Greetings to all!
I trust this email find all well in light off Covet-19 virus. I know there are many views and opinions concerning it's cause, purpose and solutions. I am sure that all of you have your opinion as well. But, at the end of the day we find ourselves vulnerable to contracting, spreading and possibly succumbing to the disease. The things we know are the things we should cling tightly too in times like. The issue is we fear and fret over the unknowns. But I assure each of you what we do know is greater and more beneficial to us than fear of the unknowns and what ifs.
So, from this day forward let's focus on what we know and less on what we don't know.
May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ bless and keep us all!
Enjoy this week's lesson.
“The Lowly King”
Sunday, April 5, 2020:
Commentary (The UGP Curriculum)
Time of Action: 475 B.C.;
Place of Action: Jerusalem
I. INTRODUCTION. Every Old Testament prophecy that has already been fulfilled was fulfilled literally. Since the promised coming of the Messiah is central to the purpose of the Bible, it was crucial that specific details of His coming be provided in order to identify Him correctly when He came. In this week’s lesson, the prophet Zechariah provided some of those details and Jesus clearly fulfilled them. As we study this lesson, remember that it is prophecy, meaning that God through Zechariah was predicting situations that would occur in Israel’s future as well as ours. Since the time that Zechariah gave this prophecy, some of the things he foretold have come to pass and others are still to be fulfilled in the future as we shall see.
II. THE LESSON BACKGROUND. Zechariah, whose name means “the LORD remembers,” was one of three post-Babylonian Captivity prophets, along with Haggai and Malachi, Zechariah ministered to the small remnant of Jews who had returned to Judah to rebuild the temple and their nation (see Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14-15). Chapters 1-8 were written between 520 and 518 B.C., and chapters 9-14 are believed to have been written around 480 B.C. The 14 chapters of Zechariah fall into two major sections. In chapters 1-8 we have the prophet’s encouragement to the people to finish the work of rebuilding the temple, and in chapters 9-14, we have Zechariah’s prophecy of Israel’s glorious future and the coming of the Messiah. In the first section of the book, the prophet introduces himself as God’s prophet and calls the people to repent and turn from their evil ways (see Zechariah 1:2-6). In a series of eight symbolic night visions that came to Zechariah (see Zechariah 1:7-6:8), he encourages the people to finish rebuilding the Temple. These visions are followed by a coronation or crowning scene (see Zechariah 6:9-15) in which a high priest named Joshua is crowned as priest and king, symbolizing the Messiah who is to come. This is considered to be one of the classic Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. Chapters 7 and 8 also continue another important element of the Messianic hope: the One to come will reign in justice from Zion, the city of Jerusalem (see Zechariah 8:3, 15-16). The second section of Zechariah’s book, chapters 9-14 contain God’s promises for the new age to come. Most scholars believe that Zechariah 9:1-8 has a twofold fulfillment. The first fulfillment of those verses, the destruction of the Philistines, and Damascus, and Tyre, was accomplished in the fourth century B.C., not long after Zechariah’s prophecy, when in 332 B.C. Alexander the Great ravaged all the countries listed in verses 1-6 without harming Jerusalem as the last part of verse 8 indicates. But the ultimate fulfillment of Zechariah 9:1-8 will take place when Jesus returns and defeats Israel’s enemies and God’s people will never again have to worry about invading enemies (see Joel 3:17). Our lesson begins with Zechariah 9: 9 with a remarkable description of the way that the Messiah will enter Jerusalem.
