Archive for the ‘Zechariah’ Category

Zechariah 14

Zechariah 14 has a view of what is to come at the end.  “I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle”.  Zechariah seems to have the very end times in view, when Jerusalem will be surrounded and attacked by some type of international force.  This attack against Jerusalem will be severe, but the city itself will not be overthrown (the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city).  People will be killed, mistreated and scattered.  But God is not going to allow them all to be destroyed.

Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him”.  Just when it seems that all hope is gone for Jerusalem and the people of Israel, then the Lord will fight for His people.  This was the type of arrival the Jews in Jesus’ day hoped for.  When Rome attacked the city in 70 a.d. God’s people were looking for Him to come to their aid but they were killed and captured by the Romans.  They could not see that the Messiah must first be rejected and the nation brought to repentance as Zechariah had prophesied earlier.

Zechariah continues talking about “on that day” continuing from the previous chapter on what will happen at the end times.  His prophecy tells us “the Lord will be king over all the earth.  On that day the Lord will be one and His name one”.  This is the reality of Jesus.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and will reign as such on that day.  His power will be manifest and “the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem”.  He will step up and protect His people.

As Zechariah ends his prophecy, he makes it clear that everything will be “Holy to the Lord”.  In the glory of the Messiah’s kingdom, what was previously common is made holy; the holy is made holier; and that which was profane was corrected.  As Guzik points out, you can make everything holy (set apart to the Lord), or you can make everything profane (set apart to sin and self). Zechariah ends his prophecy making it clear that God’s way is the make everything that was once common or profane holy instead. At the end of it all, there is no longer any distinction between the holy and profane. It was all set apart to God and His purposes.

Zechariah 13

Zechariah 13 has the prophet talking about what happens as God brings His people back to restoration through the Messiah.  “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness”.  All people have a sin problem and need a Savior.  Flowing from their embrace of the Messiah, they now enjoy a fountain that brings cleansing for sin and for uncleanness. The cleansing comes after their mourning for the One whom they have pierced.  It is a fountain that never runs dry.

I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more….I will remove from the land the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness”.  Idolatry and false prophecy were the two principle ways Israel was led astray from God. God not only provides a fountain to cleanse, but He also promises to cut off the source of uncleanness – in this case, idolatry and false prophecy.  As God cleans up the primary causes leading people to sin, God promises ultimately to take away even the memory of our sin.

Zechariah prophesies about some things that will happen during Christ’s life.  “What are these wounds on your back….the wounds I received in the house of my friends”.  And then he writes “strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered”.  The first refers to the beating Christ took at the hands of the religious leaders before His crucifixion, and the second to the scattering of His disciples after Jesus went to the Cross.  These prophecies are written many centuries before Jesus came.

God has plans to clean up sin among His people.  “I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested”.  After the dispersion of Israel there will come a time of devastation and purification through fiery trials. Two-thirds will be destroyed and the remaining third will be put into the fire but preserved. And then as God always does, He will restore and redeem the remnant.  “I will say, They are my people; and they will say, The Lord is my God’.  God will redeem His people and bring them to Himself!

Zechariah 12

Zechariah 12 has the prophet reminding us that God is the One “who stretched out the heavens and  founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him”.  God is in control, complete and absolute, yesterday, today and forever.  He is completely able to accomplish what He predicts and prophecies.  Jerusalem will be a cup of drunkenness to all her surrounding peoples as well as a heavy stone – a burden – for all peoples, presenting a problem that cannot be solved.  God has prophesied the tension we are experiencing there today.  And in the end, He will control the ultimate outcome.

Zechariah uses the words “on that day” six times in this chapter.  That ‘day’ will be the day God puts in motion His outcome. “On that day the Lord will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God”.  There will be war and while King David was renowned for his fighting ability, courage, and success, God promises a day when the weakest in Jerusalem will be as mighty as David – and the leaders can only be compared in might to God!  God’s plan will come to fruition and Jerusalem shall be His place again.

God will move among Israel and bring saving grace and repentant prayer.  “I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy”. As Jerusalem is supernaturally defended and the Spirit is poured out on the nation, they will turn to Jesus, the pierced One. His head was pierced with thorns, His hands and feet were pierced with nails, and a spear pierced His side.  Zechariah describes the pouring out of grace and pleas for mercy “so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn”.

