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Zechariah

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ZECHARIAH

THEME:  Messiah and Restoration:  A theological basis for rebuilding the Temple
(or Standing on the Promises:  Motivations for Rebuilding the Temple)

 

DATE:  520-518 (480-70?)

Zechariah 1-6 dates to the 2nd year of Darius (520).  Chapters 7-8 date to the 4th year of Darius (518).  Zechariah 9-14 has no clear date.  Some have suggested that these chapters date to a much later period in Zechariah’s ministry, perhaps 480-470.

HISTORICAL SETTING

 

Zechariah, grandson of Iddo (Neh. 12:4, 16),[1] was of priestly descent.  A contemporary of Haggai, Zechariah began his ministry in the second year of Darius, king of Persia (520 BC), when the Lord called him (and Haggai) to encourage the post-exilic community to finish rebuilding the Temple (Ezra 5:1-2).  The Temple was finally finished in March of 515 (Ezra 6:15).

STRUCTURE

I.        Introduction (1:1-6):  Repentance as a prerequisite to restoration

 

II.      Eight visions (1:7-6:15):  God’s program of restoration for Judah and Jerusalem

 

| ! Vision

| ! Reference

| ! Description

|

|  Vision 1 | 1:7-17 | !!! The Angel of Yahweh with the horsemen among the myrtle trees

|

 Vision 2 1:18-21 Four horns and four carpenters (craftsmen)

|  Vision 3 | 2:1-13 | !!! The man with the measuring line

|

 Vision 4 3:1-10 Joshua, the high priest, cleansed
 Vision 5 4:1-14 The golden lampstand fed by the two olive trees
 Vision 6 5:1-4 The flying scroll
 Vision 7 5:5-11 The woman in the ephah basket
 Vision 8 6:1-8 The four chariots of the Lord
Climax to the visions  6:9-15  The symbolic crowning of Joshua, the high priest

 

III.   Questions about fasting (7:1-8:23):  True spirituality in light of future restoration

 

A.       The question (7:1-3)

B.       The four answers (7:4-8:23)[2]

 

IV.    Two prophetic oracles (9:1-14:21):  The two Advents of Messiah and the future restoration

 

A.       To the first Advent:  The rejection of the Messiah and its consequences (9:1-11:17)

B.       The second Advent and beyond:  The return and reign of the Messiah (12:1-14:21)

FOCUS ON ZECHARIAH’S VISIONS

These eight visions picture, in enigmatic language, God’s program of restoration for Jerusalem and for His people.

                               Detailed Description                               explanation/interpretation

| VISION 1 (1:7-17) | !!! The man on the red horse (vv. 8, 10) is later identified as the Angel of Yahweh (v. 11). 

Other horsemen, mounted on horses of three different colors, are standing behind the Rider on the red horse (v. 8).

He and the other horsemen are standing under myrtle trees in a valley (v. 8).

The report of these horsemen is that everything is still quiet (v. 11).

 The angel of the Lord calls out to Yahweh to have compassion on Jerusalem (v. 12). Yahweh responds by proclaiming comfort and prosperity for Jerusalem (vv. 13-17). |  The rider of the red horse is the Messiah.  These horsemen, agents of divine governance, are making a report to the Angel of Yahweh (v. 10).  Exact symbolism unknown.  The valley is perhaps the deep Kidron valley southeast of Jerusalem.[3]  In other words, God has not yet begun to deal with the nations and avenge His people. Messianic concern on behalf of troubled Jerusalem and Judah leads to a promise of restoration:  comfort and prosperity for Jerusalem, a rebuilt Temple, and divine anger against the nations that destroyed her. |

VISION 2 (1:18-21) Four horns (vv. 18-19) Four carpenters (vv. 20-21)—“craftsmen” who work with wood, stone, or metals.  These horns are the nations that “scattered” Jerusalem and Judah (perhaps identical to the four Gentile nations in Daniel 2, 7, & 8). These craftsmen will “work on” (destroy!) the Gentile nations that scattered Judah—bringing to an end “the times of the Gentiles.”

| VISION 3 (2:1-13) | !!! A man goes out with a measuring line to measure the width and length of the future Jerusalem (vv. 1-2).

