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Archive for the tag “Holy Spirit”

What Does a Call Look Like?

I’ve been talking to several people over the past couple of week about that term “calling.” Just what does a “call” look like?

In baseball, they have the “call to the bullpen” where the old pitcher comes out and a new pitcher comes in to take over the rest of the game.

Then there is another way to use the word:

“My name is Zebediah, but you can call me Zeb.”

In that case, the person wants you to call them by a certain title or nickname.

Then you have the doctor version of it. “I am on call.”

And there are multiple other uses of the word…

“’Should I call the men from up on the hill?’ he called out.”

But what about in Christianity? Let’s look at a couple verses and determine what this word actually means and if it is even biblical to say “I have a calling to go into the ministry.”

Ephesians 4:1-3 – I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Romans 11:29 – For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

2 Peter 1:10 – Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

1 Corinthians 1:26-27 – For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

That is a lot to digest!

Let’s unpack each of these verses and throw in some of the church history as well.

To begin, the general call in the Bible is to a live with Christ. That is the first and foremost call in the Bible.

Romans 1:5-6 – through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ

Belonging to and in Christ is a much deeper calling than anything else in there. When one starts to discern a calling from a Christian standpoint, we need to make sure they have first a restored relationship with God and with His people.

This means that the primary call of the Christian is to respond to and act upon the call to participate in God’s redemptive work in the world.

This means that whatever work we choose must be integrated with the participation with Christ Himself. We could be a plumber, but as a plumber, we can work for the Kingdom by repairing relationships, showing justice, acting with mercy and grace and other components of the kingdom.

Next, God has given us a call to work. God created us to work. It started all the way back in the Garden of Eden. In Exodus, we are told that we are to work for 6 days and then rest. So you could say that it goes beyond calling, we are created to work. In the very beginning the call to basically be a farmer was the highest calling there was other than unity with God (until Eve came along that is).

Next, we are called to, well, life. Our work is not merely the job from which we get a paycheck. We raise families, have a spouse, and have friends.

Eve came along and Adam was then so smitten with her that he gave his time and attention to her as well as working his job in the Garden. This means we should balance our paid work and personal work with our families and friends.

So, to this point, we know that we are called to belong to Christ. We are created to work. And we are called to have a full life, filled with family and friends.

Knowing what kind of work you do is probably not that high on God’s list of things that are of critical importance.

But let’s look at whether God calls us to particular work.

We do know it does happen. God has called several people in the Bible to specific work. He called prophets. He called Noah to build an ark. He called Moses and Aaron to their roles. Many of the political leaders we see in the Bible, God elevated them to their roles. Even though the word “call” is not used here, there is no mistaking that God called those people to their roles.

I have read several commentaries that said that God called very few people in the Bible. And, I guess He didn’t call a lot of people numerically. But if you take that as a percentage of the people mentioned in the Bible, it is actually pretty high. And if you include the people we don’t get to “meet,” then that is a very high number. We don’t see all the people who went on to plant churches  in the New Testament or all of the Israelites whose sole job it was to protect the Ark of the Covenant.

But were many of these calls a direct “voice from heaven” moment or were they more subtle, such as being attuned to the heart of God through Scripture and meditation? There are several ways to discern where God wants to place you as far as a career goes.

First, we need to look at the needs of the world. We are told in Scripture that we should support ourselves and our families.

1 Timothy 5:8 – But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Titus 3:14 – Let people learn to devote themselves to good works in order to meet urgent needs, so that they may not be unproductive.

We also are expected to meet the needs of those who are not part of our family.

Proverbs 14:21 – Happy are those who are kind to the poor.

Proverbs 11:25 – A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water.

Or what about working to be productive in society? That is Scriptural as well.

Jeremiah 29:5-7 – Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Next, God gives us each talents and gifts. We should use those gifts not only for the edification of the body of believers, but for the society as a whole.

Isaiah 28:24-26 – Do those who plow for sowing plow continually? Do they continually open and harrow their ground? When they have leveled its surface, do they not scatter dill, sow cummin, and plant wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and spelt as the border? For they are well instructed; their God teaches them.

1 Corinthians 12:7-10 – To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

This is where knowing what you are good at and what spiritual gifts the Lord has given is important. This happens by talking to those closest to you, realizing your talents and spiritual gifts tests.

For example, I know that God has given me the ability to take large tasks and get them accomplished. I have managerial skills and leadership ability. I also have the ability to preach and to teach. That is what has helped me to confirm my calling into ministry. But similar skill set could be used to be a training manager for a company or a military commander.

Finally, what has God given you as your desires? Your fulfillment of purpose is vitally important to God.

Psalm 37:4 – Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Matthew 5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

John 16:24 – Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Because of sin, however, our desires can get all screwed up. Doing what makes us happiest will not always bring the greatest fulfillment. God is looking out for our fulfillment of purpose, not mere happiness that comes and goes with the circumstances.

Does this mean that being “called” into the ministry is a higher calling? Around the Middle Ages, becoming a monk or a nun was considered a higher calling. Even to this day, we still see that played out. I have been fairly consistent in believing that while I welcome the benefits that the government affords those in ministry, they further create a divide into calling versus higher calling, and that is a mentality that needs to stop.

But fact of the matter remains, God does call people into vocational ministry.

Exodus 28:1 – Then bring near to you your brother Aaron, and his sons with him, from among the Israelites, to serve me as priests — Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

Mark 1:16-17 – As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea — for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

Acts 13:2,5 – While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” ….When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also to assist them.

Regardless, Christians are called, yes called, to conduct themselves to the full-time service of Christ.

Colossians 3:23 – Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters.

But, Fred, what about 1 Timothy calling out those who are elder or pastor as it actually being a higher calling?

1 Timothy 5:17-18 – Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves to be paid.”

This should be translated more in line with pay rather than about comparing their work with other peoples’ work. The true comparison in this passage is about pastors who rule well versus those who don’t instead of pastors versus the rest of the world.

Whew….That was a lot. But I believe this will give some insight, mostly to myself, about the word calling and what it is to the Christian.

Wait

Creator of earth & heaven, why am I filled with question

Defeated in my spirit. One empty man, desiring Your plan

Proverbs 21:5 – The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

Ministry is such a fickle calling. The majority of Christians, in America at least, desire to have their ears tickled rather than salt poured on their wounds. We have trained ourselves to think that God’s blessings come only when we get what we want.

Now the inside of me is empty, the ones I have trusted have left me

But still I’m not forsaken, led by the hand of the Son of Man

Proverbs 16:3 – Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

Your kingdom is so much bigger than what we make it out to be. Your kingdom is the present perfect tense! It is and it is yet to come. You have directed my path every step of the way ever since I called out to You.

My life has not been an easy one. Yep, it was, for 38 years. I grew up in a pretty stable family. Before I came along, though, I know both my mom and my dad, before meeting each other, had tough lives. It is one of the big things that I respect about them.

