7) The vision of the candlestick of gold and the olive trees; 4,1-14.
Verse 1 And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, Verse 2 And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all [of] gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which [are] upon the top thereof.
The phrase come again, and waked me does not mean that Zachariah slept. It describes a condition that are common among God’s servants when they receive visions from heaven. Even E. G. White was completely lost to the world when she received her visions and did not heeded what was around her. The phrase come again, and waked me means briefly that the prophet concentrated on the last vision he had, and that the angel led Zachariah´s attention from one vision to that other. We find similar events in the book of Daniel: Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me and set me upright, Danie 8,18 …//… Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. Daniel 10,8-9. When Daniel uses a deep sleep this is a pictorial representation of how focused Daniel was on vision. When we are in deep sleep there is nothing else that affects us.
I am still of the opinion that there are no coincidences in the Bible. This view is reminiscent of a vision we have in Revelation, where we admittedly see seven candlesticks of gold. In Zachariah, they are described as a candlestick all [of] gold but it is also said that there are seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which [are] upon the top thereof. I mean this describes the same. The candlestick in the old Tabernacle had seven lamps: And thou shalt make a candlestick [of] pure gold: [of] beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same, Exodus 25,31 …//… And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it, Exodus 25,37.
There are many bouncy explanations of what this is, but I mean we have with God’s people to do, and in our context, the Church, something Revelation 1,20 tells us. This we will also, in my opinion, get a confirmation of in Chapter 5. The parallel to Zechariah 4,2 can be found in Revelation 1,12: And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks … and this verse is explained in verse 20 by the angel who came to John as follows: The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches, (Revelation 1,20) …//… Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write, These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, Revelation 2,1.
Verse 3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right [side] of the bowl, and the other upon the left [side] thereof. Verse 4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, what [are] these, my lord? Verse 5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
Me in this chapter is Zechariah, who gets to see this vision. Zechariah did not know what or who the two olive trees were, so the angel gives him help to understand. It can be difficult to understand what or who these two olive trees are. In these verses, the help of Zechariah is given as a clue, and this can help us to find out who these witnesses are. There are several resilient explanations of who the two olive trees are, and many claim this is Moses and Elijah, but it is not coherent with the Bible. Olive trees give us olive oil, and the olive oil was used in the lamps to light up in the darkness. We must not overlook the clear symbolism that lies in this. These two olive trees stand next to the seven lamps (candlesticks of gold) in verse 2. But what do the two olive trees do? They supply the lamps with a steady stream of oil so that they do not go out, and thus can light up in the dark.
In Revelation 11,4 we learn that these two olive trees stand before the God of the earth, and here in Zechariah 4,14 it is said that there are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. We know that Jesus calls himself the true vine, but here we are talking about two olive trees, so then it cannot be Jesus it is about. We must look at the connection between Revelation 11,4 and Zechariah 4,14, which say that the two olive trees and the two anointed ones stand before the Lord of the whole earth. Let us take a closer look at Zechariah 4,3; 4,14 and Revelation 11,4: Zechariah 4,3 And two olive trees by it … … Zechariah 4,14 … … these [are] the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth … … Revelation 11,4 These are the two olive trees … … standing before the God of the earth. The Bible and Jesus give us the answer through what Jesus says in John 5,39: Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. Jesus calls the scriptures witnesses, and Peter calls the scriptures the prophetic word … (2 Peter 1,19).
Olive oil is used in the Bible as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has lit two great candles in the world: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The two witnesses are the Bible. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament speak of the origin of God’s law and of its eternal validity, and both testify to the plan of salvation. The types, the sacrifices, and the prophecies of the Old Testament point to a Saviour to come. The Gospels and letters of the New Testament tell of a Saviour who came exactly as the types and prophecies foretold.
Verse 6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, this [is] the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
All the work in the Kingdom of God, be it the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem at the time of Zechariah, or the spreading of the Gospel in our day can only succeed if we let God lead the work. Therefore, not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit. Thus, the two olive trees are the Bible, which used properly, will call people to come to God’s Church, not by might, nor by power, but with the Holy Spirit: We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts, 2 Peter 1,19.
Verse 7 Who [art] thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel [thou shalt become] a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone [thereof with] shoutings, [crying], Grace, grace unto it.
