7.62 Zechariah -- Visions in the Night

The structure of the Book of Zechariah is very simple:

          a.  Zech 1:1-6  a word of warning to the returned Jews. 
          b.  Zech 1:7 through Zech 6:8  8 visions received on the same night.
          c.  Zech 6:9-15 the crowning of Joshua
          d.  Zech 7-8  proper fasting and the restoration of Jerusalem
          e.  Zech 9-14 two oracles about the nations

         

We are not told how God called Zechariah to be His prophet, we are simply told that the word of the Lord came to Zechariah in October or Novemebr of 520, about the time of Haggai’s second message, and a month or two after the people resumed work on the Temple.  This first message (Zech 1:1-6) centers around an offer from the Lord to His people:

          "Return to me...and I will return to you" (Zech 1:3).  

           This will become a theme in Zechariah.  He uses the word "sub", "return,"  repeatedly.  The Lord was angry with the forefathers, so the current generation must not be like them, but must return to the Lord.

          

A few months later, in a single night, Zechariah was given eight visions.  Together, they reveal the Lord’s purposes not only for the Jews, but for all the earth.

           1. Angels with Horses (Zech 1:8-17).  In this vision, the Lord sends angels throughout the earth, who find it at peace.  But one angel asks God how long He will withhold mercy from Jerusalem and Judah.  God replies,

            "the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem" (Zech 1:17).

             This is interesting, not just because of the favor shown to the Jews, but to the re-interpretation of recent history:

           "I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, but I am very angry with the nations that feel secure.  I was only a little angry, but they added to the calamity" (Zech 1:14-15).

           A little angry??  What about these verses?:

           "Therefore the Lord’s anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down. The mountains shake, and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised" (Isa 5:25).

           "My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground, and it will burn and not be quenched" (Jer 7:20).

             And there are many other similar examples from all the pre-exile prophets.   Clearly there has been a change in the prophetic flow after the return from exile.  The destruction of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, marked the fulfilment of the wrath of God toward His people.  God's anger does not continue into the post-exilic community.  There is a nexus in Zech 1:1-6 ("Do not be like your forefathers"), but the focus of God's judgment turns away from Israel and back to the foreign nations, some of whom were the instruments of His punishment.

            2.  The Four Horns (Zech 1:18-21).  The nations that scattered Israel will themselves be terrified

            3.  The Man who Measures Jerusalem (Zech 2).  Here we move into a declaration of the future glory of Jerusalem.  God Himself

            "will be a wall of fire around it...and I will be its glory within" (Zech 2:5).

             Not only will Jerusalem be exalted by the Lord's Presence, but the Gentiles will be included:

            "Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people" (Zech 2:11).

             This is a very bold statement of the "grafting in" (Paul's words) of the non-Jews.  They are not spoken of as servants.  Yet the participation of the Gentiles is linked with the restoration of Jerusalem -- therefore they must be allies and not enemies of the Jews.

             4.  Cleansing of the High Priest (Zech 3).  A profound Messianic prophecy, with the high priest Joshua ("Jesus") as a type of the future servant "the Branch" (Zech 3:8).  The high priest stood before the Lord in dirty garments, with Satan accusing him.  Angels took off his clothes, and put on clean ones -- his sin was removed, and he was given charge of God's house.  Later, God will send His servant "the Branch,"

             "and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day" (Zech 3:9).