Zechariah: Neither by Might Nor by Power But by God’s Spirit
Key Text: Chapter 4:6
“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”
Zechariah’s lineage is defined in the opening lines as “the son of Berechaiah, the son of Iddo…”. Unlike Zechariah, Iddo is an uncommon Hebrew name. It would appear from Nehemiah 12:4, 16, that a man called Iddo departed from Babylon with Zerubbabel and he had a son whose name was Zechariah. Ezra constantly refers to Zechariah as the “son of Iddo”. Perhaps Berechaiah, the father of Zechariah, died while young and the prophet was raised by his Grandfather. It may also be the case that Zechariah is associated with his grandfather because Iddo was a well known and well respected man in his generation. Nehemiah’s genealogy of the earlier immigrants who returned from Babylon indicates that Iddo was a priest. Therefore Zechariah as well as being a prophet also belonged to the holy order of Levi.
Zechariah therefore was among the first wave of Jews to return to rebuild their once proud and industrious nation. He was in all likelihood, among the youngest to make the journey, no doubt influenced by Iddo, who could possibly remember the old temple erected by King Solomon. After sixteen years the people had made little progress. Their plans had been frustrated and all that they possessed were the foundations of the new temple. Suddenly, however the people were inspired to return to the noble work of rebuilding by the pointed message of Haggai.
Haggai began preaching in the 6th month of Darius’ 2nd year. Two months later Zechariah too was prompted by the Holy Spirit and he stepped in to assist and encourage Haggai in this great work of ministry. Therefore, like Haggai, Zechariah’s purpose was to encourage a people who were discouraged, in order that they might complete the work which they had begun.
Some question the logic of Zechariah’s ministry because verses 1-7 appear to indicate that the people’s heart was not quite right and they needed to turn unto the Lord. This does not appear to fit into the picture we have of revival in the early months of Haggai’s ministry. It is quite easy, however, to reconcile Haggai with Zechariah’s rather stern challenge. Every work that man does is imperfect. Even when there is revival among God’s people some are resistant to the work of the Holy Spirit. Not everyone was engaging in the work and those who were labouring were not doing so with a perfect heart. Therefore they needed the challenge of Zechariah’s; “Turn ye now from your evil ways…”. We all require such a word from heaven!
The Visions of the Night
Zechariah’s ministry is dominated by nine visions which he saw in the night. These are sometimes styled the visions of the night, 1:8.
1: The Man Among the Myrtle Trees, Chapter 1:8-17
Zechariah sees a company of horses, led by a man riding a red horse, who is standing among the myrtle trees. It is apparent that the man is the Angel of the Lord and He speaks with the prophet. The theme of His discourse is one of encouragement that God will enable the work of rebuilding the nation to succeed. The Angel of the Lord is Christ and He is leading the heavenly cavalry into battle, accomplishing victory for His people.
2: The Craftsman and their Horns, Chapter 1:18-21
The horn in the bible is a symbol of strength. The new horns would defeat the horns of the Gentiles who persecuted and threatened Israel.
3: The Measuring Line, Chapter 2
This was a word of hope, that God had measured the Holy Land and His people would receive their inheritance.
4: Joshua the Priest, Chapter 3
This was a personal word to the High Priest, one of the leaders of the Jewish remnant. He was under attack from Satan and God was comforting him with the assurance that he was God’s chosen vessel and that his ministry would be protected. These words have much to teach us about assurance and justification. We all need the word that Joshua received.
5: The Lampstand, Chapter 4
The Lampstand represents Israel in the Old Testament and the Church in the New Testament. As the lampstand required oil so we depend upon the Holy Ghost. Although the temple which the people were building was small in comparison to Solomon’s construction they were not to despise the work. The little that we do is great if the Spirit of God is blessing. It is His power not our might which is the basic requirement of success. This is a lesson we must learn over and over.
6: The Flying Roll Chapter 5:1-4
This scroll was vast, measuring it is reckoned 30 feet by 15 feet. It carries a solemn message of judgement upon those who refuse God’s standards.
7: The Ephah, Chapter 5:5-11
The ephah is the smallest dry measure. In this vision the ephah is taken from Judah to the land of Shinar or Babylon. God judged Israel by removing his people to Babylon. There may also be the thought here that the spirit of Babylon had been imbibed in the remnant and that needed to be removed and left in the land of their captivity.
8: The Four Chariots, Chapter 6:1-8
Four Chariots come from between two brass mountains and go into all the world. The picture is of the victorious power of Christ. He will subdue the world of men with the power of the Gospel.
9: The Crowning of the High Priest, Chapter 6:9-15
This section is intriguing in that it shows the coronation of Joshua, the High Priest. It was not usual for a priest to be crowned, anointed yes, but not crowned. Yet here we view a priest sitting upon a throne governing according to peace. This is a remarkable Old Testament view of Christ, who sits at God’s right hand as King of Kings while at the same time He makes intercession for us. Here we see the Throne of Grace.
Other Important Lessons Derived From Zechariah
The Question of Fasting
In the fourth year of Darius, two years after Zechariah’s first vision, some Jews approached the prophet desiring to fast in order that the destruction of Jerusalem might be remembered. This would have been an introduction of a holy day which was not laid down in the law. God reminds the people that they fasted and prayed before the fall of Jerusalem but He did not answer because their hearts were not right in His sight. The lesson being, religious exercises without practical religion, are vain and empty. (7:8-14)
The Ingathering of the Gentiles
Chapter 8, quite remarkably, foretells the gathering of the Gentiles into the economy of God’s grace. The picture of ten men from ten different nationalities laying hold on the Jew saying, “We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you….”, has not yet been fully realised.
The Coming of the Messiah
At the centre of Chapters 9-10 is the prophecy that the king would come riding upon an ass’s colt. The picture is one of the dominion of Jehovah’s Kingdom, accomplished by his peaceful and gracious King.
The Good Shepherd
In Chapter 11 another messianic prediction presents our Lord as the Good Shepherd in contrast to the foolish shepherds which had blighted Israel. While the foolish shepherds did not care for their flock the good shepherd fed His flock with his two rods called Beauty and Bands. Sadly, historically God turned away from Israel because of their following after the false shepherd.
The Death of Messiah
In 12:10 we view the Jew turning to Christ, looking upon the one whom they pierced and mourning for him as one mourneth for an only son. In 13:1 a fountain is opening for sin and uncleanness. This is that fountain which Cowper described as “drawn from Immanuel’s veins.” 13:6 presents Christ as a prophet with wounds in his hands inflicted by his friends. The smiting of the shepherd and the scattering of the sheep was referred by Christ himself as being fulfilled in himself (Matthew 26:31, Mark 14:27).
The Second Coming and the Eternal State
The 14th Chapter grants a glorious and graphic view of Christ’s return as the Mount of Olives is divided asunder. Peace and prosperity is ushered in as the Lord reigns with peace throughout all the earth. There is also terrible judgement as the ungodly nations are dealt with in what for them will be the terrible day of the Lord.