A Bible Study
In 538 BC the great and improbable event foretold by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:12-14; 92:10-14; 33:7-13) took place. Cyrus, king of Persia issued a proclamation permitting the exiled Jews within the Persian Empire to return to their land and rebuild the house of the Lord (Ezra 1-4). The next book we will study, Ezra tells the story of the return from the exile.
This story is not a very splendid story, it is one of a few returning Jews and their attempt to resettle the land and to rebuild the temple. It is a story of frustrations and dispiriting difficulties and delays as the new temple was not dedicated until 516 BC. This story is a story of a mounting sense of disappointment and apathy on the part of the returning remnant. The only splendor, really, is the triumph of the Lord in that "day of small things." (Zechariah 4:10)
In this triumph the prophets Haggai and Zechariah play their part. Through them the Lord comes to Zerubbabel, the representative of the Messianic line, to Joshua, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. The Word gave both leaders and people eyes for the greatness of the day of small things, a hope for them and mankind, and new courage to set their hands to the task which is theirs, a day asked of them. This day of small things should not be overlooked.
The time when our Lord walked the earth was a day of small things, He Himself called it a day of the planting of the tiny mustard seed. Jesus lived and died in that day, with the serene courage that shames all other sons of men. The church learns of Him to listen to the prophetic Word and can learn when God is preparing to shake the earth and heavens. As a result the church learns to hold fast to that which cannot be shaken and shall remain when God ushers in the day of "great things"; the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 12: 25-29)
Like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Zechariah was not only a prophet (1) but also a priest. He was born in Babylon and was among those who returned to Judah in 538 BC under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua. (His grandfather Iddo is named among the returnees in Nehemiah 12:4) At a later time, when Joiakim was high priest, Zechariah apparently succeeded Iddo (1:1,7) as head of that priestly family (Nehemiah 12:10-16). Since the grandson succeeded the grandfather, it has been suggested that the father (Berekiah,1:1,7) died at an early age.
Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai (Ezra 5:1; 6:14) but continued his ministry long after him. His young age (2:4) in the early period of his ministry makes it possible that he ministered even into the reign of King Artaxerxes I who reigned from 465-424 BC
Zechariah (Jehovah remembers) is named as the author of the prophecy in a variety of places in the book. From the historical background given in Ezra and Nehemiah, we learn that he was still young when he began to prophecy (Chapter 2:4), that he accordingly was born in Babylon, and that he accompanied the first band of exiles on their return to Palestine in 536 BC (Nehemiah 12: 1, 4, 12, 16) He is a younger contemporary of Haggai.
The date of the first two messages of the book is given in Chapter 1:1 & 7, in the second year of the reign of Darius. This is 520 BC. He began his work only two months after Haggai. The third message is in 518 or 517 BC (Chapter 7: 1). The date of the last message is after the temple has been rebuilt. (Chapter 9 - 14)
Conditions that existed at the time of Zechariah were the same as in the time of Haggai. For details we can turn to the introduction to that Book. The people had grown indifferent and apathetic to the rebuilding of the temple and needed to be aroused to their obligation to complete the rebuilding.
With Haggai, Zechariah aroused the people to rebuild the temple. Through his visions of temple building he proclaimed spiritual prophecies of edification for all time.
The book is rich in its predictions of the Messianic King and His Kingdom, that is, His Holy Christian Church. The prophecies of Zechariah naturally fall into two parts: chapters 1 - 8 and 9 - 14, both of which begin with the present and look messianically (about the Messiah, Savior), apocalyptically (revelation of things to come when Messiah is revealed), and eschatologically (dealing with the Last Things).
There are many great passages in the Book: Chapter 1:3 - 6; Chapter 2:8 & 11; Chapter 3:4. Chapter 4:6, 7; Chapter 6:12; Chapter 7:9 - 12; Chapter 8:7, 8; Chapter 9:9.
There are many passages that are prophecies of the Messiah: Chapter 3:8; Chapter 6:12; Chapter 9:9; Chapter 11:12, 13; Chapter 12:10; Chapter 13:6. All these give details regarding the person and work of the Messiah.
Abiding Lessons Taught by Zechariah
1. As early as in Zechariah's time, the 'former prophets' were already appealed to as normative and authentic. Chapter 1: 4. Chapter 7: 12.
2. The Jews, from the time of their first return were taught and began to realize that the true religion would be world-wide. Chapter 2: 11; 6- 15; 8: 23; 14: 16.
3. The rebuilding of the Lord's House was an indispensable condition of a better era. Note how often the prophet speaks of the Lord's House. There can be no permanent social blessedness without the church!