Mountains are used in the Bible as a symbol of political or religious power, and such power can be difficult to relate to. They can be seen as difficulties, and here in Zechariah they can be used about the difficulties that Zerubbabel was to face in connection with the rebuilding of the temple and Jerusalem. Since this mountain will become a plain in front of Zerubbabel, we can assume that it is about the power that opposes God which are the difficulties that Zerubbabel faces, but which will be overcome with God’s help, not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit saith the LORD. Zerubbabel was Judah’s governor after the second return that followed the second decree issued in the year 516.
In the introduction to Haggai’s book, the returning Jews were rebuked because they were not willing to rebuild the temple and the city. These may also be some of the difficulties that Zerubbabel faced. In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, 2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, this people say, the time is not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built, Haggai 1,1-2.
The headstone to be presented cannot be anything but a description of a future event, Jesus’ first coming that would crush the power of Satan, and not least Jesus’ first coming led to the foundation of the Church. This can also be interpreted in the light of Zechariah´s contemporary so that the city and the temple will be rebuilt despite obstacles, large as mountains.
Verse 8 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying: Verse 9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. Verse 10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel [with] those seven; they [are] the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
However, the Lord promises Serubabel that the house is to be completed, even if the beginning is described as small things. Verse 10 points directly back to Zechariah 3,9: For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone [shall be] seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. Christ is the cornerstone, and Christ took away all iniquity in one day — when he died on the cross. The seven eyes are also a symbol of the seven Spirits of God, (Revelation 5,6).
Verse 11 Then answered I, and said unto him, what [are] these two olive trees upon the right [side] of the candlestick and upon the left [side] thereof? Verse 12 And I answered again, and said unto him, what [be these] two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden [oil] out of themselves?? Verse 13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these [be]? And I said, No, my lord. Verse 14 Then said he, these [are] the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
In the first verses of this chapter, the prophet is shown two olive trees, and the angel asks Zechariah if he knows what this is, something he did not know (verse 5). Then the angel proceeds to give the prophet a message to Zerubbabel (verses 6-10), before the prophet wants an answer as to what the two olive trees represent (verses 11 and 12). Then Zechariah gets the answer to this, and the answer is that these are the two anointed that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
8) The vision of the flying scroll; 5,1-4.
Verse 1 Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.Verse 2 And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof [is] twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits*.
(* A Hebrew cubit was approx. 0,45 meters. In other words, this roll is approx. 9 meters long and 4.5 meters wide.)
The flying roll is a symbol of how God will respond to those who refuse to change clothes, or in other words, those who will not turn to the Lord and stop rebelling against the Holy Spirit. That the roll flies most likely means that it is doing its job. The one who speaks here is still the angel who explains the vision to Zechariah.
Verse 3 Then said he unto me, this [is] the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off [as] on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off [as] on that side according to it. Verse 4 I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.
The SDA Bible Lexicon says that he who steals sins against his neighbor, while he who swears falsely sins against God. Thus, these two sins embrace the law of God, the Ten Commandments.
Here, as in Revelation 5,1 we see a roll where it is written both inside and outside of the scroll. The roll presented in Revelation 5, and which is opened in chapter 6 shows us the history of the church from the cross to the second coming of Jesus. On the other hand, this roll shows us the judgment through the expressions for every one that stealeth shall be cut off and every one that sweareth shall be cut off, and the roll points to God’s Ten Commandments. Can this roll refer to Deuteronomy 28,15-68, which lists all the curses that are to come upon those who do not follow God’s commandments? Finally, God, through judgment, will eradicate all wickedness. Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day, Jer 36,2 …//… And when I looked, behold, a hand [was] sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book [was] therein; And he spread it before me; and it [was] written within and without and [there was] written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe, Ezekiel ,9-10.
The first four verses of this chapter also give us a kind of introduction to the rest of the chapter, and I think these four verses tell us what will happen to the main characters in the next seven verses..
9) The vision of the woman in an ephah; 5,5-11.
Verse 5 Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what [is] this that goeth forth. Verse 6 And I said, what [is] it? And he said, this [is] an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, this [is] their resemblance through all the earth.
* Septuaginta says their iniquity where KJV uses their resemblance in the phrase this [is] their resemblance through all the earth.
