II. The King Is Coming (Zechariah 9:1–14:21)
II. The King Is Coming (9:1–14:21)
In this section, Zechariah’s good news of the coming kingdom is expanded to include the good news of the coming King. A future King will destroy Judah’s enemies, protect the nation, and bring peace and prosperity. His glorious kingdom will have a champion who will make the house of Judah the preeminent empire on the planet. Zechariah reveals the agenda of the King.
A. Judgment on Enemies and the Coming of the Shepherd (9:1–11:17)
9:1-4 Israel and Judah had many enemies throughout their history. In every direction—north, south, east, and west—there were nations wishing for their demise. The prophetic promise of Zechariah is that there will come a time when the enemies of God’s people will be permanently removed. That news would’ve captured the hearts and minds of the former exiles.
Zechariah mentions several cities and nation states that would be punished because of their mistreatment of Judah. And their judgment was certain because who can come to your defense if the word of the Lord is against you? This was the case for Hadrach and Damascus (in modern Syria); they were longtime enemies of Israel (9:1). The list of names also includes Hamath . . . Tyre and Sidon (9:2-3). They would end up being consumed by fire (9:4).
9:5-8 Ashkelon . . . Gaza . . . Ekron were cities of the Philistines—arch enemies of God’s people from before the time of King David (9:5-6). Soon, their atrocities would be repaid. Nevertheless, in spite of his judgment on the Philistines, God promised that they, too, would become a remnant for our God (9:7). There will one day be “a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language” worshipping the Lamb (Rev 7:9)—even from among those who were some of the greatest enemies of his people.
9:9 Then Zechariah exhorts Jerusalem to rejoice and shout in triumph because their King is coming. Of course, in Zechariah’s day, Jerusalem had no king but was ruled over by foreign powers. But, Zechariah was looking to the future. On that day, the righteous and victorious Messiah would enter Jerusalem, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
This was fulfilled in part when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey days before he was crucified as an atoning substitute for sinners and rose from the dead (see Matt 21:1-11). When he returns, he will again enter Jerusalem—this time as a triumphant King establishing his kingdom.
9:10 The dominion of the King will cover the entire earth; it will extend from sea to sea, from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth. The entire planet will submit to the reign of God’s Messiah!
9:11-17 According to Isaiah, Jerusalem had received “double for all her sins” (Isa 40:2). But, in the days to come, God declares, I will restore double to you (9:12). They will conquer their enemies with the Lord providing defense (9:13-15). In the last days, in fact, God will deliver Israel and cause his people to sparkle like jewels in a crown (9:16). How does Zechariah respond to this glorious prophecy? He exclaims, How lovely and beautiful! (9:17).
10:1-7 Not only would the Lord judge the external enemies of his people (9:1-8), but he would also judge the enemies among them. They wander like sheep . . . because there is no shepherd (10:2)—that is, their leaders had failed to follow God and care for his people. Therefore, the Lord declares, My anger burns against the shepherds (10:3). In the last days, God will strengthen . . . deliver . . . and restore Judah. His compassion will be so great that it will be as though he never rejected them (10:6).
10:8-12 In the last days, God will draw Israel together. He will whistle and gather them from the distant lands (10:8-9). Any who oppose them will be brought to an end (10:11). But Israel will be strengthened by God (10:12). The Messiah will reunite and restore his people under his kingdom rule, and they will walk in his ways.
11:1-11 Next, Zechariah moves past the overtones of the greatness of the kingdom under the King to the pronouncement of judgment on Israel because their leaders would reject the King and his teachings. The shepherds cared only about profiting from the sheep. They had no compassion for the people (11:5). In view of that the Lord says, I will no longer have compassion on the inhabitants of the land (11:6).
The Lord called Zechariah to stand in for the good shepherd (11:4), so the prophet shepherded the flock with his two staffs named Favor and Union (11:7). Zechariah foresaw a time when the leadership would not respond to the Lord as they should and would go their own way just as their forefathers had done. That the leaders, three shepherds (probably representative of prophets, priests, and kings), detested the good shepherd (11:7-8) most likely refers prophetically to the rejection of the Messiah at his first coming. Thus, the prophet declares, I will no longer shepherd you (11:9). This might refer to the “partial hardening” that would come upon Israel for spurning her Messiah (Rom 11:25).
11:12-14 When the good shepherd, Zechariah in this case, asked for his wages, Israel valued him at thirty pieces of silver—the price of a slave (11:12-13; see Exod 21:32). So, as instructed by God, he threw the silver pieces into the house of the Lord, to the potter, demonstrating how insulting this cheap amount was (11:13). This rejection would lead to internal strife and division in Israel (11:14).
