Zechariah 001 – Introduction, Pt. 1Zechariah 1:1 • Dr. Andy Woods • September 8, 2021 • Zechariah
Seventy Years Captivity
By Dr. Andy Woods
As you are walking in, there should be a handout for you. If you don’t have one, you can put your hand up and someone could give you one. Online people, don’t panic, you’re going to get one too, I just haven’t posted it yet and this evening, if we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of Zechariah. Next week, which is the 15th, right? That sound right? It’s going to be a little bit different than we normally do. We’re hosting a group here called “The Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics” and you say, what is that? That sounds like you’re speaking in tongues there but it’s a group that’s an academic group that defends literal interpretation of the Bible and so all these scholars from all over are going to be right here at Sugar Land Bible Church for that conference and people are going to be giving different papers. It literally goes from morning till night, all day Wednesday the 15th, I believe and all day Thursday the 16th. So, they invited me to give a paper, I guess they should do that since we are the host church but they stuck me fortunately right at this slot. So if you just come to your normal Bible study time and want to hear that paper, I’m going to be presenting it on 7 o’clock Central on “How kingdom now theology warps the purpose of the church”. So an academic group is a little bit different than what you are used to. Basically, what you are used to in church is people given presentations but this is different. Each speaker is only allowed a half an hour and the rest of the time you’re sort of cross examined by your peers. So, if you want to come and see Andy in the lion’s den, we’re going to do that next week at this time and then the Wednesday following that we’ll be right back to our normal schedule and if you want to find out the schedule, when all the different speakers are presenting, go to the Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics website and it should give you all the information. 3:02
So with all of that being said, tonight though, we’re just going to do our normal study and for this new quarter kicking off, the fall quarter, we’re going to start to study the book of Zechariah and a lot of people have been asking me for a study on the book of Zechariah and I keep saying, I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it and then finally something opened up for we finished James last quarter before the summer break and so I say, my goodness we’re going to do Zechariah. So the squeaky wheel gets the grease, amen?
So, when we study a book, we’re going to be going through this book verse by verse, not all tonight don’t worry but before we just jump in and start going verse by verse, you guys probably know me well enough by now to know that I like to cover the background of the book. So, I’m going to try to start covering the background of the book tonight.
Here are about 15 issues, I don’t think we’ll even get through all of these this evening, that you need to understand in order to grasp the contents of the book of Zechariah and these 15 issues you can study these out before you study any biblical book, whether it’s Genesis or Revelation or Daniel. No matter what book of the Bible you’re in, if you work through these 15 issues before you get into the book, you’re far ahead of the person that just jumps in and starts reading because each book of the Bible took place in a specific context. So let’s go through these. 5:04
- Place of writing
- Unique characteristics
- Christ in Zechariah
Number 1 of 15 issues, the title of the book:
- Named after the book’s spokesman
- Hebrew: Zekar-yah
- LXX: Zecharias
- Latin: Zecharias
- English: Zechariah
What is the title of the book of Zechariah? Well, obviously the title is what? Zechariah. Why is it called Zechariah? Because Zechariah is the principal prophet and spokesperson of the book. Zechariah’s name in Hebrew, there you see it, there on the screen, second bullet point down. It literally means, “Yahweh remembers” or “God remembers” and that’s what the name Zechariah is or what it means. God remembers, Yahweh remembers and what a great title for a book like this because in the book, Zechariah is going to speak very aggressively about Israel’s future. How many of you know that God is not through with the nation of Israel? Very good. Most Christians, by way of denominational affiliation, are sitting in churches that teach that God has finished with Israel and it’s going to be obvious from the book of Zechariah that God is not finished with Israel. God has a great purpose in store for Israel. Why? Because God remembers his covenant with Israel. That’s why Zechariah’s name means “God remembers”. God is going to fulfill all of His promises in and through Israel because God remembers the promises that He made to Israel. 6:52
So, a lot of the things that happened in biblical history that are major, relate to God remembering His covenant. So the book of Exodus records the greatest redemptive event in all of history other than the cross. The greatest redemptive event in all of history other than the cross is the exodus, when God brought the nation of Israel out of bondage after 400 years of Egyptian captivity. So why did God do that? Why did He perform the exodus? He performed the exodus because God remembers and it’s right there in Exodus 2, verse 24 (Exo 2:24): So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His… what?… covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… and consequently the exodus happened. Over in the book of Ezekiel chapter 36, verse 22 (Ezek 36:22), it’s a chapter of the Bible that’s speaking of the great end time re-gathering of Israel to her land. So, why will God in the end times, and I think we’re already starting to see that happen in our day, why will God in the end times restore Israel to her land and bring her to life, not just politically but spiritually? Because God remembers and it’s right there in the book of Ezekiel chapter 36, verse 22 (Ezek 36:22), where it says: Therefore, say to the house of Israel, This is what the Lord God says: It is not for your sake, oh house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you… Israel… have profaned among the nations wherever you went. So God makes it very clear that He is going to restore Israel, not for Israel’s sake but for His name’s sake because if God doesn’t do what He’s obligated Himself to do, He is the one that looks bad at the end of the day. God cannot lie. So the exodus happened because God remembers. The end time re-gathering of Israel is going to occur because God remembers and the book of Zechariah features these end time prophecies concerning the nation of Israel and so it’s very fitting that the principal spokesperson and prophet of this book, his very name in Hebrew means “God remembers”. 9:49
When the LXX, the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible was made, you see there? It’s called LXX because that adds up to seventy. This was done by seventy scholars in seventy days according to tradition, a couple of hundred years before the time of Christ, you see how the LXX kept that same title for the book and then in the IV century when Jerome translated the Greek New Testament into Latin, you see he kept that same name Zechariah and our English versions follow in that tradition and so the prophet there are going to be looking at is Zechariah, the title of the book is Zechariah, God remembers.
