Summary: Zechariah 9-14 is mostly Hebrew Poetry. One commentator has called these "perhaps the most problematic 6 chapters in the bible"
A New King
Zech 9 October 5, 2008
This morning we are going to continue our study of Zechariah by looking at chapter 9, and we might need to work hard with it so before we dive in, let me begin with these:
The Sunday School teacher was describing how Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, when little Jason interrupted, ’My Mommy looked back once while she was driving,’ he announced triumphantly, ’and she turned into a telephone pole!’
A Sunday school teacher asked, ’Johnny, do you think Noah did a lot of fishing when he was on the Ark?’ ’No,’ replied Johnny. ’How could he, with just two worms.’
Nine-year-old Joey was asked by his mother what he had learned in Sunday School. ’Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he had his army build a pontoon bridge and all the people walked across safely. Then he radioed headquarters for reinforcements. They sent bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved.’ ’Now, Joey, is that really what your teacher taught you?’ his mother asked ’Well, no, Mom. But, if I told it the way the teacher did, you’d never believe it!’
The preacher’s 5 year-old daughter noticed that her father always paused and bowed his head for a moment before starting his sermon. One day, she asked him why. ’Well, Honey,’ he began, proud that his daughter was so observant of his messages. ’I’m asking the Lord to help me preach a good sermon.’ ’How come He doesn’t answer it?’ she asked.
Little Johnny and his family were having Sunday dinner at his Grandmother’s house. Everyone was seated around the table as the food was being served. When Little Johnny received his plate, he started eating right away. ’Johnny! Please wait until we say our prayer.’ said his mother. ’I don’t need to,’ the boy replied. ’Of course, you do,’ his mother insisted ’We always say a prayer before eating at our house.’ ’That’s at our house,’ Johnny explained. ’But this is Grandma’s house and she knows how to cook!’
OK, back to work… we’ve worked through the first 8 chapters of Zechariah, and as we turn today to chapter 9 we start the final section of the book. 1-6 were the night visions, 7-8 were a series of sermons and messages, and now we begin 9-14 which are mostly written as Hebrew poetry. There are some challenges in this section, in fact one commentator has called these “perhaps the most problematic six chapters in the Bible” (D.J. Clark, quoted by George Klein in Zechariah, New American Commentary, p. 253). Let’s have a look:
Zech 9:1-8 (NLT)
1 This is the message from the Lord against the land of Aram and the city of Damascus, for the eyes of humanity, including all the tribes of Israel, are on the Lord.
2 Doom is certain for Hamath,
and for the cities of Tyre and Sidon,
though they are so clever.
3 Tyre has built a strong fortress
and has made silver and gold
as plentiful as dust in the streets!
4 But now the Lord will strip away Tyre’s possessions
and hurl its fortifications into the sea,
and it will be burned to the ground.
5 The city of Ashkelon will see Tyre fall
and will be filled with fear.
Gaza will shake with terror,
as will Ekron, for their hopes will be dashed.
Gaza’s king will be killed,
and Ashkelon will be deserted.
6 Foreigners will occupy the city of Ashdod.
I will destroy the pride of the Philistines.
7 I will grab the bloody meat from their mouths
and snatch the detestable sacrifices from their teeth.
Then the surviving Philistines will worship our God
and become like a clan in Judah.
The Philistines of Ekron will join my people,
as the ancient Jebusites once did.
8 I will guard my Temple
and protect it from invading armies.
I am watching closely to ensure
that no more foreign oppressors overrun my people’s land.
What we have here, in these first 8 verse, is a message of God’s judgment against the enemies of Israel. Now I decided not to walk through each city, plotting them on a map, and telling the stories of them and their relationship to the people of God – with apologies to the two or three of you who would really enjoy that – but I do want us to pause and notice a couple of things. First, God is NOT here addressing the specific enemies that had recently taken the Israelites as slaves – instead this is a list of Israel’s more “traditional” enemies, some going back 500 years to the times of David. That is interesting, and casts the message in a more global way, reconnecting the people to their entire story and God’s sovereignty over them, and lifting them from just their present situation as recently returned slaves.