Bible prophecy, commentary, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 14:12

3/24/15

Rot

(12) Continuing with the judgment theme against the wicked, the Lord will punish with a plague those who have fought against Jerusalem. Their flesh will rot where they stand, their eyes in their holes, and their tongues in their mouths. The LXX says that their flesh and tongues will dissolve and their eyes will flow out of their holes. However, this rotting away will take some time as becomes clear in the following verses.

This rotting away, maqaq, is the explicit consequence of breaking the covenant, according to Lev 26:39. And the cause of this rotting of their flesh was their sins. Ps 38:5, Ezek 4:17, 24:23, 33:10 also connect rotting flesh with sin. Such rotting away is probably synonymous with the wasting diseases and sickness that Deut 28 lists among the curses for failure to keep the covenant. Two examples of this punishment came upon Jehoram (2 Chr 21:15-19) and Herod Antipas (Acts 12:23). It likely also sheds some light on the cryptic phrase “their worm shall not die” in Isa 66:24 and Mark 9:48, which is connected to the death of the wicked at the end and also with Satan’s end in Isa 14:11. Isa 51:8 also says that worms will devour the wicked.

The first of the seven angels who pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth pours out a plague of terrible sores upon the wicked. The parallels here are intriguing, particularly when seen in the light of the promise in Lev 26:16-28 that if after the first curses the people still refused to obey the Lord, then He would punish them seven times more for their sins.

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A Simple Guide to Paul's EpistlesYou Can Understand the Book of Revelation

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Bible prophecy, commentary, judgment, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 11:9-10

2/22/15

(9) The basis on which the shepherd agreed to lead the sheep was their covenant relationship. But since they were not getting along the shepherd said to the sheep that he would not be their shepherd. As it turns out they were not keeping up their part of the covenant relationship. So Zechariah, as he acted out this parable, said the the people, “What is to die, let it die, and what is to disappear, let it disappear; and let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.” Thus would be fulfilled the prophets’ predictions and that of Jesus Himself in Matt 21:43 and 23:38. This cadenced formula appears in a few different prophetic instances , each with different words (e.g. Jer 15:2-3, 43:11, Rev 22:11). In each case it is a sentence of doom given prophetically as an ultimatum to the unfaithful. In other words, eventually this would be the sentence passed down in judgment.

Eating each other

In Deut 28:53-56 as part of the curses of the covenant was the threat of such starvation that the people would become cannibalistic. This would actually be a judgment of God that would result from God withdrawing His presence from them as their protector and shepherd. The prophets later threatened the fulfillment of this curse (Isa 9:19-21, Jer 19:9, Ezek 5:10). And it did happen when Babylon besieged Jerusalem and later again when Rome did.

(10) The shepherd took one of the two staffs, the one named Beauty, Favor, or Grace and cut it in two (LXX: cast it away). This action signified God breaking or nullifying his covenant with His people. It is interesting that when Jesus’ disciples were discussing the beauty of the temple that Jesus mentioned the day that it would be destroyed (Luke 21:5-6). Underlying this discussion must have been this passage in Zechariah. But there would be another chance. Ezek 16:59-61 tells of how the people broke the covenant and how God would establish an everlasting covenant with them. Thus the author of Hebrews put a great deal of emphasis on the necessity of abiding by the terms of this covenant.

It seems likely that the time that Moses found the people worship the golden calf was a similar situation. They had already broken the terms of the covenant by being unfaithful to God so Moses broke the stones of the Ten Commandments (Exod 32:19). Failure to abide by the terms of the old covenant later resulted in Israel going into exile. Later it resulted in the rejection of Israel as God’s chosen people and the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD. And again at the end of time it will result in God’s final judgments upon the earth. Those who refuse to abide by the new covenant (relationship with Jesus Christ) will suffer the consequences. They will be allowed to be separate, which naturally results in their death.

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A Simple Guide to Paul's EpistlesYou Can Understand the Book of Revelation

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Bible prophecy, israel, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 11:8

2/19/15

(8) When the new shepherd took over management of the flock the first thing He did was “make disappear” three shepherds in one month. The details of three shepherds in one month are so specific that there must be some meaning behind them. However, though theories abound, no one has really offered a solid biblical interpretation.

Lev 26 may be in the background of this verse because the wording involves some of the same elements of covenant, cutting off, and impatience. So long as God’s people were faithful to Him He would care for them. But if they did not remain faithful by violating the covenant then He would allow those who hate them to rule over them (Lev 26:17). If they did not repent, eventually God Himself would become hostile against them (Lev 26:24, 28) and they against Him (Lev 26:43).

The Good Shepherd’s message is not welcome (Luke 12:51). Jesus illustrated this in His parable of the minas in which the nobleman (Christ) went to be proclaimed king. In the parable His subjects hated Him and sent a delegation saying they didn’t want Him to be their king (Luke 19:14).