But for 38 years, I was fairly insulated from pain.

The past 12 years have been hard. And I am not saying that lightly. I mean it feels like someone has placed a shackle around my feet, attached a large boulder to it and told me to go climb Mt. Everest.

In 2011 I not only committed my work to the Lord, but I committed to work FOR the Lord. So plans were put in place to make that happen.

2011 is when the calling and my life truly intersected.

And so I will wait

And though my heart aches

Nothing can cause me to ever turn away

There is so much pain in this world that my heart wants to break

Proverbs 24:27 – Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.

I prepared my work and got everything ready. By 2016 I started building the house that You asked me to build, preparing to go into vocational ministry.

You called me, Lord. You called me to intersect with those whose lives were without purpose, like mine was for 38 years. You called me to reach into the mire of peoples’ lives and show them that You are their one and only way to salvation.

2018 you blessed that day in early December. The house was now built.

But until You choose to deliver me, I choose to wait

Proverbs 24:3-4 – By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Lately, that house has been rocked. Figurative earthquakes have shaken the foundations. Figurative floods have destroyed some of the beautiful treasures inside the house. As the figurative house ages, I am learning that the equipment needs to be upgraded. I still need to place weed killer down so the crabgrass doesn’t break up through the driveway. I need to maintain the house you helped me build.

So that is my prayer today.

How can I maintain the house You helped me build?

What does that look like?

Last night I stood outside my house and simply looked at it. How do I know what needs to be replaced, upgraded, and repaired?

Short answer is that I typically stumble across it. Yes, there are reminders that I have in my phone to replace filters and I know that during the summer I will need to cut the grass weekly. But I won’t know the shower cartridge has a problem until there is a leak. And I won’t know a light is bad until it burns out.

The same can be said for this spiritual house I am in. There are things that I do daily to maintain the house. I read Your Word. I spend time in prayer. I study to show myself approved by You.

But there are areas that I won’t know are wearing out until they break.

Proverbs 27:23 – Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds

But hopefully, through study of the Word and prayer, I can learn to see the conditions of the house before too much begins to fail.

Zechariah 13 Commentary

The last few verses of chapter 12 showed us the sadness and repentance of God’s people over “piercing Him.” This brought His people grace. As chapter 13 opens, we see the continuation of the effects of that repentance as we move from grace into forgiveness and then justification.

Zechariah 13:1 – “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

This chapter opens as learn that what God is about to do is both for the royal line of the house of David and for the general inhabitant of Jerusalem.

The fountain that the prophet talks about here is something that we see throughout all of Scripture. Ezekiel 36:25 comes to mind. God tells His people that He will “sprinkle them clean” from their sin.

It starts by telling us “On that day….” The day that the prophet is speaking of is the day, as we saw before, that God’s people are reborn.

Zechariah 13:2 – “And on that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more. And also I will remove from the land the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness.

This is a literal verse. God will remove the idols and unclean spirits from the land. Idolatry was always something that led Israel astray. But now God will completely cut out the idols.

Zechariah 13:3 – And if anyone again prophesies, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the Lord.’ And his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies.

Imagine being a preacher in the final days and misrepresenting the truth. The truth of God will be even more significant than the bond of parents with their children. It will be so important to represent the truth of God that if someone prophesies falsely, their own parents will pierce their side.

Zechariah 13:4 – “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies. He will not put on a hairy cloak in order to deceive,

These prophets will be so fearful that they will not dress as a prophet. In the Old Testament, the prophets were typically dressed in a certain way. The way a prophet dressed was an outward symbol of what the prophet was choosing to live. They chose to live a life that abstained from worldly pleasures and to grieve for God’s people.

But this verse shows that those who prophecy will be scared of the ridicule of man. First, in the verse before, a false prophet would be killed by his family. Second, those who falsely prophecy for their own gain would become ashamed of their craft.

Zechariah 13:5 – but he will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a worker of the soil, for a man sold me in my youth.’

The false prophet, ashamed, will say he is not a prophet but a farm hand.

Zechariah 13:6 – And if one asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your back?’ he will say, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’

False prophets in Zechariah’s day would injure themselves for their pagan rites. Check out Leviticus 19:28, Deuteronomy 14:1, 1 Kings 18 or Jeremiah 16 and 48. In Ahab’s court, for example, there were false prophets who would prophesy in the name of God. Those same priests, however, would also cut themselves with knives as they worshiped the Baals.

The false prophets would try to explain away their injuries by saying they received them at their friends’ places.

Zechariah 13:7 – “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,”
declares the Lord of hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones.

The sword is a symbol of judgment. In Romans 13:4, for example, it is a power that God gives to human judges and government.

This verse goes on with much more intriguing symbolism, though. The shepherd that is “standing next to me” is the Good Shepherd. This is the death that was part of God’s design to save humanity. This fits with Isaiah 53:10 in which Zechariah agrees with Isaiah that God ordained Christ’s suffering.

In Matthew 26:31, Jesus quoted this verse when He referenced the scattering of His disciples after His arrest and punishment.

Zechariah 13:8 – In the whole land, declares the Lord, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive.

Only part of God’s people will remain faithful to God until the end. These will be the ones that will be the remnant of the sheep and goats. Unfortunately this tells us that 2/3 of the world will turn away from God and only a third will be faithful.

Zechariah 13:9 – And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

The third that remains faithful will be tested and go through tribulation. Through the tribulation the relationship will be solidified. Throughout all history, the covenant relationship between God and His people has been challenged, but God has always remained faithful to bring His people back to Him.

Zechariah 12 Commentary

It has been a while since I have posted anything on here. The virus has kept me extremely busy and I’ve spent my time focusing on being the hands and feet rather than studying the Word of God. But I’ve been granted some brief downtime and that is giving me the opportunity to exegete Zechariah 12, which is a very timely chapter based on this week being Easter.

If you are looking for a church service this weekend, our church would be more than happy to have you “join” in livestream. Go to fcbc.church to watch. We are available for watching on the following:

Good Friday at 7 PM, 4/10

Sunday Sunrise at 6:30 AM, 4/12

Sunday at 10:30 PM, 4/12

As we finish out the book of Zechariah, the final 3 chapters deal with the final oracle, or burden, that Zechariah presents. This book ends in hope as we see, over these last 3 chapters, the restoration of God’s people.

Zechariah 12:1 – The oracle of the word of the Lord concerning Israel: Thus declares the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him:

This chapter begins with an explanation that God created the heavens, the earth and man. This is being explained to show that “He who has started a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).

Some versions call this a burden, not an oracle. This burden shows that there will be some significantly bad happening before the restoration of God’s people.

Zechariah 12:2 – “Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah.

