The King’s Two Comings Zechariah 9:1-17 and Palm Sunday

Written by Paul J. Bucknell on March, 29, 2021

Zechariah 9:1-17 The King’s Two Comings

When we step back and view the whole Bible in its context, the panorama view astonishes us how God is fulfilling His dynamic plan to enthrone His Son, Jesus Christ, as King over the nations.

The Grand Opening

The events during Passion week, especially Palm Sunday and Easter, are deeply embedded into God’s redemptive program. Our understanding and implications of these events, however, are not clear to us. Jesus, for example, fulfilled a great many scriptures, including Zechariah 9:9, when riding on a colt into Jerusalem.

A careful look into these events and powerful scriptural prophecies will aid us during this age when people appear to be leader and party-driven. We dare not take our eyes off the warnings of the possible entry of Antichrist onto earth’s shores during this hyped coming of a global “Great Reset.”

We do well to remember the importance of Christ’s two comings as king. There will be some, like Judas Iscariot, that had no place for a powerless, driven, king. They allow their earthly visions to drive them, not open to why Jesus had to come humbly. But Jesus will soon come again in full power. Meanwhile, keep your eyes on Jesus, no matter how enticing a global leader’s promises of peace and prosperity might be.

The Lord has used these Old Testament prophecies to assure us that people identify and follow the right king. Our focus is on Zechariah 9:9 but will discuss the whole of chapter 9.

Living in our King’s love and the hope of His return keeps our hearts and lives fixed on Jesus.

1. The Promise of the King (Zech 9:1-8)

Let’s first look at Zechariah 9:1-8, the promise of the king. You will note a common thread through human history since Adam’s fall—oppression, life pressures, destruction, and death.

The Trouble (Zech 9:1-3)

1 The burden of the word of the Lord is against the land of Hadrach, with Damascus as its resting place (for the eyes of men, especially of all the tribes of Israel, are toward the Lord), 2 And Hamath also, which borders on it; Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise. 3 For Tyre built herself a fortress and piled up silver like dust, and gold like the mire of the streets” (Zech 9:1-3)).

Zechariah paints for us on a large mural, sketching out the evil oppressors—those who occupy the world, most relevant to the Israelites at that time. Tyre occupied the sea trade routes while Damascus, the head of Syria, dominated the land scene. Israel, being their neighbors, felt the tremendous pressures causing great distress. As much as they tried, they could not escape these unpleasant pressures upon their daily lives. Micah 5 similarly presents the Israelites’ oppression when prophesying Christ’s birth in Bethlehem. These verses also remind us Jesus’ times when the Israelites lived under oppressive Roman rule.

Depending on which swing of the financial cycle we are in, where we live, and the difficulties we face, we can sense this oppression. But be careful, we live in perilous days—all of us. Those things that look promising and secure are not. Our present days are more precarious because it’s not just one country oppressing another, or many others, but some hidden global agenda promising a new age. Jesus predicted increasing pressures on the poor and faithful, which, in turn, sets the stage for fulfilling His promises with yet a more glorious backdrop.

The evil depicted in verses 1-3 casts a shadow on history, sometimes darker at various stages but always using its ungodly powers to crush down God’s people and His greater purposes.

The Promise (Zech 9:4-8)

4 Behold, the Lord will dispossess her and cast her wealth into the sea; and she will be consumed with fire.…8 But I will camp around My house because of an army, because of him who passes by and returns; and no oppressor will pass over them anymore, for now I have seen with My eyes” (Zech 9:4-8).

The more difficult the time, the more we can appreciate a Savior. This is the reason people so desperately cried out for the Promised One to come during Jesus’ time suffering under the Roman empire’s oppressive rule.

And so, verses 1-3, rightly proceed verses 4-8, just as the night proceeds the day and the Israelite evening begins the day. Here, in verse 4 the Lord comes to the rescue, bringing harm and just judgment on the neighboring, boastful and wicked countries.

In verse 8, the Lord asserts that He will encamp about His people; He will become their border and their border security. The Lord has “seen with My eyes” intimating that He will personally get involved.

