Why Jesus Christ did what he did
How Jesus Christ viewed the Books of Haggai and Zechariah (Apr 01)
Matthew 23:33-35 (NKJ)
"Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar."
Wow! Obviously, Jesus Christ was HARSHLY CRITICAL of the "educated and certified" Judean religious leaders of his day. Why? This article will not only help you to better understand the answer to that question, it will also help you to better understand the DISASTEROUS consequences that mankind has been suffering, because even up to our present time, most of our world's "educated and certified" religious leaders are STILL committing essentially the same kinds of sins as those whom Jesus so severely criticized. Also by the time you finish reading this article, you will have a MUCH better understanding of the truly profound influence that the writings of Zechariah had on Jesus Christ's entire ministry, including an answer as to why Jesus began that ministry in the first place.
Haggai ("festive") and Zechariah ("the Lord remembers") were prophets (and probably Levite priests) who successfully convinced their fellow Judeans to resume their efforts to build Jerusalem's second temple on the location where King Solomon's Temple once stood. The initial efforts of the returning Judeans to replace King Solomon's temple had been brought to a halt 14 years earlier by neighboring Samaritans where were upset, because those Judeans had refused to allow the Samaritans to help them build it. The books of Haggai and the first eight chapters of Zechariah reflect attitudes and religious beliefs that were essentially the same as those of King Solomon. Judging from the reports in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah showing that "intermarriage" was commonly practiced in those days, it is evident that the teachings of Haggai and Zechariah had gained wide acceptance among the Judeans until Ezra and Nehemiah arrived from Babylon and satanically re-instituted Hebrew racism as "key feature" of the Judean's religion.
As far as authorship is concerned, we shall see that it is highly unlikely that Chapters 9, 10, 11, and the first 75 percent of Chapter 12 were actually written by Zechariah, because (among other problems) those texts seriously contradict the central themes that run throughout the much earlier Haggai and Zechariah texts.
As in our earlier biblical reviews, my own comments will be in [brackets]. I will use "2-hvn" to indicate those comments that are referring to the love-your-neighbor-as-yourself second-heaven (pretty much literal) level of interpretation and "3-hvn" to indicate those comments that are referring to the love-your-neighbor-as-yourself third-heaven (allegorical) level of interpretation. Also, unless otherwise noted, I will be using the New King James (NKJ) translation of the Bible.
When I refer to "God's two most fundamental commandments" or "God's guiding principles of truth and love", I am referring to the following central theme of Jesus' teachings (applied without restrictions):
Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJ)
Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
When I use terms like "satanically", "satanically inspired, or "Satan's", I referring to doctrines and practices that violate either one or both of God's two most fundamental commandments and therefore do NOT come from God. Jesus viewed such doctrines as being mere "precepts of men." (Matthew 15:9)
Although I refer to situations in our present world to help illustrate the present-day relevance of these teachings, the way I am viewing these teachings is essentially the same as the way Jesus viewed them (i.e. from the point of view of God's two most fundamental commandments). So let's get on with it.
CHAPTER 1 of HAGGAI
In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, "Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: 'This people says, "The time has not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built."'" Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?" Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes." Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified," says the LORD. "You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says the LORD of hosts. "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands."
[2-hvn. As we learned in our review of Nehemiah, because the first contingent of Judeans who had returned from Babylon refused to allow the Samaritans to help them rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, the Samaritans complained to their Persian superiors and arranged to put a halt to the Judeans' temple building efforts (a halt that lasted around 14 years). Here we see Haggai attempting to convince his fellow Judeans to resume the temple building project. Notice that like the earlier Judean prophets (the first two Isaiahs and Jeremiah), he wasn't afraid to claim that he was quoting the Lord directly. Of course, as Jeremiah pointed out repeatedly, many of Judea's false prophets claimed to be quoting the Lord directly as well. The easiest way to tell the difference between a true prophet and a false prophet is to consider whether or not their teachings are in conformance with God's two most fundamental commandments (without restrictions).
It's interesting to note that many biblical commentators have made comments like "The Lord stopped talking directly to the prophets around the time the Old Testament closed out." It's would probably be more accurate to say that a generation or so after Ezra and Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem's walls and officially made Hebrew racial bigotry and its prohibitions against "intermarriage" a key part of the Judeans' theology, the customary practice of claiming to quote the Lord directly not only faded out, it eventually evolved to a point where the Judeans hardly dared to use God's name at all. In other words, Ezra and Nehemiah not only rebuilt the physical walls around Jerusalem, they also rebuilt psychological walls of racial bigotry around their descendant's ways of thinking. Since then, their descendants (and their descendants victims) have been paying a VERY DEADLY PRICE for "swallowing" such satanically inspired guidance. So in this sense, because they embraced Ezra and Nehemiah's satanically inspired guidance, the Judeans may indeed have lost their ability to "hear the Lord directly" around the time the books of the Old Testament came to an end.]
[3-hvn. Notice that Haggai even claims that the droughts that the Judeans were evidently experiencing at the time were due to their failure to rebuild the temple. Haggai may have had a little more in mind than simply using the drought to help "prove his point." His comment, "Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit" has a third-heaven allegorical ring to it. Allegorically, the "dew" was often used to represent guidance from God, and the "earth" was used to represent mankind's perceptions of popular truths. So Haggai may have also intended to make a parallel (allegorical) point that rebuilding the temple would help the Judeans receive more true guidance from God.]
Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him; and the people feared the presence of the LORD. Then Haggai, the LORD'S messenger, spoke the LORD'S message to the people, saying, "I am with you, says the LORD." So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.
[2-hvn. According to what we learned in our review of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, although the Judeans eventually got official permission from the King of Persia to rebuild the temple, they had in fact already resumed their construction efforts before then. So the admonitions of Haggai and Zechariah succeeded, at least as far as rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem was concerned.]
CHAPTER 2 of HAGGAI
In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying: "Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying: 'Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,' says the LORD; 'and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,' says the LORD, 'and work; for I am with you,' says the LORD of hosts. 'According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!' For thus says the LORD of hosts: "Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory," says the LORD of hosts. "The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine," says the LORD of hosts. "The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former," says the LORD of hosts. "And in this place I will give peace," says the LORD of hosts."