This prophecy would be fulfilled when the true good shepherd came. Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’s twelve disciples, agreed to betray him to the chief priests for “thirty pieces of silver” (Matt 26:14-16). When Judas felt remorse after this, he returned the money and hanged himself (Matt 27:1-5). The chief priests took the returned money and “bought the potter’s field with it” (Matt 27:6-7).
11:15-17 After representing the “good shepherd” (11:4-14), Zechariah was called by God to represent a foolish shepherd (11:15). This so-called shepherd would be ruthless. He wouldn’t care for the perishing or seek the lost. Instead, he would devour the . . . sheep (11:16). The worthless shepherd in view is likely the Antichrist (11:17). Everything he’ll do is the opposite of what the good shepherd would (see John 10:11-16). In the end, the foolish shepherd will be vanquished (11:17).
B. The Messiah and His Kingdom (12:1–14:21)
12:1 Zechariah prefaces this next word of the Lord by describing him as the one who stretched out the heavens, laid the foundation of the earth, and formed the spirit of man. In other words, the Creator of the universe is powerful enough to accomplish all of his will. If he declares something, it’s as good as done.
12:2-9 In the final days, Jerusalem will be surrounded by their enemies. But, the Lord will make them a cup that causes staggering for the peoples who surround them (12:2). The image of a cup brings to mind other prophetic passages describing the “cup” of the wrath of God (see, e.g., Isa 51:17; Jer 25:15-16). Those who attempt to attack the Messiah’s capital city, then, will experience God’s fury. God will make his people a flaming torch that will consume all the peoples around them (12:6). He will deliver Israel from her enemies and defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The weakest of Jerusalem’s inhabitants will be like David, the warrior king (12:8).
12:10-14 Not only will it be a time of deliverance for Jerusalem but also a time of repentance. God will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on them. Then they will look on the one whom they pierced—Jesus Christ—and they will recognize their Messiah (12:10). There will be great weeping and mourning throughout the land, as individual and corporate repentance takes place (12:10-14).
13:1-6 On that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the residents of Jerusalem, to wash away sin and impurity (13:1). After their repentance, God will cleanse the nation from its sinfulness, and the land will be purged from its evil and idolatry (13:2). False prophets will be removed from the land; they will no longer be able to fake being something they are not (13:2-6). False sheep will not be able to find any covering or hiding place in the kingdom.
13:7 Then, Zechariah returns to the Messiah’s first coming, speaking a prophecy from the Lord that announces the Messiah’s rejection and death: Sword, awake against my shepherd . . . Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. The Jews did, indeed, reject the shepherd when he came to them. In fact, on the night he was betrayed, during his final meal with his disciples, Jesus quoted from this passage and told them, “Tonight all of you will fall away because of me” (Matt 26:31).
13:8-9 This leads to the dispersion of Israel and, eventually, to the future tribulation that will result in Israel’s persecution and ultimate purification when they call on the name of the Lord in repentance and faith: They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say: They are my people, and they will say: The Lord is our God (13:9). Then, God’s people will experience his kingdom promises.
14:1-5 Zechariah 14:1 refers to the day of the Lord, a time of divine judgment and restoration. It will be a time of judgment for God’s enemies and deliverance for his followers—judgment in the tribulation and restoration in the millennial kingdom. Nations will gather . . . against Israel for her destruction (14:2), but God will use this gathering as the occasion to fight for them and rescue them (14:3). The Messiah will come to the Mount of Olives to judge the nations, and the mountain will split and provide a way of escape for those trapped in Jerusalem (14:4-5).
14:6-19 God will transform the entire environment and topography of Jerusalem (14:6-8, 10-11). King Jesus will reign over the whole earth from that place (14:9). Those who warred against Jerusalem and the Messiah will suffer a plague of judgment (14:12), but all the survivors from the nations will come to Jerusalem to worship the King who will reign in prominence and dominance (14:16). They will celebrate the Festival of Shelters, and if any nation refuses to celebrate, God will withhold rain from them (14:16-19). Though there will be some rebellion in the messianic kingdom before the eternal state is ushered in, the general nature of the kingdom will involve the exultation of the Lord. Any open rebellion against the Messiah will be quickly crushed, because he will be ruling with an iron rod.
14:20-21 In that day, everything will be sacred, and the whole earth will be permeated by the holiness of the Lord. This knowledge of God’s glorious future for his people should motivate believers of every age to endure and obey. Let us joyfully worship the one who will bring history to its divinely ordained conclusion.