Series - Covenants

Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 5)

Read the series.

The Times of the Coming King1

The last three chapters of the book of Zechariah document circumstances surrounding the advent of the coming Ruler, the Messiah. The oracle opens with a battle against Jerusalem (Zech. 12:1-9). The text indicates that Jerusalem and its rulers will be used as a means of judgment against the surrounding nations (Zech. 12:9). Not that Jerusalem gets off scott free. But this scene emphasizes the Lord’s role in defending His people. The next scene (Zech. 12:10-14) shows God eliciting repentance in the several families of Israel through two corresponding events; the pouring out the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of grace and supplication,” and the people catching sight of One “whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10).2

It is worth noting that the advent itself, as stunning as it will be, will not be enough to turn the hearts of the Jewish people to this personage, their long-promised Messiah. The deep mourning that will result from the realization that Israel has “thrust through” (daqar) when He first came to them, will be wrought by the Holy Spirit. In the final analysis, such is the corruption of human nature that it takes the special conviction of God the Spirit to open eyes and hearts so that sinners both see and feel the truth.

1216 reads

Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 4)

Read the series.

The Prophet as Actor and Two Covenants

In various parts of the Old Testament some of the prophets were ordered to act out a scenario as a pictorial revelation to onlookers. In 1 Kings 20:35f. a prophet asked a man to strike him so that he could act the part of a careless guard who had lost his prisoner in order to make his tale a parable of the king’s release of the Syrian Ben-Hadad. Isaiah was commanded to walk around virtually naked for three years as a sign that the Egyptians would be shamed by the Assyrians (Isa. 20). Jeremiah broke pottery at Hinnom (Jer. 19). Ezekiel was to enact a miniature siege against the ten tribes for 390 days, lying on his left side, and then do the same for 40 days on his right side laying siege against a portrayal of Judah (Ezek. 4). And of course Hosea married an unfaithful woman to dramatize Israel’s unfaithfulness to her Husband, Yahweh (Hos. 1 – 3). Each of these actions, and others besides, had predictive elements which were central to their message.

1111 reads

Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 3)

Read the series.

The Ominous Visions of Chapter Five

There is without any doubt an eeriness about the two visions of Zechariah 5. The flying scroll he sees first (Zech. 5:1-4) is thirty feet long (which is somewhat out of the ordinary), and fifteen feet wide (which definitely is).1 Unger comments,

Since these measurements are the exact size of the tabernacle in the wilderness, as may be computed from the boards used to build it (Exod. 26:15-25), the indication is that the judgments proceeding were in accordance with the holiness of the Lord’s habitation in the midst of Israel.2

Surely Zechariah, as a priest (cf. Neh. 12:16) would not have allowed this fact to pass him bye. From verses 3 and 4 we see that the scroll represents a “curse” against the malpractices of the people. God after the Exile is just as relentlessly against iniquity as He was before. But some think that the vision best suits a post-second advent context; a time when Christ reigns in justice with “a rod of iron” (Psa. 2:8-9; Rev 2:27).3

1184 reads

Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 2)

Read the series.

The Branch Builds Yahweh’s Temple

But the scene changes when three visitors from Babylon leave a gift of silver and gold (Zech. 6:9-10).1 From these precious materials he is told to make a crown, and then do an odd thing with it; place it on the head of Joshua the high priest (Zech. 6:11).2 Then he is to utter certain words, words which cannot pertain to Joshua himself, but of which he plays a symbolic part in illustrating.

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;

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.’ (Zechariah 6:12-13)

2016 reads

Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 1)

Read the series.

Zechariah was active from 520 to about 480 B.C. He is mentioned along with Haggai in Ezra 5:1 and 6:14. His post-exilic book is remarkable for its imagery1 and for its sustained messianism. This has caused some interpreters to despair at an interpretation, especially of its first and last thirds.2 His use of covenant terminology is confined to two enigmatic passages (Zech. 9:11; 11:10). There are covenant intimations in the book (e.g. Zech. 6:15). But it is apparent that in most everything he says the great biblical covenants are behind it. The book opens with God’s overture to His people:

The Lord has been very angry with your fathers. 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.’ (Zechariah 1:2-3)

884 reads

Covenant in Ezekiel, Part 5

Read the series.

A Literal Reading

The structure of Ezekiel reaches its crescendo in the theme of the returning Glory to the Temple in Ezekiel 43:1-7.1 This return must be linked with the abandonment of Solomon’s Temple by the Glory-cloud in chapter 11. There is a narrative-theological arc extending from Ezekiel 8 and 11 over to Ezekiel 43.

This arc from a literal temple to what is often taken to be a spiritual temple at the end of the book, looks hermeneutically unbalanced and forced upon the prophet’s words. But if this arc and the other details in this section can be adequately accounted for by not spiritualizing them, then the theological fallout is immense.2 The strongly covenantal connections involved would, for example, stimulate a long overdue examination of God’s eternal covenant of peace with Phinehas (Num. 25:10-13) and his descendants the Zadokites (cf. 1 Chron. 6:4-8).

904 reads

Covenant in Ezekiel, Part 4

Read the series.

Gog and Magog Against Israel

There has been a lot of debate about Ezekiel 38 and 39. Those who think they ought to be read symbolically appeal to the apocalyptic character of the descriptions.1 But it appears sometimes that appeals to certain genres are a little too convenient; the word being placed over the text like a kind of detour sign in the middle of a road, preventing people from drawing the “wrong” conclusion. Other expositors find little difficulty with unpacking the details of the two oracles, other than the identification of the names and places.2 Stuart, Alexander, and others have shown that it is unwise to attempt to identify “Rosh” in these chapters with modern Russia. No one can pinpoint “Rosh” as an ancient land,3 and students of the Bible are not to try to surmise predictions of future nations from mere names. We are not to read Holy Scripture like the quatrains of Nostradamus. All commentators seem to agree that Ezekiel 38-39 is for the purpose of reasserting God’s defense of Israel.4

1131 reads

Covenant in Ezekiel, Part 3

Read the series.

A Valley Full of Dry Bones

The first vision in Ezekiel 37 is the best known in the book. If people are ignorant of everything else in the book, they are often aware of the valley of dry bones, though frequently they have no idea what it means. It surely doesn’t help when commentators apply the whole passage to the Christian church.

The bones stretch out over a wide area, and the prophet is given an aerial view of them. When the inspection is over, God asks Ezekiel, “Son of man,1 can these bones live?” (Ezek. 37:3). The prophet is wise. He knows that the answer to all such questions lies with the living God. So, the Lord gives Ezekiel a command to speak over the bones, and as He speaks the words of God the bones came together and flesh covered them (Ezek. 37:7-8). As so often in the biblical record, the Lord does not bypass the human instruments He has created to exercise dominion upon earth. Ezekiel speaks for God and God’s power stands behind the words.

1108 reads

Pages