[2-hvn. Since the decree that authorized the Judeans to build the temple in Jerusalem stipulated that it would not be as large (or at least at tall) has King Solomon's temple had been, some of the Judeans were evidently expressing doubts as to whether or not it would be an adequate temple for the worship of God. Here Haggai attempts to reassure them that this new temple would be fine, as far as God was concerned. He even got so bold as to predict that the glory of this new temple would be even greater than the glory of King Solomon's temple. Historically, however, that particular prophecy doesn't appear to have come true. The Old Testament doesn't mention that the second temple had the "glory" (of smoke) that allegedly accompanied the dedication of King Solomon's temple. And by the time of King Herod, that second temple had fallen into such a state of disrepair that Herod tore it down and replaced it with a much larger one. So to claim that Jerusalem's second temple actually did become a "Desire of All Nations" would be "quite a stretch." However, if you consider the originally intended ideals that the second temple was supposed to represent and teach (as emphasized by Zechariah in particular), then yes, it could easily have fulfilled Haggai's prophecy. The reason it didn't was because Ezra and Nehemiah thoroughly corrupted the God-inspired love-your-neighbor-as-yourself ideals that the temple and its priests were supposed to have represented and taught. Ezra and Nehemiah decided that rather than being a "Desire of All Nations", their temple should be merely a "Desire of Judeans Only." This is how Jesus viewed what Ezra and Nehemiah had done, and it helps to explain why Jesus responded to some Judean religious lawyers as follows:
Luke 11:45-52 (NKJ)
Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, "Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also." And He said, "Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore the wisdom of God also said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute, that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered."
It's also interesting to note that St. Paul quoted from Haggai in Hebrews 12:25-29 (NKJ):
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven." Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.
In other words, man-made concepts will rise and fall over time, but God's two most fundamental commandments of truth and love are eternal, they cannot be shaken!]
On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Now, ask the priests concerning the law, saying, "If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?"'" Then the priests answered and said, "No." And Haggai said, "If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?" So the priests answered and said, "It shall be unclean." Then Haggai answered and said," 'So is this people, and so is this nation before Me,' says the LORD, 'and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. And now, carefully consider from this day forward: from before stone was laid upon stone in the temple of the LORD--since those days, when one came to a heap of twenty ephahs, there were but ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty baths from the press, there were but twenty. I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,' says the LORD. 'Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid--consider it: Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day forward I will bless you.'"
[2-hvn. Here Haggai is likening his fellow Judeans to "unclean meat" and claiming that this is what has been causing their food and wine shortages. But he predicts that things will go better once the temple is rebuilt. When you think about it, when people fail to cooperate with one another (i.e. fail to follow God's commandment to love their neighbors as themselves), then one can reliably predict that they will have shortages of many things, including food and wine. In a way, they will have "done it to themselves" by not following God's two most fundamental commandments.]
And again the word of the LORD came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, "Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: 'I will shake heaven and earth. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride in them; the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,' says the LORD, 'and will make you as a signet ring; for I have chosen you,' says the LORD of hosts."
[3-hvn. This prophecy obviously didn't come true, at least not in Zerubbabel's time. Does that make Haggai a "false prophet"? Not necessarily. Zerubbabel himself may have added or embellished this last part (after Haggai's death) in order to help legitimize his position of authority.
Many biblical commentators view this last part of Haggai as foretelling the second coming of Christ. That could be true if the expression "every one by the sword of his brother" is allegorically interpreted as referring to Christ's "two-edged sword" of truth and love, but this prophecy specifically refers to Zerubbabel, so it's applicability to the Second Coming of Christ isn't really justified.]
CHAPTER 1 of ZECHARIAH
In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, "The LORD has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Return to Me," says the LORD of hosts, "and I will return to you," says the LORD of hosts. "Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds."' But they did not hear nor heed Me," says the LORD. "Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? Yet surely My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers?" So they returned and said: 'Just as the LORD of hosts determined to do to us, according to our ways and according to our deeds, so He has dealt with us.'"' "
[2-hvn. Evidently, at that time, Zechariah's Judean contemporaries weren't much different than Jeremiah's Judean contemporaries.]
On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet: I saw by night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow; and behind him were horses: red, sorrel, and white. Then I said, "My lord, what are these?" So the angel who talked with me said to me, "I will show you what they are." And the man who stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, "These are the ones whom the LORD has sent to walk to and fro throughout the earth." So they answered the Angel of the LORD, who stood among the myrtle trees, and said, "We have walked to and fro throughout the earth, and behold, all the earth is resting quietly."
[3-hvn. This was clearly an allegorical vision, probably referring to the warrior king Cyrus (on a bloody red "horse" or administration) and his successors (who weren't quite so bloody) who acted as God's agent by defeating the Babylonian Empire, allowing the Jews to return to Judea, and restoring peace throughout the region. The myrtle trees represent the scattered tribes of Israel who were in a low place (as captives) among the nations conquered by the Mede-Persian alliance.]
Then the Angel of the LORD answered and said, "O LORD of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?" And the LORD answered the angel who talked to me, with good and comforting words. So the angel who spoke with me said to me, "Proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal. I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease [the nations subdued by the Persians]; for I was a little angry, and they helped--but with evil intent." 'Therefore thus says the LORD: "I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it," says the LORD of hosts, "And a surveyor's line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem."'" Again proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; the LORD will again comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem."'"
[3-hvn. Here Zechariah's vision assures his fellow Judeans that in spite of their reversion to the evil ways of their forefathers, this time the Lord decided to show more mercy towards them and help them to become prosperous.]
Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were four horns. And I said to the angel who talked with me, "What are these?" So he answered me, "These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem." Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen. And I said, "What are these coming to do?" So he said, "These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one could lift up his head; but the craftsmen are coming to terrify them, to cast out the horns of the nations that lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it."
