Tag: Zechariah

Royal Treatment

Zechariah 10:1-12 

 This chapter the middle portion of “burden” from Zech. 9-11, followed by second “burden” in 12-14. Primary (but not exclusive) emphasis of first burden is on first advent and following period; emphasis similarly of second burden on second advent and following. If Zechariah was preaching prophet, each burden represents content or essence of single sermon, about 10 minutes long.

Jewish people needed message of hope – circumstances not looking very promising. And… was part of God’s long-range plan to keep feeding information about his intentions – iow, progressive revelation. Giving Zechariah’s contemporaries more insight into person and work of the Messiah, also for benefit of future generations.

Also needed strong reminder: watch out for drift – something God’s people of all ages susceptible to. Common for people to be slowly influenced by surroundings, adopt views / principles of the majority. Without continual support / reminders / encouragement believers at risk of drifting away from truth and getting mired in error. Zechariah reassures his hearers that those who follow the true shepherd, the Messiah, will be given Royal Treatment. and… btw, God is not happy with ungodly shepherds, he will deal with them.

A. the royal shepherd hears and answers  v.1-3

pray for rain and he sends it

don’t bother with Baal, ask YHWH to supply needs – avoid the temptations of going back to old habits

and don’t get sucked into what the world (maybe including friends) holds up as good solution

fyi, may be thunder / lightning with some of the rain – can seem like a frowning providence, not exactly what we had in mind

what YHWH sends to his people produces good – remember who the shepherd is, and how he treats / cares for sheep – he will sacrifice himself rather than sacrifice his sheep

teraphim, if they speak, tell lies

more of that culture creep – not necessarily replacing YHWH but adding to – ok to believe in God, just not exclusively

applies to their spokesmen – not always obvious who an authority figure really serves – true both then and now

caution: more distance between person and authority increases risk – books, internet, media vs. personal relationship – be sure to do your homework, check sources/accountability

make promises they cannot keep, lead in directions that cannot help – false gods have false worldview, wrong assumptions

the people are in trouble and the LORD is displeased

those acting as shepherds not effectually leading… or are leading astray – no question what God expected from shepherds and they weren’t doing it

God himself will address the problem – does not always intervene personally, this time he will… by means of Messiah

God will bring genuine transformation – quite the visual here, sheep transformed into warhorses… image of victory

certainly kind of imagery we understand more fully from NT, believers “more than conquerors” over sin and Satan, then participating in Christ’s future total victory

B. the royal shepherd comes from Judah  v.4-7

three symbols that point to Messiah and how he will care for his sheep, and he will come from tribe and land of Judah

as a cornerstone

idea referenced both OT & NT, specific connection to Messiah/Jesus – Psalm 118:22, Matthew 21:42 Isaiah 28:16 1 Peter 2:6-7 

cornerstone of the church, foundation – further elaboration from Paul why important in relation to the church

defines the structure – shape, pattern, location, orientation – is first piece put in place, everything else relative to it

faithfully leads the sheep – giving shape and definition to the church requires effective leadership, making sure the right people are in right places for right structure

as a tent peg

Isa 22:23-24  “I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, And he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house. They will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers.”

an anchor for the hopes of the people… secures the future of the sheep – peg will not move, people can hang on to it, no need to find another peg in the future

strength, stability, security – shepherd is source of strength, firming up their confidence, giving secure footing, is perfect antidote to all fears / uncertainties

unlike false shepherds, Royal Shepherd’s promises absolutely certain, no possible chance of failure… ever

as a battle bow

taking the lead in warfare… to protect the sheep – remember who their most important enemy is, not the Philistines

greatest threat: Satan and his agents – Shepherd takes the lead in waging war against spiritual enemies, starting with Satan

two objects: sin and Satan – defeated power of both at Cross and empty tomb… sin cannot trap in captivity, Satan cannot threaten with death

Messiah victorious over both… for the sheep – not for himself that he waged war, was for benefit of sheep… although his victory will ultimately bring more glory to him

other faithful shepherds

follow on after the Chief Shepherd – this is good test: is the under shepherd following the Chief Shepherd?

will care for the sheep as he would if present – Royal Shepherd cares for his flock through them, his delegates

