Zechariah

Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 5)

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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.

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Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 4)

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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.

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Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 3)

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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

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Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 2)

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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)

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Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 1)

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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)

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One is not like the other ...

The Septuagint (“LXX”) is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, dating to sometime in the mid to early 2nd century B.C. It came about because many Jews living abroad, particularly in Egypt, had lost much of their ability to read and speak Hebrew. They need a translation of the Tanakh (the Hebrew Scriptures) in their own language. The Mediterranean culture was heavily influenced by Hellenism at this time; a legacy of Alexander the Great’s conquests. So, the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek.

This Greek version of the Tanakh was the version Jesus and the apostles used. The majority (but not all) of their Old Testament citations are from the Septuagint. This means the Septuagint is important.

I’m preaching from Zechariah 12:1 - 13:1 next week, as our congregation celebrates the Lord’s Supper. This passage contains the famous prophesy about the Israelites looking to Jesus, whom they pierced (Zech 12:10). This “piercing” clearly refers to Jesus’ death, and echoes an earlier prophet, Isaiah (“but He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities …” Isa 53:5). But, there’s an interesting problem. The LXX is different from the Hebrew!

One of these is not like the other

Here is the difference between the two:

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