Zechariah 1:17 The LORD Shall Comfort Zion
Jehovah’s “sore” displeasure had resulted in the seventy years of captivity in Babylon after He had pleaded with their fathers through the former prophets to “turn ye now from your evil ways - and from your evil doings” but they persisted.
Here Zechariah is simply reminding the people in order to awaken them from their selfish negligence as we saw in Haggai when they had temporarily ceased rebuilding the temple.
J.F.B. draws our attention to the fact that the visions which follow these opening remarks (1:8-6:15) were given to Zechariah in one night about two or three months following his commission.
The myrtle trees represented the Jewish nation and the One standing in their midst is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ in theophany. The horses represent angels who apparently spend much of their time “walking to and fro through the earth” having been sent to do so by the LORD (v.10). We remember the answer given to Him when He asked Satan where he had been in Job 2:2.
At first we may think it was a good thing that the angels reported when they told of the earth sitting still and being at rest, but then we remember that there are those who cry peace, peace when there is no peace, and we know that it is true that ease and peace are false hopes for a sinful world. Without Jesus, the Prince of peace, there can be no real and lasting peace on the earth.
Today, there is certainly no peace in the Middle East and the earth groans in birth pangs until the “day” when a nation will be born and Messiah will reign. Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Zechariah 2:10 In the Midst of Thee
The Lord Jesus is the Man with the measuring line and the concept is the expansion of the city. This is to encourage the people who have not left Babylon to come home to Zion.
There are many reasons, humanly speaking, why people had been slow to leave. Some of them had no remembrance of a life in Jerusalem. Many, no doubt, questioned the security there in contrast to what they had where they were. Reasons to stay could be almost as varied as the individuals who held them.
Soon Babylon would be judged and the Persians would be in control then where would their security be? On the other hand Jehovah told them that security would be unequaled in Jerusalem. It would be safe without walls as they would overflow them, but He would be like a wall of fire to them. Furthermore and best of all, Jehovah would dwell in the midst of His people (vs.5, 10&11). Certainly this is the theme of this chapter! Of course, this would be only true in a spiritual sense in the Restoration, but the prophecy looked into the future when it would be a physical reality. Either way, He would be their glory as He should always have been. They could trust His word.
In much the same way God appeals to us. Come out from among them, etc.(II Cor.6:17). In Revelation during the great tribulation we hear the same emphasis (18:4) “Come out of her my people.” The circumstances are all different, but the principle is the same - God wants His people to be separate. He indwells us as individuals and our bodies are His holy temple. He wants our churches to be separate from worldly entanglements. We are not to cling to the world for security. He is in the midst of us. Praise God, and soon He will come down and actually dwell among us in Person (Revelation 21:3) “And He will dwell with them.” Hallelujah!
Zechariah 3:1 Joshua the High Priest
Obviously, the object of this vision (the fourth) is Joshua who represents the nation Israel being initially and ultimately restored (after the captivity and in the Kingdom) in the person of the high priest incorporating the foul and wicked leadership of the nation in a full purging, cleansing and reinstating of her priestly office and function. (In this wording I had the matchless assistance of Dr. Charles Feinberg whose excellent commentary I found in my library, a gift from the late Ceylon S. Ely, a retired pastor and member of my congregation in Bucksport.)
From a second rich author, Merrill F.Unger, (likewise his book, a gift from a friend) I reproduce a synopsis of his outline (not copyrighted).
I. The Visions of Defiled and Condemned Israel under the figure of Joshua
1. Israel is accused as a Criminal (3:1&2) under the figure of Joshua
2. Israel appears as one polluted (3:3) under the figure of Joshua
II. The Vision of Pardoned and Repositioned Israel under the figure of Joshua
1. Israel is Imperiled by Being Deprived of Priestly Office under the figure of Joshua But is Pardoned.
2. Israel is Fully Repositioned (3:5) under the figure of Joshua
3. The Covenant of the Priesthood in renewed with Joshua (3:6&7)
III. The Prediction of Redeemed and Restored Israel under the Figure of Messiah
1. The Recipients of the Prediction of the Redeemed & Restored Israel under the Figure of Messiah - Branch ( 3:8a)
2. The Declaration of the Prediction of Redeemed & Restored Israel under the Figure of Messiah - Branch (3:8b-10)
(Note - the word for filthy in Hebrew is excrement - covered.)