God is going to open their eyes.  They will realize that they did it, and that they bear responsibility – not sole responsibility, but responsibility nonetheless – for the crucifixion of their Savior.  Each of us as sinners are actually at fault for Christ’s crucifixion.  He went to the Cross for your sin and mine.  But this will be a real eye opener for God’s people, who haven’t felt responsible for Jesus’ death.  Those scales will drop off and they will see clearly that they took the Savior and hanged Him on the Cross.

Zechariah 11

Zechariah 11 has the prophet proclaiming the fall of God’s people.  “I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, declares the Lord”. Zechariah acts out this prophecy, feeding a literal flock of sheep that represents the people of God. As the shepherd Zechariah represents the Lord who has appointed this flock for a season of judgment.  Zechariah has two staffs named Favor and Union.  According to Boice, Favor symbolizes the favored status of Israel as the chosen people of God. Union symbolizes the internal harmony of the people that was lost at the time of the siege of Jerusalem.

God is tired of the sin of His people.  “I will cause each of them to fall into the hand of his neighbor, and each into the hand of his king, and they shall crush the land, and I will deliver none from their hand”.  Sin always carries a price.  And in this case, God makes it clear that every one of these folks are part of that punishment.  Notice that he states that ‘none’ of them will be delivered.  We will all stand before God and have to give account of what we have done.  And like the people in Zechariah’s time, we’ll come up short and sin will drag us into judgment.

Zechariah prophesies about an event related to Jesus’ death that would come many centuries later.  “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them. And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver”.  Thirty pieces of silver was not an insignificant amount, but it was the price of a slave.  This speaks prophetically of Jesus, who was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver – the price of a slave.  The money to betray Jesus – His purchase price – went to buy a potter’s field.  Zechariah says the thirty pieces of silver in his words also was thrown to a potter.

God again picks up on the story that leaders need to lead. “Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock”!  Though God appointed the foolish shepherd in light of Israel’s rejection of the Good Shepherd, it does not mean that God approves of the foolish shepherd. God will judge that worthless shepherd who injured His flock.  God will not stand by and allow poor leadership to last forever.  God will clean things up and restore His people to Himself.  He is a loving but just God.

Zechariah 10

Zechariah 10 has the prophet reminding the people that God cares about the details of life.  “Ask rain from the Lord….and he will give them showers of rain”.  Ancient Israel had no irrigation system, and relied on rain to water their crops. In a time of drought, nothing grew – so Israel relied on rain falling from the skies to keep their crops alive and growing.  It might have seemed a bit insignificant, but Zechariah reminds them that God is responsible for all things and we need to seek His hand to provide.  He reminds us to be bold enough to ask, and God will answer your prayer. God will provide what only He can provide.

There is a leadership problem among the people.  The people have listened to false and deceptive leaders, and part of the reason is because there is a lack of godly leadership.  God expects His leaders to step up and lead the people well.  Where there is no leadership, the people fall. “The people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd. My anger is hot against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock”.  Leadership is serious business and God expects leaders to lead well.

Part of leading well is to realize that God, not the leader, has the answers.  God has a plan for all eternity and reminds us through Zechariah that Jesus was that plan.  “From him shall come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler— all of them together”.  Guzik points out:

  • Jesus is the cornerstone: the foundation, measure, and standard
  • Jesus is the tent peg: holding all things securely
  • Jesus is the battle bow: a strong fighter for good
  • Jesus is the leader over every ruler of His people

Jesus is God’s plan for His people, not merely for salvation, but also as Lord!

Finally, Zechariah reminds us again that God is in the restoration business. “I will whistle for them and  gather them in, for I have redeemed them, and they shall be as many as they were before….I will make them strong in the Lord, and they shall walk in his name”.  The promise to gather Israel is repeated often.  God has been doing it for generations and centuries.  He has a plan to restore His people and that plan is underway and well on its way to completion.  We need to keep in mind that when God gathers Israel and defeats their enemies they shall walk in freedom and liberty again, just as He has promised.