Whenever God says he is about to make a “cup” of something, you know God is about to bring wrath (Isaiah and Jeremiah specifically show this). The cup of staggering, or trembling as other translations have, shows that God is going to make Jerusalem something that they will covet and, yet, it will be as they are intoxicated with it.

The Muslim world desires Jerusalem. It is the third holiest of cities in the Muslim world. It is where the Dome of the Rock is. But Jerusalem will remain protected by God.

Zechariah 12:3 – On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it.

I can’t help but think about the first question I was asked when I started seminary about 10 years ago: If God is all powerful, can He create a rock that He cannot lift. While that question is circular in nature and meant to trick you into saying something you may not believe, God is pretty clear on the stone that Jerusalem will become.

This stone will be heavy. Not only can we not lift it, but anyone that tries will hurt themselves. Some translations say “all who try to lift it will be cut to pieces.” This shows that God’s hand is on Jerusalem and that anyone that comes against them will be injured.

And who wants to come against Jerusalem? The next sentence tells us that all the nations of the earth seek to destroy it.

Zechariah 12:4 – On that day, declares the Lord, I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But for the sake of the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.

Horses are symbols of strength and power. In Deuteronomy 28 we find that the curses that were for Israel are now curses that will be put on Israel’s enemies.

God is telling us that He is looking out for His people.

Zechariah 12:5 – Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the Lord of hosts, their God.’

This is the moment that God’s people realize that He has always been for them. They see that their power comes from their God, not themselves.

Zechariah 12:6 – “On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves. And they shall devour to the right and to the left all the surrounding peoples, while Jerusalem shall again be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem.

God is showing us the power that He will give to His people. This power comes through God’s glory as we will see in the next verse.

Zechariah 12:7 – “And the Lord will give salvation to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not surpass that of Judah.

It is interesting that God is saving the “tents of Judah first.” This means that God is not starting with the fortified city. He is starting with the countryside. This is being done to show God’s glory.

Zechariah 12:8 – On that day the Lord will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the Lord, going before them.

1 Samuel 18 tells us that David was the greatest soldier in Israel’s history. The weakest person in Jerusalem will become like David.

And then the entire house of David will find that they have been given a supernatural, superhuman strength.

This verse makes me think of 1 Corinthians 1:25. Especially as I write this under a stay-at-home order from the government because of the virus that is plaguing the world. As a full-time ministry worker who is seen as non-essential by our government, I find that I have had to defy the orders on occasion in order to see people fed, to get groceries for people who have lost their income, or to simply take time praying with people, placing my arms around them or hands on them. In worldly terms, this is all foolish. But God’s foolishness is wiser than men.

Zechariah 12:9 – And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

This could be the battle of Armageddon. You see throughout the Bible a lot of “seek to” phrases. In human terms, this is something that is attempted to be done but is always bent under the will of God. With God, when He seeks to do something, all His promises are “yes and amen.”

Zechariah 12:10 –  “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

I love this verse! This verse is the story of anyone’s life who has converted to Christ. When Christ came the first time, His people didn’t recognize Him as the Messiah and they pierced Him. This time, they see the hurt they have caused Him and mourn and weep for Him.

Think of Saul on the Damascus road. This is the same effect that realization has on a person.

Zechariah 12:11 – On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.

King Josiah was killed in Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. It was the death of Josiah that was the last straw before Judah had lost hope.

Zechariah 12:12 – The land shall mourn, each family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves;

Verses 12 through 14 show the impact on both the royal (house of David & Nathan) and priestly (house of Levi and Shimei). In verse 12 we see the entire land mourning. Not just the seats of power, but all of God’s people.

Men and women will mourn separately as is the tradition of the Jews in public worship.

Zechariah 12:13 – the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves;

Both the royal and priestly lines are the ones leading the mourning. In the past, both lines were corrupted and led Israel in evil deeds. They will be leading the nation in repentance.

Zechariah 12:14 – and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves.

The entire nation will be reborn in a single moment. Think of Isaiah 66:8. They will all be mourning separately, overcome by the grief of killing of the Messiah the first time.

While Jews are predominantly discussed here, the Gentile can also take heed. We all share the guilt of the crucifixion. We also shall share in the salvation that comes in repentance.

Zechariah 11 Commentary

Zechariah 11:1 – Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars!

The question is whether this is showing us a past historical event (the Babylonian invasion) or a future prophecy. Based on the rest of this book, I would venture that this is a future prophecy that is predicting the Roman moves against Judea.

The area of the mountain passes between Lebanon and Israel are called the “doors of Lebanon.”

This chapter is setting up the events that will lead to God’s people rejecting the Messiah when He does come.


Zechariah 11:2 – Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, for the glorious trees are ruined! Wail, oaks of Bashan, for the thick forest has been felled!
Lebanon’s strength was in her cedars. Throughout the Bible we see the strength of the “cedars of Lebanon.” They were a sought after commodity. This could be talking about an economic crash. If the strong cedars, which were a top trading commodity were ruined, how much more will the lesser commodities be ruined.

But I think this goes a beyond that in that the cedars show the strength of Lebanon. This is showing that strength being destroyed.

Zechariah 11:3 – The sound of the wail of the shepherds, for their glory is ruined! The sound of the roar of the lions, for the thicket of the Jordan is ruined!

This is a powerful verse that describes the leaders of God’s people being brought down. The wail of the shepherds means that the Jewish leaders will be ruined. Their glory will be ruined. Look at Mark 13:1, as the disciples are talking to Christ and they say that the stones and buildings are beautiful. Jesus tells His disciples that those stones will be destroyed.

Everyone will mourn because of the rejection of the Christ.

Zechariah 11:4 – Thus said the Lord my God: “Become shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter.

Zechariah moves into the explanation of how this destruction is to come about.

Different translations have different words for what the shepherd is to do to the flock. Some say to pasture them. Others say to feed them. Some say to take care of them. Others simply say to shepherd them.  Feeding, or caring for the sheep who are doomed to slaughter, is to provide them God’s Word. This means that they have no excuse of ignorance when the Messiah does come.

Acts 20:28 shows this specifically.

The more we go through this prophecy, the more we will see that Zechariah seems like he is acting this prophecy out. I don’t believe he is simply reciting it. I believe there are actions that go along with it.

Zechariah 11:5 – Those who buy them slaughter them and go unpunished, and those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the Lord, I have become rich,’ and their own shepherds have no pity on them.

Some translations of this verse say “hold themselves not guilty” instead of “go unpunished.” The adversaries of God’s people don’t feel guilt in the destruction of them. And God allowed this to happen.

As for “those who sell them,” God is talking about the rulers of Judah. Their selfishness basically sold their people to Rome. Look at verses such as John 11:48-50.

God even addresses those who sold His sheep to Rome and became rich. Look at Luke 16:14. The Pharisees missed the Messiah because they were lovers of money. The leaders have no pity on them.