Significantly, Feinberg shares in a footnote that he hesitates to bring out the analogy to the gospel story in this chapter, but says he cannot resist doing it. He indicates a statement of Delitzsch that I like, “Interpretation is one; application is manifold.” The one true interpretation relates to Israel at the present (Zechariah’s day) and the future millennial kingdom. It is okay to make an application to our present time with Joshua’s clothing of sinful flesh (filthy and smelly) being exchanged for beautiful robes of righteousness but this is only an application. Let us preserve the emphasis and purpose for which it was written.
Zechariah 4:6 By My Spirit
The obvious emphasis in this chapter fitting well with the previous one is the truth presented by the 7-fold lamp stand. To even the casual student of Scripture this figure suggests first, the lamp stand in the Old Testament tabernacle which was its only source of light and second, the vision of John in Revelation 2&3 of the seven churches.
Certainly Zechariah was familiar with the former but what probably mystified him was the source of the oil for the lamps in his vision, namely the olive trees. He did not get a definite answer to his question which may mean that it is not for us to know, or it may mean that there are several applications. The commentators suggest at least three. One of the first thoughts due to the words, “olive trees” is that of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:4. Then, too, there is the obvious suggestion that they are, Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the ruler (the one evidently in view in chapter 3 while the other is prominent in this one). The favored view, however, is that the Lord Jesus is seen here in a two-fold ministry of Priest and King and that the closing statement, “ the Lord of the whole earth” shows that the vision really looks forward to His Millennial Reign.
Again we must not fail to understand that primarily this vision was meant for the nation Israel in the day it was given. If a lasting work was to be done by Israel which was ever Jehovah’s will for them, as it is for us, it can only be accomplished by His Spirit (v.6). That this verse is the key there is no question, and that we can apply it to our lives there is every reasonable conclusion.
Hengstenberg in his Christology in the Old Testament says, “oil is one of the most clearly defined symbol in the Bible” and to this there seems total unanimity by the commentators. I only have space to mention the seven uses of oil enumerated and enlarged upon by Charles Feinberg, God Remembers, pp.74&75. Oil lubricates, heals, lights, warms, invigorates, adorns and polishes, - a picture of the Holy Spirit. Be filled!
Zechariah 5:8 This is Wickedness
As I have said, I am thankful to have several good books on our present subject. Merrill F. Unger calls his work, The Prophet of Messiah’s Glory and he entitles this 6th vision, The Destruction of Sinners and the Rod-of-Iron Rule of the Millennium. He says that the Roll symbolizes the curse of God against sinners, primarily of Israel, both before the establishment of the kingdom in the covenant nations and during the kingdom age. He says that the subjects of the curse are representative of all sinners and that the enforcement of the curse portrays the severity of the divine dealing previous to the setting up of the kingdom and of Messiah’s administration during the kingdom. I have quoted him word for word and hasten to add that his material is not under copy-write law.
Unger continues, “this whole passage is very valuable as a commentary on the nature of Christ’s rule in righteousness in the millennium period as well as the severity of His dealing with sinners once the day of grace is ended and the day of wrath and judgement is ushered in with the opening of the seven sealed roll of Revelation 5:1-9, loosing the seals, trumpets and bowl judgements that dispossesses Satan, demons and wicked men from the earth preparatory to the advent of the King of kings and Lord of lords to establish His rule and kingdom.”
The latter half of this chapter which constitutes the revelation of the seventh vision has to do with “the removal of ecclesiastical and commercial wickedness from the millennial earth.”
These two visions show what needs to happen before the so-called Holy Land can really and truly be holy! It is the answer to the prayer we pray when we say, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
I close with the final thoughts on this text by Feinberg that the message of this chapter may well be summarized in Paul’s words of exhortation in II Cor.7:1.