III. MESSIAH’S FIRST ADVENT OR COMING (Zechariah 9:9). Our first verse says “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.” This verse takes an abrupt change from the conquering Alexander the Great on his warhorse to a king of a very different kind—the Messiah. Zechariah said “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem.” The prophet uses the word “daughter” to personify “Zion” and “Jerusalem.” Here, both names “Zion” and “Jerusalem” refer to all the people of Israel, but are often used interchangeably (see II Samuel 5:7; II Chronicles 5:2; Psalms 51:18). When David captured the city of Jebus, he took the fortress of “Zion” and renamed Jebus Jerusalem, the city of David (see I Chronicles 11:4-5). After calling on Israel to “Rejoice greatly” and “shout,” Zechariah gave the reason for rejoicing: “behold, thy King cometh unto thee.” The Israelites, who had so often been the victim of attacks and ridicule by their neighbors, are told to “behold” or “look” as their “King” approaches. Note: At the time of Zechariah’s writing, Israel had no king mainly because of the nation’s history of rebellion and numerous wicked kings. This ultimately led to their seventy-year captivity in Babylon. When Jesus appeared on the scene, Israel’s kings were from the Herodian dynasty, a line of leaders chosen or approved by Rome. Herod the Great was from Edom and was viewed by the Jews as not being qualified to be king. Israel’s “King” would have a marvelous combination of attributes or character traits. So the prophet first said “he is just” or righteous. He has a righteous character and therefore will rule justly (see Isaiah 11:4-5). He is righteous in His judgments and in His reign, and will act righteously and justly toward all His subjects. Second, He is described as “having salvation.” Israel’s “King” has salvation in Himself and therefore He can give it to whomever He pleases. As the Righteous One, He died for the unrighteous so that they might be saved (see I Peter 3:18). Jesus Himself said that His purpose for coming into the world was “to seek and to save that which was lost” (see Luke 19:10). Third, Israel’s “King” is “lowly” or humble which is an unexpected quality for the greatest leader the world has ever known. When Israel sees their “King,” He will be “riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Israel’s “King” won’t come to His people riding a war horse; He will be “riding upon an ass.” This suggests both peace and humility. The addition of the words “and upon a colt the foal of an ass” give a further explanation of the animal to be used. The word “and” should be taken as “even.” So this phrase is best read “riding upon an ass, “even” upon a colt the foal of an ass.” This describes the donkey as a young one, a young donkey that had never been ridden before (see Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30). All four New Testament Gospels clearly reveal that this prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled when Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem at the start of the week leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection (see Matthew 21:1-7; Mark 11:1-7; Luke 19:29-35; John 12:14-15). Thus, Zechariah presented the Messiah entering Jerusalem as an humble “King” and he also encouraged Jerusalem to look forward with joy to the arrival of her true “King.”
IV. MESSIAH’S SECOND ADVENT OR COMING (Zechariah 9:10-17)
A. Finally, world peace (Zechariah 9:10). This verse says “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.” While verse 9 refers to Jesus’ first advent or first coming, this verse points to His second advent. God’s promise that “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off” means that when Christ returns and Israel is restored, God will disarm all peoples of the earth, including His people in Israel, taking away their “chariots” and “the battle bow” which were both weapons of war. Once God does this, the Messiah, who is the “he” in this verse, “shall speak” or bring “peace unto the heathen” meaning among the Gentile nations. Instruments of war will be abolished in the peaceful reign of the righteous King (see Isaiah 2:1-4; 11:6-9). The Old Testament often predicts universal peace during the millennial reign of the messianic King (see Isaiah 57:19; Micah 4:1-4). Then Jesus’ “dominion” or rule shall stretch “from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.” The future universal, sovereign rule of God is foundational to Old Testament religion (Psalms 72:7-8; Daniel 2:44–47; 7:13-14, 27). Christ is the One who brings the Father’s universal dominion to earth (Matthew 12:28; Philippians 2:9–11; Revelation 19:11–16).
