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May 18, 2005
An Exegesis of the Book of Revelation: Chapter 1: verses 4-8 (continued)
Filed in: Biblical Studies, Current Affairs, The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Prerequisite.

I can say at the outset that this is truly going to be a Belmont sized post. (That is somewhat of an inside joke I suppose - Good man Wretchard at the Belmont Club is known for very, very long posts - and I particularly don't mind them because I think he has something useful to say - you may not think the same about me.) I hope to make your investment of time worthwhile.

I have meditated on this passage for a very long time this time around and have come to believe that it needs particular, detailed attention. I don't know if it will continue like this or not (usually when teaching the Book of Revelation in the past - Chapters 1-3 have gone along pretty quickly). I am certain that we are going to give considerable attention to Chapter 1.

John writes to the seven churches - 'seven' catches my attention but I think that is just because I know there are so many 'sevens' in the Book. This is a letter - like many of the other New Testament writings - and like those it was sent to a particular church or group of churches or believers.

But, overall, I get a sense of hyperbole from this passage - if John had written this as an email it would have had an urgent exclamation attached to it. As compared to the rest of the New Testament canon - there's just an overall sense of a 'little extra' here. This is a further signal that this is an epochal, special Book.

Let's examine the greeting: "from him who is, who was, and who is to come" -  this could clearly apply to any of the Godhead - but certainly appears from the context to be God the Father. In this hyperbolic communication John is telling us: God encompasses all of history - he is not bound by the arrow of time. He has this particular characteristic that stretches his existence - and His point of view - across all of time.

Next: "and from the seven spirits that are before his throne". I'm with Gregg on this - Whoa! Growing up in the West in the 20th Century - few of us have read anything like this in Christian literature. What's your reaction to seeing this? Mine is: OK, I've been told that this is Apokalupsis - something hidden is being revealed. What is it? I don't know - but I want to know more about it. My reaction is not to automatically say: "Oh, this is just an oblique reference to the Holy Spirit." So, for the moment, I'll say that my interest is peaked and that I need to be aware of any clue as to what this means as we proceed.

Next: "and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth." - My reaction is why these particular characteristics? As I have read and re-read this passage I have come to interpret this in the light of what we have just been told about God the Father: "from him who is, who was, and who is to come" - I perceive these characteristics of Jesus as an echo of the characteristics of God in this passage and that they should be read like this: (who is) the faithful witness ('who is' - is already there), (who was) the firstborn from the dead, (who is to come) the ruler of the kings of the earth. While God the Father in this context is outside of time, outside of history - Jesus is the expression of God's action in the context of history - and that these characteristics are in this particular order are a consequence of the work of Christ in history and are meant to guide our understanding of the Book.

Click just below to continue reading this tome ...

Many interpret "the faithful witness" as a sign of martyrdom or Jesus being true in front of Pilate and the Sanhedrin (we get the word 'martyr' from the Greek word for witness). I think that, for the most part, it refers to his 'present' work (who is). In Hebrews 7 verses 20 - 25 - in the midst of a passage about Jesus 'becoming a new priesthood after the order of Melchizedek' (instead of Aaron) - we read:

20And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
   "The Lord has sworn
      and will not change his mind:
   'You are a priest forever.' " 22Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

    23Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

This overall passage in Hebrews is explaining to us that Jesus entered the heavenly temple - of which the earthly temples are 'types' - and used his own blood and his singular sacrifice to enter the 'Holy of Holies' in the heavenly temple. The Apokalupsis is revealing to us that the present work of Jesus is as "faithful witness" - he intercedes in the heavenly temple on behalf of those who believe in him. He is sworn (a "witness") to be a priest forever. He is faithful in this task ("always lives") - though his sacrifice is complete, his indestructible life is dedicated to intercession.

Jesus was "the firstborn from the dead" - meaning there is a specific moment in history when he obtained this (there is no aorist tense in this part of the passage - though there are several Greek tense modifiers in the passage) - it just seems so from this reading to me. We might recall that Elisha raised a young man from the dead, Jesus raised Lazarus and others, and Peter did as well. But this characteristic of Jesus is different- for one thing those that were raised died at some point later in their life. Jesus is alive. Part of this characteristic is to insure Jesus' supremacy (Colossians 1: 15 - 20):

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Jesus is the agent of creation (in the initiation of history), head of the church (in his work in history prior to his death), and firstborn from among the dead (in his heavenly work in history after his resurrection). The Apokalupsis is revealing a marker to us - that this Book is in the context of Christ's final supremacy in the universe - he is first to have the transformation experience that he promises to his followers. He was the first human in a glorified body to show up in heaven.

Further, in the preamble to the previous passage from Hebrews, we see in Hebrews 6 verses 19 - 20:

19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

It was necessary for Jesus to show up first in the heavenly temple - he was the only one who could possibly enter the "inner sanctuary behind the curtain". His being "the firstborn from the dead" insured that he began that heavenly work prior to anyone else needing his intercession. The Apokalupsis is revealing to us that what this Book is about is post the initiation of this present work in heaven.

This initiation of Jesus' work in heaven and the passage in Colossians should not be lost on us as we contemplate what  "ruler of the kings of the earth" means. We can acknowledge an appeal to Sovereignty here, but it seems clear given the particularity of his being the "faithful witness" and "firstborn from the dead" - that this characteristic looks toward his future work. When I say this I'm not saying necessarily that the future as referred to at this point in Chapter 1 of Revelation is our future - and I don't mean in any of these passages that the reference to the future is in the far future tense - it just means future from the time of John's writing - and it may be future from any readers' temporal experience as they read this Book. The future work begins at some point after both the past point in time work and the present continuing work.

Of note, despite what might be a first impression of this phrase - Revelation 1:5 is the only verse in all of scripture that says anything like "ruler of the kings of the earth". Though there are a couple of apparently messianic references to rule over land in Psalms and Zechariah (we'll get to those), there is no concise statement like this. We can contrast this with almost 300 references to 'Sovereign Lord' - almost all of those in reference to God the Father - in His ultimate almighty character. Since there has been no political rule by Jesus on the earth, this appears to be a prophecy of an impending worldwide rule by Jesus. His first coming did not involve political rule - his second will.

I'll appeal to Hebrews again:

5It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6But there is a place where someone has testified:
   "What is man that you are mindful of him,
      the son of man that you care for him?
    7You made him a little lower than the angels;
      you crowned him with glory and honor
       8and put everything under his feet? In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.

