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Zechariah 1

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 31, 2014


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words 

This Thursday – Movie Night:  God Is Not Dead

We will have a cartoon that starts at 6:55, and the movie will start at 7:00pm.

Baptism / Ice bucket challenge

Have you been baptized since you became a believer?

We are grateful for your parents who might have had you baptized as a baby, but the New Testament teaches that baptism is for those who believe – those who have made a choice to follow Jesus.  That doesn’t quite fit the baby thing…

Baptism doesn’t save you, but baptism is commanded by Jesus.

We believe baptism is a chance to show the world in symbolic terms what God has done for you – Jesus dying and being raised.

Just for fun this year – I’ve been challenged to do the ALS ice bucket thing (thanks Greg Bird!), so I’m going to do it after the baptism.

The background to Zechariah, like that of Haggai, is found in the book of Ezra.

After having been captive in Babylon for seventy years, the Jews are given permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem.

When the Temple construction is stopped, it was Haggai and Zechariah who began to prophesy and encourage the people to finish the Temple. (Ezra 5:1-2)

After the people began to build, opposition arose from their enemies, and for a period of 15 years, the Temple construction was halted.

It was then that God raised up two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, who began to encourage the people to get back to work and make God’s House a priority.

(Ezra 5:1–2 NKJV) —1 Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. 2 So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them.
It was under the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah that the work got stirred up again.
The Temple won’t be complete until March 12, 515 BC (Ezr 6:15-18)

The prophecies of Zechariah are given during the years of 520-618 BC.

One of the key distinctions of the book of Zechariah is the amount of prophecy about the coming Messiah.

Except for the prophet Isaiah, there are more prophecies about the Messiah in this book than any other Old Testament book.
One set of scholars list 41 quotes or allusions to Zechariah in the New Testament.

It seems that Zechariah has dated each of his prophecies, like Haggai did.

The first prophecy is 1:1-6
It was given on 08/??/02
The second prophecy is 1:7 – 6:15
Hag.2:10-19 talks about how “uncleanness” defiles everything it touches.

Haggai’s prophecy was given on 9/24/02

In Zec. 3 God talks about Joshua the high priest being “filthy”, but being cleansed.

Zechariah’s prophecy was given 11/24/02

The third prophecy is 7:1 – 14:21
Some suggest that only 7:1-7 are tied to the last date, and the rest of the book is undated.

1:1-6 Turn Around

:1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,

:1 Zechariah – “Yahweh remembers”

There are 27 people in the Bible who are named Zechariah.  It’s a popular name.

Our Zechariah was a Levite (and perhaps a priest) who had been born in Babylon, and came back to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel. (Neh. 12:16)

(Nehemiah 12:16 NKJV) of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;

We think that the prophet Haggai was on the older side, while Zechariah was a younger man.

:1 the eighth month of the second year of Darius

It is October/November of 520 BC, after Haggai gives his first two prophecies (Hag. 1:1 – 2:9)

For our purposes, it was given 08/??/02
Haggai has already received two prophecies: 
Hag. 1 (given in the 6th month)

Haggai’s prophecy was given 06/01/02

A message about not neglecting God’s house in order to build their own houses.

Hag. 2:1-9 (given in the seventh month).

Haggai’s prophecy was given on 07/21/02

The glory of the coming Temple will be greater than the former Temple.

:2 “The Lord has been very angry with your fathers.

:2 The Lord has been very angry

God had warned the nation through Moses eight hundred years before the captivity that if they continued to repeatedly disobey Him, He would scatter them among the nations. (Lev. 26:33).

(Leviticus 26:33 NKJV) I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.
That’s exactly what God allowed to happen.

:3 Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the Lord of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts.

:4 “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.” ’ But they did not hear nor heed Me,” says the Lord.

:4 the former prophets preached

Prophets like Isaiah, Hosea, and Jeremiah had been warning the people to turn from their sins with words like…

(Jeremiah 3:12 NKJV) …‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not remain angry forever.
And yet the people didn’t listen.

:5 “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever?

