Bible prophecy, commentary, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 14:15-19

3/26/15

(15) The plague will also affect the horse, mule, camel, donkey, and cattle in the camp of the wicked. This parallels Zech 12:4 where God promised to bewilder the horses and strike the riders with madness.

(16) Before probation closes at the end of time, those who had arrayed themselves against Jerusalem will still have the opportunity to repent and join the side of God’s people, and some will do so. God has room for them. In 2 Chr 6:32-33 Solomon prayed that any foreigner who prayed toward the temple would be received. Isaiah predicted that ruthless nations would revere the Lord (Isa 25:3) and Hosea predicted that those who were not God’s people would become His people (Hos 2:23). In the end there will be no Canaanite in the house of the Lord (Zech 14:21).

Then all will come from year to year to worship the King at the feast of booths or tabernacles. This was based on the Jewish festival calendar. What it will look like in an eschatological fulfillment is yet to be seen.

(17-19) Once the New Jerusalem returns to earth it will not happen that some may refuse to attend the feast and worship the King. Had Zechariah’s prophecy been fulfilled according to God’s original desires for Israel, then this part of the prophecy would have applied. However, it cannot be applied to the final situation after the eradication of sin.

Had Israel become the beacon God intended for them to become the earth would have experienced a great revival and the nations would have poured into Jerusalem to worship God. And God would have dealt with those who continued to refuse to acknowledge Him as God by not sending the rain on them, which was one of the curses for breaking the covenant (Deut 11:17, 28:23-24). This curse fell instead on Israel, because it also refused to acknowledge the Lord (1 Kgs 8:35, 2 Chr 7:13, Isa 5:6, Jas 5:17).

Egypt in particular seems to be a prophetic symbol for godlessness because Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?” (Ex 5:2). The result, of course, was that the plagues from the Lord fell upon the people of Egypt.

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

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Bible prophecy, commentary, Minor prophets, zechariah

Zech 11:14

2/25/15

(14) Next the shepherd cut in two the second staff called chovelim. The root word has to do with binding together, pledging, etc. but it is used uniquely in its plural form here, which would probably have drawn some attention to the way the word was used. The idea was the severing of the unity of the 10 northern tribes of Israel from two southern tribes of Judah.

It would be interesting to know how familiar Zechariah was with the work of the prophet Ezekiel who predated him by about 50 years because Ezek 37:16-23 seems to be the precise opposite of the situation predicted by Zechariah. The word of the Lord to Ezekiel promised to put together the two sticks of Israel and Judah and that one Good Shepherd, David/Christ, would rule over them, and they would be established in an everlasting covenant with God.

The severing of the union between the northern and southern kingdoms happened long before Christ, yet it appears that in Zechariah’s scenario this severing comes after the rejection of the Messiah. Perhaps this can be reconciled by seeing a second severing in form of what happened in the Christian church following Christ. This was even predicted by Christ (e.g. Matt 24:10). At first the church, the new spiritual Israel in Christ, was unified. Over time, however, the church drifted away and God called out the reformation effectively splitting the unity of Israel, the Christian church. Thus in the book of Revelation we see two women, one wicked and the other pure, who represent spiritual realities at the end of time. This idea seems to bear out consistently with the last few verses in the chapter.

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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, zechariah

Zech 11:1-3

2/16/15

There is, understandably, much confusion surrounding Zechariah 11. The tone of the prophecies change dramatically. To this point the prophecies have been designed to encourage Israel to take heart and have faith in God to protect them and bring Israel back to its status as a great nation. But chapter 11 is the opposite of that. The language is highly figurative, and scholars do not agree on whether it is a prediction for the future or a description of what had happened in the past. It makes the most sense to me, particularly in light of verses 12 and 13 that it is a description of the rejection of Israel by God due to its rejection of the Messiah. Then chapter 12 moves into a description of the end of time when God will restore Israel at the Second Coming. Zechariah, it seems to me, was given a broad panorama of what lay in Israel’s future.