C. the royal shepherd gathers his flock  v.8-12

he calls for them

John 10:3-5, 16  the royal shepherd knows his flock – when he calls, he knows without error when all are present

the flock knows the voice of their shepherd – the ones who really belong to the flock will hear and respond to Shepherd’s whistle, wherever they may be

the shepherd does all necessary to bring them together – all of Good Shepherd teaching of NT applies to Royal Shepherd, his personal care for his sheep… individually and collectively

they will be a large flock

just like in Egypt, time in captivity / exile not intended to destroy – intended to be purifying experience

sowed/scattered/dispersed for purpose – also intended that they act as witnesses, producing fruit/harvest in “foreign” places

expected to live “normally” even in exile – increase into huge flock – Shepherd intends sheep will not put life on hold because of circumstances… still need to be doing sheep-ish things

includes significant growth – remember the Lord Jesus is to be “the firstborn among many brethren

if newly reconstituted earth to be our eternal home, have to be enough of us to manage it well – will take huge number of people, enough to “fill the earth”

he accompanies and strengthens them

passes through the waters – Royal Shepherd not watching the drama from shore… he’s out in the stormy waters with the sheep

this Royal Shepherd a God like no other, comes down to “level” of sheep and raises them to new / better standing

subdues the waters – does so by his presence and action… remember disciples in the boat!!

when circumstances would overwhelm sheep, Shepherd modifies them and goes through storm with them

strengthens his sheep – once again, he does so for a purpose… so they will live as God’s people should, incl. witness

both words and witness are important in this life – next life, proper behavior of sheep will be a given

The Royal Shepherd is still caring for his flock today, messages of hope and promise still apply to his flock. Much to encourage his people, to give us confidence as we pursue the tasks he has appointed to us. We can count on his leading, growing, protecting, strengthening his flock And… his presence with his people more powerful and pervasive than in Zechariah’s day – we are indwelt, equipped and empowered by Holy Spirit in even richer and fuller way. One more thing – are even closer to that great day – maybe we will be the ones who see Jesus return to bring this age to a close! Until that time… 

Rewriting History

Zechariah 9:1-17 

 

Seems like everybody and his brother wants to take everything distasteful or makes certain people uncomfortable, erase it from landscape. Certainly are things about the history of any people or group that were not pleasing to God. To simply pretend they didn’t happen doesn’t change the facts. Often mandated ignorance causes its own set of problems. Israel was no exception, and neither is our nation – erasing the past does nothing to set a right course for the future.

Many would say the American experiment of “government of the people, by the people and for the people” has been a colossal failure. Similar could be said for the Israelite experiment also. What God instructed his ancient people to do after deliverance from Egypt never fully materialized. Were to purify land of Canaan, removing people who had so polluted land by idol-worship and related practices. We know how that didn’t happen – instead much of what they did set trajectory for failure, eventually disappearing from distinct peoples of the world.

God had already changed what would expect for result from a people being absorbed into culture of world superpower. Had moved Cyrus to issue proclamation, later powers to treat Jewish cause with favor. In this second portion of Zechariah’s prophecy God declares how moving forward he will continue to rewrite the history of his people. Notice: God will do, among other things, what his people should have done by defeating their enemies. They could have succeeded with God’s help but instead tried it on their own. Good lesson there for people of all times… including ours.

First portion of book centers attention on Coming Kingdom, final 6 chapters on the Coming King. Are number of quotations / allusions to chapters 9, 11, 12, 13 in connection with Lord Jesus primarily in Gospels. Jesus of course the King in view here, seen particularly in verse 9. Obvious to us, not so much to Zechariah and contemporaries. And keep in mind, throughout rest of book, timing of events not always explicit. Prophetic perspective often does not “see” time lapse between events – present chapter looks at whole sweep from Zechariah’s day to Second Advent.

Just as important (maybe more) is the who / what / how, not so much the when. God will defeat enemies of him and his people, cause his people to triumph, will govern his people with justice and righteousness… in person of Son, the Lord Jesus.

A. enemies defeated 1-8

the wise  1-2

a heavy message for Hadrach, Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, Sidon – neighbors / enemies to the north

were by no means uncivilized dummies – to think of people in those times as less advanced, more primitive comes from evolutionary worldview, not biblical one

Tyrians shrewd enough to build new city half mile offshore, successfully defended against Alexander the Great for 7 months

the wealthy  3-4

wealth of Tyre in particular had come at expense of neighbors to the south, coming in part from human trafficking carried out by others of Israel’s enemies

had used their skill and financial resources to advance their own cause at expense of others – no match for wisdom and resources of God

the warlike  5-6

Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, Ashdod – leading Philistine cities, enemies to the south – continual thorn in Israel’s side for generations

they among more cruel of Israel’s oppressors – breaking up families, reducing to starvation, confiscating all Jewish means of defense for own use – God would erase them as unique people from later history

the false worshipers  7-8

these the ones who did the most damage – seducing people away from true God – deserved to be thoroughly annihilated by God… yet would preserve remnant even among them!