Second issue to look at when you study the background of the book is the authorship.
Who in the world wrote the book of Zechariah? Well, if you look there at Zechariah chapter 1 and you look at verse 1 (Zech 1:1) says: In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah. So quite obviously we believe that Zechariah wrote the book of Zechariah. You see that in chapter 1 verse 1, an ancient Jewish tradition and ancient Christian tradition, both hold to Zechariah as the author of this entire book. Now, there’s a movement called “Higher Criticism”. Higher Criticism is a movement that really started in Germany in the 19th Century where men began to sit in judgement on the Bible and higher critics will tell you: Well, there’s no way that chapters 9 through 14 could have been written by Zechariah. So, they basically believe that someone other than Zechariah wrote chapters 9 through 14. Why do they believe that? Uhm, let me give you some of their reasons and a quick response to them. 12:16
One of the reasons is Matthew 27, verses 9 and 10 (Matt 27:9-10). Matthew chapter 27, verses 9 and 10 which is the prophecy that Zechariah makes about Jesus being betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. Zechariah makes that prophecy 500 years before Jesus ever showed up in Zechariah 11, verses 12 and 13 (Zech 11:12-13). Matthew 27, verses 9 and 10 (Matt 27:9-10) quotes that prophecy and attributes it, not to Zechariah but to Jeremiah and the higher critics just jump on that, and say: See? There’s no way Zechariah wrote chapters 9 through 14, but the truth to the matter is when Matthew 27, verses 9 and 10 quotes that prophecy, it’s merging material not just from Zechariah but also Jeremiah. Matthew 27, verses 9 and 10, also alongside Zechariah 11, 12 and 13 (Zech 11:12-13) merges in Jeremiah 18 verse 2, excuse me, Jeremiah 19, verse 2 and verse 11 (Jer 19:2,11), Jeremiah 32, verses 6 through 9 (Jer 32:6-9). So, it’s a case where Matthew quotes a prophecy from both prophets, Zechariah and Jeremiah, merges them together and just attributes it all to the better known prophet Jeremiah. So there’s a logical reason other than Zechariah didn’t write that as to why Matthew quotes part of Zechariah and attributes it to Jeremiah. 14:16
- Zechariah (1:1)
- Hebrew & Christian tradition
- Zechariah 9‒14?
- Hellenistic or Maccabean eras?
- Unity arguments
Another reason people believe that Zechariah chapters 9 through 14 was not written by Zechariah is because of the Hellenistic or Maccabean, which is Greek, influence. The Hellenistic period is from 331 to 167, long after the prophet Jeremiah lived. The Maccabean period is from 167 to 73 BC, long after the real prophet Zechariah lived and so people say: Look at the Hellenistic and Maccabean influence of chapters 9 through 14, therefore, this could not have been written by the actual Zechariah. This is how higher critics think. Why am I boring you with all of this? Because when, not if, you watch the History Channel “Mysteries of the Bible” A&E, these is the kind of arguments that you hear, and when your children and grandchildren come home from college and they tell you that Zechariah did not write chapters 9 through 14, at least you have a framework on how to respond. So, how do we explain the Maccabean and Hellenistic influence of chapters 9 through 14, why does it read differently? Well, for one thing, it’s a different subject matter. Zechariah is having some intense prophecies in chapters 9 through 14 so his writing style is different. You write different ways depending upon the circumstance. When you turn in a term paper to school, I hope it doesn’t read like you would write a love letter to your wife or your husband cause if that’s true you might need some marriage counseling. Different circumstances require different writing styles and Zechariah’s writing style gets different in chapters 9 through 14 but it has to do with the change of subject matter. It doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that the real Zechariah is not writing those chapters. People say: Well, yeah but that section mentions the temple over and over again and the temple wasn’t rebuilt until later. The response to that is the reason Zechariah is mentioning the temple in that section, chapters 9 through 14, is because he is having visions of a future temple, a millennial temple that will exist during the 1000 year reign of Christ. It has nothing to do with the fact that the actual Zechariah didn’t write chapters 9 through 14 and one other quick thing that they say is, take a look if you could at chapter 9, verse 13 of Zechariah (Zech 9:13), it says: For I will bend Judah as My bow, I will fill the bow with Ephraim. And I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece… see that word “Greece” there? They