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Minor Prophets

Zechariah

Zechariah was contemporary with Haggai and began preaching just prior to Haggai’s third message, with his final prophecy being some forty years later. Zechariah was not only a prophet but, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, a priest. He was also a visionary, as were Daniel and Ezekiel, with his prophecies reaching far into the future concerning the first and second comings of Jesus Christ. The first six chapters record Zechariah’s eight visions given in a single night, which are both an encouragement to the people to continue the work of rebuilding the temple and prophetic in nature. (Some break these eight visions down further into ten.)

Eight visions

[1-8]

The four riders; The four horns

[1] In October/November of 520 B.C., Zechariah calls his people to repentance. A few months later, in February of 519 B.C., he has a series of eight visions in one night. The first is of four horsemen who go about the world and find it at ease and content while His people are scattered. This displeases God and a message of comfort and encouragement is given to His people, assuring them the temple will be rebuilt. The second vision is of four horns signifying the four enemies that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem, and of four carpenters who will take away these enemies’ power.

Jerusalem is measured; it will be a city without walls

[2] In this next vision, a man is seen with a measuring line in his hand to measure the city of Jerusalem (a measuring line is a symbol of restoration). Zechariah is told that Jerusalem will grow far beyond its current limits and will greatly prosper, with God as its protector. Those still in Babylon are encouraged to return. A prophecy follows addressed to all mankind, which is the gathering of the Gentiles in the Day of the Lord to become His people.

Clean garments for the high priest

[3] In this vision, Joshua the high priest is seen standing being resisted by Satan, who is then rebuked by the Lord. Joshua is wearing filthy garments, which are replaced with a change of raiment, signifying his acquittal of any accusation from Satan. Joshua is symbolic of the Messiah, our great high priest, who is now foretold removing all sin and bringing peace to all mankind.

The gold lampstand and the two olive trees

[4] Zechariah is now given a vision of a gold lampstand fed by seven pipes from two olive trees, providing a constant supply of oil to keep the lamps burning. This is a vision of encouragement to show that the building of the temple, started by Zerubbabel, will also be finished by him, not by his own might, but through the power of God’s Spirit, which is constantly available to him.

The flying scroll - sin removed

[5] The next vision is of a great flying scroll, representing God’s judgement of the sinful, followed by a vision of a great measure of sin carried away to Babylon, that is, removed from the land.

The four chariots

[6] The eighth and final vision corresponds to the first. Here, God is keeping watch over the whole world with the horses now drawing four chariots, signifying divine judgement. Then there is a symbolic crowning of Joshua (symbolic because priests could not be kings), prefiguring the dual role of Jesus the Messiah as our high priest and king. This concludes the eight visions Zechariah received in one night.

The problem of fasting

[7] Nearly two years later, in December of 518 B.C., when rebuilding of the temple was well underway, a delegation from the people asks whether two fasts should now continue. (The fast in the fifth month commemorated the fall of Jerusalem in 587, and that of the seventh month was in memory of the murdered governor, Gedaliah.) God questions the spirit in which these fasts were conducted, reminding them of their failings in the past that caused them to go into exile.

A joyous future for Jerusalem

[8] God promises a glorious future for the remnant of Israel in Jerusalem, where God will return to make his home in the city. It will be a time of peace, joy and gladness. He reminds them of the early times of Haggai, and how they will now be blessed again, then tells them what He requires of them and what He hates. In that future time, many people will come from all nations to seek the Lord in Jerusalem. In chapters 9 to 14 we have two prophetic oracles: the great messianic future and the full realisation of God’s kingdom. The first, chapters 9– 11, concern the advent and rejection of the Messiah; the second, chapters 12–14, the second coming and acceptance of the Messiah.

The first advent of Jesus Christ

[9-11]

Judgement on Israel’s enemies and the coming of the Messiah

[9] The first eight verses speak of the coming invasion of Tyre and the coastal areas to the south by Alexander the Great who, although he passes by more than once, does not invade Jerusalem. The remaining verses tell first of Jesus’ triumphant entry [vs 9], quoted in part in Matthew 21:5 and Luke 19:30–38, and then Christ’s second coming when he will reign in the great kingdom age.

Israel gathered

[10] Further encouragement is given, with the condemnation of false leaders followed by promises of the faithful being strengthened and returned to their land in glory, and their enemies humbled.

The Messiah is rejected

[11] Israel will be invaded by the Romans from the north through Lebanon, moving south to Jerusalem. The leaders, who care more for their own circumstances than those of the people, will be cut off. God will use the Romans as his instrument of judgement, when the people will be left to their mercy as they relieve them of their power and cause them to disperse. Yet God will take care of His flock, but the prophets, priests and rulers will be cut off in one month because of their mutual loathing. With the crucifixion of Jesus, the covenant God made with all the people will be broken. After the rejection of the true Messiah with the betrayal of Christ for thirty pieces of silver (later to be cast on the floor of the temple and then to fall into the potter’s hands), the time will come when they will accept a false messiah, the antichrist, who will receive an injury leaving him with a withered right arm and a blind right eye.

Israel’s deliverance and cleansing

[12-13] The time will come when Israel will be a ‘burdensome stone’ to all the world as they gather against her, but she will overcome her enemies and again inhabit Jerusalem, when her glory will be magnified. God will destroy any nation that comes against Israel. Through God’s Spirit, who testifies of Christ, Israel will come to recognise the one they had rejected and there will be a great mourning. In that day, Israel will be cleansed of all idols, false prophets and demons. But there is more tribulation to come, from which only a third will remain faithful to proclaim their God.

The final siege of Jerusalem; The return and reign of the Messiah

[14] When the nations are gathered against Jerusalem and take the city along with half of its inhabitants, then God will intervene against them. There will be a great earthquake, which will cause His people to flee to safety; then Christ will come with His saints to rule the earth from Jerusalem, which will be, for the first time, completely safe. The nations that fought against Jerusalem will suffer plagues and confusion. Those who survive will be required to go to Jerusalem each year to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, the only remaining compulsory feast day. The disobedient, those not responding to this call, will be punished. In that day everything will be holy.