Today’s Chocolate: Equal Exchange Lemon Ginger with Black Pepper
Today’s Passage: Zechariah 9
You may or may not have gone in with some familiarity as we’ve opened up the book of Zechariah. But you likely recognize Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! …Behold, your king is coming to you…humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Jesus Christ famously fulfilled that prophecy at his triumphal entry into Jerusalem prior to the Last Supper and crucifixion. Of course, it’s not too difficult to acquire a donkey and ride it into Jerusalem, at least compared to the hurdles involved in arranging to be born in Bethlehem or, say, to a virgin.
But there are other prophecies in here too. The first eight verses name-drop places with which I have only a passing familiarity, if any: Hadrach, Hamath, Tyre and Sidon, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, Ashdod. God promises judgment against all these places. In his commentary, David Guzik notes, “Most see this burden against the land of Hadrach as fulfilled by the armies of Alexander the Great when he conquered this region.” Frankly, others are much more knowledgeable about the history behind these places than I, so I’ll buy that for a dollar.
Then we come to the prophecy concerning Jesus’ triumphal entry, and following it, another prediction. God states:
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
And the horse from Jerusalem;
And the bow of war will be cut off.
And He will speak peace to the nations;
And His dominion will be from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth. (10)
At first glance, I was puzzled. God promises peace here, but it seemed that the prophecy specifically pertained to Israel. The tribe of Ephraim and the city of Jerusalem were to receive protection from the instruments of war, in an instance of synecdoche–a part (Ephraim/Jerusalem) representing the whole (Israel). But then I noticed that line: “He will speak peace to the nations.” While verse nine was clearly fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming, David Guzik sees verse ten as concerning the Second Coming, predicting the Messiah’s coming reign over all human life. It’s still peculiar to see Israel referenced so specifically, but it does seem to me that the puzzle piece fits.
There’s one last verse I want to hit. Zechariah 9:13 includes the line “And I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece.” One thing I know about history: Alexander the Great was Greek. Is this verse about him? Not exactly, says David Guzik: “This was partially fulfilled in the days of the Maccabees, when God raised up Jews to fight against the successors of Alexander’s Empire. Nevertheless, it seems that the ultimate fulfillment of this promise is yet to come.” And this bit of history I’m reasonably familiar with; a quick trip to Wikipedia to jog my memory, and I’m ready to go. In response to Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ attack on Jerusalem and the temple in 168 BC, Judah Maccabee and his brothers led a revolt against Antiochus’ tyrannical restrictions on Jewish practice. Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the temple following their victory.
So, there’s a little prophecy and history for you. Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving, and amid all the holiday things, I will endeavor to bring you more Zechariah, because that is how we roll.