Part of the overall context in which we are working is the prophecy concerning Israel’s rejection of God’s prophets, ultimately culminating in their rejection of the Messiah. As Hosea predicted, because of their unfaithfulness their own new moon festivals, their hypocritical religious devoutness, would devour them (Hos 5:7), which is exactly the state of affairs in Israel when the Messiah came. So this would lead us to suspect that the three shepherds must represent the religious leaders of Israel, since it was they who above all should have recognized the word of the Lord through the prophets.

But an even stronger theme of the context is that of covenant. So perhaps there is another way to look at it. By taking all of the wording in the verse together (three, month, impatient, weary) and considering the overarching covenant idea, maybe the connection has more to do with Israel’s feast days. Exod 23:14, 34:23, and Deut 16:16 commanded three feast days in which all males were to appear before the Lord. In Isa 1:14 God said He was weary of their monthly new moon festivals, and the people would become weary of God too, in His continual efforts to reconcile their relationship and call them to faithfulness. Yet the people doggedly continued to celebrate the feasts as though they would gain their merit before God by these forms. The Good Shepherd, though, would change the game and in the course of His ministry and death. He made the feasts to disappear by fulfilling their symbolic function. At that point they would have only one shepherd, Jesus Himself (Ezek 34:23, 37:24). This would all fall under the ideas of the old and new covenants and seems to bear out in the following verses.

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A Simple Guide to Paul's EpistlesYou Can Understand the Book of Revelation

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Bible prophecy, Minor prophets, old testament, zechariah

Zech 9:10-11

1/7/15

(10) And when He comes He will cut off (LXX: destroy) the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem, and He would cut off the battle bow. Ephraim represents the ten northern tribes of Israel and Jerusalem the two southern tribes. Mic 5:10 prophesied the same thing concerning Israel. Why would God destroy Israel’s defenses? Because the weapons we fight with are different (2 Cor 10:4-5). God had forbidden Israel to keep horses and chariots (e.g. Josh 11:6) because they would rely on them as the source of their strength rather than relying on God.

God had and still has an entirely different plan for His kingdom. His kingdom will be one of peace. This was what God had intended for Israel from the beginning and they got a glimpse of it under Solomon (1 Chr 22:9). Had Solomon and his sons after him continued to walk in the ways of the Lord this prophecy would have been realized long ago. But with the coming of the Messiah it was realized and will reach its full fulfillment at the Second Coming.

At the cross Satan was finished as ruler of this world and when Jesus comes again the final remnants of the controversy between He and Satan will come to an end and God will rule from sea to sea (the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, Ex 23:31) and from the River to the ends of the earth. The River is a reference to the Euphrates, which the LXX includes in Ex 23:31. These were figurative language for the entire earth.

God’s reign of peace and safety is constant theme in the Bible as is His desire that His people live in peace not just with enemies of other nations but with each other as well. Peace is the fruit of life in the kingdom of God. When we do not live at peace with each other then we make it apparent that we are keeping at least one foot in the kingdom of Satan.

(11) The blood of God’s covenant with His people refers back to most clearly to Ex 24:8, when Moses sprinkled blood on the people after writing down “all the Lord’s words and laws” and the people promised to obey all God commanded. But the context is much bigger than this one scene. From the beginning of sin God made a covenant with Adam (Gen 3:15) when God promised to send the Messiah. The Messiah was the one who would make the new covenant with His people (e.g. 1 Cor 11:25, Heb 12:24), which, in keeping with the peace theme, was His command to love one another (Jn 13:34). This was the essence of the new covenant predicted even in the OT (Jer 31:31). From the beginning God’s covenant was misunderstood by God’s people (Heb 8:8) because their adherance was only external. But the covenant was never designed to work that way. God’s plan from the beginning was that love would pour from the hearts of His people. Their mere obedience was never the important part of the covenant. It was their obedience rooted in love for God and fellow man that was and still is important (Deut 6:5, 10:12, 11:13, etc.)

When we live in that kind of covenant relationship with God then He promises to set the prisoners free from the waterless pit. Two stories, Joseph being thrown into a waterless pit (Gen 37:24) and Jeremiah being put into a waterless well (Jer 38:6) spring immediately to mind in such a context. In both cases they were faithful to God and were honored for that. This was an explicit work the Messiah would do, setting the prisoners free (Is 42:7, 49:9, 61:1, Lk 4:18).

Waterless Pit

Perhaps the fact that the pit is waterless is a symbol of the unjustice of what is happening to them. Water is often a symbol of God’s judgment or at least of troubles allowed by God. For instance, the flood was God’s judgment on the earth, the Red Sea was God’s judgment on the Egyptians, David often compared waters to trouble (2 Sam 5:20, 22:17, Ps 29:3, 32:6, 69:1, etc), Job speaks of waters of God’s wrath (Job 20:28), and more. So perhaps the picture is of God rescuing His faithful people from persecution that specifically is not a judgment from God but the work of their enemies.

______________________________________________________________

A Simple Guide to Paul's EpistlesYou Can Understand the Book of Revelation

For more information and to purchase books by Jeff Scoggins visit Skapto Publishing.

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