An ephah is a standard unit of measurement, which symbolizes God’s standard, and God’s standard can be seen all over the earth, not to mention; God’s standard applies to the whole earth. God’s standard is the commandments of God, and they are incorporated into the expressions for every one that stealeth shall be cut off … and … every one that sweareth shall be cut off. We can put in the Ten Commandments of God instead of the ephah, for it is by the Ten Commandments of God everyone eventually shall be judged. Some translations use the land instead of the Whole earth in their translation. This is directly destructive of the prophecy because it limits the prophecy to apply only to Judah and takes away the end-time perspective.
Verse 7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this [is] a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.
When the woman sits in the ephah, it means that she is measured according to God’s standard. The woman in the ephah is in verse 8 defined as the wickedness of the angel who gives Zechariah this vision. Woman is in the Bible a picture of God’s people, church, or congregation. This woman is an unclean woman all the time she is explained as the wickedness. This also shows that she violates Gods commandments in every conceivable way.
Verse 8 And he said, this [is] wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.
A weight of lead over the woman in the ephah means that the woman’s impurity is known by the people, but they does not care about it. Lead is considered as the metal of the curse, and it may mean that the woman’s sins are enclosed in the wrath of God.
Verse 9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and behold, there came out two women, and the wind [was] in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.
Two women who came forward means that we have with two church systems to do, and it is implicitly in the text that these two women cooperate. These two women first came forth when the prophet lifted his eyes or focused on the vision. The first woman the prophet saw can therefore not be one of those two, which we can read out of the fact that these two appear after the ephah in which the first woman sit is closed with a weight of lead.
The wings of a stork. A stork is an unclean bird, and this underlines the claim that these two women must represent two unclean or fallen denominations and / or pagan religions.
Verse 10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, whither do these bear the ephah? Verse 11 And he said unto me, to build it a house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established and set there upon her own base.
To build it a house means that these two women will cooperate to set up a system that reflects the first woman, and that they will unite under her visualized in that the two put her on her own base. This means that they worship the woman who was in the ephah — in other words, idolatry. Sinear is another word for Babylon, and then we probably have the clues we need to see what this is.
The woman of the ephah, who is the wickedness, we find described several places in the Bible, and is a pagan system that has accumulated through Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and the Roman Empire, and has been clothed with a Christian robe of the Roman church leader, the Pope. The fact that the woman can be described as wicked is because she is measured against the standard of God, the Ten Commandments of God, which here is the ephah. If we then say that the woman who is the wickedness to be the Catholic Church, it cannot simultaneously be one of the two women who have wings as a stork. Then these two women must represent the fallen Protestantism and Spiritualism, possibly Judaism and pagan religions, or a confusion of all parts – which is unlikely as a woman is synonymous with God’s people or God’s Church. But we see that all religions recognize the pope as the religious/spiritual leader. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast, Revelation 13,3, (NIV 1984).
10) The vision of the four carriages; 6,1-8.
Verse 1 I looked up again – and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains – mountains of bronze! Verse 2 The first chariot had red horses, the second black Verse 3 the third white, and the fourth dappled – all of them powerful.
Once again, we are given a vision that has clear parallels to Revelation 6. We see horses in four different colors, and the same colors as in Revelation 6, but there are a few significant differences. In Revelation 6, the horses are mentioned in singular: one white, one red, one black and one pale (dappled), here in the Zechariah they are mentioned in the plural and the colors come in a different order, red, black, white and dappled. This should tell us that it is not the same Zechariah saw as John saw. It also appears in verse 5, which states that these four chariots are four spirits from heaven.
In Daniel 10,6 (NIV 1984), bronze is used to describe the legs of Christ, and this can consequently be used to justify the place where the chariots come from, and that is probably what is the Prophet’s purpose. Some conclude that the two mountains in question are Zion and the Mount of Olives and justify it by saying that bronze is the sacred, heavenly metal. The purpose is to tell that these four crews were sent out from the God of heaven.
Verse 4 Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, what [are] these, my lord? Verse 5 And the angel answered and said unto me, these [are] the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth. Verse 6 The black horses which [are] therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country. Verse 7 And the bay went forth and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, get you, hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth. Verse 8 Then He cried out to me and spoke to me saying, See, those who are going to the land of the north have appeased My wrath in the land of the north (NASB).
