Commentary on the Prophecy of Zechariah - Audio and Written Bible Commentary

The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 1, Visions Near and Far

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The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 1, Visions Near and Far

The writing of the book of Zechariah the prophet can be dated rather accurately to begin about 520 BC, during the reign of the Persian king known as Darius the Great. Zechariah was one of three post-captivity prophets whose writing we have in our Bibles. The others are Haggai and Malachi. According to Haggai himself, the written records of his prophecy were initiated just over two months before those of Zechariah, at the very beginning of the sixth month in the second year of Darius. While the book of Malachi is not dated, from internal evidence it was clearly written some time after both Haggai and Zechariah, as the Levitical priesthood which was reestablished in the time of the first two second-temple prophets was being corrupted in the time of Malachi. Therefore Malachi may have been written as late as the events described in Ezra chapters 9 and 10, and possibly even later.

As we more fully demonstrate in an article at Christogenea entitled Notes Concerning Daniel's 70 Weeks Prophecy, the mission of Nehemiah preceded that of Ezra by many decades. The first captives, unrecorded by Scripture, may have returned to Jerusalem some time after 539 BC, when Cyrus had conquered Babylon. Evidently, some time during this period, some rebuilding in Jerusalem may have begun but was never completely finished. Cambyses, the son and successor of Cyrus who ruled from 529 to 522 BC, was a difficult man. Upon complaints from the Samaritans and others, he had ordered any building activity at Jerusalem to cease. This was recorded by Flavius Josephus. After Cambyses had died from a wound in battle, Darius became King of Persia, in 522 or 521 BC, and by 520 the rebuilding in Jerusalem had commenced. The opening verses of Haggai the prophet records that the temple was rebuilt at this very time.

When Nehemiah first returned to Jerusalem, as it is related in chapter 2 of his writing, the walls were broken down, and at least some of the entrances into the city were impassable because of the debris which resulted when the city was destroyed by the Babylonians. In our notes on the period, it has been established that where the English versions of Nehemiah have Artaxerxes, the reference is a mere title which Nehemiah used for that same king Darius, in spite of the fact that the Greeks commonly used their form of that title in reference to the Artaxerxes who ruled Persia from 465 BC, which was during the time of Ezra.

The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 2, Jesus and Satan

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The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 2, Jesus and Satan

Presenting the first two chapters of Zechariah, we saw that the prophet began writing around the start of the building of the second temple in the days of Zerubbabel, about 520 BC. While his prophecy had a meaning with an immediate application in his own time, regarding the building of the temple, it also has far-reaching implications related to the very purpose of the 70-weeks kingdom, which is what we call Judaea as it was in the inter-testamental period. We hope to further establish the proofs of that assertion here, presenting Zechariah chapter 3.

This period which we prefer to describe as the 70-weeks kingdom, from another prophecy which describes it in Daniel chapter 9, is also referred to as the second temple period. However that label is not quite accurate. According to Ezra, the second temple took only four years to build. The temple of the time of Christ was actually the third temple, Herod’s temple, as the second temple was rebuilt from the foundations up. That is how the Judaean historian Flavius Josephus described it, and the building of that third temple is mentioned in John chapter 2 where it is said that the project took 46 years to complete.

As Josephus wrote in Book 15 of his Antiquities of the Judaeans, “391 So Herod took away the old foundations, and laid others, and erected the temple upon them, being in length a hundred cubits, and in height twenty additional cubits, which [twenty], upon the sinking of their foundations fell down; and this part it was that we resolved to raise again in the days of Nero. 392 Now the temple was built of stones that were white and strong, and each of their length was twenty-five cubits, their height was eight, and their breadth about twelve; 393 and the whole structure, as also the structure of the royal cloister, was on each side much lower, but the middle was much higher, till they were visible to those who dwelt in the country for a great many miles, but chiefly to such as lived opposite them, and those who approached to them.” The building project having taken 46 years, and the foundations of the second temple being completely replaced, where Josephus said that new foundations were laid and Herod then “erected the temple upon them”, we cannot imagine that the resulting edifice was still the second temple. Rather, it could only be counted as a third temple, and that is a fact ignored by both Jews and Judaized Christians alike.

