The King Takes His Throne

Homework for August 11th:  Read Zechariah 13:7 through 14:21

Lesson for August 11th

Here is a summary of the second burden of God:  

God delivers His people, 12:1-9.  God’s deliverance here is Messianic, saving the people from their own failings.  The term “on that day” occurs five times in verses 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9.  God pours the spirit of Grace upon His people, 12:10-14. The idea of God’s grace has a Messianic tone to it.  The people mourn for the martyred Messiah, verse 10.  They mourn for his loss as well as for their own role in his execution. This all occurs “on that day”, verse 11. 

God’s grace brings forgiveness from sin, 13:1-6.  God offers a way for sin to be forgiven. Water is involved, 13:1.  The false prophets go into hiding because they cannot compete with God’s true word.  “On that day” occurs three more times here, in verses 1, 2, and 4.  God tests His people and they are proven, 13:7-9. The poem beginning in verse 7 speaks of God’s people being tested.  The faithful are refined, and God therefore calls them His own.  They also acknowledge God as Lord in verse 9.  

God’s people are tested and delivered, 14:1-5.  The testing of chapter 13:7-9 continues as a great army attacks Jerusalem, 14:2.  But God stands up to fight for them and He prevails.  

Tribulation brings redemption, 14:6-11.  On that day we see a glimmer of hope as we look past the time of trial in verses 6-7.  God offers the living water of salvation to His people, verse 8.  God destroys the enemies of His people, 14:12-15.  On that day the enemies of God’s people become like the walking dead.  Their hopelessness causes them to panic, verse 13.  

Finally, all nations are invited to receive the gift of God, 14:16-19.  The people of the foreign nations that do not devour one another are summoned to worship God. God makes holy all that choose Him, 14:20-21.  Everything becomes holy on that day.  

The King Fights for His People

Homework for July 28th:  Read Zechariah 12:1 through 13:6

Lesson for July 28th

The second “burden of the word of the Lord” runs from chapter 12 through 14.  This second prophecy concerns things to come in the future, and, rather than dealing with the physical nation of Israel, speaks of a New Jerusalem, the spiritual nation of Israel.  Two clues suggesting this are found in two verses in particular.  Zechariah 12:10 speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God extended to all people through the sacrifice of the “whom they pierced”.  Verse 13:1 speaks of the fountain of living water offered to the faithful.  This reference is quite similar to Jesus’ statement in John 4:14.  

In Zechariah’s first vision of chapter 1, God promises better days for the people of Israel, 1:17.  In the second Oracle we see this prophecy fulfilled in two ways:  through God’s protection of Israel as they rebuilt Jerusalem in Zechariah’s day, and as God provided His protection to the new spiritual Jerusalem, God’s church.  

It is important that we look at these last three chapters in the context of the New Kingdom replacing the old.  God becomes so frustrated with the “worthless shepherd” (see 11:15-17) that He sweeps away the old Israel to be replaced by the “New Israel”, the church.  God provides His protection toward this new nation.  We know that God protected Christianity by weakening the Roman Empire to the point that it no longer persecuted the people of God.  Rome fell, but the church still stands today.  

The King is Rejected

Homework for July 21st:  Read Zechariah 11

Lesson for July 21st

Summary of God’s message in 11:4-17.  God is unhappy with the leaders of Israel, 10:2-3.  So God directs Zechariah to take up the shepherd’s staff and lead the flock, verse 4.  Zechariah follows God’s command, but only the lowly of the flock recognize he is sent from God, verse 11.  The others hate him as a shepherd, verse 8.  When it comes time for his wages, Zechariah asks and they insult God by what they offer in payment, verse 12-13.  God tells Zechariah that Israel will choose to follow a wicked shepherd who will lead them to their destruction, verse 16.    

Zechariah takes on the task given him, and takes up the shepherd’s staff.  In fact, he takes up two staffs, each with its own symbolic meaning, verse 7.  One is called “Favor”, the other “Union” [NIV].  Zechariah becomes so discouraged by his role that he gives up on his flock.  He breaks the first staff, Favor (verse 10) showing that God will no longer provide special favor to Israel as a nation.  That relationship will come to an end.  

Zechariah, seeing that he is no longer effective in his role, asks for his wages, “pay me and I’ll be on my way”, verse 12.  Note that he allows the people to decide if he is even worthy of wages, “if it is agreeable…”  God is offended that they pay only the value of a wounded slave (see Exodus 21:32). The thirty pieces of silver were an insult to God for the work Zechariah had done.  They were even more of an insult when Judas accepted that price to betray his Savior.

