The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 4: Sin and Punishment

  • Christogenea Internet Radio
CHR20160708-Zechariah04.mp3 — Downloaded 2233 times
 
00:00

 

The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 4: Sin and Punishment

We have already presented six chapters of this book of the prophecy of Zechariah, and we hope to have fully established that Zechariah was a Christian prophet in many scriptural aspects. First, he prophesied the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem as a type for the rebuilding of the house of God in His people Israel, which is the ultimate purpose of the 70-weeks Kingdom in Judaea. Then, his prophecy uses the first high priest of that rebuilt temple, Jeshua, or Joshua, as a type for Yahshua Christ, the coming Messiah who would be the ultimate high priest of His people. Furthermore, he used Zerubbabel, the first governor of Jerusalem as it was going to be rebuilt, as a type for Christ as Governor over His people. The seven-branched candlestick of Zechariah’s vision was a prophecy foreshadowing the messages to the seven Christian assemblies of the Revelation, and the vision of the two witnesses, or olive trees, which feed their oil to those candlesticks informs us that those assemblies consist of the people of the houses of Israel and Judah. The very purpose of the 70-weeks Kingdom was to achieve the reconciliation of Yahweh God with Israel, and all of these circumstances in its founding were employed by the prophet as allegories representing that purpose, which was ultimately fulfilled in Christ.

An underlying theme of these first few chapters is found in the references to the tribes of Israel. In chapter 1 there is a reference to “the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” In chapter 2 there is a plea to scattered Israel, where it says “Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon”, and in this case Babylon is symbolic for the captivity of all Israel. That plea is followed by a promise: “10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. 11 And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. 12 And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.” This was fulfilled in Yahshua Christ, who told His opponents that “I am He”. The proof is found in the fact that scattered Israel turned to Christ, proving that “thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee.” From similar visions in the words of other prophets we have explained that this too is a prophecy of Christ and the deliverance of His people Israel from captivity: that the many nations joined to Yahweh are the nations which the children of Israel were prophesied to become in the course of their captivity, and that they were joined to Yahweh in Christ when the nations of Europe, the descendants of the ancient Israelites, ultimately accepted Christianity.

Continuing that theme, in chapter 5 we saw a vision of a flying scroll, which was representative of the curses of disobedience in the law which were being carried out in the punishment of the tribes of Israel in captivity. That interpretation is substantiated by the vision of the woman in the ephah, which is a basket used for measuring volume, and measure in prophecy represents judgment. The woman was taken off into the land of Shinar, which is ancient Babylonia. Therefore the woman in the ephah represents the children of Israel – the wife of Yahweh – being taken to judgement in her captivity. The chapter concludes by stating that a house for the woman would be built in that same place. That place cannot be literal Babylonia, as literal Babylonia has been desolate for many centuries, so Babylonia must be an allegory for captivity. So if Israel is the bride of Christ, as the Scripture also promises, for instance, in Hosea chapter 2 and Revelation chapter 21, and the house for the woman is built in captivity, then we must conclude that the vision is describing the assembly of the true House of God in His people Israel as they turn to Christ. As we had also elucidated, that is precisely the analogy which the apostle Peter had used in chapter 2 of his first epistle, where he called those turning to Christ “lively stones... built up a spiritual house”. The house of which Peter speaks is the house which is built for the woman in her captivity.

In Zechariah chapter 6 we saw a vision of horses scattered in every direction. Before their scattering, the horses were caught between two mountains of brass. We conjectured that because brass is sometimes used to represent difficulty in prophecy, perhaps the mountains represent the most difficult portions of the seven times period of captivity of the children of Israel, which are ostensibly found at the beginning and end of those times. But perhaps the two mountains instead represent the Assyrians and Babylonians who had taken them captive. Other interpretations may also be possible. But in any event the horses are envisioned in four groups scattered by the four winds of heaven, and those which go towards the north comfort the spirit of the angel of Yahweh.

In the end of the chapter we see another prophecy of The Branch, an allusion to Christ Himself. The first such prophecy was in chapter 3 in connection with Joshua the high priest. Here we are told that He shall build the temple of Yahweh. Then we are also told that “they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD.” Once again, this can seem to refer to the immediate building of the second temple, but if the entire vision is considered there must be some greater meaning, especially where it says in reference to the Branch that “13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Therefore it must be another vision describing the building of the house of the woman, the bride of Christ, as she sits in captivity suffering judgment. Ultimately, the house of the woman is described again in Revelation chapter 21, where it is called the City of God come down from heaven, and it is ruled by Christ. The city has on its gates the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel, and therefore they are its only legitimate occupants. So all of its dimensions are divisible by twelve, the number of the tribes of Israel.