Since we still have not seen "everything subject to him" we must conclude that this future described here is in our future as well.

Now, we move on to the doxology - and I propose, once again that we see this three fold doxology as an overarching statement against the backdrop of time - across the span of history. To paraphrase again: "To him (who is) who loves us, to him (who was) has freed us from our sins by his blood, and (who is to come) has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father."

This time the work of Jesus is focused on his relationship with the church. He "loves us" in a present and continuing sense. It is notable that this is the only present tense use of "loves us" in reference to Jesus and his followers in the entire New Testament. Amazing!

He "has freed us from our sins by his blood" - this at one point in time and in one act in the past.

(Can you tell that I think the Hebrews is a significant backdrop for this Book?):

25Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Now to, "has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father". To this point in the Book, this is the most difficult part for me to understand fully. An alternate textual rendering is "a kingdom of priests". Worded this way clearly points to Exodus 19:6:

5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."

This is a promise to the nation of Israel just after deliverance from the Egyptian captivity. It is the only other reference in all of scripture that matches with the alternate reading in the Book.

We also find in 1 Peter 2:

4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

And:

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Peter, here speaking to the church, and primarily to the Gentile church uses language very similar to that of Exodus and our present passage. This passage in Peter echoes the one in Romans that I discussed previously. There is a clear teaching that the church is the inheritor in some sense of this promise to Israel. It also seems clear that there is a priesthood of the believer described here, a core doctrine that access to God is granted the believer in the work of Jesus.

So, I take this to read as: from now until the end (i.e. the future role of the church), Jesus has made us the fulfillment of the promise to Israel - we are to be priests in the Kingdom of God. I can't help but allow that this has both a spiritual context and an as of yet unfulfilled context.

The greeting in this passage was issued to the church - grace and peace. The doxology is offered to Jesus - glory and power.

Now we move on to verse 7 and we receive the command: "Look" (or "Behold") - an imperative to an hyperbolic announcement: "he is coming with the clouds". There is enough of an echo with the previous passage quoted in Hebrews that one can't help of thinking of the "appear[ing] a second time". But when is this to be?

I think we get an idea of that from the subsequent part of the verse: "and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him." Wait a minute! Is there a trend here? I think there is: we have a time scope specified here in three parts again: When is he coming again? (who is) every eye will see him - at the present moment when he appears every eye will see him. (who was) even those who pierced him - when he returns, even the ones who in the past at a moment in time pierced his body - the Roman soldiers, the rejecting nation of Israel - again focused on the singular event of history: the sacrifice of Jesus - they will see him. (who is to come) And all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him - the return will be global and visible to the living and the dead and everyone will realize who this is - and from either a vast guilt or dread of judgment the people on the earth will mourn from that point forward.

What do we make of this? As I contemplate this verse, I ask myself, who was this originally written to? Seven early Gentile churches. What would they think of this? Given that the New Testament canon was not yet fully developed, I would imagine that their common scripture at the time primarily consisted of the Old Testament. This initial passage seems very important. There are a couple of things that are difficult to understand - the seven spirits before the throne for one thing - and the full meaning of this verse for another.

What would I do if I were one of these early church members and I was reading this? Well, I believe that I would recognize that this verse is from Zechariah 12:10. So what I would do? - I would go back and read Zechariah. Not just Chapter 12 verse 10. I would go read the whole book. So, that's what we are going to do.

What? Read the whole book of Zechariah? I thought this was an exegesis of Revelation you might say. Well, we're going to read it and see what we can glean from it - we're not going to attempt to do an exegesis of it - we're going to see what it can elucidate for us in this passage - because it seems that it is meant for us to reference here. We are going to read it from this perspective: What does Zechariah mean in the context of our reading of the first chapter of the Book of Revelation?

Here we go:

Zechariah 1

A Call to Return to the LORD

    1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo:

    2 "The LORD was very angry with your forefathers. 3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Return to me,' declares the LORD Almighty, 'and I will return to you,' says the LORD Almighty. 4 Do not be like your forefathers, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.' But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the LORD. 5 Where are your forefathers now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6 But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your forefathers?
      "Then they repented and said, 'The LORD Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.'"

The Man Among the Myrtle Trees

    7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.

    8 During the night I had a vision—and there before me was a man riding a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.

    9 I asked, "What are these, my lord?"
      The angel who was talking with me answered, "I will show you what they are."

    10 Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, "They are the ones the LORD has sent to go throughout the earth."

    11 And they reported to the angel of the LORD, who was standing among the myrtle trees, "We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace."

    12 Then the angel of the LORD said, "LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?" 13 So the LORD spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.

    14 Then the angel who was speaking to me said, "Proclaim this word: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, 15 but I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they added to the calamity.'

    16 "Therefore, this is what the LORD says: 'I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,' declares the LORD Almighty.

    17 "Proclaim further: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.' "

Four Horns and Four Craftsmen

    18 Then I looked up—and there before me were four horns! 19 I asked the angel who was speaking to me, "What are these?"
      He answered me, "These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem."

    20 Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen. 21 I asked, "What are these coming to do?"
      He answered, "These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise his head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people."

We must do a little historical background - Zechariah is classified as a 'minor prophet' - and his book is the next to the last book in the Old Testament. He was a contemporary of Haggai, Ezra, Nehemiah, and (nearly) Daniel - among others. Historically, scholars place this writing almost 500 years after the building of Solomon's temple - the kingdom of Israel and Judah split soon thereafter and eventually Israel was destroyed by Assyria and Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon - about 70 years prior to the writing of this book (and much the subject of the book of Daniel). Nebuchadnezzar's army destroyed Solomon's temple in Jerusalem and ransacked it. This book is ostensibly about the rebuilding of the temple that Solomon built. This book was also written more than 500 years before Jesus was born.

What do we learn in chapter one? Here's a summary:

  • God reminds Israel that he tells the future and what he predicts happens.
  • Zechariah has a vision: "word of the Lord came" - "during the night I had a vision" - and saw a man riding a red horse, and others with him riding different colored horses - Zechariah learns that these are ones sent throughout the earth - the 'angel of the Lord' is among them. They are (typically unseen) spiritual beings that are sent to gather information.
  • God promises a restoration of Israel - and that his house (the temple) will be rebuilt - and the measuring line will be 'stretched out' over Jerusalem.
  • Four 'horns' are seen by Zechariah and he is told that these are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. What are horns then? Kings, nations?
  • Four 'craftsmen' are seen by Zechariah and he is told that they have come to "terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah". What are the craftsmen? What does the further reference to the horns imply?

