The Coming of the Lord
9Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Zechariah continues this oracle. In the previous chapter, he spoke prophetically about one of the great earthly rulers, Alexander, who was to come and conquer the nearby nations. Perhaps the greatness of this earthly ruler brought to mind an even greater ruler, who would come from heaven, for in this brief interlude, Zechariah speaks of the coming of Zion’s King, their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. "Nations trembled at the coming of Alexander, but the people of Israel are enjoined to rejoice greatly at the presence of King Messiah, for He comes not only to them but for them, for their benefit and salvation" [Feinberg, 317]. In these two verses, Zechariah summarizes the two comings of Jesus Christ. He was to come once in humility, once in majesty. "For although, as already stated, there is no perspective observed in Old Testament prophecy, and the two advents of the Messiah are often seen and spoken of by the prophets as one, we know now, in the fuller light of the partial fulfillment, that there is a coming of the Redeemer first in humiliation to suffer and die, before He shall come again a second time in divine majesty to reign over this earth" [Baron, 305].
Concerning the Messiah’s first coming, Zechariah writes: "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey" (vs. 9). This verse does not merely prophesy in general terms about the first coming of the Messiah, but it points to a specific event which was to take place. This event, now in the past, occurred on what we call Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered Jerusalem "riding on a donkey" to the accolades of the crowd. The form of this prophecy is actually an exhortation. In fact, it is an exhortation to that crowd who was to be in Jerusalem on that day, an exhortation to "Rejoice greatly" and to "Shout" in praise to their King. In the fulfillment of this prophecy, the crowd heeded the exhortation. They shouted, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord" and "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest" (Luke 19:38). The Pharisees took issue with what the crowd was shouting, because they knew that the crowd was proclaiming Jesus to be their Messiah and King. However, this was an event that was destined to happen. It was prophesied. As if to acknowledge this, Jesus told the Pharisees: "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out" (Luke 19:40).
There is much beauty, much worthy of praise, concerning our Messiah, Jesus Christ, in these few words of Zechariah. First, Zechariah tells us: "Your king comes to you…." We have a God that cares for us so much that He sent His Son, our Lord and King, to come to us. Next, Zechariah tells us that He is "righteous and having salvation…." If Zechariah had just said He is "righteous", we would have reason to fear His coming, for we, in our sin, deserve punishment from a "righteous" king. Yet, Zechariah added, "…and having salvation." In this, we can greatly rejoice. Our Messiah brought salvation from the judgment for our sins. Then also, Zechariah tells us that our King came "gentle and riding on a donkey." He came gently and humbly. His gentleness makes Him accessible. We have no reason to fear Jesus, unless we choose to reject Him as our Lord and King. He came in humility as a model for us. If He, who is righteous comes humbly, how much more should we live our lives, not in self-righteous conceit, but in humility, with an awareness of our shortcomings?
This verse in Zechariah’s book is an amazing prophecy, which we should not take for granted. It specifically foretells an event in the life of Jesus, and also specifically foretells the mien of Jesus in His first coming: "righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey."
In verse 10, Zechariah jumps to the end-times, when the King will return to rule: "I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth" (vs. 10). The emphasis here is the peace that Jesus will bring, the peace, that is, that comes after His wrath is poured out upon His enemies. To usher in the peace, the weapons of war will be done away with: "I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken." The Lord, with complete authority and power, will "proclaim peace to the nations." There will be no need for peace talks, or peace agreements. Peace will simply be "proclaimed" by the Lord, and that will be that.
The Lord will rule from the promised land, "from sea to sea." This probably refers to the prophesied limits of the land promised to the Israelites: "I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River" (Ex. 23:31). The Israelites never themselves took possession of this land that they have been promised, even to this day. But later, Jesus will rule "from sea to sea", but then also, His rule will extend "from the River to the ends of the earth."
As of this writing, some 2000 years has passed since the fulfillment of verse 9 of this prophecy. The fulfillment of verse 10 is yet to come. Do not be discouraged, dear friends, at the delay of the fulfillment of the promises of the Lord’s coming. This is, as Peter tells us, a working of God’s grace: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (II Pet. 3:9).