4. Israel's real assailant was Satan, chapter 3: 1, rather than the neighboring nations.
5. The hope of the Church and of the Christian is not power and might, but the Spirit of the Lord. Chapter 4: 6.
6. The Lord requires not fasting or feasting but justice and mercy, truth and righteousness. Chapter 8: 16, 17.
7. The Lord is willing to shepherd His flock. Chapter 11: 7.
8. A rejection of the Lord as our Divine Shepherd brings destruction. Chapter 11.
9. The great Kingdom of the King of Peace with its gracious blessings.
In studying the Book of Zechariah look to the things one does understand, rejoice in them. Do not permit the difficult parts to blind you to the great passages of comfort and assurance that are given in his prophecy. Learn from the prophet Zechariah, who too asked many questions of the interpreting angel.
Most likely Zechariah wrote the entire book that bears his name. Why doubt it? Some have questioned his authorship of chapters 9-14 citing differences in style and other compositional features, and giving "historical" and chronological references that allegedly require a different date and author form these of chapters 1-8. All these objections, however, can be explained in satisfactory ways, so there is no compelling reason to question the unity of the book.
Occasion and Purpose
The occasion is the same as that of the book of Haggai. See the background and dates.
The chief purpose of Zechariah and Haggai was to rebuke the people of Judah and to encourage the people and motivate them to complete the rebuilding of the temple. The prophets were also interested in the spiritual renewal of the people as well. In addition, the purpose of the eight night visions (1:7-6:8) is explained in 1:3,5-6: The Lord said that if Judah would return to him, he would return to them. Furthermore, his word would continue to be fulfilled.
Teachings of the Book
There Messianic, apocalyptic and eschatological themes and emphasis in this book. Zechariah foretold Christ's coming in lowliness (6:12); his humanity (6:12, 13:7) his rejection and betrayal for 30 pieces of silver (11:12-13); his crucifixion (13:7); his priesthood (6:13); his kingship (6:13-14) and his establishment of enduring peace and prosperity (3:10; 9:9-10) All of these passages give added significance to Jesus' words in Luke 24:25-27,44.
Concerning the apocalyptic and eschatological (end times and divine visitation) emphasis, Zechariah foretold the siege of Jerusalem (12:1-3; 14:1-2) the initial victory of Judah's enemies (14:2) the Lord's defense of Jerusalem (14:3-4); the judgment of the nations (12:9; 14:3); the topographical changes in Judah (14:4-5) the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in the Messianic kingdom age (14:16-19) and the ultimate holiness of Jerusalem and her people (14:20-21)
There is also some significance in the prophet's name, which means "The Lord remembers." The Lord is the personal, covenant name of God and is a perpetual testimony to his faithfulness of his promises He remembers his covenant promises and takes action to fulfill them. In the book of Zechariah God promised deliverance from Babylon including a restored kingdom community and a functioning temple leads into even grander pictures of the salvation and the restoration to come through the Messiah.
The book also teaches the sovereignty of God in history over people and nations--past, present, and future.
M- Meaning of Zechariah's vision
E- Examination with measuring line
S- Satan and the Branch
S- Seven lampstands of gold
I- Interpreting the flying scroll
A- Act of crowning Joshua
H- Hearts become like flint
S- Security comes to Jerusalem
R- Return of the Messiah
E- Ephriam and Judah restored
T- Teaching about wicked shepherds
U- Understanding whom they pierced
R- Refining of God's remnant
N- New kingdom ushered in
I. 1:1-6:15 The Eight Visions in the Night: Return to Me!
A. 1:1-6 Introduction to the Eight Visions: The Call to Repentance
B. 1:7-6:8 Eight Visions of Hope
C. 6:9-15 The Conclusion of the Visions: The Coronation of Priests and Kings
II. 7:1-8:23 Your Fasts Shall Become Feasts
A. 7:1-3 The Inquiry Concerning the observance of Fasts
B. 7:4-6 The True Meaning of Fasting
C. 7:7-14 Why Feasts. Become Fasts
D. 8:1-23 How Fasts Become Feasts
III. 9:1-11:17 His Kingdom Rules Over All
A. 9:1-8 His Royal Word Rules over All
B. 9:9-10 Your King Comes to You
C. 9:11-17 God's Reign Delivers From All Evil
D. 10:1-2 God the King as Giver of Daily Bread
E. 10:3-11:3 The Kingdom as the Reign of the Good Shepherd
F. 11:4-17 The Kingdom of God Suffers Violence
IV. 12:1-14:21 Inherit the Kingdom
A. 12:1-9 The Victory of the People of God
B. 12:10-13:6 The Inner Renewal of the People of God
C. 13:7-9 The Stricken Shepherd and the Scattered Sheep
D. 14:1-21 The Lord will Become King over All the Earth
Historic Timeline of Events in Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra & Nehemiah
I. THE 8 VISIONS IN THE NIGHT: RETURN TO ME!
A. 1:1-6 Introduction to the 8 Visions: The Call to Repentance
1:1-6 To the remnant returned from the Babylonian exile the prophet renews the old cry "Repent!" God's people of old had learned repentance from God's wrath, from the destruction of the city and the temple and a long captivity. The present generation is now invited to learn repentance from God's kindness.