[3-hvn. At first it seems logical to assume that the Assyrian and Babylonian empires would be two of those "horns" that scattered Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Judea about a century later. But then what would the other two "horns" be? And (even allegorically) how could those nations ("horns") lift up their nation ("horn") against the land of Judah? Something is clearly wrong with the way most biblical commentators have been interpreting this vision. What if those four "horns" were in fact ungodly CONCEPTS like greed (not wanting to pay tribute or taxes to a non-Jewish king in exchange for peace and protection), racism (limiting their definition of neighbor to allegedly "biological relatives" as certified by the Levites), putting their faith in man-made weapons (rather than God's guiding principles of truth and love), and worshipping "national sovereignty" (a mythological idol that uses self-serving promises by human rulers to justify granting those rulers "absolute power") rather than God. Those four ungodly concepts did INDEED scatter Israel and Judea. This allegorical interpretation (which conforms with God's two most fundamental commandments) fits what Zechariah wrote FAR better than any the other interpretations of that vision that I have yet seen. Indeed, ALL of the other interpretations of the visions in this chapter that I have yet seen were designed or biased to make the worship of "national sovereignty" appear to be "holy." Notice that this vision predicts that "craftsmen" (participants in the Kingdom of God, as taught by Jesus Christ) will eventually destroy ALL such ungodly "horns" (popular but ungodly concepts or "evil spirits").]
CHAPTER 2 of ZECHARIAH
Then I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. So I said, "Where are you going?" And he said to me, "To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length." And there was the angel who talked with me, going out; and another angel was coming out to meet him, who said to him, "Run, speak to this young man, saying: 'Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. 'For I,' says the LORD, 'will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.'"
[3-hvn. If the Judeans had trashed the racist teachings and practices of the ancient Levites and practiced God's commandment to love their neighbors as themselves without restrictions, they could have survived very well as a "town without walls." Notice that the walls of the glorious "New Jerusalem" described in Revelation 21 have an ample array of gates to allow people to enter from all directions, and that it has no temple and no exclusive class of priests. That allegorical picture differs SIGNIFICANTLY from the teachings of most of Judea's Levites.]
"Up, up! Flee from the land of the north," says the LORD; "for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven," says the LORD. "Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon." For thus says the LORD of hosts: "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," says the LORD. "Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!"
[3-hvn. Here Zechariah's vision includes "many nations" that will be "joined to the Lord in that day." This is consistent with the view of a "New Jerusalem" in Revelation 21. There is no hint of racism here; it is in stark contrast to the highly racist religion and walled Jerusalem that Ezra and Nehemiah created. Like the ideals expressed by King Solomon when he dedicated Jerusalem's first temple (1 Kings 8:41-43), Zechariah's vision expresses a hope that the Jerusalem of his time would become pretty much like the "New Jerusalem" described in Revelation 21, and he exhorted Jews in other lands to come and join in this movement. This gives us a rarely described glimpse at the ideals and ways of thinking of many of the Judeans in Jerusalem before Ezra and Nehemiah arrived from Babylon and squelched this movement. Again (because this point is SO important), this helps to explain why Jesus said in
Matthew 23:33-35 (NKJ)
"Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar."
[By the way, the surviving documents in the Old Testament describe just one incident where a prophet named Zechariah was murdered between the temple and the alter, but that Zechariah was the son of Jehoiada, and that incident occurred under the reign of Joash long before Jerusalem and King Solomon's temple were leveled by the Babylonians. Did Jesus get that Zechariah's father's name wrong, or was it "common knowledge" in Jesus' day that the Zechariah who wrote these prophecies was likewise murdered between the temple and the alter? Oh well, one thing is for sure, Ezra and Nehemiah "murdered" the ideals preached by this Zechariah "between the temple and the alter."]
CHAPTER 3 of ZECHARIAH
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, "Take away the filthy garments from him." And to him He said, "See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes." And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.
[3-hvn. Allegorically, that Joshua in filthy clothes represented Jerusalem's temple, which in those days had yet to be rebuilt, and Satan represented the attitude among many Judeans in those days that they should simply leave it that way. According to this vision, God wanted the temple to be rebuilt and its high priest to be properly attired. Notice the subtle "barb" this vision shows by portraying Joshua with "Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him" as if say, "You shouldn't be letting Satan influence you."]
Then the Angel of the LORD admonished Joshua, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'If you will walk in My ways, and if you will keep My command, then you shall also judge My house, and likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk among these who stand here. 'Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, you and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign; for behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH. For behold, the stone that I have laid before Joshua: upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,' says the LORD of hosts, 'And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'Everyone will invite his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree.' "
[3-hvn. So Zechariah's vision admonished the real Joshua to "get his act straight" (i.e. adjust his teachings and practices to align with God's two most fundamental commandments without restrictions). The "BRANCH" that he talks about is clearly an allegorical prophecy regarding a coming Messiah whose teachings would be like a "rock" with "seven eyes" looking in all directions. He also predicts that those teachings will provide mankind with guidance that will ultimately break down ALL of mankind's man-made (satanically inspired) conceptual restrictions on God's definition of "neighbor." It's only hinted at hear, but it is shown more clearly in Chapter 6 that Zechariah was hoping that Joshua would take on the role of "BRANCH" (away from traditional Hebrew racial bigotry, among other things), but evidently he didn't. So a few centuries later, Jesus did.]
CHAPTER 4 of ZECHARIAH
Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep. And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left." So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?" Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." So he answered and said to me: "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts. 'Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of "Grace, grace to it!"'"
[3-hvn. Physically, this vision resembles a description of the Jewish symbol known as the "Menorah", (a golden lampstand with seven candles representing the "seven spirits of God") first described in Exodus 25. Allegorically, an olive tree was commonly used to represent the ancient nation of Israel before the false prophet Ahijah split it into two "olive trees." Zechariah's reply that he wasn't interested in knowing what those allegories meant is interesting (many true prophets of God begin their ministries somewhat reluctantly), but the angel nevertheless insists on telling him that the Judean governor Zerubbabel should rely on God's Spirit for his authority rather than on might or secular power (a.k.a. the "tools of Cain"). If he does that, he will be able to turn evil conceptual "mountains" into peaceful "plains" in the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths, and he will be able to raise conceptual capstones onto "pillars of faith" by teaching "Grace" (love your neighbor as yourself).]
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands shall also finish it. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the LORD, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth." Then I answered and said to him, "What are these two olive trees--at the right of the lampstand and at its left?" And I further answered and said to him, "What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?" Then he answered me and said, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." So he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth."
[3-hvn. It was a practice of the high priests in both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Judea to anoint the heads of their new kings in oil to reaffirm their authority (and symbolize a recognition of their ability to create peace--among their own subjects, at least). So what this vision is saying is that the Samaritans and the Judeans shared essentially the same religious ideals, so even though it was Zerubbabel who insisted on rebuilding the temple without the help of the Samaritans, Zechariah's vision shows that the Samaritans and Judeans should work together in this regard to better serve "the Lord of the whole earth" (not just the God of Judea). But Ezra and Nehemiah squelched that ideal as well.]
