Sermon on Zechariah 9, Matthew 21 and 24
by Maylan Schurch
Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church 1/25/2020
©2020 by Maylan Schurch
(To watch the YouTube broadast of this service, click the link just below. The sermon starts at the 57:18 mark.)
Please open your Bibles again to Zechariah chapter 9.
This is one more sermon in a series I’ve been calling “Jesus’ Bible Footprints.” The Bible makes it very clear that Jesus took a close, personal interest in His people all through the Old Testament, and was often present to comfort and intervene and challenge. As our co-Creator and Redeemer, He didn’t leave humanity alone in the intervening years.
If you have the Andrews Study Bible, you’ll find in the introduction to Zechariah that it says that when it comes to messianic prophecies, Zechariah chapter 9 reveals Jesus more clearly than any other prophet in the Old Testament except Isaiah.
But as we look at this prophecy – which was actually quoted in the New Testament to show that it predicted Jesus – we’ll see that like most other messianic prophecies, it arises amidst a lot of confusion. Things are chaotic, and gloomy, and seemingly hopeless, and suddenly this Messiah-prophecy just bursts out, in all its glory, when you least expect it.
I grew up on the prairies in the eastern half of South Dakota. Out there, the land is flat, and you see an immense amount of sky. It was exciting in the summer to watch the clouds, especially if they were moving fast. A cloud might be covering the sun, but since the clouds were moving fast, you could glance along the prairie grass in the opposite direction the clouds were going, and suddenly you would see a bright spot of sun on the land, moving in your direction. You saw that bright patch coming closer and closer, and then you would glance up, and the sun would blaze out brightly and hotly before it was covered by the next cloud.
That’s how those Bible messianic prophecies seem to come along, at least the ones I’ve looked at. Things can be pretty discouraging – and most of the time they were – but along would come this brief blaze of hope.
This morning I’d I like to look at the Zechariah 9 prophecy, and then jump ahead to Matthew to read about its fulfillment. But first, let me give you a little taste of the chaos which chapter 9 talks about. Look at what’s going on.
Zechariah 9:1 – 2 [NKJV]: The burden of the word of the LORD— Against the land of Hadrach, And Damascus its resting place (For the eyes of men And all the tribes of Israel Are on the LORD); Also against Hamath, which borders on it, And against Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.
Of course, we’re jumping right into the middle of Zechariah, and don’t have a full understanding of the historical context. Nobody really does know the full story behind everything that was going on back then. We know that the first part of Zechariah was written around 519 or 520 BC, and Zechariah’s prophetic role, along with Haggai, is to encourage the Jews who have come back from Babylonian captivity. As these people seek to rebuild their culture there in Palestine, they need to know that God will take care of them if they continue to invite Him into their lives.
So let’s just see if we can do some detective work, right here in the verses we just read. The first verse says that the “word of the Lord” is “against” Hadrach and Damascus. Hadrach and Damascus were cities in Syria, a nation which had harassed God’s people from time to time. Hamash was a town about 130 miles north of Damascus. Tyre was a powerful little island kingdom along the Mediterranean coast, and Sidon was also on the coast, about 20 miles north of Tyre. These two cities were in competition with each other for sea trade.
But again, what do these ancient cities have to do with us? Well, if the word of the Lord was “against” them, let’s see if we can figure out what He had against them, to make sure we’re not having the same problem. Actually, aside from Tyre, it doesn’t really say. But we do know what the Lord had against Tyre. And this isn’t the only place in the Bible which talks about this. Look at verse three.
Verse 3: For Tyre built herself a tower, Heaped up silver like the dust, And gold like the mire of the streets.
Okay, so what’s so wrong with that? Isn’t the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, made of lots and lots of gold? There seems to have been more to the matter than that. And there was. About 50 years earlier than Zechariah, Ezekiel 28 gets quite a bit more specific. I think it’s worth putting a marker here in Zechariah 9, and turning to Ezekiel 28. This will give us a clue as to what the Lord had against this busy and prosperous nation, to make sure we’re not falling into the same trap.
Ezekiel 28:1 – 7: The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because your heart is lifted up, And you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, In the midst of the seas,’ Yet you are a man, and not a god, Though you set your heart as the heart of a god (Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you! With your wisdom and your understanding You have gained riches for yourself, And gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; By your great wisdom in trade you have increased your riches, And your heart is lifted up because of your riches),” ‘Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have set your heart as the heart of a god, Behold, therefore, I will bring strangers against you, The most terrible of the nations; And they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, And defile your splendor.
