Zechariah 9-10. The Kingdom of the Prince of Peace

The final section of Zechariah’s book consists of two oracles that look forward to the Messianic King and His kingdom. Chapters 9 to 11 refer, for the most part, to the first coming of the Messiah, stressing the theme of His rejection, but also giving a prophetic outline of Israel’s history to the end-times. Chapters 12 to 14 focus on the Messiah’s Second Coming and emphasise His enthronement as part of the grand finale of Israel’s history. The two oracles contain numerous passages which are counterparts to major themes of the eight visions, thus emphasising the unity of the entire book.

Judgements on Israel’s enemies (9:1-8)

These verses describe the destruction of various enemies of Israel. Alexander the Great of Greece was the human cause of the destruction set forth in these verses, but his involvement is bypassed in this prophecy to stress the ultimate divine cause of the judgement on certain cities and countries. Hadrach was a city and country lying north of Hamath. Damascus was the capital of Aram (Syria) and Hamath was also a Syrian city. Westward on the coast were the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. These were all conquered by Alexander, thus executing God’s judgement on them (9:1-4). During his invasion, Alexander also destroyed four Philistine cities, i.e. Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron and Ashdod (9:5-7).

Because of God’s protection, the armies of Alexander twice passed the city of Jerusalem without attacking it. God said: “I will camp around My house because of the army, because of him who passes by and him who returns” (9:8). The divine defence of Jerusalem foreshadows God’s final protection of the city in the millennium when Jerusalem will never again be invaded by enemies. “So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, and no aliens shall ever pass through her again” (Joel 3:17). The devil-inspired attempts to destroy Jerusalem directly before and again after the millennial reign of the Messiah will meet with the most severe judgements of God (Zech. 14:12-13; Rev. 20:7-9).

The destruction of enemy kingdoms, cities, governments and armies are indicative of God’s judgements upon the real enemies of His kingdom – the devil and his accomplices. In the Old Testament, all the nations outside Israel were described as heathen nations with heathen kings, heathen cultures and heathen religions (Ps. 96:5). They were, in effect, worshipping the devil instead of God: “…the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God” (1 Cor. 10:20). For that reason, they were enemies of God and subject to His judgements (Judg. 5:31; Isa. 66:6).

All the heathen kingdoms are strongholds of Satan, and therefore sworn enemies of God and His people, Israel. Tyre, which is mentioned by Zechariah (9:2-4), typifies Satan and his kingdom of darkness. God says that He would cast Tyre out, destroy her power, and then she would be devoured by fire. This prophecy against Tyre was not only literally fulfilled during the conquest of Alexander, but long ago God also judged the real king of Tyre, i.e. Satan, in a similar way (cf. Ezek. 28:1-19). Satan was first cast out from heaven, after a considerable time his power on earth would be destroyed by the Messiah (Heb. 2:14), and ultimately he will be confined to the everlasting lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).

In the light of these sobering facts Israel had to be a separated people who were not to mix with the heathen nations, as they were committed to living holy unto the Lord and to only serve and worship Him (Lev. 19:2; Deut. 6:13). Any complicity with heathen nations and their evil works would be regarded as rebellion and punished by God (cf. Deut. 32:16-22; 2 Chron. 24:18). Neither Israel nor the nations have any future in God’s sight without accepting and serving the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of God, whose universal rule will be established in Zion. God says: “I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion… Now therefore, be wise, o kings… serve the LORD with fear… kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” (Ps. 2:6,10-12).

There could have been no better news to Israel that God’s Son would be born in their midst: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel [God with us]” (Isa. 7:14). This promise was confirmed to Mary when she was betrothed to Joseph: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever” (Luke 1:31-33).

Coming of the Messiah (9:9)

Zechariah clearly describes the coming of Israel’s King to Jerusalem in the form of a lowly Person who would be their Lord and Saviour: “Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion! Shout, o daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey” (9:9).

The expressions “daughter of Zion” (cf. 2:10) and “daughter of Jerusalem” refer to the whole nation of Israel. They were exhorted to welcome the coming King not with fear but with glad rejoicing. The announcement “your King is coming to you,” refers to the long awaited King and Messiah. Isaiah says He is the Prince of Peace who will sit on the throne of David (Isa. 9:6-7). Micah says He will be a ruler in Israel, and He shall be great to the ends of the earth (Mic. 5:2-4). He will be a just and righteous King (cf. Isa. 11:1-5; Jer. 23:5-6). The expression “having salvation” denotes that He will come as a Saviour: “The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness” (Zeph. 3:17).

The Messiah presented Himself to Israel in the triumphal entry of the city, riding on a donkey (Matt. 21:1-5). In ancient times, if a king came in peace, he would ride on a donkey instead of a war stallion. Jesus rode on a donkey. Like other Old Testament prophecies, this one (9:9-10) blends two events into one perspective – events that the New Testament divides into two distinct advents of Christ separated by the present church age (cf. Isa. 9:6-7; 61:1-2; Luke 4:18-21). During His first advent He rode on a donkey and presented Himself to Israel but they rejected Him as their King. So His universal rule (9:10) will be established when He comes again, riding on a white horse, to judge His enemies and save the remnant of Israel (Rev. 19:11-15; Zech. 13:9).

Kingdom of the Messiah (9:10–10:12)

At His coming, the Messiah will establish peace on earth, He will deliver Israel, He will destroy the false shepherds, and He will regather all Israel:

The Messiah will establish peace on earth (9:10)

After the final battle of Armageddon the Messiah will bring an end to warfare and establish His reign of peace on earth: “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; the battle-bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (9:10).