CHAPTER 5 of ZECHARIAH
Then I turned and raised my eyes, and saw there a flying scroll. And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I answered, "I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits and its width ten cubits." Then he said to me, "This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole earth: 'Every thief shall be expelled,' according to this side of the scroll; and, 'Every perjurer shall be expelled,' according to that side of it. I will send out the curse," says the LORD of hosts; "It shall enter the house of the thief and the house of the one who swears falsely by My name. It shall remain in the midst of his house and consume it, with its timber and stones."
[3-hvn. Notice that in this vision, those who "swear falsely" while claiming to represent God (i.e. who use God's name in vain) are likened to thieves and perjurers, and that their misdeeds will be recorded, so that eventually they will be "brought to justice" and their houses (or conceptual structures) will be consumed by God's wrath. The pre-tribulation-rapture-preaching religious leaders of America's so-called "Christian Right" would be wise to heed this warning (but it doesn't appear likely that they will). That giant "flying scroll" could be an ancient description of what is presently known as "the Internet." And all those so-called "Christian Right" web sites (where God's commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves is conspicuously missing in Spirit as well as the written word) are indeed "entering houses" (through the Internet) and "consuming" those who use God's name in vain with satanically inspired attitudes and doctrines. As I pointed out in last month's article on www.onesalt.com, ultimately what they are doing is teaching people how to destroy themselves (and others)!]
Then the angel who talked with me came out and said to me, "Lift your eyes now, and see what this is that goes forth." So I asked, "What is it?" And he said, "It is a basket that is going forth." He also said, "This is their resemblance throughout the earth: Here is a lead disc lifted up, and this is a woman sitting inside the basket"; then he said, "This is Wickedness!" And he thrust her down into the basket, and threw the lead cover over its mouth. Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were two women, coming with the wind in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven. So I said to the angel who talked with me, "Where are they carrying the basket?" And he said to me, "To build a house for it in the land of Shinar; when it is ready, the basket will be set there on its base."
[3-hvn. In this vision, the woman in the basket represents satanically corrupted religion (or satanically corrupted religious leaders). Representing satanically corrupted religious organizations as "harlots" is a commonly used allegorical device throughout the Old and New Testaments. That basket represents the restrictions that those religious leaders have taught their followers to place on their definition of "neighbor." So in effect, those wicked religious leaders were imprisoned by their own satanically inspired doctrines! Contrast that with Jesus' comment that those who followed his teachings regarding God's two most fundamental commandments would know the truth and that truth would set them free (John 8:31-32). Then Zechariah's vision shows two female angels (representing God's two most fundamental commandments) carrying the wicked religion in its basket away "between earth and heaven" (representing a mixture of heavenly and earthly teachings) to build a house for it in "the land of Shinar" (Babylon, Sodom, Gomorrah, and the Tower of Babel were built in the land of Shinar). That would be like displaying that "wicked woman" in a museum of examples of religious confusion in general. Although it was possible that Zechariah "saw these things coming", it appears more likely that this particular vision came to Zechariah AFTER Ezra and Nehemiah arrived from Babylon and started implementing their racially bigoted "reforms" as part of their efforts to seize control of Jerusalem's theocracy. More likely than not, the "wicked woman" in this vision represents the satanically corrupted "religion" that Ezra and Nehemiah created, and in Revelation 17 that "wicked woman" is displayed as "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT"! Of course, over the past two millennia, that "Scarlet Harlot" in Revelation 17 has grown to represent satanically corrupted religious "denominations" in general (not just "orthodox" Judaism).]
CHAPTER 6 of ZECHARIAH
Then I turned and raised my eyes and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming from between two mountains, and the mountains were mountains of bronze. With the first chariot were red horses, with the second chariot black horses, with the third chariot white horses, and with the fourth chariot dappled horses-- strong steeds. Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?" And the angel answered and said to me, "These are four spirits of heaven, who go out from their station before the Lord of all the earth. The one with the black horses is going to the north country, the white are going after them, and the dappled are going toward the south country." Then the strong steeds went out, eager to go, that they might walk to and fro throughout the earth. And He said, "Go, walk to and fro throughout the earth." So they walked to and fro throughout the earth. And He called to me, and spoke to me, saying, "See, those who go toward the north country have given rest to My Spirit in the north country."
[3-hvn. The two mountains of (man-made) bronze represent man-made INVERSES of God's two most fundamental commandments. The most flagrant example of the INVERSE of the the first of God's two most fundamental commandment is the worship of "national sovereignty", because that is essentially worshipping temporal human rulers and their man-made powers, concepts, and tools rather than God's guiding principles of truth and love. The INVERSE of the second of God's two most commandments is perhaps best exemplified by racism with its corresponding fears, hatreds, and bigotry. The concepts of "racism" and "national sovereignty" have produced mankind's most flagrant examples of the DEADLY CONSEQUENCES of placing restrictions on one's definition of "neighbor." Out of these INVERSES of God's two most fundamental commandments have come the bloody "red" consequences of war, the "black" darkness of misunderstanding and confusion, the "white" illusion of superiority over others, and the "dappled" consequences of problems like recurring famines, epidemics, and anarchy which continue to go unsolved, because mankind's devotion to those satanically inspired concepts has been preventing most people from working successfully together to solve such problems. And guess what! LOOK at what has happened throughout the past four millennia. Where have most of the bloody wars, dark confusions, white illusions of superiority been generated? In the Northern Hemisphere! And where have most of the deadly problems been occurring that never seem to get solved? In the Southern Hemisphere! (Well, it fits! Doesn't it?)
Now you may say, "But wait, didn't that angel say that those were four spirits of heaven, who go out from their station before the Lord of all the earth"? That's what he said, but WHO has REALLY been the "Lord of all the earth" over the past four millennia? That's right! This time I think you've got it. Satan! And Satan has been using concepts like racism, greed, and "national sovereignty" to MAINTAIN his control over all the earth--with considerable help from many of the world's religious leaders. Many of those religious leaders have been making evil spirits like national sovereignty, reliance on man-made weapons of death and destruction, greed, and/or racism APPEAR to be "holy" (i.e. making them appear to be spirits from "heaven"--mankind's perceptions of God). God only knows how many hundreds of millions of men, women, and children THEY HAVE GOTTEN KILLED by doing so!]
