As I’ve been facing these last 2 years and dealing with my Hepatitis C, I’ve had a passage of Scripture that has become a rather strong anchor for my soul through all the uncertainty, months upon months of tests and waiting for tests, never-ending abdominal pain, sleepless nights, etc. You might be surprised to know that the passage is Zechariah 1:7-17. I preached on it over a year ago, and little did I know how much it would become burned into my heart. I’m going to set up and unpack that passage for you over the next 3 posts, though I won’t deal directly with the passage until the third post. I trust that, like me, once I get through unpacking and explaining Zechariah’s first vision to you, you too will be astonished at just what a feast for the troubled heart that initially strange sounding passage is.
Today, I’m just going to set up the book of Zechariah through a bird’s eye view of the entire Old Testament. It’s not too long, but this may stitch together the entire Old Testament for you in a whole new way and set up what’s happening in Zechariah chapter 1.
Overview of the Old Testament Up To Zechariah:
– 1-11 = The creation, the 1,000+ years where humanity populates the earth, the global judgment against mankind’s rampant sin in the flood.
– The book of Job occurs sometime between Genesis 11 and 12.
– In Genesis 12-25 God chooses Abraham and promises him a son, innumerable descendants that would become a nation, everlasting possession of the land of Canaan, protection and blessing.
– Genesis 25-50 records the lives of the next 3 generations of Abraham’s offspring and closes with the descendants of Abraham moving to Egypt to escape a famine.
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy:
– Exodus opens 430 years later with Abraham’s descendants grown from dozens to millions.
– Exodus 1-12 covers the calling of Moses and the liberating of Abraham’s descendants (Israelites) from slavery in Egypt.
– Exodus 13 through Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy cover the time between when Israel left Egypt and when Israel conquered the land God promised to Abraham; the land of Canaan.
– It includes Israel’s 40 year wanderings in the wilderness, the receiving of the law from God, and the death of Moses on the border of Canaan.
– Records Israel’s conquest of the land promised in Genesis.
-Records Israel’s 300+ year downward spiral into idolatry and the book ends with Israel becoming as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah.
– The book of Ruth takes place sometime at the end of Judges.
1 & 2 Samuel:
– Records the 50+ year transition from the period of the judges to the period of the kings and contains the 80+years where Saul and David reigned.
Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes
– Written/compiled during the reign of David or Solomon, during the time of 1 & 2 Samuel.
1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles:
– Records the splitting of the kingdom in the time of Solomon.
– The northern kingdom of Israel was comprised of the other 10 tribes.
– 1 Kings 12:25-33 tells how Jeroboam, the first king of the divided monarchy of Israel, instigated the worship of 2 golden calves in Bethel and Ai to keep the people from going to Jerusalem to worship and remembering the Lord (and the fact that they’re rebelling against the rightful king).
– This state-sponsored idolatry continued on in the Northern Kingdom of Israel through the reigns of 20 kings and over 200+ years of time, and 2 Kings 17 records how the 10 northern tribes went into captivity under Assyria (and were eventually lost in history).
– 2Kings 17:7-18 – Assyrian captivity = Punishment for idolatry.
– The southern kingdom of Judah was comprised of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
– This also continued on in the Southern Kingdom of Judah through the reign of 20 kings and over 350+ years of time, and 2 Kings 21:1-18 contains the long list of the sins of Manasseh and the divine condemnation of Judah, along with the promise of coming judgment.
– 2 Kings 24 – 25 record the fulfillment of the promises of judgment, and Babylon came and took Judah into 70 years of captivity.
The Major and Minor Prophets
– All the prophets were active during the period of the kings; either before, during, or after the Babylonian captivity:
– Isaiah, Obadiah, Joel, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Nahum and Zephaniah prophesied before the Babylonian captivity.
– Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel prophesied before/during the Babylonian captivity, and Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations in response to the siege of Jerusalem.
– Malachi, Haggai and Zechariah prophesied after the Babylonian captivity.
Ezra and Nehemiah
– The events of Ezra and Nehemiah occurred immediately at the end of the Babylonian captivity, and the events of Esther occurred around 50 years after Judah’s return from the Babylonian captivity.
– After the 70 year Babylonian captivity, 2 Chron. 36:22 records how God stirred up the heart of Cyrus to fulfill that prophecy by Jeremiah and Ezra 1 records how in 538 BC Cyrus let the Israelites return to their land and rebuild their city and their temple.
– Nehemiah and Ezra tell us that they faced tremendous persecution.
– Ezra 3 tells us that they rebuilt the altar, laid the foundation of the temple, started working on the temple walls and had re-instituted the sacrificial, but Ezra 4:4-5 tells us that the temple rebuilding was stopped.
– “Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia”.
– This discouragement lasted 18 years!
Though the southern tribes went into captivity and returned, they were overcome by fear and wondered if God’s blessing was lost forever.
– The prophets Haggai and Zechariah appear in Israel in Ezra 5:1.
– Haggai informed the nation that they Lord wanted the work to resume, and Zechariah brought encouragement to continue the work.
– Zechariah is a book of blessings; a book full of prophesies that are meant to comfort and encourage the Israelites who are facing opposition back in their land.
– In Zechariah, God delivers prophecy after prophecy of blessing for Israel, but that blessing comes with conditions. Right in the first 6 verses, God states what has to come first: repentance.
Next time, we’ll take a look at Zechariah 1:1-6.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “The Armchair Expositor” Unger