Zechariah’s Eight Visions (Zechariah 1:7-6:8)

The visions of Zechariah renew the Abrahamic promise to post-exilic Israel—God intends to bless Israel so that all nations might be blessed.

The word of Yahweh given to Zechariah for the people is “Return to me, and I will return to you.” This message comes to Zechariah through a series of eight night visions on February 15, 519 BCE during the reign of the Persian Emperor Darius the Great (1:7). The eight visions communicate the basic message in a dramatic way through what Zechariah sees.

Scholars generally agree that the eight visions have a chiastic structure though the interpretations vary somewhat. This may be pictured in the following way:

1. Myrtle Trees – Peace among the Nations in the Earth (1:7-17).

2. Four Horns – Judgment of the Nations for their Evil (1:8-21).

3. Measuring Line – The Habitation of Jerusalem (2:1-13).

4. Joshua – Restoration of the Priestly Line (3:1-10).

5. Zerubbabel – Restoration of the Royal Line (4:1-14).

6. Flying Scroll – Removal of Sin from Israel (5:1-4).

7. Woman in a Basket – Removal of Sin from the Nations (5:5-11).

8. Four Chariots – Peace among the Nations in the Earth (6:1-8).

The visions begin and end with peace among the nations. The first peace, however, is illusionary because the land of Israel and Jerusalem are still lamenting their loss. In contrast the final peace is the result of God’s renewal of his grace toward Israel and Jerusalem.

The second and seventh visions focus on the nations as well. While the first vision judges them for their malicious treatment of God’s people, the seventh vision sees the removal of the wickedness of the nations that prepares for peace on the earth among the nations.

The third and sixth visions focus on Israel in their land. The resettlement and prosperity of Jerusalem in the third vision is connected to the removal of sin from the land by the return of God to the temple.

The fourth and fifth visions are the restoration of the royal and priestly lines to Israel in a functioning theocratic and cultic (temple) nation. God again reigns from the temple in Jerusalem and heals the wounds of his people.

The visions, then, move us from a picture of the earth (nations) through the Holy Land (Israel) to the cultic center of Israel (the temple in Jerusalem) and then out of Jerusalem through the Holy Land to the whole earth. God is moving among the nations to show mercy to the land of Israel through renewing temple presence in order that Israel might be a blessing to the nations (the whole earth).

The visions of Zechariah renew the Abrahamic promise to post-exilic Israel—God intends to bless Israel so that all nations might be blessed.

In the coming weeks, I will post on each vision.



7 Responses to “Zechariah’s Eight Visions (Zechariah 1:7-6:8)”

  1.   Jeff McVey Says:

    Timelines have always interested me…

    About the time that Zechariah is writing (500 B.C.), Confucious and Lao-Tse are disseminating their wisdom in China, and just a little bit later (350 B.C.), the Buddha emerges in India.

    In fact, the philosopher Will Durant calls this era (600 B.C. – 600 A.D., or Confucious to Mohammed) “The Age of The Philosophers”…

  2.   Jeff McVey Says:

    I have an idea…

    Let’s all take up a collection and send John Mark to school to study all this confusing OT stuff, and then he can come back and explain it to us…

    BRILLIANT !!!

    ; – )

  3.   rich Says:

    thanks for this study on the blog john mark.
    it is to me just so much help in understanding the prophetic language.
    i do have a question???
    did Zechariah understand what was being said and also the people?
    i am pretty lost when it comes to this prophetic language.
    do you know just how lost “they”were, or would this be quite a simple interpretation for them?
    in that Day.
    thanks
    john mark

    • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

      I think Zechariah understood the message to his time and they understood it (presumably). What Zechariah could not see is the fuller realization of the word he was given. They were not “lost” but rooted in the story of Israel and confident of God’s own work. However, they could not imagine what God would ultimately do….any more than we can.

      •   rich Says:

        thank you that is a big help to me…

        They were not “lost” but rooted in the story of Israel and confident of God’s own work. However, they could not imagine what God would ultimately do….any more than we can.

        blessings
        rich

  4.   Adam Gonnerman Says:

    That is beautiful. The professor I had in college (who shall remain nameless) tasked to take us through the Minor Prophets skipped these visions completely and intentionally. He said he didn’t know what to make of them and there were too many opinions.

    Seriously.

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  2. Zechariah 6:9-15 – The Temple Will Be Rebuilt « John Mark Hicks Ministries

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