B. There is hope for those who suffer (Zechariah 9:11-12).
1. (vs. 11). This verse says “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” Having given a brief look at Jesus’ glorious second coming in the previous verse, here Zechariah turns his attention to the restoration of Israel to their homeland which will take place following the Battle of Armageddon (see Revelation 19:11-21) and preceding the setting up of Jesus’ thousand year reign. The prophet said “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” The phrase “As for thee also” seems to be directed to the Jews who were still in Babylon. Although many Jews returned to Israel when Cyrus, the king of Persia (who had conquered Babylon) allowed them to return home (see Ezra 1:1-4), many had become comfortable in Babylon and remained there. So in this prophecy, God speaks to those people. The phrase “by the blood of thy covenant” could refer to the Mosaic “covenant,” or to the Abrahamic covenant or both. But since God is speaking about theses Jews returning to their homeland, the focus is probably more on the Abrahamic “covenant” which like all other “covenants” was sealed in “blood” (see Genesis 15; 9-17). This “covenant” assured the Jewish people, descendants of Abraham, a permanent homeland (see Genesis 15:18-21). It was by force and virtue of the “covenant” He made with Abraham, sealed with the “blood” of circumcision, and the covenant made with Israel at Mount Sinai, sealed with the “blood” of sacrifices, that God said “I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” In other words, because God is faithful to His covenant (see Leviticus 26:42, 44-45; Deuteronomy 30:4), He has released all Israel’s “prisoners” or captives out of Babylon, which was as uncomfortable to them as “a pit” in which there was “no water.” It was “by the blood of that covenant,” which typifies the “blood” of Christ in whom all God’s “covenants” with man are yea and amen (see II Corinthians 1:20) that God’s people were released out of captivity. The wonderful thing is that this was just a shadow of the great salvation that would be given by “thy King, O daughter of Zion and daughter of Jerusalem” (see verse 1). Note: For us today, the lesson is clear. Being in a sinful state is a state of bondage; it is a spiritual prison; it is a pit or a dungeon in which there is no water, no comfort at all to be found. We are all by nature prisoners in this pit. “Scripture has concluded us all under sin” (see Galatians 3:22), and has bound us over to the justice of God. But God is pleased to deal in new terms with the prisoners of sin, to enter into another covenant with them. It is by the blood of Jesus Christ, the blood of the new covenant that we have been redeemed from the bondage of sin (see I Peter 1:18-19). Not only that, but we also receive all the benefits of His shed blood (see I Peter 1:2-9) including “proclaiming liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those that were bound,” by sin (see Isaiah 61:1).
2. (vs. 12). This verse says “Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee.” Having taught those who had returned out of captivity to attribute their deliverance to God’s faithfulness to the blood of the covenant and to the promise of the Messiah, the prophet now tells these “prisoners of hope” what to do in order to experience joyful and glorious times. Zechariah said “Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope.” The Jews who still remained in Babylon were “prisoners of hope,” or expectation, because they lived in “hope” that some time or other they would see their own land again. Now Zechariah encourages them to “Turn you to the strong hold.” Although “the stronghold” or fortress refers to Jerusalem, and Judah, the real reference has to be to God Himself, who is our “stronghold” and fortress (see Psalms 18:2; 31:3; 91:2; Nahum 1:7). God’s people are directed to “turn” their eyes to the coming Messiah, their “strong-hold” to shelter themselves in Him. In the last part of this verse, God said “even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee.” God also assured those Jewish “prisoners of hope” who remained in Babylon of His favour to them when He said, “even to day do I declare,” or at this very moment I solemnly promise that “I will render double unto thee.” God promised that when they turned to Him, their “stronghold,” He would give to them twice as many comforts as the sorrows they have experienced. The blessings they would receive would be twice as great as any of their former blessings. And so it was by the coming of the Messiah, the preaching of His gospel, and the setting up of His kingdom that spiritual blessings in heavenly things were “double” to what God’s people had ever enjoyed in their most prosperous state.