God doesn’t leave his people to wonder: He will defeat their enemies and will continue to defend / protect from future harm

B. king anticipated 9-10

a Savior?

call to rejoicing, celebration – the one who has made all this happen coming to the city… on a donkey, yes, a real donkey

previous kings who had come oppressed and enslaved the people, even their own – have to keep war machine going somehow

this king will be true deliverer, bringing his people out of bondage into genuine and lasting freedom

a servant?

how he will rule evidenced by how he enters the capitol – no train of captives, no loud boasting over accomplishments

this king really has good of his subjects as a priority – no campaign promises later broken, came to serve, not be served

a peacemaker

not only comes in peace to his people, he comes to bring them peace… to establish peace like no one else has or can

universal dominion

here’s one clue there’s more in view than just Jesus’ first advent – had its beginning then, is still in progress

strong implication that his dominion not limited to the church – this King’s rule will extend over all the earth (after the Rapture?)

C. people triumphant 11-17

whole host of reasons why God’s people have reason to be full of joy and celebration… because of what God has done, is doing, will do

redeemed  11

easy for us to read spiritual / redemptive overtones into this statement – looking back through cross, can see nature of deliverance from God’s perspective

restored  12

here is response to one who complains about how much must give up to be a Christian – all that has been lost due to oppression of sin will be restored… abundantly

raised up  13

may appear that enemies of God and his people have upper hand, better / higher station – only temporary, at most applies to this life but not the next

especially in our country and time, need to remember this is God’s doing and not result of political / legislative action – must both trust and rejoice in God and his provision

protected  14

matters not what direction what direction the threat to peace (shalom, well-being) comes from – God between it and his people

defended  15

if we really believe God will defend his people, then whatever comes our way is by God’s design / permission, for good not harm

saved  16

commonly think / talk about being saved from… sin, hell, etc. – don’t forget what God’s people are saved to!

God not only rescues brand from fire, he cleans it up and makes it beautiful and useful, then puts in place of honor

blessed  17

perhaps greatest blessing, source of joy for people of God: have blessing of participating in God’s plan for the nations

we are not just passive recipients, uninvolved bystanders watching God do all the work – he allows, even expects us to serve him by serving others

and… it is a sure thing because it is God’s work we are doing – whenever we are participating in God’s agenda, can be sure of success according to God’s definition

Have much reason to be joyful – Christ is king, he is ruling and extending his kingdom according to his perfect plan. Can count on him supplying all our needs, protecting us from harm, will bring us safely home along with people from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation”.

Words of Hope

Zechariah 8:1-23 

 10x – “thus says the LORD of hosts / LORD”. Is to be no doubt about who is speaking and doing. Not a manufactured feel-good message – may sound too good to be true (see v.6) but… consider the source: the LORD of hosts, YHWH Tsebaoth.

Temple nearing completion, potential reason for celebration but… still many unanswered questions, much uncertainty about the future – of the city, the church, the nation, and of course the people… individuals and families. Last 20 years in many ways not real encouraging: city not well-populated or secure; church struggling against powerful opposition plus discouragement; nothing in sight anywhere for nation to be other than territory subject to powerful neighbor.

Sure, they had promises made to the fathers… but they lived centuries ago. More recent prophets had published their divine messages… but not enough about them clearly stated to give kind of encouragement people of God needed. Keep in mind: we look back at many of those prophecies through lens of fulfillment. We not only have rest of God’s word, have record of how he has kept many of his promises… Zechariah’s neighbors didn’t have those things to give them understanding and hope.

Both Haggai and Zechariah made plain to people what God’s expectations were, how they had failed to measure up. Knew what they needed to do, needed just as much to hear / know what God intended to do, what his plans for their future were, maybe some of how God planned to bring that about. Just as God was intimately involved in their punishment through exile, so he would be just as involved in their restoration and renewal.

A. a renewed city  v.1-8

restored relationships

=>with God – no longer angry at his people but zealous for them – had turned his favor away from Zion (his people)… would “reverse” that

God intended people to seek and find him in Jerusalem, God would bring about transformation in people, producing in them qualities/characteristics he wanted

would be significant enough change to give city a new reputation – should be equally true of the church

place where truth can be found, dwelling place of the God who has power to act, place/people devoted exclusively to his use

=>with one another – picture of harmony among all ages – says much about a community when includes both old and young gathered together

very old and very young usually first casualties when conflict / hardship begins – and… children don’t play in streets in middle of fighting

kind of picture that portrays relative safety/security/prosperity – people living amicably, conducting business, absence of fear and uncertainty

=>with neighbors – no longer at the mercy of their enemies – because of God’s zeal for Zion, will rescue/deliver his people and bring back to place of safety

once they are there, God will protect/prosper/preserve his people – remember who is talking: LORD of hosts, LORD of armies

“nothing is too difficult”

=>from human perspective – impossible – God’s people even all together did not have sufficient resources to make it happen… their history for last 100 years proved that

e.g. were making best effort with Temple rebuilding, not even close to original… and that related only to material things

=>from divine perspective – a done deal

Jer. 32:17 “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.”

was God who got them into exile, who used sinful desires of their neighbors to make that happen, he obviously had all necessary to reverse the process

really small potatoes in big picture, especially when factor in deliverance from sin and bondage to Satan

