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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)
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  • 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 came to Zechariah, saying: Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion, every man to his brother. Do not oppress the widow, orphan, sojourner, or poor. And let none of you contemplate evil deeds in your hearts against his brother. But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder, and stopped their ears so that they should not hear. They made their hearts hard like a diamond so as not to hear the instruction and words that the Lord of Hosts sent by His Spirit through the former prophets, and there was great anger from the Lord of Hosts.
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  • 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 His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is to the east of Jerusalem. And from east to west the Mount of Olives will be split in two halves by a very great valley so that one half moves to the north and the other to the south.
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  • 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).
  • Girl in a Box: Zechariah sees a vision of a woman in a basket in chapter 5, with a lead covering over the basket, being carried by two women with stork-like wings to a place in the land of Shinar. Given that she is mentioned as being the personification of Wickedness, she is also considered Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • 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."
  • Priest King: In Zechariah chapter 6, God says He will bring forth the Man whose name is the Branch, who will serve as both priest and king to the Lord.
  • 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 "foolish 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.
    Then he showed me Joshua, the high priest, standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebukes you! Is this not a burning brand taken out of 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)
  • 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 out on the house of David and over those dwelling in Jerusalem a spirit of favor and supplication so that they look to Me, whom they have pierced through. And they will mourn over him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly over him as a firstborn.
  • 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.