C. Israel shall be delivered (Zechariah 9:13-16).
1. (vs. 13). This verse says “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.” What is prophesied here appears to be the struggle between Israel and Syria which was ruled by Greece. Some one hundred and fifty years after the conquests of Alexander the Great (see the Lesson Background), the Maccabeans revolted against Greece and defeated the Syrians who were led by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in about 165 B.C. Therefore, Syria became subservient to Greece. In the spirit of an oriental tyrant, Antiochus IV Epiphanes was determined to impose Grecian culture on all the subjects of his empire. In an attempt to unify his empire, Antiochus attacked Israel’s religious practices by prohibiting the observance of the Sabbath and the traditional Jewish festivals and feast days. He also outlawed the reading of the Law of Moses and gave orders that all copies should be burned. Temple sacrifices were forbidden, circumcision was outlawed, and other Jewish practices were declared illegal. The penalty for disobedience under Antiochus was death. For the Jews, Antiochus’ ultimate straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak, occurred in about 166 B.C. when he rededicated the Temple to the Greek god Zeus and set up a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies and sacrificed swine on the altar. These outrages brought on the revolt of the Maccabees, a family of Jewish leaders and rulers who reigned in Judea from 167 to 37 B.C. Even though they were outnumbered, the Jewish Maccabees and their army gained a victory that resulted in freedom and the restoration of Jewish worship. This is the battle depicted in this verse where the LORD is seen as a mighty warrior. The phrase “I have bent Judah for me” means that “Judah,” the southern kingdom used as an instrument of war in God’s hand shall be “bent” like a “bow.” The phrase “filled the bow with Ephraim” pictures God using “Ephraim,” also referred to as the northern kingdom of Israel, as arrows to fill “the bow” of “Judah.” The fact that God will use both “Ephraim” and “Judah” to defeat their enemies indicates that once again Israel will become a united kingdom. Note: But God’s people both then and now should not think that they gain their successes and victories by their own “bow” and “arrows” or their own strength. They themselves are no more than God’s “bow” and His “arrows,” tools in His hands, which He makes use of and manages as He pleases. The best and bravest of men are only what God makes them, and can do no more service than what He enables them to do (see Philippians 2:13). Again, referring to Jerusalem and Judah “Zion,” God went on to say that He “raised up thy sons” to fight “against thy sons, O Greece.” This was fulfilled when the Maccabees revolted “against” Antiochus of Syria, one of the “sons” or kings of the Grecian monarchy (see Joel 3:6). The Jewish Maccabees were victorious over Antiochus because God said the He “made thee (His people) as the sword of a mighty man.” In other words, God’s people in the hand of an almighty God would become “as the sword of a mighty man,” which no one can stand against. Referring to Israel as being a “bow,” “arrows” and a “sword” are metaphors, used to show how God will come against Israel’s enemies (see Jeremiah 51:20). Note: We must remember that Zechariah was prophesying this event some 250 years before it happened. The point of this verse is that God promised to use His people and empower them against their enemies. The ultimate fulfillment of this will be when God destroys all of Israel’s enemies for good during the Battle of Armageddon at the Second Advent of Christ (see Revelation 19:11-21). The point of this verse is that God promised to use His people and empower them against their enemies.
2. (vs. 14). This verse says “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.” As “the Lord” engages in battle with Israel’s enemies at the second coming of Christ, the prophet said “And the Lord shall be seen over them.” This indicates that God will be Captain and Commander-in-chief over His people in every expedition and engagement with her enemies. He will preside over them and all their movements will be under his direction (see Isaiah 31:5). As God directs His people in war, Zechariah said “and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning” which speaks of the swiftness of God’s victory. Then the prophet said “and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.” This pictures the LORD gathering His forces together to proclaim the war, to sound the alarm, and to give directions on which way to march. God shall go forth at the head of Israel’s forces “with (or like) whirlwinds of the south.” In Israel, the winds from “the south” were strong, swift and fierce (see Isaiah 21:1). The army that God will lead at the Second Coming of Christ will be just as strong, swift and fierce as those southern winds in Israel (see Isaiah 66:15).
3. (vs. 15). This verse says “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.” God’s people won’t be in any danger of being overpowered by the enemy because “The LORD of hosts shall defend them.” The remainder of this verse describes Israel’s great victory over her enemies and the celebration that follows. With God as their defender, Israel “shall devour” their enemies. And to show how complete the victory will be, Zechariah also said that Israel will “subdue with sling stones.” The word “subdue” means to gain dominion over or to have full control over something or someone. This indicates that Israel will be victorious using “sling stones” or “stones” and “slings” (see Judges 20:16; I Samuel 17:40; II Chronicles 26:14). Some scholars interpret the phrase “subdue with sling stones” as “subdue the sling stones” to mean that the “sling stones” that were hurled at God’s people had no effect on them and were trampled on by Israel. I’m inclined to accept the interpretation that Israel will be victorious using “sling stones.” However, it may be that either or both interpretations are acceptable considering that God will be the One actually fighting for Israel. Once victory has been won, Israel will celebrate the victory “and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine.” This seems to mean that victorious Israel will drink of victory and “make a noise” or be boisterous as if they had been drinking “wine.” In addition, as they celebrate victory, “they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar.” In other words, their joy over victory will overflow like sacrificial “bowls” that were used to catch the blood that overflowed on “the corners of the altar” of sacrifice. As previously noted (see verse 13), this prophecy was partially fulfilled when the Jewish Maccabees were victorious over Israel’s enemies. However, the ultimate fulfillment will take place when Christ returns and destroys Israel’s enemies for good.
