!!! Do Not Despise These Small Beginnings 1
I come tonight with a prophetic word for Pastor Schlabach and all of you who are laboring with him.
Zechariah is the longest and the most obscure book among the Minor Prophets.
It has fourteen chapters and 211 verses, while Hosea the second longest book of the Minor Prophets has fourteen chapters and 197 verses.
At the beginning of the fifth century a.d.
Jerome called Zechariah “the obscurest and longest of the twelve prophets” (J.
Steinmann, /Saint Jerome/, trans.
R. Matthews [London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1950] 298).
Zechariah’s name, which he shared with about 30 other men in the Old Testament, means “Yahweh (niv, ‘the Lord’) remembers” (/Bible Knowledge Commentary/).
Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai the prophet, Zerubbabel the governor, and Joshua the high priest (Ezra 5:1-2; Zech.
3:1; 4:6; 6:11).
Zechariah returned to Jerusalem from Babylon with almost 50,000 other Jewish exiles.
He was probably a relatively young man at the beginning of his prophetic ministry (cf.
2:4) while Haggai might have been considerably older (/Bible Knowledge Commentary/).
The fall of Jerusalem to the armies of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 b.c.
marked the finale of the kingdom of Judah, much as the earlier defeat at the hands of the Assyrians in 722 b.c.
brought to an end the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Most of Jerusalem’s inhabitants were deported to Babylon for a period of about 70 years, as prophesied by the Prophet Jeremiah (Jer.
During this Exile the Prophet Daniel received the revelation that Gentile kingdoms would be dominant over Judah and Israel until God would set up His kingdom on the earth under the rule of the Messiah (Dan.
This period was referred to by Jesus Christ as “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24).
When the Babylonian Empire fell to the Persian Empire (539 b.c.), Cyrus the Great decreed that the Jews could return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple (Ezra 1:2-4; cf.
However, only a small minority of about 50,000 Jews (including Haggai and Zechariah) returned under the leadership of Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest (Ezra 2).
Levitical sacrifices were soon reinstituted on a rebuilt altar of burnt offering (Ezra 3:1-6), and in the second year of their return the foundation of the temple was laid (Ezra 3:8-13; 5:16).
However, external oppression and internal depression halted the rebuilding of the temple for about 16 more years of spiritual apathy till the rule of the Persian King Darius Hystaspis (522-486 b.c.).
In the second regnal year of Darius (520 b.c.) God raised up Haggai the prophet to encourage the Jews in rebuilding (Ezra 5:1-2; Hag.
Haggai preached four sermons in four months and then disappeared from the scene.
Two months after Haggai delivered his first sermon, Zechariah began his prophetic ministry (cf.
1:1), encouraging the people to spiritual renewal and motivating them to rebuild the temple by revealing to them God’s plans for Israel’s future.
With this prophetic encouragement the people completed the temple reconstruction in 515 b.c.
The dated portions of Zechariah’s prophecy fall within the period of the rebuilding of the temple.
The undated prophecies of Zechariah 9-14 were probably written much later in his ministry (/Bible Knowledge Commentary/).
Outline of Zechariah 1–8
Superscription and first oracle 1:16
2. Eight night visions and oracles 1:7–6:8
a. First vision—A man on a red horse and an accompanying oracle 1:7–17
b. Second vision—Four horns and four smiths 2:1–4 (Eng.
c. Third vision—The man with a measuring line and an accompanying vision 2:5–17 (Eng.
d. Fourth vision—The accusation of the high priest and accompanying oracles 3:1–10
e. Fifth vision—A golden lampstand, two olive trees and accompanying oracles 4:1–14
The thrust of this fifth vision with its accompanying oracles is clear.
Its purpose is to assure Zerubbabel that he will complete the temple through the Spirit of Yahweh.
The details of the vision and oracles are unclear at times.
/1 //And the angel speaking with me returned and waked me as a man that is wakened from his sleep.
//2 And he said to me, “What do you see?”
And I// said, “Behold I see a lampstand all of gold, and a basin upon the top of it and seven lamps upon it and seven spouts to the lamps which are on top of it.
