TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

Identity of the Author

Table of Significant Events

Conditions in Exile

Problems in the Rebuilding of the Temple

Two Divisions

The Recipients

INTERPRETATION

Repentant First Wave (1:1-6)

Certification of the Angel of the Lord's Prophecies (1:7-6:15)

Inappropriate Fasting (7:1-8:23)

A Spectacular Future (9:1-14:21)

CHART OF SOME PROPHECIES FROM ZECHARIAH


INTRODUCTION

  1. Identity of the Author

Zechariah’s grandfather, Iddo, was one of the priests and Levites who accompanied Zerubbabel and Jeshua during the first return from exile (Nehemiah 12:1; Zechariah 1:1). Zechariah became head of Iddo’s priestly family (Nehemiah 12:16).

In Zechariah 2:4, Zechariah is described as a “young man.”

Zechariah was an associate of Haggai, the prophet, and they both supported the work of Zerubbabel and Jeshua in getting the Temple rebuilt. The two prophets prophesied to Jews in Judah and in Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1-2). Zechariah also prophesied to Zerubbabel (Zechariah 4:6) and about Joshua the High Priest (Zechariah 6:11).

 

  1. Table of Significant Events

RED = Returns from Exile; PINK = Rebuilding of Temple; Light Blue = Haggai; Aqua = Zechariah

EVENTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE RETURN FROM THE BABYLONIAN EXILE

Date

EVENT

586 B.C. [1]

Fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar & the Babylonian Empire*

539 B.C. [1]

Babylonian Empire Fell to Cyrus & the Persian Empire [1]

538 B.C. [2]

1st Return from Exile

Zerubbabel and Joshua (Jeshua) Return [2]

536 B.C. [3]

Temple Foundation Completed & Work Eventually Halted [3]

530 B.C. [1]

Temple Work Halted [4]

522 B.C. [3]

Darius Hystaspes Enthroned in Persia [3]

August 29, 520 B.C. [1]

Haggai’s 1st Sermon

(Hag. 1:1-11; Ezra 5:1) [1]

His book called on the Jews to finish the work of rebuilding the temple.

September 21, 520 B.C. [1]

Temple Building Resumed

(Hag. 1:12-15; Ezra 5:2) [1]

October 17, 520 B.C. [1]

Haggai’s 2nd Sermon

(Hag. 2:1-9) [1]

October-November, 520 B.C. [1]

Zechariah’s Ministry Begun

(Zech. 1:1-6) [1]

December 18, 520 B.C. [1]

Haggai’s 3rd and 4th Sermons

(Hag. 2:10-23) [1]

February 15, 519 B.C. [1]

Zechariah’s Eight Visions

(Zech. 1:7-6:15)

December 7, 518 B.C. [1]

Delegation from Bethel Inquires about Fasting

(Zech. 7)

March 12, 515 B.C. [1]

Temple Dedicated

(Ezra 6:15-18) [1]

After 480 B.C.? [3]

Zechariah’s Final Prophecies Given

(Zech. 9-14)

458 B.C. [2]

2nd Return from Exile

Return of Ezra [2]

444 B.C. [2]

3rd Return from Exile

Return of Nehemiah [2]

The dates vary a year depending on the source of information. [1] From F. Duane Lindsey, BKC-1-1545-1546. [2] From John H. Walton, Chronological Charts of the OT, pages 71-72. [3] From Kenneth L. Barker, EBC, 7-595, 598. [4] Ryrie Study Bible, Extended Edition, New International Version, page 1403.

 

  1. Conditions in Exile:

A. C. Schultz describes the condition of the Jews during the Babylonian exile: “Many were so successful financially that they were ale to send money to Jerusalem (Baruch 1:6, 7, 10) and when the exiles were given permission by Cyrus to return home, they refused because according to Josephus, ‘they were not willing to leave their possessions’ (Jos. Antiq. ZI.I. 3).”

