God remembers his promises

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of Zechariah

www.easyenglish.info

Gordon Churchyard

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible, except for words in brackets (…).

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

 

‘The *prophet (Zechariah) said that these events would happen. And these events did happen.’

(Matthew 21:4) (A *prophet tells people what God is saying.)

About the Book of Zechariah

Zechariah wrote his book in the *Hebrew language. The *Hebrew word ‘zechariah’ (or ‘zachariah’) means ‘God remembers’. Zechariah was a *prophet. This meant that he did two things.

(1) He told people what God was saying about the present time.

(2) He told people what God was saying about the future.

Zechariah 1:1 says that the *prophet was the ‘son of Berechiah, son of Iddo’. Ezra 5:1 says that he was the son of Iddo. This is a puzzle for Bible students. There are three possible explanations.

(1) Berechiah was the son of Iddo, who was therefore Zechariah’s grandfather.

(2) There were two Zechariahs. One of them wrote chapters 1-8. The other one wrote chapters 9-14.

(3) One of the names is a mistake.

These notes believe that (1) is correct.

Many Bible students think that Zechariah was a young man in chapters 1-8, but much older in chapters 9-14. They think that he came back from the *exile in Babylon about 530 *B.C. The *exile was when the King of Babylon made the *Jews live in Babylon in 586 *B.C. God punished the *Jews by the *exile because they had not obeyed his rules. ‘*Exile’ is when people live away from home. *B.C. means ‘years Before Christ came to the earth’.

In chapters 1-8, Zechariah helped another *prophet, Haggai. Zechariah started to *prophesy just before Haggai finished. ‘*Prophesy’ means ‘to tell people what God is saying’. Compare Haggai 2:10 with Zechariah 1:1. They both encouraged the leaders and the people among the *Jews. There were two main leaders. Joshua was the Chief Priest and Zerubbabel was the political leader. The *prophets encouraged the leaders and people to rebuild the *temple in Jerusalem. They told them to do this before they built the walls of the city and their own houses. This *temple was God’s house in Jerusalem. People met there to praise him. They also burned things to offer to God there. Soldiers from Babylon destroyed the old *temple in 586 *B.C. The *Jews finished building the new *temple in 516 *B.C.

By this time, Zechariah was older. Chapters 9 to 14 are quite different from chapters 1 to 8. But they are very important. As Zechariah became older, he thought about the future. Much of what he said became true in the life and death of Jesus. This is why the *New Testament repeats so many verses from Zechariah chapters 9 to 14. It repeats more from those chapters than from most other books of the *Old Testament. It is probably true to say that you cannot understand Zechariah chapters 9 to 14 without the story of Jesus! That is why my ‘Something to do’ sections in these chapters ask you to compare *Old Testament and *New Testament verses.

Zechariah means ‘The *LORD remembers’. ‘*LORD’ is one of God’s names. Zechariah taught people that God remembers his promises. God made promises by his *prophets. One of these promises is that the *Jews would return from *exile. Also, that the *LORD would return with them to his *temple in Jerusalem. Here are some of the promises.

Isaiah 40:3 ‘Prepare the way for the *LORD. Make a straight road in the desert for our God.’ Isaiah imagines that God is travelling on a road. It starts from somewhere to the east of Judah and it ends in Jerusalem. There is a note on *LORD at Zechariah 1:1-2.

Ezekiel 43:4 ‘The *glory of the *LORD came into the *temple.’ Ezekiel imagines that God is coming into the *temple at Jerusalem. ‘*Glory’ is something that shines very much.

Jeremiah 29:10 ‘After 70 years in Babylon, I will cause you to return to this place.’ This place is Jerusalem in Judah.

There are three sections in Zechariah’s book.

Chapters 1-6 Build the *temple. The *Jews had started to rebuild their *temple. They did this when they returned from Babylon. But other people opposed them. (See Ezra 4:4-5.) So the *Jews stopped rebuilding the *temple for about 15 years. They decided to build houses for themselves. (See Haggai 1:2-4.) Also, they wanted to build walls round the city to protect themselves. But in 520 *B.C., the *prophets Haggai and Zechariah urged them to finish building the *temple. Zechariah said, ‘Build the *temple first. God will protect you. You do not need city walls to keep out the enemy.’ Zechariah explained this by his 8 *visions. A ‘*vision’ is something that a *prophet ‘sees’. God shows the *vision to the *prophet. The *visions also say that God would take away *sin from the country. *Sin is our behaviour when we do not obey God’s laws. After the 8th *vision, God made a promise. He promised to put crowns on the heads of Joshua the chief priest and Zerubbabel the political leader. They would then rule God’s people together.

Chapters 7-8 Obey the laws of God. Some of the 8 *visions also said that God had taken away *sin from Jerusalem and Judah. But now God’s people must obey God’s laws. This was more important than their *fasts. A *fast is to be sad and to eat no food for reasons of religion or health. First they should build the *temple where they could *worship God. After that, there must be social *justice. The notes explain the words ‘*worship’ and ‘*justice’.

Chapters 9-14 God will send a *messiah who will be PRIEST AND KING. In chapters 1-8, Joshua was the chief priest and Zerubbabel was political leader. But one day God would send a *messiah who would be both priest and king. *Messiah is a word in the *Hebrew language. It meant a special leader. God’s *messiah would take away his people’s *sin and he would rule over them. Some of these ideas are in chapters 1-8 also. This gives unity to the whole book. Today, *Messiah, with a capital M, usually means Jesus Christ. ‘Christ’ comes from the word for *Messiah in the *Greek language.

God would do all this because of his promises. God remembers his promises!

Words in brackets … ( … ) … are not in the *Hebrew Bible. They are there to help us to understand what Zechariah wrote. The notes explain words with a *star by them the first time that we use the word. After that, please refer to the word list at the end.

Chapter 1

v1 The word of the *LORD came to Zechariah in the 8th month of the second year of (King) Darius. (Darius was king of Persia.) (Zechariah) the *prophet was the son of Berechiah. (Berechiah was) the son of Iddo. (The word of the *LORD) said that v2 the *LORD was very angry with your fathers. v3 And you (Zechariah) shall say to them, ‘This is what the *LORD of Everything says. Return to me’, says the *LORD of Everything. ‘Then I will return to you’, says the *LORD of Everything. v4 ‘Do not be like your fathers. The earlier *prophets spoke to them. They said, “The *LORD of Everything says this (to you). Turn back now from your evil ways and from the evil things that you do.” But they did not hear and they did not listen, the *LORD says. v5 Your fathers are (not here) now. The *prophets are (not) still alive. v6 All the things that I warned you about by my servants the *prophets actually happened. (They happened) to your fathers as I said! Then they turned back and they said, “The *LORD of Everything has done to us all that he promised to do. (He has punished us because of) the bad things that we did. And (he has punished us because of) our evil ways”.’

Notes

After the start of the book in verse 1, Zechariah began his book with a short speech in verses 2-6. It tells the people to *repent. This means ‘to be sorry’ for the wrong things that they did. Also, it tells the people ‘to promise to try not to do these wrong things in the future’. Zechariah did not use the word ‘*repent’. He used the words ‘turn back from your evil ways’. Before they start to rebuild the *temple, they must ‘be right with God’. This means that they must *repent. They must turn back to God from their evil ways. Then they will be ready to serve him.

Verses 1-2 ‘*LORD’ is a special word for God that his servants use. It is his *covenant name. A *covenant is a special agreement. God agreed to help his people if they obeyed him. ‘Obey me and I will be your God’, Jeremiah 11:4. But the *Jews did not obey God. This made God very angry with them. These *Jews were the fathers in verse 2. This really means fathers, grandfathers, and their fathers and grandfathers for many years in the past. This is true in verses 4, 5 and 6 also.

Zechariah started his *prophecy in 520 *B.C., probably in November or December. A *prophecy is the words of a *prophet. ‘The word’ that came to Zechariah is what God told him to say.

Verse 3 ‘Them’ in this verse is not the fathers of verse 2, but the people listening to Zechariah in 520 *B.C. The name ‘the *LORD of Everything’ comes three times in this verse. Zechariah says this to show that these are God’s words, not Zechariah’s words. Bible students often translate the *Hebrew name as ‘*LORD of *hosts’. A *host is ‘a lot’. It probably means ‘a lot of servants’. These servants are God’s servants. We cannot see them, but they are always doing God’s work everywhere. This makes God so powerful that he is ‘the *LORD of Everything’! In this verse, God is saying to his people, ‘Come back to me and obey me! Then I will come back (to you). And I will be your God and I will help you.’ If God’s people will keep the *covenant again, so will God. The *Hebrew word for ‘*hosts’ is ‘tsabaoth’. This is why God is often called ‘the *LORD of Sabaoth’. English translations leave out the ‘t’! A good translation of ‘the *LORD of Sabaoth’ is ‘*LORD of *angel armies’. *Angels are God’s servants in *heaven. *Heaven is the home of God.

Verses 4-5 The earlier *prophets included Jeremiah. These *prophets warned the people. God would punish his people if they did not obey him. But the people did not obey, so God sent them into *exile in Babylon. Verse 5 means that the people and the *prophets are now dead or in Babylon.

Verse 6 But, in *exile, the *Jews *repented. The actual *Hebrew word is not ‘*repent’ but ‘turn back’. It is the same word that is in verse 4. The word for ‘happened’ is ‘catch up with’. We can imagine that God’s words are running after his people. Then it is as if God’s words catch up with his people. This makes his people turn back. They cannot continue to run away from God. They are in *exile. But perhaps they did not all really *repent. Perhaps some people did *repent, and some people did not *repent. Some modern English translations do say ‘*repent’, like the Revised English Bible, the New Living Bible and other translations. Actually, if we return to God, we must do this first. We must *repent. We must be sorry for the wrong things that we have done. But we must also promise to try not to do them in the future.

Next, the *prophet describes 8 *visions that he had. They are in Zechariah 1:7-6:8. A *vision is something that a *prophet ‘sees’. It may actually be there, or it may be in his imagination. It may even be in a dream. In all these *visions, God is telling Zechariah something. Zechariah must tell it to the people. It is to encourage them in their work for God. Part of this work was to rebuild the *temple in Jerusalem. The *visions are there to encourage us in our work for God also.

Here is a list of the 8 *visions and where to find them:

*Vision 1

The man on a red horse

Zechariah 1:7-17

*Vision 2

The 4 *horns and the 4 workmen

Zechariah 1:18-21

*Vision 3

The man who is measuring Jerusalem

Zechariah 2:1-5

*Vision 4

The chief priest

Zechariah 3:1-10

*Vision 5

The *lampstand and the 2 *olive trees

Zechariah 4:1-14

*Vision 6

The flying *scroll

Zechariah 5:1-4

*Vision 7

The woman in the basket

Zechariah 5:5-11

*Vision 8

The 4 *chariots

Zechariah 6:1-8

The notes explain the words *horn, *lampstand, *olive tree, *scroll, and *chariot. They are also in the word list at the end.

Most Bible students think that Zechariah saw these 8 *visions on the same night. It was the 24th day of the 11th month of the second year that Darius was King of Persia. That means that it was about the middle of February, 519 *B.C. Most Bible students think that the *visions connect together somehow. Unfortunately, they do not all agree how they connect together!

Here is one idea:

·     *visions 1, 2 and 3 are about the return from *exile;

·     *visions 4 and 5 are about the leader;

·     *visions 6, 7 and 8 are about the removal of *sin.

Here is another idea:

·     *visions 1, 2 and 8 are about the relationship of Judah with other countries;

·     *visions 3-7 are about the future of Judah/Israel as a nation.

Probably both ideas are useful to Bible students.

Four *visions (1, 3, 4 and 5) also have messages from the *LORD. They are in:

·     *Vision 1 - Zechariah 1:13-17;

·     *Vision 3 - Zechariah 2:6-13;

·     *Vision 4 - Zechariah 3:6-10;

·     *Vision 5 - Zechariah 4:5-10.

Chapter 1     *Vision 1: The man on a red horse

v7 The word of the *LORD came to the *prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah. (Berechiah was) the son of Iddo. (The message came) on the 24th day of the 11th month. (This happened) in the 2nd year of (King) Darius (of Persia). v8 I saw (something) in the night. I saw a man who was riding on a red horse. He was standing among the *myrtle bushes down in the valley. Behind him were (other) horses. (They were) red, brown and white. v9 And I said, ‘My *lord, what are these?’ And the *angel that was speaking to me said to me, ‘I will show you what these are.’ v10 And the man that was standing among the *myrtle bushes spoke. And he said, ‘These are the ones that the *LORD has sent to watch the earth.’ v11 And they (all) reported to the *angel of the *LORD. He was standing among the *myrtle bushes. They said, ‘We have walked through the world. And (we have) seen that all the world is quiet and peaceful.’

v12 And the *angel of the *LORD spoke. And he said, ‘*LORD of Everything, how long (will it be) before you pity Jerusalem and the cities of Judah? You have been angry against them now for 70 years!’ v13 And the *LORD answered the *angel that was speaking with me. (He said) good words (to me). (They were) words that comforted (me). v14 And the *angel that was speaking with me said (this) to me. ‘The *LORD of Everything says this. “Announce that I have been jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. (I have been) very jealous. v15 And I am very angry with the nations that have (feelings of) security. I was only slightly angry with (my people), but those (nations) destroyed (my people) completely.” v16 So the *LORD says, “Therefore I will return to Jerusalem with pity. (They) will rebuild my house there”, says the *LORD of Everything. “Also, (builders) will stretch a *measuring line over Jerusalem. v17 Moreover, shout aloud and announce this”, says the *LORD of Everything. “My cities will again be full of good things. The *LORD will again comfort Zion. (And the *LORD will) choose Jerusalem again”.’

Notes

Verse 7 In Babylon, the 11th month of the year was called Shebat. It is not an *Hebrew word. The 24th day of Shebat is February 15th for us. The year was 519 *B.C.

Verse 8 The rider on the red horse was probably an *angel. He sat on the horse while the horse stood still. There were probably more *angels on the other horses. Zechariah does not say how many horses he saw. Many Bible students think that Zechariah saw God (the *LORD) and his chief *angels in *heaven. They were making plans. The *angels were servants of God. Usually we cannot see *angels, but Zechariah did see them in his *vision. They were ‘among the *myrtle bushes down in the valley’. *Myrtle bushes have leaves that remain green all through the year. Their leaves have a pleasant smell when someone bruises them. They have white flowers in summer. *Myrtle bushes often mean Judah and Israel in the Bible. The man among the *myrtle bushes probably means that the *LORD will help his people.

The *myrtle bushes were in a valley, that is, a deep place. In the Bible, a deep place often means a place of trouble (for example, in Psalm 88:6).

Verse 9 ‘My *lord’ means ‘sir’. The word ‘*lord’ means 3 things in the Bible. Two are names for God (*LORD and *Lord) and one (*lord) is not a name for God. The word ‘*lord’ (with a small letter l) means someone in authority that you respect. Here it is the *angel that was with Zechariah. This was not one of the *angels on the horses.

Verse 11 The *angel of the *LORD was an important *angel. He was a leader of the *angels. He was probably the man on the red horse in verse 8. ‘All the world’ includes the nations that destroyed Israel and Judah. They were quiet and peaceful. As verse 15 says, they had (feelings of) security.

Verse 12 Now the important *angel speaks to the *LORD God. Zechariah does not tell us whether he can see God. The *angel tells God that his people have suffered for 70 years. Jeremiah had said that the *exile would last for this length of time. ‘This is what the *LORD says. “After you have been 70 years in Babylon I will come to you. I will do what I have promised. I will bring you back to this place (Judah)”.’ (Jeremiah 29:10)

Verses 13-15 There is an important word in this verse that Zechariah repeats in verse 17. It is the word ‘comfort’. It links with words that the *prophet Isaiah wrote. ‘ “Comfort, comfort my people”, says the *LORD (to his *prophets). “Speak to the people in Jerusalem. Say that they have received from the hand of the *LORD double (punishment) for all their *sins”.’ (from Isaiah 40:1-2) There is also something else that links verse 15 with Isaiah 40:2. God wanted to punish his people. He used Assyria and Babylon to do it. But these two nations punished God’s people too much. They hurt God’s people more than God intended. God’s people received ‘double punishment’, Isaiah 40:2. Bible students think that God (through Zechariah) is reminding his people of the words of Isaiah. This was because God was jealous for his people. He loved them and he did not want them to stay in Assyria and Babylon. We do not know how many *Jews returned from Assyria. They were from the northern country of Israel. But many returned from Babylon to the southern country of Judah. Zion is the name of the hill in Jerusalem where they built the *temple.

The *myrtle bushes were in a valley. But Zion is a hill. So God wanted to take his people from a deep place (that is, a place of trouble). And God wanted to take them to the hill called Zion, which would be a good place.

Verses 16-17 Here are God’s plans for his people:

·     God will have pity on them and return to his people in Jerusalem.

·     God’s people will rebuild his *temple.

·     God’s people will build houses in Jerusalem again. The *measuring line was string. Builders used a *measuring line to work out where to build.

·     Jerusalem and the cities of Judah will be full of good things.

·     There will be much comfort for God’s people.

The *vision was for Zechariah, verses 8-13. The message was for Zechariah to tell everybody, verses 14-17. They had much work to do. Perhaps the thought of all the work depressed them. But God sent this message to encourage them. They would succeed because God was with them. Also, they were following his plans!

Chapter 1     *Vision 2: The four *horns

v18 And I looked up (again). Look! I saw four *horns. v19 And I said to the *angel that spoke to me, ‘What are these?’ And he said, ‘These are the *horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.’ v20 Then the *LORD made me see four workmen. v21 And I said, ‘What are they coming to do?’ And he said, ‘These are the *horns that scattered Judah. As a result, nobody could lift up his head. But these workmen have come to frighten them. They have come to destroy those *horns.’ (He meant) those countries that used their power against Judah. ‘They scattered (the people that were in) the country.’

Notes

Verse 18 The *Hebrew says ‘And I lifted my eyes’. This is an *Hebrew idiom for (way to say), ‘I looked up’. Zechariah says, ‘Look!’ He wants us to see in our imaginations what he saw. A *horn was a sign of strength. *Horns grow on the heads of some animals, like cows, goats and sheep. A *horn shows that an animal is strong and important.

