Rebuilding the Temple
Forecasts of the Grander Future Temple
Visions of the Coming Messiah
And His Universal Kingdom
Zechariah was contemporary with Haggai. While Haggai seems to have been an old man, it seems that Zechariah was a young man, for he was grandson of Iddo who had returned to Jerusalem 16 years previously (Nehemiah 12:4, 16). Haggai had been
preaching 2 months, and the Temple work had already started, when Zechariah began. Haggai's total recorded ministry lasted a little less than 4 months; Zechariah's, about 2 years. But, no doubt, they were on hand the whole 4 years. exhorting and helping.
The book of Zechariah is considerably larger than that of Haggai. It teems with Messianic flashes, mentioning literally, many details of the life and work of Christ.
Chapter 1:1-6. The Captivity Due lo Disobedience
This opening message of Zechariah came between Haggai's 2nd and 3rd message, between verses 9 and 10 of Haggai 2, when work on the Temple was a little over a month along, and its manifest insignificance was disheartening the people. Zechariah warns against their evident rising tendency to return to the ways of their disobedient
fathers which had brought them to their present pitiful condition. He then proceeds to encourage them with visions which God had given him of the Magnificent Future.
Chapter 1:7-17. Vision of the Horses
The only time notice of the visions from here to the end of the 6th chapter is in 1:7, when work on the Temple was about 5 months along. So we assume the visions came, one following another; written down at the time.
God's messages through the prophets generally came by the direct moving of God's Spirit upon the prophet's mind. But here they are given through an angel who talks back and forth with the prophet.
This Vision of the Horses means that the whole world was at rest under the iron hand of the Persian Empire, whose king, Darius, was favorably disposed toward the Jews, and had decreed that the Temple should be built. This vision concludes asserting that Jerusalem shall once again be a great and prosperous city (see under chapter 2).
Chapter 1:18-21. Vision of the Horns and Smiths
The Four Horns represented the Nations that had destroyed Judah and Israel. The Four Smiths ("carpenters" AV) represented God's Destroyers of those nations. It was a figurative way of saying that prevailing World-Powers would be broken, and Judah again be exalted. God is on the throne, even when His people are temporarily vanquished.
Chapter 2. Vision of the Measuring Line
A grand chapter. It is a forecast of a Jerusalem so populous and prosperous and secure that it will overflow its walls, God himself being its protection. Work on the Temple, 5 months along, was going nicely, and the people no doubt were making plans to rebuild the Wall of Jerusalem, which, however, was not built till 75 years later. But their plans were the setting for this vision of the day when "many nations out of all the languages of the earth" shall come to the God of the Jews, based on this call for captives still in Babylonian lands to return.
Chapter 3. Vision of Joshua the High Priest
A prevision of the Atonement of Christ. Joshua the High Priest is clothed in filthy garments, symbolizing the sinfulness of the people. Joshua's filthy garments are removed, meaning that the people's sins are forgiven and they are accepted of God. It was a picture of the time when the sins of mankind would be removed "in one day"
(9), as the coming "Branch" in David's House (the Messiah) is "pierced" (12:10), and "a fountain for sin be opened" (13:1. See further under 13:1-9).
Chapter 4. A Candlestick and the Two Olive-Trees
What is here said is meant directly for Zerubbabel and the House he was building. But there is unmistakable reference to a Later More Glorious House, to be built by a Descendant of Zerubbabel, called The Branch. It is an exhortation to take courage, in the day of small beginnings, by keeping our eyes on the grandeur of the end. The Candlestick was a symbolic representation of God's House, or the Light-Bearing qualities of God's House. It was in the Tabernacle, and in"the Temple. In Revelation 1:20 it represents the Church. The Two Olive Trees seem to have represented Joshua and Zerubbabel. In chapter 3 the vision was specially for Joshua. Here it is specially for Zerubbabel. The imagery here is carried over into the vision of the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11.
Chapter 5:1-4. The Flying Roll
A sheet, like an unrolled wall-map, 30 feet long, 15 feet wide, inscribed with curses against stealing and swearing, soaring over the land, removing sin by destroying the sinners.
