Zechariah 10:10-11, “I will bring them home from the land of Egypt…He shall pass through the sea of troubles and strike down the waves of the sea…”
I arrived at today’s verse picture in a very round about way. I was reading Matthew 21 and the triumphal entry of Christ. When I came upon the OT quotation in verse 5, I went back to check out the original context in Zechariah 9:9. Then, as I read over the wonderful prophetic anticipation of Christ in chapter 9 and into chapter 10, I came across the verse that would become today’s picture.
The idea that YHWH’s climactic, end-time salvation of His people will be a sort of “True Exodus” is picked up by a number of OT prophets, and I did a verse picture touching on this topic a few months ago. But there were at least two things that caught my attention in Zechariah 10:10-11….I’ll mention them briefly below.
First, Zecharaiah’s use of “New Exodus” language comes in the context of gathering the people of God who are scattered throughout the nations (10:8-10). This is interesting because John’s gospel links the OT concept of gathering the scattered nation into one to the work of Christ on the cross (John 11:51-52). Ultimately, the people of God–Jew and Gentile–are gathered by the act of Revelatory Redemption that is the lifting up of Christ on the cross. The Son of God exalted in His self-giving love on the cross is the “whistle” (Zechariah 10:8) and the raised signal (Isaiah 11:12) by which YHWH will gather His scattered peoples to Himself. So, by referring to the gathering of the exiles, Zechariah has already–according to John–put us in the realm of the work of the cross.
The final exodus will gather the people of YHWH out of exile and to Himself, and it will be accomplished, the NT tells us, through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
This leads to the second thing I wanted to note in this passage. One of the most definitive moments of the first exodus was the miraculous dividing of the Red Sea so that the people of Israel could pass through into safety. The Sea in Old Testament thought was a place of chaos and danger, often used as a symbol for the forces opposed to God and His people in the world. Thus, YHWH splitting the sea and leading His people through was not just a practical means of salvation, but it was also an image of His supremacy over all opposing forces.
What’s interesting about Zechariah’s language regarding the “True Exodus” of YHWH’s end-time salvation is that YHWH Himself is envisioned as passing through the “sea of troubles” and–presumably by passing through this sea–“striking down the waves…” Why did this catch my attention? Because it seems to me to be a beautiful interweaving of YHWH’s salvation of His people at the Red Sea with what will be His climactic salvation worked at the cross.
At the cross, the Lord Himself truly passes through the sea of trouble….He bears all the crashing breakers and waves of sin and suffering in His own body on the tree and–passing through them–strikes them down. In the first exodus, we are told that a wind from the Lord held the walls of water back from destroying His people….but in the Final Exodus, we know that it is the Beloved Son–YHWH Himself–whose outstreched arms hold back the waves of judgment as we pass out of slavery and into the promised land of Trinitarian fellowship.