Zechariah 11:6 – For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, declares the Lord. Behold, I will cause each of them to fall into the hand of his neighbor, and each into the hand of his king, and they shall crush the land, and I will deliver none from their hand.”

God is removing is pity on His people, which means he is going to deliver them into the hands of the Romans. This is a little bit of a foreshadowing of things to come when the Roman rulers, such as Vespasian.

Zechariah 11:7 – So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs, one I named Favor, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep.

A shepherd in ancient Israel would use two staves to lead their flock. One staff would be used to protect the sheep from danger while the other would be used to direct the flock. The names are Favor and Union (in some translations, “Beauty and Bands”). Beauty is God’s favor on His people while Bands is the reunification of Israel and Judah (see verse 14 later)

The flock doomed to be slaughtered are those whom Jesus came for (see Matthew 11:5). Some translations go so far as to say “the poor of the flock.”

Zechariah 11:8 – In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me.

This is a pretty hard passage to understand. Who are the “three shepherds?” This is definitely in a prophetic voice, so I would have to think that there is something much more than shepherds being named aside the Good Shepherd.

I tend to like Dr. James Boice’s view that the three shepherds are most likely the roles of prophet, priest and king, which were taken away after the Roman conquest. These roles have never been restored as they are now fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.

Zechariah 11:9 – So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another.”

In chapter 7 we saw that God would not listen to His people. This was a pretty intense form of punishment. Now, God is telling them He will not be their shepherd.

They rejected the Good Shepherd and ended up in occupation and famine.

Zechariah 11:10 – And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples.

God is setting aside His providential care for His people. The covenant that He is speaking of here is from Deuteronomy 28:1-14. This paved the way for Rome to invade and conquer.

Zechariah 11:11 – So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord.

God’s people knew the covenant had been annulled. God has defended His people, but now they were about to become food for, as the Bible calls, the “wild beasts” of the Gentile world.

Zechariah 11:12 – Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver.

Thirty pieces of silver is used a lot in Scripture. In the book of Exodus, it is the price given to a master whose slave was gored by oxen. A good slave was worth twice that amount. This meant that the final slap in the face would be that Jesus’ life was worth thirty pieces of silver, making Jesus worth no more than a common slave.

Zechariah 11:13 – Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter.

The thirty pieces of silver was thrown into the house of the Lord. This is a prophecy that was fulfilled when Judas, filled with the guilt of condemning Jesus, threw the silver on the floor of the temple and the priests used it to purchase a field from a potter.

Zechariah 11:14 – Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

The breaking of the first staff in verse 10 symbolizes the rejection of God’s people by the Good Shepherd. The breaking of this staff is showing the breakup of Israel and Judah, most likely under Roman rule.

In reading Roman historian Josephus, he said that things got so bad after the Romans conquered that Jew fought against Jew as severely as the Romans had beaten them.

Zechariah 11:15 – Then the Lord said to me, “Take once more the equipment of a foolish shepherd.

It is at this point that Zechariah is to play the role of a “foolish shepherd.” This entire chapter is filled with dramatic moments that seemed to be acted out by Zechariah.

Zechariah 11:16 – For behold, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for those being destroyed, or seek the young or heal the maimed or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.

These last few verses show both the first century choices and the final choice of the Antichrist. This shepherd uses his staff to beat the sheep.

God is allowing this shepherd to rise up because of the rejection by His people for the Good Shepherd. If we look at some prophetic verses, we see that this is exactly what the Antichrist will do.

Check out both Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15-22.

Another interesting thing to note is that God is raising this leader up. Many times in history we hear about a country who believes that God has sent a leader to them. He may very well have done so, but just not in the manner in which the country believes. The leader that God may be raising up could be a leader that will be a foolish shepherd instead of one who points us to the Good Shepherd.

Zechariah 11:17 – “Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! Let his arm be wholly withered, his right eye utterly blinded!”

This verse is filled with verses from all around Scripture. From Daniel 7-8 and 24 to 2 Thessalonians 2 to Revelation 19-20, we see that the worthless shepherd will have his arm and right eye taken away from him. The arm is seen as a symbol of power while the eye is a symbol of intelligence.

Revelation 13 tells us that the Antichrist will survive a severe hit.

Revelation 13:12-14 – It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.

Zechariah 9 Commentary

Zechariah 9 through 14, the chapters that will complete the book, are a collection of two different oracles. Scholars are unsure of when this section of the book was written, but most seem to think it was when he was an old man. Most people think these oracles are fulfilled by Alexander the Great conquering the region 200 years from Zechariah’s writing.

Zechariah 9:1 – The oracle of the word of the Lord is against the land of Hadrach and Damascus is its resting place. For the Lord has an eye on mankind and on all the tribes of Israel,
The ESV uses the word “oracle” here. While it makes sense, as this is an oracle, the actual word that most versions use is “burden.” An oracle is a message that includes a burden, so either can be used, but I find it more fitting to use the word “burden.”

This is predicting an event that will happen. Using the word “burden” or “oracle” means that it is a judgment event, or something that would cause turmoil.

Hadrach is an area that is not well understood. The name comes from Jewish backgrounds with “Had” meaning “sharp” and “Rach” meaning “soft.” It could also be an allusion to the city of Hatarika, which is written about in Assyrian writings about an area near Hamath.

Damascus is one of the main capitals of Syria, and one of the main areas of God’s judgment.

While there are no other mentions of Hadrach in the Bible, there are Assyrian inscriptions for both Hadrach and Damascus and that they were close to each other. During the judgment that will fall on these cities, those who believe will have their eyes on God.

Zechariah 9:2 – and on Hamath also, which borders on it, Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.
Hamath was close to Damascus (Isaiah 10:9). In Amos 6:2 it is called Hamath the Great. According to one of the early church fathers, he says that Antioch was also called Hamath by some people. It is this area that the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).

Tyre and Sidon are two major cities in Lebanon, north of Israel. The Assyrians tried to conquer Tyre at one point and failed. Nebuchadnezzar tried to take Tyre for 13 years. It took Alexander the Great 7 months to conquer it.

Both cities were known for their wisdom (Ezekiel 28:3). But in 1 Corinthians we find that the message of the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing. Regardless of wisdom, the message is foolishness if you are dead in sin.

Zechariah 9:3 – Tyre has built herself a rampart and heaped up silver like dust, and fine gold like the mud of the streets.
What made Tyre so strong was that it was an island city. The island was about a half mile offshore and had walls as high as 150 feet in some places. Alexander built a causeway between the mainland and the island city by using the rubble from the city on the mainland.

While Alexander conquered the city physically, the Gospel conquered the city spiritually.

Tyre was a rich city of commerce who had built a wall that was seen as impregnable. That was not enough to hold off an army that God willed to be used to bring its destruction.

Zechariah 9:4 – But behold, the Lord will strip her of her possessions and strike down her power on the sea, and she shall be devoured by fire.

It is interesting to note a difference between the Septuagint and many of the versions we read today. Instead of “the Lord will strip her of her possessions….” we see that “the Lord will inherit her….” It is interesting to think that in the ESV we see Tyre being stripped of her possessions while in the Septuagint they are becoming the Lord’s possession.

Tyre was burned to the ground by Alexander the Great.

Zechariah 9:5 – Ashkelon shall see it, and be afraid; Gaza too, and shall writhe in anguish; Ekron also, because its hopes are confounded. The king shall perish from Gaza; Ashkelon shall be uninhabited;
During the conquest of Alexander the Great, the surrounding cities were scared. Many of the cities listed in this verse are the cities in Philistia. After the destruction of Tyre, Alexander the Great marched to the south and destroyed the cities of Philistia.

Gaza and Ashkelon, according to Judges 1:8, are in close proximity to each other.

Something that is of interest is that Philip the Evangelist most likely first preached the Gospel here. Also, the idea of a “king” in the area of Gaza is a little confusing. Gaza was ruled by a governor, not a king. But, the idol that was worshipped in Gaza was known as the “lord of man.” When Christianity came to the region, this idol, or king, was destroyed.

Alexander the Great was to be feared. One of the governors of the cities listed in this verse was killed when the armies took leather straps and tied one end to a chariot and tied the other end through the soles of his feet and dragged him throughout the city. It is no wonder these cities feared Alexander the Great and his armies.

Zechariah 9:6 – a mixed people shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of Philistia.
The ESV sanitizes this verse a little. The original language actually specifies what would closer be considered a “bastard child.” This would be someone who is born unlawfully either outside of marriage or in a forbidden marriage. This can also sometimes come to mean a race of people without a moral compass. So this would be someone who is not equal by birth based on the culture at the time.

Alexander was known to destroy any culture of a region when he took it over. This would destroy the national pride a country has and replace it with pride for Alexander’s reign.

Zechariah 9:7 – I will take away its blood from its mouth, and its abominations from between its teeth;
it too shall be a remnant for our God; it shall be like a clan in Judah, and Ekron shall be like the Jebusites.
This verse is showing an end to the idol worship and a turning toward God. Part of the idol worship at the time was to drink blood and eat food that was sacrificed to idols.

This verse has a dual meaning. The conquest of Alexander the Great is, of course, the primary focus of this oracle. But one cannot help but to see the future implications of this verse.

The Jebusites were conquered by David in 2 Samuel 5 and combined with Israel. This verse is saying that Philistia will have the same outcome.

And when the apostles went into that region, many converted to Christianity.

Zechariah 9:8 – Then I will encamp at my house as a guard, so that none shall march to and fro; no oppressor shall again march over them, for now I see with my own eyes.

When Alexander the Great was on his march of conquest, he left Jerusalem alone. God promised the protection of His house. God has said that “no oppressor shall march over them again.” When Alexander was marching south, he went back through Palestine rather than through Israel.

This is pretty remarkable in thinking that God is using Alexander here to judge the pagan nations while protecting Israel. How much more so will God protect His people when the Messiah returns?

When we think of what happened in Israel during Alexander’s march, it really is divine intervention. Jaddua, the High Priest at the time of Alexander, was praying to God. God told Jaddua to open the gates, which he did.

You see, here is the amazing part of this story: When Alexander saw the gates open and Jaddua standing in the gate dressed in purple with “God” engraved on his mitre, Alexander changed his mind about conquering the city. God gave Alexander a vision of Jaddua while he was sleeping.

Zechariah 9:9 – Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
This is a calling out to the two different comings of Christ. This King that is being spoken of in this verse counters the glorious strength of Alexander by having the Christ ride in on a donkey. This King is also very different from any other human kings in that Christ comes with righteousness, salvation and humility.

A donkey is an animal of peace. This means that Israel’s King comes to bring peace. This was fulfilled upon triumphal entry into Jerusalem of Christ.

Zechariah 9:10 – I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

The next five verses are going to speak about Christ’s second coming. A couple of words to discuss are:

  • Ephraim – this is an Old Testament word for Israel.
  • The river that is mentioned is the Euphrates.
  • And being “cut off” in regards to the war horse and the battle bow means that there will be peace.

This is talking about the rule of Christ around the entire world.


Zechariah 9:11 – As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.

This is another verse which has a lot of things that need explained. The “blood of my covenant” is the original covenant that was made with Abraham in Genesis 15.

Then there is that “waterless pit.” In that time, prisoners would have been kept in a dry well. Think of what happened to Joseph when his brothers threw him into the pit. It is the same idea here.

God is saying that he has returned the prisoners from the pit (exile) because of the covenant that has been in force since the days of Abraham.
Zechariah 9:12 – Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.

These prisoners of hope, as God calls them, are to receive a double blessing. Just as in Isaiah 61:7, instead of shame, they will receive a double portion.

Just like what happened to Job, after his horrible experiences, God returned to him a double portion of blessings.
Zechariah 9:13 – For I have bent Judah as my bow; I have made Ephraim its arrow. I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and wield you like a warrior’s sword.

This could be an allusion to the Maccabean revolt. The Maccabees revolted against the successor of Alexander. The death of Antiochus Epiphanes is the main point of this verse.

But I think this has a farther meaning. I think this is saying that the apostles, all Jews, will be sent to the Gentiles to proclaim the Word of Christ.

Zechariah 9:14 – Then the Lord will appear over them, and his arrow will go forth like lightning; the Lord God will sound the trumpet and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south.

God will appear over them! They will be witness to Him. God will be leading the battle. God is bringing forth the holy war.

I think of verses like Matthew 24:27: For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Or 1 Thessalonians 4:16: For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.


Zechariah 9:15 – The Lord of hosts will protect them, and they shall devour, and tread down the sling stones, and they shall drink and roar as if drunk with wine, and be full like a bowl, drenched like the corners of the altar.

God’s people will be protected by God. And their enemies will be as if they ae drunk and weak. Almost as if they are given for slaughter on the altar. The sacrificial bowls that were used to catch the blood of the victims is shown here as full.

Zechariah 9:16 – On that day the Lord their God will save them, as the flock of his people;
for like the jewels of a crown they shall shine on his land.

The first thing to note is that God is going to win this battle. The flock of God’s people goes back to Ezekiel 36 in which God says that He will increase with them like a flock and that they are a holy flock.

Instead of the stones being used in the slings showing the weakness of the enemies, God’s people will be like the stones in a crown, jewels.
Zechariah 9:17 – For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty! Grain shall make the young men flourish, and new wine the young women.

This final verse shows the times of prosperity in Jerusalem. It reminds us of chapter 8 verse 5 in which Zechariah says the streets will be filled with boys and girls playing in the streets.

