Notes by Dr Don Hender
ZECHARIAH – THE PROPHET OF THE MESSIANIC AGE.
Written 520 BC.
Background. Read Haggai. Jerusalem had been rebuilt, but not the Temple. The prophets had concern for the rebuilding of the Temple, speaking from the Lord. The Temple, then, would be the centre of spiritual life. It must be rebuilt to strengthen, preserve and revitalise the people of the Covenants. Zechariah believed that the Messiah would come through the royal line of David. Zechariah was a prophet and priest, deeply concerned about the sin and moral decay that had set in his day.
This is also true for our nation in our day. Zechariah saw each person and the whole remnant nation needing cleansing and renewing spiritually to new life. Individual repentance must become national repentance and newness of life. No prophet is more concerned for the Messianic Hope than Zechariah and he gives predictions about His first coming and His second coming. Zechariah 9:9; Ch.14:4 (see Acts 1:6-11).
The book of the prophet Zechariah is in two parts: chs. 1-8 & chs. 9-14. The book covers over 2500 years prophetically and historically. Consider – prophecy is history written in advance – or not yet fulfilled. It must come to pass.
The one, whom His own Jewish people rejected, their own Messiah Redeemer King shall come to be Israel’s King and reign on earth from Jerusalem. The God of Israel will once again say “Ammi” – ‘my people’, after centuries of sin, unbelief and disobedience. They were “Lo-Ammi” – ‘not my people’. (Hosea 2:23). Messiah shall speak peace (through the blood of His Atonement ) to the nation. Israel will at last enter into Divinely ordained priestly mission to the nations. (Isaiah 66:18-23). Jerusalem will be the centre of worship of the only true God, the God of Israel – the centre for the whole earth. (Ezekiel 5:5. Isaiah 2:2-4 and ch. 4:1-6). (Zechariah 14:9).
Zechariah was a young man or youth or lad – like Samuel, David, Jeremiah and Timothy. ‘Let no man despise your youth’. 1st Timothy 4:12.
Four sections in Zechariah.
(1). Ch.1:1-6. ‘Call to Repentance’.
(2). Eight visions in one night. Ch.1:6 to the end of ch.6. Israel and the Nations. The Last Days Finale. From History to Prophecy – past to the future.
(3). Chs. 7 & 8. Facts and fruits of True Fasts – blessing for Israel and the Nations.
(4). Chs. 9-14. Climax of Conflicts – Antichrist to Armageddon. The Coming Messiah and Millennium.
Ch.1:1-6 – Summed up in 2nd Chronicles 36:14 – 17(a). Sin, punishment and exile. Return to the land – Return to their God.
First Vision – Ch.1:7-17.
Five months before is Haggai 1:1, 14-15. Three months after is Haggai 2:10-23, note especially Verse 19, this is a month after Zechariah 1:1-7. The people must have repented of sin, unbelief and disobedience, also wrong priorities. Note the order of space of months. Important message here. The people responded to the word of the Lord in 23 days. (Haggai 1:1 & 15).
Haggai 1:1 – Second year of the king of Persia, sixth month. Message: Rebuke and rebuilding of Temple.
Zechariah 1:1 – Second year of the king of Persia, eighth month. Message: Repent!! The people were slow to respond regarding their sin, even though they had begun to rebuild the Temple!
Haggai 2:1 – If they repent – encouragement and promise in verses 4 & 5. This is the seventh month – seven weeks later (Compare ch.1:1 with ch.2:1).
Haggai 2:10 is one month later – in the ninth month – the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet to the priests. . When the foundation of the Temple was laid the Lord promised to bless the people – Haggai ch.2:19. ‘From this day I will bless you’.
There must have been repentance within the month. Notice also, it was within three months of Zechariah calling for repentance. Zechariah 1:7 – the teaching word of the Lord came through Zechariah. Blessing comes after repentance.
Haggai and Zechariah are important to see together – contemporary synoptic prophets!!
First Vision – Rider on the Red Horse.
Zechariah Chapter 1:7-17.
Other Horses: Speckled (Sorrel) and White.
Zechariah says, ‘I saw’. He was alert, awake, exercising all his mental and spiritual faculties attuned to God! This was necessary so that he could fully respond to the promptings of the Spirit.
Verse 11 – ‘The Angel of the Lord’ in Scripture is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is called a theophany – actual appearance of the Lord before His incarnation. Similar to His appearance to Joshua, though with different purpose. This is vision form to Zechariah.
