Today: [Zecheriah 9] Zecheriah Prophesies the Triumph of Christ over the Grave: In chapter 9 of Zecheriah, the prophet describes salvation being brought not only to the ethnic Jews but to those among the Gentiles who would believe on His name. He further speaks by the Spirit of God of Jesus ascending into hell and setting free the captives among the righteous dead who waited upon the salvation that would be wrought by the Messiah Himself.
[Zec 9:1-17 KJV] 1 The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus [shall be] the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, [shall be] toward the LORD. 2 And Hamath also shall border thereby; Tyrus, and Zidon, though it be very wise. 3 And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets. 4 Behold, the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire. 5 Ashkelon shall see [it], and fear; Gaza also [shall see it], and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited. 6 And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. 7 And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth: but he that remaineth, even he, [shall be] for our God, and he shall be as a governor in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite. 8 And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes. 9 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, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion [shall be] from sea [even] to sea, and from the river [even] to the ends of the earth. 11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein [is] no water. 12 Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare [that] I will render double unto thee; 13 When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man. 14 And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south. 15 The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, [and] make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, [and] as the corners of the altar. 16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they [shall be as] the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land. 17 For how great [is] his goodness, and how great [is] his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.
Chapter 9 of Zecheriah begins with a prophecy directed at the nation of Syria. It describes the eyes of men being toward the Lord just as the eyes of the 10 tribes of Israel have been in their times of faithfulness to God. What this is alluding to is the “other sheep, not of this fold,” or the Gentile conversion that Jesus made mention of in John 10:16.
Specifically, Zecheriah refers to the burden of the Lord laying upon Syria as a judgment, along with the city-state of Tyre being predicted to fall as well as Ashkelon, Gaza and Ekron of the Philistines for their enmities against God and against His peoples. The judgment on the Philistines is that they will be ruled (v. 6) by an illegitimate king, and that their habit of including blood in their diet along with other things forbidden in the law would be brought to an end.
In spite of these judgments on the Gentile nations, v. 7 suggeset that among the Syrians and Philistines there would be those that would seek the Lord who would remain while the remainder of the heathen populace would be taken away in fierce judgment. This again speaks of the coming day when the Gentile races would seek the Lord and come to faith in Jesus Christ which was fulfilled in the days of the book of Acts. In v. 8 the picture is of God “encamping around His house” among the faithful Jews and Gentiles. The house spoken of is not just a reference to a literal temple but of the temple or house of the church made up of the lively stones of each individual believer whether they be Jews or Gentiles.
In v. 9 we see that the writings of Zecheriah were keenly in the mind of Jesus, because He intentionally fulfilled this specific verse in Matt. 21:2-9 when He instructed His disciples to provide for Him the foal of an ass for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. By this reference we can deduce that just as He took instruction from this passage in Zecheriah regarding the timing and manner of declaring Himself to the people of Jerusalem, He likewise would have taken notice of the mention of the Gentiles coming to Him in salvation from among the nations of the earth and specifically mentioned them as the “other sheep” not of the fold of the ethnic Jewish nation. This verse 10 further attests to, describing the dominion of the Messiah as extending from sea to sea and even unto the ends of the earth.
The scope of the dominion of the Messiah not only extended to all the nations of the earth, but notice in v. 11 that it refers to the prisoners being brought out of the pit where there is no water. What might this have meant to Jesus when He studied this passage? The point being that Jesus wasn’t born in the manger with an inherent knowledge of who He was. Luke refers to the fact that Jesus, in His youth grew to understanding of who He was and what His calling was:
[Luk 2:40 KJV] 40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
In v. 11 then, Jesus would have found a command that He would not only be Messiah over all the Jews and the Gentiles among the living, but that there would come a point when He would bring the prisoners of the Lord out of the pit itself which could only be a reference to hell and the after-life. In that reference then, Jesus would have understood that at some point it would be necessary for Him to die and descend into Hell to set the captives, the righteous dead, free and lead them from Paradise to heaven itself – by “the blood of the covenant”. What was the blood of the covenant? It was not the blood of sacrificial animals but the blood of the suffering Savior paying the sin debt of all mankind, not only those living but also those righteous dead under the law that were awaiting their redemption. These are those described in v. 12 as “prisoners of hope” being encouraged to turn to the stronghold of their faith and expect that the “double” or the covering of their sins would be rendered unto them when Jesus Himself would descend to them, preach the gospel of His truth and set them free from death, hell and the grave as referred to in Eph. 4:10-12.
Verses 13-17 describe the warfare by which the salvation of the people of God would be delivered, and saved (v. 16) as a shepherd would save His flock. They would not only be saved, but would be promoted as a people regarded like jewels in a king’s crown, lifted up as a sign to the earth of the mastery of the Messiah over death itself. This again is a reference to all those that Jesus preached to in Paradise, lifting them up as a first fruits resurrection extending hope to all of us that we likewise one day will be raised to new life. The sign that was given of the resurrection of the righteous dead was fulfilled in Matt. 27:51-53 at the time that Jesus gave up the ghost:
[Mat 27:51-53 KJV] 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
These righteous dead that appeared on the day of Jesus crucifixion gives us the deeper implications as to why Joseph instructed that his bones not be buried in Egypt but in the environs of the city of Jerusalem, because he knew something and understood something of the plan of God and therefore made provision that his bones be preserved and carried through the wilderness for 40 years until such time as he was planted in faith and raised to resurrection during the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ as Zecheriah states an ensign, or sign of the salvation to come upon all men, Jew and Gentile when Jesus paid the price for our sins.
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