The King and His Kingdom

Homework for July 14th:  Read Zechariah 9:1 through 10:12

Lesson for July 14th

In chapter 9 Zechariah begins by issuing a warning to the neighbors of Israel.  These warnings came to pass over the next 300 years.  Tyre fell at the hands of Alexander the Great.  Hadrach was wiped out with no trace left behind.  The people of Hamath were also eventually conquered and integrated among the other peoples of the region.  God here is reminding His people that He punishes other nations besides Israel.  God protects his people (9:8) by bringing down those around them that torment them. 

This passage also includes the great Messianic prophecy that was fulfilled in Matthew 21:5-11.  The King enters the city riding, not a war horse, but on a donkey, a symbol of peace. The kingdom of the Messiah was not to be won by violence, but would overcome the other nations without any war at all.  Consider how the kingdom that Jesus has established has outlasted so many of the great kingdoms of the world:  not by war or even political activism, but simply by Christians remaining faithful.  The Roman Empire crumbled under its own weight, while Christians quietly put their trust in God to provide for them.  

The Messiah is furthermore the cornerstone (10:4). While the shepherds of the people rejected Him, He rose again to be the chief cornerstone, fulfilling Psalms 118:22. See also Matthew 21:42.  

God’s Promise of Restoration (Chapter 8)

Homework for July 7th:  Read Zechariah 8:1-23

Lesson for July 7th

God’s promises made in chapter 8 suggest a twofold fulfillment.  In the near term, the people will see Jerusalem return to being a city that is safe and prosperous.  Further down the line, Jerusalem (perhaps a figurative, rather than literal city) will become the center for those that seek to worship Jehovah. 

The “Holy Mountain” mentioned in verse 3 is a reference to Isaiah’s prophecy when he said, “the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains” (Isaiah 2:2).  God promised to establish a kingdom greater than all the kingdoms of the world. Isaiah foresaw it, and here in Zechariah 8, he repeats the promise.  

The Path to Restoration

Homework for June 30th:  Read Zechariah 7:1-14.  

Lesson for June 30th 

Chapter 1 takes place during the second year of King Darius of Persia.  The dreams recorded in chapters 1 through 6 apparently came to Zechariah during that timeframe. Two years later, Zechariah receives another message from God, which he reports beginning in chapter 7.  This new message returns back to the original message concerning the need for obedience.  Notice how 1:4-6 proclaims a similar message to 7:8-12.  

God calls upon his people to turn their eyes to Him. Fasting is not a time for self-pity, it is a time to look towards God in a spirit of repentance.  Feasting is not a time to congratulate ourselves on our successes, it is a time to thank God for His many blessings. 

The fast in the fifth month was a tradition that dated back to the beginning of the Babylonian captivity.  Since they could not worship in Jerusalem after the exile, they declared a fast instead.  God answers the question from Zechariah 7:3 with a question:  Is your fast self-centered, or God-centered?  God’s response as He continues in verses 8-12 is that they are asking the wrong question and focusing on the wrong thing. God cares about how they treat one another, not so much about their adherence to religious traditions.  

The chapter continues with a call for the people to do the good works that had always been expected of them, but that they seldom followed.  Their forefathers had been overcome by the temptation to take advantage of others in any way they could.  This is why Zechariah 7:11-14 is written in the past tense.  Their forefathers had been cautioned (see Jeremiah 7:3-7, Micah 6:6-8, Hosea 6:4-6, Ezekiel 18:5-9), but they did not listen to the warnings of God’s prophets.  

Prophecy of the Priest - King

Homework for June 23rd:  Read Zechariah 6:9-15.  

Lesson for June 23rd 

In the prophecy in Zechariah 6:9-15, the prophet is called upon to meet three Jews who are delivering a gift from Babylon.  They are instructed to fashion a crown for Joshua, the high priest.  This seems to be a contradiction, as the crown should be reserved for the Ruler, or King.  These apparent contradictions continue through the remainder of this passage.  

Zechariah reports that the Messiah is to take on dual roles as both High Priest and King.  This is clearly fulfilled in Jesus, and is beautifully explained in Hebrews, as the writer identifies Jesus as both Priest and King in Hebrews 1:3.  

Finally, notice the admonition at the end of verse 15. “And this shall come to pass if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Zechariah’s message has remained consistent, all the way back to chapter 1.

Zechariah’s Dreams Conclude (part 4)

Homework for June 16th:  Read Zechariah 6:9-15.  

Lesson for June 16th 

Chapters 3 and 4 turn attention towards two of Zechariah’s contemporaries.  Joshua, a descendant of Aaron (see 1 Chronicles 6:1-14 and Haggai 1:12), was the High Priest residing among the people.  Zerubbabel was the governor appointed by the King of Persia, but also the grandson of the last King of Israel (see Matthew 1:12).  So the anointed King and High Priest take center stage during these two dreams. 

First things first:  Joshua must be cleansed of his sin if he is to serve as God’s high priest. Satan tries to accuse him, but by God’s grace and mercy Joshua is cleansed and the Devil is rebuked.  