Zechariah 2

A Man With a Measuring Line

    1 Then I looked up—and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand! 2 I asked, "Where are you going?"
      He answered me, "To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is."

    3 Then the angel who was speaking to me left, and another angel came to meet him 4 and said to him: "Run, tell that young man, 'Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. 5 And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,' declares the LORD, 'and I will be its glory within.'

    6 "Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north," declares the LORD, "for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven," declares the LORD.

    7 "Come, O Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!" 8 For this is what the LORD Almighty says: "After he has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye - 9 I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me.

    10 "Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the LORD. 11 "Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. 12 The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. 13 Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling."

  • A man with a measuring line goes to measure Jerusalem and God promises that he will be a wall of fire around Jerusalem and that He will be its glory within. Has this occurred since this book was written? Not historically.
  • God calls all of Israel - Zion - back from being scattered throughout the earth.
  • God promises to live among Israel - and also that many nations will be 'joined with the Lord' and that all mankind should contemplate this.

Zechariah 3

Clean Garments for the High Priest

    1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"

    3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes."
      Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you."

    5 Then I said, "Put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by.

    6 The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua: 7 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.

    8 " 'Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9 See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

    10 " 'In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree,' declares the LORD Almighty."

  • I'm going to differ in interpretation of this chapter from most commentators and scholars: I see this chapter as communicating some significant things about prophecy to us. 1) Joshua is both a real man contemporary to the time this book was written and he is a type - or symbol of Jesus - he has the same name as Jesus - it's just the name Jesus with the Jewish spelling. 2) We are shown that prophecy can concern both the man and the symbol at the same time - and that there is rich meaning in both.
  • We know that Jesus is the high priest of the new covenant. (Now this is where I substantially differ from most commentators): How could Jesus stand before God and be accused by Satan because he is wearing filthy rags? It is precisely because he took all of the sin of the whole world on himself - he became sin. So God could rebuke Satan because of the work of Jesus. He is the "faithful witness".
  • At the same time - Joshua, Zechariah's contemporary, is thought to be traditionally one of the men that escaped the fiery furnace in Babylon - from Daniel's story. As the man - he is redeemed by the work of Jesus - snatched from the fire. Both meanings are here at the same time and assist us in understanding some of the apparent ambiguity of prophecy.
  • Jesus in his own work - took on filthy clothes - the sin of the world and was delivered of them as the high priest of the new covenant. And as "firstborn from among the dead" he was made a priest after the order of Melchizedek.
  • Joshua the man was restored and charged with keeping God's commands. In this way he is a symbol of Israel, perhaps the church.
  • We learn in this chapter itself - it provides its own interpretation - that Joshua and those with him are also symbols of things to come. God promises the Branch - another Joshua, clearly Jesus (also referred to this way in Isaiah 4:2, 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15, and Zechariah 6:12 - all of which we will examine in due course). Remember, this book was written 500 years before the birth of Jesus. The reading of Zechariah is telling us that the prophecies of God come true.
  • Stone with seven eyes and an inscription set before Joshua (Jesus). Hmmm... anything to do with the seven spirits of God before the throne?
  • God will remove the sin of the land in a single day. And there will be a prosperous and peaceful time. Has this happened?

Zechariah 4

The Gold Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees

    1 Then the angel who talked with me returned and wakened me, as a man is wakened from his sleep. 2 He asked me, "What do you see?"
      I answered, "I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. 3 Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left."

    4 I asked the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?"

    5 He answered, "Do you not know what these are?"
      "No, my lord," I replied.

    6 So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.

    7 "What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it! God bless it!' "

    8 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 9 "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.

    10 "Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
      "(These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth.)"

    11 Then I asked the angel, "What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?"

    12 Again I asked him, "What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?"

    13 He replied, "Do you not know what these are?"
      "No, my lord," I said.

    14 So he said, "These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth."

  • We see some new symbols: "a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights", and "two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left." What are these to mean?
  • The Q&A following delivers: "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty. What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it! God bless it!' The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. "(These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth.)" - While the meaning of this is not clear just from this passage, it appears that we certainly get some clues as to what the 'seven spirits' before the throne of God are - by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, and - These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth. Something good to catalog.
  • And the two olive trees? "These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth." Is that Zerubbabel and Joshua? Who might they symbolize?

Zechariah 5

The Flying Scroll

    1 I looked again—and there before me was a flying scroll!

    2 He asked me, "What do you see?"
      I answered, "I see a flying scroll, thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide."

    3 And he said to me, "This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. 4 The LORD Almighty declares, 'I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in his house and destroy it, both its timbers and its stones.' "

The Woman in a Basket

    5 Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, "Look up and see what this is that is appearing."

    6 I asked, "What is it?"
      He replied, "It is a measuring basket." And he added, "This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land."

    7 Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! 8 He said, "This is wickedness," and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed the lead cover down over its mouth.

    9 Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.

    10 "Where are they taking the basket?" I asked the angel who was speaking to me.

    11 He replied, "To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When it is ready, the basket will be set there in its place."

  • We find some more symbols to catalog: a flying scroll - What is it? It is "the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished."
  • Another appearing: A measuring basket - What is it? "This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land." What was in it? A woman. "This is wickedness." What happened to it? It was carried by apparently female angels "To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When it is ready, the basket will be set there in its place."

Zechariah 6

Four Chariots

    1 I looked up again—and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains—mountains of bronze! 2 The first chariot had red horses, the second black, 3 the third white, and the fourth dappled—all of them powerful. 4 I asked the angel who was speaking to me, "What are these, my lord?"

    5 The angel answered me, "These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world. 6 The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south."

    7 When the powerful horses went out, they were straining to go throughout the earth. And he said, "Go throughout the earth!" So they went throughout the earth.

    8 Then he called to me, "Look, those going toward the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land of the north."

A Crown for Joshua

    9 The word of the LORD came to me: 10 "Take silver and gold from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon. Go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. 11 Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. 12 Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. 13 It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.' 14 The crown will be given to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the temple of the LORD. 15 Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the LORD, and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the LORD your God."

