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Notes on Zechariah

By Richard Gunther


This book contains EIGHT VISIONS which divide naturally into 3 groups. 1 -3 are about the rebuilding of the Temple. 4 and 5 are about Joshua and Zerubabel. 6-8 are about the spiritual transformation of the people.


The eight visions:

1. Angelic Horsemen (1:8 - 17)

2. Four Horns and Four Carpenters (1:18 - 21)

3. The Measuring Line (2:1 - 13)

4. Joshua is dressed (3:1 - 10)

5. Candlesticks and Olive tress (4:1 - 14)

6. Flying Roll (5:1-14)

7. Woman in an Ephah (pot) (5:5 - 11)

8. Four Chariots (6:1 - 8)

The book, in summary:

6:9 - 15 The symbolic crowning of Joshua

7:1-14 The question and answer about fasting

8:1-23 10 prophecies about Jerusalem's restoration

9:1 - 17The downfall of the nations, and regathering of Israel

10:1 -12 Blessing for Judah and Ephraim

11:1-17 The 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem

The withdrawal of restraint on the surrounding Gentile nations The cruelty of the invaders of Jerusalem, symbolised by the cruel and worthless shepherds

12:1 - 14 The prelude to, and deliverance of Jerusalem, v.l gives the tremendous

introduction, showing the involvement of Israel as well as the Judah section of God's


13:1-6 The 2nd Advent and the simultaneous Jewish revival

13:7-9 The judgement on and the purging of the Jewish nation from 70 AD on.

14:1,2 The destruction of Jerusalem the city

14:3 - 21 The 2nd Advent deliverance of the city and the people


2Chron. ends with a description of the final stages of the southern kingdom of Judah as it goes into captivity. For 70 years the captives were prevented from returning until Cyrus gave the decree that as many as wanted to, could return and build the "house", which meant the Temple - 2 Chron.36:20 -23. Jeremiah had already predicted this decree (25:11 - 13). He pointed out that it was the prelude to judgement on Babylon.

Ezra records, in his history, a list of those who came back from Babylon - called Jews. Ezra 2:2, 3:2, names Joshua and Zerubabel. The exile's efforts to rebuild were frustrated, after the foundation stone was laid (Ezra 3:10) and for years very little progress was made. At last, Darius the Persian came to the throne. (Darius Hystaspis, BC 522 - 486, ruler of the Modes and Persians). Ezra 4:24.

It was at this time that Haggai and Zechariah began their work (Ezra 5:17) and a letter was written to Darius asking him to find the decree made by Cyrus (Ezra 5:17) which was found (Ezra 6:2,3) and so the building went on.

The book of Zechariah is a compilation of the prophet's inspired words during the short - about seven years - partnership with Haggai, as the two prophets tried to encourage the Jews.

Some years later Malachi gave the last prophetic words to the people, and then the 400 years between Malachi and the Messiah passed. Daniel predicted the coming of the Messiah, using the time of the decree as a starting point - see Dan.9:23 - 27.

Zechariah wrote the words of this book some 18 years after the Jews returned from Babylon.

As with most of God's predictions, there is a mixture of judgment and mercy throughout. The book of Zechariah is no exception. Balanced with predictions of severe punishment for Judah, there are many glorious promises of restoration and deliverance. God never forgets his people. He punishes them in measure, and brings them low for their sins, but he never abandons them, or transfers his promises to another nation, or to the Church. The same people who are judged, are also restored.

Miscellaneous notes.

Chapter nine. The downfall of the nations and the salvation of Israel. Various burdens upon the nations surrounding Palestine. Hadrach, Damascus and Hamath (cities of Syria) will be judged, so also Tyre and Sidon. This prophecy was fulfilled some 200 years later with the last two named. Philistine cities are also named "the king shall perish from Gaza" - v.5.Earlier conquerors had left the native rulers in nominal charge of their realms as long as they were submissive. This was not the policy of Alexander the Great.

v.l The burden of the prophecy shall rest in Damascus. The reference to eyes is prophetic language for an expectation that God will render to every man according to what they have done - Jer.32:19,20.

v.6,7 Other leading Philistine cities. Ashkelon was one of the leading cities, and it was not until 1270 AD that Zechariah was proved right, when the Sultan Bibars reduced it to ruins and filled the harbour with stones.

v.7 speaks of the idolatrous worship and blood sacrifices of the Philistines which were to be cut off. But in this verse is also the promise that the faithful will be saved and be in the governing body. “Ekron as a Jebusite = The Philistines will be as bond-servants”

v.8 2nd Advent build up. Moffat says "I will camp round my house like a guard, to let none march across it." This prophecy of freedom from invasion and oppression is being fulfilled before our eyes today. Every effort the surrounding nations have made to subdue or destroy the Israeli nation has been thwarted.

