I apologize for being so late with our Sunday school notes for the past two lessons. Both lessons # 3 and # 4 will be posted today.
# 3 Back to Work Part II – Zechariah’s Night Visions
Zechariah experienced eight visions in one night.
The first two we studied last week: # 1. The Man on the Red Horse – the Angel of the Lord with His angels; and # 2. The vision of the four horns and the four craftsman/artificers – which pertains to the judgment of the Gentile nations and the Divine Counterforce which will be sent to deal with the nations that abused Israel.
This next vision (Zechariah 2) gives us a glimpse into what it will be like once Jerusalem is restored. First of all, the city will be without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. Zechariah 2:4b niv 1984 # 3. There will no limits on the people and animals that can come into the New Jerusalem. And once they are there, they will be protected by God Almighty Himself.
The pertinent message to Zerubabbel and the rest of the exiles is: though this place is desolate now, it will be inhabited by a great multitude! In a futuristic sense, the message for us is that God isn’t going to refuse a single believer when it comes to setting up His eternal city here on earth.
And so the next command for the exiles that haven’t yet departed Babylon is to get out of there! (verse 6) Their chains of captivity have been loosed; therefore, they need to leave. But the captives have prospered while in Babylon. They’re pretty comfortable in their captive rut, and they have no desire to seek out a better life with their God. Why would they? Things are going just fine right where we are. Why on earth would we ever poke the hornet’s nest of adversity when we can stay right here in our comfortable rut?
Honestly, I can relate. Once we take on rebuilding our relationship with God (for the Israelites it was the temple and the city), there comes against us a lot of adversity, and it comes at us from every direction. And while our captivity in a sinful state can be very comfortable (no Satanic attack for instance) the forfeiture of tremendous blessing in refusing the call of Christ will, in the long run, eternally pierce us.
For the one who sows to his own flesh, will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8 esv
And at the end of Chapter 2, a command is given to Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling. Zechariah 2:13 niv 1984
I am getting ready to do a mighty work among the people of the earth so give reverence to Me and My ways. Focus and contemplate what I will accomplish.
The 4th vision given to Zechariah is one of how it will look when the Messiah (the Sent) deals with our sin. It’s going to be a beautiful thing, despite the ugliness that Satan attempts to draw to attention. But the LORD shuts up our accuser right there at the throne: The LORD rebuke you Satan! The LORD who has chosen…Zechariah 3:2 niv 1984 And not a word is recorded here coming from Satan. Instead, the Angel of the LORD, our preincarnate Messiah Jesus Christ, demands clean clothing for the high priest, Joshua, and a clean turban on his head of which the frontal plate reads: HOLY TO THE LORD (Exodus 28:36; Exodus 39:30). God has chosen, and this filthy man becomes HOLY TO THE LORD.
That same thing happens to us. Despite our filthiness, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we 21 …who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, Colossians 1:21, 22 esv We are thus chosen in Him, and accusations against us are futile. God will deal with sin in a single day* (Zechariah 3:9) and we’ll live in peace and harmony with one another when it’s accomplished.
*in a single day—more than likely this reference is to Good Friday, however, there are some who believe the verses also refer to Christ’s second coming.
The 5th vision is of the lampstand and the olive trees.
The lampstand is solid gold, and it symbolizes the congregation of Zechariah’s time. The use of solid gold indicates that God wants that congregation to be pure in their doctrine and worship – and eventually, for our present day church, this should be our true ideal as well.
13 The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. Psalm 45:13 kjv The king’s daughter being us, the church.
And though the project has proven extremely difficult, the vision is sent to Zechariah in order to assure the people that through their leader, Zerubbabel, they will level mountains with their pure faith. God will be the energy behind them (the oil coming from the olives He created.)
# 6. And what’s interesting is that the vision of the flying scroll follows next. On one side of the scroll it says that every thief will be banished, and on the other side it says that everyone who swears falsely will be banished, and their houses destroyed.
Now, I couldn’t find any commentaries to back me up on this theory so don’t quote me on this, but when God is talking about destroying their houses, I think He’s talking about false religions and idol worship – phony houses of worship and highplaces – which the Jews had had a real problem with in their past.
And the reason I think that is because of where the vision falls – between talking about a pure church (the golden lampstand) and then the flight of wickedness to Babylon. In between those two visions is the vision of the scroll that condemns and destroys the thieves and the liars. First the church is purified then the Pretenders are dealt with and cast out. Then # 7. wickedness is confined, and though it tries to get it out again this heavy lid is pressed back upon it. Perhaps as if to say, we’re stronger than those temptations now and we’re not going to allow them to remain.
9Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth. Zechariah 5:9 niv 1984
The juxtaposition of the scroll and the woman in the basket is remarkable. The scroll, for instance, is wide open for all the world to see. Conversely, the basket is closed. The scroll moves on its own, obviously given power from on High, but the basket has to be carried by two other women, who had wings like those of a stork…
13 “And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable… 19 the stork…Leviticus 11:13-19 esv
The stork was an unclean bird and those two women were demons. Zechariah asks about where they are taking the basket, and the angel replies, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When it is ready, the basket will be set there in its place.” Zechariah 5:11 niv 1984
The Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Tabernacle – within it were the tables of God’s Law, the manna and Aaron’s rod. All symbols of righteousness and purity. At either end of the Ark, on a solid gold mercy seat was a cherub with wings. The whole thing was made of gold and fine wood, and it was placed in its own house.
In complete contradiction, the basket had wickedness within, it was covered with a lead lid, and uncleanness was on either side, and this thing is on its way to Babylonia to wait for its own house to be built.
Babylonia, a land of idolatry, was an appropriate locale for wickedness—but not Israel, where God chose to dwell with his people. Only after purging it of its evil would the promised land truly be the “holy land.”
—NIV Study Bible © 1984 by Zondervon
And that brings us to Zechariah’s eighth and final vision of that night – which really draws them all together in the fulfillment of the very first vision.
If you’ll recall in the first vision, the Angel of the Lord sends out His messengers on a recon mission, and they come back to Him reporting that the whole world is at rest and in peace.
And at this point the Advocate speaks for Israel, interceding before His Father, and He receives a Divine reply. And with that, our holy Messiah sets his jaw and says, “I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they added to the calamity.” Zechariah 1:15 niv 1984
They took My judgment way too far, and now justice is coming and I’m coming with it.
And while the recon team awaits holy dispatch, Zechariah is given the game plan of how the whole thing is going to go down:
There will be a divine counterforce to deal with the nations who abused Israel. (Zechariah 1:18-21)
God Himself will keep them safe while they rebuild and reproduce beyond measure. (Zechariah2)
He will remove their sin and malefaction, and accusation will no longer dog them. (Zechariah 3)
He will do it all with His power and purity, glory and might. (Zechariah 4)
He will remove all pretenders from the land. (Zechariah 5:1-4)
He will remove all wickedness, false religion and temptation, and then cast it back from where it came. (Zechariah 5:5-11)
And finally, the recon team gets the holy nod.
1I looked up again—and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains—mountains of bronze! 2The first chariot had red horses, the second black, 3the third white, and the fourth dappled—all of them powerful. 4I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these, my lord?”
5The angel answered me, “These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world… Zechariah 6:1-5 niv 1984
…the Lord of the whole world…
# 8. The King of kings and the Lord of lords – He’s now sent out His holy judgment, and it’s come directly from His presence.
6 The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south.”
7 When the powerful horses went out, they were straining to go throughout the earth. And he said, “Go throughout the earth!” So they went throughout the earth.
8 Then he called to me, “Look, those going toward the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land of the north.” Zechariah 6:6-8 niv 1984
…it is the land of the north, or Babylon, that is at the center of the world’s opposition to God. The speaker is the Angel of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. The judgment on Babylon, the land of the north, has given rest to God’s Spirit.
—Hermann J. Austell, The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary © 2012 by Baker Publishing Group
And then Zechariah is instructed by the Lord to make a crown for Joshua, the high priest.
Normally, a priest would not rule, however, this is a futuristic prophecy of when Jesus Christ comes to rule. He will hold both offices of High priest and King.
14 The crown will be given to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the temple of the Lord. 15 Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the Lord, and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the Lord your God.” Zechariah 6:14-15
And as was pointed out in your homework, the names Joshua and Jeshua are interchangeable, and we see the name of Jeshua in Ezra. The Greek equivalent of that name is Jesus, and all three forms of the name mean: the LORD saves.
George Williams points out:
It was necessary that a Temple should be built in which the Messiah at His First Advent was to appear.
—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary
And I want to add, more importantly, that His crown (as if it is just waiting there for Him!) is kept there in memory of all that has been revealed to Zechariah, who relayed the messages to Joshua.
Now, in order to see and experience all these things that Zechariah has related to Joshua, the people have to diligently obey – and they had a big problem that, as well so do we!
In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev. 2 The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melek, together with their men, to entreat the Lord 3 by asking the priests of the house of the Lord Almighty and the prophets, “Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”
4 Then the word of the Lord Almighty came to me: 5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? 6 And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? 7 Are these not the words the Lord proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?’” Zechariah 7:1-7 niv 1984
Okay…here’s where we are in this drama—the work on the temple has been restarted for about two years, or almost two years after the 8 night visions. A small gaggle of Jews go the priests, hoping that through them they can bring this question before God: Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?” TRANSLATION: God, we can see that this new temple is underway and we’ve got a good feeling about its completion, BUT we are so sick and tired of this depressing fasting and mourning we do every year around the anniversary of the fall of Jerusalem, we were just wondering if we could stop now?
You see, the people didn’t know what was in their law. They had no idea that God only required one ritual fast in His Law (Chapter 16 of Leviticus) Lev 16:34 “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”
The Israelites thought they could devise a better scheme to get the attention of the Lord God Almighty, hence all these additional fast days. The two that are being referred to in Zechariah 7 more than likely are the fast days dreamed up by the Jewish leadership at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the ensuing captivity. The fast of the 5th month was for the Destruction of Jerusalem, and the fast of the 7th month was for the murder of Gadaliah, the governor whom Nebuchednezzer put in place in Jerusalem once he’d removed their leadership.