 The message given by one of the angels is that the future Jerusalem will be like an unwalled village because of the large population (vv. 3-4). Instead of walls, Yahweh will be Jerusalem’s protection (v. 5). This announcement of Jerusalem’s future prosperity leads to a beckons to all former inhabitants to return to the city (vv. 6-7). The spoiling nations will be spoiled (vv. 8-9). Zion is called upon to rejoice over its future glory (vv. 10-13). |      In other words, Jerusalem will be immeasurable.  It will expand beyond walled boundaries.   He will be a “wall of fire” and a “glory in the midst.”       Messiah Himself will be the Avenger of God’s chosen people (see Matt. 25:31-46). Jerusalem will be Yahweh’s habitation and will be the scene (evidently) for the conversion of many Gentile nations (vv. 11-12). |

                               DETAILED DESCRIPTION                               EXPLANATION/INTERPRETATION

VISION 4 (3:1-10) Joshua, the high priest, stands before the Angel of Yahweh (v. 1).Satan, the Adversary, is also present; however, he is rebuked (vv. 1-2). Joshua’s filthy garments are exchanged for clean ones (vv. 3-5).The Angel of Yahweh exhorts Joshua to keep the ways of the Lord (vv. 6-7).Joshua is a picture of the Messianic Branch,[4] by means of whom God will remove the iniquity of the land (vv. 8-10). As the high priest, Joshua represents the nation.   Satan is accusing the nation of Israel.  The events in this vision picture the cleansing of the nation of Israel—the removal of its iniquity (see the explanation of the vision in vv. 8-10).   Ultimately, the fulfillment of this cleansing of Israel is the future conversion of Israel (Zech. 12:10-13:6; Romans 11:25-27).
VISION 5 (4:1-14) Zechariah sees a golden lampstand (v. 2). This lampstand had three unusual features:  (1) a bowl on the top; (2) seven pipes going from the bowl to each of the seven lamps; (3) two olive trees that fed oil into the bowl on the top of the lampstand (vv. 2-3).  The lampstand was a message for Zerubbabel that Israel’s duty to be the “light of the world” would be accomplished through the Spirit of God, not through human effort or power. The great mountain that had previously hindered the work would be removed (v. 7).Zerubbabel’s and the people’s previous failure to finish the Temple would now be reversed.Some mourned the Temple’s “insignificance”; however, the “seven eyes” of the Lord (v. 10) rejoiced at the sight of Zerubbabel building.  The two olive branches are identified as the “two anointed ones” who stand before the Lord.  The lampstand pictures Israel’s duty as the recipient of God’s revelation to be a light to the world.[5]   Unlike the lampstand in the tabernacle, this golden lampstand was not filled with oil by means of the priests; it had an external and perennial source of oil.  Israel was not the source of its sufficiency.    For Zerubbabel and for the people of that day, being the “light of the world” meant, in part, completing the Temple, the dwelling place of God.  This and every other effort to be a light can only happen through the power of the Spirit. The “great mountain” (v. 7) symbolizes obstacles in general or the pagan government that had formerly opposed the Temple rebuilding project.[6] The people had failed to finish in 536 BC.  With the help of the Spirit, they would not fail this time.  The “seven eyes” probably refer to the Holy Spirit (see Zech. 3:9; Rev. 5:6).  In God’s eyes, this Temple building project was highly important.  No work is insignificant if God delights in it (v. 10). The power of God’s Spirit is channeled through the “two anointed ones,” here a reference to Zerubbabel and Joshua.  God uses human instrumentality in helping His people to be the “light of the world.”  Men, strengthened by His Spirit, accomplish His purposes on the earth. 

