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June 17, 2018
The Word of the LORD
Return to Me that I may return to you.
The meaning of the name Zechariah is “the Lord remembers.” The Zechariah of our study is a prophet contemporary with Haggai. Together, they encouraged the returned remnant to complete the rebuilding of the temple. The dates of his work are given as “the second year of Darius the king,” which would be 520 BC, and the final date given to his series of visions was “in the fourth year of king Darius,” which would be 518 BC.
Zechariah is like the writings of Ezekiel, some of Daniel, and Revelation as being apocalyptic in style—much of their message is written with symbolic or figurative language. The word of the LORD which came to Zechariah is about returning to God and is also highly Messianic.
No one will fully work for God until his heart is humbled in repentance, so, the appeal from the prophet is for the people to return to the LORD—“Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Return to Me,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘that I may return to you,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 1:3). He reminds the people of the calamities which came upon them in times past and urges them to be not like their fathers who disregarded God’s word. He sees eight visions which are designed to exhort and encourage.
The Rider And Horsemen Among The Myrtle Trees (1:7-17). The point of this first vision is to assure God’s people that the temple will be rebuilt. It come just after the work had begun. Although He was angry with them and brought deserved punishment upon them, He had also promised to restore Israel after seventy years (see Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10; 2Chronicles 36:20-23). This prophecy has a double fulfillment. First, the physical rebuilding of Jerusalem would be accomplished, but secondly, God will “again choose Jerusalem” predicts a future fulfillment which came to pass in the spiritual age under the Messiah (see Zechariah 2:1-12).
The Four Horns And The Four Carpenters (1:18-21). The point of this vision is that their enemy powers will be cast down. In this second vision Zechariah sees four horns which had scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. The horns here represent the hostile powers which had scattered God’s people. He also saw four craftsmen who had come to terrify the powers and throw down the horns of the nations which sought further destruction of Jerusalem. The people are assured that the time has come to build the temple, and the LORD will tolerate no interference.
The Man With The Measuring Line (2:1-13). The object of this vision is to give understanding of God’s ultimate purpose. Jerusalem will be restored now, but the long range plan and purpose of God is to build a spiritual Jerusalem which will be unlimited in size (see Zechariah 9:9-10). In the spiritual Jerusalem, expansion will be continually possible while God will stand as the protecting wall. He will defeat the enemy (see Habakkuk 2:6-8; Haggai 2:6-7). This vision looks beyond the present age to the future glory of the Messianic era. “In that day” many nations (gentiles) shall be joined to the Lord (Isaiah 2:2-4). What more graphic prediction could be given to the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham? The time was coming when “in you shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3; Galatians 3:26-29).
The Trial And Acquittal Of The High Priest, Joshua (3:1-10). The point of this vision is to announce the cleansing of the priesthood, which enabled them to officiate for the people and to bring them back to God. Zechariah sees the high priest, Joshua, standing before the angel of the Lord and being accused by Satan. Joshua is representative of the entire priesthood and through them the whole nation. The filthy clothes are symbolic of the sins of the people—Satan could accuse him of being unfit for service before the Lord (Isaiah 64:6). When Joshua is given a change of clean clothes, it symbolizes that God has “taken your iniquity away.” Now, the high priest would 1) rule and direct God’s house; 2) keep the courts of the Lord’s house free from pollution; 3) have full access to the Lord on behalf of the people. This vision ends with the promise that God will send His servant “the Branch” (see Isaiah 4:2; 11:1-10; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Zechariah 6: 12-13). The ultimate fulfillment of what God had just promised Joshua would be realized in the Messiah, the full and complete High Priest.
The Golden Candlestick And Two Olive Trees (4:1-14). The message of this vision is to assure Zerubbabel that God would enable him to complete the task of rebuilding the temple. When Zechariah asked the meaning of this vision he was told that it symbolized a message to Zerubbabel. No doubt Zerubbabel had reasons for discouragement because the task of rebuilding the temple had faltered. However, God assured him that the work would be completed, but not because of human strength or power, but “by My Spirit”! The obstacles before him may seem like a mountain, but God could turn them into a level “plain.” Negative complaining would be turned to optimism and joy as they saw the power of God to accomplish His promised word. The olive trees are symbolic. God ordained two offices to lead His people: civil and religious. Zerubbabel was the civil leader as governor, and Joshua was the religious leader as high priest. God’s spirit provided the oil (God’s word), but these two leaders were ordained to administer the word and to give the people guidance in the ways of the Lord.
The Flying Scroll (5:1-4). The object of this vision is to show that the curse of God would be upon those who are dishonest. A curse against stealing is written on one side of the scroll and a curse against false swearing is written on the other side. The roll goes over the whole earth, but the curse only enters into the house of the violator where the sinner is “cut off” and his household is destroyed. These crimes which contributed to the downfall of both Israel (Hosea 4:2-3) and Judah (Micah 2:2-3) will now be removed from God’s people.
The Woman In The Ephah (5:5-11). When the temple is rebuilt, the land will be purified from wickedness. In this seventh vision Zechariah saw a woman sitting inside an ephah which had a lead cover. An “ephah” was used by the Hebrews as a large dry measure. It was in the shape of a basket or barrel which held between six to seven gallons. The angel explained, “This is wickedness.” Then he covered the woman inside the ephah with the heavy lead weight. Two women came and transported this “wickedness” out of the land. Each of these last two visions show that God wants His people to be purged of evil so that they would be holy even as He is holy.
The Four Chariots (6:1-8). The earth is at peace under the protection providence of God. Zechariah sees four chariots drawn by different colored horses which come from between two bronze mountains. Horses of the same colors are pictured in the vision John sees in Revelation 6: 1-8. The angel explains that these are four spirits which go forth from the presence of the LORD. God’s judgment is universal—they went in opposite directions throughout the earth. The end result is that the Lord’s spirit is quieted as they patrol the earth.
Some may ask, “What do these words from God have to do with me?” While it is true that the first to hear these words were the people of the remnant engaged in rebuilding, there is certainly a faith building message for us of the Messiah. Also, there are some very practical principles to grasp.
Notice the principle given in Zechariah 1:5-6. Because of the frailty of flesh men live and die, but God’s word will endure forever (1Peter 1:23-25). Whether men accept or reject God’s word will not alter its effectiveness. Whatever God purposes to do, He will bring it to pass. Don’t neglect obedience even if you think God’s plan is taking too long (2Peter 3:9; James 1:22-25; Hebrews 2:1-4).
Notice also the principle shown in Zechariah 4:6-10. Too often men rely solely on human wisdom and strength to determine what they can or cannot do. When doing the Lord’s work, we must recognize that God is our source of strength, and He can enable us “to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). He can take what may seem “small” in our eyes and multiply it many times over (2Corinthians 9:8-11). God’s will prevails. Listen to the words that came to Zechariah. Return to LORD so that He can return to you. Don’t let your sins separate you from the LORD.