Verse 19 The four *horns mean strong countries on all four sides of Judah and Israel. Assyria destroyed Israel 200 years before this *vision. Babylon destroyed Judah 70 years before. These, and other countries that helped them, are the four *horns. The other countries include Egypt, Moab and Edom. They were all enemies of Judah and Israel.

Verse 20 When people caught wild animals with *horns, they would cut off the *horns. This would stop the wild animal hurting them.

Verse 21 The workmen cut off the *horns from Assyria and Babylon. This meant that these countries would not be able to attack other countries. They would not be strong any more. If you cannot ‘lift up your head’ then you are humble and ashamed.

God chose the people from Israel and Judah. But they did the wrong things. God allowed other countries to punish them. Those countries are like the *horns. But God still cares about his people. He showed Zechariah that he had a plan to destroy those countries. And he would save the people from Israel and Judah.

Something to do

1. Read Zechariah 1:8-21 without the notes. Try to understand God’s plans:

·           to rebuild Jerusalem and the *temple;

·           to destroy Assyria and Babylon.

2. Read about ‘the four men on horses’ in Revelation 6:1-8.

3. Read Mark 6:3. Now read it again, but put ‘workman’ for ‘carpenter’ or ‘wood-worker’. The *Greek word in Mark 6:3 is the same word as in Zechariah 1:20! Think about this.

4. If you can, find a map and look for ‘the four *horns’. These will be countries on the four sides of Judah. They include:

·     south … Egypt;

·     west … Philistia;

·     east … Moab and Edom;

·     north … Assyria and Babylon. (Both of these are north-east, but the road to them from Jerusalem started by leading to the north.)

But the *vision was not merely about these countries. It was about every country that opposed God’s people.

5. Study Isaiah 40:1-2. Which verses in Zechariah 1 does it make you think about? Learn to say Isaiah 40:1-2 by heart. (‘By heart’ means that you do not look at the words.)

6. Maybe you think that God has something for you to do. If you do, start by *repenting. The word ‘*repent’ means:

·           ‘Think again’ … but think as God thinks!

·           Be sorry for your *sins. And promise to try not to do them again.

·           Then do what God is telling you to do!

7. If things depress you, read Zechariah 1:16-17. Then remember this. God will do everything that he has promised to do!

Chapter 2     *Vision 3: The man who was measuring Jerusalem

v1 Then I looked up (again). And, look, I saw a man. And there was a *measuring line in his hand. v2 And I asked (him), ‘Where are you going?’ He answered me, ‘(I am going) to measure Jerusalem. I will find out how wide it is. And (I will find out) how long it is.’ v3 Then look! The *angel that was speaking to me went away (from me). And another *angel came to meet him v4 and said to him, ‘Run! Say (this) to that young man. Say that Jerusalem will be a city without walls. This is because there will be a great number of people and animals in it. v5 And the *LORD says, “I myself will be (like) a wall of fire all round it. And I will be its *glory inside it”.’

Notes

Verse 1 Read again the note on the start of Zechariah 1:18. Also, read Zechariah 1:16. There, God promised that his people would rebuild Jerusalem. Now Zechariah saw a man with a *measuring line. The man was probably an architect or a builder.

Verse 2 The man probably was going to mark where the walls of the new city should be. Walls would make the city safe. Then nobody could stop them building houses for themselves and a house for God.

Verse 3 Zechariah’s *angel (chapter 1 verses 9 and 19) went to speak to another *angel. The other *angel had a message from God.

Verses 4-5 The message was for the young man with the *measuring line. The new city would not need walls! There were three reasons for this:

·     God wanted anybody who wished to enter Jerusalem.

·     God would protect them. So he would be (like) their wall, a wall of fire. And he would be their *glory.

·     There were too many people to get inside the wall!

‘*Glory’ means ‘great honour’. God’s honour is so great that it shines like a bright light. The first *angel had to run with the message. Walls do not make people safe. Only God can really make people safe! He did this for Jerusalem in *Vision 2. Also, God did not want them to build walls or houses before they rebuilt his *temple!

v6 ‘Come (away)! Come (away)! And run from the country (that is) in the north!’ says the *LORD. The *LORD (also) says, ‘This is because I have scattered you to the four winds of the *heavens.’ v7 ‘Come (away), Zion! Escape, you who live in the *Daughter of Babylon.’ v8 (Do this) because the *LORD of Everything says, ‘After his *glory, he sent me against the nations that destroyed you. Because whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye. v9 Now look! I will raise my hand (to punish) them. Then their slaves will take away their things.’ Then you will know that the *LORD of Everything (really) did send me. v10 ‘Shout and be glad, *Daughter of Zion! Now look! I am coming (to you) and I will live among you’, says the *LORD. v11 ‘In that day, many nations will join with the *LORD. And then they will become my people. And I will live among you.’ Then you will know that the *LORD of everything (really) did send me to you.

Notes

Verse 6 Verses 6-13 are not part of the *vision. They are a poem that Zechariah wrote, to call the *Jews back from *exile. Some had returned in 536 *B.C. But now Zechariah urged more to come. Some Bible students think that Zechariah wrote this poem earlier. Perhaps he wrote it when he himself was in *exile. He added it to his book when he had returned to Jerusalem. The *Hebrew word for ‘Come (away)!’ means ‘oh!’ This word suggests danger. The danger is in verse 9. ‘The country in the north’ is Babylon. It was north-east of Jerusalem, but the road to Babylon started by going north. ‘To the four winds of the *heavens’ is a *Hebrew way to say ‘in all directions’. So God is calling *exiles from everywhere, not only from Babylon.

7 The *Greek Bible has, ‘Come (away) to Zion’, but the *Hebrew Bible says, ‘Come (away), Zion’, or ‘Oh! Zion!’ The *LORD is warning the people from Zion. They are in danger if they stay in Babylon.

Zion is another name for Jerusalem. Here it means the people, or their families, that once lived in Jerusalem. They were the people in *exile. The Daughter of Babylon was an *Hebrew way to say Babylonian people. Some lived in Babylon, and some lived in other Babylonian cities. ‘In the Daughter of Babylon’ means ‘among the people of Babylon’.

Verse 8 Bible students do not agree what ‘after his *glory, he sent me’ means. Some possibilities are:

·           after he gave me the honour of sending me;

·           after he insisted that he would send me;

·           after God returned (to Jerusalem) he sent me.

Whatever it means, Zechariah had a message for the nations, not only for Judah and Israel. ‘The apple of the eye’ is the part of the eye that we can hurt most easily. It is not really an apple; it is just a part of the eye. When the nations destroyed Israel and Judah, they ‘touched the apple of God’s eye’. They hurt God’s special people, so they hurt God!

Verse 9 ‘Now look!’ is how the *prophets emphasised what they said. God was going to ‘raise his hand to punish them’. The slaves were the people in *exile, people from many countries including Judah and Israel. In the *Old Testament, there was a simple test to work out whether a *prophet came from God. The *prophet said that some things would happen. And the people would recognise him to be a real prophet when these things did happen.

Verse 10 ‘Daughter of Zion’ means ‘people that live in and near Jerusalem’. The *LORD promised to come and live in Jerusalem. That is why they had to build his house, the *temple. The *LORD had gone from Jerusalem when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. Ezekiel 10:18-19 tells us about this.

Verse 11 ‘Join with the *LORD’ means that they will serve the *LORD. ‘That day’ was the day that the *LORD returned to Jerusalem. But like many verses in Zechariah, it has more than one meaning. It also means when Jesus came to the earth. And when Jesus will come again to the earth. This is because a lot of Zechariah’s book is about Jesus’ return to the earth. Zechariah adds again his remark from verse 9.

Verses 10-11 I will live among you. Twice God tells Zechariah to say this to his people. What does it mean? Christians believe that God is everywhere. He is omnipresent, which means ‘present everywhere’. But God did special things for his people, the *Jews. So, they believed that he lived with them. His home was the *temple. Of course, he was everywhere else also! When God allowed Babylon to punish Judah, Ezekiel tells us that ‘the *glory of the *LORD went away’, Ezekiel 10:18. Here, the *glory of the *LORD included the things that he did for Judah. These things made him shine like a bright light to the *Jews. Then he stopped helping them for a time. Then, it was as if the light went out. The *glory went away. But now God promised to come back. He would help his people again! This was why it was more important to rebuild his *temple than their own houses and city walls. Ezekiel said that the *glory would return in Ezekiel 43:4; 44:4. ‘The *glory of the *LORD came into the *temple’, Ezekiel 43:4.

v12 And the *LORD will possess Judah as his share in the *holy land. And he will choose Jerusalem again. v13 Everybody, be still in front of the *LORD! He is rising up from the *holy place where he lives.

Verse 12 Judah and Jerusalem mean the people that live in the *holy land. Christians call the country where Jesus lived ‘the *Holy Land’. This is the only place where the words appear in the *Old Testament.

Verse 13 ‘Everybody’ in the *Hebrew language is ‘all flesh’, which means ‘all men and women’. This includes the people from Judah and Babylon. God has got up and done something. He has punished Babylon and not Judah! ‘The *holy place’ here probably means *heaven.

Something to do

1. Read Ezra 4:1-5. This is a story about people who stopped the *Jews rebuilding Jerusalem.

2. Study what Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and Deuteronomy 18:17-22 teach about *prophets. Now look at where Zechariah says, ‘You will know that the *LORD (really) did send me.’ This is in Zechariah 2:9, 11; 4:9 and 6:15.

3. Read Haggai 1:2-5. Compare it with Zechariah 2:1-5.

4. Follow the message of the first 3 *visions:

Zechariah 1:16 Build my house.

Zechariah 1:21 Destroy those *horns.

Zechariah 2:4 A city without walls.

Pray that God will encourage you by these verses.

Chapter 3     *Vision 4: The Chief Priest has returned to Jerusalem

v1 Then (the *angel) showed me Joshua the chief priest. He was standing in front of the *angel of the *LORD. And *Satan stood on his right hand side to accuse (Joshua). v2 And the *LORD said to *Satan, ‘The *LORD tells you to be quiet, *Satan! The *LORD has chosen Jerusalem and he tells you to be quiet! This man is (like) a stick that is burning. (I have) pulled (the stick) from the fire.’ v3 Now Joshua was wearing very dirty clothes while he stood in front of the *angel. v4 Then (the *LORD) spoke. And he said (this) to (the *angels) that were standing in front of him. He said, ‘Take the very dirty clothes off him.’ Then he said to (Joshua), ‘Look! I have taken away your *sin and I have put the correct clothes (for a priest) on you.’ v5 Then I said, ‘Put a clean turban (hat) on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head. And they put (clean) clothes on him, while the *angel of the *LORD watched.

v6 And the *angel of the *LORD warned Joshua. He said, v7 ‘The *LORD of Everything says this. Live in the way (that I want you to live). And do what I require (in the *temple). Then you will rule my house and guard my *courts. And I will give you a place among (the *angels) that stand here.

v8 Now listen, Joshua the chief priest. (Listen), you and all your friends that are sitting in front of you. These men are like (a picture of) something (that will happen). Now look, I will bring my servant the Branch (to Jerusalem). v9 Now look at the stone that I am putting in front of Joshua. On that one stone there are 7 eyes (or sides).’ The *LORD of Everything says, ‘Look! I will *engrave an *engraving on it! And I will remove the *sin of this country in one day. v10 On the same day’, says the *LORD of Everything, ‘each of you will invite his neighbour to sit under his *vine or *fig tree.’

Notes

Verse 1 The first three *visions were outside Jerusalem. This one is in a court of law in *heaven. The *angel of the *LORD (who becomes the *LORD himself in verse 2) is the judge. *Satan (‘the *satan’ in the *Hebrew Bible) accuses Joshua. He says that he has done something wrong. The *Hebrew words ‘the *satan’ mean ‘the accuser’. Joshua is the chief priest of the *Jews. He was there on behalf of all the *Jewish people.

The *Jews that lived in Egypt about 200 *B.C. made a translation of the *Old Testament into *Greek. Zechariah 3:1 in the *Greek Bible has ‘the devil’ for ‘the *satan’ and ‘Jesus’ for ‘Joshua’. Joshua is one *Hebrew form of the English word Jesus. Zechariah was not writing about the devil and Jesus Christ. However, he does help us to understand what Jesus did! Zechariah’s words mean more than he realised. This is often true about the *Old Testament *prophets.

Verse 2 Our translation makes ‘the *satan’ in the *Hebrew Bible into ‘*Satan’. *Satan has now become the name of God’s enemy. He is the devil in the *Greek Bible. The *angel of the *LORD is now the *LORD himself. ‘Tells you to be quiet’ is really ‘rebukes you’ in the *Hebrew Bible. A boss ‘rebukes’ people when he is angry with them!

‘This man’ means:

·     Joshua, the chief priest;

·     the people that he acts for, (that is the *Jews);

·     the people that Jesus Christ rescued from the fires of hell.

It means the first two of these for *Jews. But for Christians, it means all three of them.

In the Bible, fire is always something that destroys things. God rescued his people from:

·     Sodom and Gomorrah, a place of fire, Amos 4:11. God burned the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:24-25.

·     Egypt, an ‘iron furnace’, Deuteronomy 4:20 and Jeremiah 11:4. A furnace is a very hot fire. An iron furnace was so hot that it could make iron pure! The fire destroys the rubbish.

·     Babylon, as in this verse in Zechariah.

Verse 3 The very dirty clothes mean the bad things that the priests and the people had done before the *exile. In the Bible, a priest should not be wearing dirty clothes. The priest’s clothes should be clean. But Joshua’s clothes were very dirty in the *vision because the people had been very evil.

Verse 4 Our translation tells us who said what to whom. The *Hebrew Bible just says ‘he spoke to them’. The very dirty clothes mean *sin. The correct clothes show that God has *forgiven this *sin. Leviticus 8:5-7 tells us what the priests had to wear. They wore these clothes when they did their work in the *temple. Exodus 28 describes how they made the clothes.

Verse 5 A turban is a hat that people in some countries wear. Zechariah says that they should put the turban onto Joshua’s head. The chief priest wore a special turban, Exodus 29:6. Some translations use the word mitre instead of turban. ‘Mitre’ is another word for a special hat. Notice that the *sin was put away but an animal was not offered to God.

Verse 6 Chapter 1:6 also described how God warned the people.

Verse 7 The two things that the chief priest must do are these. He must obey God’s moral laws. Also, he must obey the *ritual laws. The word for ‘require’ is the same as that in Numbers chapter 3. There God used the word 9 times to tell the priests what they must do. This was what they must do in the *temple. As a result, the *LORD would do two things. He would allow the chief priest to rule God’s house and its *courts. The *courts were the yards or spaces round the *temple. Also, God would allow the chief priest to approach God, without anybody else between them.

Verse 8 The last 3 verses are about what will happen in the future. Joshua’s friends are the priests in the *temple in Jerusalem. God had brought them back to the new *temple in the *vision. They showed what God would do years later. He would bring his servant the Branch to Jerusalem. This means that the Branch would also be a priest. There is more about the Branch in the notes after Zechariah 6:15. Isaiah chapters 40 to 55 also tell us about God’s servant.

Verse 9 The word translated ‘sides’ has several meanings in the *Hebrew language: eyes, faces, sides and fountains! Some Bible students say ‘fountains’ is a good translation because:

·     The water would make the Branch grow, verse 8.

·     The water would wash away *sin, verse 9.

·     The water would make the *vine and the *fig trees produce much fruit, verse 10.

·     Also, the stone would be like the rock in the desert. When Moses hit it, water came out, Exodus 17:6. Paul tells us that ‘that Rock was Christ’, 1 Corinthians 10:4.

Some Bible students translate ‘*engrave an *engraving’ in a different way. *Engrave means ‘write on a stone or rock’, and what you write is called an *engraving. But the *Hebrew word for ‘*engrave’ also means ‘open’. So they translate it, ‘Look! I will open an opening in it.’ This is what happened when Moses hit the rock. Water came from an opening in the rock. The ‘one day’ when God removes *sin is the day that Jesus died, Hebrews 7:27. So the end of the *vision looks forward to the life of Jesus. Chapters 9 to 14 often look forward to the life of Jesus.

There is also an *eschatological (future) meaning. On the day when Jesus returns, his people will trust him. So God will forgive them. See Zechariah 2:10-11 and Romans 11:26-27.

Verse 10 Notice the way that the sentence starts with ‘On the same day’. This emphasises the importance of the day. As a result, neighbours will sit and rest under each other’s fruit trees. *Vine trees and *fig trees are fruit trees. This is a picture of peace, friendship and *prosperity. *Prosperity means plenty of everything!

Something to do

1. Read the beginning of the story of Job, where *Satan is also in *heaven.

2. Study Bible verses that are about clothes. Here are some: Genesis 3:21; Exodus 28:2-5; Matthew 22:11-14; Ephesians 6:13-17 (from Isaiah 59:16-17); Revelation 21:2.

3. Look for ways that the Joshua (Jesus) in Zechariah 3 is like the Jesus (Joshua) in the *New Testament.

4. Make and keep a list of names for the *Messiah. Jesus is the *Messiah. These are some of Jesus’ Bible names. Always try to find two or more verses with the name in if you can. Below is a *table, which is a special way to show information.

