SEE, YOUR KING COMES TO YOU
BY MARK MOON
Key verse 9
Chapters 9-14 are prophetic in nature and deal with the overthrow of world powers and the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom. This great prophetic section contains two prophetic oracles. The first oracle in chapters 9-11 basically embraces the first coming and the rejection of Messiah. It describes the judgment through which world powers are destroyed and the House of Judah (the Church?) coming into full blessings with strength to overcome all her enemies and sorrows. The second oracle in chapters 12-14 deals with the second coming and acceptance of Messiah. It deals with the divine purging through which Israel herself is sifted in the final great struggle with the nations and is changed into a holy and priestly nation.
Chapter 9 is a prophecy against the land of Hadrack, Tyre and Sidon, Philistine cities, and coming of the Messiah king. It describes two times of deliverance for God’s people. First destruction would be sent upon their surrounding countries that I mentioned. Jerusalem alone of the major cities of that region would emerge safe and intact. The other deliverance (9:13-17) is set against the background of a conflict with Greece, which is subdued by the LORD going forth like a whirlwind. As a result of God’s distinguishing actions His blessed people will shine like a diadem. Between these two deliverance accounts there is introduced the Peaceful King whose dominion would be worldwide and who would accomplish much (9:9-11). Despite their depressed circumstances, His people should even now be able to capture some of the joy of anticipation that will be realized when their Peaceful King comes.
- THE PROPHECY AGAINST THE LAND OF HADRACK (1-2a)
Look at verse 1. “The Word of the LORD is against the land of Hadrack and will rest upon Damascus”. New American Standard Bible reads as “The burden of the word of the Lord is against the land of Hadrach, with Damascus as its resting place”. The word burden (massa – ) is from the root word, nasa, “to lift up or take up.” The word has a primary meaning of load, burden, judgment and a secondary understanding of declaration. This weighty message of the LORD is pronounced as coming down on Israel’s neighbors starting with Hadrach (bordering on the Euphrates River). Hadrach was an Aramean city-state near Damascus and Hamath (“fortress”). It was located in the interior of modern Syria across the Lebanon Mountains near Damascus, which was the leading city of the Arameans. Thus the area of Damascus is the initial resting place of the weighty prophetic burden. Though the strike would fall upon Hadrach, its ultimate goal was the capital city of Damascus. The Arameans were long–standing enemies of Israel (1 Kgs. 20:1; 2 Kgs.10:32-33), and judgment had been pronounced against it by the other prophets (Isa. 17:1-3; Jer. 49:23-27; Amos 1:3-5). At this time Damascus was the seat of the Persian governor of the province of Trans–Euphrates. This is judgment to come upon the occupying power. It is clear that Damascus would be unable to resist what the LORD has determined.
So this weighty word foretells the judgment against this area by the Greek armies under the command of young Alexander the Great. Alexander did in fact devastate the city on his way south to Egypt. Damascus was full of Darius’ riches and became Alexander’s headquarters for a time.
Alexander’s conquests had an effect to turn “the eyes of men toward the LORD for there was no possible way help could come from any other source, so the eyes of all men especially all the tribes of Israel are toward the Lord, looking to Him for deliverance.
The catalogue of those on whom the LORD’s word of judgment is rendered continues in verse 2. “And Hamath which borders on it;” Hamath is modern Hama (which Amos 6:2 calls “great Hamath) was on the north border of Damascus. Damascus and Hamath were the key towns in the land of Hadrach (2 Kings 23:33; 25:6,7,20,21). They would both experience the same fate of destruction by the Macedonian conqueror. Having indicated the two capital cities which represent Syria, the prophet proceeds to speak of the capitals of Phoenicia.
- THE PROPHECY AGAINST TYRE AND SIDON (2b-4)
The focus in the second part of verse 2 shifts south to Phoenician territory on the coast west of Damascus, in the area of modern Lebanon. After conquering the Arameans or Syria, Alexander the Great came against the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. They were located on Mediterranean coast and stood in the conqueror’s path in his victorious sweep into Egypt. Though Sidon was the mother city of Tyre, Tyre completely outranked it. Sidon surrendered to Alexander without a struggle. Tyre is singled out for special mention in this prophecy. Despite her idolatry and immorality, she was a place of prosperity and worldly wisdom. The Phoenicians were renowned traders (Ezek. 27:12-24), and ‘skillful’ refers to their ability to make money. She was the greatest commercial and naval city in the world and of great importance in the Persian Empire. [‘By your wisdom and understanding you have gained wealth for yourself … By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth’ (Ezek. 28:4, 5).]