Here it is dissent about how to translate the Hebrew word ruach (roo’-akh) which is used in the plural ruchoth. The word is translated into spirit or spirits 232 times in the old testament, and 90 times it is translated into wind or winds. The SDAs Bible commentary refers to the Septuaginta and Revised Standard Version which both use winds as translation, something also the RV and German Luther do, while the Norwegian BGO and KJV use spirits. Furthermore, SDAs Bible commentary uses Daniel 8,8 as an illustration, claiming that this verse uses the identical phrase:
In Zechariah 6,5 it says: arba (ar-bah’) ruach (roo’-akh) shamayim (shaw-mah’-yim), and in Daniel 8,8 it says: arba (ar-bah’) ruach (roo’-akh) shamayim (Shaw-Mah ‘-Yim).
There is no doubt that it is the same word that is used in both places, but I believe in all my simplicity that the texts must be read in the context in which they stand, and that the translation should be determined accordingly.
In Zechariah 6,5 there is four ‘ruchoth‘ which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth. In Daniel 8,8 it says that: the goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four ‘ruchoth‘ of heaven.
Here in Zechariah there are four ruchoth who leave the throne of Heaven to accomplish a mission on Earth, while in Daniel there are four horns that turn against the four ruchoth = cardinal directions. The question is whether there are four spirits or four winds that leave heaven in Zechariah, and whether the four horns turned towards the four spirits of heaven or towards the four winds of heaven (= directions of heaven). I will claim that there is a difference in this.
In addition, there are 23 other possible translations of the word ruach that are used in NASB, of which wrath is one of the alternatives, which are used in Zechariah 6,8! translated into English like this in NASB: have appeased My wrath in the land of the north, which also is the Hebrew meaning.
As chapter 5 shows us the judgement and the sins accumulated in the woman in the ephah, and the fact that the book was not divided into verses and chapters when it was written, we can suppose that we still have the end-time perspective through the judgements. There is a great possibility that the text has been changed in later translations, for it is not easy to see the judgement in the current KJV.
Why judgements? If we look at Job 1,7 we find this: The LORD said to Satan, where have you come from? Satan answered the LORD, from roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.
Roaming through and going back and forth is essentially the same thing the horses in this section also do. If we add what Satan is concerned with, which is to destroy the people, then we can put into the book of Zechariah what God is concerned with in the end time, and it is to bring peace to his faithful people through judging those who are behind all misery, who are Satan and his helpers: For this [is] the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates. Jeremiah 46,10. A contemporary interpretation of this may be such that Gods will, will be fulfilled through a decree which gives the Jews permission to return home to Judea and Jerusalem.
11) Joshua crowned a type of Messiah; 6,9-15.
Verse 9 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Verse 10 Take of [them of] the captivity, [even] of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; Verse 11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set [them] upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest.
Here the high priest, Joshua, is presented as a type of Christ. A crown is the sign of royal dignity, and Joshua has a couple of things in common with Christ. Joshua was his contemporary high priest Christ is the high priest of all. Joshua was crowned, and this was an unusual act for a high priest, they were anointed when they were ordained in their office. Christ was also crowned, both by the crucifixion as ‘the King of the Jews’, and later as King of kings. It is therefore important to include both the contemporary perspective and the end-time perspective in the book of Zechariah when most prophecies appear to have a double fulfillment.
Verse 12 And speak unto him, saying, thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name [is] The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. Verse 13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.
Verse 12 points to following verses: Jeremiah 23,5; 33,15; John 1,45; Ephesians 2,20; Isaiah 11,1; Revelation 22,16. Verse 13 points to Psalm 110,4 and Isaiah 22,24.
Once again we are given a remarkable Christ prophecy, which emphasizes that Zachariah address the end-time theme. It´s certainly that Zechariah har derived the term the branch from Jeremiah 23,5. It is incidentally the second time he uses the branch in his book. The first time was in chapter 3 verse 8. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth, Jeremiah 23,5. (See also the man in Zechariah 1,8.10)
Verse 14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD.
Who these four named people were, I do not know, but the Septuaginta uses the patient instead of Helem, Tobia, Jedaja, and Hen, the son of Sefanja. Joyce Baldwin, however, places guidance that these four may be four who contributed with gold or other financial assistance in connection with the reconstruction of the temple and that their names were written in four crowns that were in the temple.