Zechariah 8 Commentary

Zechariah 8:1 – And the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying,

As we have seen before, this tells us that we have yet another message coming from God.

Zechariah 8:2 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath.

The word “jealous” is typically used when God is telling of something that He is intensely passionate about. Some translations use the phrase “zealous.” In Exodus 20:5, we learn that God is jealous and will not tolerate anything rivaling His glory. This phrase is being used to show that He is passionate about restoring his covenant with His people.

The phrase “Thus says the Lord” is in this chapter of Zechariah 10 times. When we see this phrase, it is to stress the promises God has made with His people.

Zechariah 8:3 – Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain.

I find it interesting that some versions of the Bible call Jerusalem a “city of truth” and the ESV calls it the “faithful city.” While they can be used to mean similar things, reading it without context can lead to confusion.

A faithful city is one that will be faithful to the Lord. Yes, that does include the truth of God’s Word and love, but I think that we can easily pass by that word in the Bible in our 21st century American minds. When I read other versions and see “city of truth” I perceive a city that is ruled by God and their words and their actions are both based on the truth of God alone.

I believe the phrase “city of truth” needs to be used here rather than “faithful city” because of the tie it has to verse 16. This would make this chapter more consistent with the rest of the book.

We also see in this verse the “holy mountain,” which ties back to Isaiah 6:3. The mountain is holy because God is there.

We need to remember that simply returning from captivity did not end the sin that God’s people would do. This is more prophetic than historical in nature. The sin won’t come to an end until the Savior returns a second time.

Zechariah 8:4 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age.

Think of what those who were in captivity returned to. Jerusalem’s walls were all destroyed and they were coming back to a city that was a ghost of what it once was.

Between this verse and the next, we see that God is promising to have the city be vibrant once again.

Zechariah 8:5 – And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.

There would be families once again growing in Jerusalem. The Targum (a spoken translation of the Tanakh, or the Scriptures, in a language for the common people) says that instead of playing in the streets, these children will be singing or praising God in the spaces of the city.

Children are seen to be a blessing from God. With these same children playing in the streets, they have nothing to fear. Peace has come to Jerusalem.

Zechariah 8:6 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, declares the Lord of hosts?

The people must have marveled at being called home. I am sure that the captives were struggling to not lose hope, but the situation that they were in must have seemed hopeless.

This one act, bringing God’s people home, was a miracle that only God could make happen!

Zechariah 8:7 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country,

This is a very interesting verse! Think of this in terms of history. The Israelites were taken captive to the north. The western scattering didn’t happen until the first century AD! At this point, there were no Jews in the western world.

I really believe there are two different ways to look at this verse: physical and spiritual. In the physical sense, east and west could mean the entire world. Think of Deuteronomy 30:3: “That then the Lord your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion on you, and will return and gather you from all nations where the Lord has scattered you.”

In the spiritual sense, God is speaking of the salvation that is offered to the entire world. Think of verses like Malachi 1:11 or 1 Timothy 4:10.

Zechariah 8:8 – and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.”

When I read this verse, I immediately think of Hebrews 8:10: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them on their hearts: and I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people.”

But then I realize that the verse in Hebrews is reverse of this. In this verse, the people must want to be God’s before He will be theirs.

This is one of the most important promises in all of Scripture! Imagine the awesome time we will have with God being our God and us being His people! This is both physical and spiritual. It isn’t just for Jews. It is for all.

Zechariah 8:9 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Let your hands be strong, you who in these days have been hearing these words from the mouth of the prophets who were present on the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.

God is talking about the building of the temple in this case. He is encouraging His people to get the temple built. The foundation of the temple had been laid over 15 years before this was written. As we will see in the upcoming verses, the were running out of money and they were facing opposition.

But one can’t help but think about Ephesians 6:10 in this: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

Zechariah 8:10 – For before those days there was no wage for man or any wage for beast, neither was there any safety from the foe for him who went out or came in, for I set every man against his neighbor.

This is a backward look at a forward promise. God is telling them that where they came from was very poor in condition compared to where He is about to bring them to.

Zechariah 8:11 – But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days, declares the Lord of hosts.

God is not going to allow the same fate to happen to this remnant that He did to the people before.

Zechariah 8:12 – For there shall be a sowing of peace. The vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its produce, and the heavens shall give their dew. And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

This verse and the next show the depth of God’s promises to His people. God is about to reverse the curses from Deuteronomy 28 and Jeremiah. Let’s look closer at this.

There will be a sowing of peace. Most other versions have listed “the seed shall be prosperous.” I think I like the other versions more than the ESV again in this. Simply saying that there is a sowing of peace doesn’t show the countering of Haggai 1:6 in which there would be sowing and it wouldn’t come to much.

Then we see that the vine will give her fruit and the ground shall give its produce. This is a counter to Haggai 1:11 in which there was a drought.

The heavens will give their dew. Again, we are countering Haggai 1:11 in which the drought was prevalent.

Zechariah 8:13 – And as you have been a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong.”

Both Judah and Israel are brought back. Unified. God is not going to have them be a curse among the nations, but a blessing. A couple of verses to think about for this:

Genesis 12:2 – And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

Then another one that speaks to this, after Jesus was resurrected,

Galatians 3:28-29 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave to free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

Zechariah 8:14 – For thus says the Lord of hosts: “As I purposed to bring disaster to you when your fathers provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts,

So for the idolatry, abominations, and sins of the fathers, God brought disaster to His people. He didn’t end the relationship, however. As these are His sons and daughters, He wanted them simply to turn back. His people needed punishment.

Zechariah 8:15 – so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not.

God has forgiven them and has chosen now to bless them. Just as in Isaiah 14:24 we see that whatever God plans He does, the same can be said here. The time for fear has passed. The time for abundant faith and blessing has come.

Zechariah 8:16 – These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;

As in all other times, the blessings come with obedience. We can’t expect to see God’s blessings if we choose to be disobedient. We see similar words in Psalm 15:1-5 when David asks who can live on the holy hill.

To stay under God’s blessing, these need to be a people who will speak the truth and execute honest judgment. Ephesians 4:25 tells us to speak truthfully to our neighbor and to put away our lying.

Zechariah 8:17 – do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.”

Our hearts determine who we are. Our character. Anything that runs counter to God’s Law is hated by God. Just as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 we are to take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Zechariah 8:18 – And the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying,

We are about to get a new message. This is one that includes us Gentiles in it as part of the promises.

Zechariah 8:19 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.

The fasts that are listed, which were to commemorate the destructions and/or deaths of others, are now to be feasts that are joyful times to celebrate what the Lord has done for the remnant returning.

Zechariah 8:20 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities.

This tells us that people from all over the different cities will be coming to Jerusalem. I like to think that this is foreshadowing the travels of Paul. Paul traveled all over the place and the people he came in contact with became part of the family. This is the same family that God is talking about in this verse.