The statement “Tyre has built herself a stronghold” is spoken ironically (3). Their great wealth proved a snare to them by encouraging pride and self–confidence. Their desire for profit involved them in ruthless and unprincipled action (Ezek. 28:16; Amos 1:9). She thought herself wise and able to outwit even God. So proud was Tyre that Ezekiel expanded his prophecy of doom pronounced on her to encompass the pre-fall career of Satan himself (Ezekiel 28:2-8).
Verse 3 details some displays of her worldly wisdom. “Tyre has built herself a stronghold; she has heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets.” Tyre, meaning ‘rock’, was built on a small island about a half mile from the mainland. Isaiah calls the fortress “the stronghold of the sea” (23:4). It was surrounded by a double wall 150 feet high. This rocky ‘stronghold’ or fortress (matsor) and its surrounding wall and sea gave Tyre it’s great strength and indestructible position. To emphasize her great wealth and consequent power, Zechariah uses two very descriptive similes: heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets. Tyre had plentiful gold and silver.
Worldly wisdom, natural strength and material resources are of no avail if it is the Lord who pronounces judgment against us, and that is true of nations as well as individuals. When the LORD decided Tyre’s time had come, all her entrenched might was worthless. Its worldly wisdom could not withstand the purposes of God as is prophesied in verse 4. “But the Lord will take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea, and she will be consumed by fire.” Tyre built a 150 feet high double wall to encompass it. It was such a dependable protection that Assyria’s King Shalmaneser besieged it for five years unsuccessfully. Then Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian ruler of the world, tried in vain to take it for thirteen years. It had never been overcome or mastered.
Tyre’s wealth, commerce and indestructibility caused ancient historians to speak of the pride and self-security of the Tyrians. They appeared unconquerable. But no prophecy of the Old Testament was more dramatically fulfilled. For about one hundred and fifty years later (332 B.C.) Alexander the Great did what no one else had been able to do. When the city resisted, Alexander built a land bridge out to it, using the debris of the abandoned mainland city. The city was then bombarded with siege engines as its port was blockaded. The proud city was conquered for the first time in history in seven months. Ten thousand of its defenders were exterminated by the angered Alexander and the rest 20,000 people were sold into slavery. The land bridge still stands today as a testimony to the execution of judgment upon the proud, luxurious and idolatrous city.
One is “dispossessed” when another is made to inherit. Alexander took all her wealth, threw her wall into the sea and burned the city. He did this in seven months! No power can continue to prosper apart from the Living God. Tyre was literally scraped flat (Ezek. 26:4-12, 27:27).
III. THE PROPHECY AGAINST THE PHILISTINE CITIES (5-7)
After conquering Tyre, Alexander the Great would sweep south putting fear to all in his path. Verse 5 reveals the fear his army would cause some traditional enemies of Israel. “Ashkelon will see it and fear; Gaza will writhe in agony, and Ekron too, for her hope will wither. Gaza will lose her king and Ashkelon will be deserted.” Including Ashdod, four capital cities of Philistia are mentioned in this prophecy of Alexander’s advance. These great cities were south of Israel. Because Ashkelon was on the sea it would be the first to hear of the destruction of its ally Tyre. Who does not fear when they see their neighbor’s house on fire and learn that it’s coming toward their own and they are helpless to oppose it. Certainly Alexander made slaves of them and carried them into captivity even though they surrendered without a fight.
The annals of Alexander fully record the fate of Gaza. This fortress ventured to defy the great conqueror in spite of Tyre’s fate. The city held out for two months against Alexander. The delay intensely irritated Alexander whose main weapon was speed and decisiveness. So Gaza’s king, Batis, was bound to a chariot and dragged to death. Ten thousand of its inhabitants were slain and the rest were sold into bondage.
Verse 6 refers to Alexander’s action of replacing native people. “Foreigners will occupy Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.” The national and racial heritage of Ashdod was lost. A rabble, apparently persons of mixed or ignoble birth, made up a disorganized population that replaced its inhabitants. Alexander’s policy was to mingle different conquered peoples in a place other than where they were born. The Philistines were arrogant in their independence and in their nationality. But their pride was cut off. Pride refers to the exaltation of the nation in its outward splendor of its cities and temples. Alexander removed the wealth and dispersion destroyed their national heritage. What they trusted in most was destroyed and taken away.