Verse 15 And they [that are] far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And [this] shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.
Once again we get a reminder in the OT that salvation is for all mankind, and yet once again, this is about the time after Jesus’ first coming. This text can advantageously be read together with Isaiah 2,2-3 which says: And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
The second part of the prophecy; Reproof of sin and a call for righteousness.
A; Hypocritical fast condemns, 7,1-14.
1) The delegates from Bethel; 7,1-3.
Verse 1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, [that] the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah in the fourth [day] of the ninth month, [even] in Chisleu;.
We have now come to the year 518 BC which was the fourth year Darius 1 the Great reigned, and we have jumped two years ahead of time, and Zechariah´s vision continues. The ninth day of the fourth year of King Darius is according to the SDAs Bible Comment December 6th, 518.
Verse 2 The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melech, together with their men, to entreat the LORD, Verse 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? (NIV 1984)
Fast is mentioned many times in the Bible, but it emerges from these texts related to fast that it is 2 far different things: 1) fasting as a tradition and … 2) fasting as an additional help in the life of the believer.
Jesus uses the term fast on some occasions, but God desires obedience from the people rather than a fasting that has become a formality. a) Matthew 9,15; Mark 2,19-20; Luke 5,34-35: And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. b) Matthew 17,21; Mark 9,29: Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. c) Luke 2,37: And she [was] a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served [God] with fasting and prayers night and day.
It is obviously that it is a type of fast that is necessary, but which is not a traditional fast. Fast as a tradition is something God don´t wants us to do. This is the type of fasting we see in verse 3 where the question is whether they should fast as they had done for many years in the fifth month, which is the month when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 586 BC by the Babylonians. They had made this fast a tradition. In Matthew 17,21, Jesus says that both prayer and fast are needed in order to cast out Devils, but this is not a fasting that is a common tradition.
2) Insincere fast is condemned, 7,4-7.
Verse 4 Then the word of the LORD Almighty came to me: Verse 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? Verse 6 And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves?
Here we see that God rebukes His people for the fast they have kept over the years in captivity in Babylon, and accusing them of fasting for their own sake, when God draws a parallel between to fast and to eat and drink, for they eat and drink for themselves — not for the Lord.
Verse 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?
This verse refers back to Zecharia 1,4, where the Lord of hosts asks the people not to be like their ancestors who did not listen to the prophets and turned from their evil deeds. God pledges them to turn back so that he can fulfill his promises and restore his own people and let them rebuild both the temple and Jerusalem.
Time and time again, God through His servants the prophets rebuked His people for wrong fasting. Also in Isaiah’s time, about 300 years earlier, God comes with a scathing critique of the way His people fasted: Wherefore have we fasted, [say they], and thou seest not? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as [ye do this] day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? Isaiah 58,3-5.
2) True worship and willful rebellion defined; 7,8-14.
Verse 8 And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying, Verse 9 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:
Verse 10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. Verse 11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Verse 12 Yea, they made their hearts [as] an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.
Here the Prophet reminds the people of what happened earlier. Through a few hundred years before the abduction to Babylon, most of the prophets had been concerned with this and preached repentance, but the people refused to listen to them. Almost all the kings preceded with a bad example and oppressed the people, and the upper class benefited from their positions. Jeremiah was the last to preach repentance but was rejected by both king, religious leaders, and military leaders. They would not repent, not even when they saw Jeremias prophesies fulfilling before their eyes.
Must this become learning for us, so we don´t do the same mistakes. We must constantly seek the Lord in remorse and repent of our wrongdoings, not harden ourselves as the Jews did. Every day we must confess our sins and ask forgiveness for the evil we have done.
Verse 13 Therefore it is come to pass, [that] as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts: Verse 14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.
When the day came and the Jews understood what happened they began to cry to God, but then God had no more patience with them, God would not listen to them, and they had to suffer the punishment for their wrongdoings. Many people turned to God when they ended up in captivity, but for us it is too risky to believe we will get a last chance at the very end. God calls us to repentance every day, and if we do not hear, like with Jews, then God will not expose the inevitable, and suddenly the judgment fall upon us.