The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 3, The House of God

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The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 3, The House of God

Having presented the first three chapters of Zechariah, we hope to have established the fact that there are two perspectives to fully interpreting the words of the prophet and realizing the fulfillment of his prophecy. These we have termed the near vision, which is the immediate application of his prophecy to the rebuilding of the second temple and the initiation of the 70-weeks Kingdom, and the far vision, or the transcendental fulfillment of the prophecy to the birth and ministry of the Christ and the building of His House, which is both His temporal body and the body of His collective people Israel. We would also assert that the entire purpose of the 70-weeks Kingdom was to realize the fulfillment of the far vision, as the Word of God establishes for us both here and in Daniel chapter 9.

Now in Zechariah chapter 4, Zerubbabel, the governor of Jerusalem during the building of the second temple and the high priesthood of Joshua, is only mentioned several times. His name means sown in Babel, or Babylon, and that is important in relation to what we hope to demonstrate is the meaning of this chapter. Especially since the Hebrew word babel also means confusion, and more specifically confusion by mixing. This in itself is a prophecy of ancient Judaea, the birth of Christ and the modern understanding of the origins of both the Gospel and the people of Christ. So the redemption of the children of Israel was sown in confusion.

On a personal note, while Zerubbabel was the rightful heir to the throne of David, he could never himself sit as a king, because of the curse of Jeconiah found in Jeremiah chapter 32 where it says “Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” Zerubbabel was also an ancestor of Christ according to both genealogies, however Christ is not affected by the curse of Jeconiah since He inherits the throne of David as an adopted son of Joseph of Nazareth, who was apparently the last living heir to the throne. The wicked king Jeconiah was the grandfather of this Zerubbabel.

The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 4: Sin and Punishment

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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.

The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 5: Scattering and Gathering

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The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 5: Scattering and Gathering

In the last segment of this presentation of the prophecy of Zechariah, we left off part way through chapter 8. The theme of that segment, which began with Zechariah chapter 7, we identified as Sin and Punishment. We are calling this segment Scattering and Gathering. In the Biblical context, the two concepts cannot be separated from one another. A major underlying theme of all the Biblical prophets, which is often expressed in very explicit terms, is the scattering of Israel in punishment for their sin, and the gathering of Israel in mercy and reconciliation. Yahweh did not scatter Israel without a purpose, and He promised to gather Israel explicitly and exclusively. By the time of the prophet Zechariah, the scattering of Israel was an accomplished fact. But even before the scattering was accomplished, through the more ancient prophets Yahweh had set forth these exclusive plans by which He would both reconcile Himself to Israel, and gather them together once again (at least allegorically), while at the same time the promises to the patriarchs in relation to the destiny of their seed would be fulfilled. This plan is illustrated in prophecy as early as the books of Moses, so it was a part of Yahweh’s Law and it is His Divine Will for Israel from the very beginning. This is the entire purpose of God set forth in Scripture, and there is no other purpose for the coming of Christ outside of this purpose.

For this precise reason, Paul of Tarsus had written in Romans chapter 8, where he was speaking to some of the descendants of those same scattered Israelites: “28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Those brethren are the children of Israel, as Paul had explained in chapter 2 of his epistle to the Hebrews, “16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”

The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 6: Burdens and Bastards

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The opening notes for tonight’s program are found below, as an appendix to the notes for this presentation. They are also posted at the Christogenea Forum in a thread titled What is a Bastard?