 

Name

First witness

Second Witness

Other Witness

The Branch

Zechariah 3:8

Zechariah 6:12-13

Isaiah 11:1

The Rock

 

 

 

The Stone

 

 

 

The Servant

 

 

 

Chapter 4     *Vision 5: *Lampstand and *Olive Trees

v1 Then the *angel that talked to me returned. And he woke me up, as if he was waking up a man from his sleep. v2 And he said to me, ‘What do you see?’ And I said, ‘Look! I can see a *lampstand all of gold. And (there is) a basin on the top of it. (And there are) 7 lamps on it. (And there are) 7 pipes to the lamps that are on it. v3 Also (there are) two *olive trees by it. One (is) on the right of the basin and the other (is) on the left of it.’ v4 So I asked the *angel that spoke to me. I said, ‘What are these, my *lord?’ v5 And the *angel that spoke to me answered. And he said to me, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ And I said, ‘No, my *lord.’ v6 So he answered and spoke to me. He said, ‘This is the word of the *LORD to Zerubbabel. (The *LORD) says, “(Things will happen) not by strength, nor by power, but by my Spirit”, says the *LORD of Everything. v7 Whatever you are, (you) great mountain, you shall become a plain in front of Zerubbabel. And he shall cause the top stone to go up (onto the top of the *temple). And (people) will shout, “(There will be) *grace to it, *grace!” ’ v8 The word of the *LORD came to me again. (He) said, v9 ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have started to build this *temple and his hands shall complete it. And you shall know that the *LORD of Everything has sent me to you. v10 Do not laugh at the day of small things! People will be very happy when they see the *plumb-line in the hands of Zerubbabel. These seven eyes of the *LORD go through all the earth.’

v11 Then I answered and I said to (the *angel), ‘What are these two *olive trees? (They are) on the right of the *lampstand and on its left.’ v12 And I spoke to him again and asked, ‘What are these two *olive branches? They are at the sides of the two *golden pipes which pour out *golden (oil).’ v13 And he answered me and said, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ And I said, ‘No, my *lord.’ v14 So he said, ‘These are the two men (that God) *anointed. They stand by the *LORD of the whole world.’

Notes

Verse 1 This links with Zechariah 1:8, ‘I saw (something) in the night.’ Most Bible students think that Zechariah saw all 8 *visions in the same night.

Verse 2 Zechariah recognised a *lampstand. This is something that a lamp stands on. Here there were seven lamps. Each had a pipe that came from a basin. Probably, oil came from the basin and burned in the lamps. Students of history believe that this *lampstand is not the same as the menorah. The menorah is a *lampstand that *Jews use nowadays. They first used it about 100 *B.C. Zechariah lived about 500 *B.C.

Verse 3 The branches of the *olive trees were probably above the lamps. Olives are fruits that contain oil. The oil burns to give light. It is not the same type of oil that people use in cars.

Verse 4 The *olive trees and, perhaps, the *lampstand were a puzzle to Zechariah. He asked again about the *olive trees in verse 11. The question does not mean ‘What are these for?’ He knows that lamps give light and olives give oil. Zechariah asks rather, ‘What do these mean? Why are you showing me these?’ He probably knows that the *lampstand means the *Jews, but what do the two *olive trees mean? ‘My *lord’ here and in verses 5 and 13 means just ‘sir’.

Verse 5 The *angel does not reply until verse 14.

Verse 6 Verses 6-10 separate the *vision in verses 1-5 from its explanation in verses 11-14. Many Bible students say that these verses are a separate section. That may be true. But other Bible students think that chapter 3 is about Joshua, the leader of *Jewish religion. And they think that chapter 4 is about Zerubbabel, the political leader. The phrase ‘things will happen’ means, first, the new *temple will be built. It will not be human strength that does it. It will not be political power that does it. It will be the Spirit of God himself! This is God’s message to Zerubbabel, the political leader of the *Jews that returned from *exile.

Verse 7 There are problems for Zerubbabel. To him, these problems seem like a great mountain. But God’s promise is that they will become like a plain! The first stone or brick of a building is called the foundation stone. Zerubbabel had already put that in place, verse 9. He did it 15 years earlier, Ezra 3:8-11. Now God promises that Zerubbabel will finish the building. He will put the top stone into its place. Its place is at the top of the *temple. The words ‘*Grace to it, *grace’ may mean ‘it is beautiful’. But they also point to the future. *Grace is a special Christian word. It means that God is very kind to people when he does not have to be kind. He forgives them when he does not have to forgive them.

Verse 9 Read again the note on Zechariah 2:9 and Something to do number 2 after chapter 2.

Verse 10 In this verse and verse 9, ‘the hands of Zerubbabel’ mean the people that Zerubbabel ruled. He may have put the base stone in place himself, but his workmen built the *temple. Builders use a *plumb-line when they build walls. It shows them if the wall is standing up straight. It is a piece of *lead (plumbum in the Latin language!) on a piece of string. The *Hebrew words, however, mean ‘stone of tin’! Maybe Jesus is the stone. Then, this may look forward to a time when Jesus will be the judge of everybody!

‘The day of small things’ means the day when Zerubbabel began to build. Then his efforts to build seemed very poor. And people thought that he would never complete the building. But Zerubbabel would not complete it by his own strength or power. Zerubbabel would complete the *temple by the power of God’s Spirit.

‘The 7 eyes of the *LORD’ we could translate as ‘the 7 fountains of the *LORD’. Look at the note on 3:9. They would flow over all the earth. This would link this verse with 3:9. ‘The day of small things’ is a phrase common among Christians. It means ‘when not much happens’. We may laugh because nothing is happening. But Zechariah tells us that God will have the last laugh! God is always doing something!

Verse 11 This verse continues from verse 5.

Verse 12 *Golden probably means the colour of the oil. It was the colour of the metal called gold. The pipes were the same colour as the oil.

Verse 13 This really repeats verse 5.

Verse 14 The two men were people that God had *anointed to do his work. ‘*Anointed’ means ‘poured vegetable oil over’. This ceremony gave them authority to do God’s work. The two *anointed people were Joshua and Zerubbabel. Joshua was the chief priest, a member of the family of Aaron. Zerubbabel was a member of the family of David. The *Hebrew Bible calls them ‘sons of oil’. A priest probably poured the oil, not God himself. The priest was the servant of God.

What chapters 3 and 4 mean

The *lampstand represents the *temple and the *Jews that served the *LORD. Zerubbabel would build the *temple. And he would lead the people that lived in Judah. Joshua would lead them as they served God. What happened in Jerusalem would be like a light to everybody, Matthew 5:14. The *anointed ones, Joshua and Zerubbabel, would supply the oil that kept the lights burning. The oil means God’s Spirit. This is still true in the Church. The 7 *lampstands in Revelation 1:20 mean the Churches. The only true light is Jesus himself, John 8:12. God will complete his church as certainly as he completed his *temple in Jerusalem.

So, chapters 3 and 4 are not only about the *Jews’ return from *exile. They are also about Jesus, the *Messiah. When Zechariah wrote them, they were about the *Jews, the *temple and Jerusalem. But now they mean more than that. The rock (Zechariah 3:9), the stone (4:7) and the Branch (3:8) are things that make us think about Christ himself. Zechariah spoke ‘more than he knew’. There is a connection between the two ‘sons of oil’ and the *Messiah, Jesus. Notice that:

By means of Joshua, the chief priest, God forgives *sins. Therefore, people can come straight to God, chapter 3.

By means of Zerubbabel, the prince, the people complete the *temple. So, it is as if the light shines through all the world, chapter 4.

Something to do

1. Follow again through the book of Zechariah how important it is to build the *temple: 1:16; 2:4; 3:7 and 4:9.

2. Learn to say verse 6 by heart. (‘By heart’ means that you do not look at the words.) Remember that verse 6 is still true nowadays!

3. Read Isaiah 40:3-4. Which verse in Zechariah does it make you think about?

Chapter 5     *Vision 6: The Flying *Scroll

v1 Then I turned (round) and I looked up. And look, I saw a flying *scroll. v2 And he said (to me), ‘What do you see?’ And I answered, ‘I can see a flying *scroll. It is 10 metres long and 5 metres wide.’ v3 And he said to me, ‘This (*scroll contains) a *curse. It is going out across the whole country (of Judah). One (side) says that every thief will be outside (the *covenant). And (the other side) has a message for everyone that is not sincere about his promises (to God). (Such a person) will be outside (the *covenant).’ v4 The *LORD of Everything says, ‘I will send (the *scroll) out. It will go into the house of each thief. And (I will send it) into the house of each person that is not sincere about his promises (to God). (And the scroll with its curse) will stay in each house and it will destroy its wood and stone.’

Notes

Verse 1 A *scroll was the old form of a book. It was a very long piece of paper or leather. People would roll it up to make a *scroll. They wrote on both sides of the paper or leather. This *scroll was open. Therefore, everybody could read it as it flew past.

Verse 2 ‘He’ was probably the *angel in Zechariah 1:9. The *scroll was an unusual shape. Usually they were less than a metre wide.

Verse 3 A *curse is a bad thing that will happen to people. In this verse, there are two sorts of people. Firstly, there are those who are thieves. They are those who *sin against their neighbours. See the last 6 of the Ten Commandments. Secondly, there are those that are not sincere about their promises to God. See the first 4 of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are the laws that God gave to Moses in Exodus chapter 20. The *Covenant is the agreement between God and his people. ‘Outside the *covenant’ means ‘not one of God’s people’. This *curse, or bad thing, will happen to people who do not obey God’s laws. Such people will not continue to be God’s people.

Verse 4 So God will punish people that do not obey his law. When there is a new *temple and a new chief priest, people will have to obey God’s laws. If they do not obey, God will punish them.

The message of what Zechariah saw is very clear. God is kind. He wants to forgive people. But God is also a fair judge. We need to confess our *sins to him and to trust him. Otherwise, God will punish us.

Something to do

1. Read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. Notice those that are about:

·           our attitude to God;

·           our attitude to people.

2. Find something that is 10 metres long and 5 metres high. Imagine that the first 4 commandments are on one side and that the last 6 on the other side. Now imagine that it is flying over your country! Then pray that people in your country will obey God’s laws.

Chapter 5     *Vision 7: The Woman in a Basket

v5 Then the *angel that was speaking to me came forward. And he said to me, ‘Look up now and look at this! Look at what is appearing.’ v6 And I said, ‘What is it?’ And he answered, ‘This is a basket.’ And he added, ‘This is the *sin of the people in the whole country.’ v7 Then look! (Someone) raised the *lead cover (of the basket). And there was a woman who was sitting in the basket. v8 And he said, ‘(The woman actually means) something that is very wicked.’ And he pushed her back into the basket. Then he pushed the *lead cover down over the top of the basket. v9 Then I looked up. And look! I saw two women in front of me. And the wind was in their wings. They had wings like (a big bird called) a stork. And they lifted up the basket between the earth and the sky. v10 I asked the *angel that spoke to me, ‘Where are they taking the basket?’ v11 And he answered me, ‘(They are taking it) to the country called *Shinar. They will build a house for it (there). When it is ready, they will stand it on a base.’

Notes

Verse 6 The *Hebrew word for ‘basket’ is ‘ephah’. It was something that people used to measure grain. Most Bible students say that in the *Hebrew Bible it means the ‘*sin of the people’. It actually says, ‘This is their eye in all the country.’

Verse 7 The basket called an ephah was not big enough to put a normal woman in. Perhaps it was an image of a woman that was a false *goddess. A *goddess is a female god. The woman was raising the *lead cover. This probably means that the woman was trying to escape.

Verse 8 This teaches us that people, both men and women, can be evil. We could say that the *vision means ‘It is people who do evil things’. The *Hebrew word here for ‘wicked’ means all sorts of evil behaviour:

·     Socially evil behaviour. That means evil behaviour in the public life of our town.

·     Morally evil behaviour. That means evil behaviour in our own private and family lives.

·     Religious evil behaviour. That means evil behaviour in our church life.

The word ‘pushed’ in *Hebrew suggests a struggle. It was difficult for the *angel to close the lid of the basket. It was as if something very evil was trying to escape!

Verse 9 Bible students are not sure why two women took the basket away. It was the job of the priests to remove evil things. Probably ‘wind was in their wings’ meant that they flew very fast. But the *Hebrew word for ‘wind’ also means ‘spirit’. So, it could mean that God’s Spirit was taking the evil thing away.

Verse 11 Shinar is the old name for Babylon, Genesis 11:2. The house was a *temple where people would *worship the false *goddess. This means a special house where people could *worship the *goddess. ‘*Worship’ means to tell someone that you love them. Also, that you will obey them because they are so great. This *vision could mean that the *Jewish people would not *worship false gods in Jerusalem again. But elsewhere people still *worshipped false gods. Also, this *vision means that God would remove their evil behaviour from their country.

Something to do

1. Study some of the verses about Babylon in the Bible:

·     Genesis 11:1-9 The people in Babylon wanted to reach *heaven without God’s help.

·     Daniel 3:1-30 Babylon tries to hurt God’s people.

·     Isaiah 47:8-15 Babylon is a place where there are evil things and magic.

·     Revelation chapters 17 and 18 God’s *angels destroy the riches of Babylon.

2. Which of the Ten Commandments tells us not to *worship false gods and *goddesses? The Ten Commandments are in Exodus 20:1-17.

Chapter 6     *Vision 8: The Four *Chariots

v1 And I turned and I looked up. And this is what I saw. I saw four *chariots. They were coming out from between two mountains. And the mountains seemed to be *bronze mountains. v2 The first *chariot had red horses and the second *chariot had black horses. v3 And the third *chariot had white horses and the fourth *chariot had strong *dappled horses. v4 So I asked. I said to the *angel that spoke to me, ‘What are these, my *lord?’ v5 And the *angel answered. He said to me, ‘These are the four spirits of *heaven. They are coming out. Previously they were standing in front of the *Lord of the whole earth. v6 The (*chariot) with the black horses is going toward a country in the north. And the white (horses) are going after them. But the *dappled (horses) are going toward a country in the south. v7 When the strong (horses) went out, they wanted to go through all the earth.’ And he said, ‘Go through all the earth!’ And they went through all the earth. v8 Then (the *angel) called to me. He said to me, ‘Look at (the horses) that are going toward the country in the north! They have given my spirit rest in the country in the north.’

Notes

This *vision means that God’s Spirit will go through the whole world. God will overcome the evil rulers of the nations. And God will bring peace.

Verse 1 A *chariot is a special cart that soldiers used. Horses pulled them. *Bronze has two metals in it: copper and tin. *Bronze is also a colour: between yellow and brown. The two mountains were outside the place where God lives. Perhaps in the morning sun they looked yellow-brown! Since the first *vision (Zechariah 1:7-17) was at night, perhaps this one was in the early morning.

Verses 2-3 The first *vision mentions red, white and brown horses. Here, the colours are not all the same. ‘*Dappled’ means ‘with several colours’. The *chariots show us that God is doing something on the earth. Some translations have ‘grey’ instead of ‘strong’.

Verse 5 We could translate ‘spirits’ as ‘winds’. Whether winds or spirits, this means God’s ministers (servants). Psalm 104:4 says, ‘He (God) makes his *angels into spirits/winds. (He makes) his ministers like a burning fire.’ God sends these spirits or winds out. Previously they were standing in front of him in *heaven.

Verse 6 Some translations have ‘west’ instead of ‘after them’. Other translations add that the red horses go to the east. But this translation says what the *Hebrew Bible says. The other translations make small changes in the *Hebrew words. Perhaps they are right, but we do not really know.

Verse 7 Some translations have ‘grey’ instead of ‘strong’. Look at the note on verses 2-3. Probably, all the horses went through the earth.

Verse 8 This verse seems to mean that God is ruling in the ‘country in the north’, that is, Babylon. This *vision completes the series. God has:

·     taken his people back to Jerusalem from Babylon

·     encouraged them to build again his *temple in Jerusalem

·     made Joshua his chief priest

·     made Zerubbabel the political leader

·     removed evil things from the country of Judah

·     made clear that he (God) is ruler in Babylon

‘Rest’ in this verse means that God’s spirit is happy. What has happened has satisfied him. He has done all that he wanted to do in the world.

v9 A word of the *LORD came to me. And (the *LORD) said, v10 ‘Take (something) from Heldai, from Tobijah and from Jedaiah. They are *exiles who have arrived from Babylon. And go on the same day to the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah.

v11 And take silver and gold and make crowns. Then put them on Joshua’s head. He is the chief priest, the son of Jehozadak. v12 And speak to him. This is what the *LORD of Everything says. “Here is the man whose name is the Branch. He will grow up where he is. And he will build the *temple of the *LORD. v13 It is he that will build the *temple of the *LORD. And he will wear clothes like a king. Also, he will sit on his *throne and govern (his people). And (there) will be a priest on his *throne. And the two will agree with each other”.’ v14 But the crowns will be for Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen the son of Zephaniah. It will be something to remember in the *temple of the *LORD. v15 And people from far away will come and build the *temple of the *LORD. Then you will know that the *LORD of Everything sent me to you. And this will happen if you really obey the words of the *LORD your God.

Notes

Verse 9 This is a *Hebrew way to say ‘God spoke to me’. We often still call the Bible ‘the Word of God’.

Verse 10 Probably, these four men led a group from Babylon to Jerusalem. They had just arrived. They probably brought gifts with them. These gifts were the ‘something’ that the *Hebrew Bible does not name. Josiah was probably their leader.

Verse 11 The silver and gold were probably part of the ‘something’ in verse 10. Many Bible students think that there was only one crown. The plural may mean that:

There was one circle of silver and one of gold. Together, they made one crown.

It is an *Hebrew way to say that it was a wonderful crown.

Several old translations (*Greek and Syrian) have just ‘a crown’. In verse 14, the ‘crowns’ have a singular verb in the *Hebrew Bible. (A singular verb means that there is only one subject in the sentence.) Again, this probably means that there was only one crown. Some Bible students think that they put the crown on the head of the chief priest Joshua. Then they put it on the head of (prince) Zerubbabel. Other students think that there were two crowns. This is unlikely, because no old Bible has Zerubbabel in verse 11.

Verse 12 Zechariah probably meant that Zerubbabel was called the Branch. His name Zerubbabel was the word in the Babylonian language for ‘Branch of Babylon’. ‘Grow up’ in the *Hebrew language is ‘make a branch’. Zerubbabel finished building the *temple about 3 years after this. There are more notes on The Branch after the note on verse 15.

Verse 13 A *throne is a special seat that a king sits on. Here there must be two *thrones, one for the prince and the other for the chief priest. Read the note on The Branch.

Verse 14 These are probably the same 4 people from verse 10. Bible students do not know why some names are different. Notice that the verb is singular, although there are crowns. (A singular verb means that there is only one subject in the sentence.) The verse refers to the crowns as ‘it’. In the future, the priests would see the crown in the *temple. Then they would remember when it was on the head of Joshua. Perhaps it was also on Zerubbabel. Only the priests could go into the *temple itself.

Verse 15 ‘The people from far away’ may be:

·     those in verses 10 and 14; or

·     the people of God all over the world that make up God’s *temple.

