Summary: The purpose of this chapter is much the same as that of the 9th, the encouragement of the captives that had returned to their homeland.
The purpose of this chapter is much the same as that of the 9th, the encouragement of the captives that had returned to their homeland. They have been under the rebukes of the Lord for their negligence in rebuilding the temple. They are surrounded with enemies and dangers. They have been told why all the events that have occurred in the past was the acts of the Lord of hosts.
In this chapter the Lord tells the people He will bless them and make them prosperous at home and victorious abroad. They will receive strength and success from the Lord in all their struggles with their enemies. All they need to do is ask the Lord for His help.
In the past years because of the unseasonable weather, there had been great scarcity of both. In the close of chapter nine Zechariah told the people there will be a great harvest of corn and the fruit of the vine. They are told to, “Ask rain from the Lord at the time of the spring. The Lord who makes the storm clouds; And He will give them showers of rain, vegetation in the field to each man.” They are not to pray to the clouds, nor the stars for rain as their neighbors did, but to the Lord “who makes the storm clouds.”
There were two important rain falls. One occurred in the autumn during the planting of the seed and the second in the spring, between March and May. If either of these rains failed there was a lack of food for both the people and their animals because from the end of May to September they never had any rain at all.
When the rains didn’t come in the time they normally occurred it was viewed as a sign the Lord was displeased with His people. Zechariah told the people they must pray for rain. The people are directed to ask for it in the time when the rains normally came. If they ask in the right time showers of rain in great abundance shall be given to them.
The idols the fathers prayed to and consulted in their distress couldn’t tell them when they could expect the rain to come so how could they command rain to fall from heaven when it was most needed. The diviners, the prophets of the gods, promised the people the gods would send them rain when it was needed. But it never came. The visions of the diviners and the promises were
meant to mislead the people. The biggest problem in the promises of rain which were never
fulfilled was those who prayed to the false gods lost the favor of the true God. This is why they went into captivity, were troubled, and harassed, like scattered sheep, without shepherds. Why they had no king to rule them, no priest to intercede for them, none to take care of them and keep them together. Those that wandered after strange gods were made to wander, into strange nations.
The Lord told Zechariah, “My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the male goats; for the Lord of hosts has visited His flock, the house of Judah, and I will make them like His majestic horse in battle.” The male goats is a term used to describe the wicked magistrates.
The shepherds are the priests who were not fulfilling their duties. The captivity in Babylon was a sign of the Lord’s anger against them. Though the body of the nation suffered in the captivity, yet it was only the political leaders (goats) and the religious leaders (shepherds) that the Lord was angry with. The afflictions of the body of the nation came from the love of God, and was but a fatherly chastisement, which to them came from His wrath, and was judicial punishment.