By Brent Moore
Pastor to Adults, First Baptist Church, Clarksville
Focal Passage: Zechariah 8:1-8; 9:9-12
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a book turned into a movie called Return of the King. The premise of the book is a king must rise up from a certain blood line to defeat evil and bring peace to Middle Earth (fictional place in Tolkien’s works). In the book a king does take his rightful place on the throne, rallies the troops, and turns back the tide of evil. He does so riding a warhorse with soldiers behind him. These images are similar to the final days depicted in the book of Revelation.
In Zechariah, as in much of biblical prophetic literature, it is not as clear cut as narrative works in the order of events. The Lord is coming back. That is certain according to verse three, “I will return to Zion and live in Jerusalem.”
However, events often within a single verse have multiple fulfillments. Some are obviously referencing the first coming of Christ; others seem to point to a future final destination. Finally, some statements in prophetic literature are partially fulfilled, but still waiting for other aspects of the promise.
The important point to take away is that God will be faithful. The text states, “They will be My people, and I will be their faithful and righteous God.” The certainty of God’s faithfulness to those who are His in the final day and all the days in-between is rooted in who He is. The nature and character of God is “jealous … with great wrath,” for those who are His. He will come through for His people. According to II Timothy 2:13 even if we are wavering or “faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”
Jesus came the first time in humility offering salvation to the “ends of the earth.” Indeed it is ironic that Jerusalem is to “shout in triumph” for a king who is coming on a donkey to be slaughtered at the hands of sinful men. However, the text is clear. The king on the colt is “victorious;” He did not lose. And His dominion “will extend from sea to sea.”
The peace and prosperity we long for and these Scriptures promise has not yet reached fruition. Images of children joyfully playing in the streets, or prisoners receiving a double portion have happened occasionally but not ultimately. The Second Coming will bring final tranquility, abolish violence, and restore harmony. The knowledge of the consummation of all things propels us forward in godliness because we have hope.
In Tolkien’s story about Middle Earth, the main protagonist Frodo often gets discouraged and wants to give up. When he is on the brink of breaking he thinks about the peace and prosperity of the land where he came from and where he will someday return. It is the same for all those who call on the name of the Lord. The darkness is not all that there is, these days too will pass and Christ will be victorious.
The people of God are promised more than a return to the Garden. Those in Christ will enjoy the City of God. The story that began in banishment from a garden will end with enjoyment of a full city; one of justice, love, and great joy because peace has finally come to the nations. This is the hope.
In the meantime we are called to “rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” Romans 5:3-5.
— Moore is pastor to adults at First Baptist Church, Clarksville.