Zechariah 6:13 He Shall Bear the Glory
Feinberg suggests a relationship between the previous chapter and this one where he and others see the emphasis of the former being God’s judgement on His people for their unfaithfulness whereas here it is upon “the godless nations of the world who have arrayed themselves against Israel.” We note also a relationship between the first of these night visions (1:8) which involved horses which were sent “to walk to and fro through the earth” and these horses hitched to chariots also walking “to and fro through the earth” (v.7).
The northern country would be Babylon and the southern, Egypt.
The last section of this chapter is not a vision but an historic account. The men come from Babylon from among the captives that evidently had chosen to remain there rather than return (like Daniel). They brought a gift which was used to fashion a crown composed of several ringlets.
What happened next was done on orders from Jehovah (vs.9&10). He did it to show what He had planned for Israel’s future and as a continuation of the developments in the 8 night visions.
A truly spectacular demonstration was performed on Joshua whose name is Jesus. He was crowned with a king’s crown though he was a priest. The mixing of the two functions was what caused Uzziah to become a leper (II Chr.26:21). Priests never sat down but Joshua sat (v.13) - Zerubbabel built the restoration temple - Joshua would build another - us (v.12). This is, a prophetic picture of the millennial kingdom where the Lord Jesus will combine “both” (last word of v. 13) the office of king and that of priest. It’s coming, praise the LORD!
Zechariah 7:5 Even to Me
Both of my two best commentaries are agreed that what we have here is a delegation from the
city of Bethel which has come to ask a question of the Jewish leaders.
They had been observing a fast in the commemoration of an event while in captivity and it seemed incongruous to continue doing so now that they were back in the land.
They were right for several reasons. One was that God had only instituted one fast to be commemorated annually and that was during the day of atonement but more importantly God had something to say about their attitudes during the many years they had done this. It seems that He had been looking on their hearts rather than at their actions and so they had really done it all for nothing since their motive was wrong.
It was very much like the situation which the Lord Jesus condemned in Matthew 6:16-18 where the Pharisees were guilty of drawing attention to themselves when they fasted.
The whole subject of fasting is problematic and it must be done carefully and prayerfully. If one eats less or skips a meal now and then because they are overweight, this is certainly not remotely connected with the fasting that Jesus speaks about. As an adjunct to prayer it must be with utmost care that it not be done as payment for services rendered. Unless one lives alone it is almost impossible to fast without others knowing about it and as soon as that is the case there is great danger of pride.
Apparently fasting can involve more than just not eating and how do we know how long to continue a fast? All in all, it is an activity fraught with the need for deep spiritual insight. “Unto me” is the only way.
Zechariah 8:19 Love the Truth and Peace
I wonder if Jehovah planned specifically that the material in this part of the Bible would fall in the numbering process exactly in the eighth chapter for it certainly abounds with “newness of life.” He has come home, He is back where He belongs, in the midst of His gathered people, His assembly (for that is one way to translate the word hosts). Why did it have to be pointed out to me that the term “LORD of hosts” appears so much in this chapter? I am blind not to have seen it. Eighteen times - over 50 in this book - that must tell us something. Yet I must confess I have never really read this chapter before! Shades of Stephen Baggott who recently told me this is his favorite book. Now I know why! But I must hurry and show you why before I run out of paper.
This chapter compliments the preceding one as surely as 8 follows 7. It is as if Jehovah explodes with the good news that He is not about solemn fasts but rather joyous feasts. I think Feinberg puts it very nicely “the heart of God overflowing with love, will not allow Israel to think that He is intent on judgment alone, for judgment is His strange work. Love, mercy and grace are the work in which He delights.” What a great statement - read it again and emphasize the word “strange.”
I think perhaps Zechariah would like to have ended here, sort of like Zephaniah did with 3:17 or Habakkuk with 3:18 or Haggai with 2:7-9, but if he had, think of what we would have missed! Do we not love hearing about the wonders of the future? I do!
God is going to save His people from all over the world. The translators dropped the ball on verse 7 when they tried to paraphrase it. (See Ps.50:1 and 113:3.)
We certainly know that what Jehovah describes in the last few verses is not happening today but we delight in the promise.
