Dr. S. Lewish Johnson discusses the reference to the rise of Greece in Zechariah's prophecy.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee and praise Thee for the privilege of the study of Thy word, and we ask tonight that Thou wilt be with us as we consider again a section from one of the ancient prophets, given remarkable prophecies concerning the future, both the immediate future and the distant future. We thank Thee for the relevance of the things which they have written and the way in which they speak to us. And in fact, have spoken to men and women of faith down through the centuries. Guide and direct us tonight in our study we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
[Message] Tonight we are turning over to the specifically predictive prophetic section of the Book of Zechariah, and so we are turning to Zechariah chapter 9, because chapters 7 and 8 are largely historical chapters. Although, they do touch upon the prophetic word as well, but in chapters 9 through 14 of Zechariah we have plain, predictive prophecy, and not the prophecy of divine visions such as we had in the first six chapters with the eight night visions that were given to Zechariah. You may remember that in the prophecy of Daniel in chapters 7 and 8, Daniel was given a picture of the times of the Gentiles and looking at it from the standpoint of God in the 7th chapter he saw four wild beasts.
And then in the 8th chapter, dealing with more detail about the Grecian kingdom, and the relationship of the Grecian kingdom to the end times, he describes a vision of a ram and a he-goat. The ram was pushing westward and northward and southward, and no beasts were able to stand before it. And as you read through Daniel chapter 8 you can tell that this is a reference to the kingdom of Medo-Persia. But he also saw, in that vision, a vision of a he-goat and in the 5th verse of Daniel 8 we read, there’s no need for you to turn there, because I’m not going to expound it. “And as I was considering, behold, an he-goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power.” So, the he-goat was coming from the west eastward, the ram was, and then the he-goat was coming from the west going eastward, and they met, and the result was that the he-goat overthrew the ram. And later on in the chapter Daniel goes on to say that the he-goat was a reference to the Grecian kingdom. And so what he was saying, essentially, is that the Grecian kingdom would succeed the Medo-Persian kingdom, which did happen. And also, he was saying that characteristic of the Grecian kingdom was a notable horn. Now, we know from ancient history that the notable horn that was responsible for the overthrow of the Medo-Persian kingdom was Alexander the Great.
Now, Alexander the Great, like so many of the ancient thinkers of the Old Testament, and particularly in these prophetic sections, looks forward as a type of the anti-Christ who is to come. And Daniel goes on to spell that out in that chapter. But I am saying all of this because Zechariah chapter 9, verse 1 through verse 9 describes something that happens in the near future from the time of Zechariah, but it moves on ultimately into the far distant future, and it has to do with Alexander and the Grecian kingdom, and the things that would be accomplished by him as the adumbrate the things that will happen in the last days. And so the subject for tonight is “The Notable Horn and the Lowly Lamb.” And we’re turning to Zechariah chapter 9 for our study, verse 1 through verse 9.
The ultimate overthrow of the kingdoms of this world is one of the great and certain truths of the Bible. We have four unconditional covenants in the Bible; the Noahic covenant is probably the purest of all the unconditional covenants. God says that he will do something, and there are no conditions that are laid down in the Noahic covenant. He will fulfill its terms. But there are three others about which we so often speak; the Abrahamic covenant, the Davidic covenant, and the new covenant. All three of these covenants are unconditional covenants in the sense that the things that God says that he will do will come to pass. Now, in the fulfillment of these things, God lays down some conditions that have to do with individual responsiveness to the divine revelation in each age. In other words, the fact that he is going to ultimately do something does not mean that those who do not respond to the divine revelation will not suffer, and perhaps suffer eternal loss if they do not respond to the divine revelation as it comes to them in their lifetime.
