What does Zechariah teach about the future of Israel to our day?

A special 3 episode presentation of the book of Zachariah.

Ezra 1:1-4 

1* ¶ Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying:
2* “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
3* ‘Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem.
4* ‘Every survivor, at whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.’”

Isaiah 44:26-28
26* Confirming the word of His servant And performing the purpose of His messengers. It is I who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited!’ And of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built.’ And I will raise up her ruins again.
27* “It is I who says to the depth of the sea, ‘Be dried up!’ And I will make your rivers dry.
28* “It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’”

Ezra chapter 2 lists and numbers those who return from Babylonian captivity (49,697). Zechariah is among them.

Ezra 4:1
1* ¶ Now when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the people of the exile were building a temple to the LORD God of Israel,
2* they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ households, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we, like you, seek your God; and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here.”
3* But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of fathers’ households of Israel said to them, “You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to the LORD God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us.”
4* Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building,
5* and hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Zechariah 1:1 1* ¶ In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo saying,

Zechariah means “Jehovah remembers” this was a very common name among the Jews, there are over twenty different “Zechariah’s” mentioned in the Old Testament. This book should be studied with the book of Ezra.

Zechariah was born in babylon; was of the Tribe of Levi,(Ezra 5:1) and was among those who returned out of captivity with Zerubbabel. He was contemporary with Haggai, and like that prophet, labored to encourage the people to press to completion the work of rebuilding the temple. He begins his prophecy in November, 520 BC “in the eighth month of the year of Darius” (Zech 1:1) . The book is full of allusions to the coming of the Messiah, the coming of the significance of the Jewish people in the plan to bring the Messiah into the world and the significance of the church of Christ.

There are fourteen chapters which may be divided as follows:

Section I.

Chapters 1-8

Visions relating to the building of the Temple, the glory of the city, the removal of all abominations out of the land, and winding up with a prediction that Jerusalem will become a center of religious worship to all the world.

The Vision of the Four Rider’s (1:8ff)

Jeremiah (25:12) prophesied that Babylonian Captivity would last seventy years. Those days were ending as the book of Zechariah begins. The prophet Haggai guaranteed the Jews (Hag. 2:7) that God would bring new glory to the temple and help them to overcome their heathen neighbors but at this point in time nothing seemed to be happening. People were becoming discouraged, and impatient with God’s plan. In the midst of this disappointing time Zechariah has a vision of four riders patrolling the ends of the earth for God. They report that the world is at peace, indicating that God has kept his promise to bring prosperity to the people of Judah.

This was a message sent by God to his people to help them over their discouragement. God is in control. He is concerned about his people and will strengthen them.

The Angel of the Lord (1:11ff)

In this vision we are introduced to The Angel of the Lord. “The Angel of the Lord” appeared to Moses (Ex. 3:2). He is the Word of God personified – God’s messenger who represents God to man, and in Zechariah’s vision also representing man to God. Here we have “The Angel of the Lord” interceding for man.

Zech 1:12
“Then the angel of the LORD said, “O LORD of hosts, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years?”

The vision of the Four Horns (1:18ff)

Zechariahs second vision is related to his first vision. The four horns represent the heathen powers which were oppressing God’s people. They had held power over Israel for over 70 years. Four craftsmen, appear and begin to terrify and destroy the four horns. In other words the enemies of Judah are going to be thrown into disorder and chaos by the four craftsmen. The number four is associated with completeness. All of the enemies of God’s people, from the four corners of the earth will be put down. Israel needed to be reminded that God had promised deliverance, his promises never fail. They will overcome.

The vision of the Man With the Measuring Line

In chapter 2:1 we are introduced to the man with the measuring line. This young man measures the outline of the city of Jerusalem. The vision tells of God’s intention to make Jerusalem a great city, like the great city of Jerusalem in the past, before captivity. The young man was limited in his vision of the great city. The angel conveys the message that in the future Jerusalem would be unwalled because of it’s great population, and God himself would be it’s protection. There is both a spiritual and historical application in this vision.

God is telling the Jews still in captivity in Babylon to now return to Jerusalem from the land of the north. He secondly encourages the present inhabitants of Jerusalem to sin and rejoice because , as the text says:

Zech 2:10, 11
10* ¶ “Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares the LORD.
11* “Many nations will join themselves to the LORD in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.

The apostles and prophets of the New Testament understood these prophecies to be predictions of God’s concerns for both Jew and Gentile and the reconciliation of both groups in one body of Christ, the church of Christ.

Eph. 2:11-22
11* ¶ Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands–
12* remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13* But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14* ¶ For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
15* by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,
16* and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
17* AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR;
18* for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
19* So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,
20* having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,
21* in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,
22* in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

There were to be many aspects of these prophecies in Zechariah. Both literal aspects and historical events connected with the physical city of Jerusalem, as well as a spiritual application. God had a plan for his people, and they had reason for great exultation.

The vision of the High Priest Joshua (3:1ff)

The first three visions are predictions that God is going to defeat the enemies of Jerusalem in every direction. The whole world is going to see the glory of God in Jerusalem. All of Israel’s enemies will be defeated. The vision of Joshua relates to the people and their moral condition and their relationship to God. God promises to terrify and defeat the enemies on ONE condition.

Zech. 3:7 7* “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here.