The Branch

Zechariah refers to the Branch twice: in 3:8 and 6:12. A branch grows on a tree. Zerubbabel is a Babylonian name. It means ‘Branch of Babylon’. So ‘the Branch’ was probably how Zechariah referred to Zerubbabel. But in verse 13, Zechariah says that Zerubbabel will agree with the priest, Joshua. Prince and priest rule together. But after Zerubbabel, we do not know of any princes in Jerusalem. The chief priest alone seems to have ruled the people.

But 500 years later, there were kings in Jerusalem. There were several kings called Herod. But the Herods were not priests. Jesus also lived at that time. Hebrews 5:10 says that God appointed Jesus to be like Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a king and a priest (Hebrews 7:1). And we say that Jesus is both our king and our priest. For this reason, Bible students think that The Branch meant more than Zerubbabel, even to Zechariah. It was a name for a future king who would be a priest also.

Other *prophets also used the word ‘branch’ to refer to the *Messiah. Some verses include: Isaiah 4:2 and 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15.

A famous chapter of Isaiah says that ‘he grew as a delicate shoot’, Isaiah 53:2. A shoot is a part of a plant that is growing. On a tree, a shoot becomes a branch. So Isaiah 53 also tells us about ‘the Branch’! And Isaiah 53 tells us that the *Messiah will take away *sin. This is the job that a priest does. Jesus is the only priest that can really take away *sin. Notice also that Joshua is the *Old Testament word for Jesus!

Something to do

1. Follow the way that the 8 *visions move from:

·     the *temple in Jerusalem, to

·     the leaders and people in Judah, to

·     the whole world.

2. Study the verses that the note on The Branch refers to.

3.Perhaps God wants you to do something and you are afraid. Then remember Zechariah. God will keep his promises to you by means of the Bible, if you obey him. God will be like ‘a wall of fire round you’, Zechariah 2:5.

Chapter 7

v1 The word of the *LORD came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the 9th month (called) Kislev. This happened in the fourth year that Darius was the king (of Persia). v2 The (people that lived) in Bethel had sent men (to Jerusalem). (The men were) Sharezer, Regem-melech and the people that were with them. They came to ask the *LORD (a question). v3 They asked the priests in the house of the *LORD of Everything and they asked the *prophets (this). ‘Should I be sad and be separate (from people) in the fifth month? I have done this for many years.’ v4 Then the word of the *LORD of Everything came to me. (The *LORD) said, v5 ‘Ask all the people from the country (near Bethel). And (ask) the priests this (question). For the last 70 years, you did not eat food and you were sad. But did you really (do it) for me? You did not eat food (on particular days) in the 5th and 7th months. v6 When you ate, surely you ate for yourselves. And when you drank, surely you drank for yourselves. v7 These are the words that the *LORD spoke by the earlier *prophets. (He said these things) while people (lived) in peace and *prosperity in Jerusalem. Also, (he said them) while people still lived in cities near Jerusalem and the Negev and the Shephelah regions.’

v8 And the word of the *LORD came to Zechariah. (He must) say, v9 ‘The *LORD of Everything says this: You must give judgement with *justice and truth. And each man must show kind love and pity to other people. v10 Also, (he says), do not *oppress the widow and the *orphan. (And do not *oppress) foreigners and poor people. And in your hearts do not think evil things about each other.’ v11 But they refused to listen (to the earlier *prophets). They would not change their ways. And they turned their backs (on what *LORD teaches). And they refused to listen. v12 And they made their heart (as hard as) a stone. And they would not listen to the law nor to the words that the *LORD of Everything sent (to them). (He sent these words) by his Spirit to the earlier *prophets. So, the *LORD of Everything was very angry. v13 ‘When I called them, they did not hear. So, when they called me, I did not listen.’ (This is what) the *LORD of Everything is saying. v14 ‘Like a strong wind, I scattered them among all the nations. They were strangers there. Behind them, the land was wild and empty so nobody could even come or go (through it). This is how they made the pleasant land wild and empty.’

Notes

Verse 1 This was December 5, 518 *B.C. The people had almost rebuilt the *temple. Perhaps the priests were already burning animals to offer to God.

Verses 2, 3 This is a very difficult verse to translate. The *Hebrew Bible says, ‘He sent Bethel Sharezer and Regem-melech and his men to ask the *LORD.’ Who was ‘he’? Bible students suggest:

·     ‘He’ means ‘the people of Bethel’, as in our translation. Bethel was a town nearly 20 kilometres north of Jerusalem. When Israel divided from Judah, the people of Israel went to Bethel and Dan to *worship instead of to Jerusalem. 1 Kings 12:27-29 tells us this. Ezra 2:28 tells us that 223 *Jews went back to Bethel from Babylon. Perhaps ‘he’ in this verse means them.

·     ‘He’ was Darius, the King of Persia. This is unlikely, as it means that we must leave out the end of verse 1.

·     ‘He’ was a man called Bethel Sharezer. History students have found a man with this name in old papers from Babylon. He lived in Babylon at the time of Zechariah. Also, history students have found that Regem-melech is the name for an official from the king.

So, perhaps king Darius sent an official called Bethel Sharezer to Jerusalem. Ezra 7:7-9 tells us that it took about 3 months to travel from Babylon to Jerusalem. There was a *fast in the 5th month. If the official left Babylon at that time, then he would arrive in Jerusalem 3 or 4 months later. This agrees with verse 1. A *fast is when people do not eat food for reasons of religion. During this *fast, the people remembered when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586 *B.C. There were 4 *fasts that remembered this:

·     9th day of 4th month: Nebuchadnezzar’s men destroyed the walls of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 39:2;

·     5th month: Nebuchadnezzar’s men destroyed the *temple, 2 Kings 25:8;

·     7th month: murder of Gedaliah, 2 Kings 25:25; Jeremiah 41:1;

·     10th day of tenth month: Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem, 2 Kings 25:1, 2; Jeremiah 39:1.

So some Bible students say that the men did not come from Bethel. They could travel to Jerusalem in one day. Instead, *Jewish leaders in Babylon sent people to ask if they should keep the *fasts. People were now rebuilding Jerusalem, with its walls, its houses and its *temple. The important thing is not who asked the question. Rather the important point was what Zechariah answered. The answer was true for everyone, whether they lived in Jerusalem, Bethel or Babylon!

In order to ask their question, the men burned animals at the *temple as a gift to God. This was how they asked God questions in those days. The answer would come from a priest or a *prophet.

Verse 3 The ‘many years’ would be the time from 586 *B.C. to the time of Zechariah, 518 *B.C.

Verse 5 Zechariah mentions all 4 *fasts. See:

·     Zechariah 8:18, the fourth month;

·     Zechariah 7:3 and 8:18, the fifth month;

·     Zechariah 7:5 and 8:18, the 7th month; and

·     Zechariah 8:18, the 10th month.

The 7th month *fast was for the murder of Gedaliah. Perhaps it was (also) for the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur (a *Jewish special day). In this verse, the *Lord asks them why they kept these *fasts. In other words, what was their real reason? Was it to please God, or to please themselves? The ‘people in the country’ are those from Bethel, unless they are from Babylon. (See note on verses 2, 3). The *Lord’s answer would be true for all *Jews, wherever they lived.

Verse 6 We do not know how long they *fasted for (ate no food). Perhaps it was just for one day. Perhaps, like Muslims today, it was only in daylight hours. In this verse, the *Lord answers the question in verse 5. Whenever the people ate, they were eating to please themselves. And their fasts were also for their own benefit. The people were merely doing whatever they wanted to do. They were not trying to please God.

Verse 7 So the people were still trying to please themselves. God reminded them about his words by the earlier *prophets. These *prophets had warned the people about God’s punishment before it happened. The prophets warned the people because they were not obeying God’s laws. Instead, the people were doing whatever pleased them. Now, many years later, the people were still doing whatever pleased them. But God had not changed. He still wanted them to obey him.

The Negev was the region south of Jerusalem. The Shephelah was the country between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean Sea. Some Bible students think that an editor added verse 8 later. If he did, then ‘the earlier *prophets’ are those whose words are in verses 9-10. But the *Lord may be referring to what Isaiah said about *fasts in Isaiah 58:3.

Verses 9-10 These verses remind us of the words of the earlier *prophets Hosea, Amos and Micah. They include 4 important Bible words:

·     justice (mishpat in *Hebrew): to do the things that are fair and right, especially in the courts.

·     truth (emet). We should not merely speak the truth. We must also do the right things.

·     kind love (or *covenant love, or *mercy) (chesed): the *covenant was the agreement between God and his people. *Mercy means kindness when you do not have to be kind.

·     pity (racham): the same attitude that a mother has when she looks after her child.

God’s answer (by Zechariah) was this. Your religion does not matter if you do not obey God’s rules. These are God’s rules: *justice, truth, kind love (*mercy) and pity. We call this ‘social *justice’. In other words, everybody should do what is fair and right to everybody else. The foreigners may have been *refugees. These are people that run away from their own countries because of difficulties there.

Verses 11-12 Because there was no social *justice in earlier times, God punished his people. He sent Israel to *exile in Assyria. He sent Judah to *exile in Babylon. ‘Turned their backs’ is a way to say ‘they did not listen’. It is hard to make a mark on a stone. God, by Zechariah, means here that he could not make a mark on (or impress) his people. He could not make them change their minds. And he could not make them obey him. They did not want social *justice. Even God’s Spirit, by the earlier *prophets, did not make them obey him. So, God was very angry.

Verses 13-14 Because God was angry, he scattered his people. Some went to Assyria in about 720 *B.C. Some went to Babylon in about 600 *B.C. Perhaps some went to other places. When his people had left their land, it was desolate. ‘Desolate’ means that nobody remained in the land. So the land became wild. There were no farmers to grow crops. There were only weeds and wild animals. It was not now a pleasant land.

Something to do

1. Look for the words *justice, truth, kind love and pity in Hosea, Amos, Micah and Isaiah. Write them in the following *table:

 

Verse

Important Bible word

What it means

Hosea 4:1

 

 

Amos 5:24

 

 

Micah 6:8

 

 

Isaiah 1:17

 

 

2. Pray for social *justice in our world. Do what you can to help poor people, widows, *orphans and *refugees.

3. Read what the *New Testament says about *fasts. Look at Matthew 6:16-18; Acts 10:30; 14:23; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 11:27.

4. Learn to say Zechariah 7:9-10 by heart. (‘By heart’ means that you do not look at the words.)

Chapter 8

v1 Again, the word of the *LORD of Everything came (to Zechariah). (The *LORD told him) to say this. v2 ‘This is what the *LORD of Everything is saying. I am jealous for Zion, I am very jealous. I am jealous because I am so angry. v3 This is what the *LORD says. I will return to Zion and I will live in Jerusalem. Then (they will) call Jerusalem the City of Truth. And the mountain of the *LORD of Everything they will call the *Holy Mountain. v4 This is what the *LORD of Everything is saying. Old men and old women will sit again in the streets of Jerusalem. And everyone will have a stick in their hand, to help them to walk. (They will do this) because they are old. v5 And boys and girls will fill the streets of the city, as they play there. v6 This is what the *LORD of Everything is saying. Such things may seem impossible to the people that remain (here). But they will not seem impossible to me. This is what the *LORD of Everything says. v7 This is what the *LORD of Everything is saying. Look! I will save my people from countries in the east. And (I will save them) from countries in the west. v8 Then I will bring them (back) and they will live in Jerusalem. And they will be my people and I will be their God. I will do what I have promised (to them). And I will do what is right (for them).’

Notes

Some Bible students think that this is the last chapter of Zechariah. Chapters 9-13, they say, are by another *prophet. If so, this other prophet may also have the name ‘Zechariah’. If they are correct, then this book is like that of Amos, Isaiah and most other *prophets. It ends with a message of hope!

Verse 2 Notice that the word ‘jealous’ comes three times in this verse. In English, this would mean ‘very, very, very jealous’. The *Hebrew word for ‘so angry’ means to feel as if you are ‘on fire’. God loved his people so much that he felt angry (or on fire) with their enemies. Read Zechariah 1:15 again. This is what the word ‘jealous’ means here. Fire in the Bible nearly always means God’s anger. Zechariah says that God is jealous. So God is angry with the people that hurt the *Jews. In this verse, there is a special sort of *Hebrew poetry. It ends as it began. The *Hebrew order of words is:

I am jealous for Zion, I am very jealous.

I am very angry because I am jealous (for Zion).

Notice that the first three words are the same as the last three words. This often happens in *Hebrew poetry, but it is not easy to see in translations. Remember that words in ( … ) are not in the *Hebrew Bible.

Verse 3 God says that he will live in Jerusalem. This means that his *glory will again be in the *temple. The *glory of God means God’s greatness. Sometimes people saw a light that shines very brightly (Mark 9:3). This light shows that God really is there. The mountain of the *LORD is the hill called Zion. They built the *temple on this hill. The mountain was *holy because the *holy God lived there. ‘*Holy’ means ‘very, very good’. Only God is really *holy. God is everywhere. But God also wanted his people to know that he was specially with them in Jerusalem.

In this verse, Jerusalem has a new name. It is ‘City of Truth, the *Holy Mountain’. Two other *prophets gave Jerusalem a new name. See Isaiah 62:2-4 and Ezekiel 48:35.

Verses 4-5 The streets in these verses are really the squares in the city. There will be old people in them, and children in them. Previously there had been terrible wars in Jerusalem. People died before they were old. And enemy soldiers had taken children away to be slaves. But the *Lord was speaking about a time when Jerusalem would be at peace. People would live until they were very old. There would be many children. And the children would be happy as they played.

Verse 6 ‘Seem’ in the *Hebrew Bible is ‘in the eyes of’. In other words, this is what people see. ‘Impossible’ is something too wonderful to be true in the *Hebrew Bible. It is a miracle! A miracle means something that only God can do. ‘It will not seem impossible to me’ is really a question in the *Hebrew Bible. ‘Is it impossible to me?’ The answer that Zechariah expects is ‘No!’

Verse 7 Where will all these people (in verses 4 and 5) come from? God will bring them from the east and from the west. In the *Hebrew language, ‘east’ is ‘where the sun rises’ and ‘west’ is ‘where the sun sets’. ‘Save’ in this verse really means ‘bring from’. God scattered his people among the nations (Zechariah 7:14). Now he will bring them home again. This will include old people and children.

Verse 8 This emphasises the *covenant between God and his people. In this *covenant, God promised to help his people. They promised to love him and obey him. Many Bible students think that here Jerusalem is a sign. In other words, it will not be the present city of Jerusalem, but it will be a ‘new Jerusalem’. Other Bible students see it as the present Jerusalem, but with Jesus who will be ruling there as king. When it happens, it will not matter who is correct! This is because it is a message of hope!

v9 ‘This is what the *LORD of Everything is saying. Make your hands strong! Rebuild the *temple! (Do this) today, you people that heard. You heard what the *prophets said. They said it in the day that (builders) built the base of the house of the *LORD. (He is the *LORD) of Everything.

v10 Because before those days:

·     There were no wages for a man or (his) animals.

·     Nobody could go out or come in safely, because of the enemy.

·     I (the *LORD) had turned everyone against his neighbour.

v11 But now (I will make a new agreement) with the people that remain (in Judah). I will not deal with them as (I dealt) with them in the past. This is what the *LORD of Everything says. v12 Now it is safe (to plant) seed. The *vine will produce its fruit. And the ground will produce its crops. And the *heavens will drop their *dew. And I will cause the people that remain to have all these things. v13 House of Judah and house of Israel, as you were a *curse among the nations, (so) I will save you. Then you will be good for people. Do not be afraid. Make your hands strong!’

Notes

Verse 9 ‘Make your hands strong’ was a *Hebrew way to say ‘get ready for what you must do’. It is in:

·     the story of Joshua, Judges 7:9-11. Here, Joshua was getting ready for war.

·     the story of David and Jonathan, 1 Samuel 23:16-18. Here, Jonathan told David not to be afraid.

·     the story of Ezekiel, Ezekiel 22:14. Here, Ezekiel tells the people that God will scatter them. So their hands will not be strong.

This verse is complex. Not all Bible students translate it the same way. This translation says that the people heard the *prophets when the builders laid the base of God’s house. They heard the promise that God would build his house again. They had built the base two years before, in 520 *B.C. See Haggai 2:18. Now Zechariah was encouraging them to finish the work.

Verse 10 They did not start the building before 520 *B.C. because:

·     There was no sure employment.

·     There was no security from foreign enemies.

·     There was no security from neighbours.

This verse probably refers to 537-520 *B.C. The man and his animals means farmers. The enemies were the people that the soldiers from Babylon moved into Judah. Everything was in a bad state. Even neighbours argued! This was because God was punishing his people. ‘Turn against’ means ‘to argue with’, or perhaps ‘to fight against’.

Verse 11 They had started to rebuild the *temple two years before. Because of this, God started to do good things for his people again. The ‘people that remain’ are those that now live in Judah. Many of them had come from Babylon. Other people had not been into *exile.

Verse 12 Zechariah mentions some of the good things. The *Hebrew phrase for ‘safe seed’ is ‘seed of peace’. The *vine is a plant that grows fruit called *grapes. People make wine from *grapes. Here, the *heavens mean the skies. *Dew is water that comes onto the ground at night as it becomes cooler. In 520 *B.C., Haggai promised that these good things would happen. But they would only happen if people obeyed God. They must rebuild his *temple. Zechariah’s list is a short form of the *covenant. This was the agreement between God and his people. It is in Leviticus 26:3-13 and many other places in the *Old Testament.

Verse 13 ‘House of’ is an *Hebrew way to say ‘people of’. Zechariah put Judah first, unlike Jeremiah 5:11 and 11:10. ‘A *curse’ means to say or to hope that bad things will happen to someone. The nations hoped that bad things would happen to Judah. But now, good things will happen! So, Zechariah encourages his people to finish rebuilding God’s house in Jerusalem.

v14 ‘(Make your hands strong) because these are the words of the *LORD of Everything. (In the past) my purpose was to do bad things to you and not to pity you. (This was) when your fathers (and grandfathers) made me angry, says the *LORD of Everything. v15 But now I have decided to do good things again to Jerusalem and to Judah. (So), do not be afraid! v16 These are the things that you must do. Speak the truth to each other. Make sure that the judgements in your courts are honest and sound. v17 But do not make evil plans against your neighbour. Do not love to be a false witness (in court). Because I hate all of these things, says the *LORD.’