Zechariah 9:17 How Great is His Goodness
According to Unger, Zechariah, Prophet of Messiah’s Glory, 8th edition, Zonderzan, 1976, p.151, “The scope of the second part of Zechariah (chs.9-14) is the same as the first part (chs.1-8). You will note that this last section is also divided in half, each being introduced with the words “the burden of the word of the LORD.”
Dividing is one thing, digging out the meaning quite another, but I highly recommend Unger, especially on this chapter. He calls the first part (9-11) the first advent and rejection of the Messiah, the Shepherd-King, in contrast to His acceptance in the last part.
Here we see that the Gentile world power over Israel is finally destroyed with Israel coming into full blessing and victory over her enemies. This is to be fulfilled in an immediate sense as seen in relation to Alexander the Great and also the temporary Maccabean victories but will only be fully realized in the millennium.
Those whose eyes are “toward the LORD” (v.1) will recognize that Alexander is merely God’s threshing instrument upon Israel’s enemies. Interesting stories are told how he spared Israel, miraculously being “for our God” (v.7) and “passing by” those camped in their houses (v.8).
In contrast to “Alexander on his choicest steed, our Lord Jesus came into Jerusalem on an ass in a meek and lowly fashion but in the end His dominion will be worldwide (v.10) and where is Alexander?
In verse 13 our God is seen as a man of war - bending the bow - filling it with His arrow Ephraim, and His lightening going forth (v.14) as He saves them (Israel) as “the flock of His people” (v.16) and makes them as jewels in His crown (Mal.3:17).
“How great is His goodness and how great is His beauty” (v.17). This we too shall see and appreciate, Hallelujah!
Zechariah 10:1 The Latter Rain
I think we can say that the entire message of this chapter is Messianic, that is having reference to events at the close of the history of man’s sorry mess that he has made of his dominion and the beginning of Christ’s glorious reign.
This will be the time of the “latter rain” a term referring to the showers that precede the final harvest in Israel. Effective leadership cannot be found whether from idols, false prophets or even the old goats of the flock (vs.2&3), then came Christ riding His horse in battle accouterments, named Judah (white, no doubt).
Speaking of Judah, out of him shall He come forth Who is the chief cornerstone (note even in Isa.28:16 the stone part of the word is supplied by the translators). Study the many references. Isaiah 28:16 = I Peter 2:6-8; Matt. 21:42 = Isa.8:14; Ps.118:22 = Acts 4:11. The second figure in verse 4 is that of a tent peg or a nail upon which items would be hung. Feinberg says that the key to its meaning is found in Isa.22:15 -25, only, our Lord Jesus is a dependable nail with all of the glory of His Father’s house entrusted to Him (Matt.28:18).
The third figure is that of a battle bow signifying a warrior . These, seen as three persons, will drive out all oppressors and will “strengthen the house of Judah and save the house of Joseph” (v.6).
The result of all of this will be rejoicing in the LORD, redemption and fruitfulness (vs.7&8). Feinberg ends this chapter stating that God will make every blessing abound toward Israel.
Even so come, Lord Jesus.
Zechariah 11:11 The Poor of the Flock
This poetic piece filled with descriptive words and rich parabolic utterance runs the full gamut of the prophetic burden of Israel’s seers of that day. Beginning with fiery judgement that devours the mighty cedars and oaks from the snowy Lebanon to the once sturdy forests of Bashan, the prophet portrays a visitation of wrath.
Next Jehovah instructs Zechariah to act the part of a shepherd who is seeking to reclaim a flock of sheep ready to be butchered. In his hands were a rod and staff, one called “gracious” (like Naomi’s name) and the other “unity”, like the good shepherd of Psalm 23. These tools, designed to “comfort” the flock are chopped in pieces demonstrating the removal of God’s loving protection of Israel. The poor of the flock would understand (v.11).
Casting the silver “to the potter” probably is an idiomatic expression meaning throwing it to the dogs. This turns out to be a unique prophetic statement however because it is so specific. In Matthew 27:9 we read that the money was used to purchase a particular field called a potters’ field. Curiously poor Zechariah did not get credit for this or any other of his several N.T. quotations. This one, it seems, was on a scroll with several other prophecies and Jeremiah’s name at the head.
The closing subject of the “foolish shepherd” is thought by commentators to refer to the Anti-Christ.