Here in the chapter which we are about to read, the theme is of sin and punishment, and of the scattering of Israel in their punishment. But the description of the scattering comes with a promise of salvation for those same people. That salvation is realized in Christ, and that is the very purpose of the Christ, for which the second temple was built. As we have asserted, Zechariah is a Christian prophet.

7:1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu;

Here we have a distinct division from the earlier words of the prophet, which began in the second year of Darius. The second year of Darius was also the year in which the building of the second temple in Jerusalem had resumed. According to the Book of Ezra, who in his first six chapters is recollecting events which had happened before his own time, the building of the second temple began at the beginning of the reign of Cyrus King of Persia, which must be reckoned from the time when he had conquered the Babylonians. This is evident in Ezra chapter 1, where it is decreed that the building may begin, and chapter 2 describes the host which returns to Jerusalem in those days in order to rebuild. Then in Ezra 3:6-8 the scribe indicates that building had begun during the following year. But the nations surrounding Jerusalem protested, and building was halted, as we see in Ezra chapter 4. There in verses 4 and 5 we read: “4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, 5 And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.” Further on in that chapter, we read: “24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.”

The extent to which building had begun before it was halted in the days of Cyrus is unclear. The building resumed in the second year of Darius, and, according to the most likely calculations, took four years to complete. In Ezra chapter 5 the scribe tells us that “1 Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the [Judaeans] that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. 2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.” And finally, in Ezra chapter 6: “15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.” Ezra was recording things which took place long before his own time, and Nehemiah had also recorded many of those same things. In chapter 7 of Ezra, the scribe begins recording the things which he himself had done at a much later time.

The conservative estimate for the time of the original decree of Cyrus concerning the temple in Jerusalem would be 538 BC. The estimate for the beginning of the second year of Darius would be 520 BC. So for 18 years the building of the second temple was initiated, halted, and hung in the balance. With this we may better see the impact which the near vision interpretation of Zechariah’s prophecy must have had upon the people in Judaea, where he offered a confident word that the temple would indeed be completed. Having contended politically with the surrounding nations over the building of the second temple for 18 years, in the second year of Darius it was finally resolved and whatever work was already begun aforetime would be resumed. But the 18-year period of struggle over the building of the temple also assured the completion of the seventy-year prophecy of Jerusalem’s desolation which is found in Jeremiah, and that is also mentioned at the beginning of the Book of Ezra. The temple was finished in the sixth year of Darius, but here Zechariah is prophesying in the fourth year of Darius, so as he writes the work is not yet completed.

Ostensibly, this fourth year of Darius is 518 BC, and the early days of the ninth month most likely corresponds to the middle of the last week of our own November. The temple was finished in the month Adar, which is the twelfth month, during the sixth year of the reign of Darius. We could assert that the time of this writing was therefore about 27 months before the temple was completed. But this assertion may not be correct. The phrase “in the sixth year” could mean any time during the year after the king had ruled five full years. But the way years were sometimes reckoned, it could refer to the turning of the calendar years since Darius had assumed the throne, where the first year counted is only the part of that calendar year in which he took office. If the anniversaries of the date of the king’s rule were intended, and if the passing of the date which marked the years of the reign of Darius lay between the ninth and twelfth months, it would only be 15 months to the completion of the temple. We have two calendars being watched here, one for the Hebrew months and another giving the years of the reign of the Persian kings, and the two calendars do not necessarily coincide. These are some of the difficulties encountered when attempting to piece together ancient chronologies.

With this we shall proceed with Zechariah chapter 7, where we shall encounter further difficulties in the interpretation:

2 When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD,

Sherezer is from a phrase which means “prince of fire”, and at a much earlier time it was also the name of one of the princes of Assyria (Isaiah 37:35). Regem-melech apparently means “heap of the king”, or perhaps it may mean “booty of the king” as if he were a slave. So the names reflect the captivity of those Israelites who bore them, since they are pagan in nature.