say, look if the real Zechariah wrote those chapters then, how can he be talking about Greece since Greece was a kingdom that hadn’t come to power yet. The Persians were still on the scene. The answer to that is Isaiah, excuse me, Zechariah is making a prediction about Greece. So, when people say, well, he couldn’t be talking about Greece cause Greece hadn’t come on the scene yet, they are denying the supernatural reality of the Bible that predicts things before it happens. That’s why he mentions Greece. He mentions Greece not because of someone other than the real Zechariah writing during the Grecian era, that’s what the higher critics say. He is making a prediction about Greece which is to come and beyond that, other prophets mention Greece. Isaiah 66, verse 19 (Isa 66:19) mentions Greece, it uses the word “Javan” which is another word for Greece. You’ll find Greece in the writings of Ezekiel and Daniel. Ezekiel 27, verse 13 and verse 19 (Ezek 27:13,19), Daniel 8, verse 21 (Dan 8:21), Daniel 10, verse 20 (Dan 10:20), all of those prophets mention Greece and the reason they are mentioning Greece is not because they are writing during the Grecian era, which is later, but because they’re making futuristic predictions about Greece. 19:44
So, let’s make a long story short here. Who wrote the book of Zechariah? Zechariah did and we believe he wrote all of the book. He wrote chapters 1 through 8 and the same exact guy wrote chapters 9 through 14 and the arguments that higher critics give, I think can easily be answered. So we embrace here what we will call the unity of the book of Zechariah. Zechariah wrote all of it and by the way, there’s a lot of similarities between the sections. Chapters 1 through 8 have the same words and phrases that you find in chapters 9 through 14. In that sheet or set of material I gave you, I show you the common phrases between the sections and there’s a common evangelistic fervor in both sections. The entire message is similar in both sections, so there’s no way, there’s no reason really to believe that chapters 9 through 14 were written by someone other than Zechariah. Alright, that’s authorship. Title of the book: Zechariah, God remembers. Authorship of the book: Zechariah wrote the whole thing.
Third question you want to ask whenever you start to take a look at a book of the Bible is the biography of the author. The more you understand who the author is, the more it makes sense to you why he brings up certain things. For example, in the book of Acts it talks about how Judas hung himself, this is Acts 1 (Acts 1), over a cliff. The branch that he hung himself on broke, his corpse, you know, careened to the ground, hitting the rocks and the cliffs on the way down and Acts tells us that Judas’ insides were opened up and his intestines spilled out. Now you read that and you say, why do I need to know that? Why do I need to know about his intestines? What spiritual lesson is there for me in Judas’ intestines? Well, it makes sense that the author of Acts would bring that up when you understand that the author is Luke and what was Luke’s occupation? He was a physician or a doctor so he likes to talk about intestines. I mean, to me it’s like more information that I need but if you understand who Luke is.. Aha! That’s why he’s bringing that up. 23:02
In Matthew’s gospel, only in Matthew’s gospel is a story recorded where Jesus and Peter go fishing, and they go fishing and they catch a fish and in the fish’s mouth there’s a coin and Jesus says: Use this coin to pay the temple tax… and I read that and I say: Lord, would you let me pay my taxes that way? Now that story is not recorded in Mark, it’s not recorded in John, it’s not recorded in Luke but it is recorded in Matthew. Why would Matthew care about that? Well, it makes sense when you understand his occupation as a tax collector. So the truth to the matter is God uses people as they are and when God uses your life, he is going to use your individual skills, temperament, personality, life experiences because God is the author of those things also and it’s true with the people that wrote the Bible. We believe in what’s called dual authorship, where Author “capital A” guided the literary process of the authors “little a”. God did not override who they are and their personalities, and the better you understand the personality and the biography of the other author of a particular book, a lot of the things that he brings up in his book start to make sense. So that’s why I introduce you a little bit to who Zechariah was. 24:42
Zechariah’s name is a common name. This may frustrate you, it frustrated me because there are 29 other people in the Bible that also have the name Zechariah (haha). So every time you see the name Zechariah, it’s not necessarily talking about our Zechariah.
