11. The Coming King: Zechariah
In the face of discouragement, hope in Christ’s restoration sustains faithful living.
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.
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.
Have you ever grown a plant from a seed? For a long while, you meticulously tend to what seems to be just dirt. Initial excitement often withers into doubt, as you wonder whether anything is going to come of your efforts. It can be tempting to give up tending to the plant altogether.
In the book of Zechariah, the Israelites find themselves sinking into discouragement such as this. They have suffered through many years of captivity as punishment for their sin, sustained by the hope of getting home and seeing their nation restored. At last, they are home, but things are not as they’d imagined.
The prophets of earlier days had foretold that after the exile, God would bring a king from Israel who would transform the hearts of his people and establish God’s kingdom over all the nations. In the absence of experiencing this reality, the Israelites are losing motivation to live faithfully to God.
God sends the prophet Zechariah to impart hope and revitalize the people. Through Zechariah, God re-institutes his promise about the king to come from Israel. He says this king will come “humble and mounted on a donkey.” He declares that the king will bring world peace and establish his kingdom over the whole Earth. This king will remove the stain of sin and bring God’s presence to dwell among his people. But before this world-wide reign, Zechariah says, the king will be rejected by the very leaders of Israel, and then God’s own sword will be unleashed against him. Yet ultimately, through this king, God will rescue his people and bring the long-promised restoration.
In light of this future hope, Zechariah presses his people to continue living faithfully to God!
Can you resonate with the disappointment and lost hope of the Israelites in this book? In days thick with the weeds of discouragement, motivation to pursue and follow God can often dwindle and die.
But in such seasons, like the Israelites, there is a hope we can hold on to. God has promised one day to restore his world and all of his people. When Christ comes again, there will be no more sin, death, pain or suffering. God’s people will live in this new creation fully and freely in God’s presence for eternity.
Christians can maintain confidence in this future reality because we have evidence of God’s past faithfulness! God’s prophesied king in the book of Zechariah did come in the person of Jesus, who entered Jerusalem humble and mounted on a donkey. Jesus fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy when he was rejected by the Jewish religious leaders and then struck by the sword of God’s wrath on the cross. With his resurrection, Jesus ushered in the promised age of God’s reign of peace, restoring creation to its rightful king and bringing dead things to life! God’s decisive victory is won, and we are now waiting for this world to experience the full effects of restoration.
Like a gardener faithfully watering her seeds in expectation of future growth, hope in Christ’s restoration sustains faithful living!
Are you discouraged by the discord and brokenness around you and in the world? Because you have hope that God is restoring his people to live in peace and harmony, you can be strengthened to join him in his mission.
Have you been mistreated? Because you have hope that God will restore the damaged, hurting part of your life and bring justice to evil, you are freed to let go and respond with love.
Are you suffering with your physical or mental health? Because you have hope in God’s future healing, you can reject despair and press on in the battle!
Hope does not necessarily make faithfulness easy. It may propel our feet to keep shuffling forward but it may not elevate our hearts to feel good. Choosing to act on your hope, even when it feels hard and unsatisfying, is itself worthy of praise.
RESPOND: Take a moment to go to God with any current discouragements. Ask him to give you hope in his future restoration, that your faithfulness might be sustained.