B. renewed prosperity  v.9-17

temple will be completed

cheer up, roll up your sleeves, don’t give up this close to the goal – again, remember whose house it is, he won’t let it fail

God intends to live there, see v.3, does not intend to be “homeless” – will use his power to restrain/oppose enemies

sound familiar? Matt. 16:18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

it is God who prospers the church, uses human instruments to bring about – but apart from God’s favor, nothing we do will bring genuine prosperity to Christ’s church

otoh, when God intends to prosper the church, nothing we lack can hinder his good purpose

NOTE: a community will not experience genuine and comprehensive prosperity without a healthy prosperous church

there will be peace

=>person to person – was God who relaxed his restraint, allowed selfish and evil desires to foment animosity

truth is in some sense God was against them also, determined to bring hardship/punishment/judgment he promised as consequences for disobedience

until God is for his people, they will not be at peace with one another because they are not a peace with God

=>with God – declares he will be at peace with his people, determined to do good to them – he would bless his people so they would in turn be a blessing to others

once God and his people are at peace, no longer any need (or cause) for fear – powerful reason for encouragement, renewed effort at God-given task

if God has given us the task of building up his church, he will prosper us, he will prosper his church, and we need not fear opposition or failure

=>on condition: things they/we must must do (v.16-17) – in both church and community must do what pleases God

while temporal blessings are promised – good harvest, good home, good health – motivation must come from hearts devoted to God and pleasing him

C. reasons to rejoice  v.18-23

fasts turned into feasts

when God has purposed to bless his people once again, is time for real “joy and gladness and cheerful feasts” – time for fasting (during withdrawal of God’s blessing) is over

feast vs. fast based on what God is doing, not circumstances or appearances… and should fuel love for God, for truth and peace

people will seek the Lord

not only God’s people whose hearts are stirred – God also at work in hearts of other people in other places… all over the world: “ten men from every language of the nations”

notice how he does it: they will “grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

God will use what they see and hear from God’s people to attract them to God’s house… and God’s truth

Some of these promises fulfilled back then. Richer fulfillment happening since… and today in the church. Means we need to be doing it right, living as we ought, both Acting In and Acting Out.

Why Do You Fast?

Zechariah 7:1-14 

Approx. 2 years have elapsed since night of visions. Is thought perhaps Temple about half completed, would take another 2 or 3 years to finish.

Group of exiles who had returned to Judah were looking for guidance, sent group of men in leadership to seek answers to their question. Is small “difficulty” with text, since preposition not present in Hebrew. Were men sent to Bethel, “the house of God” (2) or from Bethel to “the house of the LORD” (3)? Since they asked priests and prophets serving in “the house of the LORD”, means they went to Jerusalem and the Temple. Since “house of God (El)” nowhere else refers to Temple, is very likely were people of Bethel who sent delegation to Jerusalem.

God graciously supplied what they needed, even though probably more than they were looking for! As always, God gets to heart of matter, addressing not only surface issues but also underlying cause. Similarly, God expects his people to think, to remember, to connect dots and reach conclusions that will lead to growth in godliness.

A. question  v.1-3

right place  (2)

any number of options, where to go to find answers to important life-questions – in previous times had chosen badly

OT filled with examples of bad choices: seeking guidance from peers, false prophets, witch, idols, foreign rulers

Sherezer, et al. confident they would receive proper direction from those serving true God at Temple – should be no identity questions there

principle reinforced by Paul’s statement about the church: declared to be “the pillar and ground (mainstay) of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15)

right person  (3a)

wanted to hear ultimately from God – first thing on list of tasks: “pray before the Lord”, seeking God’s favor/direction

were also prepared to hear what priests and prophets would say – expectation being they would speak truth

had confidence God’s servants would speak God’s word to them accurately, that God speaks thru other people

probably part of their prayer – that God would show favor by speaking, that they would hear accurately

wrong question  (3b)

several likely causes for mourning / fasting: loss of national sovereignty; overthrow of Jerusalem; destruction of Temple; forced relocation of citizens (exile)

current situation: declared 70-year exile over; substantial number of Jews returned to homeland; temple in process of being rebuilt

what is proper behavior under present circumstances? is time for mourning past? now time to rejoice?

question assumes something important to be true: that fasting / mourning for past 70 years pleased God

B. answer  v.4-7

favorite kind of answer – more questions! intended to get people thinking, dealing with more than just the obvious (external conformity to a particular standard)

why did you fast?  (5)

this an especially pointed question: majority of those fasting at time of question too young to remember “old days”

what personal stake did they have in their mourning? was it simply tradition, something expected by leaders and neighbors?

another way to put it: what was the connection between their religious observance and their relationship with God?

how did fasting and mourning demonstrate a spiritual reality in their lives, how did it enhance devotion / obedience to God?

