Minor Prophets XVII: Zechariah 7-14
We saw last week that God was calling Israel to see the work of rebuilding the temple as a cosmic reality – that as they put God and His worship first, God would be remaking the world, scattering their enemies, and exalting His people. The rest of Zechariah is a series of messages that continue to fill this picture out as they continue this work.
The Text: The structure of the second half of Zechariah clearly intends to highlight some of the same points as the first half. The whole section is sandwiched by the themes of worship and feasting. Zech. 6:9-8:23 is about the ordination of Joshua as High Priest and God’s plan to turn Israel’s fasts into feasts for the nations. Zech. 14 closes with the same themes of feasting and priestly service, conspicuously promising that the plate from the crown of the High Priest will now be engraved on everything, down to the bells on the horses. The center of these bookends is a three-fold stair-step pattern doubled: judgment, Israel pictured as God’s armor, and a new Exodus (9-10, repeated in 11-13).
Structure of Zech. 6-14:
- Crowning Joshua High Priest (6:9-15)
- Fasting to Feasting for the Nations (7-8)
- Judgment on Nations (9:1-8)
- God’s People are Weapons (9:11-17)
- God will lead Israel in a New Exodus (10:1-12)
- Judgment on Israel/Nations (11:1-17)
- God’s People are Weapons (12:1-9)
- God will lead Israel in a New Exodus (13:1-14:15)
- Feast of Tabernacles for the World (14:16-19)
- Holiness to the Lord on the Bells (14:20-21)
Fulfilled in Jesus
There are a number of specific prophecies in this part of Zechariah that are cited by the gospel writers as being fulfilled by Jesus. The coming of Israel’s King to judge the nations and set His people free (9:1-19) is fulfilled on Palm Sunday in the gospels (e.g. Mt. 21:1ff). When Zechariah sees many of the leaders/shepherds being judged and Israel being pulled apart (11:1-17), we have one of the prophecies of the betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (11:13, cf. Mt. 27:9-10). God says He will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the nations (12:1-9). In that day, God will pour His Spirit on the house of David and Jerusalem and they will look on God whom they have pierced (12:10) which John says was fulfilled in the crucifixion of Jesus (Jn. 19:37). Later, God says He will awaken a sword to strike His own Shepherd and scatter the flock, but by this action one-third of the people will be refined like silver and tested as gold (13:2-9). Matthew and Mark say that this is fulfilled when Jesus is arrested and crucified (Mt. 26:31, Mk. 14:27).
Conclusions & Applications
Like the first half of Zechariah, God is teaching His people to see with the eyes of faith what He is planning for the world. But God’s plan is specifically framed by worship and feasting. As God’s people reestablish worship in Jerusalem, God is going to show up to judge the wicked shepherds, He will come like a King riding on a donkey, and He will lift up His people like a sword, like a bow, like a banner, like a crown. He will be sold like a worthless shepherd, He will be pierced and they will mourn, but even as He is struck and the sheep are scattered, God will be opening a fountain of living waters, flowing out to heal the nations, and then they will gather to rejoice before Him in holiness. First off, when we piece this all together notice that this is clearly a prophecy of the good news of Jesus. But second, notice that the key fulfillments of this prophecy happened hundreds of years after the temple was completed.
There’s something inherent in God and the way He works where He seems to delight in this kind of suspense. Do this seemingly insignificant or strange thing here and now and then wait five hundred years. It’s going to be great. Abraham built altars in the land 500 years before God gave it to Israel, and Zechariah urged Israel to build the temple 500 years before God walked into the world as a man. To be a Christian, to worship Jesus is to believe in the long game. Do you believe in the long game? Do believe God can be trusted for the future? We are an insanely impatient people. We demand immediate results, immediate gratification, but this is like taking a bit out of loaf of bread before its done baking. The long game means telling the truth. The long game means giving generously. The long game means serving cheerfully and unnoticed. The long game means disciplining our children. It means honoring the marriage bed. This is why we pray. This is why we sing. This is why we read and laugh and feast. The promise of Zechariah is that by God’s grace He lifts us up and wears us as armor and weapons in His hand to bring His justice to the world. And Jesus is God’s confirmation that this promise is true.