The phrase beth el literally means house of God, but perhaps it should have been left as a name here, as it was in the Greek of the Septuagint, where it would refer to Bethel. The entire chapter is wanting in the Dead Sea Scrolls, however that would have no bearing on the interpretation, whether the words should be translated literally or as a name. But that is not all. The phrase represented as “they had sent” in the King James Version consists of the verb with a singular masculine pronoun, and not a plural, and therefore it should be he had sent. Likewise, the pronoun in the phrase “their men” is also singular, his men. Furthermore, there is no preposition indicating that these men were sent to Bethel, or to the House of God.

In verse 3 the prophet describes the unfinished temple as “the house of Yahweh of hosts”, and if “house of God” were meant here, that phrase would be redundant. Therefore we would rather interpret beth el as a reference to Bethel, the town of Benjamin. This is especially true since it is Bethel which seems to be doing the sending here, which is apparent in the grammar as that would also account for the singular pronouns.

In the records of those forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty people of Judah who had originally returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel (a sum attested in Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66), we are informed in Nehemiah (7:32) that a hundred and twenty three men of that number had settled in Bethel. Of course, those men would represent a hundred and twenty three households. The number in Ezra (2:28), however, is two hundred and twenty three in the Masoretic Text, and four hundred and twenty three in the Septuagint.

Understanding this, if the singular pronouns refer to the town rather than some unknown “they” and “their”, as it is in the King James Version, then this verse is better translated:

2 When Bethel had sent Sherezer and Regemmelech and its men to pray before the Lord...

The translation found in the New American Standard Bible is very similar, and much more appropriate than that which is found in the King James Version. So Zechariah continues describing that mission:

3 And to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?

The phrase “separating myself” may better be rendered as “abstaining” in this context, as one may fast while mourning.

The reference to weeping in the fifth month must be a reference to some otherwise unrecorded tradition of mourning over the temple in Jerusalem, since that is the month in which the original temple of Solomon had been destroyed by the Babylonians. This is evident in 2 Kings chapter 25, and also in Jeremiah chapter 52, where we read: “12 Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, 13 And burned the house of the LORD, and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire: 14 And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about.” Here it is apparent that the men of Bethel, seeing that the temple was finally being rebuilt and may have been nearing completion, inquire of the priests as to whether they should continue to mourn the old temple.

Yahweh responds through the prophet:

4 Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying, 5 Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?

Of course, the seventy years refers to the time when there was no temple and Jerusalem lie in rubble. While the reference to the fifth month seems to be to an unwritten tradition of mourning over the destruction of old Jerusalem, the reference to the seventh month is certainly to the required day of atonement which is evidenced in Leviticus chapter 23: “24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. 25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.” Then after the fast, which is what is meant by the phrase “ye shall afflict your souls”, the seventh month required a feast as well, which was the feast of tabernacles. From later in that same chapter: “34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.”

So after implying that the children of Israel may have fasted, but that they fasted for themselves and not for God, through the prophet Yahweh also asks:

6 And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?

The King James Version added the words “for yourselves” each time, however here we can forgive them because the intended meaning is clear. Discussing this passage, we will borrow from things which we said when we presented a commentary on Philippians chapter 2 here some months ago. In Isaiah chapter 58 we have one place in the Old Testament where Yahweh demonstrates how the children of Israel were expected to love their neighbours as themselves. Understanding this passage, one may see that the fasts, sabbaths and feasts were appointed not merely to please God, but so that the children of Israel could do good for one another. Instead, the children of Israel have historically used those appointments in a self-righteous manner, in order to justify themselves. To a great extent, they still do that today.

From the King James Version of Isaiah 58: “1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.” In these first two verses the children of Israel are portrayed prophetically in an ideal way, where they are seeking the ways of their God, and they are something of an introduction to a dialogue, where the next speaker is the nation collectively.

The King James Version added some words to make this apparent: “3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?” So here in Isaiah, the children of Israel complain that their fasting was not recognized by their God, and, next in turn, Yahweh responds to their complaint: “Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. 4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.” So the children of Israel are described as fasting only to assert their own justification, which is what is meant where it says “to make your voice to be heard on high.”

Yahweh speaking through Isaiah continues: “5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?” With this, it should be evident that the children of Israel were fasting for the sake of their own satisfaction, their own self-righteousness, which was for self-justification and a way to exalt themselves above their neighbours. In their fasting they were competing with their brethren in order to establish their own righteousness, and in verse 5 Yahweh informs them that this is not a fast which He had appointed.

Isaiah continues with the dialogue where Yahweh explains reasons for fasting which would be agreeable to Him, as He asks: “6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” This last phrase of verse 7 shows that Christian concern should be for those of their own race. Doing this, caring for the poor and weak of one’s brethren, only then God is pleased with their fasts.

Doing this, the children of Israel are promised prosperity where Yahweh continues and says: “8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. 9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: 11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”

These are the blessings that Christians should expect when they spend their fasts, sabbaths and feasts removing the burdens from one's brethren rather than justifying themselves. The children of Israel were not called to fast in order to establish their own righteousness. Rather, by fasting, they are encouraged to do without so that they could impart it to those of their brethren that have greater need. That is true Godly fasting: doing without some bread, or some greater pleasure, so that one may offer sustenance to one's needy brethren, as it says here in verse 7: “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?” In the same Spirit, feasting should be seen as an opportunity to share one’s wealth with those same poor brethren. The result would be a flourishing prosperity of both oneself, one's descendants. and one's people.

In the final verses of this chapter of Isaiah, we see that the sabbaths are to be employed for these same reasons, and the Word of God continues: “13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”… It is evident that Christians should spend their sabbaths pursuing the things of Yahweh their God, which have also already been described in this chapter: making sacrifice of themselves in order to build up their brethren, in that manner they help to build up the Kingdom of God, as the natural result of their behavior. So fasting and sabbaths are not for self-justification, but for self-sacrifice: the preservation of the Body of Christ. Feasts are not for self-indulgence, but for the benefit of the body of Christ as a whole.

The eyes of men justify themselves through an outward display or appearance of piety, often expressed through vain rituals or empty words. In the eyes of God Israelites are justified by caring for the Body of Christ.

7 Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?

As we just read Isaiah chapter 58, the people of Judah had an opportunity to read those same words, and to repent, for over a hundred years. For it was over a hundred years after Isaiah had written that the remnant of Judah was taken into captivity and the old city of Jerusalem was destroyed.

And while that passage of Isaiah expresses the true meaning and purpose of fasts, feasts and sabbaths most fully, Judah received warnings for these same sins which are mentioned here in Zechariah by the mouth of Amos, who was also prophesying before the captivity of Israel in the days of Isaiah. For instance, in Amos chapter 5 we read: “11 Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them. 12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.” And then in Amos chapter 8: “1 Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. 2 And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more. 3 And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence. 4 Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, 5 Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? 6 That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?” The children of Israel had no care for feasts and sabbaths. Rather, they only had care for their own profit. The economic aspect of their sin may be described as predatory capitalism, and just like modern times, that became their religion. Therefore their feasts and sabbaths were not acceptable to Yahweh their God.

So the men of Bethel approach the prophet and seek the counsel of the priests, as to whether they should maintain a fast. And the answer was a challenge from God, who asked them just when it was that they had ever fasted for Him, rather than for themselves, or when it was that they feasted for Him, rather than for themselves. Even those people of Judah who had returned to Jerusalem were not yet repentant of the sins of the past: for repentance requires recognition of one’s errors as well as a return to obedience, and they obviously had no recognition. So Zechariah continues to admonish them in reference to the behavior they learned from their ancestors, by repeating some of the ancient pleadings which were made with them through the earlier prophets:

8 And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying, 9 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: 10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

In Amos chapter 4, in reference to the people of Israel the prophet admonished “ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.” The prophet Hosea had likewise warned the children of Israel, as early as the beginning of the ministry of Isaiah, in Hosea chapter 4: “1 Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.” Then in Hosea chapter 6, where it is evident that their sacrifices and offerings were being made for themselves, they were again warned: “6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. 7 But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.” Likewise, it says in Ezekiel chapter 22: “6 Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood. 7 In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow. 8 Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my sabbaths.”

The Word of Yahweh continues in Zechariah by further attesting that they never listened to those warnings:

11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. 12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.

In the same chapter 4 of Amos, in spite of how badly they treated the needy and poor of their own brethren, Yahweh offered them an opportunity for repentance and they rejected it no matter how much they had suffered His wrath. It is fitting that Bethel is mentioned here, as it had become one of the chief seats of idolatry in ancient Israel: “4 Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: 5 And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD. 6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” Once again, because the requirements of the law were not conducted with sincerity, the sacrifices of the children of Israel were not acceptable to God.

Finally, they were taken into captivity for their sins, as it is next described:

13 Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts: 14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.

There is a lesson in all of this for us today, and we are once again ignoring the warnings. For many years now, our Christian people have been taken away and caught up in that same predatory capitalism. Along with that there is the sense of individualism and self-justification which is contrary to the purpose of God for Israel. So our people would rather trade for profit than follow the Spirit of Christ by making sacrifices for their communities and their brethren at their own expense. Once again, we shall be punished for our sin. Those punishments have been unfolding as we feel ourselves engulfed by the non-White races who would seek to destroy and enslave us all. But that is an entirely different matter, so for now we shall continue to discuss the words of Zechariah…

Here we see Yahweh attest that the children of Israel were scattered. But the ultimate promise in the prophecy concerning the purpose of the second temple as it is expressed in Zechariah chapter 2 is this: “10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. 11 And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. 12 And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.”

The proof that these “many nations” joined to Yahweh are nations of scattered Israel is in the grammar, where it is addressing the “daughter of Zion” and it says “I will dwell in the midst of thee”. These are the people of whom Yahweh spoke in Hosea where He said “Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” Both statements refer only to the children of Israel, and both Peter and Paul cited them in reference to their readers in their epistles. So the many nations and the daughter of Zion are one and the same, and only the descendants of the ancient children of Israel may be considered the “daughter” of Zion. They are also represented by the woman taken to the land of Shinar for judgment and the building of her house, in Zechariah chapter 6.

Throughout the Book of Genesis, from chapters 17 through 49, we see promises by Yahweh God made to the patriarchs of Israel, that they would indeed become many nations, a multitude of nations, a great nation, and a company of nations. The promise to Abraham was ascertained, and it would be fulfilled by seed which came out of his loins, according to the Word of God. But the fulfillment is not recorded in the Old Testament, because the Old Testament focuses solely upon the history of the kingdom in Palestine. But the fulfillment certainly is evident in the New Testament, and in classical history.

For instance, the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus accepted the Exodus account as a historical event. Where Diodorus quoted from the earlier historian Hecataeus of Abdera, the Greek historian and skeptic philosopher of the 4th century BC, he repeated a strange account of the Israelite Exodus from an ostensibly Egyptian viewpoint, where he says that “the aliens were driven from the country, and the most outstanding and active among them banded together and, as some say, were cast ashore in Greece and certain other regions; their leaders were notable men, chief among them being Danaus and Cadmus. But the greater number were driven into what is now called Judaea ... The colony was headed by a man called Moses, outstanding both for his wisdom and for his courage” (Library of History, 40.3.1-3).

It can be established that the nation of the Trojans was founded around this time, and the princes of Troy can be clearly connected to Biblical figures compared to Solomon in wisdom, in 1 Kings chapter 4, namely Darda and Chalcol of the sons of Zarah, the son of Judah. It can also be established that the Mycenaean Greeks, who also appeared in the Peloponnesus around this same time, in their own records had called themselves Danae, and attest that they had come from Egypt. After the conquest of Canaan the Israelites of Tyre, a city of the tribe of Asher, began to make many colonies abroad, but they were called Phoenicians by the later Greeks. The Dorians embarked from the coasts of Manasseh as early as the 12th century BC, to settle first in Crete, and then to dominate much of what later became Greece. From all of these tribes descended the Romans, the Spartans, the Corinthians, the Makedonians, the Carthaginians, Iberians, Irish and British, among many others over a period of a thousand years before Zechariah began to prophesy. But that is only is half of the story. From the Israelites taken into the Assyrian deportations came the Kimmerians, who were later also called Sakae and Scythians, and from these came the Galatae, the Germanic peoples.

So Paul of Tarsus wrote to the Romans, and told them that they had the truth of God and changed it into a lie. Paul of Tarsus wrote to the Corinthians, and told them that their ancestors were with Moses in the Exodus. Paul of Tarsus wrote to the Galatians, and told them that the law was their schoolmaster to bring them to Christ. Paul wrote many other communities of these same people, and told them that the purpose of Christ was to reconcile them to Yahweh their God, that their sins were forgiven, that they were to be restored to the Kingdom of God. All of these things can only refer to the children of Israel.