                               DETAILED DESCRIPTION                               EXPLANATION/INTERPRETATION

VISION 6
(5:1-4)
A scroll, 20 cubits by 10 cubits, flies over the land (vv. 1-2).The scroll represents a curse going out against (1) all thieves, and (2) all that swear falsely by the name of the Lord (v. 3).This curse will result in judgment upon the house of every such sinner (v. 4). The scroll is the same size as the Holy Place in the Tabernacle and the porch of Solomon’s Temple. Each curse is against a breach of one commandment in each of the two “tables” of the Ten Command-ments; probably, the curse is against all violators of God’s covenant laws.[7]  Thus, this vision pictures the judgment upon the land of Israel, especially “individual Israelites.”[8]
VISION 7 (5:5-11) An ephah basket goes forth, representing the iniquity of the people (v. 6).The lead cover on the basket is lifted up, revealing a woman inside the basket who is identified as “wickedness” (vv. 7-8a).The lead cover is cast back down on top of the ephah basket, confining the woman (“wickedness”) inside the basket (v. 8b). Two women with wings like storks carry the ephah (and the woman inside) to Shinar, where it will be established (vv. 9-11).  An ephah was the largest Hebrew dry measurement.  This ephah was probably enlarged in order to accommodate a woman. The lid was lifted up in order to enable Zechariah to see what was in the basket. Symbolically, wickedness is removed from the land and is confined in the basket.  “Wickedness” is removed from the land and taken back to Shinar (Babylon), which often symbolizes the source of evil or rebellion against God.
VISION 8 (6:1-8) Four chariots (with different color horses) go forth from between two mountains (vv. 1-3).These four chariots are identified as four spirits that go forth from the presence of God (v. 4-5).  These four spirits go forth in different directions.  God’s Spirit is quieted or “caused to rest” in the north country (v. 8).  Dogmatic identification of the two mountains is impossible—Jerusalem and the Mt. of Olives? These are God’s war chariots sent forth to patrol the earth.  These “chariots” (spirits) are carrying out the judgment of God upon the nations. Babylon, the source of evil, is judged and defeated (e.g., Rev. 17-18)—symbolizing the defeat of all that oppose God.  God’s Spirit can then rest.
 Climax to the visions (6:9-15)  An offering of gold and silver is taken from those who have arrived from Babylon. The gold and silver is used to make a crown.  The crown is placed upon the head of Joshua, the high priest (v. 11). Joshua becomes a picture of the Branch, who will build the Temple (vv. 12-15).  Perhaps these men had just arrived from Babylon with some silver and gold for the Temple. “Crowns” is only one crown, but perhaps it had more than one part.   God’s program of restoration comes to a climax as the Messianic Branch is crowned as a priest/king.  He will rebuild the Temple (palace!) and rule.  The fulfillment is obviously Millennial.

SUMMARY

These visions, by their very enigmatic nature, suggest the infinite scope of God’s blessing. Postexilic Judah, no doubt thinking of God’s blessing in terms of tomorrow’s crops and next year’s house, receive from Zechariah a vision of God’s blessing and future for them that is beyond what they can ask, think, or comprehend.  Oh, that we realized the blessing that God desires to manifest through our lives if we will but fully turn to Him! 

The primary purpose of Zechariah’s ministry is to encourage the postexilic community to rebuild the Temple of the Lord.  Surely it is no accident that the climax to the eight visions is the crowning of the Messiah and the building of the Temple at the beginning of the Millennium.  The encouragement for the postexilic community is the realization that what they are doing is not peripheral to the plan and program of God for them or for the nations.  What they are doing mirrors what God is doing or will do in the earth.  God will bring the kingdoms of earth to completion and usher in the Millennial Reign of Christ.  At that time, the Messiah, who will combine in one the two offices of priest and king, will build the Temple at Jerusalem.  The light of God’s revelation will go forth from this Millennial Temple.  All the nations will come to Jerusalem and worship this Messianic King

These are all promises of God.  By rebuilding the Temple in their day, and making Jerusalem a “light of divine truth” to the nations around them, they are helping to advance the kingdom program of God for the ages.  They have the promises of God—they need to get to work and watch them come to fruition!

FOCUS ON ZECHARIAH’S BURDENS (chs. 9-14)

The book of Zechariah closes with two prophetic “burdens” (9:1-11:17; 12:1-14:21).  These two prophetic burdens present, in general terms, the timetable of events that will lead to the establishment of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.  Whereas the visions pictured in vivid scenes the what of that restoration, the burdens describe the how or the when of that future restoration of Israel.  The general outline of these burdens is the two “comings” of the Messiah. [9] 

I.        The first burden, chapters 9-11, outlines events leading up to Christ’s First Coming.

  1. Campaign of Alexander the Great, viewed as divine judgment on Israel’s oppressors  (9:1-8)
  2. Messiah comes (a greater King than Alexander) (9:9-10)
  3. Allusions to Maccabean victories (9:11-17)
  4. Victory through Messiah (10:1-12)
  5. Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (AD 70), the aftermath of rejecting the Messiah (11:1-3)
  6. Portrait of Messiah’s rejection (11:4-14)
  7. Portrait of the Antichrist (11:15-17)[10]