Chapter 5:5-10. The Flying Ephah
Another representation of the Removal of Sin. A large basket, having the appearance of an ephah, containing a Woman, is borne away, by two Women, out of the land. While Sin is here represented by a Woman, it is also by Women that she is removed (9). Might this possibly be a prophetical hint that the Coming Branch who would remove man'i sin in one day (3:8-9), would be brought into the world by Woman without the agency of man? The imagery here is somewhat similar to that of the "Scapegoat" of Leviticus 16, on whose head the sins of the people were placed and borne away into the wilderness. An "Ephah" was a measuring basket, slightly larger than a bushel.
Chapter 6:l-8. The Four War Chariots
Messengers of God's Judgments, patrolling the earth, executing the decrees of God on Israel's enemies. An expansion of the thought in the vision of Horns and Smiths (1:18-21).
Chapter 6:9-15. The Coronation of Joshua
This is a prophetic symbolical act, amplifying the vision of the "Branch" (3:8-9), and vision about Zerubbabel (4:6-9).
The "Branch" (12), was the name of the Coming Messiah in David's family, to be called the "Nazarene" (Isaiah 4:2; 11:1, 10; Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33: 15-17; Revelation 5:5; 22:16).
Zerubbabel, the governor, was grandson of king Jehoiachin who had been carried to Babylon, and was heir to David's throne. What is said of Zerubbabel refers in part to himself personally, and in part to his Family, that is, David's Family, more particularly to the One Great Representative of David's Family, the Coming Messiah.
To David's Family God had, among other things, assigned the task of Building God's House. To David himself God gave, in His own handwriting, the plans and specifications of the Temple (I Chronicles 28: 11, 19). Solomon, David's son, built the Temple, according to those specifications (II Chronicles 2-7), the most magnificent building in all the world at that time. Zerubbabel, a descendant of David, was now (520-516 B.C), engaged in rebuilding the Temple. He was assured that he would bring it to completion (4:6-9), with mystic hints of yet Another Temple to be built by the "Branch," with help of "many from afar" (6:12-15).
The "Branch" was to be of Zerubbabel's (David's) family, the kingly line. But here Joshua, the Priest, is crowned, and is represented as the "Branch," sitting on the throne of David (6:12-13); a symbolic merging of the two offices of King and Priest in the Coming Messiah.
Chapters 7, 8. Questions about Fasting
For 70 years the people had been fasting in the 4th, 5th, 7th and 10th months (8:19), mourning the destruction of the Temple. Now that it looked as if they were soon to have a Temple again, the question arose as to whether these fasts should be continued. In reply Zechariah reminds them that there had been good reason for their fasts, in penitence for their disobedience and consequent affliction; but that now their fasts had become a mere outward pretense of exhibiting their own holiness, and their religious feasts were for their own pleasure.
Then, following prophetic custom of alternating scenes of present distress and future glory, Zechariah draws a picture of the age when fasts shall be joyful feasts (8:19).
The Jews, once a mighty nation, with traditions from of old that they had been designed of their God to be the leading people of all the world, now a remnant insignificant and despised, were existing in their own land only by the permission of Persian kings. Zechariah tried hard to encourage them by repeating over and over that it would not be forever thus; that by and by the mighty empire that then ruled would be broken, and God's people yet come into their own.
Zechariah's picture of a prosperous and peaceful Zion, its streets full of happy boys and girls and old men and old women (8:3-5), center of the world's civilization, all the nations of the earth coming to the Jews to learn of their God (8:22-23), is also found in other passages (1:17; 2:4, 11; 14:8, 16). Whatever may have been the original intent of these passages, the language is certainly a remarkable picture of what has been going on for twenty centuries: influences emanating from Jerusalem, in the name of Christianity, molding the course of history, bringing the nations of the world to the God of the Jews.
Chapters 9, 10, 11. God's Judgments on Neighbor Nations
Chapters 9-14 contain things that have evident reference to the Greek Wars, which came 20d years after Zechariah.
Chapter 9 seems to be a forecast of Judah's struggle with Greece. Alexander the Great, on his invasion of Palestine (332 B.C), devastated the cities named in verses 1-7, in the order in which they are named, and vet spared Jerusalem (8). Verses 13-17 seem to refer to the continuation of Judah's struggle against the Greek Ptolemies and
Seleucids into the Maccabean period.
A Picture of Zion's Coming King (9:9-10), is here set amid scenes of Judah's fierce struggle with Greece. Verse 9 is quoted in. the New Testament as referring to the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:5; John 12:15). In the same breath (10), the prophet sweeps forward to the day of Final Triumph. A glimpse at
the Beginning of Messiah's Kingdom; then a glimpse at the End.
