Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 1

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-6


Call to repentance (1:1-6)

At the time Zechariah delivered his first message, Haggai had already been preaching for about two months (1:1; cf. Haggai 1:1). In his two recorded messages of that time, Haggai had shown that all Israel’s current difficulties were because of the people’s selfishness and disobedience in failing to rebuild the temple. As a result of Haggai’s preaching the people stirred themselves and started building again (Haggai 1:1-9).

Zechariah now joins Haggai in the preaching, recalling that disobedience to the prophets of former times had led to hardship and finally captivity (2-3). The people should therefore learn from their forefathers’ experiences and take notice of the words of the prophets. This means not simply that they must rebuild the temple, but more importantly that they must acknowledge their sin, accept God’s discipline, turn from their disobedience and begin a new life of devotion to God (4-6).

Eight visions

The section 1:7-6:8 consists of a series of eight visions. These are arranged with the two most important visions in the centre, and the remaining visions in two equal groups, one on either side.

At the time that Zechariah received these visions, work on rebuilding the temple had been going on for five months, three months of which were taken up with preparing the foundations (cf. v. 7 with Haggai 1:14-15; Haggai 2:18). The people would clearly benefit from some encouragement and direction. The first three visions are largely messages of encouragement to the builders, the middle two are of special encouragement to the leaders Joshua and Zerubbabel, and the final three give assurance of ultimate victory for God and his people.

Verses 7-21

Encouragement to the builders (1:7-2:13)

In the first vision some mounted patrol officers have just returned from a tour of duty and report to a rider on a red horse who is standing among some trees (7-10). The patrol officers report that throughout the empire all is calm and peaceful (11).
This report may be good news for the Persians but it is not for the Jews, who have now been in bondage to foreign overlords for more than seventy years. They long for freedom and pray for God’s mercy (12-13). God tells them that although he used foreign nations to punish them, those nations went beyond the limits he had set. He loves his people and he knows what their enemies have done to them (14-15). Therefore, he will now turn and help Israel again. The temple will be finished, and the city rebuilt and made prosperous once more (16-17).
The second vision assures the Jews that they need have no fear of foreign overlords. Nations may attack them from all sides, using their power to oppress Israel as wild beasts use their horns to terrify their victims, but their success will not last. As each wild beast is overcome by a workman who smashes it with a hammer, so each nation that attacks Israel will be overthrown (18-21).
In the third vision Zechariah sees a young man going out to measure Jerusalem in preparation for the rebuilding of its walls (2:1-2). But a messenger stops him, for the rebuilt city will extend beyond the walls of the former city. In fact, it will not need walls, because God will be its protector (3-5).
Those Jews still in Babylon may have made living conditions reasonably comfortable for themselves, but they should beware of becoming too settled. They should return to Jerusalem as quickly as possible, both to enjoy its blessings and to avoid the punishment about to fall on their captors (6-9). God gives further encouragement to those working on the temple by assuring them that it will be the means by which he dwells among his people again. Citizens of other nations will renounce their gods and come to join with Israel as the people of God (10-13).

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on Zechariah 1". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/zechariah-1.html. 2005.
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