‘The Myrtle Trees’ – This a symbol of Israel – not the proud cedar or the lofty far spreading strong oak tree, but the lowly fragrant myrtle, growing in the shady valley out of the world’s gaze and prominence. Myrtle is ‘Hadassah’. We know that Hadassah is also Esther. She was so named because of her humility and modesty. (Even the Talmud states that this is a description of the God of Israel, in character!)
So this is a picture of Israel in God’s sight – the myrtle – Hadassah.
Verse 8 – ‘Ravine’. In the deep, the lowest place, the pit. Psalm 88:6. ‘ You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps’. Israel is in great difficulty, in deep trouble and affliction. Israel is in a desperate condition, as Haggai has told us – needing to get priorities right! Israel is subject to the great Gentile world power, Babylon at first, now Persia. This is the ‘Times of the Gentiles’ power and the then world supremacy. Israel might be threatened to be swallowed up in such a sea of Gentile world power (even today). THE LORD IS THERE WITH THEM. Isaiah 63:9 says, ‘in their affliction, He was afflicted and the Angel of His presence saved them, in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old’. See also Jeremiah 30:11; Leviticus 26:44.
Horse Symbols – Red – Judgement, blood and vengeance. See Revelation ch.6:4. ‘the red horse: power was given to him that sat there, to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; and that there was given to him a great sword’. Isaiah 63:1-6 also.
Sorrel (Speckled) – Mission of mixed character – Judgement and mercy.
White – Victory, triumph, glory, given to His people, after Christ rides forth, conquering and to conquer, executing vengeance at His Second Coming to the earth to end Armageddon.
Verse 10 – ‘Patrol the earth’ – in relation to the Land and People of Israel, with God’s overshadowing care and dealings with Israel, in His purposes. He is watching over them. Jeremiah 1:12 says ‘I will hasten (watch over) My Word to perform it’.
Verse 11 – Contrast here, the Gentile world is at rest and secure, yet God’s people are in turmoil and tension. Israel is lying waste. The Jewish people are wandering, scattered and peeled by the nations, among the nations. The Gentiles are in domination over the land of Israel and her people. No one cares for the affliction of Zion or the sorrows of Israel. Jeremiah 30:17 says, ‘this is Zion – no one cares for her’. Israel is in despair.
There is a crying out in verse 12. The Angel of the Lord – the Lord Himself to the Father, most probably – the Lord of Hosts. This is the Son talking with the Father. Remember Acts 2:34, ‘the LORD said to my Lord, sit thou at my right hand’. Peter quotes David writing Psalm 110:1 as David hears, by the Spirit, overhearing a conversation between Father and Son.
Here is Messiah’s heart-cry for His people’s sad affliction. They are back in the land but under such tension without Him. Remember Jesus had compassion on the crowds, in the Gospels. They were as sheep without a shepherd, scattered and leaderless. He who later wept over Jerusalem said that they would see Him no more until they say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord’, Matthew 23:37-39.
‘70 Years’ – 606BC (Nebuchadnezzar) to 536 BC – the decree of Cyrus. See Ezra 1:1.
By Zechariah’s time, only a remnant had returned, some 50,000, at different stages and times.
Verse 13 – God’s comfort of Zion. See Isaiah ch.40.
Verse 14 – Red in the face, burning with zeal. Qana (Heb.) as a husband for his wife, God – Israel. God’s jealous love for Jerusalem and Zion. He is jealous over what is His possession. (This is not envy, but rather right jealousy. Envy is desiring to possess what belongs to someone else and the one desiring it has no right to have and possess). Note the clear difference. Jealous is equal to zealous in differing translations.
The Lord, today, still overshadows Israel, in Covenant care, though He is a stranger to them. He is like Joseph to his brothers, not recognised until the time came for Joseph to make himself known to his brothers. In His time Jesus will make Himself known to ‘His brothers’ in the flesh, and they will mourn for Him, convicted of their sin against Him, and come in repentance to receive salvation.
Verse 15 – The Lord was angry at the intensity of the cruelty of Israel’s oppressors, far beyond the measure of affliction the Lord wanted in chastening Israel’s sin.
Verse 16 – ‘My house shall be built’. This is intended to be the visible sign and pledge of restored fellowship between the Lord and His people. ‘Line stretched over it’ means precise planning.
Verse 17 – ‘My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad.’ This means an ‘overflow’ – like the gushing forth of a fountain. So much will be the growth, expansion of prosperity by the hand of the Lord’s blessing upon His people, when they are obedient and get their priorities right. (Haggai – contemporary with Zechariah).