:6 Yet surely My words and My statutes, Which I commanded My servants the prophets, Did they not overtake your fathers? “So they returned and said: ‘Just as the Lord of hosts determined to do to us, According to our ways and according to our deeds, So He has dealt with us.’ ” ’ ”

:6 Did they not overtake your fathers?


Unchanging Word

The ancestors to the Jews had been warned by the prophets that the nation would one day be judged for its disobedience.
The people who lived just after the days of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel might be tempted to say, “Well we can breathe a sigh of relief, now that those trouble makers are gone!”
Yet the people living in Zechariah’s day have now seen that all that God foretold has come true, just like God promised.
The philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778) once said, “The Bible will be a short-lived book.” The years proved Voltaire to be wrong and the very house in which he lived was used to store Bibles.
The Communist dictionary issued by the Soviet State Publishing house describes the Bible as a “Collection of fantastic legends without scientific support.” Lenin once declared, “I expect to live long enough to attend the funeral of all religion.” Lenin has long since been dead (and the Soviet Union is gone), the Bible and religion has never been more alive.
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) once stated, “Within 50 years the Bible will be a forgotten Book.” But years later, the very press he used to print this statement was being used to print Bibles.
The Waldenses were persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church in the middle ages because they held strictly to the teaching of the Bible. They considered the Bible like an anvil. They had a saying:

Hammer away

Ye hostile hands!

Your hammers break;

God’s anvil stands.

The prophets may die, but God’s Word continues.
(Isaiah 40:6–8 NKJV) —6 The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
Do you think that the Bible is just another book, maybe even a good book, but it’s not that special?
The people of Zechariah’s day would urge you to think again.
What God promises will one day come to pass.
In particular, for our day and age, we need to remember that Jesus will indeed come again.

Are you ready for Him?

:3 Return to Me


Turn Around

Maybe you too have been far from God.
Maybe you too have come to the point where you realize that it’s time for things to change.
You will find that when you turn around, that God will not reject you.  Jesus said,
(John 6:37 NKJV) All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
God is waiting for you to turn around.
(James 4:8a NKJV) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Jesus told the story of a prodigal son who ran away to live a wild life.  When he finally came to his senses, he decided to go home. When he got close to the family ranch, he found that his father had actually been watching and waiting for him to turn around.
Video:  The Prodigal Son/Lumo Project

(Luke 15:20 NKJV) “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

Maybe you too have run away from God.  Did you know that He wants you to come back?  He is actually waiting for you.
It is kind of interesting to think that since the people are back in Jerusalem, why do they need to repent?  Didn’t they already do that?
The warning for all of us is to make sure we really learn the lessons of the past that we need to learn.
Any one of us can go back to our old lifestyle if we don’t pay attention to our relationship with Christ.

1:7-17 Horses & Comfort

:7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet:

:7 the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month

This prophecy comes three months after the first one.

On our calendar it is February 15, 519 BC.
This is also two months after Haggai’s final prophecies in 2:10-19 (encouragement to holiness), and 2:20-23 (assurance for Zerubbabel).

The implication is that the people have been listening to Haggai and Zechariah, and they have indeed repented.

:8 I saw by night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow; and behind him were horses: red, sorrel, and white.

:8 I saw by night

Technically this is called a “night vision”, where a person sees something while still awake.  This is not a dream.

There will be a total of 8 of these “night visions” given between here and chapter 6.  They are apparently all given on the same night.

:8 a man riding

We will see that this person will be identified later as the “Angel of the LORD” (vs. 11)

:8 the myrtle trees in the hollow

Myrtle trees are evergreen trees, and are particularly loved because of their beautiful flowers.

Nehemiah records that in his days that branches from myrtle trees were used to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Neh. 8:15)
(Nehemiah 8:15 NKJV) —15 and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.”
They are also found growing in the Kidron Valley, just below the Temple Mount, and it is thought that this is the “hollow” where Zechariah sees these horses and their riders.

:8 horses: red, sorrel, and white

Zechariah only mentions horses here, but there are actually riders on the horses who will all be giving their “reports” (vs. 11).

Sorrel is a reddish-brown color.

