Joy

Explore the Bible Series

August 5, 2007

 

Background Passage: Zechariah 9:1-14:21

Lesson Passage: Zechariah 9:9; 12:10; 13:1, 7-9; 14:3-4; 5-9

 

Introduction: All scholars agree that the Ninth Chapter of Zechariah marks a major change in the prophecy.Since the Seventeenth Century, questions have arisen concerning the unity of the book, prompting many to believe that this section was written many years after the first eight chapters.Some of the questions revolve around linguistic differences, and theological distinctives, for others, raise doubts about the unity of the book.In particular, liberal scholars struggle with the mention of Greece in Zechariah 9:13. Some have suggested that the book describes the period of Alexander the Great or perhaps even the Maccabean Period. Edward J. Young, in his helpful Introduction to the Old Testament, provides a good summary of the issues at stake, and he also defends the traditional view of the authorship of Zechariah.We might devote some consideration to Youngís major arguments.

 

Above all, these chapters center on Messianic themes, just as we have seen in the first portion of the prophecy.Like Isaiah, Zechariah has a strong evangelical thrust, and the Christocentric nature of the writing provides ample material for teachers and preachers to proclaim the glory of the Savior. This feature of the prophecy knits the entire book together and befits its unity.

 

The linguistic differences may denote the prophetís intelligence and impressive command of the Hebrew language.Moreover, careful students will find similarities in vocabulary in the two major sections of the book.Frankly, I have never understood this kind of argument.Gifted writers often use archaic terms to draw attention to some aspect of their thought. Furthermore, Zechariah claimed that his thoughts arose from divine inspiration, and, if one takes this claim seriously, even the future is not hidden from the Holy Spirit. The futuristic elements of prophecy only become a problem for literary critics who reject the supernatural nature of these writings.

 

Young made a final point that deserves consideration. The liberal scholars have found no consensus in their interpretations of Zechariahís prophecy.If the apparent anomalies do not clearly indicate a particular period of time, then perhaps the contradictions do not exist.

 

The Book of Zechariah concludes with glorious affirmations of Godís superintendence of human history and wondrous, detailed promises concerning the Messiah.Focus on these joyous truths as we consider the last five chapters of Zechariah.

 

 

 

 

Outline of the Background Passage:

 

I.                   The First Oracle: Godís Sovereignty Over the Nations of the Earth (9:1-11:17)

A.    Godís displeasure with the nations (9:1-8): Like other Old Testament prophets, Zechariah described his message as a ďburdenĒ.It is a mistake to envision these men as mean-spirited preachers who delighted in their proclamations of judgment; rather, they grieved for the impending destruction of the sinful nations.In this case, Zechariah highlighted Godís displeasure with the Medo/Persians, the Phoenicians, and the Philistines.

B.     The promised King of Zion (9:9-17): Pointing forward to Christís Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, the prophet anticipated the arrival of a great King, a Monarch who, through Godís covenant of blood, would vindicate the Lordís people and establish his universal, sovereign rule. Like a great warrior, the King will champion the cause of his people and establish them in glorious victory and blessing.

C.     Godís salvation from the foolishness of idolatry (10:1-12): The prophet recounted the horrific history of idolatry among the Jews.Foolishly, the shepherds (leaders) of Israel had enticed the people into the pagan worship that characterized the nations of the Middle East, and, in doing so, these leaders kindled the Lordís anger against their paganism.However, Godís transforming grace, according to Zechariah, was poised to bring reformation to Israel.The Lord promised to strengthen Israel like a great army and restore the former glory of Jerusalem.

D.    The Rejection of the Shepherd (11:1-17): This poetic section is difficult to interpret.As I understand the material, Godís dissatisfaction with Israelís shepherds will culminate in the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish leaders.Their hostility toward the Messiah will, in some sense, be symbolized in the betrayal of Judas for thirty pieces of silver (See vv. 12-13).This refusal to embrace the Messiah will lead God to annul his covenant with the nations (v. 10) and the relationship between Israel and Judah (v. 14).

 

II.                The Second Oracle: The Salvation of the Lord (12:1-14:21)

A.    Godís defense of his people (12:1-9): The second message, in this latter section of Zechariah, begins with an affirmation of Godís vindication of Judah. Jehovah warned the nations of the peril of attacking Judah, and he pledged o fortify his people.Judah will devour her enemies like a blazing fire consumes dry sheaves.

B.     The grace of God through the Messiah (12:10-14): The reference to the one who as pierced certainly denotes the Savior. The people will receive the spirit of grace and mercy as they look upon the one who was pierced for them.††

C.     The Shepherd struck for the idolatry of the people (13:1-9): This chapter begins with a description of godís hatred for paganism, a sin made more heinous because it surfaced so frequently among Godís people.The land teemed with false prophets, prophets whom the Lord promised to remove from the people.Their shameful idolatry, evidenced by their self mutilation (See v. 6), gave unmistakable evidence of the depths of their sin.Amazingly, the prophecy predicts that God himself will strike his chosen Shepherd, and, in doing so, Jehovah will separate the true believers (the one third) from those who merely pretend at their faith (the two thirds).Furthermore, God warned that he would test his people in the fires of affliction in order to refine and test them.

D.    The coming day of the Lord (14:1-21): The Prophecy of Zechariah concludes with a prediction of a final judgment that will come upon the nations.A great cataclysm will come to Jerusalem, and the Lord will defeat the assembled armies of the nations.Great glory will flow from Jerusalem and the Lord will reign in power over the nations of the earth.After all of this catastrophic destruction, the Lord will rule over his people in wondrous blessing and glory, a glory symbolized in a restoration of the Feast of Booths.This ancient celebration marked Israelís deliverance from the bondage of Egypt and the fruitful bounty of the Lordís blessing on the Jews once thy entered the land of promise.