Notes

Verse 14 Bible students are not sure if ‘make your hands strong’ finishes verse 13 or starts verse 14. Our translation puts it in both places! The bad things included the *exile, as Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 4:27-29 and other places. But the people should be strong because of the promise in verse 15. ‘Fathers’ in this verse means grandfathers, great-grandfathers and so on. It also includes mothers and grandmothers!

Verse 15 The good things are in verses 12 and 13.

Verse 16 In the *Hebrew Bible, ‘truth’ and ‘honest’ are the same word, ‘emet’. Read again the note on Zechariah 7:9-10. The word ‘sound’ in *Hebrew is ‘shalom’. It means peace. It also means ‘something that satisfies people’. So it is more than just ‘peace’. So we could translate this part of verse 17 like this. ‘Make sure that your judgements are honest. And make sure that they satisfy people.’ The courts in many towns and villages were at their gates. There are examples of this in Deuteronomy 21:19; Ruth 4:1-12; Isaiah 29:21 and Amos 5:10.

Verse 17 These are some of the things that spoil peace. That is why God hates the things in verse 17.

v18 The word of the *LORD of Everything came to me again. (The *LORD) says (this). v19 ‘This is what the *LORD of Everything says (to you). The *fasts of the 4th (month) and of the 5th (month) will be full of joy and happiness. The *fasts of the 7th (month) and of the 10th (month will also be like this). They will be happy *festivals. Therefore, love truth and peace.’

Notes

Verse 18 The word of the *LORD has come to answer the question in 7:3. The answer is really in everything between 7:4 and 8:17, but now Zechariah makes it clear to everybody. God wants his people to obey the *covenant. God does not merely want them to keep *fasts to remember past troubles.

Verse 19 They only asked in 7:3 about the *fast in the fifth month. But here God includes in his answer all the major *exile *festivals. There is a list of them in the note on 7:3. A *festival is an important event. There is often music, singing, dancing and great feasts. From now on there must not be *fasts but feasts! The troubles are over. A *fast is when people eat nothing. A feast is when they eat a lot. And they drink a lot.

v20 ‘This is what the *LORD of Everything is saying. Many people will come in (to Jerusalem) and the inhabitants of many (other) cities (will come). v21 And the inhabitants of one (city) will go to (the inhabitants of) another (city). And they will say, “Let us go now to pray to the *LORD. (Let us go) to look for the *LORD of Everything. I am going myself in fact.” v22 And people from many countries and powerful nations will come to look for the *LORD of Everything in Jerusalem. Also, they will pray to the *LORD. v23 This is what the *LORD of Everything is saying. In those days, this (is what) will happen. Ten men, from all languages and nations, will (look for) one *Jew. They will hold firmly the edge of his coat. And they will say, “We have heard that God is with you. So let us go with you”.’

Notes

Verses 20-23 This section extends what Zechariah said in 2:11. It completes the section that deals with past and present history. Then it starts a section that looks to the future. The rest of the book, chapters 9-14, deals with the future. There are several interesting words and phrases in verse 23:

·     ten This is often a number that means ‘complete’ in the Bible. Examples are in Genesis 31:7; Leviticus 26:26; Judges 17:10; Ruth 4:2; 1 Samuel 1:8; Jeremiah 41:8. Perhaps here it is a picture of God’s ‘complete’ church.

·     all languages and nations This is what happened in Acts 2:5.

·     hold firmly Exodus 4:4 uses these words, about Moses who was holding on to the snake’s tail. 1 Samuel 17:35 uses them about David who was holding on to the lion’s beard. In both passages, the men would not dare to stop holding.

·     edge of the coat This may link with Ruth 3:9 and Ezekiel 16:8. When they spread the edge of their clothing over them, it gave these people the security of marriage. In the *New Testament, the Church is the bride of Christ, Revelation 21:2. And the name of the bride is Jerusalem!

·     let us go with you The *Jews went to the *temple to pray and to look for the *LORD. So this probably means that people from everywhere wanted to obey the *covenant. ‘God is with you’ reminds us of many Bible verses. Here are some examples: Genesis 21:22; Genesis 26:3, 24; Exodus 3:12; Joshua 1:5.

Something to do

1. Read the new names for Jerusalem in Isaiah 62:2-4 and Ezekiel 48:35.

2. Think about your town. Are there old people and children there? If not, pray that there will be. Old people and children are signs that God is doing good things in your town.

3. Read other verses where God says that nothing is too hard for him: Genesis 18:13-14; Jeremiah 32:26.

4. Read other verses about strong hands. (See the note on verse 9.)

5. Compare Haggai 1:6-11 with Haggai 2:18-19.

6. Pray for the things in Zechariah 7:9-10 and 8:16-17 to happen in your area. Do what you can to make them happen.

7. Study the verses in the note on Zechariah 8:23.

Chapter 9

v1 What the *LORD says warns (about punishment) to the country of Hadrach. (The punishment) will start at Damascus. (This will happen) because the *LORD is looking at everybody, including the people of Israel.

v2 (He is looking) at Hamath too, which is near (Damascus). (He is) also (looking) at Tyre and Sidon, although there are very skilful people (in both places).

v3 Tyre has built for itself a *stronghold. Also, (Tyre) has made heaps of silver like dust and (as much) gold as there is dirt in the street.

v4 (But) look! The *Lord will take away their possessions and he will destroy their strength in the sea. And fire will burn Tyre completely.

v5 Ashkelon will see these events and its people will be afraid. And Gaza will have so much pain that its people cannot rest. Also, (people in) Ekron will lose hope. Gaza will lose her king and nobody will live in Ashkelon.

v6 Foreigners will live in Ashdod. Then I will destroy everything that the people in Philistia are proud of.

v7 And I will take the blood away from their mouths. And (I will take) the food that they should not eat from between their teeth. Even the people that remain will belong to our God. And they will become leaders in Judah. Also, Ekron will be like the *Jebusites.

v8 But I will defend my house against armies that attack it. An enemy will never defeat my people again, because now my eyes are watching (them).

Notes

Verse 1 Hadrach was a town north of Hamath (verse 2). Hadrach, Hamath and Damascus were cities in the country called Syria. Damascus was the capital city of Syria. Some Bible students think that the end of the verse should be this. ‘Everybody, including Israel, is looking at the *LORD.’ It is not possible to say who is correct. Our translation fits better with the beginning of the verse.

Verse 2 There is still a town at Hamath today. It is called Hama. Tyre and Sidon were towns on the Mediterranean coast. They were to the west of Syria.

Verse 3 Tyre was a great city. Part of it was on an island, about 1000 metres from the coast. They built a wall round it. It was about 1000 metres long, 10 metres wide and very high. Because nobody could get into Tyre, it was called a strong place, or a ‘*stronghold’. In verses 2 and 3, we learn that the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon had:

·     wisdom They were very clever (verse 2).

·     defence They built a *stronghold (verse 3).

·     wealth They had as much silver and gold as there was dust and dirt (verse 3).

But these could not stop the *LORD from destroying them (verse 4).

Verse 4 Notice this: It is the *LORD who will destroy Tyre and Sidon, not an enemy army. So some Bible students do not think that this describes what Alexander the Great would do. Read the Special Note after the note on verse 8. ‘The *stronghold in the sea’ was the island part of Tyre.

Verse 5 Ashkelon, Gaza and Ekron were cities where the people called *Philistines lived. In this verse, God speaks about these cities as if they were people.

The people in those cities will see what happens in Tyre and Sidon. Then, they will be afraid. Those cities were on the Mediterranean coast. There had been 5 of them, but an enemy destroyed Gath 200 years earlier, 2 Chronicles 26:6. So, at the time of Zechariah, there were only 4 Philistine cities. The other city was Ashdod, which is in verse 6.

Verse 6 Notice that something happens in the middle of this short verse. Suddenly, God says what he will do! He will destroy everything that is valuable to the people in Philistia. The word ‘foreigner’ may mean ‘bastard’. A bastard is the child of people that are not married. Alexander the Great was a bastard. Therefore, many Bible students think that these verses are about what he did to Tyre and Sidon. He was the only leader whose army entered the island of Tyre. And he defeated the city.

Verse 7 The people called *Philistines drank blood and they ate animals including dogs, pigs and mice. It was part of their religion (Isaiah 65:4; 66:3, 17). But God will take away these things. Then the *Philistines will be as God’s people. They will even become leaders in Judah. This surprised Zechariah and it made him use the word ‘even’! The *Philistines would be like the *Jebusites. King David allowed them to become part of Israel. He did this when he first defeated Jerusalem. He made it his capital city, 2 Samuel 5:6-9.

Verse 8 This verse tells us that this section is *eschatological. In other words, it is about the time when Jesus will return to the earth as ruler. We know this because the *Romans attacked the *temple in A.D. 70. Then they defeated God’s people. A.D. means ‘years after Jesus came to the earth’. When Jesus returns to earth, nobody will defeat him or his people.

Special Note

We can look at the last 6 chapters of Zechariah in these ways:

1) They tell about the future history of the *Jews, including the time when Jesus would come to the earth.

2) They are *eschatological. They tell about the time when Jesus will return to the earth as ruler.

3) They probably include (1) and (2).

So Zechariah 9:1-8 may be about Alexander the Great. He was the King of Macedonia who destroyed Tyre in 333 *B.C. He did not destroy the *temple in Jerusalem, however. But these 8 verses are also a good section to start the main *eschatological part of Zechariah. Some of chapters 1-8 also have *eschatological parts.

Zechariah 9:1-8 tells us that:

·     the land outside Judah will become God’s land;

·     many people who are living in these countries will serve God.

A Bible student whose name is R. Mason wrote this. ‘If there is hope for the *Philistines, there is hope for all (people).’ (Cambridge New English Bible Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, Cambridge University Press, 1977)

Something to do

1. Find a map. On it, look for the Philistine and Syrian cities in verses 1-6.

2. The *Roman word for Ashdod was Azotus. Read about the work of Philip in the cities of Gaza and Ashdod, Acts 8:26-40. Does this make you think of anything in Zechariah 9:1-8?

3. Pray that Jesus will soon return to the earth as its ruler. ‘Even so, come, *Lord Jesus’, Revelation 22:20.

v9 Be very happy, *Daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, *Daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your king is coming to you. He is *righteous and he has *salvation. He is gentle and he is riding on a *donkey. (He is riding on) a young *donkey that is the *foal of a *donkey.

v10 And I will take away the *chariot(s) from Ephraim and the (war)-horses from Jerusalem. (I) will destroy the battle-bow. And he will speak (about) peace to the nations. And he will rule from sea to sea. And (he will rule) from the river to the ends of the earth.

Notes

Verse 9 Read the note on Zechariah 2:10 for what ‘Daughter of’ means. Read also Zephaniah 3:14. Here are some verses from Genesis 49:

(v10) The *sceptre will not leave Judah until Shiloh comes. And there will always be a law-giver between his feet. And the people will gather (together) to him.

(v11) He will tie his young *donkey to a *vine and his *donkey’s *foal to a very good *vine.

He will wash his clothes in wine. (He will wash) his clothes in the blood of *grapes.

(v12) His eyes are darker than wine and his teeth are whiter than milk.

These verses are mysterious. Also, they excite Bible students! They are mysterious because we are not certain about their meaning. And they excite us because they tell us about a wonderful event in the future. Jacob spoke these words just before he died. Here are some notes on these verses:

·     sceptre This is a special stick that is a sign of authority.

·     Judah He was the fourth son of Jacob (and Leah), Genesis 29:35. The word ‘judah’ means ‘praise’. The kings of the country of Judah were from the family of Judah. Two exceptions are Saul and Ishbosheth, 2 Samuel 2:20.

·     Shiloh Nobody knows what this word means. Some people think that it means ‘Prince of peace’. Many Bible students think that it is a name for the *Messiah. The *Greek word for *Messiah is Christ.

·     law-giver He is someone with authority, like a king.

·     between his feet This is a way to say the children, grandchildren and so on that come after him.

·     the vine This is a small tree. *Grapes grow on it. The grape is a fruit that makes wine. If you can tie a horse to it, it must be a strong tree! That means that the land produces strong plants.

·     wash in wine This means that the land will give very much fruit. People could wash in wine instead of water!

·     blood of *grapes This is a way to say ‘wine’, in poetry.

All through the *Old Testament, *prophets said that a special king (or *messiah) would come. Examples are Isaiah 9:6-7; 11:1-5; Micah 5:2-4; Psalm 72:1-11; 89:38-45. The passage from Genesis 49:10-12 refers to this king. And Zechariah wrote, ‘Your king is coming to you.’ Who is the king, and when will he come?

Who is the king? The answer is in the *New Testament, in the *Gospels of Matthew (21:1), Mark (11:1) and Luke (19:29). They describe Jesus as he came in to Jerusalem. He was riding on the *foal of a *donkey. Matthew mentions two *donkeys!

When will he come? He came to Jerusalem 2000 years ago, but he will come again. That is when there will be peace in all the world. Therefore, this section of Zechariah tells us about Jesus when he came the first time. It also tells us about when he will come again.

The *Hebrew Bible says, ‘He is *righteous, (and he) has *salvation. (He) is gentle and he is riding on a *donkey.’ The words ‘has *salvation’ are a puzzle to Bible students. Some say that it means that he can save other people. This is true. He can save people and he does save them. But other Bible students say that the *Hebrew word means that somebody saved him. If so, then God saved him and sent him to Jerusalem. This could refer to the times when people tried to kill Jesus. But God made him safe until Jesus came to Jerusalem on a young *donkey. Look at Something to do number 1 below. Certainly, God saved him when he raised Jesus from the dead. The other words are:

·     righteous This means very, very good. Only God is really *righteous. Therefore, this means that Jesus is God.

·     gentle Some translations have ‘poor’. But ‘gentle’ reminds us of Isaiah’s picture of the *Messiah, God’s servant, in Isaiah 42:1-4. See also Matthew’s description in Matthew 11:29.

·     riding on a donkey … the foal of a donkey. A foal is a young animal and a donkey is like a small horse. Kings of Israel rode on donkeys, but Alexander the Great rode a big horse. Perhaps this verse tells us that Jesus is not like Alexander. Matthew seems to say that Jesus rode on a *donkey and its *foal. But Mark and Luke write about only one animal! We should probably translate Matthew’s ‘*donkey and young *donkey’ as ‘*donkey, even a young *donkey’. The same word means both ‘and’ and ‘even’ in the *Hebrew language.

Verse 10 The Old *Greek Bible has ‘he will take away’. Several English translations follow this. But if the *Hebrew Bible is right, then God does some things. He saves the *Messiah from his enemies and he raises him from the dead. And the *Messiah himself does other things. He rides into Jerusalem on a *donkey. If he wrote today, Zechariah would probably not write about horses, *chariots and bows and arrows. He would probably write about tanks, war-planes, bombs and guns instead!

From ‘sea to sea’ means from the Red Sea (near Egypt) or the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. From ‘the river to the ends of the earth’ means from somewhere south of Jerusalem to the River Euphrates in the east. Zechariah probably meant the whole of the land where the *Jews should have lived. This is in Exodus 23:31; Numbers 34:1-15 and Ezekiel 47:15-21. They never lived in all this land. But this was what they hoped for. In the end, Jesus will return to the earth. Then God’s people will live where God wants them to live.

Something to do

1. Read these verses. Somebody tried to kill Jesus, but God saved him: Matthew 2:6-18; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 4:9-12; 4:29-30; John 5:18; 8:59; 10:31. Now read verse 9 in our translation again. Does it describe the life of Jesus?

2. Pray for peace on earth, especially that the Prince of peace (Shiloh?) will return soon to the earth.

v11 As for you (*Daughter of Zion), because of the blood of your *covenant I will (do this. I will) take your prisoners out of the *pit where there is no water.

v12 Return to the *stronghold, you prisoners that have hope. Even now, I tell you that I will give back to you double. (You will receive twice as much as you lost.)

v13 I will bend Judah as I bend my bow. I will use Ephraim (as arrows). I will use your sons, Zion, against your sons, Javan. And I will make you like the sword of a great soldier.

v14 Then the *LORD will appear over them. And his arrow will flash like lightning. And the *Lord, (who is) *LORD, will blow on the *horn. And he will march with the storms of Teman.

v15 Then the *LORD of Everything will protect (his) people. And they will destroy (their enemies). They will walk on the stones (that the enemy) fires at them. And they will drink and they will make a noise like drunks. They will be full like a bowl at the corners of the *altar.

v16 And the *LORD their God will make them safe on that day. (They will be) like the *flock of his people. Also, they will shine in his country like *jewels in a crown.

v17 Yes! They will be attractive and beautiful! Grain will make the young men grow well. And new wine will make the young women (grow well).

Notes

Verse 11 God will do something because of the *covenant. This was an agreement between God and his people. They agreed to love and obey him. He promised to look after them. They killed and burned animals to make the *covenant official. This is called the ‘blood of your *covenant’ here. It started with Abraham, Genesis 15:9-11. It continued with Moses, Exodus 24:5-8. Then it happened every day in the *temple in Jerusalem, Exodus 29:38-46. In the *New Testament, Jesus used the phrase ‘blood of the *covenant’ to describe his death, Mark 14:24. Christians remember this ‘blood of the *covenant’ in the *Lord’s Supper, called *Holy Communion or Mass by many Christians. The word ‘testament’ also means ‘*covenant’. So our Bibles have an Old *Covenant and a New *Covenant. God will take the prisoners away from the prison. The prison here is a deep hole in the ground. It is a sign of their place of *exile. These prisoners may be the people that have not yet returned to Jerusalem.

Verse 12 In Isaiah 22:10, the walls of Jerusalem are ‘the *stronghold’. God calls his people back to this *stronghold, to Jerusalem. The hope was probably for the king of verses 9-10. ‘Double’ may mean:

·     They would have twice as much joy as the *sorrow that they suffered. *Sorrow means to feel very unhappy.

·     They would receive the double share that the oldest child would receive, Deuteronomy 21:17.

·     Twice as many people would live in Judah.

Verse 13 Here God says that his people are like weapons of war! Weapons is another word for arms. They are fighting the sons of Javan. This means people from Javan. But where is Javan? It has two possible meanings:

·     Greece Therefore, some Bible students think that it is about wars with Greece, 2 or 3 centuries after Zechariah died.