1:1 The dating of this oracle is in the second year of king Darius. Haggai also began his prophetic ministry in Darius' second year; on the first day of the sixth month, (August 29, 520 BC). The phrase "the Word of the Lord came..." is a technical phrase which says that the Lord Himself is about to speak.
1:3 "Return!" This is a word regularly used by the prophets to describe repentance. Repentance is a radical reversal effected by God Yg self from self and sin to God, in trust and obedience.
1:4-6 The "earlier prophets" such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel had all warned the people's forefathers, their words and warning fell on deaf ears. As a result the exile had to happen so that they would finally wake up and start to take the Lord seriously. With the exile "they repented" only after the Judgment of the exile had struck them and convicted them. A question: What does it take for the Lord to get our attention?
B. 1:7-6:8 The 8 Visions of Hope
The 8 visions which will follow show us how the kindness of God works to lead sinners to repentance. These visions are a picture of 1:3 "I will return to you." The first and last visions are independent units; visions two to seven are arranged in pairs.
(1) The First Vision: 1:7-17
Haggai had foretold that the Lord would shake heaven and earth and kingdoms and so usher in a new age. The revolts in the Persian Empire during the first years of the reign of Darius had seemed to be ushering in the fulfillment of his prophecy. But now all was quiet again; the revolts had been crushed, all the earth remained at rest (verse 11). God was, apparently, doing nothing.
Zechariah's vision says that this is appearance only' God was not giving up, He was only "resting up." In reality God is taking action. His patrols are already ranging the earth. He is Jealous for Jerusalem and angry with the nations who were, the instruments of His just Judgment on His people but had exceeded their commission in their cruelty and violence toward God's people.
The purpose of God is alive and active in the gracious and comforting words of verse 13 which Zechariah is permitted to hear...these sure words are translated into deed Jerusalem shall be built and be the object of God's eternal love.
1:12 70 years is a round figure for the time which elapsed since the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Jeremiah had predicted a 70 years' captivity in Jeremiah 25:11;29:10.
1:16 The phrase "I have returned" is very important and significant. The promise of verse 3 is already being fulfilled. Jesus, too, reminds us that the Father meets the penitent sinner more than halfway. For example, in the parable of the waiting Father, he runs down the road to meet the returning prodigal son.
(2) The Second & Third Visions: the 4 horns & the man with a measuring line. 1:18-2:5
The second vision (1:18-21) pictures God's workmen (the four craftsmen) preparing to destroy the powers which have depopulated the land of Judah.
Horns are a symbol of power. Here they designate the brutal power of the nations who "furthered the disaster" (verse 15) of God's people when God used them as instruments of His Judgment upon His faithless people.
The third vision (2:1-5) is a picture commentary of the words of the Lord in 1:14 "I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion."
In the heavenly world the first step of measuring is already being taken toward realizing God's purpose for His city. The restoration however will not be a political one; the city will have no walls, though walls were indispensable for the security of an ancient city. The Lord Himself will be the wall of the city Jerusalem, a wall of fire, flexible enough to contain her multitudes and powerful enough to defend her from all harm.
2:5 The Glory of the Lord is what is expressed here as being the most important. It is the glory of God that will have an annihilating effect on sinful man but at the same time it is God's glory which expresses the grace of God which reaches out to forgive and cleanse the sinner and to take him into His kingdom. In Hebrews 1:3 Christ the Reconciler and the Judge of the quick and the dead is called the reflection of God's glory.
2:6-13 Direct speech interprets the message of the second and the third vision. The Jews still residing in Babylon are summoned and encouraged to return to Zion. They are assured of the Lord's love for them (in verse 8 they are called "the apple of His eye) and of His determination to punish their oppressors.
In verses 10 and 12 the Lord continues with His promises for His beloved children. All the ancient promises will find a new fulfillment. Here two new features are added.
(a) The prophet, with his promises almost "too good to be true" will be
(b) God's grace to Israel is seen as the beginning and the means of His grace to all people.
(3) The fourth & fifth visions: priest & king in the new age 3:1-4:14
A new temple, a new Jerusalem, a new Zion--these are unthinkable without a priest or a king. Zechariah is shown that they are ready to hand in the planning to God and will be fitted for their high offices by the Lord Himself.
What man of flesh and blood would dare to serve as priest, appearing before God as representative of a sinful people? Certainly not Joshua, the then-functioning high priest.
Satan has every right to accuse him, and he does! Only the Lord Himself can silence the accusation, for His Grace has chosen Jerusalem despite all of Jerusalem's sins. He has plucked the dry wood from the fire of His Judgment (the exile) He can remove the filthy garments (symbols of Joshua's and his people's guilt) and can clothe him in pure priestly garments and make him a faithful priest to rule over God's house. He can even give Joshua access to God Just as the angels have.