We must remember that we live in the very last time, and that the second coming of Jesus is imminent, and at that moment Jesus leaves the Heavenly Temple to come to Earth and deliver his people, the door of mercy will be closed, and with that everyone’s future is settled.
3) Restoration through obedience, 8,1-23.
The entire book of Zechariah is, as said, a balancing act between contemporary interpretation and end-time interpretation, and the boundaries between these two interpretation principles are many times so subtle that they almost go into one. Following the judgment scenes there is now comfort and blessing for God’s faithful people. This chapter also gives us an end-time prophecy by the fact that Jerusalem’s new blessing is to be fulfilled in Messiah. Then the question is whether it is the physical city of Jerusalem that the gentiles were to tread down under foot for 1260 years, until the beginning of the end time, or whether it is the spiritual Jerusalem, which is the Christian church – the spiritual Jerusalem, God’s faithful remnant – is to be kept subdued, or trampled down under foot for 1260 years?
Verse 1 Again the word of the LORD of hosts came [to me], saying, Verse 2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. Verse 3 Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain. Verse 4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. Verse 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof. Verse 6 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts.
Despite the fact that Jerusalem was laid deserted under Babylonian rule, and was later completely destroyed by the Romans, and the Jews were scattered throughout the known world after the year 70, the Lord will still return to his city. But what does it mean that the Lord will return to Jerusalem, which in verse 3 is called the holy mountain?
One thing we must keep in mind is that when this was written, most of the Jews were still in Babylon, and that the captivity was not always peaceful. Those who had returned to Jerusalem experienced times of strife and poverty, and they longed to resume the life God’s people had before they were brought into captivity. The contemporary principle suggests that verses 4, 5, and 6 should be fulfilled to the point when Jerusalem and the temple was rebuilt. The question is whether this happened.
Another thing we need to take into consideration is that the Jews again fell astray very soon after the city and the temple were rebuilt in the year 408 BC. How was the situation in Judah and Jerusalem in the mid-Testament times? The mid-Testament time means the period between Malachi wrote his book (433 – 408 BC) and Paul wrote Galatians (probably 48 / 49 AD). During this period, no texts were written that have become part of the Biblical canon.
Back to verse 3 and the holy mountain. In the context of the New Testament, this mountain is God´s faithful remnant in the end time, which we find in the Daniel 11,45 and Malachi 3,12 both of which speak of the end times: Daniel 11,45 says the following: And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him … // … and Malachi 3,12 express it this way: And you will be named happy by all nations: for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of armies.
When we look at the different languages, 1) the Norwegian Bible BGO differs significantly from 2) the English Bible KJ, 3) the German Bible TL, and 4) the Spanish Bible RV, which will be seen below. I believe that the Norwegian translation is incorrect, chosen with the intention of distorting the understanding of the text. But first I must emphasize that waters, seas, rivers and lakes are as we know a picture of peoples and nations in a prophetic context.
Translated into Spanish, the Norwegian, German and Spanish texts will be as follows: 1) BGO 1988 says in Daniel 11,45: between the sea and the glorious holy mountain. 3) GL 1912 says: between two seas in the glorious holy mountain. 4) RV 1909 says: between the seas in the glorious holy mountain. As we see there is a significant difference between Norwegian translation and English / German / Spanish translation by Daniel 11,45. Regarding the translation of Malachi 3,12, all four translations are coordinated.
Verse 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; Verse and I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.
Another thing we need to account for when Daniel talks about north and south is that this is always seen in relation to the geographical location of the physical Jerusalem, (see Dan 6,11). When Zechariah says that God will save his people from the countries of the East and the West, we must also read this out of the location of Jerusalem. I do not know how many of the children of Israel (Israel and Judah) lived west of Jerusalem in the time of Zechariah, but we know for certain that those who survived the Assyrian siege of Samaria (Israel – the ten tribes) when Assyria conquered Samaria 722-721 and those who survived the Babylonian siege of Judah when Babylon conquered Judah 605, was taken into captive East of Jerusalem. This is the contemporary interpretation. The end-time interpretation will give a much clearer answer. In our day, God’s people live all over the world, both east and west of Jerusalem.
Verse 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. Verse 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. Verse 11 But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as I did in the past, declares the LORD Almighty (NIV 1984).