  • Yet more symbols: four chariots coming out of two mountains of bronze. Red, black, white, and dappled horses. Who are they? "These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world. The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south."
  • They were given permission to go out through all the earth, then "Look, those going toward the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land of the north."
  • Another prophecy with Joshua (Jesus): "make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua", and, "Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two." - Now that we have a few tools of understanding with us we can say that this is a prophecy both about the contemporary Joshua and the coming Branch (Jesus). Joshua has a role in the rebuilding of the temple that was destroyed by Babylon. What does Jesus have a role in? Is it the building of the temple that was torn down by the Romans in AD 70? Will a priest king rule in Israel again? Is it the spiritual temple in heaven, or the spiritual representation of the temple - the church? Maybe all of these? We remember again that this was written 500 years before the birth of Jesus. And we are being given some more understanding of the work of Jesus relative to what we are reading in the Book of Revelation.

Zechariah 7

Justice and Mercy, Not Fasting

    1 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev. 2 The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melech, together with their men, to entreat the LORD 3 by asking the priests of the house of the LORD Almighty and the prophets, "Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?"

    4 Then the word of the LORD Almighty came to me: 5 "Ask all the people of the land and the priests, 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? 6 And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? 7 Are these not the words the LORD proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?' "

    8 And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah: 9 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'

    11 "But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry.

    13 " 'When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,' says the LORD Almighty. 14 'I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land was left so desolate behind them that no one could come or go. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.' "

  • Does God really want fasting? i.e. adherence to rules? (especially if done selfishly) - "Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other."
  • A scattering of Israel. Had Israel been scattered? Yes, Assyria and Babylon scattered the people and broke Solomon's kingdom. They came back together in Zechariah's time and miraculously rebuilt the temple. Was there a subsequent scattering? Yes, in AD 70 Rome scattered Israel again. We learn that prophecies can be fulfilled more than once - that an earlier temporal fulfillment is a representation, shadow, or type of a latter one.

Zechariah 8

The LORD Promises to Bless Jerusalem

    1 Again the word of the LORD Almighty came to me. 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her."

    3 This is what the LORD says: "I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain."

    4 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. 5 The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there."

    6 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?" declares the LORD Almighty.

    7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. 8 I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God."

    9 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "You who now hear these words spoken by the prophets who were there when the foundation was laid for the house of the LORD Almighty, let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built. 10 Before that time there were no wages for man or beast. No one could go about his business safely because of his enemy, for I had turned every man against his neighbor. 11 But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as I did in the past," declares the LORD Almighty.

    12 "The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. 13 As you have been an object of cursing among the nations, O Judah and Israel, so will I save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong."

    14 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Just as I had determined to bring disaster upon you and showed no pity when your fathers angered me," says the LORD Almighty, 15 "so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah. Do not be afraid. 16 These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; 17 do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this," declares the LORD.

    18 Again the word of the LORD Almighty came to me. 19 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace."

    20 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, 21 and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, 'Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.' 22 And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him."

    23 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.' "

  • A prophecy: "I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain." Has this happened?
  • God will call his people back from all over the earth. After AD 70, Israel became a nation again - in 1948.
  • Another prophecy: "Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, 'Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.' And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him." This is what the LORD Almighty says: "In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.' " We can state that this has not happened in history.

Zechariah 9

Judgment on Israel's Enemies

   

An Oracle

    1 The word of the LORD is against the land of Hadrach
       and will rest upon Damascus—
       for the eyes of men and all the tribes of Israel
       are on the LORD—

    2 and upon Hamath too, which borders on it,
       and upon Tyre and Sidon, though they are very skillful.

    3 Tyre has built herself a stronghold;
       she has heaped up silver like dust,
       and gold like the dirt of the streets.

    4 But the Lord will take away her possessions
       and destroy her power on the sea,
       and she will be consumed by fire.

    5 Ashkelon will see it and fear;
       Gaza will writhe in agony,
       and Ekron too, for her hope will wither.
       Gaza will lose her king
       and Ashkelon will be deserted.

    6 Foreigners will occupy Ashdod,
       and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.

    7 I will take the blood from their mouths,
       the forbidden food from between their teeth.
       Those who are left will belong to our God
       and become leaders in Judah,
       and Ekron will be like the Jebusites.

    8 But I will defend my house
       against marauding forces.
       Never again will an oppressor overrun my people,
       for now I am keeping watch.

The Coming of Zion's King

    9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
       Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
       See, your king comes to you,
       righteous and having salvation,
       gentle and riding on a donkey,
       on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

    10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
       and the war-horses from Jerusalem,
       and the battle bow will be broken.
       He will proclaim peace to the nations.
       His rule will extend from sea to sea
       and from the River to the ends of the earth.

    11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
       I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.

    12 Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope;
       even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

    13 I will bend Judah as I bend my bow
       and fill it with Ephraim.
       I will rouse your sons, O Zion,
       against your sons, O Greece,
       and make you like a warrior's sword.

The LORD Will Appear

    14 Then the LORD will appear over them;
       his arrow will flash like lightning.
       The Sovereign LORD will sound the trumpet;
       he will march in the storms of the south,

    15 and the LORD Almighty will shield them.
       They will destroy
       and overcome with slingstones.
       They will drink and roar as with wine;
       they will be full like a bowl
       used for sprinkling the corners of the altar.

    16 The LORD their God will save them on that day
       as the flock of his people.
       They will sparkle in his land
       like jewels in a crown.

    17 How attractive and beautiful they will be!
       Grain will make the young men thrive,
       and new wine the young women.

  • Here a judgment of nations. Archeologists have proven that all of these things happened. The prophecies against these nations have been fulfilled.
  • Another prophecy fulfilled: Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. This very scene was fulfilled by Jesus more than 500 years after this was written.
  • Another prophecy: I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. - Peace for Israel and peace for the nations - the one who rides on the donkey will rule "from sea to sea and from the River (the Euphrates is meant) to the ends of the earth". Was this fulfilled in the church? Is his kingdom the spiritual kingdom of the church and his rule in the hearts of his believers throughout the earth. Certainly. But we could hardly say that history could be characterized by peace for Israel and peace for the nations - we just emerged from the bloodiest century on record - among that the Nazi holocaust. Will there be a historical reign of peace as well?
  • A prophecy of battle ensues - and we see God visible, trumpet sound, marching in the storm, and shielding his people, paving the way for victory - Has this happened?

Zechariah 10

The LORD Will Care for Judah

    1 Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime;
       it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds.
       He gives showers of rain to men,
       and plants of the field to everyone.