The Messianic age is dawning; God's Servant, the Branch is to come, and that means the removal of man's guilt, the Justification of the ungodly, and it means idyllic peace and prosperity
3:1 This is only one of many parts of the Scriptures where Satan is referred to as the accuser. Cf Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Revelation 12:10
3:5 The turban was part of the high-priestly vestments or holy garments worn by the priest on the Day of Atonement. The turban was worn in the context of forgiveness and reconciliation. In Christ our sins are covered.
3:7 Those who are standing here are the angels who stand in God's presence. Zechariah has a strong sense of the gulf which separates man from God; an angel mediates the divine revelation which he receives. It is a strong expression of the fullness of God's forgiveness that a human being should have direct access to God. This is an anticipation of the world to come, where we shall be "like angels" (Matthew 22:30)
3:8 The friends of Joshua are most likely the priests who serve under him, the high priest. Since the restoration of the priesthood, like the rebuilding of the temple, is to usher in the new age, they point to the coming Messiah, the Branch of whom Jeremiah had spoken of. Zechariah will again speak of the Branch in chapter 6 in connection with the building of the temple.
3:9 No one is really clear of "the stone...set before Joshua" Perhaps it was an ornament on the priestly turban.(Exodus 28:36)
3:10 The expression "under his vine and...fig tree" speaks of a time of peace and happiness. (cf.1 Kings 4:25)
Chapter 4 covers the Fifth vision: King & Priest, the Two Anointed
The anointed king of the dawning new age is no mere political figure; he performs his task in the power of the Spirit of the Lord (4:6)
He is a religious figure and is therefore closely associated with the priest. Together the anointed priest and the anointed king "stand by the Lord of the whole earth" (verse 14)
The elaborate imagery of the golden lampstand with its seven lamps and 49 flames and the two olive trees beside it seems to indicate that under the watchful eye of the omniscient Lord these divinely instituted and empowered leaders will be the means by which the grace of God (oil in verse 12) is supplied to the people of God, for life in the new Jerusalem and for worship in the new temple.
4:7-10 The structure of the account of this vision follows.
(1) There is at the start a detailed description of the vision (2-3)
(2) What follows is a detailed description of the significance of the vision: Zerubbabel shall carry out his assigned task in the power of the Spirit; not even the most imposing opposition (great mountain) can thwart him; the capstone shall be set upon the new temple amid general rejoicing (4-10)
(3) More significant detail is added in the golden pipes from which the golden oil is poured out. (11-14)
(4) The Sixth & Seventh Visions: the removal of sin from the new Jerusalem 5:1-11
The Sixth Vision (5:1-4) pictures a flying scroll. The thief and the perjurer are struck by the curse of God's Law. We also have pictured how huge the scroll actually is (30 by 15 feet) What this vision tells us is that the new Jerusalem is made fit for the new life.
5:2 God's counsels are pictured here as a written document. We have already seen this in Revelation 5:1; 10:8-10. Thus the intentions of God are written down and are therefore permanent, not to be revoked or evaded.
5:3 The thief and the perjurer are mentioned as special objects of the curse. There were probably man disputes concerning property when the returning exiles claimed their ancestral possessions. Those who had remained in the land and occupied the property retained it unlawfully and swore a false oath to back their claim to it. The punishment strikes the guilty man's house which is the object of his thievery and the reason for his perjury.
The Seventh Vision is found in 5:5-11; the woman in the Ephah
Not only are individual sinners exposed and condemned; Jerusalem is to be delivered from all evil. Evil (iniquity) is symbolized by a woman seated in a vessel shaped like a grain measure (ephah).
In it she is imprisoned and transported to Shinar, which is an ancient name for Babylon. There in Babylon she has a dwelling and a place of honor; here evil is not only tolerated but is worshipped.
Note to 5:6 The ephah is a grain measure containing 3/8 to 2/3 of a bushel.
(5) The Eighth Vision: God's Spirit Reaches The Exiles In The North
The four winds, the chariots of God, go forth to execute His will in all the earth. God's will is one of salvation [or all people. But He will bring salvation to all by way of Israel. Therefore interest is centered on the chariot which goes to the north country, to Babylon, where the remainder of the exiles are.
The chariot brings the Spirit of God, to incite the exiles to Join their brethren in Jerusalem, the city of promise, the seedbed from which God's future will prow and spread.
6:8 contains the phrase "set my Spirit at rest." Some take this to mean that God's jealous anger against Babylon is satisfied. This is possible. But the verb "set at rest" means basically "to cause to settle down" or "to deposit." The idea of "rest" is not necessarily expressed. It seems more likely that the last of the visions of hope should sound positive voices of hope, as a climax to the series.