I guess after this chapter we are thankful for our Good Shepherd Who has given His life for us, His sheep (John 10).
Zechariah 12:10 Me Whom They Have Pierced
Words often used by the prophets as they look off toward the millennial promise, “in that day,” are found in these last three chapters of Zechariah, sixteen times. They do not all refer to the 1000 years, but look forward to the events surrounding the time of the end. Actually we have been waiting for the events of this chapter as we have struggled through the messages of the prophets. From here thru chapter 14 we read about the battle of Armageddon and some of the details of the closing days of history and we like to turn also to Revelation 19:11 as we see it from the heavenly perspective when our Majestic Savior comes from the glory to execute judgement, bringing us with Him.
Here in Zechariah, however, we read about that wonderful day of conversions that we have been waiting for as Israel comes to the awareness finally that Jesus is the Messiah Whom “they pierced.”
What mourning as a nation is born in a day (Isaiah 66:8)!
Praise God we will be present (Rev.19:14) as Almighty God treads the winepress of His wrath and the blood flows to the depth of the horses’ bridles (14:19&20). After I wrote that last sentence, I thought, “what a terrible thing to be exalting over” but on second thought if it is what God wants to do at the time, why should I be a spoilsport? Frankly, I just want to get it over with and the sooner the better, and I imagine He feels the same way, don’t you?
Of course, the rapture is next on the docket and we will have our new bodies which should go a long way towards making us adaptable to the entire program. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Zechariah 13:1 A Fountain Opened
Unger says there should be no break between chapter twelve, verse one and chapter fourteen. It is quite evident that the subject at the beginning of our present chapter is a continuation from the previous one. There in verse 10 we read about repentance and in the last four verses about the great contrition over their sin. Here we begin with the picture of cleansing.
Significantly idols, false prophets and unclean spirits are immediately dealt with as evidence of a sincere spirit. Attention turns to the cross and the wounds our Lord Jesus received in His body. Unger points out that it doesn’t say here in verse six “wounds received from His friends, but in the house of His friends.” Within the house of His nativity were a great many who were grieved at His wounding. These were indeed His friends.
Finally the chapter closes with a reference to those who will survive the great tribulation. These are spoken of in Revelation 7:9 as a great multitude and are classified in verse 14 as those who “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
This is one of the best chapters in the Old Testament and the next is equally great. God certainly used Zechariah and it is hard to have to wait for these events to actually come to pass. May it be soon is our heartfelt prayer.
Zechariah 14:8 Living Waters
“O what a day, glorious day, that will be!”
Among the most exciting are the topographical changes in Jerusalem. When the Lord Jesus left this earth in His ascension to heaven, it was from the Mount of Olives (Act 1:12) and when He returns there as promised a spectacular event will take place as seen here in verse four.
Unger has a great paragraph on this which I will quote in its entirety: “Split latitudinally or breadth-wise through its middle eastward and westward by an exceeding great valley, the two halves fall back, one to the north and the other to the south. The Mount of Olives shall accordingly dissolve into a huge valley! The vast alteration of the physical contour of Palestine will be an accommodation to the center of blessing and activity it will assume with reference to the whole earth in the kingdom age. The city, then the capital of the entire earth, will be situated eminently, the very large valley receding all around it, making it the conspicuous object of admiration as the city of the great King (ibid pg.247).
He then quotes Psalm 48:1-2 of which I shall only mention a part, “Beautiful for situation, the joy of all the earth is Mount Zion.”
Unger goes on to indicate that this cataclysm will provide an escape route for those fleeing the attacking foe (v.5).
Another feature of this geological phenomenon will be the opening of a hitherto hidden spring of tremendous magnitude which will provide headwaters for two mighty rivers which according to Ezekiel will turn the salt waters of the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean to fresh water as they flow as indicated here to the “former and the hinder seas” (v.8). It seems that perhaps a temple will be built over the top of this effusion so that the waters will appear to flow out from under its threshold (Ezekiel 47:1). Perhaps it will be also from this very location whence “the river of water of life” will flow from the throne of God (Rev.22:1). We must all wait and see. (See also Ps.46:4).