Summary: ‘What will you do with the grace of God?’ He has offered you salvation, free and complete in every way.
Ide Congregational Church
The start of a series of studies going through the prophecy of Zechariah.
Not an easy prophecy to follow through. Jerome wrote “… that most obscure book of the prophet Zechariah, and of the Twelve the longest …”
Despite this obscurity, the last six chapters are the most quoted section of the prophets in the passion narratives of the Gospels, and Zechariah has significantly influenced the author of Revelation. Thus, as we are looking at Zechariah, we will be visiting other parts of scripture quite extensively, as we seek the relevance and meaning for us today. This prophecy deals with the situation of the Jews of that time, and how they arrived at that situation, but then takes them forward to the end of time and the Return of the Messiah and the Day of Judgement.
Who is this Zechariah? (v1) “son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo”. In Ezra, just the son of Iddo. Did Ezra just miss out Berekiah, or had Berekiah died at an early age, leaving Zekariah to become the head of the priestly family after Iddo? It is not clear.
We can be sure that he was a prophet (v1) and a priest.
The beginning of Zechariah’s preaching can be dated to about Oct/Nov 520 BC.
He was born in Babylonia and was amongst those who returned to Jerusalem in 538 BC, under the leadership of Zerabbabel and Joshua. Zechariah later succeeded Iddo as head of the priestly family when Joiakim was High Priest.
Zechariah started prophesying during the time of Haggai, whose final recorded message has been dated to Dec 520 BC, a month or so after Zechariah started. Zechariah continued to prophesy and preach until some time after 480 BC.
What was the situation for Israel? Remarkably similar to what it is today. A small nation in the Middle East without a temple, surrounded by powerful enemies and in need of spiritual renewal.
In 605 BC the Babylonian armies under King Nebuchadnezzar had invaded and carried off many of the young men to Babylon, leaving the remainder of the nation to carry on much as before, but as a vassal state. In 597 BC the Jews revolted and Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers returned, killing many people and carrying off yet more young men; they also installed as king a 21-year old descendant of David as king, Zedekiah.
False prophets managed to convince Zedekiah to make an alliance with Egypt, to fortify Jerusalem and to break his agreement of loyalty to Babylon. Yet another army was sent to quell the uprising, but they could not enter Jerusalem so easily, so they subjected it to a major siege. After 18 months, during which many died of disease and starvation, Jerusalem was entered and destroyed. The army took out its vengeance on the people and the city. They took everything of value, even stripping the temple of all its valuables. They then destroyed the city and the temple. They took off to Babylon all but the poorest.
The Jewish people were settled in a fertile area and prospered under Babylonian rule. Many did not forget their God, and continued to worship Him, looking forward to a time when they could return to Jerusalem.
Then the Persians defeated the Babylonians and it was under this rule that the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem in 537 BC. This was about 68 years after the first invasion of the Babylonians.
17 years later, Zechariah started his prophecy, in 520 BC.
A nation looking forward to great things, but still lost in seeking an earthly kingdom with a worldly king. Very similar to the current situation with Israel today.
(V2) “The LORD was very angry with your forefathers.” Why was He angry? Look at how the rulers and people of Israel had treated their God. Had they trusted Him for their salvation? No!!
2 Kings 23:36,37 “36Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah; she was from Rumah. 37And he did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his fathers had done.” Jehoiakim was an evil ruler, as had the rulers before him. In fact, if you read through the book of Kings, virtually all the kings have the epitaph “And he did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”
Then see 2 Kings 24:1-4. A punishment for disobedience and evil, past and present, amongst His people Israel.
Not just a punishment upon the people because of the sin of the king. The king merely reflected the mood and ways of the people of Israel, who had become materialistic and were coming to believe that God’s law applied to others, but not to them. They were the chosen ones, therefore, God would overlook their wrongdoings. They could atone for their sins through sacrifice. The rest of the world was condemned to death because they were not God’s chosen people, Israel.