- Common name
- Son of Berechiah (1:1)
- Called into ministry as a youth (2:4)
- Born during Babylonian Captivity
- Taken to Israel in first return
- A priest
- Member of the Great Synagogue
So it was a common name. If you look at chapter 1, verse 1 (Zech 1:1) you’ll see that Zechariah was the son of a man named Berechiah, and Zechariah was called into ministry as a very young man. How do we know that? Take a look at Zechariah chapter 2, verse 4 (Zech 2:4), it says: and he said to him, Run, and speak to that young man… So, Zechariah is a lot like Jeremiah. Jeremiah chapter 1, verses 6 and 7 (Jer 1:6-7), in fact, that’s what Jeremiah was complaining about, who am I Lord to receive this calling, I’m but a lad, I’m but a young man. Both Jeremiah and Zechariah were called as young people. It reminds me of 1st Timothy chapter 4, verse 12 (1 Tim 4:12) where Paul writes to Timothy and he says: Let no one look down on you because of your… what?… your youth… and this is very important to understand because our society disqualifies people from being used by God if they’re not in the right age bracket. They’re too young to be used or they’re too old to be used. Concerning older people, let’s keep in mind that both John and Daniel received their greatest revelation from God about the age of 85. Let’s also remember that Jeremiah was called as a young person, Zechariah was called as a young person and Timothy was called as a young person. So, in the outworking of God’s purposes, all of the things that society erects, telling people, telling you are not qualified, you’re too young, you’re too old, you’re too fat, you’re too thin, you don’t look the right part, you don’t have the right education, dara rara ra. Even in the church world we can get like this with people. Let’s remember that’s not how God thinks. God does not, as the saying goes, call the qualified. He qualifies the called. If you’re called, that’s the issue. Everything, it doesn’t matter what your age bracket is. The calling is what’s significant and God is going to work and use you and that’s how it was with this man Zechariah. So when was he born? He was probably born during the days of Babylonian captivity. The nation of Israel as I’ll described in a minute had gone into captivity for 70 years. Zechariah was probably born during that time period and then the nation of Israel came back out of that captivity under Persian leadership 70 years later, and Zechariah returned with that group back to the land. He was one of the returnees. He probably returned with his grandfather, a man named Iddo, I – D – D – O is how it’s spelled, at least in English, and you see his grandfather mentioned there in chapter 1, verse 1 (Zech 1:1) So, Zechariah was the son of Berechiah, Berechiah was the son of Iddo. 29:01
Now, the book of Nehemiah chapter 12 and verse 4 and verse 16 (Neh 12:4,16) in a context of describing the genealogy returning to the land, you’ll find Iddo’s name mentioned. We believe that that was Zechariah’s grandfather and so Zechariah probably was born during the days of the Babylonian captivity. I would argue sort of late in that 70 year process and as still a fairly young person, he was brought with his grandfather out of the captivity under Persian rule, and we know that to be true because Zechariah’s name shows up in the book of Ezra. You might take your Bible and just flip it there to the left a little bit. You’ll get past the prophets, you’ll get past the wisdom literature and you should come to a book called Ezra. It’s on page 755 in my Bible if that helps you, and Ezra was written describing the return from Babylon and it says: When the prophets, Haggai.. hey! that’s one of prophets in our Bible… and the prophet Zechariah, that’s our guy! son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah. Flip one chapter to the right and look at Ezra chapter 6 and verse 14 (Ezra 6:14), this is the return from the captivity and it says: And the elders of the Jews were successful in building through the prophesying of Haggai… more on him in a minute… and Zechariah, son of Iddo… That’s our guy. So, Zechariah was born during the captivity, came back into the land of Israel 70 years later and according to Ezra 5, verse 1 (Ezra 5:1) and Ezra chapter 6, verse 1 (Ezra 6:1) he had a tremendous ministry prophesying to the returnees to do something very important and that important thing, as we’re going to talk about, was rebuilding the temple. We also know because he was the grandson of Iddo that he was a priest. Iddo is mentioned in Nehemiah 12, verse 1 (Neh 12:1) where it talks there, historically reviewing the priests, by the way, which tribe does the priest come from? The tribe of Levi, the priests that came back from the 70 year captivity. In Nehemiah chapter 12, verse 1 and verse 4 and verse 16 (Neh 1: 1,4,16) it’s there we learn that Iddo, the grandfather of Zechariah, was one of the priests that came back from the captivity, which means that most likely Zechariah was a priest also. If you understand that Zechariah was a priest, suddenly you understand why Zechariah has a great interest in the what? Starts with a T, the temple. Why does he keep talking about the temple? The future temple, the millennial temple, because that’s what priests were into. I mean, their whole lives, you know, centered around the temple. So, Zechariah was a priest. He would be just like Jeremiah. Jeremiah chapter 1, verse 1 (Jer 1:1) tells us that Jeremiah was a priest. Now, any other prophet that you could think of… that was also a priest? How about this prophet here, Ezekiel? What does it say there in Ezekiel chapter 1, verse 3 (Ezek 1:3)? The word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest… Aha! That’s why Ezekiel is so focused on the temple also. In fact, it’s in Ezekiel’s writings, chapters 40 through 48 (Ezek 40-48), you probably get your most vivid description of the millennial temple. Matthew talking about pay the temple tax cause he’s a tax gatherer, Luke talking about intestines gushing out because he is a physician, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah talking all the time about the temple structure because they are priests. 34:14
It’s also believed that Zechariah was a member of what is called “The Great Synagogue”. Now, we don’t know this from the Bible, we just know it from Jewish tradition. What was the Great Synagogue? It was kind of like a ruling body within the nation of Israel before the nation developed what is called the Sanhedrin. Have you heard of the Sanhedrin? They’ve even revived today in the land of Israel the Sanhedrin. It’s sort of like a governing, I don’t know, a city council I guess, something like that, over the land of Israel. So prior to the advent of the Sanhedrin, there was something called “The Great Synagogue”. We believe Zechariah was a member of The Great Synagogue. We don’t know it from scripture, we know it from extra biblical Hebrew tradition, and that body collected and preserved the Old Testament canon. Ultimately, the collection of Old Testament books that we have here. So that’s who this man Zechariah was.
