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. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. I will bend Judah as I bend my bow and fill it with Ephraim. I will rouse your sons, Zion, against your sons, Greece, and make you like a warrior’s sword. – Zechariah 9:9-13
Today’s passage is a prophecy about a coming king that will be unlike any king that has come before. This king will be “righteous and victorious” while at the same time being “lowly and riding on a donkey” – the lion and lamb. The old ways of battle and power will be superseded and cast aside by this coming Prince of Peace who will “proclaim peace to the nations”. The future battles will be won not with chariots and bows but with something new, “blood of the covenant.”
Water comes into the passage as part of a geographic hyperbole. The reach of this new ruler and His kingdom is described as extending “from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth”. This is another way of saying that a time will come when God’s rule through this lowly King will extend around the world crossing every border and boundary. This prophecy come’s right after numerous prophecies in Haggai and Zephaniah about using strong hands to rebuild the temple. I wonder if part of the reason for this juxtaposition is to introduce the concept that the Lowly King will usher in a temple rebuilding like no other the people have seen yet. This “temple rebuilding” will be global in scope yet personal; and it will have both immediate and eternal consequences.
The second water reference in this passage is a little more confusing, “As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.” It is not clear what is meant here by a “waterless” pit. If one is to take it literally it could be referring to a dried up cistern – a “waterless pit”. Cisterns have been described before in my float. They were used for stashing bodies, imprisoning people, and many other purposes other than those for which a cistern is created. The other possibility is that the term “waterless pit” is being used metaphorically.
In many ways God has been the “Great Cistern” for the people of Israel, providing them with Living Water and Manna from heaven that came on the dew. So if God is the water source and the people are described as “prisoners from the waterless pit”. It is saying they are disconnected from God and slaves to someone or something else from which they are in need of being freed. This an apt description of the state of all those who choose to be free of God.
This passage is a reflection of Him, and a foreshadowing of a coming King who will be very different and usher in a new way of relating to God that involves a “blood covenant” and freedom from things that enslave and ensnare us. This coming King has a name, Jesus, and I am rapidly approaching the confluence between the Old and New Testaments where He will described by those who walked and talked with Him. I am really looking forward to that.
Prayer: God I am excited for the confluence to come when I will begin to explore the Good News of the one who came righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey to set us free.