Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Zechariah 9: A Chapter on the Verge of Fulfillment

The first necessary item in tackling this chapter is to get a real grasp on the time frame involved. That actually begins in Zechariah 8:7-8; “Thus says the Lord of host: behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country, and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.” Part of that verse has been fulfilled…God has brought back the Jews to the land. As of yet, Israel remains a predominantly secular nation, but that will eventually change.

Now, unfortunately for some, we have to do some mathematics in order to confirm that what we are about to study actually depicts the times in which we live. So, let’s start with the ancient captivity of the Jews at the hands of Babylon, beginning in the year 606 B.C. God had warned Judah that if they did not repent of their ways, he would raise up a nation from the north, a nation that would overwhelm them and cart them off into captivity. Of course, they chose not to repent and Nebuchadnezzar became the instrument God used.

However, God is not without mercy. His judgment is always meant to bring about repentance if the people are willing. So, he promised Jeremiah that the initial captivity of the people would last for no more than 70 years if the people would only turn and repent. Remember that Daniel had read those words and was driven to pray for their fulfillment. God had also revealed to Isaiah, several hundred years earlier, that a man named Cyrus would be the anointed ruler whom God would use to decree an end to Jewish captivity. You got it, exactly 70 years after the Jews were relocated in Babylon (606 B.C.), Cyrus the Persian issued a decree for the Jews to return to Palestine and rebuild the Temple. He even sent the temple furnishings back with Joshua the Priest, and Zerubabbel of the line of David. That decree was issued in 536 B.C.

The problem gets worse rather than better for the Jews, because only a remnant chose to leave their exile and return to Judea. That had also been written into God’s judgment. In a note to Moses, found in Leviticus 26:18, 21, 23-24, and 27-28, God warned the Jews that if they went into captivity and were given the opportunity to accept their freedom but did not return to Judea, he would curse them. The curse was built upon the same number of years that Israel was in captivity to Egypt…430 years! If, after going into exile the Jews chose not to return, God would subtract the number of years served (like a prison sentence) from the 430. But the remaining number would be multiplied by 7. (I warned you about mathJ) So, our base line is 430. The Jews served 70 years up to the decree by Cyrus, but chose to stay. That left a remainder of 360 years to be multiplied by 7. 360 x 7 = 2483.8 years. (Jewish years are calculated in 360 days.) Splay that number out and we see that the exile of the Jews would end, as it did, on May 14, 1948. Wow! God is true to his word.

In other words, the times and seasons have aligned with Zechariah 8. The beginning date for the end times began on May 14, 1948. That means what we are about to study in Zechariah 9 are on the cusp of being fulfilled. So let’s begin a verse by verse study. (You read it in your Bible, I will offer the commentary.)

(9:1) – Hadrach was an area of northern Syria that encompassed the city of Damascus. Isaiah 17 reveals that Damascus would be destroyed in a day at the hand of Israel. I project that this destruction will be through the use of nuclear weapons. The fact that an entire region – including the neighboring area to the west known as Hamath – would be uninhabitable seems to confirm that hypothesis.

(9:2-4) – Not only Hamath (or eastern Lebanon) would be affected, but the coastal cities of Tyr and Sidon (Lebanon) would also take a nuclear hit. This is born out in Psalm 83 and you can read earlier blogs to see that scenario.

So, to this point we must review the facts.
Israel returns from exile….check….May 14, 1948.
Damascus and Lebanon are destroyed by fire at the hands of Israel… has happened yet.

(9:5-6) – Next, the prophecy is extended against prominent cities of ancient Philistia. These cities still exist today and are populated by Arabs (Palestinians). Ashkelon will be completely destroyed as would be Ekron. The Gaza Strip will writhe in anguish, but not be destroyed, nor would Ashdod. The term “King” is used to refer to the leadership of the people. Today, that leadership is split between Hamas and Fatah. Both will fall at the hands of the Israeli’s as pointed out in Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 25. However, God is rich in mercy. Many do not realize that today, a large population of the Palestinian people, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ! Wow!

Now we come to the incredible, God-ordained solution to the Palestinian issue that plagues the Middle East today, and has for most of the last century.

(9:6-8) -- With the leadership (Islamic instigators of terror and hatred) violently removed from among the Palestinians (a mixed people), God will show his great mercy and engraft the surviving population into his covenant with Israel. The Palestinian people will be come like a clan of the tribe of Judah. (vs 7) And just as in ancient times when the foreigner that chose to worship Jehovah were to be protected and accepted as citizens, so will the Palestinian survivors. They will live securely and never again be oppressed. Their current oppression had come at the hands of their own Arabic brothers, the Islamic terrorists that use them as pawns, and even by Israel that cannot allow the terrorist leaders to gain a foothold that would again doom the Jews.

Chapter nine ends with a dual-fulfillment prophecy of the coming of Jesus. The first time he would come riding on a donkey’s colt. The next time, he will arrive in a spectacular display of power in order to rescue his people Israel.

As you read Zechariah 8-14, you cannot help but understand that we have arrived at the hour of seeing these events fulfilled. It will be in a cataclysmic way. But do not fear! Keep your eyes locked on the prize, for Jesus is coming first for his bride—and then to deliver the fulfillment of his ancient covenants to Abraham and David.

This is the BEST time in all history to be alive and serving the KING!

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