even more important, are their religious practices / acts of worship ones that God expected them to perform? …and who decides if they are acceptable? so much for getting a yes or no answer!

why did you not fast?  (6)

if mourning and fasting had spiritual purpose, does reason for not fasting have spiritual component also?

or… are you most interested in relief from something that has become a burden and not spiritually productive?

question delegation asked focused on actions, were probably sincere in asking – motivation just as important to God

and… God could easily have asked “what have you really learned during last 70 years about God? about yourselves?

seems like answer would be: not much, not all they could have learned – still want to treat God like vending machine… put in token religious practices, get back rewards

why did you not obey?  (7)

if what they had done were enough, why didn’t they try that 70 years before? if all God wanted was external conformity, could have avoided exile

if they were really paying attention, this a smack between the eyes: sinners can’t make themselves acceptable to God no matter how hard they try, how good they look

their ending up in exile for 70 years clear evidence God requires more than anyone on their own can achieve

bottom line: acceptance by God is impossible based on man’s effort, only possible when God graciously accepts substitute and for his sake accepts man’s imperfect efforts

C. follow-up  v.8-14

perhaps significant pause between what God said v.8 and then v.9ff – time to think through personal and group answers to God’s questions, begin considering consequences of those answers… some of if-then’s

review (8-10)

before, during, after exile… no change in God’s standard, expectations – are to love neighbor because we love God

in order to be light to the nations, God’s people were to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God

right behavior – justice, mercy, compassion – must be overflow of right heart… in order to be pleasing to God

God expects same things of his people today, biggest differences: we have Jesus’ example, greater help from Holy Spirit

response  (11-12a)

pretty typical, actually – even God reminding his people of his expectations only made hearts harder, more resistance

we like sun, melts snow and ice with all attendant benefits – same sun bakes mud into bricks, hard enough for construction – works that way with hearts, too

good reminder for us: declaring God’s truth often provokes violent reaction – isn’t that people can’t hear, they won’t hear

at same time, God didn’t stop speaking to them through prophets – and some did hear and respond properly

we must not lose heart, keep praying that God would soften hearts, that they would hear / heed his truth we share

recompense  (12b-14)

God is everything he declared to Moses: “…merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”  (Ex. 34:6-7)

at same time, he is just and follows through on declaration that sin and sinners will not go unpunished forever

was merciful and gracious, repeatedly encouraging his people to do right and leave off their sin yet…

“Just as He had called, and they would not listen, so when they called, I would not listen,” says the Lord of Hosts.” CSB

no guarantee that when lost person is finally ready to cry out to God, he will listen – cannot presume on his mercy forever

God gave strong rebuke to his people through prophet Zechariah… and they deserved it. But wait, there’s more, wonderful promises of what God intended to do through his often faithless people, great acts of power and grace that would change the world.

All together, should encourage us to remember these things: God wants our obedience but he wants our love first. When we show our love for God by obeying him and loving our neighbor, God is pleased with us. And… when we do right thing out of right heart, God will bless it.

 

Behold, the BRANCH

Zechariah 6:9-15 

Zechariah’s “marathon at the movies” is over, back to standard prophet mode: “the word of the LORD came” introduces divine message given to the prophet for communication. This one included specific task for Zechariah – things to do as well as say. As always, God’s timing was perfect – people had lost focus, were discouraged, needed help to get on track and then stay on track. Sound familiar?

“This vision was given to Zechariah that he might inspire weak minds with better hope; for the Jews found that they were hardly pressed on every side by their neighbors, inasmuch as enemies rose up against them before and behind, so that there was no end to their troubles.” Calvin

Message may have been given 2500 years ago but still profitable today. For starters: makes plain that God has an all-inclusive plan that he is following. He knows where we are in the plan, what our needs are, he is not surprised by anything, and it all centers on his son the Lord Jesus.

That principle really the ultimate key to what Zechariah had seen in series of visions, question both he and people of God likely to have. Ok, so God has given all these awesome promises about how things are going to turn out. Inquiring minds wanted to know: how is God gonna pull that off? how will he make it all happen?

In dramatic show and tell, God through prophet both does and says startling and unprecedented things that should have made his people sit up and take notice. Over and over God declared this is what shall take place – timing and method may not be clearly known but the outcome is certain. It has God’s guarantee!