II.      The second burden, chapters 12-14, outlines events of His Second Coming and beyond.[11]

A.      Military deliverance for Jerusalem and Judah in the Battle of Armageddon (12:1-9)

B.      Spiritual deliverance at Messiah’s Second Advent (12:10-13:9)

1.       Mourning at Christ’s return (12:10-14)

2.       Resultant cleansing (13:1-6)

3.       Basis for the cleansing (the smitten Shepherd) (13:7-9)

C.      Jerusalem in the time of Christ’s return (14:1-21)

1.       Christ returns to deliver Jerusalem (the Battle of Armageddon) (14:1-5, 12-15)

2.       Messianic kingdom headquartered at Jerusalem (14:6-11, 16-21)

SELECTED FULFILLMENTS FROM ZECHARIAH 9-14

| ! Reference

| ! Selected events in Zechariah 9-11

| ! Fulfillment

  |

Zechariah 9:9 The King rides into Jerusalem on a donkey.  The Triumphal Entry of Christ.
Zechariah 11:4-14 The rejection of the Shepherd.  His wages set at 30 pieces of silver.  The 30 pieces of silver rejected and thrown to the “potter” in the house of the lord.  The rejection of the ministry of Christ during His First Coming.  Eventually, he is sold by the nation, as it were, for 30 pieces of silver.
Zechariah 11:15-17 The rejection of the “Good Shepherd” leads to the appointment of a foolish shepherd, who devours the sheep.  Eventually, the foolish shepherd himself will be destroyed.  This foolish shepherd is possibly a picture of the Antichrist, who will devour the people of God before he himself is destroyed. 

| ! Reference

| ! Selected events in Zechariah 12-14

| ! Fulfillment

  |

Zechariah 12:1-9 The nations gathered against Jerusalem to destroy it are themselves destroyed. The Battle of Armageddon, which takes place as Christ returns at His Second Coming.  His Coming will liberate Jerusalem from its destroyers. 
Zechariah 12:10-13:6 The nation of Israel embraces the One whom they pierced, they mourn, and there is a great cleansing from sin. The rejected Messianic Shepherd will be received by His people when He returns the second time.  The result will be the national conversion of Israel. 
Zechariah 13:7 Yahweh will smite His shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. Christ predicts that as a result of His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, His disciples will be scattered (Matt. 26:31). 
Zechariah 14:1-21 Yahweh (Messiah!) returns.  The Mt. of Olives splits.  A river flows out of Jerusalem east and west (see Joel 3:18; Ezek. 47:1-12).  Jerusalem is exalted; the nations come to Jerusalem to worship the King and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Chapter 14 describes the events just prior to the establishing of the Millennium and some of the scenes during the Millennium.


----

[1] His father, Berechiah, seems to have died young and is, therefore, not mentioned in Ezra or Nehemiah.

[2] Zechariah 7:4-8:23 divides into four sections (7:4-7; 7:8-14; 8:1-17; 8:18-23) based upon the repetition of the phrase “the word of the Lord came unto me” (although the wording varies slightly).   

[3] F. Duane Lindsey, “Zechariah,” Bible Knowledge Commentary:  Old Testament (SP Publications, 1985), 1550.  The myrtle trees symbolize Israel “as still fragrant to the Lord” in spite of its “degraded position.”  Charles Feinberg, Minor Prophets, 275.

[4] This term Branch means “sprig” or “sprout.”  In the parallel passages, Branch suggests the Messiah as deity (Isa. 4:2), as king (Jer. 23:5; 33:15), as servant (Zech. 3:8), and as man (Zech. 6:12).  Lecture notes by M. P. V. Barrett.

[5] “The fundamental significance of this picture is that God has abundantly provided for the light of His revelation to flow uninterruptedly through His covenant people.”  Thurman Wisdom, “Not by Might, nor by Power, but by My Spirit,” Biblical Viewpoint:  Focus on Zechariah, vol. 24, no. 2 (Nov 1990), 22.

[6] Wisdom, 24.

[7] As David Baron notes, perhaps the curse going forth can be summarized in the words of Deuteronomy 27:26, “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them.”  Commentary on Zechariah (Kregel Publications, 1988), 145.

[8] BKC, 1549. 

[9] This is not to say that everything in these burdens fits neatly into a given category.  Events of the Second Coming emerge, on occasion, from chapters 9-11.  Zechariah 13:7 alludes to the crucifixion.  Furthermore, as in so much of prophecy, these verses and sections alternate between the historical and the eschatological.  Thus, not every detail in these verses has a historical fulfillment; some still await fulfillment.  But the general outline of these two burdens seems to be the two Advents of the Messiah (see the chart below). 

[10] While not directly connected with the First Advent of Christ, the Antichrist is the political successor of the Roman empire.  In a sense, Israel’s rejection of the true Shepherd has brought upon them this false shepherd.

[11] Note the key refrain in that day that characterizes this burden.

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