C. 6:9-15 The Conclusion of the Visions: The Coronation of Priest and King
The visions of hope are now followed by another Word of the Lord which now has Zechariah perform an action of hope. Zechariah is to take the silver and gold brought by a group of returning exiles and to make crowns of them for Joshua and Zerubabel.
The coronation of Zerubbabel is not told in so many words. However the fact that the Hebrew text speaks of crowns, and that Zerubbabel is designated by the Messianic title Branch seems to indicate that he too is to be crowned.
The action takes place privately, "in the house of Josiah" (verse 10) and the crowns are not to be worn as yet but are to be kept in the temple as a reminder (verse 14).
This action is symbolical, pointing to the future, and the full fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy is left indefinite and open-ended. The main point is this: Now, in the building of the temple, the beginning of the new age is to be made, and in this the priestly and the royal power are to work together harmoniously and the people, Joined by the many exiles who are still to return, are to Join in, obeying the voice of the Lord their God.
Because this oracle is not dates, in contrast to both the preceding and the oracle which will follow in chapter 7 it seems best to take it as the conclusion of the eight visions.
As we look ahead to Christ, the righteous branch, our one and only Savior we rightfully say that He is both priest and king. Therefore these eight visions were all fulfilled in the coming of Christ. We do not look forward to some future date for these eight visions to find their full or ultimate fulfillment. In Christ they are all complete.
II. 7:1-8:23 YOUR FASTS SHALL BECOME FEASTS
A. 7:1-3 The Inquiry Concerning the Observance of Fasts
We start the second major section of Zechariah's prophecy. In this section a delegation from Bethel inquires of the priests and prophets of Jerusalem concerning the observance of the fasts which commemorated the burning of the temple in 586 BC The question is this: is there a need for the fasts now that the temple is being rebuilt? The prophet's answer goes deeper than the inquiry.
First, Zechariah speaks of the true meaning of fasting and all ritual worship. Then, looking back on Israel's history Zechariah recalls why their feasts had become fasts and why their Joy had become mourning. At the end of this second major section the direct answer to the inquiry is given. Zechariah proclaims how the fasts will become feasts again, it will come about by the redeeming will and work of God.
7:1 The date is 518 BC and progress has been made toward the completion of the temple which was accomplished in 516 BC. The question which came from Bethel was natural enough.
7:3 The burning of the temple took place in the fifth month of 586 BC
B. 7:4-6 The True Meaning of Fasting
7:5 The fast of the "seventh month" probably commemorated the murder of Gedaliah, appointed governor over the cities of Judah by the king of Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem.(2 Kings 25:22-26; 3er.41:1-3) His death at the hand of Jewish nationalist fanatics proved to be a grievous blow for the people who remained in the land.
7:5-6 The rhetorical question concerning Israel's fasting implies the same Judgment which Jesus passed on the fasting of the Pharisees (Matthew 6:16-18). Both lacked sincerity and integrity. Fasting was meant to be an expression of sorrow for sin and of urgency in prayer. It turned out to become a self-centered piece of piety, thus their self-centeredness robbed all worship of its content and meaning.
C. 7:7-14 Why Feasts Become Fasts
Why did Israel's experience become 70 years of fasting and mourning? Answer: because in her prime when her territory was intact (verse 7) she did not listen to the voice of the prophets but resisted the Holy Spirit who spoke through the prophets. The people of Israel would not listen to the Lord when He called them through the prophets, and so the time came when He would not listen to them. Their conversation with God ended and God scattered them and left them without a country.
D. 8:1-23 How Fasts Become Feasts
What brings the great reversal in Israel's fortunes? How can fasts become "seasons of Joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts" (verse 19)? Not be any act of Israel's but by the mercy and grace of God. In this section Zechariah gives us ten words of promise, each introduced with the phrase "Thus says the Lord of hosts." In this section the answer is given to the question about the fasts. The renewed temple and Israel's acceptable worship (which is a life lived to God in love for one another, verses 16-17) are to be Israel's response to the Lord's faithful covenant. It is by the mercy and grace of God that Israel becomes a 1ight to lighten the Gentiles. (verses 20-23)
8:6 The Hebrew word translated as "marvelous" is used of the birth of Isaac in Genesis 18:14 The birth of Isaac, the child of promise to aged parents and the restoration of Israel are both sheer miracles of grace and call for us to believe in faith.
8:9 The response of faith to the great divine promises is to get the building of the temple finished.
8:13 Here God holds to the promise which He made long, long ago to Abraham..."you shall be a blessing!" (Genesis 12:2)
8:19 Here "the fast of the fourth month and of the tenth" are added to the list of fasts. The walls of Jerusalem were first breached "on the ninth day of the fourth month" (2 Kings 25:3-4). Zedekiah, the puppet king installed by the king of Babylon, rebelled against the Babylonian conqueror "in the tenth month" (2 Kings 25:1). These events may have given rise to the practice of fasting in the month during which they occurred.