·     Distant parts of the world, as in Genesis 10:1-5 and Isaiah 66:19. Therefore some Bible students say that it has an *eschatological meaning.

Notice that Judah and Ephraim do not fight. God uses them to help him control the whole world. Ephraim is another name for Israel.

Verse 14 This is the language of theophany. Theophany means to see God when he does something on the earth. There are examples of this in 2 Samuel 22:8-18, Psalm 29 and Habakkuk 3:3, 11. Here God is in a great storm. The *horn is ‘shofar’ in the *Hebrew language. It is the *horn of an animal. (A horn is something that grows on an animal’s head.) A *horn made a noise when someone blew into it. Perhaps here it is a sign of *thunder. *Thunder is the noise that comes with lightning. Teman was south of Jerusalem. It was a desert place where there were many storms.

Verse 15 Here, Zechariah describes the battle as if it were a great party. God’s people would defeat the enemy. God’s people would kill their enemies as easily as if they were eating food. The noise like drunk people does not mean that they are drunk. It means that their shouts are very loud. And there is no wine. But the blood of the enemy soldiers looks like wine. God’s people are full, like a bowl that is full of wine to pour on the *altar in the *temple. This means that the battle will be a terrible punishment for God’s enemies. See Revelation chapter 16.

Verses 16-17 A *flock of animals is a group of animals. God’s people are called his *flock. They are so precious to him, that they are like *jewels in a crown. A *jewel is a precious stone, such as a diamond. New wine means fresh fruit juice.

Special note

Like other sections of Zechariah chapters 9-14, here is a section that can have a meaning in history. It can also have second meaning when Jesus returns to the earth. Both meanings tell us that God keeps his promises. He does what his *covenant promises to do. He will protect his people at all times.

Something to do

1. Study the words ‘blood of the *covenant’, or similar words, in these passages: Exodus 24:8; Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; John 6:53-56; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 10:4, 19-22.

2. Start to make a list of Zechariah’s *prophecies in the life of Jesus. Put it in the form of a *table like this one:

What Zechariah wrote

Where he wrote it

Where it is in the *Gospels

The king would ride on a *donkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep the list. Add to it when you find other examples.

Chapter 10

v1 Ask the *LORD for rain in the springtime. It is the *LORD who makes the storm clouds. Also, he gives heavy rain to people and to all the plants in everybody’s field(s).

v2 Now, the images of false gods tell lies. And people that use magic tell lies. They talk about dreams that they do not have! (So) they comfort people in vain. Therefore, (the people) wander like sheep. They are in trouble because they do not have a *shepherd.

Notes

Verse 1 There were two rainy seasons in Israel and Judah. The first (or former) rain was in the autumn. The second (or latter) rain was in the springtime. Springtime was in March and April in Judah and Israel. They planted seeds in the autumn. The former rain made the seeds grow. The second rain came just before the harvest, so the crops were good. Zechariah tells the people that only the *LORD can send rain. The false gods (teraphim, verse 2) cannot send rain. We need rain to produce our food. Even today, only God can send rain. In verses 1 and 2, rain is a sign of what our spirits need. Only God can supply that also.

Verse 2 ‘Images of false gods’ is teraphim in the *Hebrew language. People kept teraphim in their houses and they prayed to them. We do not know how they got the answers. But the answers did not come from God. So the answers were always lies. Perhaps the answers came from people that used magic. Samuel told the people not to use magic, 1 Samuel 15:23. But Hosea 3:4 tells us that they still used teraphim 300 years later. Here, Zechariah also writes about people that use teraphim. Such people are like sheep that have no *shepherd. After the *exile, most *Jews did not use teraphim. But this verse suggests that perhaps a few people did still use them.

v3 ‘My anger was great against the *shepherds and I punished the leaders (of the people). Now the *LORD of Everything will care about his *flock (which is) the house of Judah. And he will make them like his royal horse in a battle.

v4 From him will come out:

·     a corner stone;

·     a *tent peg;

·     a battle bow;

·     They will all rule together.

v5 And they will be like heroes. They will *tread down the mud of the streets in the battle.

And they will fight because the *LORD is with them. And they will cause shame to (men) that ride on horses.

v6 And I will make the house of Judah strong and I will save the house of Joseph. And I will give them back (their freedom) because I have pity for them. Then, because I am the *LORD their God, I will answer them. They will be as if I had not sent them away (into *exile).

v7 The (men from) Ephraim will become strong. And their hearts will be glad as if (they had drunk) wine. And their sons will see (it) and they will be very happy. So their hearts will *rejoice because of the *LORD.

v8 I will blow a whistle for them and I will gather them in. (I will do this) because I have bought them. Then there will be as many of them as there were before.

v9 I scattered them among the nations. But, in distant countries, they will remember me. They will live there with their children, then they will return (home).

v10 And I will bring them back from the country of Egypt and I will gather them from Assyria. And I will bring them to the land of Gilead and Lebanon. And they will not find (enough room) for them (all).

v11 And he will pass through a sea of trouble, but he will make the waves of the sea calm. And even the deepest parts of the (River) Nile will become dry. Also, the proud people of Assyria will be humble. And the *sceptre of Egypt will go away.

v12 I, the *LORD, will make them strong and they will walk in (the *LORD’s) name.’ This is what the *LORD says.

Notes

Verse 3 ‘The *shepherds’ means the leaders of the people. ‘Leaders’ in the *Hebrew language is ‘male goats’. God says that he visited the leaders. And God adds that now he will visit the people. The word ‘visit’ is a special Bible word. When God ‘visits’ people, God may do good things for those people. Or, God may punish people when he visits them. So we have translated the first visit as ‘punish’ and the second visit as ‘care about’. The ‘house of Judah’ means the people that live in Judah. They have returned from *exile in Babylon. God sees them as his sheep, so he calls them his *flock. A *flock is a group of animals.

Verse 4 ‘From him’ may mean from Judah or from the *LORD. Verse 3 mentions both of them.

Here are three words for a leader:

·     corner stone This is the stone at the top of a building that holds it together. It stops the building from falling down. A number of verses use it to mean ‘leader’. These verses include Isaiah 19:13. In Easy English’s translation, it is: ‘The princes in Zoan have made fools of themselves. The princes of Noph have confused each other. The leaders of the groups (of people) have made Egypt choose wrongly.’ The word ‘leaders’ is ‘corner stones’ in the *Hebrew Bible. Also, the verses include Psalm 118:22. In Easy English’s translation, it is: ‘The builders threw away a stone. It is now in an important place at the corner (of the building).’ Peter uses ‘corner stone’ as a name for Jesus in 1 Peter 2:5-8.

·     tent peg This is something that stops the wind blowing the tent away. Isaiah uses the word to mean leader in Isaiah 22:23-24, which in Easy English’s translation is: ‘(v22) And I will put the key of the house of David on his shoulder. What he opens, nobody will close. What he closes, nobody will open. (v23) And I will fix him in place (like a) firm *tent peg. And he will bring honour to his father’s house.’

·     battle bow This is the only place in the Bible where it calls a leader a battle bow. But students tell us that many countries in the East use it to describe their kings.

‘They will all rule together’ means that the ruler will have all the qualities that these words represent. Notice what he will do:

·     He will bind his people together so that nothing scatters them, (corner stone).

·     He will make his people safe so that they do not fear danger, (*tent peg).

·     He will lead his people against all enemies, (battle bow).

These pictures describe future leaders of Judah. But they also describe Jesus, the perfect leader.

Verse 5 The leaders will be like heroes; but the greatest hero of all will be Jesus, the *Messiah! This is the language of war. The enemy is ‘(men) that ride on horses’. But it may not mean a military war. It may be a war against all kinds of evil things.

Verses 6-10 This section is mainly about Israel. When Zechariah wrote it, many people in Judah had returned from *exile in Babylon. God promised that he would make them strong, verse 6a. (‘a’ means the first part of a verse.) But the rest of verse 6, and all of verses 7-10, are probably about Israel. Israel was the northern part of the country, and Judah was the southern part. Other names for Israel in the Bible include Ephraim and Joseph. Assyria had taken them into *exile over 200 years earlier. But now God says that he will bring them home. Assyria scattered Israel in 722 *B.C. more than Babylon scattered Judah in 587-586 *B.C. (See 2 Kings 17:6.) But God will blow a whistle to call them wherever they are, verse 8!

Verse 6 Notice that God says, ‘I will answer them.’ He did not say this in Zechariah 7:13. But now he will hear their prayers. Their punishment is over.

Verse 7 This would make them *rejoice. *Rejoice means ‘show people that you are very, very happy’. It may still be in the future, because Zechariah says, ‘their sons will be happy’.

Verse 8 ‘Blow a whistle for them’ reminds us of Isaiah 5:26 and 7:18:

Isaiah 5:26 (The *LORD) will send a signal to distant nations. And he will (blow on his) whistle to one nation from the ends of the earth.

Isaiah 7:18 On that day, the *LORD will (blow his) whistle for the flies in Egypt. They are at the upper end of the river in Egypt. And he will call for the bees in the country called Assyria. (Bees are insects.)

‘Blow a whistle for’ means that God is ‘calling for’ people, as a *shepherd calls for his animals. They will hear him wherever they are. God calls for the people that he has ‘bought’. We do not know how he bought them here. But this word has another meaning in the *New Testament. Christians believe that Jesus bought us back from the devil. This happened when Jesus died, 1 Peter 1:18-19. Here, perhaps, God looks forward to the time when that will happen. Jesus’ death was 500 years after Zechariah wrote these words. There is a note on *Satan (the devil) after Zechariah 3:1-2.

Verse 10 They will come home from Assyria, which here probably includes Babylon and Persia also. They will also come home from other countries. Zechariah mentions Egypt. He says that God will take them home to Lebanon and Gilead. These places are near Israel. So many people will come back that they will need extra land!

Verses 11-12 Here, Zechariah uses history as an *eschatological sign. God brought his people from Egypt. The story is in the Book of Exodus. He will bring them again in the near future. And many Bible students think that it will happen again before the end of the world! In verse 11, the first ‘he’ is probably Ephraim (in other words, the people of Israel). And the second ‘he’ is probably the *LORD.

Something to do

1. Read Jeremiah 27:9 and Ezekiel 22:28. They tell us about false gods and people that use magic.

2. Add to your *table after chapter 9 (Something to do number 2) Matthew 9:36.

3. If you have a map, find the places that Zechariah mentions in chapter 10.

4. Study some verses in the *Old Testament that describe God or his servant as a *shepherd: Genesis 49:24; Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:11; and Ezekiel 34:23-24.

5. Study more verses about corner stones: Judges 20:2; 1 Samuel 14:38; Job 38:6; Isaiah 28:16.

Chapter 11

v1 Open your doors, Lebanon. Then fire will destroy your *cedar trees!

v2 Cry aloud, *juniper trees, because (he has) destroyed (your) *cedar trees. (He has) ruined the strong (trees). Cry aloud, *oak trees in Bashan, because (he has) chopped down the thick forest.

v3 Listen to the cry of the *shepherds, because (he) destroyed their rich fields. (He has) ruined the strong plants by (the River) Jordan. So listen to the noise that the lions make.

Notes

Verses 1-3 Some Bible students say that these verses are part of a poem that starts in Zechariah 10:10. Other Bible students do not agree. Bible students are not certain whether the leaders in verses 1-3 are *Jewish or foreign.

Verse 1 *Prophets often linked Lebanon and Bashan, Isaiah 2:13; Jeremiah 22:20 and Ezekiel 27:5-6. *Cedar trees grew well in Lebanon. Ezekiel, in chapter 17 of his book, compared the royal family of Judah to a *cedar tree. Here, the *cedar trees may mean the leaders of many nations.

Verse 2 The *juniper trees, strong trees and *oak trees probably also mean the leaders of nations. ‘He’ in this verse and verse 3 is probably God. Zechariah does not tell us how God will do these things.

Verse 3 *Shepherds are sheep farmers. In Jeremiah 25:34-37, *shepherds mean the rulers of foreign nations. The lions make a noise. This is because someone, perhaps God, has destroyed their homes. This makes them dangerous. Again, like *shepherds, lions mean the leaders. Read Jeremiah 50:44 and Ezekiel 19:1-9.

v4 This is what the *LORD my God is saying. ‘Be a (good) *shepherd to the *flock. (An enemy) will kill them. v5 The people that buy them will kill them. But (these people will say) “We are not guilty!” The people that sell them will say, “Praise the *LORD, because I have become rich.” And the *shepherds will not pity the *flock. v6 So I will not continue to pity the people of the country’, says the *LORD. ‘Look! I will hand over everyone to his neighbour and to his king. And they will *oppress the country, but I will not rescue them from their power.’ v7 So I became the *shepherd of the *flock that (an enemy) had decided to kill. (I did this) for the people that bought and sold the sheep. Then I took two poles and I called one (pole) ‘Pleasant’. And I called the other (pole) ‘Union’. So I was the *shepherd of the *flock. v8 Then I removed three *shepherds in one month. Also, I became impatient with the (*flock) and they hated me. v9 And I said, ‘I will not be your *shepherd. Let the people that are dying die. Let (the enemy) destroy the people that the (enemy) is destroying. Let any (people) that remain destroy each other.’ v10 Then I took my pole (called) ‘Pleasant’ and I broke it. (I did this) to break my *covenant that I had made with all the nations. v11 I broke it on that day. Then all the people that bought and sold the sheep were watching me. And they knew that this was the word of the *LORD. v12 And I said to them, ‘If you so desire, then give to me my pay. But if not, then keep it.’ So they weighed 30 (pieces) of silver for me. v13 Then the *LORD said to me, ‘Throw to the *potter the generous wage that they paid to you.’ So I took the 30 (pieces) of silver. And I threw them to the *potter in the house of the *LORD. v14 Then I broke my second pole (called) ‘Union’. This broke the union between Judah and Israel.

v15 Then the *LORD said to me again, ‘Take the equipment of a foolish *shepherd.

v16 (Do this) because I am going to put another *shepherd in the country. (This is how this shepherd will behave:)

·     (He will) not look for the people that are missing.

·     (He will) not search for the people that have wandered away.

·     (He will) not cure those that have injuries.

·     (He will) not feed the healthy.

·     But he will eat the meat from the best sheep. He will tear off their *hoofs.

v17 Bad things will happen to the *worthless *shepherd who leaves his animals. I hope that a sword will strike his arm and his right eye. Then his arm will die away and his eye will see nothing.’

Notes

Many Bible students say that this is a very difficult part of Zechariah to understand. To help us, some Bible students divide it into three sections:

Verses 4-6 The *LORD gives his people one last chance to obey the *covenant. He gives them a good *shepherd, or leader. But God knows that it will end with failure.

Verses 7-14 The people do not accept the good leader.

Verses 15-17 So the *LORD lets them have a bad leader instead.

In this section, we can imagine that Zechariah is telling a story. It is about Judah, Israel and their *shepherds (leaders). Zechariah says the words of God. Some *shepherds (leaders) were good, but other shepherds were bad. The people did not want the good *shepherds (leaders). The *New Testament tells us that the real ‘Good *Shepherd’ is Jesus. Read the section after the note on verse 14 called 'Who was the *Potter?'

Verse 4 A *shepherd is a sheep farmer. A *flock is a group of animals like sheep or goats. But here the *flock means God’s people and the *shepherd is their leader. God asks Zechariah to be the *shepherd, or leader, because their present leaders are bad leaders. Bible students do not know if Zechariah actually did these things. Perhaps he merely wrote about them. But some *prophets did act their *prophecies. Look in Something to do, number 3.

Verse 5 Notice two things here:

Some people buy the sheep. They are the foreign enemies. They want the female sheep to have many *lambs. A *lamb is a baby sheep. They will have much wool and meat. Other people sell the sheep. They are the bad leaders in Israel. They will have much money from the sale. Remember that the sheep here mean God’s people. The bad leaders and enemies hope to get a profit from what they do.

There is a special sort of humour here called ‘*irony’. It means that the words mean the opposite of what they say. In fact, the enemy is guilty. And God did not make the bad leaders rich.

Verse 6 The *LORD knew that the good *shepherd would not save the *flock. Their present leaders would scatter them and their enemies would *oppress them. Some Bible students think that ‘the country’ here may mean ‘the whole earth’. The *Hebrew Bible uses the word ‘hand’ three times here:

·     to the hand of his neighbour

·     to the hand of his king

·     from the hand of those that *oppress people

Each time, ‘hand’ here means ‘power’. ‘*Oppress’ means ‘to be very, very unkind to people, especially if you want to gain money’.

Verse 7 Bible students do not agree how to translate ‘the people that bought and sold the sheep’. Some think that it should be ‘the people that the enemy *oppresses’. Most agree with our translation, but some, such as The New International Version, do not. Both translations can teach us something. The first pole is called ‘pleasant’. This means God. Read Psalms 27:4 and 90:17. The second pole is called ‘union’. This means God’s people, Judah and Israel.

Verse 8 Who were the three *shepherds? Bible students have suggested over 40 answers to this question! Perhaps three just means all the bad leaders, because three often means ‘complete’ in the Bible. If Zechariah is saying how God feels, then:

Isaiah 1:13 is an example of when God is becoming impatient with his people.

And John 15:25 tells us that Jesus said, ‘They hated me without a cause.’

Verse 9 Zechariah has said how God feels. Then here he tells us what God will do. He will let their enemies destroy his people.

Verse 10 ‘All the nations’ probably means ‘all God’s people in all the world’. Here God breaks his *covenant with his people. This means that he cancels it. In the *covenant (a word that means ‘agreement’):

·     his people agree to love and obey God;

·     God agrees to lead and protect his people.

But because the people wanted bad *shepherds (leaders), God cancels the *covenant.

Verse 11 The bad *shepherds wanted the good *shepherd to go. Then they could be rich again, verse 5! See also the note on verse 7.

Verse 12 Because he said in verse 9, ‘I will not be your *shepherd’, he could not ask them to pay him. But they gave him 30 (pieces) of silver. Nehemiah 5:15 tells us that this was a large amount of money. Notice that they ‘weighed’ it. This tells us that there were no coins at that time.

Verse 13 Read the note below, 'Who was the *Potter?'