The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 6: Burdens and Bastards

Discussing the previous 8 chapters of this prophecy of Zechariah, we hope to have established that they are actually a series of rather profound but complex prophetic visions which have two purposes. First, in the interpretation which we call the near vision, they are a prophecy of the immediate circumstances of the building of the temple and the founding of the 70-weeks kingdom. But more importantly, in the interpretation which we call the far vision, they are prophetic of the ministry of the Christ and the building of the Body of Christ which is the true temple of Yahweh. As we also hope to have seen, this true temple was to be built in the captivity of the woman in judgment, in the gathering of scattered Israel through Yahshua Christ in order to reconcile them to Yahweh their God. The purpose of the second temple and the 70-weeks Kingdom was to produce and herald the Messiah, and the overall purpose of Zechariah’s prophecy was to foretell some of the events. Circumstances and the purpose of His coming.

These prophecies of the scattering and subsequent gathering of Israel and the reconciliation of the children of God through Christ culminated in the last passage of Zechariah chapter 8. There we see a clear prophecy of the spread of the Gospel of Christ where it says “23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a [Judahite], saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” We have asserted that the ten men must be representative of the scattered so-called “ten lost tribes”, and he who is a Judaean (not a Jew, but a Judahite) must be a reference to the apostles of Christ.

The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 7: A Christian Identity Prophet

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The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 7: A Christian Identity Prophet

Presenting Zechariah chapter 9, we concluded that the oracles in the opening verses of the chapter were actually a promise of rest for the captivity of “all the tribes of Israel” who would repent and look to their God, something which is fulfilled in Christ as Paul had asserted in Hebrews chapter 4 that “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” We made this conclusion with the understanding that the message of the prophet is found in the meanings of the words, Hadrach, Damascus and Hamath, and not in the cities themselves. As the prophet wrote, Hamath and Hadrach had already been destroyed by the Babylonians, so the names must stand as allegories.

Following that, we saw oracles prophesying the demise of the once-great maritime cities of Palestine, namely the Tyrians and the chief cities of the Philistines. After these the Word of Yahweh said in verse 8 “And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes.” On the surface, this appears to be talking about Jerusalem, which is the near vision, or immediate interpretation of the prophecy. However it is evident that the old city was indeed filled with oppressors by the time of the ministry of Christ, and for that reason it was destroyed in 70 AD. Rather, it is evident that it is describing Israel in captivity, that as the prophet had written in Zechariah chapter 2, Yahweh would be a “wall of fire” around His people Israel. In Christ, the camp of the saints is ultimately protected from the armies of bastards. Once again we see God Himself promise to be the fortress of His people, which is the meaning of the word Hamath in verse 2 of this same chapter....

The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 8: The Broken and New Covenants

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The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 8: The Broken and New Covenants

Presenting Zechariah chapter 10, we saw in the reference to the House of Judah that there were apparent near vision prophecies, which can seem to have had a partial fulfillment in the 70-weeks Kingdom. But that is only because the remnant in Jerusalem was also a part of the House of Judah. The purpose of the prophecy of Zechariah is still for “all the tribes of Israel” mentioned at the beginning of chapter 9, and most of Judah was taken into captivity by the Assyrians along with the House of Joseph, which is also mentioned along with Judah in that same chapter 10 of Zechariah.

In the words of Zechariah at the beginning of chapter 10, it is clearly evident that the primary focus of the ensuing prophecy is in the far vision, for the “time of the latter rain”. In ancient Israel, the latter rain was the season which preceded the harvest. But prophetically, this is a reference not to a particular time of the year as Zechariah wrote. Rather it must be a reference to the great harvest so frequently spoken of by Yahshua Christ, and also prophesied by Joel, where the children of Israel may expect those remarkable gifts from God which are promised where Yahweh had said that “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”

We then saw that the subject of the prophecy in Zechariah chapter 10 could not have been the 70-weeks Kingdom for another reason: because Ephraim, the name which came to stand for the ten northern tribes of the Assyrian captivity, was a subject of the prophecy as well as Judah. The remnant of the 70-weeks kingdom, while it was referred to as the “two tribes” and the “house of Judah”, could not truly stand for all Judah, and certainly did not stand for Ephraim. Going back to Zechariah chapter 9, we see that the subject of the prophecy is “all the tribes of Israel”, and therefore Yahweh God never neglected the Israelites of the ancient dispersions, who ultimately inhabited most of Europe and became the Christian nations. As we explained in the oracle contrasting the sons of Yahweh with the sons of Javan, the proof is in ancient history, that the Christian nations of Europe were “all the tribes of Israel” of Zechariah’s prophecy, because they alone fulfilled the things which Zechariah had said would come of those tribes.