After this big war the nations “shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:4). The Messiah will have a worldwide reign, extending from Israel to beyond the Euphrates River and across the oceans to the ends of the earth (cf. Mic. 7:12).

The Messiah will deliver Israel (9:11-17)

God’s promise of deliverance and restoration to Israel is often repeated in Scripture: “Because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you” (9:11-12). God’s faithfulness to His covenants with Israel is His basis for delivering them from worldwide dispersion (cf. Lev. 26:44-45). The blood of the covenant obviously referred to the old covenant in Zechariah’s time (cf. Ex. 24:8; Heb. 9:18-22), but that was only a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of the Messiah in the fullness of time. Peter reminded the Messianic believers in Israel that they were redeemed by the precious blood of the Messiah, as of a lamb without blemish or spot (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Only through the blood of the new and everlasting covenant can Jews and Gentiles be pardoned and made complete (Heb. 13:20-21).

God promised that in terms of His covenant with Israel, He will set their prisoners free. That did not only refer to the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon but also refers to Israel’s end-time regathering from the nations to which they were dispersed. The waterless pit refers to their place of exile and the stronghold to which they must return, to Jerusalem. In the end-time, God will restore twice as many Jews, thereby emphasising the fact that His blessings in the millennium will far exceed anything Israel has ever known.

Zechariah 9:13-17 refers to Israel’s deliverance from “the sons of Greece” (9:13). Alexander the Great of Greece died at the age of 32 in 323 B.C. from malaria with complications from alcoholism. His kingdom was divided among his four generals, among whom Ptolemy was appointed over Egypt and Seleucus over Syria and Mesopotamia. During different times in history, Syria and Mesopotamia were jointly referred to as Syria, Assyria or Babylonia. From the perspective of Israel, the kings of Syria and Egypt were referred to as the king of the north and the king of the south respectively (cf. Daniel 11). These kings and their descendants often attacked and dominated Israel, particularly Antiochus and his successors from the northern, Syrian kingdom. Among them, Antiochus Epiphanies was the worst dictator. Israel was only partially delivered from “the sons of Greece” during the Maccabean period, but will be fully delivered from the end-time Assyrian tyrant. Zechariah says that “the LORD their God will save them in that day” (9:16). “That day” refers to the tribulation period, the Second Coming of the Messiah and His subsequent millennial rule.

The end-time son of Greece will be the Antichrist, or false messiah, who will rule over Syria and Mesopotamia, being the present Syria and Iraq. He will, therefore, be the end-time king of the north who will also have the title of the Assyrian and the king of Babylon. Isaiah described the deliverance of Israel from his tyranny: “Therefore it shall come to pass, when the LORD has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks… And it shall come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel, and such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, will never again depend on him who defeated them, but will depend on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God” (Isa. 10:12,20,21). They will be finally delivered from the yoke of their enemies, particularly the Assyrian, and enter a time of goodness and abundance (9:17).

The Messiah will destroy the false shepherds (10:1-5)

“The idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain… The people… are in trouble because there is no shepherd, and I will punish the goatherds. For the LORD of hosts will visit His flock” (10:2-3). God will destroy the false prophets when the Messiah, the “great Shepherd of the sheep,” returns to Israel. The false shepherds are equated with goatherds, thus describing them as false prophets. Such people are not feeding the sheep, they are deceiving them and end up being goatherds – unsaved leaders who have turned their ears away from the truth by giving false hope to their equally unsaved flocks of “goats.”

The Messiah is described in a fourfold way as the cornerstone, the tent-peg, the battle-bow and the ruler (10:4). As the precious Cornerstone He is the only foundation upon which people’s lives can be built (Isa. 28:16; 1 Pet. 2:4-6). To the unsaved, He will be a stone of stumbling to destroy them (Isa. 8:14-15; 1 Pet. 2:8). As the Tent-peg He is a sure anchor who brings stability to His people’s lives – nationally and individually (cf. Isa. 33:20; Prov. 14:11). As the Battle-bow He protects His people against their enemies (Ex. 15:3; Ps. 45:6; 110:5-6). The Messiah will not do all the fighting but will empower His people to conquer like mighty men (10:5). As the Ruler He will rule over the house of Israel and over all the earth (Mic. 5:2,4).

The Messiah will regather all Israel (10:6-12)

This prophecy refers to the final regathering of Israel just after the Second Coming of the Messiah, which will be a continuation of their partial restoration before His coming: “I will strengthen the house of Judah… I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them. They shall be as though I had not cast them aside; for I am the LORD their God, and I will hear them… Their heart shall rejoice in the LORD. I will whistle for them and gather them, for I will redeem them; and they shall increase as they once increased” (10:6-8).

God gave to Zephaniah more information on this final regathering: “The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall see disaster no more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you in His love, He will rejoice over you with singing… I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the lame, and gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will bring you back, even at the time I gather you; for I will give you fame and praise among all the people of the earth, when I return your captives before your eyes, says the Lord” (Zeph. 3:15-20).

Walvoord & Zuck (ibid.) comment as follows on these verses: “Shouts of joy will arise because Israel’s Redeemer, the Messiah King, will be in her midst. The long promised Deliverer will protect them. Wrath from God’s hand and oppression by her enemies will be gone… Instead, Israel will lift her hands, symbolic of triumph, because of the Lord’s presence and power… The nation will again be the object of God’s great love, not His wrath… Israel will rejoice; but more than that, God will rejoice! He will be singing with delight and joy because His Chosen People will be in the land under His blessing.”