May 15, 2011

Minor Prophets XCII: March of Destruction

In Zechariah 9:1-8 we see nations that God describes as coming under judgment? What is the organizing pattern of these nations in the passage? When did this judgment take place?

It is believed that Alexander the Great is the cause of the chaos and destruction in these prophetic verses. Alexander having defeated the Persians in 333 B.C. then turned his eye to the leading cities of Phoenica. The order of the cities that fall corresponds with the southern line of march of Alexander’s army in. The countries begin north of Israel in the land of Hadrach/Hatarikka a territory known only by Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions. It is only mentioned once in the Bible, in these verses. The march continues south to Damascus the capital if Aram. Hamath was an Aramean (Syrian) city north of Damascus. To the West Tyre and Sidon. Tyre had withstood a 5 years siege by Assyria under Shalmaneser V and then later a 13 years siege by the Babylonians. Their ultimate destruction supposedly by Alexander are credited to God’s actions in destroying their “power on the sea”. Four of the five Philistine cities are next on the chopping block (minus Gath), they include: Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron and Ashkelon will be deserted. Ironically (or providentially) the Macedonian army of Alexander passed and then re-passed the city without laying siege to it. It is obvious in hindsight that this is divine protection from God or as the Bible says “I [God] will defend My house”.

There is a minor issue of interpreting prophecy in Zechariah 9:9-13 in terms of fulfillment. How on.

I see absolutely no issue in interpreting this in hindsight. It is clear this prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus Christ. This is recorded in all four of the Gospels. As a matter of fact it is the only purposefully public demonstration Jesus allowed during His ministry and He did it and allowed it to fulfill the prophetic Scripture. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass.” The issue in interpreting this in foresight.
The real issue here appears to be timing. Zechariah put this directly adjacent to the portion after Alexander. A clear separation of over 300 years. In the text you would not realize this…except in hindsight. Only in the future in hindsight could some have the “A ha!” moment and see the connection. It could’ve been assumed that this king on a foal of an ass would’ve come right after the fulfillments by Alexander but there was centuries of hiatus between. The other issue appears to be there are many colts and many people that could potentially pass for a “king”. Look at the Jews themselves. They anticipated a military type king like David…they got a servant leader instead and many didn’t even recognize Him. Terminologies such as Ephraim are direct in terms of geography but nebulous in terms of specifics. Later in verse 10 we see even more vague geographical statements such as, “ his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Until people understood that Christ was going to affect a spiritual change in all people, the people of Israel thought He was their king, it was based in their covenant. How could they know that the mystery declared in Ephesians 1 was going to come into fruition…that God was going to graft the Gentiles into the fold?

I will include a brief summarization of Zechariah 9:14-17 as it relates to the above paragraphs and the later chapters.

The Messiah will appear and march forth like a storm (not unlike Habakkuk 3:3-15) with a voice like thunder and lightning like arrows. In verse 15 the image changes to a feast and the prophet sees soldiers roaring (shouting) like men drunk on wine. Instead of wine though they will be drunk on the blood of their enemies. Each of them filled to the brim like the bowls used in sprinkling at the altar. The image shifts again and we as the reader are presented with image of an army or group as sheep with the Lord saving them by His power. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. This section ends with a brief description of the land and the changes God will make for His people. “How attractive and beautiful they will be! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women.”
Wiersbe, Warren W.. "Zechariah: Messiah The Shepherd King." The Bible Exposition Commentary . 1. print. ed. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor, 2001. 465-466. Print.

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