Friday, September 12, 2014

Reading Through Zechariah

Zechariah is the second of the two post-exilic prophets who encouraged the returned exiles to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. His name means “God Remembers,” and his Zechariah chartpurpose was to remind the people of God’s past faithfulness, present purpose, and future plan and to bring about spiritual revival through humility and commitment. He wanted to motivate the people to build the temple because the future will make it worthwhile. He knew that the people needed to repent and obey now because God is working out His purpose in the present and in the future Messiah is coming to complete God’s plan to rule over and save His people. Israel needed to learn from the past and trust God for the future.

Quotes are from the New American Commentary, Zechariah by George Klein,,,

The second vision ends much as the first vision did. In both, Judah faces overwhelming opposition from all quarters. Nonetheless, God’s people should receive encouragement from the knowledge that the Lord himself protects them and judges the unrighteous nations who spurn the Lord and persecute his people. Zechariah 1.20-21, 110.

Beyond God’s intention to include the nations in his blessings, Israel had a responsibility to fulfill a “missionary mandate.” Although the word “missionary” is anachronistic in an Old Testament context, many passages in the first Testament indicate the responsibility that God’s people had to other peoples to teach them God’s word. Zechariah 2.11, 126.

Both the fourth and the fifth visions stress the importance of true faith in the lives of Judah’s spiritual and political leaders in order for the Lord’s kingdom to advance.  Zechariah 3.1-10, 132.

One of the primary theological emphases for Zech 4 resides in the declaration, “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (4:6). This grand biblical truth assures believers that God provides for his people supernaturally. Deliverance comes then from God, not through human ingenuity. Wolters explains that “the whole mountain of seemingly insuperable problems which [the church] faces today, from persecution to consumerism, from modernism to postmodernism, will ultimately become a plain before the Davidic king.” Zechariah 4.13-14, 168.

In one important contrast, the golden vessels in the fifth vision overflow with oil, while the measuring basket in 5:5–11 stands empty, except for the “wickedness” it contains. The golden lampstand portrays the abundance that living in accord with the Lord’s covenant provides, standing in stark contrast to the empty measuring basket that results from sinning against God. Zechariah 5, 174.

Chap. 6 stresses the peace the world will experience because the Lord has exerted the dominion he enjoyed all along. The Lord and his servants can finally rest because the creation now experiences the peace for which God originally created it. Ever since the fall of man, creation has groaned and longed for its restoration (Rom 8:22). The eighth vision draws to a close with a sense of finality: “God’s in his Heaven—All’s right with the world”—not just in word alone, but in reality.  Zechariah 6.1-8, 193.

Consequently, no contemporary of Zechariah could fully satisfy the sweeping prophecies about the Branch’s ministry. On the one hand, the phrase in context does speak of the ministry of Zerubbabel and Joshua... in light of the broader messianic application of the Branch concept, it would seem reasonable to claim that the imagery ultimately points to the person of Christ. A typological understanding fits both the immediate and broader canonical contexts well. Zechariah 6.12, 202.

Fasting displeased God when practiced out of a legalistic heart. Moreover, the opposite—feasting—offended God equally when not practiced with genuine spirituality. Zechariah 7.6, 218.

Justice denotes the rights and duties each party possesses. These privileges arise from the shared covenant the Lord made with his people. Accordingly, everyone has his own special mišpāṭ. The task of righteousness requires all to render consistently this justice and the ethical claims that mišpāṭ demands. Thus, the Lord intended for his righteousness to extend to all in order to safeguard the wellbeing of those united into one community under divine law. Zechariah 7.8-14, 220–221.

It was easy to spend fast-days mourning their losses, but harder to face up to God’s continuing demands. Were they any more prepared than their fathers to work out in everyday life the spirit of God’s law? The purpose of fast-days was to give them renewed incentive to do so through renewed experience of confession, forgiveness and future hope. Zechariah 7,  227.

The point of these visions, (as with most apocalyptic literature) is not to give a timeline or blueprint for the future but to assure God’s people that despite the way the world appears to be God is in control and his kingdom plan is sure. Thus,  we should Be confident. Obey God. Repent of sin. Do the work God has called you to do (rebuild the Temple) because God is in control, He punishes and removes sin, He gives His people power and He is preparing Messiah to come to rule and provide for His people. God is at work now to accomplish his eternal plan

The question of faith turns on human ability to recognize the Lord’s true glory and the willingness to act on that knowledge.  Zechariah 8.13, 243.

The middle section of Zechariah consists of 4 sermons that exhort the people that God expects character change and obedience now to prepare what he as for them in the future. In the present, hypocritical ritual is of no interest to God (7:1-7). Instead, true worship is expressed in justice, mercy and compassion to others (7:8-14). In the future the faithful few can expect full restoration of every promised blessing (8:1-17). Thus, we sacrifice (fast) now so we will feast when the LORD returns (8:18-23)

The universal and eschatological tone of the text suggests a fulfillment on a scale that the nation has never experienced. Days will come when no oppressor—whether Alexander, Caesar, or any other of the Lord’s foes—will transgress God’s holy place.  Zechariah 9.1-8, 269.

Symbolically, the new Messiah riding a beast of burden, not an animal known for its military value, powerfully underscores the peaceable kingdom over which the Messiah will rule. Thus, the symbolism of riding a donkey emphasizes the peaceable mission of the Messiah...Quite appropriately, none of the Gospel writers cite v. 10 when explaining how Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry fulfilled the prophecy of Zech 9:9. Only after Christ’s second coming will creation see v. 10 fulfilled. Zechariah 9.9-10, 274-275.

Those who in their submission to the Lord are like sheep become invincible as war-horses in His service.” Zechariah 10.3, 292.

Time and again God sent shepherds to administer justice and to promote righteousness. With equal consistency, the nation utterly rejected every shepherd and their God who had sent godly leaders. The consequence of this disregard for the Lord was increasing levels of divine judgment just as Deut. 28 had promised long ago. Zechariah 11, 347.

The Lord’s eye serves as an anthropomorphism to convey God’s watchful care over his people. The nation need not fear because their God was watching over them continually.   Zechariah 12.4-5, 355–356.

Zechariah 9_14 structureZechariah described the coming day when all of these vacuous projections onto mere objects will be stripped away, exposing the utter foolishness of giving obeisance to an idol. Zechariah 13.2, 376.

This absence of light, as stated above, does not necessarily suggest darkness. Rather, any light visible to the people would emanate from the Lord himself. More to the point, no longer would people mark time by the movement of the earth around various heavenly bodies. The changes in physical phenomena that have delineated days since the very beginning of time could not possibly describe the scope of the changes the Lord will accomplish in his new creation. Thus, the unique character of the day reflects a completely new order on earth. Zechariah 14.6-7, 409.

Thus, no longer will any distinction between secular and profane remain (see 8:3). Even human tendencies toward aggression and oppression will be brought under submission to the Lord’s righteousness as peace finally reigns on earth and weapons of warfare serve peaceful purposes. Zechariah 14.20-21, 427–428.

God is coming for His people. In His first coming he was rejected by most of his people and the old covenant structure was destroyed. In His 2nd coming His people will welcome Him, repent and be saved even though every nation will be against them.

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