And of course, the great illustration is the Jewish nation. The Jews today contain within them a large number of unbelievers, many of them do not even believe in Judaism, of course. In fact, those who really believe in Judaism form the minority in Judaism today, as when we say Judaism we mean the broad Jewish nation, or people. Some do believe in Orthodox Judaism, attempt to follow the Scriptures, and then there is a company of Jewish people who are believers in Jesus Christ. Paul calls them “the Israel of God,” in Galatians chapter 6, in verse 16. He calls them the “remnant according to the election of grace” in Romans chapter 9, in verse 5. So, what the apostle teaches and what the Scriptures teach is that forming part of the people of God today are genuine Jewish believers. But the individual Jewish person, though as a member of the nation he can say, “We the nation have these great and glorious promises in the future. God is going to give us ultimately the kingdom of God to serve in the kingdom under our Messiah who is to come.” Though these great promises are true with reference to the nation Israel, the individual who does not respond to the revelation of God in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, he is lost and lost forever. In other words, a Jewish man down through the centuries is saved individually just as a Gentile, but as a body they have these glorious promises of the future.
We have said this a number of times, but I have to keep saying it because it seems that people find it very difficult to grasp for some reason. I can only attribute it to, I’m sorry, I hope that there’s no one of whom this is true in this auditorium, but I can only attribute it to the fact that we do not read our Bibles enough. But when the Apostle Paul finished the 2nd chapter of the Epistle to the Romans he says, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh.” Now, of course he’s not saying a Jew, who is an outward Jew, is not really a Jew. Just as if a person who is circumcised, but circumcised only outwardly could say that he was not circumcised. He is circumcised and he is a Jew, but what he is saying is he is not a Jew in the true intent of Scripture, which that he should be a descendant of the fathers and have personal faith. So, in the 29th verse he says, “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
Now, the natural response to that is for an individual to say, then there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile today. We are exactly alike, are we not? So, Paul begins chapter 3 and says, “What advantage then hath the Jew?” But he answers it rather strikingly. “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” In other words, Israel has an advantage today, for Paul; the advantage is that as a nation they possess the great promises that will be fulfilled to them as an ethnic people. Of course, as a believing people many of them will come to faith in Christ, and the nation as a whole will come to faith, not every single individual Israelite, for the expression “all Israel” does not refer in the Old Testament to every single Israelite, but the nation as a whole. The nation as a whole will come to faith in Christ, and these promises will be fulfilled to them. They will be fulfilled, also, to all who are part of the people of God.
So we look forward, we Gentiles, you know I’m a Gentile don’t you? We Gentiles look forward to the fulfillment of the magnificent promises because, while it is true our Lord shall have his kingdom and Israel shall have her part in the kingdom, we who are believers will also have the promises that were made to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to David, and also specifically those new covenant promises of redemption that have come through Jeremiah. So, there are these four great unconditional covenants; the three, the Abrahamic, the Davidic, and the new covenant, have great significance.
Political and religious liberal will not believe this in spite of the clearest testimony, that the ultimate overthrow of the kingdoms of this world is one of the great and certain truths that face us. Political liberalism hates this, because the first coming of Jesus Christ tells all liberals that they cannot cleanse themselves from the guilt of sin. And the second coming of the Lord Jesus, in which he introduces his kingdom, tells all of the kingdoms of the earth, and all individuals for that mater, that we do not have capacity to set our house in order. In other words, the fact that we preach the judgment and the second coming of the Lord Jesus and the establishment of the kingdom of God is a direct affront to all of the policies, political promises of men on the earth; their political promises, their political policies in which they promise us peace and prosperity. It is not true. We will not have that until Jesus Christ comes. Socialism declared “a street orator can put a new coat on a man.” Jesus Christ cried out, “a heckler in the audience can put a new man in the coat.” And that’s better still. That’s what we preach. We preach that the fundamental change should be a change in man, and the change in man will lead to other changes in men. I said religious liberalism hates this, because the second coming says that all of his social plans, all of his ecumenical desires, all of his ecclesiastical intentions are useless to accomplish that which he thinks can be accomplished for men who are sinners. He just will not believe that man is a sinner.
