Understanding Zechariah (01) - Introduction and Background

Date: 1/10/2018
More audio from All Saints Church
Type: Lecture
Topic: Zechariah
Organization: All Saints
Price: FREE

Evening Bible Study

Introduction - Zechariah is a post-exilic prophet and is the last and longest of the “Book of the Twelve” minor prophets (211 vss). Little is know of the life of the prophet, however, “His name is in the titles of Pss 137, 145–50 in the LXX; in the titles of Pss 111, 145 in the Vulgate; and in the titles to Pss 125, 145–48 in the Syriac” (Smith, WBC). The prophet Haggai and Zechariah worked together (Ezr. 5:1) in calling for completing the second temple after persecution halted its building (Ezr. 1, 4:6; Zech. 4:9, 6:12). A difficult book, described as “obscure” by Jerome (Latin Vulgate), yet it is "the most quoted section of the prophets in the passion narratives of the Gospels and, next to Ezekiel, [it] has influenced the author of Revelation more than any other Old Testament writer” (Baldwin, Tyndale). For example we find, 13:7–9, the smitten shepherd and the scattered sheep; 9:16, the thankless flock; 9:9–10, behold, your king; 14:4, the Day of the Lord; 11:12 thirty pieces of silver; 12:10, the pierced one; 14:21 the expulsion of traders from the temple (FF Bruce cited in Smith, WBC). Zech. is “the most Messianic, the most truly apocalyptic and eschatological, of all the writings of the OT” (Barker, EBC). “The book prepares God’s people for the worst calamity they can ever face, the triumph of evil over good. Even God’s representative dies at the hand of evil men” (Baldwin). Many critical scholars divide the book in two sections by two different writers (“First/Proto” Zech. 1-8; “Second/Deutero” Zech. 9-14) because of stylistic differences. However, the outline, below, demonstrates the unity of the book, as well as many other considerations.Setting of Zechariah - Zechariah means, “Yahweh has remembered.” Zechariah was a priest as well as a prophet (Neh. 12:16) during the days of Haggai. Zechariah’s first prophecy is only 2 months after Haggai’s prophecy in 520 B.C. We read of the background in Ezra 4:24–5:2: “Then work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased, and it was stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. 5:1 When the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them, 5:2 then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them supporting them.”

Sections of Zechariah - Zechariah is divided into two main sections, chapters 1-8 and 9-14. Chapters 1-8 clearly address the days of the rebuilding of the temple (the second temple), in such visions as: The Horses Patrolling the Earth (1:7-17), The Four Horns and Four Craftsmen (1:18-21) dealing with four empires, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome; The Measuring Line (2). The Filthy Garments of Joshua the High Priest Removed (3), The Lampstand and Two Olive Trees (4). The Flying Scroll (5:1-4), relating to stealing and swearing; The Flying Basket (5:5-10); The Four War Chariots (6:1-8); The Symbolic Coronation of Joshua the High Priest (6:9-15), The Question of Fasting (7-8), fasts shall become festivals. The second section, Chapters 9-14 are some of the most difficult prophetic passages in Scripture. Generally, the first section (9-11) address the Restoration of Judah and Destruction of Her Enemies. These include Damascus, Tyre and Sidon, Philistia (9:1-8) and Egypt, Assyria (10:3b – 11:3). Many detailed Messianic prophecies are found in these chapters: “humble and riding upon a donkey” (9:9-10), “30 Pieces of Silver” (11:12) prophecy. The second portion relates to God’s Intervention on Behalf of His People (12-14) and includes the texts, “They shall look on Him whom they have pierced...” (12:10), “a fountain will be opened...for sin and for impurity” (13:1). “Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered” (13:7), etc.

Success of Zechariah - Like Haggai, Zechariah finally addresses the glory of Zion in the last passage (14:16-21). In the time of gospel fulfillment (which take to be the new covenant era), the nations will “go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths . . . In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “HOLY TO THE LORD.” And the cooking pots in the LORD’S house will be like the bowls before the altar. Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the LORD of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts in that day.”

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more