All these difficulties of life came upon Israel because they left God and His commandments. The Lord repeatedly pled with them to obey His commands, promising to bless them greatly. Alas, they did not obey and ended up oppressed by others.

But it’s here, in these precise circumstances, that God sprinkles in hope when no hope is deserved. Those in the darkness can, at the right time, expect to see the light come (c.f., John 1:1-12).

Promises of Old

Since Adam’s waywardness, God promised another king to rescue mankind from their plight. The earliest Gospel promise is found in Genesis, soon after the Fall.

“He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen 3:15).

Every promise and prophecy of a coming king to rescue His people is grace since His people have proved that they are undeserving of God’s goodness. God had wonderfully situated Adam and Eve in Paradise, and yet, they betrayed God, the Giver of all good things. Let us never beguile ourselves, being persuaded that we deserve God’s blessings. We don’t.

Genesis 49:10-11 “Until Shiloh comes”

Genesis 49 further points us down the tunnel of time, narrowing down the promise of a Messiah, a Christ, to the descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, another name for Israel.

10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. 11 “He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine.… (Gen 49:10-11).

The kings will rule through Judah, David’s line until the Messiah, the great promised King, comes. Interestingly, we find that after Jesus came, there was no more Judah. The displaced tribes could no longer retain their identity. But Shiloh, the Promised One came to lead His people. Their loyalty should go to Him as the leader rather than to the tribal leaders and governments. We will look further at this prophecy later but note again how this promise builds upon Genesis 3:15 and brought a brighter hope for salvation.

Summary and Application

Even at the end of Genesis (lit. the beginning), the scriptures are proclaiming a Savior, a King to bring help to people in their helpless plight.

  • Evil is closer than we think; be watchful.
  • We dare not trust ourselves in people, especially great leaders.
  • Our eyes must turn to God and His Christ for hope and help, though we don’t deserve it.

Without Christ, God’s Son, there is no hope.

2. The Coronation of the King (Zech 9:9-10)

Our main focus is upon Zechariah 9:9, the grand promise that vividly identifies the King who God promised to send. What we see, however, is not what mankind had expected.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout [in triumph,] O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).

In Mark 11:2 Jesus tells His disciples to go into the village opposite you and they are to find a colt tied there that no one has ever ridden. They are to untie it and bring it to Jesus. If anyone asks about what they are doing, they are to mention that Jesus needed it. One might wonder how did Jesus know there was never rode?

Jesus knew it was time for Him to enter Jerusalem as King. He knew of a tucked-away scripture in Zechariah 9:9, surrounded by prophecies of judgment.

Before noticing the key signifying marks for the coming King, let’s recognize the importance of this prophecy by noting that all four Gospels recount this verse to some degree when stating the illustrious event of what we call Palm Sunday today, the Sunday preceding our Easter.

Zechariah 9:9 and Palm Sunday and the Gospels

We will discuss this verse in more detail, though it all points to Jesus’ coronation as King. Christians know about Palm Sunday but do not recognize how it connects to Jesus’ anointing as King.

Genesis 49:10-12 and Zechariah 9:9

The symbolism behind Jesus’ mount on the colt powerfully fulfill this Old Testament prophecy, “Humble and mounted on a donkey.” He was the King riding up to Jerusalem. Jesus, the grand monarch, came to them riding on a donkey.

With a broader perspective gained from time, we know that Jesus had to die before assuming the throne. He had to secure His people before they could become His people. Satan tempted Jesus to bypass death and be King (Mat 4:1-6), but the faithful Servant listened only to His Father in heaven. So when we compare Genesis 49 and Zechariah 9 with what happened in the four Gospels, we see three powerful themes.