This is so incredibly illustrative of what happens to us when we listen to preachers and teachers, but we don’t look into the Word of God for ourselves! And God rebuked them for their nonsense. He knows that they’re filled with gross false humility! All their fasting, feasting and worship has been for show—for the benefit of themselves. And when we do that it becomes a heavy burden. If only they’d listened to their God when they had peace all around their nation – things would have been a lot easier for them.
8 And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’
11 “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.
13 “‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty. 14 ‘I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land was left so desolate behind them that no one could come or go. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.’” Zechariah 7:8-14 niv 1984
The Israelites had made up the extra fasts in order to impress their God, and He wasn’t even listening. He wanted them to treat each other better: 9btrue justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil…
And they were still doing the same thing! They were listening to themselves, but they’d stopped up their ears to the living God.
Fortunately for the Israelites (and us!) our God is loving and full of grace.
The word of the Lord Almighty came to me.
2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.” Zechariah 8:1-2 niv 1984
That word jealous, especially when it’s used about the way that the Lord feels about us, has always interested me – so I finally decided to look it up.
1 a : intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness
b : disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness
2 : hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage
3 : vigilant in guarding a possession <new colonies were jealous of their new independence —Scott Buchanan>
—Merriam Webster’s Desktop Dictionary Application
In using the word jealous God was describing his feelings about the rivalry of the false idols Israel had chased after and were unfaithful with. Their actions had made Him disposed to suspect their continuing unfaithfulness. He had holy hostility toward the nations from where these idols had come from, and then later abused His peculiar treasure. And, He was going to be vigilant in guarding His treasured possession, His peculiar treasure.
3 This is what the Lord says: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.” 4 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. 5 The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.”
6 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?” declares the Lord Almighty.
7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. 8 I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.” Zechariah 8:3-8 niv 1984
God is returning to their midst, and He promises that everyone will notice – so much so that Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City. And it won’t be for a short time either. People will be living to such a ripe old age that they have to walk with a cane. More than that, it will be so safe that the children will be able to play in the streets!
And he realizes that this scenario is hard to believe for the small amount of exiles who’ve returned to a broken city. However, He declares Himself faithful and righteous – and it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18).
9 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Now hear these words, ‘Let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built.’ This is also what the prophets said who were present when the foundation was laid for the house of the Lord Almighty. 10 Before that time there were no wages for people or hire for animals. No one could go about their business safely because of their enemies, since I had turned everyone against their neighbor. 11 But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as I did in the past,” declares the Lord Almighty.
12 “The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. 13 Just as you, Judah and Israel, have been a curse among the nations, so I will save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.” Zechariah 8:9-13 niv 1984
God encouraged the people who’d returned to Jerusalem to continue the work on their temple. He readily admits that before they’d started the work, conditions had been dire: unemployment and violence in the streets. However, God now promises that they will do so well they will become a blessing even unto the Gentiles.
14 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Just as I had determined to bring disaster on you and showed no pity when your ancestors angered me,” says the Lord Almighty, 15 “so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah. Do not be afraid. 16 These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; 17 do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord. Zechariah 8:14-17 niv 1984
That’s pretty self-explanatory.
18 The word of the Lord Almighty came to me.
19 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months… Zechariah 8:18-19a niv 1984
So there were four mournful fasts that they’d created: The fast of the 10th month mourned the siege of Jerusalem; The 4th month marked it’s capture; The fast of the 5th month was for the Destruction of Jerusalem; and the fast of the 7th month was for the murder of Gadaliah.
“The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.”
20 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, 21 and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the Lord and seek the Lord Almighty. I myself am going.’ 22 And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him.”
23 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’” Zechariah 8:19-23 niv 1984
Everybody is going to flock to Jerusalem to seek the Lord God Almighty. The Jews will have such a renewed and steadfast relationship with their God that all nations will recognize it. The Jews will be known as such a blessing to the rest of the world that ten men will take hold of the hem of one Jew’s robe. And I think that’s such an articulate prophecy of Jesus Christ and how by taking hold of His robe (His covering) and being cloaked in His righteousness we are blessed with salvation. It also brings to mind (for me) the woman who just touched His hem and was healed (see Luke 8:42b-48).
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. Psalm 34:4-5 esv
The Jews were promised a radiance that will lead the world to seek the Lord God Almighty – and so are we!
Let us be strong as we rebuild our own temples (corporately and individually), let us love the truth, let us be kind and compassionate toward one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave us. Ephesians 4:32 niv 1984
And let us NOT repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 1st Peter 3:9 esv
I don’t know about you, but I want to obtain that blessing!
© 2016, Ta`Mara Hanscom
Worksheet to prepare for Lesson # 4 4-a-satanic-interloper-worksheet
This is part of our continuing series: