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FRAMEWORKS: Zechariah

(Return to Old Testament Contents)

 

FRAMEWORKS: INTRODUCTION TO ZECHARIAH

     

Why Read Zechariah: The book, part of the holy canon of Scripture, takes us first into the period when the Jews had returned to the land after the Exile, when the work of rebuilding the temple had started but then halted for a number of years. Thus Zechariah prophesies alongside Haggai it seems [see Ezra 5:1]. Each of the three sections, we shall shortly see, are designed in different ways to encourage these returned-exiles. In that sense it is a very practical book, although it very clearly lifts us out of the mundane material world into the spiritual world to enable them to catch a much bigger perspective.

As the Contents below shows, after nine visionary prophecies [chapters 1 to 6], Zechariah moves into a series of more traditional prophecies of straight forward encouragement and reassurance, [chapters 7 to 11] but then seems to have received a single long prophecy that lifts us right out of that period into what appears End Times Apocalyptic prophecy [chapters 12 to 14].

One can only suppose that the purpose of that last group of three chapters was intended to lift the eyes of the returned exiles above their existing predicaments to see themselves as part of God's long-term plan which would have a glorious, triumphant end for His people.

 

Dates for the Visions/Prophecies:

The historical context is explained with the following dates:

•  1:1 – 2nd year of Darius, 8th month [520BC, late Oct]
•  1:7 – 2nd year of Darius, 11th month
•  7:1 – 4th year of Darius, 9th month [518BC, Dec]

     

Quoting from our Introduction to Ezra, “according to Ezra 2:64 over 42,000 returned in  538BC  after Cyrus was moved upon by the Lord to return them, and records suggest the work of rebuilding the temple started on  537BC , was then delayed, resumed on Sept 21,  520BC  (Ezra 3:8) and was finished on Mar 12,  516BC  (Ezra 6:15), i.e. approx. three and a half years building.”

Therefore if our dating above is correct, Zechariah started receiving words and visions shortly after the temple building had restarted, and he finished roughly a year and a half before it was completed.

 

The Visionary Pictures of chapters 1 to 6:

The following are the nine visions he received as found in these first six chapters:

1. 1:8 Stationary riders in the woods of a ravine
2. 1:18 Four horns – the nations that had disciplined Israel
3. 1:20 Four craftsmen – to discipline those nations
4. 2:1 A man measuring Jerusalem
5. 3:1 Joshua the high priest being cleansed and reclothed
6. 4:2,3 A golden lampstand and two olive trees
7. 5:1 A flying scroll – God's curse on unrighteousness in the land
8. 5:6,7 A woman in a basket – the wickedness of the land to be removed
9. 6:1 Four chariots – conveying and imposing the will of God on the earth

 

Contents:

 

PART 1: Nine Visionary pictures [see above]

Ch.1 – Challenge, Encouragements & Warning

Ch.2 – Vision of a man with a measuring line

Ch.3 – Joshua the high priest

Ch.4 – The Provision & Power of the Spirit

Ch.5 – God removing Unrighteousness from the land

Ch.6 – Security being brought for Israel

 

PART 2: Encouragements & Reassurances

Ch.7 – Questions & Challenge over the past and into the present

Ch.8 – The Lord promises to bless Jerusalem

Ch.9 – God bringing about triumph for His people

Ch.10 – The Lord will care for Judah

Ch.11 – Glance back - a reminder [?]

 

PART 3: A Prophecy of the End Times [?]

Ch.12 – Amazing Triumph and yet national mourning

Ch.13 – The transformed people and a future purging

Ch.14 – The Lord comes and reigns

         

         

Continue to Chapter 1