Song of Solomon ch.4:15 says, ‘You are a garden spring, a well of fresh (living) water, and streams flowing from Lebanon’.
The Hebrew for prosperity is ‘towb’. It means good, pleasant, beautiful, excellent, lovely, delightful, convenient, joyful, fruitful, precious, sound, cheerful, kind, correct, righteous, virtuous. Important meaning is morally good in contrast with moral evil.
A greater and fuller realisation of this term’s meaning is yet to come in the future when a remnant of Israel will be saved and become His nation in Messiah’s Millennial reign and rule from Jerusalem. Israel will be excellently chosen after it has been tested.
‘Comfort Zion – choose Jerusalem’ – This is the first of three inspired statements. See also ch.2:12 and ch.3:2. See also Isaiah 14:1. ‘For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land, and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.’ The Christian Believers are the ‘Gentile strangers’ attached or grafted into the spiritual commonwealth of Israel in the Eternal New Covenant. (We are not grafted into Israel, because Israel is still in unbelief). What a blessing, thrill and privilege for us Gentile Believers to be grafted in as the wild olive branches into the olive tree of spiritual blessing of knowing the Lord through Covenant relationship with Him, where one day the Lord will graft back the remnant of the natural branches where they belong. See Romans 11:24.
Incidentally, though reference is made to the return after 70 years of exile – a far greater, fuller and final fulfilment of this prophecy is yet to come. Much Scripture verify this truth. See Amos 9:11-15 linked with Acts 15:14-18.
This is God’s Master Time Span.
Isaiah ch.51:3 says, ‘The LORD shall comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places and He will make her wilderness like Eden and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody’.
Visions 2 – The Four Horns.
Vision 3 – The Four Carpenters (Craftsmen or Smiths).
This is a continuation of the comforting message. God is against Gentile nations who have afflicted the Jewish people. See ch.1:15. Jesus said that ‘Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles until the Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled’. (That is, when Gentile power in the world will cease at the Second Coming of Christ to the earth, to set up and rule during His Millennial reign and rule as King of Israel). (Luke 21:24).
Horns – Symbols of power and proud strength (Link with Daniel’s prophecies). See Psalm 75 verses 4 and 5. The horns are the ruling powers of the world. The Little Horn of Daniel ch.8 & Revelation ch.17. The Beast with ten horns.
The term ‘four’ here refers to the four corners of the earth – universality of enmity against Israel. The ‘four Empires’ were revealed to the prophet Daniel. (Remember Zechariah came from Babylon/Persia back to Israel. Did he know Daniel as an old man in Babylon/Persia?). Remember the ‘four metals’ in the image mentioned in Daniel ch.2 and the ‘four beasts’ in Daniel ch.7. There was 2500 years of Gentile domination of Israel. Even today Israel is not really free from Gentile powers. These are the ‘Times of the Gentiles’. Yet, Israel will remain when these Gentile powers have gone. Mark Twain said, ‘The Jew stands by the grave of the nations, He, the Jew, remains, still’. See Jeremiah 30:11; Psalm 129. Future affliction is still to come. See Zechariah Chs. 13-14. Jeremiah 30:7; Psalm 83:4. Even so, Israel is indestructible because of the purposes and promises of the God of Israel.
The Carpenters or Smiths – Verses 20-21.
God used Cyrus, king of Persia to overthrow bestial Babylon under king Belshazzar, haughty and totally godless. (He drank from the Temple vessels in defiance of God, thus the handwriting on the wall for him!). God used Cyrus to decree the release of the Jews from captivity. See Isaiah 44:28 and 45:4; Darius.
Alexander overcame a degenerated Persian Empire and in turn treated the Jews well, until, in turn, Greece degenerated. When their great rulers died, the empire degenerated and was conquered. They disappeared when taken over. Think of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Cyrus, Persian kings, then Alexander. When the Romans came, God used them to prepare the earth for the coming of Messiah, through communication of easy travel and language, with laws.
This Roman Empire type system of government has not been totally overcome or removed, until the fourth empire is revived and then the final Smith comes, the Messiah Himself will come to strike down the revived Roman Empire system of power and government, under the Antichrist. Christ will set up the fifth world Kingdom, His Millennial reign and rule. He will bind Satan, put him in the pit for the 1000 years, cast the Antichrist and the False Prophet into the lake of fire and rule Himself. See Daniel ch.2:44-45; Ch.7:13-14. He is King of Kings. See Isaiah ch.2:4. The Millennial Kingdom will be brought in when the King Redeemer Messiah of Israel returns to reign and rule – whose right it is!