Here we have a section that many choose to interpret to Zechariah contemporary. Fredrik Wisløff a Norwegian theologian says in his book Explanation to the Old Testament about the verses 9-11 the following: ‘While the temple building was in ruins, there was no blessing that followed them: They shall now be bold, and, above all, continue to build the temple of the Lord. Let your hands be strong!’ Put into the contemporary context, this is undoubtedly a logical interpretation. However, we look at verse 3, and there is mentioned the holy mountain which I believe is an image of the end-time church. This raises some questions regarding the text in this section:
1) Which temple do we talk about in verse 9? 2) What is the salary of verse 10? 3) Why was there no peace for the enemy in verse 10? 4) What is the reason that the Lord of hosts will go forth in another way now?
1) in Old Testament times, at Sinai, Moses was commissioned to build a tabernacle, after the pattern of the heavenly, where God should dwell in the midst of his people. Later, Salomon built the temple in Jerusalem for the same reason; God should dwell there. God’s people, Israel, should be the light in the world and should bring the good news out to all peoples, something they did not do. When Jesus came the first time He abolished the ceremonial laws by his death on the cross, and the temple lost its significance as a religious center where God dwelled. In New Testament times, there has been a paradigm shift. In 1 Corinthians 3,16 we find this text: Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? This is repeated in the following verses: 1 Corinthians 3,17; 6,19; 2 Corinthians 6,16.
2) The wages in question must be salvation in Jesus Christ. Even those in Old Testament times were saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, through the symbolic sacrifices they daily sacrificed, but there was a catch by it, salvation was not a reality until Jesus died on the cross and rose again. Therefore they received no wages in Old Testament times, but they received the promise of this salary. After the cross in New Testament times, wages are available here and now, when we repent and ask forgiveness for our sins. Just before Jesus died on the cross he said: it is finished (John 19,30). But also now there is a catch at all – we must endure to the end so that we do not lose salvation.
3) In Old Testament times they had not peace to the enemy because Satan was not finally defeated. This happened on the cross. Then Jesus won an eternal victory and with that he gives his faithful people eternal peace. Now it is not the case that Christians are beyond the reach of the devil and are free from all trials, temptations, and torments. It is rather the opposite. Satan works even harder to make God’s faithful remnant fall from the faith, but victory is won, and the devil cannot defeat us as long as we cling to Jesus.
4) Thereason God the Father will go forth in another way in the new Testament times compared to the Old Testament times is Jesus´s sacrificial death on the cross. This puts everything in a new light even if the law is the same, the promises are the same, the judgment is the same. Because our sins are blotted out by the blood of Jesus the Lord of hosts now will go forth in another way.
Verse 12 For the seed [shall be] prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these [things]. Verse 13 And it shall come to pass, [that] as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, [but] let your hands be strong. Verse 14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not: Verse 15 So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not. Verse 16 These [are] the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: Verse 17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these [are things] that I hate, saith the LORD.
Verse 18 And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying, Verse 19 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth [month], and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.
The conditions for the promises to be fulfilled are mentioned here. We will do to our neighbor what we want our neighbor to do to us, and all that we do we shall do with joy, if we fast, if we give offerings and tithe it shall be done with joy.
Then it depends on how we understand verse 13. This verse says that God will save the House of Israel and that they shall be a blessing. But which year was this prophecy given, and where was the ten tribes of Israel, or Samaria? Well this prophecy was given in the year 518. More than 200 years earlier, in the years 722-721, the Assyrian king besieged Samaria, and those who were not killed during this war were brought into captivity beyond the river. Since then, they have literally disappeared without a trace. Could it possibly be that there is an end-time perspective in this section too?
Verse 20 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; [It shall] yet [come to pass], that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: Verse 21 And the inhabitants of one [city] shall go to another, saying, let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.
Verse 22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. Verse 23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days [it shall come to pass], that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, we will go with you: for we have heard [that] God [is] with you..
I mean we can see a clear end time prophecy in these verses. Here we see that many people and strong nations are mentioned, and men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew. We have an episode from the life of Jesus that can illustrate this section: For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in [her] body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? Mark 5,28-30. As we see, this woman wanted take hold of (touch) the skirt (clothes) of a Jewish man (Jesus).