Palm Sunday in the Gospels

  1. Kingship — In Genesis 49:10 it speaks of the king’s scepter would be perpetuated from the tribe of Judah. In time, we know God promised David that his son would become this Shiloh (2 Sam 7:11-13). Likewise, Zechariah 9:9 openly states, “O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you.” The importance of Palm Sunday comes from the anointing of Christ as He ascended to Jerusalem that day.
  2. Hope — Hope and salvation come together in an unbelievable God-devised scheme where Jesus would become Savior and King. Jesus’ name means Savior and He proved His commitment when He died for His people. Genesis 49 speaks, “And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples,” while Zechariah 9 states, “He is just and endowed with salvation.” Remember the desperate context describing how this Savior would eliminate enemies and become His people’s secure Border (Zech 9:8).
  3. Humble — Genesis 49 again identifies this King by his attachment to a foal, “He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine.” Zechariah 9:9 provides the same identification mark, “humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” This is the unexpected prophecy, which to this day is disliked. People want a grand, powerful Savior/Ruler—not a vulnerable, crushed, humble Savior (Isaiah 53), but salvation needed to come first. Our plight was much more desperate than expected.

And so, when we look at the four Gospels, we see this coronation of Jesus the King. We will only read John’s Palm Sunday passage.

12 On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” 14 Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” 16 These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him” (John 12:12-16).

Did the Jewish people understand this coronation? I’m afraid not. Even the “disciples did not understand at the first” (John 12:16). The Jewish procession came in two groups, the first ascending with Jesus up to Jerusalem (mentioned in the other Gospels), while the second, leaving Jerusalem and descending down to meet Jesus, mentioned here in John 12:12: “took the branches of the palm trees and went out (from Jerusalem) to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.””

The people in Jerusalem did what they always do at that time of year when pilgrims came to Jerusalem for Passover. They chanted verses from Psalm 113-118. They just didn’t know they were taking part in the coronation of the long-promised King.

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry

So, with the tradition set in time, with Genesis 49 and Zechariah 9 sharply describing the hope for the Jews, God fulfilled His grand plan for that Palm Sunday when Jesus rode on the colt up to Jerusalem.

Jesus understood what this ascension into Jerusalem meant. His disguised coronation—oh, so humble—kicked off a series of significant events seen in the three Jewish feasts being fulfilled that week, typifying Jesus’ death and resurrection. By offering His life, Jesus saved His people. By His resurrection, He overcame death and ascended to His throne. It is so surreal—but true.

The Pharisees rebuked Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” but notice Jesus’ response, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:39b-40) The Father foreordained this redemptive plan and the Son would come, sacrifice His life, and secure us from the evil that otherwise would have overwhelmed us.

I suppose you have, like me, watched many a movie about a hero prince who would overcome the wicked forces, capture his dear bride, and lead the formerly bondages people into a glorious age of beautiful wonder. We are caught up in this wonderful plot with Jesus being the hero—though yet fully realized.

The Marks Signifying the True King

As we look at John 12 and other Gospels, we see the hallmarks of God’s anointed King that we should worship.
These clear marks are opposite to the boastings and control of the Antichrist. We need to remind ourselves that Jesus alone is King and give our devotion only to Him, no matter what others promise. Don’t believe them.

  • The Fanfare: “Rejoice greatly,
  • The Coronation of the King (colt’s connection with anointing)
  • He is just (righteous)
  • Brings salvation
  • His identity: Humbly enters on a colt

Post-coronation Glory (Zechariah 9:10)

10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zech 9:10 NASB)

Although we could spend the whole time on one verse, 9:9, we need to mention verse 10. The humility of God’s Son displayed the depth of God’s love and commitment to His people, but Jesus would rise (Feast of Firstfruits) and reign. Jesus now rules as King. All authority in heaven and earth belongs to Him alone. He now declares His Saving grace in the Gospel to all peoples, “to the ends of the earth” (Romans 15:9-13).

Some wonder why Jesus postpones the display of His power and glory. Once Jesus displays His full power, everything is over. Right now, His salvation’s plan includes this era of bringing the message of Jesus’ love and death to more people around the world, not just to the Jews. So, though Jesus has all authority, He empowers His people to spread the Gospel and make disciples until He returns. Jesus stated this in the Great Commission.

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” (Mat 28:18-19; cf Rom 16:20).

Summary and Application

Let’s summarize these powerful points of Jesus’ coronation.
By suffering, Christ created a way to welcome us into His kingdom as priests. (Rev 1:6)

  • Jesus came the first time to die and save us.
  • At Passover, Jesus was coronated (crowned) with the crown of thorns (Psalm 118).
  • We are to declare (evangelize) His good news wherever we go, even to all the nations!