Later writing about the edict of Persian king Cyrus to return Jews to their homeland, Schultz says, “The response of the exiles to the possibility of return was not widespread. Some were prosperous and comfortable in exile, whereas conditions in the homeland were unsettled, the journey long, dangerous, and expensive (Exile, ZPEB, volume 2, pages 426-427).”

So, spiritual, not materialistic, motivation had to drive the Jews back to their homeland.

 

  1. Problems in the Rebuilding of the Temple:

“Shortly after rebuilding began, obstructionist attempts to frustrate it arose from people of Samaria because their offer to help was rejected since they were not of the Jewish folk (Ezra 4:1ff.). Their opposition persisted to force of arms (v. 23), and they shut down the work until the second year of Darius the Great (520 B.C.), when appeal was made to him on the grounds that the restoration had been ordered by Cyrus (cf. 5:17 with 6:3-7) (H. G. Stigers, Temple, Jerusalem, ZPEB, 5:642).”

 

  1. Two Divisions of the Book

“The differences in subject matter, literary style, and probably a later period in style, and probably a later period in Zechariah’s life account adequately for the stylistic difference found in chapters 9-14 (F. Duane Lindsey, BKC-OT-1546).” Merrill F. Unger (Zechariah: Prophet of Messiah’s Glory, page 12) and R. E. Higginson (The New Bible Commentary: Revised, page 787) also take a similar position.

Kenneth L. Barker disagrees with a dating of chapters 9-14 to a later period in Zechariah’s life (EBC-7-596-597). However, his complaint is generally against liberals who date the section much later than the conservatives and by another author.

 

  1. The Recipients:

The recipients of the book are Jews considering a return from exile during the second and third waves. This is known because:

  1. Time of Writing:

Since the prophecies of Zechariah 9-11 were not given until after the Temple was dedicated and since the book is a unity, the recipients of the book could not be those who were rebuilding It, although they were the recipients of the prophecies in chapters 1-8.

  1. Third Person Use:

There are three groups of persons mentioned in Zechariah 1:2-6.

  1. Encouragement to Return:

Zechariah 2:7 encourages the readers to return to their land. Since the Jews of the first wave were already in the land at the time this prophecy was received, this command must refer to potential members of the later waves.

  1. Selective Dating of the Prophecies:

Zechariah is very careful to date when the prophecies of chapters 1-8 were received. But he offers no date for the prophecies of chapters 9-14. This would make sense if the initial readers were contemporary with the delivery of the later prophecies. Then Zechariah would have dated the earlier prophecies to make sure the readers understood that they were associated with the members of the first wave and not with their own time.

  1. Temple Rebuilding Theme:

The theme of rebuilding the Temple is only mentioned in Zechariah 1:16; 4:9-10; 5:11; 6:12-15; and 8:9 (referring back to an earlier period). This seems to confirm that chapters 1-8 report to the initial readers the prophecies given to the first wave who had responsibility for rebuilding the Temple. But the second wave, to whom the prophecies of chapters 9-14 are given, would not be encouraged to rebuild the Temple because by their time It had been rebuilt.

  1. Conclusion:

Chapters 1-8 were written about the Jews of the first wave. But the initial readers of the whole book were Jews who made up the second and third waves of exiles returning to their land. The extent to which the various prophecies had been fulfilled and the promise of prophecies yet to be fulfilled would give the initial readers encouragement to return to their land and continue in its restoration.


INTERPRETATION

Red = Reference to Angel of Jehovah; Green = Reference to the Messiah (could also be colored orange); Orange = Prophecy that Will be Fully Realized in Ages Future to the Initial Readers of Zechariah

Overall Teaching:

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that they should put their shoulder into the rebuilding of the nation because rebelling Jews will be severely punished, because their cursing has been replaced with blessing, and because such a response is appropriate to the encouraging prophecies that are Divinely inspired

 

  1. Repentant First Wave [Eighth Month, Second Year (October-November 520 BC)] (1:1-6):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that the first wave of Jews returned to YHWH and received His favor because they heard of the anger of YHWH against their forefathers who left YHWH (1:1-6)

Notice that the life of the Jewish people under the Law was harsh. God says: Return to Me, then I will return to you. No one has ever met that standard. Under grace God says: I'll return to you even though you are still a sinner (Romans 6:14; 5:6-8).