Some years ago John Montgomery, who was a professor at Trinity Seminary at the time debated Dr. Altheiser, and in the debate Dr. Montgomery told an illustration about an individual who just could not believe a certain thing in spite of the evidence that was plain and clear. What he was seeking to show, of course, that Thomas Altheiser just could not believe the truth though it was there before his eyes. He said that there was a man who thought he was dead, and his concerned wife and friends sent him to the friendly neighborhood psychiatrist. And the psychiatrist determined to cure him by convincing him of one fact that contradicted his belief that he was really dead. And the fact the psychiatrist decided to use was the simple truth that dead men do not bleed. And so he put his patient to work reading medical texts, observing autopsies, and after weeks of effort the patient finally said, “All right. All right, you’ve convinced me dead men do not bleed.” Whereupon the psychiatrist stuck him in the arm with a needle, and the blood began to flow, and the man looked down with a contorted, ashen face and said, “Good lord, dead men bleed after all!” [Laughter] Well, I think many of our liberal friends are just like that, not understanding human nature, they find it difficult to understand the prophetic word.
Well, Zechariah has given us eight night visions. In a sense they are apocalyptic night visions; that is, they are pictures that have to do with the future. And they are given in symbolic language, language that could be called apocalyptic language. In fact, some scholars do call the language that. The historical section in chapters 7 and 8 go over some practical problems that existed in Zechariah’s day, but they too look onto the future. For example, in verse 19 of chapter 8, we read, ” Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.” And then he goes on in the last two verses to say,
“Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.”
So, the world is coming to the time when it will not be anti-Semitic, but if anything anti-Gentilic, because people will want to be associated with the nation Israel.
Now, the final prophetic burdens of chapters 9 through 14 may be divided into two divisions very easily. And if you’ll read chapters 9 through 14, you’ll see how easily they fall into the division of chapters 9 through 11, and chapters 12 through 14. They cover the same period of time that the eight night visions do. That is, they begin in the day of Zechariah, in the time in which he wrote, and then, that’s the 5th century about 516 to 519 BC, before the time of Christ. And they move on to the last days. And we shall see that, I think very plainly.
Now, first of all, we look at verse 1 through verse 8, the prophecy of the coming third great ruler. Now, when I say the third great ruler, we are talking about Alexander in the historical context. Remember the four great Gentile kingdoms; the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Grecian, and the Roam, all outlined by Daniel in chapter 2 as necessary for the accomplishment of the times of the Gentiles. Beginning at the time of the overthrow of Jerusalem and the captivity with the Babylonian Empire, there have succeeded these kingdoms, and the Roman Empire came after the Grecian, as you know, overcame the Grecian Empire, became the great kingdom that had government over the face of the western world. Daniel, in chapter 2 gives us some indications of the fact that that kingdom will persist until the time of the second coming of Christ. In one sense we are living in the time in which the institutions of the Roman Empire are still with us.
Now then, coming to chapter 9, and we have Zechariah’s burden. Now his burden is a burden of the destruction of places about the land of Palestine, and also the incorporation of them and their peoples into the kingdom of Israel, or the kingdom of God with Israel as the head of the nations. But we’ll just go down through it. I want to spend most of our time on the last verse or so, chapter 9, in verse 9. Beginning in chapter 9, verse 1, ” The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD.” Damascus, of course had been a terrifying enemy for the nation Israel, Hadrach, for a long time we didn’t really know its location, but now through archeology it has been discovered. So “the burden of the Lord in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof.” He’s talking about a prophecy against Hadrach.
Alexander, of course, lies in the background here, and perhaps it would be well for us to review, just for a moment, Alexander’s career. T.R. Glover wrote a very interesting little volume called, The Ancient World. He was a historian and also a professing Christian man, and from his work I just selected a few things that would help to remind you of the place of Alexander in history. “Of all the heroes and warriors and statesmen of the ancient world, none, not even Julius Caesar or Augustus Caesar stands out like Alexander the Great. None changed so profoundly the world into which he came.” Isn’t it interesting that the New Testament is written in Greek, not Latin? Now, you would think that since our Lord appeared in the time of the Roman Empire that the New Testament would have been written in Latin, for the Romans were everywhere. But it was written in Greek.
