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Sunday, November 23, 2014

TOMS: Zechariah 1-5

For an introduction to this series, click here.

Nov. 21, 2006

The first section of this book is a series of visions the Lord shows the prophet. There are seven visions in these first five chapters, and one or two more in the chapters that follow. In the first vision, he sees a man on a red horse and a group of men on horses behind him. The man on the horse announces that the Lord will restore Jerusalem. The men behind him are those who run and see all over the earth.
The second vision is of four horns that represent four nations that oppressed Judah. The Lord sends out craftsmen to cut down these horns and remove the threat. The third vision is of a man with a measuring line, who cannot measure Jerusalem because of its enormous size. The city is bigger than its walls, but God says He will be a wall for Jerusalem. This is most likely a vision of the future Jerusalem in the time of Christ's kingdom.
The fourth vision is of Joshua the high priest. He is standing before the Lord with dirty robes as Satan is calling on God to kill him. But God commands that new robes be put on him. Of course, Joshua is symbolic of all the people of Israel. They had been soiled by sin, but God was going to clean Israel up and make it new again, despite their former sin.

The fifth vision is of a golden lampstand and two olive trees. This vision is a word of encouragement to Zerubbabel that God is going to use him. Zerubbabel must have been terribly unsure of himself. In the previous book, Haggai encourages Zerubbabel to be strong and that God is going to use him to lead the people of Israel as they return. This vision by Zechariah is similar.

The sixth vision is of a flying scroll. This scroll is a new law, which will chase down those who steal and lie and destroy them. This could be a reference to Christ's reign, in which He will impose perfect justice all over the world, or it could be a reference to "the new heart" of conscience that Jeremiah talks about or it could be something else entirely. Somebody smarter than I probably has a definitive answer, but not me. Sorry.

The seventh vision at the end of Chapter 5 is the strangest of all. Zechariah sees a basket which the angel with him calls "iniquity." The man opens the basket, and there is a woman inside called "Wickedness." Two women with wings pick up the basket and carry it to Shinar. Shinar is usually a reference to Babylon, and that's really all I can tell you. Whether this is a reference to the Beast of the tribulation or something totally different, I have no idea.

I am sure that one day the Lord will make it obvious to us what these prophecies are about, but for now they are so shrouded in mystery that it is dangerous to be dogmatic about what they mean. It's fine to talk about them - why else would God have put them in the Bible? But people who think they have all these things figured out and who make a big deal about it, looking down on those who disagree as fools for not studying it more, do no service to the cause of Christ. Let's do our best to be charitable to everyone who actually makes an honest attempt to study these difficult passages.

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