Zechariah 6-8

Thursday Evening Bible Study

July 20, 2006


The prophet Zechariah was a part of the group that returned to Jerusalem at the end of the Babylonian captivity.

When the people first arrived back in Jerusalem, they set up an altar and began the regular worship of God.

Then they began the work of rebuilding the Temple.

After the foundation was laid, things got difficult. The people stopped working. For fifteen years the work stopped until God began to speak through the prophets Zechariah and Haggai.

It is through the encouragement of their ministry that the work continued and was finished.

We continue on with what are called the “night visions” of Zechariah. There are eight of these visions (chapters 1-5), we’ve looked at the first six.

Zechariah 6

:1-8 Four Chariots

:1 Then I turned and raised my eyes and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming from between two mountains, and the mountains were mountains of bronze.

mountains – sometimes a picture of a kingdom or kings (Rev. 17:9-10; Dan. 2:45)

bronze – sometimes a picture of judgment.

I wonder if angelic beings still ride around in chariots. May in a Hummer? A Prius? F-16?

:2 With the first chariot were red horses, with the second chariot black horses,

:3 with the third chariot white horses, and with the fourth chariot dappled horses; strong steeds.

:4 Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?"

:5 And the angel answered and said to me, "These are four spirits of heaven, who go out from their station before the Lord of all the earth.

These chariots are instruments of divine judgment on the earth.

:6 "The one with the black horses is going to the north country, the white are going after them, and the dappled are going toward the south country."

black – heading north, possibly to Babylon.

Even though we consider Babylon to the east of Jerusalem, it was considered to be “north” by the ancients because to get there you had to travel north along the “Fertile Crescent”. You couldn’t get there traveling straight east, you would be trapped in the desert.

:7 Then the strong steeds went out, eager to go, that they might walk to and fro throughout the earth. And He said, "Go, walk to and fro throughout the earth." So they walked to and fro throughout the earth.

:8 And He called to me, and spoke to me, saying, "See, those who go toward the north country have given rest to My Spirit in the north country."

rest to My Spirit – the idea of bringing “rest” to God’s Spirit is to calm His anger.

(Zec 6:8 NLT) Then the LORD summoned me and said, "Those who went north have vented the anger of my Spirit there."

God’s anger would be calmed because the required judgment would be finished.

The black horses went to the north, perhaps to Babylon.

Three years after this vision, the Babylonians would rebel against the Persian empire. The Persians would respond by crushing the rebellion and removing the population from the city.

Some have suggested that this is why God gave this earlier warning in chapter two:

(Zec 2:6-7 NKJV) "Up, up! Flee from the land of the north," says the LORD; "for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven," says the LORD. {7} "Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon."

It is possible that this might have a reference to the future “Babylon” during the Tribulation period.

A future “Babylon” will be judged by God – Revelation 17-18.

:9-15 Crown for Joshua

:9 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:

:10 "Receive the gift from the captives; from Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have come from Babylon; and go the same day and enter the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah.

the captives – these were men of the “captivity” who had come for a visit from Babylon. They brought with them a gift to help with the rebuilding of the Temple.

:11 "Take the silver and gold, make an elaborate crown, and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.

Even though Zerubbabel was the governor and the descendant of the Kings of Judah, this crown would be given to Joshua the high priest.

:12 "Then speak to him, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: "Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD;

There is a double prophecy going on here.

The near sense: Joshua would build the Temple. He would be one of the main men to see that the Temple was completed.

The far sense: Joshua was going to be a picture of the Messiah, who was also known as “the Branch”.

(Isa 11:1-2 KJV) And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: {2} And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
Joshua would build the Temple of the Lord.
Jesus would also build the temple of the Lord. Early in His ministry He made a trip to Jerusalem where He threw the money changers out of the Temple

(John 2:18-22 NKJV) {18} So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?" {19} Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." {20} Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" {21} But He was speaking of the temple of His body. {22} Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

Jesus would build another Temple.

:13 Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both."'

Joshua was going to be a priest wearing the crown of a king.

Jesus is a king from the line of David, but a priest after the order of Melchizedek.

:14 "Now the elaborate crown shall be for a memorial in the temple of the LORD for Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen the son of Zephaniah.

This was going to be a good gift. These guys would have their names on the gift.

:15 "Even those from afar shall come and build the temple of the LORD. Then you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And this shall come to pass if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God."

These fellows coming from Babylon with their gift was a picture of what would happen in the future.

Near fulfillment: the cost to finish building the Temple would be paid by Persia.

When the Jews first came back to Jerusalem after the decree of Cyrus, all they did was to lay a foundation for the Temple before their work was stopped. For fifteen years the work was stopped. It was only after the prophesying of Haggai and Zechariah that the Jews had the courage to get the work restarted. After they restarted the building of the Temple, letters were sent back to the king of Persia, and after it was all said and done, the Persians ended up deciding that they ought to pay for the building of the Temple:
(Ezra 6:8 NKJV) Moreover I issue a decree as to what you shall do for the elders of these Jews, for the building of this house of God: Let the cost be paid at the king's expense from taxes on the region beyond the River; this is to be given immediately to these men, so that they are not hindered.

Far fulfillment: In the Millennium, the Gentiles will be a part of building a temple:

(Hag 2:7 NKJV) 'and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,' says the LORD of hosts.
I wonder about the work that is going on today, the preparations being made by the Jews to have their Temple rebuilt. I know they receive money from all around the world.

Zechariah 7

:1-15 A lesson on fasting

:1 Now in the fourth year of King Darius it came to pass that the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, on the fourth day of the ninth month, Chislev,

The date is Dec. 7, 518 BC. It has been nearly two years since the eight night visions of chapters 1-6.

:2 when the people sent Sherezer, with Regem-Melech and his men, to the house of God, to pray before the LORD,

the house of God – the Hebrew word here is “Bethel”. Beth-el means “house of God”. Some have suggested that a better translation of this verse would be,

(Zec 7:2 NASB) Now the town of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regemmelech and their men to seek the favor of the LORD,

If these men were from Bethel, that would be interesting. Bethel was one of the two places set up by Jeroboam as an alternative worship place to Jerusalem for the northern kingdom.

:3 and to ask the priests who were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and the prophets, saying, "Should I weep in the fifth month and fast as I have done for so many years?"

During the Babylonian captivity, the Jews had started a new, annual time of “fasting”. It was to commemorate an event that took place in the fifth month in 586 BC:

(Jer 52:12-13 NKJV) Now in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. {13} He burned the house of the LORD and the king's house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire.

The question is now, “Since we’re in the process of rebuilding this temple, do we still need to fast?”

It would seem that the people had started this annual fast as a way of remembering the loss of the Temple.

It would be a little like the kinds of memorials that have sprung up after 911. The memorials are made to help us remember the loss.

:4 Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying,

:5 "Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me; for Me?

God is asking them about their reason for fasting.

He’s wondering if they really understood the lesson He was trying to teach them with the destruction of the Temple.

The destruction of the Temple wasn’t some tragic accident. It wasn’t due to a failure of the Department of Homeland Security. It was meant as a message of judgment on God’s people. God had grown tired of their centuries of rebellion against His ways and commandments.

:6 'When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves?

:7 'Should you not have obeyed the words which the LORD proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were inhabited and prosperous, and the South and the Lowland were inhabited?'"

They were good at keeping the “fasting” day of the fifth month, but shouldn’t they have been more concerned about keeping God’s Laws and listening to the prophets who had warned them of the coming judgment?

:8 Then the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying,

:9 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion Everyone to his brother.

Note: “Truth, mercy, compassion …” sounds like righteousness, grace, and love to me.

Jesus said,

(John 13:34-35 NKJV) "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. {35} "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

We might think this is a New Testament concept. I think it’s a timeless God-concept.

:10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, The alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart Against his brother.'


Learn the right lesson

The people were fasting only because they were caught up in just remembering the loss of their temple.
God preferred that they learned the lesson of obeying Him.
I wonder if our nation has learned the right lessons after 911.
I remember the week after 911 how many visitors we had at church.

But after about six months, I don’t remember many of them staying.

When God allows something difficult to happen in your life, does He have your attention?

:11 "But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear.

:12 "Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.

:13 "Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen," says the LORD of hosts.

They didn’t listen to God. God didn’t listen to them.


Answered prayer

Could this be one of the keys to answered prayer? Could this be one of the keys to God granting your request?
(John 15:7-8 NKJV) "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. {8} "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Having His words abide in me is not just about memorizing Scripture. It’s about me doing what they say.
God says, “If you want me to listen to you, then listen to Me”.
Are there prayer requests you have that you wonder if God will ever answer?

I wonder if we should be asking ourselves, “Is there something that God has been trying to tell me that I haven’t paid attention to?”

I walked into the rest stop bathroom and had barely sat down when I heard a voice from the other stall saying, “Hi, how are you?” Now, I’m not the type to start a conversation in restrooms, at a rest stop no less. But I answered, somewhat embarrassed, “Doing just fine.” And the other guy says, “So what are you up to?” What kind of question is that?! I’m thinking this is too bizarre, so I say, “Oh, I’m like you, just traveling.” At this point I’m just trying to get out of there as fast as I can when I hear another question: “Can I come over to your place for awhile?” Okay, this question is just plain wacky, but I figured I should be polite, answer him, and end the conversation. So I say, “Well, I have company, so today is a bad day for me.” Then...I hear the guy say nervously: “Listen, I’ll have to call you back, there’s an idiot in the next stall who keeps answering my questions. Bye!”
I think that sometimes we need to be careful that we are listening to what God is saying to US, and not what He’s saying to the guy next to us.

:14 "But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known. Thus the land became desolate after them, so that no one passed through or returned; for they made the pleasant land desolate."


Pay attention

The people had not paid attention to what God had said to them time and time again, and so they came under judgment.
It’s not like God only gives you one chance at things. Keep in mind that from the time that God began to warn the people about falling away from Him (around 1400 BC) until the time of the captivity (586 BC), it was over 800 years.
But when God is constantly reminding you over and over and over and over again that you need to turn around in an area of your life, pay attention.
Even when God allows His chastisement to come on our lives, it’s only to get us to turn around. His desire is not to punish us, His desire is for us to repent, to turn around.

Zechariah 8

:1-23 The Future of Jerusalem

Keep in mind that when Zechariah receives this from the Lord, the Temple hasn’t yet been finished, and the city is far from finished. After the Temple is finished, Nehemiah will come and get the people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and then encourage the people to actually move to Jerusalem. In Zechariah’s day, it was still a dangerous place to live. Think of an empty ruin of war.

This word from the Lord will encourage the people to keep going.

:1 Again the word of the LORD of hosts came, saying,

:2 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; With great fervor I am zealous for her.'

God cares a lot for Jerusalem. That may sound like a strange thing considering the bombed out ruins in front of the people.

(Heb 12:5-6 NKJV) And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; {6} For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."

:3 "Thus says the LORD: 'I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the LORD of hosts, The Holy Mountain.'

God has not forgotten the city.

I find it interesting that one of the titles is the “City of Truth”.

:4 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Old men and old women shall again sit In the streets of Jerusalem, Each one with his staff in his hand Because of great age.

The place will have been settled and secured so much that people will be able to safely grow old in the city.

:5 The streets of the city Shall be full of boys and girls Playing in its streets.'

I think this goes beyond what Jerusalem would become in the near future.

This is God’s vision for Jerusalem when Jesus comes back.

(Mat 19:13-15 NKJV) Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. {14} But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." {15} And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.
God’s heart is for children. Lots of them.

:6 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, Will it also be marvelous in My eyes?' Says the LORD of hosts.

The people in Zechariah’s day might have trouble believing this.

Nothing is impossible for God.

When God was telling Jeremiah that the land would one day be repopulated, Jeremiah responded…
(Jer 32:17 KJV) Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:

:7 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east And from the land of the west;

:8 I will bring them back, And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be My people And I will be their God, In truth and righteousness.'

People will be brought from all around the world.

Just as is happening today in Jerusalem. Jews are returning from Russia, Peru, Ethiopia, Spain, the United States

truth and righteousness – again note “truth”. Righteousness is doing the right thing.

:9 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Let your hands be strong, You who have been hearing in these days These words by the mouth of the prophets, Who spoke in the day the foundation was laid For the house of the LORD of hosts, That the temple might be built.

hearing … prophets – Haggai and Zechariah were the two prophets that had been speaking to the people at this time.

:10 For before these days There were no wages for man nor any hire for beast; There was no peace from the enemy for whoever went out or came in; For I set all men, everyone, against his neighbor.

After the foundation had been laid for the Temple, the enemies of the Jews worked to have the project stopped:

(Ezra 4:4-5 NKJV) Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, {5} and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

:11 'But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days,' says the LORD of hosts.

Jerusalem won’t be dangerous any more.