This was largely due to the fact that Alexander conquered the ancient world, and he brought the Greek language and Greek customs and Greek culture to the world that he had conquered. So, he was an extremely important man, and important for the reading of the Scriptures and for the revelation of the word of God, because most linguists or philologists will tell you that the Greek language is much more versatile than the Latin language, and therefore it is much more suitable for the writing and unfolding of the New Testament doctrinal truth. Now, you know, I’ve told you a number of times, I studied Latin for eight years. And I studied Greek for a whole lot longer than that. But I love Latin and began as just a little boy studying Latin. But Latin has certain fundamental weakness that Greek does not have.
For example, I’ll just give you one little illustration. Latin does not have a definite article. You cannot tell in Latin, always, whether a term should be translated “the” or “a.” Now, sometimes in Greek that’s true, but Greek has a definite article. That very fact indicates that it’s possible to be more precise in Greek than it is in Latin. Furthermore, the tenses of the verbs have much more specificity than the Latin tenses. And so, it is particularly suited for the unfolding of doctrinal teaching.
Well, Alexander, in the unfolding of history, is largely responsible for that with his magnificent conquest of the ancient world. He succeeded to his father’s throne at the age of twenty, in 336 BC, that of course, is almost two hundred years after the time of Zechariah. When he crossed into Asia, he never came back. He died of fever in Babylon in 323 BC after changing the face of the world. He crossed over in 334 BC, and visited Troy. He was brought up on Homer and Achilles was his model. He won a great victory at Granicus in 334 BC, which made him master of Asia Minor. His second great victory at Isis in 333 BC gave him Syria and Palestine and Egypt, land of course, that figure in the news today, in fact, in today’s news.
He had great fights at Tyre and Gaza before he conquered them 332 BC, and you will notice that Zechariah will write about those places. In the desert he visited the temple of the Egyptian god Amun, and later after visiting the god the rumor arose that he was the son of Amun, and in a special way a child of heaven. The third victory at Gaugamela in 331 BC was the end of the Persian King Darius. Darius was one with one Israel had had at one time a kind of treaty. He tried to harmonize all the states into one great state. Isn’t that interesting? He looks as if he really understood what Sophocles had said, and tried to get the whole world to join in loving. Does that sound modern? To get the whole world to join in loving, that phrase comes from Sophocles, one of the Greek writers. But anyway, he marched his men clean out of the ancient maps, and conquered the world that he knew. When he had conquered Macedon and Persia, a new view of the world dawned upon him. And that’s when he said, “Why not one kingdom over all the world?” And it’s said that he wrote home very much distressed, because there were no more kingdoms for him to conquer.
Well, in the background is Alexander here and we read of some of the things that he did. But the language goes beyond Alexander to the last days. So, the prophecy against Hadrach first, and then the prophecy against Tyre and Zidon in the latter part of verse 2 through verse 4; I’ll read these verses. I’m not going to expound them in detail. If your text is different than the one I’m reading, that’s because the Hebrew text has several places where it can be rendered differently, but since we are not dealing in detail, it’s not necessary to go into those details. “Tyrus, and Zidon, though it be very wise. And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets. (A very wealthy place was ancient Tyre, and that’s what he’s talking about.) Behold, the LORD will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire.”
This is an interesting prophecy. Peter Stoner, who was Professor at Westmont College, a Christian college on the pacific coast, often called the Wheaton of the west. Dr. Stoner taught science at Westmont College, and in the course of one of his books which he wrote afterwards called, Science Speaks, he comments on the fulfillment of this prophecy concerning Tyre. And the prophecy has about six different aspects. The prophecy has about six different things that are stated. Not the prophecy, not all of those things are stated here. Ezekiel, at approximately the same time, just a little bit before, also prophesied the destruction of Tyre, and putting all of those together, there were about six different things that were to happen. And then Mr. Stoner, who was a mathematician, set out a reasonable, shall I say, a reasonable percentage, what would you say, the word escapes me. Old age is coming upon me very quickly, I’m sorry to say. The odds, the odds, I had to think of horse racing to get what I was talking about, [Laughter] the odds; he set out the odds for the fulfillment of this prophecy, and taking them up individually put odds on each one of them depending on the prophecy itself, with his students. And they finally decided that there was one chance in seven-point-five times ten to the seventh power of these prophecies being fulfilled just by the unfolding of history, or one in seventy-five million. Now, mind you that’s just one prophecy. The Old Testament is full of many, many different prophecies. But this particular prophecy concerning Tyre, and it was remarkably fulfilled.