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Receive the gift from the captives-- from Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have come from Babylon--and go the same day and enter the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah. Take the silver and gold, make an elaborate crown, and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Then speak to him, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: "Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the LORD; Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; so He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." ' Now the elaborate crown shall be for a memorial in the temple of the LORD for Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen the son of Zephaniah. Even those who are far away shall come and build the temple of the LORD. Then you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And this shall come to pass if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God."
[2-hvn. Apparently, in an effort to encourage the high priest Joshua to take on the role he predicted for a Messiah (and to "kick start" the temple rebuilding project), Zechariah solicited silver and gold from various former Judean captives and fashioned a crown (a symbol of authority) for the high priest. He even bestowed the new title of "BRANCH" on Joshua in hopes of encouraging him to "branch out" from the confines of his heretofore-beloved Levite doctrines. His point about "Even those who are far away will come and build the temple of the LORD", shows that Zechariah (and God) viewed the Judeans' earlier decision to allow only Judeans to build temple as being a bad idea. Nehemiah 5:17 indicates that Zechariah's point in this regard was may have been heeded for a while, at least for the re-building of Jerusalem's walls.]
CHAPTER 7 of ZECHARIAH
Now in the fourth year of King Darius it came to pass that the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, on the fourth day of the ninth month, Chislev, when the people sent Sherezer, with Regem-Melech and his men, to the house of God, to pray before the LORD, and to ask the priests who were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and the prophets, saying, "Should I weep in the fifth month and fast as I have done for so many years?" Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, "Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me--for Me? 'When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? Should you not have obeyed the words which the LORD proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were inhabited and prosperous, and the South and the Lowland were inhabited?'" Then the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.'
[2-hvn. So, like Jesus, Zechariah taught that rather than fretting over traditional religious rituals, they should concern themselves first and foremost with following God's commandment to love their neighbors as themselves (without restrictions--even the "alien" and "poor" were to be considered neighbors).
'But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen," says the LORD of hosts. "But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known. Thus the land became desolate after them, so that no one passed through or returned; for they made the pleasant land desolate."
[2-hvn. Here Zechariah reminds his Judean contemporaries how their forefathers suffered God's wrath and paid DEARLY, because they refused to heed such advice regarding the need to love their neighbors as themselves.]
[3-hvn. Allegorically, the "pleasant land" that they made desolate was the "Garden of Eden" of Genesis, the "New Jerusalem" of Revelation, and the "Kingdom of God" as taught by Jesus Christ. They made those spiritual "lands" so desolate that "no one passed through or returned." As it turned out, many of them (and/or their descendants) really DID pay DEARLY for what they did to that "pleasant land."]
CHAPTER 8 of ZECHARIAH
Again the word of the LORD of hosts came, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; with great fervor I am zealous for her.' Thus says the LORD: 'I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the LORD of hosts, the Holy Mountain.'"
[3-hvn. There it is folks! God is not just LOVE; God is also TRUTH! Truth and love are what God is all about! And yet this has NOT been what most of our religions leaders have been teaching. Oh sure, many of them talk about this "truth" or that "truth" or about "absolute truths", "infallible scriptures", etc., but the fact remains that from God's point of view, we cannot learn the REAL truth about what's going on around us unless we ALSO seek to follow God's commandment to love our neighbors and ourselves (without restrictions).]
Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets." Thus says the LORD of hosts: "If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, will it also be marvelous in My eyes?" Says the LORD of hosts. Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; I will bring them back, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be My people and I will be their God, in truth and righteousness." Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Let your hands be strong, you who have been hearing in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, who spoke in the day the foundation was laid for the house of the LORD of hosts, that the temple might be built. For before these days there were no wages for man nor any hire for beast; there was no peace from the enemy for whoever went out or came in; for I set all men, everyone, against his neighbor. But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days," says the LORD of hosts. "For the seed shall be prosperous, the vine shall give its fruit, the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew--I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these. And it shall come to pass that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing. Do not fear, let your hands be strong." For thus says the LORD of hosts: "Just as I determined to punish you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath," says the LORD of hosts, "And I would not relent, So again in these days I am determined to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear. These are the things you shall do: speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. That certainly doesn't sound like the kind of attitudes and practices that Ezra and most of the ancient Levites were teaching, or even the kind of "God" that Ezra and most of the ancient Levites were portraying.]
Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.' Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Peoples shall yet come, inhabitants of many cities; The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, "Let us continue to go and pray before the LORD, and seek the LORD of hosts. I myself will go also." Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.' Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."'"
[2-hvn. Notice the complete lack of racial bigotry or hatred of non-Jews in these teachings from God that came to us through Zechariah. Jesus didn't "invent" the idea of placing no restrictions on one's definition of neighbor; he recognized that principle as one of the central, recurring themes being taught by MANY of the true prophets of God who wrote, edited, and/or compiled the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament). But Jesus does deserve substantial credit for having the "guts" to take a stand against many of the ungodly religious teachings and practices of his day and making points regarding God's two most fundamental commandments even clearer through his parables and teachings (especially Matthew 22:37-40, his parable about the Good Samaritan, and his sacrifice on the cross).]
CHAPTER 9 of ZECHARIAH[?]
The burden of the word of the LORD against the land of Hadrach, and Damascus its resting place (For the eyes of men and all the tribes of Israel are on the LORD); Also against Hamath, which borders on it, and against Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise. For Tyre built herself a tower, heaped up silver like the dust, and gold like the mire of the streets. Behold, the LORD will cast her out; he will destroy her power in the sea, and she will be devoured by fire. Ashkelon shall see it and fear; Gaza also shall be very sorrowful; and Ekron, for He dried up her expectation. The king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited. A mixed race shall settle in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. I will take away the blood from his mouth, and the abominations from between his teeth. But he who remains, even he shall be for our God, and shall be like a leader in Judah, and Ekron like a Jebusite. I will camp around My house because of the army, because of him who passes by and him who returns. No more shall an oppressor pass through them, for now I have seen with My eyes.