 

  1. Certification of the Angel of the Lord’s Prophecies [Twenty-Fourth Day, Eleventh Month, Second Year (January-February 519 BC)] (1:7-6:15):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that the Angel of the Lord’s encouraging prophecies were true because many of them have been or are in the process of being fulfilled while others await fulfillment in future ages (1:7-6:15)

Note the specific prophecies. The letter in parenthesis refers to a paragraph below:

Who is the Angel of the Lord? We cannot be sure. There are three frequent answers: (1) God, Himself: Those who support this identification refer to passages like Genesis 31:11-13 and Exodus 3:2, 4, 6-7, 14. These passages seem to equate the Angel of the Lord with the Lord, Himself. (2) A Messenger from God: Some passages, like Zechariah 1:12; 3:6, indicate the Lord is separate from the Angel of the Lord and that he is relaying the Lord's message. The Angel is not God. He is merely a (angelic?) messenger. (3) Jesus: This interpretation takes the strong points of (1) and (2) and concludes that the Lord equals the first member of the Godhead, the Father, and the Angel of the Lord equals the second member of the Godhead, the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This interpretation is the most satisfying because it incorporates the Deity displayed in some passages plus the distinction from the Lord found in other passages.

What is the Purpose of the Nine Visions? Zechariah 4:9 (see also 6:15) indicates that the fulfillment of the prophecies, with respect to Zerubbabel and the Jews of the first wave, will certify that the information given by the Angel of the Lord is truly from God. The Angel's prophecies are true because many of them have been or are in the process of being fulfilled in the times of the writer while other await fulfillment in future ages. Following the lead of Zechariah, the modern apologist often uses the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy as one formal proof that the Bible is true. See Josh McDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, pages 12-13.

 

  1. Horsemen (1:7-17):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that it was time for YHWH to show mercy towards Judah by having His Temple and Jerusalem rebuilt because the nations He had used to penalize Judah were at rest after having gone too far in penalizing Judah during the past seventy years

AOJ: 11-12

Future Fulfillment: 15 -- The rule of the Gentiles over the Jewish nation continues to this day and beyond to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. There will be a future judgment of the nations with respect to how they treated Israel (Matthew 25:31-46).

  1. Four Horns & Four Craftsmen (1:18-21):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, and the Medes and the Persians will now be terrified because they had terrified Judah

  1. Surveyor (2:1-13):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that the Jews still in exile should leave Babylon and other places of exile and return to Jerusalem (verses 6-7) because YHWH will provide sufficient security for the increasing population of the city (verses 4-5), because YHWH is about to plunder Babylon (verses 8-9, 13), and because He will live there with people from nations (10-12)

Future Fulfillment: 11a -- A huge multitude of non-Jews are being joined to the LORD during Church age and will be joined in later ages.

  1. Joshua the High Priest (3:1-10):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that YHWH will send the Messiah (My Servant, the Branch, verse 8) to remove the sin of the land of Judah in a single day so that the people will be content

Note: The condition is associated with Joshua’s leadership not with the people as a whole or with forgiveness of sin (verse 7).

AOJ: verse 5-6

Future Fulfillment: The removing of sin in a single day could have reference to the cross work of our Lord Jesus Christ (9). Sitting under the vine and fig tree could be a reference to the Millennium (10, Micah 4:4).

  1. Gold Lamp Stand (4:1-14):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that Zerubbabel shall be successful in rebuilding the Temple (verses 7-10) because YHWH’s power will empower him as the political leader and Joshua as the spiritual leader (verses 6, 14) and because the fulfillment will credibility to the Angel of the Lord’s prophecies (verse 9)

Note: The two olive trees probably represent Joshua and Zerubbabel who were most responsible for the rebuilding of the Temple (14).

  1. Flying Scroll (5:1-4):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that the homes of all thieves and those who swear falsely will be destroyed because this is part of YHWH’s curse on the whole land

Note: The words written on the scroll may be the words of the Law that brings God’s curse on all of mankind because it points their sin (Romans 3:20; Galatians 3:10).