:12 'For the seed shall be prosperous, The vine shall give its fruit, The ground shall give her increase, And the heavens shall give their dew; I will cause the remnant of this people To possess all these.

:13 And it shall come to pass That just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, So I will save you, and you shall be a blessing. Do not fear, Let your hands be strong.'

:14 "For thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Just as I determined to punish you When your fathers provoked Me to wrath,' Says the LORD of hosts, 'And I would not relent,

:15 So again in these days I am determined to do good To Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear.

God was determined to chastise them. Now He’s going to be determined to bless them.

:16 These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace;



If we are going to live in the “City of Truth” (vs. 3), then we need to be people of truth.
God is all about truth.
(John 14:6 NKJV) Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
(1 John 1:5 NKJV) This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
Truth is one of the qualities of the “new man” that God has made of us. Paul tells us this and then quotes our passage in Zechariah:
(Eph 4:25 NKJV) Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another.

This is what God is all about. If we claim to be His children, this is what we should be about.

Truth is the key to growing up.
(Eph 4:15 NKJV) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ;

Emperor's New Clothes

It was Hans Christian Andersen that told the story of the Emperor and his new clothes.  The great emperor was a man who liked to impress people with his clothes.  He wanted to have a new suit, the finest in the world. A pair of swindlers told him they would make a suit out of a rare, invisible cloth and only those lacking wisdom could not see the cloth.  The emperor commissioned the new wardrobe.

Finally the day came for the emperor to show off his new clothes, and he began to parade himself around the streets, naked.  The people of the city didn’t have the courage to tell the emperor the truth.  It was a small child who was brave enough to remark, “The emperor’s naked!”

Sometimes we want to be “nice” to people and we don’t tell them something they need to hear.  Sometimes we aren’t real excited when someone tells us something we don’t want to hear.
But we all need truth.  It’s how we grow.  It’s how we become more like Jesus.

:17 Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,' Says the LORD."

:18 Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying,

:19 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'The fast of the fourth month, The fast of the fifth, The fast of the seventh, And the fast of the tenth, Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts For the house of Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.'

fourth month – when Nebuchadnezzar entered Jerusalem in 586 BC (2 Kings 25:3-4).

fifth month – when the Temple and other buildings were burnt.

seventh month – in memory of when the Babylonian-appointed governor Gedaliah was assassinated.

tenth month – remembered the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem in 588 BC (2 Kings 25:1).

All of the fasts would be turned to feasts.

:20 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Peoples shall yet come, Inhabitants of many cities;

:21 The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, "Let us continue to go and pray before the LORD, And seek the LORD of hosts. I myself will go also."

:22 Yes, many peoples and strong nations Shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, And to pray before the LORD.'

:23 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."' "


Being a light

Israel was intended to be a light to the world. But instead of showing the light of God’s truth, the people had rebelled against God.
The message to Zechariah’s day was that they were to start living like they were supposed to:
(Zec 8:16-17 NKJV) These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; {17} Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,' Says the LORD."
We need to speak the message to others. We need to tell people about God’s love. We need share the gospel with others.
But when the life doesn’t match the words, nobody wants to listen.
When the life DOES match the words, you will find times when people will grab you by the sleeve and say, “Let me go with you, I hear you’re close to God…”


Don’t quit

The message was for the builders. They hadn’t finished the work yet.
It’s easy to get discouraged, put the hammers and chisels down and just quit. Yet twice in this chapter the message has come through …
(Zec 8:9 NKJV) "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Let your hands be strong…
(Zec 8:13 NKJV) …Do not fear, Let your hands be strong.'
And so God paints a picture for them.
He gives them a picture of what they’re making. He shows them where they’re going.
God has plans for you. He has things for you to build.
Sometimes we get discouraged because of how hard it is to build a life that honors God.
Take a peek at what God has for you. Understand where He’s leading you.
(Jer 29:11 NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
A man came to a construction site, where stonemasons were working. The man said to one, “What are you doing?”
The stonemason said, “You can see, I’m chipping a stone.”
The man walked over to another mason and said, “What are you doing?”
He answered, “I’m building a wall.”
The man walked over to a third mason and said, “What are you doing?”
This mason answered, “I am building a cathedral.” Ha! All three were doing the same thing, but what a difference perspective makes!
Don’t forget what God’s doing in your life.  Don’t forget what He’s making of you.  Don’t quit.