us" as I Peter 1:12 puts it.
Just as His divinely determined corrections were to become inevitable, and led to the destruction of the Temple of that day, in the face of the flinty hearts of the preceding generations of Israel, so His celestial zeal to reconstruct is irrevocable:
"Just as I determined to punish you,There is just a savour of the Messianic days in the prediction that many peoples would come, some from "every language" (Zech. 8:23), to find the definitive declaration of Almighty God. So Christ declared that the Gospel must first go to all the nations (Matthew 24:14), "and then shall the end come."
When your fathers provoked Me to wrath,'
Says the LORD of host,
And I would not relent,
So again in these days,
I am determined to do good
To Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.
Do not fear."
there are contemporary 'languages' where people have need to learn, in
the days of Zechariah himself, and to these he is then turned.
DONKEY, THE STRONGHOLD, THE IDOLS,
THE SHEPHERD AND THE NEW DISPERSION
(Zechariah Chs. 9 and 10)
In Chapter 9, to our purpose, we find after judgments announced on contemporary nations, that there is a blessing for Israel in this, that "He who remains shall be for our God" (Zech. 9:7). It is He, we read, who shall be leader in Judah. In Him, there is to be constituted an secure encampment (Zech. 9:8), and from Him will come to the people of the Lord, a safety (as in Psalm 72, Isaiah 2, Micah 4, Isaiah 11, Micah 7, Isaiah 66, Zephaniah 2).
After this, at once we are taken, as on a former occasion, to the practical hallmark of this benediction. In what form is it to come ? In Zech. 9:9, we find the King of such earlier exposure, the Messiah, the Branch, the bearer of the glory, to be seated on an ass's colt, and coming AS King in this condition! He is not surprisingly in view of the symbolism of the advent forecast in this way, "lowly", and in view of His bearing the glory, His "having salvation" is in turn no surprise. It is in fact merely the expression of the implicit (9:9). As Isaiah 49:6 puts it,
"I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,(See on this, Biblical Blessings, Appendix 1, esp. End-note 1).
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth."
Salvation is in His disposition; it is His. Despite this glorious reality - seen in Mark 2 as this, that the Son of Man had power on earth to forgive sins, not merely declare on what basis they would be forgiven, for He is in Himself the salvation as in Isaiah 52-53, and hence God as in Isaiah 43:10-11): He is also humble. The combination is irresistible. It is the very nature of God. There is no vainglory which IS glorious!
"He shall speak peace to the nations" (9:10), just as in Zephaniah 2:11, and this is millenial, with the removal of the means of war (as in Isaiah 2, cf. 65). His rule is to be world-wide, in an era in which war shall be no more, and they shall not hurt nor destroy in all His holy mountain (Isaiah 2:4, 65:25). At this time, "the voice of weeping shall be heard no more" - Isaiah 65.
It was to some of His disciples that Christ expostulated, "O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered thes things, and to enter into His glory ? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the scrikptures the thigns concerning Himself." It is always best in 'interpreting' the Bible to do as in other interpretation, achieve peace with its declarations, and not to distort them to mean what they deny, and to deny what they affirm. That is not symbolism but authorship.
God however alone has given the Bible.
We now, having met once more the Messiah, and envisaged the rule which He has to secure on the earth (as in Psalm 2, 72, Zephaniah 2:11, Isaiah 2, Micah 4), find in Zechariah 9:11-12, the setting free of the prisoner, and the requirement to "return to the stronghold", made for the "prisoners of hope" (Zech 9:12). The setting free of the prisoners, here, in parallel with the expression of Isaiah 61, written earlier, is "from the waterless pit", making it clear that this is a spiritual deliverance, just as in Isaiah also, where those who mourn in Zion are "consoled" and "beauty for ashes," is the provision, with "joy for mourning" : all in the Messiah's action, Gospel and grace.
In Zech. 9:10, the reference to His universal acclaim is almost a direct citation from the Messianic Psalm 89, in verses 25-29 (cf. Joyful Jottings18). The freeing in Israel is to be categorically spiritual, therefore, though there is the millenial outcome from time to time, in focus. Indeed, in this chapter, there is reversion from the culmination and consummation in the Messiah, to His pre-incarnate work to deliver His people, and help the nation while it is still serving Him, all a prelude to His own coming. To His actual arrival, to suffer, to reign, however, there is a continuing and almost constant effect in Zechariah, like that on iron filings in the present of a magnetic field. The Messiah is the magnet.