//3 And two olive trees were beside it, one on the right of the basin and one on the left.”
//4 And I answered and said to the one speaking with me, “What are these, my lord?” //5 And the angel speaking with me said to me, “Do you not know what these are?”
And I said, “No, my lord!” //6 And he answered and said to me saying, “This is the word of Yahweh to Zerubbabel saying, Not by might and not by power, but by my Spirit says Yahweh of hosts.
//7 Who are you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain, and he shall cause the top stone to go up amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”
//8 And the word of Yahweh came to me saying, //9 “The hands of Zerubbabel founded this house and his hands shall complete it, and you shall know that Yahweh of hosts sent me to you.
//10 For who has despised the day of small things?
They shall rejoice and see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel./
The section 4:6–10a can stand where it is if the reader is aware of the break in the discussion about the lampstand and the two olive trees.
What follows in 4:6–10 is not an answer to the question, What are these?
(4:4–5), but a word of Yahweh concerning the temple and Zerubbabel’s role in rebuilding it.
There are really two words from Yahweh here (4:6–7 and 8–10a) but they both say essentially the same thing.
One, the temple will be built.
Zerubbabel started the rebuilding and he will finish it.
Two, strength to finish the temple will not be man’s physical ability חיל or military might כּחֹ, but will be by the power of the Spirit of Yahweh of hosts (4:6).
There seems to have been opposition to the rebuilding of the temple.
The opposition is referred to as a great mountain (4:7).
The opposition might have come from the “adversaries of Judah and Benjamin” referred to in Ezra 4:1–16.
The mountain of opposition might have been the discouraged group who despised the day of small things (Hag 2:3; Zech 4:10).
Or the mountain of opposition might have been a deep schism within the community concerning the rebuilding of the temple.
Paul Hanson believes that in the early post-exilic community there was a bitter struggle between two groups for control of the restoration cult.
Before the beginning of the restoration of the temple the conditions were described as a time when “there was no wage for man or any wage for beast, neither was there safety from the foe for him who went out or came in; for I set every man against his fellow” (Zech 8:10).
Whatever the opposition and regardless of its size or power Zechariah assured Zerubbabel that he would finish the temple.
At the midnight hour when the opposition appeared to be a mountain the word of God to Zerubbabel was that the mountain would become a plain מישר.
The similarity of the language of Zech 4:7 and that of Isa 40:4 and 42:16 is unmistakable.
The language is eschatological.
Zechariah was speaking about more than just rebuilding the temple.
He was thinking of the coming of the kingdom of God.
The idea of moving mountains of opposition to the kingdom of God is prominent in the NT (Matt 17:20; 21:21–22; Mark 11:22–23; Luke 17:6; 1 Cor 13:2).
The significance of Zerubbabel (4:5-10a)
Before identifying the “two olive trees” (v. 3) with “the two who are anointed” (v.
14), the angel prepared for this conclusion by relating the vision to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah (cf.
1:1, 12, 14; 2:21).
The angel suggested that he would finish the temple (Zech.
4:9) through the abundant supply of the Spirit of God.
Thus the oil for the lamp is associated with the Holy Spirit.
By His enabling the temple would be completed (v. 6) and every obstacle (mighty mountain, v. 7) to rebuilding would be removed.
Military strength (might) and human manpower (power) could not accomplish the task, but Spirit-empowered workers under the direction and leadership of Zerubbabel would do so.
The Lord explained to Zechariah (vv.
8-10) that Zerubbabel’s finishing the restoration temple would drive the critics to silence for they would know God had sent the prophet and the reconstructionists (God bless it!
7] Men will rejoice [v.
(Because Joshua the high priest was the subject of the preceding vision, no specific mention is made of him in this vision, but the two visions go together).
As Zerubbabel… laid the foundation of this temple (v.
9; i.e., he began the work of rebuilding on the ancient foundations), so he would also complete it, epitomized by his laying the capstone (v. 7).
The word translated plumb line (v.
10) is disputed and possibly refers to this final crowning stone (cf.
Baldwin, /Zechariah,/ pp.