9-17. The coming King and ultimate deliverance. Insight: The 1st and 2nd Advents are like two great mountain peaks on the horizon, which, from such a distance appear to be so close as to almost appear as one mountain, but a great valley lies between the two peaks. The two comings of Jesus were not understood by the prophets - lPet.l:10,ll.

Chapter 10.

v.l,2 An exhortation to look to the Lord for the promised blessing, and not to idols or soothsayers. This verse is first of all literal - Deut.ll:13 - 17. When a nation obeys God, He blesses them agriculturally. Spiritualised, this verse means that when we seek God for renewal and revival. God sends the Holy Spirit to us, like rain to a dry land.

v.2 Therefore they (my people) went their (the diviners) way like a flock of goats. Jer.51:40.

v.3 God's anger against the bad rulers, or he-goats.

v.4 the "him" first of all refers to Judah. God is saying that even though Judah is following diviners, He made Judah as his goodly (war) horse, and then further gracious acts are given to Judah. Jer.30: especially 21 - governors, and rulers would come from Judah. Out of Judah also came the Messiah, and the Cornerstone -Is.28:16, the Nail - Is.22:22,23, the Battle Bow.

v.5 - 12 This was written some 18 years after a remnant of Judah returned from Babylon, yet the division of the seed of Jacob is still clearly taught. The mercy to the returned exiles was promised to them and no-one else - Jer.29:10, 2Chron.36:20,21, Ezra 1. The full restoration of the "house of Joseph" is part of this prophecy. Today, in Palestine, it is easy to see the Judah part of the prophecy being fulfilled, but, logically, the other part of the prophecy must also be fulfilled, even though it may not be so obvious. God cannot break his word, nor can he only partially keep his promises.

v.9 shows that "Ephraim" was still scattered in far countries, even as Zechariah spoke.

Chapter 11

The destruction of the Jewish nation by the Romans is here depicted. They were destroyed because nationally, they rejected their Messiah. Not only that, but they refused, nationally, to listen to the Spirit as He spoke through various prophets over the 70 years. (Up to the time of Titus, the Roman general, who laid seige to Jerusalem).

v.l - 3 The wrath of God

v,4 - 7 The reason for this wrath : the Rejected Shepherd.

What should have happened, was that God's restraint should have kept all the nations off His nation and City, and Judah should have joined with Israel to worship and obey the Messiah. The parable pictures Graciousness and Union being broken - a disconnection which must wait until around the time of the 2nd Advent for restoration. The Temple, built of cedars, is devoured by fire - which literally happened in 70 AD, and spiritually, God’s fiery judgement fell on the nation then. The money was cast into the furnace (not to the potter), and in the same sort of way Jesus was treated with contempt. Zechariah came as a type of a Messiah and was paid for his words, but God told him to throw the money away - in the same way the Jewish nation rejected the words of their Messiah.

Chapter 12

Indestructible Jerusalem.

v.l God presents His credentials. He also shows how Israel will be involved in the end-of-age events - as well as Judah and Jerusalem. "The burden ... for Israel".

v.2 Cup = usually means displeasure - Is.51:17.The peoples, or nations, which come against Jerusalem, are mentioned by other prophets, i.e. Ez.38, 39. The cup which Judah was to drink is now put into the hands of other nations – Jer.25:15 -18. In the last few years we have seen the city delivered. In 1917 General Allenby. 1948 the first and second seige broken. 1967 the Zionist flag hoisted over the city.

v.5 When the Jews, prior to the 2nd Advent, and enjoying invincibility in war, find themselves preserved so wonderfully by supernatural aid, they will say to themselves ("in their heart") the strength of the dwellers (or inhabitants) in Jerusalem lies "in the Lord of hosts" their God.

v.7 Read - "as at the beginning" (Sept.) or, as in former days. Because Israel went into captivity first she finished her time of judgment before Judah. This is why the 18th century saw the British expanding into a mighty, prosperous Commonwealth before the Jews regained their former prosperity. The Times of the Gentiles have run out, but their "fullness" has not yet come - Luke 21:24 and Rom.ll:25.

v.ll This mourning is a reference to the nation-wide sorrow of Judah for king Josiah, who was slain in battle with the king of Egypt - 2Chron.35:22 - 25.

10 -14 Depicts national as well as individual repentance. Verse 10 makes it very clear that the Jewish nation will be converted when it looks upon Him whom it has pierced, and that will be around the time when the Messiah comes. Even today many Jews are acknowledging that Jesus truly is the Messiah, and so, in that sense, they are "looking on Him" and understanding that it was their people who pierced the Messiah.