A. coronation  v. 9-11

hear a word, not see a vision

one difference readily apparent: time and again with visions Zechariah asked: what does this mean? did not have need to ask for further clarification this time

at same time, are not completely dissociated from visions – key figure Joshua has already had prominent part in fourth vision

receive an “offering”

are three fellows from among exiles who have recently arrived from Babylon – nothing stated about their purpose, how long they intended to stay

perhaps have heard how poorly things had gone with Temple, now beginning to progress again, brought contribution for work

whatever their reasons, were there in Jerusalem by God’s appointment, intended to be means God used to supply specific need

and btw, what was made from their offering would remind future generations both of their generosity & what it signified

make a crown

slight difficulty in the text: crown (`atarah) is plural, not singular – yet context indicates it/they are intended for one person

Zechariah to take both silver / gold, make “elaborate crown”, “crowns”, what would be called a crown that signified two things

first idea: crown, king, someone from kingly line, Zerubbabel… direct descendant of David in line of kings who had ruled

put it on the priest?

not the direction God tells Zechariah to go: set it on the head of the high priest – what in the world does God mean by that?

are different ways of answering question:

“presumably this oracle originally referenced both Zerubbabel and Joshua as recipients of these crowns, but subsequent political events prompted the removal of direct references to Zerubbabel. In short, the evidence that original references to Zerubbabel were removed or replaced from this oracle is quite strong, and this action suggests a deliberate attempt in the text’s redactional history to downplay Zerubbabel’s role as political leader who might threaten the Persian king Darius.” Book of the Twelve, Nogalski

another suggested solution: crown Joshua while giving Zerubbabel the eye – “they were careful to avoid any suggestion of treason. They therefore placed the crown on Joshua instead of on Zerubbabel; but the words used in the ceremony referred to Zerubbabel.” Bridgeway

evidence for amending the text is asserted but not given – since we have the text and not the evidence and the inspired explanation follows, that’s what we’ll go with

B. explanation  v. 12-14

remember Isaiah

second time Zechariah has referred to the BRANCH – Zech. 3:8 and here

“Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, For they are a wondrous sign; For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.”

this is 520 BC, Isaiah prophesied 740 BC and later… more than 200 years before – these references to BRANCH set off all kinds of lights and bells

terminology understood by Jewish people as referring to Messiah – introduced by Isaiah, continued in Jeremiah and Daniel, then Zechariah adds significant clarity… focusing more intensely on Messiah through rest of prophecy

the type

type: person or thing that prefigures what will come later – antitype: person or thing that comes later

e.g.: Rom. 5:14 “…Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. …For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.”

in Zech., Joshua was a type of the BRANCH, prefiguring / foreshadowing the one who would come later

two particular statements: (1) “From His place He shall branch out”; and (2) he “shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne” – something not permitted under Mosaic law

remember who is being crowned… Joshua the priest, being given role of king in addition – oh, the brain pain!

the antitype

so who is the BRANCH that grows out of the roots of Jesse, the descendant of David who would be both king and priest?

only one who fits the description: the one further revealed in rest of Zechariah’s ministry, Jesus the Messiah – further confirmation God intended to keep promises made

the BRANCH would accomplish far more than Joshua ever could – would have “ministry” far beyond Temple itself

C. propagation  v. 15

they will come

God gives three assurances about things yet future – but at same time not unqualified: promises come with a condition

“those from afar” phrase used to identify people beyond borders of covenant community – Gentiles would participate in building

you will know

Gentile participation must be more than simply use of contractors from away – already happened at first temple, would not count as sign of God’s faithfulness

their involvement will obviously be a “God thing”, implying they would be acting for religious rather than simply financial reasons

it will happen

a double assurance here: declares what will happen, then says again “it shall come to pass” – intends there to be no mistake

about what will happen, why it will happen, under what conditions it will happen – what comes after “if”

if you obey

condition should not be surprise: God expects obedience from his people, esp. important since disobedience brought exile

notice also which part each plays in this scenario: people obey, do what God commands, God brings about the outcome

Have already seen part of fulfillment – the BRANCH came, did his preliminary priestly work, now sits as priest on his throne. Our part in growth of his kingdom: faithful obedience, doing what we know God expects of us, trusting him to provide results. God does not expect us to do what gets results; he wants us to live by / act on principle – doing what is right because it is right, because he told us to do it. We can rest assured when we do that he will keep his promises.

The Vision of the Four Chariots

Zechariah 6:1-8 

Summary vision – pulls together threads from most of previous visions. Intended by God to “inspire” his people to renewed effort at continuing construction of Temple. Had effect God purposed – Haggai’s preaching motivated the people to restart construction, together Haggai and Zechariah used by God to help people stay on task:

Ezra 6:14  So the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel…”

Situation / circumstances had in recent past led to great discouragement, stoppage of work. People and leaders both had little confidence to try again to rebuild something that would only be faint shadow of structure that formerly stood there. Were literally surrounded by opposition… from both “natives” and foreigners… including relocated “aliens” from distant parts of Assyrian and Babylonian empires. Had no obvious source of security: no law enforcement or military on their side, no wall with controlled access points (gates) to provide safety. Vulnerable enough many just trying to fly under the radar, not provoke any hostile reactions.