Zechariah 8:21 – The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’

The people from the other cities will come to seek the Lord. These Gentiles care about each other. This reminds me of John 13:35 where Jesus tells His disciples that people will know they are His by the love they show one another. The fact that these Gentiles are going to each other to help them seek Christ shows that love that Jesus is talking about.

Zechariah 8:22 – Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.

This is very exciting! People from all around the world will come to seek God and to pray to Him. Galatians 3:8 says that God justifies the heathen through faith and that all nations are blessed.

Zechariah 8:23 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

Ok, here’s a question. Why “ten?” Typically when ten nations is used in a verse it stands for the world governments. This means that the world will be seeking Christ. The Gospel was given to the Jew first, then the Gentile. But God is available for all nations.

Revelations 7:9-10 – After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, all kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.

Zechariah 7 Commentary

We are about to enter what is called the four messages. These messages came in the fourth year of Darius. This means it is 2 years after Zechariah 1:1.

A lot of times when we read these books, we think that they were written all at once, or over a relatively short time span. But this book took years to write.

It is at this point that the temple is halfway complete. These are questions to God about fasting. Two of the messages are answered negatively and two are answered positively. But in reality, the message to the people is to live righteous lives.

The chapters, just like the rest of them, begin with a some history and end with a future-forward look at the second coming of Christ.

Zechariah 7:1 – In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev.

This message comes two years after Zechariah 1:1 and two years before the completion of the temple. The month puts it in November or December.

Zechariah 7:2 – Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech and their men to entreat the favor of the Lord,

Bethel was about 12 miles north of Jerusalem. According to Ezra 2:28 and Nehemiah 7:32, the town was repopulated after the return from exile.

The two names given, Sharezer and Regem-melech are Babylonian names. These are most likely men who are were born in captivity and returned to their homeland.

They were called to “entreat the favor of the Lord.” This means that they are to pray to God. The fact that Bethel had sent these men, that means that they saw Jerusalem as the spiritual center of the culture.

Zechariah 7:3 – saying to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and the prophets, “Should I weep and abstain in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”

It seems that the fifth month was set aside for many year to weep, pray and fast. The reason for this question is to determine if they should continue the practice since they are no longer in captivity.

The fall of Jerusalem is remembered by four separate fasts. They are in the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months. You find more on that in 2 Kings 25, Jeremiah 39, and Jeremiah 41.

The fast in the fifth month was the most important one because that was the month that the temple was burned.

They were questioning the continuation of this serious fast during a time of great joy and success.

Zechariah 7:4 – Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me:

Basically, Zechariah is saying that God is answering through him.

Zechariah 7:5 – “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted?

We know the fast of the fifth month was for the burning of the temple. The fast in the seventh month was mourning the death of Gedaliah.

God is pretty straightforward here. The fasts that the Jews did were to mourn the burning of the temple and to honor one of their governors. These fasts were for them, not for God.

When they fasted and prayed, they sought God’s favor by asking Him to remove them from captivity. God, however, wanted them to repent during those fasts. But the Jews didn’t fast to repent, they fasted to get God’s power.

Zechariah 7:6 – And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?

While in captivity, the Jews ate the foods that the Babylonians ate. They ate to be refreshed and to enjoy. They didn’t eat as unto the Lord.

In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul tells us that we should eat and drink to the glory of the Lord.

Zechariah 7:7 – Were not these the words that the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous, with her cities around her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited?’”

This is a beginning of the second message. This message is about obeying God’s Word. God is asking the Jews to look back and see what their fathers did and to not repeat those sins.

The areas that are being discussed here are basically the coastal areas of the Mediterranean and the areas around Beersheba. The words that Zechariah is talking about here are the words of the prophets. These are words of obedience, not ceremony. All throughout the history of God’s people God has asked for obedience, not ritual.

Zechariah 7:8 – And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying,

And again, God is going to speak through Zechariah.

Zechariah 7:9 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another,

God starts this off by telling us that it is important because God is saying it. God wants the judges to be truthful in their judgments and for the His people to love their neighbors. Jesus repeats this idea in Matthew 22:39.

Zechariah 7:10 – do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

God Law is true and just when followed with a pure heart. It separates the rest of the world from God’s people. Again, we are called to love our neighbors.

God wants His people to have His heart for people. This is the same message Jesus shared during his time of earth.

Zechariah 7:11 – But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.

Before the exile, the Jews refused to follow God’s Law. They “turned a stubborn shoulder.” This means they were rebellious to God. The people of God kept getting in trouble because they kept ignoring God’s Law. They didn’t want to let God lead them.

Zechariah 7:12 – They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts.

God sent His Spirit through the prophets to share God’s desire and the Jews turned their shoulders and hardened their hearts.

If the Jews would have softened their hearts to the Lord they would have been saved. But they didn’t. They hardened their hearts. This made the Lord angry.

Zechariah 7:13 – “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts,

God chose to ignore His people since they chose to ignore Him. How often as parents have we chosen to ignore our children because they choose to ignore us? We need our kids to learn from their mistakes and sometimes this comes from our silence, not our attention.

Zechariah 7:14 – “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.”

God sent them into exile. The land they left behind was destroyed. This was to teach them a lesson, that they needed God.

Jeremiah 9:16 – I will scatter them among the nations whom neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.”

Zechariah 3 Commentary

This chapter in Zechariah is one of the most exciting ones! In the first two chapters we saw the focus be God the Father. In this third chapter, we see that God the Son is the focus. There are portions of this chapter that speaks directly to the reasons as to why Christ had to come to earth.

Zechariah 3:1 – Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

This verse is filled with biblical characters! The first one we see is Zechariah himself. He is in this vision. As with the other visions, Zechariah’s role is to communicate the vision.

The next person in this verse is the angel who is showing Zechariah all these things. This character is simply there to communicate to Zechariah what is going on.

The third character we see is Joshua. This is not the same Joshua that was Moses’ second. That person was Son of Nun. This is Son of Jehozadak, the high priest at the time of Zechariah and Haggai. He is also only mentioned in those two books.

The next character is the angel of the Lord. This is Jesus Christ. Jesus is presiding over a heavenly courtroom of sorts. Joshua is standing before Jesus, the Judge, as defendant.

The final character here is Satan. Satan is taking the role of the prosecutor. His role is to accuse Joshua, which fits with Revelation 12:10 where he is the accuser. Interestingly enough, when you read this in Hebrew, you see that Satan is standing there to satan Joshua, which means to accuse him.

 Zechariah 3:2 – And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”

Just like in the first verse, there is a lot to unpack in this one as well. We see the Lord placing judgment on Satan and telling him that He has chosen Israel. The covenant still stands. Deuteronomy 7:6-11 is still in play. Even more so, we see that the Lord has plucked them before they were destroyed. This is clearly seen in Amos 4:11.

