weekly word – 5/02/24

Zechariah 9:1-7

Zechariah 8 ends with a prophecy about life in the future kingdom of Israel, “In those days, ten men from nations of every language will grab the robe of a Jewish man tightly, urging: Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” 

Zechariah 9 tells how that kingdom will be established. It begins with Yahweh going on a military campaign from northern Syria, down to Lebanon, along the coastal cities of Philistia, on His way to free His besieged people in Jerusalem in verses 1-7:

The word of the LORD is against the land of Hadrach, and Damascus is its resting place — for the eyes of humanity and all the tribes of Israel are on the LORD — and also against Hamath, which borders it, as well as Tyre and Sidon, though they are very shrewd. Tyre has built herself a fortress; she has heaped up silver like dust and gold like the dirt of the streets.

Listen! The LORD will impoverish her and cast her wealth into the sea; she herself will be consumed by fire. Ashkelon will see it and be afraid; Gaza too, and will writhe in great pain, as will Ekron, for her hope will fail. There will cease to be a king in Gaza, and Ashkelon will become uninhabited.

A mongrel people will live in Ashdod, and I will destroy the pride of the Philistines. I will remove the blood from their mouths and the abhorrent things from between their teeth. Then they too will become a remnant for our God; they will become like a clan in Judah and Ekron like the Jebusites.

Yahweh’s attack begins in a city called “Hadrach”, which is now identified as Tell Afis. It’s located in the northwest corner of modern Syria, close to the Mediterranean Sea. Then He descends south to Hamath, another Syrian city. Then He goes west to the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon in Lebanon. Finally, Yahweh travels along the coast of Israel to defeat the Philistine cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, and Ekron.

This text reveals how the rest of the world become increasingly unnerved:

  • “Ashkelon will see it and be afraid”
  • “Ekron…her hope will fail”

Likewise, we can see that each of Yahweh’s attacks is a complete victory:

  • Though Tyre and Sidon are “very shrewd”, He will “cast her wealth in the sea”
  • “There will cease to be a king in Gaza”
  • “Ashkelon will become uninhabited”
  • “I will destroy the pride of the Philistines”

There are two final passages worthy of our attention in this section.

First, in verse 6, God promises “A mongrel people will live in Ashdod”. This sounds strange to the modern ear. It means that, unlike the Jews, the people of Ashdod will not be preserved as an ethnicity. God’s unique covenant with Israel preserves them as a people forever. But other nations don’t have this promise. When God’s kingdom comes to earth, some tribes will be so unbelieving that the judgment will obliterate their identity.

Second, there is a silver lining in verse 7: “They too will become a remnant for our God; and they will become like a clan in Judah and Ekron like the Jebusites.” This means that the believers who survive this attack will still live in this region. Not only that, they will exist as citizens of Israel like one of the 12 tribes. After all, we know there is no favoritism with God (Romans 2:11).

Why does God thoroughly defeat these nations and judge their peoples?

The answer is found in verse 7, where God states His goal of spiritual and cultural cleansing. Note verse 7 points out that God “will remove the blood from their mouths” and remove “the abhorrent things from between their teeth”. Having blood in their mouths and abhorrent things between their teeth refers to their practice of eating flesh contaminated with blood, violating the Noahic covenant in Genesis 9. That command teaches us not to eat blood out of respect for the life God has created (Genesis 9:4).

“Abhorrent things” refers to pagan sacrifices. It’s the same language used to describe the “abomination of desolation” in Daniel 11:31, the idol of the Antichrist. These meals were abominations to God because the food had been offered and used to celebrate a graven image. 

This is a stern warning for us today. We should recognize all the more our calling to be a set apart from this world as a “kingdom and priests to our God” (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). That means we don’t find our primary identity as Americans; but as Christians who are sojourners in this world until Christ appears.

But it also means that there is salvation and incorporation offered to everyone who believes, Jew or Gentile. We have a guarantee in the OT and NT that God welcomes all His children into His kingdom, those who trust in Him while living in this world.

Pastor David