    2 The idols speak deceit,
       diviners see visions that lie;
       they tell dreams that are false,
       they give comfort in vain.
       Therefore the people wander like sheep
       oppressed for lack of a shepherd.

    3 "My anger burns against the shepherds,
       and I will punish the leaders;
       for the LORD Almighty will care
       for his flock, the house of Judah,
       and make them like a proud horse in battle.

    4 From Judah will come the cornerstone,
       from him the tent peg,
       from him the battle bow,
       from him every ruler.

    5 Together they will be like mighty men
       trampling the muddy streets in battle.
       Because the LORD is with them,
       they will fight and overthrow the horsemen.

    6 "I will strengthen the house of Judah
       and save the house of Joseph.
       I will restore them
       because I have compassion on them.
       They will be as though
       I had not rejected them,
       for I am the LORD their God
       and I will answer them.

    7 The Ephraimites will become like mighty men,
       and their hearts will be glad as with wine.
       Their children will see it and be joyful;
       their hearts will rejoice in the LORD.

    8 I will signal for them
       and gather them in.
       Surely I will redeem them;
       they will be as numerous as before.

    9 Though I scatter them among the peoples,
       yet in distant lands they will remember me.
       They and their children will survive,
       and they will return.

    10 I will bring them back from Egypt
       and gather them from Assyria.
       I will bring them to Gilead and Lebanon,
       and there will not be room enough for them.

    11 They will pass through the sea of trouble;
       the surging sea will be subdued
       and all the depths of the Nile will dry up.
       Assyria's pride will be brought down
       and Egypt's scepter will pass away.

    12 I will strengthen them in the LORD
       and in his name they will walk,"
       declares the LORD.

  • Another call for the gathering of Israel - and mighty triumph for the nation.

Zechariah 11

    1 Open your doors, O Lebanon,
       so that fire may devour your cedars!

    2 Wail, O pine tree, for the cedar has fallen;
       the stately trees are ruined!
       Wail, oaks of Bashan;
       the dense forest has been cut down!

    3 Listen to the wail of the shepherds;
       their rich pastures are destroyed!
       Listen to the roar of the lions;
       the lush thicket of the Jordan is ruined!

Two Shepherds

    4 This is what the LORD my God says: "Pasture the flock marked for slaughter. 5 Their buyers slaughter them and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, 'Praise the LORD, I am rich!' Their own shepherds do not spare them. 6 For I will no longer have pity on the people of the land," declares the LORD. "I will hand everyone over to his neighbor and his king. They will oppress the land, and I will not rescue them from their hands."

    7 So I pastured the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one Favor and the other Union, and I pastured the flock. 8 In one month I got rid of the three shepherds.
      The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them 9 and said, "I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another's flesh."

    10 Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11 It was revoked on that day, and so the afflicted of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the LORD.

    12 I told them, "If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it." So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

    13 And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter"-the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter.

    14 Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

    15 Then the LORD said to me, "Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. 16 For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hoofs.

    17 "Woe to the worthless shepherd,
       who deserts the flock!
       May the sword strike his arm and his right eye!
       May his arm be completely withered,
       his right eye totally blinded!"

  • A prophecy against Lebanon and the Jordan river.
  • A prophecy of shepherds and staffs - and thirty pieces of silver. Since there is a clear prophetic anchor in this passage it seems that the shepherds and the flock marked for slaughter represent leadership of the Jewish people as well as the people themselves around the time of Jesus. Political leaders or religious leaders? Let's say all. Central to the prophecy is the price paid for God - 30 pieces of silver. This prophecy was fulfilled more than 500 years after this was written when Jesus - the God-man - was betrayed by Judas for 30 pieces of silver. Overcome by guilt, according to Matthew, Judas returned the money to the temple and hung himself, subsequently the 'Potter's Field' was purchased with the money - called the Field of Blood. Acts says that he bought the Field of Blood with the 30 pieces himself and met an awful death there. In any event, God broke his covenant with Israel that day - the day Jesus was crucified (I prefer the reading 'people' or 'kinsmen' - the Hebrew certainly allows it - over 'nations' in regard to the staff Favor). Subsequently, God broke the union between Israel and Judah.
  • Prophecy of the foolish shepherd - could this have been Caligula, Nero? Certainly. Could they have been symbols like Joshua has been in this book? Perhaps. There is a sense of a particularly singular, evil leader in the passage.

Zechariah 12

Jerusalem's Enemies to Be Destroyed

 

An Oracle

    1 This is the word of the LORD concerning Israel. The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares: 2 "I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. 3 On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. 4 On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness," declares the LORD. "I will keep a watchful eye over the house of Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations. 5 Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts, 'The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the LORD Almighty is their God.'

    6 "On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.

    7 "The LORD will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem's inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah. 8 On that day the LORD will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the LORD going before them. 9 On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.

Mourning for the One They Pierced

    10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 11 On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, 13 the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, 14 and all the rest of the clans and their wives.

  • Prophecy of a battle between Israel (Judah) and the nations. Supernatural intervention protects Jerusalem.
  • In the midst of this battle we reach the reference that we see in Revelation 1. Let's put it in prophetic context. We've been given several symbols - those regarding heavenly things are more difficult to understand than those that are what we commonly experience. We've met Joshua the hight priest, symbol of Yeshua ben Joseph: Jesus. He is to be a priest king. He arrives in Jerusalem on a donkey. He is paid for with 30 pieces of silver. God renders a judgment that breaks the covenant he had with the nation of Israel and they are decimated through history. At some point an evil shepherd will appear. Some terrible war is about to break out - and here we are: "They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son." In Revelation 1:7 we read: Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him." In Zechariah it appears that the view is from the perspective of the nation of Israel - they are the ones who pierced Jesus. But they will recognize him for who he is at that moment and their eyes will be opened and they will mourn and grieve. This grief extends for them beyond just seeing Jesus and knowing who he is - because something else appears to be immanent. There is a reference to Meggido - in the Greek known as Armageddon. In Revelation we see a little different perspective - coming with the clouds - the way he ascended he will return - the clouds could be multitudes of angels (We'll look further at Matthew 24 later, here's verse 30-31: "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.")  - every eye - this will be a globally visible event (perhaps not possible prior to the advent of sattelite television) - even those who pierced him - this is the perspective of the house of David, the people of Jerusalem - and all the world will mourn because of him - not just because of who he is - but because of what is going to happen subsequent to his return. Revelation puts this in a temporal context - it is after Jesus has risen and has ascended into heaven that this will occur. In Zechariah, it is after the evil shepherd has appeared and in the midst of an impending war.