Paul recognized these relatively new European nations as the promised seed of Abraham. Neither Romans nor Danaans nor Dorians nor Kimmerians nor Iberians nor Galataians had existed when the promise was made to Abraham. Yet Paul wrote in Romans chapter 4, and we will only read the pertinent parts: “1 What shall we say then that Abraham our [fore]father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?… 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness…. 13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith…. 16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed… 17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. 18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.”

The rest of Paul’s words in that chapter can only be understood once it is made clear that he is addressing descendants of Abraham exclusively: comparing those still under the law with the scattered Israelites who no longer had the law. Paul never said that many nations shall be Abraham’s seed, as the denominational churches insist today that Abraham’s seed can somehow be replaced with others. Instead, Paul said that Abraham’s seed had become many nations, and he underscored that by saying in reference to those nations that God “calleth those things which be not as though they were”; or in other words, that God referred to those nations as if they existed even though they had not yet existed, because they were indeed going to come from Abraham’s loins. For that, Paul goes on in that same place to discuss the miraculous birth of Isaac.

In this same manner, Paul said in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, where we shall omit a parenthetical phrase to express only the pertinent statement: “18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?… 20 But I say, that the things which the [Nations] sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” The Israelite nations of Europe, “Israel after the flesh”, had followed after demons, the pagan religions they adopted in Palestine for which they were punished.

For this same reason the apostle John interpreted the words of the high priest concerning the Christ: “51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.”

With all of this in mind, with Zechariah's notice of the sins of Israel and the scattering of Israel which served as part of the punishment for those sins described here in chapter 7, we see in Zechariah chapter 8 a message of hope in that punishment. We shall see that this is also a Messianic prophecy, a prophecy of the Gospel of Christ which would regather the scattered children of Israel. This was once again the purpose of the 70-weeks Kingdom, as it is explicitly stated Daniel chapter 9: “24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” Those words in Daniel were also a premonition of the Gospel of Christ for Israel.

Here we see a continuation of a theme which was illustrated in Zechariah chapter 1: the jealousy of God for His people:

8:1 Again the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, 2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.

Zion can only stand for the children of Israel, where it said in the last verse of chapter 7 “But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not.” But even though Yahweh was compelled to punish His people, He will avenge His enemies and save His people from them, as it says in the prophet Nahum in an oracle against Nineveh made shortly after the Assyrian conquest of Israel: “2 God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.”

3 Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain. 4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof. 6 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts.

The near vision, or immediate fulfillment of this prophecy applies to Jerusalem in Palestine, however that is hardly the purpose of the prophecy. The permanent doom of the old city of Jerusalem, even the 70-weeks Kingdom, was already forecast by the earlier prophets. For instance, Yahweh had told the prophet Jeremiah, as it is recorded in Jeremiah chapter 19 to take a bottle to Jerusalem and to stand before the rulers and priests and the people, and “10 Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee, 11 And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again...”

Furthermore, it says in the prophecy concerning Christ, who is called Messiah the Prince in Daniel chapter 9, that “26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” As Christ said to His enemies “your house shall be left to you desolate”, Jerusalem was destroyed for good after the coming of Messiah the Prince as Daniel had written, and where Paul said to the Romans that “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”

However Jerusalem in the prophets often stands for the capital cities of the people of Yahweh wherever they happen to be. So in Micah chapter 4 we see this prophecy of scattered Israel: “5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we [referring to the scattered Israelites] will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. 6 In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; 7 And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation [the seed of Abraham in Europe]: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. 8 And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem. 9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counsellor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.” The Kingdom came to the daughter of Zion when the scattered children of Israel turned to Christ. As Christ said in Matthew, speaking to His enemies in Jerusalem: “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

The interpretation is certain as the prophet proceeds:

7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; 8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.

This gathering of the people is promised in Christ, as we read in Zechariah chapter 2 that “many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day,” speaking of the scattering of Israel which fulfilled the promises to Abraham, that his offspring would become many nations. And when the people are gathered, Yahweh would once again be the God of Israel through Christ. We shall conclude with this thought, but we will discuss this subject at length in the next portion of our presentation of the Book of Zechariah, where these same promises of salvation in Christ are repeated.

CHR20160708-Zechariah04.odt — Downloaded 126 times