And one of the things, incidentally, about Tyre set out in the word of God is that it would not ever be rebuilt. Now, what is striking about that is that at Tyre there is a source of fresh water, it’s right on the Mediterranean, it has a source of fresh water right by the side of the Mediterranean, at which ten thousand gallons per day are available right at the present time. And yet, there is no village or city at the place where Tyre was. In other words, the prophecy, so far as we can tell, has been fulfilled to this present day. And Tyre is a place where fishermen go, that was in the prophecy. Also Tyre would be just a smooth place, a smooth rock. That’s what it is, because when the defenders of Tyre built the city out into the Mediterranean some hundreds of yards out, they took all of the rocks and put them down in the water so the whole place is just bare. And this hundred of years before it took place.
Then the prophecy against Philistia is set out in verse 5 through 7, “Ashkelon shall see it, and fear; Gaza also shall see it, and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.” All of these are Philistine cities. “And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.” Philistia was an arrogant nation. Israel became arrogant at times herself, but Philistia or the Philistines were noted for their arrogance and their pride. They were independent. They had their own false religion, their own culture, their own power and nationality. And what Zechariah is saying very simply is that all of that is going to be broken, and yet a remnant shall rise up for the Lord God. Look at that 7th verse, “And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth.” These are the false worship. “But he that remaineth, even he, shall be for our God, and he shall be as a governor in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite.” In other words, judgment is going to come on Philistia, but at the same time there is going to be a remnant of the Philistines who will be worshipers of the true God. And in fact, he says, one of them, or some of them will be like a governor in Judah, and Ekron, another Philistine city, will be as a Jebusite. And you may remember from Old Testament history that they Jebusites had a very good name.
Then finally, in verse 8 there’s the prophecy of Jerusalem’s deliverance, which is the harbinger of the future. Verse 8, “And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes.” This is very interesting, because when Alexander the Great came, he insisted, when he got into the area, that Israel surrender to him. But they refused to do it, because they had an agreement with Darius, and of course Darius was his enemy. That made him extremely mad, but he had one or two things to do before he got there, and so he did what he was going to do, and then he started toward the city. And he planned to go to Jerusalem.
And the high priest ordered the Jerusalem population to make sacrifices to God and pray for deliverance. And so God gave the high priest a dream instructing him that he should take courage and go out of the city to welcome Alexander. Well, when Alexander was not very far from the city, the high priest led a venerable procession to meet the Macedonian. And when they conqueror of the Jewish high priest, arrayed in purple and scarlet; when the conqueror saw, I should have said, saw the Jewish high priest arrayed in purple and scarlet with his mitre on his head, having a golden plate with the name of God engraved upon it, and attended by priests in white robes, he adored the name of Jehovah and saluted the high priest. Alexander said, so tradition in Josephus says, that he had such a person in a dream at Dias in Macedonia, and so the result was that Jerusalem was preserved. And if that is the truth, then we have the illustration of it here.
I don’t know whether you know this, but Jerusalem was overthrown and destroyed seventeen times in its history. It was besieged forty-six times. But when Alexander came, God took care of them. Isn’t it striking, too, that this prophecy, which looks on to the future, has the same enemies about the city, the same people’s around the nation, as exists there today. If you go to Israel today, on it northern borders, there is Syria and Lebanon. On the way, on the east, there is Jordan and Iraq. And then on the south there is Egypt, and actually on the west there are some enemies, too, in small measure. So that the little country is surrounded today, just as it was then, and they all would like nothing better than to destroy it, and to remove it into the middle of the Mediterranean. It’s one of, I think, one of the most interesting things about the word of God as you compare it with the history of our day, the nations are similarly aligned against Israel as they will be in the end times.