So, we’ve covered the title of the book, the authorship of the book, the biography of the book. How about number 4 here? The scope of the book.
When the events described in the book of Zechariah transpire, what kind of scope of time are we talking about? Well, we are given in the book of Zechariah 3 days.
The first one you’ll find in Zechariah chapter 1, verse 1 (Zech 1:1) which says these things happened in the eighth month of the second year of Darius, a Persian king. So we believed these events happened October or November roughly 520 BC and then you go down, take a look, go down to Zechariah chapter 1, verse 7 (Zech 1:7) and you’ll see the second date, it says these things happened on the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month…of the second year of Darius… and that would place it the second month 15th day about 519 BC. So now we’re getting a sense of the time period in which Zechariah prophesied and then when you flip over, now we’re out of Ezra, we’re back in Zechariah. When you look in Zechariah chapter 7, verse 1 (Zech 7:1) it says these things happened on the fourth day of the ninth month.. of the fourth year of Darius.. we generally know when Darius reigned in Persia from extra biblical dating material and so that particular prophecy happened 12/17/518 BC and those are the only 3 dates given in the book.
- 10 or 11/520 B.C. to 12/17/518 B.C.
- Zechariah 9‒14?
- Written 40 years later?
- 520‒470 B.C.
- Zechariah a contemporary of:
- Prophet Haggai (Ezra 5:1; 6:14)
- High Priest Joshua
- Governor Zerubbabel
So therefore we know that the scope of the book of Zechariah basically started in 520 BC and goes through 518 BC so when you think of Zechariah, those are the dates you want to keep in mind, 520 to 518 BC. In other words, he is prophesying 500 years before Jesus showed up and he is making very specific predictions concerning the first coming of Jesus Christ, as I’ll show you. 38:07
500 years is a long time, that’s the United States of America, the rough length of it times two, and so that’s when Zechariah is having these predictions and having these prophecies. Now, although we believe that Zechariah wrote this whole book, I don’t have a problem believing that chapters 9 through 14 could have been written 40 years after he wrote chapters 1 through 8. I mean, maybe he wrote all of it, all at once. That’s reasonable, but there’s a lot of people believe that he could have written chapters 9 through 14 later when God gave him those visions. There seems to be a little bit different linguistic and subject-matter in chapters 9 through 14, a little bit more Greek influence in chapters 9 through 14. Chapters 9 through 14 aren’t really dated. So that would stretch… if that’s true, we don’t know it’s true, it’s just a possibility… that would stretch the date from about 520 to 470. So maybe he wrote all of this from 520 to 518 or maybe he started writing in 520 and the same guy finished his writing in 470. So those are some different options concerning the scope of the book, but in any rate this would make Zechariah a contemporary of Haggai. In fact, remember those Ezra passages I gave you earlier? Ezra 5, verse 1 (Ezra 5:1), Ezra 6 verse 14 (Ezra 6:14), did you catch how Zechariah and Haggai are prophesying together? So, Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai. He was a contemporary of a man named Joshua, not the Joshua you’re thinking of. You’re thinking of the book of Joshua, that is much earlier in biblical history. That’s the guy who led Israel into Canaan and led Israel through the conquest. A thousand years have already passed since that happened, roughly a thousand years. This is a different Joshua, he is the high priest Joshua of the nation during the time of the return. Zechariah is a contemporary of the high priest Joshua and he is also a contemporary of the governor Zerubbabel. Can you say that name with me? You are ready? Zerubbabel. Now, what does that sound like? It sounds like to me, and this is my bias, a bouncing basketball and so that’s an easy way to remember who Zerubbabel was. He bounced Israel back into the promised land. Corny? Yes. Would you never forget it? You’ll never forget it. In fact, a year from now, you may remember absolutely nothing about this study but you’ll remember that. So Zerubbabel is the governor of Israel during this time, Joshua is the high priest of Israel during this time and Haggai is another prophet prophesying along Zechariah during this time, during the days of the return and of course all of that was supposed to be on the screen as I was speaking. I hate it when that happens but that gives you the basic scope of the book, 520 to 518. If Zechariah 9 through 14 is written forty years later, then it’s the same author but it expands the scope from about 520 to 470 and it explains who Zechariah was a contemporary of.. he was a contemporary of the prophet Haggai, he was a contemporary of the high priest Joshua and he was a contemporary of the governor Zerubbabel. 42:28
Date of the book, fifth issue you want to take a look at. We believe that Zechariah wrote these visions down after.. not long after they were given to him by God.
- Written immediately after the visions were given
- Zechariah 9‒14?
- 519‒518 B.C.
- 470‒469 B.C.
So they were written shortly after Zechariah had the visions which will place the date of the book around 519 to 518 BC. Now, if you believe that the chapters 9 through 14 were written after… forty years after, that would push the date a little earlier… excuse me.. a little later, not much later, 470 to 469, you know that’s a possibility. So now, we generally know when Zechariah prophesied and we generally know when the book was written. The book was written, we believe not long after the events described in the book transpired.