Zechariah 13

Cleansing From Sin

    1 "On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

    2 "On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more," declares the LORD Almighty. "I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. 3 And if anyone still prophesies, his father and mother, to whom he was born, will say to him, 'You must die, because you have told lies in the LORD's name.' When he prophesies, his own parents will stab him.

    4 "On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his prophetic vision. He will not put on a prophet's garment of hair in order to deceive. 5 He will say, 'I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth.' 6 If someone asks him, 'What are these wounds on your body?' he will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.'

The Shepherd Struck, the Sheep Scattered

    7 "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
       against the man who is close to me!"
       declares the LORD Almighty.
       "Strike the shepherd,
       and the sheep will be scattered,
       and I will turn my hand against the little ones.

    8 In the whole land," declares the LORD,
       "two-thirds will be struck down and perish;
       yet one-third will be left in it.

    9 This third I will bring into the fire;
       I will refine them like silver
       and test them like gold.
       They will call on my name
       and I will answer them;
       I will say, 'They are my people,'
       and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.' "

  • This is a difficult passage - it is subsequent in time from the return of Jesus (because Revelation 1 puts it in that context) - I think it is difficult significantly because of English translations - early expositors were not really attuned to what they were reading. The shepherd prophet described here is an imposter - not Jesus. "He will not put on a prophet's garment of hair in order to deceive" - to me is a reference to Jacob (who became Israel), deceiving his father Isaac because he wanted Esau's blessing. This shepherd won't deceive that way - he will deceive with his tongue. "The passage: "If someone asks him, 'What are these wounds on your body?' he will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.' " could just as reasonably be translated "If someone askes him 'Where did you get your penis pierced?' he will answer, 'I was pierced at the house of my lovers.'". It is perhaps that this language ambiguity is characteristic of his deception. We can certainly understand the deconstruction of meaning in language. This is a description of a time when spiritual appeal is empty. This shepherd prophet does not claim to be a prophet but rather a businessman - a merchant - but that's a lie - he is a prophet - a false one.
  • There is a prophecy of judgment against the wicked shepherd and those living on the earth. (I told you this was a difficult passage.) Though the context of Chapter 12 and the first part of Chapter 13 refer to an evil shepherd, Jesus clearly references the latter part of Chapter 13 to himself in Matthew 26:31 and Mark 14:27. This must be one of those 'outside of time' parenthetical references - and after multiple readings, it is apparent that it changes the tenor of what has been prophesied in Chapter 12 and 13 so far. Instead of 'in that day', it is spoken judgment - with an immediacy to it. I still feel that there is some duality of meaning here - but it is clear that God wants us to understand something about the value of his judgement on his own son in the context of the 'on that day' period of time when things are described to happen which have not happened in the history of the world so far. The binding up of sin occurred in one act on the stage of history, The sheep are scattered as well. Two-thirds of the people will perish. One-third will be refined and come to know God. (Thanks to Henry Martin for the comments).

Zechariah 14

The LORD Comes and Reigns

    1 A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you.

    2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.

    3 Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. 5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

    6 On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. 7 It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light.

    8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter.

    9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

    10 The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. 11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.

    12 This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 On that day men will be stricken by the LORD with great panic. Each man will seize the hand of another, and they will attack each other. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. 15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.

    16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

    20 On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. 21 Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty.

  • We see a prophecy that appears to be the wrapping up of history. There is another great battle described. This time "On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter." These events have certainly never happened in history and it seems such details would have little meaning in any attempt to make them abstract or symbolic.
  • There is a plague prescribed for those that fight against God, against Jerusalem - it reads rather like atomic radiation - it certainly is a terrible fate.
  • There is a prophecy of celebration of worship of the priest king - celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, and no more merchants in the temple.

Whew! Well, that was a pretty spectacular ride. If you are still with me, congratulations. Almost done.

Let's summarize what we have learned: Zechariah teaches us about how to understand some aspects of prophetic writings - it has much the same feel as Revelation does - they are both Apocalyptic literature.

God makes prophecies ahead of time and they come true, prophetic signs of spiritual meaning take the form of symbols that are clearly to be understood spiritually - and probably because we can't comprehend the actual reality of what the symbols represent. Prophetic signs that relate to our normal experience of time and history are very straightforward: Joshua, prefigures Jesus - they have the same name, they are high priests, they are crowned as priest king. Joshua is Joshua and he is prophesied about in the same passage as Jesus is and the prophecy about him and Jesus are true at the same time. Jesus rides on a donkey, Jesus is paid for with 30 pieces of silver. Jesus reigns as priest king.

There are also a series of prophesies described in the same vein as Jesus riding on a donkey or being paid for with 30 pieces of silver - battles, Jesus appearing to those who pierced him, God dealing with a deceitful shepherd, Jesus standing on the Mount of Olives, a unique day or time period in terms of the illumination of the earth, a river flowing east/west from Jerusalem, all nations going to Jerusalem to worship God - who is present there. I believe that these are put in this perspective to teach us about interpretation - these things, because they describe events in every day language are meant to be understood exactly like the things that we can see in hindsight have been fulfilled. There may have been interpreters of Zechariah that said in the time of his writing his book that the king riding on a donkey meant something about the humility of the messiah and nothing more. He would have been right about humility, but he would have been wrong about the historical fulfillment of this plain language describing an actual event in history. It is precisely the demonstration of proof of prophecy that forms the basis of truth testing for the scriptures and we should be very careful should we want to treat these things otherwise.

What's in our 'spiritual objects' catalog? Horse riders that are spiritual beings, four horns - that scattered the Jews, four craftsmen - that will throw down the horns, a lampstand with seven lights, a bowl, and seven channels - the action of God's spirit, and the 'seven eyes of God', two olive trees - two anointed to serve God, a flying scroll - a judgment of God, a woman in a basket sent to Babylon - iniquity and wickedness, four chariots with four colors of horse - spiritual beings sent out into the earth, the Branch - Jesus, the staffs of Favor and Union - the covenant between God and Israel and the kinship of Israel and Judah respectively.

Some of these things are obscure and we could spend a good amount of time researching them. I don't think we need to. Rather, I think they are given to us at this point in reading Revelation to assist us - like a 'toolkit'. Perhaps they will be of some use to us as we go forward.