8:23 We Gentiles dare never forget the debt that we owe to the Jews; we came into the Kingdom by laying hold of the robes of the Jews.
III. 9:1-11:17 HIS KINGDOM RULES OVER ALL
A. 9:1-8 His Royal Word Rules Over All
God's royal reign is the working of His powerful and creative word. When there is a "shaking of nations" it is God's Word which is shaking them. God is not just a local god but He is a universal king. His word runs through the world, all nations are under His control. Great and powerful cities like Tyre for example fall when He brings them low. Even the Philistian cities such as Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, Ashdod come under His dominion.
In this section is an important doctrine or teaching. The Lord's universal dominion aims at universal salvation (cf. John 3:16 "God so loved the world...")
There is much discussion about this section in many theological circles today. The question is "what historical event caused this universal proclamation?" Some think of a time when Alexander the Great when he defeated the king of Persia in the battle of Issus in 333 BC. This battle allowed Alexander to continue all the way to Tyre and thus conquer all of Palestine. Still others recall the time of the Assyrian conquests in the eighth and seventh centuries. We say "so what" and "who really cares." The essential thing to remember here is that whenever there is a "shaking of the nations" it is the Lord's work and all is serving His purpose, for after all, He is the universal king and lord of all!
9:5-7 The Philistines are terrified at the fate that has befallen their neighbor Tyre, since they must look forward to sharing that fate.
9:6 The people of Ashod will become a "mongrel people" because they will be mixed with alien colonists settled there by their conquerors.
9:7 The terms "blood" and "abominations" refer to the eating of sacrificial meat with the blood, which the laws of Moses did not allow. The "unclean" Gentiles shall be made clean and fit for incorporation into the people of God, just as the non-Israelite "Jebusites" (the original inhabitants of Jerusalem) had been incorporated into Israel in the time of David. (cf. 2 Samuel 5:6-10)
9:8 The word "house" is used here to designate the inhabited land.
B. 9:9-10 Your King Comes To You
9:9-10 "Ephraim" and "Jerusalem" the northern and southern kingdoms divided since the tragic days of king Rehoboam shall be united again in the days of the Messiah, whose peaceful relgn will unite all nations under a worldwide dominion "from sea to sea."
The kingdom of God is not merely a reign OVER history. His kingdom "comes"; Jesus Christ as the Word became flesh as He entered time and space and history. His reign will be a reign IN history, and this incarnate reign means blessing for all nations.
The King who comes to Zion is the opposite of the "pride of Philistia" (verse 6). He comes in humility, riding upon an ass. He looks to God for vindication and victory and not to any human or secular power. His kingdom is "not of this world" and His only weapon is His Word which speaks peace to all mankind. This Servant King is to be God's last Word in human history, and His dominion has no limits. In Him God will have conquered His world and made it His own. His last word shall be "it is finished!" This prophesy is fulfilled in Jesus' entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:4-5)
C. 9:11-17 God's Reign Delivers from All Evil
The Word of God shakes the nations, for their ultimate salvation, and sets before Israel the promise of a Prince of Peace. God has not forgotten the covenant ratified with atoning blood. He remembered the "blood of the covenant" by which He said "I will be your God." God Himself will fight for His people and give them victory over their enemies. In His almighty hand His people shall become a warrior's bow and arrow and sword. He will set His people free and bless them with the fruitful plenty of the Promised land.
9:11 "Waterless pit" suggests the dry hopelessness of life in the exile.
9:12 "Stronghold" probably refers to the fortified home city of the captives, Jerusalem. The "double" recompense is victory over their enemies and a blessed and secure existence in their homeland.
9:13 What particular Greek power is meant by "Greece" can not be determined. Zechariah knew but as of today we can not tell. We can be certain that they were dealt with.
9:15 This is wild imagery to say the least! "Drinking blood" and being filled with blood like a bowl which is used in sacrifice, or "drenched" like the altar against which the blood of sacrificed animals was poured out would suggest the fearfulness of the carnage and the decisiveness of the victory.
D. 10:1-2 God the King as Giver of Daily Bread
Israel was constantly tempted to forget that the God whose kingdom is over all is also the God of everything and He provides our everyday needs. They forgot the Creator and turned to idols and diviners for help and advice in the critical matter of the spring rain, which was so essential for the maturing of the crops. "Teraphim" are idols used as instruments of divination.
E. 10:3-11:3 The Kingdom as the Reign of the Good Shepherd
10:3 The shepherds and leaders are foreign overlords who exploit the flock, unlike the Lord, who cares for the flock.
