Zechariah 1:1-11

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

An Introduction to Zechariah

INTRODUCTION:

 

The Name of the Book

 

The book of Zechariah is named after the prophet Zechariah, whose name means the Lord remembers.

 

The Author of Zechariah

 

Zechariah, the son of Berechiah and grandson of Iddo, began his ministry in 520 B.C. in the second year of Darius I Hystapsis. He was a contemporary of Haggai and is mentioned along with Haggai in Ezra 5:1 , 2 and 6:14, 15. His career probably extended past 480 B.C., and Matthew 23:35 seems to indicate that he was martyred by a mob in the temple grounds.

 

Matthew 23:34-3534 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

 

The Theme of Zechariah

 

The theme of Zechariah is that God is going to preserve His remnant from all the world powers which oppress them and threaten their extinction. These Gentile empires will instead be destroyed, but Israel will survive because she is the people of the Messiah who will some day come and establish His kingdom and rule over all the earth.

Zechariah 1

 

    I.     The Call to Repentance, 1:1-6

 

Zechariah was a Levite born in Babylon

 

Nehemiah 12:1 Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,

 

Nehemiah 12:16 Of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam.

 

Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai the prophet, of Zerubbabel the governor, and of Joshua the high priest.

 

The Historical Background of Zechariah. The fall of Jerusalem to the armies of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. marked the finale of the kingdom of Judah, much as the earlier defeat at the hands of the Assyrians in 722 B.C. brought to an end the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Most of Jerusalem’s inhabitants were deported to Babylon for a period of about 70 years, as prophesied by the Prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11; 29:10). During this Exile the Prophet Daniel received the revelation that Gentile kingdoms would be dominant over Judah and Israel until God would set up His kingdom on the earth under the rule of the Messiah (Dan. 2; 7). This period was referred to by Jesus Christ as “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24 ) (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

 

Jeremiah 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

 

Jeremiah 29:10 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.

 

Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

 

When the Babylonian Empire fell to the Persian Empire (539 B.C.), Cyrus the Great decreed that the Jews could return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple (Ezra 1:2-4 ; cf. Isa. 44:28). However, only a small minority of about 50,000 Jews (including Haggai and Zechariah) returned under the leadership of Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest (Ezra 2 ). Levitical sacrifices were soon reinstituted on a rebuilt altar of burnt offerings (Ezra 3:1-6 ), and in the second year of their return the foundation of the temple was laid (Ezra 3:8-13 ; 5:16). However, external opposition and internal depression halted the rebuilding of the temple for about 16 more years of spiritual apathy till the rule of the Persian King Darius Hystaspis (522-486 B.C.). In the second regnal year of Darius (520 B.C.) God raised up Haggai the prophet to encourage the Jews in rebuilding (Ezra 5:1-2 ; Hag. 1:1). Haggai preached four sermons in four months and then disappeared from the scene. Two months after Haggai delivered his first sermon, Zechariah began his prophetic ministry (cf. Hag. 1:1; Zech. 1:1), encouraging the people to spiritual renewal and motivating them to rebuild the temple by revealing to them God’s plans for Israel’s future. With this prophetic encouragement the people completed the temple reconstruction in 515 B.C. (Ezra 6:15 ). The dated portions of Zechariah’s prophecy fall within the period of the rebuilding of the temple. The undated prophecies of Zechariah 9-14 were probably written much later in his ministry (BKC).

 

1:1-6 – (RSB) The prophecy begins with a strong call to repentance, a prerequisite to experiencing the blessings in the book.

 

Zechariah 1:1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius (Oct.-Nov. 520 B.C.), came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,

 

(RSB) son of Iddo. “Son of” can mean “descendant,” in this case a grandson (cf. v. 7).

 

Zechariah 1:2 The LORD hath been sore displeased [i.e. very angry] with your fathers.

 

Zechariah 1:3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye [i.e. return] unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn [i.e. return] unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.

 

Zechariah 1:4 Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried [i.e. preached, proclaimed], saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings [i.e. from your evil deeds, from your evil practices]: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me [i.e. they did not listen to Me nor pay attention to Me], saith the LORD.

 

1:4 – (RSB) the former prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, who warned of the Babylonian captivity.

 

1:5-6 – (RSB) The idea is this: Pay attention to the Word of God because, although prophets die, the Word of God endures, and the proof that it endures is that its warnings come true.

 

Zechariah 1:5 Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?

 

The warning against delay was conveyed by two striking rhetorical questions which call attention to the brevity of human life. Zechariah asked, Where are your forefathers now? They were dead from sword, famine, pestilence, and natural causes, as predicted by the earlier prophets. Zechariah’s second question was, The prophets, do they live forever? The implied answer was, no; their ministries were also brief, so the opportunity for repentance which they offered should not be ignored (BKC).

