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Zechariah 9:11

Zechariah 9:11
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Zechariah 9:11, “As for you also, because of my blood of the covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.”

Most immediately, this refers to the rescue of the exiles from Babylon because of the covenant God has made with His people—the Abrahamic Covenant, as it was currently experienced through the Mosaic Covenant. The mention of the exile as a waterless pit associates the present Babylonian exile with the exile of Joseph (and so, of all Israel) to Egypt (Gen. 37:24). But even more than this, the “pit” imagery (both here and for Joseph) evokes the ultimate exile of death (Ezekiel 31:14,16). This is intriguing because it continues the prophetic association of exile with death / Sheol / the pit, and—therefore—the association of restoration with resurrection. To be set free from the waterless pit of exile is analogous to being raised up from the grave. This is the imagery for exile and return in the prophets, and is perhaps nowhere more clear than in the vision of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37.

So, YHWH promises to raise His people from the pit of their exile by the blood of His covenant with them. This has a meaning to the original audience, and it has a measure of fulfillment with the physical return from exile after Cyrus’ decree in 539 BC. But the true fulfillment of these words would await the coming of the King mentioned in v.9-10.

With the incarnation, YHWH comes to His people in their exile…He enters the “waterless pit” not only of their sojourn in exile under the curse, but of their death and, indeed, of their damnation. YHWH descends to the depths of the pit of exile in His own experience on the cross….in fact, He Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, becomes the True Israel and endures the True Exile…..all that came before (exile from the Garden, exile into Egypt, exile into Babylon) were shadows of this true and final exile—the exile of the cross.

But then, from the depths of the waterless pit to which Christ descends—He (the True Prisoner of Hope, v.12), He is raised up again. And His resurrection is “by the blood of the eternal covenant” (Heb.13:20). The blood of Jesus poured out on the cross is the inaugural blood of the New and True Covenant, the Covenant that promises that YHWH will be God to His people and they will be the people of YHWH. And since God is not God of the exiled, the dead, and the damned, this Covenant demands restoration….it demands resurrection. Therefore Jesus—the True Israel and True Exile, whose blood inaugurates the New Covenant—becomes the first to benefit from that New Covenant, He becomes the Firstborn from the Dead, the first to truly and fully return from the waterless pit of exile through His resurrection from the dead.

Christ’s resurrection, then, is the TRUE return, secured by His own blood of the New / Eternal Covenant. In fact, there is a sense in which Christ’s resurrection is the ONLY return….there is NO OTHER return from exile except the resurrection of God’s people in the resurrection of the True Israel, Jesus Christ. Any and all who would be restored / resurrected by the blood of the covenant must, therefore, be united to this one….It is ONLY in union to the One who has returned from the True Exile, the True Waterless Pit of death and damnation—it is ONLY by union to HIM, that ANY are restored from Exile….

And so, this promise in Zechariah 9:11 ultimately looks forward to the blood of the new covenant and the rescue of the prisoners who are in the true exile of physical and spiritual death through the resurrection of the True Israel by His own blood, shed in the True Exile, the cross of Calvary.