Verse 14 The union between Judah and Israel broke when Solomon died, 400 years before. But both were still the *LORD’s people. Now, the break would be permanent. Perhaps it means the break between the people of Judah and the Samaritans. The Samaritans later lived in Israel, John 4:9.

Who was the *Potter?

Matthew 27:3-10 says:

(v3) Judas led Jesus’ enemies to him. Then (Judas) saw that (these enemies) wanted Jesus’ death. So Judas was sorry. And he brought the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and to the leaders (of the people). (v4) And he said, ‘I have done what is wrong. I have led his enemies to kill an innocent man.’ And they said, ‘That does not matter to us. You do something about it.’ (v5) And he threw down the pieces of silver in the *temple. Then, he went out and hanged himself. (v6) And the chief priests gathered up the silver pieces. And they said, ‘It is against the law to put them in the *treasury, because it is the price of blood.’ (v7) And they decided to buy with them the *potter’s field. They decided to bury foreigners in it. (v8) So they call that field even today, ‘The field of blood’. (v9) Then what Jeremiah the *prophet said would happen did happen. He said, ‘And they took the 30 pieces of silver. The people of Israel said that I was worth this price.’ (v10) They gave them for the *potter’s field, as the *Lord had said.

The two words *treasury and *potter sound very similar in the *Hebrew language. A *treasury is where you keep your valuable things and your money. A *potter is someone that makes pots. Bible students are not sure which word Zechariah used in verse 13. So, some translations have ‘I threw them to the *treasury.’ Matthew used both words.

Why did Matthew say that Jeremiah said these words? Perhaps it was because Jeremiah saw a *potter at work near the *temple in Jerusalem, Jeremiah 18:6 and 19:1. Or perhaps, Jeremiah did write the last 6 chapters of the book that we call Zechariah. We do not know.

Another interesting idea is this: Perhaps the word *potter means someone that melted gold and silver. Some Bible students think that there was someone like this near the *temple. He melted the gold and silver pieces that people offered to God. He made something new from them. The *Hebrew word for *potter means ‘someone that shapes things’.

Verse 15 Now the *prophet must act the part of a bad *shepherd. Here, God says that he is ‘foolish’.

Verse 16 The *hoof is the foot of a sheep or a cow. In one translation, ‘he will tear off their *hoofs’ is ‘he will throw away their broken bones’ (Revised English Bible). The word-picture is of a leader that only cares about himself. He will feed himself, but he will not care about his *flock (people).

Verse 17 With an eye and an arm that cannot fight, the bad *shepherd has no power. He can do nothing!

Something to do

1. Read Zechariah 10:10–11:3 as one poem.

2. Find the key word ‘*shepherd’ in Zechariah 11:4-17. A key word is a word that helps to explain a passage in a book.

3. Read about *prophets that acted their *prophecies: Isaiah 20:2; Jeremiah 27:2; Ezekiel 24:16.

4. Read the story of Ezekiel’s two poles, in Ezekiel 37:15-23.

5. Add to *table after chapter 9 (Something to do number 2) Matthew 26:15.

Chapter 12

v1 The *LORD’s message warns (about danger) to Israel. The *LORD spreads out the skies. He lays a strong base for the earth. And he puts the spirit into a man. (The *LORD) says (this). v2 ‘Look! I am going to make Jerusalem (like) a cup. It will make all the nations round (Jerusalem) *stagger. (An enemy) will surround both Judah and Jerusalem. v3 And on that day, I will make Jerusalem (like) a heavy rock to all the nations. All the nations of the earth will gather against (Jerusalem). But all the people that try to move that rock will give themselves an injury. v4 On that day’, says the *LORD, ‘I will strike every horse with confusion and I will make their riders mad. And I will watch over the house of Judah. But I will make the horses of all the nations blind. v5 Then the families of Judah will say in their minds, “The people in Jerusalem are strong. This is because the *LORD of Everything is their God.” v6 On that day, I will make the families of Judah like a pot of fire in a pile of wood. (They will be) like a torch of flame in (dry) corn plants. And they will destroy all the nations round them, to the right and to the left. But (the people of) Jerusalem will remain safe in Jerusalem. v7 And firstly, the *LORD will save the places where (the people of) Judah live. So the honour of the house of David will not be greater than that of (the people in) Judah. Neither (will the honour) of (the people that live in) Jerusalem be greater. v8 On that day, the *LORD will protect (anyone) that lives in Jerusalem. Even the weakest person in Jerusalem will be like David. And the family of David will seem to be like God. (They will be) like the *angel of the *LORD. (The *angel) will be in front of all the nations that (come to fight) against Israel. v9 And, on that day, this will be my plan. (I will) destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.’

Notes

Verse 1 Notice that Zechariah says that the *LORD is still doing these things. Read Colossians 1:16-17, especially the end of verse 17, ‘He (Jesus) holds all things together (in their places).’ Zechariah says this because the message is so important. The *Hebrew word here for ‘warns’ is ‘massa’. It is something that is very heavy. This means that it is very important. The same word is in Zechariah 9:1. Israel here probably means all the *Jewish people, Judah and Israel. It does not mean just the northern country, as in Zechariah 11:14.

Verse 2 ‘*Stagger’ means ‘to walk as if you will soon fall over’. All the people will seem drunk! It is not the cup that makes them *stagger. It is what is in the cup. Other *prophets wrote about the cup that God uses. Isaiah 51:17 mentions ‘the cup of the *LORD’s anger’. Jeremiah 51:7 says ‘Babylon is a gold cup in the *LORD’s hand. It will make all the earth drunk.’ These cups mean what God will do. When he punishes people, they will not walk. They will *stagger!

Zechariah was describing a battle against Jerusalem. Many nations will attack Jerusalem. But God will make their soldiers weak, like drunks.

Verse 3 Again Zechariah uses the *Hebrew word ‘massa’. But now, it is not the message that is heavy. It is the rock that is heavy. Many people try to move it, but they only hurt themselves. When people do not obey God, they always hurt themselves.

So when the nations oppose Jerusalem, they will hurt themselves.

Verse 4 But here God himself hurts people also. He makes them mad and he makes their horses frightened and blind. Those who do not obey God are like mad and blind people. Deuteronomy 28:28 links these two ideas. ‘The house of Judah’ may mean ‘the royal family of Judah’. But it may mean ‘the people that live in Judah’.

Verse 5 Here and in verse 6, some translations have ‘leaders’ instead of ‘families’. Bible students are not sure which is correct. Most translations have ‘families’. The people of Judah probably decided then to make the *LORD their God also. Perhaps, before this, they had not bothered to trust God. Jerusalem was the capital city of Judah.

Verse 6 Judah was the country round Jerusalem. The enemy could get into Judah easily, but they could not get into Jerusalem. This verse tells us that the people of Judah would destroy their enemies. However, the people in Jerusalem would watch safely!

Verse 7 The people in Judah saw that God was fighting for Jerusalem, verse 5. God used Judah to defeat the enemy, verse 6. God did this so that Jerusalem could not feel more important than Judah. In other words, Jerusalem would not have more honour than Judah. It was God that defeated the enemy, verse 4.

Verse 8 In the *Hebrew language, ‘protect’ is ‘be a shield’. A shield is something that a soldier covers himself with. It protects him from arrows and swords. The weak people will become strong, like David. The family (‘house of’ in the *Hebrew language) of David will be like God. And they will seem to their enemies like the *angel of the *LORD. This may be a name for the *LORD himself, or it may be the leader of God’s *angels, Zechariah 1:11.

On that day

This phrase comes in verses 3, 4, 6, 8 and 9. When is ‘that day’? Bible students believe that there are several meanings:

The *historical meaning is that it happened in the history of Judah and Jerusalem. Perhaps it happened when the four *chariots came, Zechariah 6:1-8, or the trouble in Zechariah 8:9-13.

The church meaning is that Jerusalem here may mean all God’s people, including the church. Whenever there is trouble, God will send help. But we may have to wait for it.

The *eschatological, or end of time, meaning is when Jesus returns to the earth. He will save Jerusalem, the city and the church. Jesus, of course, came from the family (house) of David.

The section that follows is about the death of Jesus. One day, the *Jewish people will be sorry for it. They will cry and weep. But what made Zechariah think of this? What did he see that the *Holy Spirit of God used to make him *prophesy this? We shall never know. Bible students have had many ideas. One idea is in the note on verse 10. But really, it does not matter. Part of what Zechariah said actually happened. Jesus died and a soldier *pierced him with a sword. This means that he pushed a sword into him. The rest of the *prophecy is still in the future!

v10 ‘And I will pour out on the family of David a spirit of *grace and of prayer. (I will also pour it out) on everyone that lives in Jerusalem. And they will look to me whom they *pierced. Then they will cry for him, as people cry for an only child (that dies). And they will weep bitter (tears) for him, as people weep bitter (tears) for an only son (that is dead).

v11 And (the people of) Jerusalem shall weep very much in that day. They shall weep as much as (the people of) Hadad-rimmon wept in the plain of Megiddo.

v12-14 And the (people of) the country will cry, every family by itself:

·     the family of the house of David and their wives;

·     the family of the house of Nathan and their wives;

·     the family of the house of Levi and their wives; (13)

·     the family of Shimei and their wives;

·     and all the other families and their wives.’ (14)

Notes

Verse 10 One way to understand this difficult verse is to use the *historical, church and *eschatological idea.

*historical: Somebody killed someone in Jerusalem with a knife. *Pierced means ‘stuck a knife or sword into’. Zechariah wrote, ‘They will look to me whom they *pierced.’ So, the dead man may be a *prophet. Or it may mean the *LORD. But this is just an idea. Bible students do not agree who murdered whom, or when. There are many possibilities in *Jewish history.

church: John 19:33-37 tells us about a soldier who *pierced (or stuck a sword into) Christ’s body. Many *Jews wept at Jesus’ death. This included Peter, Matthew 26:75; and Mary, John 20:11. Probably hundreds more wept as they became Christians on the Day of *Pentecost, Acts 2:37.

*eschatological: Revelation 1:7 tells us about the time when Jesus returns to this earth. ‘They that *pierced him’ will weep. This means the people that were responsible for the death of Jesus in Jerusalem.

So, the people in Jerusalem are very, very sorry. This is because God has poured his Spirit on them. God’s Spirit gave them God’s *grace and he made them pray to him. ‘*Grace’ means ‘kindness when you do not have to be kind’. The *Hebrew word here for ‘prayer’ means ‘ask for *grace’. Notice that Zechariah wrote, ‘they will look to me whom they *pierced’. The speaker is the *LORD. Therefore Bible students say that Zechariah meant the *Messiah. *Messiah was a name for a *Jewish king or leader. But when Jesus the *Messiah came, he was the *LORD in human form. People looked on God whom they *pierced. Jesus was, of course, God’s only son, but he was God also. In this verse, ‘bitter’ means ‘very, very sad’.

Verse 11 Hadad-rimmon puzzles Bible students. Megiddo was a place in Israel. Probably people gathered there to weep for someone that died. Perhaps the person that died was:

·     the false god Hadad; or

·     the *Jewish king Josiah, 2 Chronicles 35:25.

Verses 12-14 The house of David (and his son Nathan) means ‘all the political leaders’. The house of Levi (and his son Shimei) means ‘all the priests’.

Something to do

1. Study cups in the *Old Testament:

·     Cups that do good things to people, Psalms 23:5 and 116:13.

·     Cups that do bad things to people, Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:17, 28-29.

2. Add to your *table after chapter 9 (Something to do number 2) John 19:37 and Revelation 1:7.

3. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, with all that it means (Psalm 122:6).

4. Learn to say Zechariah 12:10 by heart. (‘By heart’ means that you do not look at the words.)

Chapter 13

v1 ‘In that day, a fountain will become open. (It will be) for the family of David and for everybody that lives in Jerusalem. It will remove their *sin and whatever makes them unholy.

v2 And this (is what) will happen in that day’, says the *LORD of Everything. ‘I will destroy the false gods in the country. People will not continue to remember them. And I will make the *prophets and the bad spirits leave the country. v3 And if anyone still *prophesies, his father and his own mother will say this. “You must die, because you told lies in the name of the *LORD.” When he *prophesies, his father and his own mother will *pierce him. v4 And this will happen on that day. Every *prophet will become ashamed of his *prophecy. And he will not wear rough clothes in order to cheat people. v5 He will say, “I am not a *prophet. I am a farmer. I have worked on my farm since I was young.” v6 If anybody asks him, “Where did you get these injuries on your body?” he will say (this). “I got them at the home of my friends”.’

Notes

Verse 1 This verse links Zechariah 12:10-14 to 13:2-6. It mentions the family of David (12:12). And it mentions the evil things in the country (13:2-6). The *Hebrew words suggest that water will flow from the fountain continuously. It will never stop.

So the people will become holy again. It will be as if God was washing away the *sin of murder from people, Zechariah 12:10. And they will not remain unholy, Zechariah 13:2-6. ‘Unholy’ is a technical word in the *Hebrew Bible. For example, the birth of a baby made women unholy, Leviticus 12:2. Ezekiel 18:6 tells us that there were also other reasons that made people unholy. It was not a *sin. But unholy people could not go to the *temple. There are things to do in Leviticus to remove this unholy state.

The fountain shows us that God will forgive the people. And he will make them holy.

Verses 2-6 The words ‘false gods’ and ‘bad spirits’ in verse 2 suggest that the *prophet is a false *prophet. He says whatever the bad spirits from the false gods tell him to say. When the *LORD destroys the false gods, the false *prophet pretends that he is a farmer! Even his parents say that they will kill him. *Prophets wore rough clothes, like Elijah, 2 Kings 1:8 and John the *Baptist, Matthew 3:4. The injuries on his body probably came from a meeting of false *prophets. The *Hebrew Bible says that these injuries are ‘between his hands’. False *prophets would cut each other with knives as they became excited! No *New Testament writer says that this is a *prophecy of the injuries in Jesus’ hands. Jesus was not a false *prophet.

v7 This is what the *LORD of Everything says (to his sword). ‘Sword, wake up against my *shepherd! (Wake up) against the man that is close to me! Strike the *shepherd and scatter the sheep. And I will lift my hand against the little ones.’

v8 And the *LORD says, ‘In the whole country, an enemy will strike two out of every three (people) and kill them. Only one in every three (people) will remain in (the country).

v9 I will bring this one-in-three into the fire. And I will make them as pure as (people make) silver (pure). I will test them as (people) test gold. They will pray to me and I will answer them. I will say, “They are my people.” And they will say “The *LORD is our God”.’

Notes

Verse 7 These words remind us of Isaiah 53:10, ‘It pleased the *LORD to bruise him.’ ‘My *shepherd’ is ‘the man that is close to me’. For Christians, this *shepherd and this man are both Jesus. The sheep are the *LORD’s people. The death of Jesus scattered many of them, ‘Lift my hand’ means ‘hurt’ or ‘hit’. When Jesus died, it hurt Mary, Luke 2:35. Notice the *Hebrew poetry, where the second line says the same as the first:

Strike the *shepherd

And scatter the sheep

I will lift my hand

Against the little ones

If we use the *historical, church, *eschatological (chapter 12) idea, then it may mean this. The Church will suffer difficult times before Jesus returns to the earth.

Verse 8 Bible students are not sure to what this refers. This verse may also describe the terrible time before Jesus returns.

Verse 9 People use fire to make gold and silver pure. Fire burns away the rubbish. Fire here means difficult times. It will be as if the fire is ‘burning away’ the rubbish from God’s people. They will suffer troubles. But God is working in their lives. He will make them more holy (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Something to do

1. Study these verses about fountains and rivers:

·     the fountain (or waters) of life, Psalm 36:10;

·     the fountain of *living water, Jeremiah 2:13;

·     the river of life, Ezekiel 47:1-12; Joel 3:18; Psalm 46:4; Zechariah 14:8.

2. Read Psalm 12 about how silver becomes pure.

3. Add to your *table after chapter 9 (Something to do number 2) Matthew 26:31 and Mark 6:34.

4. Read John 10:1-42. Then try to answer this question: Did Jesus think about Zechariah 13:7 when he said this?

Chapter 14

v1 Look! A day will come for the *LORD! Then (the nations) will gather in the middle of (Jerusalem) to share the city’s wealth.

v2 I will gather all the nations to fight against Jerusalem. They will:

·     take the city;

·     steal everything from the houses;

·     *rape the women.

Half of the people will go into *exile. But the rest of the people will remain in the city.

v3 Then the *LORD will go out. He will fight against those nations. (It will be) like (when) he fought against them in (past) day(s) of battle. v4 In that day, his feet will stand on the *Mount of Olives, to the east of Jerusalem. A very big valley will split the *Mount of Olives in half, from east to west. Half of the mountain will move north and half of it will move south. v5 You will escape through my mountain valley. It will go as far as Azel. You will escape, as you escaped from the *earthquake at the time of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the *LORD my God will come. And all his *holy ones will come with you.

Notes

These verses mean that there will be a terrible battle in Jerusalem. Many nations will defeat Jerusalem’s people. But then God will appear. He will rescue the people in the city. He will fight for his people.

Verse 1 Notice that Zechariah does not say that a ‘day of the *LORD’ will come. Instead, he surprises his readers. He says that it will be a ‘day for the *LORD’. This makes it a special day. This *prophecy probably has only an *eschatological meaning.

Verse 2 This gives some details of what the nations will do to Jerusalem. They will defeat the city. Then they will enter it and rule it. They will take everything in the houses for themselves. The soldiers will *rape the women in the city. This means that they will force the women to have sex with them.

Verse 3 The great day of battle in the past was when the *Jews went out from Egypt, Exodus 14:13-14. But there were other battles, all through Israel’s history. (See Something to do number 1.)

Verse 4 The *Mount (or Hill) of Olives was to the east of Jerusalem. It was higher than the hill where they built the *temple. Some Bible students think that Mark 11:23 refers to the *Mount of Olives. (‘If you say to this mountain, “Let someone remove you and throw you into the sea”, it will happen.’) So perhaps Jesus thought of Zechariah 14:4 when he said those words. People could not escape Jerusalem to the east because of this hill. So, if a valley appeared through it, it would help people to escape from the city. Acts 1:1-11 tells us that Jesus went up to *heaven from the *Mount of Olives. Some Bible students think that he will return to it. Those Bible students therefore think that this will be ‘a day for the *LORD’.

