55. Zechariah

Meditations of Old Testament Highlights: 55. Zechariah

Zech 3:1,2  Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”

We have chosen the above two verses as highlights because they open up a vision that is so well known. We have commented more than once on how our original intention to pick out just one or two verses as highlights has proved an impossible task with many books that actually have so many ‘highlights’, and Zechariah is a classic example of this.

Zechariah was not only a prophet who, we’ve previously noted in Ezra 5:1, worked alongside Haggai (also see Ezra 6:14) but he was also head of a priestly family (see Neh 12:16) who was probably born in Babylon but returned with one of the groups sent back. To understand his prophecies (at least in the first 6 chapters) we need to remind ourselves that the Lord needed to ensure that the people who returned never sank back into their idolatrous practices of previous centuries, and that they were continually encouraged in the rebuilding works in Jerusalem  (Temple and then walls).

The prophecies that come through Zechariah a) work to encourage this, (Ch.1-6), b) give hints of the Messiah, and c) appear to speak of later times in the plans of God (Ch.9 on).

Part A: Ch.1-6 The encouragement of the eight night visions. First, let’s first of all pick up some of the highlights in these early chapters

  1. The Horseman among the Myrtle Trees (1:7-17): “My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.” (1:17). A promise of future prosperity for Israel, God’s chosen. Reminder: we are the chosen of God.
  2. The Four Horns and the Four Craftsmen (1:18-21): “These are the horns that scattered Judah …. the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations” (v.21) The four countries that had contributed to Judah’s downfall will themselves be made accountable and pulled down.
  3. A Man with a Measuring Line (ch. 2): “Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it.” (2:4) God’s blessing on Jerusalem will be so great boundaries (walls) will not be able to contain it. Reminder: salvation means abundant blessing.
  4. Clean Garments for the High Priest (ch. 3): “he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.” (v.4) Joshua, token head of Israel as the high priest, is cleansed and recommissioned, a wonderful picture of what the Lord does for us.
  5. The Gold Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees (ch. 4): “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” (4:6) This is all about God’s resourcing of His people by His Spirit. Reminder: we are a Spirit indwelt and empowered and resourced people.
  6. The Flying Scroll (5:1-4): “This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished.” (5:3) The land will be cleansed of sin. Reminder: we have been cleansed from our sins by the blood of Christ.
  7. The Woman in a Basket (5:5-11): “It is a measuring basket….. This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land.” (5:6) The wickedness of Israel would be removed and dumped in Babylon to add to its wickedness. Reminder: we have had the power of sin broken and removed from our lives as we were adopted as God’s children.
  8. The Four Chariots (6:1-8): “Look, those going toward the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land of the north.” (6:8) The Lord settles the peace of His Spirit on the lands of the north that had caused death in Israel, to at least bring respite for a period. Reminder: peace is our inheritance.

The encouragement of these eight visions is rounded off with a final encouraging picture of a crown placed on Joshua’s head (6:9-15) to signify his role as a ruler, and he is recommissioned to do that.

Part B: Hints of the Messiah:  The following are some of those ‘hints’ that are picked up in the New Testament:

(i) Christ’s coming as ‘the Branch. (6:12), (ii) his kingship (6:13; 9:9; 14:9,16) iii) his priesthood (6:13), (iv) his building of the Lord’s temple (6:12-13), (v) his humanity (6:12; 13:7), (vi) his being deserted (13:7),  (vii) his rejection and betrayal for 30 pieces of silver (11:12-13), (viii) his crucifixion (struck by the “sword” of the Lord; 13:7), (ix) his coming in glory (14:4), (x) his reign (9:10; 14) (xi) and his establishment of enduring peace and prosperity (3:10; 9:9-10). These Messianic references will find their counterpart in the Gospel accounts, and are there for those with eyes to see.

Part C: Apocalyptic and eschatological prophecy: Again, the following arte some of the things that Zechariah foretold that appear to be end-times revelation:

(i) the siege of Jerusalem (12:1-3; 14:1-2), (ii) the initial victory of Judah’s enemies (14:2), (iii) the Lord’s defense of Jerusalem (14:3-4), (iv) the judgment on the nations (12:9; 14:3), (v) the topographical changes in Judah (14:4-5), (vi) the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in the Messianic kingdom age (14:16-19) and (vii) the ultimate holiness of Jerusalem and her people (14:20-21).

Put like this it is perhaps wholly inappropriate to speak of ‘highlights’. Perhaps a better analogy is a unique treasure chest of revelation from which the finder will draw out article after article that proves a basis for study and creates wonder after wonder, not only of the revelation of the Lord, but of the wonder of His sovereign plans and purposes that until the coming of Jesus were, as the apostle Paul so often said, ‘mysteries’.

There is so much in this amazing book that it is impossible to do it justice here. We have simply sought to lay out before us, some of the wonders deserving study (which we may yet do one day in a further series). In this book we not only see the wonder of the Lord Himself, the Lord over all things, revealing these things one after another, but we also see the wonder of the way prophecy works, especially the Messianic element, where the truth of the divine plan for His Son, is there in the background all the time, unseen clearly at that time and yet filtering through in the main prophecies, each like a piece of a puzzle, unclear at this stage, and yet with a place in the ultimate picture. Amazing! Worship Him who is the author of this book and of His plan for the world’s redemption. Hallelujah!

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