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Literature / Book of Zechariah

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One of the books of the Minor Prophets that is part of the Old Testament. This is written around the time of the return of the Jewish exiles as they settling back into the land of Israel and rebuilding the Temple and the fallen cities.

Structure of the book:

  • Call to conversion (Zechariah 1:1-6)
  • Visionary disclosure of God's purposes (Zechariah 1:7-6:15)
  • A prophetic message to the people (Zechariah chapters 7 and 8)
  • The emerging Kingdom (Zechariah chapters 9 to 14)

This book provides examples of:

  • The Armies of Heaven: Implied in Zechariah 14:5 when the prophet says "Then the Lord my God will come and all His holy ones with you."
  • Blood Oath: In Zechariah 9:11, God says, "I will set your prisoners free from where their enemies are keeping them. I will do it because of the blood that put into effect my covenant with you." (New International Readers' Version)
  • Can't Take Criticism: God through Zechariah speaks to His people in Zechariah 7:8-12:
    And the word of the LORD to Zechariah continued: Thus said the LORD of Hosts: Execute true justice; deal loyally and compassionately with one another. Do not defraud the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; and do not plot evil against one another.— But they refused to pay heed. They presented a balky back and turned a deaf ear. They hardened their hearts like adamant against heeding the instruction and admonition that the LORD of Hosts sent to them by His spirit through the earlier prophets; and a terrible wrath issued from the LORD of Hosts.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: An unfortunate rendering of Zechariah 13:6 in The Message translation makes the verse come off as this. (Contextually, it's talking about someone being chastised for proclaiming to be a prophet when he really isn't. In a prophetic sense, according to Christian interpretation, it's referring to Jesus being wounded for man's salvation.)
    And if someone says, ‘And so where did you get that black eye?’ they’ll say, ‘I ran into a door at a friend’s house.’
  • Earthquakes Cause Fissures: Zechariah 14:4 prophesies this about the Lord's coming.
    On that day, He will set His feet on the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall split across from east to west, and one part of the Mount shall shift to the north and the other to the south, a huge gorge.
  • Endless Daytime: "On that day there shall be neither cold nor frost. And there shall be continuous day (it is known to the Lord), not day and not night, for at evening time there shall be light." (Zechariah 14:6-7, Revised Standard Version)
  • Fire Purifies: From Zechariah 13:8-9, regarding Israel:
    And it will happen in all the land, says the Lord,
    that two-thirds will be cut off and die,
    and one-third will be left in the land.
    And I will bring this one-third left into the fire,
    and will refine them as the refinement of silver,
    and will test them as the testing of gold.
    They will call on My name,
    and I will answer them.
    I will say, “They are My people”;
    and they will say, “The Lord is my God.”
  • Foreshadowing: In traditional Christian interpretation, Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9), the sum of money Judas was paid to betray Jesus (Zechariah 11:12), and Jesus' disciples being scattered upon His arrest (Zechariah 13:7). These are all referenced directly in the New Testament.
  • Good Is Not Soft: In the last few verses of Chapter 13, God says that two-thirds of Israel will die and only one-third will escape, and He will purify and test that remaining third to see whether they will call upon Him so that He will answer them.
  • Invulnerable Horses: Averted, as the Mystical Plague mentioned below would affect horses, mules, camels, donkeys, and all other animals in addition to humans.
  • Mystical Plague/Stripped to the Bone: God will send one to the armies invading Jerusalem in Zechariah 14:12 (interpreted by modern audiences as the effect of a nuclear bomb):
    And this will be the pestilence with which the Lord will strike all the peoples who go to battle against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot as they stand on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.
  • The Omnipotent: Zechariah 8:4-6 in the International Standard Version:
    “This is what the Lord of the Heavenly Armies says: ‘There will yet be old men and old women sitting in the parks of Jerusalem, each one of them holding canes in their hands due to their old age! The city parks will be filled with boys and girls. They will play in the city’s open parks.’ This is what the Lord of the Heavenly Armies says: ‘It may seem impossible to the survivors of this people, but is it impossible for me?’ declares the Lord of the Heavenly Armies."
  • Phony Psychic: In Chapter 13, God says He will have His people deal with those who falsely prophesy in His Name, even going so far as to have their own families stab them and say, "You must die, because you have told lies in the Lord’s name." He says that these prophets will be ashamed of their own visions and will no longer wear a hairy robe to deceive, but each of them will say, "I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth." And if anyone asks about the wounds in their arms, they will say, "These are the wounds I was given at the house of my friends."
  • Playing Drunk: In Chapter 13, it's stated that when the false prophets are confronted for their actions, they'll deny it and claim to be "a tiller of the soil", a term originally ascribed to Noah. Some interpret that the false prophets are trying to claim they were just drunk like Noah and not really prophesying.
  • Priest King: In Zechariah chapter 6, God says He will bring forth the man called the Branch, who will serve as both priest and king to the Lord, which Christians interpret as being Jesus Christ.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: God says this in Zechariah 14:2:
    For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle. The city will be captured and the houses plundered and the women ravished. Half of the city will go to exile, but the remainder of the people will not be cut off from the city.
  • Red Right Hand: The "worthless shepherd" (usually interpreted by Christians as being The Antichrist) is depicted as having his arm withered and his right eye gone blind due to a sword wound in Zechariah 11:17.
  • Satan: He makes an appearance in Zechariah 3:1-2 as the accuser of Joshua the high priest.
    He further showed me Joshua, the high priest, standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right to accuse him. But [the angel of] the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan; may the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! For this is a brand plucked from the fire.”
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: During Zechariah's time as a shepherd:
    I fired the three shepherds all in one month. I got angry at the sheep, and they began to hate me. Then I said, “I quit! I will not take care of you! I will let those who want to die, die. I will let those who want to be destroyed, be destroyed, and those who are left will destroy each other.” (Zechariah 11:8-9, Easy-To-Read Version)
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The woman in the basket with the lead cover in one of Zechariah's visions, who is mentioned by the angel who presents the vision as being the personification of Wickedness.
  • Sinister Minister: Zechariah 13:2-6 is God speaking through Zechariah that He will cut off both idols and false prophets from the land, even having the people bring punishment on those that who deceive others by claiming to be prophets.
  • Tears of Remorse: Zechariah 12:10, interpreted by Christians as a prophecy concerning Jesus Christ:
    And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. (New King James Version)
  • Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: Joshua the high priest is depicted as wearing filthy clothes in chapter 3, indicating his sinful state before God. He is told by God to put off wearing those clothes and to wear a clean turban as a sign that his sins have been atoned for.