Study Notes

Zechariah 1:1-6


We have just finished the Ezra, a book which described the days when the Israelites were allowed to leave the Babylonian Captivity, return home to Jerusalem, and rebuild the destroyed temple.

The rebuilding encountered some difficult opposition at times - first being slowed down, then completely stopped. At the end of chapter four of Ezra, we read,

Ezra 4:24 Then work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased, and it was stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

But chapter five began with a message of hope. It said,

Ezra 5:1-2 When the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of , prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them, then Zer-oob-baw-BEL the son of Sheh-al-tee-ALE and Yay-SHOO-ah the son of Yo-tsaw-DAWK arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them supporting them.

As you recall, we looked at Haggai's prophecy to the people, the one which got them going again.

He told them that while they were living in their paneled houses, the house of God was not being rebuilt. He told them to consider their ways - how, no matter how hard they worked and saved, they were not being blessed. God was telling them that they would not be blessed unless they began to be obedient. God had called them to do a work, and He expected it to be done.

This prophecy was given...

Hag. 1:1 In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month...

1:1 Zechariah

Two months after Haggai had prophecied to the people and got them back to work on the temple, God spoke to Zechariah, the son of Beh-rek-YAW, the son of Id-DO.

Who was Zechariah? It's not a simple question, for there are more than 25 men in the Bible who have that name! We know that he was one of the Jews to return from the Babylonian Captivity with Zer-oob-baw-BEL and Yay-SHOO-ah. He is described in 2:4 as a "young man," so we have to assume that he was born in Babylon, well after the Israelites were exiled.

We know that he was a prophet, and that his prophecies tell of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, of the antichrist and the devil. He tells of the coming of Christ and His Millennial Reign.

Other than those facts, we are only knowledgable about his death. In Matthew 23:35 and Luke 11:51, Jesus tells us that he was killed by the Jews' ancestors, calling him...

Matt. 23:35 ...Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

Like so many of the prophets, the people got to a point of hardness in their hearts that they would no longer tolerate the exposing of their sin.

1:2-3 Return To Me That I May Return To You

Zechariah tells the Jews who have returned from the Babylonian Captivity that God had been angry with their fathers. In fact, Jeremiah had told that generation that because of their rebellion to God's commands, the people would suffer at the hands of their enemies. Many would be killed, and the rest taken captive for seventy years.

2Chr. 36:20-21 And those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.

God had been angry with the people for rejecting His rule. They suffered greatly for their rebellion. But God had also promised to be merciful.

Jer. 29:10-14 "For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find {Me,} when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'"

God had told them in advance that He would bring them back into the land after 70 years. And He knew that after He'd brought them back, they would call out for Him, praying to Him, and seeking after Him.

It is unfortunate that many people who fall into sin believe that they can never be forgiven, that they are beyond restoration and forgiveness. It simply is not true. He tells them "return to me that I may return to you." James told us in a very straightforward way,

James 4:8-10 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

God wants to hear from sinners. God wants to restore the broken-hearted. God desires that all would return to Him.

1:4 The Former Prophets

When Zechariah spoke of the former prophets who preached that the people needed to return to God from their evil ways, he could have been talking about all of the prophets that God had ever raised up.

But I think that the ones he is specifically speaking of are the ones that we read about in Kings and Chronicles, those who had been raised up by God in the generations before the Babylonian Captivity. 2Kings 17 says that the Israelites

2Kgs. 17:9-18 And the sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right, against the LORD their God. Moreover, they built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. And they set for themselves {sacred} pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they burned incense on all the high places as the nations {did} which the LORD had carried away to exile before them; and they did evil things provoking the LORD. And they served idols, concerning which the LORD had said to them, "You shall not do this thing." Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah, through all His prophets {and} every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets." However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and {went} after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them. And they forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God and made for themselves molten images, {even} two calves, and made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him. So the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight...

God had communicated through these prophets that He wanted the people to come back to Him. He wanted them to turn from their sin. But they refused to listen, and were removed. God was now reminding their descendants through Zechariah of this fact.

1:5-6 My Words Overtook Them

God asks them, "Where are your fathers now?" Indeed, they had perished, just as God had said. Some were killed when the Assyrians and Babylonians invaded. Others were taken off into slavery and captivity, and eventually died outside of the Land of Israel.

God's Words and His Law had overtaken them. Like a predator, or an oncoming army, the curses of disobedience caught up to them and destroyed them.

But God is not only a God of vengeance, for His blessings also sneak up on us. If the people had followed His commands, there was an opposite promise of being overtaken. Deuteronomy 28 says,

Deut. 28:1-2 "Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the LORD your God."

God's blessings can jump on us from behind just as easily as the curses. Life is a surprise just waiting to happen - amazing and unexpected things waiting to leap from behind and land on us. Do we want those things to be curses or blessings? If we want curses, we should disregard God's commands and pursue the desires of our flesh. If we want blessings, we should walk in obedience to the Lord, denying our flesh.

The people of Israel didn't repent until God had dealt with them - the curses had jumped on them. I pray that we will not have to learn the hard way as well.

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