As we move to Zechariah 10, we find there is emphasis on earnest seeking of the Lord, and His willingness to bless. Speaking of false shepherds with contempt, as in Ezekiel 34, God announces that
"I will punish the leaders,In Ezekiel 34, this situation and divine response is given in more detail, the book of that prophet being written some little time before that of Zechariah. It is therefore well to see this larger version.
For the LORD of hosts will visit His flock,
The house of Judah..."
"Behold I am against the shepherds," He declares (Ezekiel 34:10), their foul indolence being oppressive to the extreme, their selfishness preoccupation with their own greed and satisfaction appalling, and their failure in care proverbial. Then He makes the pivotal pronouncement:There the grand plan of a personal coming of the Branch, the "root out of dry ground," the salvation of God, the light to the Gentiles, the covenant of Isaiah 42:4, is seen: so that in what man failed, He should succeed (just as in Luke 19:10 - "for the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.") In Him, the pastorate is perfection; the priest becomes the sacrifice, and the lowly One is loved. As in parallel Psalm 102:18-22, written this is written "for the generation to come", as likewise declared of the Messianic Psalm 22, at verse 31 (cf. Joyful Jottings 25).
"For thus says the Lord GOD:'Indeed, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.
'As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and will bring them to their own land: I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,' says the Lord GOD.
'I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment."
Back in Zechariah, then, we find this theme and this portent, this prediction and this emphasis. It proceeds in 10:4 to denote the fact that it is from Judah that the great enactment is to come, as in Genesis 49:9-10. It is from this source, in the flesh, that the cornerstone, that the Messiah is to be found as He comes to do His pastoral, His saving, His delightful work.
Just as in Ezekiel 34, prelude to the most emphatic specifics of Ezekiel 36-37, considered in our last chapter, the coming of the Messiah is linked with its culminating closure of the national epic, when Israel itself, brought back from the long-sustained dispersion, following the slaying of their Prince of Peace, becomes anew the subject of the shepherding skills of the Almighty. As in Zech. 12:10, many are won to the Messiah who earlier was bitterly rejected, so that the fountain of blood is opened even in Jerusalem (Zech 13:1).
For what purpose is it then opened ? It is "for sin and for uncleanness". Miracles are by no means chiefly in battle or physical domains; and here to be found is one of the very greatest. In what is it great ? When the nation of Israel, once so rabid in its rejection of its own King, a people who prior to His coming had for so long been ackowledged Him, but on His arrival in the flesh, were so ruthless in zdal to have Him slain, is transformed in significant measure into a mass of persons now massively bent on finding Him, and in deep contrition and repentance of heart, coming back to Him: it is a spiritual earthquake of magnitude more than 8!
That last is to come.
Thus in Zech. 10:9-12, there is reference to the coming dispersion, linked irreparably with the debasement of their Messiah 9 (cf. Zech. 13:6ff., 11:11ff. and note the parallel precisely in Isaiah 11:11-16, in the Messianic massif of that chapter), and the subsequent restoration, the grand scale for which the Babylonian restoration was the trailer. We hear moreover the call of a grace truly worthy of the shoutings of Zech. 6: "They shall be as though I had not cast them off."
In conclusion in this section, let us note the reference to return to "the stronghold", in Zech. 9:12. Prisoners of hope, those in prison as in Isaiah 61, with ashes, are to receive glory, and beauty. So here, there is to be a stronghold most evident indeed, and those who have long waited for Him, like Simeon (Luke 2:29ff.), will find hope sated and spirit filled. To that tower of strength, that refuge of permanence, they are to go, their knowledge of the Messianic consummation and the mercy promised their spur, and their trust in Him, their joy.
This ROCK, and GOD ONLY as we have repeatedly seen, in the Bible, is the Rock of ages, and it is in Him that there is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26): this is the stronghold, and there is no other refuge. It is the culmination of the "blood of the covenant" (Zech. 9:11, in the context of the Messiah in 9:9), the climax of its message, the centrepiece of its proclamation which is in view. "For the LORD of hosts will visit His flock, the house of Judah", and in doing so, fulfil the many other Messianic references to the Branch, the lowly one having salvation, the symbolisms of Joshua and Zerubbabel, the cornerstone and the like in Zechariah and all the other cognate phraseological and substantial spiritual stones in the book of the Lord.
preliminaries complete, the Lord Himself will come, "the
Branch" equipped in human form, yes first
to die, and then to rule (as in Zech. 3:9 and 14:5 respectively).