- Place of writing
Sixth issue that you want to pay attention to and this is a very big deal, is when Zechariah wrote this, who was he writing to? I mean, obviously you can say he was writing to all of us, because all of us are blessed and edified by any book of the Bible. So we’re kind of the indirect audience but there actually was a specific audience that he was addressing and every book of the Bible was written to a specific audience and the more you can understand that specific audience, the more you can understand the purpose of the book and why things are brought up… that are brought up. So who was the very specific audience that Zechariah was writing to?
- Zerubbabel (Zech 4:6-9)
- Joshua (Zech 3:1; 6:9-15)
- Returnees (Zech 7:4-7)
- Ezra 5:1
- Ezra 6:14
Well, he was writing to Zerubbabel, because Zerubbabel is mentioned in Zechariah 4, verses 6 through 9 (Zech 4:6-9) and he was writing to the high priest Joshua, because Joshua, the high priest, is mentioned in Zechariah 3, verse 1 (Zech 3:1) and chapter 6, verses 9 through 15 (Zech 6:9-15). However, ultimately, his ultimate audience was the returnees. The returnees from the 70 year captivity seem to be referenced in chapter 7, and verses 4 through 7 (Zech 7:4-7) and in those passages we looked at a little earlier where Zechariah shows up in the book of Ezra, Ezra chapter 5, verse 1 (Ezra 5:1), Ezra chapter 6, verse 14 (Ezra 6:14) which is a historical book, you’ll notice that Zechariah there is prophesying to the returnees. So Zechariah’s ultimate audience was the Jews that had returned to the land of Israel after the 70 year captivity. There is where Israel went in the 70 years captivity, they were there for 70 years, hence the title 70 year’s captivity , amen? And then when that 70 year clock was over, God brought them back into the land. 45:56
Why were they in captivity for 70 years? I mean, why not 68 years? Why not 73 years? You’ll find the answer to that around 2nd Chronicles 36, I want to say verses 21 and 22 (2 Chron 36:21-22) where God told the Jews to let the land have a rest every year. In other words, the Jews were to work six days and rest on the seventh and it was the same principle with the land. They were to work the land six years and then allow the land to have a rest on the seventh year and the Jews said to God: Uhm, no, we’re going to just do things the way we want and so they violated God’s land Sabbath principle for 70 years. There’s 70 years in there where they didn’t allow the land to have its rest. So, haha God we pulled one over on you and God says: No, you didn’t (hahaha), I will kick you out of the land for 70 years so that it can have its rest. Every year that you did not allow the land to have its rest, is a year you will spend in the captivity and my goodness the land’s going to have its rest one way or the other and you’ll find that in 2nd Chronicles 36, verses 21 and 22 (2 Chron 36:21-22). So the 70 years are over and you see, this is what Jeremiah is doing who prophecied just before the captivity in Jeremiah 25, I think it’s verse 11 (Jer 25:11) and chapter 29, verse 10 (Jer 29:10). Jeremiah is the prophet that said the captivity will last exactly 70 years. So you might as well go over there to Babylon and relax and get comfortable, build a house, if you want to do that, cause you’re going to be here for a while. 48:04
So they went to the land of Shinar. Daniel chapter 1, verse 2 (Dan 1:2) tells us that that’s exactly where they went, to the land of Shinar. Where is Shinar? It’s…What’s that? Babylon, modern day Iraq between the Euphrates and the Tigris. So that’s where Ezekiel had his ministry, an Exilic prophet. Daniel had his ministry, an Exilic prophet and then the nation of Israel was there for 70 years and they came out of the captivity and here’s what’s interesting, when the Jews went into the captivity they went into the captivity in three waves.
The first was in 605 BC under Judah’s reigning king “Jehoiakim” and you see the verses for this invasion is described and that’s when Daniel was taken into that captivity as a teenager. The second raid and this came from all three, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was under the Jewish king “Jehoiachin”, Oh my goodness pastor! How I’m going to keep my Kims and my Chins memorized? It’s very easy. Kim sounds like a girls’ name, right? and ladies go first, easy way to remember it. Corny? Yes, will you never forget it? No. So the first wave is under Jehoiakim, the second wave is under Jehoiachin a few years later, and that’s when Ezekiel was taken into captivity, and then finally Nebuchadnezzar had had enough of this Jewish hold-out and in 586 he went in and completely destroyed the temple and the sanctuary. So he didn’t come in one fell swoop, he came in waves. In fact, in the first one he took with him the best and the brightest. You find this described in Daniel 1 and the reason Nebuchadnezzar took the best and the brightest is he tried to brainwash the youth. Jeez! I’m glad that doesn’t happen today. He tried to brainwash them. You see this all in Daniel 1, in the literature of the Chaldeans because he wanted to use them as propaganda tools to talk the rest of the population into peaceably settling in Babylon. Then he came in wave number two 597, that’s when he took the bulk of them including Ezekiel and then in 586 he had had enough and he destroyed the city and the sanctuary and it’s in that last one that the book of Lamentations is written. The book of Lamentations, was a lament written by Jeremiah that I cannot believe this has happened. I cannot believe that the temple that we love so much has been destroyed and it’s right in the middle of the book of Lamentations that you read these words concerning the faithfulness of God, that his mercies are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness. So at the darkest time in Israel’s history, God was consoling His people through the book of Lamentations, that don’t lose heart, you are going through a difficult time right now but I’m going to make good one day on all of my promises to Israel. 51:50
So the Babylonian captivity happened in three waves. Now, check this out, the return from captivity 70 years later took place in three waves.
