A Further Question
Modern Judaism eschews the idea that a man can be God, and this is often cited as an objection to the messiahship of Jesus.
But Zechariah forces us to consider the validity of this objection, as the prophet repeatedly refers to the Messiah-king figure as Lord.”
Zechariah 14:9: “The Lord will be king over the whole earth.”
Zechariah 14:16: “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty.”
Paradoxically, the king as we understand it from Zechariah 9 seems to be a man. He is given physical attributes: he rides on a donkey; later in Zechariah 14, he puts his feet on the Mount of Olives.
Traditional Judaism has always seen the Messiah as a man. But here in Zechariah, the Messiah doesn’t seem to be merely a man; he also appears to be the Almighty himself.
Many times the Scriptures speak of God reigning over all the earth. We also see passages about the Messiah reigning over the earth. So if the Lord reigns, and Messiah reigns, then it could be interpreted to mean that Messiah is the Lord. Traditional Judaism’s conviction that the Messiah is only a man is hard to reconcile with these passages.
Another passage in Zechariah seems to bring these two passages together: “‘Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,’ declares the Lord” (Zechariah 2:10).
As in Zechariah 9:9, the command is to rejoice, but rather than rejoice because the king is coming, what does it say? “I am coming, I will live among you.” And who is speaking? God.
If the king is the Lord as in chapter 14, then this makes sense. Zechariah seems to be echoing the same thought throughout his book—the Messiah-king and God are one and the same.
And if that wasn’t mysterious enough, take a look at Zechariah 2:11: “Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you…and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.”
The switch from the third person to the first person is eye-catching. The one referred to as the Lord is talking here and yet the verse reads, “many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day, and they will become my people.” The phrase, “My people” is reminiscent of the familiar phrase from the Hebrew Scriptures, “I will be your God and you will be my people,” which speaks of intimacy of relationship.
But when will it happen, when will we become his people? It says, when, “I will live among you.” This is like the prior verse, “shout and be glad for I am coming, and I will live among you, declares the Lord.” So what we see is that the Lord is coming to dwell among people.
But then verse 11 continues: “and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.”
The Lord is talking…but then it says the Lord is “sending me.” “Me” is clearly the Lord in this verse, but he is also the one doing the sending. And this one who is sent will live among the people, and the people will be joined with the Lord, and become “my people”—this sent one’s people.
This idea of the “sent one” we see here in Zechariah, can also be seen in Isaiah as well (48:12-16) and it is a theme that the New Testament Jewish writer, Yochanan (John) dwells on in his account of the life of Jesus, mentioning the concept of “sent” 56 times. Jesus referred to himself as the one who was “sent” by God:
John 5:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
John 6:38: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
Jesus called everyone to worship God, just as Zechariah said the Messiah would do (14:16). But he also wanted to be worshiped, as he himself claimed to be God.
While the book of Zechariah does not explicitly state that Messiah is divine, it allows for a Messiah who is somehow, mysteriously, both God and man.