Zechariah 9

Zechariah 9 has the prophet receiving a heavy word from the Lord.  “The burden of the word of the Lord is against the land of Hadrach and Damascus is its resting place”.  Zechariah sets up the picture of the judgment that is to come.  Most see this burden against the land of Hadrach as fulfilled by the armies of Alexander the Great when he conquered this region.  Delivering God’s truth is often not easy, and can even feel like a burden.  But His truth never changes and we need to give it to people straight as God gives it to us.  Sugar coating not required – just a dose of truth.

Tyre attempted to make itself strong and immune to the attacks of others.  “Tyre has built herself a rampart and heaped up silver like dust, and fine gold like the mud of the streets. But behold, the Lord will strip her of her possessions and strike down her power on the sea, and she shall be devoured by fire”. Tyre was one of two major cities north of Israel, in the land of Lebanon. Tyre was an important commercial city that was thought of as impossible to conquer, but Alexander did it in seven months.

Zechariah prophecies of many changes that were to come, but he gives assurance that Jerusalem will be spared.  “Then I will encamp at my house as a guard, so that none shall march to and fro; no oppressor shall again march over them, for now I see with my own eyes”. When Alexander the Great marched through Lebanon and the Promised Land towards Egypt he did not conquer or attack Jerusalem. God promised to protect and spare His house during this time, and He did through a remarkable chain of events.

Zechariah tells us of the coming Savior and King – Jesus Christ.  “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey”.  We’re told to rejoice and shout and celebrate the coming King.  God has had a plan for our redemption for a very long time.  His name is Jesus. He alone can deal with the sin problem we have in our lives.  God is faithful and He will restore us to Himself.  What a blessing.  What a glorious and loving God. “For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty”!

Zechariah 8

Zechariah 8 has the prophet hearing a direct word from the Lord.  “I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain”.  God’s coming back.  His people and city will be transformed by His presence.  Because of God’s presence the city will be transformed into a place of truth and holiness. When God’s presence is real and embraced in our life, we become people of Truth and Holy people.  God’s power in our lives makes us different people.

Zechariah assures them that things will change.  They have been in bondage and scattered across the nations.  But now they have been restored and while there were many who were unable to make the trip back, life will move toward normal again.  “Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets”.  Young and old will be there and life will begin to return to normal.

God gives them a promise to cling to.  “I will save my people from the east country and from the west country, and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.  And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness”.  God promises a gathering from exile to come that will far surpass the present gathering.  Not everyone has been able to come home, but that day is coming.  The gathering God promises will not just be a physical gathering, but also a spiritual gathering. It won’t just be that their address changes, but their heart also.

Life changes when God is in control.  God has promised His love and care for His people.  They have returned to Jerusalem to live with Him there.  When God is allowed to be our all, people notice.  “In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you”.  People are drawn to seeing God at work in us and through us.  The prophet reminds people that their lives are on display and people are watching.  It’s true for us today.  People pay attention to how we live and what we do.  Are you shining Jesus on those in your patch?

Zechariah 7

Zechariah 7 has the Word of the Lord again coming to the prophet.  If there is one consistency between all the prophets of the Bible, it is the reality that they were connected and communicating with God.  They didn’t just make things up or provide their personal interpretation.  They heard directly from God and got it ‘straight from the horses mouth’ so to say.  “The word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month”.  Do you hear from God?  Do you make it possible to hear from Him?  Sometimes we don’t listen, or create enough quiet that we can hear even when He tries to connect with us.

Zechariah tackles one of the traditions of his day – the yearly fast that was done in the fifth and seventh months and had been going on for 70 years.  But God questions the motivation.  These fasts were not commanded by God, but instituted by man. Yet because they were traditionally practiced for so long, they developed an authority of their own. People had done this for so many years, they wanted to keep doing it whether it was God honoring or not.  We can get trapped doing ‘good things’ for the wrong reason and that was true of these traditions – the people felt good but missed God.

And worse, they missed what matters most – how they lived out their daily lives.  God’s expectations were to “Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart”.  God cared about how they treated each other, not whether they were following some tradition and missing the mark completely.  We have to be careful to stay focused on what matters to God – our walk with Him, and how we love people in our patch.

But Zechariah knows his people are failing and God has some harsh words.  “They refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through  the former prophets”.  The people made a deliberate choice to disobey what God expected and stay true to their long honored traditions.  The fast had lost it’s focus, and what really mattered in taking care of people around them, had been lost.