10:4 The promised Messiah is compared to a cornerstone, which determines the structure of the whole house; to a tent peg, whose firmness ensures the stability of the tent; and to a battle bow which provides for the defense of the people. This Ruler shall "come out of them," that is, will be a member of their own people.
10:10 Egypt and Assyria are cited as examples of the foreign powers who have afflicted the people of God. As the Lord once delivered His people from their tyranny, so He will again. The returning exiles will be so numerous that even the boundaries of David's Great kingdoms (Gilead, Lebanon) will not be able to contain them.
10:12 The reading of the Hebrew translates the phrase "walk in His name." The re-established people will be an inwardly renewed people; they shall "walk" by the light of the revelation (name) which the Lord grants them.
11:3 There is a grim irony in the fact that the foreign overlords are called "shepherds" and "lions" in the same breath. It is because they are not true tending shepherds but devouring lions that they lose their glory and their place.
F. 11:4-17 The Kingdom of God Suffers Violence
In this age the reign of God works against obstacles and opposition it strikes sparks against the pride of Philistia, the haughty wisdom of Tyre and Sidon, the oppressors of God's people, the power of Assyria, and the oppressive scepter of Egypt. It must consume in flame the towering cedars and oaks of the kingdoms of this world. Even in the midst of God's people, God's reign must struggle to overcome superstition and idolatry. But the most grievous opposition to the kingdom is that offered by the ingratitude and contempt of the flock to whom the king sends His own Good Shepherd.
(A) 11:4-11 The Good Shepherd is rejected by His own People
(B) 11:4-17 The Worthless Shepherd
IV. 12:1-14:21 INHERIT THE KINGDOM
Here we come to section number four, the last section of this prophecy. Chapters 12-14 are in some ways parallel to chapters 9-11; the theme here, too, is the coming of the kingdom of God. But there is a new emphasis on the inner renewal and purification of God's people. There is a broader and fuller portrayal of the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Kingdom of the last days. The figure of the humble and lowly King and the Good Shepherd emerge with greater clarity in the Pierced One (12:10) and the Smitten Shepherd (13:7-9). These verses and the whole section all polnt to One important person, our Savior Jesus Christ who in His words and works and His suffering and death gives us salvation and life.
A. 12:1-9 The Victory of the People of God
The mission of the Good Shepherd has ended in failure and the people of God have been delivered into the hands of the worthless shepherd. If the people of God are to have a future and a history only a creative act of God can make it possible. It is the God who created the heavens, earth, and the human spirit who will give His people strength and the victory. His initiative in the Word is stated at the beginning and His activity is stressed throughout every verse.
B. 12:10-13:6 The Inner Renewal of the People of God.
The Lord will not only give His people victory over their enemies; He will, by His Spirit, create a clean heart within them.
(1) 12:10-14 The outpouring of the Spirit of Compassion and supplication.
Moved by the Holy Spirit which assures them of God's compassion and inspires their supplication, the people repent of the deadly wrong they have done to the Lord in the person of whom they, in their rebellion against the Lord, have put to death.
(2) 13:1-6 The Fountain to cleanse the people of God from sin and uncleanness.
The effectual cleansing of God will produce a people pure in heart, a people upon whom idols have no hold, whom no false prophet can deceive.
13:1 The "opening of the fountain" is a parallel to the outpouring of the Spirit in 12:10. For the use of cleansing by water as a picture for spiritual cleansing see Ezekiel 36:25 where it is also associated and combined with imparting of the Spirit. (Ezekiel 36:27)
13:2 The result of God's cleansing: The idols will no longer have any significance (name) for the faithful and will exercise no influence over them (be remembered). And the prophets who are inspired not by the Spirit of God (Micah 3:8) but by the "unclean spirit" who speaks lies in the name of the Lord" will be eradicated (verse 3).
C. 13:7-9 The Stricken Shepherd and the Scattered Sheep
Jesus applies these words concerning the stricken Shepherd and the scattered sheep to Himself and His disciples in Matthew 26:31. Jesus is God's Good Shepherd, God's gift given to His people detested by the people, valued at 30 shekels of silver (11:7-14) He is also the Pierced One for whom the people will one day mourn, when the Spirit works repentance in them. (12:10)
D. 14:1-21 The Lord will Become King over All the Earth
The last chapter sums up the message of chapters 9-13 by showing us the great Day of the Lord, when the Lord Himself comes to establish His kingdom, by delivering His holy city from the final massed attack of the nation (1-5), by transfiguring the whole earth under His reign (6-11), by smiting with a fearful plague all the peoples who refuse His reign (12-15), by uniting the survivors of all nations in a common worship (16-19), and by abolishing the distinction between "sacred" and "profane" consecrating everything to His own use and glory. (20-21)
(1) 14:1-5 The Lord will go forth and fight
The victory is marked out clearly as the Lord's and His alone. He intervenes when all is apparently lost. His sovereign control of history appears in the fact that it is He who gathers all the nations against Jerusalem; even the enemies of God do not escape from His control.
