Bible: What Does Zechariah 4-8 Teach Us About Obedience and True Spirituality?
The Lampstand and Olive Trees
The Lampstand and Two Olive Trees
After this experience, Zechariah needs his interpreting angel to awaken him from a trance-like state (v. 1; cf. Dan. 10:10).
His fifth vision—a symbolic lampstand and two olive trees—awaits the prophet's attention (vv. 2-3).
The angel seems genuinely surprised that Zechariah does not know what the symbols represent (vv. 4-5).
He cryptically delivers two short messages, one to Governor Zerubbabel and the other to the prophet.
The first word reminds the governor that God's Spirit will accomplish both "the humbling" of the "great mountain" and the completion of the temple (vv. 6-7).
He will not perform these feats without Zerubbabel, however.
The second message makes clear to Zechariah that he who began the project (i.e., the governor) will finish it.
When Zerubbabel finally accomplishes this work, God will have proven that He had indeed sent the Angel (vv. 8-9).
Yahweh receives great satisfaction to "see" the completion of the work under Zerubbabel's direction (v. 10; cf. 3:9).
Still wanting to know the answers to his original questions, Zechariah persistently reiterates them; he even inquires as to the identity of the two olive branches (vv. 11-12).
His angel is yet reluctant to reveal the truth (v. 13); however, when he does, the facts are still enigmatic (v. 14).
[Who are the "two anointed ones"?
Are they Joshua and Zerubbabel, the heroes of the last two visions?
The lampstand is probably Israel. Compare Revelation 11:4].
A Flying Scroll
The prophet's next vision, his sixth, involves a flying scroll—a parchment approximately thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide (vv. 1-2).
Written on the scroll, according to the interpreting angel, is the universal curse against thieves and perjurers (v. 3).
What appears there will disastrously affect the houses of these transgressors (v. 4).
The angel then directs Zechariah's gaze to a basket housing a woman designated "Wickedness."
Forcing her down into the basket, he virtually entombs her by throwing a lead disc (cover) over its mouth [vv. 5-8].
Two winged women then arrive on the scene, lift the basket, and transport it to Babylon (Shinar); according to the interpreter, the people there would build a temple for it (vv. 9-11).
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The Seventh Vision
The objects that the man of God now witnesses appear in his seventh separate vision: four chariots, two bronze mountains, and four sets of variously colored horses (vv. 1-3).
At Zechariah's request for information, the interpreting angel (perhaps understanding better the inner turmoil of the prophet) answers him clearly and immediately.
The horsemen represent four "spirits of heaven" whose task it is to patrol the land in all four directions (vv. 4-7).
Those traveling north give "rest" to God's Spirit (v. 8).
[Since Yahweh's Spirit never becomes weary or anxious, this word must mean that they must perform some service for the LORD that brings Him pleasure].
In another revelation, Yahweh sends Zechariah with a gift of gold and silver designated for the making of a crown for Joshua (vv. 9-11).
As high priest, Joshua stands as a type of Christ, the BRANCH, whom the LORD reintroduces here (vv. 12-13; cf. 3:8).
This BRANCH is the ultimate temple builder; He will perfectly fulfill His role as the king-priest, and no tension will exist in Him as He does so.
Joshua's crown will serve as a "memorial'' for certain officials (v. 14).
Diligent obedience to God's word will lead to the successful building of the temple, offering further proof that the Angel is the Sent-One of Yahweh (v. 15; cf. 4:9).
The Right Attitude
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Obedience to the Word
Zechariah provides the complete date of the next revelation—a change in style that signals the end to the visions and the beginning of a new section of his prophecy (v. 1; cf. 1:1; 1:7).
Here Yahweh teaches about the priority of obedience to His word.
The people fasted and mourned, God says, for themselves.
In other words, they performed religious duties as tributes to their own spirituality (which, in reality, did not exist) during their seventy years in Babylon (v. 6).
Now they want to know if they should continue these practices (v. 3).
What God wishes from His people is not their kind of fasting (which is merely an outward display), but an exhibition of true righteousness that results from an attitude of obedience (vv. 5-7; cf. Matt. 6).
This prescribed behavior earlier generations had failed to manifest.
Instead, they rebelled against Yahweh and consequently endured His "great wrath" (vv. 8-12; cf. Is. 58).
When they ran into trouble, God did not listen to their cries.
He delivered them over to the nations, scattering them abroad and making their "pleasant land" desolate (vv. 13-14).
The Second Temple
"Thus Says the LORD of Hosts"
Beginning with chapter eight and continuing through the tenth, Zechariah records God's word in verse.
Ten "Thus says the LORD of hosts" segments comprise the revelation in chapter eight.
The first segment emphasizes His zeal for Zion (vv. 1-2).
Evidently, His zeal is His desire to show His great love and faithfulness to Zion in bringing her back to Himself.
Yahweh speaks of His dwelling in Jerusalem in that day and of her manifesting His characteristics of truth and holiness [second segment] (v. 3).
Speaking of "that day," the LORD of hosts describes a peaceful, joyful era when age is respected, and youth is happy and carefree (vv. 4-5) [third segment].
Yet their astonishment over these days of rest comes as no surprise to God (v. 6) [fourth segment].
He had planned (and said) all along that such a state of salvation would come to Israel someday, in which He would restore His covenant with them in the land of promise (vv. 7-8) [fifth segment].
The sixth segment finds Yahweh encouraging those who have been listening to the prophets speak about the rebuilding of the temple.
During their years in captivity, the people experienced no peace and widespread poverty (vv. 9-10).
The Time of Restoration
Yahweh now announces a contrast between His treatment of the people in those earlier days and His determination to show favor to them now (v. 11).
He continues to encourage them with news of the great future prosperity and blessing that He will shower upon them (vv. 12-13).
[The language hearkens back to the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28].
The motif of curses-blessings advances into verses fourteen and fifteen.
Sin brought punishment upon Israel's fathers, but now God wills to do them good.
Even so, the people continue to need exhortation.
His first words—"Do not fear"—evolve into a series of divine expectations (cf. Zeph. 3:16).
Now that He has once again turned to them, they should live righteously before Him (vv. 16-17) [seventh segment].
Verse 18 signals another revelation and a transition into the eighth segment.
It exhibits the joy of God He also desires for His people to experience; with Him as their center, Judah will replace their ritualistic fasts with His "cheerful feasts" (v. 19).
When Yahweh returns to Jerusalem, universal spirituality will then cover the earth (vv. 20-22) [ninth segment]; strangely, the Gentiles will seek out the Jew in that day, for God will especially be present with him (v. 23) [tenth segment].
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