We’re guilty of the same today.  We get caught up in just doing what we’ve always done, with little to no regard to what God may be asking us to do.  Rather than seek and listen, we just keep living how we want.  We all wrestle with change, particularly in our spiritual lives.  We like comfort and what feels good to us.  But that carries a price as God has expectations and requirements.  “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear, says the Lord of hosts, and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known”.  How we live matters and we need to seek God, hear God and then obey God.  It’s not about us keeping tradition but loving and serving a very living God!

Zechariah 6

Zechariah 6 has the word of the Lord coming to our prophet again.  This time, he sees horses, and not just any horses but specific colors of horses.  “The first chariot had red horses, the second black horses, the third white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all of them strong”.  Commentators tell us the usual Scriptural symbolism:

  • red speaks of war
  • black of famine and death
  • white of victory
  • dappled of pestilence

There is disagreement on exactly what these horses represent – some saying it aligns with Daniel’s prophecy and others that it is connected to what we are told in Revelation by John.

John Calvin said that these angels are compared to horsemen on chariots because “these ride swiftly as it were through the whole world to execute what God commands them.” If Zechariah had the technology of today he might picture the angels in fast cars or fighter jets, showing how swiftly and powerfully they move across the earth to accomplish God’s purpose.  “When the strong horses came out, they were impatient to go and patrol the earth. And he said, Go, patrol the earth. So they patrolled the earth”.  The bottom line is that God will judge all people, and do it quickly and efficiently.

God takes a different approach from history with Joshua.  It was absolutely unusual to crown a high priest, because priests were never crowned as kings and kings were never priests.  “Take from them silver and gold, and make a crown, and set it on the head of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest”. There already was a strong, godly civil leader in Jerusalem named Zerubbabel. It seems like it would have made a lot more sense to crown Zerubbabel instead of Joshua . . . the high priest. But Joshua was crowned because the next descendant of David to rule would be Jesus, prophesied by the high priest Joshua.

This wasn’t about Joshua being king, but the crown for Joshua was a picture of the ruling Priest-King in the future – Jesus Christ. God was not focused on Joshua to taking control as king in the Jerusalem of his day.  It was an attempt to let His people know that there was something far greater coming, and He (Jesus) would serve the dual role as priest and king.  “And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.  And this shall come to pass, if you will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God”.  Zechariah paints a picture of the future – a coming Messiah priest and king we know to be Jesus!

Zechariah 5

Zechariah 5 has the prophet seeing two visions form the Lord.  The first involved a flying scroll.  “I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits….This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land”.  The scroll was approximately 15 by 30 feet.  It is apparently open to read because Zechariah can see how large the scroll is.  The text on the scroll contains the Ten Commandments.  “For everyone who steals shall be cleaned….and everyone who swears falsely…”.  The two sins, one from each side of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, represent all of Israel’s sin. God will curse the people who commit these sins and their house.

God will hold us accountable for how we live.  Sin carries a price.  We are all guilty – scripture is clear about that.  We will stand before God someday and have to give an account and explain to God about our choices.  We’ll stand there unholy and in judgment.  The penalty is eternal and will cause us to be separated from God unless we have received the shed blood of Christ through God’s free offer of grace that will cover all our sin and set us free.  God’s scroll is still flying through the lands.  We are under that reality, but we do have a way to overcome our sin today – Jesus Christ.

Zechariah then sees another vision.  “This is the basket….the leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting in the basket”!  The woman, the basket, and the weight are associated with wickedness. They represent greed, materialism, and dishonesty for profit. Zechariah prophesied to those who returned from the Babylonian exile. God’s people came back from Babylon with a materialism problem, and this vision speaks to this problem.  God is going to fix their issue and clear the focus on stuff rather than Him.

God is sending the sin back to where it originated.  God has two beings with wings and “they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven” and carried it back to Babylon.  God will cause this evil, materialistic spirit to be returned to its starting-place: Babylon. There it will eventually be destroyed.  The problems of the people in Zechariah’s time are the same that many of us face today.  Materialism can get between us and God and make us feel self sufficient and not needing God at all.  That’s a dangerous place to be, and God will remove that feeling by wiping out that which we hold so dear.

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