[2-hvn. The first reaction I got when reading this chapter was, "Where did the texts for this chapter come from?" For the reasons described throughout this article to this point, these texts do NOT appear to have been written by Zechariah or even Haggai. At first, it appears that they might have been written by the first or second Isaiah or perhaps by Naham or maybe even Ezekiel, because they use the "burden" style of writing occasionally used by those authors. Although the concerns addressed by these texts may have been relevant to Judean prophets two or three generations before Zechariah's time, as we shall see, they are in fact addressing events that occurred nearly two centuries AFTER Zechariah's time. So these texts may actually been written by the same Alexandrian "historical revisionist" who wrote the apocryphal book known as "Esdras I." My own research has revealed that many biblical scholars have likewise had serious doubts about which of the last six chapters (if any) were actually written by Zechariah. Oh well, here the author (whoever he was) is predicting gloom and doom for various cities. Some commentators have pointed out that those cities (including Tyre) were indeed sacked by the armies of Alexander the Great in 332 BC, about two centuries after Zechariah's ministry.]
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; the battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; his dominion shall be 'from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.' "As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you. For I have bent Judah, My bow, Fitted the bow with Ephraim, and raised up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and made you like the sword of a mighty man."
[3-hvn. Again, the style of writing and concerns expressed here differ significantly from the first eight chapters of Zechariah. But this author also predicts that a humble king (a.k.a. Messiah) would someday come to Jerusalem riding on a donkey's colt. Many commentators (as well as the authors of Matthew and John) have concluded that Jesus Christ deliberately made those arrangements to fulfill the above prophecy when he rode a donkey's colt into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. However, it could equally well be argued that by doing so, Jesus' true intention was to symbolically re-enact King Solomon's procession into Jerusalem to be crowned as the successor to Israel's King David. Either way, the fact that Jesus was symbolically making a claim to be some sort of a "king" by entering Jerusalem in this way did not go unnoticed by Jerusalem's religious leaders. Jesus did of course "speak peace to the nations", but his dominion "from sea to sea" has yet to be accomplished (because the event known as the "Second Coming of Christ" hasn't occurred yet). Notice that this author SPECIFICALLY addresses Greece (i.e. Alexander the Great) as Zion's enemy at the time this text was written. So these texts were most likely written sometime around or after 332 BC.]
Then the LORD will be seen over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord GOD will blow the trumpet, and go with whirlwinds from the south. The LORD of hosts will defend them; they shall devour and subdue with slingstones. They shall drink and roar as if with wine; they shall be filled with blood like basins, like the corners of the altar. The LORD their God will save them in that day, as the flock of His people. For they shall be like the jewels of a crown, lifted like a banner over His land--For how great is its goodness and how great its beauty! Grain shall make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women.
[3-hvn. Well, clearly that hasn't happened yet. Contrary to this prophecy, the Lord did NOT intervene to save the Judeans (and Jerusalem) from the Roman army in 69-73 AD. That's not surprising, because at the time, the Judeans were practicing racism and rebelliously putting their faith in man-made weapons and Judean "national sovereignty" rather than God's guiding principles of truth and love. So it was unlikely that God would intervene "supernaturally" to save a people who falsely CLAIMED to represent Him but blatantly INGNORED his two most fundamental commandments. The same holds true for the nation-state of Israel today, for essentially the same reasons.]
CHAPTER 10 of ZECHARIAH[?]
Ask the LORD for rain in the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; he will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone. For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd. "My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the goatherds. For the LORD of hosts will visit His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as His royal horse in the battle. From him comes the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together. They shall be like mighty men, who tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle. They shall fight because the LORD is with them, and the riders on horses shall be put to shame. I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them. They shall be as though I had not cast them aside; for I am the LORD their God, and I will hear them. Those of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as if with wine. Yes, their children shall see it and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD. I will whistle for them and gather them, for I will redeem them; and they shall increase as they once increased. I will sow them among the peoples, and they shall remember Me in far countries; they shall live, together with their children, and they shall return. I will also bring them back from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, until no more room is found for them. He shall pass through the sea with affliction, and strike the waves of the sea: all the depths of the River shall dry up. Then the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart. So I will strengthen them in the LORD, and they shall walk up and down in His name," says the LORD.
[3-hvn. Notice how the attitude toward neighboring countries in Chapter 10 differs significantly from the attitude in Chapter 2 where in verse 11 the REAL Zechariah prophesized, "Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you." Chapter 10 sounds like it was written by a traditional Levite. Notice that the author is still thinking in terms of Assyria and Egypt, although Assyria has long since ceased to exist. Well, at least he foresees the twelve tribes of Israel getting back together. St. John's Book of Revelation predicts that as well.]
CHAPTER 11 of ZECHARIAH[?]
Open your doors, O Lebanon, that fire may devour your cedars. Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, because the mighty trees are ruined. Wail, O oaks of Bashan, for the thick forest has come down. There is the sound of wailing shepherds! For their glory is in ruins. There is the sound of roaring lions! For the pride of the Jordan is in ruins. Thus says the LORD my God, "Feed the flock for slaughter, whose owners slaughter them and feel no guilt; those who sell them say, 'Blessed be the LORD, for I am rich'; and their shepherds do not pity them. For I will no longer pity the inhabitants of the land," says the LORD. "But indeed I will give everyone into his neighbor's hand and into the hand of his king. They shall attack the land, and I will not deliver them from their hand."
[3-hvn. Ugh! It's people like that who give God a bad reputation! This may help to explain why many Judeans in Jesus' day were expecting "the Messiah" to be a great military leader. This hardly reflects the image of a lowly king on a donkey's colt mentioned in Chapter 9.]
So I fed the flock for slaughter, in particular the poor of the flock. I took for myself two staffs: the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bonds; and I fed the flock. I dismissed the three shepherds in one month. My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me. Then I said, "I will not feed you. Let what is dying die, and what is perishing perish. Let those that are left eat each other's flesh." And I took my staff, Beauty, and cut it in two, that I might break the covenant which I had made with all the peoples. So it was broken on that day. Thus the poor of the flock, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD.
[3-hvn. The word of the Lord? Not hardly.]
Then I said to them, "If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain." So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter"-- that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter. Then I cut in two my other staff, Bonds, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. And the LORD said to me, "Next, take for yourself the implements of a foolish shepherd. For indeed I will raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those who are cut off, nor seek the young, nor heal those that are broken, nor feed those that still stand. But he will eat the flesh of the fat and tear their hooves in pieces. Woe to the worthless shepherd, who leaves the flock! A sword shall be against his arm and against his right eye; his arm shall completely wither, and his right eye shall be totally blinded."