Some see symbolism in the colors of the horses, but I’m not spiritual enough to understand the symbolism. (I’m just not sure I buy the arguments for the symbolism in the colors)

:9 Then I said, “My lord, what are these?” So the angel who talked with me said to me, “I will show you what they are.”

:9 the angel who talked with me

The angel talking with Zechariah is not the one next to the trees.

This is just like Daniel and John’s experience with their visions where they are given their own personal angelic tour guide / interpreter.

This fellow is mentioned eleven times over the next six chapters.

(1:9, 13, 14; 2:2, 7; 4:1, 4, 5; 5:5, 10; 6:4)

:10 And the man who stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, “These are the ones whom the Lord has sent to walk to and fro throughout the earth.”

:10 the ones whom the Lord has sent

Zechariah’s question isn’t answered by the “tour guide” angel, it’s answered by the fellow on the red horse who is with the myrtle trees (more about him in a minute).

The idea is that these are God’s “scouts” who are on an assignment to report back to God about all the things that have been happening on the planet.


God knows

God is aware of what goes on with this planet.
(2 Chronicles 16:9 NKJV) For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…
These men on horses are angelic beings on patrol around the earth, these are the good guys.
Sometimes we get the idea that God is somehow unaware of what is going on in our lives.
Video:  Valspar Paint Video Call Commercial
Sometimes we think that God only sees what we show Him, but He sees more.  He sees everything.
 “Then why doesn’t He do something to help me?” you might ask.

Sometimes it’s just not the right time.

:11 So they answered the Angel of the Lord, who stood among the myrtle trees, and said, “We have walked to and fro throughout the earth, and behold, all the earth is resting quietly.”

:11 they answered the Angel of the Lord

The man among the myrtle trees is now identified as the “Angel of the Lord”.

The other angels are reporting to the main individual.

We will see a lot of this person in Zechariah’s book.
This is a specific phrase used to describe a specific person in the Old Testament.
The word “angel” (Hebrew, mal’ak) means a “messenger” or “representative”.  It doesn’t necessarily refer to the type of created being that we call “angels”.

Haggai was called God’s “messenger” (Hag. 1:13), same word.

(Haggai 1:13 NKJV) —13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, spoke the Lord’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you, says the Lord.”

The combination of these words (the angel of Yahweh) is a unique phrase that refers to a specific individual in the Old Testament who was both worshipped and called God.

We believe that this is the person of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament, appearing to men in His “preincarnate” (pre-birth) form.

He is found speaking with people like Abraham (Gen 22:11); Moses (Ex. 3:2); Gideon (Judg. 6), and many others …

:11 all the earth is resting quietly

The angels report that all the heathen nations are resting in prosperity (while Judah is still desolate).

:12 Then the Angel of the Lord answered and said, “O Lord of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?”

:12 these seventy years

The Temple in Jerusalem was in ruins from 586-516 BC.

:12 O Lord of hosts, how long

The issue is this – if the rest of the world is doing well, how come God’s people aren’t?

This is what God the Son is asking God the Father on behalf of the Jews.
We are going to see over the rest of the chapter how the Father answers Jesus.


He’s still praying

This is an example of Jesus interceding for His people.
He intercedes for us as well.
The writer to the Hebrews tells us:

(Hebrews 7:25 NKJV) Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Greg Laurie wrote an article a few days ago talking about how cool it would be to know that Billy Graham was praying for you every day.  Wouldn’t that be cool?

You’ve got somebody better than Billy praying for you.  Jesus is praying for you.

:13 And the Lord answered the angel who talked to me, with good and comforting words.

:13 comfortingnichuwm – comfort, compassion

God the Father answers God the Son’s prayer by giving Zechariah’s personal tour guide a message for Zechariah, one of comfort and compassion.

:14 So the angel who spoke with me said to me, “Proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I am zealous for Jerusalem And for Zion with great zeal.

:14 for Zion with great zeal

zealousqana– to envy, be jealous, be envious, be zealous

zealqin’ah ardour, zeal, jealousy

God’s jealousy isn’t a bad kind of jealousy.  God’s jealousy is described like a husband’s jealousy to protect his wife.  It speaks of His passion for us.