Next there is a surprising turn of events. In verse 7 there is a ray of promised mercy shining out of the forbidding cloud of judgment which was to fall upon the Philistines. Read 7. Although the Philistines are to be subjected to judgment, the LORD also has gracious intentions towards them. But this good does not come to them irrespective of their character. For the judgment against their pride is intended to bring about good. So first God proposes to remove from them the pagan practices to which they tenaciously clung.
Judgments are meant to be redemptive. These great judgments were needed to help the Philistines who seemed so unwilling to help themselves. So stubbornly did they cling to their wretched practices that the blood has to be removed from their teeth (Amos 3:12). When God forcibly deprives them of these things, some will submit and forsake their idolatrous ways just as a remnant of Israel did. Thus judgment would purge away abominable idolatrous practices and for this they should be thankful despite the hurt and pain and suffering used to accomplish it.
Now comes the element of surprise included in verse 7. This judgment was for the Philistines people’s deliverance from their idolatrous abominations so that God might incorporate a remnant into the people of God as the second half of verse 7 indicates. “Those who are left will belong to our God and become leaders in Judah, and Ekron will be like the Jebusites.” Judgment upon Israel’s neighbors would cleanse them so a remnant can be converted. God’s corrective work upon hard-necked enemies of His people can bring about conversion at least for a portion of them.
No matter your birth or your background, God welcomes you. Ekron is singled out for incorporation into Judah because of it’s close geographical position. It is paralleled to the Jebusites because many Jebusites had previously accepted Israel’s God. (2 Sam. 24:16). The ancient Jebusites inhabited Zion when Melchizedek was priest, and continued there until David took the city of Jerusalem.
Covenant blessings (Gen. 12:1-3) extend to more than the natural descendants of Abraham. This theme is often proclaimed in the Psalms (Ps. 67; 87; 117; 148) and the prophets (Isa. 2:2-5, 11; 19:23-25; Amos 9:12; Mic. 4:1-5; Joel 2:32). God’s covenant extends beyond boundaries of race and nation, but it does not accept or compromise with paganism. The LORD incorporates them within His people after He has purged them of their pagan ways.
This seventh verse was not fulfilled by the deeds of Alexander. After the conquest of Alexander the national distinctions began breaking down and through withdrawing wars and centuries remnants with boundaries to Israel (Zeph. 2:4, Obad.20) confessed Israel’s God. The final fulfillment of this verse will not be until the Kingdom of Christ shall obtain the victory that has been foretold in the preceding and following chapters.
- THE PROPHECY OF THE COMING KING (8-9)
Having cleansed the land, the prophesied warrior now comes to Jerusalem with his army. The LORD though had determination to treat His people in a distinctively different way. The promise of verse 8, like many other prophecies, compresses into one thought events which were separated by many years in their fulfillment. “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.”
History records the partial fulfillment of two specific prophecies when Alexander’s forces arrived at Jerusalem. Even the partial fulfillment of this verse is amazing because it states that during the invasion of Alexander, Jerusalem will be spared. Alexander did spare Jerusalem, and he treated the Jews with great favor.
Camp is a military term denoting the settling down of an army. “My house” which means the temple is a symbol of the LORD’s presence with His people, and the LORD would camp around his people with an invisible host. All gracious protection of God’s people can be attributed to His watchful care. The Jews were not oppressed either on the army’s march to or from Egypt despite their defiance of him.
“Never again will an oppressor overrun my people.” The language points forward to the final security of the people of God. This can only apply to the 2nd coming of the Messiah. Never will such oppressors (literally, slave drivers) such as Egypt, Syria, Babylon, Perisa, or Alexander the world conqueror, or the Romans, overrun God’s people again (Isa. 60:18; Ezek. 28:24).
What happened at the time of Alexander was a foreshadowing of the protection God will extend to His people the church, to those ‘who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time’ (1 Pet. 1:5). For after that “the prince of power of the air” will never oppress us again.
“For now I am keeping watch” indicates that God will one day see it happen. God has always known in His foreknowledge that Israel would return and be delivered, but at that time He will see it with His own eyes.