Future Fulfillment: There is no indication that destruction of the homes of thieves and those who take false oaths was ever accomplished in the Jewish nation (3-4). We do know the unrighteousness will be removed before the establishment of the eternal state (Revelation 20:11-15).

  1. Measuring Basket (5:5-11):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that the evil from Judah will be removed so that it can be taken to Babylon

  1. Four Chariots (6:1-8):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that warring angels from heaven will go throughout the whole world and especially to Babylon so that they can perform judgments that will give YHWH’s Spirit rest

Future Fulfillment: This could also be a reference to the future judgment of Babylon (8, Revelation 18:21-24) or to the cleansing of the earth (see paragraph F, above).

  1. Joshua’s Crown (6:9-15):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that, if the Jews diligently obey YHWH, Joshua, the High Priest, will rebuilt the Temple with the assistance of Gentiles so that the Angel of the LORD’s prophecies will be proven to have come from YHWH

“whose name is the Branch (12)” -- There does not seem to be any specific task assigned to the Messiah in this reference. The type (Joshua) does all the action.

Note: “Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the LORD (15).” This cannot have reference to the second and third waves of Jews as the Temple was completed before the waves were received in the homeland. Apparently this refers to Gentiles that helped in the construction of the Temple. However, there is no evidence that Gentiles helped other than to provide finances, previous Temple furniture, and materials (Ezra 1:7-11; 3:7; 6:4b-5). However, Gentiles may have helped or, this may be a future fulfillment concerning the Millennial Temple. However, we cannot be certain.

 

  1. Inappropriate Fasting [Fourth Day, Ninth Month, Fourth Year (December 7, 518 BC) (7:1-8:23)]:

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that they should now feast when they had fasted because they were now under YHWH’s blessing rather than under His curse for disobedience (7:1-8:23)

The commentary on the identity of each fast is based on notes found in the Ryrie Study Bible.

For information on whether or not fasting is to be practiced by the church, click here.

  1. Inquiry (7:2-3):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that the people of Bethel sent representatives to the priests because they wanted to know, if fasting related to the destruction of the first Temple, should such fasting continue since the replacement temple was being built

  1. YHWH Speaks the First Time--Optional (7:4-7):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that this fast and the fast commemorating the assassination of Governor Gedaliah and other feasts were optional because the crucial issue was, were the people obedient to YHWH?

  1. YHWH Speaks the Second Time--Exile (7:8-14):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that their forefathers had been thrown into exile because they were not obedient to YHWH

  1. YHWH Speaks the Third Time--No Fear (8:1-17):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that that they should not fear (verses 13c, 15b) because conditions in the post-exilic Judah will be different than in the exile (verses 6, 11) since the Jews were under a curse in exile (verses 10, 13a, 14) but they will be bountifully blessed (verses 3-5, 7-8, 12, 13b, 15) and exhorted to live an appropriate life when they return (verses 13d, 16-17)

  1. YHWH Speaks the Fourth Time--Reversal (8:18-23):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that the fasts commemorating Nebuchadnezzar’s entering Jerusalem in 586 BC, the burning of the Temple in 586 BC, Governor Gedaliah’s assassination, and the beginning of the siege or Jerusalem in 588 BC will all be changed into festive occasions (verses 18-19a) because the circumstances of the Jewish return will be so wonderful that Gentiles will seek to accompany them (verses 20-23)

Note: The blessed Jews should live an appropriate life (verse 19b).

 

  1. A Spectacular Future (9:1-14:21):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that Judah will have a spectacular future [so that returning Jews would be encouraged to return and help In the rebuilding of the nation]

Note: The English phrase, “on that day,” or a similar phrase appears 15 times in the NIV (Zechariah 9:16; 11:11; 12:3-4, 6, 8-9, 11; 13:1-2, 4; 14:1, 4, 6-7). The phrases introduce a prophecy. In the rest of the book, similar phrases appear only 3 times in the rest of the book (Zechariah 2:11; 3:9-10). This is evidence that this section contains much prophecy.