Joshua, the high priest, is representative of the people before THE angel of the Lord. Satan appears to accuse Joshua (the people) but God himself intervenes and rebukes “the accuser of our Brethren” as John puts it in (Rev. 12:10). The Jews realized that both they and the priests had sinned against God. The garments of the priest represent their contamination. In spite of this, by grace, God removes this barrier between himself and his people. The Lord says:

Zech 3:4
4* He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.”

This action of grace typifies the cleansing of the people of Israel, and the future cleansing of all through the blood of Christ.

The introduction of “My Servant, the Branch” (3:8)

Zech 3:8-10
8* ¶ ‘Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you–indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch.
9* ‘For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave an inscription on it,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
10* ‘In that day,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.’”

This is a great Messianic promise. The integrity of a restored priesthood is a figure of the coming of the Messiah in the future. Jewish scholars, as well as New Testament scholars all agree that the Branch, or shoot, was the anticipated Messiah. The figures of the vine and the fig tree are all representative of God’s people who will be cleansed from sin. The immediate reference is to the Jewish day of Atonement which would now be re-instituted with the completion of the temple, but the spiritual application of the prophecy has to do with the type that points to the day when Christ would die and put away the sins of the people by his own sacrifice.

Heb. 9:26 26* Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

In chapter four we have the revelation of a Golden Lampstand (somewhat different from a vision):

Zech 4:1-
1* ¶ Then the angel who was speaking with me returned and roused me, as a man who is awakened from his sleep.
2* He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it;
3* also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side.”
4* Then I said to the angel who was speaking with me saying, “What are these, my lord?”
5* So the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.”
6* Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.
7* ‘What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’”
8* Also the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
9* “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
10* “For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel–these are the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth.”
11* ¶ Then I said to him, “What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and on its left?”
12* And I answered the second time and said to him, “What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?”
13* So he answered me, saying, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.”
14* Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.”

This is a great example of how we are to allow figurative language to interpret itself.

The Vision of the flying Scroll (chapter 5)

Zech. 5:1-11
1* ¶ Then I lifted up my eyes again and looked, and behold, there was a flying scroll.
2* And he said to me, “What do you see?” And I answered, “I see a flying scroll; its length is twenty cubits and its width ten cubits.”
3* Then he said to me, “This is the curse that is going forth over the face of the whole land; surely everyone who steals will be purged away according to the writing on one side, and everyone who swears will be purged away according to the writing on the other side.
4* “I will make it go forth,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of the one who swears falsely by My name; and it will spend the night within that house and consume it with its timber and stones.”
5* ¶ Then the angel who was speaking with me went out and said to me, “Lift up now your eyes and see what this is going forth.”
6* I said, “What is it?” And he said, “This is the ephah going forth.” Again he said, “This is their appearance in all the land
7* (and behold, a lead cover was lifted up); and this is a woman sitting inside the ephah.”
8* Then he said, “This is Wickedness!” And he threw her down into the middle of the ephah and cast the lead weight on its opening.
9* Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and there two women were coming out with the wind in their wings; and they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heavens.
10* I said to the angel who was speaking with me, “Where are they taking the ephah?”
11* Then he said to me, “To build a temple for her in the land of Shinar; and when it is prepared, she will be set there on her own pedestal.”

Paying close attention to this vision is it easy to see that this is representative of the judgment of God upon individual sinners. God wants to communicate through Zechariah that He knows and sees the sins of the people and that the Land would be cleansed of the evil of common criminals, such as thieves and lyres who take advantage of God’s people. The “flying scroll” represents the skin or parchment upon which writing was done. This long scroll is let down out of heaven (the presence of God), indicating that this judgment is going to come from God. The sins of stealing and perjury on opposite sides of the scroll probably represent the entirety of the Law of Moses. This vision illustrates the stark reality of the Judgment of God. God deals with sin in two different ways. He may deal with sin by grace, but for those who refuse to accept his grace by repentance and obedience, God’s judgment WILL come.

The vision of the Woman in the Barrel

This second vision in chapter five is a woman inside of a barrel – which for reasons which should be apparent to all – is the very personification of wickedness. She cannot escape, she is always pushed back into the barrel. In the Hebrew language wickedness is feminine, temptation is seductive. God will NOT be satisfied with a mere ritualistic atonement for sin. You cannot simply go through some ritual to rid yourself of sin. You must banish it from the land and from your life. Sanctification is require of all of God’s people.

The vision of the Four Chariots (6:1ff)

This is quite simple and indication of the Judgment of God upon the Nations. I believe Babylon is especially under consideration here. Zechariah sees four chariots coming out from between two mountains (perhaps Mount Zion and the Mount of Olives). The “chariots” were the most formidable of the ancient military machines (comparable to the stealth bomber). The mountains of brass symbolize power and might. God’s chariots are going to execute his judgment upon the Babylonians.

Section II.

Chapters 9 – 11
Threats of ruin to Damascus, Phoenicia and other cities of the Philistines; a prediction of the greatness of Jerusalem and the union of Israel and Judah, and a prophecy that Assyria and Egypt shall be humbled.

Section III

Chapters 12-14

A prediction of dark days for Judah after severe trial it will come thoroughly purified, and victoriously against the host of heathendom, compel all who are not destroyed by his wrath to worship him, and a millennium of holiness will then begin.

This book of prophetic declarations not only is the symbolic prophecy of the destruction of literal Jerusalem, but must also be the figurative description to a spiritual Jerusalem, the Lord’s church, and the Messianic reign of Christ as Priest and King over his kingdom until the end of time on earth.

 

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