 

Zechariah 1:6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers [i.e. overtake your fathers]? and they returned [i.e. then they returned (or repented)] and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought [i.e. purposed, determined] to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.

 

Though the prophets died, God’s words live on to be fulfilled. The certainty of fulfillment is indicated in that God’s words and decrees did overtake their forefathers. . . . That the forefathers repented does not necessarily mean that they returned to God, but perhaps only that they came to their senses and recognized that they deserved punishment and that God had justly accomplished what He had purposed in sending them into Exile . . . . On the other hand many could have repented sincerely during the Exile, resulting in the forgiveness and restoration to the land that followed (BKC).

 

. . . The prerequisite for experiencing the spiritual blessings revealed in Zechariah’s further visions and prophecies was a genuine and wholehearted turning to the LORD. They were not to be disobedient as were those of the former generation who were taken into Exile as a result of God’s certain judgment (BKC).

 

  II.     The Visions of Zechariah, 1:7 - 6:15

Zechariah’s Eight Night Visions

Bible Knowledge Commentary

Vision

 

The Red-horse Rider among the Myrtles

 

The Four Horns and the Four Craftsmen

 

The Surveyor with a Measuring Line

 

The Cleansing and Crowning of Joshua the High Priest

 

The Golden Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees

The Flying Scroll

 

The Women in the Ephah

The Four Chariots

Reference

1:7-17

1:18-21

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

5:1-4

5:5-11

6:1-6

Meaning

 

God’s anger against the nations and blessing on restored Israel

 

God’s judgment on the nations that afflict Israel

 

God’s future blessing on restored Israel

 

Israel’s future cleansing from sin and reinstatement as a priestly nation

 

Israel as the light to the nations under Messiah, the King-Priest

 

The severity and totality of divine judgment on individual Israelites

 

The removal of national Israel’s sin of rebellion against God

Divine judgment on Gentile nations

            A.  The Vision of the Horses and Riders, 1:7-17

 

This vision established the general theme of hope for dispersed and downtrodden Israel. Gentile oppression was offset by comforting promises of divine blessing (BKC).

 

The rider on the red horse is the Angel of the Lord (i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ in a pre-incarnate appearance). The myrtle trees represent Israel. The fact that they are in the bottom suggests the low estate of the nation of Israel following their return from the Babylonian captivity. The message conveyed is that the Lord is displeased with the nations and that He will yet choose Jerusalem and have His house built there.

 

Zechariah 1:7 Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,

 

1:7 – (RSB) eleventh month. Three months after the call to repentance of 1:1-6 and after Hag. 2:10-23 had been spoken, the people had repented.

 

Sebat (Shebat) was the Babylonian name of the 11th month, adopted by the Jews after the Exile. This date was five months after the building of the temple was resumed (Hag. 1:14-15; 2:15), three months after Zechariah’s first prophecy (Zech. 1:1), and two months after Haggai’s last prophecy (Hag. 2:20 – a prophecy regarding the destruction of world powers before the millennial rule of the Messiah; cf Hag. 2:21-23) (BKC).

 

1:8-17 – (RSB) The meaning of the vision is this: Though Israel is oppressed, God is still greatly concerned for His people and will restore them.

 

A description of what Zechariah saw - verse 8

 

Zechariah 1:8 I saw by night, and behold a man [i.e. the angel of the Lord] riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom [i.e. in the ravine, in the low valley]; and behind him were there red horses, speckled [i.e. sorrel, reddish brown], and white [Their riders were apparently other angels.].

 

1:8 – (RSB) Zechariah saw all eight visions (to 6:8) during one night. Unlike a dream, in a vision the person is awake.

 

(RSB) The man was “the angel of the LORD” (v. 11 . . .), different from the angel who interpreted the vision (v. 9).

 

(RSB) myrtle trees. Evergreens that grow about 30 feet high.

 

An explanation of what Zechariah saw - verses 9-11

 

Zechariah 1:9 Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be [i.e. what they are].

 

The angel that talked with me is not the same as the Angel of the Lord in verse 12.

 

Zechariah 1:10 And the man that stood among the myrtle trees [i.e. the Angel of the Lord] answered and said, These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth [i.e. These are the ones whom the LORD has sent to walk up and down (or back and forth) throughout the earth].

 

Zechariah 1:11 And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest [i.e. all the earth is resting quietly, all the earth is peaceful and quiet = all the earth is not at war].

 

1:11 – (RSB) God’s patrols report that the earth sitteth still, and is at rest. i.e., the heathen nations still flourished and were self-confidently secure, while Israel was downtrodden.