It also certainly seems that there is a confirmation for us tackling this whole book at this point - we have received a certain amount of illumination about the 'seven spirits before his throne'. While we can agree that this is certainly the Holy Spirit - there is richer meaning intended by John in the passage - and Zechariah clues us in that this is the Providential aspect of the Spirit of God - John is telling us that God the Father through the mystery of action of his Spirit engaged man in history - "not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit" - in the work of his Son Jesus - for me, futher evidence that we are intended to see the Triune God active across the whole of history - this is fundamental to understanding that the things that happen in the Book of Revelation do not end sometime in our temporal past - they represent the whole scope of history. God is here repeatedly telling us: the Triune God is active in the present in these many ways, the Triune God did these things at specific points in time in the past in these many ways, and the Triune God will do things from this point on until the end of time. If you search the scriptures for the 'eyes of the Lord' you will find hundreds of instances.

Concluding with verse 8, we see this theme repeated once again: "I am the Alpha and the Omega" says the Lord God, "who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." This is the first instance of the words "Alpha and Omega" in scripture - we can think of it as first and last, beginning and end, the first word and the last word - God transcends history and this Book is in some way about that.

And so, we come to the conclusion of this part of Chapter 1. If you have read this far, congratulations, and thanks. I would appreciate your thoughts as well.



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People Pulling

Some thoughts on the scroll:

Zechariah 5
The Flying Scroll

1 I looked again and there before me was a flying scroll!

2 He asked me, "What do you see?"
I answered, "I see a flying scroll, thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide."

Simply put, drawn from the measurements in Exodus 26, the "holy place," that part of the tabernacle in front of the holy of holies, is exactly thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide. How is it that this area, where the priests offer daily sacrifices, is used the same as the scroll that is "the curse that is going out over the whole land"? The identification is clear: Our High Priests, in redeeming his people, is at the same time condemning the lost -- this is the great divide! We see this later in the bowl judgements (but that is getting ahead of ourselves).

EMCEE: Henry - Thanks for the comment - excellent point. We're going to do quite a bit of 'temple work' while still in Chapter 1.

Posted by: Henry Martin at May 19, 2005 6:08:38 PM

Zechariah 13:

2 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.
3 And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.
4 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:
5 But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.
6 And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

This appears to be a prophecy fulfilled in the intertestamental period, a time when the people returned to the land to forsake idols, and prophets serving such false gods, forever. The so-called prophets reject the title, knowing that they have not heard from the true God. Matthew Henry sees them as repentant, though I am not sure.

Zechariah 13:
7 ¶ Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.
8 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.
9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

This passage, however, cannot be applied to the "false prophets" that are rejected, but indeed must refer to the Messiah. The over-riding reason for this interpretation would be LITERAL fulfilment sited in the Gospels: Matthew 26:31, Mark 14:27

Jesus was that shepherd that was smitten, and his sheep were scattered. However, they would return to the fold - even, or perhaps especially, through much tribulation. When we consider the whole of the Bible - especially the New Testament use of the Old Testament - it is hard not to see the CHURCH as the "Jerusalem" that the Old Testament prophets are seeing. The Church is that "place where YHWH has chosen to dwell."

We cannot lose sight of this apparent identification as we continue in our study of Christ's "apokolupsis" in which He opens up the endtimes through obvious allusions and citations to the Scriptures that John and his readers would know quite well.

EMCEE: Henry, because of Matthew 26:31, Mark 14:27 it is clear that I was incorrect in identification of the stricken shepherd with the false shepherd. Thanks for the elucidation. I'm going to rethink this and alter my post to reflect your input. We can always refer to this comment if anyone ever says that I won't admit it when I am wrong :)Thanks.

Posted by: Henry Martin at May 22, 2005 2:32:38 PM

It seems like it is just the two of us. You have yet to change the text to reflect Jesus as the shepherd. The whole passage seems to be referring to Jesus' first coming. The phrase "in that day" appears throughout. 13:1 sets the pace -- it was in his first coming that Jesus cleansed us from our sin. That verse is reflected in Rev. 1:5. You are right that Zechariah is an important prophetic blueprint upon whic to draw. However, we must not "read into" it our chronology. As you have pointed out, God is ourside of time. Since the striden shepherd is identified in the NT as Jesus, this vision must not follow chapter 12. I suppose "that day" must be understood as "in the 'last days'" where "last days" is in some real sense the Messianic (or Church) Age.

EMCEE: Well, Henry, it is a difficult navigation to be sure - and you are correct that 'on that day' carries significance here. But, Chapter 12 - as referenced from Revelation 1 establishes the context of 'on that day' to the Second Coming of Christ (since Revelation 1 was written AFTER his first coming.) Many events described in Chapter 12 have not yet happened. The second part of Chapter 13 is parenthetical - and you are correct again that it is 'timeless' - but I think it is the spoken judgment of God on his son in the singular event of the crucifixion. The binding up of sin happened at one point in history - and it is sufficient for the end of time as well. I am willing to learn more as we move forward from here.

Posted by: Henry Martin at May 29, 2005 6:38:09 PM

Again, we have to be careful with the reference to time. The very phrase that brought us to Zechariah had it's PRIMARY fulfilment at the crucifixion. First, the prophecy:

Zechariah 12:
10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 11 On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, 13 the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, 14 and all the rest of the clans and their wives.

The first phrase, "I will pour out ... a spirit of grace and supplication," could easily be seen as a prophecy of the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is especially true when we realize that John himself refers to this very passage in his Gospel as being fulfilled at the Crucifixion (the very act for which the people of Jerusalem will mourn - 3000 being saved in one day!) --

John 19:
34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

His subsequent reference here in the Revelation would then be a SECOND fuflilment. It could also be said that the REST of the passage, alluded to as "all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him," is a second fulfilment. The thousands that came to Christ in Jerusalem at Pentecost certainly fit. This might explain the "parenthetical" or perhaps "timeless" prophecy of chapter 13.