Verse 5 Bible students do not know where Azel was. Uzziah’s *earthquake was about 750 *B.C. Amos referred to it in Amos 1:1. An *earthquake is when the ground shakes and buildings fall down. The ‘*holy ones’ are probably *angels, who are God’s servants in *heaven. Notice the change from ‘his’ to ‘you’ at the end of the verse. This often happens in books by the *prophets.

v6 On that day, there will be no (warm) light and no cold *frost. v7 It will be a day unlike any other (day). There will be no daytime and no nightfall. It will be a day that the *LORD knows (about). But in the evening, there will be light. v8 On that day, *living waters will (start to) flow out from Jerusalem. Half (will go) to the sea in the east and half to the sea in the west. (This will continue both) in summer and in winter.

v9 The *LORD will be the king over all the earth. On that day, there will be (only) one *LORD and his name will be the only name (of God). v10 The whole country will be like the Arabah. (It will be like it) from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem. But (Jerusalem) will stay high up and remain in its place. (Jerusalem will be) from the Gate of Benjamin to where the First Gate is. Then, (from there it will be) to the Corner Gate. And (then it will be from) the *Tower of Hananel to the Royal *Winepresses. v11 People will live in it. People will never again destroy it. Jerusalem will be safe.

Notes

After the terrible battle, God will rule the whole world. Everybody will realise that he is the only God. And Jerusalem will be a special city.

Verse 6 Some translations have ‘no light, no cold or frost’. Frost is a powder, like ice, that comes on very cold days and nights. But Bible students are not sure what this verse means.

Verse 7 This day will be one continuous day. There will be no night, Isaiah 60:19-20 and Revelation 21:25; 22:5. Probably, only the *LORD knows when it will happen, Matthew 24:36.

Verse 8 Jerusalem needed wells in the city for water. When the *LORD stands on the *Mount of Olives (verse 4) there will be plenty of water. It will be ‘living water’. That means ‘water that gives life’. In Psalm 46:4-5 and Ezekiel 47:1-12, there are similar promises. Perhaps Jesus thought about these words of Zechariah in John 7:38. Some Bible students think that verses 6-11 change the promise that God made in Genesis 8:22. Now there will be no seasons, because the rivers will bring water to the land.

Verse 9 In several Psalms (93, 97 and 99) we read, ‘The *LORD is king.’ Jesus said, ‘The time has come and the kingdom of God is very near’, Mark 1:15. A kingdom is a country that has a king. The *Jews always believed that there was one God. ‘The *LORD our God is one *LORD’, Deuteronomy 6:4. But now everybody else will agree.

Verse 10 The hills north and south of Jerusalem will become flat. Jerusalem will then not need them to defend the city. Arabah is the valley of the River Jordan. Geba was 6 miles north of Jerusalem and Rimmon was 35 miles south of Jerusalem. But the city itself will not become flat. The places in the city are:

·     east (Gate of Benjamin)

·     west (Corner gate)

·     north (*Tower of Hananel)

·     south (Royal *Winepresses)

Verse 11 The number of people who live in Jerusalem will never again be small. Probably not many people lived there while Zechariah was alive. But it would be different in the future.

v12 The *LORD will strike all the nations that fight against Jerusalem with this *plague:

·     Their muscles will *rot while they are still standing on their feet.

·     Their eyes will *rot in their heads.

·     Their tongues will *rot in their mouths.

v13 And on that day there will be a great fear of the *LORD among them. And each man will seize the hand of his neighbour. Then people will attack their neighbours. v14 And, also, (the people from) Judah will fight in Jerusalem. (They) will collect the wealth of the nations that surround (Jerusalem). (There will be) a very great quantity of gold, silver and clothing. v15 And a similar *plague (will strike every) horse, *mule, camel, *donkey and cow in the (enemy) camp. The same *plague (will happen to them).

Notes

In this passage, Zechariah explained how God will defeat Jerusalem’s enemies.

Verse 12 Zechariah said that a *plague will strike the armies that will attack Jerusalem. A *plague is a bad thing that happens to many people at the same time. Here it is an awful disease. It will make people *rot (turn into a nasty pile of dirt), before they die. Perhaps Zechariah remembered what happened to Sennacherib’s army in 2 Kings 19:35. Then, 180 500 of them died in one night!

Verse 13 People are so eager to escape that they kill each other to do so. They are so frightened that they will do anything to get away.

Verse 14 The people from Judah and Jerusalem fight together against their enemies. They will collect very great wealth.

Verse 15 Even the animals will die. There will be no horses to ride away on. *Mules and *donkeys are similar to horses.

v16 This is what will happen to (people) from the nations that fight against Jerusalem. Everybody that does not die will go up (to Jerusalem) every year. There, they will *worship the king (who is) the *LORD of Everything. Also, they will have a wonderful party at the *Festival of Tabernacles (Tents). v17 If any people do not go up to Jerusalem, they will have no rain. (These are the people that do not) *worship the *LORD of Everything. v18 And if the people from Egypt will not go up (to Jerusalem) to join in, this will happen. The *plague with which the *LORD punished the nations will happen to them. (These are) the nations that did not go (to Jerusalem) to the wonderful party at the *Festival of Tabernacles. v19 This shall be the punishment for Egypt. And (it shall be) the punishment for all the (other) nations. (These are the nations) that do not go up to the wonderful party at the *Festival of Tabernacles.

Notes

God will not merely be the king of Jerusalem. God will be the king of every nation. And people from every country will gather in Jerusalem for the annual *Festival of Tabernacles (tents). But if any nation refuses to come, God will punish that nation. Such a nation will have no rain.

Verse 16 The *Festival of Tabernacles was an important *festival. A *festival is a party with much music, food and drink. A tabernacle is a tent. In this *festival, the *Jews made tents or huts. They lived in them for two weeks at the start of October. This *festival was very ancient. It was probably the one in Judges 21:19 and 1 Samuel 1:3. In this *festival:

·     All the people came to Jerusalem. There would not be enough room for them all to sleep in the houses. This is one reason why they made tents. Also, it helped them to remember their journey from Egypt. Then they lived in tents for 40 years, Leviticus 23:42-43.

·     The people listened to God’s laws, Nehemiah 8:14-18.

·     Everybody could come. Both *Jews and people who were not *Jews could come.

·     People gave thanks to God for the harvest, Deuteronomy 16:13.

Zechariah *prophesied that this *festival would bring all nations together. After God defeats his enemies, the whole world will *worship him in Jerusalem.

Verses 17-19 People that do not come up to the *festival will be sorry! There will be no rain. This means that there will be no crops and no food. The people in Egypt did not need rain, as they used water from the River Nile to grow their crops. But God still expected them to come up to Jerusalem.

v20 In that day, (the words) ‘*Holy to the *LORD’ will be on the bells of the horses. And the pots in the house of the *LORD will be like the bowls on the *altar. v21 Yes! In that day, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be ‘*Holy to the *LORD of Everything’. And everybody that offers (something) to the *LORD will take from (these pots) and cook in them. And in that day, there will not be a *Canaanite in the house of the *LORD of Everything.

Notes

Verse 20 Exodus 28:36 tells us that ‘*Holy to the *LORD’ was on the hat that the Chief Priest wore. This meant that he had to be *holy always. ‘*Holy’ means ‘very, very good’. Only God is really *holy. But he considers that his people are *holy too. Jeremiah 2:3 says ‘(All) Israel is *holy to the *LORD.’ Even the horses were *holy, because they did not still carry soldiers to war. And the pots and bowls in the *temple were certainly *holy. They used the bowls to scatter animal blood on the *altar in the *temple. They used the pots to cook the animals that they offered to God. Each family would offer some to God and then eat the rest, Leviticus 7:15.

Verse 21 The bowls remind people of religion. The pots remind people of the other parts of life. ‘In that day’ there will be no difference. So people would be *holy when they prayed. But they would also be *holy at other times. Even when they were working, they would still live *holy lives. Everything will be ‘*holy to the *LORD’. We can translate ‘*Canaanite’ in two ways:

·     It may mean someone that lives in Canaan. Such a person is probably an enemy of God. Read the note on Armageddon below.

·     It may mean someone that trades. Many Canaanites were traders. Jesus put the traders out of the *temple, Matthew 21:12-13. Perhaps Jesus was acting Zechariah’s *prophecy.

Armageddon

Many Bible students think that Zechariah 14 describes the battle of Armageddon. They think that this chapter describes the events at the end of the world. Jesus will return to the earth at the place where he left it. He left it from the *Mount of Olives. So these Bible students think that he will return to it there. He will fight a great battle and defeat all the nations of the world. Then he will be king over a new earth.

The word ‘armageddon’ comes from two *Hebrew words: Har (the hill at) Megiddo (a place in northern Israel). There was a great battle in and near Megiddo. Judges 4 and 5 describe what happened. Judges 5:19-21 says, ‘the kings of Canaan fought in Taanach, near the waters of Megiddo. The stars in their courses fought from *heaven against Sisera. The river of Kishon carried them away.’

Sisera was a leader of the *Canaanite armies. They fought against God’s people, Israel. But God’s people did not fight. They just watched what God did. Something happened up in the skies. This is why Judges 5:20 mentions the stars in *heaven. (The stars’ courses are their paths through the skies.) There was a great storm. The storm made the water in the River Kishon rise. Sisera’s *chariots stuck in the mud. Then Barak (the *Jewish leader) and his people chased the *Canaanites and defeated them. The River Kishon flowed past Har Megiddo. Judges 5:19 calls the river ‘the waters of Megiddo’. Taanach was a place near to Har Megiddo.

Similar events will happen when this world ends. God’s people will watch as God himself defeats the enemy. We do not know how. But we can have confidence in God. What God did once (in Judges chapters 4-5) he can do again. This time the enemy will not only be Canaan. Canaan is an example of people that do not serve God. But, in the future, the enemy will be all the nations of the world that do not love God.

Zechariah 12:11 refers to Megiddo. Perhaps, as Zechariah wrote his book, the *Holy Spirit reminded him about Megiddo. Zechariah remembered what had happened at Megiddo in the past. And Zechariah realised that such events could happen again. They could happen at Jerusalem in the future.

The word Armageddon appears only once in the Bible: Revelation 16:16. This describes a great battle at the end of time. In this battle, Jesus defeats Babylon. Babylon means all the bad things in the world. The good thing about Armageddon is that afterwards, Jesus will be king of everything. As Zechariah says, he will be the *LORD of Everything!

Something to do

1. Read some of the ‘past days of battle’:

·     the defeat of Jericho, Joshua 6

·     the defeat of Jabin, Judges 4

·     the defeat of Ethiopia, 2 Chronicles 14:8-15

2. Add to your *table after chapter 9 (Something to do number 2) Acts 1:11-12.

3. Use your complete *table after chapter 9 to tell as much as you can of the story of Jesus. (See Something to do number 2.)

4. Study Armageddon in Revelation chapter 16.

Word List

altar ~ a special table where the priests burned gifts to God in the *temple.

angel ~ a servant of God from *heaven; usually we cannot see them.

anointed ~ someone who has authority to do God’s work. A leader would pour oil on such a person to appoint him to do this work.

B.C. ~ years Before Christ came to the earth.

Baptist ~ a Baptist puts a person under water or puts water on a person; it is to show that they want to obey Christ.

bronze ~ a metal; its colour is between yellow and brown.

Canaanite ~ someone who lives in Canaan; probably an enemy of God; OR someone who trades.

cedar ~ a type of tree.

chariot ~ a special cart that soldiers used. Horses pulled chariots.

courts ~ the yards or spaces round the *temple.

covenant ~ an agreement. God’s *covenant with his people was a special agreement.

curse ~ say that something bad will happen to a person.

dappled ~ a mixture of several colours.

Daughter ~ ‘Daughter of Babylon’ means ‘people who live in Babylon’ and so on.

dew ~ water that comes onto the ground at night as it becomes cooler.

donkey ~ an animal like a small horse; people ride on them.

earthquake ~ when the ground shakes and buildings fall down.

engrave ~ write on a stone or rock.

engraving ~ what you write (*engrave) on a stone or rock.

eschatological ~ about what will happen when Jesus returns to earth at the end of time. Eschatology is the study of this.

exile ~ away from home; or, a person that lives away from home. ‘In exile’ means away from home.

fast ~ a sad time when you eat no food for reasons of religion.

festival ~ an important happy event. There are often great meals. People often sing and dance.

fig tree ~ a fruit tree.

flock ~ a group of animals or birds; God’s people are like a flock, because he calls them his sheep.

foal ~ a young animal, especially a young *donkey.

forgive ~ when someone stops being angry with another person who has done bad things.

frost ~ a powder, like ice, that comes on very cold days and nights.

glory ~ great honour, so great it shines like a bright light.

goddess ~ a female false god.

golden ~ the colour of the metal called gold.

Gospel ~ one of the four books at the beginning of the *New Testament - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

grace ~ kindness that people do not deserve.

grape ~ a fruit that you can make wine from.

Greek ~ the language that people speak in Greece.

heaven ~ a name for the home of God; it can also mean the sky.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke.

historical ~ about past events.

holy ~ very, very good; only God is really holy. ‘Holy ones’ is sometimes a name for *angels.

hoof ~ the foot of a sheep or a cow.

horn ~ a bone with a sharp point on it that grows on the heads of goats, sheep and other animals. People blew into horns to make a loud noise.

hosts ~ many, a large number of *angels, people or things.

irony ~ a sort of poetry where words mean the opposite of what they say.

Jebusites ~ the people who used to live in Jerusalem before King David made it his city.

Jew ~ a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

jewels ~ valuable stones like diamonds.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything that belongs to a *Jew.

juniper ~ a type of tree.

justice ~ to do the things that are fair and right, especially in the courts.

lamb ~ a baby sheep or young sheep.

lampstand ~ something that a lamp stands on.

lead ~ a heavy metal.

living water ~ water that gives life. See Psalm 46:4-5; Ezekiel 47:1-12 and John 7:38.

lord ~ someone in authority; ‘my *lord’ means ‘sir’. With a capital L, a name for God.

LORD ~ the *covenant name for God that his servants use.

measuring line ~ a long ruler to measure how long something is.

mercy ~ kindness to someone, especially when you do not have to be kind to them.

messiah ~ leader; with capital M a name for Christ. Christ is the *Greek word for messiah.

Mount ~ a hill or mountain.

mule ~ an animal like a horse.

myrtle ~ a plant. Myrtle bushes have leaves that remain green all through the year. Their leaves have a pleasant smell when someone bruises them. They have white flowers in summer. Myrtle bushes often mean Judah and Israel in the Bible.

New Testament ~ the second part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after Jesus came.

oak ~ a type of tree.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before Jesus came.

olive ~ a fruit that people use to make oil. Or, the tree where these fruits grow.

oppress ~ be very unkind to someone, often to get money.

orphan ~ a child without parents.

Pentecost ~ the time when God’s Spirit came to the first Christians.

Philistines ~ people who were enemies of Israel’s people.

pierce ~ stick a knife or a sword into.

pit ~ a deep hole in the ground. It may be a prison.

plague ~ a terrible disease that happens to many people at the same time.

plumb-line ~ string with lead (a heavy metal) on the end that builders use.

potter ~ a person who makes pots.

prophecy ~ words that a *prophet speaks.

prophesy ~ tell people what God is saying.

prophet ~ someone who tells people what God is saying.

prosperity ~ plenty of everything.

rape ~ to have sex with a woman, when the woman does not want it.

refugees ~ people that leave their own countries because of difficulties there.

rejoice ~ be very happy (and often, sing about it).

repent ~ be sorry for evil deeds and promise to try not to do them again.

righteous ~ very, very good; only God is really righteous.

ritual laws ~ laws about the actions of the priests, especially in the *temple.

Roman ~ a person from Rome. Rome was a powerful city; it had a strong army.

rot ~ to become a nasty pile of dirt.

salvation ~ safety, the Christian meaning is ‘safety after we die’.

satan ~ someone who accuses; later it became Satan, the name of God’s enemy.

sceptre ~ a special stick that is a sign of authority.

scroll ~ the old form of a book. It was a very long piece of paper or leather. They rolled it up to make a *scroll.

shepherd ~ a sheep farmer.

Shinar ~ the old name for Babylon.

sin ~ something that is against God’s rules; or to do what is against God’s rules; evil deeds.

sorrow ~ what you feel when you are very unhappy.

stable society ~ a society that does not change very much.

stagger ~ to walk as if you will soon fall over.

stronghold ~ a very strong place.

table ~ a number of boxes to show information clearly.

temple ~ a special house for God (in Jerusalem) or a house for false gods (in places like Babylon).

tent peg ~ something that stops the wind blowing the tent away.

throne ~ a special seat that a king sits on.

thunder ~ the noise that comes with lightning in a storm.

tower ~ a very high building.

tread ~ to walk firmly on something.

treasury ~ where you keep your valuable things and your money.

vine ~ a plant that grows fruit called *grapes. People make wine from *grapes.

vision ~ something that a *prophet ‘sees’. God shows it to the *prophet.

winepress ~ a very big basket. In this, people begin to make wine from fruit called grapes.

worship ~ to tell someone that you love them and you will obey them.

worthless ~ someone who does their work in a very poor way.

Book List

B. Davidson ~ Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon ~ Bagster

Cruden’s Complete Concordance ~ Morgan and Scott

Zechariah by Thomas V. Moore ~ Geneva Series Commentary ~ Banner of Truth Trust

Oxford Bible Atlas, 3rd Edition ~ Editor Herbert G. May ~ OUP

John R. Kohlenberger III ~ The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament ~ Zondervan

Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Jonah by Mitchell, Smith and Brewer ~ The International Critical Commentary ~ T&T Clark

Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton ~ The Septuagint with Apocrypha, Greek and English ~ Hendrickson

Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi by Joyce G. Baldwin ~ Tyndale Old Testament Commentary ~ Inter-Varsity Press

Ralph L. Smith ~ Word Biblical Commentary No. 32: Micah-Malachi ~ Word

Translations of the Bible:

The Authorised Version ~ CUP.

The New Living Translation ~ Tyndale House Publishers Inc.

The New Revised Standard Version ~ Nelson

The Revised English Bible with Apocrypha ~ Oxford and Cambridge University Presses

 

© 1997-2005, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

November 2005

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