The first return happened in 538 BC under the Persian king Cyrus. You see, by this time the Persians had overthrown the Babylonians. By the way, what chapter of the bible do we find that in? Daniel chapter… Well, here it is on my hand, 5. The handwriting on the wall chapter. That’s when the politics changed and the Persians conquered Babylon without even a battle, and Cyrus at the end of that 70 years’ time period, allowed the Jews to return to their land. That’s interesting, because Isaiah chapter 44 (Isa 44), very last verse and into the very first verse of the next chapter, 200 years in advance predicts Cyrus by name. That he would be the guy that would allow the Jews to return. That would be like saying Ronald Reagan is going to become president of the United States 200 years before it happened and it happens just like clockwork. So the first return happened under Cyrus, the Jewish leader was Zerubbabel, that’s easy to remember cause that reminds us of a bouncing basketball that bounced Israel back into the land and this is when the book of Ezra chapters 1 through 6 (Ezra 1-6) was written. By the way, Zechariah prophesied in the book of Ezra chapter 5 and chapter 6 (Ezra 5-6) so that helps us pinpoint when Zechariah’s ministry transpired. It’s part of that first return back into the land. Then came the second return 458 to 457, the Persian king at this point was Artaxerxes, the Jewish leader was Ezra and Ezra 7 through 10 (Ezra 7-10) happens in that second return. 50,000 came back in the first return, only 2,000 came back in the second return and by the way, no extra charge for this but does anybody know what book of the Bible happens after Ezra 6 and before Ezra 7? It starts with an E… Esther, the book of Esther happens after return one but before return two takes place, and then there’s return three, 444 to 432, same king Artaxerxes, the Jewish leader is Nehemiah. In the first return the goal was to rebuild the temple, in the second return the goal was to adorn the temple and reform the people, the third return was to rebuild the wall. That’s where the book of Nehemiah takes place. So, our guy Zechariah has his ministry in that first return. 55:18
Here is a picture of modern day archeology, what we call the Cyrus Cylinder which is Cyrus’ boasts as he conquered Babylon without even so much as a battle. Daniel chapter 5, handwriting on the wall.
- Place of writing
The seventh issue you always want to look at is the place of writing. Where did Zechariah write this book from?
- Place of Writing
- Temple standing
- Zech 1:16; Zech 3:1‒4:9; Zech 6:9-15; Zech 8:9, Zech 20-23; Zech 14:16-19
Well, he talks about the temple an awful lot. A lot of his predictions are about the future temple but the temple was located in Jerusalem and so we.. and he was a priest.. and so we largely believe that he probably wrote this book not long after God had given him these visions from the city of Jerusalem. Number 8, of course… and that’s supposed to be up as I was speaking. He makes reference to the temple. There’s all the verses you can look up where he’s referring to the temple. So the place of writing is Jerusalem. 56:29
- Place of writing
Number eight, the occasion. Why the book? To understand the why of the book, you have to understand the history of this time period. The times of the Gentiles had started. The times of the Gentiles is a time period when the nation has no king reigning on David’s throne and she is being trampled down by various Gentile powers.
First Babylon, then Persia, then Greece, then Rome, Daniel is the one that describes this time period. By the way, the phrase times of the Gentiles, you’ll find Jesus using it in Luke 21, verse 24 (Luke 21:24) and so Babylon had passed and now the Persians were in power. They are the ones that allowed Israel to return to the land. It was under king Cyrus that the first return happened, following the 70 year deportation. There again is the Cyrus cylinder and you want to keep in the back of your mind Isaiah 44, verse 28 through chapter 45 verse 1 (Isa 44:28-45:1) cause there you’ll find Isaiah calling out the name Cyrus, 200 years in advance, and so the first of the three returns has happened by the time Zechariah starts to prophecy and the Jews had started rebuilding the temple.
ISRAEL’S FOUR TEMPLES
- Solomon’s pre-exilic temple (Kings and Chronicles)
- Zerubbabel’s post exilic temple (Ezra 1-6; John 2:20)
- Antichrist’s temple (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 11:1-2)
- Millennial temple (Ezek. 40-48)
This would be temple number 2. The first temple built by Solomon was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586. The book of Lamentations is a lament over the destruction of that first temple, but now they’re back in the land, the 70 years are over and they get to work rebuilding the temple. So that would be temple number 2.