EMCEE: Henry, I appreciate your communication very much. In this case I do disagree. What you are proposing is really a sort of preterist stretch. Indeed, what brought us to Zechariah is a prophecy that is future of the time of John's writing of Revelation - we are being repeatedly told in tripartite messages about present, past, and future. 'Coming with clouds' is directly linked to Zechariah 12, which is in the midst of political promises to Israel which cannot be said to have happened. Verse 10 of Chapter 12 cannot possibly be Pentecost because Pentecost had already occurred at the time of John's writing of Revelation - "who is to come". John 19 is not the fulfillment of the passage in Revelation (except in the context that the 'piercing' is part of what had to occur) - it enables its fulfillment. It cannot be said that "every eye saw him", or that "the nations of the earth mourned because of him" at the crucifixion. The apostle in John 19 is pointing out the enabling of the prophecy in Zechariah - without the piercing of Christ (in the past) the future prophecy of "Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him" could not happen. Unlike John 19 which demonstrates the relationship to Zechariah, the record in Acts 2 does not reference Zechariah 12 - it references Joel and does it in such a way that the prophecy continues through the last days.

Interestingly, I did some thinking on the "clans" mentioned in this passage. The clan of David most assuredly refers to the kingly line, of which Zerubabel was certainly member. He was also of the line of Nathan, David's son. And then the clans of Levi, the priestly line, would include Joshua, the high priest. Shimei was the great grandson of Levi (though not a progenitor of Aaron). This PROBABLY refers to the Levites apart from the priests (such as Zechariah himself - Ezra 8:16 [along with another Nathan]). All in all, this points nicely to a "kings and priests."

EMCEE: I agree that Zerubabel and Joshua were the subject of some of this prophecy as well as symbols for future political prophecy that will yet be fulfilled.

It seems that much of eschatology is "trans-temporal" with fulfilments being fulfilled across time, or perhaps even "outside" of it (as we will see later - "the Lamb slain... 13:8")!

EMCEE: I agree with the sense of 'trans-temporal' - from God's point of view - not ours. We are bound by the arrow of time - and our relationship to the universe is bound by that arrow. As I have stated, God is outside of that arrow of time and sees all of the history of the universe as a tableau - in a way that we likely cannot comprehend. But that doesn't mean that prophecy is not fulfilled in the context of history - it is - and that demonstrates God's ability to act in the context of history and achieve his will.

Posted by: Henry Martin at May 30, 2005 6:40:26 PM

Of course Pentecost had happened at the time of Revelation. But suppose we are mistaken that this verse is a QUOTE of Zechariah 12:10. If this is an allusion to the Jews as a nation (who, technically did not do the piercing) then the prophecy in Zechariah points to the fact and the prophecy in Revelation refers back to it. The Zechariah prophecy does not mention the whole world as does Revelation 1. It is agreed that John is prophecying a future event. The problem is he, QUOTED the verse in regards to the Crucifixion. He only alludes to it (in referring to the Jews) in prophecying the Second Coming.

EMCEE: Psalm 22:6 and Isaiah 53:5 also offer prophecy of Jesus' piercing - but it is Zechariah that I am inexorably driven to because of the context of Revelation 1:7 and its contextual 'sameness' with Zechariah 12:10. No other prophecies talk about 'looking on' or 'seeing him' and 'mourning' because of him. I don't mean to be frustrating, but the reference in John 19 is just necessary to establish the 'piercing' - at some point - and it was the singular point of history - Christ's sacrifice - the piercing took place as a consequence of "Crucify him!". The flow of blood an water demonstrated that Jesus died of a broken heart and it is God's mourning for his chosen people that will be returned when Jesus "comes with the clouds".

This is what I mean by trans-temporal fulfilment. The events have everlasting consequences, and perhaps some prophecies have double fulfilments.

Could it be that TWO groups of Jews are referred to as looking on the One who they pierced? The ones who looked and believed (at Pentecost, many having seen the crucifixion) and those that did not believe (and see him at the Judgment seat, see Phil. 2:10)?

EMCEE: I don't see it that way because of the temporal separation specified by Zechariah 12:10 and Revelation 1:7 - both future from our perspective. I'll remain open to learn as we continue.

Posted by: Henry Martin at May 31, 2005 8:26:29 PM

You challenged:

If you search the scriptures for the 'eyes of the Lord' you will find hundreds of instances.

I answered the challenge:

Eyes of the Lord: 22 x in the KJV, 24 X in the Hebrew.

Face of the Lord: 7 x in KJV, 9 x in the Hebrew.

Pressence of the Lord: 13 x in 11 verses.

Looks to be around 44 times, all told.

Sorry, I kinda yanked real hard, huh? :-)

EMCEE: Henry, my reference was based on a search query on the NIV - the results are here which delivers 192 matches. After reviewing my query, it is apparent that this also matched other like phrases, like "eyes of our lord", "eyes of my lord", "in his eyes", "in your eyes", and, unfortunately, some other matches that reflect on the subject rather than the Lord - like "your very eyes" - referring to Israel instead of the Lord. An exact match for "eyes of the Lord" yields 88 matches in the NIV. So, I'll go with something over 100 that match the intent of my point - we can certainly conclude that it is significantly presented. Good catch though. I'm glad to have someone looking after me :)

Posted by: Henry Martin at May 31, 2005 8:46:30 PM

On the "eyes of the Lord" -- I forgot the synonym "in the sight of the Lord." That gets 74 hits in the KJV search. When I add that to the 24 for "eyes of the Lord" I come up with 98. Though I have not checked, I am pretty sure most of those (in the OT) would be translations of "Ayin YHWH." And so, I stand corrected. I knew it was an important phrase, but at least an "around a hundred" would be a good estimate.

Posted by: Henry Martin at Jun 1, 2005 7:12:30 PM

We could go on and on about the appropriate "sameness" of the passages (Zech. 12:10 and Rev. 1:7). However, I believe it is mandatory that we let Scripture interpret Scripture. That is why, when John specifically quotes Zech 12:10 as being fulfilled at the Crucifixion, we must look at the passage in Zechariah in light of the stated fulfilment. That would mean that its PRIMARY fulfilment would be within the sacrifice, and not in the coming day of judgment.

The subsequent referral to the passage (or at least phrase) ties the new prophecy to the old. I agree, the Sacrifice of Christ - viewed by the Jews -- will reach its final purpose when He comes again. That purpose will include the redemption of those BELIEVING Jews at that time.

There is a lot in Zechariah that IS future to us, as we will certainly find out in the coming months as we return to this overview for its symbols and predictions. I am not sure how the chronology of Zechariah, though, will effect the chronology of the Revelation. The Revelation will stand on its own as we decide whether or not there is a discernable Chronology (be it historist, or totally futurist).

Posted by: Henry Martin at Jun 1, 2005 7:34:26 PM

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