Tapestry of visions given to Zechariah in one night come to conclusion here. Both together and this one by itself give strong reminder to Jewish people not to always believe their eyes. Might appear like everything arranged against them, circumstances they were powerless to change; but… is more to picture than what could see with eyes. Needed to dust off glasses for eyes of faith, reevaluate situation from God’s perspective.

Had been at this process for twenty years, had not even completed basic structure. Not even close to ready for occupancy permit, nothing they could see had changed. Would they ever finish building their church? Would anybody come? Would enough people care about it to make it all worthwhile? Wait a minute, whose church was it to be? And what was he saying about it? And what did God intend to do about it?

A. Image  v. 1-3

four chariots

very first detail given speaks of war – something Jewish people readily understood, part of experience from time of Red Sea on

had been used by Israel’s latest enemies to great advantage – very little foot-soldiers could do to oppose advance of chariots with rider wearing coat of mail, perhaps even protection for horse

chariots are on the move, means battle already underway – will discover from explanation whose chariots they are, where are going

two mountains

numerous opinions of where mountains were, what represented – here’s what we know: concealed whatever was behind from view, pass between served as entrance/exit, appeared to be made of bronze

would seem chariots are not part of Babylonian army, unclear whether friend or foe, specifically who they were moving against

accompanying horses

four colors: red, black, white, dappled – no particular significance given to colors in explanation from interpreter angel; common ones

further description of them as “strong” – picture intended to get is one of perfect capability to carry out assigned task regardless of opposing forces – not easily overcome, distracted/disoriented, in it for long haul

B. Question   v. 4

what am I looking at

valid question for sure… nearly morning, prophet getting tired, brain full, wants to be sure of details – start with what he can see, then go from there to sort out the meaning

question behind the question: are horses/chariots/mountains really what they appear to be, or… do they have some other significance

what does it signify

what is the point God intends me to get from this vision – whose chariots are they, where are they coming from, where going, what does their commander intend to accomplish

perhaps… does this connect with 1:7ff

man among the myrtles, four horses of similar colors – riders had completed recon mission, discovered while God’s people were struggling, their enemies were resting confidently

God not happy when asked about delay in returning Israel to land, no apparent retribution against her enemies – God’s response: I know what is going on, I will deal with them

no more need for recon, now is time for action… at least it appears to be good possibility – interpreter-angel’s response seems to say “yes”

C. Explanation  v. 5-7

God answers from heaven

several indications the source of chariots: two bronze mountains, certainly puts in mind of Jachin and Boaz (1 Ki. 7:15-21) set up on either side of entrance to Temple

if, like Tabernacle, the Temple an earthly “copy” of heavenly reality – just b/c Jachin and Boaz broken up, taken to Babylon, what they represented still in place

heaven still there, not in captivity, God still “on duty” – aware of promises he made, needs of his people, demands of justice

God exercises his authority

“spirits of heaven”, angels of God not only ones under God’s authority – those who are objects of their actions under God’s authority, too

is really about the timing – not lack of anything on God’s part, perceived delay does not equal inaction or inattention – simply means not the right time yet

in this case, God’s people had some things to learn about priorities (God’s purposes vs. theirs), dependence and trust

God directs his resources

in this case, four horses/four winds/four directions not God’s intent – sends his messengers to do his bidding according to his plan

God intends to deal with immediate enemies of God’s people; time enough later to take care of the rest – this one a preemptive precision strike

God’s agents respond eagerly

horses eager / impatient to go about their task – like all God’s heavenly agents, willingly and eagerly obey directions they are given

so how does this description add meaning to line in the prayer – “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – and our responses

D. Encouragement  v.8

God remembered

when God heard recon report (1:11), his response, “I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease” – intended to deal with them

sent his army out to carry out justice / judgment on the nations threatening / harassing his people, and give them space to finish assignment he had given them

God rests… when his people rest

summary: charioteers must have succeeded, gave rest to his Spirit – source of great comfort and encouragement to God’s people

restate “if mama isn’t happy…” – if God’s people are not at rest, God is not at rest either… he will intervene on their behalf when his time is right

When we are about the work God has assigned to us of building his church, he put it as “go make disciples”, need to look away from circumstances. Focus attention on God’s character, God’s promises, God’s faithfulness, God’s power. He will never allow his eternal purpose to be derailed or thwarted in any way. He will never allow anything to come our way that is not for our good and his glory.

At same time, he expects us to stay the course in full dependence on God – for guidance, strength, wisdom, protection, courage, and whatever else we need to fulfill his purpose. God “knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”  (Psa. 103:14) He will not ask more of us than he will help us to achieve. And… God not only supplies all needed resources, he adds abundant blessings to those who love and eagerly serve him.