(2) 14:6-11 The Transfigured World
The old order of successive seasons and alternate night and day will pass (verse 6). Living waters, symbols of divine life freely implanted, will flow from God's city as they once flowed out of Eden (verse 10). Every mountain and hill will be made low: only the mountain and city of God shall be exalted (verse l0). The day when the ban of destruction could still threaten its existence will be forever past (verse 11).
(3) 14:12-15 The Plague Upon The Enemies of Jerusalem
The judgments of God are as terrible as His blessings are splendid. Those who have shut themselves out from His life shall suffer the plague of living death ("rot...rot...rot" verse 12) Those who have refused His peace shall taste His terror ("panic" verse 13) and shall suffer the agony of continued and unreasoning conflict (verse 13). Those who have made their wealth their god shall be stripped of their wealth (verse 14) and all that they have will be smited by the plague (verse 15).
(4) 14:16-19 The Pilgrimage of all Nations To Jerusalem to Keep the Feast of Booths
As God is King over all, so He will be worshipped by all; the survivors of all the nations will join with His people in keeping the Feast of Booths. This was the feast of ingathering at the year's end according to Exodus 34. It was a fitting symbol of God's great ingathering of all nations at the end of days but especially when Israel remembered the Exodus. In remembering and keeping the Feast of Booths, the nations join Israel in grateful homage to their Creator, Deliverer, and gracious King.
(5) 14:20-21 All Life Hallowed
God shall be all in all: the distinction between "sacred" and "profane" will be set aside because it is no longer needed; God will have brought all things home to Himself and will make them all serve His glory.
The horse once stood for military might, often enough the might of men in contrast to the power of God. Now the bells on the horses bridles bear the same inscription as the golden plate on the turban of the high priest.
The earthenware pots in the temple will be on a par with the metal bowls, and all the kitchen pots of Jerusalem and Judah shall become sacred vessels; Sunday and everyday will have met and merged. There will be no room for the commercialization of religion anymore!
Historic timetable of the events contained in the books of Haggai: Zechariah; Ezra; and Nehemiah. 540--430 B. C.
|Dan.5:30||Capture of Babylon||October12||539 BC|
|Ezra 1:1-4||Cyrus' first year as king||March 24-March 11||538-537 BC|
|Ezra 1:11||50,000 Jews return under direction of Zerubbabel||537 BC|
|Ezra 3:1||Building of the altar||537 BC|
|Ezra 3:8||Work on temple begun||536 BC|
|Ezra 4:1-4||Opposition during Cyrus's reign||536-530 BC|
|Ezra 4:24||Work on temple ceased||530-520 BC|
|Haggai's first message||August 29||520 BC|
|Resumption of the building of the temple||September 21||520 BC|
|Haggai 2:1-9||Haggai's second message||October 17||520 BC|
|Zechariah 1:1-6||Beginning of Zechariah's preaching||October/November||520 BC|
|Haggai 2:10-19||Haggai's third message||December 18||520 BC|
|Haggai 2:20-23||Haggai's fourth message||December 18||520 BC|
|Ezra 5:3-6:14||Tattenai's letter to Darius concerning the rebuilding of the temple||519-518 BC|
|Zechariah l:7-6:8||Zechariah's eight night visions||February 15||520 BC|
|Zechariah 6:9-15||Joshua crowned||February 16||520 BC|
|Zechariah 7 - 8||Repentance urged, blessings promised||December 7||518 BC|
|Ezra 6:15-18||Dedication of the temple||March 12||516 BC|
|Ezra 7:6-9||Ezra departs from Babylon||April 8||458 BC|
|Ezra 7:8-9||Ezra arrives in Jerusalem||August 4||458 BC|
|Ezra 10:9||People assemble||December 19||458 BC|
|Ezra 10:16||Committee begins investigation||December 29||458 BC|
|Ezra 10:17||Committee ends investigation||March 27||457 BC|
|Nehemiah l:1||20th year of Artaxerxes I||Apr 2||444 EC|
|Nehemiah 2:1||Nehemiah approaches king||April 1||445 BC|
|Nehemiah 2:11||Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem||August||445 BC|
|Nehemiah 6:15||Nehemiah completion of wall||October 2||445 BC|
|Nehemiah 7:73-8:1||Public assembly||October 8-November 5||445 BC|
|Nehemiah 8:14||Feast of Tabernacles||October 22-28||445 BC|
|Nehemiah 9:1||Fast||October 30||445 BC|
|Nehemiah's recall and return||April 19||432 BC|
Self Study Bible – New International Version Robert G. Hoerber Editor Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO. 1986 pp.
Self Study Commentary, Martin H. Franzmann Concordia
Publishing House, St. Louis, MO. 1979 pp.