[3-hvn. Actually, this sounds like it could have been a prophesy of the coming Judas! The author of Matthew 27:9 mistakenly attributed a prophesy concerning the "thirty pieces of silver" to Jeremiah. Apparently, the prophecy he really had in mind was this one in Zechariah 11. So much for the so-called "infallibility of the scriptures" doctrine that many of our present-day religious leaders like to peddle.]
CHAPTER 12 of ZECHARIAH[?]
The burden of the word of the LORD against Israel. Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him: "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. In that day," says the LORD, "I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, 'The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the LORD of hosts, their God.' In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place--Jerusalem. The LORD will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah. In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them. It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
[3-hvn. Well, this prophecy certainly wasn't fulfilled in 70 AD when the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem and its beloved temple (along with the satanically inspired Levite tradition of an exclusively Levite priesthood).]
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 have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.
[3-hvn. This final portion of Chapter 12 not only appears to be a prophecy concerning Jesus' crucifixion, it also appears to be out of place when you consider the context of the first 75 percent of this chapter. The author of the Gospel of John refers to Psalms 22:16-17 rather than this portion of Zechariah concerning a prophecy regarding the piercing of Jesus Christ. As we will see, starting with this portion of Chapter 12, the tone and theme of the texts changes significantly back towards the themes preached by Zechariah himself. Of course, it is possible that these texts may have been added at a later time as well, but to me it appears more likely that (with the exception of the very last sentence), the remainder of this book may actually have been written by Zechariah himself (at a later time in his ministry) to show how the satanically inspired doctrines instituted by Ezra and Nehemiah could eventually be overthrown. So, it appears that Chapters 9 through the first 75 percent of Chapter 12 were written at a much later time and inserted after Chapter 8. Why? Perhaps the person who was compiling the texts at a later time simply made a mistake. Or perhaps they were deliberately inserted among the Zechariah texts in order to obscure the God-guided (non-Ezra-conforming) points that Zechariah was making. In either case, I have no doubt that Jesus was able to recognize the difference, just as I have done. ]
CHAPTER 13 of ZECHARIAH
"In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. It shall be in that day," says the LORD of hosts, "that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land. It shall come to pass that if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who begot him will say to him, 'You shall not live, because you have spoken lies in the name of the LORD.' And his father and mother who begot him shall thrust him through when he prophesies. And it shall be in that day that every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies; they will not wear a robe of coarse hair to deceive. But he will say, 'I am no prophet, I am a farmer; for a man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.' And one will say to him, 'What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will answer, 'Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.' Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Companion," says the LORD of hosts. "Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; then I will turn My hand against the little ones. And it shall come to pass in all the land," says the LORD, "That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; and each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"
[3-hvn. Hmmm. The New King James translation of this prophecy sounds weird as well as grim. Parents killing their sons because they utter prophesies? God calling for a sword to be used against his own son and then turning against the little ones? Two thirds in all the land cut off to die? The Living Bible (TLB) translation of this chapter makes much more sense:
Zechariah 13:1-9 (TLB)
"At that time a Fountain will be opened to the people of Israel and Jerusalem, a Fountain to cleanse them from all their sins and defilement." And the Lord Almighty declares, "In that day I will get rid of every vestige of idol worship throughout the land, so that even the names of the idols will be forgotten. All false prophets and fortune-tellers will be wiped out, and if anyone begins false prophecy again, his own father and mother will slay him! 'You must die,' they will tell him, 'for you are prophesying lies in the name of the Lord.' No one will be boasting then of his prophetic gift! No one will wear prophet's clothes to try to fool the people then. 'No,' he will say. 'I am not a prophet; I am a farmer. The soil has been my livelihood from my earliest youth.' And if someone asks, 'Then what are these scars on your chest and your back?' he will say, 'I got into a brawl at the home of a friend!' Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, the man who is my associate and equal," says the Lord Almighty. "Strike down the Shepherd and the sheep will scatter, but I will come back and comfort and care for the lambs. Two-thirds of all the nation of Israel will be cut off and die, but a third will be left in the land. I will bring the third that remain through the fire and make them pure, as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call upon my name and I will hear them; I will say, 'These are my people,' and they will say, 'The Lord is our God.'"]
[3-hvn. So the point that the author of last part of Chapter 12 and all of Chapter 13 of the book of Zechariah was attempting to make was that only about four of the tribes of Israel would survive. They would be "purified" buy the "fire" of experiencing the evil consequences wrought by false prophets. So they would no longer tolerate self-proclaimed "prophets" who falsely claim to represent God while advocating violations of God's two most fundamental commandments. It's a good point, but perhaps unnecessarily grim in the way it was presented. Perhaps is was "literal" interpretations of this chapter and its predictions regarding how false prophets would be dealt with that eventually led to the Judean practice of avoiding the use of God's name in writing and in speech.]
CHAPTER 14 of ZECHARIAH
Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle.
[3-hvn. Over the past 1500 years or so, many religious leaders (like Jack Van Impe, Hal Lindsey, et. al.) have claimed to be interpreting this chapter "literally", and have used it to support predictions regarding events they said would happen in the near future. As far as I know, NONE of those predictions has ever come true! Perhaps the event that came closest to resembling these predictions was the sacking of Jerusalem and leveling of its temple in 70 AD by the Roman army, but that could hardly have been considered a "gathering of all nations to do battle against Jerusalem." Of course, it's possible that some day all of the nations of the world may challenge the racist doctrines and practices of the present nation-state of Israel (a challenge that WOULD be inspired by God), but then why would the Lord "go forth and fight against" nations that were acting according to His will?]
And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You. It shall come to pass in that day that there will be no light; the lights will diminish. It shall be one day which is known to the LORD--neither day nor night. But at evening time it shall happen that it will be light. And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And the LORD shall be King over all the earth.
[2-hvn. This is one of the most famous portions of the book of Zechariah. Many present-day religious leaders like to use this to support their claims that in the event known as "The Second Coming of Christ", Jesus Christ will physically return to earth as a real person, setting his feet down on the Mount of Olives. In fact, the four gospels show quite clearly that Jesus Christ did indeed "set his feet" on the Mount of Olives. And they mention that an "earthquake" took place while Jesus was being crucified not long thereafter. But that event certainly didn't physically split the Mount of Olives in two from east west. So let's consider a likely third-heaven allegorical alternative interpretation of this prophecy.]