Look at verse 9. Following up on the LORD’s presence in the Temple with His people, the prophet is shown the Messianic King’s entrance into Jerusalem. As he relates this marvelous scene to the people, he urges them in verse 9 to express their gratefulness for its significance by shouting joyful praise.
“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Now we completely turn from the victorious progress of the great Gentile world conqueror with his mighty army to the great Deliverer whose strength rests not in chariots nor in armies of flesh. How different these world conquerors and the means by which they conquer are. Alexander conquered by the mightiest war machine the world had seen and Messiah conquered by dying on a cross to make atonement for human sin.
Against the background prophecy of the invincible marching armies of Alexander the Great emerges another great King and deliverer in striking contrast. He comes not to slay His foes but to provide salvation for them. He comes not rich and powerful but poor and meek, not riding a glorious chariot but riding upon a humble donkey.
Here comes One who is unmistakably different from that of the other similar conquerors. The heralding of the daughter of Zion’s King is given with stirring imperatives of joy. As the people recognize the One for whom they have been waiting so long, their response is to have no bounds. Rejoice means “go round and round,” be ecstatically joyous. It is even reinforced by the adverb “exceedingly” or greatly. The second imperative is shout, to raise a shout, a triumphant shout with zealous inspiration. Those commanded to rejoice and shout are called the “Daughter of Zion.” The daughter of Zion is the LORD’s people, soon to become His Church.
The third line the prophet speaks as if he was actually viewing the scene. The verb “See” asks you to center your attention upon the person of the coming King. The long ago promised and the long expected King is coming! He, who when Israel had their Kings, was promised as the King. He who is above all other Kings was coming! He whose kingdom is over all other Kingdoms is coming. He who is LORD of Lords and King of Kings! He is coming to you to do for you what you can’t do for yourself.
Three characteristics of the coming King are described. First, He is just-righteous. Alexander was not so. He was often violently unjust with those who offended his towering ego. But this King is just in conduct and in character, sinless in deed and perfect in judgment. The prime prerequisite in any ruler is that he be just. All ruling functions are distorted when this regulative is absent (Isa. 11:4, 2 Sam. 23:3).
Second, the Messiah-King is endowed with salvation – showing Himself as Savior. Alexander butchered and slaughtered tens of thousands and sold hundreds of thousands into slavery. But the Son of Man came not to destroy men’s lives but to save and redeem them (Lk. 9:56).
Third, He is lowly – humble, poor, afflicted, submissive in poverty and need. What a contrast to the proud, dashing, rich, and highly acclaimed world conqueror Alexander. Messiah was in poverty and need and was rejected and afflicted by evil men. An illustration of the Messiah’s lowliness is that He would appear riding on a donkey. He presents Himself to His people not in outward pomp or with a display of worldly power. What a contrast to Alexander’s war steed.
The next sentence more precisely defines the kind of donkey which the Messiah shall ride upon. It will be a foal or young animal, not yet ridden on, still accustomed to running behind mature donkeys. As a war horse is certainly an emblem of war, so a donkey foal represents the peaceful character of His mission of deliverance (Gen. 49:11).
As you know, this prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus was entering Jurusalem riding on a donkey. The King was different. He humbly entered the city on the back of a lowly beast of burden. By doing so, He proclaimed that His triumphal procession had no relation to earthly political priorities. His goal was to provide salvation for all mankind. His success would be achieved once He had made salvation possible for us through His death on the cross.
The multitudes, however, didn’t understand. Thinking only in terms of earthly prosperity and freedom from Rome, they enthusiastically welcomed Him. Yet, tragically, a few days later the crowds were shouting; “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
Many people today admire Jesus but do not recognize Him as the Savior of sinners. Man’s deepest need, though, cannot be met until the sin problem is faced and overcome. For this reason, Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey with His face set toward the cross, knowing full well the painful death He would have to suffer there.
Now, having paid the price for human sin, He is highly exalted at God’s right hand and will come again as King of kings and Lord of lords. But the cross had to precede the crown. Without the cross, there could be no crown.
Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem was a fulfillment of this astounding Messianic Prophecy.
The Triumphal Entry of Jesus riding into Jerusalem was predicted more than 500 years before it happened. Just as this prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus came to earth, so the prophecies of His second coming are just as certain to come true. We are to be ready for His return… for “Behold, your King is coming!” (NASB).