By the way, sometimes we forget to remember this. We often have brought before our attention in our newspapers, the plight of the Palestinians. And of course, as a Christian, we naturally have sympathy for the Palestinians, and those who have been uprooted. There is a sense in which, I think, all Christian should have sympathy for them. And of course, we should be for an equitable solution of their problem. But sometimes we forget that Jewish people in every one of these countries have been violently persecuted and killed. If you’ll go back and study modern history of Israelites, the Jews, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Iraq, In Adon, in Egypt, there were thousands of Jews in all of these places, and many of them have been slain. But no one ever says anything about that, unfortunately. In other words, there are Jewish people who are not in Israel who are suffering from these who are most loudly contending for the good of the Palestinians who have been uprooted. I’m sure that those problems shall not be settled until the time of our Lord’s second coming. If they are, I will be surprised.
Now, the prophecy in verse 9 is, of course, a prophecy of the first coming of the Son of man. “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.” So against the background of world conquering military ruler, emerges an all-conquering King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but what a contrast. Alexander is human; this one is the divine Son. Alexander is one who brings fear and dread to those to whom he comes in contact. This is one who brings joy and rejoicing to his people. Alexander is one who comes to town on a prancing steed; our Lord comes upon an humble ass. Alexander is rich and powerful, the Lord Jesus is poor and meek. He doesn’t have a place to lay his head. If you think about a poor man, no one was ever poorer than Jesus of Nazareth. In the case of Alexander, he is a foreign tyrant, characteristic of foreign tyrants, but as far as the Lord Jesus is concerned, he is our Messiah; Israel’s Messiah, our Messiah as well. Alexander was a slayer of foes; Jesus is the Savior of his enemies. One is a man who would like to be God; the other is the God who became man. What a difference between them.
Notice the royal proclamation in the first part of verse 9, ” Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem.” These lively vocatives, these words of address are intended to draw a great deal of attention to the Messiah. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem.” Notice that he is of Israel, since he is her king, “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee;” so in one sense the Lord Jesus is of Israel. But he is not of her in the ultimate sense, because he comes to her; so, both of these aspects of our Lord, the fact that he is the Goodman, are suggested by these words. “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee.” Now, we know, of course, the Old Testament teaches that the Lord Jesus was the Son of David. So, he was of Israel, but at the same time he is the Lord from Heaven, and so there is an aspect of his being that is divine; all found right here.
Notice the personal descriptions that are given of him, too. “Thy King cometh unto thee: he is just.” David writes about the Messiah in 2 Samuel chapter 23, in one of the last things that he ever said, his last song, this is what he said about the Messiah in 2 Samuel chapter 23, and verse 3. And incidentally, this lets us know that David understood enough of the Old Testament to let us know that while the Messiah was going to be his Son, he knew he was not the Messiah. Verse 3, of 2 Samuel 23, “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me,” he’s talking about the Davidic covenant. “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” Now, if you have any question about whether David understood that he was not the Messiah, read verse 5. “Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.” So, in other words, his hope rested in the Messiah. He knew that he was destined to enjoy the Messiah’s salvation, but he knew on his death bed that he was not the one and the time had not yet come. But he described him as one that was just, and that particular aspect is presented here. He is just, because he is the righteous Son of God, and he dispenses justification.
Isaiah later, after David’s time, will speak of the Messiah as one who in his righteousness shall justify many. So by virtue of the saving work of the Lord Jesus, he not only is just, but he is the one who declares righteous those that believe in him. He has salvation; not only personal but national salvation appears to be the context here. “He is just and having salvation.” That’s a most interesting expression in the Hebrew text, because it really is a hiphil participle. For those of you who are taking Hebrew you’ll know that the hiphil stem has certain characteristics. Personally, I think this rendering in the Authorized Version is not really a bad rendering. It’s possible to render it “saved” if, of course, it is a reference to the fact that he was saved in any way. It’s a reference to his humanity. But I think the sense of having salvation is probably correct.