:15 I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease; For I was a little angry, And they helped—but with evil intent.”

:15 they helped—but with evil intent

God wanted Judah to experience judgment for their rebellion, and that was why God allowed the heathen nations to come against Judah. 

But the heathen nations went further than God wanted them to go.  They tried to wipe out the Jews.
So God is “exceedingly angry” with those nations.

It would be as if your child was misbehaving, and you decide it’s time to give your child a well-deserved “time out”.  And then a stranger steps in and starts hitting at your child with a baseball bat.

The heathen nations went too far in their dealings with Israel.
We will see God’s judgment on these nations played out in the rest of the chapter.

:16 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord: “I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house shall be built in it,” says the Lord of hosts, “And a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.” ’

:17 “Again proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; The Lord will again comfort Zion, And will again choose Jerusalem.” ’ ”

:16 a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out

The implication is that Jerusalem is going to be rebuilt.

At this point, much of Jerusalem is still a pile of rubble.

The Temple will be finished in 4 years, 516 BC. 

The walls around Jerusalem won’t be finished until Sept. 21, 444 B.C.

:17 My cities shall again spread out through prosperity

spread outpuwts – be scattered; to flow, overflow

God is promising that the land of Israel would grow and prosper in part because the nations went too far in their treatment of Israel.

It would happen after the days of Zechariah through AD 70 as the land of Israel grew stronger until the Romans wiped out the nation once again.
It is happening again today, as the Jews have come back into the land, partly in response to the treatment of the Jews by Germany.  Now they are “spreading out through prosperity”.

1:18-21 Horns & Craftsmen

In the Hebrew Bible, this is now chapter 2 (2:1-4).

:18 Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were four horns.

:18 there were four horns

This is another of Zechariah’s “night visions”.  It’s going to be a long night…

The horns he sees are probably something like the horns of an animal.

Horns often are a symbol of power.

:19 And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these?” So he answered me, “These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.”

:19 the horns that have scattered

The horns are a picture of the nations that have scattered God’s people.

There are lots of theories about who these “horns” are.

Some suggest they are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia.
I’m not sure how Egypt qualifies though as a nation that scattered Israel.
Some suggest that these are the same four nations seen in the visions of Daniel (Dan. 2,7) which would be:
Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.

The only problem here is that the Persian Empire brought the Jews back.  They didn’t scatter them.

My best guess is that these horns could be Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome

:20 Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen.

:20 four craftsmen

craftsmencharash craftsman, artisan, engraver, graver, artificer

The craftsmen take the raw material, like horns, and make something out of it.

:21 And I said, “What are these coming to do?” So he said, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one could lift up his head; but the craftsmen are coming to terrify them, to cast out the horns of the nations that lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it.”

:21 to cast out the horns of the nations

The Angel of Yahweh had asked earlier why the nations of the world were at ease while Judah was languishing.

Here we see that God has a plan for those who have abused His people.

The craftsmen would be the nations that would bring down the nations represented by the “horns”.

:17 will again comfort Zion


God is for you

Zechariah’s name means “God Remembers”.
The idea in this vision is that God has not forgotten Jerusalem.  He is still “for” them.
God promises to take care of their adversaries.  He will raise up “craftsmen” to cut down the “horns”.
We’ll see next week:

(Zechariah 2:8 NKJV) For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.

The “apple” of the eye is the pupil.

The idea is that the nations that try to attack Israel are actually poking God in the eye.

God cares so much for you that He takes it very personally when someone goes after you.

I wonder sometimes if we think that God is like a young Father who doesn’t know what to do for us as His children…
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I have news for you.  God is a good Father.  He knows exactly what you need.

Some may wonder if God is just a cranky old man up in heaven waiting to pound us into the ground in judgment?
(Romans 8:31–34 NKJV) —31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

God proved that He was not against you when He sent His Son to die on a cross and to take the judgment that we deserved.

Jesus isn’t the one who condemns, but the one who is praying for us.

God is for us.