Lessons From the Scriptures: Zechariah 1:1–14:21
Jehovah Stirs Up the Spirit of His People
LATE in 538 B.C.E. or early in 537 B.C.E., Persian king Cyrus issued a decree that the Jews should return from Babylon to Jerusalem to “rebuild the house of Jehovah.” (Ezra 1:3) By 520 B.C.E., however, the temple still had not been rebuilt. Hence, Jehovah raised up the prophet Zechariah to work along with Haggai in stirring up the spirit of the people.
Zechariah’s inspired words reinvigorated faithful Jews by showing that Jehovah was supporting them and would bless their work. This Bible book enthuses us too because it contains Messianic prophecies, as well as other prophecies undergoing fulfillment in our time.* It also provides us with valuable lessons.
Jehovah Blesses His People
Jehovah is concerned about his people. After the Jews admit that God’s disciplining of them was just, Zechariah has three visions that show His continuing concern for them. In the first, he sees horses with angelic riders. One angel is troubled that the nations that caused the Jews calamity are “having no disturbance.” In the second, Jehovah determines to cast down the “four horns”—the governmental powers that dispersed his people. And the third vision vividly describes Jehovah’s loving, protective care of Jerusalem.—1:1–2:13.
No one will be able to hinder God’s faithful servants. In the fourth vision, Satan, the major resister of Jehovah’s people, is roundly rebuked. (Compare Revelation 12:10.) In the fifth, Zechariah learns that God’s people will do His will despite mountainous obstacles. How? “‘Not by a military force, nor by power, but by my spirit,’ Jehovah of armies has said.”—3:1–4:14.
God’s servants “hate what is bad.” (Psalm 97:10, 11) In the sixth vision, God pronounces a curse on evildoers who have thus far gone unpunished. And in the seventh, a representation of wickedness is carried off to “the land of Shinar,” the location of false Babylonish religion. A good place for it! Evil does not belong among Jehovah’s people, who hate it. Zechariah next sees four horse-drawn chariots—angelic spirit forces commissioned to protect God’s servants on earth.—5:1–6:8.
The fulfillment of Jehovah’s prophetic word is thrilling and faith strengthening. How true this is of Zechariah’s prophetic foregleams for our day! Using silver and gold contributed by exiled Jews, he is to make a grand crown for High Priest Joshua. Moreover, “those who are far away [in Babylon] will come and actually build in the temple of Jehovah,” even as many left Babylon the Great to help in temple work after 1919. Correction of wrong ideas about fasting led to a description of the coming joyous condition of Jerusalem. It was foretold that ‘ten men out of all nations’ would join spiritual Jews in true worship. (Galatians 6:16; Revelation 7:4-10) “Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem,” says Jehovah. Her king comes riding upon an ass and will “speak peace to the nations.”—6:9–9:11.
God and the Shepherds
Overseers have a heavy responsibility and should serve with zeal. After promising to save his people, Jehovah expresses his anger against unfaithful shepherds. “Three shepherds” corrupt the flock to such an extent that God breaks off his covenant with his people. Jerusalem will become “a burdensome stone.” Any who attack her will “get severe scratches.” But “the sheiks of Judah”—those having oversight among God’s chosen people—must be “like a fiery torch,” outstandingly zealous.—9:12–12:14.
Jehovah hates counterfeits. In God’s congregation, any who persist in ‘speaking falsehood’ are ‘pierced through,’ being rejected as apostates. “Two parts” in the land will be cut off, while the third part will be refined through fire. Parallel to this, the great majority of those claiming to be Christian—those of Christendom—have been cut off by Jehovah. From 1919 onward, only a small minority of faithful, anointed Christians have called upon Jehovah’s name and submitted to his refining process.—13:1-9.
Jehovah’s people can trust in his protection. When foes try to destroy true worshipers, God will protect his people and wipe out Satan’s crowd. The splitting of the Mount of Olives results in a symbolic valley in which anointed ones experience protection under Jehovah’s universal Kingdom and his Son’s Messianic government. There will be light for God’s faithful servants and darkness for the nations. Mankind must choose: Either worship Jehovah with his people or suffer eternal destruction.—14:1-21.
A verse-by-verse discussion of Zechariah’s prophecy is found in the book Paradise Restored to Mankind—By Theocracy! published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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BIBLE TEXTS EXAMINED
○ 1:3—Though the Jews returned from Babylon in 537 B.C.E., they were also urged to return to God in whole-souled obedience and worship. They would give visible evidence of this return by engaging in rebuilding work until the temple was completed.
○ 2:1-5—Likely, the young man was measuring Jerusalem so as to build a protective wall around it. But God’s angel indicated that the city’s growth was not to be limited by a wall. No human could prevent Jerusalem’s continued growth. Jehovah would be its protection, even as he today protects the anointed remnant who will be part of the heavenly New Jerusalem.—Revelation 21:2.
○ 6:11-15—The crowning of High Priest Joshua did not make him a priest-king, for he was not in David’s kingly line. Rather, it made Joshua a prophetic figure of the Messiah, in whom the prophecy concerning “Sprout” is fully realized. (Zechariah 3:8; Jeremiah 23:5) Joshua helped to bring to completion the work of rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem. The heavenly Priest-King, Jesus Christ, brings work on the spiritual temple to a completion.
○ 11:4-11—Sheeplike people were “the flock meant for the killing” in that governmental shepherds were exploiting them. With one staff called “Pleasantness” and the other “Union,” Zechariah acted like a shepherd carrying a staff to guide the flock and a rod to ward off beasts. (Psalm 23:4) He foreshadowed Jesus, who was sent to be a spiritual shepherd but was rejected by the Jews. As Zechariah broke the staff Pleasantness, God quit dealing pleasantly with the Jews, breaking his covenant with them. And as Zechariah broke the staff Union, God’s canceling of the Law covenant with Israel left the Jews without a theocratic bond of union. Their religious disunity worked out disastrously for them with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E.
○ 12:11—“The wailing of Hadadrimmon” may refer to mourning over the death of King Josiah of Judah. Hadadrimmon evidently was a site in the valley of Megiddo, where he was killed in battle with Pharaoh Necho. Josiah’s death was bemoaned, Jeremiah chanting and singers mentioning the king in dirges.—2 Chronicles 35:20-25.
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As Zechariah foretold, people of all nations are now associating with spiritual Israel