(1-2) Trees in prophecy are often symbolic for people. The call would go out to Lebanon to open its doors to the fire that would burn up the famous cedars of Lebanon. The cypress or fir trees as well as the oaks of Bashan would wail in despair for the burned forests. Considering that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple is most likely being predicted here, it is likely that the wood mentioned in these verses, particularly the cedar is a direct allusion to the temple itself, which contained large amounts of wood. Solomon’s palace, too, is notable because of the amount of cedar in it, which was called the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon (1 Kgs 7:2).

(3) The shepherds of the flocks would also wail in despair, not because of the suffering of others but because their own glory is ruined. The lions, which seem to be parallel to the shepherds (cf. Zeph 3:3), roar because their thickets are destroyed.

All of this reminds us of Rev 18:9 and the fall of Babylon when all the world mourns at the loss of her treasures. The fall of Israel at the rejection of the Messiah is many ways parallels the fall of Babylon and also parallels to Israel’s fall to Babylon at the exile (e.g. Isa 2:13, 10:34, Jer 22:7, 23). History repeats itself over and over, not just because it chances to do so, but because God continues to bring His people again and again to the same point as He tries to get us to remain in covenant relationship with Him. Eventually He will succeed.

Jesus often warned the religious leaders, the shepherds of the flock of Israel, of their danger. For instance, Matt 3:7-10 He told them that the axe is already at the root of their trees and that they would soon be thrown into the fire. See also Matt 23:31-38.

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Zech 10:8-9

1/14/15

(8) God said that He would hiss for His people and gather them in. Hissing to get someone’s attention is the equivalent of whistling to get their attention. At least among the children when I lived there hissing is still a common practice in that area of the world. The LXX says that God will signify them. The word shmano (semano) is an important word in prophecy, which means to communicate (often concerning the future) using cryptic symbols. It is the same word used in Rev 1:1 when God made known (eshmanen, esemanen) to John the things that must soon take place.

God would gather His people because He had redeemed them. And He would cause the small remnant of them to grow to be as many as they had been before.

(9) God had sown them among the nations. The word orza (‘ezra’) is often translated as scattered, which is certainly an appropriate picture, but the fact that God sowed His people also gives the impression that He intended them to grow and bear fruit in the nations where they had been planted. Compare Isa 27:6. Even though His people had rejected Him, God intended that they be a blessing to the world around them, even as He worked in them to bring them to faithfulness as well. And the promise was that in those far countries they would remember God and they and their children would live and return to God and to their homeland.

The LXX makes this sound like a future promise, that God will sow His people among the nations and they “who are afar off” shall remember God. Those who are afar off was an expression of the Apostle Paul, who would have been familiar with the LXX. He used the term to indicate the Gentiles (e.g. Eph 2:13, 17). In this case, then, it would be the Gentile nations who would remember God and with their children would live and return. Both the Hebrew and the Greek scenarios could easily work together because in the end God’s purposes will be fulfilled and His purpose includes that everyone among Jew and Gentile who is willing to be saved will be saved.

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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 9:12

1/8/15

(12) God has been speaking to Israel and so it makes the most sense that this verse would continue God’s word to them, particularly since He called them prisoners of hope. That would seem to indicate that He was speaking to those who still had not returned from the land of their captivity. In that case, then the next line that God would restore to them double would be a positive reward. The LXX agrees by rendering the promise “in place of one day of your alien residence I will restore to you double.” And all the commentators seem to agree with this understanding.

All of that said, however, there are a number of hints that give me pause. First, it seems that God begins speaking to two entities at this point, both Israel and Greece, because in the next verse He said that he would stir up “your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece.” Second, to repay double is language used against Babylon in Rev 18:6. That might not be such a strong indication except for the fact that the following verses are judgment language including drinking, roaring as if drunk with wine, and being like a a full bowl. All of this imagery together sounds a lot like God’s judgments on Babylon in Rev 17-18.

Still it seems preferable to understand that God is speaking to Israel, since that is the primary direction of the context and also because the LXX changed much of the language in these verses to make it much more clear to whom God was speaking.

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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.

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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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