Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The Coming of the King

"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey" (Zechariah 9:9).

Like Haggai, Zechariah prophesied after the return of the people from the Babylonian captivity. Chapters 1–6 of his book reveal that God has cleansed His people, and provides the basis for rebuilding the temple. Chapters 7 and 8 are an exhortation to the people to stop dwelling in the past and faithfully serve the Lord in the present.

Zechariah 9–14 is one of the most complicated prophetic passages in all the Bible, but early in this section a prediction is found that is crystal clear. The prophet addresses the “Daughter of Zion,” which might be better translated simply “Daughter Zion,” since Zion herself is the daughter spoken of. The implication is that Zion, or Jerusalem, is God’s daughter. She has languished under oppression, but her deliverer, her King, her husband, is coming.

The King is coming on a donkey. Matthew 21:5 and John 12:15 quote this verse and apply it to Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey. (Traditional Christian art also depicts Mary riding a donkey, carrying the unborn Jesus in her womb, as the holy family came to Bethlehem for Jesus’ birth; but while Mary probably did ride a donkey, the Bible does not say anything about it.)

Zechariah says that the One riding on a donkey brings “salvation.” The word salvation is the Hebrew yasha, which is seen in the names Joshua and Jesus. It is used throughout the book of Judges to refer to those who saved Israel from sin and oppression. The judges of Israel rode donkeys, not horses, and so the picture Zechariah is painting suggests that the coming King will act as judge for God’s people. He will surely deliver them from their enemies, and give them a good land in which to dwell.

Zechariah goes on to say that the donkey will replace the horse because peace will rule among men and war will no longer be considered important (Zechariah 9:10). Peace will be proclaimed to all nations and the rule of the coming King will extend over the whole earth. This prophecy began to be fulfilled when wise men from the Persian empire traveled to Bethlehem to visit the child Jesus, and laid at His feet symbols of universal rule and glory: gold, incense, and myrrh.

In Western Christianity, December 25 is the day traditionally appointed for remembering the birth of Jesus Christ, who is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Prince of Peace. As you celebrate His birth today, bear in mind that a second and final Advent will yet occur as the consummation of history.