THE FIRES THAT DO NOT DIE, THE FAITH THAT LIVES
In these ways, we have seen the beginning of wonders, in the book of Zechariah,
This alone has prevailed in the past, will do so in the present, and it is this Spirit whom HE has sent, as John so clearly depicts it in Chs. 14-16. In this reminiscent of Isaiah 32:17, Zechariah is not merely a prophet of flaming, spouting surges from that Tower of glory, Christ the Lord, writing as inspired, but the penman of a composition within the other flames of allied prophets, so that as one brightness, all speak of One with one accord.
In terms of Christian apologetics, this is not merely an accurate forecast of many things, a depiction of detail, a deposition of data, but it blends with all the others, so making in the coherence, the individuality together with collegiality with all scripture, that pervasive verificatory testimony to one mind, one ultimate author and one power to know, to predict, to compose and to do. It is so in whichever milieu, prophet or presentation we meet.
In so using so many to one end, over so long, in such diverse circumstances and to one end, to present His will and word to man, the Lord has shown, moreover, not only the power of the Creator to handle a "team", but to sustain this over centuries, with the same Spirit, causing all to agree in one, from One. Indeed, this He does with the ornaments of variety, never overcoming either the beauty of the message, the accuracy of the detail or the harmony of the whole. It is moreover a beautiful harmony, its outflowings of inspiration being like the clouds, all different, all one, one in the sky of grandeur, that is awning over the earth, diverse in their manner of moving, and in the patterns of expression which they singularly present, but alike in movement, in majesty and in the declarations that consistently cover the case.
This word, the word of God, the Bible, it is a better awning than any sky, however lofty; for it never dies, and always is there. The word of God, it lives and abides forever.
far have we come to Chapter 10.
In order not to interrupt the flow of the text, this verse, Isaiah 48:16 may be considered for a moment here. It may also be found in the scriptural indexes and studied elsewhere, on this site.
Speaking of His action to deliver Israel from Babylon, and the coming of Cyrus as an instrument to this end (named in Isaiah 45), God makes this declaration:
near to Me, hear this:
I have not spoken in secret from the beginning.
From the time that it was, I am there.
And now the Lord God and His Spirit
Have sent Me."
Time is no captor to Him. On its arising (as we know it) at the creation, there He is. As it is the LORD who is speaking in this passage, yes the One who calls Cyrus to deliver Israel, the disposer of history, the director of men. Already (48:12) identifying Himself as the first and the last, the Creator (who as in 45 is the ONLY GOD), He now makes this exposure of the fact that He is sent by the Lord God and His Spirit. There is the trinity quite simply, as also implied in significant measure, in Zechariah 2:8. God is sending God. God as sent is directing history, calling men, determining events at His pleasure, not fatalistically, but personally, with every concern, consideration and knowledge, watching and working as is fitting.
Implied in Isaiah 48:16 is that God has spoken to man from the first, has always been present, that man has never been without a Shepherd, who now works as He has works, and does so in this severe moment of Israel's history, not only to correct, but to comfort and to deliver. It is not automated, it is intimate. He does it, He comes and He works all things according to the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11).
As in the New Testament, so in the Old. As in Zechariah, so in Isaiah. It is certainly not surprising that in Isaiah 49 we are almost at once ushered into the incarnate Sent One, just as in Zechariah 3:9, as we shall shortly see, we are also to find the Sacrificed One, able and willing to bear the whole burden for man, when the sins are not placed on the lamb's head, merely, but inscribed into His very suffering spirit as He dies for His people.
In Zechariah 3, as in Isaiah 49, it is the Servant who does these things, even He will bears the glory (Zech. 6:12-13), being BOTH priest and prince, beyond the allocations to man, being God. This is illustrated further in Zech. 12:10, where again speaking as God, the Lord reveals that it is HE whom they pierced. Later we shall see likewise it is no other than He who is betrayed, whose wages are weighed at a pitifully small figure, who is despised.
Babylon, captured by Cyrus in 539 B.C. was not destroyed by him, but by Alexander the Great, some 2 centuries later. It became a mound later again. Just as it lingered before final death, so its ways have lingered, before they too will die on the return of Christ.