So here we have what radio broadcaster Paul Harvey would call “the rest of the story.” The king of Tyre’s problem wasn’t his wealth, it was his pride. In fact, later in the chapter, Ezekiel will continue with this lamentation against this king, and then it will be very clear that this king had problems which classed him with Lucifer.
Anyway, back to Zechariah 9. Now we have a clue about why the word of the Lord is coming against Tyre. This bustling little nation was filled with pride. Evidently the king of Tyre thought himself so wise, and so successful, that he was getting delusions of divinity.
Now, notice what else is happening here in Zechariah 9. Once Zechariah prophesies the fate of Tyre, watch what happens:
Zechariah 9:4 – 5: Behold, the LORD will cast her out; He will destroy her power in the sea, And she will be devoured by fire. Ashkelon shall see it and fear; Gaza also shall be very sorrowful; And Ekron, for He dried up her expectation. The king shall perish from Gaza, And Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.
Do you see what’s happening here? Evidently, Tyre isn’t just its own nation up there on the coast above Lebanon. It’s also a major influencer all along the coast. Ashkelon was one of the cities in the land of the Philistines, and so was Gaza. These cities, and probably a lot of other cities, were watching Tyre very enviously, trying to be like them. So when the seemingly invincible Tyre comes under God’s judgment, those other cities will be jolted.
Okay, back to you and me. Here in these verses, a prophecy of Jesus is about to be made, a prophecy about His arrival. So that means that you and I need to take a moment to make sure that we are not infected by Tyre’s sin of pride.
1 Peter 5 is only one of the Bible chapters which talks about pride. 1 Peter 5:5 – 6: . . . “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”
And when Zechariah finally introduces the coming king, notice how different this ruler is from the king of Tyre:
Verse 9: “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, A colt, the foal of a donkey.
So here comes this king, so different from the average earthly ruler. This prophecy about Him is like a bright patch of prairie sunlight racing along the pasture toward you, and then bathing you briefly in sunlight before passing on.
If you’re taking down sermon notes, you could call the first one The King is coming.
There comes Jesus, riding on a donkey. We know that it is He whose donkey is making those hoof prints along that path. Because now we are going to keep following Him. We’re going to leave Zechariah 9 and move to Matthew chapter 21.
The event we are about to watch happened on the Sunday of the week Jesus was crucified. A lot of Christians celebrate Palm Sunday in honor of this event.
Matthew 21:1 – 5: Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”
So from all we can tell, Jesus knew the Zechariah 9 prophecy, and deliberately set out to fulfill it. Three and a half years earlier, He read a passage of Isaiah aloud in his hometown synagogue at Nazareth, and He told them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)
Let’s watch what happens now.
Verses 6 – 11: So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”
So if the first sermon point is “The King is coming,” the second point is “The King is here!”
It’s interesting how similar things were during Jesus’ donkey ride through the Jerusalem streets, to the way things were when Zechariah predicted this. Back then, many of the people in power were proud and self-exalting, and the same thing is happening here. Watch what happens immediately after this triumphal entry.
Verses 12 – 16: Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?”
It’s tragic that even the children knew who Jesus was, yet the proud and self-exalting chief priests refused to believe it. How often Jesus must have prayed that their hearts would be softened. He spent a lot of His speaking time calling out their hypocrisy, hoping to find an opening in their hearts.
And His words were not totally in vain. The Pharisee Nicodemus responded, early on, and became a believer in Jesus. And as the Savior’s gospel spread, Acts 6:7 says, “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
So let’s be like those priests. Let’s be obedient to the faith. Let’s keep looking into our Bible pages and allowing the Holy Spirit to send those convincing and convicting words into our hearts to change those hearts to be more like Jesus.
So Zechariah said “The King is coming.” Matthew showed Jesus responding to that prophecy so we know that “the King is here.”
But the King didn’t go on to rule quite yet. If you have a copy of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible, you might remember that one of the pages at the back actually diagrams Jesus footprints during His ministry, and even in the last few days of His life. On Palm Sunday He did not ride His donkey up to Herod’s palace and push Herod off his throne and take his place. On Thursday evening He celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples, and then walked up to the garden of Gethsemane, and then was led to various trials, and finally had to carry His own cross up to Calvary. And the King who had received the Palm Sunday praises of the people was nailed to a cross to die for them.