[3-hvn. Suppose that the "city" of Jerusalem that this author is talking about is the idealized "New Jerusalem" as described in Revelation 21 (a physical manifestation of the love-your-neighbor-as-yourself Kingdom of God, as taught by Jesus Christ). When this "New Jerusalem" finally decides to utterly destroy the popularity of Satan's mythological idol known in today's world as "national sovereignty", it's not hard to understand why for a while "all of the nations of the earth" would oppose this "New Jerusalem." In some countries, citizens of this "New Jerusalem" would be tragically persecuted (which in fact is happening right now in many parts of the world.) Suppose that about half of them succumb to that persecution, but not without making God's point regarding the importance of taking His two most fundamental commandments SERIOULSLY in the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of people. Now, allegorically, it's significant to note that the Mount of Olives faces Jerusalem on the east, the direction from which the sun rises, or where light (truth) originates. If the "Mount of Olives" represents the traditional "orthodox" (Levite) teachings of Hebrew racism ("south") along with the tendency to put one's faith in national sovereignty ("north") rather than God's two most fundamental commandments, then by applying Jesus' "two feet" (God's two most fundamental commandments) to that allegorical "mountain" of satanically inspired teachings, that "mountain" of teachings which was causing all that darkness can be "split in two" leaving a "valley of light" (path of truth) shining through enabling the Judeans (actually, not just Judeans--ALL of mankind) to flee with God's guidance in order to escape the devastation being wrought by Satan's doctrines of racism and national sovereignty. Ideologically, this really WOULD be like an "earthquake" in the "earth" or mankind's perceptions of popular truths.]
In that day it shall be--"The LORD is one," and His name one. All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be raised up and inhabited in her place from Benjamin's Gate to the place of the First Gate and the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananeel to the king's winepresses. The people shall dwell in it; and no longer shall there be utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths. It shall come to pass in that day that a great panic from the LORD will be among them. Everyone will seize the hand of his neighbor, and raise his hand against his neighbor's hand; Judah also will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be gathered together: gold, silver, and apparel in great abundance. Such also shall be the plague on the horse and the mule, on the camel and the donkey, and on all the cattle that will be in those camps. So shall this plague be. And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
[3-hvn. Notice that the author is providing a description of what could well turn out to be a nuclear World War III. If it will take a nuclear World War III to convince mankind to take God's two most fundamental commandments SERIOUSLY, then the chances are VERY GOOD that we will indeed have a nuclear World War III before the event known as the Second Coming of Christ occurs. But it doesn't have to happen that way. God has provided us with plenty of warnings to show us that what the world desperately needs is a God-guided (God's two most fundamental commandments guided) true world government! We shouldn't be waiting around for a nuclear World War III to occur before deciding to make this happen, and our world's religious leaders shouldn't be waiting around for a nuclear World War III to occur before deciding to take God's two most fundamental commandments SERIOUSLY!]
And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. In that day "HOLINESS TO THE LORD" shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the LORD of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them.
[3-hvn. Notice that this author envisions "all nations" coming to join this "New Jerusalem" and participating along with Judeans in traditional Hebrew festivities. Contrast this with the final sentence in this chapter...]
In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.
[2-hvn. This last sentence was clearly NOT written by Zechariah. It appears to be a "footnote" perhaps added by Ezra after Zechariah died.]
At this point, you may be saying to yourself something like, "Wow! This is the first commentary on the book of Zechariah I have ever seen that really makes sense!" That's probably because it's the first commentary on the book of Zechariah that interprets Zechariah's writings in essentially the same way that Jesus did (i.e. in a way that conforms with God's two most fundamental commandments).
Most commentators talk about Jesus' "three-year ministry", but it is far more likely that he began his ministry as a "loner" many years before he began recruiting disciples. This can be safely inferred from the fact those whom Jesus chose to be his disciples quite willingly "dropped what they were doing" and followed him as soon as he asked them to. This shows that by then, Jesus was already well known, respected, and greatly admired for his teachings in that part of Judea. It is also highly probably that by then Jesus had already engaged in numerous "heated debates" with various Judean religious leaders for teaching "precepts of men" like the ritual-oriented and racially bigoted doctrines of Ezra and Nehemiah rather than the more allegorical love-your-neighbor-as-yourself teachings penned by Zechariah and many of the other authors of the Hebrew scriptures (as pointed out in my previous articles on www.onesalt.com.). To Jesus, the differences between the teachings of the love-your-neighbor-as-your authors of the Hebrew scriptures (whom Jesus regarded as true prophets from God) and the self-serving teachings of various ruling religious leaders and false prophets that were also described in those scriptures were like the differences between "day" and "night." So the part of the story of Jesus' ministry that the gospels begin to record is the final part where, after years of failing to convince the religious leaders of his day to start teaching truth and love, Jesus finally decided to create his own version Judaism (as evidenced by his selection of twelve disciples to symbolically represent the twelve tribes of Israel). In other words, Jesus finally decided to follow Zechariah's suggestion (or phrophecy) to "BRANCH" out and away the traditional ("orthodox") Judean religious teachings of his day.
Unfortunately for all of mankind (especially the Jews), the Judean religious leaders of his day apparently (and mistakenly) viewed what Jesus was teaching and doing as a "threat to their jobs." So although they were unable refute the fact that what Jesus teaching about the Hebrew scriptures was true, they began seeking ways to censor him-by arranging to have him killed, if necessary. Jesus saw this coming, so he decided to personally fulfill quite a few of the prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures and to "leave the scene" in a way that he and his teachings could not be so easily censored. Then, as they say, "the rest is history." God's guiding principles of truth and love cannot be effectively censored for very long, though many have tried (and are still trying) to do so.
In the following speech by St. Paul to the men of Athens, those who have been reading my series of articles on www.onesalt.com should be able to recognize some of the "fruits" of the conceptual "seeds" that were sewn in the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths by the authors of Genesis, the original (real, unvieled) Moses, King Solomon, Jeremiah, the third Isaiah, Zechariah, and Jesus Christ.
Acts 17:22-31 (NKJ)
Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
(one grain of salt)
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