Now, we also read that he comes “on a colt, the foal of an ass.” This, of course, is designed to represent the fact that our Lord, in his first coming, is not to come as a might conqueror, but he is to come as the one who offers the kingdom to the nation as the God-man. So, it’s not the time for the Second Advent in mighty power. He is lowly from the assumption of our nature, and in the incarnation, and also for living out the necessary life that he might be the atoning sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. 2 Corinthians chapter 9, in verse 8 says, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” And the Lord Jesus is the one who has caused all of that to happen to us.
Well, I think that since we have just a couple of minutes it would be good for us to turn to the New Testament and the fulfillment of this particular prophecy. It’s found in Matthew chapter 21, and it’s obvious that our Lord goes out of his way specifically to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah at his untriumphal entry into the city. Matthew chapter 21, in verse; this is the passage on the entry of our Lord into Jerusalem before his crucifixion. It is Palm Sunday, a day of wild rapture of enthusiasm with the delirium of an eager welcome for a prophet, but there is a misguided zeal on the part of a great many. Even that company of people that believed in him, from the rural areas, came in with him, did not fully understand. And when the Lord Jesus came into the city itself, there is a tremendous let down. So, let me read verse 1 through verse 11.
” And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. (Notice our Lord’s trust in the providence of God, because he knows from the study of Zechariah that he’s to fulfill this prophecy.) All this was done, (Matthew inserts at this point,) that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.”
There’s a lot of discussion over whether our Lord is accompanied by one animal or two animals. Some even said he sat on both animals, which is a strange way to harmonize the Scripture. The likeliest interpretation, as some of the scholars have pointed out, is that he sat on one of them, perhaps the mother and other animal trailed along with it, as was the custom. Martha and I were in Scotland just a few weeks ago. You notice that kind of thing happening among sheep. I don’t know whether that happens with asses as well, but it certainly makes sense. You would see momma, and then you would see the little lamb following momma about. I didn’t get out to sit on one of those lambs in order to find out if that little, one of the sheep, find out if one of the lambs would follow along. And thus, I could say Scripture could be fulfilled this way. I couldn’t even get near those sheep. When I got out of the car to get close to them to take a picture, they took one look at me, and said, “He’s from Texas.” And fled, and I could never get very close to them at all.
But anyway, coming back to the Scripture we read in verse 8, “And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying,” Incidentally, in case you wonder why there are people here, who are shouting these scriptural accolades to our Lord, and yet he is crucified shortly, it is not this group of people who crucified him. You often have people say, “The same people who said, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’ a couple of days later is the group that wants to crucify him.” No, our Lord was followed by his own disciples into the city, but as he comes into the city he meets the crowds of people.
“And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved.” Incidentally, that word is the word that is used of earthquakes. Now, whether this is the move, a figurative moving that is, they were disturbed and upset, and questioning. Whether there was actually some movement of the land, it’s impossible to tell. We know that when out Lord was crucified on the day of the resurrection there was an earthquake, so it’s entirely possible that something like this happened, but we just do not know. Now we read, “When he was come into the city, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said.” Now this is the great multitude of people in the city, what are they going to say? “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the prophet, the priest, and the king, the one that we’ve been looking for, the one who will accomplish redemption and deliver us now and forever.” No, what an anticlimax, “This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth in Galilee.”
James Stocker, the very fine Scottish student has a word to say about that. He says, “The provincial recognition of his claims was insufficient to carry a national ascent. He accepted the decision as final.” Of course, later on he will say that the time is coming when men are going to say, blessed is he who comes in the name of Lord. He says, “For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth ’til ye shall say, blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord.” So, they anticipated the future, but the future is not yet for them. The future is the future for us. We look forward to the day when our Lord shall come the second time, and the revolution that shall take place upon the earth at that time will signal the final change that introduces the kingdom of God. Our time is up; let’s close in a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for these magnificent prophecies, which evidently our Lord studied so intently that by the Holy Spirit’s direction as our mediator, the God man, he sought to fulfill them, and did fulfill them guided by the Spirit in the accomplishment of his work. We are so grateful to Thee that we are able to read these things and ponder them and to reflect upon the obedience of the Son of God who said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me.” Oh God, may or food, likewise, be the food of obedience to him who loved us, and has loosed us from our sins in his own precious blood. We pray in his name. Amen.