The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 9: Prophet of the Revelation

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The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 9: Prophet of the Revelation

Zechariah did not prophecy the Revelation of Yahshua Christ in the sense of revealing its publication or describing it ahead of time, so in that sense our subtitle is purposely in error. What Zechariah did, however, was provide a prophecy through which Yahweh God provided many things that would later also be provided to the apostle John in the Revelation of Yahshua Christ. So the prophecy of Zechariah supplies many parallels to oracles given in the Revelation, and in that manner it acts as a second witness to the Word of God found in the Revelation.

Through eleven chapters of Zechariah we have illustrated the near visions and the far visions of the prophet, the prophecies which seem to apply to the 70-weeks kingdom, and the prophecies which must transcend the 70-weeks Kingdom, and apply instead to the people of God found in the children of Israel who had long been scattered abroad. However the visions share a common purpose. The very existence of the 70-weeks Kingdom was for the preparation of a place for the coming of the Messiah, and it served as the venue for His coming. This made possible His ultimate reconciliation with the children of Israel scattered abroad, which was the objective of His being. As it says in the 114th Psalm, “Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion”, and thus it has been.

So in the last few chapters especially, we see that Zechariah’s prophecy has been focused upon the woman who was taken off into Chaldea for judgment, which stands for the allegorical Babylon where her house would also be built, and this includes “all the tribes of Israel” both of the house of Joseph, or the ten northern tribes, and the house of Judah, the two remaining tribes. Now here in these closing chapters, on the surface it appears as if only Judah falls within the scope of the prophecy, because names such as Joseph and Ephraim are no longer mentioned. But that is not the case….

The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 10: Prophet of the Holocaust

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The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 10: Prophet of the Holocaust

This will be the tenth and final segment of our presentation of the prophecy of Zechariah. We will not attempt to summarize what we have seen thus far in its entirety, but we shall mention that throughout the entire book of the prophet it is fully evident that Zechariah’s writing not only contains prophecies which allude to Christ, but rather, in every way he is a Messianic prophet. In his opening chapters his writings employ the two chief figures of the Jerusalem of his time, Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest, as types for Christ in order to make prophecies concerning both Christ and the nature of His enemies and other aspects of His earthly ministry, and many other similar prophecies concerning Christ are found throughout the subsequent chapters.

It should also be evident that, aside from the coming of the Messiah, a primary subject of Zechariah’s prophecy is the tribes of Israel in their captivity. And aside from statements here and there which may pertain to the 70-weeks Kingdom in part, the Jerusalem of Zechariah is representative of the people of Israel spread abroad in their captivity. Zechariah frequently spoke of these people as they had already been scattered, also promising that they would greatly increase in their numbers, and fully inferring that these things were indeed accomplished by his own time, as he often used the past tense in relation to those people who had been taken away by the Assyrians and the captivity of Egypt (Zechariah 10:8). None of these prophecies have anything to do with the people now called Jews, although Jews are mentioned at the very end of the book.

Additionally, in chapter 11 of this prophecy, we are informed through the prophet that Yahweh God had broken the covenant which He had made with the people. Of course, the people had already broken the covenant with Him, which was noticed in the words of the earlier prophets, and for that reason was He compelled to break the covenant with them. However the breaking of the covenant was ultimately accomplished in Yahshua Christ, as Paul had much later explained in Romans chapter 7. So this is also a Messianic prophecy, as we saw Zechariah describe in his own words in that chapter as he related the broken covenant to the thirty pieces of silver for which Christ had been betrayed.