Note: There are no chronological connectives between the individual prophecies within these oracles.

Christians should also be encouraged to accomplish spiritual work because spectacular promises have been made to the (e.g., John 3:16; Titus 1:2; 2:11-13).

  1. First Oracle (9:1-11:17):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that there is a future for the Jewish nation by revealing future events [so that returning Jews would be encouraged to return and help in the rebuilding of the nation]

Note: Though much of this oracle concerns events around the first coming of the Messiah, some is not (9:1-8; 9:11-10:1).

Sections

Key: Emphasis on Tyre and Its Judgment (verses 2-4)

Key: Zion is the Maccabees and they defeated Greece (verse13).

Question: What covenant (verse 11) and what does it have to do with the release of prisoners? It may be the Abrahamic Covenant. It was sealed with blood sacrifices (Genesis 15:9-10). This covenant promised that Israel would be made into a great nation (Genesis 12:2). The victories of the Maccabees may be a partial fulfillment of that promise.

Question: Does this psalm end the previous prophecy or begin the next? Perhaps it stands alone. The answer is unknown.

Question: What was the covenant that was revoked (verse 10)? In its Messianic context, the covenant is broken at the time He is rejected during the first advent. (1) Merrill F. Unger says this has reference to the setting aside of national Israel [for the duration of the Church age] (Zechariah: Prophet of Messiah’s Glory, page 196). Being a dispensationalist, Unger would not be saying that one of the classic unconditional covenants with Israel is being broken. This is probably not the interpretation because the covenant is said to have been made with the nations, not with a nation, Israel. (2) Not unlike Unger, David J. Ellis (IBC, page 983) insists that the Jewish people are meant even though the Hebrew word is nations. R. E. Higgins (New Bible Commentary: Revised, page 798) is puzzled by the plural but believes It some how still refers to the Jewish nation. This is not very likely. (3) Kenneth L. Barker (EBC-7-677), F. Duane Lidsey, (BKC-OT-1545), David Baron (The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah, page 401), William MacDonald (Believer’s Bible Commentary, page 1167), and Charles Lee Feinberg (Zechariah: Israel’s Comfort and Glory, page 115) believe that it refers to “. . . the revocation of his covenant of security and restraint, by which he had been apparently holding back the nations from his people (cf. Ezek 34:25; Hos 2:18).” However, the Ezekiel passage seems to await future fulfillment and seems to have reference to the New Covenant. The Hosea verse awaits millennial fulfillment. Nevertheless, there may have been such an informal covenant that God made is Israel.

Question: Who is/was the Foolish Shepherd (verses 15-17)? Is this the future Antichrist?

“This one has been taken to be all the ungodly rulers in Israel between Zechariah’s time and the fall of the Jewish nation; Herod the Great; or Ptolemy IV. The one spoken of as the foolish and worthless shepherd is undoubtedly the personal Antichrist of Daniel 11:36-39; John 5:43; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; and Revelation 13:11-18 (Charles Lee Feinberg, Zechariah: Israel’s Comfort and Glory, page 118).”

  1. Second Oracle--The Second Coming (12:1-14:21):

to teach/the Jews of the second and third returns/that YHWH will ultimately change the course of world events against Jerusalem so that the citizens of Jerusalem will mourn that they had murdered Him during the first advent and so that He can reign in Jerusalem

Sections

AOL: 8

Future Fulfillment: The cleansing Judah from sin and impurity must have reference to the cross work of the Lord Jesus Christ but takes place at beginning of the Eternal State (1).

Verses 8-9

  • 67% of the Population Will Be Killed
  • 33% of the Population Will Be Refined (see Romans 11:26)

Future Fulfillment: Every event listed in this section seems to wait for a future fulfillment. Since the nations are still allowed to rebel after the rescue, this must describe events leading up to and including the Millennium (verses 17-19).


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SOME PROPHECIES FROM ZECHARIAH


2003, Ken Bowles -- September 30, 2010, Edition

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