Romans 8:33-34 tells us “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

There is a story about John Wesley that when he was a child that he was trapped in a housefire and that neighbors climbed on each other’s shoulders to reach him and pull him to safety. Someone drew a picture of that scene for Wesley, which he held onto until the day he died. On the bottom of that drawing, Wesley wrote Zechariah 3:2 to show him the real life example of this verse in his life.

This shows God’s plan of salvation.

Zechariah 3:3 – Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.

In this verse we see Joshua standing before Christ in filthy garments, which is his sin. These particular filthy garments go back to the book of Isaiah chapter 64 and speak directly to the sin of the priesthood. But these sins could easily be our sins as well.

Zechariah 3:4 – And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”

If this doesn’t make you think of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, then I don’t know what will. Again, the filthy garments are our clothing of sin. But in Revelation 1:5 we see that Jesus washed us in His own blood and then, in Revelation 7:14, we see that our robes were washed in the blood of Christ and they are pure white.

The high priest is typically clothed in the best robes. That symbolizes the imputation of righteousness in Isaiah 61:10. Joshua is now being clothed in righteous robes.

Zechariah 3:5 – And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.

To understand the symbolism in this verse, we need to look at what life was like for the high priests in Zechariah’s day. The high priest would wear a turban that would have an engraved gold plate attached to it that would say “Holiness to the Lord.” This is from Exodus 28:36-38.

Interestingly enough, this is not being commanded by God, but by Zechariah! Zechariah desired to see Israel restored. This piece of symbolism would show that Israel was restored with God’s favor.

Zechariah 3:6 – And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua,

When one is “solemnly assured” it is a judicial term that was used among Jews and Jewish Christians. In Hebrews 6:17-18 it means an assurance of an oath. This means that Joshua needs to move forward with Christ’s salvation.

Zechariah 3:7 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.

There is a lot here! God is telling Joshua to make sure that he is walking with Him. BY walking in God’s ways, it means all the ceremonial laws, the moral laws, and the ways of truth and faith.

By keeping God’s charge, we see that He wants Joshua to maintain the Levitical law

If Joshua, and God’s people can do this, then He would restore the honor and glory that was lost by going into captivity. The priestly office was not respected in captivity. It would be restored to a position of honor.

This is a very important verse. Walking with Christ is a daily choice. We choose each day to walk with Christ. We see that choice by the use of the sixth word in the verse, “if.” This means that Joshua has a choice to turn around.

And the result is shown for us as well in verses like Matthew 19:28 and Revelation 3:21.

Zechariah 3:8 – Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.

Let’s begin with the last word in this verse, the “Branch.” This is a messianic term. When combined with the word before it, “servant,” we see a very strong allusion to Christ the Messiah. Being a branch, it starts from humble beginnings. The Hebrew word literally means “sprout.” It is used quite a bit in prophecy in both Isaiah and Jeremiah. It means that he is literally a descendant of David.

When combined with “servant,” we now understand the Branch’s function: to serve. We see a Messiah that is humble and obedient.

The Lord wants not only Joshua to hear this, but all the priests.

Zechariah 3:9 – For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.

The “stone” that Zechariah is mentioning here is, of course, messianic as well. We see the stone that was rejected, the stone of stumbling, the refuge, and the cornerstone. With seven eyes, this means that the stone is all seeing and omniscient.

We also see another reference to removing iniquity.

This is a future forward statement that shows the miraculous work that was done on the cross. Stones are used in both Old and New testaments as messianic in nature. And this stone is to be established through the Branch.

Zechariah 3:10 – In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

This is the millennial reign of Christ. In that day there will be peace and every neighbor will be invited to enjoy the peace together.

The symbolism of the “vine” is, also, messianic. The Vine is Jesus.

John 15:5 says that Jesus is the vine and we are His branches.

Commentary of the Book of Zechariah – part 1

Every morning I read a chapter of the Bible and then go to God in prayer. One of the benefits to this is that I get to read a lot of the Bible over the course of a year. That said, it also gives me a lot of things that I take notes on to come back and study more in depth.

The book of Zechariah is one of those books that required I take a lot of notes to study at a later date. Over the next few months I will be studying Zechariah and creating my own commentary on what I study and read.

Each post will be another chapter and I will go verse by verse. One of the hopes that I have for this commentary is that it will move beyond the word by word commentary and add into it the timeless truths that are filled throughout the Bible.

Overview of the book:

Zechariah was the grandson of the priest Iddo. He prophesied to the people of Judah at some point after they had returned from their exile in Babylon. In Ezra 5, we are told that both Haggai and Zechariah were the ones pushing for the people to rebuild the temple. In Jeremiah we are told that the dates of the exile would be 70 years and that God would usher in a time of His kingdom at the end of it. Unfortunately, the time is almost up and life is still very difficult.

It is Zechariah that explains why this is so.

Zechariah returned with his grandfather after the Babylonian exile around 538 BC with the first group of exiles to return. His family lineage meant that he was both a priest and a prophet. Even though he never served in an official temple, he would still have an idea of what it would be like.

While Zechariah was young, he came alongside Haggai, who was much older, to prophecy. While Haggai was focused on the sin and selfism of the Jews at the time, Zechariah’s message was one of encouragement and hope.

The book itself is not from a single time period in Zechariah’s life. His messages begin at around the time of Haggai’s with the first vision being documented in the fall of 520 BC. During this message he is calling on Judah to repent of their sin.

Early in 519 BC he received 8 visions and then late in 518 BC he received 4 more.

Beginning in chapter 9 of the book, there is no more dating of his visions, but his mention of Greece means that this part of his book happened much later in his life, most likely somewhere around 480 BC. He would have been a couple decades before both Ezra and Nehemiah.

Overall, Zechariah’s book spans a total of about 40 years!

But that isn’t the only thing interesting about this book.

Zechariah also contains the most messianic passages throughout all the minor prophets.  He is like a mini-Isaiah. We see both the first and second comings of Christ in this book.

Zechariah’s name means “The Lord remembers.” This is very fitting as he writes from the perspective of hope that God will remember the promises He has made to His people. While it is easy to read this book and think that things should happen one right after the other, the truth of the matter is that there are generations between many of his prophecies. All of his prophecies point to the rebuilding of the temple and eventual reign of a future Messiah.

So why would one from the 21st century want to read the book of Zechariah?

It is very easy to get discouraged when we listen to the daily news or read the Twitter feed of so-called Christian leaders. The book of Zechariah has its share of judgments on the people of Israel, but it focuses on a future hope. The people in Zechariah’s time had lost their perspective. They were hopeless.

Zechariah chose to speak the Word of God in hopes to correct that perspective.

God desires to give us a hope and a future. One that is focused on God’s kingdom and filled with a desire to see us serving Him joyfully and with a new perspective.

 

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