Second, Zerubbabel is called upon to lead the people in the reconstruction of the temple.  The foundation had already been laid (4:9), but the prophecy is certain and sure that Zerubbabel will also place the capstone (4:7) as the people call upon God to bless the completed structure.  

The combined efforts of Joshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel the surrogate King (a direct ancestor of Jesus, see Matt 1:12) are needed to lead the Jews forward both economically and spiritually.  

Zechariah’s Dreams Continue (part 3)

Homework for June 9th:  Read the next pair of Zechariah’s dreams, 2:1-13 and 5:1-4.  

Lesson for June 9th 

Zechariah wastes little time announcing the coming of the Messiah.  In 2:9, the One speaking says, “Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me.” God was ready to send Immanuel to live among His people.  

Furthermore, in 2:11 Zechariah uses the phrase “in that day”. Zechariah will go on to use this phrase a total of 20 times.  “That day” refers to the days of the Messiah’s kingdom.  As we continue through Zechariah, notice the times he uses this phrase and how it connects to the Messiah.  

At the same time the Messiah is introduced, God is building His city for His chosen people, “the apple of His eye” (2:8).  The inhabitants are not born into His kingdom like the Israelites, they choose to abandon the wickedness in their past (5:3) and live a life of righteous obedience to God.  This choice gains them entry into the city of “New Jerusalem”.  

Zechariah’s Dreams - Part 2

Homework for June 2nd:  Read the next pair of Zechariah’s dreams, 1:18-21 and 5:5-11. 

Lesson for June 2nd

The nation of Israel split into two kingdoms in the time of Rehoboam, son of Solomon.  The kingdom called “Israel” was led by Jeroboam, of the tribe of Ephraim.  The kingdom referred to as “Judah” was led by Rehoboam of the tribe of Judah and lineage of David.  

The kingdom of Israel quickly fell away from obedience to the law of Moses.  God punished them by sending the Assyrian empire to conquer them in about 721 BC. The kingdom of Judah also fell away from obedience, but much later.  God sent the Babylonian empire to conquer them in about 588 BC. 

When the first group of 50,000 Jews returned to Jerusalem some 70 years later, they had still not made a renewed commitment to God, His law, and to proper worship.  So years passed before they rededicated themselves to obedience and their work for God. 

Zechariah’s dreams - part 1 

Homework for May 26th:  Read the first and last of Zechariah’s dreams, 1:7-17 and 6:1-8.  It would also be very helpful to read the book of Haggai (only three pages) to see his perspective on what was happening in Jerusalem at this time.  

Lesson for May 26th.

Zechariah’s eight dreams can best be understood by reviewing them in pairs.  The first and the eighth make a pair.  Then the second and the seventh are a pair.  Also the third pairs with the sixth, and the fourth with the fifth.  The Bible Project video on Zechariah does an excellent job explaining this.  

We know from our own experience that dreams are strange. Zechariah is no exception.  But in his case, God enclosed messages inside these bizarre dreams.  These messages were meant for the people of Israel, to encourage them to be obedient to God’s commands.  

In the days of Zechariah, God had provided “rest” to the nations by establishing the Persian Kingdom over the land of Israel, and eastward. This kingdom kept the peace.  There was no war in the Middle East at that time. This was the “rest” Zechariah referred to in his first dream (1:11).  But the Jews who had returned to their homeland with the permission of Cyrus, endured great difficulty rebuilding their city and establishing themselves back in Jerusalem.  It wasn’t until they became obedient to the teaching of Haggai and Zechariah, and finished rebuilding the temple, that Israel found rest.  

introduction to Zechariah

Homework for May 19th:  

Read the book of Ezra.  You can skip the sections where Ezra cataloged the families that returned to Palestine with him (2:1-67, 8:1-14, 10:20-43).  

Lesson for May 19th

 Background on Zechariah

In 538 BC King Cyrus of Persia released the Jewish people to return to their homeland.  They gradually moved back, with one of the first migrations led by the prophet Ezra. They immediately began to rebuild the temple, but quickly became distracted and temple construction halted for many years.  

Two prophets returned with the people.  Haggai and Zechariah were leaders among the people and shared God’s prophecies with the Jews (Ezra 5:1, 6:14).  Haggai bluntly announced that they struggled because they had neglected reconstruction of the temple (Haggai 1:3-8).  Zechariah called the people to obedience, proclaiming their submission to God’s commands were a condition for receiving His favor.  Under the leadership of Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah, the Jews finally finished reconstruction of the temple about 20 years after they had started.  

As Zechariah’s writing continues, he shares with his readers the blessings awaiting God’s faithful servants.  God will establish His kingdom, and they must be prepared to become citizens of this new kingdom, or be left behind.