Zechariah writes from a similar time frame as Haggai and Ezra and Nehemiah. He begins during the exile and works from there. So this one will break up into posts, one for visions and another for the rest of Zechariah’s story.
To begin with, Zechariah receives “the Word” and to tell the people to not be like their fathers who God exiled in the first place on account of their behavior. He tell them to remember the “words and statutes” of God in their behavior moving forward.
Then there are two visions. The first is the Vision of a Horseman where Zechariah sees that everyone else is at peace while they continue to oppress the people of Israel and Judah. This upsets God and He decides to “comfort” and “choose” them again. The second is the Vision of Horns and Craftsmen. The strange thing about this one is that it mentions Judah and Israel and Jerusalem like they are three separate countries and not two. This is the first time I’ve seen this third separation. The horns represent the countries that brought their destruction and the craftsmen “have come to terrify” those other countries now.
This chapter has a third vision called the Vision of a Man with a Measuring Line. The interesting thing here is that the measuring line is mentioned in the first vision as something that’s to come for Jerusalem in their restoration. The “measuring line” is where God is having the angels check how big Jerusalem is so that they can see how many people will fit but there is also a warning that they won’t, that “Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it” but that God will protect them within this open space anyway.
The vision is followed by a plea to the people to leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem. Despite that this city alone is mentioned, it would be easy to reason that this is meant as a return to God, whose house was in Jerusalem, and to the surrounding nation that had been Judah at one time and a whole united Israel before that. Also, the cities are again given feminine pronouns and the people within them are collectively called “daughter”.
The fourth vision is called A Vision of Joshua the Priest. This Joshua is mentioned in Haggai too, but pretty much in passing and that he was a part of coming together to rebuild the temple and as the son of the high priest. Here, he is already the high priest and this vision is of him with Satan, which is only the second mention of Satan so far. They are standing together and then Joshua’s clothes are changed from filthy clothes to clean ones. As we know from other places were things are replaced, these are either representative of cleaning him as a leader of the people or of replacing his “uncleanness” with cleanness. Either way, this is done to him, not by him.
Then God tells him this:
7“Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.
I find the language of “the right of access” interesting. I remember from before that not everyone was ever allowed to just go in to the Temple and do whatever but this is God specifically saying that access is only a right to those I grant it to and these are requirements for it for you. It doesn’t sound transferable, either. This is followed by a coming “servant” called the “Branch” and its guessed in my study section that it is referring to Jesus.
This chapter has the Vision of the Golden Lampstand. The vision pertains to Zerubbabel who had been in charge of the people who had returned and prompted the laying of the foundation for the temple when they first returned. Building stopped for reasons outlined in Ezra, but then it never began and God got mad at them, as mentioned in Haggai. Regardless, God wanted Zerubbabel to finish it.
This chapter has two visions. The first is the Vision of the Flying Scroll about just that. It’s something about liars and thieves that confused me. The second vision is the Vision of a Woman in a Basket. Also confusing. There’s a woman in a basket who is meant to personify Wickedness. Before becoming indignant that wickedness has to be a woman, I remembered that Wisdom has been a woman too, as are the winged women who carry her away in the basket. She’s going to Shinar, which is another name for Babylon.
They’re returned the wickedness of the people to Babylon, where it was to stay because the people who returned to Jerusalem were supposed to be the faithful.
The final vision is the Vision of Four Chariots, which involves these chariots going forth to “patrol the earth” and some of which set God’s “Spirit at rest”. After the last vision, the Word comes to Zechariah again which refers to “Branch” from chapter three that may or may not have been Jesus. The thing is, the last reference sounds like Jesus but this one sounds much more specifically like it’s talking about Joshua and a priest who will rule beside him. I don’t get how they could attribute it to two people. Of course, I also don’t know much about what Joshua does yet either as this is a section of the Bible not discussed much.
The last verse about someone who comes from “far off” sounds like Nehemiah and the people he brings to coming to help them build it.