Chapter 10 is a forecast of the Restoration of God's Scattered People. At that time only a small remnant had returned.
Chapter 11 is a Parable of Shepherds. God's flock had been scattered and slaughtered because their shepherds had been false. In the arraignment oi false shepherds is a picture of their rejection of the Good Shepherd (12-13). We might not, from the context, connect this passage with the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot, except that it is so quoted in the New Testament (Matthew 26:15; 27:9-10). The fact
that it is so quoted is a key to God's meaning in the passage. The rejection of their True Shepherd was accompanied by the breaking of the staves Beauty and Bands, that is, the covenant of God's protecting care, and postponement of their reunion in the land.
Then they are delivered over to the Worthless Shepherd ("Idol" Shepherd, AV, 15-17). This is thought, to refer to the Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, shortly after the Death of Christ, and consequent Re-Dispersion of the Jews; or, possibly, it may be an impersonation of the whole list of the Jews; persecutors from the Maccabean period to the time of the Beast of Revelation 13.
Chapters 12, 13, 14. Vision of Israel's Future
As chapters 9, 10, 11 are called the "burden" concerning Neighbor Nations (9:1), so chapters 12, 13, 14 are called the "burden" concerning Israel (12:1). The two sections are quite similar. Both are an enlarging continuation of ideas in the visions of the first 8 chapters, the same ideas ever recurring in different dress.
12:1-6. Judah's Coming Struggle with All Nations. Description of this struggle is continued in 14:l-8. Some consider the language to be a figurative representation of God's struggle with the nations through the whole Christian era. Others apply it more literally to the time of the End.
12:7-13:9. Mourning in the House of David. The thoughts here are evidently centered around the House of David. Though the language is difficult, yet there is clearly depicted tragedy of some kind or other as occurring in the family of David, an occasion for great sorrow, when some leading personage of the family would be smitten (13:7), his hands be pierced (12:10; 13:6), and a fountain for sin be opened (13:1). It was to happen in the day when "the House of David shall be as God" (12:8). Only one member of David's family was God. That one was Jesus. This identifies the person here referred to as the "Branch" of 3:8, who would "remove the son of the earth in one day" (3:9), and who would "build the house of God" (6:12), and rule from sea to sea (see under 6:9-15). It is an amazing forecast in detail of the Death of Jesus, in nowise applicable to any other know person. Thus the death of the Branch in David's family would be the source of God's power against the nations (12:2-4) and its efficiency would be shown in the eventual removal of idols and false prophets from the earth (13:2-5).
14:1-2. Judah's Struggle with the Nations. (See on 12:1-6.)
14:3-21. God's Victory and Universal Reign. The grand consummation of prophetic dreams, the day of the Lord's Return, and the inauguration of his Everlasting Kingdom. Some Biblical scholars think that verses 4-8 mean that Jesus, when he Returns, will literally make his throne on the Mount of Olives, that the mountain will literally be cleft, that waters literally will flow eastward and westward from Jerusalem, and that Jerusalem literally will be the center of pilgrimages from nations outlined in verses 10-21. Others take the language to be a figurative representation of the New Heavens and
New Earth, under the imagery of a benign, prosperous, and all powerful earthly kingdom, as Revelation 21 describes Heaven under the imagery of a magnificent earthly city. The "two thirds" (13:8), may mean the larger part of the nation that fell in the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), following their Rejection of Christ.
Summary of Zechariah's Fore-Glimpses of Christ
His Atoning Death for the Removal of Sin (3:8-9; 13:1).
As Builder of the House of God (6:12).
His Universal Reign as King and Priest (6:13; 9:10).
Triumphal Entry (9:9, quoted in Matthew 21:5; John 12:15).
Betrayal for 30 pieces of silver (11:12, quoted in Matthew 27:9,10).
His Deity (12:8).
His Hands Pierced (12:10; 13:6, quoted in John 19:37).
A Smitten Shepherd (13:7, quoted in Matthew 26:31, Mark 14:27).
Here are plain statements which forecast, in specific language, not only the great doctrines of the Coming Messiah's Atoning Death for human sin, his Deity, and his Universal Kingdom, but also mention detailed incidents in his life, such as his Entry into Jerusalem Riding on a Colt, his Betrayal for 30 pieces of silver, etc.