In 536 BC, the foundation of the temple was laid. Cyrus had issued the decree allowing the Jews to go back into the land and rebuild the temple 538. 536, the temple foundation had been laid and it looks good and they’re on track and something happens called persecution. You read about it in Ezra 4 (Ezra 4), the people of the land disrupted the project and they got tired and they got discouraged. 59:21
Now, listen to me very carefully. Anytime God calls you to do something, I don’t care what it is, there’s going to be opposition. God calls you to play a role in marriage, opposition. God calls you to teach a Bible Study, opposition. It’s going to come from somewhere, and typically what happens to us when we get hit with resistance is, we just sort of want to quit, that’s our natural impulse and that’s what the nation did, they quit on the temple which was central to all of Israel and the temple project was stalled for 15 years, after 534. There’s no wall around the city, Nehemiah 2, verse 17 (Neh 2:17) tells us that, there’s no temple, Haggai chapter 1, verse 4 (Hag 1:4) tells us that and there’s a crisis of faith because all of the prosperity they were promised for obedience wasn’t materializing. Their enemies in the land that stopped the project seemed to get the upper hand and the nation at this time was under Persian authority. This is when Haggai and Zechariah show up, around 520 as we’ve talked about, 520 to 518 and what are these two prophets doing?
- 538 B.C. ‒ Cyrus’ decree
- 536 B.C. ‒ Temple foundation laid
- 534 B.C. ‒ Temple building interrupted
- Temple project stalled for 15 years
- 520‒518 B.C. ‒ Ministries of Zechariah & Haggai
- 519 B.C. ‒ Darius confirmation of Cyrus’ decree
- Resumption of Temple building
- 516 B.C. ‒ Temple completed
They are… well… I don’t know how graphic I should be about it but they’re kicking them in the backside, the nation, which is what good preachers do, by the way. I mean, the goal of preaching is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, right? (hahaha) So a preacher is supposed to, under God and his standards, motivate people. That’s what Zechariah and Haggai are doing. They’re motivating and saying what are you guys doing? The nation doesn’t have a temple, you haven’t been working on it for 15 years cause you got some push back, get busy building it. So that’s why Haggai and Zechariah show up in Ezra 5, verse 1 (Ezra 5:1) and Ezra chapter 6, verse 14 (Ezra 6:14) and they have two different strategies. Haggai’s strategy is in your face, it’s a Vince Lombardi, it’s Bobby Knight, it’s a General… It’s General Patton, getting in your face and motivating you to rebuild the temple. That’s what the book of Haggai, the little book of Haggai is doing. 1:02:15
Zechariah, the book that we’re studying, a slightly different strategy. Zechariah’s name means God what? Remembers, and so he begins to have these visions of the future temple and he paints a tremendous picture about God’s purpose for the temple in the messianic age and in the millennial kingdom and his strategy is: Don’t you want to be a part of God’s great work? I mean, you get to work here on this temple and you’re contributing ultimately to what’s going to happen in the millennial kingdom. You’re contributing to the temple that even Jesus Christ Himself is going to come to… that’s… Jesus’ interaction was around this second temple that the nation had neglected. So this reminds me of 1st Corinthians chapter 12, verses 29 through 31(1 Cor 12:29-31) which tells us that we all have different gifts. God uses us all differently, a hand and a foot in the body of Christ are both necessary but they’re different. Haggai has one approach, General Patton approach. Zechariah, the priest has a different approach in terms of painting the future, a picture of the future, but both of them are together prophesying with the goal of motivating the nation of Israel to… let’s just put it this way… get over it. You know, a lot of people, they won’t do anything for God because they got some injury or pain in their past. I mean, what is God saying? God is saying get over it. I mean, what we need sometimes is a good pep talk, a good kick in the backside. By the way, when I get discouraged I watch, if you think I’m weird that’s fine, I go and watch the George Scott, General Patton speech. Now, if that won’t motivate you, I don’t know what will. But sometimes we’re not really motivated through someone yelling and screaming at us, sometimes we need something different. Zechariah gives something different. He gives a picture of the future and he invites the nation of Israel to be a part. So, guess what? Israel got busy and they finished the temple. Darius confirmed the initial decree of Cyrus allowing the temple project to continue, the nation got interested in again, the temple project, because of the ministries of Haggai and Zechariah. You have the resumption of temple building and then finally 516 BC the temple is completed and if God had not called into ministry these two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, there would have been no temple for Jesus to come to. Malachi says that when the Messiah comes, he’s coming to the temple. Well, that’s kind of hard to do if none exists. So they’ve got to get busy rebuilding the temple and that’s what Haggai and Zechariah are doing.
So, look at that it’s 8:05 so I’ll stop here. We’ll pick it up here with number 9 next time the outline of the book cause there’s a very clear outline here. You don’t have to get caught in the maze of details so let me pray. Father we are grateful for this book and I pray that you’ll use our study of it for different reasons. Some of us need motivation, some of us are discouraged but there’s something in front of each of us that we’re supposed to do. So use this book to motivate us and to encourage us that we can finish strong in the race that you’ve set before us so we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name and God’s people said… amen