A Flying Scroll and A Basket

Zechariah 5:1-11 

Good to review setting/circumstances: time is 519 BC, nearly 20 years after first wave of exiles returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon. Primary purpose – to act on Cyrus decree giving permission for all who desired to rebuild Temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Got started, then came to screeching halt – opposition by powerful enemies with political connections. People had become discouraged, turned attention away from Temple task to other things. Perhaps wondering if any hope for future beyond barely keeping wolf and tax man away from the door.

Haggai and Zechariah working as God-sent team: Haggai working to enliven interest and effort toward finishing Temple; Zechariah working to renew people’s hope, help them see the future God had in store for Jerusalem and the nation. Were some things that were holding them back, needed to be addressed. People also needed a corrected view of God and evil – how can God be good when there is so much evil?

Difference of opinion whether are two visions or single vision with two parts. Are going to consider them together since themes of both closely related. Both good news and bad news – which it is depends on where a person’s loyalty was directed. Message of visions would be disturbing to evildoers, encouraging to the righteous. Keep in mind who was living in Judah at this time: a mixed group of people from varied background. Some Jews who stayed behind during earlier deportations; Jews who had returned from exile; people from away resettled there by foreign conquerors; perhaps other opportunists from neighboring areas. God’s message through Zechariah would apply regardless of national origin.

A. a scroll  v. 1-2

a flying scroll

most occurrences of a scroll not good – Jeremiah, Ezekiel and here – either hard contents or circumstances, generally bad news

since a flying banner, its contents not intended only for small group – also intended to be seen and read by all sorts of people

its dimensions

not the typical size found in home, church, public library: 15 feet by 30 feet – could classify as double-sided billboard, able to be read from distance

picture an oversized banner being towed along by low flying airplane – hard to miss, hard to ignore, hard to claim ignorance

same size as Holy Place in original tabernacle, porch on Solomon’s Temple – likely that its message would have something to do with worship / temple / people’s approach to God

its origin

something of that size not of human making – must have come from God, having a message and purpose that God intends

its motion indicates that is already in progress or about to be – not something reserved for a distant future time, meant for now

B. a message  v. 3-4

contains a curse in two parts

message written on both sides of scroll – one statement addresses those who were stealing, the other those who were swearing falsely

know from oracle in v.4 the second side has to do with more than bearing false witness – “the one who swears falsely by My name

is possible, perhaps even likely that these two sins were more widespread even among God’s covenant people than others

they had learned lesson about worshiping pagan idols, was never a problem for them after exile, but… not all God was concerned with

reference to 8th commandment, 3rd commandment – by singling out these two, is clear even more spiritual returnees still not measuring up to terms of the covenant

God made plain in Deut. 28 and 30 would be severe consequences for failure to keep his laws… for both his people and their enemies

sanctification can be messy

God did intend for his people to finish task of rebuilding Temple, carrying on worship there as he had ordained generations earlier

but… God expected more than religious practice from his people – would not ever be satisfied with them simply going through motions

they were to actually be holy people, dealing strongly with sin in own lives as well as in the community – if they didn’t, God would!

since both tables of Law identified, focus here on two greatest commands – love for God, love for neighbor and God’s expectation

that a holy people would love their neighbor because they loved their God

C. a basket  v. 5-8a

so… will it be losing battle? never-ending cycle where sin keeps rearing its ugly head, pushed back down, then pokes up…again?

measuring basket

kind of basket used for measuring grain – designed to hold small grains without “leaking” – no way woman is going to escape through the cracks

with a lid

not a typical lid – a round cover made of lead, heavy and not easily moved – sufficient to keep contents inside the basket

and a woman

wickedness personified, probably representing the most wicked thing they could imagine – idol-worship including sexual immorality in name of religion

D. restrained and removed  v.8b-11

pushed down and covered

as soon as lid is removed, woman tries to “escape” but is prevented – forced back into the basket and lid replaced

why is sin not even more pervasive? because God either directly or through agents restrains evil, limits what it can influence and achieve

carried away

two women with wings of stork (deriv. chesed), these faithful ones come with wind (ruach) or breath of God under their wings

given blessed task of carrying evil personified and restrained far away from people of God – God doesn’t just punish sin, restrain sin, he actually takes it away… far away

to her house

could say she is put in her place… the place where evil is worshiped – here place identified as land of Shinar or Babylonia

place where God already dealt with rampant presumptuous sin – Tower of Babel – also place associated with all that is evil… what represents all that is earthly and opposed to God

no room for evil near the house of God and his people – if they want to be part of worship in rebuilt temple, must put sin far away

God was determined to deal with sin in lives of his people – rooting it out of them and their worshiping community. Intended that his people have a future, making them fit worshipers for his house. More details as to how he accomplishes that come later on in Zechariah’s prophecy. At the same time, God does expect his people to do their part to keep their attention on him, not little by little drift away into idolatry – giving to someone/something else what belongs to God. Good news is that because of what Jesus accomplished and the power of the indwelling Spirit, God by his grace enables us to do that – to become more holy each day.