November 13, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Zechariah 1-7
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Author: Zechariah, a prophet
Date: 520 BC
Context: The first six chapters of Zechariah contain eight different visions, which tell of the future. Zechariah received all these visions in one night! As you read these visions, remember the history of the Israelites. They were once a powerful and wealthy nation, yet those living knew only stories of those times. The Israelites of the time had just returned to their ravaged homeland and were struggling to rebuild. They could no longer clearly see that they were the Lord’s chosen people. They began to doubt what the prophets of old had told them about the future of the Israelites. The first vision (1:7-17) is a warning to nations who ignore the plight of Israel. The Lord also reassures Israel that it will once again prosper. The second vision (18-21) reminds the reader that God is ultimately in control of all nations. They prosper and fall according to His will. In the third vision (2:1-13), the Lord reminds His people that they have nothing to fear from the future because He is in control. God has given His word that the nation will survive. In the fourth (3:1-10) and fifth (4:1-14) vision, Zechariah sees the future of worship in Israel. They each serve as a reminder as to the importance of faith in the lives of the Israelites and the role it will play in the future of Israel. The sixth vision (5:1-4), warns of the consequences for not following the Laws of Moses. The seventh vision, (5:5-11), emphasizes the importance of repentance. The eighth vision (6:1-8), looks at the future of not just Israel, but the world. The day will come when the would will be at peace and ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ. The second half of chapter 6 foretells the coming of the Messiah. Chapter 7 takes place two years after the previous chapters. The Jewish community now faces several concerns over religious worship. Zechariah is given the answer to many of their questions.
World History: Zechariah prophesied during the same time as Haggai, when the Israelites had returned to Jerusalem. Babylon seized Jerusalem and sacked the city, including the temple, in 586 BC. In 539 BC, the Persian ruler Cyrus conquered Babylon. Cyrus granted his captors considerable religious freedom (as opposed to the Babylonians), and it was during the reign of the Persians that the Israelites were allowed to return to their homeland. The Israelites struggled to return their homeland to its former glory.