THE MINOR PROPHETS // ZECHARIAH
I. Historical context
- A. “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius” (1:1); beginning in late 520 B.C. (Coffman; Gill; Howard; Lewis; Waddey); “chapters 9-14, is generally thought to be from a later period of his ministry” (Waddey)
B. “Darius, after fighting some nineteen battles, put down the rebellious challenges of his authority; and there was nothing to hinder the Jews rebuilding of the Temple except their own lethargy. Zechariah, along with Haggai, whose prophetic career began some two months earlier, successfully led the people in rebuilding it. It is altogether possible that Zechariah saw the rebuilt temple completed in 516 B.C., and that he lived and prophesied long after that event.” (Coffman)
C. “The first eight chapters consist of the prophecies dated according to the reign of King Darius during his second, third and fourth years of rule….Chapters 9-14, however, find us in an altogether new setting—one of sharp contrast to the first eight chapters. There is no more reference to the construction of the temple; heathen forces not even mentioned before are now detailed; war seems just a breath away and the love and peace and tranquility seems to have vanished.” (Howard)
D. “The book of Zechariah may be thought of as a sequel to Haggai. The temple was begun and constructed in the midst of conflict, but it would be completed. Zechariah looks beyond the immediate temple to the Messiah and the spiritual temple of God, and to the final consummation of God’s purpose in the glory of the Messiah and His rule. This would be accomplished amid great opposition, but Jehovah would fight for His people and give them victory.” (Hailey)
II. About the prophet
- A. “The name Zechariah means ‘Jehovah remembers,’ or ‘Jehovah has remembered.” (Howard)
B. “In contrast to Haggai, who was a ‘layman,’ Zechariah was a Levitical priest, and a member of one of the outstanding priestly families.” (Gill)
C. “The writings of Zechariah reflect an engaging personality, a simple, hearty, practical man. His spirit was dedicated to love, justice and man’s need for freedom and a happy home.” (Waddey)
D. Some believe Christ speaks of the prophet’s death in Matthew 23:34-35 (Howard), while others believe it is a different Zechariah to whom the Lord refers (Coffman, Hailey, Lewis, Waddey)
III. Lessons for today
- A. It was always in God’s plan to include other nations in His kingdom (2:3-4, 11; 9:9-10)
- 1. “‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited without walls…’ This never applied to the literal Jerusalem, except for part of a century before the people were able to rebuild the walls. The simple meaning is that God’s eventual city, as realized in the Church of Jesus Christ, shall not be a fortified citadel, but a world-wide fellowship that no walls could limit or contain.” (Coffman)
2. “‘In that day…’ is a phrase often associated in the prophecies with ‘the times of the Messiah.’” (Coffman)
3. “This projects the prophecy into that distant day when Messiah would come to dwell among the Hebrews (John 1:14) and would invite all nations to become his disciples (Matt. 28:19). Gentiles would have access to the divine promise through the gospel (Eph. 3:6).” (Waddey)
4. “The Lord looks beyond the physical descendants of Israel to a nation that includes some from among all the nations, Gentiles as well as Jews. In the midst of such a people Jehovah will dwell.” (Hailey)
B. The importance of following God’s will in worship (chapters 7 and 8)
- 1. The people had instituted a fast seventy years prior to remember and mourn the destruction of the temple (7:3)
- a. Other fasts had also been established at the same time in different months (8:19)
b. “The four fasts the Jews have been keeping in memory of Nebuchadnezzar’s coming against Jerusalem (tenth month), of the breach made in the wall (fourth month), of the burning of the house of Jehovah (fifth month), and of the murder of Gedaliah (seventh month)…” (Hailey)
c. “This preoccupation with weeping, mourning, and fasting represented a radical change in Jewish religious life. Weeping and sorrow replaced hymns and thanksgivings; and Watts affirmed that, ‘The practice has survived into this century at the so-called “Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem.’” (Coffman)
2. The fact is that God only established one fast for the Jews to observe on a continual basis: the Day of Atonement, observed on the tenth day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:27-32)
- a. The fast mentioned in Zechariah “was not of godly sorrow for past offences, but of selfish regret for loss of their country and their liberty. They pitied themselves, but they had not learned to fear Jehovah.” (Hinckley, quoted by Coffman)
b. “Zechariah reminds them that this fasting had been done to bewail their exile and ruin. It had not come from divine commandment; therefore, it did not possess the deepest spiritual meaning.” (Howard)
c. It was instituted by the people for the wrong reasons, not by God nor for God (7:5)
3. We are warned against binding things on others that are not authorized or commanded by God
- a. Matthew 15:9; Colossians 3:17
b. While we have examples of Christians fasting in Acts (13:2-3; 14:23), we are not commanded to observe a fast collectively as a church at appointed times
c. When we fast, our motivation must be pure (Matthew 6:17-18), and when done in a marriage relationship, fasting must be done with mutual consent between husband and wife (1 Corinthians 7:5)
d. It is an individual decision, and should not be bound on others
e. “Fasting, for the Christian, is strictly a voluntary matter. It should arise out of a feeling of intense need, not as a result of mere formality.” (Jackson)
C. The existence of Christ before He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14)
- 1. The Angel of the Lord appears throughout the Old Testament, going all the way back to Genesis; in the NKJV the word “Angel,” when used in this context, is generally capitalized indicating the translators believed Him to be Deity
2. This Angel of the Lord is featured prominently in the book of Zechariah
3. “The following observations will establish that this mighty angel was no less than the Word of God, the preincarnate Christ. The angel of Jehovah told Moses that his name was ‘I AM THAT I AM.’ Jesus also claimed that he was I AM (John 8:58).
“The angel led Israel through the wilderness and provided their needs (Ex. 14:19-20). Moses reported that Jehovah directed Moses to smite the rock that the people might drink in the desert. But Paul tells us that the rock they drank of was Christ (1 Cor. 10:24).
“In the Book of Joshua, the angel is the prince or leader of Jehovah’s host or army (5:14). In Revelation 19, we see the army of heaven and its notable leader. Then John sees his name which is ‘The Word of God’ (19:11-16). In his Gospel, John identifies the Word of God as the only begotten of the Father, who became flesh (John 1:1-4,14).
“The angel told Manoah that his name was wonderful (Judg. 13:16-18). Isaiah, in his famous prophecy of Messiah said, ‘His name shall be called Wonderful…’ (9:6).
“Isaiah calls him ‘The angel of God’s presence,’ which means ‘of his face’ (63:9). The Hebrews writer says Christ is ‘the very image of his (God’s) substance’ (1:3).”…
“The angel of Jehovah can be worshiped (Josh. 5:4). No mere man or created angel can be worshiped acceptably (Acts 10;25,26; Rev. 22:-8-9). But Jesus commonly accepted the worship of men (Matt. 28:17)….
“These appearances of the angel of Jehovah, in ancient times, are called theophanies, i.e., when God assumes the form of an angel or a man in order to speak and act visibly and audibly to men, to provide them some revelation or guidance.” (Waddey)
Coffman, James Burton. (1983). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 4: Zechariah and Malachi. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/zechariah.html]
Gill, Clinton R. (1971). Minor Prophets: A Study of Micah through Malachi. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/BSTSMP/BSTSMP_SIPDF.pdf]
Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
Howard, V.E. “The Living Message of Zechariah.”(1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.
Jackson, Wayne. “Is Fasting for Christians Today?” ChristianCourier.com. [http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/231-is-fasting-for-christians-today]
Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.
Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/TTMP/TTMP_SIPDF.pdf]