Explore the Bible Series
July 15, 2007
Background Passage: Zechariah 1:1-3:10
Lesson Passage: Zechariah 1;1-6; 2:7-13
Introduction: Old Testament scholars have debated the unity of the Book of Zechariah for years. Many detect a radical break between Chapters Nine and Ten, and these scholars tend to date the second section of the book quite late, long after the life of Zechariah. If Bible students have a particular interest in the contours of that debate, I recommend Dr. E.J. Young’s excellent little summary in An Introduction to the Old Testament (See pp. 277-383). Young provides coherent, concise arguments for the unity of the book, arguments that I find persuasive and helpful.
Zechariah is the most apocalyptic of the Minor Prophets, and these prophetic elements provide a challenge for Bible students. During seminary years, Dr. Huber Drumright occasionally compared apocalyptic literature to viewing a mountain range; sometimes it is difficult to gauge the distance from one mountain (prophetic event) to another. These prophecies, at times, seem a bit puzzling, and I claim no ingenious insight into the ultimate meaning of much of what appears in Zechariah. Nevertheless, this lesson will attempt to decipher difficult passages and shed some light on Zechariah’s meaning. The task calls for humility and studious discipline.
The Book of Zechariah shares a similar historical background with the Prophecy of Haggai; therefore, this lesson includes comments from the previous lesson concerning the historical dynamics that shaped the ministries of these men.
Material from Last Week’s Lesson
God sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to challenge the
backslidden conditions of Post-Exilic Judah in the late Sixth Century B.C. As we shall see, the exiles had returned to
After early progress on
I. The Theme of the Book of Zechariah (1:1-6)
A. Introduction (v. 1): Zechariah introduces himself as “the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo.” Young surmised that this Iddo might well be identified with the man mentioned in Nehemiah 12:1-16. If so, Zechariah descended from the line of Jewish priests, and he may be the man mentioned in Nehemiah 12:16. The prophet received his message during the reign of Darius, about the same time of the ministry of Haggai.
vow to return to his people (vv. 2-6): Zechariah reminded
II. The First Vision: The Horsemen (1:7-17)
A. The appearance of the horseman and his retinue (vv. 7-9): A rider, seated on a red horse, appeared to the prophet, and three other horsemen attend the central figure in the vision. Zechariah expressed his perplexity at the vision and asked an angel to identify the riders.
B. The identity of the horsemen (vv. 10-11): a man, standing among myrtle trees observed that these angelic beings had ridden throughout the earth, and they concluded, as they rode, that the earth was at peace.
angels’ intercession for
The Second Vision: The Horns and Smiths (1:18-21): This
brief oracle signaled the destruction of nations that had troubled (or will
IV. The Third Vision: The Man with the Measuring Line (2:1-13)
encounter with the man (vv. 1-5): The prophet saw a young man, a builder who
planned to measure out the dimensions of rebuilt
glorious invitation (vv. 6-9): God summoned the exiles to return to
C. A call to worship (vv. 10-13): notice the balance between singing and silence. The paragraph begins with the tumult of praise. God’s promise to dwell with his people should be met with exuberant worship: nevertheless, the glory of this deliverance must also evoke a reverent silence before the majestic presence of the Lord. All true worship must include both exuberance and reverence.
V. The Fourth Vision: The High Priest Joshua (3:1-10)
cleansing of the priesthood (vv. 1-5): The High Priest Joshua, in a sense,
symbolizes the spiritual defilement of the nation. The priests stood in a mediating position
between God and the people; yet, the ancient priests had defiled themselves
with the paganism that characterized the nations of the
1. a brand plucked from the fire: this image depicts God’s mercy toward the priesthood and the people. The brand, engulfed in the fire, is snatched from certain destruction.
2. removal of defiled garments: The garments, of course, reflect the moral defilement of the priesthood. The angel commands that attendants remove the filthy clothing and replace the soiled items with clean vestments.
messianic promise (vv. 6-10): After the attendants purified Joshua, the angel
gave the priest a solemn charge. The
redeemed servant must walk in righteousness before the Lord, and, if he remains
pure, God would grant him a place among the hosts of heaven. The Lord pledged to raise up a Branch (See
Isaiah 11:1) and a Stone (Psalm 118:22) to bring redemption to the House of
Judah. The “seven eyes”, it seems, represent God’s watchful care over his
people, and the engraved inscription denotes his determination to forgive the