3. The Return of the King (Zech 9:11-17)

11 As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you, I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. 12 Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope…14 Then the Lord will appear over them, And His arrow will go forth like lightning; And the Lord God will blow the trumpet, And will march in the storm winds of the south. 15 The Lord of hosts will defend them. …16 And the Lord their God will save them in that day as the flock of His people; for they are as the stones of a crown, sparkling in His land. (Zech 9:11-17)

As we look at this last section of Zechariah 9, we observe a bold restatement of these old promises. They are new promises for the Israelites in exile, just as we see new promises stated for us at the end of Revelation.
In the following verses, the fruit of Jesus’ redemptive work are found. “As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you, I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.”

    Jesus’ new covenant guarantees our salvation (9:11)

This “blood of the covenant” is the liberating New Covenant, mentioned by Jeremiah (Jer 31:31) but fulfilled by Jesus just literal days after His coronation.

Believe in Jesus! Confess your sins and give your faith and hope to Christ, who will save you both from your sins and judgment but also from the judgment of this world.
This perverted oppression will again pervade the world; evil manifestations will worsen, if possible, than ever before. But Jesus will suddenly return and ultimately judge His enemies. Enemies of His people are His enemies.

    All our enemies will be instantly destroyed (9:12-14)

O prisoners who have the hope…14 Then the Lord will appear over them, And His arrow will go forth like lightning; And the Lord God will blow the trumpet…

As stated in Revelation, Jesus will implement God’s powerful judgments to wipe out the enemy with one blow. God allows the enemy to continue temporarily, but only so that all His people have time to enter His fold. Jesus stated the time is short (Rev 12:12).
God’s glory and power never overwhelm His goal of forever caring for His people. Again, the theme of God’s mercy and grace will always hover over God’s people flowing into eternity.

    God will treasure His people forever (9:15-17)

15 The Lord of hosts will defend them. …16 And the Lord their God will save them in that day as the flock of His people; for they are as the stones of a crown, sparkling in His land.

The easiest way to understand God’s genuine love is through the analogy of the bride, fully revealed at Christ’s return as the Bridegroom comes for His bride as seen in Revelation 21. The intimacy, the elimination of enemies, forgiveness of sins, and rich glory in the new heavens and earth are all prepared for His family forever.

Summary and Application
“ And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev 21:2)

  • The end times are upon us; beware but have hope! Events get worse before better.
  • Jesus has all authority and will timely and appropriately exercise it.
  • Delight in your Lord who greatly loves you!

Conclusion

Let’s attempt to wrap these powerful truths in a few sentences.

  • Be careful of your trust in world leaders and systems.
  • Worship and adore our great Savior King!
  • Boldly live a life of obedience to Jesus as King, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Live each day in light of His return for us.

Jesus’ coronation occurred on Palm Sunday leading into the Passion week, the celebration of Passover.

Discussion Questions for Zechariah 9

  1. How do verses 1-3 differ from those starting in verse 4?
  2. What threats and oppression have you experienced in life?
  3. How do the two Genesis promises relate to each other (Gen 3:15 and Gen 49:10-11)?
  4. How is Genesis 49:10-11 similar to Zechariah 9:9?
  5. What is the significance of Palm Sunday, and how does it connect to Zechariah 9:9? How can we be sure of this connection?
  6. What are the connections between Palm Sunday and the three feasts celebrated at Passover?
  7. What is the significance of Jesus’ humble entry into Jerusalem?
  8. Why did the author connect Zechariah 9:10 with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:17-20)?
  9. Why doesn’t King Jesus, fully divested with heaven and earth’s authority, not disclose His full power?
  10. What is the significance of Zechariah 9:11 with Jesus’ redemptive work?
  11. How does Zechariah 9:12-14 remind us of the earthly powers’ final chapter as we now know it?
  12. What does a bridegroom fetching his bride so closely picture Zechariah 9:15-17?
  13. State one thought that impresses you and a change you will make because of it.

Related Articles on Palm Sunday and Jewish Feasts by Paul J. Bucknell

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