In my earlier years in Maryland, we had a horse and a donkey at our home named “Dusty” and “Radar.” I viewed them as combination lawn mowers and fertilizers all in one package, and so there was never much riding on them. They viewed their role to likewise be eating – none of this carrying people around stuff was part of their personal job descriptions.
But several thousand years ago, it presented a big difference for a king riding into a city in terms of how he came – in war, or in peace.
Judgment on Israel’s Enemies – The first eight verses in today’s chapter speak of God’s judgment on surrounding people groups – all of whom were hostile to Israel at one time or another. The sort of thing we see in the daily news about upsets in this area of the world has a very, very long history. These verses look forward nearly 100 years to the conquests of Alexander the Great in this area.
Tyre – a coastal city – was particularly a stronghold. This city held out for five years against the Assyrians and 13 years against the Babylonians. Verses 5-7 speak of the primary cities of the Philistines – roughly the modern Gaza Strip.
9:1 A prophecy: The word of the Lord is against the land of Hadrak and will come to rest on Damascus—for the eyes of all people and all the tribes of Israel are on the Lord—2 and on Hamath too, which borders on it, and on Tyre and Sidon, though they are very skillful.
3 Tyre has built herself a stronghold; she has heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets. 4 But the Lord will take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea, and she will be consumed by fire.
5 Ashkelon will see it and fear; Gaza will writhe in agony, and Ekron too, for her hope will wither. Gaza will lose her king and Ashkelon will be deserted. 6 A mongrel people will occupy Ashdod, and I will put an end to the pride of the Philistines. 7 I will take the blood from their mouths, the forbidden food from between their teeth. Those who are left will belong to our God and become a clan in Judah, and Ekron will be like the Jebusites.
8 But I will encamp at my temple to guard it against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch.
Jerusalem was passed by in the conquests of Alexander – a divine protection. And though others would bring destruction – like the Romans under Titus – the final phrase of verse 8 looks forward to the Millennial Kingdom.
The Coming of Zion’s King
9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
This is one of those passages where, when compared to the New Testament, the specificity of it is so very impressive – how can one not be impressed with the inerrant Word of God?
In the ancient Near East, when a king rode into town on a horse, he was coming as a conquering warrior, but if on a donkey, it was in peace.
Here is the passage with the fulfillment of this prophecy in the person of Christ on the day we call Palm Sunday …
Matthew – 21:1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
The entrance of Christ into Jerusalem on this day, and in this manner, is one of the highlight moments of Scripture. You may recall in Daniel where it talked about the 69 weeks of years from the time of the decree from the Persians to rebuild the temple to the presentation of the king would be 483 total years. This day was the official presentation of Jesus to the nation of Israel as their king, and though lauded by the people as such, within days he would be officially rejected. And with the rejection of the King, the Kingdom was also rejected – though not denied, but rather postponed. It will yet occur – literally upon the earth for 1,000 years – in keeping with God’s promise to His people Israel.
And at the end of the preceding seven-year Tribulation period, Christ returns to earth in the final judgment of the Antichrist and the assembled armies of mankind. This final battle of Armageddon marks the end of this horrible time, and the establishment of his kingdom of peace. See here how Jesus returns, not on a donkey, but on a horse…
Revelation 19:11 – I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.