Chapter 13

v.l This fountain has always flowed, but even more so now that Jesus Christ has come. On the day of His return, the Spirit is to be poured out on ALL Israel -Ez.36:25 - 38,37 ;14. Cleansing is depicted in Eph.5:26

v.3 Depicting the intense enthusiasm for the truth. The Law is alluded to -Deut.l3:6 - 9.

v.4,5 People will admit that they were, in fact, not prophets at all, and turn to other occupations for which they are better fitted.

v.6 This is part of verse 5. It is a further questioning of the false prophet. The words “in your hands" = between your hands, signifying wounds on the chest It was customary for false prophets to inflict wounds on themselves - 1 Kings 18:289 so the suspect here is asked to explain the scars on his body. He attributes them to chastisement received in the house of his relatives.

v.7 The sword = death. Although the people were responsible (Acts 3:14,15, lThess.2:15) yet at the same time what they did was part of the will of God. It was the way redemption was accomplished - Acts 2:23, Is.53:10. Jesus used this verse (Mat.26:31,32) but its wider fulfillment depicts the scattering of the Jewish people.

v.8 When Titus came, 70 AD, 1,500,000 Jews died by sword, pestilence, and famine. Jesus, who knew this was coming, also spoke about it - Luke 19:42 - 44, Mat.23:28,29, and prophesied about it to his disciples - Mat.24, Mark 13, Luke 21:20 - 24. As with Zechariah, Jesus also placed two similar events close together: the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the age. Many of His disciples thought the 2nd Advent was going to occur immediately after the fall of Jerusalem.

v.9 Depicts a remnant of Jews will survive the long and devastating times of persecution - today we see the "one third back in their land again.

Chapter 14

Jerusalem held out for five months, but at the cost of 1,500,000, through famine, sword, and pestilence. Some factions within the city attacked each other, and burned the food, thus hastening the end.

v.l No chapter division. 13:8 should flow through to 14:2. The two judgments -that of the People, and that of the City, go together. "The day" = a day. Purposely indefinite, as also in Is.2:11,12, 13:6. A DAY for Jehovah is a time selected by Him for the accomplishment of His purposes. There have been many "days" through the centuries.

v.2 All nations - of the Roman Empire - Luke 21:24. The Romans enlisted, as never before, men from every nation, to fill the ranks of their army and navy.

When Jerusalem fell, the soldiery went from house to house plundering and burning everything. The wealth of the Temple was taken, and, in spite of a strict order NOT to burn it, someone set it on fire. The heat melted the gold, which ran into the cracks. In their greed, the soldiers pulled the Temple apart to get at the gold, thus fulfilling Mat. 24:2. (An arch depicting the robbing of the City - the 'Arch of Titus' - is still to be seen today).

“The residue of the people” - here is a prophecy that in contrast to the mass of Jews carried captive, a remnant would be able to return. In Luke 21:20,21 Jesus warned his disciples to flee the City when they saw the approaching armies. Josephus tells how, in AD 66, Cestius Gallus came up against the City, and then, without any reason at all, called it all off for the time being. Josephus says "After this calamity had befallen Cestius, many of the most eminent of the Jews swam away from the City, as from a ship when it is going to sink". No doubt, at the same time, many Christians also escaped, and many would return to preach and witness.

v.3 Paragraph break. The Sept. begins "And", not "then". 2nd Advent time. The Lord promises to fight against the nations. If "then" is allowed (an alternative view), this verse is yet another example of having two events separated by a minute punctuation mark. (See also Is.9:6) However 3 - 15 is clearly a sequence, beginning with a sudden, mighty intervention by the Messiah.

v.4 2nd Advent language. We meet the Lord in the air, above the earth, when He returns - lThess.4, Acts 1:1 - 9, Rev.l:7, Mat.24:30.

v.5 "you shall flee" = you shall be blocked up. Sept, "And the valley of My mountains shall be closed up; and the valley of the mountains shall be joined to Jasod and shall be blocked up ..." The K.J. Hebrew is the Massoretic text, which has the word "venastem", which means "shall be blocked up", while other texts say "venastim" which means "shall flee".

Let us be reasonable here. Is it likely that God would open a path of deliverance for His people, and then bombard it with falling rocks, water, and splitting chasms? The people need no escape plan anyway, since God has already promised to defend them. The most logical rendering of the verse is "venastem" which means "blocked up".

Josephus says, on Uzziah "When Uzziah went into the Temple to offer incense... a great earthquake shook the ground... and before the city of Jerusalem, at a place called Eroge, half the mountain broke off from the rest on the west and rolled itself 4 furlongs, and stood at the east mountain, till the roads, as well as the king's gardens were spoiled by the destruction."

v.7 to end of chapter. The sequence seems to be: the destruction of Gog, (a symbolic name for Satan’s forces. Not Russia) the earthquake, the water appears, then follows the judgment on the earth, and the inauguration of the reign of Jesus - Is.24, Mat.24:29,2Thess. 1:7-9.

Extra note on 14:12. "Have fought" probably refers to the 2nd WW and the Turks, as well as the Arabs since then, and the Egyptians, and the PLO. The power of the anti-Zionists is weakening and decaying, or dissolving away.

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