And today, we can say “the King is coming,” and also “the King is here.” King Jesus is with us in this room. In Luke 17:21 Jesus said, “indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
So, the King is coming, and yet He is here. When we pray to Him, we don’t need to go online, or use Skype or Facetime or whatever more modern version of these online tools is being used. We can just pray, silently or audibly, and He hears us.
At a recent elders meeting, we talked about the importance of prayer. And we talked about it again at this past Thursday nights church board meeting. You’ll be hearing more about this focus in a while, but prayer is important. It’s important because of who we are praying to. He is the King who was approaching, and the King who is here.
But like I said, there’s one more step. Jesus enters the city in triumph, riding on a donkey – which was a royal way of arriving. But then at some point between Sunday and Thursday night, comes Matthew 24. Let’s turn there and watch what happens.
Matthew 24:27 : For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
This is something else that I can picture vividly from having grown up on the prairie. You can be standing out at midnight under an absolutely black sky, and suddenly you’ll see little occasional flickers of pink “heat lightning” behind some of the clouds above. You will hear a steady, low thundering like a military bomber high in the sky.
But all of a sudden it will be instant daylight–not a warm, sunny daylight but a cold, icy-blue, camera-flash daylight, for one second. And then everything turns black again, and you start counting, “One thousand, two thousand, three thousand.” And if you get up to “five thousand,” you start breathing easier, because five “one thousands” means that lightning flash was at least a mile away. Sound travels about a mile in five seconds.
But sometimes the lightning is so close that you won’t be able to even get a “one thousand” spoken. It’ll be just flash-BANG, just like that. And that’s when, if you are upstairs in your farmhouse bedroom, you start thinking maybe you’d better go down to the basement.
And one of these days, Jesus will approach, and then things will move very quickly. Glance down at verse 30.
Verses 30 – 31: Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
And that’s when Sermon Point Three will become a reality.
The King is coming.
The King is here.
The King will be enthroned!
Somebody might say, “But isn’t Jesus enthroned right now? Doesn’t Ephesians 1 say that God has seated Jesus at His right hand, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named”?
That’s what it says. But it goes on to say that Jesus has been enthroned as King, and I’m quoting, that God “put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.”
So, yes, Jesus is enthroned as King over His people. Others don’t respect His rule yet. But when He arrives and fulfills the prophecy of Matthew 24, He is going to be King of everything. That’s what the people in Zechariah’s time were longing for – someone who could take the throne and evaporate the chaos and bring justice everywhere it was needed.
That’s what the people of Jesus’ time so desperately wanted – a King who could be their link to God, someone who could cut through the hypocrisy, someone who could declare, “never shall there be war anymore.”
The King will be enthroned!
I don’t know if you look in once in a while on our church website’s Daily Photo Parable. We have a great lineup of church members who are photographers, and every day according to a schedule, somebody puts up a new blog. Last night I put one up which had to do with Crossroads Mall.
Crossroads Mall is a community gathering place, and to echo their goal, they decided to create what I guess you could call a “community wall.” The wall is a rich maroon color, and painted on it are darker circles about a foot in diameter, side-by-side, and one above the other.
Within those circles, words are printed in white letters, one word per circle. And within each of the circles it says “Community,” each word a different language.
And as I mention in my blog, the people who enjoy this mall are truly an international group. Across the street from this mall is the Crossroads post office, and one Christmas several years back I was standing in a long line there. I suddenly realized that out of the nearly 50 people I could see (both in line and behind the counters), everyone was a different ethnicity than I was. I was definitely in the minority!
And God, looking down upon us in that post office line, probably grinned with delight. Because He is a community-minded God. The only reason He ever recruited a “chosen people” was so that they could occupy the frequently-traveled land bridge between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian desert, and expose people from distant lands to a few days’ worth of what God’s welcoming culture looks like.
And one day we’ll gather in heaven, not by a community wall but around a “community throne,” where those who’ve been saved by God’s grace and Jesus’ sacrifice will rejoice. Here’s a preview, from Revelation 7:
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9 – 10 NKJV)
At that point we will no longer need to say hopefully, “The King is coming,” or hopefully, “The King is here and ruling over His faithful people.” Then we can finally say “The King is enthroned and is ruling everything!” And that will be what causes all the joy.
But until then, we can walk with him, closer and closer, every day. Would you like to resolve to do that? Would you raise your hand if that’s what you want?