4. (vs. 16). This verse says “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.” In the final war against Israel’s enemies, Zechariah prophesied that “the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people.” The phrase “in that day” refers to the second coming of Christ (see Zechariah 12:9, 11; 13:1). When that happens and Israel fights against her enemies, “the Lord their God shall save them.” Here we have two reasons why God will “save” Israel. First, He will do it because He is “their God.” He entered into covenant with them at Mt. Sinai and claimed them as His own (see Exodus 19: 1-8). Second, “the Lord their God shall save them” because Israel is “the flock of his people.” This means that God is their Shepherd. When Jesus returns, the believing Jews will be gathered like a “flock” and kept safe forever by their divine Shepherd. Zechariah also prophesied that saved Israel (see Romans 11:26) “shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.” In the love God has for saved Israel and the relationship they have to Him, they are to Him “as the stones of a crown,” which are very precious and of great value, and are kept under a strong guard. Never was any king so pleased with the jewels of His “crown” as God is, and will be with His people. They are a “crown” of glory and a royal diadem in His hand (see Isaiah 62:1-3). To further seal God’s love for saved Israel, God said through the prophet Malachi: “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (see Malachi 3:17). In the last part of this verse, Zechariah prophesied that God’s people shall be “lifted up as an ensign upon his land.” The word “ensign” means a banner or flag. Like “the stones of a crown,” saved Israel will be like God’s royal banner or flag displayed as a sign of triumph and joy. God’s people are His glory; so He sets them up as a banner or flag “upon his own land,” waging war against those who hate Him,
D. Israel shall be blessed (Zechariah 9:17). Our final verse says “For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.” Here we have saved Israel’s response to God’s victory over their enemies and His love for them. In the day of victory, Israel will declare, “For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty!” This is the substance of the songs with which they will “make a noise” (see verse 15) before the LORD. With the words “How great is his beauty,” we are taught to admire and praise the amiableness of God’s being. All the perfections of Messiah’s nature come together to make Him infinitely lovely in the eyes of all who know Him. Here is an instance of God’s “goodness” to His people: “Corn shall make the young men cheerful and new wine the maids. “ This means that God will bless His people with an abundance of the fruits of the earth. In Israel’s past, they had often been afflicted with scarcity to such a degree that the “young men” and “the maids” or maidens, were ready to swoon and faint away because of hunger and thirst (see Lamentations 2:10-12; 4:5, 8-10). But in Christ’s coming kingdom they will have bread to spare, and “new wine,” which shall make the young people grow and be cheerful. The terms “corn” and “new wine” speak of the prosperity saved Israel will enjoy during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ after His victory over Israel’s enemies. With the good gifts God bestows upon us we must serve Him cheerfully, and when we are refreshed with “corn” and “new wine,” meaning His blessings, we must say, “How great is his goodness!”
V. Conclusion. The dual nature of the prophecies of Zechariah should give us great confidence in God’s Word. Since God has already directed the fulfillment of past prophecies, we can be sure that prophecies of the future will also be fulfilled. Jesus was crucified on Calvary just a few days after He made His entrance into Jerusalem. But after three days, He rose from the dead and forty days later (see Acts 1:1-4) He ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives. Prophecy declares that Jesus will return to earth again to the Mount of Olives (see Zechariah 14:4) and establish His kingdom on earth. At that time, He will defeat all of His enemies, and those of us who belong to Him will be free and safe forever. At that time, during Jesus’ millennial reign, righteousness will flourish unlike anything the world has ever known. That’s also a prophecy we can count on!
***The Sunday School Lesson, Union Gospel Press Curriculum; The Bible Expositor and Illuminator***
Rev. Poleon L. Griffin
3057 Havenwood Way
Lithonia, Ga. 30038